Introducing Mattermark, the Deal Intelligence Company

The year we suspended disbelief long enough to find a frighteningly ambitious startup idea. From “TechCrunch Killer” to “Bloomberg for Startups” and beyond…

March 15, 2014


In March of 2013 my previous startup Referly was down to just 3 of us, after reaching a peak company size of 10 people. With $350K left of the $1 Million raised during Y Combinator, we had enough money to get another project off the ground. Kevin, Andy and I cut our salaries to nothing and headed to my parent’s house in Washington State for a couple weeks. We committed to nursing our pride, reading books, drinking wine, cooking, reconnecting as friends and thinking about to do next outside the fishbowl of Silicon Valley.

Before Mattermark, There Was Cursive

“Mattermark Wasn’t a Pivot”, but before there was Mattermark we almost did pivot the existing technology of Referly into a different idea, which we code named Cursive. It was clear the posts I’d been doing about startups were the biggest drivers of traffic for Referly, and we had a beautiful custom CMS. Medium and Svbtle were still much earlier in their growth curves, and appeared to validate the model so I thought maybe I would start blogging prolifically on my own platform and then invite others to join me, like a community-written TechCrunch.

  1. On April 5th I published “Zombie VCs” using Crunchbase data to generate a list of firms who appeared to be inactive. This post electricified the VC industry and business media for a full week, intriguing and infuriating investors while revealing the lack of publicly available data. Awash in corrections and new relationships after hundreds of calls and emails, we’d found something important.
  2. A scoop on Tumblr’s revenue shortly before the Yahoo acquisition earned a link from Kara Swisher, outreach from someone at the WSJ about a potential job, and a meeting with Michael Arrington. I’ll never forget, Michael sat down looking very grumpy and read the entire 1,200 word piece in silence before looking up to proclaim, “you can write”. I just laughed out loud, my blogger hero just said I could write! Holy shit.

Fun lifestyle business, but what about building a software scale company?

The Research Lab

Byproducts of work are a gold mine. In the process of writing articles I created hundreds of spreadsheets to research markets, compare companies, and come up with unique angles. I published raw spreadsheets in many of my posts, and received a lot of requests to download them. As programmers, we were inspired by things we had heard about BuzzFeed’s assignment desk technology. We don’t know exactly how it worked, but the idea that they had built tools and processes to detect the most buzzworthy topics at any given time across the web was fascinating. We imagined we might do the same thing, but with a focus narrowed in on tech companies.

If this data is so valuable, and you really have a unique angle, why aren’t you investing with it?

The Venture Capital Firm

Once it was clear we would add significant value and differentiation to someone else’s VC firm, the logical next step was to consider starting one ourselves. Could we raise 10, 20 or even 50 Million to test out various data-driven approaches to investing in startups? We spoke with several established investment professionals who could have come on board to help us run the thing, and it seemed promising. But we knew if we decided to run a fund we would not be able to be objective, share all our data and views as openly, or remain a trusted source charging people for our research.

Are we going to be satisfied building software for a dozen people?

Bloomberg for Startup Investors

Through April and May of 2013, and could feel some sort of groundswell thinking around “Quantitative VC” which saw various firms positioning themselves based on their sourcing and research tools. Google Ventures, Greylock, Correlation Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia were widely known to have some kind of data-driven aspect to their operations, although no one shared any details.

The Deal Intelligence Company

Our customers are venture capitalists, so they think like VCs and often ask:

But isn’t venture capital a small market?

Yes, and we love it! Small is a relative term. The NVCA says there were 462 “active” VC firms in the US in 2010, and when you include all firms who have raised money since 2002 that number climbs to 791. Using the AngelList API, we found 6,961 users with the word “Partner” in their bio. Based on Mattermark’s pricing of $499/month per user, or $50,000/year per firm, the annual revenue opportunity for this initial market is somewhere in the $20M — $40M range.

What’s Next for Mattermark Deal Intelligence

We’ve got a TON to learn, build, and do to reach our more broadly defined market of deal professionals — people who make a living by sheparding transactions for their organizations (investments, mergers, acquisition, partnerships, sales). Here’s one way to think about the ultimate size and scope of this opportunity:
  • Moved out of the apartment and into a real office!
  • Team size increasing from 9 to 15 people by the end of March. Adding 2 full-stack developers, 2 sales ops, and 2 account executives
  • Current account executives are profitable and earning commission, closing more business than I did in my best month solo.
  • Formalized our sales process and organization, dividing out roles for outbound prospecting, inbound lead qualification, closers, and account management as recommended in “Predictable Revenue”
  • Added a full time account manager before $2M ARR, as recommended by SaaStr, to reduce revenue risk and scale customer success as we ramp
  • Defined sales territories by vertical industry focus (venture capital, private equity, corporate development, business development) with anchor customers won to prove out willingness to buy prior to bringing on an account executive

We’ve grown revenue 10X in the past 8 months.

With an awesome team on track to reach our next milestone of $2 Million in annual run rate it’s time to pass the torch and hire our VP of Sales.


Email me at and let’s chat.

CEO & Cofounder of @Mattermark

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