28 December 2014

Why Zenefits CEO Hired Tech Veteran David Sacks (video)

Why Zenefits CEO Hired Tech Veteran David Sacks: Video - Bloomberg:
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Zenefits CEO and Co-Founder Parker Conrad discusses the hiring of tech veteran and former Paypal COO David Sacks. They both speak on “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg 12/10)

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21 December 2014

Bank of America CTO David Reilly on Hiring Tech Startups (video)

Bank of America CTO David Reilly on Hiring Tech Startups: Video -
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David Reilly, the chief technology officer at Bank of America, discusses how the firm recruits startups as vendors, which ultimately become clients on the investment-banking side as well. He spoke with Bloomberg's Leslie Picker at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Technology Innovation Summit in Menlo Park, California on Oct. 22. (source: Bloomberg)

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18 December 2014

Ben Horowitz, How to Manage (video)

Lecture 15 - How to Manage -
Published on Nov 11, 2014

Ben Horowitz, founder of Andreessen Horowitz, drills into the one management concept that CEOs mess up most - understanding how your decisions impact others, the company, and its culture, in Lecture 15 of How to Start a Startup.

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11 December 2014

How to Start a Startup (video)

How to Start a Startup -

Lecture 1 -  How to Start a Startup
Lecture 2 - Team and Execution Lecture
3 - Before the Startup Lecture
4 - Building Product, Talking to Users, and Growing Lecture
5 - Competition is for Losers Lecture
6 - Growth Lecture
7 - How to Build Products Users Love Lecture
8 - How to Get Started, Doing Things that Don't Scale, Press Lecture
9 - How to Raise Money Lecture
10 - Culture Lecture
11 - Hiring and Culture, Part 2 Lecture
12 - Building for the Enterprise Lecture
13 - How to be a Great Founder Lecture
14 - How to Operate Lecture
15 - How to Manage

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04 December 2014

Growth Rate, Startups, Medium Well Is Not Good Enough

Something to remember:

Surviving the Series A Crunch: "... You’re only doing medium well. And medium well might not get you anywhere. The number that is most problematic out of all those above is the growth rate. As Paul Graham has extensively preached, startups = growth. A 9% month-over-month growth rate is not enough, at least not if you’re playing the VC game where venture capitalists give you other people’s money to spend because you’re going to come back with something that’s going to be worth 10 to 25x more...." (read more at link above)

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30 November 2014

Launching at DEMO (video)

All About DEMO -

  • Learn how entrepreneurs from around the world prepare to launch at DEMO.
  • What New Tech Can you Expect to see at DEMO? Video
  • DEMO Executive Director Erick Schonfeld discusses new tech products that will launch at DEMO Fall in San Jose, CA. He speaks on “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Printable agenda

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27 November 2014

Legal and Accounting Basics for Startups (video)

Lecture 18 - Legal and Accounting Basics for Startups -
Published on Nov 20, 2014

There's a lot that goes behind the scenes in running a startup. Getting the legal, finance (equity allocation, vesting), accounting, and other overhead right will save you a lot of pain in the long run. Kirsty Nathoo, CFO at Y Combinator, and Carolynn Levy, General Counsel at Y Combinator, cover these very important topics, in Lecture 18 of How to Start a Startup.

See the slides, readings, and more, at http://startupclass.samaltman.com/cou...

View the annotated transcript, and add annotations of your own, on Genius: http://genius.com/Kirsty-nathoo-lectu...

