Ex-Automotive Executives Start Incubator for Greentech Start-Ups


Three San Francisco entrepreneurs with backgrounds in automotive advertising want to help green technology ventures get off the ground.

On Tuesday, the trio officially launched Greenstart, a program modeled after Silicon Valley web-star-tup accelerators like TechStars and Paul Graham’s Y Combinator, which count companies like Dropbox, Reddit, Airbnb andDailyBurn among their alumni. But Greenstart will focus exclusively on greentech ideas that “grow the use of clean energy or reduce use of dirty energy,” according to Mitch Lowe, a co-founder and chief executive of Greenstart.

Behind the project are Mr. Lowe, founder and former chief executive of Jumpstart Automotive Media; Dillon McDonald, a former Jumpstart executive and creator of the Entrepreneurship Center at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo; and David Graham, co-founder of the car classifieds Web site Open Auto and a managing partner with Arizona Bay Technology Ventures.

The founders intend to to provide seed financing for an initial class of 10 companies. These start-ups are expected to give up a 3 percent to 10 percent stake to Greenstart in exchange for three months of networking opportunities, a $25,000 direct investment, work space in a downtown San Francisco office building and mentorship from industry insiders, includingMarc Tarpenning, the Tesla Motors co-founder, and Steve Wilhite, the former Hyundai North America executive and creator of the “Drivers Wanted” campaign for Volkswagen.

Ideally, Mr. Lowe said, participants graduating from the program would leave with valuable connections to the Energy Department and strategic investors like General Electric, as well as a business model that would enable them to raise venture capital.


Continue reading: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/24/ex-automotive-executives-start-incubator-for-greentech-start-ups/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Rent the Runway Scores $15 Million From Kleiner Perkins


Rent the Runway, a New York start-up that lets women rent high-end fashion items like dresses, shoes and jewelry by mail has already hit several milestones in the last 18 months. The company said it passed a million members and was turning a profit.

Next on the company’s checklist? An additional round of venture capital.

On Monday, the company announced it raised $15 million in a Series B round venture financing. The round was backed entirely by the Silicon Valley financier Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Previously, the company raised $16 million from Highland Capital and Bain Capital.

The fresh infusion of cash will go to expanding operations, said Jennifer Hyman, co-founder and chief executive of the company.

“We calls ourselves the Netflix for fashion, but the logistics of our business are very different from a Netflix or even a service like Zipcar,” said Ms. Hyman. “When a dress is returned, we have to dry clean it and do repairs. How quickly and carefully we turn it around is extremely integral to the customers experience.”

Ms. Hyman said the company has encountered some growing pains as the business has rapidly expanded from its start as a retail upstart in Manhattan.

To feed consumers’ increasing appetite for high-end rental apparel and accessories, some of the money raised will be used to open additional distribution centers outside of New York. In addition, Ms. Hyman said the company is looking to invest in streamlining the way it fulfills orders.

“We’re building an inventory and logistics-management system to track and understand how inventory moves across the country,” she said.

Continue reading: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/rent-the-runway-scores-15-million-from-kleiner-perkins/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

What LinkedIn Means for Start-Ups

CNBC looks at how LinkedIn’s banner public offering is playing in the venture capital community.


Continue reading: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/what-linkedin-means-for-start-ups/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Contrarian Investor Shuns Hot Idea for Bigger Picture

As investors clamor for shares of social media darlings, Peter Thiel is avoiding the frenzy.

“Is Twitter worth $7 billion?” the venture capitalist said.

“The broader question is, Is it going to help people have a much higher quality of living? And I think on that score, its benefit is a lot less.”

Mr. Thiel — Facebook’s first outside investor and a co-founder of PayPal — is not just knocking the competition. He has a visceral aversion to market exuberance. By the time an idea like social networking is widely accepted, Mr. Thiel, 43, thinks it is passé.

“He’s always starting with the premise of, What does everyone else believe that’s erroneous?” said Keith Rabois, a friend of Mr. Thiel’s and former PayPal executive.

Mr. Thiel, an entrepreneur turned investor, is more than a simple iconoclast. He is also the founder of the hedge fund Clarium Capital Management and a full-time prognosticator who says he makes “determinant views of the future.” His macroperspective defines his investments in start-ups and securities.

He’s focused on what he sees as a lack of innovation in the United States. Although the last 40 years have brought advancements in computers and the Web, Mr. Thiel is nostalgic for the 1960s, when people were still dreaming of putting a man on the moon. He describes the decade — and the 200 years that preceded it — as a “golden era” for technology.

Continue Reading: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/05/19/contrarian-investor-shuns-hot-idea-for-bigger-picture/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

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Venture Capitalists’ Desperate Search

Is getting people to upload goofy pictures of cats and bad English signs a better business than venture capital? Cheezburger Network, the profitable publisher of “I Can Has Cheezburger?” and other absurd Web sites, recently raised $30 million to expand. That venture capitalists are skirmishing to finance oddball ideas that don’t need their cash is a good illustration of the industry’s problems.

Venture capital’s best returns historically have come from the information technology industry — in companies like Sun Microsystems and Oracle. The trouble is, traditional hot sectors like computer production and traditional software have matured. And the hottest area of growth — consumer Internet firms — doesn’t need much capital to thrive.

Companies like Cheezburger, founded by Ben Huh, need comparatively little cash to get off the ground. Input costs, whether they are servers or Internet bandwidth, continue to fall. The software needed to run Web sites is often available free. And finding customers online can be done in an instant if an idea catches on.

It is simple to start a company using savings or angel seed funds and to finance subsequent growth through internally generated cash flow. That is what Cheezburger did. Of course, venture capital can help supercharge growth: Cheezburger plans to hire extra programmers and introduce other improvements.

The upshot of not needing cash is that entrepreneurs can command huge prices for their babies, as Facebook has done by selling stock to Goldman Sachs at a $50 billion valuation. Others can take money off the table, as Groupon’s founders plan to do with part of the $950 million they recently raised. Though those deals may turn out O.K., it’s hard to see venture capital consistently earning outsize returns if business owners are in the driver’s seat in capital-raising negotiations.

Continue reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/business/20views.html?_r=1&ref=venturecapital

The Money Network


Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, Twitter and LinkedIn have come to define the social Web. Founded within the last five years, the quintet of start-ups is now estimated to be worth more than $71 billion.

Behind these companies is a tangle of venture capitalists, founders, engineers and angel investors who stand to profit handsomely if these start-ups go public. For some companies, it is just a matter of when. Groupon is considering a 2011 offering that would value the social buying site at $25 billion, while Facebook has signaled that it will go public next year.

The club of technology insiders is a deeply connected, interdependent network, with many players overlapping at one time or another on the same investments, boards and payrolls.

For example, the Russian billionaire Yuri Milner — who was virtually unknown in Silicon Valley before his first Facebook investment in May 2009 — is a critical connector in this ecosystem. Mr. Milner, the founder of the investment firm DST Global, has plowed more than $1 billion into Facebook, Zynga and Groupon in the last two years. He has also drawn the Wall Street elite into this world, joining with Goldman Sachs for a $1.5 billion investment in Facebook.


Continue reading: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/the-money-network/?ref=venturecapital

My Mobile Tech Blog: http://matthewroszak.biz/

Chip Start-Up Joins With Russia In Memory Deal


A Silicon Valley chip start-up is teaming up with a Russian government investment fund on a $300 million manufacturing venture, a boost for a novel memory technology and the country’s efforts to become a center of electronics production.

Crocus Technology, a closely held company founded in 2006, is among a number of companies hoping to commercialize chips based on a technology called MRAM, for magnetoresistive random-access memory. The start-up and a state-owned entity known as Rusnano on Tuesday are expected to discuss plans to set up a company to build a factory in Russia that would make advanced versions of …

Continue reading: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281504576327493278458006.html?ru=yahoo&mod=yahoo_hs

Entrepreneurs Bemoan Flood of Tech Startups

The rise of billion-dollar valuations for marquee name companies like Facebook and Groupon has led to the inevitable question: Are we in the midst of a tech bubble?

Entrepreneurs at Business Insider’s Startup 2011 conference held Tuesday in New York expressed some trepidation about the current environment, voicing concern about the implications of too much money and too many companies flooding the market.

From photo sharing apps (InstagramColor), to Q&A sites (Quora and location-based mobile services (FoursquareGowalla), the sheer number of new start-ups launching each day can be dizzying to even the most tech savvy consumer.”I’m not concerned with whether or not this is a bubble … the real concern is what’s happening to people,” said Gina Bianchini, the former CEO of social network Ning. “[Even] early adopters are numb to new companies at this point and overwhelmed with the number of things they’re supposed to do within a given day across mobile and social technologies.”

The rise of so many new companies is being driven in large part by an improved fundraising environment and the need for venture firms put those dollars to work. U.S. venture funds raised more than $7 billion in the first quarter of 2011, up 76% from the year-ago period, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

“If you’re a venture investor, maybe you’re not overpaying for one company but there are 20 you’re overpaying for because they’re going to fail,” said Esther Dyson, a board member in several high profile start-ups including Meetup and Eventful. “We’ve got too much money going into too many deals.”

Continue reading: http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/story/11113902/1/entrepreneurs-bemoan-flood-of-tech-startups.html?cm_ven=YAHOO&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA

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Behind Closed Doors Of A VC Pitch: Here’s What Investors Are REALLY Thinking

Yesterday, a bunch of NYC startups visited General Catalyst Partners for 15 minutes to pitch their businesses.


We sat in on a few of the meetings and observed.  Some pitches were better than others, some ideas were more developed too.


It was hard to read Nitesh Banta of GCP while the pitches were going on.


But after a few, we could tell when an idea piqued his interest and when one was a dud.  In the better presentations, his questions were more product-specific. He wanted to see demos, learn about adoption, and hear about the trials and tribulations of the technologies presented.


Entrepreneurs that were more impressive came prepared with one-sheets, PowerPoints and demonstrations. When the founders attended Ivy-Leagues, had strong backgrounds in their businesses, or had been early employees at successful startups, those meetings were instantly more interesting too.


Naturally, the least captivating presentations involved unoriginal ideas. And when you’re pitched to constantly like Banta is, you see a lot of companies with similar concepts.  Entrepreneurs that came in with Groupon-like startups, for example, weren’t as captivating because the daily-deals sector is competitive, and it’s nearly been won.


“With Groupon being a billion-dollar valuation and LivingSocial raising $400 million, an entrepreneur would need to raise $100 million just to to compete against them,” Banta told us.


Banta favors ideas with a unique spin on current trends, especially when they can be easily monetized.  One woman presented a technology that matched the color in people’s pictures with suggested makeup, like foundation or eyeshadow. An idea like that, which puts an interesting twist on social picture sharing, could do well once it has been perfected.


Banta told us that typical VC pitches are longer that what we saw, and that yesterday’s pitches were more about getting advice than raising money.


Still, Banta gave us his honest opinion on the startups, and offered advice for how the entrepreneurs could have improved their pitches.


Some of his advice might surprise you:

  • In any given week, a VC firm will see around 100 pitches. Banta finds startups to meet with through trusted referrers. He also looks for ones that are theme-specific to his firm’s typical investments. Blind email pitches don’t tend to get on his radar.
  • When meeting a VC for the first time, talk about yourself first and your product second. Banta says he likes to know people’s backgrounds; it helps him figure out what drives each founder and makes them tick, which is often more important than the idea they’re pitching.
  • Entrepreneurs should be like game show hosts, says Banta. “They should be able to rile up the crowd and get them excited about the idea.”

Continue reading: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Behind-Closed-Doors-Of-A-VC-siliconalley-97348565.html?x=0

Future Venture Capital

Reuters) -
 (in billions of yen unless specified)
               Year ended      Year ended
               Mar 31, 2011    Mar 31, 2010
               LATEST          YEAR-AGO
               RESULTS         RESULTS   
 Sales                598 mln         652 mln
                 (-8.2 pct)     (-13.7 pct)
 Operating       loss 268 mln    loss 522 mln
 Recurring       loss 303 mln    loss 581 mln
 Net             loss 328 mln    loss 601 mln
 EPS           loss Y7,019.97 loss Y16,378.31
 Annual div                nil             nil
  -Q2 div                  nil             nil
  -Q4 div                  nil             nil
 NOTE - Future Venture Capital Co Ltd is a venture capital.
 If there is no Q1 or Q3 dividend, Q2 will in most cases
correspond to the first-half dividend and Q4 to the second-half
dividend announced before a new corporate law in 2006 allowed
companies to pay and report dividends on a quarterly basis.
 For latest earnings estimates made by Toyo Keizai, please
double click on 8462.TK1.

Continue reading: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/12/idUST124QLFQ920110512?feedType=RSS&feedName=financialsSector&rpc=43