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Evernote Celebrates Birthday by Joining the Billion Dollar Club (Really?)

Evernote has recently celebrated their third birthday. I also recently had my 21st birthday – it feels good to be able to legally grab a drink finallySmile.  (Hey, if Evernote can lie about their age, so can I…).   Joke apart, I have no idea why a company would pretend to be half as young as they really are – there are quite a few users, yours truly included who remember the early product, back from 2005-2006.

evernote scrollOK, so back then Evernote was really nothing more than a scrawny little note-taker, with a weird scrolling tape metaphor that was hard to get used to, but it already showed unusual flexibility of mixing typed and handwritten text with imaging. Still, the key benefit was price, compared to Microsoft Onenote.  It’s hard to compete with free.

I was truly surprised by the news of their first funding round. Here’s my offending post from 2006 (hm, before they even existed, if you believe the birthday news…):

EverNote – Love You and Hate You

EverNote is the last company I expected to raise venture funding: has a mature product, a mix of freeware and a $35 version, and I pretty much considered them a good candidate for safe, organic growth. GigaOM just reported it EverNote’s funding to the tune of $6M. Wow…

My Love & Hate relationship? The love part is easy to understand; it’s a handy, easy-to-use notetaker, which I prefer to the comparable Microsoft OneNote, and the $0 price is quite unbeatable. The hate part: it really does not fit into strategy of moving off the desktop into the Cloud.

In fact it’s the only application that breaks my sync efforts between two laptops using FolderShare:

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Atlassian: Fully Funded. By Customer Revenue. Oh, and the $60M T-shirt

atlassian mike scott It was 2006, the first Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco and I just met Jeffrey Walker, President of Atlassian. I had followed the company for a while (OK, I admit, had been a fan), met Mike, but this was the first time with Jeffrey, so we took our box lunch to a cozy little place away from the crowd and started to chat. Within minutes a VC Partner joined us, and so the usual “what are you doing” conversation started.  Well, it wasn’t a conversation: Jeffrey talked, the VC listened.  And in 5 minutes he was ready pull out the checkbook (sort of), when Jeffrey dropped the bomb:

We’re actually not seeking funding.  We’re fully funded.  By customer revenues.

Seeing the VC’s face was priceless.  After all, the cliche for startup success was to take funding.   Which Atlassian did – 4 years later.  But they do nothing by halves.  $60 million or nothing! :-)   But I am running ahead.  Back to the early days.

I got to know Atlassian as the Wiki Company – having compared the few early business wikis, I came to the Conclusion that Confluence was the most robust, complete one.  I’m probably not the most pleasant reviewer when I don’t like what I see – but I could simply not find anything to criticize with Confluence – it became the de facto industry standard for others to follow.  That said Atlassian is /was about more then Confluence: their roots are in supporting developers, having started with a powerful bug tracker Jira, and growing to eight (?) products atlassian modelorganically and through acquisitions.  Not being a techie, I don’t even understand most of these products – so the root cause of my infatuation with Atlassian was really their business model.

There is nothing wrong with taking VC Funding, but risking everything to your last penny is what Entrepreneurship was originally all about, so it is simply refreshing to see a company to have made it solely on bootstrapping, beating the odds. Add to it great software that’s easy to buy, learn, use, sprinkle it with a good dose of transparency and great service,  and you get a startup worth admiring. I’ve had lots of fun covering their early success and also learned a lot watching them:

Oh, and they gave me some of my funnier titles:

…’cause they like having fun, and I guess it’s contageous.  But amidst all that fun they can sometimes be dangerous:-)

I tried to help them fill The Dream Job (no, I wanted that job:-)), help with their charitable promotion – hey, even put my http://www.cloudave.com/link/helping-atlassian-stimulus-package-towards-the-finish-line“>money where my mouth was.  Then I had to write the most difficult post in my life, saying goodbye to Jeffrey, Atlassian President, musician, amazing person and fellow Enterprise Irregular.

