What do you do when your company has run out of cash and can’t seem to raise any more, but hasn’t been able to find a buyer through the usual channels? If you’re Open Box Technologies, you sell yourself on eBay.
The company has raised $2.5 million from angel and early-stage investors since being founded in 2005, but couldn’t close additional funding necessary to keep it alive. So now, in an effort to find a buyer, Open Box Technologies, along with its white-label video publishing platform SesameVault, has gone up for auction on eBay. The Open Box auction began this morning at 9:01 am EST, and will conclude a week later, on Feb. 24 at 9:01 am EST.
The company isn’t the first to sell itself on eBay; in 2006, web calendar firm Kiko put itself up for sale on the auction site, and was bought by Tucows for $258,000. But Kiko, which was founded by Justin Kan (who went on to found live streaming firm Justin.tv), was built for about $50,000, which was the reserve price of the eBay auction. Given the amount of funding that it has raised over the past five years, Open Box Technologies CEO Cameron Brain says he hopes to sell for much more than what Kiko received.
Open Box is of course interested in finding the highest bidder, but Brain says that the company probably won’t just hand the keys over once the eBay auction is over. At the conclusion of the auction, he expects to enter negotiations with the winner to determine how much of the staff will be retained and how the new owner plans to handle the transition. Brain expects that any buyer who wins the bid will continue to operate the SesameVault platform while integrating the technology with its own business.
Brain says he’s placing the company up for auction on eBay primarily to drum up interest from potential bidders that Open Box has not been able to reach through its own acquisition talks. And while the eBay auction will be public, Brain says he’ll continue exploring acquisition opportunities through back channels with companies that might not want to have their interest made public. If Open Box gets a better offer from a private bidder, it will go with that instead.
So what will the lucky winner of Open Box’s auction actually get? According to the press release, the company is selling the SesameVault website, application and platform, in addition to Open Box Technologies’ intellectual property portfolio. All technology infrastructure, including the servers, storage, and networking equipment needed to run the application will be included in the sale, as well as all the company’s office furniture. The winner will also get all of SesameVault’s customers and users.
Open Box Technologies has about 100 paying customers on the platform now, most of which are small and medium sized businesses, that deliver more than one million video streams each month. According to the press release, a “killer ping pong table” will also be included.