About that “bright side” I mentioned recently… the short version: Zevvle is in great hands, and is going to stay my favourite mobile network. I couldn’t confidently say that 3 months ago.
It’s no secret I haven’t been doing too well recently, and Zevvle has suffered because of it. It’s been a gradual decline as my will and motivation to keep the company alive has faded, but it really hit home when Zevvle officially ran out of money 6 months ago. I started contracting full-time to cover the bills, but still couldn’t keep up.
Around the end of 2021 I was determined to close things down, but Zevvle’s main supplier, Transatel, wanted a different fate; to see the company live on. They suggested selling it, and I started looking for potential buyers…
Last July (2021), someone called James emailed me wanting to talk about mobile networks and an idea he had. Shortly afterwards I met James and his 2 partners, Lewis and Liam, to talk it through. Together they run REAL Fundraising, an agency dedicated to helping charities raise money, like Alzheimer’s Research UK, the WWF, Centrepoint, and many others.
But it’s more complicated than that — fundraising is only part of what they do, and at a higher-level it’s about values-driven business (REAL stands for Respect, Ethics, Activism and Love). James once described their mission to me as “the Virgin Group of ethical business,” and it’s over these shared values we connected.
The reason they wanted to speak to me — some dude running a mobile network by himself on a boat — was because of what I’d built with Zevvle, both the community and the technical side.
Ultimately we didn’t get anywhere with their original idea, but when winter came and I was looking for options, I reached out to see if they wanted to buy Zevvle. They were interested, and we started talking.
Over the past few months we’ve been hashing out the details, and on Monday I signed over 80% of Zevvle to them. Technically they bought Zevvle’s assets — including all the code, the trademark, the domains, etc. — and I will own 20% of the company they’ve setup1, REAL Mobile Ltd.
Asking me to own 20% was a smart move on their part: a) they got a lower sale price, but more importantly b) it aligns our incentives really well. I’m not running away and I’m not yet done with Zevvle, but more on that below.
What happens to my account?
Nothing! As a technicality, going forward you will be a customer of REAL Mobile Ltd, but still under the Zevvle brand for the time-being.
Are they going to ruin Zevvle?
In short, I don’t think so. I’m not clairvoyant but I can almost guarantee they’re going to do a better job of running the company than me.
Updates like these where a founder is overly gushing always make me skeptical, so I understand if you want to take that with a pinch of salt. Of course Zevvle is going to change! Pretending otherwise would be disingenuous. But change in ways for the better I believe; we connected over a shared set of values, and I think they’ll be excellent stewards.
Sparing the details, this wasn’t a “F%!k you, I’m off to buy a yacht” kind of sale, instead ”I want the company to live but can’t keep running it, and I trust these folks to take care of it.” I was more than ready to close shop, and over winter spoke to some potential buyers who had no interest in what Zevvle stood for, and closing would have been my preferred outcome. Where I failed to make the company work, I truly hope they’ll succeed.
Besides, I have some unfinished business…
Are you abandoning ship?
Not exactly. I’m helping them with the transition to get started on the right foot, but there are things I still want to do.
For one, I’m not happy with the state of the developer API, and I want to make that as good as I can while I have the keys to the kingdom. I’m still a customer after all. Although they’re taking over the running of it, if there’s anything you’d like to see on the technical side do send me an email.
There are also some unreleased features, but that’s for another day…
In other news
While I have your attention — we’re finally discontinuing the mobile app at the end of this month, moving over to the web-based alternative (app.zevvle.com). It still works wonderfully on mobile, but you’re no longer limited to a phone and gate-kept app stores. If you’ve never used it before, you’ll need to set your password using your account email address.
Finally, a couple of weekends ago I was updating Zevvle’s network integration, ready for an update to do with making calls over the internet and accessing higher frequency network bands… Soon! 🔜
One reason I didn’t want to close Zevvle is that I’d have no idea which network to switch to. The bigger reason was that I didn’t want to let all of you down, who’ve stayed on this journey, put time, trust and energy into Zevvle and believed in me when I screwed up. I was days away from sending a “closing down” email which was painful to write, but I’m thrilled this work gets to live on.
I hope you’ll join me in giving REAL a chance to succeed, as I legit think they’ll they do a great job.
- Also technically not me, but Zevvle Ltd the company, of which I’m a shareholder (others include but are not limited to Tim, my co-founder, and my mum). Zevvle Ltd the company will live on as a holding company under a soon-to-be different name with a 20% share in REAL Mobile Ltd.↩