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…