GroupMe founders exit to work on separate stealth-mode startups
On August 21, 2011, group messaging app GroupMe sold to Skype (which in turn sold to Microsoft) for up to $68 million with earnouts. Exactly two years later, the messaging company's founders, Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht are out.
Hecht Tweeted a last-day-of-school-style message on August 24. His official last day is September 2.
.@GroupMe has become an indispensable part of millions of people's lives and that makes me unbelievably proud and happy.
— Jared Hecht (@jaredhecht) August 24, 2013 A month after the acquisition, co-founder Steve Martocci was already making it clear that GroupMe "wouldn't be his last startup." A story about his comments was quickly amended with a statement from GroupMe's reps, who noted, "He is 100% committed to seeing Skype and GroupMe grow to 1 billion users and is not planning to go anywhere."
In the two years since then, GroupMe has grown to more than 12 million registered users, 4 million of which are monthly actives in the US. GroupMe's head of engineering, John Pignata, and its head of product, Chris Connelly, will lead the team going forward.
Meanwhile, Hecht and Martocci are plotting their next projects. They won't be working together this time.
Martocci is at work on a new stealth-mode project called Splice. His co-founder is Matt Aimonetti, a former LivingSocial and Sony Playstation engineer who is well-known in the Ruby and open source communities.
The project appears to be a collaboration app for making electronic dance music. The brand's Twitter account has shared a variety of articles related to streaming music, royalties for artists and electronic dance music. The company hasn't raised venture capital yet and the app will be announced "soonish," I'm told.
EDM and rave culture has been "having a moment" for a couple of years now and shows no signs of slowing. (Unless you take Miley Cyrus' references to Molly and the New York Times' feature story on it as a shark-jumping moment.) TheFuture.fm, a site which allowed DJ's to legally upload and stream their mixes while while paying the proper royalty fees to the rights holders, had a lot of promise when it launched, although the company been quiet for the last year or so. Last year Seth Goldstein, founder of Turntable.fm, launched DJZ, a media portal for "celebrating top DJ's as cultural heroes."
Hecht also declined to elaborate on his project, as it is still in the early idea stages. It will be related to finance in some way, but few other details are nailed down yet.