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23 November 2014

Kevin Rose, New Startup North, New Model of Incubation

Kevin Rose Steps Into Part-Time Role At Google Ventures To Build A New Startup Called North | TechCrunch: "... His newest venture will be called North, and will be focused on building a series of mobile and social products. In an interview with Rose, he told me the plan is to start with a small team of about three and to create a new product each quarter. And if one of those products becomes a hit, Rose says he’ll recruit a team and try to build a company around it. If the model sounds familiar, that’s because it was kind of the idea behind Milk. But the world has changed since then, according to Rose. “The biggest thing that’s changed in the last three years is that back then we spent a lot of time spent building out the back end… But the scaling piece is a solved problem,” Rose told me. Nowadays he says, a lean startup can work specifically on product and design, and leave the infrastructure side of things to someone else. He envisions North as a team that has one product person, one design person, and a full-stack engineer to get products going, while outsourcing much of the actual development work to trusted friends and colleagues. Rose isn’t the only entrepreneur operating under that type of model: Uber and StumbleUpon co-founder Garrett Camp has Expa, Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone have Obvious Corp., and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin has HVF. In each case, those founders are operating on a model of incubating a portfolio of interesting products and then building teams around them...."

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19 November 2014

Early-Stage Tech Companies, Investment Bankers

In Silicon Valley, Mergers Must Meet the Toothbrush Test - NYTimes.com: "“Bankers do two things well: financial evaluation and negotiation,” said Richard E. Climan, a partner at the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges who often works with companies to complete deals where no banks are involved. “But there’s a feeling that investment bankers might not be so important on the evaluation of early-stage tech companies.”"

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16 November 2014

For Venture Capital, Time Can Be The Most Important Currency

Bay Partners proves that, in venture capital, the most important currency can be time.

The best VC firm you thought was dead and buried: "Bay Partners actually had a lot of future winners in that legacy portfolio. Examples include Dropcam (bought by Nest Labs for $555 million), Zenprise (bought by Citrix for $327 million), Buddy Media (bought by Salesforce for $745 million), Eloqua (went public, then bought by Oracle for $957 million), Oncomed (went public, current $530 million market cap) and Guidewire (went public, $3 billion market cap). Plus more than two dozen still-private companies, including 2015 IPO candidates like LendingCub, Apigee and Xactly."

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12 November 2014

US Regulatory Burden, Innovation Breakdown by Joseph Gulfo

Book Review: 'Innovation Breakdown' by Joseph V. Gulfo - WSJ: ".... Compare MelaFind's experience in the U.S. with its reception in Europe: MelaFind was submitted for marketing approval in Europe in May 2011. It was approved just five months later. One key reason for Europe's efficient approval process is that European governments don't review medical devices directly. Instead they certify independent "notified bodies" that specialize and compete to review new products. The European system works more quickly than the U.S. system, and there is no evidence that it results in reduced patient safety. Rather than tweak the current system, why doesn't the U.S. just adopt the European model and call it a day? Our health and our economy would be better off for it. Google's Sergey Brin recently said that he didn't want to be a health entrepreneur because "It's just a painful business to be in . . . the regulatory burden in the U.S. is so high that I think it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs." Mr. Brin won't find anything in Dr. Gulfo's book to persuade him otherwise. Until we get our regulatory system in order, expect a lot more Yo's and not enough life-saving innovations."

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09 November 2014

LinkedIn, Off-the-clock Work, Overtime

"This was a function of not having the right tools in place for a small subset of our sales force to track hours properly," said Shannon Stubo, vice president of corporate commmunications.(source infra)

LinkedIn to pay nearly $6 million in U.S. Labor Dept settlement | Reuters: "... The Labor Department said LinkedIn failed to record and compensate workers for all hours worked, violating provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In addition to the settlement payment, LinkedIn will train all employees that "off-the-clock work" is prohibited for all non-exempt workers, the Labor Department said. The FLSA requires that non-exempt workers, who are not salaried managers, be paid the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25 plus overtime pay for hours worked past 40 in a given work week...."

