News Article | April 19, 2017
Two obituary powerhouses in the United States have joined forces. Legacy.com, which provides online services to more than 1,500 newspapers and 4,000 funeral homes in the U.S. and other countries, bought the assets of ObitData.com, a market-share reporting service. John Bikus, who spent 13 years with Legacy.com and was CMO until 2013, launched ObitData after he left Legacy.com. He described it as “the only national provider of online funeral-home market-share reporting data,” and said it had revenue of more than $500,000. “Now, Legacy.com-partnered newspapers will … be able to able to gain a richer understanding of the obituary publishing trends of their local funeral homes,” the Legacy.com announcement said. Legacy, based in Chicago, was acquired last month by Pamplona Capital Management of Boston, an investment management company. Terms of that deal were undisclosed. It had been owned by Great Hill Partners. At one point in its history, it was owned by several newspaper companies, including Tribune. AdPay / Memoriams, a Denver-based competitor owned by Ancestry.com, works with more than 2,900 newspapers and hundreds of funeral homes in the United States and Canada. Legacy.com, which also operates Tributes.com, reports it has more than 44 million visitors a month and is ranked as a Top 50 domain in the U.S. by Quantcast. It operates in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and several European countries.
News Article | May 23, 2017
You know it’s spring when VC funds start to announce their new fund raises. But it’s buoying to see a new mid-sized fund appear, which over the years has been highly geared toward early-stage startups just starting out on their journey. Pentech has closed its third fund, saying it was oversubscribed at £88 million, surpassing the original target fund size of £70 million. The new fund, which is double the size of Pentech’s previous fund, will invest in early-stage software companies across the U.K. at Series A and pre-Series A. LPs include the British Business Bank under its Enterprise Capital Funds program — and existing Pentech investors. It now plans to create a new portfolio of around 20 companies over the next five years. The VC has offices in Edinburgh and London, giving it an ever so slightly useful edge over some that might not see everything north of the border, where a sizeable startup scene has developed around unicorns like Skyscanner and FanDuel. It has been taking particular interest in AI, machine learning, big data and infrastructure such as blockchain in areas from fintech, health and wellness to enterprise. Pentech has led investments in over 20 companies, often as the first institutional investor, taking position is FanDuel (fantasy sports); Nutmeg (wealth management); Outplay (mobile games); and Maxymiser, which was acquired by Oracle. It’s also been part of exits such as Acunu and Semetric to Apple and Struq to Quantcast. Eddie Anderson, general partner, Pentech, said in a statement: “We love to work with founders who have a combination of global ambition, complete dedication to their mission and a true grasp of the realities of how to build businesses in a capital efficient manner.” Partner Dr. Sandy McKinnon told me that what’s different now is that “Big data, which many of our Fund II companies build their business on has now become machine learning and AI.” There also is “a more active accelerator/seed community, which is great. Our focus is being first institutional investor post seed, and on occasion, will co-invest at the seed stage.” Nick Hungerford, founder of Nutmeg, said: “Pentech is a rare breed of VC, no fuss, no credit required; just all action and steady support.” Pentech’s fund raise follows a wave of new funds launched out of the U.K.
