Disruptions: With No Revenue, an Illusion of Value


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The gears of Silicon Valley continue to mesh and turn because of money, not necessarily technological innovations. And there are certain things about that money machine that denizens of the Valley would rather keep quiet.

First, they’ll never acknowledge the possibility of a bubble. “Bubble? Ha!” venture capitalists often tell me. “Silly reporter, there is no bubble.”

O.K., I get this spin. It makes sense from an investor’s point of view. Acknowledging any possibility that tech companies aren’t worth what you say they are worth would be followed by the sound of a giant pop, and the money and investments would dry up. The machine could grind to a halt.

Yet an even more bizarre activity in the Valley than shushing the talk of a bubble is how some start-ups are advised by investors not to make money. This concept might sound ridiculous from a business standpoint, but for investors, it fuels the get-richer-quicker mentality that exists here.

“It serves the interest of the investors who can come up with whatever valuation they want when there are no revenues,” explained Paul Kedrosky, a venture investor and entrepreneur. “Once there is no revenue, there is no science, and it all just becomes finger in the wind valuations.”

When small start-ups I’ve spoken with do make money, they often find it difficult to recruit additional investment because most venture capitalists — and often the entrepreneurs they finance — are not interested in building viable long-term businesses. Rather, they’re interested in pumping up enough hype and valuation to find a quick exit through an acquisition at an eye-popping premium.

Getting acquired while producing no revenue is like performing a card trick without the deck of cards: the magician simply explains how magical the trick is, never actually showing it. (And we are supposed to step back in sheer awe.)

For start-ups, fewer numbers in the equation mean a projected valuation of a start-up can be plucked out of thin air.

Look how well this worked for Instagram, which had $0 in revenue and was purchased for $1 billion. Leer más “Disruptions: With No Revenue, an Illusion of Value”

Web 2.0 Is Over, All Hail the Age of Mobile


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When they look back at this era, Internet historians will mark Facebook’s Instagram acquisition as the symbolic moment when the Great Shift was confirmed. Significantly, it also came soon after Steve Jobs’ death. The device that Jobs created had, within the space of five years, allowed a 551-day-old company with 14 employees to become worth $1 billion.

On April 9, 2012, Web 2.0 lost its mantle as the most important Internet paradigm. We are now starting the Age of Mobile. Google and Facebook’s Internet dominance is no longer guaranteed. They face a threat from below and an army of smartphone-touting masses that sees little distinction between the piece of hardware in their hands and the Internet world it opens up.

The momentum has been shifting for a while, but now the trend is emphatic. People now spend more time in mobile apps than they do online. There are more than 500 million Android and iOS devices on the market, and giant countries like China and Indonesia are only just getting started in their smartphone and tablet push. Global mobile 3G subscribers are growing at over 35 percent, year on year, and there’s a lot more room to move – there are 5.6 billion mobile subscribers on our fair planet. Even in developing countries, cheap smartphones will soon rush into the market. And who here doesn’t think tablet sales are going to go gangbusters pretty much everywhere?

This is a new phenomenon. Steve Jobs brought the first iPhone into the world in 2007. Android soon followed. The iPad is only two years old. Google, on the other hand, has been around for 14 years. Facebook: eight. They’re veritable geriatrics. And that’s why they’re behind on mobile.

They know this much themselves, and they’re worried. Just look at Facebook’s S-1 filing. After noting that it has more than 425 million users who accessed the social network via mobile in December 2011, Facebook noted [my emphasis]: Leer más “Web 2.0 Is Over, All Hail the Age of Mobile”

Researchers identify wild orgy gene


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Ménage à trois? Wild orgies? One night stands? Who says science can’t be sexy?

Certainly not Binghamton University researchers, who are hard at work uncovering the sultry secrets behind human sexual behavior.

The team – led by Dr. Justin Garcia – recently identified a dopamine receptor gene known as DRD4 that is purportedly linked to chronic infidelity and “uncommitted” one-night stands.

And wouldn’t you know it?

The very same gene has already been linked to alcoholism, gambling addiction and a predilection for really bad horror movies.

Oddly enough, another study claimed the mysterious gene was responsible for political liberalism, along with “openness” to new social situations.

