Nutanix launches and a new era for data center computing is born — No SAN or NAS required! August 16, 2011Posted by ravimhatre in 2011, Cloud Computing, data, database, datacenter, enterprise infrastructure, Infrastructure, platforms, Portfolio Company blogs, startup, startups, Storage, Uncategorized.
Tags: data center, datacenter, nas, san, storage, virtualization, vmware
The Nutanix team (ex-Googlers, VMWare, and Asterdata alums) have been quietly working to create the world’s first high-performance appliance that enables IT to deploy a complete data center environment (compute, storage, network) from a single 2U appliance.
The platform also scales to much larger configurations with zero downtime or admin changes and users can run a broard array of mixed workloads from mail/print/file servers to databases to back-office applications without having to make upfront decisions about where or how to allocate their scare hardware resources.
For the first time an IT administrator in a small or mid-sized company or a branch office can plug in his or her virtual data center and be up/running in a matter of minutes.
Some of the most disruptive elements of Nutanix’s technology which enable the customer to avoid expensive SAN and NAS investments typically required for true data center computing are aptly described on company’s blog – http://www.nutanix.com/blog/.
Take a look. We believe this represents the beginning of the next generation in data center computing.
The Lightspeed Summer Fellowship Program Explained April 12, 2011Posted by John Vrionis in 2011, blogging, start-up, startup, startups, Summer Program, Venture Capital.
There’s been some great discussions recently about the Lightspeed Summer Program (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2380567) and at several of the sessions over the weekend at the Stanford E-Boot Camp (http://bases.stanford.edu/e-bootcamp/ so I thought I’d do a quick post to help answer some of the recurring questions.
Background. I started the program at Lightspeed 6 years ago because as an undergraduate and graduate student I, as well as many of my entrepreneurial classmates, took on “real” internships during the summers in order to pay the bills (rent, gas, beer…). We worked on our startup ideas on nights and weekends out of necessity. When I joined Lightspeed in 2006 and realized that we had the resources to facilitate some number of idea-stage projects, we put together the Summer Program and opened it up to student led teams. Why did a student need to be involved? We had to draw the line somewhere. The program could not be just another entryway for entrepreneurs to pitch Lightspeed. We wanted to target young, entrepreneurial minded people and give them a viable summer alternative to taking that traditional internship.
I know from personal experience just how hard starting a company can be. It’s a BIG DECISION to tackle early in your professional career. Pieces of the program have changed over time, but the GOAL has remained constant since inception and that is simply to give young entrepreneurs the time and resources to fully experience what it is like to start a company.
Purpose. The Lightspeed Summer Program is NOT an incubator, nor was it ever intended to be. We are not looking to fund companies out of the program. Really. I promise. We want people to experience startup life fulltime and have the opportunity to learn if it is something they truly want to do. Is there benefit to Lightspeed? Yes, of course. We hope to build relationships with young, talented entrepreneurs at this stage in their careers. We are in the business of fostering entrepreneurship. We also have a very long term view on what this means. The opportunity to work with bright, energetic people who have ideas about how to change the world is exactly why we do this job in the first place.
Why don’t you ask for equity or a right to invest? It’s funny, people have asked me “What’s the catch?” Or, “It sounds too good to be true, so what am I missing?” I appreciate the genuine skepticism so I want to be as clear as I can on this one. The reasons we don’t require an obligation from the entrepreneurs we accept are simple:
First, we don’t have expectations that the teams we accept will be ready for venture capital during or after completing the program. In fact, I’ve been surprised by the number (12+) that have gone on to receive venture or angel funding.
Second, we look at the program as a way to engage with people at this stage in their careers. If we do a good job and they like working with us, they should want to come back and work together down the road if they want to pursue entrepreneurship. If we don’t do a good job, and they don’t like working with us, well, shame on us(!), but the entrepreneur shouldn’t be obligated to work with Lightspeed.
Evolution. I’ve changed the “rules” of the program over the years to try and make it a better experience. For example: I learned in Year 1 that teams without engineers didn’t accomplish much in the 10 week time frame. Without fulltime “doers” teams ended up with a lot of ideas and power point slides but very few actual results. So we adapted and started requiring that every team have at least one CS or EE major as a way to push teams to have members that could actually build stuff over the summer. Example 2: I learned that what is most helpful to the Fellowship winners in terms of guest speakers and introductions is other young founders who have successfully raised money and angel investors. So I changed our guest speaker lineup and invited fewer attorneys, CFO’s, and recruiters and went with a healthy dose of entrepreneurs, CEO’s and investors. Example 3: Entrepreneurs like lots of free food, so we added more snacks.
