By now, 24 hours later, the news is out that Lijit Networks has been acquired by Federated Media Publishing. The deal was an outstanding value for all involved (One of our investors quoted the press release)
This transaction is a great outcome for Lijit, its employees and shareholders. While the details of the transaction itself weren't released, this acquisition ranks among the most significant outcomes for the region in the past 10 years.
I'm super excited about what comes next. This is not an end but rather a waypoint toward building a huge media company that now has a major operation in Boulder Colorado. Investors in Lijit are now investors in Federated Media. I and the entire Lijit team will continue to build value toward a greater exit in the future.
A friend once told me the lifecycle of a venture backed startup company is like driving a bus.
You, as the bus driver (founder) get up in the morning before sunrise and go to the lot. You start your bus (company), which can be difficult as they don't always start (fail). Once you get the bus running (small team getting paid nothing) you go pickup your first few passengers (Angel Investors). By the time the bus starts to warm up and run a little better the sun is up (you have something to show) and you as the bus driver are feeling happy. You pick up a few more passengers (your intuitional investors). You drive for a while, sometimes getting lost but generally going the right way. Hopefully, you won't need to completely turn around, but you may need to avoid traffic problems (strategy and tactics). As the day goes on (the investment rounds go up), sometimes the passengers get tired and occasionally grouchy and want to go home (exit). The bus driver can also get a little grouchy. But, as these things go, everyone eventually decides they actually love the bus, it's all ok. Finally, almost magically, certainly unexpectedly - the bus arrives at the last stop (acquisition). It turns out the ride was shorter than you expected – maybe not. It turns, out someone really wants your bus. In fact, your bus is perfect for the people they need to take on another ride. You let some of your passengers off the bus, most stay on but now rather than going home – they want to ride longer.
I tell you this story because over the course of a long bus ride the fate of the ride is often unknown. Who you have on the bus is super important. I had some excellent passengers that I would be happy to drive around again. I want to take a minute to thank just some of my passengers by name.
Brad was my very early anchor angel and friend that helped me get the idea put together in the first place. Brads style: "your overthinking that –just do it", helps a lot in the early days by sorting between decisions you actually have to make, and decisions you 'think' you have. Brad's simple term sheet approach is the way to do deals. Thanks my friend.
Friends and Coworkers from Raindance my previous company.
Between you guys, Brad and I we made up 100% of the first $500K of invested capital that got Lijit off the ground. I know a few times along the route, I wanted my $120K back, I suspect you felt the same once in a while. I understand the investments you made were investments in me and not any specific idea. You did not need to ride the bus and I won't forget that you got on anyway.
Jerome invested High Country Ventures in Lijit very early on as an institutional investor in an Angel Round. That was not any easy thing to do but I was thrilled to have Jerome around the table. High Country Ventures has been super supportive of Lijit and I thank you for that. Chris became involved when Jerome went on to bigger and better things and immediately started adding value. Chris's easy going style and thoughtful comments are great to have around the board table.
Peter led the first true institutional round of investment in Lijit - effectively jumping into a swimming pool with an unknown amount of water. Through past several years Peter and BV supported the company through every bob and weave. Kyle for all intents and purposes invented venture capital in Colorado. In a world where regional funds come and go (mostly go), Kyle has built a Venture Firm that excels year after year. Boulder is lucky to have a strong hometown Venture Firm in Boulder Ventures.
After Foundry Group finished raising their first fund the entire team there immediately mobilized to help Lijit and really assumed the lead investor role for Lijit from that point on. I can't say enough good things about Foundry Group as they are a very different kind of VC. Seth was personally involved in our early Ad channel relationships essentially creating the opportunity that eventually set us up for success. Seth, like Brad earlier was a true member of the team and transcended the investor/management team designation (in a good way). Seth should have a Lijit business card.
I barely got to know Mark and the Highway 12 Ventures guys as we sold the company so quickly after the last round of financing that they led. Unfortunately for Boise, I believe we were the last new investment of their last fund. Although involved for a short time in Lijit I found Mark's interactions with me to be first class and thoughtful.
Thanks to everyone that got us where we are. Some coverage from the last 24 hours….
- Todd Vernon blog post
- John Battelle blog post
- FM press release
- Vator News
- Business Insider
- Boulder County Business Report
- McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
- Daily Camera
- Denver Biz Journal