This has to be an April Fool’s Joke, but it got a chuckle nonetheless. It seems two of the companies I’m on the board of (PayPerPost & CallMiner) have a secret joint venture with the CIA to identify and undermine radical, dissident bloggers. Hey, I know some of those. Why didn’t my entrepreneurs tell me so I could watch what I say here at FVB? Maybe I’m a spy and don’t even realize it?
by Dan Rua…just a VC, living vicariously thru entrepreneurs…
Category Archives: payperpost
Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the power of respectful, well-done product placements, but I noticed a few brands (when my eyes weren’t shut) at my recent pre-screening of Cloverfield. Kudos to those marketers who managed to secure prime brand placement without hurting the story in the middle of a first-person war zone formerly known as Manhattan. Also, thanks for helping support such great entertainment!
The brands I noticed and when:
– Sephora: Rob leans against Sephora building with brand above his shoulder, just as his phone dies;
– Nokia: Rob cries it out on a subway bench with Nokia by his side;
– Aquafina: Rob pries Aquafina machine with crowbar as brand swings toward camera;
– Mountain Dew: this shot seemed the longest (maybe cuz I Do the Dew daily), behind/above Marlena as she tends to her wounds (was this the same machine Rob previously pried open?)
– PayPerPost: written with sharpie on Cloverfield Monster’s forehead as Hud gets a close-up 😉
– Slusho (if you count ARG IG brands): Jason’s t-shirt at the party [above image credit: projectcloverfield.com]
I’m sure there were plenty more (I think Bonine was subliminal), but at least those above pulled off some monster product placements. If you saw others, please share what/when via comments…
Seeing your babies grow up is bittersweet. Watching my daughters scare others at our haunted house this Halloween, instead of being scared, was both fun and sad.
I feel that same conflict with PayPerPost’s evolution to IZEA, being formally announced tomorrow. PPP has gone from being an unknown upstart in the summer of 2006, to the largest sponsored social media marketplace on the planet with over 80,000 bloggers and over 11,000 advertisers. Ted and his team have launched multiple innovations beyond PPP such as Blogger’s Choice Awards and have acquired others such as Zookoda.
They disrupted the status quo with PPP and their next innovation (code named Argus) will have an even larger and lasting impact for social media publishers and advertisers. As such, the master brand of IZEA makes a ton of sense as the umbrella for multiple synergistic innovations. That doesn’t mean the change doesn’t prompt a bit of sadness for me. I think I’ll be OK.
Hello IZEA and viva la revolucion!
PayPerPost, Inc. Changes Corporate Name To IZEA™
To Support Expanding Suite of Social Media Marketing Solutions
Original Consumer Generated Advertising Network PayPerPost.com
To Continue as Part of Broader Portfolio
ORLANDO, FL – (November 1, 2007) – Social media marketing pioneer PayPerPost, Inc. today announced it is changing its corporate name to organize the multiple properties its has developed within the fast-changing world of social media. Effective immediately, the company will operate under the parent name of IZEA™ Inc., incorporating consumer generated advertising network PayPerPost.com and other Web sites currently operating under the PayPerPost, Inc. umbrella.
Founded in June 2006, IZEA has raised over $10 million in venture capital from top venture firms including Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Village Ventures and Inflexion Partners. The company initially launched flagship service PayPerPost.com and has since developed a diverse portfolio of online properties that enable content creators and advertisers to mutually benefit from social media.
In addition to PayPerPost.com, IZEA owns and operates Zookoda.com, BloggersChoiceAwards.com, RockStartup.com, RSSBrief.com, URLBrief.com and BlogInSpace.com, among others.
The name change comes just days before the scheduled unveiling of IZEA’s highly anticipated new service, codenamed Argus. An alpha version of the offering will be revealed on Nov. 10 at PostieCon, the company’s annual user conference. It will provide both bloggers and advertisers more visibility into social media and allow them to interact with each other and the public in more immediate, transparent and accountable ways. Access to the alpha version will be by invitation only through the end of 2007.
“Argus is the kind of breakthrough marketers and bloggers have both been asking for. It will have broader appeal and set new standards for scalability in social media marketing,” said Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA Inc. “The combination of advanced reporting, open APIs, blog analytics, management tools and social networking features will be extremely attractive to marketers that want to actively engage in online conversations.”
The company is building on past success and looks to expand its core business value with the launch of Argus. “Our marketplace now includes more than 80,000 bloggers and 11,000 advertisers, making it the world’s largest consumer generated ad network,” said Murphy. “We believe Argus can leverage this growth to expand even further, and allow us to address our broader mission: to empower everyone to value and exchange content, creativity and influence.”
The PayPerPost.com sponsored content marketplace will continue operating as it does today. Over the coming months, IZEA will continue to improve the user experience through tighter integration between offerings. By the end of Q1 2008, users will be able to utilize a single sign-on for all IZEA properties. Profiles and data will be shared across IZEA sites, making it easier and faster for users to navigate across platforms.
“I am extremely excited about the future of our company,” said Murphy. “Our new approach will provide more value, innovation and support for our ever-expanding user community.”
