Yesterday our portfolio company Firebase was acquired by Google. We invested in Firebase in the summer of last year and Albert wrote this post talking about the investment.

Firebase makes a backend that allows developers to store and sync their data in real-time.  In a relatively short time, Firebase has been adopted by over 100,000 developers. It solves some complicated problems simply and elegantly.

We believe Google will be a good home for Firebase. They have the resources and desire to continue to build out Firebase and scale it. I saw the two founders last night at our dinner in SF and they told me that Google is giving them budget to go out and scale up the engineering team. They had big smiles on their faces when they told me that.

Though our time as investors and partners in Firebase was short, we enjoyed working with them very much and are happy that they have found a good home for their company and their technology. It sure looks like the perfect match.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. JLM

    .Congratulations on what I hope is another splendid journey to the pay window.Pay window — open for business.JLM.

    1. fredwilson

      For them it was. Nothing better than watching entrepreneurs get paid

      1. LE

        Really the point of my other comment the way JLM views the exit. Meaning that future entrepreneurs which you will end up winning big on will be more likely to allow USV to invest if they feel that USV works in their interest and let’s them go where their heart is. Builds trust for sure.

  2. John Revay

    Sounds like a happy ending to your investment and a great new chapter for Firebase.

  3. JimHirshfield

    Quick exit. Hope there was enough lift-off to make this a decent investment return. No doubt, a great company/product…but wouldn’t you ideally hold longer?

    1. Elia Freedman

      I can only assume the company wasn’t meetings its goals to sell this quickly. There are a number of competitors in this space now and can see why Google would buy, but if the company was doing well, why sell now?

      1. JimHirshfield

        It smells that way. But we’ll never know.

      2. JamesHRH

        Job 1 – get an exit.Become an iconic pillar of society is more like Job 7….no shame.

        1. Elia Freedman

          Job 1 is to get an exit at the best possible valuation. If the future is particularly unclear than selling now makes sense. If everything seems to be on the right track, then we wait. Firebase sold now, which implies the best valuation they see for themselves is what they got now. (This is no indictment of the team or saying there is shame in selling. It is only an observation.)

          1. JamesHRH

            No, Job 1 is get an exit (see Fred’s rules of CEOness: Hold the Visions, Assemble the Team, DON”T GO BROKE.Job 2 is keep Founders as a future reference…….Valuation is like Job 3 or 4…….but I hear you.

          2. Elia Freedman

            I don’t remember that post off the top of my head but none of those jobs include exit, although I guess you could count don’t go broke but that’s not how I interpret that one.So a question then… If Job 1 is to get an exit then how do you justify Facebook, Twitter and probably every other publicly traded company not accepting the multitude of buyouts offers along the way? That means every one of them failed at Job 1.

          3. JamesHRH

            No, failing @ Job 1 is thinking you are FB = Facebook when you are FB=Firebase.#RealityFirebase is a 1 in a 1000 SW Startup success. FB & Twitter are 10 in a generation unicorns. They did Jobs1-7 if they went public.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      3. Richard

        This would be a great lesson in Startup Acquisition (the one area in startup land that has little or no sunlight shinning on it.)

        1. Elia Freedman


    2. fredwilson

      It’s times like this that you have to remind yourself that VC is a service business and the entrepreneur is your client

      1. JimHirshfield

        “Hi, I’m Fred and I’ll be your server this evening. Cap table for two? Can I get you started with a round of seed funding? Apps?”

        1. JamesHRH

          LOL – cap table for 2.

        2. Elia Freedman

          That’s Fred as the good VC. The bad VC would be knocking cigarette ash on your board room table and splashing coffee in your lap while calling each of the founders “Hon.”

          1. JamesHRH

            Bad VC is Soup Nazi!

        3. Mac


        4. Donna Brewington White

          Oh, Jim.You know, you probably could give up your day job.

