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Nashville Angel joins Austin e-social venture as CFO
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Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins, a Nashville Angel investor and former tech CEO here, is now CFO for Austin, Texas-based Bazaarvoice, a six-year-old social-commerce firm.

Collins, a 45-year-old native Tennessean, said yesterday the Bazaarvoice opportunity allows him to build upon his earlier Internet and social-media experience, in a larger-scale social-commerce company not yet found in Nashville.

In April 2010, Nashville's edo Interactive announced Collins had accepted a combined chief strategy and CFO role with the company, but by autumn Collins had connected with Bazaarvoice and edo had announced its new CFO, Clay Whitson, previously CFO at iPayment. Collins told VNC, "I can be more impactful" in a larger company, adding that the edo stint was ultimately akin to a consulting engagement. Reached for comment, edo CEO Ed Braswell said the parting was "amicable" and acknowledged Collins' interest in working within a later-stage business.

Collins declined to provide Bazaarvoice's revenue, though VNC research indicates the figure may be north of $50 million per year. The company has, according to news coverage, attracted at least $20.3 million in outside capital, has 650 employees, offices in eight nations and is a good bet to IPO. The IPO vibe intensified when Bazaarvoice added to its board a former Austin Ventures executive who has previously led tech IPO's.

Privately held Bazaarvoice has a leadership role in social commerce and the backing of venture-capital firms Austin Ventures and Battery Ventures, Collins noted. Austin Ventures helped recruit Collins to Bazaarvoice, he said. The Collins family relocated to Austin in January.

In 2007, then-CEO Collins executed the sale to Dutch-owned LexisNexis of Juris Inc., the law-firm software and services company founded in 1986 by his father, Tom Collins. Subsequently, he served as interim CEO of social start-up Moontoast and then joined edo.

Collins said he remains an investor in Moontoast and in InVivoLink, a medical-device tracking and outcomes technology provider based here, and will remain active with Nashville Capital Network, the Angel group. InVivoLink's board includes Rock Morphis of Heritage Group Partners, which has previously allied with Austin Ventures, as reported by VNC.

According to the Austin Business Journal (ABJ), Bazaarvoice recently sued two California startups -- UserVoice and RateVoice -- alleging trademark infringement through their offerings. Austin is also home to competing startups SocialSmack and SocialWare, according to the ABJ.

While many Nashville denizens see their city becoming a healthcare IT center, Texas techies see Austin becoming a social-media hub. They note that in 2010, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman, the Social Media Business Council relocated its headquarters from Chicago to Austin; and, Facebookopened an Austin office, its first outside California.

Prior to joining family-owned Juris, Collins served more than four years at each Colgate-Palmolive and New York City-based Doubleclick, which IPO'd on the NASDAQ in 1997 (the same year Collins joined the firm) and sold years later to Google.

Following the Juris asset sale, Collins spent about a year disposing of assets not purchased by LexisNexis; and, served as managing partner of Natchez Advisors, an investment and advisory services firm he formed, according to his LinkedIn profile. After earning his bachelor's at the University of Alabama, Collins began his career at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. VNC

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Tags: Angel investors, Austin Ventures, Bazaarvoice, Facebook, Heritage Capital Group, information technology, InVivoLink, Juris, LexisNexis, Moontoast, Nashville Capital Network, Rock Morphis, social media, Social Media Business Council, software, Stephen Collins, Tom Collins, venture capital

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