Blog Archives

Crunchies 2012: Congratulations to category winners Fab and Fotopedia

 As it has been the tradition now for a few years, our industry gathered last night to celebrate the achievement of startups and founders at the Crunchies. In a choked full venue (and a completely saturated AT&T network because of the number of smartphones in the audience), we enjoyed a fast paced program going through 20 different categories.

We were extremely pleased to see porfolio companies Fab win Best Shopping Application, and Fotopedia win Best Tablet Application. Congratulations to our teams, who both saw an exploding growth this year.

I particularly appreciated the tribute to my friend Heather Harde, the former CEO of TechCrunch, who totally deserved her standing ovation. And the emotional moment of Fotopedia’s Jean-Marie Hulot who recalled that the last time he was in this venue, he was on stage with Steve Jobs to launch the NeXT  – but Steve was no more (JMH was the CTO of NeXT back in 1988, … 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 »


Congratulations to Netvibes on their $15M raise

I am late to it (been busy with the aftermath of my own news) but I have to congratulate my friends Tariq Krim, Pierre Chappaz and Freddy Mini for closing Netvibes’ Series B of 12M EUR (or $15M). Per TechCrunch:

NetVibes, a Paris/London based company, will announce a $15 million round of financing on Monday. Existing investor Index Ventures joined new investor Accel to lead the investment, which is one of the largest this year for a European company. The valuation was not disclosed.

I missed the angel financing round that involved Index Ventures, Pierre, Marc Andreessen and Martin Varsavsky but Tariq has since asked me to join his advisory board. The growth of Netvibes in users and traffic has been stunning, and I am delighted to be involved in helping build the company.

Actually, Freddy – the COO and future expat in the Valley to build the co’s business in the US –  is … Read more »


AOL acquires Userplane to expand AIM network

A brief interruption of my holiday schedule to announce a great news: portfolio co Userplane has been acquired by AOL LLC a couple of weeks ago, and I just heard that the official press release is now up there. I started working with the three founders of the company, Mike Jones, Nate Thelen and Jave Hall, over a year ago, and it is really with delight that I am congratulating them, and the whole team, for such a great outcome (that I will not give any detail about, as AOL has elected not to disclose any financial information about the deal). So let’s just say: a great outcome for all involved.

Userplane is in the business of powering online communities with a suite of communication tools: Instant Messaging, Chat rooms, A/V Recorder – on a white label basis. The original model was to license these tools to very large social networking and dating sites (MySpace, Friendster, Date.com,…), … 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, Topix.net, 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 »


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 »


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 »


Lightspeed-Gemini Internet Lab (LGiLab) launches with French TechCrunch Editor as General Manager

Blogging buddy Ouriel Ohayon, the Editor of the French version of TechCrunch and former ICQ Business Development director, has been appointed General Manager of a new seed stage Israeli investment vehicle, the Lightspeed-Gemini Internet Lab (LGiLab). The Lab is located in Herzliya (the Israeli equivalent of Palo Alto), and has appointed the former CEO of Shopping.com, Dan Ciporin, as Chairman.

Two well known VC firms, Gemini Israel Funds and LightSpeed Venture Partners, are funding the operations of the Lab and will be providing the capital to seed finance these companies. Their goal, I assume, is to efficiently support the development of a few projects in their initial phases, and figure out which ones make sense to invest in as VC deals. And they will be able to do so at a tiny fraction of the cost of Web 1.0 incubators that burnt through hundreds of millions of dollars.

Congratulations to Ouriel, and looking forward to hearing … Read more »


The NY Times on MySpace’s economics and challenges

I came across this New-York Times article about MySpace, its economics and challenges: For MySpace, Making Friends Was Easy. Big Profit Is Tougher (sub req’d). It is full of interesting data points, and is especially interesting in the light of the growing importance MySpace has in the Web 2.0 ecosystem. Not only is MySpace the second largest Internet web site in page served, it has also become a common launchpad for new startups that offer widgets that can be integrated in users’ home pages. Bambi Francisco had a good piece on this “trick” two weeks ago: MySpacenomics (sub req’d).

Interesting snippets:

MySpace now has over 70 million signed users (but the article does not mention how many users are actually active – logging at least once in the last 90 days). As mentioned, only Yahoo serves more pages than MySpace which is getting close to one billion pages per day. The yearly … Read more »


Riya recognizes 150,000 Benjamin Franklins

I just read on TechCrunch the official announcement of the fund raising Riya has recently completed, and I must admit that I had to check the number twice: $15M is the amount the company has brought in from new investor Bay Partners. Munjal comments on the news, which was sort of pre-announced, or at least eluded to, when the Google acquisition went kapputt.

It is great news for the Riya team, and this financing round makes the company one of the largest Web 2.0 “capitalization” – $19M raised across two rounds. The amount strikes me as very large in a context of “cheap” startup build-up costs, and it can only mean two things: Munjal, who’s been around the block already once with Andale, was able to command a high valuation (one can only assume that the rumored take-out valuation range has been a useful benchmark), and Riya has some serious development ahead of them, and infrastructure to … Read more »


Want an online Word Processor ? Check out Zoho Writer

As a disclaimer to this post, I should point out that I am not yet in the “Everything Online” camp in terms of productivity applications, and that’s why I still spend my life in Outlook, Office and a few other key products. Two reasons drive that choice: 1) I am not yet online 100% of the time (though I am looking with envy at one of these EVDO cards) and 2) online services have a tendency of going down a lot these days. Furthermore having had a demo of Office 12 from Scoble last night, I really like the UI work Microsoft has done for this release and am looking forward to testing it at some point (unlike the two or three last revisions of Office). That’s why I have not really reviewed a lot of online office applications, besides RSS aggregators, even if online suites like Zimbra caught my eye when they launched at the Web 2.0 … Read more »


Yahoo Mail becomes a full fledged RSS Reader – and messes up with MyYahoo home page

TechCrunch reports that the new Yahoo Mail (still in closed beta ?) now offers the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds and display the content as a river of news, etc. Makes sense.

You can add feeds by entering their URL, or selecting from a very limited set of tech-focused feeds. Bit raw given the ever increasing number of blogs out there. Rojo and BlogBridge have implemented directories of feeds per industry, allowing new blog readers to start somewhere, which is an idea that ought to be considered.

What does not work *at all* for me is that this list of feeds is actually the list of news sources displayed on My Yahoo. Which means that adding/removing feeds from your RSS/Email reader also changes the content of your MyYahoo home page – without any warning or notice. Hello ?Importing the content of MyYahoo would be appropriate, but could we … Read more »