      2. LE

        It’s times like this that you have to remind yourself that VC is a service business and the entrepreneur is your clientHmm, a non answer we now have triangulation.But it doesn’t hurt to have a company acquired by google (for USV) even if it’ wasn’t a win for USV investors or even if it’s not a big win. First of all it’s not a loss. 2nd the entrepreneurs are happy.Third, and most importantly, sometimes in business you do deals that you don’t make money on so you can do deals later with the same people that you do make money on. [1][1] An example of this is when, within the last year, I sold something to someone (by way of a broker) and didn’t make much money off it. Now I have a business relationship open with that person/company and low and behold the other day an opportunity presented itself where I will get to exploit and take advantage of that established relationship. Which was exactly my thought when deciding to do the first deal. Really just a variation of the loss leader.

  4. Avi Deitcher

    Congratulations. Glad to hear they are happy. I have helped a number of companies through M&A. Most of the time, the founders are happy for anywhere from 3-12 months, and then a challenging parent company culture combined with “purchaser’s arrogance” comes through. I hope they are happy and continue to grow.Speaking of PaaS acquisitions, anyone know how Heroku is doing? They were the last big one, but I haven’t heard much of them since SFDC bought them. Lots of rumours that things aren’t great.

    1. awaldstein

      You are a more caring man than I.When I did M & A full time (for a while actually) I looked at a year past earnout as nearly satisfied as a huge home run for everyone.

      1. Avi Deitcher

        My method has always been to work closely with everyone up and down the line. The execs may be happy with a year earnout, but the line employees have careers, and have invested effort. I expect it, but it is still sad, and customers suffer, too.

        1. awaldstein

          True of course but in all honestly, there is nothing in work that has guarantees of any sort past 12 months.

          1. Avi Deitcher

            Totally get it. Still sad, especially when you see how much potential is sometimes left on the table.

          2. awaldstein

            No question.I just never belief that the big deal will come and save the day. Never trust beyond friendship and love. And work to find satisfaction within the flux of it all.But–damn I chase the big ones but happier when they happen more than disappointed when they don’t.

          3. JamesHRH

            Hard for founders to pass up the trifecta offer of a GOOG buyout:- success- brand name recognition of startup chops- add GOOG position to resume

          4. LE

            Hirschfield Hirshfield should write the Broadway Comedy, modeled after “Boogie Nights”.It can be called”Tesla’s on Order!”That’s the midpoint of the play of course…(noting how Boogie Nights ended..)

          5. JimHirshfield

            1/10, but still garnered you an upvote, despite mispelling my name…again.

          6. LE

            1/10 – No way! Musical comedy. Talk about not invented here! Multi city tour for sure.What about one where hassidic jews dance to modern rap and other songs? With cameos by rep Peter King, Giulian, Al Sharpton and “Dead Joan Rivers”?Starts with a bewildered typical single childless NYC woman in her 50’s with the foldable grocery cart stopping at a Duane Reade for cat food trapped by said hassids singing the rap songs and a hora like dance.

          7. JimHirshfield

            Where you going with this? It’s too elaborate to be funny…unless it’s you coming down from having crack for breakfast.Brevity and levity, my friend…brevity and levity.

          8. LE

            “too elaborate” is a interesting reaction for a New Yorker (or someone from CT) to have what with all the complexity and diversity of the city.”Brevity and levity, my friend…brevity and levity.”It’s not a one line joke that’s your gig not mine.

          9. JimHirshfield

            I respect that. You’re entitled to my opinion.

          10. LE

            Check with name misspelled can generally be cashed something to keep in mind.

          11. JimHirshfield

            Check, really? Living large in 1988, @domainregistry:disqus ?I accept only Bitcoin.

          12. LE

            Try again. Yawn. I’m doing work for some well known investors in the bitcoin space actually. Today I received two checks from them (and I am expecting a third) … 5 figures btw. They didn’t even ask to pay by bitcoin. And passed on wiring the money when that was offered.See attached image…and next time don’t bring a knife to a gunfight 🙂 <— rare use of emoticon

          13. JimHirshfield

            Oh, your bank account must be really big.

          14. Avi Deitcher

            And the Google investors network for their next startup.

