Exclusive: Amazon.com buys TeachStreet

TeachStreet founder Dave Schappell traveled from coast-to-coast over the past 12 months entertaining offers for his Seattle-based startup. But, at the end of the day, he found the best fit right in his own backyard.

Amazon.com has acquired TeachStreet, the 5-year-old online marketplace that matches students and teachers.

Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but this is looking very much like a “talent acquisition.” The entire TeachStreet team has already joined AmazonLocal, the daily deal service that operates in more than 40 cities across the U.S.

As a result of the acquisition, Schappell tells GeekWire that TeachStreet will be shut down on February 15th. Teachers who use the service will be able to export their class listings, and the company is offering a number of alternative services (betterfly.comtakelessons.comthumbtack.comcraigslist.comskillshare.comwyzant.com) where teachers can market their classes.

The acquisition of TeachStreet marks a homecoming of sorts for Schappell, who worked at the online retailer from 1998 to 2004. The entrepreneur said that he still has a lot of friends at Amazon, and that he’s excited about the opportunities in front of the company.

Schappell

Schappell declined to offer specific details on what he’ll be working on at AmazonLocal. But he did say that being part of a larger organization is appealing after five years in the startup trenches.

“End of the day, I believe this is by far the best result for us,” said Schappell, adding that other potential acquirers would have required travel to other cities. “This is really good. We stay here. We know the team, and I know Jeff (Bezos’) appetite for investing massively in businesses, so it is exciting in that way.”

Schappell also said that he’s pumped to be “working on things that millions of people use.” At TeachStreet, he said they had been “pushing the peanut up the hill for a long time.”

The startup had been on a roll up until last February when Google altered its ranking algorithm with the release of “Panda.” The changes decimated TeachStreet’s traffic, and the company never quite recovered.

“We lost a lot of our traffic, and overnight we started talking to partners for biz dev, not for acquisition,” he said. However, many of the potential partners wanted to know about an outright acquisition.

TeachStreet raised just over $3 million from Madrona Venture Group, Bezos Expeditions, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and others. Schappell said the deal would not compare to “Facebook or Twitter going public,” but he called it a “really good outcome” for the team.

This isn’t the first time that Amazon.com has gobbled up tech talent from the Seattle startup community. In December, we reported that the online retailer acquired the social shopping whizzes behind Quorus.

Talent acquisitions are somewhat commonplace at big tech companies these days, especially as finding smart engineers becomes more challenging. Last month, Twitter announced the acquisition of Summify, a popular news aggregation service that’s shutting down this month. And Facebook jumpstarted its Seattle engineering office last year through the acquisition of the stealth startup Rel8tion.

Schappell is one of the most active members of the Seattle startup community, hosting the weekly Hops & Chops Thursday happy hour on Capitol Hill. He said that he’ll likely continue to be involved in various startup activities around town, but noted that he may have to go through a three-month withdrawal.

Follow us on Twitter @geekwire.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Dave and crew on a successful “acquihirisition”!

  • Brant Williams

    Congratulations Teachstreet team! And thanks to Dave for all his participation in the startup community.

  • http://blog.calbucci.com/ Marcelo Calbucci

    Congrats Dave. I should have betted with you the other day. You looked chirpy! Congrats to all the team as well.

    • http://twitter.com/scottru Scott Ruthfield

      If Dave looks chirpy, something must be going on. _Now_ I know why @joesunga:disqus  has been hanging out at Uptown Espresso all the time!

      Congrats to the entire team, and special congrats to the AmazonLocal team, that just picked up an irascible bunch of superstars.

      • http://josephsunga.com Joseph Sunga

        Haha, @DaveSchappell:twitter  has taught us well to answer accordingly to questions when asked. :)

  • http://www.thoughtful.co Chris Lynch

    Congratulations to Dave and the team at TeachStreet!

  • Ray Burt

    This is wonderful…what a GREAT story on all sides…..almost as good as that muralist who painted a wall at Facebook!  

  • http://blog.redfin.com/ GlennKelman

    It couldn’t have happened to a better person in Dave or a better team than TeachStreet. Congratulations!

  • http://www.facebook.com/durjoy Durjoy Ace Bhattacharjya

    Congrats to Dave and the team!

  • http://twitter.com/mikeytom Mikey Tom

    Congrats everyone there!  Love you guys (and Lily)  : )

  • http://twitter.com/JoWii7 Joey Aquino

    I have never seen someone work harder than Dave. He completely deserves this and so does the rest of the team. Congrats!

  • http://www.rescuetime.com Anonymous

    Grats, teachstreet.  Hard-fought and won!

  • Anonymous

    Dave and team have worked long and hard on TeachStreet. I’m glad they could find a really good outcome locally.

  • Sceptic

    so what about Madrona’s to be part of the success. They probably got nothing if this is a talent acquisition

  • Quintanarooster

    To be clear, though, this isn’t a successful outcome, right?

    • http://blog.calbucci.com/ Marcelo Calbucci

      I’ll break my self-imposed rule of never replying to “anonymous” posters, but you asked a legitimate question without being an asshole, so…

      I don’t have any idea what the terms of the deal look like, but a good outcome is defined to where you are at the moment, not to where you thought what you’d like to happen when you started your business. In other words, this outcome is a lot better than shutting down TeachStreet, losing all the investors money, no one gets a penny and everyone on the team has to get a job. A better outcome would have been to IPO. 