If I participate in the program and Lightspeed doesn’t invest, isn’t that a bad signal? This is something I didn’t think about when we first started the program. It’s a very valid concern. The LAST thing I want to do is have a program that creates friction for any entrepreneurs who want to continue to pursue their company after the program. So we made a change. Starting last year, we made a commitment to every team we accept. Lightspeed will invest a minimum of $50k in any Summer Program winner that continues on with a company and is able to pull together a round of at least $500k from other investors. It’s very important to understand that the Lightspeed investment is completely at the entrepreneur’s option. If you don’t want it, don’t take it. But this way, if any investor ever asks, “Is Lightspeed investing?” the answer is “Yes, if we want them to.”
Competition. People often ask or comment about other programs (YC, Angel Pad, etc). I’m thrilled these programs exist and are flourishing. I think the more opportunities out there for young entrepreneurs to try the startup life, the better. We’ve had teams in multiple summer programs in the past and its been great. The one requirement we ask is that teams dont participate in more than one program at the same time.
Resources. The program gives Fellows office space, some funding, VC mentorship (each winning team has a Partner from Lightspeed as a mentor), introductions to founders and angels, and a chance to work on your idea fulltime. I’ve learned that our Fellows also benefit greatly from the camaraderie that emerges from working with other entrepreneurs in a close environment and that these lasting relationships mean a great deal to people.
This program is NOT for people who want a lot of hand holding. As an entrepreneur, I learned you need to be scrappy. The program is designed to give you all the resources you need but ultimately it is best suited for entrepreneurs who just need the chance to make things happen.
Application. We one round for 2012. The deadline for is March 2, 2012 so get them in! Find the app here: http://www.lightspeedvp.com/summerfellowships/
We continue to be very enthusiastic about the tremendous amount of opportunity in the Enterprise Infrastructure sector for 2011. In the past few years, we’ve seen significant innovation in technologies such as virtualization, flash memory and distributed databases and applications. When combined with business model shifts (cloud computing) and strong macroeconomic forces (reduced R&D budgets), a “perfect storm” is created where the IT ecosystem becomes ripe for disruption. Startups can take advantage of the changing seas and ride the subsequent waves to emerge as leaders in new categories. For this post, I’ll highlight three categories where I believe we’ll see significant enterprise adoption in 2011 – big data solutions, use cases for cloud and virtualizing the network. Startups in these categories are now at the point where ideas have become stable products and science experiments have transformed into solutions.
1. BIG DATA SOLUTIONS GROW UP
There’s been a lot of “big noise” about “Big Data” for the past couple of years but, there has been “little” clarity for the traditional Enterprise customer. Hadoop, Map Reduce, Cassandra, NoSQL – all interesting ideas, but what Enterprise IT needs is solutions. Solutions come when there are products optimized to solve the challenges with specific applications. Most of the exciting, fast growing technology companies we hear about daily (Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Groupon, LinkedIn, Google, etc) are incredibly efficient data-centric businesses. These companies collect, analyze and leverage massive amounts of data and use it as a fundamental competitive weapon. In terms of really working with “Big Data,” Google started it. Larry and Serge taught the world that analyzing more information generates better results than any algorithm. These high-profile web companies created technologies to solve problems other companies had not faced before. In this copycat world we live in, Enterprise IT is ready to follow the consumer-tech leaders. The best enterprise companies are working hard to leverage vast amounts of data in order to make better decisions and deliver better products. At Lightspeed, we invested in companies like DataStax (www.datastax.com) and MapR Technologies (www.maprtech.com) because these are startups building solutions that enable Enterprise IT to work with promising Big Data platforms like Cassandra and Hadoop. With enterprise-grade solutions now available, I expect 2011 to be a year when tinkering leaps to full-scale engagement because these new platforms will deliver a meaningful advantage to Enterprise customers.
2. CLOUD COMPUTING FINDS ITS ENTERPRISE USE CASES
The hype around “Cloud Computing” is officially everywhere. My mom, who is in her sixties (sorry Mom) and just learned to text, recently asked me about Cloud Computing. Apparently she’s seen the commercials. In Enterprise IT circles and VC offices, there’s a lot of discussion around “Public” clouds vs. “Private” clouds; Infrastructure as a Service vs. Platforms as a Service; and the pros and cons of each. It’s all valuable theoretical debate, but people need to focus on the use cases and the specific economics of a particular “cloud” or platform configuration. As of right now, not every Enterprise IT use case fits the cloud model. In fact, most don’t. But there are three in particular that definitely do — application management, network and systems management and tier 2 and 3 storage. At Lightspeed, we’ve invested in a number of companies such as AppDynamics (www.appdynamics.com) and Cirtas (www.cirtas.com) which deliver solutions that are designed from the ground up to enable enterprise class customers to leverage the fundamental advantages of “Cloud Computing” – agility, leveraged resources, and a flexible cost model. Highly dynamic, distributed applications are being developed at an accelerating rate and represent an ideal use case for cloud environments when coupled with a solution like the one offered by AppDynamics which drives resource utilization based on application level demands. Similarly, Enterprise IT storage buyers have gotten smarter about tiering data among various levels of storage media, and infrequently accessed data is a great fit for cloud storage. Cloud controllers like the one offered by Cirtas enable enterprises to have the performance, security and reliability they are used to with traditional internal solutions but leverage the economics of the cloud.