IZEA is a next-generation, Web-based social media marketing company. Comprised of properties including PayPerPost, Zookoda, Bloggers Choice Awards and RockStartup, IZEA aims to empower everyone to value and exchange content, creativity and influence. IZEA’s current flagship product is PayPerPost, the leading marketplace for Consumer Generated Advertising that connects advertisers and consumer content creators to deliver compelling marketing messages. IZEA is venture funded by Inflexion Partners, Village Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and DFJ Gotham. Advertisers, consumer content creators and partners are encouraged to join the social media revolution at www.izea.com.
Related images: izea
I’ve been reading Dave Taylor’s writing for the past year+ and he garnered plenty more fans before me. He’s an accomplished entrepreneur, techie and writer. For the past week over at iAOCblog.com (International Association of Online Communicators) he’s been covering the topics of bias, conflicts, disclosure and ethics. I match his school of thought that almost all blogging contains elements of bias. In fact, part of what separates blogging from other media is that biases often define the long-tail niche where a blogger builds his/her audience.
This foundation can be seen in a quote from the first post of his series, “Quick, now, are YOU biased?“
“I’m going to start this week out by proposing that everyone is biased, everyone will tend to make allowances for their friends’ behavior while castigating the same from someone they don’t know or from a social or racial group they dislike. Everyone will review a restaurant owned by their parents differently from one owned by the annoying woman down the block with the loud Mercedes, and everyone will be less likely to use an online service whose director of marketing is a former lover who left for the arms of another.”
Dave followed that post with “How disclosing does disclosure need to be?“, including perspective like:
“What concerns me is that if we go too far with disclaimers, it becomes very difficult to know where to draw the line, to figure out where you don’t have to disclaim what you write. For example, I’ve been a cinemaphile for as long as I can remember, have watched thousands of movies and read at least fifty different books on film theory and interpretation. Along the way, I have found certain directors who I believe are brilliant (Lean, Hitchcock, Kubrick) and others that I think can’t direct their way out of a paper bag (Lynch, Tarantino). Clearly, I’m biased and, heck, you probably don’t agree with my bias. So should I disclaim my bias before I write about film, review a movie or even talk about an actor or production?”
His third post of the series, “Are bloggers EXPECTED to me more ethical than everyone else?“, also echoed my acceptance that the ‘sphere contains a diverse population of participants and motivations:
“I have had conversations with many bloggers who believe that blogging is apparently a higher calling, that to be a successful blogger you must be hyper-ethical, completely transparent and a model, upstanding citizen who eschews all aspects of capitalism. After all, doesn’t information want to be free?….I don’t agree with them. A blog is a tool that makes publishing more convenient and like any tool, it’s up to individuals to make it work for their own needs and requirements. While I applaud those people who put in 50-hour weeks gratis because they believe in what they’re writing about and they’re passionate about sharing their view, I also applaud those bloggers who are experimenting and trying to figure out how to make blogging work for them financially as well as professionally.”
Dave’s closing post of the week, “Psstt… wanna buy a link from my blog, buddy?“, got to the bottom of what he teased all week: whether bloggers should accept payment for their blogging efforts. He makes some pretty bold statements, including support for one of my portfolio companies, PayPerPost, but instead of just quoting him here, I’ll let you enjoy his post in its entirety.
On almost every topic he covered, I wish he’d gone deeper. He is right for plenty of reasons that he didn’t bother including. At the same time, I think most of his points have already been proven out as the real world joined the blog world. The ‘sphere is as diverse as the world is big, and each blogger will succeed or fail based upon pleasing their audience, biases and all.
BTW: I’m biased in a variety of ways about Dave and this topic (see FVB’s Disclosure Policy, http://www.disclosurepolicy.org/ and any number of related prior posts here), so consider me conflicted, opinionated and generally shaped by a world-view that people have the right to live by their own choices, preferably influenced by reason, not mobs.
Just as Peanut Butter is the anchor of a great PB&J, chock full of goodness (and a few nuts); BlogWorld has a terrific lineup of sessions and speakers. To appreciate the breadth, there are 10+ tracks include Beginners, Advanced, Podcasting & New Media, Entrepreneurs, Monetization, Executives, Sports, Milblogging, Political, Special Interest and Pop Culture. To appreciate the depth, each track has 10+ panels — including one on New Media Fundraising with me, Feld, and Arrington.
And, just as Jelly is the tangy, sweetness in a good PB&J, PostieCon layers on some great flavor with new media monetization talks by David Ponce, Michelle Madhok, Jim Kukral, Shirley Frazier, Sherry Heyl, Sean Jackson and others. There’s even a session where the Fab 5 top earners of PayPerPost share their stories/secrets. The events culminate with the unveiling of PPP’s Argus monster of a release (attendees get early-adopter keys) and the Blogger’s Choice Awards Saturday night at Tao Las Vegas (invitation only). Rosie is the top overall BCA vote-getter so far, will Ross the Intern catch her as the final secret ballot votes are tallied? And don’t forget FVB is nominated: vote FVB for Best Business Blog now!
