Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Technology Venture: FACEBOOK

Company Summary and History
Facebook is an online social engagement platform that allows individuals manage social relationships and meet new people. It was set up in February 2004 by four Harvard Students originally under the name “thefacebook” as a network for Harvard Students. It quickly grew popular and grew to include support for photos and other colleges and high schools. By 2006, it was made open to anybody with an email address. Facebook ranks as the second most trafficked website in the world as of November 2010 with more than half a billion registered users and over 40 billion views per month.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Diary of a Start-Up: The First Negativity

It had to happen at one point or another. A problem of being educated and looking at developing a start-up is the potential opportunity cost. Take my fiancée for example who is rapidly becoming one of Accenture’s most valuable employees. She is leading a team three years before she should and knows that if she stays on the path she has chosen she will be making six figures well before the time she is 30. She’s a shining light towards tenacity and commitment to a corporate and the rewards it can bring if you play the game correctly. I’m incredibly lucky to have her but not sure she’s so lucky to be with me!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Diary of a Start-Up: Choosing a partner

Having worked in Venture Capital origination, I have been fortunate to grow a fairly reasonable network. I have come to the obvious realisation that I need to look at pulling a team together. The notion that each man is an island is nonsense – no business can get off the ground with the inputs of just one person. Selecting a partner is an incredibly tricky business. Do they have the right experience, do they have a solid background, are they progressive thinking, optimistic... the list is endless. But when it comes down to it, like most things in life, you often know the answer to your own question before asking it.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Diary of a Start-Up: Pushing the concept into reality

Having researched fairly extensively online, I couldn’t find a similar business that fused all of the elements that will potentially make this business a success. That is fantastic news and it’s a good feeling to know that the idea is progressing.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Diary of a Start-Up: Mulling over the concept

Having a good idea is like when you see the girl of your dreams on a train – your heart rate quickens and you get that butterfly feeling in the pit of your stomach (maybe that’s just me though!). When your lighbulb goes off, everything seems possible – you will make the business grow, attract a huge customer base, create jobs, create a company culture, become profitable – sell the business and retire to Monaco! All of those thoughts and more flash through your mind in a micro-second and then it hits you – this is JUST an idea. It’s likely that 1,000 other people have the exact same idea and are at the exact same stage as you – in a nutshell – nowhere.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

WhatsApp!!

There are not many technologies that I immediately "get". Even in my more impressionable years, one had to struggle to convince me that a platform was relevant. Take peer-to-peer file-sharing for instance. That band-wagon was jumped on by all my peers worth their salt but I resisted. Many iterations later, we have the torrent sites and god-knows-what out there that enable copyright theft. All fun and games if you do not mind the occasional censure from your local authority or the trojan file embedded onto your system.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Diary of a Start-Up: An idea is born

The tech world can often get carried away with itself, future proofing this, mitigating that and has been prone to look forward in my opinion, too progressively. Over innovation has been the downfall of many a venture – sometimes a concept can be just too ‘out there’ no matter in reality, how great it really is.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Technology Venture: EVENTBRITE

Company Summary and History
Kevin Hartz, Julia Hartz and Renaud Visage founded Eventbrite, formerly known as MollyGuard, launching it in 2006 as Eventbrite. The San Francisco-based company is a “social commerce” company specialising in small to medium sized live events and experiences. Eventbrite helps its event organisers manage events online, ticket sales, credit card payments and registrations.

Friday, 30 July 2010

VC Factsheet: ATOMICO VENTURES

Company Summary and History
Atomico Ventures is a London-based venture capital firm that was founded in 2006 by Niklas Zennstromm and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype, after the 3.1 billion USD sale of Skype to Ebay. The firm invests in seed to early stage web-based businesses that target consumers or small to medium sized businesses. Atomico Ventures I funded 17 companies spanning a wide range of sectors including last.fm, Heysan and Technorati. Atomico Ventures II, a 165 million USD fund launched in March 2010 is to invest in seed to early stage businesses with a preference for those located in Europe.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Email Security

A number of recent security breaches spring to mind ranging from Apple’s iLeak to a series of Google’s own security breaches. This is reassuring as it offers one a chance to reflect on their security and at least know one is not alone in their fight against “virtual pharmacists, financial propositions from Nigerian princes and pictures from dodgy sites [1]” and the more recent and ever so apt “part-time job” applications with surreptitiously attached 100KB zipped files. Who really has a CV that long?! But we digress.

