Why Angels Chase Electrons

A handful of angels recently turned their nose up at a company making a useful, well-targeted and well-validated computer peripheral product. An extremely smart entrepreneur who’s new to the organized angel game asked me a pretty fundamental question in response: “why do angel investors (and to some extent, VCs) turn up their noses at real, down-to-earth physical product companies and instead chase etherial web and process flow services businesses?”  Good question, and one that comes up frequently, so here goes…

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Ten Rules For Navigating in The Age of Outrage

Is Social Media the New Participatory Democracy?

Verizon just folded like a cheap lawn chair on their recently-announced plan to impose a ridiculous $2 fee for customers who used a one-time electronic bill payment feature on their website. Turns out that charging customers for the right to pay you was not popular: the internet rose up and roared. Almost immediately after announcing it, Verizon was faced with a 50,000+ signature petition demanding that they withdraw the proposed new fee. The protestors even raised the ire of regulators who publicly expressed concern and threatened to have a closer look. (Some WSJ coverage here.) Verizon had no choice but to beat a hasty and humiliating retreat.

I think this is the latest example a very broad and very deep trend at work.

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Cloud-Enabled Business Models (Or Why iTunes Match Will Change Your Phone)

Gartner’s hype cycle charts how all emergent technologies start with a trigger, quickly ramp up to a peak of inflated expectations, drop in to a trough of disillusionment and then move back up a slope of enlightenment onto a relatively stable plateau of productivity. Cloud computing is moving right along that curve; the initial buzz was followed by a paralyzing fear of security issues, but we are now well up the slope of enlightenment: cloud computing is here to stay, and nobody disputes that it’s going to have a huge impact.

The power of cloud computing to enable radical new business models is really starting to be felt on a massive scale.

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The Future Of Publishing – The Book is Dead; Long Live the Book

Is the traditional publishing model dead?

I’ve touched on this topic before (for example,  Amazon becoming a publisher; Amazon really stepping up publication efforts; ebook growth; blogcasting), but three recent events bring it back to the forefront. First was a conversation with someone at a TCN panel talk I gave last week who had just self-published her own book, second was a conversation with a friend who had just published a book with a traditional publisher and third was an interesting piece just published by Matthew Ingram at GigaOM about the value of publishers.

At the panel last week I was discussing intellectual property issues in the start-up context, and one of the participants was focused on IP questions around a book she had just published. The questions were straight-forward, but what was interesting was that when asked who her publisher was, she said that she had self-published.

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Zynga’s Bad Kharma

Promotional Image from Zynga's CastleVille

Quick follow up to my recent post about Mark Pincus hitting a new low at Zynga by demanding stock back from employees on threat of termination.  NYTimes has picked up on the story in a piece by Evelyn Rusli: Zynga’s Tough Culture Risks a Talent Drain.  My point in my recent post as well as the original one was that Pincus seems to have difficulty not being a selfish *sshole and that it should, and would, eventually catch up with him.

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Pincus is a Greedy Dirtbag (Zynga)

Mark Pincus is screwing his employees and the Valley.

I’m already on the record with my profound lack of respect for Mark Pincus and his stop-at-nothing greed and selfishness. His pursuit of personal wealth as CEO of Zynga is well-documented. He’s looking out for himself, regardless of the impact on the other stakeholders around him. I outline the fundamental issues in this post. The speech he gave to an audience of new entrepreneurs about how he used every dirty trick he could think of to trick early customers and grow Zynga revenue (captured here on video) was certainly a low point.

But I think he has hit a new, even lower, low.

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Localytics CEO on Steve Jobs, Raising Capital, Mobile Apps & TechStars

Here’s a short video interview with the Founder and CEO of one of my portfolio companies, Raj Aggarwal (@analyticsraj) of Localytics.  Raj sat down for a few minutes with Keith Cline of VentureFizz.  In this short video interview, Raj talks about the origins of Localytics, his experience raising money from Launchpad Venture Group and others, his pick axes & shovels strategy for Localytics, and his experience working for Steve Jobs on defining the early iPhone business model…

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LinkedIn’s Snowball Effect

Am I alone in noticing a pronounced snowball effect with LinkedIn lately?  As I noted in my post on their 100M member milestone in the Spring of 2011, I was an early-adopter of LinkedIn, joining before approximately 99.8% of the current members (I was member number 231,537 out of the 100M+ current users).  I attribute this to the fact that I was working in a technology company when LinkedIn started, and I was generally interested in the nascent social networking area, so I received early invitations and ended up fiddling around with the new site.

And as a result of my joining early,…

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Going Green

[This post is part of a series about our net-zero residential solar project – to see a list of links to the full Solar Project series, click here or click here to bring up all Green-related posts. Next Post in Series.]

For reasons I cannot explain, solar energy has always fascinated me. So prepare yourself to see a bit more by way of green topics in this blog. A big part of the impetus for those posts is the impending conversion of our home to a net-zero solar-powered residence. What that means, for the uninitiated, is a house that produces 100% as much energy from the sun as it uses over the course of a year. In fact, if the design calculations are correct, and we scrimp and conserve power just a tiny bit more, we may even be able to eek out an actual surplus. Due to the benefits of net-metering, this means the power company will actually pay us more than we pay them in a year – a negative electricity bill – very cool. We are in the final planning and paperwork phases for of the project, so construction won’t start for a few weeks. Expect many more updates on the project to follow in coming months.

In the meantime, for my first general interest green post, I’d like to share a really cool new program worth checking out.

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Groupon is Radioactive

There is just no other word to describe this mess of a company.  I have already discussed Groupon at some length in the context of talking about picking co-founders and co-investors carefully, but in the wake of Groupon’s crippled IPO, Michelle Conlin , business writer for the AP, just published an excellent analysis of where the company sits at the moment entitled “Groupon’s fall to earth swifter than its fast rise“.

Michelle Conlin on Groupon’s current plight:

“…the startup that pioneered online daily deals for coupons is an example of how fast an Internet darling can fall…”

On their IPO:

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