Investment of the day: Mashery

Busy week: another of my recent investments was announced this morning. I have joined First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman and my Search SIG co-chair Dave Mc Clure as founding investor of Mashery, Inc., a software infrastructure startup. We will actually not disclose much more than what Oren Michels, the CEO, has mentioned on his blog– but the company is essentially developing a much needed piece of functionality of the web services and mashups economy.

Our Mashery will be a resource for developers, API providers and mashup users. Over the next six months, we will release a range of services that will make it easier to develop, deploy and use mashups and other “user generated services”

I am excited to work with Oren again, who was the VP of Business Development of Feedster – of which Josh, Dave and I all were Angel investors.

Just to clarify by the way: it just so happens that four … Read more »

Two new investments: Rapleaf and Wikio

I was meant to mention it much earlier but last week went by so fast! I have joined the investors syndicate behind the Series A of Rapleaf, the startup headed by my friend Auren Hoffman. Rapleaf is looking at developing a comprehensive portable reputation system for Internet communication and commerce – a major piece of infrastructure that is yet to be built, and I am excited to be involved in that project. Matt Marshall has more about the funding, and the TechCrunch review is here.

Another investment that just closed (yes, I have done quite a few recently – more to be announced) is the initial round of financing of Wikio, a European startup that has developed a news search engine bringing together a number of functionality included in Google News,, Digg and Memeorandum. I had written about it when the service entered a closed beta (and before I investigated a potential investment). It … Read more »

NewsGator for Windows Mobile: I like it but…

Just saw this on my friend Brad Feld’s blog: NewsGator for Windows Mobile Beta Available, and decided to give it a try.

To be honest, I am not too sure that I want to be hooked to my Cingular 8125 much more than I already am, but I might like to check a few feeds every now and then.

You can download the program through a Windows EXE file that installs a .cab on your device, or you can download the .cab directly on your phone. A few remarks about the (beta) product:

We need a bit more information as to which platform/device should be using the PPC or the smartphone version. I tried both on my phone and they both work, even though the Smartphone version seems to have more options. It is great that the Mobile version synchronizes with the NewsGator back-end, like FeedBurner and NetNewsWire. However, I don’t want to read … Read more »

Happy birthday TechCrunch!

Mike is reflecting on his first year writing TechCrunch, which is just a tremendous example of the power blogs give to individual voices. A year ago, that ex-lawyer dude started a site to review Web 2.0 companies, and wrote with passion hundreds of profiles and becoming the number one launchpad for the next generation of startups, and large Internet companies as well.

I looked back in my email archive to see when Mike and I started interacting and found our first email exchange, in which he said:

I’d like to put profiles of both up at techcrunch. We have about 500 uniques per day now after being up for only a week and a half.

Both was referring to two of my companies I recommended Mike to take a look at: Buzznet and Userplane. I then offered Mike a pass to attend VerticalLeap, the conference that Dave McClure and I organized, and then turned into … Read more »

Scoble is movin’ and the blogosphere is shakin’

I came back to my hotel room late last night from a fantastic dinner with great company (thanks again Will) and crashed before checking my feeds. What a tidal wave! The news about Robert moving to has completely taken over Memeorandum (and temporarily crashed PodTech’s servers because of the traffic)!

What I find almost hilarious is that Robert’s move has leaked as a rumor that the tech bloggers have immediately jumped on (“Rumor”, ”might”, ”may”, ”will”, ”is going to”, ”50%”, ”100%”), before Robert and John had actually crafted their announcement:

I looked at my cell phone and I think there was a call from Om Malik that I ignored (sorry, Om, I didn’t know you were calling about THAT). Then the email started coming in. Oh, crud. It was out.

It also means that the reasons and circumstances of Robert’s leaving were subjects to rumors and supputations, so much so that Robert had … Read more »

Vonage’s IPO quickest to be hit by a class action lawsuit ?

What a disaster: float on May 24th, lose over 30% in market capitalization, and get hit by a shareholder lawsuit less than 2 weeks after the IPO. CNET has the details:

The suit filed on Friday in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey by the Atlanta-based law firm Motley Rice asserts that the Internet telephony provider, its officers and the IPO’s underwriters misled investors.

