Home  /  Podcast Directory  /  Business & Finance  /  Venture Voice

Last update: 2009-09-27

VV Show #60 - Larry Kramer of MarketWatch

2009-09-27 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Today's media executives plotting to charge for their content would do well to hear how Larry Kramer beat Jim Cramer's TheStreet.com by resisting pressure to put most content behind a pay wall while not relying entirely on advertising. To the average consumer, MarketWatch.com seemed to have come out of nowhere during the late 1990s to quickly establish itself as one of the leading sources of online financial information. For MarketWatch founder Larry Kramer, it represented the last chapter of his 15 year journey as a first-time entrepreneur. Larry started his career as a journalist, going from reporter to the top editor of the San Francisco Examiner in just 10 years with stops at the Washington Post and Trenton Times along the way. Larry founded DataSport Inc. (the company that would eventually morph into MarketWatch though a series of mergers and partnerships) with $500,000 from friends and family. He almost ran out of money early on. After a wild ride on the public market, Larry sold MarketWatch to Dow Jones for over $500 million in 2004 and went on to become the president of CBS Digital Media until 2006. Hear how Larry lived though two different careers and what he's planning next.


Share: VV Show #60 - Larry Kramer of MarketWatch

VV Show #59 - Barry Silbert of SecondMarket

2009-08-19 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Any shareholder in a startup can tell you there's a big difference between paper wealth and cash. Short of an IPO or outright acquisition, there are few options to cash out for the shareholders of even the most thriving private companies. Barry Silbert is determined to change that with his company SecondMarket -- an exchange like the NASDAQ for private stock and other illiquid assets. He founded the company in 2004 focused on restricted stock, and quickly reached profitability with only $350,000 in angel funding. The road to this point was not without challenges; Barry's business partner was diagnosed with cancer and passed away as they were establishing the company. In 2008, SecondMarket made $20 million in revenue. Barry's success has not tempered his ambition as he's spent 2009 aggressively moving into new asset classes such as private companies (Facebook stock is already being traded on his platform), limited partner interest in venture capital firms and even California IOUs. Hear how this former bankruptcy banker did it and why he believes "The sky's the limit" for his business.


Share: VV Show #59 - Barry Silbert of SecondMarket

VV Show #58 - Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser of Grasshopper

2009-05-20 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

"Dial 1 for sales, dial 2 for support..." Ten years ago it cost over $10,000 to get a phone system with the advanced options we're used to hearing when we call big companies. Having a professional-sounding phone system was a surprisingly big challenge for small businesses short on cash. Enter Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser who launched GotVMail to offer that service at rates starting at only $10 per month in 2003 as they were graduating college. They launched their business with under $200,000 in capital and never raised any more money. They bootstrapped their way to profitability quickly, and are now driving over $10 million in annual revenue. Despite their success, Siamak and David don't believe what's gotten them this far will take them to the next level. So they've just rebranded their company Grasshopper and are getting ready to launch some new products.

Show sponsor: FreshBooks - an easy online invoicing provider used by Venture Voice


Share: VV Show #58 - Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser of Grasshopper

What Venture Capitalists Are Really Thinking


I cofounded a company called Sawhorse Media that's making sense of Twitter (Twitter was founded by past Venture Voice guest Ev Williams).

We decided to launch a new site called Venture Maven to make it easy to follow what VCs and angels are tweeting about. For example, if you were pitching Spark Capital, you could have checked Venture Maven yesterday to see one partner was at the dentist and a principal just got off painkillers after a knee surgery. Better open the meeting with a good joke.

Please let me know your feedback. We're also thinking of launching a similar site for founders and CEOs.

You can find Venture Voice on Twitter at @VentureVoice and me personally at @Gregory.


Share: What Venture Capitalists Are Really Thinking

VV Show #57 - Fabrice Grinda of OLX

2009-04-27 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Craigslist seems unbeatable. It's often blamed (or celebrated) for destroying the classifieds business that helped keep American newspapers afloat. Now second-time Venture Voice guest Fabrice Grinda is seeking to dominate online classifieds with OLX, his latest venture. Unlike Craigslist, OLX is translated into many languages and has a global focus. OLX is completely ad supported so there are no fees for job or real estate listings as there are on Craigslist. Still, it sounds crazy to compete with Craigslist. If anyone can do it, it may be Fabrice. When we interviewed him in December, 2005, it was on his last day working as CEO at Zingy, a ring tone provider that he founded and sold for $80 million against all odds. OLX already has 125 employees and 60 million unique visitors per month, but with $28.5 million is venture capital it has a lot of growth ahead of it before it's a success. Hear how Fabrice plans on getting there.

Show sponsor: FreshBooks - an easy online invoicing provider used by Venture Voice


Share: VV Show #57 - Fabrice Grinda of OLX

VV Show #56 - Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software

2009-04-13 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Joel Spolsky first came on Venture Voice over three years ago to discuss his company which he launched in a very different way from most entrepreneurs. Rather than start with the big idea and pay lip service to building a great team, Joel focused on getting great programmers first. The ideas came second. Good thing because his big idea, a content management system called City Desk, never took off. Instead it was his small idea, software to track bugs in other software called FogBugz, that became a cash cow for his company Fog Creek Software. This small idea has provided the funding for his company to expand into three other product lines, all with just $50,000 in seed capital from Joel's savings account invested when Fog Creek was started. Since we last caught up with Joel, he's moved into a new office in Lower Manhattan that sports closed offices for all of his programmers and a large area where free lunch is served every day (eat your heart out Google). Listen to how Joel's expanded his business.

Show sponsor: FreshBooks - an easy online invoicing provider used by Venture Voice


Share: VV Show #56 - Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software

VV Show #55 - Graham Hill of TreeHugger

2009-03-23 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Graham Hill started the blog TreeHugger to cover green issues in 2003. After a steady climb in traffic and advertising, Graham sold the company to Discovery Communications in 2007 for $10 million. Since launch and even after the acquisition, Graham ran his business virtually. Graham lived in different cities from New York to Barcelona while working many hours to grow his company. His team of writers, ad sales people and developers chatted over Skype, got paid through PayPal and used Google documents to collaborate. Simultaneously, Graham launched a ceramic version of the iconic New York paper coffee cup (video below). Listen to how Graham built his businesses without an office or home town.

Show sponsor: FreshBooks - an easy online invoicing provider used by Venture Voice


Share: VV Show #55 - Graham Hill of TreeHugger

VV Show #54 - Tim Westergren of Pandora

2009-03-09 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

It takes only a few seconds to customize a radio station on Pandora. Its founder Tim Westergren has been struggling for almost a decade to make it that way. Pandora was five years in the making before it streamed a single song to a user. For over two of those years the company was completely broke. While Tim convinced employees to defer over $1 million in salaries, Pandora underwent several changes in name, product and revenue models. Now Pandora is a leading online radio destination that’s starting to bring in sizable ad revenue. Tim is still battling with the record industry for its survival.

