I have to say, Lijit always seemed destined for success. I know, I know, easy to say that now — the day after Lijit <a title=”Lijit Press Release” href=”http://www.lijit.com/company/press/releases/10042011″ target=”_blank”>announced</a> its sale to Federated Media. But it did.
With that being said, I am more than willing to admit that I was far from certain of its success. In fact, there were a couple years in there when I didn’t even know what success would look like. But through it all, the company felt like it should succeed.
Why? Well, lots of reasons. First and foremost, the company was born out of a very cool idea. The concept of search across a limited, trusted network met a real emerging need. In addition, the timing felt perfect. Lijit launched at a time when the number of blogs was increasing exponentially, social communities were forming, and the noise level on the web was becoming almost unbearable. But that was just the start.
The team they built at Lijit was world-class. Over the course of the last 6 years, Lijit managed to attract a disproportionate number of the most talented entrepreneurs in Boulder. This includes the people who were instrumental early on, only to leave to conquer new challenges. Between <a href=”http://graphicly.com/”>Micah Baldwin</a>, <a href=”http://kapost.com/”>Grace Boyle</a> and <a href=”http://blipsnip.it/”>Greg Keller</a>, Lijit alumni are already driving an entire second generation of thriving start-ups. There were also people that came in along the way and helped take Lijit to the next level. I think of Perry Quinn, who created and led the team that recruited thousands of publishers. His success literally caused us to think about the business in a different way. But it was more than just the people.
There was a strong group of investors and Board members who were, for the most part, patient, engaged and supportive (easy for me to say). Between ourselves, Boulder Ventures and Foundry, the local investment community was well represented. When Highway 12 joined the group, we officially had the region covered. I always looked forward to Lijit Board meetings — not only as a time to catch up with the business, but as a time to catch up with good friends and colleagues who I respect. In addition to the investors, the board also benefited from the insight of successful entrepreneurs like Paul Berberian, John Winsor and Dick Costollo. But I certainly can’t give credit to the Board.
The credit should really go to the management team. They simply would not take no for an answer. From day one, they knew they were creating something powerful, and it was just a matter of unlocking the value. They struggled to unlock it. They took some wrong turns. But they flat out never stopped trying, never stopped learning, and never stopped believing. And when the advertising strategy began to yield results, they submerged themselves in the world of ad tech. They became experts. They built leading edge technology and adjusted every possible dial they could get their hands on. In an industry that is literally shifting every day, they became thought leaders practically over night. And they did it all without ever taking their eye off of their primary customer — the publisher.
When you see all of those pieces of the puzzle, predicting success becomes easy. Achieving it, however, is an entirely different story. My hat goes off to Todd, Walter, Manny, and the rest of the Lijit team. Congratulations on your success.