Sysomos: Life in the Eye of the Hurricane

As many people probably know, Sysomos, which provides social media monitoring and analytics services, was acquired earlier this week by Marketwire. I’ve been actively involved with Sysomos for the past 18 months as its director of communications.

To say the least, it has been a fascinating experience to see the company evolve from a two-person operation out of the University of Toronto into a fast-growing market leader with customers around the world. In many respects, it’s been like living in the eye of the hurricane in which everything happens so fast – new customers, new products, a new office, new employees and more recognition as an innovative player.

Sysomos is the fourth start-up in which I have worked. The other three – Blanketware, PlanetEye and b5media – were nowhere near as successful but they were tremendous learning experiences.

That said, I’ve always been curious about what it would be like to work for a start-up that had the exactly the right product at the right time at the right place. Sysomos was – and is – that kind of company.

After spending three years developing the technology, Nick Koudas and Nilesh Bansal officially launched Sysomos in late-2008. Over the next few months, Sysomos started attracting interest in its flagship MAP analytics service, and, as important, customers. Sysomos then launched Heartbeat, which quickly gained major traction in the social media monitoring market.

Looking back, what was probably most impressive about Sysomos’ early days was the conviction that its service had real value and customers should pay for it. This was impressive in a world in which free reigns supreme, even for services that offer plenty of utility.

Not to take anything away from Sysomos’ leading-edge technology or the people who have fuelled its growth but, in many respects, it was a beneficiary of great timing. The social media monitoring and analytics market started to gain serious traction in 2009 as more companies recognized social media was becoming a viable and attractive communications, marketing and sales vehicle.

Sysomos was there with impressive technology that met real needs in a way that differentiated itself in an ultra- competitive market. While I’m clearly biased, I truly believe Sysomos’ technology and services are the best, and I have looked at a lot of social media monitoring services.

With Sysomos now part of the Marketwire family, I expect its growth will become even stronger. It’s really hard to believe how far one of Canada’s hottest start-ups has come in the past 18 months.

That said, Sysomos’ success really comes as no surprise. When Nick Koudos showed me MAP for the first time in his office in January 2009, it was immediately obvious it was something different from anything I had seen before.

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  • Mark MacLeod

    Timing is a big factor in every exit

  • Michael Nowlan

    Hi Mark
    As President and CEO of Marketwire, I share many of your above perspectives on Sysomos; the company does have great people and great technology. At Marketwire we pride ourselves on our application of intelligent innovation in anticipation of client needs. With the rapidly evolving communication environment, the Sysomos technology is perfectly timed to meet client needs as part of our integrated communication solution. I look forward to particiapting in the continued success of the Sysomos team and technology.

  • 40deuce

    Couldn’t agree more Mark, the timing was just right, but more than that, it just makes sense that companies like ours and Marketwire would work together.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if more similar mergers or acquisitions take place with other companies, but I’m glad to be part of the one leading the way.

    - Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  • Dave Coleman

    I agree with Mark MacLeod … no matter what startup you are running, no matter how good or how bad it is, everything is based on timing. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but if the market isn’t ready for it, you dont stand a chance. Great cases are the old @home guys or pretty much all of Josh Harris’s startups.

    Congrats to the Sysomos guys, however I am not sure if I LOVE this line in your post Mark:

    Sysomos is the fourth start-up in which I have worked. The other three – Blanketware, PlanetEye and b5media – were nowhere near as successful but they were, nevertheless, tremendous learning experiences.

    Good luck to everyone moving forward

    • Mark Evans

      Not sure what’s not to like about that line. The reality is most start-ups are unsuccessful, which is why being part of Sysomos is so interesting and exciting.


      • Stephen Rouse

        @Dave Coleman, Mark’s right, in fact as start ups go, most VCs would kill for a 25% success rate. Sysomos is a great product, and the timing certainly was right for our agency, as it’s enabled us to build out an important new range of consulting services. Hope it was a good exit.

        • Dave Coleman

          I agree Stephen and a 25% success ratio is phenomenal. All I am saying is that it is not necessary to name the start-ups as they are still around in most cases and this should be a supportive community. The sentence would have read better as:

          “Sysomos is the fourth start-up in which I have worked. The others weren’t as successful but were tremendous learning experiences.”

          No harm, no foul.

          Once again a huge congrats to Sysomos and Mark you know I love you, just playing the devils advocate