Connecting The World Proving Difficult


Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Founders’ Larry Page and Sergey Brin are committed to bringing the internet and web technology around the world. Roughly 65% of the world population has no access to the Internet. For tech companies whose valuations and bottom lines depend largely or entirely on active users, this represents a huge opportunity.

Between Google and Facebook there are a number of new technologies to bring low cost internet to the global masses. Google’s Project Loon has created high altitude balloons that beam internet to cities below. Facebook has been working on drones to achieve the same end. Internet beaming coupled with inexpensive phones from China’s Xiaomi make this an option for many.

But many of the impoverished communities that now have access to this technology are confused by it or unable to use it. Using a smartphone or tablet or in some cases a computer is entirely alien to them and now 20 years of technology improvements are being given to them.

It’s not to say that efforts are entirely ineffective, but adoption is slow. Western countries have had decades to get to the point we’re at now, and though it may seem weird for even the oldest of us to think of a time before the internet, it didn’t happen overnight. A combination of unfamiliarity, a distinct lack of network effects, and no relevenat content keep even those that could technically use the internet from logging on.

Signs are showing that internet adoption is slowing, and though it might be inevitable it might take a longer time than executives and investors have estimated. It turns out the biggest thing keeping people in these communities from getting on the internet is not cost like many of these people thought. This might explain why growth decreased from roughly 15% from 2005 – 2008 to roughly 10%  from 2009 – 2013.



The Biggest Tech Acquisitions Of All-Time

Sometimes you start an entrepreneurial endeavor with a goal to have a big exit. Maybe your goal is to have the biggest exit of all time. If so, here are the tech acquisitions you have to beat.


AOL Acquires Time Warner 

In the first few days of the new millennium AOL announced what remains to be the largest acquisition of all time. The $164 billion dollar acquisition  was later called one of the worst decisions in corporate history.

AT&T Acquires DirectTV

After Comcast swooped up Time Warner, AT&T made moves to be able to compete with a massive acquisition of DirectTV for $48.5 Billion.

Comcast Acquires Time Warner

In 2014 we saw some consolidation in digital services. In what many saw as an anti-competitive move in the cable industry, Comcast bought Time Warner for $45 billion. This gives them 75% market share in the cable industry.

Facebook Acquires WhatsApp 

This huge acquisition made headlines when the announcement was made that Facebook would purchase WhatsApp for $19 billion. The purchase was so high because of the rapid growth of WhatsApp but at the time it was $42 per user.

Hewlett-Packard Acquires Compaq

In the biggest computer hardware acquisition of all-time, HP purchased fledging computer maker Compaq for just under $19 billion.

Hewlett-Packard Acquires Electronic Data Systems (EDS)

Ross Perot’s EDS was purchased by HP in 2008 for $13.9 billion for their IT services.

Symantec Acquires Veritas

In 2005, security software company Symantec purchased Veritas. Veritas had a rolodex of Fortune 500 companies and some complementary services that helped grow the company.

Google Acquires Motorola Mobility

Google has been trying to enter the hardware space for a while, recently releasing a computer and a phone. But in 2012 Google purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion and didn’t do much with it.

Oracle Acquires PeopleSoft

Oracle completed a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft in 2005 which wound up being accepted by PeopleSoft for $10.3 billion.


Trying To Make Silicon Valley More Diverse – Y Combinator

Y Combinator Logo

Y Combinator Logo

Y Combinator (YC) is the go-to startup accelerator. All other accelerators or incubators look to YC, quote it or copy it. It has been the starting point for tech juggernauts like AirBnB, Dropbox, Reddit, and Stripe and continues to find and grow the best and most innovative startup companies. They invest $120,000 for an average 7% stake in its portfolio companies.

Much has been said about the problem in Silicon Valley of a distinct lack of minorities and of tech in general. Apple has the highest number of black employees of the three largest Silicon Valley tech companies, and they only have 7%. Because of its influencing status in the industry, YC has received its fair share of criticism for its part. However, YC recently took its first step in fixing this problem.

YC added Michael Seibel to its team, its first full-time black partner, he has backed two YC startups. His latest startup just exited for $60 million, they were bought by Autodesk. Seibel sees YC as integral to his rise in Silicon Valley so he is a perfect fit for the position.

Though the accelerator has never avoided investing in minority owned startups, there is just not nearly the amount of minority applicants. That is why they now feel that a proactive outreach approach is necessary to encourage minorities to enter the startup world.

Women startup founders in the program have been low as well. In 2005, less than 5% of founders were women. That number has increased much quicker than the number of black founders and is now 23% of founders.

While YC is starting to reach out to females and black applicants, and track their outreach, it will not make investment decisions based on diversity.

Tandem Executives Raise 1 Million Dollars

tandem startup logoA few high-level employees who left Grooveshark back in 2012 have already raised $950,000 for a new startup called Tandem. The service combines analytical data, sales information, and surveys to help e-commerce companies better understand their customers’ shopping behavior and motivating interests for purchasing.