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05 November 2014

America Less Entrepreneurial, Employment Impacts

America Is Getting Less Entrepreneurial -- NYMag: Robert A. Litan of the Brookings Institution and Ian Hathaway of Ennsyte Economics provide some scary data points in two research papers they have released in the last few months.
  • The share of all companies comprised by start-ups under a year old fell by half between 1978 and 2011
  • The proportion of private-sector workers employed at older firms has increased from 60 percent to 72 percent since 1992
  • The proportion of workers employed at young firms has declined over the same period
  • Companies under a year old are failing more often, with the “failure rate” for start-ups climbing to 27 percent from 16 percent in the early 1990s
  • The “failure rate” has increased for all but the longest-established businesses
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02 November 2014

Google Taking Away Future Corporate Customers From Microsoft

Google is stealing away Microsoft’s future corporate customers - Quartz: "Among the Fortune 50, only one company—Google—had its mail records pointed at Google’s servers. Among the mid-size companies, almost 60% host their email with Google, including corporations like Twitter, Dropbox, Box, Airbnb, Square, Uber, and Etsy. And among the Y Combinator startups—mostly very small companies with some funding, but often tight budgets—92% host their email with Google."

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29 October 2014

Y Combinator, Big Winner, Sequoia Capital

The Big Winner from Y Combinator’s Success? Sequoia Capital: ".... when Sequoia finds a winner, they try to own as much of the company as possible through follow-on investments (they famously provided all of the institutional capital to WhatsApp, a company that was bought by Facebook for $19BN). Sequoia is the biggest winner from the founding of Y Combinator. But why? Sequoia can double down on the fastest-growing companies and YC can’t. The way YC is currently structured doesn’t allow them to make follow-on investments to get larger stakes in the runaway winners like Airbnb and Dropbox (though some of the YC partners do make personal follow-on investments)...."

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22 October 2014

Jason Fried, Scott Heiferman, Building Businesses That Last

Jason Fried + Scott Heiferman: Building Businesses That Last on Vimeo:

Jason Fried + Scott Heiferman: Building Businesses That Last from 99U on Vimeo.

There’s a ton of focus on growing quickly and scaling, but there’s beauty in the long, slow, sustained effort. Scott Heiferman has been running Meetup since 2002 and Jason Fried has been at the helm of Basecamp since 1999. In this 99U Interview, the two accomplished founders discuss the long haul: how do we build businesses that become our life’s work?

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19 October 2014

Tech Darwinism, Why Some Companies Don’t Survive (video)

Tech Darwinism: Why Some Companies Don’t Survive : Video - Bloomberg:
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NYU Stern School of Business Associate Professor J.P. Eggers and NewCo Chairman John Battelle discuss the evolution of tech companies. They speak on "Market Makers." (Source: Bloomberg--Sept 30)

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15 October 2014

How to Start a Startup (video)

Lecture 1 - How to Start a Startup -

Sam Altman and Dustin Moskovitz start off the How to Start a Startup Course. Sam's topic is "Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution, Part I" and Dustin's is "Why to Start a Startup". (published 9/23/2014)

http://startupclass.samaltman.com/courses/lec01/ [has slide decks]

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02 October 2014

Venture Capital, Startup Funding, New Tech Bubble

Infographic: Startup Funding Shows Signs of New Tech Bubble | Statista
Source: Statista

Startup Funding Shows Signs of New Tech Bubble | Statista"... venture capital funding in the U.S. amounted to $12.97 billion in Q2 2014, which is by far the highest level it’s been at since Q1 2001. Compared to the second quarter of last year, VC funding jumped 81% in Q2, representing the highest year-over-year increase since Q3 2000 when VC funding reached its historical peak. Interestingly the number of VC deals hasn’t increased as much as the total amount that was invested, indicating that the average value per deal must have increased. And indeed it has: at $11.64 million the average value per deal was as high in Q2 2014 as it’s last been in Q4 2000..."