Show sponsor: FreshBooks - an easy online invoicing provider used by Venture Voice


Share: VV Show #54 - Tim Westergren of Pandora

VV Show #53 - David Cohen of TechStars

2009-01-28 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

The title financier conjures images of mahogany desks and million dollar checks for most. But for anyone pitching to David Cohen's TechStars, the outcome is getting accepted to what's essentially a summer camp for entrepreneurs in Colorado and being offered a check of $18,000 or less in exchange for 6% of the startup. This two year old program is part of a new trend in structured angel investing and mentoring that was started by Paul Graham's Y Combinator. Two companies founded at TechStars have already been acquired: socialthing! was sold to AOL and Intense Debate was sold to Automattic (the makers of WordPress). David tells his own stories of success and failure as an entrepreneur, and his transiton to becoming an angel investor.

Show sponsor: FreshBooks - an easy online invoicing provider used by Venture Voice


Share: VV Show #53 - David Cohen of TechStars

VV Show #52 - Sam Wyly of Maverick Capital, Green Mountain Energy, Michaels Stores and Sterling Software

2008-12-03 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Not to be called a one trick pony, Sam Wyly's turned himself into a billionaire by starting and growing companies in technology, oil, retail and even in the restaurant industry. Coming from a modest upbringing, Sam worked in sales at IBM and Honeywell before founding University Computing in 1963 at age 29 with just "$1,000 and an idea" as he puts it in his book of that title. The company IPOed and grew to over 5,000 people. Sam hired CEOs and stayed an entrepreneur. He's founded and acquired numerous companies including Bonanza Steakhouse (grew to 600 restaurants), Earth Resources Company, Sterling Software (sold for $3.3 billion), Sterling Commerce (sold for $4 billion), arts-and-crafts chain Michaels (sold for $6 billion), Maverick Capital (a hedge fund with over $10 billion under management) and clean-energy producer Green Mountain Energy. Despite being soft-spoken, Sam's fought and won several high profile proxy fights. Sam's been undeterred as several of his ventures have had visible failures over the years and he's lost audacious bids to take over Western Union and Computer Associates. On the whole, Sam's created a huge amount of value that's put him on the Forbes list of the 400 richest people. Hear how he does it.

Show sponsor: FreshBooks - an easy online invoicing provider used by Venture Voice


Share: VV Show #52 - Sam Wyly of Maverick Capital, Green Mountain Energy, Michaels Stores and Sterling Software

VV Show #51 - Jeff Stewart of Mimeo, Monitor110 and Urgent Career

2008-11-10 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Jeff Stewart needed that done yesterday. Jeff became an entrepreneur when he founded the web consultancy Square Earth in 1995. Only three years later he became a serial entrepreneur by starting Mimeo, a service that lets you send a file directly from your computer to be printed, bound and shipped overnight. Mimeo struggled in the dot com crash of 2000-2001 just as it was getting off the ground. Jeff was able to pull Mimeo though the downturn despite almost running out of cash, which has allowed the company to flourish and make $55.4 million in 2007 revenues. Ironically, Jeff didn't have the same success in good economic times with ample cash after he raised $20 million for Monitor110. He discusses the company's shutdown and lessons learned. Now Jeff's focused on allowing businesses to hire good salespeople faster with Urgent Career. He announces on this show for the first time that he's just raised a six-figure angel round to speed up Urgent Career's success.


Share: VV Show #51 - Jeff Stewart of Mimeo, Monitor110 and Urgent Career

VV Show #50 - Derek Sivers of CD Baby and Muckwork

2008-10-23 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Last time Derek Sivers was on Venture Voice three years ago he told us he had to "whack 'em [investors] off with a stick". Now we know why. Derek announces on our show for the first time the amount he sold his company for this past summer: $22 million. Derek owned 100% of the equity. Though he might have made more money than most of his fellow music entrepreneurs, Derek's no Gordon Gekko. In this interview, Derek tells us how he put all of his money from the sale into a charitable trust, that he didn't even visit CD Baby's office once during the last year he owned it, and what he's up to next.

Want more Venture Voice? Become a Venture Voice member or contact us about sponsoring the show.


Share: VV Show #50 - Derek Sivers of CD Baby and Muckwork

Angel Financing Without Hellish Legal Fees


It's great to hear stories like the one where Andy Bechtolsheim handed the Google founders a $100,000 check before they even set up their bank account. Convince an angel to invest and you're off to the races! However, what many aspiring entrepreneurs don't know is that after the one or two page term sheet there are dozens of pages of documents that go into even an angel financing.

Since law firms have templates for these deals you might think it's no harder than copying and pasting. The problem is there are lots of different templates floating around law firms, and a countless number of terms that could be changed. Many of these terms really don't make too big of difference, or if they do their effects are so hard to anticipate that arguing over them isn't worth the time. Lawyers get paid by the hour so they have an incentive to find terms they don't like (and there are always terms to not like). So lawyers will often spend weeks bickering over trivial issues, racking up $10,000s of legal fees, delaying the financing and putting the deal itself at risk.

Enter angel fund Y Combinator, which has just released the financing documents it has standardized and used with dozens of entrepreneurs. If these documents get a reputation for being fair (which is likely given the Y Combinator's good reputation), they could save million of dollars in legal fees for startups. The key is that both the entrepreneur and the investor trust that the Y docs are a fair deal for all, and trust enough to tell their lawyers not to mark it up! This could do to angel investing what Creative Commons did to copyright or what McDonald's did to hamburgers.

UPDATE (8/14): Scott Rafer (a past VV guest) posted his convertible debt note (direct link to doc) he's using for his current company, Lookery. Rafer did a convertible debt deal, which has many advantages as my friends at Venture Hacks have argued. On the other hand, Josh Kopelman has argued against it, pointing out several disadvantages. It seems to be the type of issue that could go either way depending on the dynamics of the particular company, oppertunity and investors -- but if we had a standardized set of docs for each verified by a trusted third party it'd be very powerful. The NVCA did this for later stage docs (of course they're funded by the VCs). Who could do this for convertible debt rounds?


Share: Angel Financing Without Hellish Legal Fees

VV Show #49 - Rafat Ali of paidContent and contentNext

2008-07-23 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Attention entrepreneurs dealing with the current economic downturn: This interview is for you. After working as a journalist for Jason Calacanis at Silicon Alley Reporter, Rafat Ali ended up broke in a market with a dearth of employment opportunities. To try to find a new job, Rafat created paidContent.org as an "interactive resume." Luckily, no one hired him. From these humble beginnings, Rafat bootstrapped his blog holding company, ContentNext Media, for four years before taking a small investment from famed media investor Alan Patricof in June 2006. From its inception paidContent has doubled revenues each year and was recently acquired by UK-based Guardian Media Group for a rumored $30 million. Listen in as Rafat outlines the past, present, and future of online media, while sharing his war stories from another uncertain economic time.


