A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

What Happened In 2015

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Last year in my What Just Happened post, I said: the social media phase of the Internet ended. I think we can go further than that now and say that sometime in the past year or two the consumer internet/social/mobile gold rush ended.

What Did And Did Not Happen In 2016

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

It has, on one hand become extremely powerful with monopolies, duopolies, or nearly so in search, social media, ecommerce, online advertising, and mobile operating systems. As has become my practice, I will end the year (today) looking back and start the year (tomorrow) looking forward. As a starting point for looking back on 2016, we can start with my What Is Going To Happen In 2016 post from Jan 1st 2016. I thought AR/VR and wearables would disappoint in 2016. They did.

Russia 109

Trending Sources

Understanding VCs

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Another way that VCs market ourselves to entrepreneurs is via social media. And blogging is one of the main forms of social media that VCs can use to do this. I saw Joe Fernandez ‘ tweet a few days ago and thought “he is making an important point.” ” too many young entrepreneurs talk about vc’s like they’re heroes and their blog posts are scripture. — Joe Fernandez (@JoeFernandez) August 19, 2016. VCs are not heroes.

Experiment and Scandal

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Combine that with the idea that these experiments are being funded by real people and the idea that the world of media/entertainment/culture has injected itself right in the middle of this brave new world and you have the recipe for scandal. We are living in a time of great experiments. They are not happening in the lab. They are happening in the real world. And they are being financed by real people. We are witnessing the de-institutionalization of experimentation.

In Defense Of Bubbles

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

There is nothing the tech media and the broader press likes to ask me about more than bubbles. “Is Snapchat a bubble?” ” “Is Uber a bubble?” ” “Is Facebook a bubble?” ” “Is seed investing a bubble?” ” “Is growth investing a bubble?” ” And on and on and on. It’s like bubbles are a disease that we need to eradicate. Don’t get me wrong. Bubbles are something investors need to be careful with.

Values and Culture

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

It is absolutely true that when you hit the bigtime, which Uber most certainly has, the media will take it to you with a vengeance. That’s the media game. The win at all cost approach is so deeply ingrained in the culture that they take that attitude with the media as well. If the Uber mess over the past few days tells us anything, it is that values and culture matter more than anything.

Media 108

Nailing It

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

I recall seeing John Geraci ‘s ITP senior thesis project in 2005 which was a web version of this idea powered by Google Maps , and understanding that we all want to interact with interactive media in the real world.

Web 75

The Dentist Office Software Story

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

That led us to social media, to Delicious, Tumblr, and Twitter. I’ve been telling this fictional story about Dentist Office Software for years to describe why we are so focused on our “networks” investment strategy. Yesterday I told it at a HackNY event we did at the USV office and my partner Albert provided a finishing touch that really drives it home.

The State Of The NYC Tech Ecosystem

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

lots of ad tech (Doubleclick) and media (TheStreet). a new layer emerges around commerce (Etsy, Gilt) and social (Delicious, Tumblr, Foursquare), on top of adtech (Admeld) and media. New York is the epicenter of the redefinition of media (Buzzfeed, Vice, Business Insider, Mic, Mashable, Bustle, etc.), Matt Turck has penned a “State Of The City” post about where the NYC tech ecosystem is right now.

Mocked And Misunderstood

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

They are the "tell" So when your company and services gets mocked and is misunderstood by most everyone, particularly the mainstream press and media, just smile and keep doing what you are doing.

Entrepreneurs Have Control When Things Work, VCs Have Control When They Don't

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

My friend Dave Winer put up an interesting discussion thread a few days ago talking about the sustainability of social media platforms. I did an interview yesterday in Buffalo, NY where I was the past couple days for the launch of the Z80 incubator.

Mobile Is Where The Growth Is

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

If you are going to operate a media model on mobile, look at Twitter's model for inspiration. If you look at any of the top web properties on comScore, Quantcast, Alexa or any other third party reporting service you will see that they all have been fairly flat over the first half of the year. You might think that all these big web services are flatlining. We have seen this in our portfolio too. From board meeting to board meeting, we are seeing a similar pattern. Web is flattish.

Mobile 119

The Twitter "Patent Hack"

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Many years ago now, my prior venture capital firm, Flatiron Partners, invested in a company called Thinking Media. Fast forward ten years or so and Nielsen sued two of my portfolio companies, comScore and TACODA, and a bunch of other companies too, on the basis of the Thinking Media patents. If Thinking Media had the patent hack in their documents, the story I just told would not have happened.

