Tag: Spredfast (Page 1 of 2)

Spreadfast Buys Shoutlet

imgres-4Spredfast, an Austin-based social media software startup, Wednesday announced its purchase of Shoutlet, a Wisconsin based competitor.

Austin-based Spredfast did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

As part of the deal, Shoutlet’s Madison, Wisconsin-based headquarters will become Spredfast’s new development center.

“The combined company has 600 employees and more than 1,400 customers in 30 countries, executives said,” according to a story in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. “The acquisition makes Spredfast the largest company in the fast-growing social media technology space, said Rod Favaron, Spredfast’s president and chief executive officer.”

Shoutlet has approximately 100 employees and its customers include Best Buy, Four Seasons and Lowe’s, according to the Journal Sentinel.

“Spredfast’s proven leadership in the social software space makes it clear that they are absolutely the right company to leverage our technology and people. The combined company will provide customers with richer product options, lightning fast innovation, and access to the smartest minds in the industry,” Aaron Everson, President and Co-Founder of Shoutlet, said in a news release. “We’re looking forward to bringing these two strong teams together.”

Spreadfast, founded in 2008, has raised $88.5 million in five rounds from five investors, according to its Crunchbase profile. Last year, Spreadfast bought its Austin crosstown rival, Mass Relevance for an undisclosed price.

Asana Launches a Big Marketing Campaign in Austin

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

austin-map-blog“Work about work” is killing productivity in the workplace, said Kenny Van Zant, an executive with Asana.

Too many managers find themselves bogged down with email and meetings about meetings and very little work is actually getting done, he said.

Asana, a web and mobile software application that allows teams to work together without email, is the solution to improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace, Van Zant said.

Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook, and Justin Rosenstein, former Facebook engineer, co-founded Asana to create a better way for teams to collaborate. The three year old startup, based in San Francisco, has raised $38.2 million in four rounds, according to Crunchbase. And in the last few years, Asana has gotten a lot of traction in the marketplace, Van Zant said.

“We have hundreds of thousands of teams across the world using Asana,” Van Zant said. “We’re one of the fastest growing enterprise software companies ever.”

Van Zant, former chief product strategist at SolarWinds, recently returned to Austin to meet with Asana customers and others about its upcoming marketing launch locally.

“We look at the markets where we have a ton of growth and diversity and Austin rises to the top,” Van Zant said.

Kenny Van Zant with Asana, courtesy photo.

Kenny Van Zant with Asana, courtesy photo.

And he’s familiar with the Austin market. Before SolarWinds, Van Zant worked as head of strategy and corporate development at Motive, maker of broadband service management software. And he co-founded BroadJump in 1998 and served as its chief operating officer. He’s also from Texas and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin.

“Asana is the kind of product where word of mouth is how it grows,” Van Zant said. “We want to highlight some of our customers and have them help tell the Asana story. We look at markets where we could do that in a concentrated way. Austin is clearly the market.”

Asana also looked at launching in Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, London, Berlin and other cities, but chose Austin as its first city for a big marketing campaign outside of California.

Austin companies using Asana include WP Engine, SpareFoot, RideScout, Spredfast, ihiji and Umbel.
But it’s not just tech companies using Asana, Van Zant said. The City of Austin is also a customer, he said. And restaurateurs like Chi’Lantro Food Trucks and Elm Restaurant Group, which owns Arro, 24 Diner and Easy Tiger, use it and so does Tiff’s Treats, a cookie delivery service.

“Each of these companies speaks to how diverse the story is,” Van Zant said.

On May 13th, Asana is launching its Austin campaign and plans to do some digital advertising with its customers front and center. Asana also plans to take out ads on billboards on West Fifth and other signage downtown.

logoAnd Van Zant will give a talk on accountability at Capital Factory open to the public. Later that day, Asan is hosting a happy hour with tacos and tequila. On May 20th, Asana will provide a free lunch at Chi’Lantro. To find out where the truck will be, Asana asks people to follow its Twitter account. Asana will also host a workshop and provide training to companies interested in using the software. It’s free initially for teams of up to 15 people.

