Tag Archives: startups

The State Valley Money in 2013 – Liveblogging from START SF


Unless you are feeling particularly exceptional, now’s not a great time to be raising money for your consumer internet startup. But there is money still out there.

Had the great opportunity to be invited to attend the private START in San Fran today put on by the folks behing f.ounders. One of the first panels on Micro VC I took a few notes. And I thought few of my friends would be interested in some inside scoop on the current valley funding environment circa mid-2013. If our rotating door on Ashbury st (aka The Unofficial Visiting B&B for Canadian Tech Nerds) is any indicator, there’s still lots of opportunity down here.

Here’s my speed notes on the session, errors or crazy-talk is probably my fault in typing.

Panel: Micro-VC – 4 Small Funds Focused on seed through series A software VC
Mike Maples (Floodgate), Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures/KPCB),
Jeff Clavier (SoftTech), Alex Mittal (Funders Club)
Moderator: Tomio Geron (Forbes)

For some reason, the panel started backwards – talking about big liquidity events and working backwards to seed funding.

Snapchat’s crazy round and founder liquidity

  • Snapchat exit at 800M really big news item this week at huge valuation. Seems like it was highly competitive funding deal to get such a deal. What do you guys think of the the 20M(!) payout to the founders? Huge founder liquidity after only 2 years is risky, because founders have made their money for life and might not be incentive to stick around
  • As an entrepreneur you need to think that you will overcome any obstacle and there is no plan B. taking money of the table with liquidity gives them a plan b. some folks who get rich just get more hungry, but not everyone. (Early cash-out is like the opposite of burning-the-boats motivational strategy)
  • better is founder liquidity after 3-5 years to keep them rewarded and engaged in the company
  • – w/o healthy IPO market, high valuation also creates problems finding a future acquirer at a valuation over a billion dollars

Current Funding Environment

  • Enterprise is strong, but Consumer VC is currently “brutal” vs 2 years ago
  • lots of companies were invested a few years ago and haven’t paid out yet, or at all, or went in too high, and investors do
  • Series A expectations: 1 Million users for a consumer service 2yrs ago, now you need 5 or 10 M users
  • Before you needed 4M revenue run rate for a service business to series A, now 10 M
  • This raising of the bar on series A, has also raised the bar on seed investment
  • Contrary point: the exceptional founders and companies (really about 5-15/year any year) are truly exceptional. They will always manage to get funded. What happens is that, cyclically, less exceptional also founders get funded.
  • Really, there’s always money. But often too much money flocking to certain hot segments or geographies, and not enough going to all opportunities which makes the industry cyclical.
  • Last point: (Panel may be biased but claim) Party rounds (lots of investors at 25-50k each) not great for seed rounds without an achor, institutional or specialized Micro-stage VC investor firm that will really work with you to get you to the next round

Lift08 Venture Night: 5 Venture Pannelists and one MC

This update cross-posted from StartupNorth.ca

Welcome to my live-blogging coverage of Lift08 in Geneva. At venture night togight. 50 submissions, narrowed to 8 startups to present their demo and business case tonight. The format is a good one, familiar from Under the Radar for example, 5 minute demo and business model, 5 minute questions from pannelists and 5 from the audience. This is a posh event, wine and Swiss breadsticks no less and the turn out is substantial turnout for this “pre-lift” event (I’d estimate 400+). And the inimitable Guido Van Nispen as MC.

A venerable panel featuring techcrunch europe, VC an Angel, a top euro blogger and long time lifter Robert Scoble (twittering and blogging from stage, would we expect any less).

    1) Viewdle.tv
    video search company. find people in video, image, contextual and voice cues. more than just tags. Very slick and ajaxy
    searches for clinton, then narrows by Iran, shows in search results streamable clip of Hillary speaking of Iran. Options: sort by tag, by content channel, and by timeframe and, oh god, they have video tag clouds (what is this 2006?). But the seach works well in the demo, and it’s cool.

    Have widgets for blogs. Business model is video search sold to content producers (reuters) or video aggregators. Processing is computationally intensive, not trying to crawl or index web on their own (smart).

    2) holistis
    converting online store visitors to buyers 98% of online shoppers don’t make purchases. Uses, past behaviours, intention and behavioral targeting to convert viewers to buyers. Turn known visitors into loyal customers through targeted content. Theory is to grow the 2% end of the funnel as more profitable than the 98% end.

    3) wuala
    Free and simple online hard drive. sure great, online file folders with sharing. This has been done before. The twist, using distributed storage and bandwidth. You have to share your own HD and bandwidth to us it. They’re catch phrase is to be the skype of online storage (great catch phrase). Judges are throwing softballs until vc asks about copy write infringement they have the same issues as youtube or ftp servers say. Revenue streams, ads, photo prints, or sell for premium services. makes sure data is available even if large part of network is down, they also back up on their own servers works with bittorrent principles, fast downloads through fragmented storage

    4) Mixin
    what are other people are doing cause i wanna plan my friday evening. Like a dopplr for activities with your firends. Nice looking screens. looks like a jaiku/twitter calendar mashup begs the question, why not bundle, or at least mash this up w/ existing social networks instead of creating a new one. I asked this question. They want to, will support integration.

    5) IO
    digital is more present in the physical world like table top computing, surface computing and like bumptop but real. For public spaces, skinnable walls and tablesgorgeous interactive sufaces, rippling water and blomming flowers, more art than tech. VC pannelist says there are a few funded competitors – which also means this is a validated market with some action in it. I’d like one of these for my living room. But, revenue mode, they have no interest in making it cheap, not a consumer technology.

    6) cocommentwas launched way back at Lift 2006 syndicates and collects and aggregates blog comments tries to solve the problem of bog comment viability trouble is blog comments are less interesting than blog posts. Cocommenters comment more and are stickier. Rev model is ads, and conversation tracking. A lot of “former” users on the panel asking ome questions about performance, usability.

    7) clipperz
    Do you trust online services, do you trust them with your data? You should have control of your data. Keep it to yourself. Data is stored on cards that aggregates all your secure data and logins. talk about a vulnerability, get hacked once and they get everything. Admit that I don’t really understand this play or how it’s differentiated. Authentication and security is important, but in reality, mostly people say they do, but, in practice, don’t care. Many many startups before them have leapt onto this sword of federated online security management.

    8 ) Pixelux entertainment
    Digital molecular models. animate materials like materials instead of scripted animations. metals bend like metal, trees bend like trees, great for realtime video game animations. reduces costs of video game production through procedural physics rendering. DMM physics engine, realtime animation libraries, based on glass, metal, wood, etc. the algorithms know how it will break, bend or shatter. For movie market or for games and animation. Flat fees, and licencing business models on titles sold by the millions. nice.

Whew, a solid deck of demos. Now this is a larger scale of event (and later stage companies) than our typical democamp or startupcamp, but I’m left feeling that we in the Canadian community step up our game. A lot of good Tech here (whith a capital T). Good polish of apps, good polish of demos and some impressive technology that could actually work (mostly). Bravo.

UPDATE: minor typographical edits 7:00a.m. 020708 GMT+1