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Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Allis’

iContact sale to Vocus is Updata’s third exit in 90 days

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Updata PartnersUpdata Partners, a leading technology-focused growth equity firm, says the sale of portfolio company iContact to Vocus for $169 million marks Updata’s third portfolio exit in three months, following the sales of Jobs2Web to SuccessFactors in December for $110 million and Numara Software to BMC in January for $300 million.

The sale represents a 2.7x return on invested capital and a 31% IRR for Updata.“Updata’s contribution was instrumental in iContact’s rapid growth and successful exit. Their strong operational experience and deep understanding of the software-as-a-service model catalyzed our breakout performance.”

In a recent interview, a Novak Biddle venture capitalist told the TechJournal that many large firms are flush with cash and he expects to see increased merger and acquisition activity as firms use M&A to grow. That’s good for the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Updata first invested in iContact in 2007

Carter Griffin, general partner at Updata Partners and iContact Board member said, “The outcome is the culmination of a lot of hard work by Ryan Allis and his team and the positive dynamics of their market. The transaction also serves to reinforce Updata’s strategy of backing high growth technology companies.”

iContactResearch Triangle, NC-based iContact provides email marketing and social media marketing software-as-a-service to small and medium businesses. Updata initially invested in iContact in 2007, providing the first institutional capital.

Since the investment, iContact has grown rapidly and is now the largest privately-held provider of SMB email marketing software. The combination of iContact and Vocus creates the clear leader in cross channel integrated marketing software.

iContact Chief Executive Officer, Ryan Allis, commented, “Updata’s contribution was instrumental in iContact’s rapid growth and successful exit. Their strong operational experience and deep understanding of the software-as-a-service model catalyzed our breakout performance.”

Allis himself has been a strong advocate of “social entrepreneurship” and giving back to the community. He has authored a book about how he made his dream of creating a million dollar company come true — and has exceeded that dream.

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RTP’s Ryan Allis 6 on PeakScore tech hotshots; Dropbox valued at $5B; Angry Birds

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

iContactRyan Allis of iContact, the email marketing firm based in the Research Triangle, NC, landed at number 6 on PeekYou’s PeekScore list of under 30 “Internet Hotshots.” Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook tops the list, followed by Pete Cashmore (Mashable founder), Matt Mullenweg (WordPress), Andrew Mason (founder, CEO, Groupon), and David Karp (Tumblr, Senduit), Allis, Gurbaksh Chahal (, Naveen Selvadurai (co-founder, Foursquare), Justin Kan (, and Matt Mickiewicz (,

As is obvious, most are founder/CEOs of the most used social networks.

PeekYou also did a list of tech and Internet luminaries 31 and older. Steve Balmer of Microsoft heads that one, followed by Larry Page, Steve Jobs, Evan Williams, Carol Bartz, Larry Ellison, Michael Arrington, Jeff Bezos, Paul Otellini, and John Donahoe.

Dropbox raising $200 to $300 million round at $5B valuation

TechCrunch reports that the cloud storage and sharing service Dropbox is raising a new round of $200 to $300 million in funding valued at $5 billion.

The service, which had a security glitch that exposed user passwords to all and sundry for several hours last month, currently has 25 million registered members (including us). Dropbox lets users place files in the cloud and access them from any device with Dropbox installed. Users can also create password protected shared folders, which make collaboration easy. It’s really handy for making documents available on different computers.

Based in San Francisco, the company was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi. It has raised $7.1 million in venture backing from & Combinator, Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital and others.

Angry Birds ‘always looking foir funding”

Angry BirdsGameBeat reports an exchange with Wibe Wagemans at the GameBeat 2011 conference in San Francisco that suggests that Rovio, maker of the popular Angry Birds game, may be seeking additional funding. Wageman, Rovio’s head of global brand advertising said on stage that the company “was always looking for new funding.”

The company closed a $42 million funding round in March. Based in Finland, the company has expanded rapidly on the success of Angry Birds.


Evernote jots down $50M in new funding

Evernote, maker of another program we use daily for note-taking online and in general, has raised $50 million in new venture backing in a round led by Sequoia Capital with Morgenthaler Ventures participating. The valuation, according to TechCrunch, is at least $1 billion. The company previously raised about $40 million from those two investors and DOCOMO Capital and Troika Dialog.

Like Dropbox, Evernote can be installed on multiple digital devices, making your notes available and searchable from wherever you work, if its installed. It is available in both a free and a premium edition with advance features. So far we haven’t needed to upgrade to premium, but we use it so often, we can see a time when we might.

Other fundings:

It looks like a red-letter day for the funding of Internet centric companies. San Francisco-based MoPub, a mobile ad startup, has raised $6.5 million in first round funding from Accel Partners. Badgeville, a Menlo Park, CA-based provider of a social loyalty platform raised $12 million in a B round from Norwest Venture Partners and El Dorado Ventures.


