18 Jul Whatever happened to …
It never fails: at about this point in any DEMO conference planning cycle (“this point” being the phase when I meet with 25 or more companies a week, culling out the best and brightest to premier at the conference), people inevitably ask about the past. “Do you track the performance of companies that have launched at DEMO?” they want to know.
Yes, we do. Informally and anecdotally. We post “Weather Reports” as past Demonstrators make big moves, both positive and negative. DEMO companies have a pretty good track record. They get new financing, see strong customer growth, many entertain and even accept sweet offers to merge with or be acquired by other companies. Once in a while, a DEMO company even floats an IPO. Overall, I would guess that the portfolio of DEMO companies – even over the rocky past five years – has done pretty well.
But that’s just a guess. In fact, we don’t formally track the DEMO demonstrators for a variety of reasons – not the least of which is that it would take a small army of analysts to monitor the ups and downs of what must now be more than 1,500 companies that have launched products at DEMO over the last 15 years. So we rely on the usual sources to keep us abreast of our demonstrators, who unfortunately don’t send us newsy holiday letters each year telling us how much they’ve grown and how well they are doing in the market.
Still, the perennial question had me looking back over recent years’ programs. Remarkably, a vast majority of companies that have debuted at a DEMO conference are still plugging along. Some have had remarkable outcomes: Stata Labs and Oddpost were both acquired by Yahoo! Turntide was acquired by Symantec. VMWare has added value to IBM, and now EMC.
A surprisingly small number of companies suffered dramatic crashes. Some morphed into other businesses under other names. And there are those who, like a distant cousin once-removed, we’ve simply lost track of.
When I lose track of a relative, I call Mom, who asks Aunt Dorothy, who seems to know where everyone is and exactly how well they are doing. Absent Mom and Aunt Dorothy, I’ve decided to turn to you – the small army of DEMOletter readers who most certainly know the stories of some of our “lost” companies. Two of these have come to mind in recent weeks, and so I’m asking you to be summer sleuths, answering the question “Whatever happened to … ?”
Kada Systems developed a reference platform that enables ODEs to take Java-based mobile devices to market quickly. The company launched the platform with Texas Instruments at DEMO 2003 and has announced a number of partnerships since, but a trip to the company’s web site shows that the domain is for sale, and the company’s phone number is no longer in service.
LingoMotors offered a linguistic search engine that consistently delivered relevant, meaningful results. The company was a finalist in the MIT Sloan eBusiness Awards in 2001 and was a hit earlier in the year at DEMO 2001. Now, as start-ups seem to be re-inventing relevance search, I’m wondering what ever happened to my friends at LingoMotors.
If you know what’s happened with the people, products, or core technologies of either of these two companies, I’d love to know about it. And, of course, I’ll let the rest of the readers know what I find out.
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