“What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity,” Garcia confirmed. Leer más “Researchers identify wild orgy gene”

Familia y Cole


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Hace aproximadamente algo más de diez años, eran muy pocos los que disponían de teléfono móvil o celular. Muchos hemos vivido la mayoría de nuestra vida sin móvil, hoy no podemos vivir sin él. La extensión de este aparato es imparable y cada día surgen nuevas posibilidades de comunicación, de mensajería… el proceso de expansión cada vez va a más. Pero me cuestiono: ¿ha mejorado nuestra comunicación? Sin duda que ha aumentado la cantidad, ¿pero son nuestras comunicaciones de calidad? En una serie de entradas que iré publicando quiero compartir mi reflexión sobre el tema y los retos que a la familia y profesionales de la educación plantea.

Algunas escenas
En este primer artículo me voy a centrar en algunas escenas que suelo contemplar relacionadas con el uso del móvil. Leer más “Familia y Cole”

Happy Hunting: How a Smile Can Help You Get a Job


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Though it’s natural to feel down while searching for a job after a layoff, a new study shows just how critical it is to keep your spirits up.

The research reveals that maintaining a more positive and motivational outlook can have a positive effect on the job pursuit.

That’s especially true at the outset of the search, but the ability to stay energized and keep negative emotions in check is even more critical as the hunt drags on, the research shows.

The study, involving 177 unemployed people looking for work, conducted weekly assessments of self-management, job search status and mental health. At the beginning of the study, the participants spent an average of 17 hours per week looking for a job and reported a gradual improvement in their mental health. By the fourth month, however, time spent on the search had declined to 14 hours per week, and mental health began to decline.

“These findings show that the self-management strategies that people actually use make the key difference,” said study co-author Ruth Kanfer, a psychology professor at Georgia Tech.

[10 Personality Types Likely to Get Hired] Leer más “Happy Hunting: How a Smile Can Help You Get a Job”

TechCrunch | The Future of Science


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Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Richard Price, founder and CEO of Academia.edu — a site that serves as a platform for academics to share their research papers and to interact with each other.

Almost every technological and medical innovation in the world has its roots in a scientific paper. Science drives much of the world’s innovation. The faster science moves, the faster the world moves.

Progress in science right now is being held back by two key inefficiencies:

The time-lag problem: there is a time-lag of, on average, 12 months between finishing a paper, and it being published.
The single mode of publication problem: scientists share their ideas only via one format, the scientific paper, and don’t take advantage of the full range of media that the web makes possible.
The stakes are high. If these inefficiencies can be removed, science would accelerate tremendously. A faster science would lead to faster innovation in medicine and technology. Cancer could be cured 2-3 years sooner than it otherwise would be, which would save millions of lives. Leer más “TechCrunch | The Future of Science”

Disruptions: With No Revenue, an Illusion of Value


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The gears of Silicon Valley continue to mesh and turn because of money, not necessarily technological innovations. And there are certain things about that money machine that denizens of the Valley would rather keep quiet.

First, they’ll never acknowledge the possibility of a bubble. “Bubble? Ha!” venture capitalists often tell me. “Silly reporter, there is no bubble.”

O.K., I get this spin. It makes sense from an investor’s point of view. Acknowledging any possibility that tech companies aren’t worth what you say they are worth would be followed by the sound of a giant pop, and the money and investments would dry up. The machine could grind to a halt.

Yet an even more bizarre activity in the Valley than shushing the talk of a bubble is how some start-ups are advised by investors not to make money. This concept might sound ridiculous from a business standpoint, but for investors, it fuels the get-richer-quicker mentality that exists here.

“It serves the interest of the investors who can come up with whatever valuation they want when there are no revenues,” explained Paul Kedrosky, a venture investor and entrepreneur. “Once there is no revenue, there is no science, and it all just becomes finger in the wind valuations.”

When small start-ups I’ve spoken with do make money, they often find it difficult to recruit additional investment because most venture capitalists — and often the entrepreneurs they finance — are not interested in building viable long-term businesses. Rather, they’re interested in pumping up enough hype and valuation to find a quick exit through an acquisition at an eye-popping premium.

Getting acquired while producing no revenue is like performing a card trick without the deck of cards: the magician simply explains how magical the trick is, never actually showing it. (And we are supposed to step back in sheer awe.)