And today they taught me another lesson: don’t ever sit on a story.  It expires.  My unwritten story that I’ve been contemplating for a while was about two bootstrapped startups, both in software, amazingly successful that have sailed into IPO zone almost unnoticed.  The second one is Zoho, which I consider to be approaching IPO-readiness, but I seriously doubt they would chose to go that way.  But Zoho is our Sponsor, talking too much about them would look like ***ing up, so I’ll stop here.  The day will come.  But today is Atlassian’s day.

Why would a company that has profitably grown for 8 years need funding now? They want to grow more agressively, both in terms of geography and product coverage. That means acquisitions.  They  want to accelerate growth to above $100M revenue, which is what’s considered “IPO ready” nowadays.

mcaccon underwaterBut what drove me to the conclusion they were on the IPO-track even before the funding was deep in their culture.

Atlassian is always hiring, yet it’s difficult to get in. They are picky. It’s a “work-hard-play-hard” culture.  Employees are well paid and  the company spends lavishly on team fun. No wonder their revenue per employee ratio is high.  But the team lives in Sydney and San Francisco, where there is an expectation that after a few years in a red-hot startup you get rich…  The Founders probably no longer live frugally, but how to share the wealth with all employees without an exit?  Funding accelerates the path to exit and my even bring interim liquidity critical to keep the team around. I agree with Ben in that respect.

dftpc $60 million is a lot of money, in fact Accel Partners claim it is the largest investment they’ve ever made in the software business.  But there’s a whole world of difference in picking it up as a mature, profitable company or a fledgling startup.  Some of Atlassian’s competitors picked up a third of this amount at early stages and probably had to give up three times as much equity as Atlassian did.  Bootstrapping has paid off, after all.

Oh, about that $60M T-shirt – you really have to read it over @ Atlassian. After all, this is a SFW blog:-)

Update:  I’m speechless.  What’s this? Sour grapes?

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Launch Silicon Valley: 30 Startups Debut Tomorrow

Somewhat late notice, but there’s an exciting startup debut event in Mountain View tomorrow: Launch: Silicon Valley, co-presented by SVASE, Garage Technology Ventures and Microsoft, provides the next generation of emerging technology companies with the opportunity to pitch their products to, and network with, an audience of Silicon Valley’s top VCs, Angels, corporate business development executives, prospective customers and partners, bloggers and media.

The event is in it’s fifth year now (Happy Birthday!) and as usual, will feature 30 startups selected from hundreds of applicants in information technology, mobility, digital media, next generation internet, life sciences and clean energy.


Selected demonstrating companies for Launch: Silicon Valley 2010 include:

Company

Application

Web Site

Appbackr

App marketplace

www.appbackr.com

BCCThis

Sticky notes for email

www.bccthis.com

BioVantage Water reclamation www.biovantageresources.com
Breakthrough On line mental health counceling www.breakthrough.com

Jungle Cents

Auction

www.junglecents.com

Convergence CT

Healthcare data

www.@convergencect.com

Digital Sun

Water Management

www.digitalsun.com

Electradrive

Electric Drivetrain

www.electradrive.net

Evolver

3D characters

www.darwindimensions.com

GreenPlatform

Data center storage

www.greenplatformcorp.com

Highflex

Flexible photovoltaics

www.highflexsolar.com

jMango

build once, deploy all, app platform

www.jmango.net

Laster

Augmented reality glasses

www.laster.fr

Linqto Many to many collaberation www.linqto.com
Micello Indoor maps www.micello.com
NMBI Painless Injections
Optic Lanes Active traffic management www.opticlanes.com

Pilus Energy

bacteria energy cell

www.pilusenergy.com

RiverMuse

It management platform

www.rivermuse.com

ScanAvert

Food ingredient detection

www.scanavert.com

SDK BioTech

Cell platform

SocialAmp

see what friends are buying

www.socialamp.com

STI-Medical

medical imaging

www.sti-hawaii.com

Taggstr

Location tagging – Make your Mark

www.taggstr.com

TenCube

cell phone security

www.tencube.com

TrueDomain

Anti Phishing

www.truedomain.net

Vizibility

Presearch

www.vizibility.com

Youi Labs

Reduced cost phones

www.youilabs.com

Zikon

Electronic Ink

www.zikon.com


The event starts tomorrow morning at Microsoft’s Mountain View campus.  Here’s the Agenda and registration link.