Share: VV Show #49 - Rafat Ali of paidContent and contentNext

Uncensored Interview


The folks at Uncensored Interview were nice enough to turn the tables on me by interviewing me on their show. You can watch all the clips here. Here's me talking about what makes a good interview:

Please join our new Venture Voice Facebook Page.


Share: Uncensored Interview

New York Venture Summit


When: June 24-25, 2008
Where: The New Yorker in New York City
What: Venture Voice is a media sponsor of the 8th Annual New York Venture Summit that will feature over 25 Venture Capital Speakers, 3 Venture Capital Panels with open discussions and 40 of the most promising Emerging Companies seeking funding.
For more information and a list of VC’s confirmed to speak: http://www.vcsummit.com/ (for $100 off current registration price enter code: venturevoice2008)


Share: New York Venture Summit

Next Question?


In our last round of questions on this blog, we asked each former guest about his or her first time (raising money). What should our next question be?

Give us your ideas in the comments or via our contact page.

We've got a number of new audio interviews scheduled. To support the show, please consider becoming a Venture Voice member by clicking here. (Just like NPR, but for entrepreneurs and without the tote bags.) More members = more interviews.


Share: Next Question?

David Sacks' First Time (Raising Money)


This is part of a series on Venture Voice where we ask a bunch of past show guests a simple question and post their answers.

How'd you raise your very first round of financing?

David Sacks: I asked Peter, Max and Elon to finance "Thank You For Smoking" with me. I didn't have to do too much selling since I had worked with them at PayPal and was putting in my own money.


Share: David Sacks' First Time (Raising Money)

Kelly Perdew's First Time (Raising Money)


This is part of a series on Venture Voice where we ask a bunch of past show guests a simple question and post their answers.

How'd you raise your very first round of financing?

Kelly Perdew: I raised my first round of financing ($500K in equity) from friends and family while I was still in business school. Be very careful about taking money from friends and family... while it is easier to access, if things don't go well, you tend to stay in the deal much longer than is good for you to try and save their money!


Share: Kelly Perdew's First Time (Raising Money)

Evan Williams's First Time (Raising Money)


This is part of a series on Venture Voice where we ask a bunch of past show guests a simple question and post their answers.

How'd you raise your very first round of financing?

Ev Williams: I asked my mom for $10,000. She gave it to me.


Share: Evan Williams's First Time (Raising Money)

Jay Adelson's First Time (Raising Money)


This is part of a new series on Venture Voice where we ask a bunch of past show guests a simple question and post their answers.

How'd you raise your very first round of financing?

Jay Adelson: The first round of financing I ever raised was from angels. I was working with Al Avery, who co-founded Equinix with me in 1998. A good friend of mine, who had founded a company in Silicon Valley in the mid-nineties and sold it to Cisco, was mentoring me to avoid going initially to the VCs.

From his perspective, nothing could be worse; Showing up at VC with a business plan, with no executive team, no execution, amounted to no valuation, and the VC taking way too much of the company for a series A.

Instead, he felt, do everything you can to bootstrap or angel fund it, then go back (even a month, or six months later) to the VCs with something they can't argue is as risky.

This friend of mine went to two friends of his, and we raised $100,000.00 to start. We followed his instructions to the letter; We hired some executives, we started the process of operating our business, got an office, etc. We made the business real. Most importantly, we found a great corporate law firm to start all the paperwork, who later would help us negotiate and deal with the VCs.

Three months later we gave away roughly 40% of the business for $12 million dollars. The $100k was set up to convert to essentially $200k worth of stock at the close of Series A. I think they did quite well, and we're all still good friends.


Share: Jay Adelson's First Time (Raising Money)

Joel Spolsky's First Time (Raising Money)


This is part of a new series on Venture Voice where we ask a bunch of past show guests a simple question and post their answers.

How'd you raise your very first round of financing?

Joel Spolsky: I put in a very small amount of money (I think it was about $50,000) from my own savings. That carried us to profitability.


Share: Joel Spolsky's First Time (Raising Money)

Fabrice Grinda's First Time (Raising Money)


This is part of a new series on Venture Voice where we ask a bunch of past show guests a simple question and post their answers.

How'd you raise your very first round of financing?

Fabrice Grinda: The first time I had to raise money was for Aucland, a copy of eBay for Southern Europe which was my first Internet startup. I was lucky not to have to raise seed money. While in college at Princeton, I built a company exporting high end computer equipment to Europe (motherboards, memory, CPUs, hard drives, etc.). Given its profits, I left Princeton in June 1996 with $50,000 in cash.

When I joined the McKinsey New York office as a consultant in September 1996, I ran a sophisticated real estate rent versus buy model. The model and my rule of thumb analysis (see Rent … unless you want to buy) were screaming BUY! I bought a large 1 bedroom apartment on 54th and 2nd for $115,000, putting $25,000 down.

With the other $25,000, I bought 4 stocks: Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon and Intel. When I decided to create Aucland in July 1998, I sold the 1 bedroom apartment for $185,000. I sold all the stock I owned. After taxes, I was left with around $300,000 in cash. I invested 100% of it in Aucland.


Share: Fabrice Grinda's First Time (Raising Money)

Scott Rafer's First Time (Raising Money)


This is the first of a new series on Venture Voice where we ask a bunch of past show guests a simple question and post their answers.

How'd you raise your very first round of financing?

Scott Rafer: The first money I raised was for Fotonation in 1996. We just had a cashflow issue, so borrowed $25k off a friend of mine in NY, paying him back the principal plus interest and warrants. It was the right thing for the situation. My mistakes were later.


Share: Scott Rafer's First Time (Raising Money)

VV Show #48 - Frank Addante of The Rubicon Project

2008-04-07 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Whether working with market trends or against them, Frank Addante has found entrepreneurial success. Before he was 29 years old, one of Frank's companies went public and two were acquired. At his worse, he returned capital to investors. Suffering from serial entrepreneurship, Frank left the Illinois Institute of Technology just four classes shy of his degree. His companies range from an early search engine to a Sequoia Capital-backed enterprise email solution. Now Frank aspires to be a web publisher’s best friend with his new ad network optimization service that he says is boosting their clients' revenues by 30-300%. Listen in as Frank details his ongoing entrepreneurial journey.


Share: VV Show #48 - Frank Addante of The Rubicon Project

Google is Making the Web Free. Will DoubleClick be its Next Free Service?


Over at Silicon Alley Insider, Hank Williams is arguing that VCs are supporting free services that ought to be paid for on the hope advertisers will foot the bill down the road -- thereby eliminating the opportunity for noble paid services to make a couple honest bucks by charging users. It's a dubious argument, as pointed our by the site's own editor (ouch).

If we accept the argument that free is a bad thing, then wouldn't Google be to blame? It's acquired several companies such as Urchin and VC-backed Feedburner (our first guest) that offered paid services and made them free. Google also acquired VC-backed Jot (their CEO talked about plans to charge users on Venture Voice) and GrandCentral, then accelerated their development into free services.

