Archive for the ‘Venture Capital’ Category

Groupon is not a Bubble Make

Last Friday, I noticed a tweet from my friend Aziz Gilani (@texasvc) at DFJ Mercury:

“When asked questions by the audience, john doerr just filed groupon under ‘bubble’. The crowd roared! @rbpc2011″

Normally, the half-life of tweets are about 5 minutes for me (if that), but this one stuck in my head all weekend because it is wrong on a few levels.

First, I don’t think Groupon is a bubble, or indicative of a bubble. While I don’t have a ton of inside knowledge, from what I do know they are creating substantial profits at the company. I guess you could file Groupon next to Facebook, Twitter or Zynga if you are that cynical, but in each of these cases, there are real businesses here. What are reasonable valuations for these entities? No clue, I’m an early-stage investor, but profit is profit. And I don’t think any of these markets are fads.

Whether or not any of these companies are long-term successes, I don’t know (my guess is they will be), but these don’t look like bubble companies that I’ve seen in the past.

I think the term bubble referred to the Dot Com blowup a decade ago. Many of these bubble companies had no viable business models and were acquired or taken public due to hype. Many of these companies had negative margins for every good they sold. I’m sorry, but volume doesn’t help you here. (Note to self: shipping kitty litter is expensive).

And why be a hater Mr. Doerr or audience? In the case of Mr. Doerr, he is one of the most prolific investors of our time, so I’m not sure why he has to be negative. As momma used to say….

As for the audience, I’m not sure if this reaction was spurred by jealousy, or some desire to see the VC ecosystem do poorly, but all of us in the startup community should be rooting for our industry, whether or not we invested in these companies or not.

I wasn’t at the event, so perhaps I’m taking too much issue from a third-hand report in 140 characters or less, but this just hit me the wrong way.

April 18th, 2011     Categories: Venture Capital    

Celebrate 65 years of Venture Capital April 6th in Boston

To celebrate the 65th anniversary of the venture capital industry and the outstanding entrepreneurs that the venture capitalists have funded and supported, Xconomy, in partnership with the National Venture Capital Association and the MIT Museum, is organizing a conference and celebration to take place on April 6. Held in concert with the National Venture Capital Association’s Annual Meeting in Boston, Xconomy’s VC65: Celebrating the 65th Anniversary of Venture Capital in America will include more than 500 venture capitalist attendees at the NVCA Annual Meeting, as well as leading company founders, entrepreneurs and academics in the wider innovation community. There will be a lot of celebrating, informative panels and controversy, as I plan on shaking things up a bit on my panel. :)

If you want to come, the link is here.

March 29th, 2011     Categories: Venture Capital    

CU New Venture Challenge is Back!

If you’d like to see what the student start-up scene is like in Boulder, check out the Third Annual CU New Venture Challenge Championships on the evening of Thursday, March 10th in the Wolf Law Building on campus. Supported by Silicon Flatirons and several other academic partners, this campus-wide business plan competition encourages students from different disciplines to come together and form a team that includes many different areas of expertise, from law to engineering. Teams are mentored by local business leaders in a similar system to the TechStars model, encouraging a stronger connection between the campus and the community.

Final business plan presentations begin in the Courtroom at 5:30pm with a job fair beforehand at 4pm in the law school café featuring local start-ups such as Next Big Sound, Power Tagging, and more. In addition to the winning teams, the event will feature recognition of several successful CU graduates who have gone on to start their own companies like Sarah Schupp of University Parent and Nathan Seidle of SparkFun. Refreshments and light snacks will be served.

Last year’s winner was strEATchefs, the popular gourmet food trailer inspired by Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg, and many past participants who may not have won any official prizes or even decided not to formally compete ended up becoming very actively involved with entrepreneurship in Boulder, such as Everlater going on to participate in TechStars.

This will be a great showcase event highlighting how entrepreneurship at the university is connected with Boulder’s exciting start-up scene. Register here:

February 25th, 2011     Categories: Education, Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital    

Call For All US-based Open Coffee Clubs

About 4 years ago, I founded the Boulder Open Coffee Club.  It’s been a massive success with about 50-70 people attending each event.  The popularity of it, in fact, has led to the creation of a Denver Open Coffee Club by local entrepreneur Michael Sitarzewski.

The Coffee Club has become a real local hub where we’ve gotten to know each other and help each other learn from each other’s experiences.  It’s been a ton of fun, too, and we’ve even got some airplay on TV recently.

From time to time, I get an email from another open coffee club telling me about what they are doing.  I’ve done a poor job keeping track of all the OCCs in the US and I am wondering whether or not it would be worthwhile to create a network between them.

If you participate in an OCC, drop me a line or leave a comment.  I’d like to see who else is out there.

February 2nd, 2011     Categories: Company Running, Technology, Venture Capital    

For the Best Chance of Getting Funded, Move Your Startup to Colorado

From website, this is a somewhat surprising map of Form Ds from the last year by state.  Form Ds are filed when a company raises money, so it’s a great proxy of where companies are getting funded.  (The original map can be found here).


You’ll note that per million people, Colorado is in the top bracket for financings.  Now, many will argue that a place like California has a much greater population and therefore there is dilution to this study.  However, the population difference is 37 million to 5 million (7x), but there is way more than 7x the amount of venture capital money and presumably amount of startup companies as well in California compared to Colorado.