There’s a pre-event party in Palo Alto tonight at 6pm – you’ll get details upon registration.

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Woman in High Tech & The New York Times Out of the Loop

Image credit: The New York Times Out of the loop is the original title of a New York Times article discussing how difficult it is for women entrepreneurs to get funded, or generally to get into the management ranks in business.  A title that backfires … but you’ll have to wait to see why.

The first case discussed @ the NYT is Crimson Hexagon, a start-up founded by Candace Fleming, Harvard MBA, former HP Exec and small business President. Yet despite here credentials potential investors called her “Mom”, asked indiscreet questions and one invited her to his yacht by showing her his photo on the yacht – sans clothes.

“I didn’t know things like this still happened,” says Ms. Fleming, 37. “But I know that, especially in risky times like the last couple years, some investors kind of retreat to investing via a template.” A company owned by a woman, she adds, “is just not the standard template.”

Her solution was to find a fund that specifically focuses on investing in start-ups led by women: Golden Seeds.  They and other angels funded Crimson Hexagon to the  tune of $1.8M.

So while the bigger issue is still very much of a problem, at least all is well at Crimson Hexagon.  That is, until you click the link, where you see this headline:

4.5.2010 Crimson Hexagon Fills Out $2M Series A-2 Round; Names Scott Centurino New CEO

A bit more detail (emphasis mine):

Crimson Hexagon, the leading provider of real time market research, today announced that it has filled a $2M Series A-2 funding round. The round, led by Golden Seeds, was completed through a combination of new and existing investors…

In addition, the company announced that Scott Centurino has joined the company as the new CEO, replacing Candace Fleming who left for both personal and professional reasons.

Oops…  not exactly the outcome the NYT projected.  So now you see why the title backfired: just who is out of the loop this time?

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Under the Radar: Commercializing the Cloud – Apply to Present / Discount Tix Here

UtR-Iam-Going Under the Radar is Silicon Valley’s most established startup debut platform: a conference series organized by Dealmaker Media, covering business applications, social media, entertainment, mobility..etc.

This year’s conference in Mountain View, CA on April 16th will focus on Commercializing the Cloud – that’s a fairly wide definition, and one that perfectly mashes with our focus over @ CloudAve, so we’re proud to be Media Partners at this event. That means we’ll be covering it before, during and after, and if you decide the attend, we’ll get you in at a discount rate.

In this American Idol of startups typically 32 finalists are selected, who are grouped in categories of 4 each and each has about 15 minutes to present in two parallel tracks. They get grilled by the judges and audience, and at the end of the conference the winners of each category are announced.  A few years ago I participated in the pre-selection of startups, and I remember having checked out hundreds of companies to come down to the finalist set.  At the moment 19 finalists are announced:

AppDynamics, AppFirst, Aprigo, Cloudant, CloudShare, CloudSwitch, Conformity, CubeTree, Fonolo, GoodData, Layerboom Systems, Makara, MaxiScale, Neo Technology, NorthScale, Reductive Labs, RiverMuse, SaaSure and SendGrid.

This means two things:

  • A dozen or so slots are still open
  • The Selection Committee will likely sift through another 100+ applications to fill those slots.

So if you consider your startup a (future) leader in Saas | Collaboration | Business Apps | Development Tools | Compliance |  (and more!), don’t waste time, apply here to be a presenter.

