Helping entrepreneurs build great companies is our primary purpose at First Round. If we can do that, we achieve the mission of making great returns for our investors. But we want the exits to not only make good money, but also to find a great homes for the enterprises we’ve helped create, whether that’s as a public company (such as Bazaarvoice) or a merger into another company. So I’m really happy to congratulate @WileyCerilli and the entire team at Single Platform on their acquisition today by Constant Contact (CTCT). Wiley talks about being an @FirstRound entrepreneur here:
@SinglePlatform has made it simple for a small business – starting with restaurants, but expanding to any business with a menu of services – to creat and maintain their digital storefront. They can now get accurate information out through hundreds of publisher sites, so that a search can find and influence potential customers. Along the way, Wiley made a number of astute decisions that helped fuel growth. First, he built a great team – Kenny Herman, Peter Chen and others. Second, after starting out just delivering social media and web presence for the restaurants, he had the insight to realize that putting all the world’s menus in one place, in an easily updatable format, would build a great asset for publishers. Third, Wiley is the best salesman and sales management leader I’ve ever met. He was able to get untrained people up to speed and profitable in well under a month – creating an inside sales machine that was really starting to hum and deliver amazing results.
Wiley has also built a culture that reflects his innate humanity and feelings for his employees, customers and the world. Here’s a video that gives you a little insight into this. There are few US companies that take a break once an hour for some exercise – to keep the blood flowing and the body sound. And Wiley himself devotes time every summer at a camp for children who’ve lost a parent, sharing his own experience with them at such a crucial time in their young lives. You can donate to that great cause.
As @Gail_Goodman, Constant Contact’s CEO noted, Wiley had built a great product, and was just getting to the inflection point where additional capital and other resources could make a difference. With Constant Contact as a parent, the angle on that inflection curve steepens dramatically – they can instantly reach millions of existing small business customers. And since part of the consideration for the merger is an earnout, everyone has incentives aligned to help speed the growth. This is what makes CTCT such a good home for Single Platform. Wiley, in an email to the company this morning, recalled some words of Sheryl Sandberg.
"In my last company wide email I referenced part of Sheryl Sandberg's speech that she recently gave at the HBS graduation. During the speech, she described her hesitations in accepting a job offer with Google, which vanished when Eric Schmidt, the company's former CEO, told her, "Don't be an idiot. Get on a rocket ship. When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. If you are offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat, just get on." Well, SinglePlatform has been offered a front row seat on a larger and faster rocket ship, and we have decided to jump on board."
Charlie O’Donnell(@ceonyc) helped introduce and work on Single Platform with me. He’s written about this experience on his blog. First Round invested in the September 2010 Seed round, and I’ve been proud to serve on the board throughout the 21 month period. We wish Wiley and the rest of the team great success in the future.