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.com, takelessons.com, thumbtack.com, craigslist.com, skillshare.com, wyzant.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 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.
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