Crowdfunding

Earlier this week, my partner Nabeel and I recorded our first podcast. We talked a bit about crowd funding and the Job Act. You can listen to it here

In a nutshell, I’m excited about the possibilities of crowd funding. There are too many examples of great indicators such as Angelist and Kickstarter. I also agree with my friend Albert who wrote this great post a few years back, “No Such Thing As Too Much Seed Capital.

That is why I was disappointed to see David Rose’s negative take on crowd funding on Quora. This part struck me the wrong way:

What will be interesting to see, and what no one yet knows, is whether crowdfunding will be effectively ‘ghettoized’ to the low end of the market. For many different reasons, most securities lawyers I’ve spoken with feel that once a company goes down the crowdfunding path, they will effectively be cutting themselves off from any future funding by deeper-pocketed Accredited Investors, or institutional funders such as venture capital funds. So there seems to be a very good chance that this will end up in an either/or situation: take a one-time shot at raising up to $500,000 or so from the crowd, and then be prepared to live or die with only that cash, or else limit yourself to ‘traditional’ equity fundraising from Accredited investors, with all the flexibility for growth that currently provides.

I could not disagree more wtih this sentiment. 

I don’t care who backs a company during the seed stage. I will use the same criteria I always use. Do I find the founders compelling? Do I love the idea? Is the product something I currently or will use? Do I want to see this thing in the world? 

It wasn’t long ago when some folks wondered if YC companies were a negative indicator. The logic was why would a founder give up so much equity for so little cash? Clearly those critics have been silenced by the pure success of YC. 

To me, asking (and caring) about who backed your startup during the seed stage is a bit like asking which college did you graduate from or what was your GPA in undergrad.

It won’t impact future financing. 

Terms of Service

Most web services or applications comes along with a terms of service. The terms of service is basically the rules of the road and what users agree to when using the service. 

When startups are just being born, they often can’t hire lawyers to do a proper terms of service, nor can they imagine every possible scenario.

So as a startup grows and the product evolves, it’s natural that the terms of service evolves along.

But recently Tumblr made news with their latest update to their terms of service. The reason? Because they made it easy to understand. 

One of my favorite lines is about the age requirement to use Tumblr

You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We’re serious: it’s a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation, even if you’re 12.9 years old. If you’re younger than 13, don’t use Tumblr. Ask your parents for an Xbox or try books.

I love that the company cares for everything they touch including something that is typically as dry as a standard terms of service. Caring matters and one of the many reasons why i love this company.

Well done.  

Update: Jacob just sent me a link to this 60k note “meme” post that are quotes from the TOS. Amazing. 

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/41025868/stream?client_id=N2eHz8D7GtXSl6fTtcGHdSJiS74xqOUI?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

Podcast #1, Week of 3/26

Nabeel and I have been kicking around the idea of doing a podcast. Basically the idea is to record the stuff we talk about over lunch on any given day.

So earlier today we fired up Soundcloud on the iPad and hit record with zero editing. It’s about 12 minutes long and we talk about things like the Job Act, YCombinator’s “No Idea required”, a to do list app that we’ve been playing around with called Wunderlist, and what’s next after Flickr. 

Let us know what you think about our first try. 

My first week with the iPad 3

I’ve been using the new iPad since it arrived last Friday.

I have the Verizon LTE version.

I freaking love this thing. It’s become my favorite computer. The screen is so beautiful that it’s hard looking at my MacBook air screen. It’s amazing how many logos on the web are going to need to be refreshed to deal with retina displays going forward.

Battery life is great and built in LTE is a joy.

Im currently flying back from a three day trip to San Francisco. I brought my MacBook just in case but i never turned it on once during this trip.

I’ve gotten used to typing on the iPad. It reminds me of the days when i switched from a blackberry to an iPhone. Strange and hard at first but once you get it, you get it.

The other thing about the iPad that can’t be overstated is that it keeps you focused. You work or engage with one thing at a time. There are no overlapping windows to mess with your mind. Distractions are reduced to a minimum and you can just do what you need to do.

There are lots of folks that don’t think the iPad 3 is a big improvement. I guess I just gotta disagree.

This thing rocks.

Emailing content to your app

One of the coolest things about Disqus, which powers the comments on
my tumblr, is that I can publish comments via email.

It’s quick and efficient. If I lose connectivity the mail client is
smart enough to try again later on its own.

Several other apps provide a way to email content to their app. During
board meetings I often take notes with the iPads built in Notes app.
After the mtg I email that note to Evernote.

I also email stuff to Simple Note. And I’m writing this very post in
my mail client which I will email to Tumblr shortly. Once upon a time
i used to email photos to flickr which automatically shared it to
twitter. But yahoo has been letting me down and twitters own photo
sharing is fast and simple.

I’m not sure in a world of apps how much people will use email as a
publishing method. But I really enjoy it and hope developers continue
to make it an option.

Hiring from the community

Many startups in our portfolio hire their early team by focusing their recruiting efforts exclusively on their community.

In the early days, Twitter and Tumblr heavily favored hiring folks that were active and engaged users of their respective products.

It’s one of the best filters around as far as I’m concerned.

Today I had yet another example of the opposite scenario.

A startup came into our office today and one of the members of the team was a former Microsoft guy. He gave his presentation on a MacBook. In fact, pretty much every former MSFT person that comes to present at Spark uses a MacBook.

I realize that many/most entrepreneurs use a MacBook these days – but in this case I think it’s important to point out an important difference. 

These are folks that worked at Microsoft and built competing products, and upon leaving they switched. That tells me they didn’t love the products they were building.

And in my mind that’s a big reason why MSFT hasn’t been able to keep up with new insanely great products. Their own people don’t love their own products.

I’m clearly overstating the point but hopefully you can see where I’m going.

I think it’s a good reminder to hire people that love your vision and product. 

Hopefully you can keep hiring from your community as they company grows and grows.

(oh, and one more thing. the same logic holds true for your investors. I’d encourage you to bring on investors and board members that truly understand, value and love your product. it will make a difference in good times and in tough times.)