Tag: Sandy

Another Portland startup closes down

SandyUsually, when I have to mention a company going through layoffs or—worse yet—shutting down, it’s a fairly grim and unwelcome affair.

This is a welcome change.

I’m happy to report that Portland-based Values of n is being shutdown—because it has been acquired by Twitter, the popular microblogging service that powers the conversations of the Portland Web startup scene.

Why the shutdown? I mean, Values of n has some amazing technology and thinking in its products: my favorite anthropomorphic digital assistant, Sandy, and Stikkit, little yellow online notes that think. Which I guess makes them somewhat anthropomorphic in their own right.

Yes, the technology is amazing. And Sandy has quite an impressive relationship with Twitter. But quite frankly Twitter doesn’t know quite what to do with those assets at this point. So they’re going into the mothballs.

Which brings us to the reason they actually did acquire Values of n: one substantial piece of intellectual property by the name of Rael Dornfest.

Ev Williams of Twitter couldn’t have put it any better when he said:

Rael Dornfest is a famously talented engineer, author, and entrepreneur. Before founding Values of n, Rael served as Chief Technology Officer at O’Reilly Media and is known for his pioneering work on RSS as well being the series editor of O’Reilly’s celebrated Hacks books…. [I] have always thought he was one of the smartest guys I know.

Smart, indeed. Incredibly talented, yes. And in possession of an insane amount of energy.

It’s a little known fact that the amazing—and highly lauded—services of Values of n were single-handedly conceived and managed by Rael with some help here and there. (But he did the bulk of the work.) Even with all the stress of running those services in parallel with a consulting business, he remains one of the most delightful and intelligent people in the Portland tech scene.

And the good news is, Portland is exactly where he’ll remain. Twitter can have his intelligence and guidance, but we get to keep him here. Which means Twitter wins, Rael wins, and we win. Win, win, um, win.

But don’t just take my word for it

This news was all over the tech scene on Monday. Here’s a quick smattering of posts that provide more details on the acquisition:

  • A fork in the road
    “I have taken an engineering position in the User Experience group at Twitter. I started consulting there a few months ago, and fell in love with the team, their way of thinking about things, and of course the product (my Twitter user id is in the low 100s). It turns out we worked incredibly well together, the feeling was mutual, and they pulled me in as a permanent member of the team.”
  • Twitter Hires Rael Dornfest, Shutters Values of n
    “Twitter just announced on the company blog that the company has acquired the assets of Portland, Oregon based Values of n and brought its well-known engineer founder Rael Dornfest on to the Twitter staff. Dornfest’s latest project at Values of n was an anthropomorphized personal assistant service called Sandy.”
  • Twitter Acquires ‘Values of n’, Adds Rael Dornfest To The Team
    “The primary goal of the acquisition appears to have been to bring Rael Dornfest to the Twitter team. Dornfest is the founder of Values of n and former CTO at O’Reilly Media, whose responsibilities also included editing the O’Reilly Hacks series. He was also the head of the RSS-DEV group, which created the RSS 1.0 standard.”
  • Twitter buys a company, closes it, keeps its founder/engineer
    “The micro-messaging service Twitter, fresh off its rejection of an offer to be acquired by Facebook, has turned around and made a purchase itself: A personal productivity and information management solutions company called Values of n, Twitter reports on its blog.”
  • Twitter Buys Start-up’s Assets; Hires Founder Rael Dornfest
    “Twitter grabbed headlines today after reports surfaced saying it declined a $500 million buyout offer from Facebook. Now, Twitter is making more news today by saying it has acquired the assets of Values of n, a company that developed a sticky-note application as well as a personal productivity app that works over e-mail, SMS, and the Web.”
  • Twitter Acquires Values of n (Makers of Sandy)
    “Judging by the lack of updates to Twitter I highly doubt that we’ll see any of the Values of n’s features integrated. I am devastated to hear they will be shutting down all their services as well.”
  • Rael Dornfest joins twitter; now this gets interesting
    “Now the man’s going to join forces with Ev Williams, Biz Stone and other smart people at twitter; my product development head is bursting with speculation about the cool direction twitter could go in (and thinking multiple products people, one at a time…). And of course the dude’s an engineer….”
  • Twitter says I want Sandy
    “These are two pretty cool products and I have been a fan of I want Sandy for a long time and it usually runs most of my calendering.”

While I’m sad to see Sandy go, I’ll eagerly await her return. And in the meantime, I’m looking forward to Rael lending his intelligence, wit, and inimitable energy to Twitter.

Congratulations to Rael. This couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

And Sandy…? Call me.

WebWare 100 loves Sandy

SandyEveryone’s favorite anthropomorphic digital assistant, Sandy—the smartest hire Portland-based Values of n has ever made—is now even more popular, given that she’s been named as one of the WebWare 100.

I hope she’ll still take my tweets.

While much of Sandy’s personality has fallen by the wayside in the WebWare write-up, I’m including it for those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Sandy:

[S]imply add “her” as an e-mail contact to get started. Sending Sandy an e-mail with a small message will have the system scan what you wrote and convert into an e-mail reminder or calendar appointment that will be sent back to you at whatever time you note. It also has been designed to work with the popular microblogging service Twitter, letting users remotely set reminders while away from their regular e-mail.

At first blush, Sandy appears to the only Portland type to get a nod, although Vimeo, whose Dalas Verdugo lives here in Portland, also received the honor of being named to the list.

If you happen to see a Silicon Forest based on company on the WebWare 100 winners list that I overlooked, please let me know.

Yes, yes. I’m asking you to help me out. I’d really appreciate another set of eyes. Go to it, cub reporter!

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