The Exit

Keri Waters
Mar 28 · 5 min read
Pirate Buoy now attached to the good ship Resideo

Wow. So that happened. Buoy exited. Our startup got acquired.

By the time you read this, all of Buoy will be a small part of Resideo — the new public company that is becoming a force in the smart home space. You can read all about the business parts of that, and our exciting new future, here.

That’s not what I’m going to write about right now, though. I’m in a reflective mood.

I’m a little maudlin from all the emotional upheaval of a transaction like this. It’s all exactly like you think it is, by the way — endless hours reviewing documents and signing things and answering questions, and reviewing every decision, every detail, everything that ever happened since you started your little company. It’s a really expensive, strange form of therapy that’s almost perfectly designed to give you closure so you can move on to the next phase.

I revisited every contract I signed, every employment letter, every termination, every resignation, every big new deal, several near misses in various docs repos, lots of documentation on every process we’ve ever created and a lot more on half-finished projects and half-baked ideas. I re-read all the support tickets and generated reports on issues and when major issues were resolved in the past and how we resolved them and how we knew for sure that they were resolved, and I reached out and talked to every single shareholder and option holder and note holder and warrant holder, and I re-learned all the details of every insurance policy and refactored the business plan with all the assumptions revised to be part of a bigger company, and rebuilt the hiring plan and re-recruited all the existing employees to be employees of the acquirer.

So that’s what I’ve been doing, and kind of not much else for the last month or so. And now, the night before this thing gets announced, I’m finally getting a chance to process it all a little bit, and the dominant thought I’m having right now is: THANK YOU. Yes, you. If you’re reading this you’ve almost certainly been part of Buoy’s journey, directly or indirectly, since the beginning or just very recently. I can tell you, with authority, having just reviewed every little bit of Buoy’s nearly-four-year history: oh my god, was this a monumental effort by a lot of very fine people with big hearts and big brains. We never would have made it to a great exit without all the love and support of all of you.

There are specific people I need to call out: first and foremost, my excellent co-founders Joel Boutros and Hilary Bryant. Joel has more breadth and depth than any engineer I know, and if he wasn’t able to wear so many hats right from the beginning, we wouldn’t have survived to our first outside investment. Getting Hilary on board was just cheating — there’s no one else on the planet who naturally exudes as much leadership ability (I mean, the woman made being Mayor of Santa Cruz look almost effortless) but who also will just get in the weeds and do whatever it takes whenever it’s needed, just for the success of the team. She once dug a trench in high heels just to save the plumber installer a bit of time and labor, to get through one tough install. Then she got our congressman to come visit the office and see what we were doing, when we were 5 people and a few prototypes….

Then, of course, there’s the rest of the Buoy team: Jeff, Andrew, Carrie, Ryan, Alex 1, Alex 2, Angela, Victoria, and newbie old-timer Stephanie. This is the finest band of startup pirates you’ve ever met, and I’m thrilled and honored that we all get to keep working together, building Buoys and new products and new integrations.

Side note: fun fact about early stage startups: did you know they sometimes just run out of money, and keep going for a while anyway? Two out of the last four years, both times right before the holidays, I had to tell everyone that we were running out of cash, and weren’t going to be able to raise more money until we hit some milestone after the holidays, and so we had to immediately cut everyone’s pay to minimum wage temporarily. Two times. You know how many people gave up or quit when that happened? Zero. You know how many freaked out? Zero. Not these folks. Everyone sacrificed because they believed in what we were building, and that we’d find a way to grow the business if we just kept plugging at it. They were right, because they made that true.

My board members, Mark Mitchell and Toby Corey, gave selflessly of their time and tremendous experience and talent, and were genius at switching between being friends, therapists, and coaches, exactly when the situation required.

The larger tech community — especially in our hometown of Santa Cruz — really came out for us with love and support. Doug Erickson, Bob Cagle, Matthew Swinnerton, Sara Isenberg, team members who were with us for a while, various investors who shall remain nameless — you all are loved.

There are several more people who are business partners and who I’d love to name, but can’t do so publicly. You know who you are :) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My competitors… You know what, in a brand new market like this, the fellow founders who saw the opportunity we did at the same time, and who have also been putting their hearts and souls into building solutions to make water sustainable don’t feel like competitors at all. They’re fellow travelers, and I’m honored to have developed real friendships with a few people who have been running this journey alongside me, including Gabe Halimi at Flo and Chris Klein at Rachio — thank you to both of you for your camaraderie, drive, and constant push to make all of us better at what we do.

Finally, thank you to the families of all of the Buoy team, and an extra special super thank you to my family - Ian, Dash, and Wyatt - and to my extra amazing foxhole founder friend, Ryan. Without your support, encouragement, patience, perspective, literal care and feeding, and love, *I* wouldn’t have made it this far.

Ok, that’s enough. I have a new job to go do! I’m grateful for this new opportunity, and that we now are part of a team that will be able to bring Buoy to everyone’s home. That’s the entrepreneur’s dream!

Keri Waters

Written by

CEO & Co-founder at Buoy — the smart home device for household water.