Tag Archives: start-up

Female start-up CEO just had a baby – reflects on going back to work after one week

Three weeks ago, I gave birth to a baby. After a long and sometimes challenging pregnancy where I was nervous a lot of the time, I am both relieved to hold a healthy boy in my arms and totally smitten with him.

We joke around here — and now I’m on record in the New York Times saying it —  that Arjun is my firstborn child, but my second baby. My first baby is Piazza, the strapping three-year-old company I founded in 2009. My husband Shyam is an early employee at Palantir, so Arjun is kind of his second baby, too. It should sound weird to talk about our flesh-and-blood baby as the little brother of a couple of start-up companies, but work with me here for a minute, because amidst all of the recent discussion about whether women can have it all, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a start-up CEO with a newborn, because that’s apparently pretty rare. In the hope that it will become more common, I wanted to share my experiences so far.

Biggest all-time caveat: I want to say that so far — and I’m almost scared to type this — Arjun has been healthy. We’re extremely grateful for that, and I don’t think anything I say below would apply if that weren’t true. Also, of course, I’m only three weeks into motherhood. I may do things totally differently in a few weeks. But here’s the view from Week 3.

 

Keep reading: 7 Management Secrets of the Postpartum CEO

 

 
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Switzerland – Silicon Alps – joins the start-up ecosystem

Ah, Switzerland. The land of chocolate, cow-bells, skiing and prices that make you want to cry. A place that has built a global brand on providing a safe, risk-free haven for other people’s money and not being disruptive or belligerent. Clean, orderly and wonderfully peaceful — yes, the clichés are true.

Not then, you might think, a country especially suited to launching a startup — but you’d be wrong. Long a hub for high-tech and medical sciences, Switzerland now boasts an ecosystem of Internet entrepreneurs that’s blossoming as fast as the proverbial Edelweiss in spring.

“I don’t know any other country on Earth that is so good at seed funding,” enthuses Johannes Reck, co-founder and CEO of GetYourGuide. His story is illuminating — after founding GetYourGuide in 2008, his team was approached by a local bank with a seed funding offer, an out of the blue reversal of roles that typifies what’s happening here.

“In literally every other country in the world I’ve been to, entrepreneurs struggle so hard to get their first seed funding,” he says. “In Switzerland you have a lot of institutions who provide money, literally for free, very early on.”

 

via TNW Europe

 

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Read about start-ups scenes in L.A. and Berlin:

 

And, some beautiful photos of Switzerland:

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Top 3 Reasons To Choose Airbnb Over Hotels

Airbnb is disrupting the hotel industry.

As of February 2012, 5 million guest nights have been booked worldwide since the site’s launch in 2007, with a 500% growth in the past year and accommodations in over 19,000 cities.

 

Airbnb Global Growth Infographic

 

I’ve now stayed at two properties (one in San Diego and one in Santa Barbara) and I’m officially on the Airbnb bandwagon. Here’s why:

1. Comfort: After traveling so much in my career, I’ve grown weary of the generic, cookie cutter look and feel of hotel rooms, even 5-star accommodations. Staying at an AirBnb is like staying at a friend’s house, with all the comforts and spaciousness of a home, like a kitchen and a comfy living room with books and magazines to peruse.

2. Amenities: I’ve started to deplore how hotels nickel and dime guests, especially when it comes to wifi and water. Both Airbnbs I’ve stayed at offered free, secure wifi and purified drinking water. It might sound trivial, but I feel like water and wifi should be included in a guest’s stay. And at our Santa Barbara rental, the owner provided two bikes, with bike locks and helmets for guests. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to arrive and jump right onto the bike to explore the city. Plus, there was free street parking just feet away from the entrances at both properties.

3. Cost: Bottom line, you get a lot more for a lot less at an Airbnb. And you don’t have to pay for all the hidden costs of hotels.

Not all people will love Airbnb (especially those enamored by turn-down and room service). But I get a feeling a growing number of folks will like what Airbnb has to offer (on both the demand and supply side) and it’s going to take a big bite out of the hotel industry pie.

Tony Hsieh: Delivering Happiness to Downtown Las Vegas

Beyond the casinos, past the clubs, over the glittering, multi-million dollar hotels that light up the Las Vegas Strip, beat the quiet drums of innovation and progress. Change is afoot.

Las Vegas is on the verge of a renaissance, thanks, in part, to the fantastical vision and persuasive passion of Zappos CEO and Delivering Happiness author, Tony Hsieh.

Credit Marc Burckhardt

What began as a relocation project, moving the online shoe and apparel shop headquarters from its Henderson location to downtown Las Vegas, has blossomed into a revitalization project, breathing new life into an area all too often described as seedy and run-down.

By the end of 2013, Zappos will take over downtown’s old City Hall building, which will receive a major renovation to accommodate 2,000 of its employees (the Henderson office is home to approximately 1,200), and several blocks of surrounding real estate have been procured to round out the “Zappos campus,” serving as a spark plug to the surrounding area.