To show how Asana can improve productivity, Van Zant likes to tell the story of Emerald Therapeutics, two biotech researchers from Boston, moved out to the Bay area. They do virus research using robots. They have about 30 people before using Asana and they were spending most of their time managing, Van Zant said. Then they started using Asana and they got back about 75 percent of their time, Van Zant said.

“The same thing is true of your average middle manager inside a company anywhere,” Van Zant said. “You want that person to get back to doing work. Asana becomes the middle manager and handles all of the tedious work about work for you.”

Asana also integrates with all kinds of email systems, Dropbox, Box, Google Docs and other tools.

Editor’s note: Asana is a digital advertiser with Silicon Hills News

Go Big Austin

Founder of Silicon Hills News

In a panel titled “Austin’s Brand: Go Big or Go Home” at the Austin Technology Council’s CEO Summit three seasoned tech leaders gave their perspective on building a billion dollar company.

“Something that Austin is not known for is thinking big,” said Mark McClain, CEO and founder of SailPoint Technologies.

Austin companies often don’t go long and take their ventures to the “Thunder Lizard” stage, a term made famous by Mike Maples Jr. with Floodgate Ventures in Silicon Valley. Maples has challenged Austin entrepreneurs to come up with the next big thing and create a $100 billion tech company in the next 10 years, a venture he calls a Thunder Lizard.

RetailMeNot always had a bigger vision, said Cotter Cunningham, its CEO.

“For us, we felt like there was an opening and we could take advantage of it,” Cunningham said.

RetailMeNot is now the world’s largest online coupon and deals marketplace. Cunningham raised about $300 million from investors, including Austin Ventures, Google ventures and others. His intent was always to build the biggest company in the coupon market largely through acquisitions.

RetailMeNot went public last June. Its stock trades under the symbol “SALE” on the Nasdaq stock market and closed at $25 a share on Thursday. It has a market capitalization of $1.2 billion.

Rod Favaron, CEO of Spredfast, a developer of enterprise software for social media platforms previously ran a company called Lombardi Software, which he said was in a niche market. IBM acquired Lombardi Software in 2010. He then joined Spredfast.

At the time, Favaron had no idea that Spredfast was chasing a multi-billion market.

“In 2011 we started to sell to people for $100 a month,” he said. “It was completely unclear how big the market would be. It hit us last summer that this was a very big market. We went from very short term planning horizons to long term planning horizons.”

Spredfast raised $60 million and recently acquired another Austin startup in the social media market, Mass Relevance.

“It’s either going to be a giant fireball or really successful,” Favaron said. “We’re shooting the moon on this one.”

At SailPoint there may be a chance to go bigger and go longer, McClain said.

But it’s often difficult to see that massive potential at the startup stage, he said. Some people may think their market is small but it may develop in ways they didn’t think about, he said.

The key to building a massive company that can scale is product and market fit and market size, the panelists said. The market has to be really big and the startup has to be the leader.

Investors can also keep a company from going big if they don’t think big, Favaron said. It’s really important that investors be in synch with the long-term vision of the company, he said.

The founders also have to have the right mentality to go long and take risks. Some first time founders want to maintain control and that means they don’t raise a lot of money and take risks. For example, the founders of Spredfast were willing to sell the company for $6 million, Favaron said. But he saw a much bigger market and potential.

“Our biggest competitor has raised $70 million,” Favaron said. “I’m underfunded, which is weird. It’s a super big market. I think going big is something we don’t do enough in Austin.”

First time entrepreneurs are more risk averse and tend to sell their company so they can put some money in the bank, according to the panelists. Second time founders are more willing to raise more money and risk more.

“If you’re the founder you can do what you want unless you raise money,” Favaron said.

Austin needs to spin out more first time entrepreneurs quickly and cultivate a set of executives “ready to swing big for the next one,” according to the panel.

