Friday, October 21, 2016

Why you want Gil Pancina and Reid Hofmann invest in your startup

I met Gil at Always On conference back in 2006 (wow, 10 years ago) I think when he was running Wikia, and understood why he was such a successful investor and entrepreneur. An amazing human!

Great article about Gil and Frid Hoffman in Tech in ASIA

Gil Penchina

Gil Penchina – a former vice president and general manager at eBay who later ran Wikia – is now a prolific angel investor. Here he’s pictured back in 2014. Photo credit: TechCrunch.

Gil Penchina hates VCs. The serial entrepreneur believes their primary goal is to line their own pockets.

“For most VCs, they go to board meetings then leave,” he told the H2O Global Innovation Leadership Summit yesterday in Silicon Valley.

I’m technically now a self-hating investor.

He looked back on the days when he was trying to raise money for Fastly, the content delivery network he co-founded. One particular incident he’ll never forget involved a VC in Palo Alto that they pitched to named Sapphire Ventures. The investor sounded very supportive and told them things it could do to help but didn’t follow through when called upon.

“Silence. Not even a reply, not even an ‘I’ll get to it’ or ‘Give me a week, I’ll work on it.’ Literally didn’t bother to reply,” says Gil.

“I’ve become an investor so I guess I’m technically now a self-hating investor because I, by large, hate VCs,” he quipped, drawing laughs from the audience.

Rather than join a major VC firm, he took a different route, becoming an angel investor. One of the early folks at eBay, Gil used his money from eBay, which IPO’d in 1998, to start angel investing.

This way of investing allowed him to avoid the consultants from McKinsey and Bain that flooded into eBay – “a way to hang out with the people I liked instead of the people I worked with,” he joked.

Unlike VC firms, most angel investors don’t get into startups purely for the money but because they’re successful, want to give back to the industry, and they like the company they’re investing in, Gil believes. These people are involved in a very personal way and are genuinely trying to help out. They don’t just promise things – they do them.

“I look for someone who’s emotionally involved where they should be, who’s calling and trying to help, someone who’s brainstorming with me, coming up with ideas, and coming back to say, ‘hey I looked into this,’” he stated.

Today, Gil leads the biggest AngelList syndicate – hence the “king of AngelList” badge – that has done about a hundred crowdfunded deals at US$4 million apiece – including one he backed not because he was expecting to make money off of it but because his daughter loved the product.

There are exceptions

Gil’s revulsion toward venture capital, however, isn’t absolute. There are a few good VC guys out there – and one of them is LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.


Every startup needs a a Reid Hoffman, says Gil. Photo credit: Joi Ito.

Reid wears many hats. Before setting up the professional networking site, he was a prominent angel investor who later forayed into venture capital, serving as a partner at Greylock. Gil and Reid knew each other from PayPal, where Gil was an angel investor and Reid an executive. Ebay would eventually acquire PayPal in a US$1.5 billion deal.

There are lots of ‘shotgun weddings’ where the most you can do is reference-check the investor.

“Reid Hoffman was one of my favorites. Reid once said to me: ‘I will not leave the meeting until I find one thing I can do to help. It may be big or small, it doesn’t matter. I owe them that for the hour they spent with me.’”

His advice to startups raising VC money? Get yourself a Reid Hoffman.

“I like someone who actually cares. This shit we do is so hard to begin with, it’s nice to have someone who’s emotionally supportive,” Gil said.

Dating game

Gil likens finding the right investor to dating. “How do you find out if someone really likes you? You make it harder, you push them and push them and push them again. You don’t return their calls and see if they call back.”

Gil Penchina

Gil Penchina (holding mic) pictured yesterday at H2O Global Innovation Leadership Summit 2016. Photo credit: Tech in Asia.

When you finally find the one and that VC joins your board, that’s marriage. Know that you’re going to be stuck with that person for years, he advised.

However, startups nowadays raise capital in a very fast-paced environment, leaving little time to vet investors. He called this the “shotgun wedding” where the most you can do is reference-check the investor.

