When Jacob Mullins launched ExitRound while working under the aegis of Shasta Ventures it was a somewhat impossible fit: To paraphrase Holy Writ, how can one rock along with two masters? You can’t, so that’s one for Scripture. Mullins has left Shasta to run ExitRound, the Grindr for startup strategic options, full time.
Today the company announced that Mullins has taken the helm full-time, that Greg Dean (formerly of Avira and the acquired SocialShield) has joined to make its technology turn on, that it has formed a ‘Industry Council,’ and that its two-sided marketplace has seen a company from anonymized profile to complete exit.
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ExitRound provides a service in which companies that may wish to sell themselves, albeit privately, can attract a buyer sans the need to disclose their personally identifying information. To allow for this process, ExitRound builds company profiles with the firms that use its service: Firm X has [Talent $Y], etc. Prospective purchasers can find companies that suit their needs, and then note that they are interested.
The company question is alerted to the interest. And, if they think that the match might suit, they can have ExitRound help facilitate a meeting. If you have been acquihiring through word of mouth, or by a decent ambulatory experience involving pavement, ExitRound might be able to help you up your game.
The dating service overtones here are too lovely to ignore. It’s akin to OkCupid. You put up a profile that includes relevant information about yourself, but not too much; just enough to induce a message from a potential suitor. They say hi, and OkCupid puts you two in touch. It doesn’t do much else. But it provides the space, and that alone is very valuable. ExitRound makes its cut by charging a surprisingly low fee per hire as part of an acquisition.
ExitRound now has 200 buyers on board its marketplace. These range from three categories that it views as distinct: large companies, late series younger companies, and legacy firms. Fair analogous firms that I am utterly unsure as to their status as part of the ExitRound ecosystem would be, in order, Microsoft, Box, and IBM. Each company category has different reasons for looking to hire hot talent, even if that human potential failed as a business experiment.
Aside from a marketplace, what can ExitRound offer? Again akin to OkCupid, it ranks by ‘magic.’ Mullins et al have created software tools that help match larger firms to smaller fry in a way that cuts short the filtering process.
The company is not disclosing what company it helped arranged a golden parachute for.
Sub-decent jokes via analogy aside, the startup market is tilting heavily towards ExitRound and its plans over the next few years; there are far too many bubble egos out there in need of a pricking.
The downside to ExitRound allowing for sub-viable companies to find an exit is that it will save face for any number of entrepreneurs that simply failed, but managed in the end to save their investors a few cents per invested dollar.
‘Exited founder’ will forever live on their business card.
The number of companies that need to either fall apart of find a corporate parent that will Venus Fly Trap their operations into pulp and later pure nutrients is high. Call it the Series A crunch or whatever suits you. Cash flow has always been oxygen, and there are too many firms out there not breathing.
The real test for ExitRound will be its ability to better monetize deals that it helps arrange. When it can command a 5% cut along with a per-employee fee, it has a chance of revenue worth covering. It will only reach that stature when its marketplace and filtering tools become north of required.
For now, it has proven initial cash flow. Let’s see where its all-but-certainly coming capital round is sourced from. That said, provided strong execution, ExitRound might find itself in the exceptionally profitable position of the effective unwinder of dreams
Top Image Credit: Theodore Scott