Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007 - iPhone Feed Reader

Most of us are accustomed to having Feed Readers on our computers, but not yet on our phones.

Now that the iPhone is out, has created a free RSS feed reader app to use with the device so its users can just as easily access their feeds on their phones as they would on their home computers. With Enophi a user simply needs to go to the site and register and then pick the feeds that they want to subscribe to. The reader is just as easy to use as any other feed reader that you would use on your home computer.

As people become more and more accustomed to having feed readers at home it will be totally inconvenient for these people to have an iPhone and not be able to access these things on the iPhone. Enophi stepped in quickly to make sure to be the first to offer this service.

As of now the service from Enophi is free and there is no advertising on the site. There's a link to Adbrite and there's a question ' interests' - so plan to monetize the feeds is there and sure.

I strongly believe there's a need for Mobile based RSS readers, think about a RSS enabled NOKIA series? Video enabled?

Geeklust, anyone? Come to me. I'll invest all my personal savings to that killer idea! :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Saywit - A Creative freak or a Cognitive Geek?

Saywit is a social webapp to share our ingenuity, creative thinking, and out-of-box solutions. It aims to bring out our creative intelligence naturally through participation!

This is a self-initiated project by Seshu Karthick Tanveer, and a product of Siddhi Labs.

Implementation Specifics

Technology : Java 1.5, Spring MVC, Hibernate, MySQL
Libraries : OpenId4Java, Rome 0.5.
Third-Party : Haloscan, JS-Kit, Gigya.

I think so.
People spend hours and hours online, often doing not much of anything. This site actually wants to engage the mind and increase brain cells, while having fun too.

The site has its creative offerings such as "wittychat", where you can open a dialogue with random people (such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates). The cognitive offerings have algorithms and puzzles. You can then embed any responses on your blog or website.

The site is clever and original, and is a very recent launch. The site has potential, but needs some marketing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

US VC's Foreign Investment Strategies Still Not Broad-Based

The United States venture capital industry is not flocking broadly to global investment opportunities, according to the 2007 Global Venture Capital (VC) Survey sponsored by Deloitte & Touche LLP in cooperation with the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) in the United States and numerous other venture capital associations around the world. Rather, U.S. VCs are investing cautiously in countries such as China, India, Israel and Canada. VCs say that they prefer to play globally by investing in domestic companies with significant operations offshore versus directly investing in foreign entities.

Conducted in the second quarter of 2007, the survey measured attitudes and intentions of more than 500 venture capitalists worldwide.

“U.S.-based VCs are essentially dabbling in global markets, with the majority of U.S. VC respondents indicating that less than 5 percent of their capital is invested overseas, generally in less than three deals per fund,”
said Mark Jensen, national managing partner of Deloitte’s Venture Capital Services.
“VCs are making the majority of their foreign investments in areas with higher quality deal flow, entrepreneurial environments, and access to foreign markets, as well as places where they have experience and thus greater comfort levels.”

Direct Global Investment Strategies Adopted by Minority of U.S. VCs

Of U.S. VCs, 46 percent of respondents stated that they are currently investing abroad. However, 54 percent stated that they expect to expand their international investing during the next five years, up slightly from 53 percent in 2006. Three quarters (73 percent) of the U.S. VCs who are not investing globally don’t intend to invest globally anytime soon.

Of U.S. VCs who indicated they currently have capital deployed in foreign locations, 66 percent said they have less than 5 percent of their capital under management deployed in those regions, and 78 percent indicated they have less than 10 percent. Almost two-thirds of these VCs (64 percent) expect to deploy at least 6 percent to 20 percent of their capital under management in foreign locations in the next five years.

“There is a small but dedicated group of venture capital pioneers who have embarked upon a global strategy and are driving foreign growth. But as a whole, the venture capital industry has not embraced direct global investment yet,”
said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association.
“The adage that ‘venture capital is a local business’ still rings true. U.S. VCs want to stay close to their portfolio companies, and they believe there are enough quality deals here to support their funds. That said, there is no question that the movement to globalization of venture capital is real. It is just a longer ways off than once thought.”