If you’re already planning to attend, please stop me to say Hi! If you haven’t booked yet, get moving. There are still some great non-stop flights available (I just booked) if you can secure your spot at the conferences. If you attend just one blogging event this year, make it this one, er, two, plus the BCAs — all in Vegas…
Related images: blogworld, postiecon, bloggers choice awards, argus, las vegas, payperpost, brad feld, mike arrington, david ponce, michelle madhok, jim kukral, shirley frazier, sherry heyl, rosie, ross the intern
OK, so after talking up blogorlando 2007 to every blogger (and some sponsors) I could find in the area, I find myself locked out of registration. My bad for waiting too long to make my attendance official. It’s scheduled for this Thu-Sat, Sept. 27-29, at Rollins College (with bookend social events at Universal CityWalk and Disney/EPCOT). Well, I’m coming anyway and hope to just blend in like the zombie kid at a turtle-lovers convention.
I attended blogorlando 2006 and came away impressed by its “unconference” feel — very free-wheeling and in-the-trenches informative. This year’s schedule is even better with a keynote from Shel Israel and jam-packed session tracks for PR/Marketing, Media, Technical and Life/Local.
Kudos to blogorlando organizer Josh Hallett (Hyku) and I’m really pumped that one of my portfolio companies (PayPerPost) is sponsoring such a great event. If you already knew about and registered for blogorlando, I hope to see you there. If you’re interested but not registered, maybe we can storm the gates together — assuming there are no tazers around…
I’ve always been intrigued by the potential of predictive markets: speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. That’s why I was excited when Delray Beach, FL-based GuessNow contacted me about sponsoring an FVB review via PPP Direct. It was also timely because I’m following up my completion of Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, with James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds.
The broad idea behind predictive markets is that large populations of people, who stand to benefit from accurate predictions, can become an engine for predicting future events. If you read the wikipedia article I linked above, you’ll find that there is some controversy around the accuracy of results and various approaches to received optimal results.
GuessNow.com has an interesting management team, with John Ferber leading the charge as CEO. John, with his brother Scott, previously founded Advertising.com before selling it to AOL in 2004. I like serial entrepreneurs. I like the connection of advertising minds to predictive markets, because I’ve seen too many companies pursue “cool ideas” like artificial intelligence, behavioral modelling or predictive markets with business models as a secondary concern. I also like that the site feels a bit more engaging/fun than you might expect from a predictive market.
Turning to the site itself, I thought John’s incentive system was interesting. Instead of a pure stock market type of system with various prices for different outcomes, GN implemented a point system. Specifically, users can earn points for answering questions correctly (more points for correct, fewer points for incorrect), answering questions early (more points for early, fewer points for later), and avoiding group think (more points for correct answers going against the crowd). They also have a bonus point system for site participation and advertiser offers, but I don’t entirely understand the “bonus” section of the site — that section feels more like rewarding site behavior and CPA advertising than predictive.
Points are then redeemed for cash, according to a “point value” decided by the total Prize Pool for a month divided by the total number of points awarded in that month. For example, if 500,000 points are awarded in a month with a $5,000 Prize Pool, then each point is worth $.01. If you earned 1,000 points that month, then your points are worth $10.00. I believe a similar calculation happens for the Bonus Prize Pool and bonus points.
They have a good set of questions, including topic areas such as:
- Recently Added Questions
- Business & Finance
- People & Entertainment
- US & World News
- Miss Internet Pageant 2007(?)
- Vida Latina
Some of the questions I’ve answered include:
- Why would you buy a hybrid car?
- Will Facebook do an IPO before Halloween?
- Will either Yahoo or Google acquire Facebook this year?
- Will there be a Microsoft announcement about the purchase of Yahoo by the end of this year?
- Will venture capitalists from the U.S. continue to encourage innovative entrepreneurs in India ?
- With the overwhelming popularity of blogs, YouTube, and interactive reality TV, do you feel that we are at the threshold of Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame”?
The model is pretty flexible. In addition to predictive questions, I also noticed trivia-type questions (e.g. “name the state that…”) and survey-type questions (see hybrid car question above). It’s not clear these are necessary to keep people engaged for predictions, but I can see them opening monetization options.
A few of my suggestions include:
1) I loved some of the higher level data concepts such as accuracy ratios, friction and confidence levels — find ways to share that data and reward publicly on these;
2) I know the “Shocking New Video” ads are probably prompted/related to your Miss Internet Pageant 2007, but they could be a tad risque for the diverse demographic good predictions will require; and
3) I may have missed it, but I couldn’t find where to compare past group predictions with past actual results — that is the question everyone has about such markets and there has to be some data you can share, probably great linkbait.
And, lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention GN’s points-based affiliate program and blog. I don’t know GN’s funding status, but this review has prompted me to dig a little deeper. Thanks for reaching out to me guys!