Austin has a strong brand as a technology center, which South by Southwest Interactive has helped to cultivate globally, said Favaron. He said he doesn’t have any trouble recruiting tech talent to Austin. In fact, Spredfast just recently hired a Chief Financial Officer and had plenty of qualified candidates, he said. Earlier in the day during a different panel discussion, Chuck Gordon, co-founder of SpareFoot, mentioned his company was having trouble recruiting a CFO to relocate to Austin.

British Airways Dreamliner: The Wellness Plane

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Jon Driscoll with Mass Relevance, Virginia Miracle with  Spredfast and Matt Curtis with HomeAway.

Jon Driscoll with Mass Relevance, Virginia Miracle with Spredfast and Matt Curtis with HomeAway.

The British Airways direct flight that just started its inaugural journeys back and forth from London to Austin isn’t your average plane ride. It has been calibrated to reduce jetlag. For example, the lighting is different from other planes. The air pressure was set for 6,000 feet rather than 8,000 feet which is supposed to reduce dryness and other stressors on the body. And the windows are much larger to connect passengers to the flying experience. Instead of passengers pulling down blinds, they can adjust the amount of light coming in electronically.

The point, said Glenn Morgan, head of service transformation for British Airways, is to “create a whole wellness experience, getting passengers there in the best shape they can be.”

Open Platform

And they’re only beginning.

“We’ve opened up the platform for APIs,” said Morgan. “A lot of companies are doing great things in the travel space, hotel finders, transportation, putting that information together. We work a lot in the valley, and we were talking to a company very much like Capital Factory and they said I bet you have no single business problem that a startup isn’t working on right now. And he’s right.”

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s body is made of carbon fibers rather than metal, wrapped and then baked in an autoclave until it is a very hard substance. It goes in the oven looking like a cone made of roofing asphalt and emerges shiny. The lighter substance allows for 20 percent reduction in fuel costs, 20 percent reduction in maintenance costs and a 60 percent reduction in noise.

The Dreamliner is part of a transformation British Airways is aiming for in the flying experience which includes keeping track of how regular passengers like to travel and accommodating their preferences, putting passengers with connecting flights at the front so they don’t miss their connections and texting passengers when bags missed a connection, so they don’t have to stand forever at the carousel.

Representatives from British Airways and Boeing spoke at Capital Factory Wednesday before the British Airways Inaugural Kickoff party where flight simulators and photo booths with captains outfits were available.

Move Your Company to Europe

Following the presentation on the plane, serial entrepreneur and Capital Factory partner Fred Schmidt interviewed Matt Curtis, director of government relations for HomeAway, Virginia Miracle, chief customer officer of Spredfast and Jon Driscoll, Chief revenue officer of Mass Relevance about their experiences expanding their companies into London.

It’s crucial, all three said, to understand the culture before you either try to hire someone or move someone abroad. Driscoll talked about finding it suspect when his London employee said he really needed an office, because Mass Relevance was started in a coffee shop.

“But just try to find a place to work in downtown London that’s quiet, has internet access and a bathroom you can use,” Driscoll said.

Also, things tend to take more time. English employment law doesn’t include employment at will—in which, without cause, either the employee or employer can terminate. And while in Austin someone can be hired on Wednesday and working the following Monday “as long as we get their Mac on time,” Miracle said. In London you go through the whole process of hiring and the new employee says “Great! And I can start in three months!” Driscoll reported.

And the order of operations, who to hire when is another challenge, Miracle said.

Having someone in the position who is a really adept communicator is huge. All three said it is important to hire local people. Even if you augment your staff with Americans, locals know the culture and can steer you away from big mistakes. For example, Mass Relevance puts social media on TV. But publicly owned TV is a far cry from the private stations in the U.S.

Also, Driscoll said, they launched in London with a sales focus. He wishes they’d started with a customer service focus.

Curtis said HomeAway retains a number of employees in the countries where it operates, partly because it has grown by acquiring other companies and it just creates goodwill to keep those people on.

The big question often is, when is time to go? All three responded that when you can’t serve your international customers from home any more, it’s time to take the plunge.

