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Social Reputation and Our Online Future May 31, 2012

Posted by justincaldbeck in Consumer internet, social networks, startups.
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The emergence of companies like Getaround, Airbnb and even Yelp are examples of ways that we as consumers are using technology to get more comfortable doing everything from sharing recommendations to letting someone rent our car for a few hours.  While the technology is the enabler for these movements, social reputation plays a key role in their adoption.

I am biased, but believe that TaskRabbit, a Lightspeed portfolio company, is perhaps one of the best examples social reputation in action and founder Leah Busque has a great article in Huffington Post on the topic that went live today.

My favorite excerpt is below, but you can read the full article – the Role (and Future) of Social Reputation – here.

 Another fun thing to ponder is how social reputation systems might replace existing systems. A great example of a replacement that’s already rapidly occurring is Yelp. Sure, traditional restaurant and business ratings and reviews still exist, but when’s the last time you actually picked a local restaurant or service based on anything other than online consumer reviews? If Yelp’s social reputation system can edge out expert reviews, imagine what else can be replaced. Imagine, for example, what happens if your online social reputation could replace your traditional resume. A recent survey revealed that 91% of polled HR pros use social networks to screen prospective employees already. At what point does the trust trail you’re creating online eliminate the need for a CV? Here’s another interesting thought: What if you could leverage your social reputation for those things that traditional credit scores are used for? Things like getting a credit card, buying a home, or renting a car at the airport? Some may argue that a long and robust history of great transactional behavior online is a much better indicator of future behavior than a few late payments to the cable company.   -Leah Busque

What do you think the future of social reputation holds for companies?

Congratulations to the Stanford BASES Final Winners May 23, 2012

Posted by Barry Eggers in Entrepreneur, startups.
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Yesterday afternoon, I had the opportunity to join the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students, known as BASES, as a judge for its end of the year finale in which student-run start-ups compete for $150K in prizes.  This was my third year as a judge.  As with prior years, I was impressed by the quality of the presentations and teams this year.

Congratulations to all of the finalists and this year’s winners:

  • Calcula Technologies – an innovative treatment of kidney stones that are traditionally determined to be too small to be operable, but that are very painful for patients.
  • RAVEL – a legal search platform for lawyers and law students that helps reveal the most important cases, the connections between cases, and the evolution of legal principles over time.
  • Wello – an online marketplace that connects consumers with fitness professionals over live, interactive video for group and individual workout sessions.

Lightspeed has been a proud sponsor of BASES for the last few years and continues to be impressed with their impact on the start-up community at Stanford and beyond.

Two is a good number of founders May 14, 2012

Posted by jeremyliew in Entrepreneur, founders, start-up, startup.
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I’ve long held that two is a good number of (co)founders. One is difficult because you don’t have a true thought partner to talk to, or to tell you when you might be being crazy. To everyone else, you’re the CEO and the boss, and that power dynamic mitigates what they are willing to tell you.

Three can lead to a “two on one” situation, which can be destabilizing. It doesn’t always have to be unstable, but it is a risk.

Four or more and the equity cuts start getting pretty small for cofounders.

Douglas Merrill (CEO of Zestcash, one of our portfolio companies) has a nice post in HuffPo about how to work best with a cofounder that is well worth reading in its entirety. I paraphrase his five rules as follows:

  1. Be different, but not too different
  2. Share core values
  3. Compromise on work styles
  4. Overcommunicate to the team about your relationship, agreements and disagreements
  5. Find a trusted tie breaker

Read the whole thing.

The Enterprise Flash Market is Taking Off May 10, 2012

Posted by Barry Eggers in enterprise infrastructure, flash.
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Congratulations to Lightspeed portfolio company XtremIO and founders Ehud, Shuki, and Yaron for their acquisition which was announced today.  This is another reminder of just how fast flash has gone from promising consumer technology to mainstream enterprise building block – primarily fueled by the proliferation of virtualization, BI, and Big Data coupled with the rapid decline in flash pricing.

We made our first investment in an enterprise flash company (Pliant Technology) in 2007; in 2008 we blogged about the potential for this technology to disrupt the storage market and in 2010 predicted that it could be the next $10 Billion dollar IT market.

Venture dollars have flowed into the enterprise flash market over the last few years and, to date, there have been 7 major liquidity events for venture-backed companies: FusionIO’s IPO (a Lightspeed portfolio company), Pliant (a Lightspeed portfolio  company acquired by Sandisk), Sand Force (LSI), Anobit (Apple), IOTurbine (a Lightspeed portfolio company acquired by FusionIO), Flashsoft (Sandisk), and XtremeIO (a Lightspeed portfolio company).  There are also a number of promising companies emerging in this market, including Violin Memory, Nimble Storage (a Lightspeed portfolio company), Pure Storage, Solidfire, Tintri (a Lightspeed portfolio company), Avere, Kaminario, and Nutanix (a Lightspeed portfolio company) as well as many others in development phases.

Despite all of the exit activity, we are in the early innings of this market – stay tuned for more fireworks…