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After the Deadline: Acquired (afterthedeadline.com)
185 points by karlsutt on Sept 8, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 55 comments

Congratulations! It takes cast-iron balls the size of cantaloupes to make a product that competes against companies with six orders of magnitude more funding... and succeed.

It's great that the author found a way to continue working on something he loves but there's a tremendously broad spectrum that 'acquired' could technically fall under - from 'sold one license and got a job' to 'my investors bought another beach house and my grandchildren can afford to be fulltime cocaine addicts'. We don't really know where this particular deal falls.

It falls under his definition, which is good enough a story for me.

Perhaps I am some ogre of a curmudgeon but 'falls under the author's definition which we have no way of vaguely qualitatively evaluating' is not good enough for me. What if his definition was 'I was acquired by my mom who let me move back into her basement'? I'm not suggesting that it is or that there's anything wrong with an early exit that pays your debts and legal bills (or more or much more). But we know essentially bupkis about this - it's a good story because... it has an inspiring ring about it? Having a hard time throwing my critical faculties to the wind just because it undoubtedly does.

Congrats raffi! (http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=raffi) This is totally awesome news.

I was surprised to follow this link and see a familiar face. I recognize Raphael Mudge from when I competed in the Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (http://neccdc09.nssa.rit.edu/) where he was a member of the red team. I didn't have much time to get to know him personally, but I do remember him being a nice guy. Congrats, Raphael!

That would be me. Thank you very much :) My last day in the (active duty) Air Force was spent at NECCDC 08 and it was great to work with you guys for the 09 competition. Hopefully Daryl invites me back for 10.


I loved the idea about the NY Times quiz. (I got it wrong). It's a little thing, but it may have been just the hook to catch the right fish.

I try to learn something from everything here. This was a great lesson that I hope to put to use myself someday.

I assume the sale price is not public?

Welcome to the family, Raffi. :)

Finally, a story in which YC misjudged... :)


Misjudged? Not necessarily.

While getting acquired is cool for the founders, getting acquired so early is usually not in YC's interest and I doubt they'd have too much regret over (what is likely) a super-small acquisition.

YC may also suffer from an embarrassment of riches, where they have more good startups than they have resources to fund.

Not sure that is in any way a failure or suffering. I think its a great success. Look at MIT's move to give away its courseware online. They don't think it will hurt them in the foreseeable future. Is MIT losing out by not solving the problem of expanding the number of paying students they can take in? They don't think so.

Not saying I agree with the 'misjudged' comment, but it seems baseless to think that raffi couldn't have held out for more, later.

Sour grapes

May be you can elaborate.

I think you'll find that YC is littered with failures (startups missed, and those chosen that failed). That's the great thing about the model. At this scale they have the ability to do so.

I think it will be an awesome case study to have an essay on what went behind choosing every startup@YC till now and more startups can be added after every funding cycle. Then talking about the YC funded startup success/failure stories with lessons learned. So, a separate essay describing what was YCs initial thought process/criteria in choosing them, how that startup developed and lessons learned depending on success/failure

Hear, Here! The internet is thankful for all the future Wordpress-powered blogs whose writers will be spared the embarrassment of confusing its and it's, their and there, and complementary and complimentary. Congrats!


Here it is 379 days ago on HN first. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=286162


Awesome, I am incredibly happy for this! It was a pleasure working with you on both FeedbackArmy and this in terms of design, it is a rare treat to have such a polite and understandable client. I've also seen you online at the most awkward times of night slaving away, so I know this is certainly well deserved. Best of luck my friend!

This is great news. If you can teach the great unwashed blogging masses the difference between "there", "their" and "they're" you'll be doing the English language a great service too! ;-)

Congrats! Does this mean we'll get to see the source?

edit: Any details on the financials?

Hi Yan, Yes, we're planning to open source the backend. I will also try to post snippets of AtD functionality into blog posts as this will be easier to digest. As a researcher I think the ideas probably have more value than the code.

Huge congratulations to Raphael. I had the chance to see a preview of his presentation, and I was impressed right away. The market is obviously hugely competitive (who really wants to take on MS, google, etc?), and those were the biggest questions I had at the time.

But this is a perfect combination of tech and opportunity. Again, well done Raphael!

Ironically the grammar error he cites might not be an error, depending on whether Mr Franken said that IRL or in print. If it were in print, such as on a website or email, then it was not incorrect for the New York Times (which was why I missed it, because I skip the quotes when looking for errors) to have simply transcribed Franken's error. (In that case they could put the old (sic) there, but I view that as a total dick move. Leave that pretentious stuff for The New Yorker.) If they were transcribing his spoken word, then it was erroneous.

I view that as ironic because the article talks about contextual grammar checking, and there's no way a machine (or in this case even a human) could know the proper context that determines whether or not the article's author made a mistake.

The NYT article makes it quite clear it's an interview. It's just a simple error of spelling (not grammar, the sentence is grammatically correct) in the original article.