For start-ups, fewer numbers in the equation mean a projected valuation of a start-up can be plucked out of thin air. Leer más “Disruptions: With No Revenue, an Illusion of Value”

Gurú de la tecnología vaticina el final de Apple


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El experto George Colony afirmó que sin Steve Jobs, la firma de la manzana será sólo otra fabricante de tabletas. Aseguró que el nuevo CEO, Tim Cook, no tiene condiciones de líder y que la empresa es la próxima Sony

Image representing Sony as depicted in CrunchBase

A través del post titulado “Apple = Sony”, el CEO de la afamada empresa Forrester Researchno se anduvo con

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

rodeos sobre el futuro de la firma de la manzana. “Apple decaerá en la era post Steve Jobs”, escribió.

Colony afirma que Tim Cook, actual director general de Apple, no posee el don para llevar adelante la firma. “Sin la llegada de un nuevo líder carismático pasará de ser una empresa grandiosa a una empresa buena”, escribió. Leer más “Gurú de la tecnología vaticina el final de Apple”

Genome entrepreneurs say their data will help you live longer


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The cost of sequencing the human genome continues to fall, reaching a low of $1,000 this year due to a new microchip and machine designed by genetics company Life Technologies Corp. And unleashed by those lower costs, a small cadre of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley is exploring ways to harness this data to enable us to live longer and healthier lives.

Dr. Dietrich Stephan, a human geneticist, has spent the better part of a decade trying to achieve that goal. Until recently, it has been costly and time-consuming to map the 3 billion units of DNA, known as base-pairs, which make up the human genetic code. But now, he said, with the low cost of gene sequencing technologies, we are on the brink of banishing a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine.

“Every disease has a genetic component, and yet largely none of the available genetic information is being used today to treat patients,” he said.
Until recently, genome sequencing had been limited to a select few. According to biographer Walter Isaacson, the late Steve Jobs had his DNA sequenced for $100,000 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

To biotech entrepreneurs, bringing gene sequencing to a mass market is the most exciting development since the completion of The Human Genome Project. According to Joe Betts-Lecroix, a biophysicist and entrepreneur, that major international undertaking was expected to yield a map of the mutations that cause disease. Instead, genetics researchers found that the genes only seem to account for a tiny percentage of inherited traits and differences between a healthy and sick person.

“The Human Genome Project was a monumental achievement, but also a huge disappointment,” said Betts-Lacroix, who recently delivered a rousing TEDx SF talk on using genetics to cure aging.

“It’s not about the human genome, but more the human gene pool. To really understand what’s going on, we’ve found that we have to sequence the DNA of millions of people. This work is only beginning, and will require much lower-cost sequencing. Fortunately, that seems to be upon us,” said Betts-Lacroix.

At a select few hospitals across the country, the work has already begun. In 2010, the Children’s Hospital in Boston recruited Dr. Dietrich Stephan – a biotech entrepreneur fresh from the success of Sequoia-funded genetics startup Navigenics – to join the Gene Partnership Initiative, one of the first efforts to gather genetic information about disease. Relying on his experience as a biotech entrepreneur, Stephan developed the hospital’s first sustainable program to sequence the genomes of 100,000 young patients.

The program is still ongoing, and researchers are finding links between genes, the environment, and complex genetic disease. Already, the flood of genetic information is being used to produce drugs that are better targeted to patients. Not everyone processes medicine in the same way; by understanding patients’ genomic make-up, doctors can provide a therapy they’ll respond to best. That’s an important capability considering that this year alone, close to 800,000 people were injured or died due to adverse reactions to drugs. Leer más “Genome entrepreneurs say their data will help you live longer”

Entrepreneurs: What the JOBS Act means for you right now


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By now, you’ve probably heard that the JOBS Act passed. The “Jumpstart Our Business Startups,” or JOBS Act, will allow entrepreneurs to crowdfund online to fund small businesses and startups. Plus, entrepreneurs can raise funds from non-accredited investors. The catch: The regulations aren’t in place until the SEC review period is up in January 2013.

