Linkages

Booting Up: Is Facebook Picking Up a New Mobile Messaging App?

Contents: one cupcake. (Photo: Wikimedia)

“If you put yourself in the position to ask for something that is already legal, you’ll find you’ll never be able to roll out.” Perpetual bull-in-a-china-shop Uber is having some issues with regulators. [New York Times]

After ballooning to 84 companies this summer, Y Combinator is cutting back to less than fifty fundees. [YC]

Looks like Facebook is still hacking away at the problem of mobile: Now that Instagram has been fully assimilated, there’s talk of the social networking buying the paid mobile messaging app Whatsapp. [TechCrunch]

The battle for same-day shipping supremacy is commencing, and it ain’t gonna be cheap. [Wall Street Journal]

Free your miiind, man: Cast off the finance lens, with its talk of “bubbles,” and focus on the product lens. That means asking not whether a sector is overfunded, but something more like, “have the products in area X caught up to the best practices of the industry? Are they reaching their potential?” [Chris Dixon]

Exit This Way

Q&A with Chris Dixon on Joining Andreessen Horowitz: ‘I’m Going to be Very Aggressively Looking for Investments in New York’

Mr. Dixon

Earlier today, serial entrepreneur and investor Chris Dixon made it official. The cofounder of SiteAdvisor (acquired by McAfee) and Hunch (acquired by eBay), who invests both personally and through Founder Collective, will be decamping our fair city for sunnier shores to join Andreessen Horowitz as the Sand Hill Road powerhouse’s seventh general partner. We spoke with Mr. Dixon by phone shortly after the announcement was made to find out what it means for the many ventures he’s involved in here (like eBay’s massive new Flatiron R&D lab, which is slated to house 200 developers and data scientists).

Don’t hold your breath for an East Coast outpost, as cofounder Marc Andreessen emphasized earlier, his is a “single office firm.” In fact, based on the tenor of our questions, Amy Grady, a representative from Andreessen Horowitz who was also on the call, wanted to assure us Mr. Dixon’s hire was about more than just geography. “We didn’t hire Chris just because of New York. It’s a huge bonus, he’s obviously really tapped in, but if we find an entrepreneur with a great idea in Idaho, we’ll invest!”

Silicon Prairie, start your pitch decks. Read More

In the Arms of an Angel

Are Party Rounds Turning the Tech Business Into a Lamer Studio 54?

Swap Ryan Philippe for @aplusk, of course. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Let’s face it: There’s a reason clubs will pay reality stars just to come hang out. People are more intrigued by a famous face. Silicon Valley might think itself above crass fame-whoring, but that doesn’t mean tech folk are immune to the siren song of social proof. Witness, for example, the rise of the so-called “party round.”

Today TechCrunch takes on the topic of these early-stage “family-style” rounds, where angel investors and VC firms pony up a bit of cash (often as a kind of option for later investments), but no one quite leads the pack. The process is compared to–what else?–high school: Read More

Caught In The Webb

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Why We’re Definitely in a Bubble

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Bubbles bubbles bubbles! The talk continues. Last week the anti-bubble camp was in the ascendency. First we had a massive bubble debate on Branch.com (disclosure: I am an investor in Branch), featuring some of the best minds on the internet: Anil Dash, Dave McClure, Paul Kedrosky, Chris Sacca, Michael Arrington, MG Seigler and more. The rough consensus? No bubble.

In wrapping up the Branch debate, Seigler pointed to First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman, and his hilarious bubble post – from 2007, no less – mocking those who continuously cry bubble, and failing to grasp the transformational power of the internet. A fair point.

Next we had Business Insider Henry Blodget’s presentation State of Startups 2012 presentation, subtitled “No, it’s not a bubble.” Many charts, graphs and points followed laying out why the bubble doesn’t exist.

I must confess, however, I’m in the pro-bubble camp, and while reading the Branch debate, I found myself jumping up and down with counter arguments on why we actually are in a bubble. And, since I’ve taken a two week vacation from this column, I figured I’d come back with a vengeance, and cogently lay out all the arguments and counter arguments. Read More

A Little Ditty About Jack and Diane

Coastal Investors Marvel at Pinterest’s Target Market: ‘Regular People’ in Flyover Country

via LinkedIn

Pinterest, the only hockey-stick startup with the distinction of being embraced by women and Mormons, gets the full New York Times treatment today with a profile by Jenna Wortham, well-timed to the clusterfuck hullabaloo currently underway in Austin. While other startups clamor over themselves to preach to the choir and woo early-adopters, Pinterest user base began in Des Moines, Iowa, where cofounder Ben Silbermann grew up.

While the startup’s hearting-the-heartland approach has caused “some headscratching” at SXSW, its also infected investors with a wicked case of envy. “It defies the mold that you have to build something for New York and San Francisco and then spread it out from there,” Chris Dixon, who is slated to interview Mr. Silbermann on stage tomorrow, told the Times, adding, “Everyone’s envious. I’m envious. I wish I was an investor. I wish I’d created the site.”

One investor who may be immune? New York Angels founder Brian Cohen, who also has the distinction of being Pinterest’s very first investor. Read More

Shut Up Nerds

New York Tech, Stuck at No. 2, Still Shaking Pom-Poms

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Over the last few years, the rhetoric in Silicon Alley has started to sound like a Bring It On sequel. The rhetoric is dominated by two themes: boostery New York exceptionalism—in September 2009, the high-profile investor Fred Wilson gave a talk called “NYC’s Startup Scene: What makes it special?”—and the David and Goliath narrative, with Silicon Valley as the reigning champion versus New York as the cool, scrappy young challenger. Read More

The Data Deluge

Big Data Funding Gets Bigger: IA Ventures Raised $105 M, Double Its Previous Fund

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IA Ventures, the New York City-based firm with a big data fetish, just announced that it raised $105 million towards a second fund. That’s more than double the $50 million seed fund IA Ventures founder Roger Ehrenberg raises in 2010.

With this new fund, Mr. Ehrenberg told TechCrunch, IA Ventures will be able lead seed rounds as well as series A and B rounds and follow a company through its growth. Previously, IA gravitated towards pre-revenue companies “between a Powerpoint and a prototype.” Those companies, says TechCrunch, require more “hands-on work,” and with Fund II, IA Ventures will be able to diversify its portfolio into both seed-stage and later-stage companies.

TechCrunch’s post on the new fund set off a chain of negative responses on Twitter, unrelated to IA Ventures, but rather to do with a theory Erick Schonfeld slipped into the piece about the difference between East Coast and West Coast investors below. Read More

RESPONSES

Breaking: Guy Works from Home, Cooks Himself Breakfast (Or “A Response to Chris Dixon on Startups and Journalism”)

Via Business Insider.

Maybe you’ve heard of (Harlem) startup PolicyMic, the startup most famous for:

- Having a former Goldman Sachs trader who quit his job venture into StartupLand,
– Being a fancy politics forum where the ability to speak is doled out in a currency of “Mics,”
– Having contributors like Condoleezza Rice, and especially,
– Being based out of Harlem. Harlem! How utterly progressive/gentrification-forward!

Well, Business Insider has finally cracked the largest story on (Harlem) startup PolicyMic basically ever. Are you ready?

Boom: Read More