This was a good week for PayPerPost, probably the biggest since we led their A round last October. Some of the highlights include:
- Launch of new PayPerPost.com
- Launch of PPP DIRECTory, promoting all of the bloggers interested in cutting their own sponsorship deals with PPP Direct
- Launch of PPP Labs (shh…this is kinda secret)
- Start of new VP Marketing Shaun Pope (welcome Shaun!)
- Announcement of a pre-emptive $7M B round by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, including investment from Inflexion, Village Ventures and DFJ Gotham
- Coverage of the launch and funding across social media, including Marcus breaking the story, a rather public display of Arrington’s VC investing ignorance (sorry Mike, I thought ignorance was a kinder description than deliberate misinformation), a hypocritical Jarvis flip-flop (sorry JJ, your refusal to take a position on my wager makes it pretty clear you know sponsored posts deliver more relevance to SEs than typical organic posts), and yet another thorough review by Andy
- Coverage across traditional media: Forbes, Today Show and others…
The result: PPP’s Consumer Generated Advertising revolution is growing faster than ever — signups by 11am today were already 2X our largest day ever. I’ll take that… 😉
In honor of TC’s lucky 13th post about PayPerPost, most with some Mike Arrington swipe at PPP or Ted Murphy, I’ve created the “Be Like Mike” game below. Although TechCrunch and PPP compete for the same social media advertising dollars, Ted and Mike are like the “Odd Couple” of the web and have helped each other build industry-leading companies.
Be Like Mike
The PPP Direct transaction widget really disrupts the industry PPP created last year, enabling bloggers to cut direct sponsorship deals without the 100% markups of some PPP copycats. I was going to provide an in-depth review of the announcement, but honestly couldn’t do much better than Andy Beard did in his post “PayPerPost Direct Changes the Paid Review Landscape“. The Digg of Andy’s post also includes some comments worth reading for anyone impressed with the quality of Andy’s review. As much as I like Mike and appreciate his coverage, I’d love to see more TechCrunch reviews at Andy’s depth. Maybe I should make a game called “Be Like Andy”? I just did…
Be Like Andy
Hat tip to Amit for PicToGame.
UPDATE 05-29-07: Talk about synchronicity(?). Arrington jumped on the customized game meme less than 24 hours after my post above. PlayMyGame is another entry in that space and I expect more. I can’t wait to see this functionality combined with StripGenerator to allow personalized SouthPark strips/movies or the like.
I’ll call this game “Be Yourself” and you can guess whose face is under all that cake:
This isn’t one of those inside-music VC posts that lists 3 new bands you’ve never heard of playing Greenwich Village this weekend. Although I love those posts, this post is about a band most VCs probably even know: The Police.
One of my portfolio companies, PayPerPost, just closed a great partnership with Universal Music Group and PPP is being used to launch the new 30th Anniversary Police CD and Tour (see Police tickets). For a VC who grew up listening to the Police and watching black-and-white “Every Breath You Take” videos on MTV, this is a cool new portfolio customer.
Go ahead, check out this track list and just try to avoid singing the tunes in your head:
1) Fall Out
2) Can’t Stand Losing You
3) Next to You
5) Truth Hits Everybody
6) Hole in My Life
7) So Lonely
8) Message in a Bottle
9) Reggatta de Blanc
10) Bring on the Night
11) Walking on the Moon
12) The Bed’s Too Big Without You
13) Don’t Stand So Close to Me
14) Driven to Tears
15) Canary in a Coalmine
1) Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
2) Voices Inside My Head
3) Invisible Sun
4) Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
5) Spirits in the Material World
6) Demolition Man
7) Rehumanize Yourself
8) Every Breath You Take
9) Synchronicity I
10) Wrapped Around Your Finger
11) Walking in Your Footsteps
12) Synchronicity II
13) King of Pain
14) Murder by Numbers
15) Tea in the Sahara
They’ve put together a pretty informative and interactive site, including a store, discography, tour info and pointers to the Police MySpace and Fan Club sites. If you dug Sting before he got all solo acoustical, you might want to check out this anniversary CD. I expect it will bring back some memories or spark some old questions — like “who was in charge of wardrobe for that early garbage dump video of theirs?”
(charity post: PPP has donated proceeds from this post to Habitat for Humanity on my behalf)
Bijan over at BijanBlog got a business presentation by blog — pretty cool! Commenters echoed the idea that blogs can be used for many purposes — not just your typical one-to-many blog fodder.
One of the more innovative uses I’ve seen firsthand was a job application. One job candidate wanted to work for PayPerPost so bad she created a blog just for that purpose entitled “When do I start?“. Posts included:
* Training (because people don’t really have ESP)
* Who loves ya’ baby? Our clients should.
* Global Experience
* Personnel Issues
* No culture shock
* Work-a-holics Anonymous
* I’ve even assisted in surgery
It was terrific, showing initiative and creativity. Needless to say, she got the job and has been spreading some serious customer love ever sense.
Whether the topics involve monetization, community or journalism, it’s too easy to view blogs as one specific thing. However, they can be many things to many people. In fact, it’s just a publishing engine after all, right? What’s the most innovative use you’ve seen for a blog?
