On a recent show, we talked about Successful Exits with the founders of Turbosquid, Levelset, and Lucid.
A successful exit is when your business is doing so well that someone buys it off you. In 2021 the founders of Turbosquid, Levelset and Lucid sold their New Orleans companies for $75m, $500m, and $1.1b dollars, respectively.
As impressive as that is, it’s not the full story about all the successful exits that are happening in the New Orleans tech sector. On this edition of Out to Lunch we take a look at two other companies who have made successful exits, from the buyer’s side, as well as the seller’s.
Let’s kick off by catching up with Darryl Glade. Darryl was on Out to Lunch back in 2019. If you want to check out that conversation, search in your podcast app for Out to Lunch – the episode was called “The Camera Doesn’t Lie.”
Darryl’s company, IMOTO Photo, specialized in taking photos for real estate listings. The quality of photos in real estate listings can make a huge difference – both in finding the right buyer, and getting the right price for the seller.
We’re not sure what photos Darryl used to execute his own sale, but in 2021 he sold IMOTO Photo and an allied company, Rocket Photo, for $5m, to a real estate tech company based in Quebec, Canada, called Urban Immersive. Unlike some other exits, Darryl and his whole team have stayed on after the sale. Today, IMOTO Photo is bigger than ever and has added all kinds of tech to the services it provides to home buyers and sellers, including real estate listings in the Metaverse.
Since 2015 we’ve been following the fortunes of a local education technology company called Whetstone. Whetstone is a software platform that improves classroom teaching. It streamlines and standardizes teacher observation and instruction.
You only have to meet Whetstone CEO Libby Fischer once to know she’s the kind of person who’s going somewhere. And, in fact, today she has gone somewhere – she’s gone on her honeymoon. But before she went there, Libby led Whetstone to a successful exit.
In 2021, Whetstone was bought by another Ed-Tech company, based in Lafayette Louisiana, called SchoolMint. Like Darryl’s company, everybody who was at Whetstone has stayed on at SchoolMint. Libby has become SchoolMint’s Chief Operating Officer, and Whetstone’s Director of Operations, Zach Hollwedel, has become SchoolMint’s Vice President of Finance Operations.
When we talk about local startups being bought by bigger companies, one of the frequent criticisms is that these sales siphon future earnings away from New Orleans and into the coffers of out-of-town owners. That has not happened with the purchase of either IMOTO Photo or Whetstone. To the contrary, it looks like these successful exits are more success than exit. Everybody is still at both of these companies, and rather than siphoning off anything, these companies are both growing, creating more wealth for New Orleans.