These Local Tech Founders Cashed In — Here’s Where They Are Now
Golden handcuffs hurt less than real ones, but many entrepreneurs flee an acquirer as soon as the oft-required two-year stint runs out. Street Fight took a look at some of the local tech entrepreneurs who cashed out in recent years, and asked the perennial question: where are they now?
Sold SinglePlatform to Constant Contact
Cerilli hit it big in 2011 when SinglePlatform, a data syndication startup he founded, was sold to Constant Contact for a cool $100 million. He spent the next two years at the helm of the startup-turned-division within the email marketing giant. But when the golden handcuffs came off earlier this summer, the former seamless exec bolted to join First Round Capital as a venture partner.
Sold WHERE to eBay
Amid a multi-billion acquisition spree, John Donahue’s corporate development team managed to snap up the Boston-based Where, and its founder Walt Doyle, for $135 million. Doyle spent the next two years leading PayPal’s effort to build a demand generation engine to power the company’s massive effort to move its massive online payments business into brick and mortar. He left two years later, and last winter joined Highland Capital Partners, an investment firm based in Boston.
Sold Gowalla to Facebook
Josh Williams cannot seem to scratch his local itch. The Gowalla founder sold his check-in startup to Facebook for scrap in December 2011 and then spent the next 18 months helping the social giant shape a potentially massive but still latent local discovery strategy. Now Williams is back on the startup scene with another take on local discovery. His latest effort, Last Guide, raised $2.1 million in seed capital earlier this year to take another crack at mobile discovery.
Sold Milo to eBay
Milo was part of a resurgent local tech scene that popped up after the iPhone was released in 2007. eBay snapped up the startup in 2010 for $75 million, and then put its founder, Jack Abraham, to work as the company’s director of local. He led the marketplace’s big redesign in the winter of 2013. Abraham jetted a few weeks later, and now appears to be working on a new, and still under-the-radar, project.
Sold Placebase to Apple
Apple picked up a handful of startups in the lead up to the botched launch of Maps. One of those was Placebase, a mapping software firm founded by Jaron Waldman. After a few years on Apple’s “geo team,” Waldman left the tech giant in June with Denis Laprise, a fellow Apple geo-team and acqui-hire target, to start Curbside, a local commerce service.
‘Merged’ Group Commerce with Nimble Commerce
The daily deal bubble popped the prospects of a number of big investments but none more than Group Commerce. The white label deal platform raised nearly $40 million, and then merged with its competitor Nimble Commerce, which kept all of its assets. Jonty Kelt, the company’s founder and a former early DoubleClick exec, stayed on briefly as an advisor and then landed a gig heading up mobile publisher Onswipe.
John Brod, Warren Webster, & Tim Armstrong
Sold Patch to Aol
The three founders undoubtedly hold the title for the most notorious exit in recent memory, selling the now-disowned hyperlocal network to Aol. Aol eventually disowned the majority of Patch’s assets after sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into the project. Armstrong remains in place as Aol’s CEO; Webster has been working on a new startup; and Brod is working on Confide, a “Snapchat for business” that he created with Yext founder Howard Lerman.
Sold Waze to Google
Uri Levine takes the cake for local’s largest startup exit— at least in the smartphone era. Last year, Waze, a navigation software company he co-founded in 2008, sold to Google for $1.1 billion. What’s more, the Israeli entrepernuer managed to avoid joining the search giant’s rank and file. Instead, he struck out on his own again to start a new company: a startup called FeeX that helps expose hidden fees in bank statements, and find suitable alternatives.
Sold Outside.in to Patch
Josephson bounced around Patch’s tangled web in the two years after Outside.in, a localized content API he founded, was acquired by AOL. Josephson jumped ship last summer to take a role as chief executive at link shortening company Bit.ly.