    2. falicon

      I don’t have any inside knowledge of the Heroku situation…but I can say that 99% of the NYC startups I’m involved in/connected to (post hosting selection [see my comment elsewhere in this thread]) seem to be using it…most seem to still love it (though *most* also don’t really understand it or know how to use it).

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Isn’t just NYC. It is a damn good platform, but still missing some crucial areas. EU expansion was invaluable to one of my customers.

        1. falicon

          Yep – my corner of the world, and focus, is NYC so that’s what I base most of my extrapolations on. 🙂

    3. LE

      Most of the time, the founders are happy for anywhere from 3-12 months, and then a challenging parent company culture combined with “purchaser’s arrogance” comes through. I hope they are happy and continue to grow.More or less the gist of my comment as well. You know what happens to newlyweds. Most marriages don’t last as long as Fred’s has but everyone starts out thinking it’s forever and that “this time it’s different”.Firebase said this:””Firebase is here to stay, and it’s only going to get better at Google””To which I say (said) “is that written contractually, specifically in the deal that was made. If so what is the exact wording in the contract?”You know trust but verify and all of that.

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Well, when Fred is done with, I can do for marital advice! :-)The marriage analogy is a good one, except M&A is not “until death do us part.” Thankfully.

  5. falicon

    I liked the general idea of Firebase…though as a dev. I personally didn’t/wouldn’t use it (more for budget and lifetime of an app reasons than tech. reasons)…still it seems like the perfect thing for Google to get their claws into. Will be interesting to see if/what they do with it…

    1. Avi Deitcher

      Yeah, I explored it a few times. I thought the idea was great. If Amazon started by abstracting hardware, then Heroku abstracted out the OS, and Cloudant abstracted out the database, why couldn’t someone abstract out the entire concept of a back-end service? It was weak on user management and authentication (although that was rectified), and there were real concerns about lack of control with such a young company. But being part of Google should help.

      1. falicon

        Heroku is another (insanely popular) wave I intentionally skipped.With great abstraction also comes great responsibility…or something like that… 😀

        1. Avi Deitcher

          I used it for a number of projects (one pro-bono non-profit, several business customers). The sheer amount of effort it reduces is insane.Can we call this the “Uncle Ben Philosophy of SaaS”? 🙂



        1. Richard

          “That said, I’m not happy about this acquisition. And this is probably the last time I’ll be burned like this by a PaaS company. I saved a lot of time by going with Firebase (much more than 100 lines of code) but I’m questioning whether it was worth it. “When I read quotes like this, ine can understand a startup taking pause before jumping on a sass , pass startup.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    2. LE

      though as a dev. I personally didn’t/wouldn’t use itMy gut to the product was “great product – great idea” but then I thought about it a bit and “Danger Will Robinson” popped into my head.Google has killed or ignored products with way more adoption, value and potential which more or less was part of the theme on HN regarding the sale.Plus these things tend to become backwaters of companies like google so it’s hard to see how they will continue to devote resources and the best and brightest to this product. I could be wrong of course but that’s my initial reaction. When the cold winds whip through the team will want to move on to bigger and better opportunities now that they have had their ticket punched and they aren’t hungry anymore.Example: Attached is a screen grab of a google voice to text translation. I can assure you that the voice on the phone is very clear and understandable but the GV rendering is a total CF.Hi, this is of message for Laurence earliest village. If you can call me back the number is [] extension 38531. My name is. I’m coming over for a company called P C and then i a m your active account manager over here And I see that your account has been not good for the price for years, so I wanted to see if there’s anything discouraged that. So if you can call me back. It’s, 171000 extension 38521. Thank you. [1] It was a sales call from PC Mall apparently for “Laurence Earliest Village”

    3. LE

      lifetime of an app reasonsBy the way part of the reason you feel this way is similar to the reason that I feel the same way. If it “hits the fan” you’re the one that’s going to clean up the mess. You won’t have moved on to another “career opportunity”, and you won’t have clueless CSR’s manning the voicemail tree to deflect the rage and anger of your customer base. You aren’t insulated from the problem. You are the shock absorber.