I ran a small contest over a couple days last week via PayPerPost. Basically, I shared that there are more interesting ideas on the net than any one guy can keep track of. I challenged Posties to “Be the VC” and blog about the most interesting or promising online companies they’ve encountered recently. Think TechCrunch, but much smaller, diversified, and distributed.
I promised to PayPal $20 to my favorite post, but I left the criteria pretty open. I was roughly looking for 1) most interesting new finds and 2) general quality of the post/blog. The incentive and budget on this opp was modest so I appreciate all of the participating Posties, but I’d like to recognize 4 of my favorites here, including the winner.
Would you like to be a Venture Capitalist (for a day, that is)? at HomeOfficeWomen.com uncovered Fliptrack (video/audio editing) and provided some nice examples in the post and comments.
Be the VC at The-Upperroom.com shared multiple ideas for leveraging SecondLife. Although raw ideas weren’t exactly what I was looking for, I wanted to recognize the length and depth of Kevin’s post, integrating images and video. I like the SecondLife banking possibilities, but Kevin’s comment about low daily concurrent users (only 19K-36K?) is a concern.
It was a squeaker, but my favorite post was Who Deserves Venture Capital? at HomeBizBlogger.com by Eve Lester. Although I didn’t really understand what FlyLady.com was all about, I was intrigued by Eve’s first tip: Tubetorial.com. I’ve spoken to a few entrepreneurs who are leveraging video tutorial sites for vertical opportunities (recruiting, medical etc.), but there is room for one or two catch-all sites as well. I’ve embedded an example of what you might find at Tubetorial — they need some easy embed tools and a broader set of tutorial topics. This one’s called “Be the Master of Your Own Domain”
Video isn’t as good as text for snippets of info, but can be great for detailed how-to. I also thought Eve’s blog design had a good balance of aesthetics and information — most designs are heavy on one of those two areas.
Thanks everyone for playing via PayPerPost and congrats Eve, I’ve got $20 waiting for your PayPal address — don’t spend it all in one place 😉
My FVCC recap post mentioned some portfolio work that kept me from a yacht wine tasting and gambling. Some called me crazy, but the tradeoff was well worth it…
PayPerPost launched a monster release that same night including in-post disclosure badges and a variety of segmentation options marketers have been asking for — taking Consumer Generated Advertising to another level of ROI with scalable targeting. I may cover those segmentation options in another post, but I wanted to share a fairly stealth, but powerful piece of that PPP release: “Review My Post” (RMP).
PPP has already been called a virus by some, but they haven’t seen anything yet. RMP is PPP’s proprietary, viral affiliate program (a viriliate program, if you will ;-)) taking DFJ/HotMail’s “P.S. I love you, get your free email account at Hotmail” viral marketing to a whole new, blogosphere level. Now, having grown up in the Draper system, I shutter every time I hear the term “viral” for programs that aren’t truly viral, but are referential at best. I also never quite liked that most viral programs focused on “infecting” people without providing win-win value along the way. Thus, the birth of “Review My Post“.
Every single minute of every single day audiences are reading posts of interest, but less than 1% ever post/trackback their thoughts/perspective. Even that small % is valuable, but greater than 99% of audience feedback/marketing is lost today because there isn’t an institutionalized “call to action” to solicit conversation. I’ve seen the simple act of promising a linkback drive 200+ blog reviews, demonstrating that huge amounts of audience knowledge and perspective are currently untapped. If there was such an institutionalized “call to action”, a blogger would see an explosion of marketing and good/bad feedback to help them hone their craft, grow traffic and bring value to their audiences.
So how does RMP unlock this goldmine in a win-win fashion?
1) A blogger/affiliate inserts the “Get Paid to Review My Post” button into their post template — most likely at the bottom as I’ve done here at FVB so every post is fair game for feedback.
2) An audience member reads one of the blogger’s posts, has some perspective to share, and clicks the RMP button to get compensated for providing that valuable marketing/feedback/linklove at their blog.
3) When that newly referred blogger’s post is approved for affiliate payout, both the referring blogger gets $7.50 and the referred blogger gets $7.50 — pretty simple.
4) Result: Win-Win-Win-Win. Referred blogger gets concrete compensation for sharing their feedback. The referring blogger gets concrete compensation, but even more importantly, gets valuable blog marketing/feedback — all on PPP’s dime. Audiences win because they are introduced to new blogs that interest a blogger they follow and they win by RMP bloggers improving their writing/design/topics. And, last, PPP wins as new bloggers experience the power of blog marketing.
Like all viral offerings, there will be those who try to abuse/game the system, but I’m also confident RMP will unlock value for the entire spectrum of bloggers, large or small. With this value in mind, for the first time ever, PPP has opened their affiliate programs to any blogger, not just those who get paid to blog. Every blogger can benefit from this program — in fact, it’s already happening for Posties and non-Posties alike. The sooner blog templates include RMP, the quicker the feedback loop begins…
So what are you waiting for? Click my ReviewMyPost button and get started!