China, India, Israel and Canada Top Global Targets for U.S. VCs

Of U.S.-based VCs investing globally, the primary regions are China, India, Israel and Canada. Of these, Israel, China, and India are cited for high-quality deal flow while India and China are attractive due to their emerging entrepreneurial environments. China is also noted for access to its vast market. The fact that China and India are lower-cost locations appears to be a secondary consideration. Canada’s proximity to the United States, stable political environment, high levels of personal safety and security, as well as its entrepreneurial culture has always made it an attractive country for U.S. investment.

When asked about the location of certain operations of current portfolio companies, U.S. respondents cited China as the country of choice for manufacturing and India as the choice for R&D and engineering. For non-U.S. respondents, the United States is a primary choice for R&D and engineering. European respondents preferred Central and Eastern Europe for manufacturing as well as R&D operations.

Global Investment Concerns Shrinking, but Still Prevalent

While concerns about investing globally — particularly in China and India — have declined over last year’s survey, several factors are likely reasons for slower global growth. The primary concern about investing in China is lack of intellectual property laws. For India, the primary concern about investing is lack of deals that fit the VCs’ nvestment profile. The top two concerns regarding investing in Israel are the unstable political environment and personal safety and security.

“While venture capitalists realize it takes a great deal of work and resources to be successful in foreign markets, they are citing fewer concerns overall because their experience levels in these markets are growing,”
Jensen said.
“While cautiousness still reigns, venture capital is an industry of fast followers. Barring any significant negative experiences in foreign markets, we will see continued growth in global VC investment.”

One way U.S. VCs are investing globally with less risk is by doing it through U.S.- headquartered entities with significant portions of their operations located outside the United States. According to the survey, there is a notable increase in VCs with a significant number of portfolio companies with operations outside of the country where they are headquartered. In fact, 88 percent and 82 percent of U.S. respondents and non-U.S. respondents, respectively, indicated that some of their portfolio had significant operations outside their headquartered country. This clearly illustrates the global nature of the venture capital industry, according to Jensen.

Local Presence Key to Successful Overseas VC Investment; VCs Focusing Investment Primarily at Home

This year’s survey data indicates that U.S. venture capitalists require a local presence in target countries that enables them to be close to their investments. Strategies to achieve that local presence include requiring partners to travel more, developing strategic alliances with foreign firms, co-investing with firms that have a local presence, and opening foreign offices.

“Those who are investing directly in global markets believe a hands-on approach with people on the ground, local connections and an understanding of the culture is necessary to succeed. You can’t manage these investments from across the ocean,”
Heesen said.

Almost half (46 percent) of U.S.-based VCs currently do not intend to pursue global expansion in the next five years, instead focusing their investments at home in the United States. The situation is similar abroad: among non-U.S. VCs, European respondents favor European investments (67 percent) over the United States (17 percent), and Asian respondents favored Asia (78 percent) over the United States (18 percent). Non-U.S. VCs who selected the United States as their top destination did so because of higher quality deal flow and access to quality entrepreneurs.

“Many global VCs are focusing their investment dollars at home, which makes sense since they have local presence, experience and first-hand knowledge of these markets,”
Jensen said.
“We also see non-U.S. VCs interested in Central and Eastern Europe as an attractive investment target for the same reasons that U.S. VCs are looking to China and India. Given this strong interest, it’s possible that U.S. VCs are missing opportunities in Eastern Europe.”
Limited Partners Expanding Globally

Despite the fact that the U.S. VC industry is not expanding investments globally as broadly and as quickly as some might believe, their limited partnership base is expanding overseas. In fact, 60 percent of U.S. respondents indicated their foreign LP base would increase, with more dollars going to European countries and to a lesser extent to Asian countries. In addition, 63 percent of Asia Pacific respondents indicated that their LP base would expand to the United States and to a lesser extent to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Similarly, 53 percent of European respondents indicated their LP base would increase primarily from the United Kingdom and Ireland and to a lesser extent from the United States.

“There is clearly a growing interest in the U.S. venture capital asset class from overseas investors. We must be careful as an industry not to accept all the money that is made available to us as it is critical to keep the capital under management at a level that can be invested prudently,”
Heesen cautioned.

