Bothsides of the Table


The Magic Moment of Meerkat

The Magic Moment of Meerkat


Posted on Mar 7, 2015 | 0 comments

Ok. If you work in tech this week you’ve no doubt heard much of this new app called Meerkat.

In case you’ve spent the week living under a rock, Meerkat is an app integrated (currently) with Twitter in which if you click on the link of somebody who shares a “Meerkat Stream” you will be transported into a live session of their phone streaming. You can also watch in the Meerkat app linked above and participate in a realtime conversation with other people in that particular stream.

Meerkat is magical.

Let me get this out of the way: I’m not an investor in Meerkat. And given how quick Silicon Valley throws money at people at things that have rapid and massive adoption (Turntable.fm, Yo!, Ello, Secret, etc) I am not likely to become an investor. I state that so you can take what I say next a little bit more seriously.

People are addicted to the experience in a way I haven’t seen since the early days of Twitter or Quora. Now, I’m not saying that it will last, I’m not saying that there aren’t other alternatives, I’m not saying that Twitter won’t try to squash them for riding on their back of their social graph. Or SnapChat won’t compete and ephemeral video them. And of course this type of product has existing before. We met with the team at Qik years ago who tried to do this on Nokia phones but the timing wasn’t right. And Meerkat stands on the shoulders of other great innovators like Justin.tv and ustream.

But I am willing to say right now that this Meerkat thing is a phenomenon and it’s magical.

Of course I spotted it early like many because I noticed people I’ve long followed like Ryan Hoover, Danielle Morrill at Matt Mazzeo somewhat obsessed with it. And if I have my story straight it’s been live for less than 2 weeks.

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If you are a 20-something tech entrepreneur you could be forgiven for thinking that seed-stage investors, Angellist Syndicates and widely available angel money always existed. It is, of course, a very recent phenomenon.

Let me take you back just 10 years ago to 2005 in Silicon Valley where I returned after 11 years of living in Europe. I was out to raise my first seed money in my second startup of $500,000. I began asking around who the likely investors were for such a market. At the time almost nobody had heard of the following funds: FirstRound Capital, TrueVentures, Floodgate and SoftTech. I think they were all brand new or just forming.

Firms like Baseline, Felicis, ff Ventures, Founder Collective, Freestyle, HomeBrew, IA Ventures, K9, Lowercase, NextView, Resolute, Rincon, Crosscut and the countless other great firms we all now know didn’t exist. Neither did Y Combinator, 500 Startups, TechStars, Amplify, Mucker and countless others.

There was Ron Conway (SV Angel) – I think there was always Ron Conway! one of the godfather’s of our industry. And some angels running around like Reid Hoffman & Keith Rabois. But not many others.

If you want to understand the software trend that drove

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A shortened, better edited and with nicer pictures version of this post first appeared on TechCrunch. But if you want it in it’s full V1 glory read on …

You’ve never been a CEO but might like to be one some day. But how? Nobody sees you as a CEO since you’ve never been one? I wrote this conundrum and the need to take charge of how the market define your skills in my much-read blog post on “personal branding.”  If you don’t create the message about yourself, the market will. And if you want to be a CEO one day you need the messaging to reflect that.

The strange thing is that once you’ve been a CEO even one time the market will see always see you as a CEO but nobody really wants to give a new-comer chance.

Of course you could start your own company. For many people that’s the right answer. As I talked about in “

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Five-and-a-half years ago I first met Chamillionaire at a tech conference in LA. I saw him on stage at the event talking about how he used social media to engage audiences. This was 2009 and his understanding of audience engagement was far beyond anything I was hearing from most people at that time.

I reached out after the event to learn more. We started hanging out a bit and discussing technology and entrepreneurship. What Cham rarely tells people – he’s both private and humble – is that he started making some small co-investments with me in tech firms starting with Maker Studios where he was one of the earliest investors.

After seeing Chamillionaire interact with several entrepreneurs both at events and as an investor I started introducing him to startups in an advisory capacity. It always started the same way – a founder would ask for an intro because they figured he could help with promotion. And after one meeting they started asking for his advice about marketing, customer engagement, product design, monetization – whatever.

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I recently wrote a post talking about how some VCs meddle in operating company decisions or some executive teams are too reliant on VCs to jump in and make hard calls for them.

Fred Wilson also wrote on a similar topic in his usual more succinct manner, with a great quote being:

“One thing I know for sure is that those who advise and invest in startups cannot and should not meddle in the day to day decision making. It’s harmful and hurtful to the startup and those that lead it. So operating at a higher level, helping to set the framework for decision making and then sitting down and watching the game be played, is certainly the way to go.”

Of course I agree with this. In practice it can be a fine line between sparring partner / coach and stepping over the line to brute-force persuasion. And you can easily err the other way of not weighing in forcefully enough. I see this in cases where sometimes board members don’t want to take on the “Pottery Barn Rule” that if you break it, you fix it.

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