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29 September 2014

Startups Burning Through Too Much Cash? (video)

Are Startups Burning Through Too Much Cash?: Video - Bloomberg:
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 DFJ Partner Josh Stein and Bloomberg Contributing Editor Paul Kedrosky discuss tech startups on “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg--Sept 26)

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07 September 2014

Goodbye Silicon Valley, Hello London (video)

Goodbye, Silicon Valley... Hello, London?: Video - Bloomberg:
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San Francisco is home to the biggest tech companies and the hottest startups. So why did two entrepreneurs decide to leave that behind and set up shop in London? Bloomberg's Caroline Hyde finds out. (Source: Bloomberg, June 16, 2014)

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31 August 2014

Why Venture Capital Funding Is at 13-Year High (video)

Why Venture Capital Funding Is at 13-Year High: Video - Bloomberg:
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DFJ Partner Josh Stein, Spark Capital General Partner Mo Koyfman and Lowenstein Sandler Chair of the Tech Group Ed Zimmerman discuss venture capital and tech valuations on “Market Makers.” They spoke on July 10. (Source: Bloomberg)

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24 August 2014

The Innovation Lab Where Drugs Are Discovered (video)

The Innovation Lab Where Drugs Are Discovered: Video - Bloomberg:
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Johnson & Johnson has had many blockbuster drugs since it was founded in 1894. These drugs were mostly developed the old-fashioned way -- internally, behind closed doors. But for future drug discovery the company is taking a page from the tech industry and looking for talent in places like J&J's La Jolla, California incubator. Bloomberg's Carol Massar reports. Video by: Carole Zimmer (Source: Bloomberg, July 15)

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17 August 2014

VC Industry, Changing Structure

The Changing Structure of the VC Industry: "Where are we today?

  • 50x more Internet users (2.4 billion)
  • Online connections that are 180x faster (10.5 Mbps)
  • Always-on connectivity of mobile (164m US smartphone users)
  • We’re all socially connected (so great businesses spread faster)
  • We all have one-click purchase power (Apple, Google, Amazon, eBay)
  • The VC market has right-sized (returned back to mid 90′s levels & less competition)
  • Lower costs to start a business (95% reduction), many more companies created & funded by angels / seed
  • But it still takes VC to scale a business (thus large capital into industry winners like Uber, Airbnb, SnapChat, etc)"

 (read more at link above)

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10 August 2014

Where Else Should We Be Looking for Innovation? (video)

Where Else Should We Be Looking for Innovation?: Video - Bloomberg:
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Columbia University Senior Fellow Alec Ross discusses innovation outside of Silicon Valley on “Market Makers.” (Source: Bloomberg July 30)

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03 August 2014

Europeans Coming, One City at a Time

The Europeans Are Coming, One City at a Time - NYTimes.com: "....two London-based start-ups are taking a page right out of the playbook of companies like Uber by picking off individual cities one by one. YPlan, a smartphone application that helps people find events, and Citymapper, a public-transportation app, are focusing on cities like New York and San Francisco.... “You have to take things city by city, not country by country,” said Rytis Vitkauskas, one of the co-founders of YPlan at the company’s headquarters in central London. “To succeed in the U.S., you have to focus on what people want in their local markets.”..."

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27 July 2014

Digital strategy (video)

(if above video does not play, go to link below)

Digital strategy | McKinsey & Company: "...digital is fundamentally shifting the competitive landscape in many sectors. It allows new entrants to come from unexpected places. We’re seeing banks get into the travel business in some countries. We’re seeing travel agents get into the insurance business. We’re seeing retailers go into the media business. So your competitor set is not what it used to be. One thing that digital allows is what I call “plug and play dynamics”—meaning that companies can attack specific areas of the value chain rather than having to own the whole thing. This is because digital allows different services to be stitched together more quickly and cheaply...."

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20 July 2014

American Startup Dream, Moving Downtown

Where the American Startup Dream is Moving: Downtown: ".... The rise of innovation districts aligns with these disruptive dynamics and represents a clear path forward for cities and metropolitan areas.  Local decision makers—elected officials and heads of companies, universities and community colleges, philanthropies, and business chambers—would be wise to steward these emerging districts.  Global companies and financial institutions would be smart to invest in them.  States and federal government should support and accelerate them.  The result: a step toward building stronger, more sustainable and more inclusive metropolitan economies in the early decades of this young century." (emphasis added -- read more at link above)

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13 July 2014

Google Ventures, Rich Miner, Android Growth (video)

The Verge: "One of the founders of Android, Rich Miner, is now a general partner at Google Ventures, the massive company's investment arm. We caught up with him at Mobile World Congress to see what's new and what matters in the world of mobile." (Published on Mar 6, 2014)

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06 July 2014

Fireside chat with Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin with Vinod Khosla (video)

Fireside chat with Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin with Vinod Khosla

Video above -- Fireside chat with Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin with Vinod Khosla

At the annual KV CEO Summit, both Larry Page and Sergey Brin sat down to discuss a wide range of topics including why computers today are still pretty bad, their partnership over the last 16 years, the future of Google, government 2.0 and how machine learning and technology will shape our future of abundance.

