We hate the company that bought us

May 1, 2013: 11:23 AM ET
startups sale regrets
Yahoo shut down the events community Upcoming.org on Tuesday, and founder Andy Baio isn't happy.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

For many startup founders, the ultimate dream is a buyout offer from a big tech company. But after the money is in the bank, some founders regret selling.

The corporate culture of a tech giant can make for a difficult adjustment when you're used to operating in a small team. Some startups grow to feel unappreciated or ignored -- and a few make a big stink about it.

The latest to vent is Andy Baio, who posted an angry missive about Yahoo (YHOO) shutting down his events-planning community startup Upcoming.org.

"In Yahoo's typical f***-off-and-die style, they're [shutting down Upcoming] with 11 days notice," Baio wrote. The site was shuttered on Tuesday.

Baio, who left Yahoo shortly after the acquisition in 2007, slammed the company for removing Upcoming's social features and allowing spam posts to permeate the site. He detailed how Yahoo "was actually pretty cool" back in 2007, but the company changed over the years. Ultimately, he said, the sale was "a horrible mistake."

Yahoo did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Baio's post made headlines for its bluntness, which is rare in Silicon Valley. If founders do regret their sales, they typically spill their frustrations to friends over drinks in a Bay Area bar and keep quiet publicly.

Related story: Investing in startups: More fun than profit

"Sure, I've heard from several privately who have similar stories," Baio told CNNMoney. But, he said, "founders don't usually talk about acquisitions gone bad until long after they leave a company. Even then, those conversations usually stay off the record."

The exceptions are few, but they're juicy.

Dodgeball guys leave Google with a bang: Perhaps the most famous rant came in 2007 from Dennis Crowley, who sold his mobile social-networking service to Google (GOOG) in 2005.

Under a photo of himself and fellow Dodgeballer Alex Rainert giving the thumbs down, Crowley said it was "no real secret that Google wasn't supporting dodgeball the way we expected. The whole experience was incredibly frustrating for us." Crowley, who went on to start the location service Foursquare, closed his post by inviting readers to his DJ-ing gig to "celebrate our escape." Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Delicious founder 'frustrated' by Yahoo: Joshua Schachter, founder of bookmarking site Delicious, resigned from Yahoo in 2008 -- three years after the Internet giant acquired his company.

On a TechCrunch article about his exit, Schachter posted a response in the comments section: "I was largely sidelined by the decisions of my management. So that was mostly the result rather than the cause, if that makes sense. It was an incredibly frustrating experience...."

Schachter later complained that Yahoo blocked him from investing in Twitter.

Delicious users were outraged in 2010, when a leaked memo said Yahoo would shut the service down. Instead, Yahoo sold Delicious a few months later to AVOS Systems, run by YouTube's co-founders.

Webshots 'withers away': Photo sharing service Webshots has shuffled through several owners since it was founded in 1995, and its popularity has dwindled over time. Webshots founder Nick Wilder pins the blame squarely on CNET, which bought the company in 2004.

"CNET, despite being a company with great assets, was a disaster," Wilder wrote on a 37signals blog in 2011.

CNET broke up the Webshots team, Wilder said, sending the engineering and ad sales staff elsewhere in the company. CNET did not reply to a request for comment.

"We accomplished absolutely nothing in the year I worked there," Wilder said. He quit CNET the moment he logged his contractually obligated one year of service.

After that, Wilder wrote, "The product seriously suffered, and users started dropping us for the newer photo sharing sites that were simply better. Webshots has been in steep decline ever since, and it's depressing to see your baby wither away."

But Wilder's anger seems to have cooled over time.

"I probably shouldn't have thrown CNET under the bus so harshly," Wilder told CNNMoney this week. "I was a willing seller for a fair price, so I shouldn't complain, but it's never easy to watch your work fizzle away."


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