Yesterday, Branch announced it was being acquired by Facebook for $US15 million. Josh Miller is the 22-year-old CEO of the once-buzzy online discussion company, which he dropped out of school to start.
When Branch first launched, it was an incredibly hot deal to invest in. It easily raised $US2 million from top-tier angel investors like TechStars’ David Tisch, Foursquare investor Rick Webb, and Twitter cofounder Evan Williams.
At the time, Miller was hit with unsolicited term sheets from investors. Unsolicited term sheets are when investors are pledging to give founders thousands — sometimes millions — of dollars without them ever asking for it.
One investor offered Miller $US500,000 out of the blue. Miller says it wasn’t flattering. It was weird.
“There was a weird experience for me at a Starbucks once,” Miller told us on stage at Business Insider’s Startup 2012 conference. “I was in San Francisco for a brief trip and I didn’t have a lot of time and this guy really wanted to meet so I said, ‘Sure, I’ve got 15 minutes, meet me here for coffee.’ I met the guy for 15 minutes and at the end he offered me $US500,000.”
Miller was taken aback. “That was really weird — it was really bizarre,” he laughed.
The other two founders on stage, Brad Hargreaves of General Assembly and Sahil Lavingia of Gumroad, could relate, and it doesn’t make them think highly of investors.
“There’s a saying, ‘I don’t want to go out with a girl who wants to go out with me,” Lavingia said. “If an investor offers me that after 15 minutes I don’t know how good of an investor they might be — if they’re making such an impulse decision.”
That was in 2012. Since then, Branch struggled to gain traction online and pivoted its product a number of times. Most recently it launched something called Potluck. Now, it’s in the hands of Facebook.
Miller says his team of nine and his (non “weird”) investors/advisors are to thank.
Video produced by Robert Libetti
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