Startups

Wildbit just sold two of its products to ActiveCampaign. Its cofounders say they’re taking a break to ‘regroup’

"There are so many reasons that brought us to this decision, but they boil down to a painful yet ultimately liberating realization: We are both ready to move on," Natalie and Chris Nagele said.

At Wildbit's May 2019 retreat in Stowe, Vermont.

(Photo courtesy of Wildbit)

A pair of tech founders who’ve been running their bootstrapped business since their teen years are taking a break to spend time with family and figure out what’s next.

Postmark and DMARC Digests, two products owned by Philly web dev mainstay Wildbit, were sold to Chicago-based ActiveCampaign this week, CEO Natalie Nagele confirmed to Technical.ly.

The deal also means that all of Wildbit’s team, except Nagele, husband and cofounder Chris Nagele, and executive assistant Lisa Hebert, will move under the ActiveCampaign umbrella, they said in a blog post.

Email products Postmark and DMARC will continue to be available as standalone products, and the team will continue to work on and support the products. Wildbit’s product Beanstalk will remain with Wildbit and be run by Ilya Sabanin, who built it 14 years ago.

The deal comes after “nearly a year of soul searching and questioning,” the cofounders wrote in the blog post. ActiveCampaign reached out about an integration with Postmark about a year ago, they said, and after considering partnerships, they realized the products and teams would need to work very closely together. An acquisition made sense.

“There are so many reasons that brought us to this decision, but they boil down to a painful yet ultimately liberating realization: we are both ready to move on — and we can’t faithfully support our team’s fulfillment and our customers’ needs if our heart is no longer in it,” the Nageles said in the post.

The pair said the majority of their discussions with ActiveCampaign were around how the new company would integrate the team (which stood at about 35 people across the globe as of nine months ago). The majority of the team will continue the company’s signature four-day work week through the end of the year, and will offer them “more robust employee benefits, like coaching and 401(k) matches for the US-based team.”

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Customers shouldn’t experience any disruption of Postmark, but will begin to connect with ActiveCampaign. DMARC Digests users will also start to see product improvements as well, the company said.

The founders will also be sharing 10% of the proceeds from the deal with its team, as the company was bootstrapped, and never offered stock options. In the immediate future, the pair said they’ll be around to support the transition, but then will be taking “a real break.” They’ve been running the company their entire adult lives, they wrote, and it’s “hard to imagine doing anything else.”

But over the last year, they realized they’re ready to explore the world outside software, and spend more time with their family.

“We’ll take a bit of time to regroup and figure out what excites us,” they said. “We’re not sure if that will be in this industry. We’re not sure if that would even be starting another product business. The uncertainty feels scary but invigorating.”

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