He has this practical advice for those caught in this situation: “At the end of the day, the other half of it is about selling. Whether or not you have the right level of emotional involvement, get it. Arranged marriages work, they become in love with each other or pretend they’re in love.”

“You just never stop selling. It’s the unfortunate curse of being a CEO.”

This is part of our coverage of H2O Global Innovation Leadership Summit 2016 hosted by H2 in San Francisco on October 19. Tech in Asia is a partner of H2, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance leadership development in the fields of digital entrepreneurship and innovation.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The google and yahoo story


1998: YAHOO refused to acquire Google for 1M  

2002: YAHOO realized its mistake and offered 3B  

Google requested 5B  YAHOO refused.  

2008: Microsoft offered 50B to acquire YAHOO YAHOO rejected the offer 

2016: YAHOO has been acquired for 5B and the current value of Google is around 545B

Leadership can sometimes only be judged through the lens of the past. Though it seems like they were focused on their mission and believed in what they were doing, some times too much something good can be bad. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Applovin raises $1.4b from strategic china investor within 5 years of startup

AppLovin, an app that delivers more personalized ads mainly via mobile, has sold a majority interest to Chinese private equity firm, Orient Hontai Capital, for $1.4 billion, setting itself up to enter the lucrative and elusive China market.

Founded in 2011 by Adam Foroughi (CEO)  Andrew Karam and John Kyrstynak said they couldn't find its initial funding at a $4m, so they huddled down and grew its revenue! 

In the first year, through referrals and word of mouth, they signed up 300 customers to beta test,  and after 1 year and a monthly run rate of $1m, raised  funding from a group of influential investors, not because we needed money, but because these humans could help us grow.

The power of referrals work!!!!

AppLovin official launched in July 2014, with $100 million revenue "run rate" and high-profile users like Uber, Spotify, and Opentable.
In 2015, the company hit $234 million in revenue, and in 2016, it was on track to bring in nearly half a billion dollars with 115 employees

Aplovin Timeline
2011 startup (2 years to build and beta test)
2012 $1m
2013 $12m 
2014 official launch $100m
2016 on track to do $500m
2017 - Entry into China market


