Dead companies

I've been in the San Francisco Bay Area long enough to see a lot of companies come and go.

One lesson I've learned, a bit painfully: don't get attached; definitely don't let a company become your identity. Build attachments to friends, family, pets, religion, hobbies, or volunteering/community service, not a business or professional identity.

Second, if you don't like the odds, don't take venture capital. VC is about putting tons of money (capital) to work quickly; if that doesn't pan out, you'll end up sharecropping behind tens/hundreds of millions of dollars in liquidation preference, even if a smaller version of the underlying business would've worked out fine.

Remember: Investors can invest in dozens of companies, founders only get one shot every few years.

Palm: Started 1992. Had a pretty good run through the early 90s/2000s. Acquired by HP for $1.2 billion—barely a "unicorn"—in 2010. My friend Tom, as well as my later boos Ain McKendrick (Starsky's VPE) worked here.

Napster: Started 1999, shut down 2001. Early social network for music. Really fun product, launched 2011, closed 2013. I miss using this.

rdio: Founded 2008, acquired by Pandora in 2015 after burning through $125 million. Another great early music product I miss using.

GraffitiGeo: My friends Nikhil and Jared's company (as well as a few others). Got into early YC, sold to Sam Altman's Loopt. Loopt eventually sold to Green Dot for pennies on the dollar later, in 2012.

Color Labs: Raised $41 million, acquired by Apple for $7 million.

Wishery: Cooper and my company, started in 2011. Sold for parts to Zenbox, 2012.

Crittercism/Aptelligent: Worked here 2012-2015. Raised about $55 million, sold for parts to VMware for $7-8 million. Founders got million-dollar earn-outs; employees got peanuts, common stock went to $0.

Discovery Bay Games: Maker of gaming peripherals and games for tablets (e.g. iPad). My friend Sergei worked here. Started 2004, raised $24.3 million, shut down 2013.

vLine: My friend Tom worked here in the mid-2010s; acquired by AirTime in 2016. Tom stuck around until 2019.

Parse: Acquired by facebook in 2013, shut down in January 2016.

Nokia: Microsoft paid $7.6 bilion for their handset business in 2013. By 2013/2014, Windows Phone was pretty much dead (no new handsets); I believe development ceased around 2016-2018.

Nest: Acquired by Google in 2014, $3.2 billion. CEO Tony Fadell left in 2016, Google rumored to have tried to sell it in 2016. Widely considered a failed deal.

Meta: Virtual reality headset company. My wife's cousin Contessa worked here. Burned through $73 million before declaring itself insolvent in 2019. Raised $570 million. Acquired by Wal-Mart for $3.3 billion in 2016, shut down in 2020.

Starsky Robotics: Worked here 2018-2019. Started November 7th, 2018, entire team cut/furloughed November 17, 2019, barely a year later. Unclear what's going on with them now.

Magic Leap: Reserving a place for them here. Billions raised, just did a huge pivot, no idea what's going on with them.