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Showing posts from May, 2011

SlideRocket

Somehow I hosed my PowerPoint installation on my computer, so I uploaded a few presentations to Google Docs. But Google Presentations really sucks--quite basic and clunky, and doesn't import from PowerPoint well.

I remembered a bunch of online PPT generators came out a few years ago, so I did a quick search of TechCrunch and came across SlideRocket.

SlideRocket is great online presentation software. I was able to create, edit, and share my presentation very quickly, and then share the link. The graphics are slick, the interface is generally easy to learn and use, and the quality seems great.

The free account limits sharing and export, so I'll likely pay for a month of use soon. I highly recommend it, though I think the pricing is a bit high at $240/year.

That's about what Powerpoint costs, and it's very cheap for me to simply reinstall it and then use SlideShare for sharing my slides.

Regardless, SlideRocket has been a big help. If they drop their entry pricing to some…

The Hashable Exit: LinkedIn

This is obvious, of course, but Hashable--the really cool introduction and contact-sharing app--is right on target for an early acquisition. The stuff works great, is getting easier to use and understand, and will declare a breakout year by winter.

LinkedIn makes the most sense as an acquirer. Yes, Salesforce and other CRM companies will have interest, and of course Plaxo will (Comcast), but Hashable is a social networking tool as much as anything.

Here's an interesting infographic I cribbed from Brekiri, a business search engine doing some interesting things not far from Jawaya.

Flowing Like Molasses: A Response to the Central Penn Biz Journal Article

This morning's article in theBusiness Journal wasn't a complete representation of my comments about the PA investment scene. So I'll clarify here.

In 1997, I moved ChiliSoftto Seattle because I had raised money in the Silicon Valley. I had tried for 12 months on the East Coast, and the best terms we could get were the onerous, punishing 51% that you see on that disgusting show on ABC Sharks.

The Commerce Secretary wrote a scathing editorial in the Patriot News in defense of PA's pathetic level of investment capital. "Don't let the door hit you in the ass", it basically said.

Since then, the venture capital community in PA has grown, but not by a huge amount. Most of the growth has been in bio and pharma, which is great.

DFJ, which funded ChiliSoft, opened a branch in Pittsburgh. Michael Aronson started MentorTech out of Wharton in Philly, and just had a huge success with the sale of the company behind Diapers.com to Amazon. A number of small early stage …

Delays & Distractions

The UI work took longer to get in the door, and as feverishly as we're working ton implement it and clean up code, it looks like we won't be able to absorb the delay.

In a day or so, though, we'll invite some true believers to give it a try, and help us test the eventual beta.

Distractions. Well, that's another way delays come about. I've had a few distractions lately, but sometimes it's just a question of turning off the intergalactic webospherical stuff and get crackin.

That's what I'm about to do now--radio silence, an hour at a time, 5-minute email check in between.

Valuation: Buying the Fire in the Belly

I've been talking with a great entrepreneur recently, connecting her with some awesome folks and weighing in on funding. A kind of crappy seed-stage term sheet is on the table from a group that should be more, well, they ought to know better.


I think you should set the the terms. The bottom line is the exit--what does an exit look like to them at different levels, given X %, and what does an investment with lousy terms do to the morale to a founding team given additional rounds of funding.


Most terms are about risk mitigation, including percentage, which is a bit of a distortion in the first place because of all the other terms, which skew investor percentages upward. 


Make the deal 20%. $500k for 20% post, so your pre is 2.0 million, 1x non-participating liquidation preference. That's not about current value, it's about buying into a growth path.


If you sell for 500k, they get their money back. 


A million, they get their money back. That's 50% of the outcome. 


$5 million, t…

Days Become Weeks Become Months

Last Friday I had a great conversation with Fred Wilson about what I'm working on and where I am in the process. I'm not pitching him, but I've known him for 10 years and he has always been generous with his time and insights.

I've been a guest blogger at his blog AVC, and am a regular contributor there because writing helps me think through issues and ideas, and I often don't have time to decide the issue of the day. So commenting has been a way to do that, and the community there is really interesting (a post for another time).

When you're not pitching an investor, the conversation is different. The relationship goes from eager, nervous entrepreneur and skeptical VC, to two people looking at a set of issues together. The latter is far more productive and sometimes produces great results. 
We plan to launch the Jawaya Beta (closed) next week. Fred asked me why I've started raising the round now, instead of waiting until we have a user base, metrics, etc, sayi…

Do the Work

So I've created a profile for Jawaya on AngelList.com, but alas, no angels, no action.

The guys behind it have been great to me, but I'm getting the feeling that I can't just post the profile and expect something to happen.

Let's see--name investors (check). Great advisors (check). Stellar Intergalactic Visionary Product (check). Video (nil).

But it's the views--no views. I'm not getting passed over, it's like we don't exist.

Ah, so maybe there's technique. Indeed, it turns out there is. There are ways to get a bit of attention, and I just need to work that, follow the recommendations, do the work, dig in, focus, do the work.

I realized that last week, after months of thinking about raising capital: it takes work. Of course it does. I need to package the company, idea, vision, passion, and make it easy for others to consume. We need to launch and get a bit of traction. Not a ton, but enough to show promise.

I get that. I always have--for other peopl…

Serial Entrepreneurs

Fred Wilson blogged about first-time vs serial entrepreneurs. As one of the latter, this was my comment: 



Fund them both. I'm on my 4th company and 8th album. So I have a bit of an inside view. Passion is a lifelong thing, and the older you get, the better you are at harnessing it.  There are a number of types of entrepreneurs and I'm going to guess it's different for different personality types. There's the steady, bright, business-oriented one; each of her companies will do well because she's committed to building great companies and is methodical in doing it. 

Then there's the one more like me--driven by passion and insights, tenacious, enthralled with solving problems for other people and trying to make big things happen. I'll throw ADD and hypomanic in there too; you learn to leverage it. 

By the 4th company, you've done, learned, and seen a lot. 

Like the replacement CEO who hits on the women in the office. The sales manager who refers applicants to his…