News Article | November 29, 2016
New York, Nov. 29, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Standard Media Index (SMI), the company providing the most complete and accurate picture of real advertising cost and spend data, today announced the addition of Boon Yap to its leadership team. Yap will serve as the company's first-ever vice president of product and partnerships, responsible for creating strategic relationships with a focus on market research companies, and developing attribution products that help brands better direct their advertising expenditure. Yap's hire is an important part of the company's evolution into creating a suite of added value services that help media owners, agencies and brands drive improved outcomes through harnessing SMI's unique advertising expenditure data. Earlier this month, SMI took its first step toward this commitment with the release of AccuTV, the most accurate and comprehensive view of National US TV ad spend available today. "Our mission is to help companies around the world better understand advertising and media effectiveness so they can make the most informed decisions possible. This is especially important in an era where transparency and accuracy is so critical to publishers, agencies and brands," said James Fennessy CEO of Standard Media Index. "When you set lofty goals, it's important to surround yourself with the best people. That's exactly why we've brought Boon on. He has unrivaled experience developing partnerships with the leading players in market research and understands as well as anyone how the ad market is evolving. As we enter this period of rapid growth, we are very lucky to have Boon help us define the products and services that will help our clients drive a better outcome from their advertising efforts." The addition of Yap and the release of AccuTV come at a pivotal time for SMI. Over the last six months, the company has invested extensively in talent including the addition of Nicole Florit as vice president of finance and administration, and the promotion of Priya Singh to the role of vice president of strategy and analytics. SMI has also developed key partnerships with leading market research companies in CPG, Auto, Financial Services and Retail and will soon be accessing set top box data. "I have been immensely impressed by James and the whole SMI team. Through AccuTV the company is addressing a long-sought-after, and elusive, solution in the TV realm – real and accurate price benchmarking,” said Yap. “As someone who knows first-hand the frustration of not having accurate information, I’m thrilled to join the team that is making this happen. I look forward to assisting in the evolution of SMI and working toward a full suite of products including ones geared toward digital and data/automated ecosystems, as well as helping to create practical, relatable, and 1:1 attribution models.” Yap comes to SMI with nearly twenty years of experience working within all sectors of media including data, digital, mobile, social, and TV. Most recently, Yap served as director of partner success at TiVo Research, where he created and scaled some of the largest partnerships in TiVo history with companies like Oracle, LiveRamp, Cardlytics and Quantcast. Before his time with TiVo, Yap was a consultant for companies like TripAdvisor and IAC brands. He also helped implement SEO, digital, Social, and web-architecture strategies for various entities. Earlier in his career, Boon worked with the Havas (MPG) team involved in the ground-breaking and award-winning Volkswagen and American Legacy campaigns. About Standard Media Index Standard Media Index (SMI) is the global industry standard for actual ad spend data. It offers real-time, decision-grade data sourced directly from the booking systems of the world’s largest media agencies. Headquartered in New York City, USA, SMI provides the only clear picture of how ad dollars are moving across the market to help media owners and finance companies fuel growth and drive better decisions. SMI is available in over 15 major global markets. For more information: www.standardmediaindex.com or join the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.
News Article | September 22, 2017
Mr. Wolfe Pereira will be responsible for developing and executing Quantcast's brand and marketing strategy along with all go-to-market initiatives. He will lead corporate marketing, product marketing, content marketing, consumer insights, design, media, communications and corporate social responsibility efforts. In addition, Wolfe Pereira will work with Quantcast's product and engineering leadership to help build new client-centric solutions. Based in Quantcast's Global Headquarters located in San Francisco, he will report directly to Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Konrad Feldman and will serve on the Quantcast Executive Leadership Team. "Steven is a highly respected thought leader recognized as one of the top Chief Marketing Technology Officers with a proven track record of identifying key trends, building industry-leading brands, driving marketing transformation and accelerating business growth," said Mr. Feldman. "With his work in technology, analytics, media and advertising, Steven is client-focused and has a deep understanding of the marketing ecosystem along with trusted relationships across brands, agencies and publishers. As our new Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, there's no one better to help accelerate our mission to help push the boundaries of AI so that we can unleash creativity and deliver on the promise of data-driven marketing." "AI is one of the most important technologies that will transform every brand, company and industry. Quantcast has been pioneering AI-driven solutions for the past decade and has truly cracked the code on how best to use machine learning to drive human learning and power predictive insights, audiences and measurement," said Mr. Wolfe Pereira. "With the combination of their patented technology, deep R&D investment and amazing talent, Quantcast is perfectly positioned to help the marketing ecosystem leverage AI in a meaningful way. I'm thrilled to be working with Konrad and the team at this very special company." Prior to joining Quantcast, Mr. Wolfe Pereira was the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Neustar, which was recently taken private by Golden Gate Capital. Before Neustar, he served as the Chief Marketing Officer of Datalogix, which was acquired by Oracle. Previously, Mr. Wolfe Pereira was the Executive Vice President and Managing Director at Starcom MediaVest Group (Publicis Groupe), and he also held leadership roles at Univision Communications and Akamai Technologies. Mr. Wolfe Pereira serves as a board director of the Ad Council, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Kapor Center for Social Impact's Level Playing Field Institute. He earned a B.A. from Tufts University, was a Fulbright Scholar and completed the Greater Boston Executive MBA Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management. Quantcast is a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) technology and its application for brands, agencies and publishers. Specializing in real-time advertising and audience measurement, Quantcast today has one of the largest proprietary data set of real-time audience behavior across the Internet. For more information, visit www.quantcast.com.
