Chapter 14

It’s Not Spam on the Phone

“i knew almost nothing about mobile at the time,” Tom Virgin remembers. “My first question was, ‘Is this a company that is going to spam everyone on their phone?’ Of course, it’s not—it’s all permission-based. I had coffee with Ivan [Braiker]—he interviewed me for five minutes, and then we talked for another hour.” By the day’s end, Virgin had met with Hipcricket’s board chairman.

“It was an indication that they were serious about getting things done and I liked that,” Virgin says. “When I joined, I knew they had enough money on the balance sheet to run it for a while. They were working on this IPO [initial public offering]. I figured if nothing else, it would be fun for six months. If there was more to it than that, that was fine.”

It turned out to be much more.

“It was casual,” Virgin says of his earliest days with Hipcricket. “People were driven to be successful. I felt like people were very passionate about it. We had a mixed bag of people who you could tell were going to be successful and other people who were there and wouldn’t stay for too long. I had confidence in the people leading the company.”

By fall, Hipcricket was listed on AIM, the London Stock Exchange’s international market for smaller growing companies. A wide range of businesses, including early-stage, venture capital–backed, and more established companies, join AIM seeking access to growth capital.

With an infusion of money, Hipcricket sought to quickly grow market share. ...

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