Vonage’s stock, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on May 24 at $17 per share, has lost about 30 percent of its value in its first seven days of trading. The complaint filed against Vonage claims that the company’s investors were motivated to push for an IPO because the company had been losing money, and the investors were desperate for … Read more »

A couple of things to do before getting into your demo or presentation

My buddy Ed Sim has posted a piece that I recommend anyone doing a company, financing or product pitch to read: Don’t forget that vision thing. This paragraph sums it well:

As one of our marketing consultants, Richard Currier, has always told our portfolio companies, "you market the vision, and sell the product." If you get too locked into talking about a product, then your partner or customer gets stuck into thinking about who else does this and why are you different.  Getting into a feature/function battle in the first meeting is not a great way to start.  Sure enough, our prospective partner started naming several companies asking us how we differed from them.  If you start with a vision first and clearly talk about your view of the market in the future and how your product evolves from where it is today to a roadmap of the future, then it is easier to differentiate your company and … Read more »

FeedBurner’s “-blogger_feel_good” option

Ah! Check this out.

That is a bug that I am not unhappy with for once: suddenly my FeedBurner FeedCount has grown 900% to a TechCrunch-like subscriber number.

(Gee! Mike is at 62K subscribers now. Sounds like this whole re-design brouhaha did not have much impact after all, did it ?)

So I know it is a wrong number, but many thanks to my FeedBurner friends for introducing this “”-blogger_feel_good“ command line option,  or to one of the many RSS readers out therefore for reporting an (obviously outreagously) inflated number .

Update: it is now clear from the FeedBurner subscribers statistics page that ”the issue“ is NetVibes, which is reporting 51,328 users reading my feed.

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Trends in Venture Financing – Q106 Data

I wrote a year ago about the compilation that law firm Fenwick & West produces every quarter of the venture financing terms received by a sample of companies in the Bay Area. The Q106 data report essentially shows a strong support in financing across stages, with a total $6B invested during the quarters, and increasing valuation “”step-ups” from one round to the next:

The Fenwick & West Venture Capital Barometer showed a 64% average price increase for companies receiving venture capital in 1Q06 compared to such companies’ previous financing round.  This was also the largest increase since the survey began.

What the report does not show is an increase in valuations asked by entrepreneurs for their initial round of financing, especially in last three months. Event at seed stage, it is not uncommon these days to hear about high single digit pre-money ($5M to $8M) which is – at least in the areas in which I invest – becoming pretty expensive. 

Terms are also increasingly entrepreneur … Read more »

Auren Hoffman on the Internet “Black Hat” Tax

My friend Auren Hoffman has an interesting post on the “Black Hat” Tax on consumer Internet businesses, basically pegging the cost of dealing with all aspects of fraud, scams, phising, and related government legal requests,… to 25% of revenues. He then goes on to mention a couple of examples:

A great example is PayPal. The book PayPal Wars details an intense battle the engineering team and even the CEO fought against fraud. This was one of the consuming issues of the company. Now PayPal is a financial institution, so you would expect lots of fraud. But dating?

After surveying most of the dating sites, I have found that one of their top three issues is fraud. A frequent scam is to contact an unsuspecting middle-age man from a profile of a good looking woman saying "my husband is beating me here in Moscow, please send $2000 so I … Read more »

Two great blogs to track the enterprise software market

Even though I no longer focus on enterprise architecture and related software solutions, I try to keep an eye on developments in that market, especially as consumer applications and Web 2.0 concepts make their way into it (dubbed Enterprise 2.0 of course)

I have recently added to my “Favorites” folder the 451 CAOS Theory, a group blog written by analysts of the 451 Group, an analyst firm, and Confused of Calcutta, the blog of JP Rangaswami, the CIO of Dresdner Kleiner Wasserstein.

I have met JP a number of times, mainly during conferences in the US and in Europe, and have always enjoyed his progressist approach to the adoption of new tools and processes to Enterprise IT. His “About this Blog” section says it all:

I believe that it is only a matter of time before enterprise software consists of only four types of application: publishing, search, fulfilment and conversation. I believe that weaknesses and corruptions … Read more »

More thoughts about the “Web 2.0 service mark” controversy

Well, saying that the blogosphere has been busy “commenting” on the “Web 2.0 service mark” affair is an understatement. It has been on top of TechMeme for over 24 hours, it has been /.’ed, dugg, linked to 300 times, and commented upon thousands of times in aggregate, etc. After the initial admission of involvement from O’Reilly’s Corporate Communication, we have gathered that Tim is on a boat and therefore out of reach until after the week-end, so we all look forward to his thoughts on this mess situation.

John Battelle, O’Reilly’s partner in the organization of the Web 2.0 conference, has chimed in a few times on his blog to comment on the situation and confirm that letting the lawyers loose on an Irish non profit was a mistake:

As I said, as they said, as we all said, sending the Bigfoot letter to the non profit was a mistake. We’re SORRY. Tim and I did not … Read more »