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Saturday, December 08, 2007

The web as an education tool for the next elections

I just ran into a very interesting website, still beta but something worth looking out:
Check out

The service helps users select their top candidates for the US Presidential Election by answering 20-30 questions. We use advanced analytics to ask the most relevant and selective questions to zero in on your top candidate, from a database of over 1,500 questions on policy and programs. It is both fun and enlightening.

You can view your results at any time in the process and compare how much in agreement you are with candidates on all types of issues, such as the war in Iraq , healthcare, taxes, social issues, etc. You can also register and then compare your results with your friends. The site should be integrated with Facebook shortly.

Isn't the web a beautiful tool?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Venture Capital: the truth behind the myth

After spending quite some time helping entrepreneurs, I am know convinced that the VC model has evolved to a point where it is starting to die from too much success, creating another bubble in its own world:

- Too much money, too little time, resulting in smart people being hired to track the deals, but who have no clue what entrepreneurship is about and spend too much time in spreadsheets. Not a good recipe for success.

- Too much money resulting in a funding gap getting bigger and bigger: in 2006 the average initial investment from VC firms went from 5.9M$ to 6.2M$, and VC firms only invested in 700 "seed and early stage" deals, while angels invested in about 50,000 of these. Big money, later stage deals also means that the return are going to be less, how often can you expect a 10x from a C series investment?

- And beyond the returns on one deal or another, the results overall are not that great: VCs themselves will tell you that out of 10 deals 4 will die, 3 will do so-so and only 3 will do ok to very good. But even worse, the rest of the world will confirm that something is wrong: if you take a look at the Inc magazine top 500 companies, in 2006 only 7% of these were funded by VCs or private equity. So it means that 93% of the fastest growing companies were not part (did not get in or fell out of) of the famous and so well advertised VC process - VCs have been missing something.

- Even VCs are getting tired: raising funds is getting more difficult, and the business is getting very tedious, getting away from the passion of entrepreneurship (what I believe the "old school VCs" were about) and into a more austere financial world (the smart but arrogant MBA with no clue about what is happening in the trenches)

So what next?

- While VCs seem to be lost, the angel community is thriving: about the same dollar amount as done by VCs is invested by angels each year, but it is done by 250,000 to 300,000 individuals investing in many more deals at much smaller amounts. The good news is that if I go back to my 93% of the Inc top 500 companies, the average initial startup capital for these companies was $75K. So it seems angel investment is the right place to be. And these angels are now getting organized into angel groups to spread risk and help scale (sharing the work of screening, due diligence etc...), and they are starting themselves to raise funds (typically from individuals) to increase their reach if needed.

- Angels are getting the good deals: while I have no numbers on this, I have heard VCs tell me that their best deals were referred by angels rather than by other VCs. And I see now VC firms trying to get back into the early stage through scheme such as Charles River Venture Quickstart program, or YCombinator.

- So while it is easier and more sexy for the press to keep talking about the successes of famous VCs (Stories about Yahoo, Google, Skype and who's next?), the real work of value creation is being done somewhere else.

- Beyond the investment aspect, I think the key to success is that we are talking about individuals who are often time contributing their experience directly into the business, mentoring the entrepreneur through his/her own venture. People investing in people, something that looks like the P2P work we see happening in the Open source community, but applied to entrepreneurship. My bet is that this is where the future is...

PS: thank you to my partners Jean-Xtophe and Alberto at Melcion Chassagne et Cie for some of the homework on numbers

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thank you to my friend Erik for pointing out Yet another people search engine, but with a better UI than what I have seen until now, and an impressive coverage. I was able to find my French friends in there. Scary thing to see how exposed we are - we know that there is no privacy on the internet, but it is always a lesson to see how true it is...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Quickeo is getting visibility

An article in a French magazine on Quickeo:
The service is getting momentum :-)
The hard part for this service is that it is not for geeks, but for the mass of non-geek users who still need an easy solution to share their pictures and videos, and still rely on email rather than hyped websites to do so. And these people are not as easy to find as your average geek, because they do not hang around the web as much. Slowly but surely Quickeo is getting to them, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Forget Skype, GizmoProject rules

Just came back from a few days off to find that Skype had taken over my machine and would not give it back to me. After the poor performance Skype had a few weeks ago, for which they sent an apology and a credit of a few days for the "Skype Pro" user, I now discover that Skype is using my bandwidth and my CPU when I am not around, and keeps it when I come back. My machine was slow, and my CPU running at 90% for Skype. I understand that they would do that when I am not using the PC, but if it keeps creeping down the system when I am using it, then I have a problem.
Meanwhile GizmoProject quality of calls is just as good if not better, and it is built on an open system, using SIP numbers that can be used across network. If I needed something to convince me to switch this is it, I am now a GizmoProject user. You can find me there at the same ID.

