my baby’s not ugly

I’ve written about startups that persist despite the failure of others, as well as about startup postmortems, so this may seem ironic: we’ve decided to stop active work on Bynamite. To make a long story short, my cofounder and I have both received compelling offers to work at large Internet companies, offers that we don’t think rational people would refuse. Unfortunately, the companies involved do not want to purchase Bynamite.

As a startup founder, whenever anyone tells you that your idea won’t work, that it won’t be popular, that no one will care, that no one wants it – you hear all of this as: “Your baby is ugly.” Founders invest time, money, emotion and the goodwill of their friends and family into the company; it really can feel like raising a baby. It saddens me that I haven’t been able to find a home for our pride and joy.

I couldn’t even get the company “acqhired” – that is, have our company acquired merely in order to hire Ian and me. That kind of “hacquisition” seems pretty common around Silicon Valley these days, but I failed to get it done. It hardly makes a difference though – a hire wrapped up in a sale is merely a mask. Our goal wasn’t to build a resume in the form of a company, we were aiming a lot higher than just getting hired. It’s important to own your failures, and this experience has certainly given me plenty to learn from.

But I’m proud of what we were able to do in the time we had. We put out a beautiful service that received nice launch coverage and some industry mindshare. Serious publications highlighted Bynamite as a useful tool and a company to watch. We took a little shot at the opportunity and had good enough results to seriously question why we won’t take it further. I’ll probably detail and try to answer those questions in a later post, but not for a while.

In the meantime, I still have a passion for the relationship between online advertisers and consumers. To the extent my new duties allow, I’ll keep Bynamite up as a hobby project outside of work. I’ll consider selling the assets to someone who cares about the product, or perhaps even turn it into an open source or otherwise community-supported effort. If you have any ideas about what to do with Bynamite, feel free to comment here or send me a note via LinkedIn.

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18 thoughts on “my baby’s not ugly

  1. Sorry to hear this path isn’t continuing, but congratulations on the new position. Look forward to hearing which opportunity was so compelling that it drew you away. Am sure you’ll make a big impact.

  2. I came looking for news on whether the certificate was going to be renewed (as I keep getting a “certificate expired” warning), but then I find this news.

    I’ve been using Bynamite for several months now and I wanted to let you know, your baby ain’t ugly! I thought it was a really clever way to manage online advertising and it was fun when the bar popped up. Like playing a game of “Do you like these?” Point is, I’ve enjoyed having it as a part of my browsing experience.

    That being said, congrats on the new jobs! I’m not very surprised that you guys were offered good jobs… if anything, the surprise would be that it didn’t happen sooner. I hope you enjoy the hell out of your new positions!

  3. Gene, Congrats on taking the position of “Product Management, Ads Policy at Google”. I presume that Ian is also moving to Google but I didn’t see a similar update on his LI profile. Hey, cut out that “own your failures’ language! Take if from someone who has no reason or agenda to say otherwise, but in looking at the Bynamite story, “failure” is the very last thing that comes to mind. Steve

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  5. How in the world did you figure out how to push preferences to all those ad networks? Wish I’d found out about Bynamite sooner. Looks like a cute baby to me, and I’d love to know a bit more about how it works if you’d care to share or point me to a URL. Thanks! Best wishes in your new gig.

  6. Hey thanks all for the good wishes. I’m not sad, tho there is an “end of an era” feel to it. I’ll describe more in a post soon. Cheers!

  7. Bynamite was a success! Even if you had not enough resources it would come quickly ! Do not drop it fully ! Your new boss is not 100% ok with this tool being enhanced but the consumers are very interested… Awareness take time ;-)

    Good luck and thanks!

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