A startup CEO's view of being acquired

John Shinal · September 17, 2008 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/3bf

Adify's Russ Fradin talks about Cox, bankers and having a boss

Russ Fradin of Adify is the type of entrepreneur that investors want to get involved with -- one with a history of successful exits.

When Cox Enterprises bought Adify for $300 million in cash earlier this year, it was his fourth startup that had either been acquired or gone public.

The company had raised a total of $27 million, including angel money and two venture rounds. Series A investors were in the deal just two years and Series B investors just one year, which meant venture firms Venrock Associates US Venture Partners and strategic investors NBC and Time-Warner were happy with the deal.

"It was a great return for all our investors, all our angels and all our employees," says Fradin, Adify's founding CEO.

When I asked him how it felt to have a boss again, Fradin joked that "everyone has a boss, whether it's your wife or husband or mother or kids," and that reporting to one person isn't very different that reporting to a board.

When Cox made the offer, Adify wasn't for sale, according to Fradin, so the company went out and hired JP Morgan investment bankers. Cox was represented at the table by Lehman Brothers (which just declared bankruptcy).

The fact that Adify was on a path to be cash flow positive this year certainly helped the deal get done, but Fradin said even more important was that they had a proven business model and "a great team."

"I'm not sure how much they cared that we were going to be profitable this year versus next year... you buy a company because you think it's going to be worth more down the road."

It also helped that the two companies had worked together for a year and that Fradin had a lot of support from his directors.  

"It's easy to get a deal done if you have trust on both sides and have a very supportive board," says Fradin, who has stayed on to run the business for Cox.

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