The full transcript is here

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29 June 2014

Startups, Mass Extinction

James Surowiecki: The Startup Mass Extinction : The New Yorker: "....starting a company may be easier, but making it a success isn’t. Competition is fierce, profits are scarce, and venture capitalists aren’t generous when it comes to later stages of funding. As Gideon Lewis-Kraus shows in “No Exit,” a new Kindle Single about startup culture, the life of a new company is often brutish and short. Though we may be seeing a “Cambrian explosion” of new companies, as The Economist recently put it, there’s a mass extinction going on, too..."

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22 June 2014

15 June 2014

Startups, Valuation Trap, High Burn Rate

The Valuation Trap – AVC: "A second iron law of startups might be that the higher the valuation of a startup, the fewer options it has for financing and exits…… once a company has raised mezzanine capital and is valued in the billions, its options are essentially to go public or find a very interested buyer with deep pockets. There are few other options on this side of the startup pipeline. [quoting TechCrunch article] The past three months have not been good for highflying tech stocks and now we are seeing IPOs being postponed. Both Square and Box have recently done that.

Another thing that Square and Box have in common is very high burn rates. The author of the Techcrunch post says that Square lost $100mm and Box lost $160mm in 2013...."

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08 June 2014

Resource Scarcity, Third Industrial Revolution

How resource scarcity is driving the third Industrial Revolution | McKinsey & Company: "Will shortages of energy, materials, food, and water put the brakes on global growth? Far from it. By combining information technology with industrial technology, as well as through harnessing materials science and biotechnology, innovators are showing that it is possible to produce more with less and to access resources at far lower costs. In this video interview, former McKinsey director Stefan Heck and director Matt Rogers, coathors of the new book Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century (New Harvest, April 2014), argue that to be successful, managers will need to think in new ways about products, services, and technologies. An edited transcript of their remarks follows...." (read more at link above)

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01 June 2014

Story-centered Design, PowerPoint Prototypes

" . . . a new use for PowerPoint: building prototypes. These clickable mockups are great for rapidly testing with users and applying what you learn right away. They simulate the experience of using a website or app without having to write any code. Braden Kowitz described how the Google Ventures Design Studio uses clickable mockups in a previous Design Staff article...." (read more at source:Story-centered design: how to make a prototype in PowerPoint | Google Ventures


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25 May 2014

Business, Organizations, Balance is Essential

Building The Next Pixar | Fast Company | Business + Innovation: "....Most important, though, is awareness and even embrace of potential failure. "Ed Catmull says the purpose of an organization isn’t stability, it’s balance," says Rowghani. "Stability is when you sort of pour concrete around something and just bolt it down. Balance is a state where if you think about yoga, you’re standing on one leg and you’re swaying left and right in these tiny little movements, but you’re able to stay balanced.” In any organization, there are various factions intent on advancing their own interests--product, marketing, communications, sales--which may or may not align. And here is where balance is essential....."

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18 May 2014

Overnight Success, Timing, Perseverance, 10 Years Work

'Timing, perseverance and 10 years of really hard work will eventually make you look like an overnight success' -- Biz Stone.

