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AngelList Just Acquired Product Hunt For Its Community, Not Its Profits

AngelList's CEO doesn’t expect Product Hunt to monetize. Instead, he wants it to drive traffic and transactions on his site.

Last updated on December 1, 2016, at 4:13 p.m. ET

Posted on December 1, 2016, at 11:01 a.m. ET

AngelList Founder and CEO Naval Ravikant
Steve Jennings / Getty Images

AngelList Founder and CEO Naval Ravikant

AngelList, a site for startup founders to woo investors and recruit employees, has acquired Product Hunt, a forum for showcasing and discussing new tech products, for an undisclosed sum.

Recode reports that Angelist paid $20 million for the site, the same valuation Product Hunt received in 2014.

Naval Ravikant, CEO of AngelList, who previously invested in Product Hunt, said acquiring the company is the last piece of the puzzle for AngelList to fully serve startup founders.

“If you go to a VC and you pitch them successfully, traditionally they’ll write you a check, help you hire that critical early team, and help you find marquee customers,” he said. “We’ve done well with the first two, and Product Hunt is the place for those passionate early adopters.”

Ravikant says that 24,000 companies are actively recruiting on AngelList and that 325,000 candidates have found jobs since the site launched its recruiting service in 2012. He also said that startups have raised $500 million in venture capital through the site since 2013, when the fundraising portal launched. He declined to share revenue data for his company.

Product Hunt has made “negligible revenue” in its three-year lifespan. CEO Ryan Hoover said, the company hasn’t focused on making money. He says that 50,000 companies and independent creators showcase their products on Product Hunt.

The Product Hunt team will become a division of AngelList, and the day-to-day operations of both companies are unlikely to change, according to their founders. Hoover’s title will be General Manager of Product Hunt.

To both Ravikant and Hoover, Product Hunt’s most important asset is its community, and that’s what Ravikant acquired the company for.

“AngelList doesn’t have people who are on the site every day talking about products and startups when they’re not looking for a job,” he said. “Ryan and his team know how to build, maintain, and engage a high quality community, and that community is very seductive.”

Ravikant doesn’t expect Product Hunt to monetize. Instead, he aims for it to drive traffic and transactions on AngelList.

“Product Hunt doesn’t have to do a lot to pay for itself.” he said. “AngelList has managed to monetize a small community around high value transactions, and if Product Hunt drives just a few of those transactions per month, that would be enough.”

The two sites will integrate in small ways in the short term, according to the founders. Hoover said open job positions on AngelList may appear on a company’s Product Hunt page. Investors often have widely read profiles on Product Hunt, so if they use AngelList to fund companies, they may publicize those investments on Product Hunt as well. Success on Product Hunt also helps growing startups gain credit with venture capitalists in some cases.

Both AngelList and Product Hunt cater to an unabashedly insular Silicon Valley set, and that’s unlikely to change, according to both founders.

“The tech echo chamber will stay a part of both companies, but now we’ll be talking globally,” Ravikant said. He hopes to expand the reach of Product Hunt and AngelList to tech sectors around the world.

“I don’t see the community changing in the short term,” Hoover said. “The goal is to keep continuity.”

Both companies began as email lists; AngelList in 2010, Product Hunt in 2013. Their brand voices, however, are vastly different.

“Ryan thinks everything is great, whereas I’m a skeptical investor,” Ravikant said. “The AngelList Twitter is very serious, whereas Product Hunt is energetic and enthusiastic. Those will remain separate identities.”

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