Email marketing firm iContact offers free edition

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
iContact Free

iContact staff spell out "Free" at the company's campus

RALEIGH, NC – The email marketing firm iContact demonstrated some real world marketing savvy Tuesday, introducing a free edition of its email and social marketing tool by having its staff spell out “FREE,” outside its offices.

“Today, we are announcing a major new product launch for iContact designed to make email marketing and social marketing available to everyone in both their professional and personal lives,” said Ryan Allis, CEO, iContact. “We want to provide easy access to free email marketing and social marketing tools backed by world-class customer service.”

The free edition includes email creation, sending and tracking for up to 500 subscribers and 24 designer templates for messages. It has social media tools integration with Facebook and Twitter, and compatability wiht iPhone and Android mobile apps. It also includes a built-in survey tool.

The company, which powers TechJournal South’s daily eWire, began eight years ago in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as a two-person company. Founders Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton were in college.

The company admits the free edition is intended to attract potential clients for its paid products, but the founders also say they want to help other young companies succeed.

“We believe that everyone needs a chance. As two entrepreneurs who set out to build a company while still in college, we can’t count the number of people who helped us get started,” they wrote in a statement.

“For individuals, community organizations, and small businesses that are just starting out, we believe email marketing and social marketing should be free, easy to use.”

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Durham-based EvoApp near close on $1.5M for collaboration tools

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

EvoAppDURHAM, NC – EvoApp Inc., which includes former Inspire Pharmaceuticals CEO Christy Shaffer and iContact’s Ryan Allis among its directors and investors, has raised $1.1 million of a targeted $1.5 million share offering, according to a regulatory filing.

Founded in 2009 by North Carolina School of Science and Math alumni Joe Davy and Alexey Melnichenko, the company develops collaborative tools to help companies interact with customers.

A recent McKinsey Quarterly report said companies using Web 2.0 technologies to communicate internally and externally are seeing a variety of measurable benefits, including higher profit margins. The findings suggest that firms such as EvoApp will be able to demonstrate strong ROI for their products and services.

Other investors in the Durham, NC-based firm include Rick Stone, chair, NCSSM and Tom McMurray – a former partner at Sequoia Capital.

The company says its software:

  • Identifies key customer relationships
  • Creates transparency with customer service operations
  • Proactively detects upsale opportunities
  • Quickly highlights change in sentiment value for existing and new product offerings
  • Collects and analyzes competitive intelligence
  • Analyzes customer feedback postings in social media sites

The company disclosed the financing in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Digital Summit:

NCTA names executive of the year finalists

Monday, September 27th, 2010

NCTARALEIGH, NC – The North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA), a technology lobbying organization, has named the four finalists for the 2010 Tech Executive of the Year.

This year’s winner will be recognized at NCTA’s annual “0021” Awards gala on Wed., Nov. 10 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham, N.C., presented with title sponsor Grant Thornton.

NCTA members and non-members can cast their votes until October 15 for the 2010 Tech Executive of the Year by going to

The Tech Executive of the Year Award is sponsored by NYSE Euronext.

Finalists for the 2010 Tech Executive of the Year include several who we cover often at TechJournal South:

  • David Jones, Peak 10. Jones co-founded Peak 10 in March 2000 and has led the company to a top market position as the leading independent data center operator and managed services provider in the U.S. He currently serves as president and CEO.
  • Ryan Allis, iContact. As co-founder and current CEO, Allis has built North Carolina-based iContact from its start in July 2003 to its current size of more than 210 employees, 65,000 customers, and $38 million in annual sales.
  • David Morken, Morken is the co-founder, president and CEO for, recognized as the fastest growing private telecom company in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine for 3 years running (2006-2008). delivered more than 4 billion minutes of voice traffic in 2009.
  • Mark Munday, Elster. Munday is president and CEO for Elster Solutions, North America, one of the world’s largest electricity, gas and water measurement and control providers.

New projects from iContact co-founder aimed at startups

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

I’ve known Aaron Houghton for a while now, a few years, which is eons in startup time. He’s a solid guy who doesn’t get caught up in the headiness of success and doesn’t get distracted seven different ways trying to revolutionize… well, everything. And when you have a track record and means, it’s not hard to try to do that.

We sat down recently after the big shindig to celebrate the launch of American Underground, kind of notable since iContact, a company he founded with Ryan Allis, is one of the success stories of the renaissance here that made the realization of something like American Underground possible.

Loud Is Necessary

iContact is a startup, and a loud startup at that – a company that makes email marketing software and is growing rapidly both in size and in market share. It’s a hybrid B2B technology play that goes a bit beyond what you might think of standard email marketing. But the point is, it’s not producing some bio-engineered product that no one can pronounce. It’s got visibility.

Aaron isn’t a loud guy, but he believes in the loud. And it’s folks like these that will end up making or breaking the Triangle as a convincing competitive startup hub.

