Deal Watch: SurveyMonkey keeps mum on acquisition

| Print |  Email
Archives - June 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
By Jon Bell

DealWatchsurveyThis much we know for sure about the April acquisition of Portland’s SurveyMonkey:

A private investment group, led by Spectrum Equity Investors, acquired a majority interest in the 10-year-old online survey company.

The investors appointed David Goldberg, former head of Yahoo’s music business, as the new CEO. He replaces Ryan Finley, who founded SurveyMonkey with his brother, Chris, in 1999 with a $10,000 investment from their parents.

And under the new management, SurveyMonkey will open a new office in Menlo Park, Calif.

Beyond that, neither SurveyMonkey nor the investors are saying much.

Despite word that the Finley brothers will stay with the 20-employee company in Portland, some think SurveyMonkey will shift its focus — and its growth — to Silicon Valley.

“I am sure the locus of power will move to Menlo Park,” says Jack Raiton, a professor in the Division of Management at OHSU and a former executive at both Planar Systems and Tektronix. “The 20-minute rule in venture capital says that VCs do not like to invest in companies that are more than 20 minutes away.”

Raiton thinks it’s impressive that SurveyMonkey, which reportedly had revenues of $5 million in 2007, was able to land any funding at all in the current investment climate, let alone from a prominent group of VCs. However, the company’s valuation is likely not sky high, so the investors probably got a good deal.

“The equity partnership is likely betting that SurveyMonkey will be vastly more valuable once the market recovers and are buying it cheap now in order to sell it at a strong profit in the future,” says Rob Enderle, a technology analyst in San Jose, Calif.

That said, Enderle notes that Spectrum has one of the better reputations in the venture business.

“Which actually bodes well for this effort,” he says.

List researched by Jon Bell
$2.7M Crow Apartments (Portland) Raven Apts. (Portland)/Raven Apts. (Portland) 4/9
$1.5M Maria's Properties (Vancouver) Ferryman office complex (Vancouver) 4/6
$1.4M Ralph and Susan Coan and Trust 8,000 sq. ft./office (Tigard)/J.T. Roth Jr. and Theresa Roth 4/6
$1.2M Carole Zoom (Portland) 9,700 sq. ft./commercial (Portland) Condon Family LP (Portland) 4/8
$1.1M ABM Properties (Newberg) Mt. View Duplex Homes/Donald K. Saxton estate (Beaverton) 4/6
$1M Patrick and Dylan Murphy (Clackamas) 5,000 sq. ft./office, shop (Clackamas)/Jerry Jennings 4/6
$855,000 RH3 Enterprises (Portland) 15,000 sq. ft./office, distribution space (Vancouver)/Paul Anderson 4/28
$825,000 Tim Calhoun (Portland) 12 units at Crossroad Village Apartments (Portland)/BHB Pasadena (Portland) 4/8
$325,000 William and Traci Sundby (WA) 2,700 sq. ft./industrial (Portland)/BFH Investments (Portland) 4/6

$382M (stimulus education funds) State of Oregon Federal government 4/23
$300M (bond sale) Portland General Electric (Portland)/Jim Piro Private investors 4/14
$75M (transportation funds) Portland Streetcar U.S. Dept. of Transportation 4/30
$61M (liquidation sale) Joe's Sports & Outdoors(Wilsonville)/Hal Smith Gordon Brothers Group (MA) 4/9
$28.5M (stimulus funds) Oregon DHS' Drinking Water Program U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 4/9
$26.1M (sewer interceptor project) Advanced American Construction (Portland)/Dee Burch City of Lake Oswego 4/9
$13.9M (roadwork contract) Oregon Mainline Paving (McMinnville)/Michael J. Flanigan ODOT 4/2
$11.3M (stimulus transportation funds) Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study Federal government 4/22
$8.8M (series B funding) SignaCert (Portland)/Wyatt Harnes Intel Capital (CA), Smart Forest Ventures (Portland), et al 4/15
$3M (alternative energy research grant) Oregon State University (Corvallis)/Edward Ray U.S. Dept. of Energy 4/29
$3.2M (roadwork contract) M.J. Hughes Construction (Gresham)/Michael Hughes ODOT 4/2
$2.2M (stimulus transportation funds) City of Albany Federal government 4/23
$1.8M (food contracts) Food Services of America (Woodburn)/Randy Irvine U.S. Army 4/9
$1M (stimulus road funds) City of Milwaukie ODOT 4/7
$658,000 (research award) Oregon State University/Edward Ray U.S. Air Force 4/17
$450,000 (fresh produce order) Columbia Fruit and Produce (Astoria)/Arnold Johnson Oregon Army National Guard 4/15
$289,000 (timber thinning) Patrick Environmental (Redmond)/Rick Dice USDA Forest Service 4/6
$289,000 (road-oiling contract) TFT Construction (Scappoose)/Thomas Fischer Cowlitz County, WA 4/16
$200,000 (research award) Galois (Beaverton)/John Launchbury NASA 4/14
$136,000 (parts order) Landa Northwest/Von Freeman Oregon Army National Guard 4/16

$39M Pending Image Holdings (Salem) InFocus (Wilsonville) 4/14
ND Q2 (WA) Lexcycle (Portland and TX) 4/29
ND Q2 iCooper (WA) Ininet Systems (Lake Oswego) 4/8
ND Q2 Spectrum Equity and Bain Capital Ventures (CA , MA) SurveyMonkey (Portland) 4/20


More Articles

Corner Office: Steve Tatone

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits about the president and CEO of AKT Group.


Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


The 100 Best Companies survey is open

Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


See How They Run

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


The short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02