Saturday, October 29, 2005

The world of Venture Capital ...

Well, I have been taking casual glances at VCs again after more than a year of completely ignoring them. Doing some pretty extensive research the last week or so, I found a cool site called Ventureblogs, where many links to the industry's most vocal VCs can be found (heavyweights like Mark Cuban, David Sifry, etc...). I have read over quite a few of them, and let me state outright some of these guys just don't get much of anything. I'm not gonna call any guys out, but it's painfully clear that Web Bubble 1.0, and the new coming-to-a-town-near-you Web Bubble 2.0 are the direct result of these slick and sly masters of money manipulation and outright hob-dob crookery. Just big words coming out of my mouth? Maybe, but check them out yourself.

I *did* enjoy reading the insights of folks like Steve Hall, Roger McNamee, and Jeff Clavier among others ... they seemed to know what they were talking about (at least not talking out of their asses) and had a good sense of humor about the industry. I'm sure there are many more out there worth reading, if you know of them, please let me know.

Having said all this - I do understand that these guys demand (and deserve) a ROI for their investments -- generally in the form of a M&A (merger & aquisition), or a a full-blown IPO. Therefore, this means generally they do not need to really get the "technology" for technology's sake, but only that they can see a clear path to ROI. However, what's difficult to deal with sometimes is explaining the hidden human-technology interaction factor (or, in short, the "WOW" factor) that, much of the time, many of them do not get because they themselves do NOT use technology outside of email or a mobile phone.

I've heard lots of negative things about our technologies in the past, be it our older IM technologies we brought to the mobile world, or with our current Jellingspot Data Server. Maybe it's just me, but I remember one clear example that proves this point in someways -- SMS. Back in 1999 when I moved to Europe, SMS was starting to move, but was by far not crazy like it is today. I would make the main argument about bring additional SMS services to customers to drive new business models and new ecosystems, but marketing managers and financial gurus at the carriers would shoot me down and say, "SMS isn't that big, it's too difficult to use for most, and people can just use voice." A few years later, SMS is a super billion dollar industry, and most carriers are pushing it hard. It seems tech people are always ahead of the people who just look at the bottom-line (they don't seem to see anything else around them). I've heard the same arguments against Jellingspot at times from VCs, but that defiant rejection is slowly turning as more and more location-marketing/POS systems hit the market and people are actually using them (not to mention some of my competitors have pulled off funding).

Which brings me back (getting off topic a bit) to the VCs -- yes, I'm looking again, so if you know any bright folks out there who are into the VC business, I'm more than willing to throw down with them verbally to discuss Jellingspot if they have an interest in this very promising market. However, I will still continue to avoid VCs who generally, with their first question, ask, "What is the projected ROI?" You're already showing yourself to be an ass, so it's best you don't waste my time (or yours).

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