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Posts from the ‘startups’ Category

Required Reading for Web 2.0 Enterpreneurs

January 13, 2007


Tom Evslin’s really thoughtful post on starting a web 2.0 company.

Is There a Web 2.0 Bubble?

December 30, 2006


The WSJ published a good email debate between my friends Todd Dagres and David Hornik on the question whether there is Web 2.0 bubble right now. Check it out here.

My own take, briefly stated, is YES, there is a bubble, in that there is alot of money going after mediocre deals in the “Web 2.0” sector, with the result that deals are getting done at silly valuations and increasingly with little real diligence and serious thinking.

But, that said, I ultimately come down agreeing with Hornik: regardless of the fact that a bunch of silly deals will get done, the Internet and its increasingly central role in all aspects of media offers one of the more exciting and rewarding opportunities for discerning venture investors.

Ad Sales’ Dirty Little Secret

December 15, 2006


I was chatting the other day with Mark Jung, former CEO of IGN, and former COO at Fox Interactive Media, who had a great line.

“The dirty little secret of ad sales is that it is really hard.”

This is something that I think lots of early stage ventures, as well as “consumer Internet” VCs, don’t give its full due.  Assuming that about 99% of the Internet ventures getting backed these days aspire to an advertising-based business model, it seems to me there are way, way more companies getting built than there are talented, experienced ad sales executives.  Even if all these companies succeeded in building an audience large enough to support a real advertising business, there just isn’t enough talent to go around.  And, because ad sales really is hard, companies who lack experienced senior ad sales execs are going to have a heck of a time building revenue.

Which leads me to believe that a trend we are already seeing will only increase — a growing gulf between the revenue haves and have nots in the consumer Internet.  Lots of sites are going to emerge over the next couple years that tap into great audience appeal and engagement.  But the vast majority of these won’t succeed in building substantial advertising businesses.

Which leads me also to conclude that this gulf will present great opportunity for the companies who DO have real ad sales teams and success — either by acquiring sites with large but unmonetized audiences, or by developing partnerships to sell otherwise unmonetized inventory.

Most Interesting Web 2.0 Company?

November 12, 2006


After spending 3 days out at the Web 2.0 Conference I think I probably saw about 50 early stage Web 2.0 companies.

Like most at the conference, I generally was more struck by how many of these startups were really “features” as opposed to real business opportunities.

One company, though, did get me excited — Clearspring Technologies. Led on the technology side by one of the WebMethods founders, these guys are a “widgetizer.” In other words, they make it very easy for content owners and web developers to create widgets so that others can incorporate this content or application into their own sites, blogs, spaces, etc.

As I’ve posted before, I think the whole notion of syndicating/distributing web content is one of the more important trends we’ll see over the next couple years, and I think there is a great opportunity for someone to make a lot of hay out of being a horizontal value added enabler in this value equation.

Unfortunately for me, VCs were flocking all over these guys at the show. In fact, at one point I was chatting with Clearspring CEO Chris Marentis at the show when Vinod Khosla comes up and, with nary a word to me, drags Chris off into a separate room. Funny, I thought Vinod was out of the web and into energy investing these days??

“The Next Trend: Original Programming”

November 2, 2006


Cory over at Online Spin had a good post yesterday predicting that VC dollars are going to shift away from user generated content to original programming.

I more or less agree with Cory’s underlying point that folks are beginning to demonstrate the value of original programming in various niches, and our investments in Heavy, JibJab and World Championship Sports Network certainly represent a belief in the value of good content.

However (as I note in my comment to Cory’s post) I’d still bet that you’ll see a boatload of VC money flowing into a slew of “YouTube for ___” startups.

Remember all those online pet food sites???

“Why Rocks”

November 1, 2006


I generally try not to let this blog devolve into mere pimping my portfolio companies.

However, when someone else out there is doing the promoting, I have no problem linking to it.

So, check out this cool video from the guys over at Tubetorial on “Why WordPress Rocks.”

Media 2.Uh-Oh!

October 18, 2006


I can’t tell you that I have a clue who this guy Andy Kessler is, but he has written a really good piece called “Media 2.Uh-oh.” I definitely recommend it.

Once again, hat-tip to my fellow Heavy board member Avram Miller, who on a near-daily basis is a veritable treasure trove of interesting tidbits.

The Web Traffic Measurement Mess

October 17, 2006


BusinessWeek has a good piece on the Web Traffic Measurement quagmire.  Meebo certainly isn’t the first company to face this.

If any of you out there has figured all this out, please let me know.

My personal take is that the measurement services deliberately obfuscate things in order to shake web companies down for business. Without naming names, I’ve recently seen some emails from one such provider making this disturbingly evident.

Who’s Next in Web M&A?

October 17, 2006


Among other things, the Goo-Tube deal has generated lots of speculation over what other web giga-deals are looming out there.

Yesterday, GigaOm noted that his pal Mark Evans was prognosticating on this very question.

And, lo and behold, Mark has 3 Polaris companies on his list (Weatherbug, Heavy and Automattic).

Not sure what to make of this (nothing, probably), but it at least got my attention…

YouTube sees “Heavy” Competition in October

October 17, 2006


So, yesterday I posted about the YouTube-MySpace competition heating up. Which it is.
But, apparently, I missed another YouTube rivalry from within my own portfolio!

According to the multinational media publisher VNU :

YouTube had to fend off strong competition in the video traffic space from during the week ending 8 October.

Website traffic analysis firm Hitwise reported that, the largest independent broadband network in the US, is the second largest entertainment video site on the web with a 17 per cent market share

This compares with YouTube’s 35 per cent market share for the same week in October. outranked MySpace, Google Video and Metacafe for video traffic based on visits.

I’ll try not to sandbag my own portfolio companies in the future! I’ve actually gotten ahold of the Hitwise data, and will post once I figure out how to…