I’m immensely proud of every one of those companies from 2007 who served as alpha testers for TechStars. TechStars has improved in substantial ways since year one, based largely on the feedback of those who have experienced it. Even within some of the companies from 2007 that have struggled and/or failed, I know that there are strong entrepreneurs who will just come back stronger.
The first class of ten companies went through TechStars in the summer of 2007. It’s just 2 1/2 years since then, and already we’ve seen four positive acquisitions from that class of ten companies. Wow.
First, in August of 2008 Socialthing was acquired by AOL. Since then, it’s become a central part of AOL’s strategy, morphing into their overall lifestreaming strategy. As part of this, Socialthing now exists within AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), now reaching somewhere around 100 million people.
Then just a month or two later, Automattic acquired Intense Debate in order to integrate it with WordPress. There are nearly twenty million WordPress blogs out there today, and sadly on most of them comments are still dark matter and still suck. Intense Debate will be a big part of fixing that.
Then in April of 2009, Limbo announced that it had acquired Brightkite. Brightkite has been funded with a total of $24M and has emerged as a market leading mobile social network, reaching millions of people each month.
And then today, Filtrbox announced that it had been acquired by Jive Software. We couldn’t be more thrilled for Ari, Tom, and the Filtrbox team. I stopped by their office today for a quick hello and it’s clear that they’re all very excited about Jive. It seems like Jive is just as excited. I think this move will quickly extend the reach of the well-designed scalable technology that Filtrbox has developed over the last few years.
It’s really gratifying to see the impact that the TechStars class of 2007 has had. Beyond just the exits, it’s great to see that the technologies and services that these companies have created are reaching larger and larger audiences, and impacting more and more people.
Let’s not forget J-Squared Media, which has bootstrapped to substantial success and profitability and is rocking with their latest app, MiniPlanet. Sometimes it’s too easy to focus on funding announcements and acquisitions. Here’s to Jesse and Joe for bootstrapping their way to success.
Those ten companies that went through TechStars in 2007 were really alpha testers. They gave critical feedback that made the program better for those who came along later. I’m proud of every single one of them for giving it their all – even though some have struggled and some have failed. I know that they’ll all be back, building more companies, creating more innovation, and learning from their experiences. I’m even more proud that many of them are mentoring other startups and sharing their experiences. They’ve learned the amazing value of mentorship, and I see many of them giving it back. Sure – They’ve shown up to help the 2008 and 2009 companies out. But more importantly, I think they’re generally fans of mentorship and believers in karma, and are happy to share their experiences with anyone.
I’m blown away by what the 2007 group of companies has accomplished and I don’t think they’re done making noise yet. I know that the 2008 and 2009 companies are watching! Time will tell. Will they accept the challenge? I have a feeling they’re all over it.