3. VIRTUALIZING THE NETWORK
To date, the story of virtualization has been primarily about servers and storage. Tremendous innovation from VMware led the way for an entirely new set of companies to emerge in the data center infrastructure ecosystem. At Lightspeed, we talk about the fundamental pillars of the data center as application and systems management, servers, storage, and networking. Given all the advancement and activity around the first three, I think it’s about time the network caught up. As Enterprise IT continues to virtualize more of the data center and adopts cloud computing models (public or private), the network fundamentals are being forced to evolve as well. Networking solutions that decouple hardware from software are better aligned with the data center of the future. Companies such as Embrane (www.embrane.com) and Nicira Networks (www.nicira.com) are tackling this challenge head on and I believe 2011 will be the year where this fundamental segment of data center infrastructure starts to see meaningful momentum.
Startup CEO New Years Resolutions January 6, 2011Posted by jeremyliew in 2011, culture, growth, HR, new years resolutions, product management.
I asked the CEO’s of the companies that I work with, “What are your company related new years resolutions?”. Each had a different spin, but they mostly fell into a few themes of:
- Great people
- Improve the product
- Stay Lean
- Grow fast
- Internalize culture and values
Lisa Marino of RockYou, a leading developer of social games and advertising solutions for social media, is focused on building a great team with more gaming DNA to improve the quality of the games it publishes:
Make RockYou the place talent wants to be.
Many of the companies had resolutions focused on their product management and development. From the social gaming companies, Will Harbin of Casual Collective, which publishers the popular game Backyard Monsters, said simply:
Mo’ money, mo’ fun
As games like CityVille have shown, mo’ fun usually leads to mo’ money! [And congrats to Alex Le, cofounder of a prior investment, Serious Business, whose first game since the Zynga acquisition is CityVille.]
Scott Albro of Focus, a knowledge sharing community for business people, has fully embraced the idea of constant iteration for 2011, taking the best practices of social media to the business media world.
Plan big, increment small. Meaning: set big, audacious goals for the year, but understand how the little things you do every day link together so you can achieve those big goals.
Encourage more product suggestions from our engineering team. Our engineers often come up with great ideas, and they are the most productive when they work on these ideas. in 2011, I’d like to encourage a culture where this happens as much as possible.
Shawn Gupta of OhLife, a personal journaling tool over email, has similar sentiments in using metrics to drive product innovation:
Make metrics a core part of our product development. It will be a lot easier for us to make improvements to our product when we have data-driven discussions and decisions.
Although the industry is in much better shape than the dark days of 2008 and 2009, many CEOs have fully embraced the continue to internalize the lean startup principles that came out of those years. Joe Greenstein of Flixster, the leading movies app on all social and mobile platforms, wants to take big risks with small dollars.
Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Pursue our passion, build lasting strategic relationships and most importantly use our cash wisely.
Put the pedal through the floor.
Traffic,traffic,traffic! For media sites like ours you are either growing traffic or or you are dying. Our whole focus this year will be on finding new users, improving the user experience and increasing their engagement with our sites.
Two ecommerce companies that have seen tremendous growth are paying attention to their core values and culture to keep their organizations coherent as they dramatically increase in size. Andy Dunn of Bonobos, a vertical web retailer, will be driving attention to one of their core values in 2011:
Focus on self-awareness, the core trait of leaders, both people and firms.
We will measure our traction in three ways:
1. Knowing we are becoming self-aware as a team. Measure of success: 360 degree reviews done smartly (meaning efficiently and not dreaded by all involved).
2. Marketing who we are, not who we may want to be one day. Measure of success: more than doubling our customer base without doubling our cost per acquisition.
3. Developing products based on knowledge of our strengths and curating products based on knowledge of our weaknesses. Measure of success: sales growth and gross margin return on investment.
Brian Lee of Shoedazzle, a personalized fashion etailer for women, is also focused on one of their core values, great customer service:
Treat every client like they are part of your family.
Simplify – Challenge ourselves to simplify, we can strive for perfection in the next version.Celebrate – Take the time to celebrate small wins in all areas of the company, and do it every day as they happen.Feedback – Continue to foster an environment where everybody on the team communicates feedback, good and bad, in an open and honest way.
More on internet trends December 22, 2010Posted by jeremyliew in 2011, Internet.
UPDATE: Bloomberg has made this video private so it is no longer available. Sorry
I was interviewed on Bloomberg TV this morning about internet trends. It’s about a five minute video. You will have to click through to Youtube to watch as Bloomberg doesn’t allow embedded video watching.