Last week Crunchbase news wrote about ON24’s IPO as “one of the oldest VC-backed IPOs of the year.” I prefer to think of it more as a “highly experienced” IPO.
In 1999, I led the company’s first institutional round. Before the investment, we valued the company at $12M. As a public company, it is now valued at about $3B (depending on the day).
For fun, we pulled out the original investment memo on the deal -- the unredacted version is included below.
A few things stand out:
A lot can change. I listed Broadcast.com as a major competitor at the time of our original investment but they went on to be acquired by Yahoo and struggled. ON24 actually ended up buying some of the original Broadcast.com assets from Yahoo many years later.
Pivots rarely work but ON24 pulled it off. I wrote in 1999 “ON24 operates an Internet broadcast network for online investors.” Today they are an enterprise marketing platform for webinars, virtual tradeshows and conferences. This is a testament to the grit and insight of the team.
A good idea still needs resources and commitment to be realized. When the executive team decided to pursue their new strategy, we were in the middle of the dotcom bust. Canaan and other inside investors supported the company financially and on the board for over 15 years until we found a new investor in 2016. We’re in the business of betting on vision -- and pursuing a vision takes time.
Companies need to keep incorporating new technology or face irrelevance. This “old” company bet early on the cloud and remote-first enterprise technologies and will continue to be a major player post - pandemic.
I hope it’s an interesting read. We were passing the memo around internally and thought it would be fun to post more widely.