7 founders who wanted their company back

Oct 11, 2013
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Founded in 1984, the Canadian smartphone company's products were once veritable status symbols. But after failing to keep pace with competition like Apple (aapl), BlackBerry (bbry) saw its market share dwindle drastically. More recently, it reported a $1 billion quarterly loss spurred by lukewarm sales of new devices. This October, co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin announced in a regulatory filing that they were considering making a bid for 92% of the company they don't currently own, either by themselves or with the aide of other interested parties.

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Co-founded in 2001 by Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith, the content discovery service started as a novel idea. "We were trying to be your remote control for the web, the thing that helps you figure out what to look at next," Camp told Fortune last year. In 2007, the two decided to sell their venture to eBay for $75 million. But after user growth slowed and talent became harder to come by, Camp, Smith, and a group of venture capital firms, including Accel Partners and First Round Capital, bought the company back for a reported $29 million.

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Last September, shareholders approved Michael Dell's plans to take Texas-based technology company Dell Inc. (dell) private in a deal worth $25 billion -- a transaction expected to close later this month. Looking forward, Dell has said the company will focus on building end-to-end solutions, which include enterprise servers and storage.

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Barnes & Noble

The once-mighty book retail chain has fallen on hard times in recent years as consumers flocked to Amazon (amzn) for their reading needs, resulting in layoffs and store closures at B&N (bks). Last February, founder Leonard Riggio announced his intention to make a bid for the company's 675 or so physical stores. But Riggio shelved his plans in August after the company reported another disappointing quarter. "While I reserve the right to pursue an offer in the future, I believe it is in the company's best interests to focus on the business at hand," Riggio said at the time.

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Founded by Greg and Lauren Glassman in 2000, CrossFit gained popularity with its unique fitness and strength training and is now practiced in over 6,500 affiliated gyms. Last November, Greg Glassman announced that he owned 100% of Crossfit, using $16.1 million loaned by Summit Partners to buy his ex-wife's stake in the company.

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Launched by Michael Birch and his wife Xochi in 2005, Bebo tried to compete with the likes of Facebook (fb) and MySpace before it sold itself to AOL (aol) in 2008. (Current AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who wasn't with the company then, called the acquisition a mistake and a "major distraction.") This July, Birch revealed on Twitter that he had reportedly bought back Bebo for $1 million with the intent of breathing new life into the social network.

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Best Buy

In June of last year, founder Richard Schulze began exploring a possible buyout bid for the electronics retail chain he founded in 1966, which has struggled as more consumers shop online. Ultimately, such a deal never materialized, and this March, Schulze returned to Best Buy (bby) as chairman emeritus.

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