Tag Archives: merger

happyfrog moves on – Wrap-up of thanks and such

Cross-posted at: happyfrog Evolves from Small Amphibian to Mighty Mammal – Say hello to 3rd Whale

A busy year in the pond

Since launching happyfrog.ca just over a year ago, the small band of eco-minded renegades worked hard to help sustainability-focused businesses and organizations gain valuable exposure on the web, and in close conjunction with this effort, help green-minded consumers find these great biz’es and orgs.

Over this year, my colleagues and I attended all sorts of trade shows, conferences, meet-ups, presentations and camps to spread the message of sharing eco-smarts with your community. Indeed, we found great joy in seeing the positive impact we’ve made on green entrepreneurs and shoppers alike.

Evolution to a swimming mammal

Now, change is upon us. happyfrog has made friends with a pod of whales and announces happyfrog.ca has merged with 3rd Whale. This business merger means happyfrog.ca as we all know it will change significantly. Think of it as an evolution from a small amphibian to a giant mammal (and Darwin celebrates!).

The company will go forward as 3rd Whale with the aim of combining the happyfrog directory and social networking platform with 3rd Whale’s
mobile application (to be released for iPhone on in November, followed by Android and Blackberry versions) to markets down the West coast of North America, and to the world (and beyond! ;-).

Big Thanks

For happyfrog to grow as fast as it did was not easy but … we’ve had a constellation of collaborators helping build the vision.

Technical helpers:

Frog squadders

Thanks also go to all the business owners who came to our focus groups, purchased ads, claimed their listings, spoke on a podcast, and said “thanks for helping us succeed”!

Same for the groups who invited us to speak at events and share this small revolution including Globe’s EPIC SustainableLiving Expo who which whom we put on an epic (heh) social media experimentat Canada Place (creating tons of creative commons’ content to support growing businesses), Shared Vision magazine for having our back in print, and Deirdre Rowland for getting us in the news and on the tube.

And most especially … thanks to *you* for showing up, reading our thoughts, sharing your knowledge, posting reviews, giving us a link, using the widget, and making our collective environment a little greener, and a little more fun. It would be lonely around here if you weren’t here. Truly, Thank You.

More about 3rd Whale and happyfrog

happyfrog founder (and independent media veteran), Ron Williams points out, “We couldn’t hope for a better partner than 3rd Whale – besides being values aligned, the “whales” bring technical and business skills to the table which help reach a larger audience and make change on a truly global scale.”

So, what does this mean for you?

dave says thanks

You’ll see the site as you know it undergo a renovation and re-branding, you’ll see tens-of-thousands of new listings in new cities added (great for travelers too!), and you’ll see more tools coming out to help you share your eco-smarts with “pod mob” campaigns, mentoring programs, and reviews on-the-go with your smart phone.

Stay tuned for news about how your directory listings will change, blog posts will migrate and any changes to your account info – 3rd Whale will continue to respect both your privacy, and the time investment, you’ve put into happyfrog.ca.

I am truly grateful for your involvement in happyfrog.ca.

Your Greenly,

Dave Olson, Community Manager (emeritus)

For the record: happyfrog and 3rd Whale merger press release

Green Web and Mobile Companies Merge to Help Conscious Consumers “Be Green on the Go”
Cross-posted from PRWeb

What happens when a happy frog and a pod of whales get together to change the world? Vancouver, Canada-based, green web companies 3rdWhale.com and happyfrog.ca announced an equity merger with plans to grow globally with the goal of helping eco-minded consumers make informed choices in all aspects of their lifestyle – from organic food to eco-travel.

Vancouver, BC (PRWEB) November 12, 2008 — Vancouver Canada-based, green web companies 3rd Whale and happyfrog.ca announced an equity merger and plans to grow globally under the 3rd Whale name.

The merger combines 3rd Whale’s location-based mobile phone application with happyfrog.ca’s rich “web 2.0” platform providing green consumers with cross-platform tools to find values-aligned businesses. By using the company’s next generation mobile and web tools, participants can easily share their eco-smarts by adding business reviews, blog posts, and mentoring programs to help others reduce their eco-footprint.

3rd Whale is best known for the “Greenest Person in the World” contest which generated media exposure from Venezuela to Germany. 3rd Whale is the brainchild of Boyd Cohen, who holds a Ph. D in Sustainable Entrepreneurship and is an Assistant Professor at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University. The company recently opened an office in Sunnyvale, California and is actively adding members to the executive team and meeting with venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.

Dr. Cohen, CEO, points out, “By combining happyfrog’s expertise in web delivery of green business listings, and related community engagement, with the growing global brand of 3rdwhale.com and our mobile application, we are poised to initiate truly global change.”

