Oct 03, 2018

Mouser Acquires Crowd Supply

by lifton

I’m pleased to announce Crowd Supply has been acquired by Mouser Electronics. After more than five years in business, I view this acquisition as a great step forward in our ever-evolving quest to bring original, useful, respectful hardware to life.

After pouring years of effort into Crowd Supply, we are all very proud of what we’ve built, so we took the decision to join Mouser very seriously. At the time of acquisition, our business was doing the best it ever had and we had many options for the future. After careful consideration, we decided joining Mouser was our best option, and one that will mean we can continue to be proud of our work and of the effect Crowd Supply has on the world.

Why did Mouser buy Crowd Supply?

Mouser is a natural partner for Crowd Supply. In fact, Mouser has been carrying Crowd Supply products since well before this acquisition. Mouser’s dedication to providing the widest variety of top-notch electronic components complements Crowd Supply’s dedication to helping our project creators bring to market the most innovative technologies, often using those same components.

Ultimately, this acquisition was a mutual decision. On one hand, Mouser recognized the value Crowd Supply brings to the electronics industry and our potential for future growth. On the other hand, Crowd Supply recognized Mouser as a fantastic partner and steward to help us realize our full potential.

What’s changing and what’s staying the same?

Here’s a list, by no means exhaustive, of things that are staying the same:

  • Employees: Everyone employed before the acquisition is staying on in the same position (though my title has changed from CEO to President).
  • Name: The company name and branding will remain unchanged. We're still Crowd Supply.
  • Location: Crowd Supply will remain in Portland, Oregon, the city in which it was founded.
  • Open Source Hardware: Crowd Supply will continue to promote open source hardware and the open source community in the same pragmatic way we always have.
  • Advertising: We've never served ads on our website and we don't intend to change that.
  • Creator Freedom: Our project creators will continue to have complete control over how they pursue their projects. Our primary criterion is that they deliver amazing goods to delighted backers. How they do this is entirely up to them, as long as they have a good plan for pulling it off.
  • Distributors: Once a project creator brings a new product to life, we want to see that product spread far and wide. We do this by selling directly through Crowd Supply, as well as selling through any other distributor who's interested. Certainly, this will often include Mouser, but we won't exclude any other distributor either.

And here’s a list, again by no means exhaustive, of things that are changing:

  • Hiring: There's so much we want to do and we can't do it alone, so we're hiring more great people. Stay tuned for job postings.
  • Shipping: Mouser's warehouse is one of the most amazing feats of automation I've ever seen. They know a thing or two about shipping packages around the world and we're working hard to bring those benefits to our project creators and backers in the near future.
  • Supply Chain: Our project creators often turn to us for advice on how to build out their supply chains. As part of Mouser, we'll be able to do this better than ever before.

While there’s no way to enumerate all the things that will stay the same or all the things that will change, there is a simple framework that can help predict how any given thing might change or not. This framework relies on understanding why Mouser bought us and how Mouser operates.

First, as previously explained, Mouser’s interest in Crowd Supply lies in our potential for growth, as backed up by our track record so far. This is very different than, say, buying a company for its current revenue, intellectual property, capital assets, or employees. Though those can all be fine reasons to buy (and sell) a company, they often lead to very different outcomes in terms of how the company changes post-acquisition. In contrast, buying a company for its potential growth sets the expectation that we’ll continue doing what’s worked so far and fix what hasn’t.

Second, Mouser Electronics is a company that is fully owned by TTI, an even larger electronic component distributor, which is in turn owned by Berkshire Hathaway, a publicly traded holding company led by Warren Buffet. Berkshire Hathaway owns hundreds of companies, but itself only has a few dozen employees. This is by design - the idea is to take stakes in or purchase companies with solid business models and let them run essentially autonomously.

All this is to say, and as evidenced by the above lists, Crowd Supply will be operating just as it always has, but now with more resources and support where needed. There will be some new and improved features and some new people to help make those happen, but our mission and mode of operation remain the same.

Who is Mouser?

My new boss is Glenn Smith, the CEO and President of Mouser Electronics. While still in college in 1973, Glenn started working part-time shipping packages from Mouser’s warehouse as one of 12 employees. By 1985, he was the general manager responsible for day-to-day operations and was promoted to President in 1988. Over his 45-year career at Mouser, he’s led its transformation from a mom-and-pop catalog into a company that does over $1B in sales annually.

If I didn’t like and respect Glenn, this acquisition never would have happened; I greatly value my day-to-day working relationships and I’m lucky enough to have the flexibility that I don’t have to settle for less in that department. Our first meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes but lasted six hours. From that meeting on, I’ve always found him to be patient, passionate about his work, quick on his feet, and dedicated to his team. As I’m quickly learning, the team he’s built up around him is cut largely from the same cloth. I bring this up because I think understanding the people behind Crowd Supply is crucial to understanding how the acquisition will shape Crowd Supply’s future. In that regard, I’m very optimistic about that future and I can’t wait to share with you what it brings.

Josh Lifton
Co-founder & President
Crowd Supply

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