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Updated: 2017-06-26T22:01:00+00:00

 



IBM landed a big win in the race to sell blockchain to Wall Street [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T15:01:00-07:00

IBM has been selected to build a new blockchain-based international trading system for a consortium of global banks, a major win for the tech giant in the race to sell blockchain to Wall Street. Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Rabobank, Société Générale and UniCredit announced in January that they were banding together to build a "Digital Trade Chain (DTC)," a blockchain-based trade finance platform.  International trade is currently a convoluted process where most involved can't see the whole process, instead only dealing with one other party in a complex supply chain.  DTC will use the same technology that underpins digital currency bitcoin to connects all parties involved in international trade — buyers, sellers, transporters, banks financing the deals, and so on. The hope is that this leads to more financing for people lower down the chain as banks can be confident seeing the end buyer is good for the money. IBM announced on Tuesday that it has been selected by the consortium to build DTC, following what it calls "a global competitive bidding process." Marie Wieck, IBM Blockchain's general manager, says in a release: "In working with hundreds of clients around the world on a diverse range of blockchain projects, trade finance has emerged as one of the strongest use cases for the technology." The contract is a significant win for IBM as it means the tech company's blockchain platform — dubbed Hyperledger Fabric — will be used to build the system. That likely means lucrative servicing contracts for IBM and may make banking execs more likely to commission more Hyperledger-based products and services once they're familiar with the system. Rudi Peeters, CIO at KBC, says in a release announcing the deal: "Their blockchain and banking industry expertise will help us create a new platform for small and medium businesses in Europe that can enable them for faster, easier and cheaper trade transactions." IBM's Hyperledger Fabric is one of three main blockchain-based systems vying to become the next-generation "operating system" for financial services. R3, a startup set up by Wall Street veteran David Rutter, has developed blockchain-inspired platform Corda. Finance executives are also exploring the possibility of using open source blockchain Ethereum as a platform for products. JPMorgan, UBS, and Credit Suisse were all founding members of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA), a group looking to develop best practice standards for building on Ethereum. Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology, is a form of shared database that is policed using complex cryptography to ensure that it can only be edited when the majority of participants on the network have approved. The technology was first developed to underpin digital currency bitcoin as it removes the need for a central bank or authority to police the currency. Banks around the world have been talking about the potential of blockchain to transform finance for several years. The inbuilt security and trust checks allow banks to potentially cut out middlemen in processes like settlement and clearing, deal directly with each other rather than working through third parties. This would cuts costs. Santander estimated in a 2015 report that the technology could collectively save banks as much as $20 billion per year.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Warren Buffett lives in a modest house that's worth .001% of his total wealth — here's what it looks like [...]



Prime minister Modi could lecture Trump on climate change — India is leapfrogging the US on renewables [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:53:43-07:00

India's prime minister Narendra Modi is meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday, and the agenda could include climate change as the two prepare for the G-20 Summit in July. In the wake of Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, Modi might have a thing or two to lecture the American president about. India is leapfrogging the US with ambitious renewable energy goals — and it's achieving them. Following the US' departure from the Paris accord, countries like India, China, and the EU have "stepped up to fill the void the US left behind" John Coequyt, the Sierra Club's global climate policy director, told Business Insider on Monday. India wants to get nearly 60% of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027, and the country is on track to exceed the goals it set in its commitment to the Paris deal. "India in particular has made huge progress in terms of not only meeting but actually being on track to exceed its Paris commitments," Coequyt said, "and as the cost of solar energy and other renewables continues to fall globally, we're only going to see that trend accelerate." So how did India, infamous for its sometimes choking pollution in major cities, cut back its emissions faster than anyone predicted? One word: coal. India has been unabashedly shutting down its coal plants. For example, The Independent reported last week that Coal India, the world's largest coal company that's responsible for 82% of India's coal, announced it was closing 37 mines due to the economic non-viability of the fossil fuel. Indian economic coal imports are falling, and Bloomberg reported the India's energy minister announced the government wants to do-away with coal imports entirely. Dropping coal isn't a new phenomenon in India. From July 2015 to July 2016, India's "coal plant pipeline" fell by 40 gigawatts, according to Coal Swarm. And under its draft National Electricity Plan from December 2016, the country isn't planning on building any new coal power plants. By virtue of adopting renewables with such gusto, about 25,000 remote villages in India could never use fossil fuels. They'll sail right past coal and start using solar, hydropower, and biomass as their first sources of electricity. Some in India might be seeing renewable electricity before places in the United States. These Indian villages could "leapfrog" fossil fuels and go straight to renewables, Kartikeya Singh, a doctoral candidate at Tufts University, told Business Insider in 2016 — leapfrogging the US in the process. By comparison, 64% of American electricity came from fossil fuels including natural gas and coal in 2016, according to the US Energy and Information Administration. Renewable sources like solar, wind, and hydropower only accounted for only 15%. Following through with his campaign trail promises, Trump aims to amp up coal production in the United States, first by rolling back environmental regulations and pulling out of the Paris agreement. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has been reaching out to coal companies, and his senior policy advisor Mandy Gunasekara told a coal conference audience that the EPA would be there to help coal companies. While the federal government is stepping down from its leadership role on fighting climate change, cities and companies are pledging their support. Twenty-nine states have adopted renewable energy goals, and the We Are Still In movement — a coalition of government players, academics, and big businesses that pledges to stick to the Paris agreement — represents $6.2 trillion of the US economy. Businesses in the US and India can both see that phasing out fossil fuels and adopting renewables is the path forward. "Shifting away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energy is not an option when it comes to the economy and healthy communities," Coequyt said. "That's a fact in India, in the US, and around the world." During their working dinner on Monday night, Modi might just broach the topic of climate change with Trump.SEE ALSO: Developing countries a[...]



You can now use Amazon Echo as an intercom system for your home — here's how (AMZN) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:50:33-07:00

Amazon's Echo devices have a new trick: They can be used like an intercom system inside your house. For example, you can now call the Echo Dot in your bedroom from the standard Echo in your living room. Or, you can stream video from an Echo Show in your baby's room to another Echo Show in your kitchen. All you have to do in either case is ask Alexa, Amazon's intelligent assistant, which is built into its Echo gadgets.  You'll be able to access the intercom feature via the Alexa smartphone and tablet app also. So, if your kids have Echos in their rooms, you use your phone to talk to them through their smart speakers, instead of yelling up the stairs at them. And, via the smartphone app, you can call them directly on their Echo speakers even when you're away from home.   Amazon is adding the feature to its Echo devices via a free software update it's rolling out on Monday. It will be adding the feature to its Alexa smartphone and tablet app via a similar update in the coming days. Amazon built the new intercom capability on top of its recently-launched Alexa voice-calling feature. The difference is that instead of telling Alexa to call a friend or a family member, you instruct it to call the kitchen or whichever room you have an Echo situated in. To set up an Echo as an intercom, you have to go into the Alexa app or settings page and name it based on the room it's in. Also, within Alexa settings, you have to enable the new "drop-in" feature within your household group. The drop-in feature is what allows users of other Echo devices to automatically start chatting with you or viewing the video stream from an Echo Show device without you having to answer their call. SEE ALSO: REVIEW: Amazon's newest Echo speaker is not for everyone Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Mount Everest is not the tallest mountain in the world [...]



Astronomers think there’s another planet in our solar system — here’s everything we know about 'Planet 10' [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:44:29-07:00

Astronomers have detected signs for another planet in our solar system. They have nicknamed it 'Planet 10'. Here is everything we know about it so far.

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The difference between how millennials and baby boomers consume news, in one chart [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:42:46-07:00

How you stay informed on what’s happening in the world probably depends on your age. That may not be a surprise, but a recent survey from the Reuters Institute puts the discrepancy in perspective: Digital outlets serve as the main source of news for the majority of those under 35, including 64% of those between the ages of 18 and 24. Meanwhile, TV still reigns supreme for 51% of those over 55. Those in the middle have more of a mix, but this chart from Statista shows a clear trend: The older you are, the more likely you rely on traditional sources. If you grew up with the internet, you probably use the internet. Whatever the case, the survey also seems to confirm that print media and radio are just less essential. SEE ALSO: There’s reason to think some people will come back to Uber now that its CEO has resigned Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We drove a brand-new Tesla Model X from San Francisco to New York — here's what happened [...]



These are the 8 apps we can't live without [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:15:48-07:00

For many of us, life significantly changed with the advent of the app. No longer do we have to wander helplessly through the streets searching for THE best burger in town, or wait more than an hour to see photos of Aunt Becky's Hawaiian vacation. Yelp and Facebook have changed all that. There are over a million apps in the app store, but these are the eight without which life just wouldn't be right. They are the ones we use daily and maybe even hourly that take up a special place in our phones (and hearts).         SEE ALSO: Here are the best app launches and updates you may have missed in the last month Google Maps—we'd be (literally) lost without it Google Maps can get you anywhere no matter if you're walking, driving, biking or taking public transportation. It can help you avoid major traffic jams and accidents, and even tell you when the next train is coming. Most of us wouldn't be able to get around without it, and would rather wander endlessly than be confronted with a physical map.  Sure it's embarrassing to have to walk around in a new city listening to Google tell you to "head south towards Pine street," but it's a lot better than the alternative.    Snapchat—your life is too picture perfect not to share Snapchat has taken over many of our communications. Why go to the effort of typing out a text when you can convey emotions, location and status with a quick snap? Once you start, it's hard to stop tapping through your friends stories. And it's a great way to keep up to date with what's going on with your friends with whom you're not in close contact.   The constantly updated filter options are also addicting, and geotags are the best way to show off all the places you went over the weekend.   Venmo—a new way of sending money Venmo is essential for everything from paying rent to going to lunch with a group. Many of us have stopped carrying cash almost completely, and a "cash only" sign puts fear into our hearts.    See the rest of the story at Business Insider [...]



America's top cyclist entering the Tour de France has been using a portable brain stimulator to try to gain an edge, and he says it actually works [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:13:33-07:00

The highest-ranked American cyclist heading into this year's Tour de France, Andrew Talansky, is using portable neuroscience technology to try to gain an edge over his world-class rivals, and he says his performance has improved since he began using it regularly in December. The state-of-the-art technology was created by the Silicon Valley startup Halo Neuroscience, which counts Andreessen Horowitz and Lux Capital among its investors. Halo has raised $10.6 million in funding. Players in the NFL and MLB, Olympians, and Navy SEALs are among those who have tried Halo, but Talansky is one of just two cyclists at the sport's highest level we know of using neuroscience technology. The Halo Sport headset retails for $750, and the app is free, though the company said it may eventually launch a premium version. How Halo Sport works The science behind Halo is based on what the company calls neuropriming, or "the process of using electrical stimulation during movement-based training to build stronger, more optimized connections between your brain and muscles." According to Halo, the process "induces a temporary state of hyper-learning or 'hyperplasticity' in the brain, which refines the brain's ability to learn and adapt to training. This allows you to see better results, faster." It uses transcranial direct-current stimulation, or tDCS, a noninvasive stimulation that uses electrical currents to stimulate parts of the brain. After you download the Halo Sport app, which controls the headset, you moisten the headset electrodes ("primers") and neuroprime for 20 minutes, during which time you feel a tingly sensation at the top of your head as the device stimulates your brain's motor cortex. All the while you can listen to music through the headphones using your phone or music player. After neuropriming, you have an hour of "afterglow" wherein you perform your most focused workout and, according to Halo, reap the greatest benefit. After the initial 20 minutes of neuropriming, you're effectively done benefiting from wearing the headset, but you can keep wearing it to listen to music. Once you complete one full 80-minute session — 20 minutes of neuropriming and 60 minutes of working out — you have to wait at least eight hours to begin another Halo session (though you can keep working out as normal). Talansky said he uses Halo three or four times a week, on average. As Halo's chief technology officer and cofounder, Dr. Brett Wingeier, further explains in a video: "Understanding the science behinds Halo Sport comes down to how the brain learns new skills. Repetition is the key ... That's why training works. Scientists call this 'neuroplasticity,' and it's how the brain learns how to control the body, and it's a big part of the gains you get from training." Halo in pro cycling Talansky, 28, rides on the US Cannondale-Drapac team. Born in New York City and raised in Florida, he's nicknamed "Pit Bull" for his grit. Notable victories are the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2014, the Tour de l'Ain in 2012, and a stage in May's Tour of California. He has finished 10th and 11th overall at the Tour de France, in 2013 and 2015, and seventh and fifth at the Vuelta a España, in 2012 and 2016. He's one of two WorldTour cyclists we know of using neuroscience, Halo or otherwise, as part of his regular training. Halo told Business Insider that Talansky is not one of its paid athletes and that he simply liked the product. Talansky told us he first heard about Halo through a staff member in the Cannondale-Drapac organization. As Talansky made clear to Business Insider, he does not suggest that the technology delivers results overnight. Instead, he emphasized that, for him, the benefit came from using it often over a period with many focused workouts. Business Insider spoke with Talansky by phone from his European base in Girona, Spain, on Friday, eight days befor[...]