A personal note: the roster so far is quite infrastructure-heavy, which I’m sure makes Krish happy… but as the dumb non-techie business guy, I’d love to see more Business Apps, too :-)

Past presenters include: Heroku, Get Satisfaction, Marketo, Eucalyptus, Zuora, Box.net, Ribbit, Hubspot, Twilio, New Relic, CloudKick, Jive Software, and many more.  Many (54%) of the UtR participant received funding, some grew to fame, others disappeared… but disappearance is not always bad  – as is the case of 2008 Under the Radar graduate 3Tera, which just got acquired by Computer Associates. :-)

And if you’re not presenting, you sure would like to attend :-) CloudAve readers get $100 off their tickets here!

Under the Radar is not only a great startup showcase, it’s perfect good networking and and deal-making forum in Silicon Valley. Stay above the clouds – see innovation in its earliest stages – and get deals done; one handshake at a time. Mingle with 350 VC’s, journalists and C-level executives seeking to find, connect and partner with startups who’s products, technology and teams fit strategically into their road maps.

Remember to use our discount – and see you there!

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Startup CEO Who “Won’t Take VC Abuse” Is Now a VC Himself and Blogs About Both Sides of the Table.

Valleywag  named Mark Suster, then CEO of Koral “one entrepreneur who won’t just take VC abuse“  for his blog post  “slamming one VC partnership for tardiness, inadequate preparation, and bad Blackberry manners.”  That was late 2006…

Not long after the “incident” his startup, Koral received funding, which, in hindsight was probably unnecessary: a few months later, barely out with a beta product Koral got acquired by Salesforce.com.

A few months later the “anti-VC” (not really) CEO has become a VC Partner himself.

Read more

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Startups, Present @ Launch: Silicon Valley 2009. Few Days to Deadline.

Startup Entrepreneurs who did not make it to the recent  Under the Radar event, here’s your second chance: join us at Launch: Silicon Valley 2009, co-presented by SVASE, Garage Technology Ventures and Microsoft.

In fact it will be more than a second chance: while the UtR event focused specifically on Cloud Computing, Launch 2009 is designed to uncover and showcase products and services from the most exciting of the newest startups in information technology, mobility, security, digital media next generation internet, life sciences and clean energy. The inaugural Launch event was in 2006, combined with Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start conference.

Are these events worth attending? It’s your call … all I can say is since 2006 presenting startups received a combined $80+ million in venture funding.

So if you are building the Next Great Business in the areas mentioned above, are (almost) ready for launch, meaning that by June 9th, 2009 you will have a product or service available, but have not been out in the marketplace for more than a few months, then by all means send an Executive Summary of no more than 2 pages to Launchsv@svase.org. Submission deadline: May 8th, 2009 – yes, just a few days left. (Garage Technology offers a useful Writing a Compelling Executive Summary guide.)

Last year over 300 companies from all around the country and even overseas applied, so clearly the presentation spots are in high demand. Based on the submissions up to 30 companies will be invited to present at the Launch: Silicon Valley 2009 event on June 9th at the Microsoft Campus in Mountain View, California. Presentations slots are 10 minutes, running in 6 sessions of 5 companies each. Each presenting team will also be assigned a cocktail table in the Networking Room where they can meet with interested audience members one-on-one to answer questions and explore possibilities.

The evening before, on June 8th the presenting companies, registered audience and selected bloggers and media will be invited to a Pre-Event Party at a prestigious location in Palo Alto, providing a further opportunity for networking with Silicon Valley’s movers and shakers.

So if you are a qualifying startup Founder, remember the deadline: May 8th.  For additional details and later for updates check http://www.launchsiliconvalley.org/ and you may also want to follow the event (actually the President of SVASE) on Twitter.

Guy Kawasaki called Launch: Silicon Valley “the poor man’s Demo”. SVASE proudly wears that badge, since this is an event with a price tag that won’t keep any startups away. It’s your turn now: send in the Executive Summary and launch with SVASE in June.

