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June 24th S2S: The New Venture

The venture capital industry in the midst of a dramatic transition as prominent firms have shut down and new ones have risen. What’s going to happen? Does it change how entrepreneurs should work with Angels and VCs? Does it change how they should choose firms?

We’ve asked three great–and outspoken–investors to give help us figure out what it all means. John Malloy (BlueRun), David Lee (SV Angels) and Steve Harrick (IVP) have invested in startups like PayPal, MySQL, Twitter, Spiceworks, Hunch and Slide. They’ll give a candid inside view into what the landscape looks like now for VCs and what has changed–and what has not changed–in the way that startups should raise money and find partners.

Join us for a lively panel and discussion on the new VC at our first dinner of the summer.

Steve Harrick

Steve Harrick joined Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) in October 2001 and has over twelve years of venture capital experience. He focuses on investing in later-stage technology companies with exceptional growth potential. Steve was recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 100 venture capitalists in the world by his inclusion in the 2009 Forbes Midas List. He was also recognized by AlwaysOn as one of the top 100 venture capitalists by his inclusion in the AlwaysOn 2009 VC 100 List.

Steve led IVP’s investments in Aster Data Systems, Business.com (acquired by R.H. Donnelley Corp.), CafePress.com, eHealth (EHTH), MarkMonitor, Motion Computing, MySQL (acquired by Sun Microsystems, Inc.), RGB Networks, Spiceworks, Teros (acquired by Citrix Systems, Inc.), Tripwire, Varolii and WebEx (WEBX). He was actively involved in IVP’s investments in ArcSight (ARST), Danger (acquired by Microsoft Corp.) and Yext. Steve currently serves on the Board of Directors of MarkMonitor and Spiceworks and is a Board Observer for Aster Data Systems, Tripwire and Varolii.

David Lee

David Lee is General Partner of SV Angel, an angel fund that focuses on investments in the consumer Internet, mobile, video and other IT industries. Some current investments include Twitter, Hunch.com, StackOverflow, NowMov and DailyBooth. Prior to SV Angel, he was a partner at Baseline Ventures, a leading seed-stage investment firm with investments in companies like TrialPay, Aardvark (acquired by Google), Heroku and Weebly. He also had business development leadership positions at StumbleUpon and Google, and was an attorney at Morrison and Foerster representing high-tech companies in commercial transactions. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins, NYU (JD) and Stanford (MSEE), where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate fellow.

John Malloy

John is a General Partner and co-founder of BlueRun Ventures, formed in 1998. John’s commitment to entrepreneurs and their market vision is reflected by his thoughtful, passionate and consistent efforts to help founding teams reach the full potential of their endeavors.

John brings global operations and marketing experience into such investment areas as internet services, digital media and mobile broadband services. He has more than 20 years’ experience as an executive, entrepreneur, investor, and director of venture-backed start-ups, and has served on the boards of more than 20 companies. Most notably, he was the first venture investor and board member in Paypal, for which he was named on Forbes’ Midas List of Top Venture Capitalists.

Some of John’s current investments and boards include Chomp, Slide, Topsy, Varolii and FusionOne.

Prior to founding BRV, John served in management and executive roles with Nokia, Go Communications and MCI. He holds a J.D. from George Mason University and B.A. from Boston College.

Feb. 25: Try this for Lean Startup! With Mark Fletcher

Want to know how Mark Fletcher got 10x more people to help him start his new company at 1/10th the cost of his last one? For our January dinner, we have invited Mark, founder of ONEList (now Yahoo! Groups) and Bloglines, to walk through the choices he made with each startup including the stealth project he is working on right now. From databases to design, hiring to financing, Mark will share his own personal stories of what worked and what didn’t. Most importantly, he’ll share his latest secrets for getting a product up and running on almost nothing.

