Markus Moonie, the Swiss founder of Alakaboo (a vegetable photo sharing site), has announced that Facebook will be acquiring the startup he founded for an undisclosed amount. The two time entrepreneur who previously sold his first startup to the Non-profit Creative Commons, says he found Facebook to have a unique view and aligned passion for what he was building.
Its been two years since I moved to Silicon Valley to work at Vast.com. It’s an amazing team, and being mentored by former CEO Kevin Laws and the current CEO John Price will leave an impact on me for the rest of my career.
However, I’ve decided to leave Vast and have accepted an offer in what is literally the heart of Silicon Valley on Sand Hill road, at Charles River Ventures (CRV). My new boss is George Zachary (ranked as #48 by Forbes, and rising).
I can’t say much about my role publicly other than I’m the new best friend of the seed portfolio at CRV, where their success determines my success. So in that regard, I’m looking forward to making them as successful as can be!
As an aside, I’m already behind in my email and sorry to those waiting. But since people have heard I work in VC now, my inbox has hit a new level not just in volume of requests for my help in something but aggressiveness to do so. Please be respectful, thanks 🙂
Michael Arrington has written about the current bubble in Silicon Valley: the angel investor. He suggests a war is occurring with this new class of investor, and that entrepreneurs need to pick their faction. I don’t doubt the politics is real, and I’m sure it exists between the angels themselves – let’s hope they realise that united they stand, but divided they will all fall.
But I think this “conflict” is really about a change in times. Much like how the traditional gatekeepers of information – the newspaper industry – are battling the process-journalism innovators that we call ‘bloggers’. (Like, ahem, TechCrunch.) No one appointed the Venture Capital industry as the gatekeeper for technology innovation, which is similar to the arrogance of the newspapers that think they ‘own’ the news and deserve special protection because of it. Maybe these over-sized funds should take a lesson from the newspapers and realise the times have changed and their model needs to change as well.
But where I differ with Arrington’s perspective is his prognosis that this is bad for innovation. Conflating this with ‘bigger ideas not getting funded’ is wrong. The point is, is that more innovation can get funded, more veterans are being developed, and more value is being created in the long run. This should be analysed not by the growth of a single tree, but the overall development of the entire forest.
We need more seed-accelerators, more super-angels, and more incubators – because inevitably, it will lead to more startups. And whilst not all will hit a home run, the odds of ‘the next big idea’ happening will improve dramatically.
Feedback is now coming out about Angel list, a new service from the blog Venturehacks. It’s a simple concept: get a group of angel investors and promise you will send quality deal flow to them that’s been vetted; likewise say to entrepreneurs that all they need to do is fill out a form and they will get access to some of the smartest investors in Silicon Valley. It’s so simple that is hurts, and yet only people like Naval Ravikant and Babak “Nivi” Nivi would be able to pull it off as it takes serious credibility to get both groups involved. Venturehacks in my opinion is the number two blog on venture and investment in technology, after Fred Wilson’s blog.
Angel list is a special thing that I believe will transform Silicon Valley. Much like how Michael Arrington exploited the market dynamic to make TechCrunch the success it was, Ravikant and Nivi is doing the same thing by connecting entrepreneurs with investors. And not just any investors: the early stage investors that startups really need. Simply put, it’s reducing the costs of innovation in Silicon Valley – the ‘thing’ that has changed the world.
I really hope the industry rallies around this and collaboration opportunities with other high profile angels continue. Jason Calacanis for example is doing something equally impressive with the Open Angel forum, and I sense they both have equal motivations due to their annoyance at how other investor groups have abused their position in the industry. Even though I see them adding different value to the startup scene (they’re similar but different – and should stay different for maximum value creation), all I can say is “awesome – I want more”.
New job, new industry, new city, new country.
In the last few years, I’ve come out of nowhere (meaning no idea how!) to become a person driving a global industry movement (the DataPortability Project) and a recognised champion for my nation’s Internet industry (Silicon Beach). Ironically, I don’t have a computer software background (I’m a chartered accountant), and I don’t work directly in tech (I’ve worked in financial services) So this transition is a realignment in my life, that I hope will bring me closer to doing what I’ve recognised is my true passion: building Internet companies that add value to our world.
What will I be doing?
Reporting to the CEO, I’ll be managing the overall finance and accounting functions of the company. However with time and as the company grows, I’ll be taking on additional responsibilities that can extend my current skill-base and experience. I’m thankful that the CEO Kevin Laws (one of the smartest guys in any room – seriously!), the chairman Naval Ravikant (one of the most successful Valley entrepreneurs around – 15 companies and counting!), and Director of Product Steve Greenberg (wisest guy I’ve ever met – both in insight and wit) believe in me and want to help me reach my potential…whatever that may be. Vast.com has an exciting business model with a veteran executive team – I don’t know where my future is headed but I know it’s in good hands.
So are you giving up on Australia?
No way! In fact, I think my presence in Silicon Valley is going to allow me to extend the Silicon Beach effort. I will have a permanent couch reserved for all of Australia’s tech entrepreneurs (well if I can – housing and room-mate pending!) and I’ll be developing my expertise from the world’s best to share back with my compatriots. I do hope one day to return to Australia and I have plenty of reason to do so – my family is in Sydney as are my half-dozen best friends who quite literally are the best mates a guy could have. I’ll still be doing the Silicon Beach podcast’s and whatever else I can to keep me connected to Australia – socially, professionally, spiritually – but having said that though, it may be a while before I do come back. I’ve got a hell of a lot to learn first!
This is a move that I hope will position me for bigger and better things. Its been a very hard decision to give up my near perfect life in Sydney, but I’m also very excited about the opportunities possible in my new position. Living overseas is something everyone needs to do in their lifetime for their own personal growth, and working in Silicon Valley is something I had to do (or as my new boss Kevin has said repeatedly now, “you belong here”), otherwise I’d forever regret not doing it.
I’ve still got a month to wind up things here in Sydney but I plan to be in San Francisco by 1 August 2009 at the latest. For those in Australia, I hope I get to catch you all before I go. For the American’s: be warned – trouble’s coming. 🙂
Wish me luck!