Spredfast Opens an Office in London

77489v4-max-250x250Austin-based Spredfast, the social media marketing firm, keeps on making news.
The company announced on Thursday plans to open its first European office in London. The company has customers in more than 20 different countries. It has 150 employees nationwide with 110 of those in Austin. It expects to hire 120 people this year.
The expansion follows a record funding round for Spredfast in January when the company announced it raised $32.5 million.
Spredfast named Oana Neumayer, formerly vice president of EMEA, to lead its U.K. operations.
“Spredfast experienced unprecedented growth in 2013, as did the social media market itself — changing from a mere broadcast medium to one that is much more targeted,” Rod Favaron, CEO of Spredfast, said in a news release. “With this in mind, our company is committed to providing every brand, worldwide, with the most robust, social relationship platform on the market so they can reach their customers in a highly targeted, effective way and build lasting relationships. By opening an office in the U.K. and bringing on Oana, we are taking our first step — of many — towards global expansion.”
Spredfast has created a software platform that allows companies to communicate with customers across all kinds of different social networks from Twitter to Facebook to Pinterest to Youtube.

Spredfast Raises $32.5 Million in Funding

Founder of Silicon Hills News

77489v4-max-250x250Spredfast announced Friday it has raised $32.5 million in venture capital led by Lead Edge Capital.
The Austin-based company makes a software platform that allows large companies to manage their social media postings.
The latest funds will help Spredfast market its product and add additional staff, said Rod Favaron, CEO of Spredfast.
“This is a very rich opportunity to take this platform a lot deeper,” Favaron said. “It’s a very exciting time to be doing what we are doing.”
Spredfast has 150 employees nationwide with 110 of those in Austin. It expects to hire 120 people this year and plans to expand internationally,
The investment deal with Lead Edge Capital also gives the company access to its portfolio companies which include Alibaba Group, Marketo, Bazaarvoice, Drillinginfo, Refinery29, and Monetate. Previous investors Austin Ventures, InterWest Partners, and OpenView Partners also participated in the round.
This is Spredfast’s Series D round of funding. The company, founded in 2008, previously raised $31.6 million in three other rounds. To date, Spredfast has raised $64.1 million.
Spredfast’s customers include clients General Mills, Whole Foods Market, HomeAway, REI, Discover, AT&T, Target, Rackspace, and AARP. More than 300 large companies use its platform to manage their social media. The companies have, on average, 120 employees dedicated to social media activity for 40 brands on 200 accounts.
“Spredfast has catapulted into a market leadership position and its extensive client roster is a testament to that. We have tracked this industry for a number of years and we know that Spredfast is poised to win this market. They are truly an integral part of every business’ daily operations,” Mitchell Green, managing partner, Lead Edge Capital said in a news release.
Last year, Spredfast reported tripling its revenue, but the privately-held company declined to disclose a figure. It also strengthened its partnership with Twitter in an offering that allows companies to target and deliver tweets by country.
The Spredfast platform supports a wide-range of social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Foursquare and Tumblr.
“Social is impacting every industry and every company in how they operate,” Favaron said.
Spredfast has developed a platform that allows those companies to manage their conversations with customers, he said. While there are a lot of little tools focused on one social network or one function, Spredfast tackles them all, he said.
With the Spredfast platform, 1,000 people can log on every day, Favaron said. With large public companies, there’s a lot of regulations on postings publicly and Spredfast’s platform addresses those regulations and makes sure a company is in compliance. The company has customers in banking and healthcare and lots of public companies use its platform, Favaron said.
“We treat every social network as a unique partner,” Favaron said. “What a business can do on these social networks changes every 90 days.”
Spredfast keeps up with those changes and lets companies know about interesting and rich marketing opportunities as they arise, he said.
“We take each social network and what it is great at and expose that to a brand,” Favaron said. “Everyone interacts on six or seven of them.”
But lesser traction social networks such as Slideshare or Flickr can be just as important to a brand, he said. Spredfast supports them all and configures its product for each particular brand.
The company operates in 25 countries right now and plans to expand even further internationally this year by opening an office overseas, Favaron said.
As for its future, Spredfast executives haven’t made a decision about taking the company public yet, Favaron said.
“Our focus right now is investing to take our product to the next level,” he said. “We’re working on growing our customer base and winning this market. If we do that well, we’ll have options.”
Spredfast also sees an emerging trend around companies “not broadcasting posts and tweets so everyone has a pile of junk in their news feed,” Favaron said. It’s helping companies strike a balance between making the consumer happy and giving the business a voice, he said.
“It’s all about targeting your marketing message to the 100 or 1,000 people that matter,” Favaron said. “It’s about finding those people who are big influencers for your business. There are people who are very passionate about what car they drive or what every airline they fly.”
Brands are shifting away from how many fans do they have to who are their fans and what do they are about, Favaron said.
Another big trend he sees is visual content, he said. Pictures and videos get a lot more online engagement than just text, he said.
Spredfast’s platform not only lets companies publish and promote content, manage conversations, but it also offers rich analytics and data which shows them everything from the demographic makeup of their fan base to whether a Tweet was successful, Favaron said.
“This is a very rich, deep wide market that is early. There aren’t a lot of people who understand how to do social marketing,” Favaron said. “Spredfast takes social marketing to a new level. We help companies create a collection of social networks with communities about people who care about their market and their company.”

