Personal Note: Conrad Got Mailed.

My buddy Tony Conrad, co-founder & CEO of Sphere, just called to let me know that he had sold his company to AOL for an undisclosed amount of money. The details of this announcement are on TechCrunch and also on the Sphere blog.

From start to finish, it took about 30 months for Conrad & his cohorts to get to this point. I can clearly remember the summer of 2005, sitting outside The Grove on Fillmore Street in San Francisco with Tony Conrad and listening to him talk about his new startup, which at the time didn’t have a name.

Given the locale, I was easily distracted, but nevertheless listened to his pitch for Sphere, which at the time wanted to be a relevant blog search and had a working name: Yodel. After raising around $3.75 million in Series A funding, Sphere went through a sea change, changed its business model, and instead of search started offering publishers a widget. The widget, essentially a few lines of html and JavaScript code, would find relevant content across the blogosphere.  I became one of the early adopters of the widget that has since become nearly ubiquitous.

I haven’t written much about them since their funding, mostly because True Ventures, where Tony is a partner, invested in the parent company of this blog. Secondly, I sat 10 feet away from Tony in the True offices in San Francisco, making me privy to more information than I really needed to be.

Most importantly, the Conrads adopted me as a proverbial son, even though Tony is only a few years older than me. For the first time as a reporter I got to see the sacrifices a family has to make when one of them is following their entrepreneurial spirit. The sleepless nights of a founder are not just his — his wife and kids suffer silently as well. Today, I am happy for Tony, but thrilled for Mary and the boys.

Congrats Tony!

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