While the bill itself is effective immediately, still pending are how the sections that fall under the SEC scope will be regulated. The SEC has 270 days to focus on how to regulate the offerings targeting non-accredited investors. In the meantime, entrepreneurs will be able to crowdfund only to accredited investors beginning July 4, 2012. Leer más “Entrepreneurs: What the JOBS Act means for you right now”

Entrepreneurs and investors meet in New York to organize for profit and for revolution


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Streets of NYC

There were two pretty incredible tech events in New York this Tuesday. I only managed to score an invite to one of them, the Lerer Ventures CEO summit at Citi Field. The other was Union Square Ventures more exclusive Hacking Society get together, which luckily was live streamed. It’s worth taking a look at these two gatherings to get a sense of where the Silicon Alley scene is at right now and how the most powerful players in the East Coast tech world are thinking about the future.

Lerer Venture’s CEO summit brought together the heads of all the Lerer Ventures portfolio companies, along with a number of bankers, investors and journalists. There were panels and demonstrations. The aim was to strengthen the Lerer network through an exchange ideas and best practices. How do you fire someone who’s not working out? What’s the best way to keep a company culture intact as you scale past 100 employees? Will the Mets ever win another World Series? Leer más “Entrepreneurs and investors meet in New York to organize for profit and for revolution”

Why one company is making all its employees learn how to code

Shortly after our official rollout to the company, our chief technology officer reviewed the programming lessons provided by Codecademy and established a project schedule which takes our employees through the JavaScript language. We made sure that the training was spread out enough (just four or five hours of coursework each month) so as in not to become a burden on our employees’ already busy schedules.

To promote collaboration, we also grouped our employees into teams of four or five, with an engineer serving as mentor for each group. This ensures that no employee feels alone while working their way through the project. Employees have colleagues they can go to with questions as well as a mentor who helps provide the additional assistance and training they may need. For our engineers, it provided them with an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience, teaching their colleagues.

To keep things fun, we’ve also hosted several “coding lunches” where the entire company spends an hour or so working in their groups completing the assigned coursework for that week. The employees enjoy the break, and it provides an opportunity to work through the lessons together, having their questions answered and being able to learn from each other.

We are also in the midst of rolling out additional monthly training sessions facilitated by our engineering team for any employee who wishes to receive more training on the subject matter being covered that month.

While we’re only three months into the Codinization Project, I am already noticing the impact the project is making. The dialogue and questions I am hearing from both the “learning” and “mentoring” sides has been inspiring to me. Technical and non-technical employees are enjoying working together to help raise the company’s collective product knowledge and understanding.

It’s also brought together teams that otherwise might not have had the opportunity work together. The Codecademy platform has met our initiative’s needs, providing non-technical employees with engaging, appropriate training lessons to introduce them to the JavaScript language.

I have faith in our team that we will succeed, and I am excited to watch our progression through our Codinization Project. With that in mind, I better go… I’m late completing my Codecademy homework.

Michael Jaconi is CEO of FreeCause, a loyalty and rewards platform for brands and consumers. He also serves as an executive officer at Rakuten, FreeCause’s parent company and one of the world’s largest Internet service companies in the world. While Jaconi possesses an extensive background in business, politics, and media, the Codinization Project represents his first foray into computer programming.


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The most successful companies are ones that are never satisfied with the status quo. They are too busy looking for ways to improve their products, personnel, and experience for their customers.

There are many approaches a company can take to improve itself. For us, it meant trying something revolutionary that would arm our employees with a new skill set, bring our technical and non-technical teams closer together, and provide the entire company with a deeper understanding and appreciation of what we do.

To accomplish this, we set an ambitious goal of having all of our employees learn how to write code in 2012.

Three months ago, we announced to our 60-person company that each employee was going to learn how to code in 2012. We named the initiative the “Codinization Project”. After the initial moments of surprise in the room faded, I explained to our employees the reasons why we were undertaking this initiative.

As leading technology companies have shown time and time again, being smarter than the competition and building superior technology is the only way a company can succeed over the long term. We felt that this Codinization Project was the challenging yet necessary step we needed to build a deeper understanding across the company of the intricacies of our technology platforms and products. If we could equip our employees with a solid foundation of knowing why our products do what they do, the more intelligent they would become in every element of our business, from product planning to client communications, implementations, and customer support. Leer más “Why one company is making all its employees learn how to code”

DreamIt Ventures’ NYC accelerator announces new class, moves into Fab’s old office


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A big part of the tech boom in New York has been the arrival of several accelerators and incubators which are minting new classes of top tier startups. Today, in a presentation at Google Ventures in Manhattan, DreamIt Ventures announced its newest class of 15 companies for its New York Accelerator.

