I spoke with Mercora founder Srivats Simpath about three years ago as the company was looking for possible partnership opportunities with Microsoft. At the time, the company's vision and proposed business model seemed a little muddy. Music was involved. There would be some sort of peer-to-peer sharing system, but somehow this would be legal. To differentiate itself from the popular but illegal file-sharing systems used by most of the world at that time, Mercora would have a strong social-networking aspect, with users recommending or voting on songs. I don't remember exactly how the company expected to make money, … Read more
I was having this conversation with my good friend (and O'Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures managing partner) Bryce Roberts this morning:
Matt Asay (9:34) Was just reading about Bebo's $850M AOL acquisition I want to come up with nothing and have someone overpay for it, too
Bryce Roberts (9:35) I like that idea a lot
Matt Asay (9:35) Yes, but too many people are already doing it. It's a crowded market. :-)
To think that we were on to the Next Big Thing (Come up with a weak product and have someone overpay for it), … Read more
If you follow me on the nanoblogs (Twitter, Plurk, Friendfeed, etc.), you may have seen me complaining recently about getting pitched on new Web apps that I find either derivative or confusing. Or both.
Now, in any entrepreneurial ecosystem, a big proportion of the ideas that people come up with will be bad, and many of those bad ideas will become actual products. But at the moment, the ratio of bad Web products to good (or even interesting) products is worse than usual. Here are few reasons why:
First, there are two big product launch shows coming up in a … Read more
The California Clean Tech Open, dubbed the "start-up in a box" contest, named 44 finalists Tuesday. It awards $100,000 in cash, office space, and professional services to each of the six winners. Categories are air, water, and waste; energy efficiency; green building; renewables; smart power; and transportation.
The Google-sponsored contest, run by the nonprofit Acterra, touts success stories such as GreenVolts, which makes photovoltaic solar concentrating systems, and BuildFast, which sells eco-friendly house kits for developing regions. Contest organizers said that tech for the developing world has become an increasing area of focus.
Prizes are due to … Read more
The Wall Street Journal recently asked a highly poignant question: "Who's going to fund the next Steve Jobs?" The Journal asks the question in light of a startling piece of trivia: The second quarter of 2008 marked the first time in 30 years that no venture-backed companies went public. Not a single one.
Why? Through punitive regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, we may have dried up the appetite for public exits, given that a private buyer means less red tape:
This is bad news for the U.S. economy. Does anyone think that we would be better off if Bill Gates and Michael Dell had sold out to corporate behemoths early in their careers, instead of leading their firms for years as public companies? Would consumers enjoy the same vibrant market in Web services if Yahoo had gobbled up a nascent Google? How powerful would our computers be if Intel had become an IBM subsidiary, instead of going public in 1971?...… Read more
Summertime is the season for traveling circuses and local fairs, so I shouldn't be surprised that this carnival atmosphere has spread to security. A company named Permanent Privacy just announced a $1 million prize to the person who can crack its algorithm and uncover the underlying encryption keys.
Now I realize there is some history here. In January 1999, a group of academics cracked the 56-bit Data Encryption Standard in just over 22 hours and won a prize of $10,000. That said, I am not a big fan of security showmanship like this from unknown security start-ups.
Why? … Read more
You'd think start-ups would jump at any media hype they could get. Not so, says CNET News.com reporter Caroline McCarthy. She joins the podcast to talk about technology companies that generated huge amounts of hype--and then suffered from it later. Knowing how the new-media machine can work, some companies are even trying to fly under the media radar.
That, and the day's headlines, in today's daily podcast. Listen now: Download today's podcast
Soon after May 14, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang's approval rating among an admittedly small group of Yahoo employees tanked. Not surprisingly, that was the day word spread that corporate raider Carl Icahn was launching his proxy fight against Yang and Yahoo's embattled board of directors.
I know this because of a start-up called Glassdoor.com. While Glassdoor's service, scheduled to go into a public beta at 9:01 PDT Tuesday, is certainly helpful for nosy reporters who want a read on what employees think of their bosses, that's not the 12-person company's only intention. Glassdoor … Read more
I was reading an interesting post from Union Square Ventures Brad Burnham about entrepreneurship and the idea that they (along with many other VCs) are more likely to fund companies that are open with their ideas.Many of the better entrepreneurs we know engage anyone they come across about their ideas. On the surface, this seems kind of dumb. Every time you describe your plans, you are providing a blueprint for a competitor. So, why do they do it? My hypothesis is they do it because their experience has taught them that, on average, every time they describe their ideas, … Read more
Over on GigaOm, Lookery co-founder Scott Rafer outlines simple rules to survive a recession if you are a startup.
Click over to the full article for the details.
Rule #1: Raise a reasonable amount of money now, and use talent to do it. Rule #2: Just get through another "Summer of Angst." Rule #3: Do one thing only. Think "un-sexy." Rule #4: Don't spend to gain 5 percent of your market. Rule #5: Set business goals you know you can achieve. Rule #6 Resemble your customer.
(This article was from a week ago, but I … Read more