The Product Hunt you know and love is changing, at least in terms of ownership. The company announced today that it has been acquired by the investment syndication platform AngelList and said that a “majority” of Product Hunt’s 14 employees will be kept on.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Product Hunt chief executive Ryan Hoover said he’s happy with the price and that it’s enough for him to “buy at least one case of La Croix.”
Hoover sought to reassure users that everything about the site will remain the same, equating the deal to when Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012. “The Product Hunt brand, name, site, and community will remain intact,” he said, adding that the company will “continue with the roadmap we have now, but over time, [Product Hunt and AngelList] will find ways to achieve our mutual goals.”
“We’ll continue to use excessive emojis, drink Philz [coffee], and build in public with our community,” he wrote in a blog post. At the same time, he believes that the combined companies will be a more powerful and useful resource for the ecosystem, makers, and users.
It may surprise some that Product Hunt was acquired by AngelList. In fact, there was speculation that a more likely company, such as Hearst, Google, Verizon, or Comcast, would have made a bid. Hoover admitted that he has entertained acquisition talks in the past but said he ultimately decided against them because there wasn’t an obvious alignment between Product Hunt and the potential suitor.
Since its launch three years ago, Product Hunt has been a place for people to gather and list products they feel are exceptional. Along the way, Hoover met up with AngelList chief executive Naval Ravikant, and the two eventually came to the conclusion that their services were appealing to the same audiences, just with a different focus. For Product Hunt, the focus is around discovery and distribution, while AngelList is looking to solve startups’ challenges with fundraising and recruiting great talent. “When you look at these different goals, but similar audiences, you can see there’s a lot of strategic fit,” Hoover said.
Some users will likely criticize the company for selling so soon and worry about editorial independence, but Hoover shot back at detractors, saying that Product Hunt has never forgotten about the responsibility bestowed on it by the community. “We hold our ground [on independence] because authenticity and community is what matters. The community is what makes Product Hunt. The authenticity and trust exuded from the community is what makes [us].”
Hoover himself is happy with the deal and thinks that being a part of AngelList will help his company accelerate development of new things on its roadmap, such as offerings around talent recruiting. Now AngelList is saving Product Hunt from having to “reinvent the wheel.”
Product Hunt has seen its usage take off since it launched in 2013, with more than 100 million products discovered from 50,000 companies. Hoover told VentureBeat that half of its users are outside of the U.S., but he didn’t disclose the exact figures. And while it may have started as a side project, Product Hunt has blossomed into a well-rounded startup. It’s no longer just a site to list popular products, it now includes books and podcasts and has branched out with a Reddit Ask Me Anything-like service, livestreaming, a native desktop app, a Stripe-powered buy button, and a Slack bot.
So now that it has many tools in place to help users discover products, the next phase involves being able to find the makers, establish more of a community, and facilitate business transactions — and the Product Hunt/AngelList entity could certainly facilitate an ecosystem of creation. The process would start with AngelList, where companies would raise money and bring talent on board. They would then develop a product and eventually showcase it on Product Hunt. Of course, there will certainly be overlap between the two on more than one occasion.
Product Hunt had raised $7.1 million in venture funding from investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Betaworks, Cowboy Ventures, CrunchFund, GV, Ludlow Ventures, Slow Ventures, Alexis Ohanian, Nir Eyal, and Ravikant himself. The company was not profitable prior to its acquisition.