17 biggest Philadelphia tech business acquisitions since 2000 - Technical.ly Philly

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Jan. 22, 2014 12:30 pm

17 biggest Philadelphia tech business acquisitions since 2000

When Boomi, a Berwyn-based cloud computing company, got acquired by Dell, the Wired headline read: “Dell Discovers Internet Mojo...in Philadelphia?” Maybe after a few more local exits, Wired will drop the question mark.

Michael Rubin, founder of GSI Commerce, led one of the biggest exits in Philadelphia-area history.

(Photo by Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times)

Boomi, a Berwyn-based cloud computing company, gets acquired by Dell and the Wired headline reads: “Dell Discovers Internet Mojo…in Philadelphia?”

Maybe after a few more local exits, Wired will drop the question mark.

Big exits, whether they keep jobs in the area or not, bring national attention to fledgling tech scenes. Here, we recap the biggest Philadelphia region tech exits in more than a decade, from Half.com‘s sale to eBay in 2000 to ThingWorx‘s sale to PTC at the end of 2013.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, and certainly one can trace other big company exits to impact in the region, including the six-month $28 million flip of TurnTide or the earlier 1990s IPO stories of Infonautics or Verticalnet.

17. Boomi acquired by Dell (November 2010)

  • No details were released about the cloud computing company’s sale, but we’re including this one because of its awareness impact for the Philly tech in recent years.
  • Dell Boomi remains in Berwyn, Pa., where it was headquartered at the time of sale. The company hired 30 more staffers post-sale.
  • Boomi CEO Bob Moul left Dell Boomi to run Old City mobile app optimization firm Artisan. He also became Philly Startup Leaders president in 2011.
  • After leaving Dell Boomi, founder Rick Nucci returned to the Philly tech scene (Old City, to be specific) to run a new startup that’s still in stealth-mode but has already raised capital. Nucci became Philly Startup Leaders president after Moul’s term ended.

16. InviteMedia acquired by Google for $81 million (June 2010)

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  • Online advertising startup founded by Penn grads Nat Turner and Zachary Weinberg.
  • Raised $5 million from First Round Capital and Comcast Interactive Ventures.
  • Its offices were in Rittenhouse Square and New York City.
  • At time of sale, founders said its 16 Philadelphia employees would remain in city. Google has been secretive about its Center City office.

15. Portico acquired by McKesson for $90 million (June 2011)

  • Based in Blue Bell, Pa., at the time of sale, healthcare software company Portico remains there as a subsidiary of McKesson.
  • Portico was backed by Safeguard Scientifics, which expected to receive $38 million in cash from the exit.
  • Founder Ned Moore now runs Ambler-based mobile shopping app Clutch.

14. myYearbook acquired by Quepasa for $100 million (July 2011)

  • Headquartered in New Hope, Pa., social network myYearbook was founded by then-teenage siblings Catherine and Geoff Cook.
  • myYearbook and Latino-focused social network Quepasa rebranded as MeetMe in April 2012. It remains in New Hope with a staff of 150 as of March 2013.
  • The deal was for $82 million in stock and $18 million in cash.

13. PointRoll acquired by Gannett for $100 million in cash (June 2005)

  • Media technology company PointRoll was based in Fort Washington at the time of sale and since moved to King of Prussia.
  • CEO (and SnipSnap investor) Jules Gardner stepped down after the sale and was replaced by Chris Saridakis, who now runs King of Prussia’s eBay Enterprise, formerly known as GSI Commerce.
  • The company employed about 70 at the time of sale.

12. ThingWorx acquired by PTC for $112 million (December 2013)

  • Headquartered in Exton, Pa., this four-year-old “Internet of Things” company  employed 50 at the time of sale and all will remain in Exton.
  • The deal also calls for up to an additional $18 million, depending on the company’s performance post-acquisition.
  • Founded in 2010 by Russ Fadel, who previously sold his company Lighthammer Software to SAP in 2005.
  • Safeguard Scientifics, which invested about $10 million, expects to receive a 4x return, and potentially $6.5 million more.

11. CDNow acquired by Bertelsmann for $117 million (April 2001)

  • Headquartered in Fort Washington, the dot-com era music retailer employed almost 750 people at its height.
  • In 1998, CDNow went public with a $342 million valuation.
  • The Bertelsmann acquisition came at a time when CDNow was already in trouble due to a failed merger with Columbia House, said CDNow’s then-COO Mike Krupit.
  • Two years after the acquisition, Bertelsmann shut down CDNow’s Fort Washington office and let Amazon run the company.

10. AdminServer acquired by Oracle for $125 million (May 2008)

  • Headquartered in Chester, the insurance software firm was 10 years old and employed more than 300 at the time of sale.
  • Founded by Chris Doggett and Chris Gali, who went on to cofound Center City insurance software firm Adminovate. Some 90 percent of Adminovate staffers are former AdminServer staffers.
  • Oracle shut down AdminServer’s Chester offices after the sale.