Durham vs. The World

One of the projects Aaron is working on now is directly related to the American Underground shindig that we had just left., as the name suggests, is a directory of all the downtown Durham startups and also includes nearby startups in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and the surrounding cities and towns. When you take a look at it, you’ll see a vibrant array of companies, founders, and industries.

The other company is the one we spent more time talking about. looks, on the surface, like the gateway to his other project. You sign up, tell them a little bit about yourself, and through a series of questions, they determine if they have a partner for you to start your company with. If not, stay on the line, and sooner or later they’ll find the Woz to your Jobs, or vice versa.

So It’s For Entrepreneurs?

Sort of, but not really.

StartUpWithMe isn’t based on the matching of ideas. The inspiration behind it is based on the fact that on the way to starting a company, too little attention is paid to partnering and team, and that happens to be the most important factor in a startup’s initial and ongoing survival.

Investors and initial customers put the founders under microscope from very early in the sales cycle – usually, but not always, due to the fact that most of the time the product isn’t fully developed, but the team is complete.

Evaluation of ideaware is a risky business, so the next best thing to do is to size up the players. Ideas also tend to sound alike in the early stages, and differentiators are going to come from implementation and the imagination and ability of the idea handlers.

So It’s eHarmony For Entrepreneurs?

No. Come on now.

StartUpWithMe isn’t looking to match founders based on personality. Just because a terrific marketer and an awesome geek both happen to like long sunset walks on the beach doesn’t necessarily translate into Twitter valuations.

The match is founded on goals, style, and motivation. Things like that.

Are you a lifestyler or a money chaser?

Are you into pay or equity?

Are you tech savvy or business savvy?

Are You Vision or Strategy?

These are important factors. I find I work them into my own decision-making, not only with the people I hire/work with but the clients I take on/work for. When both of us are working towards the same thing, it’s a joy, it’s almost like not working at all. When our vision is divergent, it’s a chore, it’s a job.

And when you’re taking on the risk of founding a startup, chances are one of the reasons you’re doing so is because you’re not that 9-to-5 breed of cat.

Love is Art. Business is Science.

There’s an underlying scientific element that is driving Aaron to make this more than just an individual service, but an ecosystem service as well. These are the drivers that can identify and promote quality entrepreneurs and get them into the right position to succeed.

I can attest to that. Having just one right person in place makes all the difference between an idea that stays on paper and one that gets modeled and becomes reality. And if you can get a lead on this person without having to start and fail a dozen companies along the way because of an incompatible match, then this is a very valuable, and loud, thing.

Joe Procopio is the founder of Intrepid Company, a technical and management consulting firm ( that has spun out publishing company/creative network Intrepid Media ( and digital incubator ExitEvent ( Joe only wound up starting a company after a number of awkward dinners and several dozen delivered roses with apology notes attached. He can be reached at or twitter @jproco.

Editor’s note: TechJournal South uses iContact to deliver its daily eWire.

Entrepreneur Mag features iContact social responsibility initiative

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
iContact co-founders Aaron Houghton and Ryan Allis

Co-founders of iContact, Aaron Houghton and Ryan Allis. Photo is copyrighted by David Lang

DURHAM, NC – The April issue of Entrepreneur Magazine features an article about how email marketing firm  iContact helps others while growing its business.  The article focuses on iContact’s social responsibility initiative, a project the firm’s co-founder, Ryan Allis, has covered for us here at TechJournal South (see: Can a For Profit Entrepreneur Be a Social Entrepreneur).

The article highlights iContact’s 4-1s program – a Corporate Social Responsibility initative that is designed to benefit non-profit organizations throughout North Carolina, where iContact is based, as well as worldwide.

“We are deeply committed to giving back,” commented Aaron Houghton. “It is something we truly believe in and want to use our resources to accomplish.”

The article goes on to say that the iContact Co-Founders expect the company to “continue growing and in turn increase the amount it contributes to the less fortunate.”

Ryan Allis adds: “Therein lies the power of social entrepreneurship.”

We’ve always been impressed with iContact’s ongoing interest in making social responsibility a daily part of its business.

iContact’s “4-1s” Program is made up of four parts:

  • 1% of Employee Time – two-and-a-half paid workdays per employee — can be used to volunteer with a non-profit group.
  • 1% of Product– the use of iContact’s e-mail marketing software for as many as 60,000 subscribers — is donated to qualified organizations in North Carolina.
  • 1% of Payroll — given to 501(c)(3) organizations along with matching contributions made by employees to a maximum of $300 per year.
  • 1% of Equity – a 1% stake of iContact–has been committed to the iContact Foundation, forming this year.

The April issue of Entrepreneur Magazine is on newsstands now. For a digital copy of the article see: Save the World, Make a Million

Previously on TechJournal South:

Website Magazine names iContact top email marketing service provider

E-mail still the most used professional marketing tool

Five Ways a Non-Profit Director Can Be An Entrepreneur