In 2003, Mark Fletcher started Bloglines, a free web-based news aggregation service. Using Bloglines, users can search, subscribe to, share and publish blogs and RSS feeds. Bloglines was named one of Time Magazine’s Top 50 Web Sites for 2004, and was named the Best Blog/Feed Search Engine by the Search Engine Watch Awards in 2005. In February, 2005, Bloglines was acquired by Ask Jeeves, where Mark served as VP & General Manager of Bloglines until May, 2006.

In 1997, Mark started ONElist, a free Internet email list service. To that point, email lists had been difficult to set up and administer. Through ONElist, Mark set out to make email lists available to even novice users. As CEO, Mark raised money from CMGI and Bertelsmann Ventures in 1998. The service was the category leader from the beginning and in November 1999, ONElist acquired eGroups, its main competition. Yahoo acquired the resulting company, renamed eGroups, in June 2000 and the service is now called Yahoo Groups. At acquisition, eGroups served twenty million active users, one million email lists, and sent out over two billion email messages a month, making it one of the largest services on the Internet. Mark served as CEO of ONElist from inception until October 1999 and was CTO until the acquisition by Yahoo.

Prior to ONElist, Mark was a Senior Software Engineer for Sun Microsystems, where he worked on web enabled set top boxes. He came to Sun through the acquisition of Diba, a Menlo Park, CA startup working to develop an embedded web surfing software and hardware system. At Diba, Mark developed key embedded web browser technologies.

Sylar on Entrepreneurship (or Startup “Heroes” 101)

Beyond its entertainment value, the TV Show “Heroes” provides tremendous lessons in the field of entrepreneurship. Three characters in particular emulate the virtues of startup leaders: Sylar (the killer who steals people’s special powers), the Cheerleader (who heals instantly), and Noah Bennet (the ordinary man who hunts “specials”).

Let’s overlook the fact that Sylar cuts people’s heads open to take their powers. The son of a watchmaker, Sylar has an insatiable curiosity to understand how things work. I believe one of the reasons so many great startups are founded by engineers has to do with this trait. Engineers, by the nature of their job, need to understand what makes a product tick. What is possible with this technology? How can I use this to my advantage? Once they absorb a skill, they apply it to new problems in new areas. But whether you are an engineer or a business guy, you must drill into every detail of a product to understand what is possible. Read Joel Spolsky’s My First BillG Review for a great example of this characteristic, as practiced by Bill Gates. Scott Cook was also notorious at Intuit for drilling into the details of unsuspecting product managers and developers. Luckily, we don’t have to tear someone’s skull open to gain their knowledge. But if you aren’t asking every question you can about how everything works, you are handicapping yourself.

The Cheerleader
This one is a simple lesson, albeit a sad one. In a startup you will get knocked down almost every day. People will tell you why your ideas won’t work. Your product will rarely explode into a blockbuster the day you release it. Sometimes team members will leave you. Sometimes competitors will surround you. It sucks. So take a lesson from the Cheerleader, and regenerate as quickly as possible after every injury. If you are still developing new ideas days after old ideas failed, you will likely succeed at one of them. James Hong is well known for Hot or Not, the weekend project that became an overnight sensation. But James worked on at least a dozen startup ideas prior to that. Thankfully he kept at it, or there would be a lot more single people in the world.

Noah Bennet
Bennet is the most impressive of them all. “What?” you say, “He doesn’t even have a special power.” Exactly. Bennet holds his own against people born with amazing natural abilities because his character works harder than every other character on the show. You do not have to be that genius who gets straight A’s with no effort, you just have to out work that guy. Want proof? Just ask Dave McClure, the country bumpkin from West Virginia who is still online at 5am out running all of you. automatic translations If people telling you something can’t be done makes you want to fight even harder to prove them wrong, you’re on your way.

Let’s summarize Entrepreneurship 101 as taught by our “Heroes”: Slice open products and understand them, with each startup attempt heal quickly, and out work those “specials”.

Jan 21: Matt Blumberg Shares the Story of Return Path and Best Practices in Email Deliverability

For our January Startup2Startup, we have invited Matt Blumberg, Cofounder, CEO, and Chairman of Return Path to speak. Matt will share the Return Path story, startup lessons learned, and best practices in email deliverability.

