Last month I beat the abysmal startup odds to become one of the very few that finds meaningful traction, intrigues one of the big players, and gets acquired.
My gamble paid off. The blood, sweat, and tears that I left on my keyboard for almost two years was worth it. Move, Inc. (operator of realtor.com) acquired my company Doorsteps and I was entirely happy with the idea. Their leadership was fantastic, passionate, and committed. I had -- and continue to have -- no doubt that this was exactly the right move for us, at the right time, and for the right reasons. The acquisition not only meant that we had a vision that others believed in, but also an even better chance of seeing that vision come into full bloom.
So why am I so bummed?
After the money transfer happened and I was walking home, having typed a jubilant message on my phone back to a friend, I kept waiting for the flush of euphoria I expected. After all, I had just sold my company after less than two years of work. I had vindication that I could build something worth buying. And I had a sense of professional stability about how I would be spending the next few years, after many months of chronic uncertainty. I should have been clicking my heels Mary Poppins-style down Broadway.
I realized I was being ridiculous. Or even worse, unforgivably ungrateful.
But the truth is, for the past two years Doorsteps had been my obsession. I started it because I wanted to, but pretty soon I realized it was because I needed to. I would have done it for free, which is convenient since most of the time I essentially was doing it for free, earning probably close to minimum wage just given the sheer number of hours I was clocking.
That doesn't mean it was a slog. But it had become my sole focus and in many ways, my identity. The highs and lows came fast and furious, but on some level I think I got used to the wild emotional swings. I got used to living in a constant state of anticipation, of not knowing how it was all going to turn out.
Being acquired had suddenly changed all that. I had answers. I had stability. I had resources. But I also had to close one chapter and open a new one. My chapter. Get used to a different set of pressures, and open myself to different set of opportunities.
It's a well-worn cliché that launching a business is like having a baby. Getting acquired is sort of like sending that baby off to first grade. Now another bunch of grown-ups get to have a say in how your child develops and grows -- who she or he becomes. That's difficult but also exciting. Not cry-on-your-keyboard-at-3 a.m. exciting, but exciting nonetheless.
For me, it's not the pain of having to relinquish at least some of the control along with the ownership. It's about moving into a different phase of the company. No mother of a first grader sincerely wishes her kid were back in diapers, though it doesn't stop her from struggling just a little bit with the idea that that phase is long gone and never to return.
So while I can't say I've started clicking my heels just yet, I am still tapping my feet. Because one thing that hasn't changed since the acquisition is my deep sense of impatience. I still have a big vision for Doorsteps, and we ain't there yet. I now have the runway, I have the support, and I have the resources. What I don't have left are any excuses. And that fact in itself is worth celebrating.