Transparent Funding Announcements

We are in a cycle again where how much you raise is the story. It’s what the press likes to write about (e.g. Company X raised Y from A, B, and C). Now that everyone is overly focused on unicorns, the headline number on the valuation (e.g. Company X raised Y at a valuation of Z from A, B, and C) has crept into the story on big rounds.

While this makes for press release fodder and ego gratification, it’s of very little use to entrepreneurs. There’s no real story there. No understanding of the human dynamics behind the financing. No understand of what actually went down. No underlying metrics that drive the financing. No real perspective on how people thought about things and the choices they made. Just happy talk focusing on the dollar raised. Zero educational value around anything.

Recently, the gang at SalesLoft told the detailed

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Earnings During the Trading Session

Yesterday, Twitter ($TWTR) made a mistake by releasing their earnings numbers before they were supposed to.  The stock dropped off a cliff.  Twitter will have to look at their internal processes to see where mistakes were made, but I don’t think that it’s such a bad thing to release earnings during the trading day.

They release economic statistics inside of the trading day.  I think releasing earnings during the trading day allows for markets to correct faster.  As soon as information is released publicly, it gets priced into a stock.

This creates different incentives for traders.  Theoretically, the information is private.  Releasing it during the trading day makes it tougher to game the information for inside trading.  If an inside trader knows in advance, they can build a position and use a lot of leverage to take advantage of their inside knowledge.  Yesterday in the aftermath of the Twitter earnings, Continue reading "Earnings During the Trading Session"

How to Look for Emotional Intelligence on Your Team

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Of all the ways to test for emotional intelligence, the marshmallow test might be my favorite. You put a child in a room, set one marshmallow in front of her and explain that, if she’s able to wait 10 minutes before eating it, she’ll get an extra marshmallow to enjoy. Then you leave her alone.

If the child can hold off, it means she has is able to self-regulate — a key component of emotional intelligence. And, as psychologist Walter Mischel has famously shown, this translates into long-term benefits. Kids who delayed gratification at age four grew up to be more organized, efficient, dependable, resilient, and successful teenagers and adults.

Of course, this test only works on small children; few adults would have trouble resisting the first marshmallow. And it measures only one aspect of EI. As Daniel Goleman explained in his landmark article on the topic, when assessing

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Breaking News: Flare – Up and to the Right….

Today we announce both a new brand and a new fund. While we liked our prior name – Foundation Medical Partners – it was time to refresh our presence in the market. A few other venture firms use the word “Foundation” in their names and there was chronic confusion with Foundation Medicine, a very exciting diagnostics company. Additionally, we don’t do “Medical” but rather invest in healthcare technology companies, both software and service business models. But we do very much like “Partners” thus the new brand – drum roll, please – Flare Capital Partners.

The word “flare” evokes important associations with energy, momentum – up and to the right. Flares light the way, are bursts of intense flame, they light up what is dark. We love the imagery and think it is powerful.

Separately but related, we are also announcing our new fund – Flare Capital Partners I. This $200

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Powerful Chart Data For Investors

There are a lot of places to find information on the web.  I find a lot of it is spammy and junky.  One of the great features about Ycharts is that it’s so clean and easy to use.  It’s hard enough to find insights with all the noise in the news these days, Ycharts helps cut through all the bull.

I was one of the first investors in Ycharts.  Back then, the charts were great, but at that stage it’s really about the team.  Shawn Carpenter was a jockey that you could bet on.  He is still CEO.  They recently closed another round of financing.

It’s tremendously hard to raise money.  You can read many stories about it on the web.  But, if you perform after you raise, whenever you decide to raise again the process is relatively painless.  Ycharts is in that situation.

They have built a great business. Continue reading "Powerful Chart Data For Investors"

Tech M&A — Where’s the Growth Investment? – With Scott Kupor and Jamie McGurk

 

Technology M&A isn’t at the scale nor of the character you would expect given the overall health of the technology industry and the growth companies and public markets are experiencing. What’s missing is a robust market for growth acquisitions — the companies building and selling the next wave of technology — argues a16z Managing Partner Scott Kupor. So what’s going on? Why are dollars flowing into buybacks and dividends in the past year-plus rather than growth-oriented acquisitions? What is putting the brakes on M&A for incumbent tech companies? And when will the newer crop of public tech companies — companies like Workday, ServiceNow and Splunk — fire up M&A as part of their corporate strategy? Jamie McGurk, head of corporate development at a16z, joins Kupor for this segment of the pod, which examines today’s M&A climate and what’s coming next.

