Reader Question: Local + Online Lessons Learned

Q: I have seen two articles about the local space recently (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/business/smallbusiness/21yelp.html?ex=1369108800&en=4491b116ff5db962&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink and http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/10/angies-list-gets-35-million-in-new-investment-from-battery/). Who did you sell Judy’s Book to? Any nuggets of advice on going through the sale process?
Asked by Ben

A: Hi Ben, thanks for the question. I still keep an eye on the local space and noticed both of the same articles. A few quick thoughts:

  • I have reason to reflect almost daily on how glad I am not to be in the local reviews business any more.
  • As my partner Andy recently noted, it’s amazing how often people mistake raising money for success.

On the first topic, I’ve said most of what I have to say in this post. On the second, and specifically with respect to Yelp, I’ve done the same here.

Judy’s Book was acquired by a group of experienced internet entrepreneurs and investors here in Seattle. The sale process was mostly a reminder that it takes all kinds of folks to make a world. Most of the people we worked with through the process were forthright about their intentions and performed their role with integrity. A small minority didn’t. As you can probably guess, we didn’t much care for the folks in the latter category and are glad the product didn’t wind up in their hands.

Having now sold two companies, one in happy circumstances and the other less so, my principal takeaways are that the process always takes longer and has more ups and downs than you can imagine, and that that you should never consider it done until the ink is dry and the money’s in the bank. A corollary from the Judy’s Book process is that – even if their bid looks good on paper – you shouldn’t hesitate to throw bad actors out of the process as soon as you get a sense for their character as they’re likely to screw things up for everyone.

Ask Chris DeVore a question.