The Urchin Software Mafia: Becoming Google Analytics And Where Are They Now

This is the beginning of a series on San Diego tech companies of yesterday called the SD Tech Mafia, tracking down key players and where are they today. This week we feature Urchin Software, the San Diego tech company that became Google Analytics.

Neal Bloom is a serial San Diego entrepreneur, angel investor, and organizer of the San Diego tech ecosystem including Startup San Diego and San Diego Startup Week. Andrea Siedsma is a long time San Diego tech, science, and business journalist.

Andrea first met the Urchin Software Corp. crew in 2000 at their digs in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, where they occupied a 1900s-era furniture warehouse, which is now the co-working space DeskHub. These then 20-something web analytics pioneers were on to something, but they just didn’t realize how big – yet.

Urchin Founders: San Diego Tech Company

The former Urchin crew at their Little Italy, San Diego tech company digs. L to R: Scott Crosby, Jack Ancone, Brett Crosby, Paul Muret. This photo originally ran in a Fortune magazine article by Suzanne Koudsi.

Company/Product: Urchin Software Corp./Google Analytics
Founded: In December 1995, originally as a web hosting and design firm.
Key Players: Scott Crosby, Brett Crosby, Paul Muret, Jack Ancone

The Beginnings of Urchin Software

Urchin, which originally operated under the company name Quantified Systems, Inc., was designed to help companies better understand their users’ experiences and track the performance of advertisements and other aspects of website visits.

Early customers included Honda Motor Co., MindSpring (remember them?), EarthLink, Verio, Rackspace, the U.S. Defense Department, and local heavyweights Sharp Healthcare and Solar Turbines.

Becoming Google Analytics

In April 2005, Urchin was acquired by Google and relaunched as Google Analytics. It quickly became the world’s most widely used web analytics service, and it remains so today.

Photo courtesy of UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

While the Google acquisition was not disclosed, Urchin cofounder Scott Crosby says, “Our earliest investors made a return on the order of 100x, and our average investor made about 30x.”

Where Are the Urchin Software Mafia Today?

Here’s a look at the famous San Diego tech company, Urchin’s exec team, and what they’re up to today:

Scott Crosby

Scott, founder, president and VP of Sales for Urchin, became Sr. Program Manager for Google Analytics and then served for two years as COO of Euclid Analytics, a venture-backed “real world” analytics company.

In 2011, he was named Bay Area Bicycle Commuter of the Year, “My proudest achievement,” he says. Today, Scott lives with his wife and four young children in Pacific Beach in San Diego, where he invests in startups and manages apartments he picked up over the years.

“The Ballast Point tasting room (on India Street) is now located directly across the street from our old office; suffice to say we would have never achieved anything had they been there in the late 1990s.” - Scott Crosby

Scott says he invests in anything by founder David Friedberg, and anything started by his brother Brett and has put money into a grab-bag of San Francisco-area startups, and at least one San Diego tech company, HipTraveler.

Brett Crosby

Brett, co-founder, VP of Marketing and Board of Directors member for Urchin, launched several products at Google, including Google Analytics, Google+, Google Mobile Ads, Google Local Ads, and Google Drive.

Brett Crosby Founder of Urchin Software: San Diego Tech Company

Riding the wave of success: Brett Crosby setting up for a barrel at Cloudbreak in March 2018. Photo: Mark Thompson, Stork Photos.

He was also Director of Product Marketing, responsible for the global growth of Chrome, Gmail, Docs and Drive. In 2014, he left Google to co-found Manhattan Beach-based PeerStreet, an award-winning platform for investing in real estate backed loans. The company, which raised $30 million in a Series B funding round earlier this year from VCs such as Andreessen Horowitz, has funded over $1 billion in loans through its platform.

Brett splits his time between L.A. and San Diego (Del Mar) with his wife and two daughters. He sits on several advisory boards, invests in startups, and is a director on the board of Dunami, a real-time data analysis software company. Brett speaks frequently on a variety of topics at his alma mater, USC.

Paul Muret

Paul, co-founder and former CEO of Urchin, is currently VP of Product and Engineering at Google. Until very recently, he led Google’s Display, Video, and App Ads and Analytics businesses. These subsidiaries include a wide range of products, such as Google Display Network, YouTube Ads, and Ads in Play. Additionally, they include measurement products including Google Marketing Platform, Google Analytics, Attribution, and Brand Lift.

Recently, after 13 years in the Ads organization, Paul moved over to Google’s Research and Applied Science organization. He is currently looking into healthcare and biomedical research. He lives in Los Altos with his wife and three children but spends as much time as he can at their beach house in Encinitas. Paul was recently invited to join the Council of Advisors for his alma mater, the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Urchin Founders at the 10 Year Reunion at Google

Urchin 10-year reunion at Google in 2015 L to R: Scott Crosby, Paul Muret, Brett Crosby

Jack Ancone

Jack, Urchin’s co-founder and VP of Product Management, became Senior Director of New Business Development at Google. After the Google Analytics launch, he built and led a global team of entrepreneurs, attorneys, engineers, and product managers focused on emerging strategic initiatives and incubation (Chrome, Drive, Fiber, Wallet, etc.), intellectual property, and investment in innovation through cross-functional engagements with corporate development for Google Ventures, Google X, etc.

Since leaving Google in 2012, Jack has helped build, finance and/or grow numerous data and machine learning focused companies across the cybersecurity, IOT/embedded systems, healthcare and finance verticals, including Cylance, CypherFrame, Mitro (acquired by Twitter) and San Diego-based Xifin (acquired by GTCR). He lives in Newport Beach with his wife and two daughters.

Fun Facts on The San Diego Tech Company

The cute, blue interactive Urchin logo originated from a cocktail doodle drawn by Scott. The team iterated on it and even created an “Urchin-a-day” where the logo changed each day to keep people interested.

Urchin Software: San Diego Tech Company

“We always had stickers, because we were juvenile and liked sticking them on competitors’ booths and airplanes. Surfer Urchin is the rarest of the lot. Shepard Fairey designed a few bits of schwag in exchange for hosting” Scott Crosby

Paul, a mathematical prodigy, used to write space-physics software for NASA. Moreover, he leveraged that experience when writing Urchin’s original core code. This gave the software a dramatic speed advantage over competing products of the time.

WebSideStory, a public web analytics company at the time (also a San Diego tech company), offered to buy Urchin for more money. “But I think we made the right choice,” Scott said.

The Google deal went through on Brett’s wedding day. “I was in my tuxedo, literally just about to walk down the aisle when I signed the contract,” he said in this article. “It was a momentous day and made for an incredible celebration.”

You can read more about the San Diego tech company and its 2005-ish Google culture in this entertaining background story.

  • Originally published September 18, 2018, updated April 26, 2023