Danger CEO sure he picked the right horse

In an interview, Hank Nothhaft says Microsoft--and not life as an independent public company--was the best option for Danger. Nothhaft says he'll stay on through the deal's close, but is headed to greener pastures once Microsoft's done integrating Danger.

Hank Nothhaft has pretty much the same approach as a CEO that he does as a thoroughbred owner--try to guide the race horse to the winner's circle.

Nothhaft, who has been running Danger since 2002, has known for some time that the company needed more resources to fulfill its potential.

For months, the company has been talking to Microsoft about strategic possibilities. At the same time, Danger had also filed an initial public offering to stay independent and raise money.

Ultimately, though, Nothhaft decided that the company really needed to be part of a bigger stable. Hence, Monday's announcement that Danger is being sold to Microsoft.

Even if it had raised a bunch of money through a stock deal--and market conditions are pretty tough right now--Danger still would have been limited by investor expectations in how much it could invest in research.

Microsoft, meanwhile, can afford to invest as much in the market as the business justifies, particularly given the company's desire to do better in the consumer market.

The talks started last summer, Nothhaft said, even before Danger went forward with its IPO plans. The deal was code-named Party of Two, the name of one of Nothhaft's horses. He wouldn't say if other companies entered the picture, but he did say he owns 10 other horses.

An IPO might have been tough, although Nothhaft said that route remained open. "Market conditions will improve and I'm sure we could have executed an IPO at some point in the near future."

But, in the end, he said, Microsoft was the best fit for Danger, if not for himself.

Nothhaft said he plans to stay on through the deal's close and a short while longer "to make sure everything gels," but he won't be staying at Microsoft. Nothhaft said he hasn't decided what he's doing next, but said he doesn't plan on retiring.

"There's too much going on in the mobile Internet and it's too exciting," he said.

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