The year ahead: 2011

This is going to be BIG.

There will be an estimated 50+ million tablets sold in the US in 2011, and 36 million of them will be iPads—I’m likely to be a buyer at some point before I head to Strata. This year, I’ll attend my 10 year college reunion. My oldest friend, of 25 years, is getting married. My parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. I will be competing in my third triathlon and aiming to break 2:30—10 minutes faster than 2010.

What Should We Make of Peter Thiel’s “20 Under 20? Education Program?

Both Sides of the Table

Several people have been asking me to weigh in publicly on the “20 under 20″ initiative announced by Peter Thiel in which he will award up to $100,000 to 20 people under the age of 20 who agree immediately to pursue entrepreneurship (the implication of which is that they’d drop out of university to do so). Thiel and friends will also agree to mentor these young entrepreneurs. Here is their inaugural class. So is this a good idea? My 2 cents: 1.


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9 Women Can’t Make a Baby in a Month

Both Sides of the Table

Those of us that are willing to admit that we fawked things up in the first dot-com explosion and learned from our mistakes have the battle wounds to make more pragmatic decisions in 2011. This post originally appeared on TechCrunch. I’m a very big proponent of the “lean startup movement&# as espoused by Steve Blank & Eric Ries.

How I Use Visualization to Drive Creativity

Both Sides of the Table

Creativity. I’ve always believed it’s been one of the most important attributes of business success yet something very few business leaders talk about. So I thought I’d write a post about how I drive my personal creativity. (A A slightly shorter version of this post originally appeared on TechCrunch ).

A Few Key People Really Can Make a Huge Difference

Both Sides of the Table

This article originally ran on TechCrunch. I’m in Seattle this week. People keep asking me if I’ve “seen anything interesting.&# Of course I have. I’m an entrepreneur at heart so I’m always inspired when I hear stories about innovation. I really liked BigDoor, MediaPiston, OpsCode, BuddyTV, SEOMoz and much more. Can’t list them all. But I’m not here trolling for deals.

Launchpad LA Receives VC Funding: $50,000 Per Startup

Both Sides of the Table

Launchpad LA today announces it will accept applications for its third class of Los Angeles-based tech startups. We have significant VC commitments (listed below) – every entering company will get $50,000 in funding, mentorship from top VCs and successful entrepreneurs plus free office space. For any company interested in applying please visit the website. History. For the past 2.5 years there has been an initiative in Los Angeles called Launchpad LA.

Your Product Needs to be 10x Better than the Competition to Win. Here’s Why:

Both Sides of the Table

Last night I had the great privilege to interview Bill Gross , one of the Internet’s true pioneers. To say he has had an impact on the web would be an understatement. His impact has even helped a small country gain admission to the United Nations. All of that are in this week’s episode of This Week in VC. Summary notes, as always, provide below. It was a pleasure to write them myself. Overture ( He invented the category of sponsored search.

Why Aren’t There More Female Entrepreneurs?

Both Sides of the Table

I’m often asked the question about why there aren’t more women who are entrepreneurs. On my blog I’ve been hesitant to take the topic head on. Somehow it seems kind of strange for a man to answer this question that obviously comes from a man’s point of view. But last week I noticed a blog post by a woman, Tara Tiger Brown, that asked the question, “ Why Aren’t More Women Commenting on VC Blog Posts? ” [it's short, you should read it].

The Importance of The Narrative

Both Sides of the Table

I went to undergrad at UCSD, which is not a place known for its Greek institutions and my father grew up in South America and had know idea what a fraternity was. So I went to college with no expectation that I would ever join a fraternity let alone aspire to become president one day. Yet being in a fraternity was one of the most transformative experiences I had in college and prepared me better for becoming an entrepreneur than any class that I took.

Future of TV: The Quick Version

Both Sides of the Table

I recently gave a talk about the Future of Television. I’m still planning to write some in depth pieces on the topic but I thought, “given that this is about how video will consume the Internet over the next 5 years, what better way to exemplify this than with a 10-minute video.” ” Here’s a link to watch it or click the image below. Sorry for speaking so quickly. I was given the impossible task of covering this in just 10 minutes.

2011 Valuation Survey of North American Angel Groups


Because of the interest in the 2010 survey, I decided to survey a larger number of North American angel groups this summer (2011). 2011 Angel Group Valuation Survey. Bill Payne October 2011. Here is a summary comparison of the 2011 results to last year’s survey of only 13 groups: The average valuation increased from $1.7 million in 2010 while the range is broader in 2011, from $0.8 In this 2011 survey, ten groups reported average valuation of $1.5

Should Startups Focus on Profitability or Not?

Both Sides of the Table

While Google and Facebook will buy “acquihires” (at least as of Dec 2011), many acquirers hate the idea of buying companies that aren’t profitable. There are certain topics that even some of the best journalists can’t fully grok. One of them is profitability. I find it amusing when a journalist writes an article about a prominent startup (either privately held or preparing for an IPO) and decries that, “They’re not even profitable!”

