While I love all of the startups in the Silicon Forest equally, Portland-based SplashCast has always held a special place in my heart.
You see, not too long after I came back to this side of the desk as a consultant, I had the opportunity to meet with QMind founder Mike Berkley a few years back—and signed an NDA, I might add—when he was getting ready to retool the company into what would become SplashCast. And then they hired Marshall Kirkpatrick. And Alex Williams. And they showed a great deal of promise.
Unfortunately, that scrappy Portland startup’s history has now come to an end. SplashCast has decided to shutter its operations.
SplashCast accomplished great things with tiny resources. Despite the fact that we were ultimately unable to survive the headwinds we faced, it’s remarkable what we were able to achieve. We were a tiny, angel-funded, Portland-based startup that successfully navigated the bleeding edge of digital media for many years, partnering with the largest media companies in the world. Beginning with our transition from enterprise e-learning (when we were called QMIND) to consumer internet (when we “relaunched” as SplashCast at DEMO ‘07), the company nimbly adapted to the rapidly changing online media landscape.
At each turn, we moved from what ultimately proved to be a declining market opportunity to a larger opportunity. Our product team’s ability to quickly adapt allowed us to maintain product leadership at each step. Our business development team aligned us with the biggest players in the space. Our sales team ultimately found validation in a promising business model, closing advertising campaigns with some of the largest brand advertisers in the world: Nissan, Jack In The Box, Right Guard… We demonstrated that premium content applications in Facebook and MySpace can be monetized effectively with high-end display advertising. But that final chapter in the company’s history came too late, given our inability to convince the VC community to bet on us.
The news is no surprise — TechCrunch had word of SplashCast’s plight last spring.… SplashCast seemed as tuned in as anyone to the business opportunities in social networking, but by itself a clear sense of the market often isn’t enough.[HTML2]
In this case, obviously, it wasn’t.
Berkley and I have been trading messages back and forth. I hope to catch up with him soon to provide some more details on the story—and what’s next for the team.
For now, we simply have to bid them a fond farewell. And look forward to seeing where members of the SplashCast team land.
For more, see Mike Berkley’s post on the closing of SplashCast.