Monthly Archives: March 2012

Which venture capitalists are early adopters?

A few months ago, my friend Peter Kamali and I created hacked together a site called EarlyNerd that lets you see how you rank vs. your friends and the broader population on the early adoption scale.

Specifically, we ranked people based on userIDs for Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.  We acknowledge that our methodology wasn’t completely scientific, but it gives directionally correct results.

After looking at some of the fun results for EarlyNerd early-adopters, we  became curious to see what early adoption spectrums looked like in specific populations.

One set of people that I thought would be interesting was Venture Capitalists. I looked at rankings from three lists and made comparisons:

1. The 2011 Venture Capital Blog Directory, as compiled by Larry Cheng (unfortunately there is no 2012 version yet), which ranks VC blogs by traffic. *I only examined those with over 5,000 average monthly uniques, so I used the top 22 from this list.

2. The Top 30 Most Respected Venture Capitalists, as compiled via sentiment analysis, confidential reviews and surveys by Mark Fidelman.

3. Earlynerd scores, specifically for Twitter, signaling when (what date) each Venture Capitalist first signed up for Twitter.

The results are below, but here are some interesting conclusions that I drew:

Looking at the Top 10 Earliest VC Adopters of Twitter

1. Exactly evenly split between East and West Coast Venture Capitalists. This has to be good news for East Coast VCs given there are less of them overall.  Also, Josh Kopelman  of First Round Capital was earliest in this cohort.  Maybe it’s because East Coasters get to wake up first :).

2. 8 out of the top 10 earliest to join Twitter were ranked as Top Most Respected VCs, 7 were ranked as having Top Blogs and 5 had both rankings. Clearly these early adopting VCs are also tops in other categories.

3. Most shockingly only 1 of the earliest 10 to join Twitter actually invested in Twitter (Fred Wilson). Perhaps those on Twitter earliest had less of a great experience since there wasn’t much going on?

4. Out of the top 10 earliest to join Twitter, the 7 that had composite EarlyNerd  scores (including Facebook and Foursquare adoption too) had 90+ Early Nerd scores, meaning that they were earlier adopters than 90+% of the overall EarlyNerd database.

Looking at the Top 20 Earliest VC Adopters of Twitter

1. Still about evenly split between East and West Coast VCs, with Brad Feld as the tiebreaker or tie-maker (9 East, 10 West and Brad in Colorado).

2. 14 out of the top 20 earliest to join Twitter were ranked as Top Most Respected VCs, 16 were ranked as having Top Blogs and 10 as having both rankings.

3. Out of the 20 earliest VCs to join Twitter, only 5 ended up investing in Twitter ( 2 of those were from Union Square).

Other interesting Facts

Only 2 VCs of the 40 total on this list are still not on Twitter – Michael Moritz from Sequoia and Peter Sinclair of Leapfrog. It doesn’t seem to have hurt them too much?

Further Investigation

We’d love to update EarlyNerd to include other services like LinkedIn, GMAIL, Pinterest, Instagram. If any of those services want to add to their API to make “date joined” an available field, we’d be happy to add it and to update the site and the VC data.

(CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE)

Sources of Data Fields in Graphic

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Ridiculous headlines spur dumb conversations

An AP News article came out today entiled, “Job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords.” Sounds crazy, right?  This spurred a bunch of follow-on articles/posts like the one below, Facebook and Twitter mentions, etc.

Except when you actually read the content of the article (the one above), it turns out that these were rare and specific instances, mostly within the realm of law enforcement positions.  Does that make it right or more acceptable? Maybe not, but it is certainly a very different topic with different arguments.  This is not a widespread tactic, but a rare (albeit bizarre) circumstance.  It would be no different if a headline said, “Employers assign specialists to do a 6 month background check, interviewing your closest friends and family.”  It is true that for certain government and law enforcement jobs that is the case, but generalizing it in the headline is misleading.

Because a lot of lazy online readers don’t read the full content of articles, arguments and speculations about the generalized assumption proliferate and before long people are wasting their time arguing about something that isn’t even the case.

