Adventures in Venture Capital
Let’s talk about innovation and creativity, a topic that is on my mind in the lead up to my Re:Think Innovation workshop later this month.
When I talk to business executives, conversations inevitably get on to the topic of innovation. Before they can ask me about innovation, I ask them what they are developing and how they are going about it? They hear an innovation question and respond with a list of what they are doing to foster innovation.
Venture capital returns follow the power law, according to Peter Thiel. He’s right. Look at your favorite venture capitalist, then look at her exits. You may see many names you know, but start to break down for how much each one sold or how much they are valued. You’ll see just one or two big wins swamp the rest.
Peter Thiel himself made almost all of his startup returns from Facebook, not directly from his years at PayPal. Even the venerable Y Combinator sees almost all future profits deriving from just two companies: AirBnB and DropBox.
If you see a hobbit making it rain on Palo Alto’s University Avenue this afternoon, here’s why: VentureBeat reports that Palantir–Peter Thiel’s shadowy data-mining startup–has raised another $196 million, bringing its total raised to a whopping $498 million.
With cash like that, you could have custom costumes made for every Shire-loving employee. Or you could just buy the leftovers from Sean Parker’s wedding.
Teach Me How to Startup
Peter Thiel, the dashing PayPal founder who was born when Ray Kurzweil and a unicorn cyborg mated beneath a full moon, is adding “author” to his long list of accomplishments. The New York Times reports that Mr. Thiel, a utopia-obsessed angel investor who spends a large chunk of his life convincing impressionable geniuses to eschew college degrees, is currently working on a book about “building companies” called Zero to One.
The Singularity Isn't Here
Get ready to feel like you frittered your youth away on terrible entry-level jobs!
Peter Thiel and co. just announced the latest class of “20 Under 20″ Thiel Fellows. In exchange for foregoing traditional higher ed, each of these baby Einsteins gets $100,000, some mentors and the mandate to start a company.
Let’s hope they also get a crash course in life skills and also how to tell their bewildered parents why they did this.
How many times does Peter Thiel have to tell you that unless your startup disrupts death or advances the singularity, he’s just not that impressed?
CNN Money reports that Mr. Thiel took the conference stage with Twitter investor Marc Andreessen earlier this week. And while he’s pretty sure that Twitter will still be around in 10 years, and he thinks the company’s $10 billion valuation is fair, he just can’t get all that excited about it.
He told the crowd:
Real Genius Andreessen Horowitz invested $15 million in Rap Genius to help its Ivy League cofounders to annotate the Internet. But how much will they have to pay to rein in the braggadocious Mahbod Moghadam?
In a recent issue of Wakefield, a newsletter covering “tech and startup insight not captured elsewhere,” Maboo was up to his old shenanigans, volunteering information about a “feud” with Mark Zuckerberg, who also happens to be backed by Andreessen Horowitz.
Apparently, Mr. Moghadam was at Ben Horowitz’s home, “chilling” with Zuck and Nas as is the new mode of Silicon Valley socializing. (Mr. Horowitz happens to be close friends with Steve Stoute, Nas’ former manager.) Despite Zuck’s heightened privacy concerns (it’s complicated?) Rap Genius cofounder couldn’t resist Instagramming his good fortune.
NO RULES MOM
It’s never too early to start speculating about the next election cycle. So we’re calling it, less than a month into the new year: 2013 will be New York tech’s debut as a political force.
Tech moguls and politicians have always been willing bedfellows, of course. Last year, technophiles in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area outpaced “Hollywood celebrities and Wall Street moguls” in funding President Obama’s reelection campaign, according to a report from MapLight.com. On the other side of the aisle–like far, far to the right–Facebook investor Peter Thiel “almost single-handedly” funded Ron Paul’s super PAC. After his fringe candidate dropped out of the race, Mr. Thiel donated $1 million to Club for Growth Action, a Tea Party super PAC.
Paging Peter Thiel! Blueseed, a sea-faring tech incubator that aims to skirt visa laws by hosting its programs in international waters, has raised $300,000 from Silicon Valley investor Mike Maples. The startup incubator and business center intends to provide a place for non-US citizens to have the same access to the ideas and capital in the Valley without having to go through the complicated visa process. Though it’s just a fraction of the $10-30 million needed for the project to actually take off, no doubt Silicon Valley’s principled libertarian population will be excited to hear the news.
If Singularity lover and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel can’t have Mars, he will instead control earth. Business Insider reports that the early Facebook investor has bestowed a $300,000 investment upon Canadian inventor Louis Michaud so that he can create man-made tornadoes.