San Quentin, Tech Incubator

The Last Mile is the first program to teach prisoners about tech entrepreneurship in a U.S. prison, according to its founders.
Georgia Wells for The Wall Street Journal

Sam Hearnes used to be a gang member. Now he’s pitching a startup to venture capitalists. From inside California’s San Quentin State Prison.

On a recent sunny day 20 miles north of San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood–home to many of the region’s tech startups–Hearnes cleared his throat before a crowd of investors. “If your child went missing today, law enforcement would not be able to rally people instantly,” he said. But in the case of abductions, “time is what makes the difference between life and death.”

Inmates are motivated to join The Last Mile in part because they worry about their job prospects upon release.
Georgia Wells for The
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Chris Dixon Is Coming To Disrupt NY To Talk About All The Weird Shit He’s Investing In

chris-dixon Today we’re pleased to announce that Chris Dixon, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, will be joining us at Disrupt NY. This is great news, and let me tell you why. Usually venture capitalists are pretty boring. They generally wear khakis while on the hunt for whatever the next Uber-for-X or Airbnb-for-Y will be. They know what all the hot new messaging apps are, and have… Read More

The Best Interview I have done in a long, long time

one of the challenges of doing a lot of interviews is that inevitably I am asked different versions of the same questions over and over again.  For the first time in a long time I can say I actually got asked unique questions that put a smile on my face. They were short. Simple. To the point.  They were perfect for the reporters audience.

Shockingly I had never been asked any of them before.

Here it is

​Dear Mr. Cuban,

My name is Mauricio Vazquez. Today you visited Medrano Middle School to talk to over 100 business students (thank you by the way). I’m a reporter for the school newspaper and we would be incredibly thankful if you could answer a few questions for an interview. If you choose to do so, the segment would be featured in the April issue. Please answer the following questions in however many words you feel is

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VCs Should Be Careful While Riding Unicorns, Says Funds Manager FLAG

Venture capitalists who are busy chasing unicorns, or companies with valuations of $1 billion or more, shouldn’t lose sight of the need to manage their overall portfolios, says fund-of-funds manager FLAG Capital Management.

While this advice might seem obvious on the surface, managers of venture funds face immense pressure to keep betting on potentially huge winners rather than cashing in some chips to boost fund performance in the short run.

FLAG examined its portfolio of funds and found that slightly more than a quarter of funds with unicorns have at least recovered the cost of  investments they made in highly valued deals.

Believing that the best venture capitalists make great investments and excel at portfolio management, FLAG assembled a presentation reminding general partners of the importance of the latter.

It did so against the backdrop of marked improvement in venture returns since 2009, driven by plenty of initial public offerings

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This a computer the size of a grain of rice.

This a computer the size of a grain of rice.

Stanza (formerly SpotOn.it) pulls in $4.3M for smart Add-to-Calendar button

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Don’t you love that little “Add to calendar” button? You just click it from an event announcement or invite, and it automatically puts the event information on your calendar. No cutting and pasting needed.

Redwood City, California-based Stanza, formerly known as SpotOn.it, is taking the add-to-calendar button to the next level.

The startup’s Add-To-Calendar button can integrate with any calendar client (Google, iCal, Outlook, Exchange, etc.). But it does some tricks that older, static calendar buttons can’t do.

Stanza’s button can:

Design a Work-Life Improvement Pilot Project

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Imagine you’re standing in front of a heaping buffet, featuring all of your favorite foods. What’s your plan of attack? Do you squeeze one tiny bite of everything onto your plate? Eat so much you make yourself sick? Become overwhelmed by the options and come away dissatisfied, no matter what you choose?

Opportunities – both at work and in the rest of life – are like that overloaded sideboard. Everything looks delicious, but we can’t eat it all (though we might try). We have to be more intentional and deliberate.

Just as food fuels your body, having a life outside of work fuels on-the-job performance. But while performance goals are always top of mind for managers, many overlook the role of employee work-life balance in driving that performance.

