Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

You Love API’s? Here is something for you Boulder / Denver

If you are involved in tech and entrepreneurship, there are two upcoming events that you can’t miss, called APIs & IPAs. The events, hosted by SinglySendGrid and FullContact (all Foundry Group portfolio companies), are on March 27th at Rock Bottom Brewery in Denver and March 28th at Bitter Bar in Boulder.

APIs & IPAs is a tech community happy hour, with drinks and appetizers covered by the host companies. We hope to see you there!

APIs & IPAs Denver (3/27): http://denverapis.eventbrite.com/

APIs & IPAs Boulder (3/28): http://boulderapis.eventbrite.com/

March 19th, 2013     Categories: Uncategorized    

Colorado Law – Teaching In-House Lawyers How to Run Lean

It’s clear that in-house law departments are going through a major paradigm shift. In the same way that manufacturers are testing out technologies that are allowing them to keep up productivity while cutting costs, CEO’s are asking law department leaders to trim as much as possible.

Throughout the world, law departments are using manufacturing theories such as Six Sigma to get more from less. On April 8, The University of Colorado Law School will hold a three-day executive training program for Chief Legal Officers and in-house counsel where they will learn from professionals about how to navigate in the “new normal.” The program will cover topics such as measuring performance, leadership, talent management and using technology to run a law department.  The presenters are great and I’m looking forward to being one of them, as well as learning from folks much smarter than me.

If you are interested in “The Executive Lawyer”, go to www.colorado.edu/law/execlaw or call Harry Horowitz at 303-492-9044.

February 7th, 2013     Categories: Uncategorized    

Why is Everyone Hatin’ on Form D?

More and more I’ve been hearing about companies not filing Form D’s in conjunction with their financings.  The reason:  We don’t want the press picking up on our fundraising / we want to control the message / we are stealth, etc.

This post isn’t about the value of being stealth.  I’ve always thought stealth mode is a little silly.  After all, a startup’s best indication of success is the people that it puts together, but like I said – to each his own.

What this post is about is why I think people should still file Form D’s despite many law firms saying “eh, don’t worry about it.”  I’ll go all lawyer on y’all for a moment.

Regulation D requires a filing, but per Rule 507, if you don’t file it, doesn’t eliminate your ability to rely on RegD for the financing.   Therefore a company that wants to be stealth and elects against the advice not to file the Form D is violating an SEC rule, but it doesn’t jeopardize the offering exemption.    4(2) always exists, but that is factual, and in these very early rounds you may have small angels or others who are tricky.

My sense is that some law firms are loose and cite 4(2), so that VCs have come to believe that it doesn’t really matter whether you file the Form D.

The SEC has not gone after anyone yet (but could), but as some of you may recall the S-1 (IPO filing document) requires disclosure of what exemption you relied upon (and I have heard of current situations in which the SEC was really reading this section closely which isn’t surprising in this era of SecondMarket), so a company that doesn’t file the Form D has to decide how they disclose what they did, and risk more SEC questions.

Note, you no longer need to list the names of the investors in the Form D, so it is less of an issue to file it.  Even if a company doesn’t promptly file, once they have announced the round publicly I would recommend that they then file theForm D.

Note also that if a public acquirer is picking up your company, they are, too, going to go through each financing with a fine tooth comb.

Bottom line:  seems like little value for a potential problem later that you don’t need.  Suck it up and file the D’s and keep all of our reporter friends happy at the same time.

August 13th, 2012     Categories: Financings, Law, Uncategorized    

Goodbye Yahoo! It was nice knowing you.

Mark the date of February 28, 2012 as the official death of Yahoo!. Sure there are still people there collecting paychecks and day traders making a buck or two playing games with the stock price, but today Yahoo! waved the white flag.  How so?  Well, today it was announced that Yahoo! has become yet another patent troll by threatening to sue Facebook.  In other words, Yahoo! has admitted that it can’t compete, can’t innovate, can’t figure a way forward and thus will hire lawyers to be its revenue generation engine.  Kara Swisher properly calls it the “Kodak Strategy.”

I can’t begin to even explain how profoundly disappointed I am with Yahoo’s decision.  It wasn’t just the way the started this war (classless) or their choice of timing (blatantly opportunistic), but the fact that they have opted out of the club of companies that are innovating and creating jobs for this country.  No longer should we mention them when talking about the Internet stalwarts or listen to anything they think about policy or innovation.  Because they won’t / can’t compete and now decide to sue instead of taking responsibility for their current situation.

I would argue as a shareholder the most responsible thing for Yahoo! to do is to liquidate the company and put the patent assets in a trust that will pay out over the next X years.  Clearly, if they aren’t going to compete why stay in business?  Why do they employ engineers, product managers, marketing folks, etc. when good startups can use these talented people?  As a citizen of the Internet, I also urge a boycott of the company and the decisions makers behind this when they go to look for their next job.

Goodbye Yahoo!  As an early adopter and sideline cheerleader of you for the past 15 years, you’ve managed to destroy all of your goodwill in one stupid, poorly thought out and evil move.

February 28th, 2012     Categories: Uncategorized    

Learning Entrepreneurship – Boulder Digital Works

I’m excited to announce a Boulder Digital Works course that will be open to the public in the Spring of 2012, StartUp: Learning Entrepreneurship.

