I put down the phone and everything looks a little blurry. “Did you just see a ghost?”, my colleague asks. I don’t know what to say, except that I can’t tell anybody. My friend Koen just called. There’s a chance that his company Sofa will be acquired by Facebook. His co-founder Dirk arranged an introduction on the phone, and it was great. We’ll meet up soon to discuss it all.
A couple of days later Koen and I walk along the canals in the western part of Amsterdam. Sofa makes beautifully designed Mac products that also sell well. So well, that they decided to move to a bigger office on this very canal. We look in the window of their brand new shining offices and sigh. Hm. That’s probably not going to happen. Koen is understandably feeling a little down about it all.
It’s weird to feel sorry for somebody in this situation, but it isn’t hard. He’s got things to lose. A good running startup that’ll do over a million euro’s in revenue this year. Growing products (Checkout, Versions and Kaleidoscope) that get global recognition. A bunch of entrepreneurs that he and I hang around with, in- and outside of the bar. But most importantly: a sweet red-haired girlfriend, with whom things are really great. None of these can come with him to Palo Alto.
“I’m gonna look at this as purely business”, he says. I assure him that that’ll be a futile exercise. We walk along the canals with our heads facing the cobblestones, almost forgetting what a great new adventure this all could be. We give Facebook the name “Fedor”. Mark Zuckerberg will now officially be called “Plutor”. Pretty handy, in case somebody on a terrace or on the street is evesdropping.
Koen, Dirk, and a few of their colleagues fly to Palo Alto shortly afterwards, to check out the headquarters. Upon their arrival back in Amsterdam they’ve made their decision. Fedor is a great place. Plutor is brilliant. The deal is fantastic. “Purely business” doesn’t count anymore, they’re in love. They’re gonna go through with it.
And that’s absolutely understandable. Facebook has a big problem that, in my opinion, Sofa can solve. It consists of many talented developers, but design has never been an integral part of Facebook. However, on the scale at which they operate, design is crucial to win wars. Apple has Jonathan Ive. Facebook needs exactly that. By buying Sofa, they’ve acquired ten Ive’s at once. Sofa can have a direct impact on the growth of the worlds biggest social network, thanks to the flat organization Facebook is known for.
And so, the press-release went out this week: Fedor is Facebook, Plutor is Mark, and Sofa is Facebook. Founders Dirk and Koen are closing a chapter in their 5-year stint as entrepreneurs. Sofa is done, but not indefinitely.
Soon, when you’ll upload a new picture to your profile, you’ll do it easier than ever thanks to Sofa. And when they’re done with that, they’ll come back to Amsterdam to do it all over again. Whatever is going to happen, Sofa is not the only one who got a sweet deal. We did too.