Today Lijit announced that it has been acquired by Federated Media Publishing, the powerhouse conversational marketing and media business that John Battelle started in 2005. I could not be more excited about the transaction, and more importantly, the future that the combined company has before it.
About the same time John was starting FM, I was starting Lijit. Not in a friend’s garage, like John, but rather in my basement.
From the onset, Lijit has been keenly interested in helping publishers who create and curate great content that attracts engaged audiences in thoughtful conversations. In the early days we borrowed heavily from the FeedBurner playbook: provide services that are useful and intuitive and create long lasting publisher relationships. Dick Costolo, the former FeedBurner CEO and now CEO of Twitter, was an early mentor and board member who helped me keep the Lijit mission true to course in an industry where data is hard to come by and experience is everything. Over the last few years we expanded that charter to focus on helping publishers monetize their website(s) and bring them technologies and information that would otherwise be out of reach due to their size.
For all this hard work, publishers have rewarded us by trusting more of their ad inventory to us and allowing us to help monetize more of their properties. September was the first month since inception that we paid out more than $1M in revenue to publishers in our network. Even more exciting is that this number has grown over 50% month-over-month for the last year or so. While revenue is the key metric of success for any business, it is still amazing to see the number of positive tweets, inbound emails, and phone calls we get every week from publishers who are too small or too niche to be considered viable by the larger ad channels in our industry. We love publishers and they are our people.
So in May, when we were first approached by Federated Media, it was a case of mixed emotion. Lijit wasn’t for sale, we were fully funded and coming off our 6th straight month of 50% month-over-month revenue growth. Profitability was within sight and occurring on and off on a daily basis. In short, we were having FUN, AND A LOT OF IT. But, at the same time, if there was bigger play to make – an industry changing and industry leading play to make – it was with FM. It all made complete sense from that first instant of thought.
Lijit has one of the best management teams I have ever worked with. Without fail they embody the charter of “hire people that are smarter than you.” This motto has served me well as Lijit CEO, and I am super excited to see what they can accomplish with greater resources and the association with an A+ brand in our industry.
Over the months as I got to know John Battelle, Deanna Brown and the entire FM management team it become even more clear that the combination of both companies was going to create the first major media company designed from the ground up to help the millions of publishers ignored by all the other companies. This company was designed to harness the amazing power of focused conversations in the engaged part of the web – what FM refers to as the “Independent Web.”
FM and Lijit are going to combine efforts to create a company of scale and substance only indicative of industry leading companies. I could not be more excited for the ride.