Biz Stone: Life After Twitter - WSJ.com: "...Finally, when Google went public, Mr. Stone was able to pay off all of his debts. He subsequently left the company to start a podcasting venture with Mr. Williams that failed, forcing them to switch gears and form another company that gave rise to Twitter. They started Twitter without a business plan. "Old-school business guys would think this sounds crazy, but it is cart-before-the-horse to build your business model before you've shown your services are valuable to a whole bunch of people," he says. "It's a leap of faith when you start something like this." Instead, Mr. Stone advocates assembling a large user base for a product and worrying about making money later. Still, he admits that this philosophy works best with new-media companies. "If you're starting a bookstore, it's a different thing," he says...." (read more at link above)

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11 May 2014

France Says Au Revoir Entrepreneurs

Au Revoir, Entrepreneurs - NYTimes.com: "But for the most part, they have fled across the English Channel, just a two-hour Eurostar ride from Paris. Around 350,000 French nationals are now rooted in Britain, about the same population as Nice, France’s fifth-largest city. So many French citizens are in London that locals have taken to calling it “Paris on the Thames.”" (read more at link above)

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27 April 2014

The Up Side of Down, Failing Well, Key to Success

Book Discussion Side | Video | C-SPAN.org: "Megan McArdle talked about her book, The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, in which she argues that the U.S. is unique in its willingness to let its citizens and businesses fail and says that this is what has made the country successful. During this event, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, Ms. McArdle spoke with George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen." (go to link above for video)

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13 April 2014

Bitcoin, Model for Crowdfunding?

The Bitcoin Model for Crowdfunding | Startup Boy: "Bitcoin is not just a protocol or money, it’s a new business model for Open Source Software. Prior to Bitcoin, you had to raise money, write software, distribute your product, build a business model, and work towards liquidity. Angels, VCs, salespeople and bankers guided you the entire way, through a maze of tolls and controls....." (read more at link above)

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06 April 2014

The Future of Venture Capital, Tech Valuations, Fate of Tech Incumbents

The Future of Venture Capital, Tech Valuations and the Fate of Tech Incumbents - Conversation with Bill Janeway: " . . . the core lesson that I learned and teach at Cambridge and Princeton has been that the sole hedge against the inescapable uncertainty of financing startups is cash and control. Unequivocal access to enough cash to buy the time necessary to find out what is going on, meaning what has gone wrong, and enough control to change the parameters of the problem.  Now, in the world of venture capital that typically begins by firing a CEO, but it can involve re-purposing the venture. . . ." (read more at link above)

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30 March 2014

How to Solve the San Francisco Housing Shortage (video)

How to Solve San Francisco’s Housing Shortage: Video - Bloomberg: "March 3 (Bloomberg) -- SV Angel Founder and General Partner Ron Conway discusses income inequality and the cost of San Francisco housing on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West." (Source: Bloomberg)"

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16 March 2014

Best Online Course For Entrepreneurs, How to Build a Startup, Udacity

Best Online Course For Entrepreneurs - Business Insider: "MOOCs may not come with the B-school price tag, but as an economist friend has pointed out, there’s really no such thing as a free course. In the hours you spend watching video lectures, answering multiple choice questions, and posting on discussion forums, you could be running a lemonade stand or reading Dostoyevsky. Not every nominally free course is worth the time it takes to complete. If you plan to start a business, one course that is worth every minute is “How to Build a Startup” from Udacity."

More info: https://www.udacity.com/course/ep245

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09 March 2014

California hedge fund Universa moves to Miami

More hedge funds and financial firms will be looking, and moving to Miami --

"Universa Investments . . . Santa Monica, Calif., to Miami on March 1 to take advantage of the city’s business and tax-friendly policies, Miami’s Downtown Development Authority . . . Miami, the second-largest banking and finance hub in the United States behind New York City, launched its Finance Sector Initiative to attract hedge funds through targeted one-on-one outreach, hosted events in New York, Connecticut and Miami, and partnerships with local finance leaders who are helping with the initiative. Miami is already home to a handful of prominent hedge funds, mutual funds and private equity firms including ESL Investments, Everest Capital, Fairholme Capital Management and H.I.G. Capital. "Financial firms can access the same technology, the same high quality office space, and the same cosmopolitan lifestyle in Miami without paying sky-high income taxes,”... Mark Spitznagel, founder and CIO of Universa, cited Miami’s favorable tax policies, emerging financial sector, and better access to Latin American and European investors as primary reasons for the move, and he said he expects other firms to follow suit as local governments elsewhere in the country “tighten their grip” on businesses. “Florida’s business-friendly policies, which are so different from California's, offer the perfect environment for us as we expand,” he said in a statement. Universa, an investment management firm that specializes in “tail hedging” as a means to enhance long-term equity returns, plans to move into offices in Coconut Grove and expand its workforce from 14 employees to 25 in the next three years. ..." (source: MiamiHerald.com )