It’s been a couple weeks since my last post and I feel really bad about it. I’m hoping to make it up to you by awarding a couple “Best of Show” KangaRuas in today’s post.
2007 Florida Venture Capital Conference wrap-up
Boca Resort venue was awesome, particularly for those who participated in the resort course golf tourney. For those who didn’t hit the links, there was even a manicured croquet course (sweet!). I guess the drawback of such a nice place was the $300-$500/night room cost — something I solved via HotWire (5 minutes away, $84/night).
Day 1 started well for me, thanks to my golf scramble team and a 2nd place, 62, on a blustery day. We’re also claiming 1st place because the winning score, 59, was delivered by a team including two scratch golfers shuffled together at the last minute. Jon Cole was on that team so I’m sure it was no accident 😉
Monday night included dinner, wine tasting and gambling, aboard a yacht docked behind the resort. I was looking forward to the evening, but some late portfolio company work consumed my night (see why here). Those that did attend had great things to say, even if some of the poker tables deteriorated into who could pull off the biggest cheat. Between golf, wine, and gambling the venture banks Square 1 Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, and RBC Centura sponsored a great kickoff to the conference.
Day 2 was a whirlwind of meeting new companies, seeing old friends, and discussing existing portfolio companies. Speaking of old friends, one of the publications I remember reading when I was a kid growing up in Tampa was a presenter: Creative Loafing — kinda weird to see a 20+ year old company at a venture conference. Our lunch speaker was Florida CFO Alex Sink, who did her best fielding venture-related questions less than 30 days into office. Questions about the state’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and legislative efforts to promote venture capital were answered with a hearty “I’m supportive and want to learn more.”
The morning and afternoon company presenters did well overall, with very few needing the music to accelerate their closing slide. The opportunities were pretty diverse, with a few concentrations around business process automation, telecom services and online lead generation. My “Best of Show” KangaRua for Day 1 goes to Kelly Smith of Pasteuria Biosciences, for presenting a big but obscure opportunity (nematode control) in a clear, interesting way. Congrats Kelly! Hopefully, CFO Sink’s lunchtime reference to nematodes led to some extra investor interest.
Dinner was great, but political satirist/pianist Mark Russell could have been better. I really enjoyed last year’s Capital Steps show, but found myself checking my Treo too often this time around.
Day 3 went pretty quickly with only a half-day of activities. The morning “State of Venture Capital” panel was full of the usual fund sales pitches, but included some nice tidbits around growing exits. As a VC who typically builds with entrepreneurs to strategic M&A or IPO, it was interesting to hear how other firms have sold their positions to private equity/LBO/hedge funds. I’m not sure if that is a growing trend or a geographic anomaly for funds looking to exit quicker and raise their next fund.
The day’s presenters also did well, with a couple Inflexion companies, WiDeFi and PayPerPost, fielding significant inbound interest — maybe it was Ted’s Michael Jackson leg-flip. Taking my companies out of the mix, I’d have to give Peter Pezaris of Multiply.com a “Best of Show” Kangarua for his business-like, but compelling presentation of the company he’s built. I will share that I’m biased because I’ve covered Multiply a couple times at FVB before — they continue to grow with their focus on connecting real-world networks.
Final thoughts: This FVCC was the largest one ever, with over 1300 attendees. It was very well run, thanks to the terrific leadership of Robin Kovaleski and her team. I still believe the forum’s board payola scheme puts service provider and later-stage fund interests ahead of entrepreneurs, and I heard similar sentiments from peers at the conference. I also heard that the 3-day length was tough for many investors to commit — although I’m not sure how to shorten it without a golf/presentation day (tough) or fewer presenters. Some of the conference’s panel content could have been stronger, but overall it was a great showcase for Florida startups. I look forward to the 2008 Florida Venture Capital Conference, January 29-30, at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St Petersburg, FL — save the date now!
Starting with today, the next two weeks for me will be a whirlwind of good venture capital and social media events — some small, some large, some near, some far. If you haven’t considered them, do so. If you’re planning to attend, let’s try to connect while there.
Today, noon, UF McKnight Brain Institute, Gainesville, FL
Seminar 4 of 4 discussing university research startups
Tonight, 6:30pm, 28th Floor, 200 South Orange Ave, Orlando, FL
TiE Florida Presents “What Will it Take to Get Funded in 2007“
Panel: me (Inflexion), Ravi Ugale (Crossbow), John Hill (Hyde Park), Mike Slawson (ATV)
February 7-9, Miami, FL
We Media Miami
Great program of social media topics, including a “Funding We” roundtable you won’t want to miss (me, Clavier, Calacanis and others)
After all these, I finish up on February 10th with the most important event of all: Family Love Day at my daughter’s school. I’ll understand if you don’t join me at that one… 😉
Congrats to all of the entrepreneurs selected to present at this year’s Florida Venture Capital Conference. The announcement press release is here (list with descriptions included below). Given how many entrepreneurial hotspots exist in the state, it was interesting to see the list broken down by geographies. Many of these names won’t be new to FVB members — we have a talented crop of startups making an impact at home and afar.
