Today, my portfolio company Auctomatic announced their sale to Canadian acquirer Live Current Media. There are so many things I could type after working with the founders this past year, countless lessons learned. However, typing from the back of a cab in Los Angeles on an EV-DO connection, I figure I have sufficient battery for just one real message -- thank you.
Thanks to Kulveer and Harjeet Taggar for being the most prototypical examples of entrepreneurial hunger I have seen. When I met these guys during my annual visits to Oxford, they couldn't write a line of code. Never did they seem to let that dim their prospects of being web startup guys. Instead, they just bubbled with an enviable energy and drive and never hesitated to do whatever it took. They are wicked sharp yet instinctively recognize and humbly learn from mistakes without slowing a step. They and their other founders lived in the same room from which they coded. Sleep was rare and there was certainly nothing sexy about their startup existence, but their belief in their mission was unwavering.
Thanks to co-founder Patrick Collison, and his brother John, for making the accomplishments of my youth seem downright inane by comparison. These guys, 19 and 17 respectively, write new operating systems in their spare time and were the jockeys behind the guts of what makes Auctomatic special. I loved that I couldn't take the Auctomatics to a bar for a company meeting. I also admire that despite being off-scale geniuses, both of the Collisons were such likable guys with great attitudes and balanced lives.
Thanks to Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston over at YCombinator for taking a chance on the Taggars. Never before had YC admitted non-coders. But Paul and Jessica struck a deal agreeing to let these two guys participate in YC if they committed to learn to hack. I think both sides were pleased with the outcome. More importantly though, Paul and Jessica are the most effective startup coaches and investors in the world right now. Their religion of focusing relentlessly on user experiences and staying lean and engineering-driven are helping change the face of the entire startup realm in the Valley and the Auctomatics benefited immeasurably.
Thanks to those along the way who gave a helping hand to these guys. I am grateful to people like Evan Williams who gave this ragtag group a place from which to work until they found an apartment and helped them chew on some of their biggest decisions. Paul Buchheit was incredibly helpful when it came to scaling their infrastructure, going so far as to buy servers for them without any formal arrangements in place. The team at Live Current Media, including Geoff Hampson, Jonathan Ehrlich, and Mark Melville, really understands the Auctomatic vision and clearly can see what these guys are capable of accomplishing. That makes me happy. I am even thankful for the other companies that spent time with the us looking to acquire Auctomatic. Though we obviously didn't get a deal done with these other folks, it was great to be reminded of how small Silicon Valley really is and what a pleasure it is to do business here compared to other more mercenary markets.
Above all else, thanks to everyone involved for giving me the opportunity to rediscover that my true passion is for working with startups. When I left Google, many publicly and privately told me I was crazy to do so, and I certainly left some money on the table there. Yet, working with companies like Auctomatic, I find I wake up with so much vigor, thrilled by the prospects of what challenges the day has in store. It is hard to ask for much more out of a career than that. So, one more time, on my last shred of battery power, thanks.