Data Mining Done Right

Companies with thousands of customers have a huge pile of data waiting to be mined but may lack the resources to get access to that information and make sense of it all. Tandem draws that data from a company’s historical sales information and then consolidates it all into one seamless and intuitive dashboard. Tandem gives you the ability to sift through useful charts, important insights, and smart segments of your company’s customer base, all from one integrated location.

Once Tandem has divided your customers into manageable and helpful subsections, it will send them “persona surveys” to figure out more information about their shopping habits, interests, and driving motivations. These email surveys take advantage of promotional offers in order to encourage the highest response rate possible.

The best part is that all of this data is ultimately connected to a company’s customer base (i.e. their email addresses.) So if there is ever a question about what a chart is implying or why you had a spike or drop in sales, you can dig deeper by sending surveys and asking questions. The longer-term goal for Tandem is to get even smarter about reacting to the data and dig deeper into customer behavior, personality, and purchasing habits.

Tandem’s Competition

The idea for Tandem came when Grooveshark employees, including former Chief Revenue Officer Isaac Moredock, realized how difficult it was to compile customer information and make sense of it all. The employees left in 2012 to pursue Tandem and have been perfecting their service since then, including a successful beta testing this summer.

Tandem faces competition from other survey sites, like SurveyMonkey, as well as analytical engines and consulting firms. But Tandem hopes to distinguish itself with its smart, automated software and clean, intuitive interface. Surveys are important, but they’re just a part of Tandem’s equation that gives insight into customer engagement and purchasing motivations.

The 9-person Tandem team secured the $950,000 investment from The Institute for Commercialization of Public Research and other angel investors. Tandem’s pricing starts at $200/month for businesses with a 20,000 customer base, and starts at $595/month for those with up to 100,000 customers.

Major Venture Capital Players Eye Travel Startups

The tech industry is a buzz right now, and it’s mainly because venture capital investors and angel investors are putting in a lot of funding into funding business models that are well within the world of travel. Travel apps are getting pushed forward in a lot of different ways, and money is coming through to establish more and more funding for companies that are working within this arena. The amount of money getting pushed is from $500 million to the billions of dollars, and it’s even having some analysts wondering what would have become of companies like Kayak if they were launched later, during this boom.

HomeAway Travel App

It’s A Moving Market

There are a lot of different companies buying, and not just individuals or travel firms alone. TripAdvisor, for instance is purchasing several brands, and already has 29 brands under their tutelage. It has recently picked 4 major companies, and spent over $352 million in acquisitions thus far. There are also other sites moving, including many from the company itself, which is starting to acquire a great deal of brands to bolster their already big infrastructure in terms of travel and reviews.

HomeAway has also been listed as a major player in this world, already taking over 22 businesses, and looking to spend even more on getting more management apps, and travel elements.

The Returns Stall

The interesting thing to note about all these travel startups getting picked up, bought out, and acquired is that it’s not the main bread and butter that investors are gaining ground on. Analysts looking at the last 2 years will recognize that these are not the main sources of income for most of these companies, which is definitely telling in a lot of ways. The returns may be stalling, and therefore this may not be a huge boom that some people are hoping for.

Regardless of the numbers, travel is in, and venture capitalists are taking note on all levels. As more and more tech goes into the mobile platform arena, it’s going to shake up the travel industry and acquisitions as a whole.

xAd Contemplates Allocating Funds from Fundraising

xAd CompanyThe mobile advertising market has seen an incredible amount of activity in the last year. In 2013 alone, the IAB estimates the industry was worth twenty billion dollars in revenues. However, in 2014, the industry has chosen not to focus on building inventory, but in fine tuning the mobile advertising experience for its customers. As a result, companies such as Twitter and Facebook, which make more in ads provided to mobile platforms than those seen on desktops, have invested more funds in technology, spurring the industry on and creating even more profit.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that companies such as xAd have grown quite popular. xAd is a mobile startup that specializes in serving advertisements for media specific to a user’s location. According to an article recently completed by Tech Crunch, many Venture Capital companies have a keen interest in investing in xAd, based in the success of their mobile advertisements. The corporation is already profitable and growing quickly; according to Dipanshu Sharma, xAd’s CEO, it already has several million dollars in the bank, and, therefore, wasn’t even in the market to generate more funding. However, with the increased interest in location based advertising, xAd has become more popular than ever.

As a result, the company recently raised fifty million dollars, through a combination of debt and equity financing led by Institutional Venture Partners, otherwise known as IVP. The funding had significant participation from the company’s existing investors Emergence Capital and Softbank Capital; in addition, Silicon Valley Bank contributed funds to the effort. The money raised from this endeavor only adds to the existing acquisition offers and approaches from other Venture Capitals.

The specific interest in xAd comes at their unique offerings to customers. Not only are they a leader in location based advertising, the company allows their customers to monitor the analytics behind how well the ads based in location work. This unique facet has afforded the company quite a bit of success. xAd was the first United States based mobile advertising technology platform to expand globally.