Unless you inhabit a cave (no judgement) you probably heard last week that Elemental was acquired by Amazon Web Services. It was a fantastic milestone for Portland, marking the city’s first really big acquisition of a technology company in eight years.
It was also the first exit for BVC investors since the conference LLC began making investments in 2006.
Elemental won the conference in 2007. That year fund manager Bruce Juhola raised $150,000, all of which went to the Portland startup. Juhola said today that he doesn’t yet know the exact multiple for 2007 BVC investors, but he anticipates it will be at least 10 times the group’s original investment.
Juhola recalls why Elemental struck a chord with early BVC investors.
“We liked the CEO, Sam Blackman, and his two co-founders. Also, we had an opportunity before the Conference to talk with the Oregon Angel Fund who had already committed to lead the Series A round and liked what they had to say about Elemental’s strategy for video,” he says.
That year BVC had a group of VCs walk the conference’s angel investors through the investment prospects following, providing guidance on how to identify promising startups.
“The VC panel who discussed the pros and cons of every company who presented were very positive about Elemental and that swayed several of the LLC members,” Juhola adds.
Elemental and Amazon haven’t reported the terms of the deal, which is set to close in October. However, many media outlets have reported a sale price of between $300 million and $500 million.
“It was a little longer than we expected,” Juhola says of the conference’s first exit. As part of the group that founded BVC in 2003, Juhola reports that they hoped for a return on their investment within about five or six years. This article by PE Hub reports that VCs typically average five years before a liquidity event, and notes that angels typically add another year or two to that.
The Elemental cake may be baked from an investment perspective, but BVC investors still have more prospects in the oven. For example, the conference LLC invested in Jama Software in 2008. The eight-year-old Portland company has raised more than $33 million in funding. The BVC LLC was offered an exit by another Jama investor during the company’s Series B round, but the members turned it down.
“We think the future for the company is bright,” says Juhola, who now facilitates two local executive groups for Vistage, a company that provides executive and peer-to-peer coaching.
As part of the group that started BVC, Juhola is thrilled with how far the conference has come in twelve years. “That first year, we weren’t sure anybody would come, but it turned out great,” he says. “We didn’t have anything like it then, this was before Cascade Angels, Seven Peaks, Founders Pad. BVC really kicked it all off.”
Last BVC distributed more than $1 million in investments. This year’s conference is scheduled for October 15th and 16th.
You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].