- Avant Healthcare Professionals, LLC (www.avanthealthcare.com),
Winter Park: Provider of international nurse and allied health professional recruitment, placement and transitioning services to healthcare systems throughout the U.S.
- ClearSky Mobile Media, Inc. (www.csky.com), Orlando: Provider of relevant, market-specific mobile data offerings including downloadable content, mobile web browsing, MMS services and managed data services across all wireless technologies
- Controlled Semiconductor, Inc. (www.consemi.com),
: Manufacturer of lased-based LCD, PDP and semiconductor process equipment Orlando
- Informa Software (www.informasoftware.com), Maitland: provider of specialist information to the global academic and scientific, professional and commercial communities via publishing, events and performance improvement
- Nanotherapeutics (www.nanotherapeutics.com), Alachua: Biopharmaceutical company that employs its proprietary nanotechnology platform to create innovative delivery methods for new and existing pharmaceuticals
- Pasteuria Bioscience, LLC (www.pasteuriabio.com), Alachua: Developers of a fermentation process that allows commercial-scale production of naturally-occurring bacteria to prevent crop damage
- PayPerPost, Inc. (www.payperpost.com), Orlando: The first marketplace for consumer-generated advertising, with a platform that connects advertisers and consumer content creators to deliver marketing messages
- PlusOne Solutions, Inc. (www.plusonesolutions.net),
: Provider of software and disruptive business process solutions to manage service networks for retailers, manufacturers and service fulfillment companies Oviedo
- PowerPad, Inc., Orlando: The winner of the Florida Collegiate Business Plan Competition, the principal has developed a technology that will unlock the multi-billion dollar wireless power industry with a patent-pending wireless power transmission system designed to power virtually all consumer electronic devices.
- Quality Assured Services, Inc. (www.ptinr.com), Orlando: Provides fast, accurate, easy to use and cost-effective technology to link consumers with disease conditions that require regular diagnostic monitoring with their physicians, resulting in changing and responsive therapies
- XOS Technologies, (www.xostech.com), Sanford: Product lines that maximize the value of content, commerce and services for sports organizations and fans by integrating video, data and fan management technologies
- WiDeFi (www.widefi.com), Melbourne: Fabless wireless communications semiconductor company that develops technology, integrated circuits and reference design products to improve the coverage and performance of wireless systems
- Datamaxx Group (www.datamaxx.com),
: Designs, delivers and maintains advanced communications and applications technology to the law enforcement, criminal justice, public safety and homeland security markets. Tallahassee
- Blue Frog Solutions (www.bluefrogsolutions.com),
: Provider of software technology and business process outsourcing to the insurance industry Pompano Beach
- BroadBand National, Inc. (www.broadbandnational.com),
: Operator of e-commerce platform for comparative shopping by residential and business consumers of digital services Vero Beach
- DailyMe, Inc. (www.dailyme.com),
: Allows subscribers to build completely personalized, free, print newspapers, focusing on taking online content to print Hollywood
- DayJet Corporation (www.dayjet.com),
: Developer of on-demand short-haul jet service of less than 600 miles, designed for regional business travelers, offering reserved individual seats as well as entire planes according to customer schedules Delray Beach
- Latin3 (www.latin3.com),
Hollywood: Provider of “exponential marketing” services in Latin Americaand the U.S. Hispanic markets, using unique approaches across an array of channels and formats
- Multiply, Inc. (www.multiply.com),
: Distinctive message board that not only allows users to share media and discussions, but also alerts users to everything being shared by people in their network Boca Raton
- SAF-T-PAY (www.saftpay.com),
: Global Internet payment system company catering to the untapped market of non-credit card users around the world who want to use their local currency and also do not choose to reveal personal financial data Miami Beach
- STS Telecom (www.ststelecom.com),
: Next generation facilities-based provider of traditional IP and TDM-based voice and data communications services, primarily through T-1 connections Cooper City
- Creative Loafing (www.creativeloafing.com),
: The nation’s second largest publisher of alternative newspapers and websites, reaching 750,000 young, educated readers in the Southeast each week Tampa
- DTI-NanoTech (www.dti-nanotech.com),
: Division of Discovery Technology International that specializes in the design, manufacture and distribution of novel motorized nano-robotic and nanopositioning systems Sarasota
- RedVector.com (www.redvector.com),
: Online education for professionals in the engineering, architectural, interior design, construction, land surveying, building inspection and landscape architecture industries Tampa
- Network Liquidators (www.networkliquidators.com), Tampa: A leading source for buyers and sellers of used networking equipment and accessories that serves more than 8,000 end-user and reseller customers nationwide with top-name manufacturer products that have been rigorously inspected and quality tested by knowledgeable industry-certified technicians
- Ultramatics, Inc. (www.ultramatics.com), Oldsmar: Sells and delivers highly effective solutions from the position of “best practices through real life implementations” that require complex system integration
Break a leg and check back afterwards to see who garnered a “Best of Show” KangaRua!
