Q&A with Minnesota tech entrepreneur Wade Gerten on the Fluid Acquisition

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Wade GertenWhat started as an experimental hack back in 2008 has come full circle as 8thBridge announced today their acquisition by San Francisco-based ‘digital shopping’ outfit Fluid.

Wade Gerten, Brian Howe (now Thrill On) and Lou Abramowski (now Unbenchable) co founded Alvenda (as it would first be known) to bring shopping to Facebook, pioneering the era of ‘social commerce.’

After sweeping the Minnesota Cup in 2009, Alvenda re-branded as 8thBridge, scored $5m from Split Rock Partners, reached revenue, launched new products, hired up, scaled back, expanded footprint, and
raised more capital — ultimately to the tune of ~$15m.

We reached out to CEO Wade Gerten to learn more about the milestone and what’s next:

Why the decision to sell to Fluid?

I first met Fluid’s CEO, Kent Deverell, at an IBM Watson event a few months ago. IBM was unveiling their new Watson developer network offering and were recruiting software developers from key verticals to build on their new offering. Fluid was IBM’s beta partner for ecommerce. They were demoing a very cool solution they developed with IBM Watson for The North Face. More on this later…

Kent and I got to talking and realized we shared the same vision for creating a new Experience layer for ecommerce. Fluid had recently raised $24M from Goldman Sachs and was in the process of accelerating their software business. 8thBridge was just beginning a Series C fundraising process.

We decided it made a ton of sense to join forces. Fluid has trusted advisor relationships with many many retailers and brands. They also have some very strong technology and serious financial backing. We’re bringing our expertise and a powerful platform, Graphite, that we will jointly build upon.

What was the purchase price/terms? 

We’re not disclosing the terms of the sale but I can tell you I’m in the market for a used Porsche 911 (air cooled) – not a new one.

What the plan moving forward in terms of product, customers, company and people?

The entire 8thBridge team and I became Fluidians today. 8thBridge will be run as a separate business unit for a little while by yours truly. We want to make sure we get the integration right so we’ll take our time. The plan is to accelerate the product roadmap we already have for our Graphite platform and then broaden the offering beyond social. The Fluid team has some big ideas and big backers so there will be no shortage of work to do. I know its a cliche but it looks like we’re just getting started, again.

We are expanding the Minneapolis office. It’s far easier to recruit and retain world class engineering talent in Minneapolis than in San Francisco or NYC (Fluid’s other 2 offices).

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