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Eric Koester

A few years ago at a tech event in Seattle, Zaarly co-founder Eric Koester used his company’s new service to have a six-pack of beer delivered to the stage for the panel he was sitting on.

That won’t be happening again. Zaarly has shut down its marketplace that allowed buyers to request services from those in a local area — including Seattle, New York, San Francisco and other cities. TechCrunch has a detailed report on the changes, noting that the heavily-funded Silicon Valley company will now focus exclusively on operating merchant Web sites. (We first wrote about that new direction last November).

In addition to the news of Zaarly switching gears to focus on merchant storefronts, Koester announced that he’s leaving the company. In a heartfelt blog post, Koester said that the decision was tough and he lays out some of the challenges of moving on from a company you’ve co-founded.

Koester, a former Seattle attorney who helped create Zaarly at a Startup Weekend event in LA, writes:

“As you move from a company where “it’s your entire world” to “it’s not your world anymore, but something that still defines you from the outsiders view,” it becomes a delicate dance. You want to continue to cheerlead and champion from afar once you’ve gone, but all the while you know you need to let those you’ve entrusted with your baby thrive. I’ve personally learned that moving on as a founder isn’t as natural as packing up your boxes, forwarding your email and changing your LinkedIn bio.”

He concludes:

I’m excited about the next journey ahead – if I meet 1/10th of the amazing people I’ve engaged with during the last two years of Zaarly, I’m in line for a pretty cool experience. Love meeting people, stimulating my brain and finding something inspiring to try and solve.

Startups are hard. Moving on is hard. In both cases, it’s the people that make them so. Maybe that means you are doing something right if you’re surrounded by people who make your life so amazing, it’s hard.

Shortly after that the beer stunt, Zaarly raised $14.1 million in funding from the likes of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sands Capital Ventures, CMEA, Venture51, Crunchfund, actor Ashton Kutcher and others. The new direction puts Zaarly more in line with services like Seattle startup Bonanza and eBay. Interestingly, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman serves on the board of Zaarly, and at the time of her appointment in 2011 noted that “mobile, local marketplaces will shift how people buy and sell goods, services, and experiences.”

Previously on GeekWire: Seattle techie goes to L.A., returns with Ashton Kutcher-backed startup Zaarly

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