Google understands there's at least two ways to make money from "free" services. Ads, which are time tested and Wall Street approved. And data. Data has tremendous value, especially to Google (as opposed to VCs), as Google can use it to decide on new services to launch and to choose acquisition targets. (Who even needs to do due diligence on an acquisition target if you already are running its analytics?)

What's next? Look to the past. When Google acquired Urchin, Google was working on its own analytics product that it dumped in favor of Urchin's battle-tested service. Urchin had a hosted stats product that was turned into the free Google Analytics service, and a downloadable product with a license fee. Now, Google has its own ad server in development but just closed an acquisition of DoubleClick (their founder interview here) that charges for its industry standard hosted ad serving service and downloadable ad server. Why not dump the Google's beta free ad serving product and just make DoubleClick's hosted ad server free?

To most companies, it'd be a fine strategy to have different product lines for different market segments (e.g. Microsoft Works vs. Office, Toyota vs. Lexus), but not to Google. The beauty of Google has been allowing the same service to scale to companies of any size, most famously in the case of AdSense/AdWords. Will it break this tradition to preserve DoubleClick's hosted ad serving revenue, which is already under attack from many competitors and from an open source solution (OpenX)?

Disclosure: This blog entry is free.


Share: Google is Making the Web Free. Will DoubleClick be its Next Free Service?

VV Show #47 - Tom Perkins of Kleiner Perkins

2007-12-12 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

The name Tom Perkins is now almost synonymous with venture capital, but it's clear that he cut his teeth as an entrepreneur. Educated at MIT and Harvard, Perkins first made his mark by managing the initial growth of Hewlett-Packard’s computer business while simultaneously inventing the first cheap and reliable laser. The company he built around the laser, University Laboratories, made him independently wealthy and allowed for the creation of Kleiner Perkins, one of the most successful venture capital firms in existence. Kleiner Perkins (now Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) has funded a wide range of well known and wildly successful companies including Google, AOL, Genentech, Sun Microsystems, Compaq, and Tandem Computers. Though Tom's wowed the business press for much of his career, later in life he's gained national attention for having a key role in 2006 Hewlett-Packard board controversy, briefly marrying Danielle Steel, and building the world's largest privately owned sailing yacht. Tom has recently stepped back into the media spotlight by publishing a memoir called Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins. Listen in as he discusses his journey from New York to Boston to Silicon Valley, the creation of Kleiner Perkins, and his advice for the entrepreneurs of the future.


Share: VV Show #47 - Tom Perkins of Kleiner Perkins

Entrepreneurship in South Africa


We just received this e-mail from Sydney Mfuniselwa who gave us permission to post it:

My name is Sydney from South Africa, I am really moved by the interviews on show. I wish we had something like this here in South Africa because I think my country needs stuff like Venture Voice as it still developing.

My point is I am 25 young black man as software developer, trying to go on entrepreneurship but its hard in this part of the world because most of the people cannot even use a computers and I already made my mistake by planning and planning for a long time in developing a database for the company I work for which i did developed and presented to my senior manager but just heard the company has already sign up for a new system to be implemented because of this I felt so down for a while up until i manage to put my hands on one of venture voice interviews. Two things I have highlighted from the entrepreneurs you interviewed are:
1. Do not waste time trying to plan a perfect product execution is the key.
2. And do not let million rejections wear you off.

Now I am trying again because i believe I should be an entrepreneur and i just open internet cafe on one of historical known building in Carlton in the Johannesburg CBD.

I truly appreciate Venture Voice.


Share: Entrepreneurship in South Africa

Silicon Valley Postcard


Silicon Alley Insider asked me to write about my trip to the West Coast (DEMO in San Diego, Podcast Expo in LA, meetings in Silicon Valley). Enjoy!


Share: Silicon Valley Postcard

Venture Voice Rebooted


We took off for the summer from Venture Voice. E-mails like these from loyal fans made it a painful experence:

Great show, have you taken the summer of? I hope to hear you back on the pods soon.


Penticton, BC


I talked with Joel Spolsky recently and he said that you are no longer doing Venture Voice! I have learned so much from your podcasts and was disheartened to hear this news. I do hope that you continue VV. I wish you the best in what you are now doing. Diwant

I can explain!

I was busy launching a new business called News Groper, a network of parody first-person blogs. For example, if you want your fix of business news, you can read blogs "by" Tom Perkins, Ben Bernanke, Stephen Schwarzman and Jeff Skilling.

But fall's upon us. Venture capitalists are back from vacation, customers are ready to do deals again and entrepreneurs are more than ready to pounce. As such, we're ready to give you the content you need.

I'm very excited to announce that Eddie LeBreton has joined the Venture Voice team to help take things to the next level.

Now we need your help: What can we do better? Who should we interview? Any other great ideas for us? Want to sponsor Venture Voice? Please post in the comments or contact us.


Share: Venture Voice Rebooted

Facebook: Crossing the Chasm in Reverse


I had the pleasure of being in the very first Facebook generation. My college was one of the first 13 to be added to Facebook, and we were all jazzed just to see photos of each other and occasionally get a "poke" -- the implications of which are not clear to this day.

I only have a couple of friends from college who are not on Facebook. The rest are. And I went to a college without a computer science department.

Generally the way new technologies spread, according to Geoffrey Moore's Cross the Chasm, are by starting with early adopters and spreading to the early majority. The early adopters are visionaries and do things simply for the sake of trying a new technology (e.g. being at the leading edge of "social networking"). The early majority are pragmatists who try something when they're sure of it's value (e.g. seeing what your friends are up to). Crossing from one to the other is a huge and often fatal challenge.

LinkedIn took this challenge and started with the early adopter Silicon Valley scene. They started to invite their friends, VCs, lawyers, bankers, etc. until it eventually spread so that many professionals -- even here on the East Coast -- know what it is. Reid said on my show that he doesn't think it's hit its "tipping point", but I believe it's crossed the chasm.

Facebook's another story.

Their first few thousand users included most of the college kids at the original 13 schools allowed in. While college students are more computer literate than many, most of that audience could not be considered early adopters. I had friends on Facebook in those days who didn't know what a blog was.

Facebook didn't start with the traditional early adopters, or if they did they only started with a small subset of them and didn't stay there long.

Moreover, they didn't even allow in the typical Silicon Valley/TechCrunch 53,651 early adopters in until recently (unless they happened to be in college).

Now, after Facebook has launched its API and the tech world has taken notice in a big way of the business opportunity in Facebook, you're starting to see lots of typical early adopters -- tech entrepreneurs and VCs (e.g. Fred, Josh, Roger, Dave, Howard, Andy) -- experiment with Facebook.

What does it mean that the early adopters are giving their two cents only after the early majority (at least among 18-30 year olds) have already adopted?


