Adventures in Venture Capital

VCs Dave Tisch, Adam Ludwin and Others are Now Ready to Take Your Questions

(Photo: VYou)

When we first joined VYou back in its beta phase, it seemed like just another platform for innocuous oversharing, albeit a higher maintenance one: instead of oversharing from bed in your PJs, you had to look rather presentable to record a video of yourself.

But now, as celebrities flock to the video question and answer platform as a new way to connect with fans, VYou is focusing on building out another aspect of its site: video-based knowledge sharing. In the upcoming weeks, VYou will be assembling groups of experts in various areas. Users can ask them questions and get responses directly from the experts. 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

Linkages

Booting Up: Everyone Now Hates Twitter Edition

(Photo: Noobpreneur.com)

Here’s an interesting take on why Twitter is suddenly giving the finger to API devs: “I suspect the reason that Twitter is cutting off apps from using its ‘friend finder’ feature is because most people do not create content in Twitter and therefore have no incentive to use Twitter outside of the value of its graph.” [Dustin Curtis]

Fred Wilson thinks venture capital funds have grown too big and has some ideas on how to fix them. [Technology Review]

There are fewer and fewer women in Google’s inner circle, so the GOOG engineers dealt with it the only way they know how: by building a predictive algorithm to help them recruit and retain more female employees. [New York Times]

Turns out the freemium model is not exactly free for businesses. [Wall Street Journal]

Here’s why the FTC let Facebook buy Instagram. (Hint: ’cuz Facebook Camera sucks.) [TechCrunch]

Venture Capitalism

Corporate VC Funding Plummets by 30 Percent—Except for Internet Investing

(cbinsights.com)

News flash: it is not 1999 anymore, and it appears that corporate venture capitalists have adjusted accordingly. CB Insights released its Q1 Corporate Venture Capital Report yesterday, revealing that CVCs participated in just 84 deals totaling $1.09 billion, a record low for the past five quarters.

But while overall CVC funding is down 20 percent, funding for the Internet sector is up 30 percent, with CVC deals in that sector increasing for the third straight quarter. Read More

the startup rundown

Startup News: Motivational Social Networks Edition

(flickr.com/seanvenn)

Steps to success Moteevate, formerly known as Fitango and self described as “the motivational social network,” went live last week. The site makes achieving your goals sound really easy by breaking them down into three steps: choosing from over 600 action plans (or making up your own), inviting your friends to “motivate and cheer you on,” and, finally, following the plan to accomplish your goal.

Keep running Fitocracy, the fitness social network that lets you track your workout progress and compete against your friends, has made some changes to their team. Cofounder and former CTO Richard Talens is now the Chief of Growth and Analytics, and senior engineer Daniel Roesler is stepping in as the new CTO. The company has also hired Jay Patel as a new backend developer.

New and improved The Tumblr app for iOS just got a makeover and is now faster and also looks better, with support for higher resolution photos as well as redesigned notification tabs which make navigation much easier. The improved app also includes offline support, which allows users to write blog posts, reblog, and leave comments while offline, which will be posted automatically the next time the iPhone connects to the Internet. Read More

Sex and the Valley

Ellen Pao: I’m Not Quitting Kleiner Perkins

Ms. Pao (kpcb.com)

Ellen Pao has broken her silence to issue a short statement regarding her position at Kleiner Perkins, the firm she is suing for gender discrimination–on Quora, of all places. (Quora: a publicist’s nightmare?)

On a question asking if she had left the firm following her lawsuit, Ms. Pao wrote the following simple yet powerful statement: “No, and I don’t plan to quit.” The answer received over 250 upvotes, primarily from bloggers and techies, as well as 13 comments. Of note is one comment from 500 Startups cofounder and prominent VC Dave McClure, who responded with a strong gesture of support. “Hang in there ellen :),” he wrote, and 24 people upvoted it. Read More

Adventures in Venture Capital

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

(rso.cornell.edu)

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

Sex and the Valley

The Depressing Gender Gap at the Nation’s Top 71 Venture Capital Firms [SLIDESHOW]

72 Photos

women and men

Click through the slideshow for a firm-by-firm breakdown of the numbers.

The tech industry was shocked, shocked, when news broke last week that Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers had been accused of discriminating against women in a lawsuit filed by a female partner.

It wasn’t just that a woman was accusing one of the most influential venture capital firms in Silicon Valley of sexism. It was that a woman was accusing Kleiner Perkins of sexism.

Kleiner Perkins, a Sand Hill Road firm that has more than $3 billion in assets under management, has 12 female partners out of 49. That’s a much higher percentage than the industry’s abysmal average, giving the firm a reputation for being progressive. “Overall, when it comes to women in the tech investing space, Kleiner Perkins has historically been perceived as one of the good guys,” wrote Colleen Taylor at TechCrunch.

And yet, the lawsuit filed by investment partner Ellen Pao alleges that, among other things: men were promoted before women; men were allowed to serve on multiple boards, while women were only allowed to serve on one board; men were paid more than women; and there was little support for women who experienced sexual harassment. Kleiner Perkins denied any wrongdoing.

The number of women in top positions is just one metric by which to judge whether a firm is a welcoming place for women to work. Still, it’s a telling one, as a Betabeat survey of the top venture capital firms revealed. Read More

Never Say Never

Justin Bieber Is A Venture Capitalist, Because Of Course

Stay up there. (Photo: Twitter.com)

Every teen pop star eventually reaches a fork in the road, around the time of his/or her eighteenth birthday, when things must change. Is it time for more emotionally mature musical stylings? Perhaps a venture into feature filmmaking? Maybe it’s the time for a few years of college? Then there’s always the classic drug-fueled descent into the gutter and/or rehab and/or obscurity.

Obviously, the adults in Justin Bieber’s life would prefer to avoid the latter. And since Drew Magery making a man out of him was out of the question, manager Scott “Scooter” Braun has another idea: venture capital. Read More