News Article | November 18, 2016
LONDON, Nov. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Wikia, Inc. announced today the launch of fandom.co.uk, the first complete, localised international version of Fandom, the largest entertainment fan site in the world*. As the most comprehensive entertainment destination in the region, Fandom is comprised of a UK edition of the popular Fandom news and stories platform and its robust global community platform. Fandom brings the pulse of entertainment to fans' fingertips through a mix of original and curated content focused on both regional and global film, television and video games. Veteran entertainment journalist Chris Tilly leads a UK Fandom editorial team that operates out of new local headquarters located near Farringdon Station in Central London. "The UK is a power player in the entertainment industry with its impressive pool of TV shows, movies, studios, and talent, as well as with their passionate fans," said Wikia, Inc. CEO Craig Palmer. "Fandom is also recognized as the #1 site for information on video games and television in the UK, and the #2 site for movie information in the UK*. It was only natural that we launch an absolute, localised Fandom experience in this market first. In doing so, we're also making a significant step in our global brand growth strategy. Fandom's UK site expands our breadth of coverage, deepens our expertise, and broadens our global news cycle so fans will always be apprised of the latest information, no matter where they live in the world." Chris Tilly brings 12 years of front-line editorial experience, where he has held posts at such influential media outlets as Hotdog magazine and Time Out. He was most recently Entertainment Editor at IGN. As Managing Editor at Fandom, Tilly is tasked with building a world-class editorial team, developing and driving the UK content strategy, and implementing Fandom's growing Fan Contributor program in the region. The Fan Contributor program empowers fans to share their passion for and profound knowledge of entertainment through story contribution. "I'm thrilled to join Fandom and establish it as the preeminent entertainment destination for fans in the UK," said Tilly. "It's my vision to expand on the solid editorial foundation that's in place in the United States where Fandom news and stories already exists, develop a strong British identity for the UK edition, and create compelling content that resonates with fans here as well as across the pond." On Oct. 4, Wikia.com rebranded as the global entertainment brand, Fandom. As the comprehensive entertainment destination that marries Fandom news and stories with more than 360,000 communities, fans can now find and share news, stories, commentary and knowledge on their favorite entertainment properties in one place. For more information about Fandom, inclusive of Fandom's UK news and stories, visit: www.fandom.co.uk. About Wikia, Inc.: Launched in 2006 by co-founder Jimmy Wales, Wikia, Inc. is a global digital media company that is the home to Fandom powered by Wikia, an entertainment media brand and Wikia.org, a global advocacy and charitable entity. Fandom is comprised of Fandom news and stories and 360,000 communities that cover a variety of entertainment passions, including movies, TV, games, comics, books, music and other lifestyle interests. Popular communities include Marvel, Wookieepedia (Star Wars), and Game of Thrones. Fandom is the largest entertainment fan site in the world with a global audience of over 190 million monthly uniques (per Quantcast, 2016) and 48 million pages of content.