It’s all part of Hsieh’s vision to make downtown Las Vegas a vital community — attracting families, urban dwellers, and business owners — to not only visit, but to live and thrive, with art galleries, yoga studios, coffee shops, book stores, sporting events and charter schools.

Hsieh is investing $350 million into the Downtown Project, with $200 million in real estate development, including residential, $50 million for small business investment, $50 million for education, and $50 million for start-up investments, in companies who are already in Las Vegas or are willing to relocate to downtown.

The start-up investment is a ripe opportunity for seedling companies looking for the right environment to get off the ground. Besides providing a lower cost of living, compared to many start-up hubs, the Downtown Project offers access to mentors, space and peers.

When I asked Zach Ware, who oversees campus, urban, and start-up development, about the strategy to attract start-ups and compete against fertile start-up grounds like Palo Alto, San Francisco and Seattle, he explained:

We’re less about comparisons and more about creating something new. Most cities have their fair share of incubation programs and other formal ways to accelerate learning and happiness. We see an opportunity to create a form of an incubator in an entire city, but without the formalities. So if you consider the elements that make up an incubator (proximity to mentors, proximity to others like you, access to capital and space) we think those things can be more organically scaled if they are a part of a city. 

Taking a cue from the edicts in Triumph of the City, the project aims to make downtown Las Vegas a great place to eat, meet, work, live, learn, and play.

After witnessing first-hand the kind of company Tony Hsieh has built with Zappos — during my recent headquarters tour, one senior woman commented, “Boy, would I have loved to work here when I was young” — I have no doubt the project will be a success. In fact, it’s the only Vegas bet I’ll make.

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

Hello, Silicon Beach – the burgeoning tech scene in Los Angeles

What could be better than beautiful weather, beaches, and your favorite scrappy start-up?

Two cities in Los Angeles are slowly becoming hubs of technology, Santa Monica and Venice.

In the spread out landscape of Los Angeles these two cities are adjacent close-knit urban areas, with ample office space, coffee shops, restaurants, and apartments. But, not the typical high-rise or pre-fab buildings, these are old school one-story remodeled spaces.

Think fun, diverse, and in some places gritty (i.e. hipster).

Recently, both held town hall meetings with local companies and government officials to strategize growth:

Santa Monica devoted much of its annual State of the City address to promoting the tech community, with Mayor Richard Bloom declaring: “Today we are not just Santa Monica, but Silicon Beach and the Tech Coast.” (In an unofficial vote later, hundreds in attendance overwhelmingly threw their support to the Silicon Beach name.)

“Our technology-qualified workforce, creative workplaces and leading broadband infrastructure will keep our economy well-positioned for future growth,” Bloom said.

After the mayor’s address and a short video touting the rise of tech companies in Santa Monica, Jason Nazar, who is chief executive and co-founder of local start-up Docstoc.com, moderated a panel of people connected to the tech scene.

via LA Times – Technology

Silicon Beach is spreading to Venice.

The quirky beach-side community drew hundreds of attendees to a packed town hall meeting dubbed The Emergence of Silicon Beach.

Executives from Google, local start-ups Viddy and Mogreet, and accelerator Amplify were on hand for a panel moderated by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who repeatedly told audience members that they were witnessing a “Venicessance.” Nearly two dozen tech companies set up booths to tout their products and ideas to about 400 attendees.

“Ten years ago, it was very hard,” James Citron said. “You had to fly up to San Francisco and do the Sand Hill Road dance, for those of you who know the venture capital world. Now they’re coming down here looking for great companies, so that’s a big fundamental change.”

via LA Times – Tech Now

 

It also helps that Google Los Angeles has set-up shop in the, Frank Gehry-designed, Binoculars Building in Venice.

For more on the start-ups in the area, including who’s hiring, Los Angeles Times reporter, Andrea Chang, has been doing a great job covering all of the start-ups in Silicon Beach.

Here are a few of them:

Downtown Santa Monica, the 3rd Street Promenade

 

//Photos – majunznk, …love maegan

Baseball's thriving start-up, MLB Advanced Media, could determine the future of TV sports

Launched in 2000, MLB.com was funded by the clubs in an agreement that had them each investing $1 million a year over four years. The cost was targeted at $120 million. To the joy of the owners and MLB, the Website started generating excess revenue in only the second year of its existence, allowing them to invest only $70-$75 million before beginning to see a return on their investment.

When the decision to launch MLB.com occurred, MLB moved all of its Internet rights into a centralized location. No longer were team Websites controlled by individual clubs; now they were under a single umbrella. This was the start of a focused effort to completely control and centralize all products and services provided on the Internet by MLB.

To put just a few numbers into the discussion, from 2004 to 2005 sales on MLB.com rose 220% from the year prior with a 200% increase in sales through just the MLB.com Shop. MLBAM revenues for 2005 are expected to rise 88% to $260 million, and annual revenue is expected to jump 30-50% over each of the next five years. A huge cash cow for the 30 owners in MLB that get to split the profits. Last year, the MLBAM inked a deal with Microsoft and AOL to stream MLB games live onto PCs. That deal totals as much as $40 million over two years from just Microsoft alone. AOL’s deal totaled $9 million over the same period.

