Back from the dead: Workfu gets acquired

By Erin Griffith , written on December 21, 2012

From The News Desk

Usually it works the other way around -- a startup gets acquired by a strategic buyer and then they shut it down. Workfu did things slightly backwards.

When the company launched its professional social network this summer, it was called "LinkedIn, if it were designed by Apple."

The plan was to give potential employers a less stodgy, more realistic view of a new generation of workers who spend their lives online than what appears on their LinkedIn profiles. The site was slick -- certainly a design improvement over even the redesigned LinkedIn -- and it included things like filtering keywords, Twitter and Github integration and a scoring system that matches recruiters to potential hires. At the time, I noted that WorkFu was what Web 2.0 dinosaur LinkedIn might look like if it were build from scratch today. (And yes, believe me I know that, for all its shortcomings, LinkedIn is not going anywhere.)

Workfu was built by Neil Kinnish, Pete Nelson and Mike Kus and Adam Martin, a group of creative agency guys. This was their first project outside the agency world. After building the site for nine months, they realized that they just weren't ready to take it to the next step. That required quitting jobs (the founders all have families), toiling to acquire millions of users, and raising money. It would be a long term battle.

So they shut it down in an abrupt blog post titled "The End" on September 1.

WorkFu has been bootstrapped over the last 9 months, there has been an incredible amount of work behind the scenes and we've been working non-stop while juggling individual commitments to deliver and iterate as quickly as we could. As with any project of this type, the vision and deliverables have changed as we've progressed and unfortunately we've reached a stage where we no longer have the resource that it deserves and requires.
Nothing stirs up investment interest like a suicide note. That's an awkward and possibly callous mixed metaphor but you get my point. Suddenly opportunities came flooding in and Workfu updated its post on October 22 to say that the team was having "very positive discussions regarding the future of Workfu."

Meanwhile three of the site's founders, Kinnish, Nelson and Kus, landed a round of funding for Mixture, a front-end development tool for Windows and Mac. They've raised funding from Red Gate Software to build the tools, which look just as tantalizing as Workfu did.

Today we got a positive, albeit vague, update on the fate of much loved but under-used Workfu: The company has been sold, presumably without the attached talent. No details on to whom or for how much.

We’re very pleased to say that WorkFu has been acquired, ensuring its continued growth and development going into 2013.

There will be more details in early January but for now ourselves and new CEO Rik Heywood would like to thank the community for their support and inspiration these past 12 months. Workfu lives, it's a Christmas miracle!

[Image courtesy xadrian]