How do we fix this problem of sensationalized headlines spurring a domino effect of inappropriate conclusions?

Employers Want Your Facebook Password

Candidates are being asked with alarming frequency to share their Facebook logins with employers. It’s becoming a widespread practice that’s not limited to tech by any means, which represents a dangerous development in your efforts to separate your personal and professional lives.

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via: news.dice.com

Which apps are killing your battery life?

Interesting research came out today about battery life and smart phones. This study specifically examined Android phones – the finding was that free apps that serve advertising use up to 75% of their energy to serve ads . Crazy, huh?

In general, I would love a third party to scientifically assess/rate apps on efficiency of battery usage, memory usage, stability, etc.  Seems like a market opportunity? Maybe this is something the App stores should do themselves as part of the approval process?

In-App Ads Consume Mucho Battery Life

Jacob Aron, NewScientist: Up to 75 per cent of the energy used by free versions of Android apps is spent serving up ads or tracking and uploading user data: running just one app could drain your battery in around 90 minutes.

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via: www.newscientist.com

 

Only united action will defeat patent trolls

"Do not feed the Trolls" sign. Photo...

Image via Wikipedia

This week, a bunch of prominent technology names have come out with vehement positions against Yahoo’s patent lawsuit vs. Facebook.   E.g. Fred Wilson and Mark Cuban.

As is documented below, David Sacks, the CEO of Yammer went further by holding the employees of Yahoo responsible for the reprehensible actions of their management by announcing that he won’t hire any ex-Yahoo employee that doesn’t quit within the next 60 days.  While it sounds extreme and potentially silly given the small size of Yammer, I think it’s an important step in that it’s an action that if joined by others could have real impact.  The protests that helped defeat SOPA/PIPA (for now) are  a good example. The tech community needs more people like David Sacks who are willing to stand up and take action against patent trollsand actions like this.  Perhaps we can get companies to publicly go on record saying they won’t file software or process patents?

Our patent and intellectual property laws need broad reform. Software and process patents probably should be eliminated altogether. Right now, the patent system serves to reward trolls and penalize companies who are innovating/operating.

Any other ideas for ways to stand up against patent trolls?

venturebeat.com

Yammer CEO says he won’t hire anyone from Yahoo who doesn’t quit in next 60 daysMarch 14, 2012

David Sacks, the CEO of Yammer, is pissed. Last month he was hit with his first lawsuit from a patent troll. So when he saw that Yahoo was going after Facebook for patent infringement, he drew a line in the sand. “I’m declaring it: Yammer will never hire another former Yahoo employee who doesn’t leave in the next 60 days. Who will join me?

Pay It Forward to be a Better Entrepreneur

Cover of "Pay it Forward"

Cover of Pay it Forward

The blog post below does a great job explaining how paying it forward is such a valuable trait for entrepreneurs.  Many call it karma.  It’s definitely not easy.  It takes time and can be frustrating when recipients of help/advice/guidance are not thankful or respectful.  But overall it pays for itself many times over as this post explains.

Joey Flores, the author, correctly states that an astonishing array of people are willing to be helpful.  He also mentions though, that this is not universally true,

I’ll also take a moment to say that there have been a lot of people who didn’t help, or say they’re going to help and then don’t, and I don’t want to be one of those people.  (Seriously, if there is anything worse than being unhelpful, it’s saying you’ll help and then not doing it.)

Unfortunately I’ve encountered a lot of that lately, especially those who promise help and then fail to deliver.  I use this as motivation to be better at helping people and following through on any help that I promise.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all the great people that have helped me over time and given of their time to give advice, their reputations to make introductions and their good will in general. If I haven’t said so directly enough – Thank You from the bottom of my heart. I aim to pay it forward as well as I am able.

Pay It Forward Pays for Itself in Startups

For over 13 years I have been working at startup companies, and yet had no idea what it really meant to work at a “startup” until about 4 years ago. I think the reason for that can best be explained by leaning on Steve Blank’s definition of a startup, which is “an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.