Share: Facebook: Crossing the Chasm in Reverse

Teaser for Next Episode: iContact


I usually don't like to give hints about who's coming up on Venture Voice, but I can't resist breaking news: Ryan Allis -- who left college early to start his business iContact -- just raised a $5.35 million for his already profitable company. Stay tuned to hear the story.


Share: Teaser for Next Episode: iContact



I was reminded of how immigration policy affects all parts of the economy while reading Fare is Fair, one of my favorite columns in The L Magazine that's a collection of quotes from those most in the know in NYC: the cabbies.

A number of our past guests on Venture Voice are immigrants. How does the immigration policy affect entrepreneurship in the US?


Share: Immigration

VV Show #46 - Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp

2007-06-24 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Jeremy Stoppelman is the co-founder and CEO of Yelp, a site where users can write and share reviews of local businesses. Everyone's now a restaurant critic. However, local reviews were not the original focus, but just one of several features in the earlier versions of the site. Noticing the growth of this buried feature, Yelp re-tooled the site around reviews and hasn't looked back since. Does this story sound familiar? Jeremy's the former VP of Engineering at PayPal, which also had to drastically alter its business early in its life. Listen in to hear Jeremy's thoughts on growing a local enterprise, giving users and identity, and how to recognize and act upon the need for change.


Share: VV Show #46 - Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp

Bad Influence


Bill Gates gave a very provocative Harvard Commencement speech. I was struck by this passage:

But I also want to be recognized as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to drop out of business school. I’m a bad influence.

While he said it jokingly, it's a great reminder that one of the entrepreneur's biggest jobs is team building and convincing others to take risks.


Share: Bad Influence

(Un)fair Advantage


Anyone who's worked with venture capitalists knows that they have a language of their own -- and for the most part it's quite fun. Terms like "burn rate", "first-mover advantage", "monetization" and "defensibility" never get old. But I've noticed that many VCs I respect are using the term "unfair advantage" to simply describe an advantage. Jeremy Liew describes having the best news coverage as an "unfair advantage". Susan Wu calls having a community and leveraging network effects an (outdated) "unfair advantage".


Share: (Un)fair Advantage

Good Angry Customers and The Death of Sucks Sites


The social news site Digg (whose CEO is a past Venture Voice guest) recently had a user revolt after it gave in to the demand of a cease and desist letter and blocked a posting. The users voted stories up to the main page of Digg that criticized Digg. It was viewed as a big negative at the time, and journalists are still reveling in the site's supposed hardship with headlines like Digg Flap Exposes Cracks.


Share: Good Angry Customers and The Death of Sucks Sites

Worthwhile Reading


After mistaking me for an expert, people often ask me what I read. Sure, as you can tell from numerous past posts, I read all the sites you must read to keep up with the industry, including paidContent, Techcrunch and Techmeme (the founder of which, who I recently met, is both a fan of Venture Voice and an adept impersonator of my voice). I also read blogs from past Venture Voice guests, such as Fabrice's, Dick's and Jason's, which always offer interesting thoughts.

But if entrepreneurship is dependent on seeing the world in a different way from others, then we can't let the media we consume be defined by our industry or job title. I go out of my way to find writing that's bold, provocative, and unafraid of breaking social mores. Here are the sources that I won't start my mornings without:


Share: Worthwhile Reading

VV Show #45 - Kevin Ryan of Panther Express, ShopWiki and Music Nation

2007-04-27 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Not many entrepreneurs have a motor like Kevin Ryan's. Kevin is best known for his work as CEO at the on-line advertising firm DoubleClick, which he grew from a 20 person start-up to the largest Internet company in New York at the height of the dot-com boom. After escaping the ensuing bust in an arguably improved strategic position, the company has since changed hands twice. In June 2005, the company was sold to the private equity firm of Hellman and Friedman for $1.1 billion and has made headlines yet again with its recent acquisition by Google for an astonishing $3.1 billion. Yet, this success has not slowed Kevin one bit. Since departing DoubleClick, he has already launched three start-ups, with plans for a fourth this summer. Listen in, as Kevin describes his DoubleClick experiences in both boom and bust, outlines his new start-ups, and explains why now is as good a time as ever to start a company, especially in the Big Apple.


Share: VV Show #45 - Kevin Ryan of Panther Express, ShopWiki and Music Nation

Join the Venture Voice Team


How would you like to be the first person to hear the next episode of Venture Voice and even make a couple of bucks for listening? We're hiring listeners to write show notes for new episodes (just check out past shows for an example). Great writers will even get to take a shot are writing the intro paragraph. If you're interested, please contact us.


Share: Join the Venture Voice Team

West Coasting


As I mentioned in my last post, we do our best to cover how business gets done on both coasts, and everywhere else. I'm headed out to San Francisco for the first time in a few months for the Web 2.0 Expo. If you're out there too or you know of anyone we should be talking to, drop us a line.


Share: West Coasting

NYC Entrepreneur Panel


I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of excellent entrepreneurs for MBAs at NYU's Stern School of Business. The panel included Thrillist co-founder Adam Rich, Daily Candy's Eve Epstein, Sean Pfitzenmaier of stealth startup Social Sauce, Music Nation founder Daniel Klaus and Jonah Beretti who's a founder of The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.


Share: NYC Entrepreneur Panel

VV Show #44 - Venture Voice Startup Workshop Coverage (part 2)

2007-03-08 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Marketing a startup is tricky business. Every entrepreneur faces the dilemma between allocating time to improving the product and marketing the product. If the two can be mixed just right, then perhaps sterile marketing can go viral. We tackle that issue in part 2 of 3 of our very own Venture Voice Startup Workshop coverage in New York City. David Hornik of August Capital leads the session, but he doesn’t finish uninterrupted as the entrepreneurs on the panel jump in.


Share: VV Show #44 - Venture Voice Startup Workshop Coverage (part 2)

Run Your Startup in the 2008 Election


On the cover it would seem entrepreneurs and politicians have little in common. One creates value in the economy, the other, um, I'll refrain from any bashing of politicians. But both entrepreneurs and politicians have a lot to potentially gain in the drawn-out election season leading up to November 2008.


Share: Run Your Startup in the 2008 Election

The Sincerest Form of Flattery


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we must have been dead on in our list of the Top Five Venture Capital Firm Web Pages. In a very bizarre case documented by Dan Primack of peHUB, Sequoia Capital is suing ComVentures for copyright infringement of its website:


Share: The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Online Social Network Entrepreneurs Social Network Offline


Last Saturday, Venture Voice show producer Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell dropped in on the Community Next: The Present and Future of Online Communities conference held at Stanford University. Here are some of his musings on day:


Share: Online Social Network Entrepreneurs Social Network Offline

Talking Back to Your iPod


Ever listen to Venture Voice and wish you could say something back to our guests? You can. Pop onto our site and leave a message in the comments -- most of the guests read them. Our most recent guest, Fred Seibert, just highlighted a provocative comment from a Venture Voice listener in his blog. One blogger mischaracterized some data Guy Kawasaki shared with us, and Guy corrected him in a comment on his blog.

