Tag Archives: capital

Visit Wales and its 641 castles – a mixture of gothic, medieval, and Victorian styles

With its rolling hills and numerous royal conquests, there’s no place where history comes alive in such a lush setting as it does in Wales. Everywhere you look, the evidence of kings, queens, conflict and empire call to you. There are more than 600 castles – 641 to be precise – so even without trying you’ll come across a few. Even the country’s young capital has one – right in the heart of the city. Cardiff Castle mixes medieval and Victorian gothic architectural styles to thrilling effect.

These proud battlements are a historical legacy that is testament to a tumultuous past, and to the indomitable spirit of the fighting Welsh – these castles were built for a reason.

When the Romans withdrew, the separate Welsh kingdoms were left to squabble and spar for centuries until the Normans landed in the 11th century. But the Welsh proved unwilling subjects even then. It was not until Edward I – the famous subduer of William “Braveheart” Wallace – launched his war of subjugation two centuries later that Wales finally fell to England’s boot.

Edward consolidated his victory with the impressive castles you can still visit today. Most are in excellent repair, with walls as solid now as when their first stones went in the ground.

Beaumaris – the biggest castle Edward built and a truly imposing military fortress. It is located on the island of Anglesey, separated from mainland Wales by the Menai Strait, which is home to Prince William in his duties as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue pilot.

William is most intimately connected to the most majestic of the Unesco castles, the stunningly preserved Caernarfon Castle. This is where his father, Prince Charles, was invested as the Prince of Wales – and where, one day, William is likely to follow suit.

 

Keep reading: The Guardian - Discover the proud history of Wales

 

 

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Venture capital investment had its biggest quarter (Q2 2012) of the decade

U.S. venture capitalists put $8.1 billion into 812 deals in the second quarter of 2012, their single largest quarter in more than a decade, according to CB Insights.

It’s clear that factors like the greater American economy and the bumpy tech IPO market don’t necessarily have a direct and/or timely correlation with venture capital spending.

Funding was up 37 percent from the first quarter, and 5 percent from a year ago. Number of deals were up 3 percent from the past quarter, and 4 percent from the past year.

Photo and video start-ups accounted for 29 percent of mobile funding dollars.

 

Keep reading: All Things D - U.S. Venture Capital Has Its Biggest Quarter Since Dot-Com Days

 

 

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Ring of Fire Derecho – travelled 600 miles from Iowa to D.C.

On Friday, a historic, record-setting heat wave covered a sprawling region from the Midwest to the Southeast. All-time high temperatures records of 109 were established in Nashville and Columbia, South, Carolina and tied in Raleigh and Charlotte which hit 105 and 104. Here in Washington, D.C., the mercury climbed to an astonishing 104 degrees (breaking the previous record set in 1874 and 2011 by two degrees), our hottest June day in 142 years of records.

 

 

…the coverage and availability of this heat energy was vast, sustaining the storms on their 600 mile northwest to southeast traverse. The storms continually ingested the hot, humid air and expelled it in violent downdrafts – crashing into the ground at high speeds and spreading out, sometimes accelerating further.

Peak wind gusts in the D.C. region include the following:

71 mph near Dulles Airport
70 mph in Damascus, Md.
79 mph in Reston, Va.
65 mph in Rockville, Md.
70 mph at Reagan National Airport
76 mph in Seat Pleasant, Md. (Prince George’s co.)
77 mph in Swan Point, Md. (Charles co.)
70 mph in Ashburn, Va.
69 mph in Leesburg, Va.

In addition, an 80 mph gust was clocked in Fredericksburg. To the north and west, 91 mph and 72 mph gusts were measured in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio

 

ViaCapital Weather Gang

 

Video of the NEXRAD Radar showing the ring of fire Derecho:

 

// Thx – Doyen

Pinterest valued at $1.5 billion – as megalithic Japanese website invests

Rakuten (the Amazon of Japan) has led a $100m funding round into Pinterest, which values the online “curation” community at around $1.5 billion.

The Japanese ecommerce giant won out over major US venture capital firms who were vying for a piece of Silicon Valley’s new sweetheart, which lets users clip images to a virtual pinboard.

The FT spoke to Hiroshi Mikitani, chief executive of Rakuten, about how social discovery can boost ecommerce and the growing importance of images over text on the web.

“I met Pinterest’s management a few months ago and we got along very, very well….They said they were planning to raise capital. I offered to take all of it.”

“They had a prior arrangement with their angel investors so I told them I would like to get as much as possible. We talked about how we can help each other and we can help their presence in Japan which is one of the major markets in the internet industry. And they liked the fact they we would be able to help their business in Japan.”

via – Financial Times

 

// Photo – Alan Cleaver

California’s budget troubles – say hello to billions in tax revenue from Facebook’s IPO

California is hoping for another Google-effect like the one that happened in 2005, after the company’s IPO. From 2004 to 2005 the revenue from capital gains taxes in California shot up $14 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, whose initial public stock offering in two weeks could value the company at $96 billion, will cut in the state for an estimated $189 million in cash, according to calculations from PrivCo, which researches private companies.

The federal government will be in the money too, collecting an estimated $714 million in federal income tax from Zuckerberg.