Reblog: VC Cliché of the Week

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Advertising dollars continue to move from offline media to online media and that is one rising tide that is certainly lifting all boats. Back in the early days of this blog I had a series called VC Cliche Of The Week. I’m not sure how long I ran it but I did eventually run out of material and phased it out.

Iraq 75

The Business Insider Interview

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

In New York, because of the media industry, the real estate industry and Wall Street, there are a lot of families with large capital bases. Flickr/NYC Media Lab. A few weeks ago Alyson Shontell came into USV to talk to me. She wanted to talk on background about the NYC tech sector.

Why I'm Rooting For Google+

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

My vision for social media is : every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet. Not everyone wants a Tumblr experience; totally public, asymmetric follow, best for posting microchunked media. The day Google+ launched, I sent a friend at Google who was involved in building the service an email requesting an invite. I got the invite late that day and started playing with the service. Here's my profile.

.Net 119

Lockups and Insider Selling

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

There is a lot of sturm und drang out there in the worlds of social media, finacial media, and just plain media about all the lockups coming off and all the insider selling going on in some big internet stocks. As someone who has played this game a few times, I tought I'd post some thoughts about this. First and foremost, this post has nothing to do with what USV has done, might do, or is thinking about doing with specific stocks we might own or not.

Stock 97

Video Of The Week: Reid Hoffman and Joi Ito at The Churchill Club

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Joi is the Director of the MIT Media Lab and formerly the Director of Creative Commons. My favorite talks are between interesting people who know each other well. This talk is one of those. Joi and Reid have been friends for as long as I’ve known them, which is over a decade.

Video 73

Media Metrix Multi Platform

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

If you are a Media Metrix user, you will see the option to get Multi Platform data on your key measures reports. comScore is announcing something today that I am quite excited about.

Media 50

Nobody Is Crying For You When You Are Worth Billions

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

And the media pounces on these big financing valuations like a hyena on red meat. And maybe the media can help us out a bit too by being intellectually honest what a $3bn valuation really means. I did a talk with Bill Werde at Billboard's FutureSound conference a few weeks ago. The entire talk is online (in two parts) here.

Sound

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

It had various media types (photos, videos, long form text, short form text) and underneath each was a large social platform that had been built on and for that media type. I met Alex Ljung , founder/CEO of SoundCloud a number of times and each time he pitched me on his business.

Video 102

Users First, Brands Second

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Two that come to mind are Groupon and Buddy Media. I like simple ways to think about things. Like mobile first, web second. These kinds of constructs work for me. One that I've been using a lot lately to describe what we like and don't like as much is User First, Brands Second. When you are building your product and thinking about your go to market strategy, you need to decide who your first users will be and how they will take your product into the market.

Audio 104

Mastery And Mimicry

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Turns out it was from Sep Kamvar , a faculty member at the MIT Media Lab, and before that the Stanford computer science department. The Internet is an amazing place. Last weekend an email arrived in my inbox with the subject line "Hello From MIT" That got me to open it. I don't know Sep and was not familiar with his work. I am now. Sep pointed me to a series of essays he has written called Mastery and Mimicry.

Topic Mining AVC

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

I mentioned at year end 2014 that I thought social media had become uninteresting.

Finding And Buying A Domain Name

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

He had launched texas hold'em on Facebook operating under the name Presidio Media. I believe that a good domain name is an important success factor in building and launching consumer web services. It's not in my top ten but it could be. It's certainly something we think about a lot when making investments and working with companies post investment. A number of our portfolio companies have acquired their domain names in connection with or shortly after our investment. Del.icio.us

Enough Is Enough

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

And software is closer to media than it is to hardware. I believe that software patents should not exist. They are a tax on innovation. Patenting software is like patenting music. The mess around the Lodsys patents should be a wake up call to everyone involved in the patent business (government bureaucrats, legislators, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, etc) that the system is totally broken and we can't continue to go on like this.

Whither TechCrunch?

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

The media has had a lot of fun over the past week watching AOL, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Mike Arrington figure out how to move on. Contrary to what many in the media say, he does not need TechCrunch as a platform to be influential. They need to keep the remaining team, the voice, and that attitude if they want to remain at the top of the world of tech media. That's how it goes in media these days.

