Last week, Atom Entertainment was acquired by Viacom fro $200m. Atom has become a succesful digital media company after enduring several difficult early years. This is a great story of persistence and determination.
Atom Entertainment began it's life as Atom Films in 1998 up here in Seattle. Originally, the company was focused on creating original short films for the Internet. They signed expensive deals with famous directors like Tim Burton. The company was having a difficult time due to the expenses associated with many of these deals. Around this time, Matt Hulet (currently CEO of mpire and advisor to Pluggd), who was an early employee at Real Networks became the President at Atom Films. Also around this time the company moved down to California and merged with Shockwave, a site distributing animated shorts produced with Flash/Shockwave, to become Atom Shockwave.
Slowly the company found its footing and began to thrive, Matt eventually left to become President of Expedia Corporate Travel, and Mika (founder and current CEO) continued to lead the company forward. Eventually, broadband penetration reached critical mass and consumers began to consume larger amounts of video content online. Then, this one time bust, became a hot company again. My sources tell me that Atom was on path to bring in $30m in revenue this year (not a bad business), before agreeing to Viacom's overtures.
Just goes to show you that as an entreprenuer you have to maintain a belief in your vision. Not every start-up is going to be a YouTube, but over the last 10 years Atom went from hype, to has been, to a great business. It also shows why listening to the "doubters" is something any entreprenuer needs to avoid. It's so easy for people to sit on the sidelines and play Monday morning quarterback. Most of the folks who do this, have never really put themselves out on a limb to start something from scratch on their own.
So congrats to Mika, Matt, and all ther folks at Atom who stuck it out, ignored the skeptics, and make this an inspiring story.