By Andrea Siedsma, Fresh Brewed Tech contributing writer
(Cover photo courtesy of UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering)
I first met the Urchin Software Corp. crew in 2000 at their digs in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, where they occupied a 1900s-era furniture warehouse. These then 20-something web analytics pioneers were on to something, but they just didn’t realize how big – yet.
Urchin, which originally operated under the company name Quantified Systems, Inc., was designed to help companies better understand their users’ experiences and track the performance of advertisements and other aspects of website visits. Early customers included Honda Motor Co., MindSpring (remember them?), EarthLink, Verio, Rackspace, the U.S. Defense Department, and local heavyweights Sharp Healthcare and Solar Turbines.
In April 2005, Urchin was acquired by Google and relaunched as Google Analytics. It quickly became the world’s most widely used web analytics service, and it remains so today.
While the Google acquisition was not disclosed, Urchin cofounder Scott Crosby says, “Our earliest investors made a return on the order of 100x, and our average investor made about 30x.”
Here’s a look at Urchin’s exec team and what they’re up to today.
Company/Product: Urchin Software Corp./Google Analytics
Founded: In December 1995, originally as a web hosting and design firm.
Key Players: Scott Crosby, Brett Crosby, Paul Muret, Jack Ancone
Where Are They Now?
Scott Crosby: Scott, founder, president and VP of Sales for Urchin, became Sr. Program Manager for Google Analytics and then served for two years as COO of Euclid Analytics, a venture-backed “real world” analytics company. In 2011, he was named Bay Area Bicycle Commuter of the Year, “My proudest achievement,” he says. Today, Scott lives with his wife and four young children in Pacific Beach, where he invests in startups and manages apartments he picked up over the years. Scott says he invests in anything by Climate.com founder David Friedberg, and anything started by his brother Brett, and has put money into a grab-bag of San Francisco-area startups, and at least one San Diego company, HipTraveler.
Brett Crosby: Brett, co-founder, VP of Marketing and Board of Directors member for Urchin, launched several products at Google, including Google Analytics, Google+, Google Mobile Ads, Google Local Ads, and Google Drive. He was also Director of Product Marketing, responsible for the global growth of Chrome, Gmail, Docs and Drive. In 2014, he left Google to co-found Manhattan Beach-based PeerStreet, an award-winning platform for investing in real estate backed loans. The company, which raised $30 million in a Series B funding round earlier this year from VCs such as Andreessen Horowitz, has funded over $1 billion in loans through its platform.
Brett splits his time between L.A. and San Diego (Del Mar) with his wife and two daughters. He sits on several advisory boards, invests in startups, and is a director on the board of Dunami, Inc., a real-time data analysis software company. Brett speaks frequently on a variety of topics at his alma mater, USC.
Paul Muret: Paul, co-founder and former CEO of Urchin, is currently VP of Product and Engineering at Google. Until very recently, he led Google’s Display, Video, and App Ads and Analytics businesses, which includes a wide range of products, such as Google Display Network, YouTube Ads, and Ads in Play, as well as measurement products including Google Marketing Platform, Google Analytics, Attribution, and Brand Lift. Recently, after 13 years in the Ads organization, Paul moved over to Google’s Research and Applied Science organization and is looking into healthcare and biomedical research. He lives in Los Altos with his wife and three children, but spends as much time as he can at their beach house in Encinitas. Paul was recently invited to join the Council of Advisors for his alma mater, the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
Jack Ancone: Jack, Urchin’s co-founder and VP of Product Management, became Senior Director of New Business Development at Google. After the Google Analytics launch, he built and led a global team of entrepreneurs, attorneys, engineers and product managers focused on emerging strategic initiatives and incubation (Chrome, Drive, Fiber, Wallet, etc.), intellectual property, and investment in innovation through cross functional engagements with corporate development for Google Ventures, Google X, etc… Since leaving Google in 2012, Jack has helped build, finance and/or grow numerous data and machine learning focused companies across the cybersecurity, IOT/embedded systems, healthcare and finance verticals, including Cylance, CypherFrame, Mitro (acquired by Twitter) and San Diego-based Xifin (acquired by GTCR). He lives in Newport Beach with his wife and two daughters.
“The Ballast Point tasting room (on India Street) is now located directly across the street from our old office; suffice to say we would have never achieved anything had they been there in the late 1990s.” – Scott Crosby
- The cute, blue interactive Urchin logo originated from a cocktail doodle drawn by Scott. The team iterated on it and even created an “Urchin-a-day” where the logo changed each day to keep people interested.
- Paul, a mathematical prodigy, used to write space-physics software for NASA. He leveraged that experience when writing Urchin’s original core code, which gave the software a dramatic speed advantage over competing products of the time.
- WebSideStory, a public web analytics company at the time (also based in San Diego), offered to buy Urchin for more money. “But I think we made the right choice,” Scott said.
- The Google deal went through on Brett’s wedding day. “I was in my tuxedo, literally just about to walk down the aisle when I signed the contract,” he said in this article. “It was a momentous day and made for an incredible celebration.”
You can read more about team Urchin and 2005-ish Google culture in this entertaining background story. Check out Urchin’s tech mafia photo shoot here.
Photos of the team
The former Urchin crew at their Little Italy, San Diego digs. L to R: Scott Crosby, Jack Ancone, Brett Crosby, Paul Muret. This photo originally ran in a Fortune magazine article by Suzanne Koudsi.
Urchin 10-year reunion at Google in 2015 L to R: Scott Crosby, Paul Muret, Brett Crosby
“We always had stickers, because we were juvenile and liked sticking them on competitors’ booths and airplanes. Surfer Urchin is the rarest of the lot. Shepard Fairey designed a few bits of schwag in exchange for hosting obeygiant.com.” ~ Scott Crosby
Riding the wave of success: Brett Crosby setting up for a barrel at Cloudbreak in March 2018. Photo: Mark Thompson, Stork Photos.
Nice story Andrea. I remember when it was Urchin, and how important their product was. Nice to see that all the principles are enjoying life to the fullest.