The head judge of the World's Ugliest Dog competition reveals how he picks 'winners' [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:13:00-07:00

In the high-stakes world of competitive dog shows, veteran judge Brian Sobel says first impressions make all the difference. "I'll see the animal and say, 'Oh boy. Now this one gets my attention — from bulging eyeballs to growths to a tail that looks like it comes from another species. Maybe a tongue hanging out,'" Sobel told Business Insider. The World's Ugliest Dog contest, which Sobel has judged for about 10 years, celebrates the pooches whose faces only a mother could love.. On Sunday, a panel of judges crowned Martha — a 125-pound Neapolitan mastiff with bloodshot eyes, buckets of drool, and baggy skin — the 2017 contest winner. "This is 125 pounds of dog and 300 pounds of skin," Sobel remembered thinking when he first saw Martha. "It looked like something you see after someone has weight loss surgery." Martha, who is three and a half years old, is a sight to behold. The so-called "gentle giant" stands on oversized paws. Fuzzy folds of skin hang over her eyes — and every other part of her body. Despite having two corrective surgeries on her red and saggy eyes, Martha remains blind in one of them. She lives with her rescuer, Jessica Burkard of Penngrove, California. At the World's Ugliest Dog competition, held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair, contestants walk on a runway before the judges. Sobel said he evaluates the dogs on three categories: personality, appearance, and audience reaction. There are no scoring sheets or physical examinations. "This isn't the Westminster Dog Show. It's the polar opposite of that. If a dog walks straight and looks perfect, like my former Labrador Retriever, he's not going to make it," Sobel said. Sobel said when they announced Martha as the winner, she laid down on the stage and remained totally unfazed by the photographers swarming around her. "The jowls spread out three feet on each side of its face. It was really a unique dog," Sobel said. The winning pup and its owner receive $1,500, a trophy, a free trip to New York City for media appearances, and bragging rights on the next trip to the dog park.SEE ALSO: The best flea prevention and treatment for dogs Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what popular dog breeds looked like before and after 100 years of breeding [...]



Trump wants companies to hire American, but CIOs don't seem to be paying attention [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:08:25-07:00

Donald Trump has made a habit of blasting companies that build factories and hire workers overseas instead of in America. But when it comes to information technology jobs and resources, the heated rhetoric doesn't seem to be having much of an effect. A recent survey of Chief Information Officers by AlphaWise/Morgan Stanley found that most CIOs have not changed their user of offshore services, and some even plan to increase it. The survey asked 100 CIOs in the US and Europe how the "current political environment" has impacted the degree to which they allocate resources inhouse versus offshore. The survey did not specifically define "political environment," a term that could include anything from hyper partisanship to debates about taxes. But it comes at a time of growing nationalism in worldwide politics. Campaigns for both the UK "Brexit" and the Trump presidency centered around the retention of domestic jobs, with Trump even using his personal Twitter to call out companies that plan to outsource jobs.  The survey included 75 respondents from the US and 25 from Europe. According to the survey, conducted in June, 67% of the respondents said the political climate will not lead to any change. None of the respondents indicated that they will decrease outsourcing. In fact, 20% said they will increase their use of offshore services up to 10% as a consequence of the political environment; 13% said they will increased their use by more than 10%.   Silicon Valley has been a particularly vocal opponent of anti-free trade sentiment in the US, arguing that restrictions on trade will raise the cost of labor, which will impact consumers directly and make US tech companies less competitive in the global playing field.  In April, President Trump signed the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, which aimed to make changes to H-1B visas, the high skill labor visa favored by tech companies.  The White House said that the visa program undercuts American workers and drives down wages, while those in favor argue that it makes up for staffing shortages in the tech industry, according to AP. SEE ALSO: HubSpot is going to give one lucky person $100,000 to start his or her dream business Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Ivanka Trump's Instagram put her at the center of a controversy over her lavish art collection [...]



Apple just bought a company that made eye-tracking 'smart' glasses (AAPL) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T14:05:27-07:00

Apple has purchased a small German company that specializes in eye-tracking, MacRumors reported on Monday. The company, SensoMotoric Instruments, previously made a specialized pair of glasses that used eye tracking for a variety of applications, including athletics. The company used the domain name eyetracking-glasses.com. They claimed their eye-tracking technology had over 100,000 users.  Eye tracking is a core technology that many working on virtual and augmented reality believe will be essential to truly immersive eyewear. Headsets with eye-tracking can use the technology as a component in a user interface, so that where you're clicking in a virtual world lines up with where you're actually looking in the real world. Eye-tracking can also be used to reduce the amount of processing power needed to render a virtual world, or make virtual characters seem more real.  Last year, Google bought Eyefluence, another company specializing in eye-tracking. AR startup Magic Leap, which has raised $1.39 billion, uses eye tracking in its prototype headset.  Apple has never confirmed that it is working on a headset, but it released a set of augmented-reality software tools for the iPhone, ARKit, last month. Apple CEO Tim Cook has also been effusive in his praise for the technology in public speeches.  "I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day," Cook said last year.  Apple has bought a ton of companies with applications in AR or VR, including:  Metaio, which made AR software Primesense, which made a 3D sensor which could be great for AR Faceshift, a facial mapping company FlyBy Media, which made tech that can track the 3D motion of an object.  Apple confirmed the purchase to Axios. The price Apple paid for the reportedly 60-person company is unknown. width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VEZP_corY3Q?ecver=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-w7r0IGRlTY?ecver=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> SEE ALSO: 9 startups Apple bought in 2016, and what they do Join the conversation about this story » [...]



Nintendo promises that its $80 mini Super Nintendo won't be impossible to find [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T13:53:35-07:00

Nintendo promises that it's new $80 mini Super Nintendo console will be easier to find than its other video game consoles.   In a statement provided to Business Insider, a Nintendo representative said, "We aren’t providing specific numbers, but we will produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition." In late 2016, Nintendo launched a $60 video game console that looked almost exactly like the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It was called the "NES Classic Edition," and it was in high demand as a gift during the holidays. That demand carried into 2017 — until Nintendo suddenly killed the console in April. As such, the life of the NES Classic Edition was a roller coaster of emotions for anyone trying to buy the console. It was made available during the holiday season, was near impossible to buy, and then it was never fully re-stocked before being discontinued. Why was it killed?  There are a variety of answers to that question, but the main thing to understand about Nintendo's "Classic Edition" console sales is that they're intended as an elaborate commercial for Nintendo. The end goal is simple: You buy other Nintendo products, like the company's new Switch console, after having been reminded that Nintendo games are a lot of fun. It's a diabolical combination of product, advertisement, and nostalgia.   The Super NES Classic Edition is the same way. Nintendo's only promising it'll continue production of the Super NES Classic Edition console "until the end of calendar year 2017." After that? "We have nothing to announce regarding any possible shipments beyond this year." Rough! While it's entirely possible that Nintendo continues producing its Super NES Classic Edition console well into 2018, it sounds equally likely that it'll end its run when 2017 is over.  All of which is to say one thing: Get ready to pre-order. There's no way to do so just yet, but Nintendo says it'll have that info "coming soon." If that fails, you can always line up bright and early on September 29 at your favorite local store — the Super NES Classic Edition costs $79.99 and launches on September 29. Here's the full statement from Nintendo regarding the Super NES Classic Edition supply: "We aren’t providing specific numbers, but we will produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition. "Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition is currently planned to ship from Sept. 29 until the end of calendar year 2017. At this time, we have nothing to announce regarding any possible shipments beyond this year. "Our long-term efforts are focused on delivering great games for the Nintendo Switch system and continuing to build momentum for that platform, as well as serving the more than 63 million owners of Nintendo 3DS family systems. We are offering Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition in special recognition of the fans who show tremendous interest our classic content."SEE ALSO: Nintendo will release a mini Super Nintendo with 21 classic games for just $80 DON'T MISS: There's a way cooler version of the tiny $80 Super Nintendo — but you won't be able to buy it in the US Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Unboxing the Nintendo NES Classic Edition everyone's going crazy for [...]



Apple is so far behind on self-driving technology that it might never catch up (AAPL, TSLA, GOOG) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T13:32:14-07:00

Apple's automotive ambitions have been pivoting wildly recently. The secretive "Project Titan" was thought to be a car, until it wasn't. Later, Apple indicated that it would shift to pursue autonomous systems — literally years behind potential competitors, including Google, Tesla, and even traditional carmakers such as General Motors. Now Bloomberg's Alex Webb and David Welch have reported that Apple is leasing vehicles from Hertz. That's right, Apple has finally gotten around to renting some cars, presumably to use for its self-driving experiments. "The iPhone maker is leasing Lexus RX450h sport-utility vehicles from Hertz’s Donlen fleet-management unit, according to documents released recently by the California Department of Motor Vehicles," Webb and Welch reported. Neither Hertz nor Apple commented on the news, so it's difficult to draw a conclusion about what exactly Apple is planning, but there's a connection of sorts with Waymo's announcement that it will partner with Avis to store and service a fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The big difference is that Waymo has a well-developed self-driving technology that it's integrating with Chrysler's vehicle, while based on the reporting, it appears that Apple is simply leasing some cars to do what Waymo did five years ago, before it developed the small Google Cars that predated the deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to supply Pacificas. Maybe we're being too hard on Apple Apple's efforts with cars and self-driving technology have always looked chaotic if not downright misguided. And while this latest news makes it seem as if the tech colossus is moving in the right direction, unless it intends to significantly alter the leased Lexuses and strike a fleet-management deal similar to what Waymo and Avis came up with, it's yet another indication that Apple doesn't have its act together with autonomy. That verdict might be too harsh, however, if you consider that Apple's self-driving goals are getting increasingly modest. It's possible that all Apple wants to do is create an in-vehicle interface of some sort that will coordinate autonomy, infotainment, connectivity, data, and other software-oriented systems.  But if Apple isn't getting more modest, the Hertz announcement is continuing evidence that the company is so far behind on self-driving that it might never catch up. Regardless, it's still to fair to be skeptical about Apple's transportation agenda. This week's news is good for both Hertz and Avis, or course, because it puts them in the same sentence as "Apple" and "self-driving" and might convince some investors that both companies have a role to play in the remaking of mobility.SEE ALSO: Uber and Tesla are showing ominous signs that the era of auto disruption may be about to come to an abrupt end Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How to supercharge your iPhone in 5 minutes [...]



Apple CEO Tim Cook got a big laugh during his surprise appearance at Cisco's conference (AAPL) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T13:22:49-07:00

LAS VEGAS – Cisco's massive customer conference kicked off this week in Las Vegas, and CEO Chuck Robbins had a surprise special guest for his opening keynote: Apple CEO Tim Cook. The two CEOs gave an update on their two-year old partnership to make Apple devices work better on networks built with Cisco's gear. Robbins began the discussion by asking Cook what he hoped to gain from the Apple/Cisco partnership. "We thought, looking at the enterprise, people were spending tons of money. But when you looked at the user experience, it wasn't very good. So we thought we could bring Apple's legendary ease-of-use and simplicity to the enterprise and really change the way people work," Cook said, with all the modesty you'd expect from Steve Jobs' successor. Cook then gave, as an example, a nod to one of his favorite new features in Apple's upcoming iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 11: ARKit. ARKit will allows developers to build so-called "augmented reality" apps, which lets you see digital images or digital data floating on top of the real world. "This is one of the things I'm so excited about from a consumer and enterprise [point of view]," Cook said. His best moment came when explaining all the ways Apple and Cisco were making Apple devices, especially via iOS 11, safer from hackers. "The hacking community aren't hackers anymore, they are sophisticated enterprises," he said. In response, Cisco and Apple have done things like blocking "these phishing emails that all of us are getting everyday." Cook was referring to emails that come from hackers but look like they are from your boss, or others that you know.  And then, Cook not-so-subtly slammed Android, to the delight of the crowd. He was explaining that hacking incidents have led to a new cyber security insurance markets. One day, when he was visiting Cisco's campus talking to Robbins about new ways to work together, they had a thought, Cook explained (emphasis ours): "If your company is using Cisco and Apple, then the combination of these should make that insurance cost significantly less for you than it would if you were using some other personal network side and the other operating system in the mobile area," Cook said. The audience laughed, immediately getting recognizing the slam on Android, which has a reputation for being less secure than iOS. Cook offered a small grin and told the audience, "Just sayin!'" But he insisted he wasn't joking. "This is something we're going to spend some energy on," he promised.SEE ALSO: GROWING PAINS: Why $345 million HR startup Namely lost its CFO, CTO and many others SEE ALSO: Elon Musk was the reason one of Apple's most famous developers left Tesla after only 6 months Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Ivanka Trump's Instagram put her at the center of a controversy over her lavish art collection [...]



THE CLOUD COMPUTING REPORT: An introduction to cloud solutions and their use cases [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T13:10:00-07:00

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here. Cloud computing — on-demand, internet-based computing services — has been successfully applied to many computing functions in recent years. From consumer-facing, web-based productivity apps like Google Docs to enterprise database management suites, the tools businesses rely on are increasingly moving to the cloud. But developing a cloud strategy is no easy task. Public cloud solutions will likely come to dominate the market over the next decade, but business constraints, such as security concerns and the limitations of existing infrastructure, make it difficult for companies to fully adopt the public cloud right now. That means that hybrid clouds, in which multiple cloud implementations (including public and private) are connected, will remain popular for the time being, at least until these constraints are addressed. The tech giants that dominate the IaaS market — Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and Google — are constantly expanding their offerings to address current business constraints as they compete for market share. A new report from BI Intelligence evaluates the current business considerations for the various cloud solutions and provides an outlook on the state of the market. Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:  Cloud computing solutions have gained traction because they're flexible and cost efficient. Sixty-seven percent of companies used an Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution in 2015, like the cloud, for some part of their business, up 19% from the prior year. All cloud solutions provide certain benefits that are becoming increasingly essential to businesses in the digital age. These include on-demand self-service, rapid elasticity, and broad network access, among others. Security needs, demand predictability, existing infrastructure, and maintenance capabilities are key business considerations for enterprises choosing between cloud implementations. While hybrid cloud strategies will remain popular in the near term, the market is likely to shift toward the public cloud over time. That's because costs are falling, providers are developing solutions that address main concerns with the public cloud, and business practices like agile development and data analytics are dependent on advantages the public cloud provides. However, industries that handle sensitive information, like financial services and healthcare, will likely prefer hybrid and private cloud strategies given regulatory restrictions. Amazon Web Services is the dominant cloud computing provider by market share, followed by Google, IBM, and Microsoft. Because the latter three companies have had little success taking on Amazon, market-share gains are likely to come at the expense of smaller competitors. In full, the report: Explains the different cloud computing strategies and benefits of cloud computing. Evaluates key business considerations – security needs, demand predictability, existing infrastructure, and maintenance capabilities – for enterprises choosing between cloud implementations. Provides and outlook for trends and major players in the cloud computing market. Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it: Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn [...]



