Blog Post

Thoof Goes Poof!

This past weekend, Michael Arrington reported that Thoof, an Austin, Texas-based social news site, took a dirt nap. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to our readers. Stacey had the scoop way back in January that the company started by Ian Clarke (one of the founders of Revver) was up for sale.

Thoof wanted to create a Digg-like service by observing people’s click streams. The company raised some seed funding from Austin Ventures and others and hit its peak (in terms of traffic) in October 2007 before it began slip-sliding away into oblivion. Thoof’s web site now redirects to Reddit, one of the popular social news sites that’s owned by CondeNast.

Given that the company was up for sale for about six months, I would say it’s just the latest example of the fact that Web 2.0 remains a buyers’ market — not a good sign for tens of dozens of companies that have cropped up across the web. The buyers remain pretty disinterested — even Yahoo is still busy dealing with its own mess. Microsoft is too distracted to do anything, and while Google and AOL are buying stuff, both of them are being highly selective.

4 Responses to “Thoof Goes Poof!”

  1. Funny story: we’ve talked to two different companies about a sale in the last year and neither of them bought. They both went ahead with purchasing venture backed start ups, where ours is bootstrapped, HOWEVER, our company is bigger than both of those, even nearly a year post acquisition for the first which was acquired.

    One company was purchased less than we’d take – eg, if the buyer had offered us X, we would have laughed at them and added their email to our spam filters. The other one, with a large staff (nearly 20 people) and 2.5 million in funding…well, is nowhere to be found, and rumored to have been purchased for $15-$20 million, from my discussions with people familiar with the deal.

    Is this relevant to some random startup with zero business model, no USP, and cluetrain-less management going poof? Absofrickenlutely.

    You (Mr Om Malik) chatted with me for 30 minutes a year and a half ago, and then didn’t write us up (sniff)…fast forward to July, 2008, and we had more than 1.8 million uniques and Quantcast puts us in the top 1000 websites in the US according to their panel.

    However, do we get techcrunch’d? Gigaom’d? Or even, readwrittenweb’d? Nope. Why?
    1) Lack of funding (sorry, bootstrapping only, here)
    2) Six person team (9 including the executives, the lack of a substantial amount of cash being burned must make us less sexy)
    3) Conference attendance – sorry, what conference? Phone calls work for both of my businesses, so there’s no reason to change my tune.
    4) Focus on the user, not the blogosphere – getting users to like your service, growing an audience to 100,000 plus while maintaining a profit isn’t sexy…however, it’s business.

    I for one look forward to the trimming in the coming year as more companies that raised silly money without a clue of what they were aiming for (PROFIT) go by the wayside. It’s a buyer’s market to a degree, but you still see plenty of silliness in the acquisition space as well, where it’s HARD to justify the crazy money being spent (Bebo anyone…)

  2. I am continually amazed at the followers that want to make a Digg-like service (or you name it copy cat)that actually succeed in raising some capital.

    Even Digg cant get an exit now. They will have to do it the old fashioned way – operating a business.