A Startup’s Years-Old Gift Finally Pays Off for Colorado Nonprofits

The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado has sold its shares in Automattic and used $24,000 from the sale for grants to two Boulder nonprofits, the foundation announced Monday.

The money comes from equity the foundation, known as EFCO, originally held in IntenseDebate, which developed software for online commenting systems. The company was founded in 2006, and it was one of the first to offer advanced features for blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger.

Automattic acquired IntenseDebate for an undisclosed amount in 2008 and incorporated IntenseDebate software into WordPress. Automattic develops tools for online publishers, and its best-known product is WordPress. IntenseDebate is still around and can be used with Tumblr, Typepad, and Blogger.

IntenseDebateEFCO is a nonprofit established in 2007 by local startups and entrepreneurs who wanted to contribute to local causes but did not want to solicit, manage, and award grants themselves. EFCO encourages companies to donate small amounts of equity instead of cash. If the startup has an exit, EFCO will distribute the cash to nonprofits.

That’s just what it did with equity from IntenseDebate, selling the shares this summer to an undisclosed buyer.

“This is really gratifying for all who worked at the company,” said IntenseDebate co-founder and former CEO Tom Keller in a release. “The entire IntenseDebate founding team knew early on that we benefited from being part of a vibrant community, and that we wanted to contribute back to the community. Hence we committed a portion of our equity to local charities within the community in which we lived and worked. EFCO provided the framework to make it easy to do.”

IntenseDebate donated founding equity to EFCO in 2008, and Keller is a former trustee. The startup had a brief but successful time in Boulder. It was a member of the first Techstars class, back in 2007, and was one of the startup accelerator’s first exits. David Cohen was an angel investor.

EFCO’s supporters include some of Colorado’s best-known entrepreneurs and investors. Rally Software, the Foundry Group, and Techstars are founding members, and EFCO held an undisclosed number of shares in Rally when it had an IPO in April.

Blue Sky Bridge and Chinook Clubhouse received the grants. Blue Sky Bridge works with children who are victims of child abuse and their non-offending family members. Chinook Clubhouse provides services for mentally ill adults. They were selected by the founders of IntenseDebate, according to the release.

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