You can download the beta version of iOS 11 for iPhones now (AAPL) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T13:08:56-07:00

Want to check out all the new goodies that Apple has built into the latest version of iOS, the software that runs on iPhones and iPads? Now you can — you simply have to sign up with Apple to download the beta version. You can sign up for the public iOS 11 beta here.  iOS 11 runs on all iPhones with a fingerprint sensor, going back to the iPhone 5S. However, if you have an iPhone 5, 5C, or iPhone 4S, you won't be able to install iOS 11.  Before you install the beta, though, you have to understand that this is pre-release software. There are going to be bugs and other little errors, and there's always a chance you could lose your data or your phone won't work properly, so you'll want to back up first. That said, you might want to wait until the official final version of iOS 11, which will be released this fall.  But if you're willing to take the risk, there are a lot of great new goodies for your Apple phone or tablet in this release — and you will help Apple squash the bugs for everyone else.  Here are some highlights: Siri gets a lot of improvements, including a new voice. The Control Center has been completely redesigned and now users can customize it. The App Store has been redesigned to become much more visual and curated.  The Camera app can now read QR codes and got a bunch of new filters.  Apple Music now has profile pages.  Apple Maps now covers indoor malls and airports. There's a new setting that will help you clear storage space on your device. You can now share a Wi-Fi password with your contacts.  SEE ALSO: REVIEW: Amazon's newest Echo speaker is not for everyone Join the conversation about this story » [...]



I Don’t Accept This Apology [Feld Thoughts]

2017-06-26T13:03:46-07:00

I don’t believe that one starts an apology with the sentence “The past 24 hours have been the darkest of my life.” In my world, the apology is to another person. It’s not a tone setting exercise, or a plea for sympathy, for the one making the apology. I was fuming after seeing the public... Read more The post I Don’t Accept This Apology appeared first on Feld Thoughts.I don’t believe that one starts an apology with the sentence “The past 24 hours have been the darkest of my life.” In my world, the apology is to another person. It’s not a tone setting exercise, or a plea for sympathy, for the one making the apology. I was fuming after seeing the public apology on Axios from Justin Caldbeck. I could be wrong, but it felt like it was written by a crisis management PR firm. I spent most of Friday evening angry and upset. Embarrassed by the behavior of some men. Proud of the women who broke their silence about the abuse they had been on the receiving end of. But mostly just ashamed of myself for not doing more about the issue of sexual harassment in our industry. I read Reid Hoffman’s The Human Rights of Women Entrepreneurs and Joanne Wilson’s The Gig Is Up. My partners and I had an extensive conversation over the weekend. Amy and I talked about it over dinner Friday and Saturday night. And then I read Brenden Mulligan’s Everything I hate about Justin Caldbeck’s statement. I nodded my head all the way through. I knew what I was feeling, which was what Brenden was articulating. His post is an angry one, which he acknowledges, and the fierceness of it makes the point even more powerful. It takes a lot to get me angry. I continued to stew all day Saturday. I thought about this during my entire run. I tried to process what I wanted to do and how I wanted to respond. Every time I thought about my anger, I reminded myself that this wasn’t about me. I knew that a quick response, driven by my own anger, wasn’t healthy. So I kept talking to my partners and to Amy. Clarity of thought for me finally came together on my run Sunday. After lunch and a shower, my partners and I co-wrote the post Our Zero Tolerance Policy On Sexual Harassment which appears on our Foundry Group website. I hope I, and my partners at Foundry Group, am viewed as a safe place for anyone in our industry. Specifically, if anyone ever feels sexual harassed in any context, I offer myself up as a resource for them to try to be a source of good in the universe. And, a hint for anyone who wants to apologize for anything. The way to do it, as I learned from my mother, is to say, simply, “Joan, I’m sorry.” The post I Don’t Accept This Apology appeared first on Feld Thoughts. [...]



Here's your first look at the biggest iPad update ever [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T13:01:00-07:00

The iPad is getting a major overhaul this year. iOS 11, which is available today in beta as a public preview, adds a slew of new features to the iPad as the device inches closer to its goal of becoming a laptop replacement. There's a new app for managing files, an app dock that mimics the one on your Mac, some new multitasking features, and loads of other goodies that make it easier to get things done. It's the biggest iPad software update since the device launched over seven years ago. I've been testing the iOS 11 public beta for a few days. You can try it too by signing up here. (It's also available for iPhone.) But keep in mind that it's still technically beta software, so you might encounter some bugs. The final version will be available this fall. Keep reading to see the most important changes coming in iOS 11.SEE ALSO: The creator of Android explains how his new phone will take on Apple and Samsung The first thing you'll notice is the new app dock at the bottom of the screen. It looks very similar to the dock on Mac. You can store all your favorite apps there. The apps to the right of the bar on the dock change based on what Siri thinks you'll want to use next. I wasn't too crazy about this feature, since it often didn't suggest an app I wanted to use. You can access the dock in any app by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. This makes it easier to switch between your favorite apps. You can also drag an app from the dock to make it "float" in a separate window. Here's Twitter running on top of Safari. See the rest of the story at Business Insider [...]



There's a way cooler version of the tiny $80 Super Nintendo — but you won't be able to buy it in the US [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T12:40:56-07:00

Europe's already full of gorgeous old buildings, the world's finest art, and millions of beautiful people. Does it deserve a better looking Super Nintendo as well? In September, Europe's getting the much cooler-looking version of Nintendo's new $80, miniature Super Nintendo — the Super NES Classic Edition. Just look at this thing: Super fresh, right? Agreed. Nintendo announced the Super NES Classic Edition on Monday morning; there are two near-identical versions coming to North America and Europe on September 29. The one big difference? Appearance. The European version of the Super NES Classic Edition has the quartet of early-'90s Nintendo symbols (the green/blue/yellow/red icon in the upper right corner). It's got the adorable little 1 and 2 next to each controller port. It's got the power switch, and the massive eject button. It's got the retro-futuristic vibe of a device ripped from "Blade Runner." But in the United States? We get the rectangular box we all grew to know and love: I grew up with the Super Nintendo model seen above. It was slightly larger, and it took cartridges — the Super NES Classic Edition is small enough to fit into a palm, and only plays the games that are built into it (no cartridges) — but it was basically what you see above. And, like many of you, I loved my SNES. But also, as a long-time Nintendo fan, I saw the European model of the SNES and was insanely jealous. That jealousy extends to the European version of the Super NES Classic Edition. Even the box looks better! When the console does arrive in September, it'll come with the same 21 games in both North America and Europe. Here they are: Contra III: The Alien Wars Donkey Kong Country EarthBound Final Fantasy III F-ZERO Kirby Super Star Kirby’s Dream Course The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Mega Man X Secret of Mana Star Fox Star Fox 2 Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting Super Castlevania IV Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts Super Mario Kart Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Super Mario World Super Metroid Super Punch-Out!! Yoshi’s Island SEE ALSO: Nintendo will release a mini Super Nintendo with 21 classic games for just $80 Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Nintendo dropped another trailer for 'Super Mario Odyssey' — and it looks amazing [...]



Hertz and Avis are jumping after news of big tech partnerships (CAR, HTZ, AAPL, GOOGL) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T12:21:19-07:00

Shares of Avis and Hertz are on a tear. Hertz is leasing six Lexus SUVs to Apple as the Cupertino company continues to work on its self-driving cars, according to a story from CNBC citing anonymous sources. News of the partnership sent shares of Hertz up 13.5%, or about 2.25% per car the company is leasing. Hertz's rival, Avis, is also up on news of a self-driving car partnership. Waymo, the self-driving car subsidiary of Alphabet, is partnering with Avis to manage its self-driving car fleet. The fleet will contain about 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, according to Reuters. Avis will also be supplying fleet maintenance for Waymo. The news, which is seemingly 100-times larger in scale than the Apple-Hertz partnership, only sent shares up 12.58%. That's about .021% per car. Neither car company has performed well this year. Hertz is down 52.31%, even after the bump from its Apple partnership. Avis isn't fairing much better, as the company is down 26.87% this year. Click here to watch shares of Avis and Hertz move in real time ... Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: An economist explains what could happen if Trump pulls the US out of NAFTA [...]



Ignition 2017: Learn how the future of sports media is being turned on its head [Silicon Alley Insider]

2017-06-26T12:00:00-07:00

The sports-media landscape is changing rapidly. As consumers continue to move away from traditional television, sports leagues, their broadcast partner, and their advertising partners need to find creative ways to stay in front of the consumer. And the screen of choice isn't the only moving part in this sports-media revolution. Technologies like virtual reality, immersive video, and 360 video are changing consumers' expectations in how content is presented. Perhaps no entity has felt the effects of this shift more than ESPN. Last month, the channel laid off 100 employees, including some highly recognizable on-air talent. For years, the network benefited from being included in every package cable companies offered, forcing those who never watched to still pay over $9 a month as a part of their cable bill. Speaking at Ignition a few years ago, IAC chairman Barry Diller saw where the future was headed. "I think the future of television is more fragmentation," Diller said. "The bundle has no more elasticity in it." With viewers now cutting cable from their budgets and opting for more specialized digital options — either on demand or streaming — networks like ESPN are losing the dormant subscription dollars they have counted on for so long. To combat this, ESPN has focused in on digital, ramping up content on the WatchESPN app and ESPN 3, ESPN's digital-only network. Other networks, like the UK's BT Sport network, have chosen to team up with digital channels to simulcast sporting events online. For the second straight year, BT Sport will simulcast the UEFA Champions League and Europa League Finals on YouTube for free. Other sports leagues have found success simulcasting their games digitally, with Twitter streaming 10 "Thursday Night Football" games in 2016. But Twitter won't be streaming these games again in 2017, as Amazon won the rights for $50 million. On top of being broadcast on YouTube, this year both soccer championships will be available both in 4K ultra-high definition and in virtual reality, allowing users to watch a 360-degree view or select the view angle. At Ignition 2016, Brad Allen, executive chairman at NextVR, talked about how virtual reality was changing the viewing experience with sports. VR could allow you to watch a game at your house with your friend who's at his house. “We’re talking each other, and it’s like we’re there courtside watching the game,” Allen said. “That’s where it’s going.” These subjects are expected to be discussed in depth again at this year's Ignition conference. If the digital disruption that is overhauling the media industry affects your job, this is an event you can't afford to miss. To learn more about the future of media, be sure to attend Business Insider's IGNITION 2017! We’re rolling out the speaker lineup over the coming months, and you won’t want to miss it. Business Insider IGNITION 2017 will take place November 29-30 at the Time Warner Center in New York City. Right now we're offering early-bird tickets that will save you $500 — don't miss out. Join us at IGNITION! [...]



Web 2.0 Summit Day One [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-11-05T18:58:47-08:00

The Web 2.0 Summit started today. If there was one word to describe the overall atmosphere and mood is that it was 'muted.' Despite the new president, the mood lacked the spark and feeling of being part of something big. It was definitely there two years ago. That was then, this is now. We'll see how the rest of it goes. I heard one good stat. Even though the iPhone is only 5% of the smartphone market, it represents 74% of the mobile web traffic. That's an eye-popping number. Once again proof that if you design something well, like the UI of the web surfing experience, people will use it. Welcome to the design era of technology. AT&T must be very happy with its deal and the data revenues its getting as a result. Also, Mary Meeker gave her state of the internet presentation. Lots of good data in there. Whou would think that Skype is about to become the world's largest carrier? You can get it here.The Web 2.0 Summit started today.  If there was one word to describe the overall atmosphere and mood is that it was 'muted.'  Despite the new president, the mood lacked the spark and feeling of being part of something big.  It was definitely there two years ago.  That was then, this is now.  We'll see how the rest of it goes. I heard one good stat.  Even though the iPhone is only 5% of the smartphone market, it represents 74% of the mobile web traffic.  That's an eye-popping number.  Once again proof that if you design something well, like the UI of the web surfing experience, people will use it.  Welcome to the design era of technology.  AT&T must be very happy with its deal and the data revenues its getting as a result. Also, Mary Meeker gave her state of the internet presentation.  Lots of good data in there.  Whou would think that Skype is about to become the world's largest carrier?  You can get it here.  [...]



The NY Times Says Yelp has Arrived [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-11-04T19:08:24-08:00

It's not often that the venerable New York Times publishes a glowing piece on one of my portfolio companies. This is a welcome bit of good cheer amidst the backdrop of a generally gloomy economy.  When I invested in the young company founded by Jeremy S. and Russ S. back in 2005, Yelp had attracted about 100,000 San Franciscans to its site.  Today, with more than 15,000,000 monthly visitors, it (image)



Humor without the lies, please [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-11-02T12:01:58-08:00

I admit that I'm a frequent reader of Valleywag, a low-brow blog full of silicon valley gossip.  It's often pretty funny, and I know many of the people referenced in the stories, which only adds to the entertainment value.Last week, however, the blog ran an entry containing a fabricated story.  The entry was meant to embarrass Jimmy Wales, an entrepreneur we backed two years ago.  If there is (image)



Pumpkin O-The Times [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-31T21:11:10-07:00

One of our close friends have a pumpkin carving day tradition. This one was one of the best pumpkins carved that day. Thanks Pete & Ayse. Happy Halloween!

One of our close friends have a pumpkin carving day tradition.

