Just because you sell your startup to a major company, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy it back if it’s not going in the direction you want it to.
That’s what happened with About.me.
Back in December 2010, About.me CEO Tony Conrad sold the company to AOL for $US25 million. But in February 2013, Conrad bought it back from AOL.
There ended up not being enough opportunities for About.me to integrate with AOL, Conrad tells Business Insider.
“It was way too soon for us to be acquired,” says Conrad, who sold his company after just one week.
After about a year of dialogue with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Conrad finally bought it back. Now that AOL is out of the picture, Conrad and the About.me team are focusing a lot on engagement. The ultimate goal, Conrad says, is to become one of the top 15 websites in the U.S.
Within the last year or so, About.me has launched a few new tools to increase user engagement. The challenge About.me used to have, Conrad says, is getting people to actually come back. That’s because your About.me can create value for you, even if you never log in.
Enter collections, compliments, replies and a dashboard. You can think of collections as kind of like Pinterest, but for people, meaning that you could have a collection of people who inspire you, people you want to meet or people you want to hire. You can, of course, determine if you want your collection to be public or private.
Now, About.me has basically become a LinkedIn for the masses, but Conrad says he’s not interested in competing with LinkedIn, and has never tried to.
“It is fantastic for what it does,” Conrad says. “But the reality is, LinkedIn is a product for people who are in the corporate world. It works very well for those people. It’s for people who want to get poached by competitive companies in their domain. LinkedIn does not serve my 19-year-old college student who wants to get an internship this summer. He looks like a loser on LinkedIn.”
But at the same time, Conrad says, there are still a lot of people on LinkedIn who are also on About.me because they can better showcase their personalities.
About.me has about 4.5 million users, up from 1.7 million in January 2013. The goal, Conrad says, is to hit 10 million users by the end of this year and eventually become a household name.
Before About.me added these new features, I admittedly had not visited About.me in over a year. But now that there are a bunch of social features, I find myself a lot more engaged on the platform, which is exactly what Conrad wants.
Here’s my new and improved About.me page, which Conrad helped me spruce up. Last year, About.me saw over 1 billion profile page views.
This is the dashboard. Here, you can see who has viewed your page, favorited your page, complimented you and generally see who is interested in you.
Here’s the area where you can see who has added you to a collection. Most recently, I’ve been added to MeetOrbit founder Ade’ Ayodele’s professional network, as well as Conrad’s “Journalists Who Write Awesome Stuff.”
And here are my collections. I admittedly have not put much work into it so far, but About.me automatically creates a collection of your Facebook and Twitter friends on About.me.