In just over a year, happyfrog.ca grew into the definitive directory for finding environmental and wellness focused businesses and organizations in B.C. Happyfrog’s platform also gave a voice to bloggers and the public to share their opinions about favorite businesses from yoga to sushi with the Myhappyfrog social networking platform.

Happyfrog’s “Frog squad” of bloggers and podcasters were visible at eco-trade shows and conferences, including EPIC Sustainable Living Expo at Canada Place, resulting in tremendous exposure for the businesses and organizations showing real environmental leadership.

Founded by independent media veteran Ron Williams, happyfrog was built and launched by Webby-nominated consulting firm, Social Signal (known for Change Everything, BCHydro Green Gifts).

Williams, now President of 3rd Whale, expressed his excitement with the merger saying, “When I first dreamed of creating happyfrog.ca, I knew partnering with values and technology-aligned companies would be the key to scaling to a larger base. Upon meeting the 3rd Whale team, I knew we’d found a great fit to bring our local prototype to a worldwide audience.”

3rd Whale’s mobile application (called Luna) is in public beta for iPhone and on track for general release on Nov. 14th followed by versions for the Google Android and RIM Blackberry platforms. The happyfrog.ca site will be re-imagined and re-branded as 3rdwhale.com and tens of thousands of new entries will be added in conjunction with subsequent rolling launches in new markets worldwide.

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Vancouver web biz Raincity Studios Acquires Drupal host Bryght

I rarely mention the tasks i do to pay the bills however, that will change a wee bit as i am involved in a couple of noteworthy projects in that whole “new media, social networking, community building, web biz” scene.

bryght board of love

Today’s announcement is big fun since I’ve been apart as an observer, friend, participant and now employee for some time and dig working with folks who are determined to do it with their values intact.

Uncle Weed + BMann Consulting
(in this photo i am clearly miffed that boris planned the same outfit and hair-do)

I won’t repost the whole spiel but instead invite you to read my post at Raincity blog Raincity Studios’ Forecast is Bryght or peruse the press release Raincity Studios Acquires Bryght.

RCS Core

Here’s just a tast of me gushing on the Bryght crew from the aforementioned blog post:

Aside from the actual billable client work, these guys (yes, twas all gents at Bryght) are individually remarkable. I am saying this as a co-worker but also as someone who has reaped knowledge, friends and goodtimes (and even a job) through “hanging out,” participating in their events and “getting in where i can fit in” here in tech-groovy Vancouver.

DSCF0473

Bonus:

Roland Tanglao, Bryght’s Chief Blogging Officer writes about Raincity Acquiring Bryght

CBC etc.’s Tod Maffin posts an EXCLUSIVE: Bryght aquired by Raincity Studios

Bryght’s Boris Mann tells the Drupal world Bryght and Raincity are joining forces ditto at BmannConsulting

The noted Mr. Barefoot offers up Bryght Shiny Day for Raincity

kk with Dave O

The charming super-blogger Miss 604 chimes (from Iowa no less) with Raincity Studios Acquires Bryght

Digg Raincity Studios acquires Bryght and Vancouver Web 2.0 Companies Join Forces

Uncleweed
(first kk shot eva’ – within half-second of meeting him)

Candid Conversation with Dave Olson in The Business Examiner (2002)

Candid Conversation with Dave Olson in Business Examiner 03/04/02 – Business Examiner (Tacoma, WA)

Q & A with Kamila McClelland of the Business Examiner and Zhonka co-founder Dave Olson discussing mergers, Internet marketing, and new business plans.

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Dave Olson was marketing director and partner in Olympia-based Internet service provider OlyWa, which was acquired by ATG, a telecommunications company that has Olympia and Tacoma locations. In the following question-and-answer, the Canada native shares the trials, tribulations and rewards of selling a business in which you’ve invested blood, sweat and tears.

Q: How did you first get involved with the founders of OlyWa?

A: I met the three founders of OlyWa at Evergreen’s Super Saturday shortly after I arrived in Olympia. They were selling tie-dyes and I was selling hemp backpacks.

They invited me down to the office to check out this Internet business they had started about six months before. They had already laid a solid technical foundation and gone through the initial ramp-up growth spurt. To complete the stew, OlyWa needed someone who could focus on customer service and marketing tasks.

Q: How much did OlyWa grow after you joined it in 1996?

A: When I joined, the foundation had been laid for fast growth. We went from 500 customers to 1,500 overnight, it seemed. We ran into some growth slowdown while we waited – and waited – for the phone company to install fiber into the building.

During that time, rather than sign up new customers, we kept a waiting list that grew to over 400 prospects. We didn’t sign up new customers until new lines were turned up in order to maintain our current customer’s high-level quality of service.

While we did miss out on some customers, it turned out to be great PR as customers truly appreciated it and carried their @olywa.net e-mail address like a badge of honor.