This one was one of the best pumpkins carved that day.  Thanks Pete & Ayse. 

Happy Halloween!

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Thoughts on European Start Ups [localglobe]

2008-10-30T09:34:59-07:00

I had a great time putting this presentation together past week to give at the O'Reilly Web2Expo in Berlin.Thoughts on European Start UpsView SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: startups vc)Thanks to everyone for the embedding, the video and the really great feedback - much appreciated.For some really practical advice, check out Robin's great post on cash management. [...]



It's The Economy [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-29T20:23:26-07:00

I've been traveling to Canada a lot for work lately. Air Canada has shown me many movies on demand, United has not given any choice, and both have shamelessly asked for $3 for headphones I haven't paid. None of the movies I saw moved me except for one. Ironically, it was the one I thought would be the worst and avoided consistently until the last leg of the final flight that I am writing this now. I watched "Hancock", barely finished it. I watched "The Incredible Hulk", didn't finish it. I watched "Sex and The City" and couldn't finish it. The plane was landing. I watched Indiana Jones again, and again didn't like it as much as the previous one, "The Last Crusade". The last movie I saw was "Swing Vote". It was a painful movie to watch in the beginning. It was also bad in the middle...but the ending. When Bud asked that question I couldn't help but cry. We need a president who wakes up every morning and asks himself the same question and spends his whole life building a legacy around answering it. I am not going to tell you what question that is. You need to watch the movie if you haven't yet. But this blogger believes that the candidate who can devote his life to answer it is Barack Obama. P.S. This is not a political blog, but around this time, once every four years, there may be a politically inclined post :-)I've been traveling to Canada a lot for work lately.  Air Canada has shown me many movies on demand, United has not given any choice, and both have shamelessly asked for $3 for headphones I haven't paid. None of the movies I saw moved me except for one.  Ironically, it was the one I thought would be the worst and avoided consistently until the last leg of the final flight that I am writing this now.I watched "Hancock", barely finished it.  I watched "The Incredible Hulk", didn't finish it.  I watched "Sex and The City" and couldn't finish it.  The plane was landing.  I watched Indiana Jones again, and again didn't like it as much as the previous one, "The Last Crusade".The last movie I saw was "Swing Vote".  It was a painful movie to watch in the beginning.  It was also bad in the middle...but the ending.   When Bud asked that question I couldn't help but cry.  We need a president who wakes up every morning and asks himself the same question and spends his whole life building a legacy around answering it.  I am not going to tell you what question that is.  You need to watch the movie if you haven't yet.   But this blogger believes that the candidate who can devote his life to answer it is Barack Obama.P.S. This is not a political blog, but around this time, once every four years, there may be a politically inclined post :-) [...]



Android Is a Success [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-29T09:51:04-07:00

For a new mobile technology, let alone an operating system, to go from announcement to shipping product is, however you look at it, a spectacular success. That's exactly what happened to Android with the G1 phone available from T-Mobile. It normally takes years for any technology to get in a carrier's network. Android did it in one year. In addition, Walt Mossberg called it "a worthy competitor to the iPhone". Given the iPhone is one of the most impactful technology innovations of the last 3 years, that's is a big statement. Now we are also hearing that Motorola is reorganizing around Android. Yet another sign of success in such a short period of time. Last year I predicted that Android would be a success, I consider that prediction to have come true. Here is what I wrote then, still quite valid: "1) The Success of Google's Android and the Open Handset Alliance: This means that handsets will become more like PC's and wireless carriers will become more like landline DSL providers. This is a bold statement because both handset makers (like Nokia) and carriers (like Vodafone) don't want this to happen. So why do I predict a change in an industry where dinosaurs were surviving for such a long time? Because a meteor the size of Texas hit the wireless industry in 2007 and it was called the iPhone. For the first time in the wireless industry, the handset chose the carrier as opposed to the carrier choosing the handset. The product was so impactful and well designed that some carriers agreed to share 30-40% of their data revenues with Apple in order to have the device on their network. That could be a very meaningful $200 dollars to Apple. Why did carriers agree to that? Because the carriers did the math and the revenue share probably made up the customer acquisition cost that they no longer had to pay which, in the US, is about $200. In return for that bargain they gave up ALL revenue from applications, ringtones etc. The consumers wanted it, they gave it, and doing so opened up the market an catalyzed the next innovation which came from Google. Android and the Open Handset Alliance, enables other people to quickly create new iPhones. It creates an environment that let's developers focus on what they do best, which is writing innovative applications. So that somebody can come up with a device so compelling that it too will chose their carrier (if carriers need a nudge Google can share search revenues, if they need a punch they'll fund an open carrier). Once that happens, the carriers become a dumb pipe, but a dumb pipe with similar economics and no worries for churn. The second reason carriers may embrace Android, is so they don't have to be hostage to Nokia which is exerting a bigger and bigger pressure on carriers. They are even building an ad network and making carriers pay them a piece of their ad revenues....For a new mobile technology, let alone an operating system, to go from announcement to shipping product is, however you look at it, a spectacular success.  That's exactly what happened to Android with the G1 phone available from T-Mobile.  It normally takes years for any technology to get in a carrier's network.  Android did it in one year.In addition, Walt Mossberg called it "a worthy competitor to the iPhone".  Given the iPhone is one of the most impactful technology innovations of the last 3 years, that's is a big s[...]



Congratulations Like.com [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-23T11:11:37-07:00

Congratulations Munjal and the rest of the like.com team on the fundraising! It is just one more testament to the fantastic product you are building. As an angel investor, it is a great pleasure to see the team grow, mature and become that great business that it deserves to be. What a wonderful ride to be a part of.

Congratulations Munjal and the rest of the like.com team on the fundraising!  It is just one more testament to the fantastic product you are building.  As an angel investor, it is a great pleasure to see the team grow, mature and become that great business that it deserves to be.  What a wonderful ride to be a part of.

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Like.com Raises $32M Series C [Venture Explorer]

2008-10-22T11:16:58-07:00

TechCrunch reports on portfolio company Like.com's recent funding. Munjal's timing was exquisite and the company is now very well-positioned to not just survive, but thrive, in a tough climate.

TechCrunch reports on portfolio company Like.com's recent funding.

Munjal's timing was exquisite and the company is now very well-positioned to not just survive, but thrive, in a tough climate.




Macbook Environmental Report [Salman's blog]

2008-10-15T14:44:00-07:00

Kudos to Apple for putting out an environmental report on their new Macbooks (via earth2tech).

Of course, I will have to point out that Apple estimates its embodied emissions (ie emissions from production and transport) to be 60% of the total lifecycle emissions of the product, versus 39% for customer use. Not to repeat myself too often, but why is it every one seems to be focusing on the 39% portion?

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Hamon Washoku Opens Today in San Carlos [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-10-15T13:00:15-07:00

Last Saturday my friend Bobby treated me and some friends to a sneak preview 7-course meal at his sleek new Japanese restaurant, Hamon Washoku (note, web site still under construction at press time) which opens today. Replacing the French crepes-n-coffee...



Stock Market Got You Down? Here's What $8.06 Buys at Fisher Farm [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-10-12T22:35:38-07:00

In the midst of the current economic meltdown comes a welcome recession buster from Doug Klein, CEO of LightPole and earnest foodie. He recently visited Fisher Farm and wrote in to describe his exploits: I stopped by Fisher on the...



Quote of The Day [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-09T14:08:29-07:00

"Apparently the Nigerian government has warned its citizens that if they get any e-mails from Irish/UK/US banks, promising government-backed deposit security and seeking bank account details, its a scam..."

"Apparently the Nigerian government has warned its citizens that if they get any
e-mails from Irish/UK/US banks, promising government-backed deposit security
and seeking bank account details, its a scam..."

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Portfolio Company Politics [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-10-01T19:01:08-07:00

I got nervous today when I heard one of my consumer internet portfolio companies had posted a political advertisement on YouTube. It seemed obvious to me that any consumer company is likely to alienate half of its customer base by making a political statement. No matter how well-executed the ad, it is guaranteed to hurt business as much as it helps.It appears that I may have jumped too quickly to(image)



Money fears [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-09-29T14:42:10-07:00

Doesn't this new version of the dollar bill do a perfect job capturing the essence of the Treasury Department's current state of mind?(image)



A Must-Read Blog for Entrepreneurs [Venture Explorer]

2008-09-29T14:32:35-07:00

My friend Eric Ries, co-founder/CTO of IMVU, has a great blog that's a must-read for entrepreneurs: here's the feedburner link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/startup/lessons/learned Subscribe now! This will save you time, money, headaches and ulcers ...

My friend Eric Ries, co-founder/CTO of IMVU, has a great blog that's a must-read for entrepreneurs: here's the feedburner link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/startup/lessons/learned

Subscribe now!  This will save you time, money, headaches and ulcers ...




An Interesting Counter Argument - Why Paulson is Wrong [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-09-26T16:06:27-07:00

http://faculty.chicagogsb.edu/luigi.zingales/Why_Paulson_is_wrong.pdf Here is the first paragraph as a teaser Why Paulson is Wrong Luigi Zingales Robert C. Mc Cormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance University of Chicago -GSB When a profitable company is hit by a very large liability, as was the case in 1985 when Texaco lost a $12 billion court case against Pennzoil, the solution is not to have the government buy its assets at inflated prices: the solution is Chapter 11. In Chapter 11, companies with a solid underlying business generally swap debt for equity: the old equity holders are wiped out and the old debt claims are transformed into equity claims in the new entity which continues operating with a new capital structure. Alternatively, the debtholders can agree to cut down the face value of debt, in exchange for some warrants. Even before Chapter 11, these procedures were the solutions adopted to deal with the large railroad bankruptcies at the turn of the twentieth century. So why is this wellestablished approach not used to solve the financial sectors current problems? The rest is herehttp://faculty.chicagogsb.edu/luigi.zingales/Why_Paulson_is_wrong.pdfHere is the first paragraph as a teaser Why Paulson is Wrong Luigi Zingales Robert C. Mc Cormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance University of Chicago -GSB When a profitable company is hit by a very large liability, as was the case in 1985 when Texaco lost a $12 billion court case against Pennzoil, the solution is not to have the government buy its assets at inflated prices: the solution is Chapter 11. In Chapter 11, companies with a solid underlying business generally swap debt for equity: the old equity holders are wiped out and the old debt claims are transformed into equity claims in the new entity which continues operating with a new capital structure. Alternatively, the debtholders can agree to cut down the face value of debt, in exchange for some warrants. Even before Chapter 11, these procedures were the solutions adopted to deal with the large railroad bankruptcies at the turn of the twentieth century. So why is this wellestablished approach not used to solve the financial sectors current problems?The rest is here [...]



Kindo ties the knot with MyHeritage [localglobe]

2008-09-22T16:51:34-07:00

Congratulations to Nils, Gareth and Andrew and the rest of the Kindo team. They have just announced that they are tying up with MyHeritage. See coverage on Washington Post via Techcrunch, VentureBeat and PaidContent.Over the last year the team has built a simple product which is a pleasure to use in over 14 languages -- all the while building a really nice tone of voice, perfect for the family market. Combining this savvy with MyHeritage's scale and smart technology for photos and family history promises something to look forward to for consumers.Related articles by ZemantaMyHeritage raises $15 million from Index and AccelKindo Finds a New HomeFamily Tree Wars Continue: MyHeritage Raises Big Round, Shows Impressive GrowthFamily Tree Site MyHeritage Gets $15 Million Second RoundNils is getting famous in SwedenKindo's day in the sun [...]






Oh my Goldman [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-09-18T17:40:16-07:00

I got a first-hand sense of how badly Goldman Sachs felt the pressure of the crumbling financial markets this morning.   At the start of a private company's board meeting I was attending, a director received a call on his cell phone.  One member of the board had not yet arrived, so the director answered the call in case it was the missing attendee.  He dispatched with the caller after about a (image)



Hadron Collider Starts in Half an Hour... [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-09-09T23:02:19-07:00

Here is the video that says it all

Here is the video that says it all

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(image)



Because "Bad, Dirty, and Unjust" Somehow Isn't Appealing [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-08-29T17:04:40-07:00

This weekend Slow Food hits Baghdad by the Bay. With a slogan of "Good, clean, and fair," the international movement started in 1989 launches perhaps its finest moment to date with a shindig billed as the largest celebration of American...



Those Who Live by the Sword ... [Venture Explorer]

2008-07-30T09:02:30-07:00

Cuil, a much-hyped search engine, launched yesterday. The blogosphere, after eager anticipation, has not been kind to Cuil. Web 2.0 is all about throwing things out there and seeing what works, but if you're going to drum up hype, you...

Cuil, a much-hyped search engine, launched yesterday.  The blogosphere, after eager anticipation, has not been kind to Cuil.  Web 2.0 is all about throwing things out there and seeing what works, but if you're going to drum up hype, you have to feed the hype monster tasty morsels.  The reaction from bloggers and commenters seems all the more vitriolic for having been promised foie gras and fobbed off with crackers instead.

At the risk of seeming to jump on the bandwagon of Cuil-bashers, I must confess that Cuil didn't do a great job finding me on the web either: the search results for "Vineet Buch" seemed of tertiary interest and didn't discover my professional page (that I am a Partner at BlueRun Ventures), or my LinkedIn or Facebook profiles. 




Is Google's Dominance of Search Self-perpetuating? [Venture Explorer]

2008-07-29T14:12:53-07:00

Mashable's Stan Schroeder expounds an interesting theory: that Google's current (and expanding) dominance in web search, at least in the English-speaking world, has trained websites to do all they can to show up high on Google - to such an...

Mashable's Stan Schroeder expounds an interesting theory: that Google's current (and expanding) dominance in web search, at least in the English-speaking world, has trained websites to do all they can to show up high on Google - to such an extent that no upstart search engine can hope to do better than Google for broad horizontal search.