The End of the Web? Don’t Bet on It. Here’s Why

Both Sides of the Table

Fred Wilson recently posted a great video on his blog with the CEO of Forrester Research, George Colony. The money slide is the graphic below. The chart shows three scarce resources and their improvements over time. The top line is available storage (S), the middle line represents processing power (following Moore’s law) or (P) and the bottom line is the Network (N). In it he asserts that the web is dying and in its ashes will see the rise of the “App Internet.”

Understanding Changes in the Software & Venture Capital Industries

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In this three-part series I will explore the ways that the Venture Capital industry has changed over the past 5 years that I would argue are a direct result of changes in the software industry, not the other way around. Specifically, Amazon has changed our entire industry in profound ways often not attributed strongly enough to them. I believe the changes to the industry will be lasting rather than temporal change.

You Need to Win the Battle for Share of Mind

Both Sides of the Table

So as I get around the country speaking at college campus in 2010 & 2011 I have been preaching the same theme. But what I do see in the market in 2011 is way too many “me too&# solutions where a bunch of founders have brainstormed a way to do a better GroupOn, a better GiltGroupe, a better Twitter or a better Quora. This article first appeared on TechCrunch. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the proliferation of starutps in the past 2 years.

The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get

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That’s how it felt then and a bit how it feels in May 2011. And 18 months later, in May 2011, I have crossed 422,000 views. Overnight success. It’s one of the biggest myths in the tech industry. It’s a ongoing struggle to overcome this bias. I say “struggle to overcome&# because I care about young people entering our industry with a set of realistic expectations about what “normal&# is.

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Stock Market Drops. Then It Rallies. What Happens Next for Funding?

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2010 was the year of the “super angel&# and 2011 has to date been the year of unbelievably highly priced B,C & D rounds of venture capital. 2011. August 2011. This article was originally published on TechCrunch. Venture Capitalists typically have partners’ meetings on Mondays. Why is that? Who knows. But probably because as a group we travel a lot.

Why Did I Invest in the Company Pose?

Both Sides of the Table

What a sweet feeling it was last week to see the launch of the photo sharing site Pose , whose application targets shoppers of apparel. If you don’t know it and own an iPhone (soon Android) please check it out. What I’d like to do is tell you the story of how the investment came to be, what my thesis is / was and share some thoughts on macro trends. I always try hard to make this blog a place where you can learn lessons rather than an advertisement for portfolio companies.

The Coming Brick Wall in Venture Capital & Why This is Good for US Innovation

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This is the final part of a 3-part series on the major changes in the structure of the software & the venture capital industries. The series started here if you want to read from the start. Or the Cliff Note’s version: Open Source & Cloud Computing (led by Amazon) drove down tech startup costs by 90%. The result was a massive increase in startups & a whole group of new funding sources: both angels & “micro VCs&#.

Why Startups Need to Blog (and what to talk about …)

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This post originally ran on TechCrunch. Blogs. We all read them to get a sense of what is going on in the world, peeling back layers of the old world in which media was too scripted. By definition, you read blogs. But should you actually write one if you’re a startup, an industry figure (lawyer, banker) or VC? Absofuckinglutely. This is a post to help you figure out why you should write and what you should talk about.

On Bubbles … And Why We’ll Be Just Fine

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But when it’s all over and they define the era of this mini run up in stock prices I suspect they’ll include 2011 in the “over valued&# category. This post originally ran on TechCrunch. I recently spoke at the Founder Showcase at the request of Adeo Ressi. I asked what the audience most needed to hear. He said, “They need an unbiased view of the fund raising environment because there is too much misinformation and everything seems to be changing fast.&#.

Master of Customer Acquisition, Matt Coffin, On Startups …

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Matt was one of my inspirations behind Launchpad LA (yes, we’re going to have a program in 2011 – news very, very soon). I recently sat down with Matt Coffin , the founder of LowerMyBills, which sold for $400 million but was very nearly a bankruptcy only a few years early, and talked “startups.&#. Matt is one of the most transparent, focused & honest startup guys you’ll meet.

Avoid Monoculture. Travel. Read Widely. Let Experience be Your Compass.

Both Sides of the Table

I sometimes feel that the Silicon Valley culture and we as technologists more broadly can breed monoculture in our approach to entrepreneurship, problem solving, market analysis and technology solutions. Experiences way beyond any hack-a-thon, startup blog or your current company engagement can enrich your thinking and challenge you to think more broadly about the solutions you offer in the market.

Can You Really Build a Great Tech Firm Outside Silicon Valley?

Both Sides of the Table

But one common theme I’m hearing from there in 2011 is that it’s impossible to recruit. This article originally appeared on TechCrunch. Last year I was on Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley meeting with one of the most prominent venture capital firms in the country.

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How Tech People Can Make a Difference in the Lives of Under-Privileged Children

Both Sides of the Table

I’d like to start by asking each of you to consider helping under-privileged children in America get a little bit more than they have today. Sure, you can give a small amount of money. Even $10. Please. It’s better than zero. You can combine that with supporting Fred & Joanne Wilson. (if if you click no other links on theis site click that one). But even more valuable if you don’t have much money to give is to give your creativity or your programming time.

