Home On the Seesmic Acquisition: An Interview with Ping Founder Sean McCullough

On the Seesmic Acquisition: An Interview with Ping Founder Sean McCullough

A month ago, Adam Duffy and Sean McCullough were diligently preparing for the acquisition of their Tulsa Oklahoma-based company Ping.fm. ReadWriteWeb covered the Seesmic deal in early January and since then the duo has moved to San Francisco to help get their product inline with the twitter client. ReadWriteWeb caught up with McCullough to find out what’s changed since the acquisition and what early-stage entrepreneurs can learn.

Tell us about yourself and how you decided to start Ping.

I started Ping on a lunch break 2 years ago. I really wanted a way to update my few social networks from one spot instead of wasting time posting the same message over and over. I didn’t ever plan to make it available to the public.  It wasn’t until a colleague at my job suggested it.

Was your company built to flip or does Ping have a longer roadmap?

I didn’t start it with the intention of flipping as soon as an offer came across the table.  I wanted to see where it could go.  The early model of the business had a lot of unknowns, but once user interest and integrations started to expand, a real business model had been established.  I planned on staying open as long as we could, providing a unique service to people who needed exactly what we were doing.

In negotiating your company’s acquisition what points did you have to consider?

One of the biggest internal decision to even consider an acquisition was who was making the offer.  I didn’t want to merge with a company who wouldn’t care about the product we’ve created. I’ve always liked Loic and Seesmic, so the decision was pretty easy once it was on the table.  We’ve had other offers, but the companies didn’t seem as into what we had going as Seesmic did.  Ultimately, you have to think about your users too.  How will this affect your users and what will they think about the whole deal?  Our users are what has kept us going since day one.  We’ve had a substantial number of requests to be integrated into Seesmic clients, and now that we are part of Seesmic, the future of integration is a no-brainer.

What are some tips you can offer entrepreneurs to make the company merger/transition smoother?

Get to know your new team.  Whether it’s by meeting them in person, or Skype chatting or just simply sending an e-mail.  You’re going to be working with these people on a pretty frequent basis.  I was fortunate enough to have spent a lot of time with the Seesmic team prior to our merge, so I was prepared on how it might be to work with them.

How do you plan on monetizing Ping’s reach? (Obviously there’s a good opportunity for a social media-based advertising network similar to Sponsored Tweets)

A few things have been up for discussion, and advertising has come up. Before, we had our own plans for monetization.  Premiums, partnerships etc. Since becoming part of Seesmic, we had to switch up our ideas to accomodate some potential models brought forth by the new team.  I guess time will tell on this one, there’s really nothing set in stone.

How can Ping help startups?

You could use our service to help build a community around your startup or idea. Target audiences that might be outside of the Twitter/Facebook land. There are tons of users that are just dying to try out what you have created.

If you were to push out a message via Ping to help entrepreneurs like you, what would you say?

When in doubt, don’t forfeit confidence…and it always helps to grow a beard and wear a hoodie. (Two pieces of advice that McCullough continues to observe religiously)

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