Owen over at Ugh!!’s Greymatter Honeypot just tagged me on the “Blog Tag: 5 Things About Me” meme. Here are 5 things you may may not already know about me:
1) I’m an avid University of Florida sports fan (and alum), loving the year of the Gator so far. I’m looking for Fiesta Bowl tickets or UF season ticket holders who aren’t making the trip to see the Gators and Buckeyes battle for #1. Any ideas, please email me…
2) PayPerPost wasn’t my most controversial, disruptive investment. That was backing Napster when Shawn & Sean needed some cash to scale beyond a single server. In fact, we were the only fund to make money on Napster — strange but true, for such a world-changing company. Unfortunately, Napster never made the transition PPP made today to maximize value for all constituents.
3) We’re the house in the neighborhood on Halloween and Christmas that annoys the neighbors. Actually, our Christmas decorations are pretty tasteful, but Halloween is downright scary as my daughters get into the act looking very Ring- and Grudge-like.
4) My only two groomsmen when I married my college sweetheart at the Herlong Mansion in 1991 were my dad and brother. I’d choose the same today.
5) I met my “college sweetheart” back in the seventh grade (Oak Grove). Despite my overtures, throughout high-school we were “just friends”, but choosing the same dorm as her for our first UF semester was the smartest investment I’ve ever made 😉
Who started Blog-Tag? Jeff Pulver gets credit this time around, but he also mentioned some bloggers before him (with no link?). It’s a nice way to learn some tidbits behind the keyboard of your favorite bloggers — just enough to keep everyone from flaming Blog-Tag as a big chainblog nuisance (although that’s coming, I’m sure).
Arrington had some nice things to say about one of my portfolio companies today. So did Scoble. Interesting that neither one touched the topic of undisclosed affiliate marketing bloggers — a multi-billion dollar FTC magnet (supposedly 40% of Amazon sales come from affiliate links — with disclosure requirements entirely absent in their Operating Agreement). Luckily, PPP’s Disclosure Policy framework can help all those affiliate bloggers who have hundreds of undisclosed aff posts in their SE-indexed archives…
That’s not the only thing PPP is helping with. They just launched another $1000 puzzle — about RockStartup. If you haven’t already found RockStartup, the world’s first real-time reality show, check out what it’s like in the belly of a venture-backed startup. After you’ve done that, collect this piece #19 and find/assemble the full puzzle first to win $1000.
Well loyal readers (even that guy who found FVB just because he googled for “horse porn“), it’s been a great year.
My goal for the past year was to blog at least once a week on a variety of Florida, Venture Capital and Technology topics. CHECK! Since that time I’ve done 80 diverse posts, kicked off the FVB community (thanks MyBlogLog!), created a mind-blowing stir by backing THE Consumer Generated Advertising Marketplace (PayPerPost: try it, you’ll like it!), helped launch DisclosurePolicy.org and met a ton of great people in Florida and beyond. A nice surprise was how many non-Floridians follow FVB for general VC topics or to track Florida startup activity.
If next year brings the same level of learning, discussion, networking and investments; I think I’ll just explode. So, to FVB’s subscribers, community members and casual readers, I present a year-end KangaRua — thanks for reading and keep coming back!
One of my portfolio companies, PayPerPost, launched DisclosurePolicy.org today and I just posted the following at blog.DisclosurePolicy.org. The topic of transparency is much larger than PayPerPost, but I’m glad they took the initiative to create long-term solutions instead of band-aids that could hamper CGM long-term. The site offers a Disclosure Policy generator, transparency best practices, model DPs, DP.org badges and forums to discuss the entire spectrum of transparency. The forums even include some fun “DP Hunts” where you can try to find the Disclosure Policies of the ‘rich & famous’ bloggers — I’m stumped. 😉
If you write a blog, head over to DisclosurePolicy.org, get yourself a DP and B-L-O-G your way to transparency…
Welcome to DisclosurePolicy.org, the ‘big bang’ of various forces created to maximize transparency across our ever-expanding Consumer Generated Media universe. At launch, the site doesn’t have all the answers to transparency, but we hope it has some and focuses discussion on the rest.
In concert with the resources provided here, I’d like to share an easy 4-step approach (B-L-O-G) to embracing transparency and diversity of opinion across CGM. Although I reference ‘blogs’ for simplicity, this approach applies to all CGM properties whether they involve text, video, audio, photos or social networks. Here’s all it takes:
Build a clear Disclosure Policy that matches the goals, nature and audience of your blog — built at DisclosurePolicy.org or by hand.
Link to that Discosure Policy with the phrase “Disclosure Policy” in some standard place (e.g. top, sidebar, bottom) from every page of your blog.
Open your eyes and mind to the fact that people blog for different reasons, from different cultures and for different audiences — thus, what works for you may not work for others.
Go forth and blog, in a manner consistent with your Disclosure Policy.
If you follow these four simple B-L-O-G steps, you’ve given every existing or new visitor to your blog the opportunity to know a little more about you and the ground rules of your blog. With that knowledge they are free to stay or leave, and you are free to blog with pride that you have helped take CGM to a level of transparency beyond any other media.