Doug Kilponen, Ben Smith: First They Ignore You, Then They Want To Buy You: Managing The Startup-Big Company Relationship

Every entrepreneur has met them. Big company executives with big company swagger. They ignore you. They dismiss the business problem you spent your life solving. They think they can crush you. Then the tables turn. They push for strategic relationships. They want to give you money, frequently at irrationally high valuations. Finally they shell out […]

Victor Belfor, Ben Smith: Why Startups Innovate Better Than Big Companies

With all their resources and talent, why do big companies have trouble innovating? How can a Blekko exist when there is a Google? Or a Tapulous when there is an Electronic Arts? Even more puzzling, why couldn’t Yahoo create Facebook with Yahoo 360 instead of losing out to a 20-year-old kid from Harvard? A lot […]


Ben Smith: Eight Steps To Mastering Small Company Acquisitions

One of the biggest misconceptions in technology is that small acquisitions are less risky and require less attention than large ones. It is not true. When Reply bought my company, MerchantCircle, in May it put several of my top execs in key financial and legal roles. The move was a clever way to bridge the […]

Ben Smith: Building Startups Is Cheap But Never Run Out of Cash

Internet startups have been getting cheaper to build for 10 years. So why is it more important than ever not to run out of cash? We built MerchantCircle into one of the 100 most trafficked U.S. sites and I honestly never remember signing a purchase order for more than $10,000. But that doesn’t mean we […]

Scale, Rustic Canyon, Steamboat Benefit From $60M MerchantCircle Acquisition

Reply agreed to pay $60 million in cash and stock for MerchantCircle, bringing a nice payday to backers Scale Venture Partners, Rustic Canyon Partners, Steamboat Ventures and IAC. The two companies expect substantial synergies as they combine their businesses and seek additional acquisitions. MerchantCircle runs an online network that allows local merchants to advertise and […]

Reply Acquires MerchantCircle for $60M

The Mountain View, Calif.-based online business directory and social network MerchantCircle has sold for $60 million in cash and stock after raising $14.3 million over two rounds from Rustic Canyon Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Square 1 Bank, and Steamboat Ventures. The company was purchased by the online advertising business Reply, based in San Ramon, Calif. […]

Survey Shows U.S. Small Business Confidence Up for First Time Since Q3 2009

MerchantCircle, a Mountain View, Calif.-based online business directory, has issued its quarterly “Merchant Confidence Index” based on survey participants of more than 8,500 local business owners; the results follow below in the company’s release. PRESS RELEASE: MerchantCircle, the largest online network of local business owners in the nation, today issued, issued the results of its quarterly “Merchant […]

The Man Who Predicted Groupon’s Funding

Groupon Inc.’s announcement last Thursday that it raised $500 million of equity financing on the way to a $950 million round is not, in fact, new news. What is new is the man who predicted it. MerchantCircle co-founder Ben Smith IV and I chatted a couple days prior to the unveiling and he was adamant […]

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