Adventures in Venture Capital

What’s the Worst Part of Being a VC? ‘The High Asshole Factor,’ Apparently


An interesting question showed up in our Quora digest email this afternoon. “What is the worst part of being a VC?” one user wondered. No, “sexism” wasn’t one of the answers, but apparently there are quite a few grievances for the partners on Sand Hill Road. The main complaint? Turns out there sure are a lot of assholes in the VC business.

An anonymous poster who claims to be “a VC general partner for nearly 10 years at a large brand name fund” posted the following missive: Read More

The Data Deluge

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


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

Unreal Time

Is It Possible to Predict Pageviews 15 Minutes Into the Future? $1.7 M. for Visual Revenue Says Yes


What’s cooler than real-time? New York-based Visual Revenue is building technology that purports to predict web traffic in advance. We first wrote about the startup just over a year ago when it officially launched. At the time, founder and CEO Dennis Mortensen wrote a blog post about how the company was aiming to replace the “front page editor” position that has become a staple of new media newsrooms. At the time, the New York Daily News and eight other publishers were testing Visual Revenue’s claims that it can predict how well a story will do on the front page 15 minutes in advance.

Visual Revenue offers media companies a unique Front Page Decision Support System for online Editors. The solution can predict the performance of a piece of content about 15 minutes into the future and provides editors with real-time recommendations on what content to place in which position on a Front Page and for how long.

Sounds like something BuzzFeed would be interested in. Wait, it sounds like something every web publisher would be interested in. But are we petty web readers really that predictable?

IA Ventures and Softbank Capital think so. The firms led Visual Revenue’s $1.7 million round, which will be used to hire front end and back end engineers, a lead designer, customer engagement manager and business development manager and build Visual Revenue into the “Bloomberg terminal of the newsroom,” as the company puts it. Read More


The Great Coffee Shop Boycott

Coffee Shop (Will M., vs. Friend of a Farmer (Fred W.,

Coffee Shop (Will M., vs. Friend of a Farmer (Fred W.,

The Coffee Shop in Union Square, located on the bustling corner of 17th St. and Union Square West, is famous for several things: the waitresses are models, it turns into a Brazilian dance club on the weekends, was voted Best Bar for Modelizers in the Village Voice, and New York says it boasts a “high risk of poor service and unpleasant encounters with attitudinal (but often pretty) people” but praised the crayons and puzzle place mats for kids. This noisy, WiFi-less den is famous for something else within the tight-knit community of Silicon Alley: it serves as the de facto meeting place for VCs and founders such as Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson and IA Ventures’ Roger Ehrenberg. “Pitch your startup to First Round Capital here. They’re right across the street,” says the Foursquare tip left by Charlie O’Donnell.  Read More

The Real TechStars of New York

TechStars, Episode 2: ‘Hide Your Developers, Hide Your Designers’ OnSwipe’s Hiring Errrybody In Here


Last week on the premiere of TechStars, the startups got the good news about their golden ticket into the inaugural New York class (more selective than Hahvard, didja hear?). Last night, the reality show’s second episode (you can watch the whole thing here) focused on Lesson One: Humility–as in, it just might behoove you to get some. Fast. One startup picks up $1 million in funding. One startup goes to Hollywood to meet their idol. And we learn that you don’t have to know a whole lot about gaming to throw around the words “gaming mechanics.” Here’s what you missed! Read More

Real TechStars of New York

‘Don’t Blow That F%^&ing Opportunity': Betabeat’s Guide to Watching the TechStars Reality Show Premiere


New York’s tech set has finally hit the big time, you guys! At 9 p.m. EST tonight, TechStars new reality show premieres on Bloomberg TV. And the vaunted ranks of IRL housewives, spray tan-happy Italian-Americans, and people with something to lose have nothing on the drama of trying to fund, launch, scale, keep afloat–and especially name–your startup.

In fact, by our count, since January, the TechStars New York inaugural class has already had four name changes, one big win, one pivot, one abandoned idea, and one fail.

If you think about it, the reality show format is a natural fit for a seed stage accelerator like TechStars. Like America’s Next Top Model and American Idol, you have the desperate audition to actually make it on the cast, only with PowerPoint decks instead of strutting and singing. Then once you’re in, your work is constantly being scrutinized by a panel of experts, which makes David Tisch the Heidi Klum (albeit with a filthier mouth) to Roger Ehrenberg’s Nina Garcia. But as every reality show “winner” can tell you, getting anointed by the powers that be doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in the real world.

But you didn’t think Betabeat would let you wade into the expletive-laced, frothy territory on your own, did you? Here’s what you need to know before the premiere. Read More

Location Based

TechStars NY Grad ThinkNear Closes $1.6 M Round with IA and Google Ventures


UPDATE 7/26/2011: TechCrunch broke the embargo, as usual, but Erick Schonfeld was nice enough to link back to this original story on the round.

ThinkNear has announced that Google Ventures, who the team met during their time at TechStars NY, is one of its backers. Other investors include Metamorphic Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, FF Venture Capital, Real Ventures, Zelkova Ventures, BoldStart VC, David Tisch, Bill Boebel, Ben Sun, David Cohen and Matt Turck.

“We had only planned to raise $1 million but got $2 million worth of interest before we stopped looking,” says Founder Eli Portnoy. “We chose mainly to raise from the mentors we met through TechStars, people we knew could add value.” Read More

The Data Deluge

Putting Their Mouth Where Their Money Is: IA Ventures Talks Big Data

Sisco kid

Roger Ehrenberg started with a career on Wall Street, but he’s become one of the most respected and sought-after investors in the New York tech scene. He is the founder of IA Ventures, which recently raised a $50 million fund and invests “on the belief that managing and extracting value from massive, occasionally unstructured, often real-time data sets is a competitive advantage.”

Ben Siscovick, a member of the investment team at IA, gave a talk at General Assembly this week to a packed house on the topic of big data. He was nice enough to throw the video up on his Tumblr, so for everyone who was stuck in the office and missed out, let Betabeat drop a little knowledge on ya. Read More


Mark Suster and New York’s Roger Ehrenberg Invest In Big Data Fresh From the Twitter Stream


GRP Partners’ Mark Suster announced yesterday that he and Roger Ehrenberg, at IA Ventures in New York, are co-leading a $6 million investment in DataSift, a London-based data platform for third-party developers, brands, and publishers to capture real-time data. Although based out in L.A., TechStars just named Mr. Suster as a mentor for its new New York class. Mr. Suster has certainly made no bones of tweeting his pom-poms at local start-ups. Mr. Ehrenberg, on the other hand, has had his heart set on data mining. “As a former hedge fund guy, Roger immediately saw the value in helping companies better sift through the masses of data; often to gain better insights into financial information,” writes Mr. Suster on Both Sides of the Table.

News of the funding came just as Twitter announced that it hit the one-million-mark for registered apps, which the company says is “fueling a spike in ecosystem growth” in areas like analytics. Indeed, Mr. Suster described his investment in DataSift as “doubling down on the Twitter ecosystem.” Read More