Tech Market Analysis


We are often asked how companies get funded, why VCs make the decisions we make and what we’re looking for in entrepreneurs. I think this is a Seriously great example of how this process works for at least one VC – Upfront Ventures. But I’m guessing the narrative is similar elsewhere.

I first met Andrew Stalbow, the founder & CEO of Seriously in August of 2013. He hit me from two very trusted sources. On August 23rd, 2013 I had an email intro from my good friend and trusted source Jeff Berman who only sends me stuff when it is somebody he respects (ie a strong filter vs. those who send casual intros). On August 26th I had an equally effusive intro from Ynon Kreiz, also a friend, trusted source and also the CEO of portfolio company Maker Studios. So this was definitely an introduction I was going to take.

We met on August 28th, 2013 and I know this because literally the next day I wrote a blog post about how we love to fund startups where founders have accents in which I referred to my first meeting with Andrew (with a “fick” English accent) and his co-founder Petri Järvilehto with an even thicker Finnish accent and referred to my favorite Finnish curse word Perkele.

Andrew & Petri posed a question to me, “If Walt Disney were starting his company today, what kind of company would he build?” I thought that was a clever enough question to pose. Who wouldn’t want to emulate the extreme success of Walt Disney for the next 50 years? The Walt Disney Corporation.

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An abbreviated version of this post appeared yesterday on TechCrunch.

If you want the full SlideShare deck with many slides not in either post it’s in this link –> The LA Tech Market

“There’s something going on in LA.”

It’s the most common refrain I hear from investors and even entrepreneurs these days. I hear it right after people have decided to come by for a few days to “check out what all the fuss is about.” I hear it when I visit LPs (the people who invest in VCs) all across the country, “Yeah, I haven’t been out there for a few years but I keep hearing that something is going on there.”

Or if you ask the venerable Greg Bettinelli, he’s

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Amazon. It’s the company that evokes fear into more startups and venture capitalists looking to fund eCommerce businesses than any other potential competitor. Every pitch I’ve ever seen has led to the, “Would Amazon eventually do this? And could we then compete?” type questions.

But what if you could do the reverse of Amazon?

Amazon was early in spotting a macro trend – that physical, local retail had a few key disadvantages. The first is that it could carry limited inventory in stock because it had limited physical shelf space. The second is that the retailers were constrained by their high costs of local real estate and service staff relative to the costs of centralized warehouses where goods could be stacked high, sorted by robots, managed by RFIDs and then shipped via overnight to eager, cost-conscious customers across the US.

Today’s $24 billion storage market in the US has these same key disadvantages and that was the genesis of Sam Rosen’s initial idea for MakeSpace, which I initially funded 15 months ago.

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If you’ve watched any industry in the last 20 years where technology has begun to transform how the industry works the results are always predictable driven by what Clay Christensen appropriately called “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (one of the most influential books that changed my thinking about markets).

Young startups claim they are going to change the world, large companies that dominate that sector scoff at how low quality these new entrants are, until like frogs boiling in water they come to the realization that “this shit is real.” The next step is the industry tries to fight back.

TrueCar is the first ever Internet service that tells you exactly how much other people in your area paid for the car you want to buy. You enter your make, model, trim & year and out pops a price curve of purchases in your area and in most states you will then be offered a fixed price to purchase that car.

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By now you likely know that Marc Andreessen weighed in on anonymous apps in a 12-part Twitter diatribe.

Anonymity. As the old joke goes, “on the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog.”

I have been weighing in slowly on the topic over the past few weeks on Twitter but have avoided writing a blog post about it until now. This was in part due to a tremendously busy 30-day period for me (in which my overall writing has been down) and in part the inevitability of knowing that weighing in just tees me up to take abuse on one anonymous app called Secret.

I have thought a lot about anonymity over the years and actually have enjoyed debating the topic with those passionate about anonymity’s benefits because of course that’s how I learn.

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Tom Perkins is one of the founding members of the venerable venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins. He just had his Mitt Romney moment and his name will forever be etched in the collective consciousness of the tech community for this terribly insensitive and tone deaf letter to the Wall Street Journal.

The headline of Mr. Perkins letter to the WSJ?

Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?

“I would call attention to the parallels of Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.””

Um.

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