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

23 amazing Startups present to 400 humans


Tech 23, held in Sydney yesterday, saw 23 startups pitch their ideas to an audience of over 400 people and a panel of industry leaders.
Among the experts on this year’s panel will be Bill Bartee of Blackbird Ventures; partner at NAB Ventures, Melissa Widner; Angela Clark, director of digital at the ABC; and Petra Andren, CEO of ATP Innovations.
Rachel Slattery, director of SlatteryIT, said, “Tech23 is all about encouraging our informal networks, so collaboration can increase between industry, research and development organisations, and startups.”
Over the years the likes of Rebekah Campbell of Posse (now Hey You), Scriptrock (now UpGuard), goCatch, Rome2rio, SmartSparrow, 2Mar Robotics, and GoFar have also pitched at Tech23.
The clear winner was  AgriWebb has created a livestock management solution with full data transparency to capture information and help farmers make smarter farming decisions. This technology is targeting management problems and trading inefficiencies that affect the global $1.4 trillion livestock industry. CEO Justin Webb said this potentially solves a major pain for the farmer.
Agriculture is the largest employer in rural and regional communities and according to a StartupAUS report the sector makes up four percent of Australia’s total employment. 
I have no doubts the team at Jobs NSW will be looking to support companies in this industry with their $193m fund to support business and increase employment! 
Startups that also received awards on the day include:
ResApp Health– Tech23 Innovation Excellence Award
Plutora– Tech23 Greatest Potential Award and B2B Enterprise Award
Cardihab– Austrade Best Startup Award and $2,500 AMP Amplify Award for Best technology Tech23 2016 startup founded by a woman
Hovermap– $5,000 Market Changing Technologies Award
Biteable– $5,000 PayPal Enabling Choice Award
Myriota– $2,500 Audinate Prize 
SPEE3D– $2,000 Advanced Technology Award 
Haventec– Tyro Fintech Award 
agAlytics and Rappsio– Saasu Award
Gruntify– Square Peg Capital Award and MYOB Awards 
Lorica Health– OneVentures Prize 
Black AI– Bigtincan Enterprise Mobility Leadership Award 
GeoInteractive– Berkeley Advisory Best Commercial Success Award
Details of Company's presenting :- 
agAlytics – a Queensland agritech startup developing sensors utilising lab-on-a-chip technology to manage water and soil nutrients.
Agersens – an agritech startup developing a virtual shepherd. This IoT system will connect each animal to the internet and enable farmers to fence, move and monitor their livestock using their smartphone or tablet
AgriWebb – a farm management platform made up of the AgriWebb Notebook, for easy record keeping in the paddock, and the AgriWebb Portal, which enables customers to make decisions that improve productivity and increase profits.
Airwallex – facilitates international money transfers through a combination of local payment collection, foreign exchange and distribution.
Biteable – looks to make it fast and easy for any individual or organisation, regardless of video production skills, to create studio-quality videos. – has built an artificial intelligence system, Ani, that can watch and understand human behaviour. She automates the direct observation of people movement and flow through environments, detecting interactions and notable events, reporting on them in real time.
Cardihab – provides healthcare organisations with the ability to deliver clinician led, remote chronic disease management and prevention programs.
Data Creative – the platform creates data-driven personalised videos in seconds, that deliver relevant, timely and valuable information to any individual who receives them
Gelion – the startup is working with the idea of one day building houses with batteries inherently included as part of their structure, ready to take advantage of rapidly improving, solar energy technology and also to serve as a buffer for the grid
GeoInteractive – a geoscientific company building smart mapping devices to help prevent catastrophic failures in underground infrastructure, with a current focus on critical waste and stormwater assets.
Gruntify – provides enterprise customers with an all-in-one, mobile-to-cloud data management platform in 3 easy steps. 1) Mobile apps for data collection, 2) online data management portal with in-built workflow processes, and 3) data mapping and analytics for streamlined decision-making
HavenTec – helps organisations build trust by maintaining their customers’ privacy in every interaction
Hovermap – does for drones what Google does for driverless cars. Hovermap provides software which makes drones safe and easy to use, and allows them be used for a host of new applications
Lorica Health – a specialist team of data scientists, domain experts, clinicians, analysts and engineers develop industry specific solutions which target fraud, abuse and waste, while also making markets that improve the quality and safety of health care.
Myriota – a satellite communications platform to transmit small amounts of data at a very low cost. Myriota uses tiny low powered transmitters, small amounts of bandwidth, tiny low earth orbit satellites and signal processing software to transmit small amounts of data via satellite.
Ninox Robotics – looks to enhance productivity within various industries, through increasing automation and improving accessibility to information. Ninox Robotics is able to deploy a UAV team anywhere in Australia and provide clients with various spatial imagery products that can assist their enterprise.
Plutora – develops an innovative platform for enterprises to test and release complex applications.

Pointduty – a software development company that focuses on applications that capture and visualise data from social media networks, peer to peer networks, the dark web and other internet sources. It’s tools are used to combat such crimes as violent extremism, child abuse, fraud as well as the standard crimes investigated by police forces.
PredictBGL Diabetes – helps people to better manage their medications. While currently focused on diabetes and insulin dosing, ManageBGL can also help with dosing of warfarin and other drugs such as cholesterol drugs.
Rappsio – an all-in-one cloud platform for digital agencies that makes web application development fast, and secure infrastructure simple. Increase productivity by configuring the core of your web application, code only to solve new and interesting problems.
ResApp Health – is developing digital healthcare solutions to assist doctors and empower patients to diagnose and manage respiratory disease. We are creating easy to use affordable, clinically-validated and regulatory-approved diagnostic tools that only require a smartphone.
Reposit Power – a platform that learns, adapts and predicts a consumer’s energy usage so you’re getting the most from your solar. What’s more, you’ll save on your energy bills which means, on average, you’ll pay off your battery in half the time.
SPEE3D – a high speed and low cost digital manufacturing process that can manufacture equivalent parts to casting processes. This new technology is born out of several industries including 3D printing, patented and owned by SPEE3D.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

