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Zynga Acquires Toronto’s Five Mobile – And I am Going To Embarrass My Now Rich Friend

I know we re-tweeted this story from another source already, but I have a good personal connection to this company and I wanted to use this forum for something.

To start, here is the post from Zynga:

“Zynga is crossing the border! Today we are excited to announce a new addition to the Zynga family, the Toronto-based Five Mobile team. In addition to the team, Zynga is also acquiring certain assets and Intellectual Property developed by Five Mobile. Five Mobile, now Zynga Toronto, creates compelling, robust and scalable mobile applications. The team has worked closely with some of the largest media and technology companies in North America across a multitude of platforms and handsets. This talented group will focus on advancing multiple initiatives within Zynga mobile. Mobile industry veterans and Five Mobile founders Ameet Shah, Jeff Zakrzewski, Oliver Tabay, and Troy Hubman will all join the Zynga team. Ameet Shah will head up our Zynga Toronto studio and report up through our Zynga mobile team, led by David Ko.”

Five Mobile was totally bootstrapped, no investment… making money from day one. So whatever money or stocks they are getting from Zynga, it is all theirs!!!

And now for my startup lesson of the day. There is a downside of getting bought by a big company like Zynga who are going public and getting rich while all your start-up friends struggle in their daily survival. Your petty friends, former classmates & colleagues who write on blogs will get you back by posting embarrassing pictures.

The Guy To The Left Of Me Is Now Rich

I’m the guy holding the log in the air in the picture. Jeff Zakrzewski, Managing Partner at Five Mobile, is to the left to me. Us CS nerds were always mad that the pink tie somehow became our symbol (and possibly we were a bit jealous that engineers had a much cooler tool and hard hat). So we, the graduating class of 2002, decided to replace the pink tie with the Math faculty’s lesser known symbol, The Natural Log. (I still wonder if graduating classes followed our lead after that night). That is Jeff proudly wearing his “%100 Natural Log” t-shirt. We were on our 4th or 5th pub and perhaps 40th or 50th beer.

So big congrats to Jeff (@jeffz), Ameet (@ameetshah) and everybody at Five Mobile. It does seem to be a magical year for Canadian companies, and I’m happy to know some of them personally. One day I hope Jeff tells the full story of Five Mobile because it is a model example on how to build a service business – rising out of the ashes that was Tira Wireless shutting down, creating a company that made great mobile apps with great service (Peek and I were one of Five Mobile’s first customers), going bootstrap the whole way, and selling it to a big hot company like Zynga. Congrats guys!

  1. Bootstrapped! AWESOME!

    This is the way services business should be built. If you can’t be near profitable at the end of your first billing cycle, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

    Great story.

  2. Great story, and amazing they were able to do it without funding.

    For companies for which it is feasible, it’s great if you can do it. However, I see too many startups trying to bootstrap and not taking funding just because they think it’s ‘cooler’. All businesses can’t be built without funding, and often people are just lying to themselves that they’re ‘bootstrapping’ when actually no one wants to back them.

    Truly a magic year for Canada!

  3. Riku, Five Mobile = Services. Bootstrapping ability of a services firm = 100%. If you can’t bootstrap a services firm, you’re doing it wrong.

    There are other businesses (primarily SaaS businesses) where bootstrapping can be difficult (if not impossible). See posts from @bostonvc:twitter and @startupcfo:twitter on SaaSMATH and 

    * Cash Flow Trough

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