Q: What was your market niche?

A: OlyWa’s focus was on home power-users and community organizations. By freely extending support to community groups from KAOS Radio to the Food Bank to AIDS and Cancer organizations, I think the general public could see that we were both technically high-performance and genuinely community-focused.

Q: What image do you think OlyWa built for itself by the time it was sold?

A: High performance in every facet – technology, customer service and community support. In particular, we had a reputation for deploying new Internet access solutions first and in a high-quality and reliable manner. Bear in mind that OlyWa wasn’t the first ISP in the area, but certainly we were the most innovative by leading the way with 56K, DSL, Cable, Burstable T1.

Q: How many customers did OlyWa have when it was sold?

A: Depending on how you count them – e-mail accounts, unique billing customer, number of dial-up/DSL lines, etc. – 3,000 is a good round number. Most were residential users, followed by organizations/agencies and businesses third.

Q: What were the conditions in the company and the economy that led you and the other partners to believe the time was right to sell in 2000?

A: It was really more of a condition of our internal growth curve. We hadn’t totally saturated our local market but knew there were other products and markets to pursue, and also that we had the knowledge and experience to expand OlyWa into other markets throughout the Northwest.

We drew up a plan and shopped options, from venture capitalists and private investors to being courted by communications companies who had designs on merging with, or outright purchasing OlyWa.

Q: Was it a smooth transition?

A: Immediately after the merger, not much changed as we worked with our new parent company to devise a plan that ensured that the customer experience was not diluted but rather enhanced.

A problem arose when the parent corporation didn’t immediately incorporate a clear plan or have a defined interest in fully serving home users. Our input and ideas were mostly ignored or unbudgeted.

The business customers were a bit surprised about the pressure to change to an integrated telecommunications package, including a long-term contract, especially since OlyWa had never really used a sales force and certainly not any kind of high-pressure sales that had become the norm.

There were also a number of deployment and billing issues, both internal and external, that certainly left a few disenchanted customers. These service discrepancies were frustrating for us, since we were used to finding ways to satisfy the end-user.

As for the supported community non-profit organizations, most of them were cut or sent invoices. That was perhaps the most painful for me personally, since it is something I took pride in.

Q: What have you done with your share of the proceeds from the OlyWa sale, which was two-thirds stock and one-third cash?

A: The two-thirds stock sits in my safety deposit box, mocking me, and the one-third cash was used to pay bills, a few home improvements and a bit a traveling with my lady friend.

Q: What kind of restrictions did you have to adhere to as part of the sale?

A: I and the other operating partners had to join the parent company as employees and work specifically on migrating customers to the parent company’s network, which turned out to be a tricky proposition.

Q: What caused you to leave your job at ATG last June?

A: It seemed there was internal and cultural confusion on how to handle the OlyWa “tribe,” and what credence to give our ideas, plans and whatnot – kind of a square peg-round hole situation.

Some of our Internet colleagues at corporate HQ were squeezed out. We began to feel we were unwitting  pawns, rather than “bright, innovative Internet minds,” which is how they’d described us when we were negotiating the merger.

Long story short, we negotiated a “divorce” that included a non-compete and mutual non-disparagement agreement.

Q: What are you doing now?

A: The job market is quite lean these days, so I am following my entrepreneurial instincts and brewing up a few new business plans and ideas.

Ideally, I will do something in either public relations or marketing for business and artists. I have also considered completing a law degree, focusing on intellectual property laws, something I became more interested in during the merger.

Q: Is there any room left in Thurston, Pierce, Lewis or Mason counties?

A: Absolutely – in all those markets. I don’t see ISPs being particularly innovative in their service offerings. Additionally, the wait and complications for DSL service are frankly quite absurd.

Further, no ISP is providing Internet access in a wide variety of ways – DSL, Cable, Burstable T1, Frame relay – ensuring all customers can get broadband access. I particularly think that residential customers are underserved, as most ISPs in the marketplace are only after business clients, leaving home users at the mercy of either inconsistent national cable providers or local dial-up providers.

Q: How would you say the local business climate for ISPs has changed over the past three years?

A: The biggest change is the rise – and subsequent decline – of CLECs (Competitive Local Exchange providers). When these providers came in, there was a “shakedown” in which some smaller providers disappeared through assimilation or lack of business. Yet the bigger corporations from out-of-state entering the market haven’t increased the range and quality of service for the end user.

I think there is a desire from the customers for a return to both personalized, local customer service and more streamlined process to high-performance Internet.

Q: What’ve you learned from all this?

A: Before the merger, I felt we were a big fish in a small pond and wouldn’t be as successful in a bigger market. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is that our talents and experience were advanced enough to play in the big leagues.

I also learned lawyers make good money no matter how the deal goes down.