Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!
This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (aka “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder and CEO of GarysGuide and proud owner of a whole bunch of black suits, white shirts and, at last count, over 40 red ties. You can reach him at gary [at] garysguide.com.
This season of Game of Thrones may be over, but I’ve got ya covered. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Foursquare’s Game of Cones! Summer is coming and the Battle for the Iron Cone is upon us!
This Thursday is the Northside Festival NExT Conference (featuring Uber’s Travis Kalanick and Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal). Register here for the FREE expo and also check out the hackathon on Friday.
The Gun Show This week, Twitter launched a shiny new client-friendly
Music Class Are you excited for the new Daft Punk album? Well, we’ll tell you who’s really excited, and that’s Square CEO Jack Dorsey and VC Fred Wilson. “The new Daft Punk album is a knockout. Pure joy,” Mr. Dorsey said in a micro-review of the album on Twitter. Mr. Wilson responded: “yup. I’ve had it in heavy rotation all week. It was even on in the coffeeshop today.” Just an FYI in case, for some reason, you get stuck in a car with both of them sometime this summer.
Yesterday, Crain’s reported on some eye-popping Tumblr numbers from PrivCo, suggesting VCs reaped huge rewards, including a 5,000 percent return of $253 million for Union Square Ventures, $154 million for Spark Capital, and $77 million for Spark partner Bijan Sabet.
Almost immediately, Bijan Sabet and Fred Wilson fired back, calling the report “garbage” and refuting the specifics (without coughing up what they actually made). Dan Primack (who’s tangled with PrivCo before) calls the report “a load of Yahoo.” He says USV and Spark actually put $13 million each into the company ($350,000 of it seed funding) and got around $192 million each. Not too shabby, but not the jackpot PrivCo alleges, either.
Well, this morning PrivCo responded to the critics, on Twitter, with all the rancor appropriate to the medium.
It's All About the Bitcoins
Fred Wilson has just broken his two-year, no-investment streak. The Wall Street Journal reports Union Square Ventures is leading a $5 million round in Y Combinator-backed Coinbase, which allows you to buy, store and pay with Bitcoin. Also participating: Ribbit Capital, SV Angel and Funders Club.
These being the self-styled gentleman scholars of USV, there’s some philosophizing to justify the investment. Read More
Spend much time listening to Silicon Alley types talk about their fair city, and it won’t be before you hear someone issue a lament on behalf of the children—specifically, the quality of the math and science education they’re getting. Indeed, teaching tech skills in the public schools is among the most popular political proposals that the New York Tech Meetup suggested last month, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s vision for New York as a center of innovation is rarely far off from a new plan to offer a 21st century education.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is teaming up with a group of high-profile investors, including Fred Wilson, Ron Conway and Paul Graham, to “push for smart immigration reform to attract and keep the best, the brightest and the hardest-working to fuel innovation and American jobs.” [March for Innovation]
It wasn’t so long ago that the Nook was the key to Barnes & Noble’s future. Now the bookseller is planning to back off of its efforts to sell its own e-reader, and is working on strengthening partnerships with tablet suppliers. [NYT]
It’s not that Julian Assange isn’t giving interviews—it’s just that he’s leading a busy life inside the Ecuadorian government’s London embassy, and it’s a question of fitting reporters in. [Ars Technica]
Kara Swisher leans into the backlash against Facebook COO’s Sheryl Sandberg’s new book. [AllThingsD]
In case you can’t wait for the competing biopics currently in production, here’s what it’s like to go on a double-date with John McAfee. [PandoDaily]
Is Snapchat representative of a new wave of apps that tout privacy as the defining feature? Fred Wilson thinks so. [A VC]
Google’s obsessive drive to quickly index and display as much info as possible on search results pages could diminish Wikipedia’s traffic. [Optimize and Prophesize]
Coursera and other startups offering online classes could totally be the future of education…if only they figured out a stable business model. [New York Times]
Marissa Mayer made a Yahoo employee dance to “Gangnam Style” as cruel punishment for not participating in the employee feedback survey. [AllThingsD]
Is Reddit raising a new round at a $400 million valuation? [TechCrunch]
death and taxes
A funny thing happened the other day: somebody actually mentioned the debate over how the government should tax money managers in the context of the fiscal cliff.
The FTC reportedly won’t announce its decision regarding its antitrust investigation until 2013, rather than this week as was originally planned. Hey, might as well not ruin anyone’s holiday over this. [Bloomberg]
If you read this, you’ll never rent a computer for anything ever again. [Ars Technica]
Prominent techies like Fred Wilson are backing Bloomberg’s demand for a gun safety plan. [A VC]
The U.K. now has a special crime unit focused wholly on copyright violators, which means this classic IT Crowd episode is actually coming true. [The Verge]
IBM is pretty sure computers will have “touch, taste, sight, sound and smell” within five years. In related news, IBM is about to learn you can’t teach good taste. [Washington Post]
Seed Stage Slaughter
“It’s harder to act in a disciplined way in summer. All around you, you see excess and nonsense, companies being bought or funded for zillions of dollars without traction.” Eric Ries, the pioneer behind the Lean Startup movement, wrote those words back in August, 2011, warning that in the cyclical startup business, “what goes up will eventually come down.”
Startupland, he explained, can only stay insulated from broader economic forces–like, say, today’s warning about a new global recession--so for long: “The LP’s that fund booms are, after all, pension, municipal, and sovereign wealth funds. Consumers need disposable income to invest in the latest products, as do the companies who serve them and advertisers who reach them.”