If you feel text can't do justice to the passion in your comment, remember you can leave a message on our listener line, just dial (212) 461-4850 or skype "venturevoice".

If there are any other ideas out there to further enhance the Venture Voice community, let us know!


Share: Talking Back to Your iPod

Community Next


When: February 10, 2007
Where: Stanford University
What: Venture Voice producer Kosh Mayer-Blackwell will be at Community Next looking for social network entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who use social networks. The conference is organized by the always-entertaining Noah Kagan and features some past Venture Voice guests as speakers including Premal Shah and Guy Kawasaki.


Share: Community Next

VV Show #43 - Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios and Next New Networks


Download the MP3.

Before the rise of the Internet, cable TV was the new form of distribution remaking the entertainment business. Life-long entrepreneur and former jazz producer Fred Seibert pioneered that field, and is known in the industry for branding MTV (remember their ever-changing animated logo) and Nickelodeon (remember Nick-at-Nite). While he was figuring out what to do next, Ted Turner hired him to be president of the then-struggling Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio. Fred turned the famous studio around and kept his hand in the cable business until some friends dragged him into the Internet business. He now runs Frederator Studios which produces several cable and Internet TV shows. He also just launched a new well-funded startup called Next New Networks to create Internet TV networks.


Share: VV Show #43 - Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios and Next New Networks

David Sacks Launches Geni


Past Venture Voice guest David O. Sacks launched Geni today, as TechCrunch reports, which aims to be the ultimate family tree.

Many have tried in this area before, none have achieved dominance. I've tried about 5 of these types of services in the past (including one from Joe Kraus's Jot) and none have caught on with my family no matter how many e-mails I've sent out.

Geni's got one of the fastest registrations I've ever seen, so I couldn't resist pestering my family members yet again. As I've said before, never bet against a PayPal alum. Let's hope that, as Valleywag eloquently put it in reference to his Hollywood venture, David Sacks has another "disgustingly successful foray".


Share: David Sacks Launches Geni

VV Show #42 - Simon Daniel of USBcell


Download the MP3.

The battery is an afterthought for most inventors. All the fun seems to be in developing a device, not in powering it. But when was the last time you cursed your phone, camera or podcast player because it ran out of batteries? Simon Daniel got fed up with his batteries, and decided to do something about it. He invented the USBcell, a standard sized battery (yes, it comes in AA) that can recharge using any USB port. This isn’t his first invention. Previously, he invented the folding keyboard and licensed the technology. This time he’s bringing the USBcell to market himself through the company he founded called Moixa (axiom spelled backwards). Though this might force you to think differently, don’t worry, we won’t play the podcast backwards.


Share: VV Show #42 - Simon Daniel of USBcell



Jazz has undergone the ultimate irony. Born in New Orleans, Jazz was once deplored by the music establishment and academia as modern day rap is now considered offensive by ears accustomed to Beethoven. It was the devil's music. Now it's hard to find an article about it in anything other than media outlets aimed at upscale audiences. The New York Times just printed an article titled Jazz Is Alive and Well. In the Classroom, Anyway.


Share: Jazz

Confusing Comfort with Happiness


I'm not sure that there's any correlation between entrepreneurship and fitness, but there seems to be a lot in common among people at the top of their game -- be them entrepreneurs or athletes. Outside magazine ran an interview with "ultrarunner" Dean Karnazes (thanks to Michael Hyatt for the link) in which he said:


Share: Confusing Comfort with Happiness

Bah, Humbug!


Nothing like A Podcast Carol to change one's outlook on podcasting for 2007.

How are you keeping in touch with your clients before the new year? What does your vacation look like?

Happy Holidays!


Share: Bah, Humbug!

Taxing Entrepreneurship


The government pays a lot of lip service risk-taking, entrepreneurship and small business. In fact, many believe that it can be advantageous for tax purposes to be an entrepreneur (write-offs, SBA loans, hiring family members, etc.). In a fascinating blog post titled Should We Worry about the Rising Inequality in Income and Wealth?, Judge Richard Posner considers how a high marginal taxes effects entrepreneurs and other risk takers:

What are the causes, and what are the effects, of this trend in the income (and of course wealth) of the highest-earning segment of the distribution? Part of it is reduced marginal tax rates, because high marginal tax rates discourage risk-taking. Consider two individuals: one is a salaried worker with an annual income of $100,000 and good job security, and the other is an entrepreneur with a 10 percent chance of earning $1 million in a given year and a 90 percent chance of earning nothing that year. Their average annual incomes are the same, but a highly progressive tax will make the entrepreneur's expected after-tax income much lower than the salaried worker's.


Share: Taxing Entrepreneurship

The Irony of You


Setting off a barrage of cutesy opening lines by bloggers, Time Magazine designated "You" as the person of the year. Bloggers responded with begrudging thanks, collective self-congratulations, lessons in semantics and more musings. Triumph! Citizen media has finally overtaken professional journalism in influence. However, what does it say that a silly magazine award (published by the "M.S.M." no less) can still set the blogosphere a flutter?

People have always placed too much authority in the "Man of the Year", I mean "Person of the Year", oh, "People of the Year" award. But the editors at Time did their job well: They cause controversy and got attention. After all, they're pros.

If this shift was really the most significant thing to happen in 2006, why not give the award to one of the entrepreneurs behind it? After all, all of the big players in this shift were startups, not new ventures by existing big companies. When a politician has a lot of influence, "you the voter" who put him or her in office doesn't get the award. Let's remember that entrepreneurs change the world, and that they made their mark on 2006.


Share: The Irony of You



With so much change going on in media, it's hard to tell who's your friend or your enemy. Having a good strategy for dealing with others who could either be a great partner or a fierce competitor is crucial for many startups, as we saw with PayPal and Zingy. A few weeks ago at an event put on by The Week, I heard WPP chairman and CEO Sir Martin Sorrell use the perfect term to describe such a relation (in this case referring to Google): frenemy.

If Sun-tzu was right that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, then what should you do with frenemies? Smart entrepreneurs should at least start recognizing who their frenemies are. To give them a push, I just created an entry in Wikipedia for Frenemy.

It's my first Wikipedia entry, so please help clean it up and add your thoughts. Here it is as I originally wrote it:


Share: Frenemy

Wharton: "Where Entrepreneurship Comes to Die"


We've covered the ongoing debate over "teaching" entrepreneurship. Now we have a report from the front lines.

Ravi Mishra, a University of Pennsylvania junior double majoring in engineering and business who still describes his location as "Silicon Valley, California", writes a blog post titled Where Entrepreneurship Comes to Die.

He tears apart his fellow b-schoolers' business ideas with an entertaining vengeance usually only seen in a venture capitalist (I wonder what he scored on the VCAT), which includes building the craigslist for college students (as if craigslist isn't the craigslist for college students) and a plan to bring the campus meal plan off campus.

