This Story About A Startup CEO Who Got Canned Months After Turning Down $100 Million Will Make Your Stomach Turn

Business Insider

Pretty much the worst nightmare of any startup CEO and cofounder just came true for Brett O'Brien, according to PandoDaily's Michael Carney.

O'Brien is the CEO, chairman, and co-founder of a startup called Viddy, which makes a video-sharing app.

At least, he was all those things until this week.

Last spring, Viddy was a startup sensation. 

Photo-sharing app Instagram had just been acquired by Facebook for $1 billion, and  Viddy – often called the Instagram-for-Video – had about 30 million monthly users.

The company was so hot that O'Brien was reportedly approached by Twitter, which wanted to buy the company for ~$100 million.

O'Brien turned down the money.

Instead, he raised more funds from outside investors who agreed to a huge valuation: $370 million.

This was Viddy's peak.

Since then: disaster.

Facebook curbed distribution to Viddy and user numbers plummeted. 

From that high of 30 million per month, Viddy now sees about 5 million.

Finally, Viddy's board had enough and this week, O'Brien got canned.

PandoDaily reports that O'Brien will  keep a seat on the board, but that's about it.

It's the worst nightmare of so many tech startup CEOs faced with tough M&A choices.

  • You build a product that gets overnight success from users.
  • A big incumbent sees your success and shoves money your way.
  • It's a lot of money, but not Instagram-level money, so you walk away ... even though its plenty to make you rich for the rest of your life.
  • Your product's overnight success goes away.
  • You get canned.

It'll make your stomach turn just thinking about it.



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