News Article | February 23, 2017
SARASOTA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Revcontent, the fastest growing content recommendation platform, announces the acquisition of machine learning company, Rover, for its advanced personalization and recommendation technology. A powerful testament to Revcontent’s rapid growth and visionary mindset, the acquisition of Rover is the next step in delivering personalized discovery, one recommendation at a time. “Revcontent and Rover share a vision of a personalized web, a web that helps users discover content they love that they never knew existed,” said Revcontent CEO, John Lemp. “We have a unique opportunity here, to do for discovery, what Google did for web search. For Vijay, me and the Rover team, this was always the holy grail and together with Revcontent, we’re about to make the future arrive sooner. After our first meeting with Chris Maynard, Richard Marques and the rest of John’s leadership team, it became instantly clear that this was a perfect fit in terms of culture, technology and vision,” added Jonathan Siddharth, CEO of Rover. Following the acquisition, Rover will operate as Revcontent’s Silicon Valley headquarters and continue spearheading advanced machine learning initiatives. Jonathan Siddharth and Vijay Krishnan founded Rover while at graduate school at Stanford University out of the same research lab where Google was born. Rover has raised about $7 million in venture capital from prominent investors including the creator of Google Adsense, the Former Director of Performance Ads at Twitter, and the Head of Product at Dropbox. Other investors include early execs from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Pandora, and more. “The synergy between the two companies was immediately clear to me. With the performance of Rover's machine learning technology and Revcontent's focus on the success of its publishers and advertisers, I expect the combined company to rapidly become the leader in content recommendation advertising," adds Stephen Oskoui, Rover's lead investor and a Venture Partner at Founders Fund, a top tier venture capital fund in Silicon Valley. With Rover’s machine learning technology, Revcontent’s personalization will be 3X more granular than Facebook. The acquisition of Rover’s machine learning recommendation technology will allow Revcontent’s media partners, such as Forbes, The Atlantic, and Newsweek, to build deeper relationships with their users, learning more about their true tastes and preferences, so they can create more of the content their users enjoy. Media partners will also employ Internal Discovery powered by a user’s interest graph, recommending other content from their site that a user is most likely to be interested in. Revcontent’s brand advertisers such as The New York Times, Conde Nast, and Yahoo! can identify unique segments of users who are most likely to be interested in their content, products, and brand, helping them rapidly acquire their most valuable customers. Rover’s technology is expected to increase recommendation engine performance substantially, resulting in increased revenue opportunities for publishers by delivering higher eCPMs and greater performance for advertisers, while helping users discover great content. Higher publisher payouts align with Revcontent’s mission of helping support quality journalism, free speech, independent thought and the spread of big ideas, all of which are crucial for democracy as a whole. Rover founders Jonathan Siddharth and Vijay Krishnan, are joining the Revcontent team as the Senior Vice President of Technology and the Senior Vice President of Data Science, respectively. The entire Rover team will continue on with them at Revcontent. Rover’s apps which have more than 40 million registered users across all platforms, will continue to be supported as part of the company’s long term strategy to build a deeper, more direct relationship with its users. Revcontent and Rover are excited for the future of personalized content recommendations and their potential to inspire people by sparking their curiosity. Those inspired today will move the world forward tomorrow. Bearing this simple motto in mind, media brands can spread more powerful ideas and connect the world more intimately: an interactive, personalized web of thought. Revcontent is the world’s fastest growing content recommendation network, powering 250 billion content recommendations per month. Revcontent partners with the largest media brands in the world such as Forbes, Newsweek, The Atlantic, International Business Times, and more. Revcontent’s headquarters lies in Sarasota, Florida with global offices including London, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, and more coming soon. Revcontent reaches 92% of US households, according to Quantcast and has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Fox News, and more.
News Article | February 17, 2017