(Cross-posted from CloudAve. To stay abreast of news, analysis and just plain opinion on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Business grab the CloudAve Feed here.)

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SVASE VC Breakfast with Hummer Winblad in San Francisco – Focus on Software as a Service

We’re in a deep recession, VC investments dried up, startups are shutting down and the World is coming to an end…  or not?

I’m just back from a very lively Under the Radar conference where 32 startups presented and the audience was full of VCs looking for the next investment opportunity.  Those who missed the UtR deadline, or just did not fit this event’s profile (Cloud Computing) will soon get another change at Launch Silicon Valley, co-presented by SVASE, Garage Technology Ventures and Microsoft.

In between these conferences there re are several smaller, more intimate events, like the SVASE VC Breakfast Club series.  After a long time I’ll be back moderating the next breakfast meeting this Thursday, April 30st  in San Francisco.  As usual, this will be an informal round-table where up to 10 entrepreneurs get to deliver a pitch, then answer questions and get critiqued by a VC Partner. We’ve had VC’s from Draper Fisher,  Kleiner Perkins, Mayfield, Mohr Davidow, Emergence Capital …etc.  This Thursday’s VC is Lars Leckie, representing the first exclusively software-focused venture firm, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.

These breakfast meetings are a valuable opportunity for Entrepreneurs, some of whom would likely have a hard time getting through the door to VC Partners. Since I’ve been through quite a few of these sessions, both as Entrepreneur and Moderator, let me share a few thoughts:

  • It’s a pressure-free environment, with no PowerPoint presentations, live demos, Business Plans…etc, just casual conversation; but it does not mean you should come unprepared!
  • Follow a structure, don’t just roam about what you would like to do, or even worse, spend all your time describing a problem, without addressing what your solution is.
  • Don’t forget “small things” like the Team, Product, Market..etc.
  • It would not hurt to mention how much you are looking for, and how you would use the funds…
  • Write down and practice your pitch, and prepare to deliver a compelling story in 2-3 minutes. You will have about 8-10 minutes, the first half of which is your pitch,  but believe me, whatever your practice time was, when you are on the spot, you will likely take twice as long to deliver your story. The second half of your time-slot is Q&A with the VC.
  • Bring an Executive Summary; some VC’s like it, others don’t.
  • Last, but not least, please be on time! I am not kidding… some of you know why I even have to bring this up. Arriving an hour late to a one-and-a-half-hour meeting is NOT acceptable, but we’ve had too many such incidents, so here’s a new rule:  if you’re late by more than 20 minutes, you will not be allowed to join the session.

Here’s the event info page, and remember to register – the previous event with Hummer Winblad sold out in advance.

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Two Days Left for Under the Radar Online Registration – Get Your Discount Here

We’re at the final countdown stage for the Under the Radar: Clarity in the Cloud conference – it’s coming up this Friday, April 24th, 8:00AM – 6:00PM @ the Microsoft Campus, in Mountain View, CA.  

If it’s named a conference, it has to have a keynote or a panel, and that’s what you get at 9am: the Buyers’ Wish-list Panel:

  • What are technology buyers are hunting for?
  • What cloud technologies have they adopted?
  • How you can get on their wish list?

But that’s where all similarity to a conference ends.  The rest of UtR is actually a giant Startup Launchpad – the American Idol of startups.  Except UtR won’t take months to declare the winners.  The finalists present in a rapid-fire format  – they are grouped in categories of 4 each, in two parallel tracks  and each presenter has about 15 minutes. They get grilled by the judges and audience, then all attendees get to vote  ( I wonder if they upgraded from paper ballots to SMS yet..) and at the end of the conference the winners of each category are announced.

