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Peter Kafka

Thanks to Quartz’s Zach Seward for jogging my memory about this oldie and goodie: Tumblr’s David Karp in a video interview taped in 2007, when he was 21, had 75,000 users and was talking about stuff like Digg, Flickr … and Twitter.

Karp’s interviewer is Howard Lindzon, who’s now known as the guy behind StockTwits. Assuming that the interview was taped close to the time it was published, it would have meant that the two men were talking as Karp was raising his first funding round of $750,000, led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital.

No need to say anything else:

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Douglas Rushkoff

Nice short movie about Present Shock by Abe Riesman of the New York Observer's "betabeat".  Here's the piece he wrote to go with it: 

Douglas Rushkoff On The Terror of Time
"Are we gonna give all our bloggers Adderall and stick ‘em in a room and tell ‘em to just churn out more shit?”

By Abraham Riesman 3/26/13

Over the course of 20 years, 15 books, and countless speeches and articles, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff has established quite a following among technophiles.

With titles like 2010’s Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, it’s no wonder folks like Andy Weissman quoted Mr. Rushkoff to explain why Union Square Ventures led a $2.5 million investment in Codecademy, a startup that teaches anyone programming languages like Ruby and Javascript. (Not long after, Codecademy announced Mr. Rushkoff would be joining their team as a “code literacy” evangelist.)

But while tomes like Program or Be Programmed or 1994′s Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Cyberspace warned about the perils and responsibilities of digital citizenship, his latest book is all about time. Rather, it’s about how people are driving themselves insane by approaching time in unhealthy ways.

In Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, which just hit shelves a few days ago, Mr. Rushkoff coins ominous terms like “digiphrenia” (the kind of disorientation you get when you’re trying to process something as fast as Twitter and something as slow as a news article in the same sitting) and “fractalnoia” (the mistakes organizations make when they try to predict major future trends using small bits of data from the recent past).

Sound a bit heady? Don’t worry. To slow things down a bit, we took Mr. Rushkoff to Sutton Clocks, a sales and repair shop for antique timepieces on the Upper East Side. There, amidst the ticks and tocks, Mr. Rushkoff told us how misunderstanding time can cripple a workforce and tempt you to make dumb decisions.

Try to rein in your digiphrenia as you watch him explain what happens to our biological clock when the digital world treats day and night interchangeably and why the 24-hour blog-cycle is a terrible idea.

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FOCUS 100, Investors, VCs

Investors take a big financial risk each time they invest in a startup, so they're pretty careful about who they back. You may have the best product in the world, but it's no guarantee that investors will shell out for you.

Earlier this month, startup founders from around the country gathered at Ogilvy in New York for the first annual FOCUS 100 Symposium. We attended a session called "Why We Invest," where angel investors and VCs shared what they're looking for in entrepreneurial talent. Here's what we found out:

Who they invest in:

Lauren Maillian Bias, Founding Partner and Director of Operations, Strategy and Investor Relations at Gen Y Capital, says her firm looks for entrepreneurs who have the ability to adapt and evolve. "Many times you'll meet a team in the beginning stages of the company and they'll morph into something else later," she says. "You have to have that ability within you to not take it personally either, in saying, 'this isn't working for the market,' and your business has to work for the market. It can't just work for you."

Deborah Jackson, Founder of Women Innovate Mobile (WIM), likes to see founders with big visions. She looks for "an entrepreneur that sees where they want to go, that has a vision. You need an entrepreneur that sees it."

What they invest in:

"Number one," says Jackson, "I really have to understand what the company does. And that's not always easy to do, particularly if you have a new kind of technology or you're trying to break into a market that's really not been proven. Second of all, I look for very big markets. So if it's a good product, is it a niche, or can it go big? Usually to have a big return you need to have a big market."

Eghosa Omoigui, General Partner at EchoVC Partners, disagrees. "[I] don't get lured by big markets, because you don't always have to have a big market to invest in a company. I look at DailyCandy as a classic example of an interesting company that didn't need five or ten million users. It just needed a million users to each spend 16 dollars, and that's a 16 million dollar a year business. It wasn't 10 or 20 or 30 million users, which everyone's so quick to think that's what you need. You just want super-engaged, super-attentive customers and users who... don't want to leave you."

How to nail the pitch:

"I'm a big believer of the six slide deck," says Brian Watson, Investment Team Member at Union Square Ventures. "In six slides you can get your vision across really quickly and succinctly, and create a conversation you can talk about at the end [of the pitch]." He also warns startup founders that "investors don't want to see all the small details and every single number about how you're going to do your business. We'd rather see you give the vision or let us use our imaginations to see how big things could really be... Investors want to be wowed, we want to think of the bigger business and imagine this to be much larger, because we're putting money in this and we want to see growth."

Maillian Bias reminds founders not to leave out information about who is advising your business. "People don't really give a lot of attention to advisory boards or actually formalize them before they go out [and pitch]. It's really important because in the early stages we can't actually pick who our winners are going to be, and that's okay, nothing has to be a done deal. But who has their social capital? Who do you have at your disposal who's supporting you that you can call and ask that has relevant expertise to what is is you're doing? If you already have them, I'd like to know about them."

All four agree that investors don't usually read your business plan. It's great to have one, but investors prefer seeing a one-page summary of your startup, clean and simple.

Watson also adds, "If you can include a demo of your product, we would much rather see a live product on the web than just mock-ups. The cost of starting a web company has gone down tremendously in the past few years and so there's almost no excuse not to have a working product when you're at a VC session."

How often you should communicate with your investors, once you get funding:

Monthly, says Maillian Bias. "Everyone has a different idea of what the ideal cadence is, but monthly updates to your investors on how you guys are growing, everything from your social media 'likes' and engagement to users on your platform to dollars to trends, the goods and the bads, very clearly outlined." These kinds of updates tell investors where their help is needed, and creates the "strong ongoing relationships" that investors like to see.

NOW READ: What Are The Odds Of Your Startup Succeeding?

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Mark Zuckerberg Laughing

A packed room of more than 200 founders, VCs and internet bankers took a moment to look up from their iPhones and listen in hushed reverence as one of Silicon Valley’s top investors explained what he looks for when choosing the next hot startup.

"For us, it’s all about growth. That could be growing revenues, it could be growing your audience, it could be growing your user base," he said. "And what we’ve been noticing recently is that after integration with Facebook Timeline and Open Graph, companies are seeing just monstrous growth. We tell all our portfolio companies to look into this. "If you’re not, it’s like your competitors are cheating. This stuff is like steroids for startups."

Continue reading…

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