9. Traffic.com acquired by Navteq for $175 million (November 2006)

  • Based in Wayne, Pa., real-time traffic provider Traffic.com had been public for less than a year before it was acquired.
  • The company employed 650, 250 of which were in Wayne, at the time of sale
  • Traffic.com CEO Robert Verratti left the company about six months after the sale. He’s a partner at Devon-based life sciences venture capital firm TL Ventures.
  • Five years after the sale, Nokia, which owned Navteq, shut down Traffic.com’s Malvern office that employed 300.
  • Traffic.com COO and Penn grad Chris Rothey now runs Salt Lake City-based Radiate Media. Just under 200 former Traffic.com employees went to Radiate Media after Nokia shut down Traffic.com’s Malvern office.

8. Fiberlink acquired by IBM for est. $200 million (November 2013)

  • No details were disclosed about the sale of this mobile device management company but an investment banker eyeballed it at $200 million.
  • Founded in 1992 by Jim Sheward and Paul Russell, the Blue Bell, Pa.-based company had been steadily growing, from 250 employees in 2011, 300 in 2012 and 400 at the time of sale.
  • Fiberlink had raised $80 million since 2000 from investors that include Technology Crossover Ventures, Goldman Sachs and Radnor’s NewSpring Ventures.
  • Fiberlink management said that the company would remain in Blue Bell.

7. Ecount acquired by Citigroup for $220 million (sale closed February 2008)

  • Based in Conshohocken, Ecount sold pre-paid payment cards. It employed just under 100 at the time of sale.
  • Ecount cofounders Matt Gillin and Paul Raden now run Radnor-based mobile startup Relay, backed by First Round Capital, ICG and NewSpring Capital.
  • Former Ecount employees Andy Newcomb and Drew Kese now work at Center City venture capital firm MissionOG.
  • “Investors, including NewSpring Capital and Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, both of Radnor, and Masthead Venture Partners L.L.C., of Cambridge, Mass., could receive up to 10 times their original investment, which totaled $15 million, people familiar with the transaction said,” the Inquirer reported.
half-staff

Team portraits of Half.com staff depicting more than 200 employees in 2003. (Click to enlarge.)

6. Half.com acquired by eBay for $350 million (June 2000)

  • Headquartered in Conshohocken, the used-goods retailer employed 70 at the time of sale. Those employees moved to a Plymouth Meeting office.
  • Founded by Josh Kopelman, who went on to found the nationally prominent venture capital firm First Round Capital.
  • More than a year after the acquisition, eBay completely absorbed Half.com and the Half.com brand name disappeared.

5. Bluestone Software acquired by HP for $350 million (October 2000)

  • The company was worth $468 million when the HP deal was announced in October 2000 and just $350 million when the deal closed in January 2001.
  • Founded by Mel Baiada, the software company had offices in Mt. Laurel, N.J., and Lester, Pa., near the Philadelphia Airport. It employed 352 at the time of sale.
  • HP hoped Bluestone would become a major part of a new HP software arm, but the program fumbled and didn’t leave much of a long-lasting impact on the region, though Baiada is currently working on several ventures.

4. Laserlink acquired by Covad for $409 million in stock (March 2000)

  • Laserlink was based in Media, Pa., and sold Internet access.
  • The company employed about 75 at the time of sale.
  • The San Jose Business Journal reported the deal was for $387 million.
  • Laserlink founder Ed Sullivan went on to found local companies Aria Systems and G2Link.

3. Diapers.com acquired by Amazon for $500 million in cash (November 2010)

  • Headquartered in Jersey City, this early childhood goods retailer had Philly roots: it was funded in part by MentorTech Ventures and run by Penn graduates Vinit Bharara and Marc Lore.

2. Kenexa acquired by IBM for $1.3 billion in cash (August 2012)

  • Based in Wayne, Pa., this then-publicly-traded recruitment software company employed 2,800 at the time of sale. About 230 employees worked out of the Wayne office, while the others were based in 21 different countries.
  • Kenexa was founded in 1987 by Rudy Karsan, who stood to gain at least $56 million from the deal.

1. GSI Commerce acquired by eBay for $2.4 billion in cash and debt (March 2011)

  • Founded by Michael Rubin, this ecommerce and marketing company employed 4,890 in January 2011.
  • At the time of sale, Rubin was the fourth-largest shareholder of the company. He’s now one of the richest people in the country.
  • Its headquarters were in King of Prussia at the time of sale and remain there, though it’s now called eBay Enterprise. eBay Enterprise is run by former PointRoll CEO Chris Saridakis.
  • After the sale, eBay spun off GSI’s other business, including Fanatics, a sports-licensing business, and 70 percent of Shop Runner, which offers a two-day shipping program, and Rue La La, a fashion flash sales site. Rubin owns those companies under the parent company Kynetic. Shop Runner has offices in San Mateo, Calif., and Conshohocken, while Rue La La is headquartered in Boston.
  • GSI Commerce was eBay’s second largest acquisition ever (its biggest was Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005) and plays a large role in eBay’s strategy to compete with Amazon.
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