This Friday will be my last day at Invite Media / Google. Five years ago to the day, Zach, Scott, Michael and I started working in a apartment-turned office with no AC or internet (we used Sprint wireless internet cards for the first month) in Northern Liberties in Philadelphia. Three years and two days later we were officially acquired by Google.
I personally never thought things would end up the way they did for Invite. In the beginning and for the first couple of years, we struggled to figure things out. Our investors called us the “idea de juor”, we had trouble working as a team, our first few products flopped, we had trouble raising money, etc… Looking back though, and comparing us to the companies I work with now as an angel investor, we were just like every startup. Then after about two years something clicked. We started working much better as a team. Our product started to scale. Customers started to call us and sales got quicker. The companies trying to acquire us got larger and larger. It was an awesome experience, and something I think about a lot and hope to be able to replicate again.
When Google called in early 2010 to “explore the DSP space”, we were nervous. We wanted to be the one picked for the dance. We used to say that “if Google was going to buy someone, we wanted it to be us”, and we meant it. We knew how synergistic it would be if a leading-edge DSP was combined with a leading-edge ad serving platform, and the culture of Google is second-to-none. We were ecstatic when Jason Harinstein (now at Groupon) called to begin negotiations, and once we agreed on terms and closed the deal we immediately got to work on the integration. Over the next two years, we worked with some amazing people as Invite continued to grow rapidly by every metric. Sure we had our integration pains like anyone, but I can honestly say I think we’ve been spoiled with the whole integration process. The last two years at Google have been great, simply put. It is very bittersweet to close that chapter of my life.
When we started Invite, we didn’t consciously chose ad-tech as our industry to focus on. I serendipitously was able to get an internship at VideoEgg (now Say Media) in 2006 and the rest was history. Sure we had fun building Invite, but quite honestly we were never really personally passionate about optimizing and buying online advertising. Now that we’ve thankfully ”got a win under our belt” and new resources, I’m excited to be able to focus on something I care deeply about. For my co-founder Zach and I, that is healthcare. So, in a couple of weeks, Zach and I will be jumping back on the saddle and starting a healthcare IT company in NYC. We don’t know exactly what we want to do yet, but we’re going to waste no time figuring that out and getting to work. I’ll most certainly post to this blog various updates along the way.
To close, I’d like to thank everyone who helped us start and build Invite over the last five years. From our amazing co-founder group, to all of our co-workers who took a risk in working with us, to our clients who stayed with us through the ups and downs, to Andy Boszhardt and the First Round Capital guys for giving us our first money, to our awesome group of advisors, to Google for making us their choice, we couldn’t have done anything without them all. Now it’s on to the next one…