Stan's review of recently launched, well-funded search startup Cuil, as also the TechCrunch review, are lukewarm at best and support Stan's thesis - but this thesis assumes that Google has the best possible knowledge of a user's intentions, and since websites will compete to match Google's algorithm that expresses that intention in a query, Google is by default the winner in any search competition. 

The flaw in this argument is that Google has very little information about a user's intention - indeed, Google doesn't even seem to use all the information it could have about the user, because of privacy and latency considerations (for instance, I doubt if Google looks up my interests in my Facebook profile when I search as a logged-in Google user, to discover that by typing the search term "kayak" I probably mean a watercraft and not a travel search engine).  Google is constantly refining its approaches to divining intention, of course ... and the masses of data generated by user searches help it get better every day. 

But web search is far from perfect today, and it stands to reason that Google's own momentum - and success - will lock it into the innovator's dilemma of doing little more than tweaking its existing algorithms.  And some enterprising startup will bring a refreshing new take to searching the web.  Wonder what it could be?




Is the Online Display Ad Market Being Overhyped? [Venture Explorer]

2008-07-29T13:22:05-07:00

Back in April, I'd written about the really slow movement of brand ad dollars online. Advertising Age just ran an article diving into some of the points I'd raised, and they're worth exploring again. There are a few choice quotes...

Back in April, I'd written about the really slow movement of brand ad dollars online.  Advertising Age just ran an article diving into some of the points I'd raised, and they're worth exploring again.  There are a few choice quotes from Ad Age that I felt compelled to mention here:

The inconvenient truth is that for all its new-media spin, display advertising is "old" media -- a commercial message to be placed next to editorial or entertainment content.

part of why large companies such as P&G spend so little on the web is because of the feedback they get from the marketing-mix models they still use to determine media outlays: TV and other old media still work. (P&G increased its magazine budget by 7% last year.)

For all its glory, the internet still has not proven itself capable of being a primary branding medium. Most ads online are response-based and work best for brand marketers when they complement a branding campaign in other media.

"The biggest gating factor to internet ad growth is the obsession of the players, the [venture capitalists] and the press with 'bottom of the funnel' marketing in a world where the big money is spent at the top," said Rob Norman, CEO of Group M Interaction. [OUCH!]





The CAT is out of the bag [Salman's blog]

2008-07-27T09:29:00-07:00

I’ve been toying with the idea of a Value Added Tax on embodied carbon, and I’ve been meaning to put some thoughts in writing. So I came up with what I thought was the brilliantly original acronym: CAT for a “Carbon Added Tax”.

Then I did a search, and found that Nobel-laureate Joe Stiglitz recently proposed the same idea:
"A carbon added tax (CAT), levied at each stage of production, would have some of the same advantages that a value added consumption tax has. Each producer would have to show receipts for the carbon tax paid on inputs into its production. The taxes levied at each stage of production would be passed on to consumers. It is as if the tax were imposed on consumers… A carbon value added tax will both discourage production in more carbon intensive ways and discourage the consumption of carbon intensive goods."
His proposal pretty much sums up my thought process…

But perhaps even more interesting is that some one called Ewan O'Leary, registered the URLs for carbonaddedtax.com and .org last February. Now that is some real forward thinking!!! ;-)



OUR personal data on the web [Salman's blog]

2008-07-17T03:07:00-07:00

Our data is born free, but everywhere it is in chains.

We need a new "Social Data Contract" for the web.



The 11 Best Foods You May Not Be Eating [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-07-16T23:20:41-07:00

Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times did a piece recently boldly titled The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating -- a bit presumptuous in that anybody who is at least somewhat health conscious is heeding the frequently heard advice...



Letters to Economist Editors [Salman's blog]

2008-07-11T13:01:00-07:00

I read the Economist religiously - or rather I partly skim and partly read the Economist religiously every week. So it was nice that they published a letter I wrote them. (Of course, it relates to Embodied Emissions.)What was surprising is how much they edited the letter. At first, I was taken aback: after all, they had lost the nuance of some of my points. On reflection though, it is quite amazing and flattering that they would take the time and effort to completely re-write such letters to drive home the point they think is worth publishing.In any case, here is the original letter I sent:Dear Sir,Your article entitled “Emissions Suspicions” (June 19 2008) ignores the principle of “consumer-responsibility” - that consumers can be responsible for the carbon embodied in the goods they consume. If our society decides to proactively reduce its total carbon emissions, it makes little sense to just focus on the carbon being emitted (or “produced”) directly in our society. For example, a study by Oxford’s Dieter Helm showed that while “UK greenhouse gas [emitted directly in the UK has] fallen by 15% since 1990…on a consumption basis, the illustrative outcome is a rise in emissions of 19% over the same period… Trade may have displaced the UK’s greenhouse gas appetite elsewhere.” Whether this displacement was caused by carbon regulations or other factors is less relevant - What matters is the total amount of carbon that was emitted to produce the goods and services consumed in the UK.As such, a “carbon tariff” on embodied carbon should not be compared to traditional “import taxes”. The correct analogy is a “Sales tax”. Today, governments tax goods and services both at the point of production (via corporate taxes) and consumption (via VATs or other sales tax). But emissions regulations to-date have been aimed solely at the “production” of green house gases. It is the principle of reducing carbon “consumption” that matters more than the economic implications of leakage (which is the focus of your article.)But is this principle practicable? Your article also claims that assessing embodied emissions is an “impossibly complicated task.” But much work has been done in this area, specifically by UK based “Carbon Trust” (with the BSI and DEFRA) to create standards and make the process simpler, fair and practical. It would have been more appropriate to reference (if not, assess) these efforts in your article, rather than to dismiss them out of hand, as impossible.Regards,Salman Farmanfarmaianhttp://salmanff.blogspot.com/Geneva, SwitzerlandAnd here is how it was reprinted:Green consumer-taxesSIR – If a society decides to proactively reduce its total carbon emissions it makes little sense just to f[...]



Marten Mickos of MySQL on building Open Source Software businesses [Venture Explorer]

2008-07-07T17:28:08-07:00

I had the privilege of attending an informal presentation by Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, last week at SAP Labs. Marten was his usual candid self, and spoke frankly about the challenges of making money in Open Source, why MySQL...

I had the privilege of attending an informal presentation by Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, last week at SAP Labs.  Marten was his usual candid self, and spoke frankly about the challenges of making money in Open Source, why MySQL sold to Sun and the ups and downs after the acquisition closed.  Key takeaways:

  • Open Source really is a smarter way to create software; somewhat because of community code contribution, but even more because the omnipresent threat of public scrutiny makes everybody produce better software
  • By trying to buy Yahoo, which is built mostly on Open Source tools, even Microsoft has indirectly affirmed the value and longevity of Open Source.  Nokia's acquisition of Symbian and subsequent open-sourcing of its software, and Oracle's acquisition of InnoDB and BerkeleyDB are other affirmations.
  • You can't build Open Source businesses on services and support alone; the love and passion of your users is great, but open checkbooks are even better.
  • Nothing sells itself. Not Coke, not Pepsi, and certainly not software, Open Source or proprietary.  Most Open Source companies underestimate the need for a sales-force that can generate lucrative leads and close meaningful deals, and that's why so few Open Source companies make money
  • Sun buying MySQL made MySQL much more appealing to big enterprises - they appreciate the backing and commitment of a large player.  This is reflected in the warmer reception MySQL's sales team gets at large accounts
  • MySQL sold to Sun instead of going public for a couple of reasons, but the most important one, apart from the immediate financial return, was the great cultural fit with a company whose tagline is "The Network is the Computer" - ideal for MySQL, which has long billed itself as the database for the Web
  • As the software industry matures and buyers get more power vis-a-vis vendors, software providers will have to cooperate more in a bid to provide workable solutions rather than shelfware.  Sun is already doing this in its relationships with Oracle, IBM, HP ...



Beer Brewing FAQ [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-07-01T11:16:23-07:00

Okay, last time we did wine, so now it's time to give beer some air time. I am fortunate to work with a bona fide beermeister, and by that I do not mean somebody with Animal House style binge tendencies,...



Miyowa lève 8 millions de dollars pour son second tour de table [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-07-01T03:34:34-07:00

Moins de deux ans après sa première levée de fonds, l’éditeur de messagerie instantanée mobile clôture un deuxième tour de table. Objectif : lancer un nouveau produit et se développer outre-Atlantique. Après une première levée de fonds de 3 millions d’euros réalisée en septembre 2006 auprès des fonds de capital-risque Techfund et Sophia Eurolab, Miyowa […](image)


Media Files:
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The Polluter is the Consumer [Salman's blog]

2008-06-24T01:47:00-07:00

Here is another high level analysis of embodied carbon in imports by Oxford’s Dieter Helm (et al). It looks at the UK’s carbon emissions from the “consumption point of view.” The paper notes that using conventional producer-based carbon accounting-methods,“UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 15% since 1990. In contrast, on a consumption basis, the illustrative outcome is a rise in emissions of 19% over the same period. This is a dramatic reversal of fortune… It suggests that the decline in greenhouse gas emissions from the UK economy may have been to a considerable degree an illusion. Trade may have displaced the UK’s greenhouse gas appetite elsewhere.”The same paper has a well-articulated overview of the “consumer vs producer” paradigm:“Both these [currently used] methodologies are based on the location of the production of greenhousegases. This, however, is a somewhat misleading and partial basis for policy purposes. For a country could have a very low production of greenhouse gases, but at the same time have a high consumption level. It could produce low-GHG-intensity goods, but import and consume high-GHG-intensity goods. Thus, a developed country might cease to produce steel, aluminium, glass and chemicals domestically, but import the manufactured goods from abroad. In the UK’s case, the shift of production in such activities to China, India and other developing countries in the last two decades suggests that this effect may be considerable… China might argue that, although it produces high emissions, these are on behalf of consumers in developed countries, and therefore the consumers should pay for the relevant reductions. In this way, the polluter is not the producer, but rather the consumer.”Also, the paper finds that “by 2006, the trade deficit in greenhouse gases [in the UK] was 341 MtCO2e, around 50% of domestic UK greenhouse gas emissions.” Another data point in understanding our total carbon footprint.____________________________Notes:Thanks to David McKay’s blog for pointing me to the above paper.Also - Bold emphasis above added.[...]



Muxtape 2.0 [Dav-generated Content]

2008-06-12T20:13:00-07:00

I made another one http://davduf2.muxtape.com/

In other news, I'm leaving Desjardins Venture Capital next week to join the JLA Ventures team as an associate. More on this - and an overhaul of this blog, including, hopefully, actual blogging - very soon.

Also, in the last few days I have lost my spot as the #1 Tungle Space creator and intend to win it back. That is, unless I follow Rick's advice and get a Mac laptop and then have to wait for Tungle's complete Mac and Google integration. But, right now sitting here, I'm having Voodoo Envy envy.



Entrepreneurial “procrastination” – easy to be a victim [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-06-02T19:29:14-07:00

The first proof of the preacher himself committing the sin is my inability to do a Blog in recent weeks – shame on me for procrastinating!

Now back to preaching…

Procrastinating on getting to revenue equals sudden death.

Recently an entrepreneur passionately indicated that they have potential customers that are willing to buy their product NOW, but they are holding back until they raise more capital! because they are concerned about the growth and how they can control it; they have seen this before as they claimed.

Upon further investigation, it became clear that the product works, there are no technical reasons for delay, and that the customer is actually willing to pay a portion of the fees in advance; which can support staffing and internal expenses. This conversation has bothered me to the point of motivating me to write a post (thank god for the motivation!). So, I would like to remind some of my entrepreneur friends of the following key facts of entrepreneurship:

1. Avoiding a potential mistake, may be as bad as making a new mistake
2. A business is built on revenues not raised capital
3. The more of the company you keep the better off you are!
4. Before you control growth you should experience it
5. Risk is a part of life.
6. Fear of failure is as BAD as if not worst than fear of success
7. There is a thing called “competition” , while you ponder they are executing!(image)



Fred Wilson on how he made it as a VC [Venture Explorer]

2008-06-02T16:28:35-07:00

Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures just wrote a very informative and articulate post on how he made it as a VC. Here's what Fred thinks you should do (as opposed to what he did): The way you do that...Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures just wrote a very informative and articulate post on how he made it as a VC.  Here's what Fred thinks you should do (as opposed to what he did):
The way you do that is you work for at least ten years in the industry, getting operating experience, building a killer rolodex, and learning how the business works from the inside. Then in your mid to late 30s, you can make the move to the venture capital business, as a partner, not as a wet behind the ears associate who doesn't know anything other than how to push numbers around a spreadsheet.
A number of VC firms do, in fact, hire precisely based on this profile.  If you're not prepared to take such a circuitous path, here's a post I wrote a while back on finding a job in venture capital.








Judging at Under The Radar Social Media and Entertainment Summit [Venture Explorer]

2008-05-27T13:05:18-07:00

I'll be a judge at the Games track at the Under The Radar Social Media and Entertainment Summit June 3rd in Mountain View. Good mix of companies and I'm looking forward to it!I'll be a judge at the Games track at the Under The Radar Social Media and Entertainment Summit June 3rd in Mountain View.  Good mix of companies and I'm looking forward to it!



The Landscape of Cloud Computing [Venture Explorer]

2008-05-13T20:17:29-07:00

It's pretty well known that Amazon Web Services' EC2 and S3 initiatives have taken off and are gaining users not just in startup land but in Corporate America as well. Amazon provides a compute and storage cloud, and the rush...

