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How could you not fall in love with a company named AgileZen? Today, Rally Software – a company I’ve been an investor in since 2003 – announced that they have acquired AgileZen. If you are an Agile software development shop, or follow ALM, Rally just added Kanban to the mix.
This is the second acquisition Rally has made – the other was 6th Sense Analytics which they acquired at the beginning of 2009. If you follow this blog, you know that I’m a big fan of having established companies I’m an investor in buy smaller companies to help build out their product road map. I’m explicitly not a fan of rollups – I’ve had my share of investments in rollups that didn’t work. But I love targeted acquisitions that build out specific capabilities on an established company’s roadmap or add key people to the team. If you are looking for recent examples of this in my world, two others are NewsGator’s acquisition of Tomoye or Zynga’s acquisition of Serious Business.
Both companies have detailed blog posts about the deal – Welcome AgileZen! and We’ve joined Rally Software. If you are a company operating in one of our themes, don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me if you think you might fit with a company we’ve already invested in – you never know where the conversation might lead.
And congrats to both Rally and AgileZen – I’m excited for you guys.
There are a lot of fun connections here for me. For starters, as many of you know, I’m an investor in Gist. If you haven’t tried it – or haven’t played with it for a while – give it a shot. The evolution of the product over the last six months has been remarkable as it gets better every two weeks (the Gist teams’ release cycle).
The iPhone app has been out for a while and is a killer. I’ve seen the Android app – it’s equally cool and useful. Each of them connect up to the Gist service that lives in the cloud and connects together all of your contact information, builds an implicit social network based on your email traffic and friends lists, and surfaces a variety of content (including news as well as real-time stuff) for your contacts.
Learn that Name was a Startup Weekend Seattle project from a few months ago. Andrew Hyde, who is the community manager for TechStars, created Startup Weekend and I attended the first one in Boulder. It has become an amazing worldwide phenomenon that is now run by Clint Nelsen and Marc Nager. So – that’s linkage two for me.
The idea for Learn that Name came from Eric Koester, a lawyer in Cooley’s Seattle office. Eric has been super helpful on the Startup Visa initiative as well, working on an ABA brief for us that will hopefully be officially approved soon. Who said that lawyers weren’t a force for good in the world? So – that’s linkage number three.
TechCrunch’s article gives a little more history on the deal and how the proceeds (yes – there are proceeds) are being split up among the team members that participated in the Startup Weekend project. I know that at the very first Startup Weekend that I attended in Boulder there was a hope that some of these projects would spin out and either get commercialized or acquired. I’m proud to be involved in one of the first ones to have this happen. Oh – and Learn that Name when played within Gist’s iPhone app is a lot of fun.
Congrats to all my friends at Kerpoof – it was announced a few weeks ago that Kerpoof was acquired by Disney. Krista Marks – the CEO and co-founder – emailed me the Kerpoof mouse ears photo which inspired me to blog about them. It’s another great example of a local Boulder software / Internet company that had a passion, made something happen, and had a great exit.
I met Krista and her co-founders at a CSIA event and then again while they were gearing up for the 2007 TechCrunch 40. I gave them feedback on their presentation, started playing around with Kerpoof, and decided that Krista was a star. They weren’t raising money at the time (they were self funded through consulting work they were doing while building out their service) so I gave them feedback whenever they asked and stayed close to them. I encouraged Krista to have Kerpoof join the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado – which they did.
Last spring, Krista told me they had been approached by a large company that was interested in acquiring them. She was looking for advice – both business and legal – on the deal. I connected her with Mike Platt at Cooley – one of the best entrepreneurial M&A lawyers I’ve worked with. I also provided friendly feedback to Krista and her partners during the process. Mike turned out to be the perfect fit for them as a deal lawyer and helped them navigate an extended negotiation very gracefully.
The acquisition closed last fall, but Disney and Kerpoof wanted to do some integration before announcing it. I’m glad the news is out – Krista can now wear her Mickey Mouse ears and PJ’s in public. And I especially appreciate Kerpoof’s contributions – through the Entrepreneurs Foundation – to several local organizations, including the National Center for Women & Information Technology.
Oh – and keep being innovators!
On Monday, StillSecure announced that it has acquired ProtectPoint. ProtectPoint is a managed security service provider (MSSP) and immediately adds a portfolio of managed security products to StillSecure’s award-winning product arsenal. Alan Shimel, the Chief Strategy Officer of StillSecure, does an excellent job of explaining the reasons for the acquisition in his post titled StillSecure acquires ProtectPoint, entering the MSSP market – Why?
This is the second time in less than a month that a company I’m on the board of has made an acquisition. At the end of January, in my post titled Rally Software is a Buyer I wrote:
“[With regard to an acquisition strategy] I’m seeing this pattern with a number of the established companies I’m an investor in. Having gone through this cycle several times and had success and failure with acquisition driven strategies, I’ve got a clear view on when and how it can work successfully. I’m not interested in garbage truck mergers (two crappy companies that get jammed together to hope something good comes out of it) – all of my energy is focused on having a market leader pick up a complementary technology or market “asset” that helps accelerate the product or market roadmap.”
As with Rally’s acquisition of 6th Sense Analytics, StillSecure has been working on building out a set of managed security offerings around their product set. The demand for managed security services (or security as a service, or whatever you want to call it) has been steadily increasing and StillSecure decided to explore a buy vs. build approach to accelerate their entry into the market. StillSecure went searching for a company to acquire and found a great fit (functionally and culturally) with ProtectPoint and now has a fully built out and well regarded MSSP offering as part of its product mix.
Having spent some time with Steve Harris, the CEO of ProtectPoint, I’m really excited about what he and his team bring to StillSecure. I also have another person to hang out besides Alan when I head to Florida for a break from winter. Steve and team – welcome aboard!