Congratulations, Appjets!


It was announced today that Appjet (YC S07) has been acquired by Google.  No one we've funded deserved it more than the Appjets: over the last two years those guys worked their asses off.  In fact, they are a good example of how extreme iteration can be.

They did three complete startups worth of work.  At first they were an all-Javascript application platform.  Essentially they tried to build both Rails and Heroku at the same time.  Unfortunately I didn't think of that characterization till later, when we were trying to figure out why the first incarnation didn't work.  It was just too much work, at least to do within the funding constraints of a startup.

In the second incarnation, Mohammed went to the mountain: if they couldn't get people to use their server-side Javascript framework, they'd switch to something people already wanted to use on the server: PHP. But that, unfortunately, they just couldn't stand working on.  The PHP days were probably the lowest point, judging by how bedraggled they seemed.

So then they decided to switch back to Javascript, and to entice users by giving them libraries for real-time synchronization they couldn't get elsewhere.  To show off their new libraries, they built Etherpad.  And that, as so often happens in startups, became the tail that wagged the dog.  They realized fairly quickly that they had a winner with Etherpad, so they got out of the development platform business and into the collaboration software business.

Suddenly, after two years of crashing through the underbrush, the Appjets were in the right place the right time: they had cool real-time technology just at the moment when real-time was what everyone was after.   So they had a lot of options; investors and acquirers were all over them.

The reason they decided to go with Google was that they were literally overwhelmed by Wave: after meeting the Wave guys, they were so impressed that they (a) wanted to work on Wave themselves, and (b) didn't want to compete with it.  After watching the Appjets tough it out for the past two years, I knew they weren't simply being cowards.  The technology in Wave must be pretty impressive, and we're happy for the Appjets that they not only managed to land safely after so many ups and downs, but that they landed in a place they actually want to be.