Exit This Way
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.
Location Location Location
Last June, Flickr and Hunch cofounder Caterina Fake announced that she had raised $2 million from investors like New York’s Founder Collective, True Ventures and SV Angel with an emphasis on consumers and social. If you’ll recall, in November of 2010, Ms. Fake left Hunch, a New York City-based startup she cofounded with Chris Dixon to build a “taste graph” of the Internet, rather abruptly. Speculation was that Hunch’s pivot—away from a consumer destination site towards a platform to power other sites (it was acquired by eBay last November)—was too far out of Ms. Fake’s wheelhouse. “The things I’m good at are building communities, participatory media, places where people contribute things of their own making,” she blogged at the time. Mr. Dixon chalked it up to a “founder-market fit;” other people had other ideas.
Regardless new startup Pinwheel, which launched out of private beta last night, seems to fit her comfort zone. The app lets users “find and leave notes all around the world.” The notes, which are pinned on a specific location on a map, can be both private or shared with an individual or group, as well as organized into sets.
For example, “Every place that you told me that you loved me, circa 2008″ (one of the potential sets Ms. Fake offers) you might want to keep private. Whereas “Find me a Nearby Toilet NOW,” (another example from Ms. Fake) might be a question you pose to a group. There is, of course, a social networking element, with the opportunity to follow both friends and sets:
In the same way that Kickstarter connects users with backers for their projects, SkillShare connects experts with students for their classes. The start-up just raised a $3.1 million in a Series A round of venture financing, led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital, to extend its offerings. Previously the company raised a $550,000 round of seed funding from Founder Collective and SV Angel, among others.
Betabeat has been reporting on this funding for some time, but was too gun shy to publish without confirmation from the founders. Lesson learned.
Local Organic Content
It’s not a million dollar round on the first day of class, but Contently.com, which just joined the second class of TechStars NY, has raised a $335,000 debt round from Founder Collective.
The start-up has positioned itself as the anti-content farm, helping freelance journalists to manage their careers and big brands to produce editorial content that stands out, all while avoiding the SEO optimized schlock pumped out by Demand Media and others.
Speaking from personal experience, there isn’t much money in making freelance journalists your clients. But connecting professional writers with big brands looking for some high class advertorial could be a strong play. A corporation can afford to pay premium freelance rates, since they are chasing pageviews and online engagement, not a return on their dollars via advertising.