I got to talk with Rich Skrenta and some of the folks at Topix.net when I was at MS working on Newsbot. In our brief conversations, I was so impressed with the quality of these folks and their desire to build a great product. Part of what they were doing, getting away from a big company and heading out on their own, encouraged me to head out of Redmond and into the basement.
Today, some news heavyweights are investing in what the Topix team have built, and while some might spin it as something else (for example, what is up with people calling it an acquisition and not an investment), I see it as a great success for the Topix team and a validation of what they've built. They came out with an original product and an innovative approach, racked up some great partnerships, and closed the sort of investments that will let that scrappy team do what they set out to do. Rich has some great stories to share about what can happen to you when you get swallowed into a big company, but I'm interested to read the next chapter on how to work with big partners, but make big things happen with a small team.
There have been some big investments and acquisitions over the last few months, in teams and technologies building useful applications and services. It will be interesting to watch which approaches panned out for the most potent product development.
Congrats to the Topix team! You are an inspiration and I can't wait to see what is yet to come . . .