Yet Ravi doesn't lay all the blame on his Ivy compatriots. He says of the class:


Share: Wharton: "Where Entrepreneurship Comes to Die"

The VCAT (Venture Capital Aptitude Test)


Would be law students have their LSAT, medical schoolers have their MCAT, and MBAs have their GMAT. Why should aspiring venture capitalists be left out of the fun of proving their self worth in a quick test?

Past Venture Voice guest Guy Kawasaki announced in his blog today that he's developed the VCAT (Venture Capital Aptitude Test).

Anyone who's just dropped $100k and two years of their life on an MBA will be loathe to learn that their degree will cost them 5 points. And just when you thought you'd seen your last aptitude test!

On the other hand, Guy might be viewing freshly minted VC analysts with a glass-half-empty mentality. The wise anonymous blogger at Going Private points out that the VC gigs might save the world of more management consultants. She writes "For the small gift of just $175,000 per year and a reasonable carry, you can save an MBA from the horror of Booz Allen. That's less than $480.00 per day." Do your part today at Dan Primack's 4th Annual Internship Drive.


Share: The VCAT (Venture Capital Aptitude Test)

VV Show #41 - Premal Shah of Kiva


Download the MP3.

Premal Shah believes your last name doesn't need to be Gates or Rockefeller in order to make a real dent in global poverty. After leaving his job as a Principal Product Manager at PayPal, it has taken Premal less then a year to make good on Kiva's pledge that all it takes to become a micro lender is a credit card and access to a computer. Raising money "Howard Dean Style" from over 13,000 online lenders, Kiva has provided more than a million dollars in low-cost working capital to small-scale entrepreneurs in less developed countries from Bulgaria to Uganda. The site boasts high repayments rates and soon hopes to offer lenders interest. We talk to Premal about how working in Silicon Valley has shaped his approach to combating poverty, how he believes the market "bakes in psychic and emotional returns," and how the power of online communities can strengthen the world of micro credit.


Share: VV Show #41 - Premal Shah of Kiva

Top Five Venture Capital Firm Web Pages


While VCs rightly demand that their portfolio companies have great marketing, they generally have awful marketing themselves. If you've ever been an entrepreneur in fund raising mode, you've read some line to this effect a million times on VC sites: "We partner with great entrepreneurs to build world-class companies." Just try Googling it.

Since I have yet to find the venture firm that openly aims to fund mediocre entrepreneurs to create miserable companies, I've always found this a case of stating the obvious. But, believe it or not, there are some cool VC sites worth checking out. Here's a list of the top five VC web pages. (Note: This does not rank the quality of the firms, just of their sites.)


Share: Top Five Venture Capital Firm Web Pages

Area Man Achieves Your Dream


As many guests have said on this show, there's little value in an idea that's not executed. The Onion illustrates this concept perfectly in a recent news brief:


Share: Area Man Achieves Your Dream

VV Show #40 - Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn

2006-11-03 :: Gregory Galant

Download the MP3.

Real business networking takes place in the country club, at the chamber of commerce and on the golf course. After all, the Internet is just for friending strangers on MySpace and poking friends on Facebook. If you said all that to Reid Hoffman, he might think twice about adding you as a contact in LinkedIn, the business networking site he started that connects over seven million professionals. Although his Palo Alto-based company is now profitable and growing rapidly, Reid still thinks he has yet to hit the tipping point. Reid’s goal wasn’t always to be an entrepreneur: He just wanted to change the world. His original career choice was “public intellectual”. Hear if his career switch is paying off.


Share: VV Show #40 - Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn

How to be a Great Entrepreneur


How do you become a great entrepreneur? According to Fortune, the answer is practice, practice, practice.

The article specifically addresses how this relates to business:

Just one problem: How do you practice business? Many elements of business, in fact, are directly practicable. Presenting, negotiating, delivering evaluations, deciphering financial statements - you can practice them all.

The article does give some unattributed advice. There's a section called "Be the ball", which is advice famously given by Ty Webb in Caddyshack. It's hard to argue with advice on greatness from such a great movie.


Share: How to be a Great Entrepreneur

Success From Failure


You can't study entrepreneurship without studying failure. The New York Times recently offered an in depth account of Friendster's failure, but it's too early to see if anything good will come out of that failure aside from a classic case study.

The man with one of the best jobs in the world (making fun of cubicle life), Dilbert creator Scott Adams, writes in his blog that he's failed 9 out of 10 times in his own business ventures. However, he doesn't consider his early failures in vain: "I’m not complaining, since that’s the disgruntlement that led directly to Dilbert."


Share: Success From Failure

The PayPal Alumni Club


Harvard, McKinsey and Goldman Sachs all have famous alumni clubs. There's an old joke that you hire the kid from Harvard because if he screws up, you can always say, "How was I suppose to know he was a dud? The kid went to Harvard."

If I were a venture capitalist, I'd fund the kid from PayPal in a heartbeat. The New York Times just published a great article titled It Pays to Have Pals in Silicon Valley, profiling PayPal alumni's adventures in entrepreneurship. These guys seem to be free of the baggage that hinders some second-time entrepreneurs.

We've interviewed PayPal's David O. Sacks and have recently recorded but not posted interviews with two other PayPal alums. Stay tuned.

Fun fact from the NYT article: "[Peter] Thiel tapped his network of friends from Stanford, many of whom had worked at the Stanford Review, a libertarian magazine that Mr. Thiel co-founded in 1987. They populated PayPal’s business ranks."


Share: The PayPal Alumni Club

VV Show #39 - Guy Kawasaki of Garage Technology Ventures


Download the MP3.

If technology entrepreneurs have a guru, it surely must be Guy Kawasaki. For about two decades, Guy’s been advising entrepreneurs in one way or another. First as an evangelist for Apple, he courted software entrepreneurs and developers to write code for the Macintosh. Guy later tried his own hand at entrepreneurship, and eventually returned to Cupertino as an Apple Fellow. In the late 90’s, Guy jumped ship from Apple again to launch Garage Technology Ventures. Garage went through several incarnations before turning into the venture capital fund that it is today. Guy spreads his vision of entrepreneurship though books including The Art of the Start, speaking engagements, investing and blogging. Now you can hear his story.


Share: VV Show #39 - Guy Kawasaki of Garage Technology Ventures

Wall Street Journal Analyzes Facebook's Coolness Factor


The Wall Street Journal's reporting that Facebook's in acquisition talks with Yahoo! This isn't the first time there's been such speculation.

The WSJ repeats a familiar line when describing Facebook in its subhead: "Youthful Audience Is Fickle." The article goes on to say "As the Internet has sped up the life cycle of success and failure, it is possible some of these sites will flame out as their young devotees flock to the next thing."


