Archive for the ‘Venture Capital’ Category


Sep

21

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead

Shervin Pishevar of Menlo Ventures shared this quote to characterize to the Silicon Valley culture, just before announcing the Menlo Talent Fund on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco last week. He described it as a “quick decision angel fund” to help entrepreneurs launch their ventures with up to $250,000 in seed funding. With a prominent “Jedi Council of Mentors” and eight companies already funded, he claimed to fund within 24-72 hours of a pitch and offered to “back your dreams and change the world together.”

While this sort of rapid funding approach sounds enticing and may accelerate the deal process and help VCs avoid missing opportunities, it seems like little more than an option to me and not entirely strategic. The Menlo announcement gave way to an interesting discussion about the role of venture capitalists and their relationship with entrepreneurs.

What do entrepreneurs really want from VCs? According to host Michael Arrington, they of course want money, but they would also like for their VCs “not to screw it up,” suggesting they should stay out the way until the companies really need them. Put more diplomatically by other members of the panel, startups should expect their investors to add some intrinsic value to the venture, not just their money. According to Joe Kraus of Google Ventures, there was a time when the VC’s role was primarily to help hire the senior management team and make business connections. Today, he said it’s also about knowing what the business needs and teaching the skills they know best and young entrepreneurs aren’t expected to know yet, like how to hire great engineers.

James Slavet reiterated the point by explaining that venture capitalists aren’t necessarily good at everything, the same way no single employee can do everything. He challenged entrepreneurs in the audience to identify the areas in their relationships VCs where you can get the most value and to understand value can show up in different ways at different times. Slavet predicts the future of venture capital will see fewer firms investing in companies at a wider range of stages, but said it’s hard for a VC to be a generalist and said operating experience, flexibility and specialization within a particular category will always be useful at any stage.

There was a general consensus among the panel that the physical proximity of a startup to its venture capital partner matters to its success, based mainly on contacts and the notion that not being in the same market slows down a company’s ability to hire and limits the number of potential exit opportunities. Arrington suggested this may be more symptomatic of Silicon Valley investors being lazy. After all, there are startups all over the world who are plenty successful. Regardless, it was a poignant reminder that even in our connected world, success comes down to trusted relationships and doing business with people we like.

Wherever a company or its investors or based, venture capitalists should be able, and expected, to make valuable connections for their portfolio companies. Everybody’s money is green. It’s the money that adds the most value to a business that matters most.

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Posted in Conferences, Technology, Venture Capital


Dec

7

dfrIt’s become a holiday tradition I look forward to each year. Co-hosting the Digital Family Reunion reconnects me with friends and colleagues from the dot-com era and opens new doors too. More importantly, when we gather several hundred of Southern California’s most influential digital media, technology and entertainment leaders on Wednesday, we will recognize the connectedness of our community and celebrate those who inspire us with their success.

Part of the ritual is to bestow the Outstanding Achievement Honor on one person whose leadership, technical innovation and business acumen has made a significant impact on Southern California’s digital media community. This year, we will honor William Quigley, managing director at Clearstone Venture Partners. Additionally, Mark Turk and Stephen Hughes of Silicon Valley Bank will each receive the inaugural Industry Catalyst Honor.

William Quigley joined Clearstone Venture Partners more than 10 years ago, helping launch many successful companies, like MP3.com, Tickets.com, and Emusic. His current portfolio reflects his passion and belief in the digital media industry with companies like AOptix, SoonR, Meru Networks and Novariant. Prior to Clearstone Venture Partners, Quigley worked at The Walt Disney Company for more than seven years in a variety of business planning and operational roles. William received his MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School, and holds a BS in Accounting with Honors from the University of Southern California. He is also a CPA and a Kauffman Fellow.

Mark Turk, Managing Director, and Stephen Hughes, Senior Relationship Manager, of Silicon Valley Bank, lead the Los Angeles Corporate Finance Department focused on the banking and growth needs of early and late stage technology companies. Together, Turk and Hughes have completed more than $1 billion in debt financing to more than 250 different Los Angeles-based technology companies in the past five years.

Mark Turk is a managing director at Silicon Valley Bank and he manages the SoCal Corporate Finance team. Prior to joining Silicon Valley Bank in 2000, Turk was chief credit officer at Pacific Century Bank, a $1.3 billion business bank headquartered in Los Angeles and was also a vice president at Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America. Turk earned a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management. He is currently a board member of the Los Angeles Venture Association.