The conclusion:  Clearly Colorado is importing a lot of VC money has has high quality companies to fund.  As we like to say in Boulder:  ”We Love Our Bubble.”

December 10th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Financings, Venture Capital    

Brightleaf Automates the NVCA Model Documents (a.k.a. Why Brad Feld will Succeed)

If you are a reader of this blog, or Brad’s you know that we are keenly interested in the ideal that we should be able to arrive at a model document set for venture financings.

Whereas, I argued that he’d never succeed in coming up with a standard set of seed documents, I used the story of the model form document project from the NVCA.  The project actually produced model forms of documents, but most of us were disappointed by the actual usage.  In my opinion, this was because the documents had too many options and took lawyers a while to deal with them.  (For instance founders reps which you never see on the West Coast and things like that).

But at the same time, these documents live and breathe and are updated by some of the great minds in our business on a regular basis.  I feel safe in saying that are more vibrant and accurate than most law firms. 

Today, I’m delighted to announce that our portfolio company Brightleaf has released their platform including the standard form of NVCA documents.  In short, their document automation and assembly software can save lawyers a ton of time using the NVCA forms, while giving them the piece of mind that they are always using the latest and greatest forms in the business. 

Oh yeah.  Did I mention that it’s FREE?

They are offering free “NVCA ASAP” trial accounts to a limited number of VC’s and Emerging Companies law firm practices. For more information about the project (and how to get a trial account) please visit their NVCA ASAP page here.  For a quick overview demo of how Brightleaf works, watch the video here

This could quite possibly be the tipping point in getting us to one standard set of documents.  Maybe Brad won’t fail after all. 

November 5th, 2010     Categories: Financings, Frustrations, Law, Law Firm 2.0, Venture Capital    

A Very Unique M&A Deal Terms Study

I read a lot of M&A deal term summaries.  While I really appreciate the knowledge gleaned from these reports, they all suffer from the same problems:  They are usually biased toward publically filed transactions and those particular deals serviced by the particular bank or law firm whom is author of the report.

Today, Shareholder Representative Services (SRS) is releasing their 2010 SRS M&A Deal Terms Study, which is a comprehensive analysis of deal terms from a sample of the more than 100 transactions for which SRS serves as the shareholder representative. 

The underlying pool of deals differs in important ways from those analyzed by other similar studies.  The transaction agreements analyzed by SRS generally were not publicly filed and are a good representation of what is happening today in venture-backed M&A.

This study will be the first of a series of information products from SRS designed to leverage their expertise and knowledge to help their customers in their deals.  Future offerings will include data regarding what actually happens, long-term, with escrows and earnouts along with an analysis of claims made against the target company.

You can view the full report here.

October 14th, 2010     Categories: Company Running, Law, Venture Capital    

Boulder’s First FounderMatch Event

One of the questions that I’m asked the most is “how do I find a business partner in Boulder?”  I always liken it to dating – it’s really not that much different.  Thanks to the hard work of Tracy DeCicco, we now have a founder matching event in Boulder. Here are the details:

Come Meet Your Match at the first-ever FounderMatch event!

The event will be held on Wed., Nov. 3, from 6-9pm, at the TechStars Bunker in Boulder.

· Do you have an idea but need a partner(s) to help get it off the ground?

· Do you have a strong desire to form a startup but don’t necessarily have an idea?

· Do you want to hear awesome startup ideas and brainstorm with like-minded people?

If you answered yes to any of the above, check out the first FounderMatch event.  Signup is through our partner site,

To signup, go to STARTUPSQUARE.COM/foundermatch


We’ll need to understand your skills and interest areas to help you meet your match!

Space is limited so SIGNUP NOW to get in on the action!  Attendees will be selected to ensure balanced mix of people.

October 13th, 2010     Categories: Company Running, TechStars, Venture Capital    

Fox Business Hits Boulder to See What’s Happening

Boulder has definitely received its fair share of good press relating to its startup ecosystem.  Whether the topic was the 50 Best Places to Start a Business, to Bloomberg / Businessweek declaring Boulder the BEST town for startups, or even the New York Times declaring us a magnet for high-tech, it has been nice to see the efforts of the Boulder community paying off.

Today, Fox Business is spending the day in Boulder interviewing people about what they think is special about this unique 100,000 person town that we live in. 

Here were my thoughts:

October 12th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital    

Great Business Plan Competition in Michigan

Have a great company in Michigan that needs funding?  In what is the largest award that I know of, Accelerate Michigan is offering $500,000 to the winning team.  And if you company isn’t in Michigan, but you want to move there, you are eligible. 

Ann Arbor is still one of my favorite cities.

Here is the official blurb:

Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is an international business plan competition which highlights Michigan as a robust and vibrant venue for innovation and business opportunity. The competition fuels innovation-based business growth by uncovering the best and brightest new business concepts from local and global entrepreneurs, exposing those opportunities to potential investment capital and fostering their growth within Michigan.

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition targets mid-to-late-stage business start-ups with potential to generate an immediate impact on Michigan’s economy, as well as student concepts with longer-term business viability.

With more than $1 million in cash winnings, plus in-kind awards of services, staffing and software, the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is the world’s largest business plan competition.

September 24th, 2010     Categories: Financings, Venture Capital