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Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/19/v-print/3945725/california-hedge-fund-universa.html#storylink=cpy

02 March 2014

Google Capital, $300 Million, Web Education

Google Ventures and Google Capital -- there is a difference --

Google Capital Lands $300 Million and Leaps Into Web Education - Bloomberg: "...“Google Ventures kind of invests across the spectrum but predominantly invests in early-stage companies, and they have an organization that’s super well configured for that,” Lawee said in an interview. “Google Capital is only investing in late-stage investments, and we’re building an organization completely configured around that.”Google Capital’s objective is to triple its money from each investment over the course of five to seven years, Lawee said. That’s the type of return it expects from Renaissance Learning, which is used by nearly 20 million students and teachers in more than 60 countries. Google Capital is investing at a $1 billion valuation.,,,"

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23 February 2014

Nokia Layoffs Upside

During the years of Nokia's decline, culminating in the sale of its mobile phone division to Microsoft in September, thousands of workers were made redundant. But the ex-Nokians have now created hundreds of new companies - thanks partly to a very Finnish level of support from the employer to its departing staff. (source infra)

BBC News - The upside to being let go by Nokia: " . . . Ari says the Bridge programme gave BetterDoctor "a few tens of thousands of dollars" but believes the gesture was about far more than money. "Nokia has been - and is still today - a Finnish company and if you think about the Finnish psyche, it's a very fair culture," says Ari. "When we do something we always want to see it through. You don't see Finns bailing out, that's not part of the culture so I think you would expect that from Nokia. "For workers in America, if you worked at a company like General Electric it's more like you get the package - a month's salary - and go. They lock the doors on the day you are fired. "At Nokia there were people who knew they were going to be laid off in six months and they were able to stay at Nokia with a Nokia email address with the Nokia laptop and spend time applying for new things and Nokia helped them. That's pretty fair."

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16 February 2014

Anatomy of one folded startup

Great read (at link below) -- bottom line: what is your business model/strategy? Is it really viable?

Prim: Anatomy of a folded startup - Fortune Tech: " . . . Wu and Cao were ultimately faced with a decision: either seek out other wash-and-fold services to use -- a potentially endless process -- or operate their own laundromat. The latter seemed a better solution in the long term, but involved funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into leasing or buying a facility and staffing it. And for every new market it entered, the process of building such an infrastructure was essentially rinse and repeat. According to Wu, that would have slowed down company growth. So after two months of deliberation, they pulled the plug on Prim. Wu insists running their own laundromats still would have made their startup a profitable business in five to 10 years, with revenues of $10 million to $15 million, but it was a direction the co-founders didn't want to go. Having studied computer science at Stanford, Wu and Cao held few skills for operating laundry facilities. And doing so would also take them away from their original goal of being a marketplace. "They didn't want to actually have to wash the laundry -- they wanted to be the connector," explains Tan...."

