Seesmic is one of those startups that never quit, it just kept pivoting. And today, it’s getting rewarded for all the work — we’re hearing it is about to close a sale to Hootsuite. We’re still trying to get the price, but we expect this isn’t a huge acquisition given the competitive market it is in today.
[Update: Hootsuite has confirmed the news -- in that the confirmation was embargoed for 6am PT tomorrow, but ended up getting leaked now. You know how these things can end up. Congrats to all, in any case!]
The company began life in mid-2007 as a “video Twitter,” with backing from a wide range of Silicon Valley investors*. Then it experimented with new features, like video comments, and eventually pivoted into the social media client business. That’s basically what Hootsuite appears to be buying it for.
Founded by entrepreneur and investor Loic Le Meur (who also organizes the Le Web conferences in Europe), Seesmic currently offers a product called Ping that lets you post to multiple social media accounts — Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, etc. — from its web or mobile app. Features include scheduling, a way to convert attachments to links, personalized groups, plus bookmarklet and email posting options.
Hootsuite has many of the same features, as well as a range of other analytics tools. It’s also sold itself well with larger companies that are trying to manage their online presences in recent years. For what it’s worth, we’ve heard various rumors about major fundings; it also landed a partnership with Twitter.
We’re still working on the price (it hasn’t quite closed, though, so we might not know for a bit). But the sale itself isn’t that surprising. Le Meur alluded to the challenges in a lengthy, heartfelt personal blog post in July. Here’s the key excerpt:
I have not always succeeded and it’s not surprising, I have succeeded enough to feel happy. 2012 treats me great so far as we took risks to launch LeWeb in London and I think we were very successful in our first non Paris based event with 1400 participants from 50 countries, wow. I have been struggling with Seesmic for 5 years, pivoting 4 times and not reaching success yet, still trying hard (we just killed a bunch of products to focus on one, Seesmic Ping and monetized it with hundreds of happy paid customers already and a nice growth). A big change.
Success doesn’t come where you expect it most of the times. It’s unrelated to how hard you try to focus your efforts and your time on something. I have spent 95% of my time the last five years on Seesmic and 5% on LeWeb. Seesmic hasn’t been what I have hoped for (even though I’m still trying hard) while LeWeb has become a true international brand and a profitable business without me doing much more than inviting speakers. Big lesson here. I thank my wife Geraldine for LeWeb’s success and blame myself for not having been able to make Seesmic what I had in mind. I still have good hopes we can make it something good, growing and profitable. Time will tell and I don’t give up, even if sometimes I actually should. I will have to write more about the pivots, I have been thinking a great deal about them and what happened next. I think we had a lot of head wind, to take a sailing image. I have a great team and I’m thankful my business partner Bastien Vidal and my team (past and present) went through so many challenges with me.
*Disclosure time: One of those investors is Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch. He doesn’t have a financial interest in this publication today, and our staff in turn does not have a financial interest in his investing vehicle, the CrunchFund. But, he does help us out with things like events (like at our Disrupt SF conference) and in general I and other staffers consider him a friend. While we’re at it, many of us at TC also know Loic personally, and while we also don’t have a financial relationship with him, we do appear at his conferences and vice versa from time to time. So… congrats, everyone.