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Who are you selling yourself to?

I just had a quick exchange over twitter in regards to Redbeacon being bought out by Home Depot.  First of all I want to congratulate Yaron, Aaron and the rest on starting a great company that got great traction.  Secondly why the hell did you sell to Home Depot?

I understand that a lot of folks in this world right now do startups and want to cash out.  If that’s why you are starting a venture – great!  You are basically running an R&D department for a big company, but if you are really passionate about your space selling to a company that sells 2x4s is a sure way to get marginalized and become irrelevant.

I have spent time in companies big and small.  I have created new features, new marketplaces, worked with partners and developed products.  In order to become a great company sales, marketing, development and executive sponsorship need to be in sync.

I can understand that a small product can be absorbed into a bigger offering and accelerate because of that acquisition, but when a company’s missions are so different it’s hard to imagine how the executive sponsorship, marketing and sales are going to rally behind the new lines.

Even when the company’s mission is aligned with your product’s mission it’s still hard to get the right support.  I’ve developed several projects that ended up going nowhere because the company was not aligned behind them.  Engineers put everything together and then… nothing.  It’s demoralizing and you can’t get folks to work hard on the next revision.

I think in a pinch Home Depot has to compete with Lowe’s on the best home improvement hardware and materials, not a web 2.0 solution for locating contractors.  My guess is that pouring money to market and evolve Redbeacon is going to be less of a priority than the core business.  Let’s hope I am incorrect.

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