And that’s just the payout from Zuckerberg. The windfall for California from the rest of the IPO could net California hundreds of millions more.

…the IPO could pump nearly $2.5 billion into state coffers over the next five years.

via LA Times

 

// Photo - Håkan Dahlström

President, Congress pass bill to allow venture capital funding via crowd sourcing

Earlier this month, President Obama sign the JOBS bill into law with strong bipartisan support, and no this isn’t the one you’re thinking of. This one is designed specifically for funding start-ups with a particular focus on crowd funding (i.e. Kickstarter).

Explained by author and professor, Jeff Jarvis:

The JOBS bill being signed by President Obama today is critical to the emergence and growth of the next generation of industries as ecosystems.

Those ecosystems are made up of three layers: platforms, entrepreneurial ventures, and networks.

Platforms (Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Facebook, Kickstarter, Federal Express, Foxconn), which make it possible for entrepreneurial ventures to be built at lower cost with less capital and reduced risk at greater speed. To provide the critical mass that large corporations used to provide — to, for example, sell advertising at scale or acquire distribution or acquire goods or services at volume — sometimes these ventures need to band together in networks (Glam, YouTube, Etsy, eBay).

The bill supports this flourishing start-up trend by updating some outdated laws, from the 1930s, and correcting some from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Of interest to us, the regular people:

  • Entrepreneurs can raise up to $1 million per year through those approved crowd funding channels.
  • Investors with incomes of less than $100K will be limited to 5 percent, or $2K, investments.
  • Those who make over $100K/year will be limited at 10 percent, or $10K.

Previously, one could not sell equity through crowd funding and only registered investors with $100,000 could fund a company. Now, with the crowd sourcing provision anyone can get in on the action.

This is great for the industry and those with a nose for investing, but do be wary. Internet scammers and unskilled entrepreneurs will soon be asking for your money to fund the next Google.

 

Learn more about the billJumpstart Our Business Start-ups (JOBS) Act

 

// Photo – Guano

Google Ventures – venture capital funding through data

A fascinating article in Fast Company profiles Google Ventures, the company’s venture capital division. Like everything the search giant does they are aiming big with delusions of changing the entire VC industry with data as the vehicle.

They start out with some interesting facts:

Despite the mythology that has built up around venture capital, it has become a slowly moldering investment vehicle. “The past 10 years haven’t been very productive,” Bill Maris points out. According to the research firm Cambridge Associates, during the decade ending last September, VCs as a class earned a 2.6% interest rate for their investors–less than you could have earned in an S&P 500 index fund. The numbers look slightly better over shorter periods; VCs have delivered a 4.9% return the past three years and 6.7% over the past five, still far from terrific.

 

 
Then they move on to insights gained through data-crunching:

Joe Kraus says that analysts have discovered research that overturns some of Silicon Valley’s most cherished bits of lore. Take that old idea that it pays to fail in the Valley: Wrong! Google Ventures’ analysts found that first-time entrepreneurs with VC backing have a 15% chance of creating a successful company, while second-timers who had an auspicious debut see a 29% chance of repeating their achievement. By contrast, second-time entrepreneurs who failed the first time? They have only a 16% chance of success, in effect returning them to square one. “Failure doesn’t teach you much,” Kraus says with a shrug.

Location, in fact, plays a larger role in determining an entrepreneur’s odds than failure, according to the Google Ventures data team. A guy who founded a successful company in Boston but is planning to start his next firm in San Francisco isn’t a sure bet. “He’ll revert back to that 15% rate,” Kraus says, “because he’s out of his personal network and that limits how quickly he can scale up.”

 

 

The article continues to describe the actions Google is taking to change the game. The most important of which seems to be bringing in ringers rather than partners, challenging the VC model at its core…

read the full articleGoogle’s Creative Destruction

The famous center of venture capital - Menlo Park, California.

 
// Thx to Guillaume SPillmann, Photo – Mark Coggins

Venture capitalists invested $5.8 billion in the first quarter of 2012

Venture capitalists invested $5.8 billion in 758 deals in the first quarter of 2012.

The report shows that after a strong fourth quarter 2011, VC investment activity for the quarter fell 19 percent in terms of dollars and 15 percent in the number of deals compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 when $7.1 billion was invested in 889 deals.

  • Life Sciences and Clean Technology sectors saw decreases
  • Double-digit percentage increases in the Consumer Products and Services, and Telecommunications industries.
  • The Software industry received the highest level of funding for all industries

 

Read the full reportLeena Rao, TechCrunch

 

Berlin cracks the startup code

“We looked at each other and knew in that moment that we’d be crazy not to move here,” says Ciarán O’Leary, a partner at the German venture capital firm Earlybird. “There was just so much happening—founders everywhere, in every bar, cafe, every corner.”

Berlin…has become a global tech hub, one which foreign money discovered years ago. According to data from Thomson Reuters, 103 Internet startups received global venture capital funding in Germany in 2011, more than in any country besides China and the U.S. Although the numbers are not broken down by city, Berlin is where most German startups congregate.

Encouraged by all the interest—and the money—many Berliners have gotten startup fever. The Berlin Chamber of Commerce reports that 1,300 Internet startups have been founded in the city since 2008, 500 of them last year alone.

 

keep reading at Bloomberg BusinessWeek