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Seattle entrepreneur Kelly Smith

You could call this an “acquihire.” But, in this case, it’s really just about grabbing the talents of one person.

RealSelf is buying Pressplane, the parent company of Zapd, picking up the skills of experienced entrepreneur and designer Kelly Smith in the process. Zapd will be shut down at the end of the month, though some of the technology will be carried over to RealSelf, which is building what it dubs the world’s largest community of cosmetic surgery, dermatology and dentistry.

“The company has a great leadership team, a high-power board and has steadily built one of the largest health and beauty communities with over 5,000 active doctors and millions of consumers,” said Smith. “The deal was driven by both the challenges and opportunity RealSelf has to expand a user-driven community that is anonymous, yet also trusted.”

As chief experience officer, Smith will oversee the design team and manage the product experience in conjunction with vice president Scott Brooks. He will also help drive the company’s mobile strategy, helping to shift the company to a “mobile first” offering.

Smith said he couldn’t share details about specific efforts.

“We’ll be focused on improving the overall experience of the product with intent to deepen consumer engagement across the board,” said Smith “We want to continue to attract new patients and provide them the best environment for cosmetic procedure decision making.  The mobile experience will get a lot of attention as will new product options for physicians to further enhance their online personas and their marketing and conversion capabilities.  We want to be thought leaders in the medical community and we want to be the best source of information for consumers regardless of the devices they use to get this critical information.  So optimizing around mobile will be a big part of our efforts and the Zapd IP and experience plays well towards that end.”

realself44Smith has been very open about the hurdles he faced at Zapd, sharing the inside scoop with GeekWire about the “complete rewrite” last fall. In a post titled —  “What happens when your startup misses the mark” — Smith wrote that the company basically had to start over when its product just fell flat.

Zapd was backed by a prominent group of investors (Second Avenue Partners, RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser, Zillow co-founder Rich Barton, Madrona Venture Group).

Two of those investors — Barton and Second Avenue Partners — also are involved in RealSelf. RealSelf is led by former Expedia vets Tom Seery and Scott Brooks, and it now employs 25 people. The company is profitable, and has not raised any money since 2008 when it brought in $2 million. None of the other employees from Zapd will be joining RealSelf as part of the stock deal.

Earlier this year, another company that Smith was involved in by the name of Inkd was quietly sold to Alphagraphics.

Editor’s note: Smith and Inkd are GeekWire partners, having helped create the GeekWire logo and business cards.


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