Let’s be honest. Historically, companies have not treated work-life balance as a strategic imperative. They haven’t acknowledged the stress and overwhelm

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LinkedIn & Zynga & a tale of two hired guns

Sean Gourley, who cofounder Quid is one of my favorite people and we often catch up for a coffee and an unstructured conversations about virtualky anything, though often it is about data and its role in our contemporary lives. Yesterday, however we met to commiserate about the respective spankings our cricket teams received at the hands of Australia— he is a Kiwi. Both our teams had over achieved in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, and most of it was due to successful leadership and a clear and precise game plan.

New Zeland were all passion and aggression. India was logic and utilization of resources that are long on reputation but short on real world performance. This lead to our conversation meandering into the issues of management. We have both had our fair share of experiences and observations on this topic. There isn’t a shortage of management advice out there. And

mattrick_zynga
Jeffweiner
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Business Can Help End Child Labor

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I have always been fascinated by the question: How can for-profit corporations innovate to solve the world’s toughest challenges? My passion for this topic was formed at a very early age. Growing up in India, I realized that the country has too few resources to confront its many challenges; the only way India can hope to solve its problems is through innovation. I therefore committed my professional career to research how to make innovations happen. For instance, I challenged businesses to design a $300 house for the poor.

Recently another seemingly intractable problem — but one that businesses could eradicate — came to my attention. This past winter, I had the distinct honor of meeting activist Kailash Satyarthi, the co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. The occasion was the Tuck Global Leadership 2030 executive education program, which took place in Chennai, India, and Satyarthi was the distinguished guest.

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How to Negotiate Nicely Without Being a Pushover

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We all want it both ways: to get what we want from a tough negotiation and to walk away with our relationship intact. The good news is that kind of outcome is possible. But how exactly do you drive a hard bargain while also employing soft skills? How do you advocate for what you want without burning important bridges?

What the Experts Say
A negotiation is “a courtship, a dance,” says Michael Wheeler, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World. “But you don’t have to compromise and settle for less in order to maintain good relations.” Jeff Weiss, a partner at Vantage Partners, a Boston-based consultancy specializing in corporate negotiations and relationship management, and author of the HBR Guide to Negotiatingagrees. People think they either have to be nice in order to spare

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Why the Gettysburg Address Is Still a Great Case Study in Persuasion

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Today marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War, a war that began on April 12, 1861. It was just a month after the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln. He had not won a majority vote – far from it. He’d only won about 40% of the popular vote, and some states didn’t even put him on the ballot. He only scraped a victory thanks to a very close four-way race. But despite this unlikely beginning during turbulent times, Lincoln went on to become one of the country’s most revered presidents, and one of its best orators. His best-known speech is, of course, the Gettysburg Address. It’s often studied for its rhetoric, and deservedly so – there are gems of psychological persuasion hidden throughout.

But there’s good advice for all communicators in just the first sentence. In that opening line alone, Lincoln delivers four distinct psychological strategies designed to persuade and influence

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The Most Common Mistake People Make In Calculating ROI

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Your company is ready to make a big purchase — a fleet of cars, a piece of manufacturing equipment, a new computer system. But before anyone writes a check, you need to calculate the return on investment (ROI) by comparing the expected benefits with the costs. Analyzing ROI isn’t always as simple as it sounds and there’s one mistake that many managers make: confusing cash and profit.

This is an important distinction because if you mistake profit for cash in your ROI calculations, you’re likely to show a far better return that you can expect in reality. So keep in mind: Profit is not the same thing as cash.

Sure, you may know this already, but people who haven’t studied finance often find this statement confusing. If a company earns a $500,000 profit in a calendar year, shouldn’t it have $500,000 more in the bank on December 31 than it

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20 VC 026: Chris Redlitz on The Importance of People, Pivoting and The Last Mile

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Chris Redlitz is Managing Partner at Transmedia Capital, an early stage venture fund specializing in digital media. Their portfolio includes the likes of Snapchat, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook, just to name a few. Chris also Co-Founded The Last Mile with his wife Beverly, a program that integrates the nation’s penal system with the technology business. Prior to Transmedia and The Last Mile, Chris launched the first online independent yellow page directory, automated coupon platform and content syndication system. As a result, he received Ad Age’s prestigious i20 award for his contributions to the development of interactive marketing and advertising.