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In a sign of their unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion, more than forty of the nation’s leading companies and employers filed a brief yesterday as amici curiae in Darweesh v. Trump, urging the federal court in the Eastern District of New York to grant injunctive relief against the recent Executive Order restricting travel and immigration into the United States. The brief’s signatories represent a range of industries critical to the national and global economies, including the fields of high-tech, computing, and information technology. They are headquartered and do business in cities and states across the United States, including New York, where they filed their amici curiae brief. And they are united by a common core value: a place of work should be diverse and must provide equal opportunities for all, regardless of nationality or religion. They also all believe that the immigration ban signed on January 27, 2017 impedes their ability to adhere to that core value. The leading companies include: Yahoo! Inc.; Tumblr, Inc.; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.; Uber Technologies, Inc.; Airbnb, Inc.; Chobani LLC; Affirm, Inc.; Ampush LLC; Appboy, Inc.; AppNexus Inc.; AppDynamics, Inc.; DoorDash, Inc.; Dropbox, Inc.; EquityZen Inc.; General Assembly Space, Inc. (d/b/a General Assembly); Greenhouse Software, Inc.; Habla Inc. (d/b/a Olark Live Chat); Imgur, LLC; InVisionApp, Inc.; JAND, Inc. (d/b/a Warby Parker); Kickstarter, PBC; Knotel, Inc.; Managed By Q Inc.; Mapbox, Inc.; Marin Software Inc.; MeetUp, Inc.; MongoDB, Inc.; Nextdoor.com, Inc.; nTopology Inc.; Postmates Inc.; Purch Group, Inc.; Quantcast Corp.; RealNetworks, Inc.; RetailMeNot, Inc.; Ryzac, Inc. (d/b/a Codecademy); Shutterstock, Inc.; Tech:NYC; Trello, Inc.; Udacity, Inc.; Upwork, Inc.; and WorkAndCo International, Inc. (d/b/a Work & Co). “These companies all know that one of the keys to great success in business is recruiting and retaining the most talented possible workforces, and that isn’t possible without strong policies favoring diversity and inclusion,” said Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, which filed the brief on behalf of the leading companies. “This Executive Order directly impedes these vital policies and harms these companies – and it does so through unconstitutional means.” Many of the amici curiae that signed on to this brief employ, partner with, or contract with individuals directly targeted by the Executive Order. Some of these individuals have been separated indefinitely from loved ones. Others fear that if they leave the country, including for work travel, they will never be able to return. As a direct result of the immigration ban, morale at businesses is lower, employers are cut off from the recruiting of more than 212 million people, employees are unable to perform jobs that require travel, and amici curiae have been forced to expend significant resources just to keep up with the ever-changing scope and impact of the Executive Order. These factors are bad for business, bad for the State of New York, and bad for the United States. “As you can see from the range of signatories on this brief, this Executive Order is negatively impacting the broader national and global communities,” Boutrous said. “These companies felt it was important to speak out and explain why the ban doesn’t work for businesses, consumers, and the American people.” The companies’ brief also addresses the constitutional infirmities of the recent ban. As courts across the country have already recognized, there are serious questions as to whether the Executive Order violates equal protection and due process, and whether it exceeds the scope of the Executive’s constitutional authority. These constitutional concerns, combined with the harmful effects of the ban on business, compelled many of the country’s leading employers to voice their concerns in this brief and to lend their support to the New York Attorney General’s Office, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, and Yale Law School, the organizations and entities leading the charge against enforcement of the Executive Order in the Eastern District of New York lawsuit. “New York’s business community is sending a clear message: the immigration ban undermines the people and the businesses that make our economy run and our state thrive. I’m proud to have these companies’ support in our lawsuit – and I won’t stop fighting to permanently strike down this discriminatory ban and protect New Yorkers,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The leading companies submitting the amici curiae brief are represented in this matter by Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., Ethan D. Dettmer, Alexander H. Southwell, Theane Evangelis, Anne Champion, Kirsten Galler, and Kevin Ring-Dowell of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
News Article | February 28, 2017
Company Achieves Over 100% Bookings Growth as Cloud Adoption Drives Need for Network Intelligence SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 28, 2017) - ThousandEyes, the Network Intelligence company that delivers visibility into every network, today shared results that reveal strong growth in bookings in both domestic and international markets, and continued expansion of product capabilities, locations and executive team leadership. Enterprises' increasing reliance on the Internet as a primary foundation of business fueled 100% year-over-year growth in bookings in both domestic and international markets and drove the addition of marquee customers across financial services, retail and leading technology companies. As cloud adoption reaches new heights, the Internet has become the new corporate backbone, rendering traditional network monitoring approaches increasingly ineffective. Traditional monitoring approaches rely on traffic capture, and provide a narrow view of the network, highlighting problems when it's too late. ThousandEyes