The guy who inspired the movie '21' just sold his startup to Twitter for around $50 million

Jeff Ma, the former rule-bending MIT blackjack player who was the inspiration for the 2008 Kevin Spacey movie 
21, has just sold his startup TenXer to Twitter, which he confirmed via a tweet. TechCrunch first reported the acquisition. 

The value of the deal is placed at “under $US50 million,” TechCrunch reports. 

The name “TenXer” refers to the very Silicon Valley idea of “the 10x engineer,” one developer who can do the job of ten. Ma’s startup provides management software to help developers work together in a better way and put out more stuff, faster — the order of the day in big tech companies in all markets. 

“When we first started tenXer, our goal was to improve the way people worked by using data and analytics to increase transparency and visibility,” Ma said in a farewell note to existing customers, as TechCrunch’s report notes. 

TenXer will be shutting its doors as the team moves to work within Twitter. By all indications, the team will be working within the bounds of Twitter itself, but there’s always the possibility that it will make the TenXer tools available to outsiders as part of its outreach to help others build stuff on top of the Twitter platform.

Ma has an interesting background: At MIT, he participated in its infamous Blackjack Team, which counted cards in Las Vegas for massive financial gain. He was the central character in the nonfiction book “Bringing Down the House,” where he was renamed Kevin Lewis, and in the movie based on it, 21, where he was given the name Ben Campbell (and was played by Jim Sturgess). 

In this clip from 21, Ma’s character meets Kevin Spacey’s for the first time:


Later, he would use his experience in predictive analytics to go on to co-found a sports stock trading site called PROTRADE,  which has since shut down, and a sports statistic app called Citizen Sports, which sold to Yahoo in 2010. He also does weekly appearances on ESPN as their resident analytics expert. 

TenXer had previously taken in $US5 million in venture funding from firms including Khosla Ventures, Google Ventures, and True Ventures. 

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