Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Boston Tech Talent Shifts April 2014

People shifting

Several new roles at both startup and established companies were filled by experienced Technology Executives in the month of April.

pete Martin

Pete Martin moved from the VP Engineering role at Skillz to take the newly created VP Engineering role at Pixability.

Jeff Palmucci, previously of MIT and the Revisionator became Director, Machine Intelligence at TripAdvisor.

Dennis Doughty left Jumptap to become VP Technology at Blade the new Boston based startup incubator founded  by Paul English.

Gwyn Fisher previously of Klocwork became VP Engineering, Content and Personalization at TripAdvisor.

Craig Morrissey moved from the Director Engineering role at Sonian to take the newly created VP Engineering role at Owncloud.

Monday, April 7, 2014

You Don't Need a Technical Co-Founder to Receive Funding

At least that is what we have seen recently. Is there a trend starting where companies are getting Series A investments from top tier VC's without a technical co-founder to run the product engineering?

Not sure if it is a trend, but we have run into a couple of companies recently that were able to achieve their first round of funding without the benefit of someone running the engineering team.

In some ways it makes sense. The risk in web startups is not usually a technical one. It is mostly assumed that these applications can be built and the technology challenge is minimal. The risk is that the companies will ever receive traction, acquire users and generate significant revenue.

Both of these startups had significant revenue traction and a scalable business model. The products were developed with outside agencies and web development firms using seed money. Only after they had closed their Series A, have they begun the search for their VP of Engineering.

What do you think? Will we see this more often in the future or is this an anomaly?

Once the fundings have been publicly announced we will update this post with the names of the companies.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Boston Micro-VC Series: NextView Ventures

NextView Ventures was formed in mid 2010 by 3 entrepreneur turned VC's, David Beisel, Rob Go and Lee Hower. Prior to being a VC each had previously been marketing executives at web start ups.
Beisel from Venrock had co-founded an email marketing company Sombassa Media which was acquired by Primedia. Go came from Spark Captital and previously worked at Ebay 2003-2005. Hower left Point Judith Capital and previously had stints at Paypal and LinkedIn, where he was on the founding team.
NextView came at a perfect time for Boston. There was a gaping hole in the eco-system for seed stage investors. Without any large post bubble Web companies like Google or PayPal, Boston didn't have an experienced web founder "mafia" with cash to invest and expertise to contribute. The established and highly successful Boston VC's lacked the motivation and expertise to move into the web market where companies had neither IP protection nor technology advantages.
The timing was also right because web companies don't require the massive amounts of investment at seed stage to test customer and market interest. When you add in the added benefit of better investor and entrepreneur allignment, you have a winning combination.

The final close of the initial $21M fund was February 2012. To date the firm has made 24 investments,of which two have already been acquired. As you can see from the 67B186B0-A58A-23D4-0846-CE415A1B28F8graph, their portfolio includes some of the most promising web startups in the Boston area. It is clear that Venture firms agree with the portfolio choices as two companies have already received a Series B investment and seven have completed a series A.
The NextView office is located in the the very cool Leather District on the edge of the "Innovation District. If you are a web entrepreneur in Boston, this firm should be on your pitch list. Plus you get to check out the collection of craft brew they have on display.

Take note that the graph covers only the east coast investments with the exception of the acquired RentJuice from CA.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Impressive and Aggressive

Someone was asking lately, what were the qualities of the people getting the best jobs these days. They knew it had to be something more illustrative than rockstar, ninja, guru .

What came to mind was Impressive and Agressive. If someone has done something that makes an impression, they stand out because they did or can do something of distinction.

It could be any number of things. They were a member of the Olympic water polo team, or earned a PHD in philosophy before studying computer science. Maybe they sold their first web app when they were in high school or worked their way through college as a fortune teller. They could have won a regional chess tournament or organized a charity event that raised $50,000 for a good cause.

It doesn't have to be something huge but it will probably be outstanding. It might be over coming the odds, demonstrating significant traction in their career or building a cool little app as a side project.

There are any number of ways a person can be impressive and you will know it when you see it.
You will recognize impressive because you will think "not everyone could do that" and remember them.

As you spend some time with them, you realize that this person is also aggressive in their approach to life. Not macho meat head jock aggressive, but more throttled and goal focused aggressive, that is all about execution and GSD.

They are intellectually curious, thoughtful, thirsty for knowledge or a challenge. They have demonstrated they can put in the hard work to acheive distinction.