enables organizations to gain an immediate understanding of experience from every user to every cloud application as well as providing critical insights for strategically planning and migrating services to the cloud over time. "With the surge in cloud adoption, we've seen a rapid growth in enterprises turning to ThousandEyes to categorically understand experience from every user to every application," said Mohit Lad, ThousandEyes CEO and co-founder. "ThousandEyes has innovated an approach based on an unmatched distribution of smart agents across the Internet, enterprise, all the way to the end user. ThousandEyes gathers and analyzes the massive volumes of 'Network Intelligence' data from these vantage points, enabling organizations to solve even the most obscure performance problems in minutes. By using ThousandEyes in the planning and testing phases of cloud adoption, customers can also strategically identify and fix underlying problems before production deployment of the application -- something not possible before." Recent Gartner reports have noted the adoption of cloud and SaaS services crossing an inflection point with their role in the daily operations of businesses. One report predicts that "By 2021, more than half of global enterprises already using cloud today will adopt an all-in cloud strategy" (Gartner Inc., Predicts 2017: Cloud Computing Enters Its Second Decade, David Mitchell Smith, et al., December 2, 2016). ThousandEyes recorded over 100% year-over-year bookings growth in both domestic and international markets, adding 18 Fortune 500 customers, and now counts five of the top five SaaS companies and four of the top six US Banks as customers. This includes a doubling of customers in the technology, financial services and media and gaming verticals as well as continued expansion into the healthcare and manufacturing verticals. Notable customers include 1-800-Contacts, Qualys, Collective Health, Comcast Corp., TBWA Worldwide, Wageworks, Luminex, DHI Group Inc., Craigslist, Creative Artists Agency, Conde Nast Publications Inc., Quantcast, Pitney Bowes, Cloudflare, Hi-Rez Studios, Shutterfly, Ellie Mae, and lululemon. In order to meet the growing demand for Network Intelligence and meet the needs of an expanding base of customers, ThousandEyes has expanded business operations, including a new sales office in Austin, TX, a second engineering office in London, as well as continuing to double the team in the San Francisco headquarters. ThousandEyes, also made several notable executive appointments to help lead teams and areas that are strategic for long term growth. These executives include Victoria Abeling, director of corporate sales, Prabha Krishna, vice president of people operations, and Ashwin Kedia, vice president of business development. ThousandEyes held ThousandEyes Connect events in San Francisco and New York City, featuring presentations from leading companies, such as AIM Speciality Health, Cisco, Hi-Rez Studios, Microsoft, Nasdaq, Quantcast, RichRelevance, ServiceNow, Unilever, Verisign and Zendesk. ThousandEyes Connect is a live event where network engineers and web performance practitioners share their experiences tackling tough performance challenges. "The launch of Endpoint Agent, easier deployments of Enterprise Agents, and the continued expansion of our Cloud Agent locations has enabled us to build a truly unique global dataset that consolidates performance measurements and metadata from thousands of distinct vantage points from all across the Internet, into the enterprise, and to the endpoint," said Ricardo Oliveira, ThousandEyes CTO and co-founder. "This enables us to innovate in really profound and interesting ways, such as delivering Internet Outage Detection as part of our vision for Collective Intelligence. The ability to provide actionable insights into complex Internet-centric networks has made ThousandEyes a necessary ingredient for the modern enterprise, and we look forward to continuing to deliver on our vision for Network Intelligence." Industry Recognition In the past year, ThousandEyes earned recognition and accolades from industry press and analyst firms. A Gartner report mentioned ThousandEyes as a representative vendor for Collective Intelligence Benchmarking (Gartner Inc., Innovation Insight for Collective Intelligence Benchmarking, Vivek Bhalla and Will Cappelli, September 26, 2016). Analyst firm IDC included ThousandEyes as an "IDC Innovator for Cloud-Managed Network Monitoring" within the enterprise network management market. CRN included ThousandEyes on its 2016 list of top "Emerging Vendors" in July. And in a December article, Business Insider counted ThousandEyes as one of "51 enterprise startups to bet your career on in 2017." ThousandEyes is a Network Intelligence platform that delivers visibility into every network an organization relies on, enabling them to optimize and improve application delivery, end-user experience and ongoing infrastructure investments. Leading companies such as Equinix, ServiceNow and Twitter, as well as eBay and other members of the Fortune 500, use ThousandEyes to improve performance and availability of their business-critical applications. ThousandEyes is backed by Sequoia Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures, Tenaya Capital and GV (formerly Google Ventures), and has headquarters in San Francisco, CA. For more information, visit https://www.thousandeyes.com or follow us on Twitter at @ThousandEyes.
