Congratulations to Defensio on Acquisition by Websense

Defensio, which provides an excellent anti-spam plugin, was acquired by Websense, Inc (publicly traded on NASDAQ). The news is all over the Web, including the Defensio blog.

Why is this important?

Carl Mercier on TwitterFor starters, I was Defensio’s first big user. Carl Mercier (founder of Defensio) asked me to help him early on with beta testing of their anti-spam plugin on this blog because of how much spam I was getting. I was happy to oblige. But more importantly:

  1. Defensio is Canadian. Defensio is actually Montreal-based (or pretty close to it) so I think the entire Montreal startup / tech community celebrates these kinds of victories. We don’t see a lot of exits (although another Montreal-based startup, Reasonably Smart was also recently acquired by Joyent, and Oz was recently bought by Nokia.)
  2. Defensio didn’t raise Venture Capital. Mark MacLeod calls it the era of small exits and I think he’s right – at least for companies that haven’t raised significant dollars (or any at all.) If you can exit for a few million dollars and you’ve only raised a couple hundred thousand, everyone wins. No one’s buying a small Island in the Caribbean, but it’s still a win. It’s important to realize though, that even if you don’t raise money (or only raise a small amount of angel money) you still need to orchestrate the exit; just because you’re going for a smaller exit doesn’t mean it’s so much easier or happens automatically. I think there’s a future blog post in there…
  3. Defensio wasn’t first, but it worked well. Defensio wasn’t first to the anti-spam market, nor were they first to implement anti-spam blog plugins — so you don’t need to be first, being a copycat startup has its advantages, but you do need to stand out and have unique value that’s clearly differentiated.

I continue to use Defensio and find it works very well. I enjoyed working with Carl through the beta / development process, and wish him (and the entire Defensio team) best wishes and tons of luck for the future.

(Incidentally, Carl claims “the cheque is in the mail” for being their 1st big user … but I’m not convinced. *grin*)

January 29, 2009 Posted in Montreal by

  • http://defensio.com Carl Mercier

    Thanks for the kind words Ben!

    I also agree with you and Mark, people who built things on the cheap and didn’t raise huge amounts of capital can hope for “easier” and maybe even more profitable exits, especially in this economy. Investors kept pitching us to invest, but I always refused their money and quite frankly, I’m glad I did. For us, it made sense both financially and on the business level; we kept control of the company which obviously gave us greater flexibility.

    This acquisition is a win for everybody in my opinion. Us, Websense and more importantly, our users who will greatly benefit from the transaction: that was very important for me.

    Oh… the check is *definitely* in the mail, maybe it was lost ;-) Cheers!

    PS: Just noticed my typo in the tweet, bleh.

  • http://defensio.com Carl Mercier

    Thanks for the kind words Ben!

    I also agree with you and Mark, people who built things on the cheap and didn’t raise huge amounts of capital can hope for “easier” and maybe even more profitable exits, especially in this economy. Investors kept pitching us to invest, but I always refused their money and quite frankly, I’m glad I did. For us, it made sense both financially and on the business level; we kept control of the company which obviously gave us greater flexibility.

    This acquisition is a win for everybody in my opinion. Us, Websense and more importantly, our users who will greatly benefit from the transaction: that was very important for me.

    Oh… the check is *definitely* in the mail, maybe it was lost ;-) Cheers!

    PS: Just noticed my typo in the tweet, bleh.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    Carl – I can always send you my PayPal email address…no concern of anything being lost in the mail *smile*

    You made the right moves with Defensio, and I know you did it based on an evaluation of the opportunity, competition, market, etc. And I think that’s what’s important for people to realize – you don’t just build a “small startup” and get an easy exit, it takes a lot of strategic planning, thinking, positioning, etc. to execute and exit successfully.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    Carl – I can always send you my PayPal email address…no concern of anything being lost in the mail *smile*

    You made the right moves with Defensio, and I know you did it based on an evaluation of the opportunity, competition, market, etc. And I think that’s what’s important for people to realize – you don’t just build a “small startup” and get an easy exit, it takes a lot of strategic planning, thinking, positioning, etc. to execute and exit successfully.

  • http://www.phoneblog.com Phone Blog

    I have used Defensio in past for couple of sites and loved anti spam functionality it offered.

    Its great to see somebody spreading the message that you don’t need VC money to be successful. But why am I only seeing this coming from non US companies?
    I would love to see more examples of non VC funded US startups / companies having good exits.
    I understand its harder to get VC money if you are not a US startup but does that mean its harder to get fame also if you don’t get VC funded these days?
    Does VC funding also bring more coverage on blogosphere which kinda disheartens a non VC funded entrepreneur even more?

  • http://www.phoneblog.com Phone Blog

    I have used Defensio in past for couple of sites and loved anti spam functionality it offered.

    Its great to see somebody spreading the message that you don’t need VC money to be successful. But why am I only seeing this coming from non US companies?
    I would love to see more examples of non VC funded US startups / companies having good exits.
    I understand its harder to get VC money if you are not a US startup but does that mean its harder to get fame also if you don’t get VC funded these days?
    Does VC funding also bring more coverage on blogosphere which kinda disheartens a non VC funded entrepreneur even more?

  • Pingback: Posts about Investors in Startups as of January 29, 2009 | The Lessnau Lounge

  • http://cellphones.org Jaden Beck

    Wow, I have been behind on the news. Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I used to use Defensio on one of my sites.

  • http://cellphones.org Jaden Beck

    Wow, I have been behind on the news. Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I used to use Defensio on one of my sites.

  • http://www.ahugelist.com a Huge List

    I came across your post while searching for anti spam solutions in blogs and will be checking the company out

  • http://www.ahugelist.com a Huge List

    I came across your post while searching for anti spam solutions in blogs and will be checking the company out

  • Pingback: The Art and Science of the Small Exit

  • http://www.eastcoastairsoft.com/index.php?cPath=79_85 Rick

    I’m not familiar with Defensio but I am with WebSense. I find it extremely interesting that they acquired them, although their functions are somewhat similar.

  • http://www.eastcoastairsoft.com/index.php?cPath=79_85 Rick

    I’m not familiar with Defensio but I am with WebSense. I find it extremely interesting that they acquired them, although their functions are somewhat similar.

  • http://www.visual-guard.com/ VG for .Net

    I have used Defensio. It really works great. But was not able to continue with it for longer time as clients prefer some other stuff.The features of Defensio for anti spamming are very nice.

  • http://www.visual-guard.com/ VG for .Net

    I have used Defensio. It really works great. But was not able to continue with it for longer time as clients prefer some other stuff.The features of Defensio for anti spamming are very nice.

  • http://www.herbalreleaf.com/ Herbal Care

    Thanks for this, really important to fight against spamming.

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Ben Yoskovitz
I'm VP Product at Codified (makers of VarageSale).

I'm also a Founding Partner at Year One Labs, an early stage accelerator in Montreal. Previously I founded Standout Jobs (and sold it).

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