UtR has a good track record of the participants getting funded – about half of them got funded or acquired in the past. (See more stats here.)  If we can believe InformationWeek’s Top 50 Startup list, this year’s roster will also be worth paying attention to:

           
          

          

                      

 

Then there are the Graduate Circle Companies – fomer UtR presenters, who are no longer truly “under the radar”, having proven themselves:

       

       

 

So if you want to be part of 2009 startup history, network with entrepreneurs, VC’s, media, corporate decisionmakers, join us on Friday.   CloudAve is a media partner for this event, several of us (Krish, Graeme, Raju and myself) will be there, and most importantly, we have a deal for you.  Use our VIP registration site for $100 off the non-member price.

If you can’t commit full day, drop by just for the afternoon (it’s Friday).  For the first time in the history of these events, you can now get an after-lunch pass for $275.

See you there!

(Note to PR types: thanks for all your interest, but I am not making advance appointments.  UtR is too vibrant, dynamic, there are too many interesting people to bump into to make such commitments – better go with the flow.  But it’s a small place, and several of us from CloudAve will be there, so I’m sure we’ll meet your startup clients anyway.)

(Cross-posted from CloudAve. To stay abreast of news, analysis and just plain opinion on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Business grab the CloudAve Feed here.)

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Startups: Present at Under the Radar

Under the Radar is Silicon Valley’s most established startup debut platform: a conference series organized by Dealmaker Media (for those with a longer memory, they used to be IBDNetwork) , covering business applications, social media, entertainment, mobility..etc.

The 11th Under the Radar conference in Mountain View, CA on April 24, 2009 will focus on Cloud Computing and Business Applications and as such it’s an obvious fit for CloudAve – media partners for the event.

While a conference in name, it’s actually a giant Startup Launchpad – the American Idol of startups.  Typically 32 finalists are selected, who will present in a rapid-fire format  – they are grouped in categories of 4 each, in two parallel tracks  and each presenter has about 15 minutes. They get grilled by the judges and audience, and at the end of the conference the winners of each category are announced. 

But why bother in the middle of the worst recession most of us have seen?  After all, no startups get funded now – you may think.   Well, if you think VC investment all dried up, just look at these two UtR companies picking up $27M in funding.   In fact Dealmaker Media claims that in the past 3 years alone, presenting companies have gone on to raise over $1.36 Billion. Some additional stats on Under the Radar “graduates”:

49% have gone on to raise funding or be acquired
14% have been acquired by companies such as Google, eBay, Microsoft, Yahoo and Cisco
$14 Million average has been raised by presenting companies

I guess the Dealmaker name is justified, after all smile_regular.  Other than the presentations, these events are also an excellent networking opportunity amongst the 400 or so attendees, so let’s look at the previous years’ attendance statistics by provided by Dealmaker Media:

http://sheet.zoho.com

It certainly looks like the right crowd to mingle with for investment-hungry startups.  Currently about half the slots are filled by these finalists:

Ctera, Eucalyptus, Heroku, New Relic, Sauce Labs, Symplified, Tap In Systems, Twillio, uTest, Virsto Software, Zephyr, Zetta, Zimory, Zuora.

Obviously that means there is still room for more.  So if your startups fits one of these categories: 

Cloud Infrastructure | Platforms | Virtualization | Saas | Mashups | Collaboration | Communication | Business Apps | Development Tools (Utilities, OS, etc…) | Mobile Office | Semantics | Commerce | Social software/ networks | Sync (online/offline)

and meets the general criteria:

  • Unique value proposition
  • Ability to monetize product/business
  • Large market opportunity
  • Must still be considered "under the radar" – launched in 2009
  • Company must be an actual startup – not a new product from a large company

then what are you waiting for?   Apply now to present at Under the Radar.  Non-presenting attendees can register here.

We will talk about UtR more over @ CloudAve – it will no doubt be an exciting competition.

(Cross-posted from CloudAve.  To stay abreast of news, analysis and just plain opinion on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Business grab the CloudAve Feed here.)