Stephen Hughes leads Silicon Valley Bank’s (SFV) Early Stage team in Los Angeles. The Early Stage team focuses on the banking needs of technology, life science, and clean-tech companies from start-up through mature companies with revenues of $75 million or more. Prior to joining SVB, Hughes served as Founder and CFO of a venture-backed software company (How2TV) and Head of Royal Bank of Canada’s US Technology Banking Group. He earned both his MBA and an Honors BA in Business Administration from the Ivey Business School in Canada.

The Digital Family Reunion will be held at Wokcano restaurant in Santa Monica from 6-10 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8, 2010. The event is sponsored by: Geico, Namesake.com, Catalonian Trade and Investment Agency, City Sourced, SoCalTECH.com, Social Radius, Digital Media Wire and WITI. Tickets to the event are available at http://www.digitalfamilyinc.com/dfr/2010/.

Digital Family serves to unify the Southern California technology and business communities by convening 30+ regional trade groups which reflect the digital spectrum and interweave them into one memorable night celebrating everyone’s connectedness and honoring those who’ve made major contributions to the industry. Selected by members of the Digital Family community, the Outstanding Achievement and Industry Catalyst Honors recognize those exceptional individuals whose achievements have impacted our local economy, advanced our community and inspired our collective vision for what is possible in the greater technology and business communities.

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Posted in Community, Digital Family, Events, Friends and Colleagues, Los Angeles, Venture Capital


Nov

8

imagesWith a conference the size and importance of ad:tech, each attendee is likely to give a different answer when asked ”so, how was the show?” From my perspective, ad:tech, along with the industry it serves, is alive and well. Now in its second year at Javits Center, ad:tech New York has never been short of attendees, with around 13,000 pre-registered for the show last week (Nov. 2-4). 

Typically the signal-to-noise ratio at ad:tech is so bad it requires you to speak with 1o people to arrive at a single qualified conversation on the show floor. But I’m pleased to report that the efforts of ad:tech chairwoman Sarah Fay and the DMG management team to pull the show back from the brink of being an affiliate vendor-fest appear to be working. During the couple of hours I walked the floor, in addition to at least three prospective CPA/CPL advertisers, I met representatives of Pepsico and Vonage, both of whom seemed open to new opportunities. Exhibitors echoed this sentiment, which was great to hear since even with a booth, introductions to big brands are unlikely unless prearranged.

While my primary focus was to evangelize ValueClick Media’s recent advancements in data, audience targeting and optimization technology among press, clients and digital opinion leaders, I did a fair amount of listening too, and came away with a few themes worth sharing:

  • The ad:tech conference is healthy and so is online advertising. No recession here, thank-you-very-much and knock on wood.
  • Social commerce is hot, with some mentioning the Gap ‘deal’ by name.
  • Questions abound regarding how, when and where social, mobile, local and search intersect with meaningful traction.
  • Lots of buzz surrounding the Rubicon/FAN and Specific/BBE deals, rumors of AOL buying Dotomi and other video consolidation anticipated.
  • A prevailing attitude of “enough already” when it comes to the over-labeling, shiny-button syndrome that seems to plague our industry. People are ready for consolidation and until then want to simplify the silos in ways that can make it easier for brands to buy from digital media providers.

If you are in agreement with the last point, you should love the video investment banker and savvy online self-promoter Terence Kawaja posted during the conference. Enjoy!

For more information from the conference, the ad:tech blog is always a good read.

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Posted in Brand Marketing, Conferences, Display Advertising, Online Advertising, Online Marketing, Venture Capital


Jul

16

pwc logoAccording to a report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Reuters, venture capitalists funneled $6.5 billion into 906 startups in Q2, an increase of 53 percent over the same period in 2009. The software industry led the way with 229 rounds of funding, but clean tech led financing with $1.5 billion going into 71 deals. Internet-specific companies received $879 million via 212 deals in the quarter. TechCrunch has a good graphic of funding by category and quarter-over-quarter trends.

What does all this mean for the Southern California technology sector? According to SoCalTech.com, we’re tracking second only to Silicon Valley in year-to-date funding, with $857 million going into 91 investments in Q2, nearly double the $451 million put into 69 deals in Q2/2009. Among the largest Southern California firms receiving funding were Miles Electric Vehicles and Tri Alpha Energy. Redpoint Ventures and Steamboat Ventures were the most active Southern California firms involved in transations nationally.

All in all, it sounds like positive signs for the economic recovery, innovations in technology and the growth of Southern California’s software, clean tech and Internet industries.

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Posted in Internet, Los Angeles, Technology, Venture Capital


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