This is the first BDW course inviting community members to join  graduate students and engage in the graduate curriculum.  StartUp is immersive and transformational––both theoretical and practical. It begins with the premise that entrepreneurship, rather than being the result of genius and magic, can be learned;  Startup then proves this premise through the actual conception, build, and launch of an original product or service by student teams within a single semester.

Led by serial entrepreneur Robert Reich with a supporting team from a variety of sectors from the contemporary entrepreneurial world, this course puts students inside the mind of the entrepreneur and immerses them in the daily leadership and innovation challenges of the startup environment.

While its primary focus is the startup and what it demands, this course is also a clinic in thinking, decision making and mental agility that will benefit any area of business––not just startups.

Download more detailed information on the course and the application to enroll here, or email bdw.info@colorado.edu for details.

Here is a great video talking about the program, too: http://vimeo.com/32882215

December 11th, 2011     Categories: Uncategorized    

Come On Yahoo! – Try Competing, Not Dirty Pool

Today it was intimated that Yahoo! may enter the world of patent trolling.  If you haven’t seen the article, it’s here.  In short,  it appears that Yahoo! is increasing its patent filing activity and shopping itself, in part, based on the value of its patents.  Their patents generally revolve around search and social networking.

Now if they have real deep algorithms in search that are patented, I can get my head around it.  What I fear is that their “social networking” patents are business method patents that will cover business process ideas, but no real innovation.  And they’ll use these patents either to sell or to offensively go after real innovative companies like Facebook.  The article suggests that something like this could potentially derail a Facebook IPO even.

I can’t event begin to tell you how furious all of this patent trolling activity makes me.  My partner Brad wrote yesterday a great piece about Another Day, Another Patent troll.  There is a lot more behind his post than just what he says, but, unfortunately, we aren’t at liberty to talk about particular portfolio company situations.

If only the Supreme Court had not allowed itself to become politicized and actually decided Bilksi on the merits, then the world would be a better place.  I was at the oral arguments for Bilksi and I can assure you not one single justice was even partially sympathetic to Bilksi’s case, but evidently politics won out over reason.

Yahoo!  Don’t be evil.  Try competing on the merits of innovation, not the perverted incentives of a broken patent system that this country currently “enjoys.”

 

 

November 8th, 2011     Categories: Uncategorized    

Wanted – Entrepreneur to Pitch Me During My CU Class

I co-teach a class at the University of Colorado Law School called “VC 360.”  We have both MBA and JD candidates and the course deals with all things in the entrepreneurial / venture ecosystem.

Each year, we have a pitch day where one entrepreneur comes in and pitches me.  The students get to watch.  The entrepreneur and I get an hour together and then the students get to ask questions for 20 minutes.

This is a real pitch.  It’s not any different than if someone comes to our offices, but there is a “studio audience.”

So if you are interested in pitching Foundry Group and want to do something great for the Boulder education community, let me know.  I can only take one.

The pitch date is 10/31 at 8am in Boulder.

September 21st, 2011     Categories: Uncategorized    

Mr. Mendelson Goes to Washington

Last week, I had the honor of testifying in front of Congress on the merits of enacting the Startup Visa.  It was a humbling experience.  I can’t remember being quite as nervous before a speaking engagement, but it all went well.  My partner in crime, Shervin Pishevar both sought bi-partisan support for the only guaranteed job creation tactic that I know.  Even better, it would cost American taxpayers absolutely nothing.

In preparation for the oral testimony, I drafted written testimony explaining why this bill must be passed, without delay and without the over politicizing that occurs any time the word “immigration” is heard in D.C.  The overall vibe on both sides of the floor seemed positive, so I’m cautiously optimistic, but then again this is Congress we are talking about.

If you are as passionate about this issue as we at Foundry Group are, get involved.  Tell your Congressperson to get engaged.

Special thanks to the NVCA, especially Emily Baker and Emily Mendell for helping Shervin and I through the process.

In case you don’t believe that I can put on a tie, above is proof.

 

September 20th, 2011     Categories: Uncategorized    

This Week In Techstars – Behind the Scenes of I’m a VC

David Cohen came over to my version of “the Bunker” and filmed an episode of This Week In Techstars.  Also, featured is Coursekit, a New York Techstars team that has impressed me enough that I’m using their software in the class that I teach.

 

September 11th, 2011     Categories: Uncategorized    

Finally an Option for Early Escrow Liquidity

VCs understand the reality that when we exit a portfolio company, a portion of the consideration is virtually always tied up in escrow for one to two years.  We hope that it is all eventually paid out, but sometimes it’s not and that’s difficult to plan for.

What if we could sell escrow interests at a discount, accelerating the payout and avoiding unpredictable losses?  That could help a VC redeploy the cash immediately, close out an end-of-life fund, or even improve IRR by receiving the consideration earlier.

That option is now available through an innovation called SRS EscrowExchange, which is a financial product designed to allow shareholders to convert illiquid escrow holdings to cash by selling their interests.  SRS | Shareholder Representative Services is using SecondMarket’s secure auction platform for the product, which gives sellers the opportunity to set their own offer price.

This is a major innovation for the private company M&A market.  It’s also one more great reason to engage SRS as the professional shareholder representative when selling your company, because the product is only available for select deals where SRS is the shareholder rep.

You can view the full press release here.

September 8th, 2011     Categories: Uncategorized