U.S. Regulatory Pressures Threaten Continued Leadership

While the United States has the fewest impediments to investing in all regions worldwide, U.S. VCs still find the current environment at home challenging in several ways. Some 58 percent of U.S. respondents see the United States’ litigation environment as an additional financial risk associated with doing business here. Additionally, 46 percent of U.S. VCs cited the challenges of the U.S.regulatory environment, saying the cost of complying with corporate regulation is too high.

“Increasing regulatory pressures in the United States, including Sarbanes Oxley compliance costs, immigration restrictions, and potential tax changes, threaten to harm the environment for venture capital investing here,”
said Heesen.
“We must be sure that we enact policies that are favorable to capital formation, entrepreneurship, and innovation if we wish to remain the global leader for venture investment.”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What lies ahead for Yahoo! and mobile?

What lies ahead for Yahoo! and mobile? It sounds like Yahoo! Go for Mobile will be given a big push, now that Yahoo! is downgrading its SMS messaging services in favour of services which run over the mobile data network.

The evidence has come in the form of the closure of Yahoo!’s mobile division in London.

In the last couple of months about 15 or so people, mostly engineers in the Mobile division in London, have been made redundant and Yahoo! is to shut down some services in Europe like Yahoo! Tones, Premium SMS Mail Alerts and Compose SMS in Yahoo! Mail.

In an email to TechCrunch a Yahoo! spokesperson officially confirmed the company is “phasing out Yahoo! Tones and premium SMS alerts over the next several months to focus on the mobile services that are core to Yahoo!’s future growth. We are going to continue to focus on creating unique and compelling services, such as Yahoo! Go for Mobile, that make using the Internet on mobile devices fun and engaging for consumers, as well as look to further extend the reach of Yahoo!’s leading sponsored search and branded advertising services into the mobile experience.”

Sources say Marco Boerries - the guy who runs Yahoo! Connected Life in the US and was formerly the brains behind Sun Microsystems’ StarOffice - wants full control of all the resources in his business unit, and it looks like the London team was surplus to requirements.

We gather some of the London developers made redundant were offered jobs in the US or in Hamburg with Verdisoft which Yahoo! acquired in February last year for $96m. Who used to run Verdisoft? Marco Boerries.

One former Yahoo! mobile employee spoke to TechCrunch, who said: “It is just funny that they had to let the whole engineering team in London go to refocus in such a way. That is more a result of them being the only engineers that did not report into Marco Boerries.”

All engineering teams in Yahoo! report into Zod Nazem, Yahoo!’s CTO, except for the engineers in Yahoo! Connected Life. They all report into Andreas Meyer, VP of engineering. Who is Meyer? He has worked with Boerries since 1989, variously on Starsoft and Verdisoft. His current boss is Boerries. Again.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see what Yahoo! does with Swedish mobile company Kenet Works, which made mobile social software for Sweden’s Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri put the price of Kenet at EUR 16.6 million, according to Gigaom.

Kenet Work’s presence software allowed for quite sophisticated mobile social networking, linked with online, so expect to see some of that turn up in the Go service next year.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Scoopt, the self-styled “citizen journalism picture agency”, will now allow Flickr members to tag their images with the keyword ’scoopt’, enabling Scoopt to push tagged images to their media outlet buyers. Scoopt will also encourage buyers to use Flickr as a commercial image resource.

Scoopt founder Kyle MacRae said the new feature makes sense as “there’s no easy way to connect Flick members to buyers” and “Flickr members are not allowed to advertise their content commercially”. The Scoopt move is unofficial and does not have a formal relationship with Flickr.

Sales revenue is split 50/50% between Scoopt and the photographer. The photographer always keeps full copyright. It’s free to join Scoopt.

Scoopt has 12,000 members and is based in Scotland.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Benchmark Europe is now Balderton Capital

Benchmark Europe, one of Europe’s largest venture capital firms, has split from its U.S. counterpart, and changed its name to Balderton Capital.

The move is significant because it shows the European outpost of the U.S. firm has become successful enough to do business under its own name. Benchmark Europe raised a $500 million fund in December, is one of the largest VC firms on the continent and is starting to see its first returns: One of its investments, Yingli Solar, filed to go public yesterday on the NYSE. MySQL, another investment, plans also to go public soon.

