What happened?

On Monday, August 10th, Zirtual notified all employees, clients and associates that the company was pausing operations. Simply put: the company completely ran out of money.

Per this news, Startups.co has worked closely with the CEO and Board of Directors to begin an acquisition of the company, which is now in process. The company plans to resume operations effective immediately.

Why did Zirtual run out of money? 

Zirtual’s management had implemented a strategy to grow ahead of demand, which meant that the company was consuming far more capital than they had. The management team’s efforts to support this strategy by securing capital fell through at the last minute, and they had no choice but to cease operations before opening for another day of business.

Why weren’t people told sooner?

Maren Donovan, Zirtual’s Founder and CEO believed up until the last minute, that the company could be properly capitalized and avoid being shut down. Over the weekend, Maren worked to exhaust all options to secure funds and waited until the very last minute (start of business Monday) to cease efforts. As a result hundreds of people were caught off guard and disappointed. Unfortunately, there are no good answers here — just a team working hard to keep jobs alive for employees and service active for customers.


What’s the next step?

As of Tuesday, August 11th, Zirtual.com and Startups.co have entered into an agreement to acquire Zirtual entirely. The team at Startups.co is working directly with Maren Donovan, the CEO of Zirtual, to transfer all operations to Startups.co.


When will service resume?

Clients will be connected with Zirtual Assistants by Monday, August 17th, if not sooner.

When will the company be fully transitioned and operational?

We will work over the next few weeks to complete the transition of all normal business functions.  Note that this process takes a bit of time and proper coordination so we are working hard on getting it done as quickly as possible.


I’m an existing customer - how do I resume service?

Simply email returnto@zirtual.com or call (800) 997-9714 and we will re-activate your account and set you up with a ZA immediately.

Will I still be able to work with my previous ZA?

Ideally, yes. We are in contact with the entire ZA staff and are actively re-engaging everyone in order to get back to business as quickly as possible.

Will I get credit for unused paid time?

Absolutely. We will provide all existing customers an account credit for unused service. This will be based on whatever plan level was last paid for. Any questions or details around this process can easily be addressed with our team where we can discuss your specific account.

Can I get a full cash refund?

We cannot offer refunds directly. You can, however, contact your bank or credit card company to charge back the outstanding amount that exists.

What changes to my service should I expect?

Once you are re-connected with your ZA, you should be back to business as usual. If you need additional support you can feel free to contact our team and we’ll be happy to help. Our focus right now is just getting you back to business.


I’m a ZA, when can I go back to work?

As soon as possible. Please contact us immediately to let us know your availability so we can begin connecting you back to your clients, or identify new ones. We’re working as fast as possible to get you back to work.

How many employees will you keep?

Ideally we’d like to keep everyone, but given that the previous state of the company was unsustainable, it’s not reasonable to think we can continue to do so. Prior to the announcement, the company had employed over 400 professionals, so we have a lot of work to do to determine how many we can retain.


How will Zirtual Assistants be hired back?

In the interest of getting everyone back to work quickly, we will issue a contractor agreement to ZAs who we are able to place back into the field. We will calibrate compensation to be comparable to previous levels wherever possible. We have to wait until we assess the client volume and ZA utilization before we can begin discussing any other compensation terms.


What is the status of employee payroll?

There has also been speculation about whether people will or will not be paid for their time worked. Everyone will be compensated fully. Checks have already been processed and are being mailed out today. If you have direct deposit, you’ll receive payment that way. Benefit charges will also be refunded. PTO payments will be sent.

What will happen to non-ZA employees?

Zirtual maintained a full time staff of over 30 employees to handle technology, operations, marketing and administrative duties. We anticipate some number of those employees will resume their work post acquisition but until we have enough time to evaluate and transition the business we can’t be certain. Needless to say, we would love to have them all back.


Who is Startups.co?

Startups.co is a startup launch platform. The company helps over 1 million startups find customers, press, funding and mentors to grow quickly. Our products include Fundable.com (funding), Clarity.fm (mentorship), and Launchrock.com (customer acquisition) among others.

This will be the fourth acquisition in just over one year, including most recently Clarity.fm.

Why did Startups.co acquire Zitual.com?

Zirtual and Startups.co focus on the same customer—young companies looking to grow quickly. Startups.co has been growing its platform with the acquisitions of companies like Clarity.fm and Launchrock.com who specifically serve the startup community. It’s a customer and demand that we understand extremely well.

Why is Startups.co a good home for Zirtual?

Startups.co understands two things really well - two-sided marketplaces and startup companies.  With over 1 million registered startup companies, Startups.co understands the needs and constraints of entrepreneurs, and one of the biggest has always been getting access to more help.  

Starting a company is an overwhelming proposition, something that Zirtual can help with cost effectively. Zirtual is already being used by thousands of startup companies, big and small, to address just this need.

In addition, Startups.co is very familiar with two-sided marketplaces like Zirtual. In January, we acquired Clarity.fm, the largest marketplace for startup mentors.  In a similar fashion, this acquisition was done to bolster the need of startup companies to get more access to resources in a cost effective manner.

Will Zirtual only be used for startup companies going forward?

Not at all. While Startups.co is very focused on the startup community, the use cases for Zirtual work well beyond just starting up, in the same way that established companies use Clarity.fm to get access to world class mentors or Fundable to raise later stage funding.   

What are the terms of this acquisition?

We are still in the closing process and are not disclosing any terms of the deal publicly.

Can we focus on just building a great company?

For the love of poodles, yes ;)


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