The next time you are tempted to use SUPERSTAR, rockstar or any of the other terms currently overused in job descriptions, stop yourself, and think about a more substantive and descriptive term that will attract the people you seek.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Boston Angel Series: CommonAngels

CommonAngels is one the oldest angel investment groups on the east coast. Established in 1998, it's members include successful current and past entrepreneurs as well as executives of tech companies

Looking at the exits and current investment portfolio, we can count successful acquisitions and prospective IPO candidates among the list

In the fall of 2010, CommonAngels announced a key new component to their firm’s financing strategy: the ability to invest in a greater number of startups at earlier stages, and in smaller amounts.

We asked Chris Sheehan, one of the managing directors about the new early stage investments as well as what changes he has seen in Boston angel investment.

Q. Buzz in theHub: What can you tell us about new early stage investments, your thesis or number of investments planned.

A. CS: We have been very active, leading large seed rounds in Practically Green and, with Kepha Partners, Clovr Media.  (Clovr just closed a $8.3M Series A round led by Bain Capital Ventures.)  In addition, we have invested in a half dozen seed opportunities including Blaze Software, Offerpop (NYC), Insight Squared, Yieldbot (NYC), Ayeah Games, and another still in stealth mode.  It’s roughly about an investment per month.

Our investments fall into two general categories, although the lines between the two are admittedly blurred:
Large seed/small Series A rounds. We catalyze these financing rounds for entrepreneurs, bringing our expertise and connections to the table.
Small seed investments. Chris Sheehan and James Geshwiler, through their micro cap funds, make small seed investments to help entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground.

The seed investments are well suited to Internet and mobile opportunities where the cost of initial product development and distribution are significantly lower than in previous years.

Q: Buzz in theHub: Over the past 5 years, what changes have you observed in the Boston Angel community and what are the effects of those changes.

A. CS:
The availability of seed capital is higher; some of this is due to increase activity by the Boston angel community, both as individuals and as groups; some of its is due to micro cap VCs and traditional VCs getting more active.

Greater willingness to invest in Internet enabled businesses that carry consumer or SMB risk

A greater sense of energy and visibility permeates the angel community. Programs and events such as Tech Stars, Dog Patch Labs, angel group syndication, and Angel Boot camp help contribute to this.  The upcoming national ACA conference will also be make an important contribution

Some diversification focus with new angel groups starting around clean tech and medical/life science investing.

Although anecdotal, it seems that level of investing by NYC and Boston based angels in each others cities has increased

It is evident that CommonAngels is responding to the new market conditions and aggressively addressing the need for urgency, a larger basket of deals and evolving their investor member profile.

Their recent investments and new seed capabilities make it clear that entrepreneurs should  include a stop at CommonAngels on their financing tour.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Boston Startups Q1 2011, When will they launch?

Each quarter, we publish the latest Boston startups which will soon be publicly launching. Although these companies have yet to officially open, we want to promote them and help them find their initial customer base. Apart from helping these companies market themselves, we also want them to get initial comments and feedback from the user community.

Before we introduce the newest batch of Boston startups, let’s take a look at the previous quarter list and see the progress of each company. - Smoopa has launched early this year with the vision to change the way people shop. A company based in Massachusetts and California, Smoopa allows consumers to identify and share a good deal with friends, buy products online at a lesser price, or get an in-store price match with the use of a smartphone. - Still under the wraps, Applicationville promises to offer a simple way to search, implement and use applications that meet the consumers’ needs. The company is still searching for mobile pioneers to join Applicationville and for investors who want to be part of the company. -Penmia has launched and is offering an accessible application that lets people record any moment in their lives including wonderful restaurant experiences, memorable first steps, grand vacations, and even exhilarating shopping sprees. The application can record anything and store data using 256-encryption. -NodeRabbit has launched with a mission to ‘make the software development team more successful through continuous deployment’ according to their website. - Foodfeedia is still under stealth mode. -Nusage has not launched yet. However, according to their website, they are like LinkedIn on Steroids. They are changing the way students, colleges and employers connect and interact with each other. The company, as stated in their website, is getting close to Beta. -They have not launched yet. -SocMetics has launched with the aim to help companies engage key influencer in their niche to build world of mouth and increase sales.

So, those are the latest developments from last quarter’s list of startups. For this quarter, we have a new batch of web companies. Sign-up for the betas and show your support! We are all in this together.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Company:  CloudTree31E065E1-4B5D-3C5F-5F56-9F2A09C2463B

Funding Status: Seed?

Founders Backgrounds: Ellacoya, Arbor Networks, Akiban, Whaleback

Investors: We have our ideas, but none announced

Industry: Virtualization, Cloud Computing

Offering Description: CloudTree enables the social, mobile, real-time Cloud.