All Talk and No Tech: Is Pied Piper the Next Clinkle?

Since Jack “Action Jack” Barker exited the company last week, Pied Piper board member and Ravigamanaging partner Laurie Bream has met with a multitude of CEO candidates, making clear Raviga does not intend to waste their $10 million investment on the floundering startup. From wining and dining Bastian Lehmann at Wingtip to mint mojitos with Stewart Butterfield at Philz, Bream has not been shy about courting thevalley’s top CEOs. This week, her meeting with Dick Costolo at Contraband (with pour-over, of course) puts the respected VC’s list of potential CEOs well into the teens.

Having met this many candidates without closing one, one can’t help wonder why Pied Piper can’t land a man. Could the vaunted tech of founder Richard Hendricks—whom I once called “the next Mark Zuckerberg”—be turning Pied Piper from a unicorn into a donkey wearing a party hat?

Before his departure, Barker brought on a highly-qualified marketing team who hasn’t been able to make any major announcements beyond a new office address. Apparently “Action Jack” didn’t see much action at the Pied Piper offices, nor could he nurture Hendricks’ allegedly visionary technology into anything more than a logo redesign. Barker has a reputation for fighting the good fight, with a proven track record of taking fledgling companies to acquisition dating back to the 90s. When a CEO of his caliber cuts his losses, it calls into question how “visionary” the company’s tech really is. And so, Barker made his first definitive move after tech giant Hooli recently acquired Pied Piper’s competitor Endframe: He left.

Will Pied Piper’s sales and design teams follow Barker’s lead and leave before the company has to concede that the emperor has no clothes? With Hooli’s resources, Endframe’s technology is on track to become the global standard for compression. If Pied Piper expects to take down the tech behemoth, they’ll have to show more than a less phallic version of their old logo. Frankly, I liked the old logo. But perhaps I’m simply nostalgic for when Pied Piper’s tech showed some promise.

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