Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Idea that grew like Wildfire

Victoria Ransom's journey from start-up company to multi million-dollar sale to Google took only four years. Photo / Supplied
Victoria Ransom's journey from start-up company to multi million-dollar sale to Google took only four years. Photo / Supplied

If Victoria Ransom had listened to her father, it's unlikely she would have founded a Silicon Valley software company thought to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tech giant Google announced this week it had bought Ransom's company Wildfire - a start-up that helps companies promote themselves on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter - in a deal reported to be worth US$250 million ($309 million).

Born and raised in Scotts Ferry near Bulls, Victoria Ransom started Wildfire in 2008 with her partner, former professional snowboarder Alain Chuard.

The pair met at Macalester College in Minnesota over a decade ago and went on to work as investment bankers in New York.

After two years in finance, they started an adventure tourism company. When making software that would allow their company to run promotions on Facebook, Ransom and Chuard soon discovered that was a viable venture in itself, eventually launching it as the first Wildfire product.

Victoria's father, John Ransom, said yesterday he initially tried to dissuade his daughter from branching into software.

"We knew how busy they were ... when she [told us their plan] we said 'look, leave it alone, you've got enough on your minds without trying to build software as well'," he told the Herald.

But the pair stuck with the idea and four years later were bought by Google in what Ransom called a fairytale. "She's come from a very modest background ... it's a fairytale if you knew what Scotts Ferry was, a tiny settlement of about 40 households."

Ransom would love his daughter to return home to live but says she's likely to stay in California. "I think they're pretty comfortable where they are, they're bound to stay with Google for a time."

- NZ Herald

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