After a few minutes of small talk, then-RJMetrics CEO Bob Moore closed the door on his modest Center City office at this reporter’s request.
“Our team is 100 percent in the loop on what’s going on, but you never know.”
A couple of days before news broke of his company being acquired by Campbell, Calif.-based ecommerce giant Magento, Moore — as of today, head of Magento Analytics and board chair of new RJMetrics spinoff Stitch — looked calm and ready, sipping draft latte from a can.
Big News: RJMetrics Acquired by Magento Commerce, Pipeline spins out at Stitch https://t.co/CTiFXv9Jez
— Bob Moore (@robertjmoore) August 1, 2016
He opened up about sensitive stuff, as he has done before. Like the fact that 10 people from his staff left since the company’s first major round of layoffs.
“We did layoffs in February and, as this process was coming together, it became clear that it was going to be tough bringing everyone along,” said Moore. “Rather than do another round of layoffs, we decided to give people an opportunity to stay working with us until they found their next position.”
Much like the company did in February, the staff that wasn’t coming along for the ride got intros around town, leading to positions with companies like Guru and Cloudamize.
“It’s tough when you have a really valuable product but also have an extreme amount of pressure with regard to growth,” he admits. “Doing right by our shareholders, the community and the team is very front and center.”
Here’s what else we talked about on the eve of the acquisition:
How did this come together and who approached who first?
Well, we’ve known Magento since before we had any customers. I actually found a really old Google To-Do list that had an item called “Build a Magento connector.” We’ve always had a very considerable percentage of our client base in their ecosystem, and for a while we were in the Magento partner program. It was very obvious that a big conversation was worth it.
What was the timeline for all of this?
In February, [RJMetrics cofounder] Jake Stein and I were in San Francisco for a conference and we met up in Menlo Park with Magento executives and some people from their investor group. When it became clear that the new Magento was stronger and more strategic about their growth (Editor’s note: It spun out of eBay Enterprise in November 2015), there was an organic evolution toward an acquisition conversation. I’d say things became very real around June 2016.
What was the biggest pain point in that conversation?
One thing that was surprisingly not a tricky spot was the Philly location. You never know when you’re talking to a Silicon Valley-based company if that’s going to be a factor, but in this case the location actually ended up being really compatible with them. To actually answer your question, there were a lot of tiny details involved in splitting up the team, the contracts and such. There was definitely some extra work on that end.
How long has Stitch been an idea?
The original idea for Stitch emerged in the summer of 2015. From day one of the RJMetrics Pipeline conversation there’s been a thought in my head that this should exist as a standalone company if it’s going to be successful. We spent a lot of energy working trying to figure out how to maximize value for shareholders, how do we build an amazing company here, and how do we take care of our team. We didn’t want to get into a situation where we weren’t doing right by our team members.
And had this acquisition not happen, where would the company have been six months down the line?
We would have been fine. Even another year I think we would have been able to be very strategic. There was space and breathing room. But my next move, if we couldn’t find a partner like Magento, would have been to still spin out Stitch but keep the CloudBI business and run it ourselves.
And that would have been harder?
Yeah, I think so. Magento has this ecosystem of 250,000 stores and they’ve always been a great ecommerce platform. For us, joining forces allows us to become part of that ecosystem in an organic way.
What does RJ’s exit mean for the Philly ecosystem?
This is a great piece of evidence that it’s possible for a venture-backed technology company to experience the full life cycle completely inside of the Philly ecosystem, but with participation from a global universe of players.
We were funded in the Philly area but along the way we attracted a global customer base from 40 countries. We attracted venture dollars from New York and Silicon Valley and were eventually acquired by a global company. The icing on the cake is that there’s already a spinout that will hopefully be a player in the next group of Philly companies that are trying to do something awesome.
Any cofounder that’s just starting out would love to be where you are right now. What word of advice or encouragement do you have for them?
This is a little cheesy, but focus on your core vision and core values. We’ve often been lured by trendy or momentary optimizations but, if I rewind the clock all the way to 2009, the reasons this deal happened are exactly why we started the company. There were so many areas that we could have focused on, but that core business is the precise reason why Magento wanted to acquire us. So, going strong on your core set of ideals is probably the most powerful thing you can do.
As long as you’ve got the cheese out, any nostalgia in letting the company go?
Oh, yeah! Six months from now the RJMetrics brand will disappear. A year from now, people will say, “Hey, remember RJMetrics?” and anything new that we create will say either Magento or Stitch on it. RJMetrics has been such a part of my personal identity for the last eight years, and it’s a bit surreal to think of a world where that doesn’t exist. Then I snap out of it and get back to work.