    4. Richard

      Would Disqus be a typical use case for firebase?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Huh? What you say?

      2. falicon

        Only a little I think – in my mind it’s more a fit/intent for things in the evernote category of apps…but I think there are lots of novel ways you *could* use it…



    1. falicon

      I would assume a power tool/plugin for android developers…ie. make it easier to MAKE AWESOME (primarily for Android)



        1. falicon

          The power feature most people I talked to were excited about was the ease that you can sync data from your app across platforms/devices…that’s what I mean by ‘power features for android devs’

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. falicon

            Are they green buttons? If yes, I’m buying…

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    2. Sebastian Wain

      May be AngularFire.



    3. Peter Van Dijck

      Developers developers developers.

      1. JamesHRH

        They are officially Microsoft 2.0. Saw an ad for Google Certifed Search partners ( LOL ) this week.

    4. fredwilson

      I’m not entirely sure but unknown that they need to up their game vs Amazon in cloud svcs for devs



        1. JamesHRH

          Big problem @ GOOG – think they are in businesses that are not search. V funny.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. JamesHRH

            TRU DAT.

          3. Antony Evans

            Based on Peter Thiel’s logic, it’s because they are a monopoly (in search) but try very hard not to appear a monopoly so they can keep raking in the big profits and not get regulated by anti-trust guys. You could think about all the other stuff as a cost for them of doing business, and maybe they can create new billion dollar revenue streams from these investments, maybe not.

          4. JamesHRH

            No maybe about it, it’s not.When deeply intuitive founder hits a generational home run & goes public, the best thing for his ( to date, all men ) investors would be for no new busiensses to be undertaken.Windows + Office = AWESOMEAll other MS businesses = waste of time +$$$ ( even Xbox ).AdWords + PageRank = AWESOMEAll other GOOG businesses = waste of time + $$$I don’t think it is monopoly camouflage, I think it is ego.

          5. Ryan Frew

            Totally disagree. You’re arguing against things of obvious value, like diversification and R&D. MSFT makes an obscene amount of money from products other than Office (Sharepoint, Exchange, SQL, CRM, xBox…I could go on). By your logic, one could suggest that Apple should never have tried to make a music device – that’s not their business. Google might have an ego problem, or maybe a lack of a plan, but hitting a home run and then never undertaking new business is silly. P&G and GE wouldn’t even exist.

          6. JamesHRH

            Not getting point.Founders like Gates / Page / Zuck ( not Jobs, different personality type ) only have one big win in them. It has to do with intuiting opportunity.The businesses need new areas of growth but they also need new CEOs, which never happens b/c founders are young, arrogant and making billions in revenue from their one win.Jobs not Gates, Page or Zuck – important distinction.GE / P&G not MS / GOOG / FB – important distinction.GE / P&G BoDs would have never hired any of them as CEO as they are, by Fortune 100 standards, completely unqualified.

          7. Ryan Frew

            I see where you’re coming from now. Although I would still add a correction to your earlier comment that Google is wasting its time with operations not related to search, as opposed to simply anything other than AdWords and Pagerank. Drive, Gmail, and Maps are pretty huge wins, for example.

          8. JamesHRH

            Last time I checked they were listed as Immaterial in their Annual Report

          9. Dasher

            Google’s Android is a very valuable business. Most popular mobile OS in the world. I wouldn’t exactly call it as waste.

          10. JamesHRH

            android is a search distribution channel. Not a stand alone biz.

      2. Barry Nolan

        Yup. Most of the PaaS folks re moving/acquiring up the stack. e.g. AWS now offers push notifications , analytics, CDN, on top of their PaaS stack. It’s a mini arms race

      3. LE

        Which raises the question was Amazon in the bidding. Was my first thought actually. And was there even a bidding at all. I could think of a few other large companies that might have wanted to throw cash and get this as well.