From a Stamford dorm room to world domination in 20 years

Inspired from Business Insider 
Google executive chairman Erich Schmidt, back, with founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page AP
Google is now the most-visited website in the world, makes Google Android, the most popular operating system in the world, is the most profitable advertising business in the world, and  its parent company Alphabet is now worth $543.3 billion.
 Larry Page and Sergey Brin, 2 Stanford PhD students, started Google in 1996.... incubating "BackRub," a revolutionary search engine that used a technology called "PageRank" that would rank web pages based on how many other web pages linked back to them.
(Bloomberg Game Changers)
Bakrub rebranded "googol," or the number one with a hundred zeroes before it, better reflected the amount of data they were trying to sift through. 
Goog01 morphed into  "Google" 
The first-ever Google server was built in a custom case made out of Legos and housed on the Stanford campus, at, and the domain name was registered a year later on September 15th, 1997.
(Wikimedia Commons)
After using too much of Stanford's bandwidth, Page and Brin relocated to the garage of Susan Wojcicki - googles 1st employee, after getting $100k seed investment from Sun Microsystems founder Andy Bechtolsheim. 
Google officially incorporated on September 4th, 1998.
(Wikimedia Commons)
Google's first homepage was a bit clunky where their focussed efforts wereon the algorithms that made it run.
In 1999, Excite was in negotiations with Google to acquire it for $750k  but the the deal fell through and later that year , Google moved into its first-ever office at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto — the same office building that housed companies like PayPal and Logitech.
Google then raised its first round of venture capital funding in the form of a $25 million investment from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and Sequoia Capital. (3 years from inception) .

How key was it for google to be in an incubated space? Was this a critical factor in its $25m series A? 

Google debuted its AdWords product in late 2000, generating revenue, protecting the from the dot com bust! Brin and Page were becoming rock stars in the tech community for succeeding where everybody else failed.
Google had an awesome  corporate philosophy: 
"Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains."
(Tangi Bertin/Flickr) DOnt Be Evil - Be Nice!
Eric Schmidt became the first CEO in 2001, leaving the founders free to focus on Google's technology.
Eric Schmidt (Getty Images)

In 2003, Google leased its Googleplex campus from Silicon Graphics and in 2006 (10 years on) bought the building.
The Googleplex became a symbol of Silicon Valley success. Google worked at making an awesome environment, offering free meals to its employees. 
(Flickr/Dmitry Alekseenko)
August 19th, 2004, Google had its initial public offering on the stock market, priced at $85 per share. Today, a share in Google parent company Alphabet costs over $800. 


On April 1st, 2004, Google launched Gmail, 
(Biz Stone) Gmail Launched 
In fact, after the IPO, Google set its sights on expanding past the search engine. Google started gobbling up startups to launch new products like Google Docs and Google Maps, Android, YouTube 
Acquisition Trail 
2006 also saw Google buy up YouTube, a brand-new video-sharing site that was founded by a bunch of ex-PayPal employees. Google paid $1.65 billion in stock for YouTube.
Google was getting bigger and bigger.

 In 2006, Google opened up its first wholly-owned and designed data center in The Dalles, Oregon, on the banks of the Columbia river, squeezing out incredibly high levels of efficiency from its data centers with inventive new designs.
data center in The Dalles, Oregon (Google)
Google had become the generic word for "searching the Internet." And in June of 2006, the verb "google" was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
In 2008, the first-ever Android smartphone that consumers could buy. Today, Google Android is bigger than Apple IOS 
(Wikimedia) 1st Google Android
In 2008 Google Chrome was created, a web browser that integrated tightly with Google's growing roster of web services. Google wanted to make sure that on every device, you keep using Google — and looking at Google ads.
In 2011, Schmidt stepped down as Google CEO, and Larry Page became the new CEO of Google.
Larry Page (EPA)

