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Startup Weekend Acquires Local Events Newsletter Provider StartupDigest; Product Gets Spun Off As GroupTie

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Startup Weekend, the organization behind the weekend-long hackathons encouraging entrepreneurship, has acquired local events resource and email newsletter provider StartupDigest for an undisclosed sum. StartupDigest currently reaches over 230,000 subscribers across 99 cities and 43 countries around the world. Two of StartupDigest’s core team members, Editorial Director Jessica Ford and co-founder Brendan McManus, will join Startup Weekend following the acquisition. Meanwhile, the software product used to power the StartupDigest service will be transitioned into a new product known as GroupTie.

StartupDigest co-founder Chris McCann and CTO Chris Burnor, the other two core team members from the formerly for-profit operation, will be leading GroupTie’s development going forward. McCann explains GroupTie’s backstory and product in more detail on the service’s website, saying:

We built a recruiting product called StartupDigest VIP for our community which helped engineers, designers, and product managers meet the best startups, and we needed to find a better way to manage our group. We tried using all the available tools out there (Meetup, Eventbrite, Facebook groups, Google groups, LinkedIn groups, etc.) but these tools never worked right for us, so we built our own.

GroupTie, introduced as an alpha product in September, automates time-consuming tasks like adding new members, writing personal introductions, personalizing group messages, and managing multiple categories of members. Over 80 different organizations have since expressed interest in using GroupTie, McCann says, including the Thiel Foundation’s Fellowship Program. Other beta testers include Andreessen Horowitz’s Talent Group, Mexican.vc, Stanford Graduate School of Business Ignite Program, and more.

As for StartupDigest, the service which began as a way to help people find and join startup-related events held in their local community, it will now be folded into Startup Weekend’s operations where it, too, will become a non-profit entity. Ford and McManus will remain in the Bay Area, working out of Startup Weekend’s San Francisco office primarily, as Joey Pomerenke, Startup Weekend’s CMO, tells us. Startup Weekend’s headquarters are actually in Seattle, where they have 20 employees, and the San Francisco office, until now, only had two. There are also a couple of people in both Mexico City and London.

Current StartupDigest subscribers won’t necessarily notice the transition, at least in terms of the newsletter. It won’t be re-branded as a “Startup Weekend” service, for example. “Startup Digest has always been that service to help you get integrated into your startup community and we do not plan on changing that,” says Pomerenke. “Our short-term goal will be to scale StartupDigest to as many communities as we can.  Startup Digest is in 99 cities currently and Startup Weekend is in 335 cities.  We would love to see a StartupDigest for every Startup Weekend city around the globe,” he adds.

Although StartupDigest is going the non-profit route, its business model involving email sponsorships will not change. “It just opens up a perfect opportunity for our current partners and new partners to get in front of many more advertisers,” says Pomerenke. Startup Weekend’s current sponsors include Kauffman Foundation, Google, Microsoft, Sendgrid, Cloudmine and others.