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via: blog.earbits.com

Why I was Wrong (& a little bit Right) about the iPad

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Now that the iPad3 “new” iPad has been announced, I thought I’d take the time to reflect. Back in January of 2010, when the first iPad was announced, I, like many tech early adopters was skeptical.  See my original posts here and here.

My initial skepticism around the iPad centered around:

1. Terrible name

2. Awkward to hold

3. Too much overlap with other devices making it a nice-to-have but not a must-have device except for specific niches.

4. Various issues with the iOS ecosystem – no background apps, onerous approval process for the App store that excluded competitors, etc.

After speaking with some of my friends and reading other opinions, I conceded that I may have been too quick to judge and that perhaps the baby boomer generation would embrace this device.

My observations from the last 2 years:

1. The name has turned out to be fine other than the confusion with saying iPad and iPod. I will say that Apple’s continued inconsistency in naming new models (e.g. “new” iPad) leads to confusion, but it seems like a much lesser issue. Shows what I know about naming…

Conclusion: I was wrong

2. Awkward to Hold -This has proven to not be a big deal as I expected.  I will say that it’s slightly heavy and awkward to hold at times, for example while lying down to watch a video.

Conclusion: I was wrong

3. Nice-to-have vs. Must-have: I still think this is true in some ways.  Clearly the iPad has been a massive commercial success. However, I contend that many (most?) of us that have bought one use it occasionally enough for it to be considered a “toy”.  There are some though, mostly baby boomer generation folks who use it as a primary device.  In my observation, these have largely been people who didn’t use a laptop before, at least not in a portable/couch type of way. Additionally, the iPad has taken hold in certain specific commercial applications, like for doctors and Point of Sale transactions. As the iPads become more and more capable, they may start to replace laptops for more and more use cases. Input methodologies are still a big issue though for a full replacement.

Conclusion: I was half-wrong

4. iOS ecosystem: Some of this has been rectified.  Apps can now run in the background (kind of). Regulatory scrutiny has meant that Apple has approved some apps from their competitors (like Google Voice) but not others (like real Google Maps (as it exists on Android with turn-by-turn directions,etc.). However, the closed ecosystem and other limitations have largely not been a big issue. It will be interesting to watch this play out as Apple attempts to close off all of their ecosystems, including Macs.

Conclusion: I was wrong

So in summary, I was mostly wrong.  The iPad has definitely been transformative/disruptive on a number of levels.  For many people, it has changed their lives and their interactions with computing/the internet/consuming media. However, for me and for many of my friends, it’s still a luxury/toy (a fun one though…).

The Biggest Phone You’ve Ever Seen

A couple of months ago, I was riding the subway when I saw a woman holding [what I now know] is the Samsung Note.  If you haven’t seen it in person, the Samsung Note looks like either a gigantic phone or a miniature tablet.  As per the critics in the article below, I thought this was an awful idea, but the consumer traction shows that at least so far there’s demand for a phone like this.

So why didn’t other manufacturers design devices like this? I think that at least one reason there is a disconnect is that many consumer electronics devices are designed by men. Like me, I imagine they think about how they could fit a smartphone in their pants/jeans/jacket pocket.  For women who carry a purse most everywhere, this might be less of a consideration.  Similarly, new consumer electronics devices tend to be designed by younger people. I have been astonished at how many older relatives and friends have asked if they could use their iPads as phones. The larger screen sizes and therefore fonts and spacing are a big reason why older people have flocked to the iPad and other large tablets, and would potentially gravitate toward a phone of this size as well.

So I think we all need to be cognizant of our biases regarding end users/use cases. (Note (pun intended): I still think this phone is ridiculous)

How a Gigantic, 5.3-Inch Smartphone Is Proving Critics Wrong

The Samsung Galaxy Note comes with easy-access note taking software and an S Pen stylus. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired Too big to be a wieldy smartphone, too small to be a generously sized tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note hasn’t received a warm critical reception.

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via: www.wired.com