It's pretty well known that Amazon Web Services' EC2 and S3 initiatives have taken off and are gaining users not just in startup land but in Corporate America as well. Amazon provides a compute and storage cloud, and the rush of companies big (e.g., Google) and small (e.g., Nirvanix) beginning to compete with Amazon in providing clouds has spawned a term and a movement - Cloud Computing. 

I've been involved with precursors to cloud computing (Utility Computing, Grid Computing, Application Service Providers - ASPs) from my days at Corio, an early ASP acquired by IBM in 2005. In fact, back in graduate school at Cornell, I did research on assembling commodity hardware into compute grids.  Small wonder, then, that Cloud Computing is an area I'm looking at quite actively for potential investments.

Peter Laird has a great blog post that defines the landscape of Cloud Computing; I encourage anybody interested in the space to read Peter's post.  And Peter's cheat-sheet on the players is invaluable if you want to appear well-informed :-)




Transportation and Carbon-Conscious Consumers [Salman's blog]

2008-05-03T13:33:00-07:00

As a sector, transportation is certainly a significant source of carbon emissions. But perhaps because it is so visible, or even tactile, transportation gets a lot of attention, and people tend to overstate its role in embodied emissions. Some recent NY Times articles make references to some related data which are worth quoting:From the Green Issue of the Magazine: “It is the locavore’s dilemma that organic bananas delivered by a fuel-efficient boat may be responsible for less energy use than highly fertilized, nonorganic potatoes trucked from a hundred miles away. Even locally grown, organic greenhouse tomatoes can consume 20 percent more resources than a tomato from a far-off warm climate, because of all the energy needed to run the greenhouse.”The same issue also quoted the famous New Zealand studies, though in a somewhat skeptical tone: “A handful of studies have recently suggested that in certain cases under certain conditions, produce from places as far away as New Zealand might account for less carbon than comparable domestic products.”Also, when Timberland studied the embodied emissions of its shoes, “the company was surprised to find that transportation may account for less than 5 percent of its greenhouse-gas emissions — while almost 80 percent may come from making the leather, a process buried deep in its supply chain.” (Note however that Timberland seems to have overestimated the emissions related to the leather.)The above study is consistent with Weber and Matthews’ study on the embodied emissions of imports into the United States, which suggests that “CO2 emissions due to international freight transport are unlikely to increase the totals [of embodied emissions in imports] by more than 10%.”In an article on the environmental impact of groceries, it was calculated that a bottle of European wine drunk in New York has 1.4kg of embodied CO2, while a Napa bottle would have 2.5kg. Ironically, in this case, the major difference does lie in transportation, since Napa wine is trucked to New York, while French wine is shipped, thus consuming far less carbon per mile shipped.So much for drinking local (or at least national.)Finally, a hopeful note in today’s article on transportation’s direct carbon footprint. “A paper presented by Travelport at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January… stated that consumers want information about their carbon footprint as it relates both to business and personal travel. 'That desire for informati[...]



Discounted admission to UTR Social Media and Entertainment [Venture Explorer]

2008-05-01T09:27:02-07:00

Dealmaker Media is offering readers $100 off the Under the Radar Social Media and Entertainment event on June 3rd in Mountain View, CA. Click here or on the image below to register with the discount. Here's the conference description (I'm...Dealmaker Media is offering readers $100 off the Under the Radar Social Media and Entertainment event on June 3rd in Mountain View, CA.  Click here or on the image below to register with the discount.Here's the conference description (I'm a judge, btw): Under the Radar: Social Media and EntertainmentJune 3, 2008 | 8:00am – 6:00pm Microsoft Campus | Mountain View, CA If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. No longer is big media trying to compete with the content companies that were stealing the show - instead, they're offering them a premium channel. From YouTube to Bebo and MySpace to Club Penguin, every media mogul, Hollywood tycoon and Silicon Valley innovator wants a piece of this pie.  But even Toto knows we're not in Kansas anymore - technology has changed, business models and ad metrics are being reinvented, and the pressure to turn millions of eyeballs into billions of cash is on. Blink once and they just might get side-swiped by a startup with a better product, a smarter model and, even worse, nothing to lose.Under the Radar will uncover 32 startups in the entertainment and social media space that have launched within the year. Covering social networks, advertising, casual gaming, virtual worlds, measurement tools, video, commerce, publishing and more, Under the Radar is the only forum that empowers its audience to discover tomorrow’s leading tech companies. PRESENTERS: 33Across - Identifies influential online users Animoto - Create personalized, professional-quality videos from images and music, offering a new alternative to traditional online photo slideshows AudioMicro - Stock music and sound effects licensing platform Aviary -Suite of web-based applications for people who create and a marketplace to sell that content Dizzywood - A virtual world that allows kids to dress up 3D avatars, play games, explore worlds and meet new friends in a safe environment Comedy.com - aggregated comedy entertainment siteCrowdSPRING - crowdsourcing of creative talent.ffwd - Organized, multi-platform, video content delivered via a browser, with social network awareness, and predictive recommendations.Jygy - mobile social networkingGumGum - A licensing and distribution platfor[...]



Novaled AG is awarded Red Herring Europe 100 Winner 2008 and announces financial results for 2007 [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-04-21T05:47:29-07:00

Novaled, a major know how and service provider for highly efficient long lifetime OLEDs, announces today that the company is winner of Red Herring 100 Europe 2008, an award given to the top 100 private technology companies each year. At the same time Novaled releases the last year’s results proving the enterprises rapid growth.Red Herring’s […](image)


Media Files:
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Saul Griffith’s Carbon Footprints Part II – Some numbers [Salman's blog]

2008-04-20T12:30:00-07:00

Following my previous post, I thought to look at Saul’s energy usage / carbon footprint calculations by separating out his personal energy usage from his work related consumption.See the notes below on how I have separated the work from the personal energy usage. The chart below separates out the numbers into 4 categories, and speaks for itself. Almost half of Saul’s home energy usage comes from “Food and Stuff” which represents the embodied emissions of his consumer purchases. Of course, as Saul has pointed out, he has probably underestimated the energy usage associated with these categories.Again, people can dispute the difficulty of calculating the embodied emissions of “stuff”, but at almost 4 times the energy usage of his home heat and electricity, Saul’s calculations should at least, again, put the importance of embodied emissions in perspective.__________________________A few other notes:Like the truck driver in my previous post, Saul’s major source of carbon emissions relates to his travel for work. His total work related energy use should be compared to the value of his work, in revenues from his company or at least with the costs associated with the company. This figure should be compared to other businesses in the same sector.Energy usage of ‘stuff’ related to work would probably need to be more comprehensive, including things like capital goods (servers, furniture), services delivered to his workplace (fedex, as well as consumables (like pencils and paper and printer toner.)Here is the data:Some notes on separating work from home usage:Saul mentions that most of his air travel is for work, so I put in a “wild guess” number of 90% related to work. Inversely, I assumed 90% of his car usage was for personal (ie home) use.In stuff, I only allocated his laptop to work. As noted above, there are probably other work related goods that should be added to his work “stuff”The allocation of societal consumption is an interesting one. Here I have assumed it is half for work and half for home. After all, government exists to serve both individuals and to support businesses. Although the actual impact at ~3% in total is not very big, a more thoughtful method may still be needed here. For example, there could be an argument that government is there only to serve the people, so 100% should be allocated to individuals. At the same, this would distort the picture fo[...]



Saul Griffith’s Carbon Footprints Part I – More on Consumer vs Producer Responsibility [Salman's blog]

2008-04-15T13:45:00-07:00

“Power Consumption at work... This... brings up a very interesting point... where do you draw the lines in figuring out your own energy consumption? Does work energy go against you or the product of that work?”Saul Griffith’s excellent presentation gives a very thorough view of carbon foot-printing, and the particular question above is quite fundamental. I would argue that personal energy consumption should be treated separately from energy use for work. The energy use related to our work should show up embodied in the product of our work.A few examples could help illustrate why…Say I am truck driver that delivers apples ( ;-) ) to a local grocery store. It would not make sense to mix my personal energy consumption behavior with my job as a truck driver. Even if I lead a carbon neutral personal life, mixing my stellar home footprint and my work related emissions would give a distorted view of the choices I can make – ie the factors which are under my control, in my personal life.Now let’s imagine the exact opposite case. Let’s say you are a small business owner, doing most of your work from the office using emails and phones. Again, you could be driving a hummer from home to work, and leave your oven on 24 hours a day, but if you mix your personal and work energy usage, you would still seem more eco-friendly than the me.Now, to drive the point home, imagine that you are my boss, and you are responsible for deciding the kind of truck I would drive. Clearly, the distortion created by mixing personal and professional energy use and footprints would make the exercise quite meaningless.This is not to say we shouldn’t worry about our work related energy use. All of us have some say in the energy consumption of our workplace. And we can make choices to affect it. But the energy consumption of my apple delivery business should be compared with the energy consumption of other apple delivery businesses, or delivery businesses in general. The result of our work, and the energy we consume to deliver it, would both be manifested in the product of our work – in this case, an apple. So it would also make sense to use metrics like CO2 emissions per apple delivered…Or, for practical purposes, so as to be able to generalize (and mix apples and oranges in the same truck), one could measure, CO2 per dollar of revenue delivered…Or rather, to be able to accou[...]



Carbon Emissions in Developing Countries: Producer vs Consumer Responsibility [Salman's blog]

2008-04-06T01:48:00-07:00

“Developing countries, whose economies and populations are growing fastest, [will] contribute 74% of the increase in global primary energy use [until 2030]. China and India alone account for 45% of this increase.” World Energy Outlook 2007, IEA So three quarters of all new power production capacity will be in developing countries. Close to half of it in India and China. And according to the same report: “China, with four times as many people, overtakes the United States to become the world’s largest energy consumer soon after 2010. In 2005, US demand was more than one third larger.”And... “In the longer term, [in China,] demand slows as the economy matures, the structure of output shifts towards less energy-intensive activities and more energy-efficient technologies are introduced.”This last sentence is the most interesting. It sounds like the basic assumption of the report is that China will make a typical progression towards a more advanced economy: As the country becomes richer, not only will it care more about the environment and prioritize more energy efficient technologies, but the economy as a whole will become more service oriented, much like that of the US. Of course, this does not mean that the world will consume fewer goods. It just means that those goods will be produced in a new generation of up and coming developing nations – and those nations would account for the ~30% of the total increased energy use until 2030.One could imagine that, like China today, those countries will want to use the cheapest (and thus potentially the dirtiest) fuels. They might also argue that it would be unfair to impose environmental restrictions on them since they too have a right to grow their economies. Just as China points to Europe and America’s growth and how they were fueled by dirty coal, those countries may point to China along with Europe and America and make the same argument.And from their perspective, they would be right, just as China is “right” in its argument today.The problem is the paradigm upon which the argument relies. It is a “producer responsibility” paradigm of CO2 emissions, looking at emissions based on where they were produced or emitted, not on why they are produced, and for whom. The "producer responsibility" world view ignores the "end-user" or[...]



Muxtape [Dav-generated Content]

2008-04-04T07:04:00-07:00

Muxtapes are the new Scrabulous. So I made one. davduf.muxtape.com

I love the minimalist, clean, easy, no frills interface. A breath of fresh air in these days of functions-overload, social-everything and ads-everywhere.



Reims Aviation acquiert la société Flying Robots [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-04-03T09:30:14-07:00

Reims, le 2 avril 2008 : Reims Aviation, leader européen de la surveillance aéroportée légère, annonce avoir signé un protocole d’accord pour l’acquisition de la société Flying Robots(image)


Media Files:
http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/7426517fc518f41d6048474b30de1821?s=96&d=identicon




Venture Capital in Emerging Markets Conference, 9 - 10 June 2008, Istanbul, Turkey [Golden Horn Ventures]

2008-03-29T03:09:05-07:00

Golden Horn ventures is organizing a conference in Istanbul, Venture Capital in Emerging Markets. The goal is to bring together fund investors, venture capitalists from all over the world and entrepreneurs and discuss investment strategies, the right and wrong practices...



Novaled opens its first subsidiary in Asia [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-03-19T11:48:56-07:00

Novaled, a major OLED know how and service provider reinforces its presence in the Asian market by opening a Japan Branch office.Effective from 10th March 2008, Novaled set up a Branch Office in the Tokyo area. With this new opening, the company confirms its commitment to the OLED industry in Asia. The Novaled Branch office […](image)


Media Files:
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Le capital-risque « vert » prend son envol en France [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-03-12T14:39:07-07:00

Les technologies du développement durable « cleantech » s’affirment désormais comme l’une des priorités du capital-risque. Aux Etats-Unis, l’engouement pour le capital-risque vert a même provoqué en fin d’année dernière une mise en garde de l’association des investisseurs en capital, la NVCA, inquiète du risque d’une nouvelle bulle. La croissance est en effet très rapide […](image)


Media Files:
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L’avenir très prometteur des énergies vertes [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-03-08T13:22:34-08:00

Emission de France24 évoquant les Cleantech : alors que les industriels américains ont déjà réagi favorablement au secteur des énergies renouvelables, les entreprises européennes se mettent enfin au vert.(image)


Media Files:
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Entrepreneurial support – The conversation series [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-03-02T18:13:28-08:00

So here is something new for interested entrepreneurs.

Venture Farm Institute Web Conference
YOU CHOOSE THE TOPIC & WE PAY FOR IT (IT'S FREE)
First event : March 17,2008 8:30am-9:15 pst

Pick Your Topic & Register

The purpose of the series is to inform and enrich the entrepreneur to understand the Funding Process and focus on Business Execution.

The Conversation series is also a complement to our workshop Series with Rapid Fire <learn more>, a 3hr Live Roundtable of providing early stage companies uncensored feedback, from the investor perspective, as well as a 2-Day Workshop on Effective Entrepreneurship <learn more>.