Share: Wall Street Journal Analyzes Facebook's Coolness Factor

Venture Voice on the Podium


Margaret Atwood has been quoted as saying "wanting to meet a writer because you like their books is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté." If her advice applies to podcasters, and if you want to do something unwise, then I thought I might share my upcoming speaking schedule for the next month with you:
9/19/06 Greater New York Alumni Career Panel & Networking Event: “Getting From There to Here”
9/30/06 Podcast & Portable Media Expo
10/11/06 Hofstra School of Communication: "Entrepreneur Journalism and Podcasting"


Share: Venture Voice on the Podium

Monday Morning Quarterbacking ODEO and The Chinese Woman


In July 2005, Ev Williams broke the news on our show that he closed a round of venture capital for his podcasting business ODEO. This was a very different style of business building than he had with his first startup, Blogger, that was bootstrapped and understaffed. Recently in a speech that was summarized by GigaOM's Liz Gannes, Ev issues a mea culpa and "went through a tidy list of the top five Odeo screw-ups."


Share: Monday Morning Quarterbacking ODEO and The Chinese Woman

The Other Side of the Mic


One of the most frequent compliments we get about Venture Voice is that we let the guests speak for most of the time by asking concise and focused questions. So in essence I’m being patted on the back for shutting up. Some would take that as a blessing, but because I do enjoy talking it’s nice to have a pulpit now and then. Eric Schwartzman provided me that opportunity by interviewing me for On the Record... Online.


Share: The Other Side of the Mic

Startup Sold on eBay for $258,100 (or: eBay turns iBanker)


A web-based calendar startup called Kiko put all of its assets up on eBay a little over a week ago as its founder explained on his blog. As far as I know, this is the first time a technology company has essentially sold itself on eBay for a six-figure amount. Seems like a fitting way to exit for a totally web-based company. Putting Kiko on the auction block caused a lot of buzz: Techcrunch placed Kiko in the deadpool (they seem to have taken a page from Pud), GigaOM called the space "crowded" and our most recent podcast guest Jason Calacanis reminded us revenues (rev-a-whats?) still matters for a business.

One of the most interesting parts of this transaction is that eBay -- along with all the publicity generated about the auction -- essentially acted as the investment banker for this deal, not that any self-respecting i-banker would touch a deal this small with a 10 foot poll. According to eBay's fee schedule, eBay netted a cool $3,891.86 on this deal. After larger percentage fee on the first $1,000, eBay charges 1.5% of the closing price. You can only get that kind of low rate with pro i-bankers at the $100 million mark according to past guest Fabrice Grinda's blog post. Can selling companies on eBay scale and create a more efficient market for startups, or is this a one off success caused by a high profile failure?


Share: Startup Sold on eBay for $258,100 (or: eBay turns iBanker)

VV Show #38 - Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc., Netscape and AOL


Download the MP3.

There are not many entrepreneurs who have spent their entire 10-year careers starting new ventures in online media, but Jason Calacanis just can’t help himself. Jason rode the dot com wave in New York by starting Silicon Alley Reporter. His publishing company Rising Tide Media grew to $12 million in sales. Unfortunately Jason also rode that wave down after the bubble burst. He ended up selling his first business to Dow Jones for a lot less money than he could have gotten before the crash. Undeterred, Jason started Weblogs, Inc. to make money by selling ads in blogs they pay people to write. In only 18 months he grew the business to a point at which AOL (TWX) bought it for a reported $25 million. Now he’s re-launched Netscape as a news website where users vote for what’s important. Jason’s caused a lot of controversy by paying top users of competitive sites such as Digg (whose CEO Jay Adelson was on our last show) to switch to use his service. Hear what’s been driving Jason’s entrepreneurial career.


Share: VV Show #38 - Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc., Netscape and AOL

After Labor Day


If there are three words an entrepreneur dreads hearing in the summer, perhaps it's "after Labor Day". People such as venture capitalists and customers who take things called vacations (what's that?) often say this to entrepreneurs trying to schedule meetings. In the startup world, a few weeks is a long time. On the other hand, maybe this is a sort of forced semi-vacation for entrepreneurs.


Share: After Labor Day

Lemonade Stand: School of Hard Knocks For Young Entrepreneurs


While there's no standard education to become an entrepreneur, almost every entrepreneur gets an early education in the lemonade business. The kids may be cute, but that doesn't mean they're not cut throat. In fact, Inc. Magazine just announced the Best Lemonade Stand in America Contest Winner.


Share: Lemonade Stand: School of Hard Knocks For Young Entrepreneurs

VV Show #37 - Jay Adelson of Digg


Download the MP3.

Digg, the news website that uses its own readers rather than editors to decide what stories are most important, has been growing with a fury. While founder Kevin Rose has gotten a lot of attention including a recent cover of BusinessWeek, CEO Jay Adelson has been guiding Digg toward business success. This isn’t Jay’s first time though the throes of entrepreneurship. He started Equinix, a company that now has a market capitalization of $1.5 billion. Despite its success, Jay didn’t make much money because he held his shares until after the dot com bust. In fact, he had just enough money to put his kids through college and live a more modest lifestyle himself. He was ready to go off and work at a coffee shop or become a teacher until Digg came along. Now he’s back in the game.


Share: VV Show #37 - Jay Adelson of Digg

VV Show #36 - Venture Voice Startup Workshop Coverage (part 1)


Download the MP3.

If there are best practices in entrepreneurship, you’ll hear the secrets to them in this coverage of the first half of the recent Venture Voice Startup Workshop in New York City. If there are in fact no best practices for entrepreneurs, then you’ll at least enjoy the heated discussion about how entrepreneurs should navigate the startup seas. These passionate speakers fielded a day’s worth of questions and opinions from Venture Voice, each other and the spirited audience. The results are distilled ideas about what it takes to win in business, great war stories and even a few laughs.


Share: VV Show #36 - Venture Voice Startup Workshop Coverage (part 1)

Entreprendre: What Entrepreneurs Do


Jeff Cornwall, a professor of entrepreneurship, reminds us that "entrepreneur" is just a noun. A farmer can farm, but we can't simply say we're off to go entrepreneur.


Share: Entreprendre: What Entrepreneurs Do

Green Entrepreneur


Green can mean a lot of things to an entrepreneur. You can have a "green thumb" which means any business you're involved in will grow and make money. You can be "be green" as in inexperienced. To a new crop of entrepreneurs, however, being green means creating a business that benefits the environment.


Share: Green Entrepreneur

Extreme Poverty Should Be Scared (Or The Hungriest Foundation Executive Ever)


"How can I top this?" was perhaps the only big question left on Bill Gates's mind after his tremendous success with Microsoft. Venture capitalist Bart Schachter wrote in a hilarious PE Week Wire column that his colleagues should thank God (or Gates for that matter) that Bill did not decide to become a VC as many successful entrepreneurs do.


Share: Extreme Poverty Should Be Scared (Or The Hungriest Foundation Executive Ever)

Venture Voice

What does it take to start a successful business? We’re working the phone to find the answers by calling entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and their friends and foes. This podcast features our conversations.

Venture Voice

Switch to our mobile site