April 4, 2019

Can an indie startup that gets acquired still claim they’re indie?

Vincent @yesnoornext

Hi, I’m the co-founder of Threader (threader.app). One of our competitors was acquired by a US company 7 months ago. They didn’t communicate about it and still pretend to be indie developers. They even kept their Patreon, which is misleading since users might think they’re supporting indies.


  1. 5

    Depends on a lot of stuff. For example, who knows what the terms of their deal was. Acquisitions can take many shapes and sizes, and you never know how much/little support the acquiring company is providing, how many resources they're devoting to keep the project alive and under what conditions, etc.

    1. 1

      The previous owner told us that not communicating about his departure was part of the deal, so I guess it’s an important point for them to keep using the indie label to market their service.

      IMO it’s not about the terms of the deal or how many resources they’re devoting, but rather a question of transparency and ethics.

      People who were here from the beginning or who support them on Patreon clearly think they’re giving money to an indie dev when it’s not the case anymore.

      By the way, it’s worth noting that they’re slowly replacing the “one indie dev” with “3 indie devs” and starting to make disappear the original owner in their communication materials. I don’t see how this is honest to their users.

  2. 4

    Who cares.

    If this is causing you to lose your focus on your customers and product, then turn off the news and let it go.

    Humans beg, borrow, and steal to get to the top and they don't fight fair. That's just a good expectation to always have.

    1. 2

      Yeah, I would kind of suggest a similar thing. Stay true to your values. You can't really stop someone else calling themselves and indie hacker.

      It doesn't sound ethical, but lines can be blurry, and I personally like to think staying ethical yourselves is will what make you win, even if it is just winning your own battle of staying true to yourselves.

      1. 2

        100% agree. It's a tough pill to swallow sometimes to take the high ground. But your users, team, & people around you will always appreciate it.

        And you can feel genuine about the product you are selling, which is huge for morale.

        1. 1

          3x Amen

  3. 2

    I guess that's more a question of who is acquiring it. If it's a small indie business yup, if it's Google nope

    1. 1

      I edited my question to add more context. Since they didn't communicate on this we are not sure.