The move is also notable because it shows how the venture model continues to tend toward local manager control. DFJ, Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital and others have all expanded internationally — and will have to deal with the same challenge of managing relationships with their foreign counterparts. Indeed, DFJ saw serious defections in China two years ago.

Benchmark U.S., which has always had an equal partner structure internally, compared to most firms where there is significant hierarchy. Kevin Harvey, of Benchmark here in Menlo Park, Calif., said the intent from the beginning was that Benchmark Europe would have local autonomy, and it has been run that way. Local managers with autonomy are more efficient and make better decisions, Harvey said.

In 2000, to get Benchmark Europe started, the U.S. team had helped the European team firm with brand affiliation. With hits like eBay, Benchmark U.S. had the reputation that could help Benchmark Europe access deals. In return, Benchmark’s U.S. partners enjoyed significant ownership of “carry,” or profits, in Benchmark Europe’s funds. That carry diminished with Benchmark Europe’s second fund, and has been eradicated entirely for Benchmark Europe’s $500 million third fund raised in Dec. That fund will be called Balderton I, as of today.

The change has happened quickly. Balderton doesn’t even have a Web site yet.
Balterton has about $1.5 billion under management, and has invested in more than 70 companies, which also include Bebo, Betfair, Alphyra and Setanta. Barry Maloney, general partner of Balderton, tells VentureBeat that the partners on both sides have invested in each other’s funds. The only difference is the change in carry.

Another benefit is that Balderton can now encourage the entrepreneurs it backs to seek capital from Benchmark in the U.S., without those entrepreneurs getting concerned about giving too much of a stake to a single fund. Maloney said Balderton will treat Benchmark U.S. as a “most favored nation” when its companies seek to raise money in the U.S. MySQL is an example of a company where both sides invested in the same company.

There will be no change in the Israeli team’s name or organization, though Benchmark’s Harvey said the long-term goal is for that team to become an independent brand too.

from VentureBeat

Monday, June 04, 2007

Palm sells 25 percent stake to Elevation for $325M

Palm Inc., the smart-phone maker, will reportedly sell a 25 percent stake to a private equity firm Elevation Partners, of Silicon Valley, for $325 million.

The move, reported by the WSJ, comes after two years of a sideways trading stock (see chart below), a recognition that Palm faces ever increasing competition, and indecision about what strategy it should pursue.

It also comes after a former employee of Palm, Gibu Thomas, argued in a column at VentureBeat recently that Palm should not sell to a private equity firm. There, he argued that Palm should get over aspirations to be the “next Apple,” and sell to a corporate strategic investor — because the forces of competition are too great.

Selling a stake to a private equity buyer keeps Palm’s independent aspirations alive — because a private equity buyer is more likely to try to want to restructure Palm and sell off its stake again down the road.

Notably, Elevation Partners has ties with Apple, and it plans to introduce some former Apple talent to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Palm. Jon Rubinstein (pictured above left), Apple’s former head of hardware who helped oversee the creation of the iPod music player, will join Palm as executive chairman and head up product development, according to the WSJ.

Fred Anderson, a partner at Elevation, was a former Apple chief financial officer, will join Palm’s board (recently his relationship has soured with Apple’s Steve Jobs). Another Elevation partner, U2’s Bono, helped introduce the U2 iPod. And of course, Roger McNamee, another partner at Elevation, known for the prolific devices that adorn his belt — now likely to carry both a Palm Treo and an iPod — will also reportedly join the board.

This all comes, of course, just as Apple is to unleash its highly anticipated iPhone. And Palm recently unveiled the rather perplexing Foleo — designed to be a companion to Palm’s smartphones, but never quite making the case as to why it is any better than a laptop (at least in our view).

According to the WSJ, Palm will “pay $940 million in cash, or about $9 a share, to existing shareholders whose ownership of the company will drop to 75 percent under the deal’s terms. The company will fund the restructuring with the $325 million from Elevation, $400 million in new debt and more than $200 million of cash on its balance sheet to complete the transaction.
According to the terms, Elevation is paying a 16 percent premium on Palm’s price, the WSJ said.