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Steve Rosenbaum

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The Waywire Story: Buy vs. Build?

Posted: 11/22/2013 7:13 pm

When you work in the software as a service business, you hear it all the time -- the decision comes down to "buy vs. build."

Which is why for me, finding myself facing that decision was ironic and challenging.

This summer my startup was growing nicely: The market had come to embrace the concept of video curation -- after a few long, cold winters waiting for the practice to take hold. We'd had some great customer wins and launches, and the phone was ringing. So why not sit back and enjoy the ride? Well, it turns out that entrepreneurs don't do that very well, and I was looking for actions and tools I could implement that would accelerate adoption and further solidify our position as the leaders in video curation.

The big risks were easy to catalog. Would there be any legacy issues that we'd acquire? Either bad public perceptions, or unknown investor issues. Here we could address risks with aggressive and throughout due diligence. We spoke to stakeholders, reviewed documents, tested the waters with current customers and former users of the site. It was exhaustive, but in the end the investigation proved insightful. #Waywire had been headed in the right direction -- perhaps spread thin with both an editorial and tech set of ambitious deliverables. But there was no iceberg under the water that we could run aground on.

The rewards were a bit harder to categorize We knew that we had a good reputation in the tech press, but had passed the early launch "darling" phase. Would a new product in a related category get us a warm embrace or a shrug of the shoulders? Unclear. Would we able to find efficiencies in the combined entity? We knew the answer was yes. Would the #Waywire investors be enthusiastic about the combination? Our early outreach said yes.

But the biggest question came down to one word: distraction. And that was where we found that our team, though initially cautious, was excited to be able to bring a new Magnify.net powered #Waywire out to the market.

It's been a month since we closed on acquiring #Waywire. We've hired one of their key editorial people, brought on a founder as an advisor and worked closely with their investors to understand their vision and align it with our new offering.

We're launched. Visit here.

It's still a work in progress, with changes in the editorial, the user-created #Wires and the UI happening daily.

But overall, the process of being both enthusiastic can analytical paid off. The press coverage has been through and mostly positive. The risks we were concerned about have been navigated. And overall, the energy we've been able to build around the new product has helped the company, the team and our customers get a fresh look and what we've always believed was the emerging future of web video.

Today, Waywire.com has 550 quality channels of content pouring into our servers. You can check them out here. And as we move toward the future, product innovation and evolution is on a fast track thanks to the acquisition.

If I've learned anything, it's this. When you buy a company -- you buy more than a collection of assets. You buy a piece of their embodied karma. And at #waywire, the editorial energy and investor passion was strong. That's something that makes the buy/build question a no-brainer.

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