Blog Archives

Why We Need an Entrepreneurs Visa

Since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, immigration has been the fuel that drives innovation and growth in America. Those first immigrants came to this country in search of the freedom to develop themselves as they saw fit, but also to develop America into the place full of opportunities we enjoy today.

I know this firsthand because that’s exactly the reason why I came to Silicon Valley. I was born and raised in France — certainly not one of the oppressive political systems we see in other parts of the world. I didn’t need to escape, and had been successful in France but I still came to to the Valley for what this amazing innovation ecosystem has to offer — and what I ended up offering in return as a venture capitalist.

I was lucky. I got in very easily because I happen to have the right visa. However, our broken immigration system often results in promising entrepreneurs … Read more »


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The genesis of the “Super Angel” moniker?

Yesterday I saw this question on Quora: When did the term Super Angel first come into use? and couldn’t help but adding my own 2 cents.

I believe that the term “Super Angel” was used for the first time in the Startup Visa act. It defines the Super Angel as “an angel investor that has a track record of regularly participating in seed round investments” for the purpose of the startup visa proposal. So the term was coined sometime in 2009 by someone involved in preparing the act – Brad Feld, Dave McClure, Manu Kumar, etc.The term was then extracted out of this context by the media to refer to us, the 15 or so firms investing in the early stage space. It is a total misnomer since we’re all all VCs: we manage OPM (Other People’s Money), and as such micro-vc or seed fund is really what defines us. But the … Read more »


My personal “Panel Pile Up” Etiquette

My friend Fred Wilson wrote a post this morning about the looong queues of people speakers face after panels or talks we give at conferences: The Panel Pile-Up. This post is actually an edit of the comment I left on Fred's blog.

I am speaking at one or two events a week, and I am seeing that pile-up all the time. It takes me anywhere from 10 to 40 mins to get off stage or "free myself up". Once it took me over an hour to leave the room – at a TiE Conference a couple of years ago.

I consider it part of the job to meet people in the hallway, and so I try to be as efficient but gracious as possible. A sixty second pitch, a couple of short Q&As followed by "Can we continue the discussion by email?" are fine since I will typically be able to indicate whether I am interested in following up, … Read more »


Turning to page 40

It took me a few minutes to start writing something after putting in this title “Turning to page 40”. I re-read the many emails, Facebook private and wall messages, skype IMs, SMSs, twitter messages and greeting e-cards I received over the past 24 hours. I am grateful for all of these, a big Thank You to you all. One of my journalist friends nailed it: “Just wanted to chime in and wish you a great year … and decade, I suppose!”. A great decade is what I am wishing myself today, I guess for the first time. I only have a vague souvenir of my turning 20, I remember the 30 transition because of the great wines (and the headaches) we had, but for some reason I find that turning 40 is a bigger deal. Sort of not being old yet, but not being young any more. My good friend Reid Hoffman took the same turn a few weeks ago, … Read more »


Experimenting with a few services on this blog

I have always tested a number of tools and services on this blog, to the point of sometimes making the page load time untolerably long (apologies for that – obviously not intended). One of the areas of experimentation is advertising, and you might have noticed sponsored links, banners, both on the blog and on the feed. My motivation is not to make money that way (I would not go very far with the amounts generated), but to figure out how mainstream consumer advertising programs "work" on social media content. The last one – that replaced AdSense – is , Amazon’s new advertising program called Omacaze Links. Initial results aren’t too convincing yet – but we’ll see how that automatic contextual matching combined with behavioral targeting performs. To date, I have received the best results from the FeedBurner advertising network inserting ads in my feeds.

I have also added a pretty cool community building feature called MyBlogLog. My … Read more »


Trends in Venture Financing – 2Q06 Data

The 2Q06 compilation produced by Fenwick and West regarding vc financing trends in Silcon Valley has just been released, and it continues to show strength in activity and valuation. The most notable point, which needs to be confirmed in the next couple of quarters to really be meaningful, is that valuations have grown by a lower factor than in Q106 and Q405. Other data points listed in the report (statistics are provided by Dow Jones VentureOne):

The Fenwick & West Venture Capital Barometer™ showed a 34% average price increase for Silicon Valley companies receiving venture capital in 2Q06 compared to such companies’ previous financing round. Although this was a significant increase, it was less of an increase than in the prior four quarters. The amount invested by venture capitalists in the U.S. in 2Q06 was approximately $6.7 billion, an increase over $6.4 billion in 2Q05 and $6.2 billion in 1Q06. The combined total of $12.9 billion for … Read more »


What if Bill Gates had turned to the dark side ?

This is essentially the theme developed by VC Bart Schachter in his guest post on PE Week Wire. It is indeed not uncommon for CEOs leaving the top spot to do a stint in VC firms as EIRs, venture partners or GPs. Bart pictures it:

Imagine that, instead of taking refuge in the pages the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Bill would have set his sights on becoming (the horror) a venture capitalist. Consider that, in a moment of blissful bridge fantasy, instead of seeking to remedy the injustices of the third world, he might have opted instead to set up shop as a budding VC. Consider the high points of the billgventures.com home page: Operating experience, Value-added Investing, an Eye to Company-Building, Unequaled Access to Global Business Leaders, and in case you missed the first bullet, CEO Experience.

Would Bill Gates have made a successful VC ? We’ll never know, but it is clear that he has been doing an … 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 PodTech.net 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 »


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 »