Austin Chamber’s New A-List of Startups to Watch

Stacy Zoern, CEO of Community Cars, Inc., runs a car manufacturing business out of Pflugerville.
But that’s not the most remarkable part. Zoern, who uses a wheelchair to get around, wanted to find a car that would provide independence to wheelchair users.
Online, she found the Kenguru, an electric smart car. Only problem was the company ran out of money and shut down operations. So she raised $1.4 million and partnered with the company and they moved the defunct car operations from Hungary to Texas and began manufacturing the bright yellow smart cars in 2010.
That innovative and entrepreneurial spirit earned Zoern’s Community Cars Inc. a spot on the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s A-List, which recognized this week 28 innovative technology startups.
Zoern’s is the only car company to make the list.
The list is meant to shine a spotlight on some of the region’s most innovative technology startups that are seeking funding. To compile the list, the chamber’s tech partnership sought input from investors.
“Austin is rich with innovative startups that are primed for growth and simply need exposure and, most importantly, capital, to transform potential into reality,” Susan Davenport, senior vice president of Global Technology Strategies for the Austin Chamber, said in a news release.
Silicon Hills News has done profiles of several companies on the list including InfoChimps, BlackLocus, Calxeda, MapMyFitness, MassRelevance and Gazzang.

This slideshare contains screen grabs of the homepages of the 28 companies that made the Austin Chamber’s list for 2012.

BuildASign wins the Startup Olympics Summer Games

BuildASign won the first ever Austin Startup Olympics Summer Games.
The company, co-founded by Dan Graham, received a $10,000 prize to donate to its charity of choice.
BuildASign chose Austin Pro Bono, a nonprofit that connects lawyers and other professionals to nonprofit organizations.
“SpareFoot took home the silver this year, earning $5,000 for Kure It Cancer Research. Our charity of choice was founded by a self-storage business operator to support kidney cancer research,” according to the company’s blog post. Adlucent earned the Bronze, finishing in third place. It earned money for Austin Pets Alive.
The other startup teams participating each won $500 to donate to their designated charities. Boundless Network designated Capital Area Food Bank; uShip picked Communities in Schools of Central Texas; Spredfast selected Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas; Mass Relevance selected Austin Children’s Shelter and WhaleShark designated Austin Children’s Museum.
uShip won the Startup Olympics Winter Games held last January at its headquarters.
The Summer Games kicked off shortly after noon on Saturday at the Krieg Softball Complex with the running of the torch by uShip’s Co-Founder Jay Manickam, which Sparefoot’s Co-Founder Chuck Gordon received on a podium. After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, Gordon released about a dozen white doves to a cheering crowd and announced the official beginning of the games.
Adlucent won the first event, the 400 yard relay followed by BuildASign and uShip.
Altogether, the games consisted of seven events: kickball, tetherball, tug-of-war, basketball, the relay sprint, 400 meter sprint and the advance sprint which consisted of a relay team performing various tasks including dizzy bat, egg and spoon race, sack race and the three legged race.

