Each year, lists analyzing the country’s top startups to watch are published, but have you ever wondered where those promising companies are today? In 2007 CNN Money published an article highlighting the 25 startups that they felt were worth watching because of their growing business opportunities and creative technologies. Not all of them ended up huge successes, but each of their stories can teach a valuable lesson. The stories of 8 of these top startups are highlighted below, and some of their trajectories are very surprising…
Founded in 2001, StumbleUpon is a web discovery engine that introduces users to new web content based on their indicated interests. In 2007 the company was sold to eBay for $75 million where it stayed for almost two years. Then in 2009, the original investors bought the company back from for $29 million making it an independent company once again. They then introduced an IOS application and a number of web developments propelling it to 800 million “stumbles” a month. As the company continues to grow, it is still one of the top startups to watch, and the jury is still out on how successful it will become.
Founded in 2005 by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, Slide started as a social media add-on for Myspace that allowed users to post slideshows to their page. The company took a big risk in 2006 when it violated Myspace’s terms of service by asking users to provide them with login information so that they could embed the slideshows. The risk paid off however, and the company grew rapidly until it was acquired by Google in 2010 for $182 million dollars. Slide had one of the largest exits out of its “class” of CNN’s startups to watch and a lot can be learned from its success. However, in 2011 company was shut down by Google.
Also founded in 2005, Bebo quickly became one of the world’s most popular social networking sites. It received $15 million in Series A funding during 2006 and quickly grew to 30 million plus users. In 2008, the company was acquired by AOL for $850 million where it experienced some difficulties when users began to switch to social media giants Facebook and Twitter. AOL then sold Bebo in 2010 for less than $10 million (the exact number was never reported) to Criterion Capital Partners. After a number of redesigns, the company lost market share and filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Bebo saw great success early on, but in the end it could not compete with the other large social media networks.
Founded at the end of 2006, Joost is a P2P (Person to Person) on demand video player that offers programming similar to your television at any time. The software worked by feeding a television stream into a network where “peers” could join and watch the same content from anywhere in the world. The company received a large amount of funding from CBS and Viacom and positioned itself tocompete with Microsoft LiveStation. It was acquired in 2009 by Adconion Media Group where it continued to grow to over 67 million users. However, Joost recently decided to suspend its services to reevaluate its business model and its future is currently unknown.
After launching in 2006, Dabble received $350,000 in seed financing to help propel its growth. The company hoped to revolutionize video searching by introducing its unique solution to the market. Unfortunately, Dabble was unable to compete with Google, Yahoo, and a number of other large competitors and was forced to shut down before it could gain traction.
Tiny Pictures set out to change the way that mobile users share pictures. Their founder realized how important it was to mobile users to be able to quickly and effortlessly share their photos with their friends while on the go. The company made a small splash in the market and was then acquired by Shutterfly for $2.6 million in 2009, where it was transformed into an online photo album creation tool. While Tiny Picture did not have a large exit, they were still able to have an impact on the photo industry and Shutterfly’s platform continues to grow.
Founded in 2005 SoonR is a cloud based service that allows teams to work on shared content from any device. It focuses on security to ensure users that their files are safe, making it a popular service for businesses. The company raised just over $23 million in a series of investments that have helped it grow to serve over 140,000 businesses. SoonR is still an independent company and continues to grow its market share.
SuccessFactors lived up to its name by being one of the biggest successes on the 2007 list. Founded in 2001 it is an enterprise level business execution software that improves business alignment and people performance to drive results. As the company grew, it acquired a number of similar companies to expand its services and grow its customer base. In 2012 SuccessFactors was acquired by SAP for $3.4 billion where it has now grown to millions of users.
It is no surprise that the top startups to watch in 2007 were centered around social media, video, and enterprise level software. However, with the recent successes of Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube will these categories continue to be the top growing startups or are there new emerging categories that will make CNN’s 2014 list?
Information in this article is based on research from www.crunchbase.com