Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Warren Lee at Canaan Partners - lessons learned on selling a startup to yahoo

"Last month, Yahoo announced that it was acquiring Associated Content, a startup in which I (via Canaan Partners) invested in July 2007 and on whose board I served. While Associated Content is the fourth of my investments to be successfully acquired in the past few years (after Arroyo/Cisco, Broadbus/Motorola, Counterpane/British Telecom), I consider it to be by far the most personally rewarding and also at times the most challenging as well. Since our initial investment less than three years ago, the team has done a superb job of executing and grown every key metric substantially.

The following are some lessons learned and random opinions from my time with Associated Content."

1) Hire a great startup lawyer from the start.

2) Make necessary personnel changes – fast. And use a search firm when needed.

3) Appreciate passionate founders and teams – they make the company.

4) Be wary of acquirers proclaiming honorable intentions.

5) Why sell now?

6) Ignore the pundits.


Yahoo! to Acquire Associated Content

Extending Leadership in Content With the Addition of 380,000 Contributors

SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Associated Content Inc. This strategic move extends Yahoo's ability to provide high quality, personally relevant content for the benefit of more than 600 million users as well as tens of thousands of advertisers. As Yahoo! enhances its social, mobile, local, and media offerings, the acquisition of Associated Content reinforces the company's longstanding promise to offer the best of the Web -- by combining Associated Content's approximately 380,000 contributors who provide rich and varied content on a broad array of passion points, with Yahoo's leadership in partnering with established content brands and the award-winning team of editors and experts from Yahoo!.

"Combining our world-class editorial team with Associated Content's makes this a game-changer," said Carol Bartz, CEO, Yahoo! Inc. "Together, we'll create more content around what we know our users care about, and open up new and creative avenues for advertisers to engage with consumers across our network. These are important aspects of building engaging consumer experiences on Yahoo!, and one of the reasons why we're one of the most visited destinations online."

"The Associated Content team and our 380,000 contributors are looking forward to joining Yahoo! and to the opportunities that being part of a global Internet brand presents," said Luke Beatty, Associated Content founder and president. "Combining our crowd sourced content with Yahoo!'s distribution, world class editorial team and online marketing leadership will accelerate our growth as we continue to leverage our best-of-breed platform to deliver high quality compelling content on more than 60,000 topics."

For advertisers, this deal will expand Yahoo! into more topic areas and real-time content generation. The combination promises to offer advertisers even more opportunities to engage groups of passionate consumers in ways they will find uniquely appealing to their interests and tastes. Having insight into user intent through its leading search products enables Yahoo! to identify topics important to advertisers and users. Yahoo! plans to use Associated Content to create content around those topics and leverage Associated Content to contribute content to existing media properties. Associated Content also provides more opportunities for Yahoo! to partner and collaborate with publishers who can help the company shape the tremendous variety of content coming in, into something bespoke and even more engaging.

While current Associated Content content is U.S.-centric, Yahoo! expects to scale the platform globally.

Associated Content was founded by Luke Beatty in Denver, Colorado, in 2004. Associated Content receives more than 16 million unique users per month (comScore) and the editorial staff reviews more than 50,000 pieces of content per month, including articles, images, audio and video.

Yahoo! expects to complete this acquisition in the third quarter of 2010. Financial terms were not disclosed.


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