Why Some Men Pretend to Work 80-Hour Weeks

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In many professional jobs, expectations that one be an “ideal worker”—fully devoted to and available for the job, with no personal responsibilities or interests that interfere with this commitment to work—are widespread. We often think of problems with these expectations as women’s problems. But men too may struggle with them: my research at a top strategy consulting firm, first published in Organization Science, revealed that many men experienced these expectations as difficult to fulfill or even distasteful. To be sure, some men seemed to happily comply with the firm’s expectations, working long hours and traveling constantly, but a majority were dissatisfied. They complained to me of children crying when they missed their soccer games, of poor health and substance addictions caused by how they worked, and of a general sense of feeling “overworked and underfamilied.”

Many of these men acted on their feelings, finding different ways to resist

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The days are long but the decades are short

I turned 30 last week and a friend asked me if I'd figured out any life advice in the past decade worth passing on.  I'm somewhat hesitant to publish this because I think these lists usually seem hollow, but here is a cleaned up version of my answer:


1) Never put your family, friends, or significant other low on your priority list.  Prefer a handful of truly close friends to a hundred acquaintances.  Don’t lose touch with old friends.  Occasionally stay up until the sun rises talking to people.  Have parties.

2) Life is not a dress rehearsal—this is probably it.  Make it count.  Time is extremely limited and goes by fast.  Do what makes you happy and fulfilled—few people get remembered hundreds of years after they die anyway.  Don’t do stuff that doesn’t make you happy (this happens most often when other people want Continue reading "The days are long but the decades are short"

Why we invested $25,000 in Signpost in 2010 — and $500,000 today!

Back in 2010 the hottest startup on the planet was Groupon. It was growing revenues faster than anyone had ever seen, certainly faster than Google and Facebook.

Everyone you know had two or three Groupons they were waiting to redeem, and Living Social was booming as well. The country was beat up by the financial crisis, and many thought it was the “end of days.”

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Startups were taking a beating. In fact, they were unfundable and the great startups were raising their angel rounds at a $3-4m pre-money valuation.

At that time I decided I would invest in a few companies, and my first cohort included Signpost (then Postabon), Backupify, Chartbeat, Thumbtack, and Uber.

Now, back then you could only pitch to angels if you paid to do so. I found that so infuriating that I started something called the Open Angel Forum. [ You can read a post from Rob May of Backupify about that night, held at Matt Coffin’s old house. ]

The companies I mentioned above all pitched at the various OAFs around the country — for free of course.

Stu got up and pitched his vision for a crowdsourced Groupon called Postabon — as in ‘post a good thing’ — and it was such a horrible name!

To give you an idea of how long ago this investment took place, well, peep at the hysterical looking phones on the Postabon landing page — that’s the original iPhone!!!

Postabon Homepage

However, the product looked really slick and Stu presented it well. I remember thinking to myself, “I have no idea if that will work, but this guy is executing at a high-level and he sure is passionate about it.”

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How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill

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Anyone trying to come up to speed on emotional intelligence would have a pretty easy time of it since the concept is remarkably recent, and its application to business newer still. The term was coined in 1990 in a research paper by two psychology professors, John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale. Some years later, Mayer defined it in HBR this way:

From a scientific (rather than a popular) standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions. It doesn’t necessarily include the qualities (like optimism, initiative, and self-confidence) that some popular definitions ascribe to it.

It took almost a decade after the term was coined for Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman to establish the importance of emotional intelligence to business leadership.  In 1998, in what

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Old Management Systems Stifle New Business Models

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Ask anyone in technology. Sometime soon, the world around us will be smart. Everything from mugs to mailboxes will be context-aware. Our email inboxes will guide us to the highest priority action items. Online investment portals will automatically advise us to optimize our tax returns with the accuracy of the best financial advisor.

Despite the inevitability of this “smart” future, today only a small portion of businesses regularly merge data and physical products. Most large companies struggle to get the most out of the vast amounts of data they’ve collected. That’s because even after they determine the right ways to use information to delight their customers, managers must address one equally important challenge.

They must update decades-old management systems so they can embrace new digital opportunities.