In 2010, Google announced that it was working on driverless cars.
Driverless Car (Google)

In 2012, Google announced Google Glass
Google Glasses (Getty Images)
And recently, google restructured so Google became a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet, leaving Sundar Pichai in charge of the whole company, guiding Google into artificial intelligence.
Sundar Pichai has become Google’s new chief executive (AP)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sydney office space management startup SpaceConnect raises $400,000

Sydney office space management startup SpaceConnect has today announced a raise of $400,000 following its graduation from BlueChilli’s startup accelerator program Disrupt@Scale. The seed funding, from BlueChilli, will allow the startup to drive growth across its Australian corporate customer base.

SpaceConnect enables a workplace to manage their desk and meeting room bookings through the use of IoT (Internet of Things) technology to automatically book a free space when needed. The startup uses iBeacon and Ambient Intelligence technology to provide property managers and corporates with real-time live insights into how their space is being utilised.

As space within a workplace moves towards an open plan working environment, property managers are tasked with the challenge of ensuring office space is utilised to its full potential. For larger companies employees wanting to utilise the boardroom for example, it can be tricky to plan around timetables and free up space.

“Property managers worldwide are adopting an ‘activity based working’ environment, hoping to improve the utilisation of expensive office space and increase the effectiveness of collaboration among employees,” said SpaceConnect founder, Matt Pope.

“However they soon learn it’s not enough to just knock down walls and ask everyone to ‘hot desk’. Organisations need help to make sure they’re situating employees and teams in the right locations for the goals they’re tasked with achieving.”

Based on the current usage of space, SpaceConnect’s algorithm can predict the future requirements of a particular space to ensure seamless space management experiences for corporates and their employees. With numerous meetings being pushed forward or outright cancelled, SpaceConnect automatically checks-in the next on the list to increase workplace space efficiency.

In engaging space with real-time data, SpaceConnect also aims to help reduce commercial property costs. “With the increasing rate of change it’s not enough to review workplace planning annually or quarterly,” said Pope. “Our customers are seeking a technology solution to help them dynamically plan the utilisation of their workplaces day by day, reflecting the fluid nature of modern knowledge industries.”

BlueChilli founder, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslinn believes that the interest in SpaceConnect comes down to the growing adoption of IoT technology.

“SpaceConnect’s combination of ‘internet of things’ sensors and algorithmic workplace efficiency is behind our decision to reinvest in this exciting startup,” he said.

Making better use of space is also the focus for fellow Sydney startup TwoSpace, connecting people with unused restaurant space to help restaurant owners make use of space that is typically unused during off hours. TwoSpace works by having users sign up for a monthly subscription that will, once the network of locations is built up, give them access to every TwoSpace location. For restaurants, TwoSpace will set up wifi and power outlets to make sure they are equipped to accommodate all the laptops.

The application of IoT to the problem is an interesting one: recently, founder of Everything IoT, Eitan Bienstock told Startup Daily that IoT is the “third wave of innovation”and believes this era will be bigger than that of the pre-internet and the internet. IoT technology is a horizontal technology that has penetrated many industries including healthtech, agritech and smart cities.

“The way IoT is going to change our lives is unbelievable, from how we live in our houses, how we move around, but even more than that it’s going to completely change the manufacturing and industrial industry. The industrial IoT is much larger than the consumer IoT. It’s the most exciting innovation,” he said.

In September this year the government launched a new global initiative called Hypercat Australia in a bid to increase the support of IoT and smart cities development. The initiative came as part of an alliance with industry leaders, corporates and government to transform Australian cities into smarter and tech driven hubs.

National IoT leader of KPMG Australia, Piers Hogarth-Scott believes that the fusing together of sectors will drive the growth of smart cities, not only locally, but globally as well.

“The launch of Hypercat in Australia aims to unlock the benefits of Smart Cities by creating an interoperable IoT ecosystem that gives confidence to cities and local government,” he said. “More importantly, if we can play a role in fostering a global standard we can unlock the power of the Internet of Things for everybody.”

Image: Matt Pope. Source: Supplied.