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02 February 2014

Entrepreneurs, Con Artists, the American Dream

As the sociologist Alex Preda writes, “Talent for persuasion is key: after all, the public must be convinced to part with their money on the basis of the simple promise that an idea will yield profit in the future.” Successful entrepreneurship involves hucksterism, the ability to convince investors and employees that they should risk their money, their time, and their effort on you. Like a con artist, you’re peddling optimism. As Mel Weinberg (the model for Bale’s character in “American Hustle”) put it in Robert Greene’s book “The Sting Man,” “It’s my philosophy to give hope. . . . That’s why most people don’t turn us in to the cops. They keep hopin’ we’re for real.” (source infra)

James Surowiecki: Entrepreneurs, Con Artists, and the American Dream : The New Yorker: " ... Steve Jobs, was legendary for his “reality-distortion field,” which allowed him to convince people that improbable outcomes were not just possible but certain. Jobs’s endless rehearsals for his public presentations and his scripting of every moment for maximum effect—these are all straight from the con artist’s playbook. So, too, is the sense of conviction he projected. In Weinberg’s words, “Before you sell a deal you have to live the deal. You have to believe in it, because, if you don’t believe in it, you can’t sell it.”. . . that unquantifiable mélange of risk, hope, and hype provides both the capitalist’s formula for transforming the world and the con artist’s stratagem for turning your money into his money...." (read more at link above)

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26 January 2014

Copyright, Photographs, Fair Use

Take it from a lawyer --

Common Copyright Mistakes Small Businesses Make | Bean, Kinney & Korman, PC - JDSupra: "... copying and using photos or blog posts from the internet without permission can be copyright infringement.  Simply attributing the photographer or the source of your content is not sufficient to protect your business from potentially significant liability.  There are some limited exceptions, such as “fair use” for criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research. But, it’s a particularly fraught area to navigate, so you should consult with a lawyer before you rely on any such defense if you think you can use some portion of someone else’s created work without permission." (read more at link above)

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19 January 2014

Startups, Common Copyright Mistakes

Common Copyright Mistakes Small Businesses Make | Bean, Kinney & Korman, PC - JDSupra: "Unless the person is an employee of the business, the copyrights in the materials vest in the creator, not the company, unless appropriate written agreements are in place. This puts the small business at risk for the person to resell, reuse or otherwise compete using the very materials created for their venture.  Therefore it’s important to make sure you have written agreements with writers, designers, web designers, programmers, etc. BEFORE they begin working on your project, both identifying the project as a work for hire AND assigning all intellectual property rights to your company." (read more at link above)

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12 January 2014

Calxeda Closes, Ran Out of Cash

What kills most startups? It simply runs out of cash --

Calxeda Closes Its Office: The Sad Story Of One Of The Most Innovative Companies In Years - Houston Chronicle: "Calxeda, the company that pioneered the concept of making corporate data center computers run on the same low-power chips that power your smartphone, has closed its doors, executives told Business Insider."

Here's the money quote:
Calxeda used a format called 32-bit. Most enterprise software is written for 64-bit, so not a lot of enterprise software worked with Calxeda. ARM Holding recently created new designs for a 64-bit chip, but Calxeda couldn't get its version manufactured before 2014, and it simply ran out of cash, Linley Gwennap, principal of the market watcher Linley Group, told EE Times' Rick Merritt.
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05 January 2014

Q4 2013 Exit Poll report by Thomson Reuters and NVCA

2013 was the strongest full year total for the number of new venture-backed IPOs since 2007 --

Q4 2013 Exit Poll report by Thomson Reuters and NVCA | Thomson Reuters: " . . . according to the Exit Poll report by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). This quarter also marked the third consecutive quarter to see 20 or more venture-backed IPOs since the fourth quarter of 2004. During full year 2013, 82 venture-backed companies went public in the United States, marking the strongest full year total for the number of new venture-backed listings since 2007. For the third quarter of 2013, 81 venture-backed M&A deals were reported, 31 of which had an aggregate deal value of $5.3 billion. This represents a nine percent increase in disclosed value from the third quarter of this year and marks the strongest quarter for M&A disclosed value since the third quarter of 2012. With 377 acquisitions of venture-backed companies during the year, full year 2013 ranks as the slowest year for venture-backed M&A since 2009. . . ." read more at links above and below --

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre Entrepreneurs | TechCrunch: " . . . . persistence is not the self-help cliche “Keep going until you hit the finish line!”. The key slogan is, “Keep failing until you accidentally no longer fail.” That’s persistence." - James Altucher

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