Steve Ressler will leave government to oversee the social networking site he founded in 2008 that has grown to nearly 19,000 members.
GovLoop, the social networking site known as "Facebook to the Feds," has agreed to be acquired by GovDelivery, which provides e-mail and communications services to state, local and federal agencies.
Founded in May 2008 by Steve Ressler, a former information technology program manager at the Homeland Security Department, GovLoop has grown to become the leading social networking site devoted exclusively to government employees of all levels. The site has more than 18,700 members who post profiles, share information about their jobs, discuss best practices and ask questions.
"What we saw with GovLoop is that Steve has created a space where the conversations are truly about collaboration, " said Scott Burns, chief executive officer and co-founder of GovDelivery. "It's truly about making government better. With GovDelivery's resources and expertise, GovLoop's growth will continue to accelerate and help spur social media adoption in government."
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Ressler said GovLoop will become a separate operating division at GovDelivery, and he will join the company as president of that division. With the additional resources available through the merger, Ressler plans to hire staff to expand what has been to date a one-man operation.
A third-generation federal employee, Ressler started GovLoop as a side project, but said the time and resource demands soon took up the majority of his free time. "I was working at my 9-to-5 [job] and this became my 5 to 9," he said. "I was working on GovLoop during night and weekends. . . . It was unsustainable."
Burns said Ressler is "the ultimate committed community manager. Letting Steve take GovLoop forward is absolutely part of the formula. We wouldn't want GovLoop without Steve Ressler."
Ressler said he has been discussing the merger with GovDelivery for months, shortly after he first met Burns in March at a government social networking conference called Government 2.0 Camp. Looking for ideas of how to expand GovLoop's reach, Ressler soon realized that he and Burns shared many of the same goals. GovDelivery specializes in providing e-mail alerts and other government-to-citizen communication tools.
Ressler said he had offers from other companies, but GovDelivery's smaller size and the fact the two founders share friendly Midwestern values and a similar vision for where to take GovLoop convinced him to sell to GovDelivery.
"I'm jazzed to do it full time," Ressler said. "We can help promote best practices, sharing success stories and continue helping GovLoop become the place where Government 2.0 issues get solved."
Burns said he will consider the acquisition a success if GovLoop continues to grow and provide feds, state and local government officials with a place to discuss the common issues they face. "The most powerful thing that can be done on GovLoop is to increase membership and nurture the community so important questions come to the top," he said. "For me it would be a success if it was more of the same, more people connecting and collaborating. More of the same sounds boring, but I hope it's 10 times more."