Geni Glynn with Sparefoot and Summer Games organizer

“These games are a lot more competitive,” said Geni Glynn, spokeswoman with Sparefoot, who helped organize the games. She was comparing the summer games to the winter games which raised $2,300 for charity. This time, a lot more prize money for charity was at stake.
In fact, Sparefoot had rules for its competitors such as no alcohol until after the competition, Glynn said. Sparefoot also had to contend with much larger teams. Sparefoot with 45 employees was the second smallest startup to compete. Mass Relevance with 35 employees was the smallest.
About 300 competitors and their supporters were expected to attend the games, Glynn said. She expected several hundred more for the after party that was held at the field around 6 p.m. at the end of the competition.

Jay Manickam, cofounder of uShip

uShip, the defending champs, did not put any restrictions on its employees, said Manickam. He says the games started off as just a fun idea among some friends, but it quickly took off.
“There’s a groundswell of support and a real interest among the startup teams in giving back to the community through charity and having fun together,” he said.
The games embody the startup culture in Austin of camaraderie, competition, collaboration, hard work and giving back by supporting local charities, Manickam said.
“The ultimate goal is to make this a national competition,” Manickam said. He envisions an annual Startup Olympics competition at South by Southwest with teams from other high-technology regions like Silicon Valley, Boston and New York. He’s already received interest from other regions.

Photo courtesy of Austin Startup Olympics

Austin Ventures, Consero, SVB Financial Group & Silicon Valley Bank, KHRG, Dos Equis and Deep Eddy Vodka sponsored the event. Dos Equis provided 300 cases of beer and Deep Eddy Vodka staff showed up in a classic Volkswagon Bus packed with Deep Eddy Vodka and Sweet Leaf Tea. With temperatures soaring well into the 90s, the refreshments provided many of the athletes with the sustenance they needed to compete.

Austin Startup Olympics Summer Games this Saturday

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games will kick off July 27th in London.
But you don’t have to wait that long.
Some of the best geek athletes in Austin will be demonstrating their athletic prowess this Saturday at the Summer Austin Startup Olympics.
(And if it’s anything like the Winter Austin Startup Olympics, held last January at UShip’s headquarters, these Olympics involve prodigious amounts of beer drinking, Tito’s vodka swilling and merry making.)
And it’s all for a good cause.
Each startup chooses a charity and all the money raised to goes to support those charities. Here’s a list of this year’s competitors and their charities.

· Adlucent – Austin Pets Alive
· BuildASign – Austin Pro Bono
· Boundless Network – Capital Area Food Bank
· uShip – Communities in Schools of Central Texas
· Spredfast – Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas
· SpareFoot – Kure It
· Mass Relevance – Livestrong/Lance Armstrong Foundation
· Whaleshark – Austin Children’s Museum

Photos courtesy of Austin Startup Olympics

uShip took the top prize in Austin’s inaugural Startup Olympics competition. BuildASign captured second place and Sparefoot came in third.
The summer games take place at the Krieg Softball Complex at 517 S. Pleasant Valley Road. Opening ceremony starts at noon. Events will last all day.
The summer games include sprints, kickball, basketball, tug-a-war and tetherball.
The after party and awards ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. and will be held at the Krieg Softball Complex also.

This is a slideshow from the last startup Olympics in the parking lot across from Uship.

ATI graduates 21 companies tonight

The Austin Technology Incubator, a non-profit organization affiliated with the IC2 Institute of the University of Texas, will host a graduation ceremony tonight for 21 of its member companies.
The event also celebrates the 23 years ATI has helped incubate central Texas companies. Founded by Dr. George Kozmetsky and first directed by Laura Kilcrease, ATI has worked with more than 200 status companies and helped them raise more than $1 billion in capital, according to this news release. Silicon Hills News will be there tonight to cover the event. So stay tuned for more information.

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