The Australian entrepreneurs behind one of the biggest online coupon sites in the world – which an American company bought for millions – have spun off some of their own projects into separate companies.
Guy King and Bevan Clarke have wound up their company Stateless Systems, and have spun off three projects into their own businesses, providing them with some equity and giving the individual designers responsibility over the entire projects. Other projects have been let go.
“We’ve basically just stopped operating at Stateless Systems as we previously did, and then have spun out these three products into a type of start-up mode, you could say,” King told SmartCompany.
“Some of the staff have taken on each of those projects as a full-time commitment. We’ve given them some equity, so they’ll run with that.”
King and Clarke have taken minority stakes in all three businesses, which include CushyCMS, Twitter-based TrendsMap, and social media aggregation service The Wall. All three are working on monetisation, although King says CushyCMS is already self-funded.
“We’re definitely working with these guys on stuff, but more on an advisor level.”
King says the decision to switch to a more hands-off approach was based on his interpretation of what’s happening in the start-up scene.
“We’ve just become convinced that it’s the ideal model. You look at the commitment these developers have for what they’re doing, and it doesn’t seem like you can match that on an employee level.
“The other factor is that we’re just not as motivated ourselves as we previously were. I want to get my hands dirty, building stuff again.”
Practically speaking, King says not much will change, although the individual developers and owners in these businesses will have to make decisions on whether they bring in new funding or any other type of expansion plan.
“In many ways that’s kind of a decision for the people running them,” he says, noting the decision to take only a minority stake was deliberate.
“We can’t expect people to handle these companies while we still have control.”
King and Clarke started RetailMeNot, one of the world’s largest online coupon sites. The company was sold to US deals marketplace WhaleShark Media for an undisclosed amount – although the transaction was reportedly worth millions.