An offer too good
Twitter tapped Vizify to
work—for no fee—on a
major project. Was the
exposure worth the risk?
Reason to Smile Vizify CEO
Todd Silverstein and his
co-founders Eli Tucker (left)
and Jeff Cutler-Stamm. Their
service (left) charts the topics
users tweet about most.
In July 2011, software veterans
Todd Silverstein, Eli Tucker, and
Jeff Cutler-Stamm launched Vizify,
a company designed to help job
seekers create online resumés that
gave potential employers a sense of
their off-resumé lives. After participating in the TechStars accelerator
program, the trio morphed Vizify
into a free service that aggregates
tweets, photos, and career history
from a person’s social-media
accounts and arranges them in
a nifty, infographic-like personal
webpage. The finished product
went live in July 2012, backed with
$1.4 million in funding from more
than 30 angel investors.
Last fall, Vizify’s seven-person
staff, based in Portland, Oregon,
was busy working on a series of
new features that added more data
feeds from services such as Flickr
and Google+ and allowed people to
customize their bios with quirky
details to add more personality.
The team was also on track to turn
those users into paying customers.
In mid-October, however, Silverstein received an email from Twitter
asking if Vizify would be willing to
help with a project called the Year
on Twitter, which highlighted the
top tweets and hash tags of 2012.
Because Vizify had already been
gathering data on the topics its
users most frequently tweeted
about, Twitter executives thought
the start-up would be a great fit for
the project, says Rachael Horwitz,
a Twitter spokeswoman.
ED ROBERTO CEO OF LAGRANGE SYSTEMS AND TECHSTARS MENTOR It’s worth the risk As a CEO, you get lots of conflicting advice from your investors, but I think Silverstein made the right decision. Despite not having sufficient operating runway, Vizify made the most out of a less than ideal situation.
Silverstein took the chance and did the deal with Twitter,
even if it meant burning through his cash faster. It was
a risky move but the right thing to do, given the potential
upside and market validation that Twitter could bring.
It looks like it worked out well enough in his favor.