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Why Ringside Networks Failed

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Ringside Networks, a Marlton, N.J.-based startup that raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Matrix Partners in January, has closed its doors. News of the move came via a blog post authored by the company’s CEO and co-founder, Bob Bickel. The fact that Ringside, which was making an open-source social networking server for the enterprise, shut down isn’t that big of a deal. The reason why, however, offers an important lesson for all startups hoping to get bought by one of the big web companies.

Apparently Ringside was in the process of looking for Series A funding back in May — and getting funding offers from top-tier VC firms — when it received a tentative acquisition offer from a big web company. It opted to go with the acquisition offer, only to have the big web company change its mind.

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.

The company got some bridge loans from Matrix but failed to get more (Series A) funding, even as it finished up its SocialPass technology. The clock, however, kept ticking.

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…

Bickel, by the way, uses the term “non-evil” to describe the onetime potential acquirer, in what seems like an obvious nod to Google, which has long claimed to do no evil. Of course, I can’t say for sure that he meant Google — and you guys can decide for yourselves.

10 Responses to “Why Ringside Networks Failed”

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  2. @Alan

    I’m glad to see people enjoyed your totally uninformed rant. Sure, we had a lull in our productivity as we pursued an acquisition that didn’t happen. But after that, we came out with entirely new pieces of the puzzle that you can see here:

    and here:

    Note that both of these videos feature technology that was produced immediately after the acquisition fell through (I recorded mine at 3am just before climbing on a 6am flight to SFO; that’s what I call “kicking back” alright!). Too bad they may never see the light of day…

    Our team rallied together and sought venture funding at a time when it would have been far easier to give up completely. It disgusts me that our team has to read your ridiculous commentary on their work. If this were a generic list of companies that recently failed, I would react differently, but our guys don’t deserve the kind of personal attacks you are levying.

    One thing you did get right is that the technology is still out there in open source. If anyone is interested in seeing exactly what we did, check out:

  3. @Alan – you write the best comments in blogoshpere – “unvarnished observations” – and great humor to boot! Dont stop anytime soon – keep it coming –

    And OM thanks for directing your readers to the Chrome post by Alan – another good one!

    Cheers –

  4. Gee, Om, I am so flattered. You are like a celebrity to me. I met you in late 2006 at a late event for the Laughing Squid party. I was there with Havi Hoffman of Yahoo (name dropping). I was an analyst at France Telecom’s R&D lab in SSFO – but I told too much truth and spoke to loud amongst the cubicles.

    The Valley wasn’t ready for an East Coast Yankee Jewboy to say, “These ideas stink – here are some vertical and technical markets that would PAY.”

    They said, “Wilensky…..YOU’RE Fired”. Just like on the Jetsons.

  5. They are dropping like flies, and we are just getting started. Undifferentiated, non-useful, no upside companies sometimes founded by folks with 7 or 8 non-performers under their belt. How do they keep (how did they?) getting the cake? THey hired and kicked back, and played buddy.

    Numerous vertical and technical industrial specialist Web20 app ventires where dismissed from the VC tables. Now they can come back and beg to retarget some of the no too horrible code and assetts toward these PAYING markets.