Email is a critical component of how companies communicate with their customers and prospective customers, whether for marketing purposes or as part of the product’s user experience. While writing good copy helps achieve email success, the best copy in the world is worthless if the email doesn’t reach its recipient. Despite its importance, email deliverability remains a black box for most entrepreneurs. Come hear Matt Blumberg demystify email deliverability and share best practices he’s learned building Return Path’s leading email solution.

Matt Blumberg

Matt Blumberg founded Return Path in 1999 because he believed the world needed email to work better. Matt is passionate about enhancing the online relationship between email subscribers and marketers so that both sides of the equation benefit. It is with great pride that he has watched this initial creation grow to a company of 150 employees with the market leading brand, innovative products, and the email industry’s most renowned experts.

Before Return Path, Matt ran marketing, product management, and the internet group for MovieFone, Inc. (later acquired by AOL). Prior to that he served as an associate with private equity firm General Atlantic Partners and was a consultant with Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University.

You can learn more about Matt by reading his email marketing and entrepreneurship blog Only Once – one of the first CEO blogs on the Internet.

If you want to brush up before Matt’s talk, review the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s definitions of email campaign performance metrics.

Startup2Startup is a group of Silicon Valley geeks, entrepreneurs, and investors dedicated to educating and helping the next generation of internet startups. We meet monthly over dinner to discuss relevant topics in technology and entrepreneurship, connect with new people and companies, and share our knowledge and experience.

December 2: The *Real-Time* Holiday Roast of Robert Scoble (aka The 2009 Startup2Startup Holiday Party)

Except for a minor financial crisis, 2009 was a great year. Now it’s time to celebrate.

In 2009, Startup2Startup hosted the following amazing speakers: Amy Jo Kim, Jeff Veen, Tony Hsieh, Steve Blank, Eric Ries, Randi Zuckerberg, Steve Grove, Chris Sacca, Mark Pincus, Geoff Ralston, Jason Calacanis, Guy Kawasaki, Jack Herrick, Gil Penchina, David Weekly, Jeff Hammerbacher & Roger Magoulas.

And now we bring you: The Real-Time Holiday Roast of Robert Scoble… Robert is the undisputed Crown Prince of Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, Online Video, and most every other bleeding edge technology you haven’t quite heard of yet. Join us for some good-natured fun at Robert’s expense, along with several surprise roasters who will put him on the hot seat. We’ll also announce a few choice predictions and crystal-ball gazing for 2010. We hope you’ll enjoy our holiday celebration

Nov 10: Jeff Hammerbacher from Cloudera, Roger Magoulas from O’Reilly on Big Data

Our topic for November is Big Data. Big and small companies have always tried to figure out how to store, organize and manage the data that they create and capture. Now that there are massive, ever growing new data sources from internal clickstreams to external twitter feeds, companies are overwhelmed with data. But some startups, unsaddled by old architectures and preconceived notions, are taking advantage of the combination of enormous new data sources, cheap storage and new analysis tools and techniques in order to change their product, their customers and their businesses. For this month’s dinner and the final regular meeting of the year, we’ve invited Jeff Hammerbacher, Chief Scientist at Cloudera and the founder of Facebook’s Data team, and Roger Magoulas, director of market research at O’Reilly, to talk about Big Data.

Jeff Hammerbacher
Jeff Hammerbacher is Chief Scientist and VP of Products at Cloudera. He was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Accel Partners immediately prior to joining Cloudera. Before Accel, he conceived, built, and led the Data team at Facebook. The Data team was responsible for driving many of the applications of statistics and machine learning at Facebook, as well as building out the infrastructure to support these tasks for massive data sets. The team produced two open source projects: Hive, a system for offline analysis built above Hadoop, and Cassandra, a structured storage system on a P2P network. Before joining Facebook, Jeff was a quantitative analyst on Wall Street. Jeff earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Harvard University.

