Acquisitions · Ip

How do I find the IP (actual code) and acquire it for a startup that has gone bust?

Gopi Mattel Director, Chennai Area at The Founder Institute

January 22nd, 2016

Startup was funded and it has been out of business for a couple of years.
I have the domain name and can find the employees involved. But i am interested in the applications, infrastructure, customer lists, etc that that startup contained.
Who legally owns it? Who will continue to have access to it? Where will it be stored? Are there experts in this field that facilitates it?
If it was funded, does it go through bankruptcy process. Or do the funders keep it around and not close out the firm?
Can it be a DIY where i go to the relevant bankruptcy court and get it myself? If it is with a VC how likely are they to turn it over?

Damion Hänkejh Chief Strategy Officer, Director at BOHH Labs

January 22nd, 2016

I routinely acquire IP of this nature, including patents and code. The circumstances vary widely, especially with code. VCs will not usually have anything on hand. Your best bet is to get in touch with the CTO or VP of Engineering. Going to a lawyer first will likely land you in the weeds. Keep in mind that you'll likely have to cut some sort of deal -- don't expect it to be free. You may end up having to offer an incentive in the form of equity, cash or both.

Anonymous

January 22nd, 2016

Damion has your answer. The details of IP assignment after the entity dissolution is not a matter of public record.  You need to get a lawyer to get in touch with the old company's directors or agent of service and they should be able to direct you to the right people.

Gopi Mattel Director, Chennai Area at The Founder Institute

January 22nd, 2016

This seems like a great opportunity. There are literally billions of dollars worth of investment lying around as 9 out of 10 startups don't make it. Patents, Design, Code, Websites, Domains, Customer lists, etc.  I would love to see a marketplace for this. Is there anyone out there creating one?

Rick Stratton Great States Software / Feed.Us / MKEcribs

January 22nd, 2016

It is an interesting idea. There's Flippa, I'm sure that people use that for similar sales.

I bought the software assets of a failed dotcom from a VC back in 2001. They approached us and ended up being a great investment for us.

Val Hornstein Attorney at Hornstein Law

January 22nd, 2016

Gopi, Feel free to call me. Thx., VAL H. 415-454-1490

Damion Hänkejh Chief Strategy Officer, Director at BOHH Labs

January 22nd, 2016

@Gopi yes -- in fact this is the primary business model of my firm, ingk.com -- we are partnered with various VCs and repurpose their dormant assets into new or existing enterprises. 

We're testing a marketplace and plan to debut it later this year.

Some leisure reading from our initial endeavour in rescuing dormant IP can be found here: http://ingk.com/news/2011/12/22/venturebeat-ingk-labs-rescues-technology-behind-swapthing-to-build-the-next-ebay-exclusive/

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

January 22nd, 2016

I think your best bet is to try to get access to the IP as *soon* as it becomes available.

To that end, note that most venture-funded companies go through a state level shut-down process called ABC (Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors). It's a cheaper, friendlier way to shut down a company than going through a federal bankruptcy process.

There are a handful of larger firms that do a ton of work in this space and their responsibility is to maximize value of the company's assets to satisfy creditors and investors. I *assume* they've got a list of people who are generally interested in purchasing certain asset types and they blast out to this list for every new engagement. Get on those lists. Also talk to them about the idea... certainly they'll have a good perspective on this - whether a marketplace model would work or perhaps a more tightly-controlled model that syndicates to a private community of investors.

Start with with these guys:http://www.shrwood.com.

Gopi Mattel Director, Chennai Area at The Founder Institute

January 22nd, 2016

Great Stuff.  @damion Kudos on creating a company and creating value out of these assets. Add me to your list to keep me updated. I mentor a number of startups and we may be in the market for this.

Rick Stratton Great States Software / Feed.Us / MKEcribs

January 22nd, 2016

I would start with the government agency that it was incorportated with. For example, in the USA each state has a registration service for Corps and partnerships. Usually, these have a search -  even for companies that have gone out of business - that would identify at least one officer or a lawyer involved with the entity.