News Article | February 18, 2017
Here’s how it felt in the weeks before I resigned from my last startup: I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. Resting pulse at 120. I had reached a point where I couldn’t agree with my co-founder over the future of the company. I had to step away from the startup for which I shed blood, sweat and tears. I didn’t want to do it, but I reached a point, physically and mentally, where I couldn’t handle the stress anymore. This is the first public post in which I’ve ever talked about it, but through advising hundreds of startups, I’ve learned that my story is not uncommon. Every co-founder situation is different, but one common problem that keeps popping up revolves around how the founders engage in conflict: either not enough, or far too much. Founder drama happens even in situations where you wouldn’t expect it to crop up. Success will cover up many sins. When things are going up and to the right, things might be going wrong underneath and you won’t be aware of it. It’s the black ice of startups. It’s dangerous because every startup will hit the skids sooner or later. You can’t count on good times forever — winter is coming. Posterous, the startup I co-founded in 2008, grew 10X yearly and became a top 200 Quantcast website in that time. But by the end of 2010, growth had flatlined. When things were going well, we were too busy keeping the site online to have anything to disagree about. I learned the hard way that if you haven’t prepared for conflict in your co-founder relationship, you’ll be at each other’s throats right at the moment when you most need to be working well together. The mistake that my co-founder and I made was in avoiding the dynamics of our co-founder marriage altogether. We rarely spoke directly and honestly with one another. We didn’t stop to reflect on what he needed or I needed. We never sought professional support to ensure the health of our partnership. When the honeymoon ended, there was no healthy foundation to support the company. During my time as a partner at Y Combinator, we always looked closely at how well co-founders knew each other before they started. Most people think of good co-founding pairs in purely functional terms: a business person paired with a technical person. This is deeper than that, because when conflict does arise (and it always does), if you have nothing in common other than the startup, you’ll struggle to find common ground at the worst of times. It’s necessary for founders to have something in common, but not sufficient in and of itself. In my case, I had known my co-founder for more than eight years, and we had been friends since college. We had history, but we learned history is not enough — you’ve got to maintain it like any relationship. It isn’t enough that you’ve been friends for years. It matters what your relationship is like now. With hindsight, I now realize my rift with my co-founder was entirely preventable. We stopped spending time together because we were avoiding conflict. I wanted so much for us to succeed, and I wanted so much for us to be great co-founders (and to maintain the narrative that we were close and had a good partnership) that I skipped the hard work that it takes to get that relationship and do our best work: embracing conflict and resolving it. It’s a problem that I’ve recognized over and over again in founders with whom I’ve worked both as an advisor and investor. If you haven’t spent time together outside of work, ask yourself why? If you see your co-founder coming down the hall, do you alter your course to avoid them? Do you try to keep your interactions at a minimum? If so, that’s a clear sign you’re avoiding conflict by just avoiding them, period. That’s just not going to work. Founders sometimes take the avoidance route to an extreme. One recently told me that he decided to talk to his co-founder only once monthly, claiming it to be the only valid way forward. This was a pretty extreme case of avoidant behavior! I told them they had to either radically spend 10X more time working through issues and resolving them, or prepare to split. It’s the same script all over again: Co-founder conflict is bad, so if we minimize how often it happens, that’s the best possible case. It’s a trap! My executive coach, Cameron Yarbrough, points out that this is usually the moment the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse show up: defensiveness, criticism, contempt and stonewalling. When psychologist John Gottman (author of the Four Horseman concept) identifies those behaviors in marital relationships, he’s able to predict relationship failure with uncanny accuracy. The same thing holds true for co-founders. Successful co-founders actually embrace conflict, and are constantly in the process of resolving it. If you can’t argue and arrive at the best solution, you’re not doing the work to actually have a real, healthy working relationship. You have to actually lean into the conflict and come out with a solution that makes sense, over and over again. If you find yourself avoiding it, then you have to consciously expend effort to fight that default behavior. Don’t agree on something? Don’t leave the room until you have a resolution. An hour is not enough? Cancel your weekend, go on a hike and figure it out. In these situations, there’s nothing more important than for you and your co-founders to do the work and come out of it stronger. Of course, fighting all the time is no good either. It’s a recipe for a frayed relationship sooner or later. When founders are in a situation where they are fighting about everything all the time, it usually means that their individual roles are not well-defined enough. Two hacker founders refuse to give up ground over an architectural decision, product-oriented founders with similar skill sets fight over direction and so on. Here’s