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A Personal Note On The Deconstruct/Verve Acquisition

Hey, it’s great to have you here on my blog. I think today we have a lot of new readers, so I am happy to announce a number of exciting new things. First, my blog last year had the fewest posts it has had since I started blogging three years ago and now I can tell you why: I left Aol to start a company in the online advertising space: Deconstruct Media. I am also happy to announce that that company has subsequently been acquired by Verve Wireless.

It is a great day for Deconstruct, for my team, and for me personally. I think every start-up wants the outcome to have a few components: Great growth opportunities for the team, good financial outcomes, and the chance to take the technology that you have built and distribute it to a huge audience. Being a part of Verve will allow us to bring really great online advertising tools to thousands of publishers and advertisers and I think that is why we build these things. Everyone likes to see their technology used and we are no different.

I imagine that people come to blogs like this one hoping to get a little bit of insight into, “what it’s like”. It’s hard. As Brian O’Kelley told me the first time I met him, “There are only two emotions: Utter euphoria and abject terror, and you alternate between these two extremes rapidly.”

Two quick stories to illustrate this with some color:

I had an original technical co-founder that I started working on the project with. When I left Aol and went full-time on Deconstruct, we met and I said, “ok, quit your day job and let’s do this.” Unfortunately, given his circumstances, he felt like he couldn’t pull the trigger. So there I am, unemployed, without a technical person on my project. I started beating the bushes for a technical co-founder and within two weeks Dimitrij decided to jump on board. Everyone talks about the value of a quick yes or no from investors, but when you are recruiting a tech lead for your project and sitting around burning cash while you do it, having someone rapidly decide to take a huge risk and give you their time is an amazingly precious gift.

Much later, as I was attempting to raise our first round, I met with a well-known seed stage VC trying to find a lead for my deal and they asked who else was investing. One of the names I gave them was Jerry Neumann, which of course made them say, “Oh, Jerry is awesome, we will call him to reference check”. Then I got a call from the VC saying, “We chatted with Jerry and he said he wasn’t in.” My heart almost fell out of my shoe. I called Jerry– freaking out– and we agreed to meet the next day. I thought I was going into that meeting to find out my round had now fallen completely apart while I had wandered the country looking for a lead investor. I kick off my meeting with Jerry with a statement along the lines of, “Can we post-mortem this so I can understand what I am supposed to do next time?” and he discusses common mistakes in fund-raising. Then he says, “We gotta get moving on this. I will lead this round, I am sending you a term sheet right now (click), ok, you have it, and I will get <well-known VC> to participate as well.” When I got up to walk out of that meeting, I found that my feet did not touch the ground.

We ultimately were acquired before we ever closed our seed round, but I will remain indebted to Jerry for life.


That is how it goes when you are an entrepreneur. Every one of us has those stories.

At a moment when my blog readership will never be higher, it is a good time to thank some people. Deconstruct Media was a company for less than a year, yet in that year I participated in more than 500 meetings. There are literally hundreds of people that helped shape the good things that happened, but these are a few special people:

Dimitrij Denissenko: You could not ask for a better technical superstar to be involved in your company. I always tell people that a great architect is someone that recognizes when you need to design a part of the code for flexibility vs focusing on shipping features quickly. Dimitrij made great tradeoffs. And he put up with me.

John Medforth and John Adler: nuff’ said.

Jerry Neumann: Best angel investor in NYC.

Greg Yardley: Online advertising superstar, opened doors without asking questions, and a good friend.

Gil Beyda: You know an investor is good when he passes on your deal, but takes the time to introduce you to potential customers.

Mike Subelsky: I would not have done it without him. I consider him a better friend than I think he gives himself credit for.

Connie Hwang: My wife is a saint. She makes me a better person and she puts up with all this.

The list is so much longer, I could write a book. People that committed to participating in the round, investors that passed quickly, people that returned calls, our awesome beta publishers and the advertisers that bought campaigns from them.

I am immensely grateful for the success of Deconstruct and super-excited about the things we are going to do at Verve. Many new blog posts chronicling more of these tales are coming.

Interested in Cogmap? This is an org chart wiki that I built because the world needs a wikipedia for organization charts. If you think the charts you found seem out-of-date, don’t write off Cogmap, update it. The only solution to better data is better community.

One Response to “A Personal Note On The Deconstruct/Verve Acquisition”

  1. Rob Wilkerson Says:

    I know we talked about it over dinner, but congratulations again. This is awesome stuff. I’ve never known anyone who’s been acquired before. :-)