Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ringside Winding Down

A year ago, a group of us met in a pizza parlor to discuss how we could bring the social web to every website and business. In January, we launched Ringside Networks with seed funding from Matrix Partners, one of the best VC firms in the country. By the end of March we released into open source an initial beta of our Social Application Server – a very ambitious project. We got some very positive reviews on our approach, our implementation and the need in the marketplace for every website to become social.

We were ready for our Series A round of funding, and in late May we received a number of term sheet offers from the very best VC firms. As we were about to finalize our funding, one of the biggest non-evil Internet companies asked if we would have interest in being acquired instead. After a lot of thought and debate, we decided that the larger company would enable us to get our technology to market sooner and with more impact.

The story sounds almost too good to be true. And it was. After dragging out the process for most of the summer, the non-evil company decided that they really did not want to acquire the company after all. Recommendation: always beware of wolves dressed as Grandma, they may be more like Microsoft than they admit.

By that time, of course, we had used up all of our seed money. And by backing away from our Series A offers, we kind of burned the VC’s. Even better, our development had stalled because of our desires to build stuff aligned with our new direction in the non-evil company.

Matrix was certainly gracious about our predicament and funded us with bridge loans while we mapped out a way forward. The team pressed on with some really cool on-demand technology called Ringside SocialPass that we were readying for Beta.

However, we were not successful in raising the kind of Series A round required for us to make a real impact on the market.

So, the team has decided it is time to move forward.

We are not quite sure what that is for us yet. There may be companies that share our passion for the future of the Social Web and feel our technology and people can help them out. Some of our team may disperse (some already have) to go make their individual marks on the industry. Some may even pick up the pieces and go on to form another company out of the remains of Ringside.

We can’t simply blame non-evil companies, however.

The building of a company requires so many things to come together.
Good ideas, good target markets, good people, good business models, good timing.
I think we just missed on the final ingredient - good luck…

13 comments:

Skanda said...

Hello Bob,
Thanks for sharing this. In hind sight, this was one case where getting funded and hoping for IPO was better than (hoping) to get acquired. Good luck on your next venture.
thanks and regards,
Skanda Swamy

tonystubblebine said...

Sorry to hear this. I thought it was a great idea.

Howard said...

It was already a gloomy day, but hearing this makes it that much worse. I thought this was a great idea as well and was bummed that I was not able to participate more. Good Luck to you and your team

Howard Spector

Marcf said...

Sorry to hear about the gloo-gloo day as we say in France

Greg said...

Thanks for sharing. I was routing for you guys. Good luck.

- B.Robinson's brother, Greg

germango said...

Really a damn shame... Was tremendously exciting to see the band get back together. It was certainly not a lack of amazingly gifted people. Best of luck to all involved.

SavRod said...

Bob, sorry to hear. Was following you guys via Shaun's blog. Good luck going forward!

Cameron said...

You win some, you lose some, and you're right that luck has more to do with it than most people want to believe. Best wishes, and here's hoping to see you back in action soon :)

Peace,

Cameron.

Michael said...

Bob,

Very sorry to hear that this turned out the way it did. I was rooting for you, Shaun, and my other former Bluestone colleagues to make this a huge success.

Best regards,

Mike Lucca

Matthew Quinlan said...

Disappointing for sure. But looking forward to the next act of Bickel & Company :) I'm sure it won't be long.

Cheers!
-Quin'

TItus said...

Hello Bob:
I do not believe this. Sorry, I was out of circulation on this one!

I thought there was a lot of potential in this. To me, it is sheer timing and possibly bad luck.

Do you still hold pieces of this technology? Can we find like minded people who will come together to find markets for the technology?

What ails the furthering of this cause?

Regards,
Titus

Bob Bickel said...

Rich Friedman and Jason Kinner are both still doing things with the technology. One of the benefits of having open source code...

TItus said...

Hello Bob:

I need to speak to you on couple of areas. Where can I reach you?

Regards,

Titus Sequeira