My experience has been that journalists take the liberty of fixing "makes you sound stupid" errors like that in most cases -- sometimes they'll double check, but often times they will fix that sort of word choice issue and move on. Indeed, it's the sort of thing that would likely get flagged by a copy editor who wouldn't even know the quote came from an email.

First, as the other poster mentioned, it was an interview. Second, when the NYT quotes something that is already written with known errors, the editors are guaranteed to either fix the errors and carefully note that they had to fix the grammar or add a [SIC] because that's the kind of people editors are.

Congratulations man! Way to not let rejection knock you down one bit!

WOOOOT ! Congrats dude ! I'm kinda sad I didn't join you. You rock

I thought I'd try it, using the link provided in the article (http://www.polishmywriting.com/nyt.html) I copied some text from my blog into it. In the sentence fragment:

...took pictures of famous czech and slovak authors...

It noticed that Slovak should be capitalized, but not Czech.

So until it can pass my 30 second test, much as I am pleased for the authors, I'd not use the product, under any ownership.

A question for the AtD folks: Do you have any concerns about being acquired by a company which builds such a famously insecure product?

Speaking as someone who cares a lot about security, I'd be concerned about the reputation for poor security "rubbing off" on me.

You mean like it rubbed of on Bill Gates ?

At my work, not a day goes by when someone doesn't curse Bill Gates.

I'm sure Bill Gates really cares.

The point I was trying to make, and which seems to be lost on you, is that it is perfectly possible to have people associate you with insecure code or even to outright dislike you and to sleep very well at night and have half the world kow-tow to you.

The people at your work are no doubt in IT, they probably don't realize that if Bill Gates had not done his thing that they'd be in a different job today.

All this from somebody who is also not impressed by some of Bill Gates' legacy. But I still give the guy his due.

Any of us would wish to do half as good as he did for himself and his family.

The rest of the world will not remember Bill Gates as the guy who had a hand in the worlds most insecure os (at some point, the situation has changed a bit), or the guy whose company did some really dirty business deals.

They'll remember the billionaire that gave away a fortune through his foundation to cure all kinds of diseases.

Gates won the PR battle long ago. It's just us IT guys that see the rest of the story, and mostly because they are forced to work with stuff that they would not work with if they had a choice.

The difference is that in this case, we are talking about a company/product that is associating itself with insecure software, before that company has become hugely successful. Bill Gates can't be hurt by the associations anymore; this product still can be hurt by association with Wordpress. Being acquired by Automattic may mean you have just limited your clients to Wordpress, because no-one else dares use a plugin by Automattic.

No, we're talking about a person joining a company that has produced insecure software and whether or not that would 'rub off'.

That's a weird way of looking at it. As though people working for microsoft are automatically associated with making insecure software.

The people that make wordpress that are responsible for the security - or lack there off - have some egg on their faces, but the person whose company just got acquired obviously does not.

For one the acquisition is after this particular bug was found, secondly he is not working on that part of the wordpress code but on the text polishing feature.

Major difference.

To suggest it would 'rub off' is to lump all the wordpress employees onto one heap and assign blame/attach stigma for the acts or negligence of the wordpress security team.

And that is where it should rub off on.

The 'on me' bit makes it pretty clear this is a personal issue and not about people not using the software produced by the company.

As in "even after you leave that company you will still carry the stigma of having worked for a company that produced insecure software".

I'm not sure why my question here is being voted down; the fact that wordpress is famously insecure is hardly controversial.

Can some downvoters please explain?

It sounds like you are whining about Wordpress, rather than just commenting on the article.

Microsoft Research did a lot of work on Haskell. Does the multitude of Windows viruses make you not want to use Haskell? Probably not. It just doesn't matter.

It sounds like you are whining about Wordpress

I fail to see how the original question qualifies as 'whining about Wordpress'.

To be fair, he was just asking if there were any concerns? Doesn't deserve such rabid downvoting imho.

I like you and wholeheartedly agree with your reasoning, but in this context your comment is really a 'question' -- it's basically a concern troll.

Which of Automattic's services (WordPress.com, Akismet, Gravatar, IntenseDebate, and Polldaddy) do you consider famously insecure?

"[...] as part of an application to Y-Combinator, Spring 09. Later, I was greeted with a rejection letter. But that was ok! I knew I didn’t need permission to start a business. So on I went."

I think we all can take a good lesson from this example of determination.


If they have a better spell checker, why tie it to a particular editor/web site?

It's a software as a service so it isn't tied to a particular editor/web site.

I chose to support TinyMCE as the first editor because of its excellent plugin API and use in popular applications. I chose WordPress as a first application because of its excellent plugin API and infrastructure for distributing plugins to users. The fact I think it's pretty slick helped too.

  It's a software as a service
So, when you say you're going to open-source it, does that include the backend?

Yes, the front-end stuff is already available under an open source license. Something about AtD that amazes me is there isn't a lot of code. The data and the rules do most of the work. (although there is a lot of stuff to manage the training and testing processes)

Thanks for the info.

Did you make more than you would have consulting over the same time period?

I don't think he could have consulted on anything that would be used by hundreds of thousands of content producers (bloggers) around the globe. I could be wrong. But I doubt it.

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