      4. ShanaC

        Devs selling to devs is always interesting

    5. William Mougayar

      Well….if you’re a startup and looking for a home, Google is a good home to be in.

  7. William Mougayar

    Google has a habit of integrating acquired technologies more often than letting them spread their wings (notable exceptions being YouTube, Nest, Android).This looks like an integration play for Google’s Cloud platform, right?Curious if AWS was also in the acquisition picture.

    1. Avi Deitcher

      AWS has been moving slowly into more of the PaaS space with Elastic Beanstalk. I think this would be too aggressive for them, but never know.

  8. OurielOhayon

    Fred, your quickest exit ever at USV right?

  9. LE

    Firebase has been adopted by over 100,000 developers.I’m curious how many of those accounts were paid accounts.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Let’s just go with 1%…’cause.

    2. Richard

      One could back this number out (with some work (stackoverflow activity and assumptions etc.) My guess 15k.

  10. jason wright

    is part of a restructuring of the usv portfolio?

    1. fredwilson

      Nope. We don’t do that. The entrepreneurs largely decide when it’s time to exit

      1. JamesHRH

        I would love to know that my lead investor occasionally ‘restructures’ – I need my sarcasm font here……

        1. jason wright

          ok, reshuffle.

          1. JamesHRH

            JPW – no, no. That absolutely happens. It’s not the terminology, it’s the lack of interest in founders that’s the issue. Fred’s answer supports you – we don’t do that, where ‘that’ = bail on founders to chase new fund strategy

          2. jason wright


  11. Sam

    Hey Fred, we use Firebase and enjoy the benefits of the service so congratulations on the sale. It is certainly not an easy task attracting Google let alone closing a sale in such a fast moving industry. Have you come across an app or service that acts as a universal payment portal to the many Saas and Paas sites out there. I don’t know if anyone has had the same problem but we recently swapped credit card provider and I had to change billing details on each site individually………hunting down login details and making these changes cost me a few days. I can imagine in a much bigger organisation they would have a veritable nightmare task changing billing details. I am aware paypal exists but it isn’t available with all of our providers…..possibly because they charge very high fees?

  12. Nate Kidwell

    Congrats Fred & USVI always liked Firebase. As a “real” developer I would almost never use a BaaS (backend as a service) provider. But they were the exception in that I actually used them for one app and enjoyed their platform.They provided a great on-boarding experience with compelling real-world tutorials and a nice interface for examining data. I also often recommended them to people with strong backgrounds who were light in the web-server department.Some other things they did right:- Their open data sets (at… ) feature- As a response to the “Static Apps” movement they started to integrate hosting- A clean solution to layering update notifications on top of a database (this is a HARD problem)- Good angular integration, even if I preferred my own code to angularfire (which borked on phonegap when I used it)- Zapier integration as a portal to other apps/ecosystemsNice acquisition for Google. But I really would have liked to see where Firebase went if they continued to follow their vision without as many influences.

    1. Richard

      So the big use case was where N users write data and you need a backend to update the N users in real time?

      1. Nate Kidwell

        Yeah, think of it like a shared “reactive” spreadsheet that is hierarchical (tree rather than grid layout). Does a good job letting parts of an app “subscribe” to branches on the tree of data.Incidentally, prototyping something like Disqus (what you asked about elsewhere) would in my mind be a perfect use case for Firebase. It would store all the comments, handle the user management if needed, and signal when new comments are loaded (if it doesn’t display them immediately).

    2. falicon

      only a tangent, but if you haven’t yet you should check out (great angularJS with cordova integration).

  13. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I remember when Firebase came out, for some reason. And for some weird reason that I can’t recall at the moment, I’ve always associated it with Google… So, when I saw this news, my reaction was, “of course.”Congrats to all involved!

  14. Donna Brewington White

    Off topic. Just noticed that there is no button for previous post. I miss that.For instance, came back to yesterday’s post to respond to a comment, then wanted to read today’s post. Or may want to catch up on missed posts, and read in chronological order.

  15. Guest

  16. pointsnfigures

    Singles and doubles lead to big innings.