the best way to handle it: Make a list of all of the areas needed for your business. Then figure out who is best at each part, and assign one person to it. If someone’s better at sales, they should own that. Likewise for DevOps or any other specific task that is core to your business. That person is officially the owner of that thing. Everyone agrees to hear each other out when a decision comes up, but once the owner decides, all debate is over. Everyone moves on. You can’t debate things forever, and co-founders need to be able to trust each other. If this is your first company, this might be the first time you’ve had to make decisions at this stage. What does it actually mean to embrace conflict? What is fighting fair? Embrace conflict instead of abandoning yourself. Some founders know what they want, and know what’s right, but give up before the fight even starts. If this sounds like you, don’t feel bad about it — that was me too. I’ve always valued harmony in my interactions with everyone I work with. But with time, and, again, sometimes the hard way, I’ve learned you can’t sacrifice what you know to be right in order to get to that harmony early. You’ve got to fight. Don’t swallow your words. If you have a point, make sure you are heard. It’s not aggression either. You shouldn’t bulldog your way to a decision. The loudest in the room shouldn’t necessarily and automatically be the one who wins. This is actually conflict avoidance of a different stripe — one that doesn’t give any space to any competing idea at all. You may be sure you’re right, but in a fair and balanced conflict, there’s no downside to listening first and letting the other side know you hear them. Fighting fair is collaborative and data-based. One concrete thing before you start to work through conflict is to always remind yourselves: You’re on the same team. Everyone in the room wants to win, and all of you want to make this company successful. With that, you’re ready to go talk about the problem as a process, where different viewpoints are aired and evaluated directly. You fail at this only when you try to skip to the end, either by giving up before you begin (self-abandonment) or asserting you’re right before anyone even gets to get a word in edgewise. One concrete way to get more direct experience with this is what’s called a T-Group, which is a technique developed for the Stanford GSB’s Interpersonal Dynamics program to train people in precisely this kind of fighting fair. Nonprofit InnerSpace regularly hosts them, and many founders describe the experience as being extremely valuable. Some of you reading this will have been through all of the exercises above, and more. For those of you who are at the end of your rope with your co-founders, I have one final piece of advice: Get help! Talk to your most trusted friends, investors and mentors. Startups are crazy things, after all. You’re trying to do something nobody else has done, and it can feel very lonely, like you’re the only one who has ever had this problem. Trust me, it helps to get outside of your head and talk through what you’re seeing with other founders and friends. Don’t be afraid to bring in the pros. Be open to getting professional help, either individually (to help you respond to the ongoing conflict) or as a group (similar to how a marriage counselor can save a marriage). I can’t recommend executive coaching enough for founders, especially when a company-killing conflict is on the line. You have employees and customers who depend on you to make the right call, and you owe it to them to make sure you do. Athletes have coaches and trainers who help them get to peak performance. Knowledge work can be just as demanding, and I’ve seen many founders find their partnerships saved this way. Co-founder disputes have historically been one of the top reasons startups fail at the earliest possible stage. Most that do fail do so because conflict (either too much or too little) is left unresolved for too long; with these tools, you’ll at least be a little more prepared against that possibility. Embrace the conflict — just the right amount — and you’ll get through this, too. Thanks to my executive coach, Cameron Yarbrough, for reading drafts of this.
News Article | February 23, 2017
Chances are that if you've been on the internet at all in the past 17 years, you've come across DeviantArt. Maybe your first introduction to the online art community was a particularly tasteful nude drawing of a cartoon character, or maybe it was… Well, actually, that was probably it. Anyway, DeviantArt just sold for $36 million. The site was sold to Wix, a Tel Aviv-based website creation tool, Reuters reported. $36 million is a fair amount of money—not big kid money at a time when startups easily nab hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, but still a shocking amount to anybody who is familiar with DeviantArt as a home for anime fanart and pregnant Sonic the Hedgehog porn fantasies. (In the site's defense, it also hosts a diverse array of art spanning many genres and mediums.) The move makes some sense when you consider how long DeviantArt has been around and how consistently popular it's been for a particular subculture of artists. The site was founded in Los Angeles in 2000, and nearly two decades later boasts 38 million members. Quantcast traffic numbers show that while it's just shy of being in the top 100 most-visited US sites, DeviantArt is still pretty damn popular. As for what the value proposition of horny cartoon nudes might be for Wix, according to Bloomberg, the company hopes that the acquisition will improve its 2017 revenue by $8 million. DeviantArt runs ads on its site, and it seems like it's got a fair amount of eyeballs on them. You know, when those eyeballs aren't staring at a pink pony's ass. Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter .