Driving Display Startup Navdy Raises $20M to Start Commercial Production

Navdy has created a heads up display for cars that projects information from user smartphones onto windshields.
Navdy Inc.

Seeking to end the dangerous juggle many smartphone-wielding drivers do when navigating, reading email, texting and calling contacts, Navdy Inc. created a gadget that projects information from smartphones onto car windshields.

The startup, which quickly gained traction last year from investors and early adopters preordering its $299 gadget, has now closed a $20 million funding round. The infusion will be used to hire more engineers and move beyond the first production run and begin commercial manufacturing of the 5 inch-by-4 inch projectors later this year.

“If you look down for four seconds while going 60 miles per hour, you’ve just driven a football field blind. I’ve had those same moments during stop-and-go traffic as well,” said Navdy Founder and CEO Doug Simpson of the impetus for founding the startup in 2012.

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How to Refocus a Meeting After Someone Interrupts


You did everything you were supposed to do: Invited all the right people, sent out an agenda in advance, and got everyone’s agreement on the process. Despite your diligence, your meeting is being hijacked. How should you handle a persistent interrupter? Will it work to just ignore the person? And how can you get the meeting back on track?

What the Experts Say
Whether it’s a team member who disagrees with your approach, an employee from another department who brings up irrelevant information, or a colleague who wants to use your meeting as a soapbox for his own personal agenda, dealing with interrupters during a meeting is challenging. “It’s the workplace equivalent of having someone steal the parking spot you were aiming for or jumping ahead of you in the line at the grocery store,” says Judith White, visiting associate professor at the Tuck School of Business. “When someone

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The Daily Startup: Etsy’s IPO is the Largest for a N.Y.-Based Startup

Etsy has priced its initial public offering at the top end of the estimated range, raising about $267 million for the New York-based company, The Wall Street Journal’s Corrie Driebusch reports. The company sold 16.7 million shares at $16 per share. The offering puts the online marketplace at the top of the list for the most raised in an IPO by a New York-based venture-backed startup, according to industry tracker Dow Jones VentureSource.

Venture investors poured $4.8 billion into startups in New York State in 2014, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Last year, the state surpassed Massachusetts in total venture investment for the first time.

But despite the investment increase, the exits in New York have been muted aside from a limited number of large exits like Tumblr Continue reading "The Daily Startup: Etsy’s IPO is the Largest for a N.Y.-Based Startup"

Andreessen Horowitz Hires Former Facebook Lawyer to Help Its Startups

Ted Ullyot joins Andreessen Horowitz as Partner of Group Policy and Regulatory Affairs
Andreessen Horowitz

From vacation-rental and ride-hailing startups to aerial drones and bitcoin companies, clashes between tech innovators and regulators have exploded in recent years.

As entrepreneurs iterate, legislators have sought to regulate with the goal of protecting consumers–and some argue protecting incumbent interests. This has cost many startups significant time and money even as venture investors continue to back them in a bet that the companies ultimately will prevail.

Seeking to the help its portfolio companies better navigate legal gray areas, venture firm Andreessen Horowitz has hired former Facebook Inc. General Counsel Ted Ullyot to the newly created position of Partner of Group Policy and Regulatory Affairs.

The addition marks the continued expansion of the firm’s “extra services” with a head count that now outnumbers the investing partners by a ratio of more than four to one. Continue reading "Andreessen Horowitz Hires Former Facebook Lawyer to Help Its Startups"

Not Taking Risks Is the Riskiest Career Move of All


Mark was a survivor. Until he was fired in 2012, six months shy of his 50th birthday, he’d done everything right — rising through the ranks of the book publishing industry, from editorial assistant to associate editor to senior editor, then into management as an editor-in-chief. But as e-books and Amazon destabilized the industry, and waves of consolidation contracted available jobs, Mark (not his real name) admits today that he hadn’t “paid attention to the writing on the wall.” He confessed that he’d spent the 18 months prior to being fired living in denial as his team was reorganized. “Despite that,” he says, “I clung to my job rather than start thinking about how to leave. At that point, I couldn’t conceive of a life outside of the confines of corporate publishing, of not being at the center of the club I’d been a part of — and

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a16z Podcast: Regulation and the Sharing Economy


It has long been the case that technological change outpaces changes to policy and law. Beyond important safety measures, some regulations take the form of complex processes or workflows that simply don’t apply to startups doing different things. Or, that are prohibitive in cost, resources, and time for smaller companies (compared to much more established players).

For companies like Airbnb, Instacart, LocalMotion, Lyft, Teespring, Tilt, and others on the frontlines of the so-called ‘sharing economy’ — What’s working? What needs to be changed? This segment of the a16z Podcast shares founders’ perspectives and experiences [from a previously recorded roundtable conversation] on what startups need to be able to innovate in this (and other areas) in the current regulatory environment… Especially as software continues to eat the physical world!

Never Look A Gift Horse In the Mouth

That’s an old saying. But old sayings have a way of being true.  I remember doing that with out trades on the floor.  Sometimes, you’d have a trade that didn’t match up from the previous day, or even previous hour.  I’d have to make the opposite side of the trade good.  If I was trying to sell and my counter party was trying to sell, that could be a big error depending on the where the market was.  Most of the time, it was not good.  If I was wrong, I’d have to bust my position and assume their position.  If I had sold 100 contracts that would mean I was long (or now bought) 200!

On a computer screen, out trades don’t happen. But fat fingers do and I have had my share of them.  I recently had one when putting on a short term options position.  I have Continue reading "Never Look A Gift Horse In the Mouth"

3 Ways to Make Less Biased Decisions


Unconscious bias – judgments and behaviors toward others that we’re not aware of – is everywhere in our lives. And while this type of bias may seem less dangerous in the workplace than it may be on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., or in a courtroom, it still leads to racial injustice.

In March 2013, a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report identified “unconscious bias and perceptions about African Americans” as one of seven “major obstacles hindering equal opportunities for African Americans in the federal work force.”

In fact, simply having a name that sounds black can reduce the chance of you getting an interview, according to a study conducted by researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago. The research showed that this is true even at companies that are actively looking for diversity in hiring. Similar trends have been identified in virtually every aspect

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Can Nokia Reinvent Itself Again?


Nokia, today’s telecommunications networking company, has made corporate transformation into an art form. Established originally in 1865, as a paper mill, it became a public company in 1868. Over ensuing decades, the company expanded into an ever-more-bewildering array of product categories.

Often entering new categories through acquisition, at one point it made rubber boots and tires; telephone and power cables; even household products like toilet paper (I’ve seen them myself). But it was power generation that helped Nokia survive its first existential crisis: in the aftermath of World War I, the company threatened to go bankrupt and was acquired by a significant customer, Finnish Rubber Works, in order to maintain its power supply. (That’s where the rubber boots came from.)

In the following decades, the company operated as an industrial conglomerate, with different divisions operating more or less independently and without too much rhyme or reason under one roof

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Fidelity Backs Appirio for Crowdsourced Cloud Services

Appirio Inc. Chief Executive Chris Barbin
Appirio Inc.

Cloud-services provider Appirio Inc. has gathered $35 million so far in a new round led by Fidelity Management & Research Co., an arm of mutual-fund company Fidelity Investments.

Appirio is still talking to strategic investors and will leave the round open for a short time, co-founder and Chief Executive Chris Barbin told Venture Capital Dispatch. It hasn’t set a target for the fundraising.

Based in San Francisco, Appirio helps companies migrate to Salesforce.com , Workday and other cloud services, but it does so with a twist. It offers customers the option of subscribing to a self-service platform backed by a global online community of about 800,000 people who participate as a way of winning challenges and learning new technical skills.

For each customer, Appirio breaks down the job at hand into units of work, determining what parts Appirio has done Continue reading "Fidelity Backs Appirio for Crowdsourced Cloud Services"

Throwback Thursday: Etsy in 2007

This video was made to celebrate Etsy’s year in 2007. That was the third year the company was in business and the second year we were invested. I think this does an incredible job of showing what the secret sauce was that made Etsy what it is.

Hacking Immigration – The Global EIR Coalition

Our immigration reform system is broken. That isn't new news.

There is now a fix for high-skilled, immigration entrepreneurs that can be implemented TODAY with no legislation required. That is new news. And it has the potential to break through the political logjam.

Only 85,000 H1-B visas are normally issued each year to immigration entrepreneurs and high-skilled technology workers. This year, there were 233,000 applicants. Countless others don't bother applying and simply leave the country after collecting their MBAs and PhDs because the odds are so stacked against them.

With the Global EIR program, pioneered by Massachusetts and Colorado, a model has been developed for companies to partner with universities to allow entrepreneurs to become exempt from the stifling H1-B visa cap. Yesterday, the Massachusetts state legislature reaffirmed their support for the program, which was originally proposed by former Governor Deval Patrick and now has been endorsed by Governor Charlie

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Announcing the Global EIR Coalition

Yesterday morning, over scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with Jeff Bussgang of Flybridge Capital (he had yogurt), we talked about immigration reform and our broken immigration system. Both Jeff and I have been working hard on making it much easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to get visa’s to start their companies in the US. Both of us have been unsuccessful in our efforts at a national level. At the end of the discussion, we decided to start the Global EIR Coalition to open source our approach and try to help every state in the US implement a similar program.

Last year Jeff and a bunch of his friends in Massachusetts created the Massachusetts Global Entrepreneur in Residence pilot program. The MA GEIR was a brilliant approach to a state level solution to this problem. The MA group did extensive legal work on this and the MA legislature passed a bill for it

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Apple TV’s 15% Cut

Apple TV's 15% Cut:

Peter Kafka hears the Apple only takes a 15 percent cut on services that are signed up for via Apple TV (versus the 30 percent cut in the App Store):

But it’s even more interesting to think about Apple’s tiers of fees as we enter a world where lots of people are going to be selling Web video subscription products via platforms like Apple’s. Whether Apple is charging 15 percent or 30 percent a month, it’s giving distributors a much better deal than the 50 percent that pay TV providers usually charge premium networks like HBO. That makes the platform even more enticing to cable channels that are thinking about stepping outside of the traditional pay TV bundle — and it puts more pressure on the cable guys to sweeten the deals they already offer.

While there’s still quite a bit of debate over whether Continue reading "Apple TV’s 15% Cut"

Imax’s New Digital Camera

Imax's New Digital Camera:

Brent Lang notes that next year’s Captain America: Civil War will be the first movie to use the new Imax digital camera (developed with Arri):

The company still plans to be choosey about the caliber of director it allows to use its technology, but it should increase the number of films shot in the format to roughly one a financial quarter.
Imax remains committed to its 2D film cameras, and views the new digital camera as a complement to its existing offerings, not a replacement. The 2D camera, however, is more compact and easier to use than its film equivalent.

This should only propel Imax farther into the cinematic landscape. They’re perhaps the most interesting companion the industry right now.

Referral Programs Power the On-Demand Economy

Every on-demand app I know generates substantial volume from their referral program (let’s lump word-of-mouth into this as well since it often involves sharing a referral code). You know the “sign up a friend, they get $x off their first use and you get $x too.” I can tell you that Shyp’s referral program drives a significant amount of high value signups at an effective CAC much lower than app promotion on Facebook (and the Facebook, Twitter programs are still ROI positive).

If one can assume that referral programs are ultimately rational spend – that is, the programs are sustainable and aim to generate acquisition of a customer worth more than the freebies given to both the new customer and the referrer – then referral program terms actually tell you a lot about the margins, frequency of use and LTV of each market.

For example, Uber – with what I

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What does Google need on mobile?

I generally look at Google as a vast machine learning engine that’s been stuffed with data for a decade and a half. Everything that Google does is about reach for that underlying engine - reach to get data in and reach to surface it out. The legacy web search is just one expression of that, and so is the search advertising, and so are Gmail and Maps -  they’re all built onto that underlying asset. 

Hence, most of the experiments that Google has launched over the years are best seen as tests to see if they fit this model. Can you apply a vast expertise in understanding data, large numbers of computer scientists and data scientists, lots of infrastructure and a model of total automation and get something interesting and useful - can you get massive amounts of new data in, can you do something unique with it, and Continue reading "What does Google need on mobile?"

In Latest Deals Brazilian Investor Kaszek Ventures Doubles Down On Women Entrepreneurs

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 5.38.07 PM Latin American investors Kaszek Ventures have kicked off 2015 with back-to-back investments in startups founded and run by Brazilian women — Dress & Go, a luxury apparel rental site, and Love Mondays, an employer review site. Previously, Kaszek had only one female-founded company in their portfolio of 28 — OQVestir, a Brazilian luxury ecommerce site that closed a Series A in 2011. Read More

The Least Useful Slide In The Pitch Deck Is…

…the market size slide.

My sense is most entrepreneurs feel like they have to have a $1B+ market size for investors to get interested.  And, then the more aggressive entrepreneurs, knowing that everyone else has at least a $1B+ market size, come in with the $5B-$10B+ market sizes.  The means to arrive at these numbers is usually to take a generous number of possible customers and multiply that times a large spend per customer to equate to the multi-billion dollar “addressable market size“.  Others might site 3rd party data sources which is intended to lend credibility to the analysis, but which are largely derived by the same methodology.  It’s this approach to market size analysis which I don’t find particularly useful and can generate a false sense of comfort if you actually believe it.

When I’m looking at a prospective investment in a company,

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The Digital Laboratory Notebook for Life Sciences, Now Starting at Free – BY BALAJI SRINIVASAN

Life scientists currently spend more than 180 billion dollars every year to generate precious research results. Yet they don’t spend anywhere near as much effort on making the results of that research reproducible, searchable, and machine-readable. This results in needless waste and duplication; to paraphrase the famous saying, “Half the money we spend on research is repeated; the trouble is we don’t know which half.”

The classic solution has been the physical laboratory notebook. However, in an era of geographically distributed conglomerates, massive biomedical datasets, and increasingly computerized workflows, we will not attain reproducible research through good note-taking alone. We need modern tools.

That’s where Sajith Wickramasekara and Ashutosh Singhal of Benchling come in. They’ve built a suite of apps, centered around a digital laboratory notebook, that help life scientists design, run, record, and search the results of their very expensive experiments. Built by their team of fellow MIT engineers, Benchling’s technology has already been adopted by thousands of scientists across both industry and academia, and has a serious chance at becoming to biomedicine what GitHub has become to software engineering.

To understand the problem they are solving, it’s useful to review the state of data in the life sciences. Current systems separate each type of data scientists use into its own silo, making recreating the full context and results of an experiment impossible. The tools are poorly designed and don’t take advantage of the web, making sharing data difficult and wasting expensive researcher time on searching for old work or redoing known results. Imagine a software engineering team working without version control and you’ll have a sense of the status quo for most life science labs.

Benchling changes all that with a multipart offering for scientists that is, as of today, free for general use. The Benchling suite begins with single-purpose tools for cloning, gels, colony picking, primer design, and more. All of these different apps are connected to the scientist’s electronic lab notebook in the cloud. For the first time, the place where scientists do work is connected to where the work is recorded. Every action in Benchling is tracked, versioned, and can be retraced in the future. Instead of a paper notebook, scientists record observations and notes inline with the actual work they are doing, and can search across all of their lab’s current and historical information.

The result has been a crowd pleaser in the life sciences. Scientists love it because it’s well designed and unifies many disparate tools in one interface. Managers love it because they get visibility into what their scientists are doing. And executives love the sophisticated archival functionality as it helps organizations capture and preserve institutional knowledge such that when people leave the

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