The Perception Of Conflict Is Conflict

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

We made five or six social media investments. VC is a service business like law firms and ad agencies. Our customers are the entrepreneurs we back. Our shareholders are our limited partners. When we do a good job of helping our customers create value, our shareholders benefit. But, like law firms and ad agencies, it is hard to provide truly objective and unbiased advice when you have a conflict of interest.

Next Wednesday Is The Internet Slowdown

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

You can change your avatars on your social media profiles, you can send push notifications if you operate a mobile app, you can put a slow loading graphic on your blog or website (there are WordPress widgets if you are on WordPress like I am). We’ve talked a lot here at AVC about Net Neutrality. I hate that term because it’s got so much baggage now that it is essentially meaningless to me.

Check In Apps vs Audience Measurement Panels

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

In that capacity I learnt a lot about using representative samples to develop broad based market research on media viewing. Both companies assemble representative panels of users and then scale up the data to predict media viewing at large.

Dig Deeper

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

I am interested in extending the internet/web/mobile disruption we've seen in media to big industries like finance, education, healthcare, energy, etc in order to address the challenging economic and social issues of our time. I read a post by my friend Brad Feld this morning that struck me as great advice.

Some Lessons From Vine

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

I've asked my kids and their friends about this and I've observed behavior a bit and that tells me a few things: 1) the social pressure to post something great to Instagram is high among the hyperactive social media teens that make up an important cohort on these services. USV is an investor in Twitter so I've been watching the Vine story closely. As AllThingsD reports , Vine continues to grow in the wake of Instagram's video feature launch.

Video 53

Mailing It In

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

At one point, Josh said "he didn't write this song, he barely raps on it, he just put it on the record" And I explained to him that Jay-Z might not be the rapper he once was but he's well on his way to becoming one of the biggest media moguls of his generation. We flew down to Williamsburg Virginia yesterday to attend my dad's 85th birthday. He and my mom are in great shape and my brothers and their families were there. It was a great evening.

Networks And The Enterprise

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

But a year or so into its life, Disqus started hearing from big media companies who wanted to deploy the Disqus comment system. Many think that USV is a consumer web investor. We don't think of ourselves that way. We invest in networks and for most of our short history, that has meant investing in networks of individuals connecting with each other. Thus the consumer web investor moniker.

My CNBC Appearance

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

I spoke at Techcrunch Disrupt yesterday and several media outlets had crews there. I was asked to speak to a few of them and I said yes. I was on CNBC and ABC News yesterday morning. To my knowledge the ABC News clip is not yet up. But CNBC put up three clips that I believe, in their totality, make up my entire appearance. So here they are in order and sorry about the pre-roll videos in front of all three. I looked for a single clip for the entire interview but could not find it.

Video 32

Spring Startup Fever

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

This summer, they are doing another program but it will be focused on emerging media companies. The program is called SeedStart Media and has big media companies like AOL, Hearst, News Corp, MTV, NY Times, Time Warner, and a bunch more involved as corporate partners. Here are some details from their website: We are inviting technology companies willing to spend the summer in New York City that are concentrating on [the media industry] to apply to SeedStart.

Ben Horowitz On The Psychology Of Being CEO

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

Every once in a while I come across a blog post that so totally nails something and I am reminded why professionals blogging about their craft is such an important development in the world of media. Yesterday Ben Horowitz posted about the psychology of being CEO. He starts with this observation: very few people talk about it, and I have never read anything on the topic.

Why Hasn't NYC Produced Many Tech IPOs?

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

  This theory suggests that the sectors that NY is particularly strong in – consumer, advertising technology, media – are out of favor for some reason.    As for the adtech sector, why did DC-based Millenial Media, a mobile advertising network, have such a strong public offering if the sector is out of favor?  Jeff Bussgang asks an interesting question on his blog.

IPO 46

Talent and Bandwidth

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

There is the software, internet, digital media sector which is thriving and on a tremendous growth spurt. When people ask me what the city and state government can do to help the technology driven startup community in NYC, I tell them two things. First, there is not one tech ecosystem. And then there are the biotech, bioengineering, materials science, and energy sectors.

Tech Is NYC's Second Largest Job Sector

A VC : Venture Capital and Technology

I would have thought the real estate sector was larger (it may be) and it is also a bit surprising to me that tech is bigger than media & entertainment. One of NYC's great strengths is the diversity of its economy - finance, real estate, media & entertainment, retail, fashion, health care, education, and now tech. I am a bit surprised by this report , which says that NYC's second largest job sector is tech.