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Twitter acquires Clutch.io (clutch.io)
177 points by j4mie on Aug 13, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments

I don't want to moan, but I wish we could get out of this mindset of reporting "company X acquires company Y" when in fact it's a case of company Y shutting down and the founders going to work at company X.

Congrats anyway.

We took good care of all our investors

I think mbitter's point might be better explained by an example from outside the world of computers. Audi (high end cars), for example, recently acquired Ducati (high end motorcycles). No-one expects Ducati to be shuttered. Instead, people are expecting both companies to remain and to share their IP and improve both the cars and and motorcycles as knowledge flows from both companies.

In the land of computers being acquired tends to mean the acquired co. shutters their business, and everything they worked on ceases to be available to the customers who made them a company worth acquiring. I seriously applaud your allowing customers to set up their own servers. It's quite atypical... but it's kind of a dead-end thing unless you open-source the code. "Hooray... We can continue... but things will never improve, bugs will never be fixed, and our needs will eventually exceed the capabilities of the software that no-one is working on anymore."

Wouldn't it be nicer if the acquiring company valued the company being acquired enough to keep it going, or roll its functionality into its own offerings so that customers can continue being served?

The difference here is that the greatest asset of Ducati is it's brand as a high-end motorcycle producer. Thus getting a return on this acquisition from Audi's perspective means continuing to deliver on that brand's promise of awesome, pricey motorcycles. (Which incidentally makes good money for Audi as well)

The greatest asset of Clutch.io is the technical team and their ability to produce well-crafted code which means getting a return on the acquisition means deploying that team toward important projects at Twitter which could help them grow their userbase, engage existing users and monetize those users.

(Disclaimer - I have not spoken to the team about why they were acquired and what they'll be working on, but my statements are representative of what the majority of these types of acquisitions are like)

> In the land of computers being acquired tends to mean the acquired co. shutters their business

Not really, e.g. Oracle acquiring Sun or Vmware acquiring Nicira, not to mention all the $100M+ but "unfashionable" acquires that don't even get airtime on HN.

Anyway, I don't get this sort of complaint. If you really think the service had potential to be profitable, why not go ahead and clone it?

Your Ducati example is memorable because Ducati already had a well known brand. But how many small automotive (or insert industry here) business that you have never heard of are acquired and subsequently killed? I expect it happens more often than you think.

I expect it happens more often than you think.

Yes, but usually not with any sort of press release from either company, or any other positioning that makes it sound like the "acquisition" was any indicator of success or strength.

Most startups are high-risk, and so it's blindingly obvious that there are going to be lots of ideas which are able to be implemented, but not scaled into a business. And we've all heard about VC's investing in the "team" more than the product, and how hard it is to find and hire really good engineers. So, a startup as sort of a long-cycle public job interview isn't the worst thing in the world.

Still, it would be nice (given the mindset of most engineers) to see the released framed in a more accurate way "Company X team being absorbed into Company Y", or "Company Y extends employment to entire team of Company X".

Perhaps it's just me, but I think most people see these "acquisition" press releases, and resulting "congratulations" rounds as somewhat of a poor veneer over the reality of what really transpired.

I'm not sure I agree. I follow the agriculture channels and you see the same kind of thing when a big agriculture company acquires someone whose products you will never see again.

You just only read about tech-specific acquires here because that is the focus of HN.

Sorry, that wasn't really my point.

If I started a company up, had no investment, then decided to go work at bigco on the understanding I could say they acquired my company, then it's all quite meaningless.

It's just a shame to see so many deadpooled companies and products through acquihires spun as "yay success!".

Maybe I'm just getting old ;)

As I say though, congrats on the new job.

I think I understand your reasoning but in many of these cases the "success" aspect I believe is that despite the failure/discontinuation of the product/company the investors still saw some kind of return on their investment. Though I don't know what Eric meant by "we took good care of all our investors" exactly, I'd assume they were satisfied with the terms. It's an additional plus that the world benefits by the open sourcing of clutch.io's IP that Twitter wasn't interested in. It sounds like a win-win-win, but that's just my opinion.

why so bitter ;)

A rising tide lifts all boats. We, as workers in this industry, should all be glad that there's now so much hype. There are many important industries that should get more of the community attention, but don't.

Unless some money was paid to the investors. You don't know.


They thank their investors in the post. Please don't present your opinions as if they are fact.

As an angel investor, I rarely see "the team just got jobs and we're calling it acquisitions" and more often "we paid off the investors minimally and got good job offers."

They didn't have investors.

This is false.

The problem with your statement is that it's incorrect. The founder's comment below implies investors made money in this acquisition.

When this happens, I personally would love to see a blog post by the founders on how the soon-to-be-shut business was actually doing, so that current competitors and other startup-watchers can learn. You're anyways leaving the space open, so better to leave the lessons behind.

Congrats to the two Erics - and I love the way you're handling the transition and existing customers, seems very classy.

It's inline with how those guys are. Classy hackers.

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a plethora of companies named in the form something.io nowadays? Feels like it's the next version of Flickr and all the diminutives missing that 'e'.

.io seems solidified as branding indicating that the business is oriented to developers, being a niche of "B2B." It may feel like a fad but the TLD is valuable for reasons other than availability, unlike deliberate misspellings you cite such as Flickr.

We’re a new TechStars company who’ve built a super simple mobile A/B testing tool. Could be a great alternative to Clutch. If you’d like to try it out, or give us feedback or ideas, ping us at founders <at> leanplum <dot> com.

Congratulations to the team! They had a really cool product and the way they are handling the acquisition is great. Glad they aren't just killing it.

While we can't blame any individual team taking an aquihire deal, I have to wonder if their prevalence these days is undermining future startups and sending potential customers back to an old school mindset of going with large vendors who are less likely to shut down.

After all, why work with a company made up of a few 25 year olds testing out a market, who may "pivot" any time, and will shut down their product when some big company wants to hire them? Seems like a justifiable choice to go with an inferior product from a profitable established company which is much less likely to disappear in two years.

Even as a startup guy, I'm hesitant to build on startup products. YC Startups may be even worse in this context as they are frequently picked off and shut down, and the founders are young and not necessarily in the product for the long haul.

Are there any alternatives to Clutch.io?

Take a look at our side project Switchboard: easy A/B testing for mobile

https://github.com/KeepSafe/Switchboard It's open source

My co-founder Philipp is talking about this project at next week's Silicon Valley iOS Dev Meetup http://www.meetup.com/sviphone/events/38752252/

We just posted a comment explaining our alternative. Ping us at founders <at> leanplum <dot> com if you want to chat.

Something similar is appgrok.com which offers server-side control of bundled files, including nib files. It doesn't have a built-in experiment framework, but you could mix AppGrok with analytics to get some experiments-without-app-store-submission working, if that's your goal. (I'm a developer at AppGrok.)


A/B testing for mobile and social apps

Congrats, this is interesting because Eric Florenzano one of the co-founders co-founded Convore.

actually, both erics

If I may ask, what issues were the Cluch.io guys having building a sustainable business around A/B testing for mobile?

Congrats to the Team at Clutch.io :)

Congrats and thanks for keeping the idea up; a noble gesture.

Whoa! Congrats to the Erics, awesome news, guys!

Congratulations to the two Erics!

>We’re happy to announce that over the coming weeks we will make available everything you need to run Clutch.io on your own servers, so that even after our hosted service is no longer running, you can continue to operate it on your own.

Everyone take note. This is how you handle an aquihire correctly

Agreed. Seems like everyone is a winner given how they are handling things.

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