      I don’t speak to Dave, but I’m pretty sure he would say this is not what he expected when he started TeachStreet, but it’s what he could do with it. 
      Let’s celebrate to that.

      • Ray Burt

        This is really a good reply.  Everyone should read this.

        • Sceptic

          not good enough to investor

  • http://thinkmaya.com Maya Bisineer

    Such a great team! Congrats to Dave and the team for the awesome outcome.

  • Anonymous

    Congrats to Dave and the TeachStreet team!

  • http://www.puzzazz.com Roy Leban

    Congrats to Dave and the team. Sorry to hear the site itself will be shuttered, but I’m sure it’s the necessary decision.

    Hope you do great things at Amazon.

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewDumont Andrew Dumont

    Great outcome for a fantastic group of folks. Congrats to Dave, Daryn and the rest of the team — well deserved!

  • Anonymous

    Dude totally knows what he is talking about .Wow.
    Total-Privacy dot US

  • http://currentlyobsessed.com/ joe heitzeberg

    Congrats to Dave, Daryn and the entire team at TeachStreet!  Amazon scored big with a very talented team with an outstanding culture.

  • http://superkinz.com Andrew Kinzer

    This is awesome, Dave!

  • http://www.twitter.com/algard algard

    Good stuff Dave & team. Sounds like a good outcome and great to hear that you all have a good new home that keeps you in Seattle.

  • Howie B

    Dave congrats – there’s no place like home! I’m not concerned about the terms other than to  know if the dogs get to join you each day in the office? Or is left “undisclosed”?

    • http://twitter.com/gb GB Bowers

      There’s definitely no shortage of pups in the office here at AmazonLocal, that’s for sure. Not sure when we get to see Zach & Stella again, though… Dave’s a busy dude!

      • johnhcook

        For the record, being the hard-core journalist (and dog lover) that I am, I did ask Dave whether the pups would be traveling to new offices in Amazon.com. And he tells me in our exclusive interview, that yes indeed, they will be welcomed at Amazon.com.

        A key part of the terms of the deal, I guess. :)

      • johnhcook

        For the record, being the hard-core journalist (and dog lover) that I am, I did ask Dave whether the pups would be traveling to new offices in Amazon.com. And he tells me in our exclusive interview, that yes indeed, they will be welcomed at Amazon.com.

        A key part of the terms of the deal, I guess. :)

  • http://twitter.com/bcrimmins Bob Crimmins

    Heartfelt congrats to Dave and the rest of Team TeachStreet.  Enjoy the recovery period and try not to make the AMZN team feel under-qualified.  And Dave, I hope this means you’ll have more time to play poker!

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations Dave and team! Well done!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bryan-Starbuck/500012914 Bryan Starbuck

    Congrats to the TeachStreet team!  Getting an acquisition accomplished is always hard and an accomplishment when completed.  Amazon wouldn’t do it unless they saw real value in the team and everything they can do.  

  • John

    I’m buying more AMZN stock now that Dave is working there again.

  • http://twitter.com/luismata Luis Mata

    Congratulations to Dave, the TeachStreet Team and everyone involved in the deal.  

  • Anthony Stevens

    Congrats to Dave and the TeachStreet team. I’m very happy for you guys!

  • http://twitter.com/RedRussak ‘Red’ Russak

    Woohoo! Well played. So does this mean the end of “Scotch Tasting” on TeachStreet? ;-)

    • http://www.nosnivelling.com daveschappell

      heh.  yeah.  sorry for my small lie about our “new office location”.  i did my best to be honest!

    • http://www.nosnivelling.com daveschappell

      heh.  yeah.  sorry for my small lie about our “new office location”.  i did my best to be honest!

      • http://twitter.com/RedRussak ‘Red’ Russak

        Props for the almost too perfect white lie ;-) Of anything, you told the truth, off by only a few streets

  • Karim Meghji

    Congrats Dave and team!

  • Anonymous

    Dave! Congrats! Great news to you and your team. Libations :)

  • Anonymous

    Dave! Congrats! Great news to you and your team. Libations :)

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations to Dave and the Teachstreet team!  

  • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

    Congratulations Dave and team. Well done!!!

  • Jen

    Would this have happened if this team we’re in the Valley or did this really come together because the team is local to Seattle? 

  • http://twitter.com/seery Tom Seery

    Best to all of the teachstreet team, our former much-cooler-than-us startup office neighbor at 9th and Lenora.

  • http://kickstand.typepad.com jordanmitchell

    congrats from another former 9th/Lenora neighbor! Success comes in many forms, and you win as long as you generate a huge wake of respect from all who were involved. Plus take it from me … Getting acquired by a non-local company is really tough on local biz relationships.

  • http://dianabol.blog.com/ DIANABOL

    another nerd uber payday :-)

    • Ray Burt

      HUGE

  • Guest

    Another reminder that the talent of your team is the most important asset.

    • Ghost

      Or that hiring is a pain in the ass so getting to lock in a team of ~10 is worth the so-called acquisition price as it beats the cost of the head-hunter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/neil.roseman Neil Roseman

    Somewhat belated congratulations to a great guy, and a great team. And to Amazon for bringing some of their best alumni back into the fold.

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