How to participate?: This series is online. You need a computer with web access.
What is on the Agenda: The selected topic will be discussed. A short Q&A for you and your guests is also scheduled.

Who should participate in the webconference?: Any Entrepreneur who wants to build a great company...and yes that may include raising money!

Hope to see you on line. (image)



Interview de Thierry Lepercq, président de Solaire Direct, sur LCI [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-02-27T11:26:39-08:00

Thierry Lepercq, président de Solaire Direct, est interviewé au sujet de la progression de 200% du marché de l’énergie solaire et photovoltaïque en France.(image)


Media Files:
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Entrepreneurial lesson: Ingredients of a failed presentation [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-02-21T19:34:28-08:00

AND CLUES FOR A SUCCESSFUL PRESENTATION!

In the past couple of weeks I have heard a few pitches and noticed some common ingredients. So in my humble opinion here is what did not work.

1- Selling features and product capabilities as opposed to a vision and a company.
2- Being in love with the idea and failing to see the need for a business model.
3- Getting lost in details and going on tangents.
4- Pretending to know it all.
5- Failing to demonstrate how investors can get a return on their investment.
6- Having a big salary for founders built into the projections.
7- Too much animation (distracting) and too small of fonts (can’t read).
8- Disagreeing partners
9- Asking for too much money or not enough to get to the next milestone - winging it.
10- Offering a pre-cooked deal – We have a private placement memorandum (PPM).(image)






Citilog announces MediaIntruder(TM), its intelligent incident detection software-based solution [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-02-15T09:34:13-08:00

Citilog, a world leading provider of intelligent real time video monitoring and surveillance solutions for traffic, transportation,security and safety management, today announced MediaIntruder(TM), its intelligent incident detection software-based solution, is now available in North America. MediaIntruder automatically detects in real time any indoor or outdoor intrusion activity using video streams from video surveillance cameras.It uses […](image)


Media Files:
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Après les Caisses d’Epargne, Solaire Direct signe un accord avec le Crédit Agricole [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-02-11T11:59:37-08:00

Après la Caisse d’Epargne Provence-Alpes-Corse, l’énergéticien Solaire direct vient de signer un partenariat avec le Crédit Agricole Alpes Provence. Objectif : encourager professionnels, agriculteurs et propriétaires de maisons individuelles à installer des panneaux photovoltaïques chez eux grâce à la mise en place d’un prêt sur-mesure.Installer des panneaux solaires photovoltaïques sans que cela ne pèse sur […](image)


Media Files:
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Entrepreneurial Observation: yet another reason to be agile [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-02-08T17:51:08-08:00

Just came back from the Always On event in NY; over 600 people packed into a couple rooms on the 36th floor of a fancy hotel – I was reminded of the events and conferences during the late 90’s – lot’s of buzz, loads of optimism and discussions of the perfect storm!

This time the typhoon (as Tim draper from DFJ calls it) is centered around the digital media and what it is doing with advertising models incumbent distribution channels, production time frames, schedule, etc.

Lots of acquisitions, big number valuations, bigger venture investments, and all that Jazz ! just like it use to be in late 90’s. Not that I mind it.

Although I do buy the argument that things have changed since the 90’s; including better business models, proven models of monetization, etc. but a typhoon is a typhoon and when it leaves it destroys!

I am advising to all entrepreneurs that agility is now more critical than ever; execute fast, forget about perfection, build a business that can get to stability and sustainability and fast track to exits if you can. (image)



Entrepreneurial Consideration: Managing the ripple affect [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-02-03T22:49:50-08:00

A non academic view of business change & improvementStating the sometimes forgotten obvious:A business is a living entity that embodies many functioning organs. It performs the best and is healthy when all the elements are working together in harmony. The physical components of this living organ includes sales, marketing, IT, logistics, accounting, etc. and its psychology is represented by the core values, cultures, and beliefs. A pain or a dis-functionality in any organ influences the effectiveness of the business entity as a whole – if you are ill mentally or physically you can not be fully productive.An illness maybe addressed by a better diet or some vitamins or a few pills a day for a few weeks (process improvement, overtime, incentives, etc.) or may need more drastic measures such as chemotherapy or surgery (re-organization, firings, new IT systems, a new business model, change of partners, etc.).Almost always, to cure an illness the prescribed actions have some side effects. A change in the sales force compensation plan, influences the accounting daily practices, may require new software, may increase returns and impact the resource needs at the warehouse. An improvement in the resource planning software impacts the practices at both payable and receivable ends, Promote the person who is not competent and deal with your good folks looking for another job, etc. etc. Sometimes we actually create the illness with our actions (cutting our hand with a knife or hiring the wrong person).Stating the not so obvious challenge:So BECAREFUL of what I call “THE RIPPLE EFFECT” – Make a decision about A and watch for the ripples impacting B. And every decision big or small has some ripples. So what should an entrepreneur do, not make a decision ? or lose time and opportunities by over analyzing and procrastinating on every decision?You want to stay healthy, you have to monitor your heartbeat, your cholesterol, your blood pressure, etc. etc. and react quic[...]



The Dirty Dozen Mistakes of a Startup Entrepreneur [Golden Horn Ventures]

2008-02-01T07:24:03-08:00

Entrepreneurship is hard. Tackling technical and business problems and building a business from the initial idea up, one step at a time is very difficult. Starting from the idea, technology entrepreneurs make certain mistakes that make their lives even more... Entrepreneurship is hard. Tackling technical and business problems and building a business from the initial idea up, one step at a time is very difficult. Starting from the idea, technology entrepreneurs make certain mistakes that make their lives even more difficult. These mistakes can be caused by the entrepreneur fixating on what she is comfortable with - people tend to stay in their comfort zones -, or misconceptions of what is valuable in business or maybe simply being a first time entrepreneur. As investors in early stage technology companies, we keep on seeing similar problems in different companies, which tells us that these are common mistakes, especially in emerging regions. Below is a list of these mistakes which we have seen and which might eventually cause a business to fail or or an opportunity to be missed. It isn't intended to be exhaustive but rather indicative. Some of the mistakes listed are common to the nature of the technology entrepreneur, but some are the results of the state of the sector in emerging countries. Mistake No 1: "We are a framework company and can do it all" The idea of a framework company sounds attractive. Especially, in this region entrepreneurs tend to collect their expertise into a "framework" with no product or application definition. Having a framework that works can be very advantageous. However, the downside is the entrepreneur's indecisiveness on selecting a focal application that will act as the showcase for the power of the framework. Sometimes, because the entrepreneur lacks sufficient knowledge on a specific area or the "productization" knowledge and expertise, she tends to sell the framework - and that puts her in[...]



A few thoughts on last night's Startup Camp [Dav-generated Content]

2008-01-24T06:23:00-08:00

Thanks to Embrase for organizing this. Great crowd. Lots of young entrepreneurs. Awesome. Not enough angels (unless they all kept very quiet and/or are wealthy at a surprisingly young age). Probably just the right number of VCs, although there's a bunch of early-stage investors I would've expected to see there and didn't. (Forget Réseau Capital for a while, guys... your next 10X deal was in the room last night).Format was a bit too strict and people couldn't keep from loudly networking during some of the presentations, which I think is natural and expected. Cool by me. Startups are chaotic, so I can't see why startup events shouldn't be.Sylvain Carle live-blogged Graham Hill's (TreeHugger dude) talk. Check it out, good simple, advice.I've seen two other good posts about last night:Mike LQuebec ValleyQuick thoughts on the presenters (check out their websites):Cozimo: Looks very promising, very user-friendly. Not sure how much value they add to what's out there already (not a space I know very well). If I were them I'd go after very specific market niches, tailor a solution for each of them and focus. If you're a startup and your addressable market is over 1 B $ at Day 1 there's usually a problem.Tungle: I'm totally biased, of course, but I believe these guys are going to be huge. (But 1st they have to LAUNCH, goddammit). One thing's for sure, Google and Mac support has to be early in the roadmap, since they seem to be the calendars of choice for a lot of the evangelists and early adopters out there.Streametrics: Makes a lot of sense. Not sure anyone really understood how it works (only through their own player ??! website doesn't really clarify this for me). But timing could be perfect if they get any kind of traction and beat the dozens that are probably developing something similar.I Gotcha Media: Lots of progress since their "wi-fi pad" days. Definitely cool integration of technologies.[...]



Startup Camp Montreal [Dav-generated Content]

2008-01-21T12:03:00-08:00

Wow, this little "blog" of mine has been pretty quiet lately, eh ?

I consider it worthy of reactivating this page that the 1st Startup Camp to be held in Montreal is happenening this Wednesday evening, at the SAT. Check out the wiki page. It's organized by a handfull of upstanding tech citizens and by the fine folks at Embrase.

It'll be my 1st time at a ___camp event, so I'm excited. There are a very interesting things happening in the Montreal tech startup community right and I know a lot of the main actors of this general goodness are going to be there, as well as a lot of the people that can help make things happen.

I'd like to point out that, as an event Guru (so they say...) I did not vote for my portfolio company... would've been tacky, no ?. Also, by now, I've heard the pitch numerous times and will only be satisfied once everyone I know uses the product.

That said, they still got in.

See you there...



Sales lessons – my souvenir from Mexico [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-01-17T22:42:42-08:00

During the holidays I had a chance to take a short vacation in Cancun Mexico. Upon arrival I quickly was forced to deal with various types of sales people with a diverse range of techniques. And as any good entrepreneur would (or should), I began to pay attention and learn.

Imagine an endless row of stores all selling pretty much the same products, as a sales person how do you have a customer buy from you and not the guy next door? Now imagine you are selling a $20,000+ time share - and so are about a 100 other people in a 100 yard radius - and you have a few minutes while a tourist is walking by to open and no more than a few days to close. How do you do it?

After observing a significant number of data points (and it is not difficult as you can … yes, imagine again), here is some key learning:

  1. Stay observant and you can build a relationship in under a minute - it pays.
  2. Quality is a perception and price is not as important as most sales people think.
  3. You must ask for the order.
  4. It is not about sales pipeline or funnels - it is about real transactions and exchange of payment.
  5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
  6. Every sale matters – it is a matter of eating that night.
  7. Dead lines are important in closing
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Things Get Ugly in the World of Wine E-Commerce. Very. [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-01-13T22:16:40-08:00

In the recent past, we've heard grumblings of frustration from management of leading wine e-commerce player Wine.com, over the fact that many wine shops and other merchants were skirting the byzantine laws which govern the distribution and shipment of alcoholic...



Follow-up discussion: more on channels for raising equity [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-12-09T18:21:29-08:00

In follow-up to the Podcast discussion Frank Peters, Dave Berkus and I had a couple of weeks ago (http://www.thefrankpetersshow.com/), a few entrepreneurs wanted to learn a little more about the various channels of raising equity and particularly the characteristics of each channel.Following is a 10,000 foot level, but focused discussion of the various equity sources:Friends & FamilyYour dad, uncle or a rich body – almost always non-strategic, almost always come with confused valuations and even more confuse structures that will be costly to clean-up later, and often the money raised gets to be wasted on experimentation. It is however, the easiest money to raise since they know you and trust you the most. Raising Friends and Family round generally does give the VC’s and the Angles the warm and fuzzy that at least your relatives and friends trust you.Angels (individuals & groups)An individual angles or group of angles that pull together to invest – generally invest as individuals or as an LLC. If you have the right angel or the right lead (if a group) to spearhead the process things go smooth, the right group or person can bring significant focus to the process, the wrong angels can introduce a confused direction, non-professional angels often offer less assistance than you expect or they originally may claim, professional angles go out of their way to help a good entrepreneur. Angles often do not make second round investments, if dealing with a group the process may take longer than you expect. Example: Tech Coast AngelsIncubatorsProvide a place, some computer and office support, some HR and accounting support -- only the focused ones work, a lot of incubators have real estate motives which gets them derailed from operations, often too dilutive for very strong teams. Example: Idea lab[...]



Entrepreneurial Case Study: A true failure story. [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-11-30T09:54:26-08:00

… and it happens everyday - different people and different businesses.A year and change ago, I was asked to make an investment in a venture – a couple of smart technologist with previous management experience creating a VOIP related company. I knew the entrepreneurs and was absolutely convinced that they are smart and dedicated. The business model, however, did not make sense to me and I did not invest.The company raised around $500K. A few months later, they are looking for money and are considering a change in the business model… and later, a new angel investor with another $500K or so has influenced the team to focus on an originally tangent mobile technology to create a novel consumer application.The new business model and technology was intriguing and reached for my check book! But before signing, met with the two founders and the recent addition to the team, a brilliant new CEO with big telecom and carrier experience.So, I met the team and my check book was quickly back in my pocket. The founders were showing early stages of the “founder disease” – we are in love with what we are building, we know exactly how it should work, if we only need money to scale the product and market it, the company is worth millions and WE will build it into a new giant. In short, I found the team non-coachable and looking only for a check book and not a partner. I also found the new hotshot CEO Was suffering from the “big company syndrome” -- very limited early stage experience; I did it at XYZ so I can do it here, we had a $100 mil budget, over 300 developers and delivered the product in only 3 years - oopps there is no mega dollar budget, only a few developers, a very limited and rapidly depleting bank account – no room for error.Later news … the team had made some[...]



Open Discussion on early stage funding options [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-11-29T14:05:14-08:00

Recently, Dave Berkus, Frank Peters and yours truly participated in a round table style podcast on the the Frank Petes Show -- click here to listen. http://www.thefrankpetersshow.com/

You may find it interesting.

Additionally, Graeme Thickins did a nice summary of the podcast on his blog at: http://graemethickins.typepad.com/graeme_blogs_here/2007/11/raising-startup.html(image)



For Those About to Carve [Consuming Ambitions]

2007-11-21T16:36:26-08:00

Just in the nick of time, my wife came through with a pointer to a very helpful article in the New York Times (registration required) describing an excellent turkey carving technique. She is hoping to save me from the ignominy...



