This transaction was a huge win for many constituents including the town of Boulder, Colorado & the Rocky Mountain region on so many levels. First & foremost, Founder & CEO Todd Vernon, COO Walter Knapp and the rest of management and the employees have worked their assess off for a very long time to make Lijit what it is today and deserve all of the accolades they’ve worked so long and hard to earn. As board member Seth Levine stated in his blog post yesterday, “While ultimately the exit will be measured by the outcome of the combined Lijit/Federated business, based just on this deal’s value alone this ranks as one of the larger transactions for a Denver or Boulder based business in the last decade.”
Everyone who read about the transaction yesterday also knows that this represents yet another big win for Boulder-based Foundry Group and that Seth Levine will be joining the board of Federated Media as a result of the merger and deservedly so. I’m lucky to count Seth and his partners as very close friends and from my perspective they’ve created the blueprint of how to build a successful venture firm. Not only are they incredibly smart and hard-working, they’re equally grounded.
However, lost amid the hoopla yesterday was the fact that Colorado-based firms High Country Venture and Boulder Ventures have been investors in the Company since the beginning and like Foundry, participated in all of the multiple rounds of financing along the way.
Like the vast majority of startups, Lijit wasn’t “up and to the right” from the get-go. There were lean years where the company struggled to figure out its business model, despite their constantly growing network of publishers (as a result of their maniacal focus on creating value for their customers). Through their trials and tribulations, the syndicate of High Country, Boulder Ventures & Foundry Group never gave up on the company and continued to finance it as they figured it out.
We all know that it’s better to be lucky than good, and here at Highway 12, we were damn lucky to be investors in Lijit. Earlier this year, the board at Lijit determined that they had finally figured out a repeatable business model and were approaching the “add water & mix” stage of company growth. They decided to raise a growth round of capital and when presented with the opportunity, we recognized that the company was close to a serious inflexion point and moved quickly to raise our hands before others to be part of the last round of financing (which included all of the existing investors). We caught the beginning of the hockey stick and the return for our investors will be very handsome if the combined entity can execute on the opportunity in front of them.
So I’d like to congratulate Chris Marks of High Country Venture and Peter Roshko of Boulder Ventures (and their partners), two classy guys who supported the company from the outset. Every entrepreneur who thinks about raising money in Colorado should know that these firms stuck with the company through the lean years and are a big reason that there’s so much to celebrate today at Lijit.