The About.Me Fairy Tale: Once a Startup, Always a Startup?

You’ve probably seen that About.Me, an online identity Web site and one of the most famous .Me services, announced on Monday that it had bought itself back from AOL, after two years of being a part of the corporate giant. Needless to say, all of us at .Me are thrilled.

That is, sadly, not the universal reaction to this news. Many people would say something along the lines of, “Why, oh why did you do that? You created your startup and sold it and now you’re getting it back?! Why didn’t you just go and enjoy those millions that you got for selling your startup in the first place (estimates go as far as 40 million)? Or why not work on something else, another idea?”

Different News for Different People

I, on the other hand, was very disappointed when About.Me was acquired by AOL back in 2010. I couldn’t understand why somebody would sell their passion and dream to a corporation. Tony Conrad, one of the founders, said that he had to argue with his friends and colleagues to explain that the idea of starting was a great one, because they didn’t believe in it.

And then they sold the company?! Okay, maybe I wouldn’t make a perfect businessman (woman) as I rely so much on my emotions. To me, loving what you do is the most important thing in the world.

While I never started my own company, I somehow got involved with three different startups from the very beginning, so I went through the process of setting up the business, choosing the right people, fighting for everything, crying because of our set-backs, and because people whom I’ve so carefully chosen did not turn out to be who I expected them to be. I was, and I still am, driven by enthusiasm and emotions, and am convinced that all people who go through this are those who have a good life, a fulfilled life.

This is probably why everyone that knows me was already prepared to read another one of my emotional stories from the very first sentence. Guys, all start-ups are stories about emotions and feelings! Crazy, dumb, idealistic, utopian you may say, but please bear in mind that now is the time when passionate people can really have the kind of success they dreamed of.

Find those

Back in the Business Saddle

This is exactly how and why I fell in love with the About.Me story – first the idea behind it, then the passion of the people from the About.Me team. The first question I asked Ryan Freitas, the other co-founder, after they bought themselves back was “How do you feel now – going back to entrepreneurial waters?” Ryan said:

There’s a mix of both excitement and anxiety – we’ve got a potentially huge opportunity in front of us. We have a fantastic foundation beneath us, and the best team any of us have ever had a chance to work with.

That mixture of passion and dedication is exactly what I know them for! Ryan said that they viewed the re-gaining of their independence as a chance to see what their true potential is, as a company and a product. “We want to be the pre-eminent identity platform on the web, and we’re not going to stop until we get there,” he said. This attitude perfectly represents people who believe in their project and in its potential to be successful, and are not afraid to fight for it. Well, Tony and Ryan, and the rest of the crew: .ME is with you every step of the way. 🙂


Natasa Djukanovic

Natasa Djukanovic is Chief Marketing Officer of .ME Registry. Her interests include domain industry development, Internet governance, and virtual brand-building. Natasa is an occasional speaker at domain conferences and she was featured in Financial Times Business Diary.

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