But where MLBAM has been extremely savvy has been in the diversification of holdings under the Advanced Media’s umbrella. Not counting the season’s $9.5 million in online ticket sales, MLB.com will still rack up an estimated $25 million this year in sales and auctions of licensed merchandise and collectibles.

In November of 2004, Tickets.com was acquired by MLBAM. This allowed for broader control of and centralization of MLB related ticket transactions. It made good sense, as MLBAM had inked a three-year deal in 2003 to cover the lion’s share of ticket sales for MLB.com and was the exclusive online partner, providing service to 20 of the 30 franchises.

via Hardball Times

This year the start-up is expected to rake in $500 million in revenue, and that makes them a player in the TV market.

While the other major leagues are blundering around the internet, MLB is defining the future and everyone is following. You can see this with online streaming of games, where MLB pioneered the concept and every league has copied.

The next step is in TV deals where the majority of league money comes from. Right now those deals are TV first and internet a distant second, and sometimes ignored altogether.

Only ESPN is aggressively dealing for the internet with its “best available screen” strategy, but they have to fight their own maker to achieve that. The cable companies, like Comcast and Time Warner, don’t want to pull customers away from their cable subscriptions.

It’s a confusing mess for everyone involved and that is why MLB Advanced Media is so critical. They have a clear determined strategy for growing baseball, from simplifying ticket sales to offering technology to watch four games at once. Their business is growing by leaps and bounds and driving the market.

Only time will tell how it all plays out but having a major player in the market focused on the internet is surely going to change the game.

Baseball’s thriving start-up, MLB Advanced Media, could determine the future of TV sports

Launched in 2000, MLB.com was funded by the clubs in an agreement that had them each investing $1 million a year over four years. The cost was targeted at $120 million. To the joy of the owners and MLB, the Website started generating excess revenue in only the second year of its existence, allowing them to invest only $70-$75 million before beginning to see a return on their investment.

When the decision to launch MLB.com occurred, MLB moved all of its Internet rights into a centralized location. No longer were team Websites controlled by individual clubs; now they were under a single umbrella. This was the start of a focused effort to completely control and centralize all products and services provided on the Internet by MLB.

To put just a few numbers into the discussion, from 2004 to 2005 sales on MLB.com rose 220% from the year prior with a 200% increase in sales through just the MLB.com Shop. MLBAM revenues for 2005 are expected to rise 88% to $260 million, and annual revenue is expected to jump 30-50% over each of the next five years. A huge cash cow for the 30 owners in MLB that get to split the profits. Last year, the MLBAM inked a deal with Microsoft and AOL to stream MLB games live onto PCs. That deal totals as much as $40 million over two years from just Microsoft alone. AOL’s deal totaled $9 million over the same period.

But where MLBAM has been extremely savvy has been in the diversification of holdings under the Advanced Media’s umbrella. Not counting the season’s $9.5 million in online ticket sales, MLB.com will still rack up an estimated $25 million this year in sales and auctions of licensed merchandise and collectibles.

In November of 2004, Tickets.com was acquired by MLBAM. This allowed for broader control of and centralization of MLB related ticket transactions. It made good sense, as MLBAM had inked a three-year deal in 2003 to cover the lion’s share of ticket sales for MLB.com and was the exclusive online partner, providing service to 20 of the 30 franchises.

via Hardball Times

This year the start-up is expected to rake in $500 million in revenue, and that makes them a player in the TV market.

While the other major leagues are blundering around the internet, MLB is defining the future and everyone is following. You can see this with online streaming of games, where MLB pioneered the concept and every league has copied.

The next step is in TV deals where the majority of league money comes from. Right now those deals are TV first and internet a distant second, and sometimes ignored altogether.

Only ESPN is aggressively dealing for the internet with its “best available screen” strategy, but they have to fight their own maker to achieve that. The cable companies, like Comcast and Time Warner, don’t want to pull customers away from their cable subscriptions.

It’s a confusing mess for everyone involved and that is why MLB Advanced Media is so critical. They have a clear determined strategy for growing baseball, from simplifying ticket sales to offering technology to watch four games at once. Their business is growing by leaps and bounds and driving the market.

Only time will tell how it all plays out but having a major player in the market focused on the internet is surely going to change the game.

Too many deal sites out there, we need an aggregator – Yipit.com

I’ve already bought movie tickets, a whale watching tour, chocolate, and a Christmas gift. You could say I’m addicted to deal sites, or you could say I’m a “super user”.

I subscribe to several of them and have this complex filter/label/folder system running in my Gmail account. No longer.

Now, I just visit Yipit.com and they do all that for me, and more. I get nation-wide deals with the bigger companies, deals from the new, fringe, and exclusive sites, and an industry leading preferences system. Which by the way, Groupon seems to be copying.

Definitely worth checking out – Yipit.com

 

There is also a Yipit iPhone app: