“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”. These lyrics are from one of my favorite songs, Closing Time by Semisonic. In fact I’m listening to the song as inspiration as I write this post. What then is the original beginning that has ended, and what is the new beginning?
Crocodoc, our third investment at Romulus, was recently acquired by cloud storage provider Box. While this marks the end of a successful partnership which we initiated with Crocodoc in 2009, I am confident that Ryan and the rest of the Crocodoc team will achieve even greater successes as part of Box.
Crocodoc originally started out in 2007 at MIT as WebNotes, a web annotation tool which is still live at http://www.webnotes.net. The current incarnation of the company, which resulted from a pivot following its participation in Y Combinator’s Winter 2010 program, positions it as the leading online document viewing and editing tool for Microsoft Office and PDF files. Simply put, Google has developed its own technology for Gmail users to view Microsoft Office and PDF documents in their browser. Everyone else on the web, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and DropBox, uses Crocodoc.
It has been a pleasure to see Crocodoc grow from its humble beginnings on the MIT campus to the profitable company that it is today. We were fortunate to invest in the company in December 2009, prior to its participation in Y Combinator. Since then, Crocodoc has pursued a strategy of sustainable growth, raising only $1M of outside funding. Instead of adopting a “go big or go home” attitude, Crocodoc chose to pursue a patient approach to product development, releasing successive improvements of its technology to customers only after careful fine tuning. The result speaks for itself: a best-in-class product, a great end, and an even more promising new beginning.
While we were very fortunate to partner with Crocodoc as Romulus, I was equally fortunate to interact with a great founder like Ryan. I can recall multiple specific moments when I learned at least as much from him as he did from me. To Ryan and the entire Crocodoc team: thank you for the ride.