Monday, June 18, 2007 - a new way to do PR for your business

It is now possible for companies to upload a video version of their PR pitch on A great concept with many opportunities: for investors to save time when looking for deals, for entrepreneurs to showcase themselves in yet another setting.
I have tried the process for Quickeo and it is pretty cool...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quickeo viewer has been updated to support blogs better

In the album url provided from the Quickeo client (in the Manage screen, click on the URL tab on the right side of the screen), all you need to do is replace by, and add the option scrolling='no'

We will work on something more user friendly in the future, but at least it can be done now :-)

Monday, April 16, 2007

From the web2.0 conference 1st keynote

The news from the first keynote at the web2.0 conference is that there is nothing new:
- Jeff Bezos is working on OnDemand infrastructure, he is a believer of the web as a platform. Software as a Service has been around long enough that I would agree with the idea that the trend is here to stay.
- Beyond this and despite the fact that there is a lot of people attending, not much was said that was a real revelation. Web2.0 is about collaboration, and building blocks are being worked on, but we are still looking for where all this is going to go, and the energy level was not exactly what I expected.
Maybe more will come out of the next few days...

Friday, April 06, 2007

MoveOn's Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Iraq: Apr. 10, 2007

For me Web 2.0 is more about social change than technology, as brilliantly explained by Yochai Benkler in the Wealth of Networks. And has been a major player in trying to capitalize on this trend. It will be interesting to see what happens with this next one:
>> Political Action will hold three "virtual town hall meetings" in 2007 to introduce presidential candidates to MoveOn members and publicize candidates' positions on top issues facing the American people.

The first virtual town hall, on April 10, will focus on the war in Iraq. Subsequent meetings will discuss health care and energy/global warming. Each will bring together thousands of people at house parties around the country to participate through an interactive online presentation.

Join's Virtual Town Hall: Iraq

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Quickeo for my blog

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The real thing for sharing spreadsheets

Google has tried, but their Google spreadsheet is not really great, nothing I can use in real life.
But there is a start-up who has an interesting solution you may want to check:

What is nice about this service is that you do not have to be online to access the info. You access the spreadsheets through your regular Excel software, but the data is synchronized in the back so that the other users you are working with can also see the updates as they happen.

The best I have seen so far on the matter....

Another attempt at managing online reputation - Venyo

I just ran into this very interesting start-up working on reputation. What is nice about their approach is that they tie ratings to tags, so it allows for very flexible rating of people.

A service to watch...

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Quickeo website is finally open

For those of you who want to share videos, photos, music etc... with friends (and only with friends, not the whole word), Quickeo is finally available for download. The software is slick (I am on the team, so check it for yourself), and it is addictive. I have to admit that after playing with it for sometime, I really like sending quickeomails to my friends and family, much nicer than plain text :-) Check it out, let me know what you think...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Something really cool from the Gizmo project team

Check this out, it is now possible to call from your browser at
I love the idea, one less client I have to load at startup...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Protest in 2nd life

A good story here about somebody virtually protesting on 2nd life.
I really believe that 2nd life would be a perfect place to do conflict resolution. No yelling, no fighting, no killing, just sit and listen to the other (if you are willing to get some progress), then take your turn to speak...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A great report on the Future of Small Business

The corporate social contract is broken (no more job for life, much less benefits, etc...) and personal business is on the rise, as a way to provide better life-balance or options for baby-boomers reaching retirement age. If you want to get a glimpse at what the future of work is, the Institute of the Future has produced a very interesting report.
With the new trends, comes a need for coworking spaces such as workclub, and comes collaborative entrepreneurship. Something to look forward to...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

2007 - the year for reality check

After a year with a lot of bubble feelings (YouTube acquisition, hype around social networking, etc...), we are now entering into a year of reality checks. Many start-ups have been launched but I have the feeling that the excitement around social networking is cooling down. While the technology is much more accessible, and the price to get a website going much lower, it remains really hard to build a strong community of users, and there is always this unavoidable need to bring value but also revenue at some point.
Interesting enough, it could also be the beginning of the end of the free. While it is really cool to get all these services for free, developers, designers, managers all need to pay rent at one point or another. So I believe we will see more and more of paying services, and I'll be the first to enjoy paying for something that brings me value and does not have the same level of noise that you get with all these ads.
Signs of this trend:
- Google results are being questioned - can you trust page rank? and how are search results being impacted by paying ads?
- Skype is starting to raise their rate, and free calls are being changed into monthly flat rate offers
- Bitwine and Wengo are trying to help people monetize their knowledge, which otherwise could not be delivered online outside of free forums

The end of the free does not mean the end of freedom on the internet though. Actually I see it as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to re-organize around a more sustainable model, so that individuals can better compete against large corporation and collaborative entrepreneurship can take a stronger hold.
So I am ready for another exciting year, and hopefully you are too :-)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Open Source for Hardware

Another interesting idea in the area of crowdsourcing: open source approach to hardware design.