Roger Magoulas
Roger Magoulas is Research Director at O’Reilly Media. Magoulas runs a team that is building an open source analysis infrastucture and provides analysis services, including technology trend analysis, to business decision-makers at O’Reilly and beyond. In previous incarnations, Magoulas designed and implemented data warehouse projects for organizations ranging from the San Francisco Opera to the Alberta Motor Club.

Oct. 8 Startup2Startup: What do Wikis tell us about the future of the Web?

Our topic for October is Wikis and the future of the Web. The first Wiki started getting page hits in November 1994. Wikis have been around for 15 years and we’re still unraveling their implications. Wikis influence at least some part of probably every important web startup this decade and the lessons learned from of the challenges of wikis–creating and tending to community, content, trust models and monetization–should be understood by all web entrepreneurs. For our October dinner, we have invited three CEOs to share their secrets and lessons learned from building businesses based on the Ward Cunningham’s elegant idea.

Jack Herrick
Jack Herrick is a serial entrepreneur and wiki enthusiast. Jack currently runs wikiHow, a wiki based how-to manual. wikiHow is a bootstrap funded start-up. With over 17 million unique visitors, wikiHow is the 105th most popular site in the US according to Quantcast.com. As wikiHow’s steward, Jack works with a community of thousands of volunteers who create, edit and maintain wikiHow’s 60,000 how-to articles.

Gil Penchina
Gil Penchina is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Wikia.com, the largest commercial wiki, whose users have written over 3 million articles in 100 languages in the last three years. The site now reaches over 14mm unique visitors per month according to Comscore. Prior to Wikia.com Gil was an executive at eBay for 8 years, most recently as a regional VP for eBay in Europe. Before eBay, Gil worked at General Electric, Bain & Co. and started two small technology companies. He has a Bachelors in Engineering from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from Kellogg. In addition, Gil is an active angel investor in companies such as Linkedin, Paypal, Flock, Koders, ZipRealty, FindWhat and other consumer Internet services.
David Weekly
A Boston native and son of a MIT engineer, David Weekly has been programming since he was five and has coded for MIT, Harvard, Stanford, There.com, atWeb, and Legato. David wrote the first layman’s description of MP3 in early 1997 and graduated in 2000 with a BS in Computer Science from Stanford, where he was a President Scholar and a finalist in the ACM International Programming Competition.

David started the company that became PBwiki (now PBworks) in 2003, along the way creating SingleStat.us and IMSmarter.

Sept 3rd CeWebrity DeathMatch: Jason Calacanis vs Guy Kawasaki on “Is Apple Becoming Big Brother?”

Our wrestlers speakers for September will be Jason Calacanis and Guy Kawasaki. Jason and Guy will debate the topic of whether Apple is becoming “Big Brother”, whether they will approve your app for the App Store, whether Apple is now officially more Evil than Microsoft or Google, and whether Steve Jobs will let you know the next time he plans to have a checkup. We expect nothing less than a good old-fashioned SmackDown and MudSlinging. The fight debate is scheduled to go 3 rounds, or To The Pain (popcorn and lawnchairs cost extra). We know you won’t want to miss it.

Jason Calacanis
Jason Calacanis is founder and CEO of Mahalo.com, a human-powered search engine which launched in May 2007. Prior to Mahalo, Jason was an “Entrepreneur in Action” at Sequoia Capital. Jason is also a co-host and partner for TechCrunch50, a technology conference showcasing top new startups.

Before Mahalo, Jason was co-founder and CEO of Weblogs Inc, sold to AOL in November 2005. Upon joining AOL, he was appointed SVP and became GM of AOL Netscape. Prior to Weblogs, Jason was the founder of Rising Tide Studios, which produced Silicon Alley Reporter. The company was later sold to Dow Jones.

Jason is a frequent speaker at technology conferences, and his newsletter is published by Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and Nikkei Japan. He appears regularly in major news outlets including Charlie Rose, CNN, 60 minutes, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and others.

Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki is a founding partner and entrepreneur-in-residence at Garage Technology Ventures. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an online magazine of popular topics on the web.

Previously, Guy was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer. He is the author of nine books including Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way.

Guy has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.