Why Reed Hastings Should be Applauded for Netflix Split

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By now you probably know that Netflix is splitting its business into two parts: its digital streaming business (retains the name Netflix) and its DVD mailing business, which was its original business (to be called Qwikster). If you haven’t read Reed’s explanation of this split make sure you read it (of course, after you’re done with this post ) —> here. It’s simply brilliant. He acknowledged mistakes in his past communications and apologized.

Changes in Software & Venture Capital – Part 2 of 3

Both Sides of the Table

Yesterday I wrote Part 1 of the series on the changes to the software industry over the past decade that has led to changes in the venture capital industry itself. If you don’t want to read that post, the summary is: Open source computing drove computing costs down 90%, which spurred innovation in technology. Open cloud led by Amazon with their AWS services drove total operating costs down by 90%. This led to an explosion in startups.

Spolsky on Software on Both Sides of The Table

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Sometime around 2003/04 my technology team turned me on to “Spolsky on Software&# a periodic newsletter served up blog style from Joel Spolsky of FogCreek Software, a maker of bug-tracking software. Blogs weren’t popularized yet so it was an oddity for me to read the founder of a software company spewing out advice. But I loved reading them and so did my team. So it was a thrill for me last month to be able to have dinner with Joel and shoot the breeze.

Whom Should You Hire at a Startup? (Attitude Over Aptitude)

Both Sides of the Table

This post originally ran on TechCrunch. Startups. We know the mantra: Team matters. Is this philosophy exaggerated? Overrated? Cliché? Team is the only thing that matters. Whatever you’re working on now, the half-life of innovation is so rapid now that your product will soon be out-of-date. Your existence is irrelevant unless you continue rapid innovation. Your ability to keep up is dependent on having a great team of differing skills. Individuals don’t build great companies, teams do.

We Have Only Scratched the Surface of the True Value of Twitter. Here’s What You’re Missing

Both Sides of the Table

I have written extensively about Twitter in the past. I still find that many people don’t understand the basics. If you consider yourself a newbie, please check out a group of posts that I’ve done in the past that might make you feel more comfortable with what is unique about Twitter. In this post I want to talk about a Twitter that I see beyond what is visible to most Twitter users today. Call it “Strategic Twitter.” ” **. Seattle? Chicago?

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Quick Practical, Tactical Tips for Presentations

Both Sides of the Table

In the past I’ve given some tips for handling meetings effectively, covering topics like: - How not to let your meeting go down a rat hole ; - Dealing with the elephant in the room ; - Dealing with skeletons in your closet ; - How to make meetings discussions, not “pitches&#. - A tale of two pitches (I eventually invested in the first company that pitched). Today’s post is a subtle one about positioning yourself in a presentation.

HealthDataInsights Sells for $400 Million. Big Win for GRP Partners.

Both Sides of the Table

The tech market is filled with many stories of early-stage funding. It’s even more exciting when you can report an exit of a company that is a major win. That’s why I’m proud to announce today that HealthDataInsights (founded by Victor Chaltiel), where GRP Partners was a 30% owner, has been acquired for $400 million.

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Why I Invested in Gogii (textPlus) – My First Ever Later Stage Deal

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This is a post I’ve been dying to write for 18 months. I invested in LA-based Gogii , one of the fastest growing, most exciting mobile social networking companies you’ve never heard of and maker of a product called textPlus. I know this because you’re not a young teenager. And if you are – what on earth are you reading such a boring blog as this?!? I only recently invested and I only got here through persistence. See, I originally lost this deal. But I never gave up.

Why Email May Be Draining Your Company’s Productivity

Both Sides of the Table

Email. Ah, email. That great productivity drain that we somehow all buy into. I’ve taken to saying, “Email is our personal to-do list that anybody adds to – whether they know us or not.” ” I was lamenting it tonight when I saw the most brilliant response Tweet by Andrew Hyde . “inbox = tetris getting zero lines doesn’t win it just makes the next move easy.” ” Brilliant! We spend our lives doing it. Nobody really enjoys it.

Why Startups Should Raise Money at the Top End of Normal

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2007, 2011) and for the hottest of companies and in bad markets for fund raising (2003, 2008) prices test the bottom end of the range. Prices have definitely gone up in 2011 as depicted in the anecdotal chart below. So in 2011 as a startup company if you can generate lots of demand you can definitely raise an A round of capital (say $3 million) at a $7 or 8 million pre-money valuation or slightly higher whereas just two years ago you would have struggled.

What to do When a Tech Giant Decides to Eat Your Lunch

Both Sides of the Table

An edited version of this post originally ran on TechCrunch. This version has some additional details on a portfolio company I’ve invested in, which are disclosed below. The annual Apple event where no real hints about what products they plan to release are floated in the public domain in advance. No private head nods are given to small startup companies to help them prepare.

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If You Don’t Have a Discrete Hypothesis You Are Incapable of Failing

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There are very few people in Silicon Valley who have such a precise grasp on what defines success of early-stage startup companies than Eric Ries. And there are very few people who so consistently exceed my expectations when I hear them speak. I find myself nodding – even when the topic is one I don’t expect to agree with such as “fail fast.” ” This week was no exception. I interviewed Eric for an hour for - This Week in Venture Capital.

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