Halifax-based co-browsing startup GoInstant has agreed to sell out to Salesforce.com of San Francisco for more than $70 million, exiting less than a year after raising $1.7 million from a host of mainly Silicon Valley investors.
A person familiar with the deal said that Innovacorp – the Nova Scotia government’s innovation agency and the only Nova Scotian investor in GoInstant – will make a “significant” return on its $100,000 investment, which closed last July.
GoInstant’s technology allows two people in two locations to use two mouses to share a PC screen, allowing companies to work more closely with customers to explain how its product or service works.
Since raising $1.7 million last summer, CEO Jevon MacDonald has built up his team to 17 people and hopes to expand his workforce to 50 by the end of the year. The sale to Salesforce will help to finance that hiring.
The greater significance is that the Atlantic Canadian innovation sector has established a track record of high-profile exits in a very short time. It was only 16 months ago that Salesforce.com announced it would buy another Atlantic Canadian tech company, Radian6 of Fredericton, for $326 million, a price that rose to $371 million when options were included. A month later, IBM said it would buy Q1 Labs, which had started out life in Fredericton, for a price said to be above $500 million. Now Salesforce.com is expanding its presence in the region with its second purchase, and funding a hiring spree that will help to build capacity in the region. And in the Oceans space, Ocean Nutrition Canada of Dartmouth, a global leader in the production of Omega 3 health products, said in May it was selling out to Dutch multi-national company DSM for $540 million.
This means the financing arsenals of groups and individuals with a history of investing in the region are being restocked. It will also help with the several Atlantic Canadian companies that are preparing for major fund-raising efforts outside the region, because they can present evidence that investors coming to Atlantic Canada are able to get their money out with a substantial return.
MacDonald and cofounders Gavin Uhma, Kirk MacPhee, and Dave Kim last summer made news in the U.S. when they lined up $1.7 million in seed funding from an illustrious group on investors, who included:
Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners, a co-founder of LinkedIn; Howard Lindzon, managing partner of Social Leverage and founder of StockTwits; Josh Felser and Dave Samual of Freestyle Capital; Steve Anderson of Baseline Ventures, an early investor in Twitter; Chamath Palihapitiya of Embarcadero Ventures; Boris Wertz of W Media Ventures; Ed Sim of BOLDstart Ventures; Yuri Milner; Matt Wyndowe; Jonas Brandon, a co-founder at StartupNorth; and Rypple's Daniel Debow.
MacDonald, a native of Prince Edward Island, also invited to the table Innovacorp, where he had worked as entrepreneur-in-residence for a year. Previously, he and a group of partners had developed another startup in Austin, Texas.