Korrelate, a four-year-old data play founded by former executives of Tacoda, will suspend operations this week after failing to find a buyer.
The company was born in 2010 as Ad Summos with a pledge to help publishers link their website visitors to real-world actions – such as buying a car. It was among the early companies to make a go of building reporting tools that could prove the value of digital behaviors and ad exposures in influencing buying decisions. Forbes was among its first customers.
Later it pivoted to serve marketers as well as publishers. Ad Summos became Korrelate, rolling out new solutions to supplement its online-to-offline reporting. Those tools included a viewability product, reach reporting, and web data collection.
But, despite having a unique web architecture with very low site latency, Korrelate failed to grow the business.
According to CEO Daniel Jaye, the company may have been too early in making the case for a shift away from measuring clicks to tracking real sales. He also suggested larger, deep-pocketed competitors sucked the oxygen from the room.
"We didn't have a tremendous amount of capital invested in sales and marketing to go up against people who were starting to come into this space," said Jaye, who took over from previous CEO Curt Viebranz in March 2012. (Viebranz had been CEO of Tacoda and later briefly helmed AOL's Platform A ad tech unit.)
By 2012 and 2013, online-to-offline analytics had drawn large players like Datalogix and Nielsen, and these parties began to secure deals with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other big media sellers. Korrelate was not able to ramp up revenue and deals sufficiently to cover costs and grow operations.
The decision was made last fall to find either an acquirer or an investor. Korrelate also tried shifting to a reseller model, but when an acquisition fell through, management abandoned that strategy. Jaye and fellow executives were in talks with possible suitors as recently as Thursday, but a deal failed to materialize.
As of Monday Korrelate has begun notifying customers of its imminent shut down. It has less than ten clients, who will be given a week to remove Korrelate's pixels from their websites. The handful of remaining employees will phase out as well.
"There are conversations going on where people are interested in everybody who is on board currently," Jaye said. He declined to offer more specifics on headcount. According to LinkedIn the company has 10 remaining employees.
It's clearly not the hoped for outcome, but management still believes it can find a home for pieces of its technology, either with a single buyer or split among several.
Korrelate had raised $3 million from Avalon Ventures, along with a $1.5 million debt facility. Jaye gives respect to Avalon. "They have been the best VC you could ask for in terms of giving us the room to run with the business," he said.
And he maintains the company helped prove out the importance of online-to-offline analytics, and doing it on the level with consumers. "We think we raised awareness of the value of the space and also that you don't have to throw privacy out with the bathwater to do this well," Jaye said.