Items Mentioned in Today’s Show:

In today’s Continue reading "20 VC 026: Chris Redlitz on The Importance of People, Pivoting and The Last Mile"

20 VC 026: Chris Redlitz on The Importance of People, Pivoting and The Last Mile

Chris Redlitz is Managing Partner at Transmedia Capital, an early stage venture fund specializing in digital media. Their portfolio includes the likes of Snapchat, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook, just to name a few. Chris also Co-Founded The Last Mile with his wife Beverly, a program that integrates the nation’s penal system with the technology business. Prior to Transmedia and The Last Mile, Chris launched the first online independent yellow page directory, automated coupon platform and content syndication system. As a result, he received Ad Age's prestigious i20 award for his contributions to the development of interactive marketing and advertising.

Items Mentioned in Today's Show:

In today’s Episode Continue reading "20 VC 026: Chris Redlitz on The Importance of People, Pivoting and The Last Mile"

Wearing Luxury Brands Makes You Seem More Qualified for the Job

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Imagine this: You’re interviewing two people for a job. They’re equally competent, capable, and qualified—but you can see that one is wearing an outfit from H&M and the other’s clothes are clearly from Louis Vuitton. Which candidate will you hire?

A new study in the Journal of Business Research suggests you’re more likely to choose the latter. Surveying students at a large urban university in Seoul, South Korea, researchers from Yonsei University and Coastal Carolina University examined how we react to others depending on the brands they’re wearing. To do so, they tested several scenarios of someone wearing a luxury brand logo, a logo from a non-luxury brand, or no logo. They found that in nearly every situation, people gave preferential treatment to the person wearing the luxury logo.

The researchers call this effect an example of costly signaling theory, which says that people show off to “signal” to others that they can afford

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ApplePie Capital Raises Funding to Serve Up Lending for Franchises

ApplePie Capital co-founder and Chief Executive Denise Thomas
ApplePie Capital

As online lending platforms gain momentum in the financial world, new startup ApplePie Capital Inc. told Venture Capital Dispatch it raised $6 million in Series A funds for its service. It also received $28 million as a pool of debt capital to use for issuing loans.

The San Francisco-based company offers an alternative source of loans for a particular type of small business, franchisees, which represents around $500 billion of U.S. gross domestic product annually.

Borrowers can come to its website and get loans quickly and on good terms, while lenders can find good returns, according to Denise Thomas, ApplePie’s co-founder and chief executive.

Signia Venture Partners led the Series A round, and was joined by Freestyle Capital and QED Investors, which is a backer of several online lending platforms, such as Prosper Marketplace Inc. and LendUp. These investors Continue reading "ApplePie Capital Raises Funding to Serve Up Lending for Franchises"

The Daily Startup: Maven Clinic Launches Women’s Telemedicine Apps

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

As health-care companies come under increased pressure to offer effective care at a lower cost, there are more and more services to connect patients and practitioners outside of the office. Maven Clinic is launching this week with $2 million in funding for its telemedicine services, Timothy Hay reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. But unlike other companies that offer medical consultations over video, the startup’s services focus on telemedicine for women’s health, including issues related to fertility, pregnancy and postpartum care. The company has one application aimed at obstetricians and other women’s health-care providers, and another app for consumers. The funding was provided by Great Oaks Venture Capital, Box Group, Female Founders Fund and angel investors, Chief Executive Katherine Ryder said.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Nabriva Therapeutics has amassed $120 million in funding commitments to drive a novel bacterial-pneumonia therapy toward regulatory approval. An Continue reading "The Daily Startup: Maven Clinic Launches Women’s Telemedicine Apps"