A Trillion is a Thousand Billion? Why Wasn't I Informed of This? [Venture Again]

2007-11-06T22:21:50-08:00

With the title of this post, I am paraphrasing another favorite New Yorker cartoon (again).As I toil away trying to raise a million here or a million there for some great cleantech companies (see the side bar of this blog), PetroChina made its debut on the Shanghai stock market, tripling in value, and becoming the world's first trillion-dollar market cap company.Certainly, PetroChina cannot qualify as a Cleantech company, despite some notable important activities. So this boom is just a reminder of the importance traditional energy continues to play in our global economy, and the extent to which demand for it is now driven by China and other developing nations.I guess investors were not concerned by the strong non-market forces which affect the stock price. Chinese regulators just announced a delay in the expected lowering of restrictions on capital flows from mainland investors. These restrictions have driven an unsustainable difference between the Shanghai-listed shares and Hong Kong-listed shares of several comapnies.Also (coincidentally?), Chinese regulators raised the mandated price of retail gasoline last Friday by 10%. These higher prices substantially aid PetroChina's financials, since they buy crude on the world's open market, but sell refined gasoline into a price-controlled market in China.With all these non-market influences, it is difficult to see how this trillion-dollar threshhold could be long maintained. (This also raises broader questions about goverment fiat in China which I intend to address in a separate post.)But for the time being, a new milestone deserves recognition and reflection. Interestingly, we at Bessemer Venture Partners are forever tied to the world's f[...]



Entrepreneur Effectiveness alert - The curse & bliss of emails; mundane but important [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-11-02T17:37:05-07:00

This topic may not be sexy or intellectually challenging, BUT, I think it is important. As emails go, I think we are confusing effectiveness and speed.I get in excess of 250 emails a day. So often important issues may be ignored due to volume and unimportant matters may take a lot of time. And I am not the only one inundated with so much volume.The problem is that simple issues that can be resolved in minutes with a quick personal conversation actually take multiple emails. Important issues that require real discussion is boiled down to snippets of responses – the result is that decisions are most likely not as comprehensive and often based on either partial information or influenced by the desire to quickly get to a yes / no answer. We achieve speed of exchange but in a lot of situations lose effectives. I can’t count the number of occasions when efforts are duplicated because some one acted on partial information exchanges in emails and had to re-do things. Now, add the complications of global operations, language barriers and time zones and you have a real challenge on your hand.There are clearly two schools of thought 1) short, abrupt, and to the point emails vs. 2) verbose and detailed – focusing on CYA. Some write so much stuff that makes me wonder, if they have nothing better to do, and others are so quick to rush to an answer that makes me wonder if they truly care about how their answers may effect the company results and effectiveness.NO, I am not suggesting to go back to the dark ages. I am suggesting, however, that people are essential to execution and confused people can only produce confused results and effective communication is the only way to[...]



Socolow’s Wedge vs. Archimedes’ Lever [Salman's blog]

2007-10-30T14:19:00-07:00

On Platforms Versus PrescriptionsIt had been a while since I first read Socolow and Pacala’s classic paper laying out the concept of “Stabilization Wedges” – the idea that we can implement several current technologies, each a wedge, to reduce carbon emissions to quasi-sustainable levels.I didn’t feel comfortable with the word “wedge”, and wondered about its philosophical underpinnings. Why did they choose the word?According to Wikipedia, “A wedge is… used to separate two objects… through the application of force.” (emphasis added.) Sounds like somewhat of a primitive method. (Little surprise that the wedge “has been in use as early as the Stone Age.” ;-) )Of course the paper itself is great, in that it sets tangible goals to reduce carbon emissions, and emphasizes that the goals are technologically achievable. But the term ‘wedge’ seems to have been used just because the savings from emissions in the paper’s graph looked like wedges. No deep philosophical underpinning intended!Except that such terms tend to take lives of their own – and in this case, the problem I have with it, is that it can take on a prescriptive connotation. Take these phrases (from the paper) for example:“A wedge would be created if twice today’s quantity of coal-based electricity in 2054 were produced at 60% instead of 40% efficiency.”“a wedge of nuclear electricity.. would require 700 GW of nuclear power with … about twice the nuclear capacity currently deployed.”“a wedge from photovoltaic (PV) electricity would require 2000 GWp of installed capacity that displaces coal electricity in 2054.”“An ethanol wedge woul[...]



He has no credibility, but I think he's 100% correct [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2007-10-23T04:23:32-07:00

For several months now, I have been privately telling anyone willing to listen that search advertising, though incredibly effective, is over rated. At first glance, it would appear that advertising to someone in context of his search activity is an utter utopia for marketers. What better time to advertise a DVD player, for example, than when a consumer types "DVD player" into Google's search box.(image)



Gender Schmender [Venture Again]

2007-10-13T12:15:25-07:00

GigaOm's Earth2Tech (what does that mean?) notes that there are too few women in Cleantech. To help spotlight some of the best, they have posted their list of the The Top 10 Women in Cleantech. While I have to agree the raw numbers of female executives and investors in the space should (and will) go up, we should reflect on what an impressive list of individuals this is regardless of gender. Having met a number of these women in person, I'd say they could take on the male Cleantech all-stars any day. With leaders like this, expect more talented women to be attracted to the field quickly.Congratulations to my ConsumerPowerline co-investor and fellow Board Member Diana Propper de Callejon of Expansion Capital for making the list at #4. By the way, Bessemer first got to know ConsumerPowerline due to the insight and persistence of BVP Analyst Sarah Tavel, herself no slouch:Thank goodness for the talented women in Cleantech!Blogged with Flock[...]



The Big O: Organic Wines Versus Organic Grapes [Consuming Ambitions]

2007-10-11T15:37:26-07:00

Recently you may have read (or re-read) of the benefits of resveratrol, which we're pretty sure inspired you to administer some red wine immediately. Did you know, though, that levels of resveratrol are higher in organic wines than in non-organic...



My Education [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-10-04T15:58:43-07:00

I am quickly learning that writing a blog requires a lot of discipline. You need to be thoughtful and quick - My apologies for being a slow learner - I’ll get there. It would be great, however, if you could help me with topics – what interests you? Here are some topics I am looking at:

  1. Weekly tips on effective execution, this is not a how to work harder guide! but a how to be more effective series of thoughts.
  2. A session with and entrepreneur -- documenting a conversation or two every week with some of the entrepreneurs I meet and discuss funding with (naturally, the name of the company & founders, as well as, the business details will remain confidential) – the good, the bad and the ugly. The idea here is to take real life interactions and turn them in to a learning experience – this is NOT an interview, but rather a one sided (my) perspective.
  3. Random Tips on valuation, term sheet, trends, concerns, etc.

    ALL from the Investor’s perspective.

    Any thoughts?
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What kind of an entrepreneur are you? [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-10-04T15:58:03-07:00

In my days, I have met with many many entrepreneurs. We have agreed and disagreed on things, learned from each other, and experienced disappointments and successes together.Here is “one” way to slice and dice the group.The Pure DreamerThe pure dreamer is filled with new and novel ideas -- innovations and schemes that will make a lot of money -- for some, every once in a while they see their pictures on the front page of the Time magazine . Despite their potential, majority of these folks never cross the bridge and get to the “doing side.” They are always waiting for the right time and almost always regretful (if only, I had that idea a long time ago, ..). My advice to this group is to either admit that you are a dreamer (get it over with) and then enjoy the dreams and the innovations without regret, frustration and the feeling of failure OR “just do it” as the saying goes; the short cut to results may be finding a partner with a different character profile! The “not so Pure” DreamerThese are the self proclaimed entrepreneurs that generate ideas faster than bunny’s produce offsprings. They have a shotgun approach - the more bullets in the air the higher the chance of a hit. The not so pure dreamers have yet to see an idea they do don’t like and a risk level that is too high! My advice to them is that entrepreneurship is more of a laser guided sport and the more is not always the merrier. Aim carefully and focus. Fast talking is not the same as salesmanship and focusing on a [...]



The truth about Venture Capital and Angel Investing is … [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-10-04T15:57:35-07:00

Last week, I was on a panel with other investors discussing the “do’s” and “don’ts” of angel and venture capital investing some one from the audience fired a series of intriguing compounded questions ” why are the VC’s so illusive?, why don’t they have all their information available? Why don’t they disclose how they come up with their valuations? Why are the selection criteria’s so undefined????”All valid questions and valid statements – the event made me think that entrepreneurs view of the equity investment community is entirely different than that of the inner circle and this mismatch of perceptions is not disruptive and unhealthy.So let’s talk about the truth about the Angles and the Venture Capital firms; here is a few points to start with:1- Looking for Money Vs. looking for a partner: investors look for a partner that they can invest in and help grow a business. Entrepreneurs look for money and often feel (although they may claim otherwise) that if they had the money they could do it by themselves. This difference of view causes so many deals to stall and never get funded. Investors don’t want to be running companies, period. They are, however, investing to make money and if the team is not doing it, they have the responsibility to their investors (limited partners of their funds) to act and to get a wining team in place.2- Saying NO: it is very difficult for the VC’s and investors to say no to hundreds of deals before saying yes to one.[...]



Real Entrepreneur Story #2: It is about making money NOT raising money [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-10-04T15:56:57-07:00

The entrepreneurs were clearly fatigued when they waked into my office. They had raised close to a $1,000,000 at a whopping valuation of close to $10,000,000. The friends and family investors were joined by a couple of angels who were fortunately (as the entrepreneurs claimed) very hands off. Unfortunately, the bank balance was almost $2000. The product is almost there they claimed and the patent was almost approved. The product a video / picture tool was indeed slick, but I had to scratch my head as how to make money from it. The exit was rather unclear and the deal was over shopped; as almost every VC had looked at it and passed – the problem; the valuation was too high for the progress made, the exit was not clear, and the had no idea as to how to making money.Nice tool! How have you tried to monetize? the answer was “we are trying to build a community” also, “we can offer the tool as an ASP model to enterprise customers”, “we have a customer that uses the tool on his website” , “we feel that when we develop the next version with mobile capabilities it will really pick up” were some of the answers provided in a span of a 30 minute conversation. I guess the best answer was the last answer they gave me “we really don’t know”. The answer to how you tried to sell it was telling also: “we hired some sales people to go out and sell the enterprise version at a price point of $300 to $500” - the sales people never produced any [...]



Why bootstrap your business? 1- The big picture, 2- some good reasons, and 3- a few negatives [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-10-04T15:56:07-07:00

There is just too much to say about the topic and I have been warned about being too verbose with lengthily postings so this is a 3 posting series. Following is the first posting:The big picture of bootstrappingBootstraping, in my opinion, is not about conserving cash or paying out of your credit cards (although those may become ways to achieve it). Bootstrapping is about taking the right action at the right time. It is about making quick and timely decisions. And it is about being focused on cash flow and incremental progress.There are a few key elements / drivers that make bootstrapping generally lead to better results:1- When in Bootstrapping mode, the margin of error is much smaller and more importantly the entrepreneur knows it. This causes decisions to be more focused on generating results and on making money, and that is a very good thing.2- The risk is personal and decisions are reduced to absolute “value” delivery. Being the one who would hold the bag if things don’t work and being conscious about the responsibility to our family makes the risks to be taken very personal. Naturally the game becomes much more dangerous but the danger brings with it a wonderful force of reason that makes us focus on doing the things activities and products that delivers value to the customer – the only way to make money is if we sell & collect and the only way to do that is if the customers see a compelling v[...]



Why bootstrap your business? 2- Some Good Reasons [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-10-04T15:55:19-07:00

There is just too much to say about the topic and I have been warned about being too verbose with lengthily postings so this is a 3 posting series. Following is the first posting:Some Good reasons to Bootstrap1- Bootstrapping ensures that you build your business on legitimate, real world value propositions. You truly focused on customer value from day one.2- Bootstrapping initiates the critical sales learning process sooner, not later.3-Bootstrapping does not waste money: the focus here is on the early and closer customer contact. 4- Bootstrapping accelerates time to market and time to profitability – if you can not possibility wait for the next version to get ready, you compromise and try to make money from what you have.5-Bootstrappers are less likely to make big, fatal financial mistakes. Being alert about survival makes people much more alert about catching fatal mistakes.6- Bootstrappers are forced into unconventional thinking – necessity is truly the mother of invention. 7-Bootstrappers have more freedom and flexibility – when you take money you become slaved to the business plan. 8- Bootstrappers end up owning much more of what they create – and that is a good thing.Coming next a few words about when you should not bootstrap & some of the negatives. [...]



Why bootstrap your business? So when is bootstraping not a good idea? [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-10-04T15:54:35-07:00

There is just too much to say about the topic and I have been warned about being too verbose with lengthily postings so this is a 3 posting series. Following is the third and last posting:So when is bootstraping not a good idea? Almost never!However … there are times that injection of external funding is crucial to the delivery of value and no revenues can be generated unless significant investments are made. In these cases the bootstrappong duration may be shortened but not eliminated.When things are not in your control or costs are very high:1- You are in the pharma or medical devices business and an FDA approval is needed before you can sell – these ventures usually involve significant upfront research and multiple scientists , require expensive lab equipment and need to have trial results from hundreds to thousands of people. In this cases the SBIR and other grants are critical and should not be overlooked – not only they are non-dilutive, they help provide credibility – building university and commercialization partners are also critical.2- Chip design – regardless of the simplicity of semiconductor chip ventures, the need for working with fabs and uncontrollable time periods between testing cycles is a killer – every time you make a revision in design you have to wait for 4 to 12 weeks for a turn around – the wait is expensive. These vent[...]