Thursday, April 14, 2011

Four Years of Awesomeness

It's hard for me to imagine being a more fortunate entrepreneur.

In the mid 90's, I had the good fortune of running into the idea of creating the very first “Yeardisc” - a sort of “Pre-broadband Internet Facebook on CD-ROM”, an end of year compilation of multimedia student profiles, and galleries for high-school students. While the project was not ever a massive commercial success, it did however spawn a series of very fortunate events. One of which led me to launch my first of four Internet companies prior to Kontagent. Another, was the opportunity to have worked on the Yeardisc project in high school, alongside Jeff Tseng, the person that would eventually end-up becoming my brilliant co-founder at Kontagent, over a dozen years later.

Flash forward to early 2007 - my last day, at my last company, BubbleShare (a photo sharing service that I started and sold just prior to co-founding Kontagent), the first person I called in search of my next adventure was none other than my high school partner in crime, Jeff.

Since then, Kontagent - though many twist, turns and pivots, as well as surviving one of the worst economic downturns in history, has evolved into the leading social games and application analytics platform. Rocketing to over a hundred million users tracked each month, along with snowballing revenues that is growing faster than ever before -- establishing itself as an industry standard and
leader of our software category. Most importantly, along the way, we had the opportunity to attract some of the most talented, hardworking and committed people that has catapulted the company to where it is today.

Currently, the company stands stronger than ever. With a strong cash position, fast growing revenues, expanding addressable market, committed institutional investors, supportive angel investors, along with continuous interest from outside financial and strategic partners, Kontagent is riding on a massive wave of momentum. The incredibly talented executive and supporting team assembled at Kontagent, is well equipped and positioned to continue to lead its category and expand into lucrative new opportunities.

Jeff, and more recently, Josh -- have worked tirelessly as visionary product, technology and business leaders. They are two of the smartest, most thoughtful minds I've encountered. Fredric, Chris and Lih, the three founding, and amazingly persistent and effective engineers of the company, along with their team, have built an incredible technology foundation over the past four years. Mitch, along with the sales team and Aaron have been pulling off miracles in unison to multiply revenues, and creating great market awareness with little resources. Andy and Jimmy, and the rest of the support team have helped us efficiently operate the company infrastructure and deliver customer support. Last but not least, our amazing investors, board members, angels, and advisors -- our angel investors have been amazing, and Eric and Anthony from Maverick and Altos I have been able to count on as great supports and friends from the start, in addition our two seed stage investors Naval Ravikant/HitForge and Amar & Sunny from Extreme Venture Partners and strongly recommend any entrepreneur to speak with them if you are looking for capital. Furthermore, our big list of angel investors have also been amazingly helpful these past few years, and I have been blessed with their guidance and support! There have been countless others that have contributed to building Kontagent to what it is to-date, and I wish to also thank you all for your contributions. We have an incredible team, and I have no doubt there will be a great deal of successes to come.

Upon reflection of the four years since the dawn of this adventure, I have come to learn a great deal from our talented team, and from building our product; moreover -- I learned a great deal about myself.

Kontagent has been the most successful company I have had the opportunity to contribute to launching. It also happens to be the longest I have ever been a part of any single company. I cherish every moment spent with Kontagent - even when I served as head of sales, marketing, biz dev, PR, and janitorial services, in the same 20+ hour work days, especially during our earlier years. It gives me great pride to have been one of its founding members, and I feel privileged to have been a part of this spectacular group.

This being said, I also realize that it is time to move on.

More recently, I developed an increasingly strong desire to take an extended break to recharge, while paradoxically, progressively yearning to start something else...So as to get back into an earlier stage, more business-to-consumer and product-centered type role and environment; an area that represents most of my previous start-up efforts and success -- as well as an area where I believe I can add the most value and have the biggest impact.

Perhaps starting Kontagent back-to-back from BubbleShare without an extended break, has taken a bit of a toll on me as well. This combined continuous period of time equated to seven plus intense years of non-stop “start-upping.” Prior to those seven years, I had been involved in launching three other startups, over another seven plus year period, with an equal amount of intensity, and nonexistent downtime in between.

There has been much accomplished, and still much to do in order to realize Kontagent’s full potential. With Kontagent in highly capable hands, a strong financial foundation, and great momentum, there is no doubt in my mind that Kontagent will be successful and the team in place will take it to the next level and more.

While I will not be present to assist day to day, I am available and will be accessible for assistance and advice moving forward. Additionally, I will be serving on the board. Generally speaking, I will assist in whatever way I can, outside of my new adventures.

So what is next for me personally? While I have a substantial number exciting challenges on my mind for my next venture, the most immediate plans on my horizon is some over-due personal travel plans, with the goal of enabling me to recharge my body, refresh my perspective, and gain a more global view of technology. Ultimately restarting the addiction that is the drug of every serial-entrepreneur / startup-pirate: to once again attempt to redefine what is possible in the present, so as to reinvent the future.

Here's hoping the next four years will be even half as fun and awesome as the last four years!

Yours till' the ink blots, the chocolate chips, or the plane taxis,
Albert Lai
Start-Up Pirate :)

In case you haven't heard from me on my twitter or facebook feed, Kontagent is Hiring! :)


  1. Albert, congratulations on achieving such strength at Kontagent that you can stop day-to-day involvement and still be confident in its continued success. I look forward to hearing about your future startups -- after you've had a sizeable break!

  2. Great job and thoughtful post - looking forward to seeing you soon in various corners of the world!

  3. Congrats Albert!

    A well deserved break will bring plenty of new opportunity for you and Kontagent.

    If you travels have you out in Edmonton, be sure to look me up. Happy to take you for a celebratory dinner!

  4. Albert, congrats on the successes of Kontagent thus far and enjoy your much-deserved downtime -- it takes crazy passion and endurance to "start up" for even just one year let alone seven!

  5. Dude, you're a machine. I just hope that your extended vacation lasts more than a week.

  6. Kudos Albert. Look forward to seeing what's next.