DreamIt Ventures is also moving into the old office of Fab.com, following in the footsteps of TechStars, who took Foursquare’s former office in search of some magic startup mojo.

Five of the companies selected are part of the DreamIt Access program, a dedicated effort to launch 15 minority-led startups over the next 12 months. Comcast Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of Comcast Corporation, is an investor in the DreamIt Access program. Leer más “DreamIt Ventures’ NYC accelerator announces new class, moves into Fab’s old office”

You can help startups raise capital at Microventures

The new Crowdfunding laws are about to open up angel investing to almost everyone. Gone are the days where you have to risk $50,000 or more, receive a personal invitation to invest from a friend, or only see a limited number of deals from the few available in your area. The new crowdfunding laws will go into effect sometime in 2013, but what can you do to take advantage of crowdfunding right now?

MicroVentures, a securities broker dealer, has been raising money for startups online for over a year and has helped raise millions of dollars for over 15 companies by bridging the gap between startups and potential investors. They use a model similar to crowdfunding which allows you to invest smaller sums alongside others and to invest in deals stretching from Boston to Silicon Valley.


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This sponsored post is produced by MicroVentures.

The new Crowdfunding laws are about to open up angel investing to almost everyone. Gone are the days where you have to risk $50,000 or more, receive a personal invitation to invest from a friend, or only see a limited number of deals from the few available in your area. The new crowdfunding laws will go into effect sometime in 2013, but what can you do to take advantage of crowdfunding right now?

MicroVentures, a securities broker dealer, has been raising money for startups online for over a year and has helped raise millions of dollars for over 15 companies by bridging the gap between startups and potential investors. They use a model similar to crowdfunding which allows you to invest smaller sums alongside others and to invest in deals stretching from Boston to Silicon Valley.

MicroVenture helps investors learn about companies they may have never heard of, and to invest smaller sums, which is virtually unheard of with traditional investing.

The service matches companies seeking capital with investors looking to invest anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000 or more. MicroVentures helps investors with the initial due diligence process by filtering startups and then providing documents to help investors conduct their own due diligence prior to making a final investment decision.

The key to becoming a successful angel investor, of course, is to invest in the right startups. To get there, you need:

1) Good deal flow, allowing you to spot potential winners from many potential options.
2) The ability to invest in multiple deals so you gain experience.
3) A knack for spotting potentially successful companies, and more importantly, management teams and entrepreneurs that will succeed. Leer más “You can help startups raise capital at Microventures”

Must-read for founders: A VC explains how to build a killer value proposition

Non-disruption is critical because the gain you deliver will be discounted by the pain of adopting your solution, plus the inertia of vendor risk that every startup levies by virtue of being small. This means that you must deliver an order of magnitude improvement over the status quo to make the cut.

If you can’t deliver a 10x promise, customers will typically default to “do nothing” rather than bearing the risk of working with a startup. That’s the harsh truth.

Now that you’ve defined the problem you’re solving, evaluated the gain/pain ratio and discovered a problem truly worth solving, you’re in a good position to build your value proposition.

At the center of that value proposition is you. What problems do you understand uniquely well? What can you deliver uniquely well? What sort of disruptive business model can you bring to bear? Be true to yourself and play from a position of strength. A little self-awareness can go a long way in crafting a value proposition with power.

Credit is due to my colleague Adam Berrey for his thinking on the importance of segregating needs.


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On the surface, value propositions seem incredibly straightforward. I’d argue that this is why, in practice, they’re often given such short shrift.

In reality, getting a value proposition right requires some focused thinking and structured analysis, some of which I’ll preview here. Given my particular background, much of what I recommend will have a bias to B2B startups — though, in many instances, I think that you’ll find applicability to virtually any endeavor.

I recently lectured to a group of students and aspiring entrepreneurs as part of my series of talks at the Harvard Innovation Lab (feel free to presentation slides). For this particular session, we examined the DNA of a value proposition by stripping it down to its foundational elements and reassembling it, workshop-style, around a variety of new business ideas.

But before we dig in, let’s define a value proposition.

In its simplest terms, a value proposition is a positioning statement that describes for whom you do what uniquely well. It describes your target buyer, the problem you solve, and why you’re distinctly better than the alternatives. Leer más “Must-read for founders: A VC explains how to build a killer value proposition”