In this article we will present three ways that information-based

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Investing in Deep Learning: Clarifai

Today’s blog post is over at USV.com announcing our investment in Clarifai, a deep learning company based in New York City. I have written a fair bit about machine learning and artificial intelligence here on Continuations. We have made a number of investments in this area already including HumanDX and Sift Science. I believe that we are at the beginning of an extraordinary expansion of the possible. And I am thrilled to be supporting another effort with Clarifai.

Why – and How – to Hire Young People Without Diplomas

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When an executive at global services firm UBS Americas challenged trainees to design a cost-saving strategy, one young woman proposed that the company install software that puts a computer into sleep mode after a period of inactivity. This idea was calculated to save up to $400,000 a year for every 1,000 computers and the practice was quickly adopted.

The trainee, who didn’t have a college degree, saved the firm hundreds of thousands of dollars. As remarkable as this is, it isn’t an isolated example. Indeed, in our interviews for the study “Making Youth Employment Work,” conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we heard story after story of revenue increases, cash savings, and tangible workforce improvements that smart companies are realizing by tapping into the potential of workers who are 16–24 years old.

Corporate leaders told us that employing young adults is not a

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WPP, Scripps Networks Invest in Refinery29

Refinery29, the fast-growing fashion and lifestyle website, has raised $50 million in Series D funding from advertising conglomerate WPP and Scripps Networks Interactive.

The company, which will host its “NewFront” presentation for advertisers on Wednesday, said it will use the funding to expand internationally, develop its video and entertainment offerings, and bring its content and technology to the mobile and social web.

Millennial-focused Refinery29 has now raised $80 million in funding to date.  The company said it has nearly doubled in growth in each of the last three years and is profitable. It has expanded into other content areas such s politics, culture, food and technology.

“We are focused on vastly expanding our media and entertainment brand, creating smart, provocative editorial, video, and social content at the intersection of style, culture, and independence,” said Refinery29′s co-founder and co-CEO  Philippe von Borries in a statement.

WPP’s investment in Refinery29 was made through Continue reading "WPP, Scripps Networks Invest in Refinery29"

How You Make Decisions Is as Important as What You Decide

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Conventional thinking has suggested that leadership positions go to those who aggressively plan their careers with a keen eye for building the right skills to reach top jobs. Others believe that leaders are born, not made. But according to research one of us (Julia) conducted for her book Pivot Points, the key differentiator between the career arc of someone who becomes a successful business leader and the average person is consistency in how the person makes major decisions.

In-depth one-on-one interviews with five recognized leaders who have been operating CEOs in five different industries—PR (Al Golin), health care (Glen Tullman), finance (John Rogers), social enterprise (Dale Dawson), and marketing (Bud Frankel)—revealed that their leadership development occurred in a process far more organic than career planning. Each one made a number of pivotal decisions with unwaveringly strong accountability and ingenuity that

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Selling GE Capital Was Both a Brave and a Good Idea

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Steven Moore

Imagine that you have a business with two business units. And for the sake of simplicity let’s say that business unit A is in financial services and all its offerings have an 80% ROI, and business unit B is in manufacturing and all its offerings earn a 20% ROI.

It turns out that unit A is only five years old and unit B is 100 years old. But in only five years, because of the accumulated 80% ROI rolling in year after year, unit A is already two-thirds as big as unit B in terms of profits.

Then, suppose we are in the month of December, and like every month of December, management meets to decide where to invest the budget for next year. Where do you think most of the money will go to? Obviously, to unit A, because it’s very hard to justify both internally and

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The Daily Startup: Validic Tracks Down $12.5 Million to Gather Medical Data

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A rising number of fitness trackers and devices inside doctors’ offices are capturing an increasing amount of information about patients. But collecting that data in one place and delivering it a way that is easy for health professionals to gain insight has been tricky so far. To do this type of gathering of information and repackaging, Motivation Science, which does business as Validic, has raised $12.5 million in Series B funding. The company said that many other companies don’t actually gather the data, but rather provide an analysis of information that a user feeds into a service. Validic’s funding included Kaiser Permanente Ventures, the venture arm of Kaiser Permanente, which also is one of the company’s largest customers. other investors include SJF Ventures and Greycroft Partners.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Celgene is exercising an option to acquire Quanticel Pharmaceuticals Continue reading "The Daily Startup: Validic Tracks Down $12.5 Million to Gather Medical Data"