Monday, 19 July 2010

VC Factsheet: GOOGLE VENTURES

Company Summary + History
Google Ventures, the venture capital arm of Google, was launched late March 2009 and although a newcomer to the venture capital space packs an arsenal of fire-power, namely an established name, proven business processes and capabilities in the technology sector.

According to the technology portal Mass High Tech Google Ventures plans to invest approximately 100 million USD each year with a yearly deal activity of 30-40 deals while pursuing ‘a stage- and industry-agnostic strategy’. According to the same source ‘the venture arm will seek financial profit from its investments and not filter companies based on their strategic importance to the parent company’. The fund presently focuses geographically to companies in North America. Google Ventures is overseen by David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer while investments vetting will be led by Bill Maris and Rich Miner.

Friday, 9 July 2010

VC Factsheet: KLEINER PERKINS CAUFIELD & BYERS (KPCB)

Company summary & history
Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB), widely known as KP, is one of the most successful venture capital firms in the world. KPCB has offices in Beijing and Shanghai, but is headquartered in Menlo Park, California. It is one of the first firms to have its founders, Kleiner and Perkins, from non-financial backgrounds when they set up the first fund in 1972. In 1982 they raised 150 million USD,

Monday, 5 July 2010

Technology Venture: Skype

Company summary & history
Skype Limited (the company that operates the Skype platform) was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis with headquarters in Luxembourg. The first beta version was released in August 2003. Skype was purchased by ebay in October 2005, and the following year the number of users reached 100 million. In March 2009 Skype launched SIP for business users. In the third quarter of 2009, there were 521 million Skype user accounts, and Skype Limited's revenue reached 185 million USD.

Key people
Niklas Zennström – Swedish entrepreneur and investor. He co-founded several high-profile ventures including Skype and Kazaa, and

Friday, 2 July 2010

UK 2010 (Emergency) Budget: Impact on SMEs, Investors and Entrepreneurs

Conservativism is associated with smaller government and reduced state-dependance, which, coupled with classical liberal beliefs in market forces and privatisation, would probably make one expect the coalition's Emergency Budget to have a positive impact on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), investors and entrepreneurs. Despite the government's claim that the British economy is a prolific environment to harness and expand enterprise, it seems that last week's Budget's token gestures to the small-business community has fallen short of providing genuinely far-reaching concessions.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

VC Factsheet: SEQUOIA CAPITAL

Company summary & history
Sequoia is a Venture Capital firm founded in 1972 by Donald Valentine. It has funded a large number of very successful companies including Google, Yahoo and Paypal. Just under 15 percent of NASDAQ’s value is made up of companies that Sequoia has funded. They invest in seed, early and growth stage companies in all sectors with a focus on services, software, systems, and components. It has offices in the USA, India, Israel and China – where it seeks to invest in early and seed-stage businesses.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

VC Factsheet: BALDERTON CAPITAL

Company summary & history
Founded in 2000 by Benchmark Capital, Balderton Capital is a London-based early-stage Venture Capital firm. It has one of the largest venture capital funds in Europe, and became independent from Benchmark in 2007 who it still maintains close ties with. Balderton Capital's funds total almost $2 billion, with prominent investments in MySQL, Bebo and Betfair. Balderton invests in many sectors including enterprise software and services, communications and security, semiconductors, mobile computing, consumer services, plus media and financial services.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Private Equity and Venture Capital in Africa

For Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC) investors in technology, Africa seems to be fertile ground. A recent event by Private Equity Africa1, in London, which sought to explore the increased interest for investing in the Sub-Saharan region, reflects this. It is, perhaps, the combination of increased macroeconomic stability, improved macroeconomic conditions, technological capabilities, human capital, and more stable political conditions that has caused a surge in consumerism and new ventures to explode onto the continent’s developing markets.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Emerging Market Venture Capital: Nigerian Case Study

Emerging Market (EM) investments by definition entail greater risk and reward. Venture Capital (VC) within this space follows this trend with a couple of exceptions we discuss below.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Open VS Closed Source for Startups

Amoo's thoughts on this perennial debate can be summarised as follows: it depends on the nature and scale of your business project. It is also possible to consider open-source as a strategy not a product.