Exitround, the website that launched earlier this year that lets startups anonymously seek acquirers, is announcing that it has facilitated its very first acquisition.
Pretty exciting, right? But what’s the startup? Who did the acquiring? Well, co-founder and CEO Jacob Mullins isn’t saying. He claimed that he’d like to share details, but the acquiring company wants to keep the deal confidential. (And in this case, the acquirer isn’t just trying to keep Exitround’s involvement secret. Apparently the acquisition hasn’t been announced publicly at all.)
That’s a little disappointing but not too surprising, as one of Exitround’s main selling points is confidentiality. Startups are matched with potential acquirers based on some of their basic characteristics, but they’re not actually identified or put in contact unless the team expresses interest in a specific company.
Still, if you believe Mullins (I do, but maybe that’s because we used to work together at VentureBeat), the news is a sign that there’s really something to the idea. It’s only one acquisition, but since it’s only been four months since the service was announced, and three months since it went live, he said “thrilled” that it has gotten this far this quickly. There are several other deals in progress, he added.
Another sign of interest: Mullins said there are now more than 200 potential buyers on the service, including 16 public companies and nine companies in the Fortune 500. Those buyers go beyond the big tech companies that you’d expect and include fast-growing startups and companies outside the tech industry entirely.
On the other side of the marketplace, namely startups seeking (or at least considering) an acquisition, Mullins said there’s been broader interest than he expected — it’s not just small teams that are looking to exit gracefully through an acqui-hire, but also larger startups with funding and real technology. The average startup on the site has a team of seven people, with five of them holding technical positions, and has raised $634,771, Exitround says.
When we last covered the company, Mullins told me he was treating Exitround as a side project from his job as a senior associate at Shasta Ventures. Since then, he’s left Shasta and is now working full-time on the service, as has CTO and co-founder Greg Dean (formerly of Avira and SocialShield). He also said he’s working on raising an angel round of funding.
As companies have started using the site, Mullins realized how tough it can be to actually figure out which companies might be interested in buying which startups, he said. Over time, the goal is to build recommendation technology that can make those matches “in a more highly software-based and scalable way.”
Another goal is to do more to guide startups about when they should be looking at an acquisition and how they should go about the process — for example, Mullins said he wants to produce more content around that topic. To that end, Exitround is also announcing an “industry council” with experts on the corporate development and acquisition process. Their job won’t be producing the content themselves or working directly with startups (though that may happen on a case-by-case basis), but rather to guide Exitround’s strategy. The council consists of:
- Pat Matthews, Senior Vice President Corporate Development, Rackspace
- Adeo Ressi, CEO & Founding Member, The Founder Institute
- Ted Rheingold, Founder of Dogster/Catster; Entrepreneur
- Mark Seneca, Partner, Orrick
- MG Siegler, TechCrunch Columnist and Investor
- Ryan Spoon, Senior Vice President Product Development, ESPN
- David Tisch, Managing Partner, Box Group