Erik Moore, Venture Capitalist, ‘Unapologetically Black’

on Monday, Mar. 17th

Erik Moore’s career in venture capital began with a hot tub.

It sounds like the ultimate Bay Area cliché, perhaps even more vividly so when you hear that the hot tub in question was destined for the downtown building once sought after by flashy former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown.

It was 1999, and Tony Hsieh, one of the building’s well-to-do tenants, had just sold his first company to Microsoft. Hsieh wanted to install a Jacuzzi in his penthouse apartment – but it was against policy in the building, where Moore lived, too. After the fellow tenants ran into each other one night, Hsieh drafted Moore onto the homeowner’s association. They got the sought-after hot tub installed, and became friends.

Good enough friends that Moore invested in Hsieh’s company, one called Zappos.

At the time, he told Hsieh, “I’m not sure I have ever heard of a more stupid idea than selling shoes online.” But, deciding that Hsieh’s obvious talents as an entrepreneur outweighed the apparent dead-end nature of the internet service that became Zappos (which was later acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion) Moore made the investment that eventually provided the seed money for his venture capital fund, Base Ventures. (more…)

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YCombinator Founder: “Starting a Startup Hurts”

on Monday, Feb. 24th

The founder of YCombinator is very, very happy that he’ll no longer be running that startup incubator.

That was a recurring theme of Paul Graham’s “Fireside Chat” with Launch founder Jason Calacanis, in which Graham also touched on various lessons from working with more than 600 startups, and being flamed on Twitter for comments about foreign accents and women in tech. (more…)

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Coming Soon: Got $2k? Invest In A Startup

on Thursday, Oct. 24th

We’re getting closer to a new order in which anyone with $2,000 to spare can become a startup investor.

The Title III crowdfunding rules proposed by the SEC are now available, and AngelList COO Kevin Laws has compiled a working summary. h/t William Carleton over at Counselor @ Law:

Kevin’s summary will prove hugely useful to crowdfunding advocates, players in the nascent non-accredited crowdfunding industry, and others just interested in the startup financing ecosystem and trying to figure out how viable this new alternative may prove to be.

Follow along as the doc evolves here.

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Think Global

Giving Brightest Kids the “Cram School” Experience, Online

on Tuesday, Jul. 23rd

A version of this story also appears at NPR’s All Tech Considered blog.

About 18 months ago, novice entrepreneur Sue Khim flew to San Francisco from her home in Illinois to take part in an uncommonly public version of a Silicon Valley rite of passage — the pitch. With thousands of other young techies in the audience, she was scheduled to be onstage at the Launch Festival, a showcase for “stealth” startups that have managed to keep their products out of the voracious tech press, or have as-yet-unreleased products to announce.

Its name and startup-feting culture notwithstanding, Launch is more competition than festival. Over two days, tech entrepreneurs pitch to a panel of hotshot technologists who issue bracing, on-the-spot critique of products’ market viability and revenue models, and, if delivering on the contest’s highest promise, offer funding.

Khim’s presentation knocked it out of the park, bagging $75k for Alltuition, a “Turbo Tax for student loans.” But within six months, Alltuition’s Twitter account had gone silent, and the founders had turned their attention to a new endeavor, entirely fueled by their success at Launch. This time around, though, Khim has gone from talking about a potential market of 21 million students to about 20 times that number, and to targeting precocity: children across the world as young as 11 who are the best among their peer groups at science and math computation. (more…)

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Launch Edu Highlights: A Startup that Fills the LEGO Gap for Girls, and iPad Games That Track Preschool Learning

on Monday, Jul. 1st

Though it’s administered on a much smaller scale than its parent Launch Festival, the Launch Education and Kids Conference should be credited for its impressive fidelity to the star power and engaging curation that mark the larger conference.

Founder Jason Calcanis is the parent of a young daughter, which partly explains his interest in the kids and education startup space. More germane, as evinced by the impressive lineup of companies and investors, there’s plenty of money to be made here, and troubling gaps in public schools that would be well served by some of the tech innovation bubbling up in this sector. (more…)

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Market Square

City Divided Over Tech’s Clout in San Francisco

on Friday, Mar. 15th

A version of this story aired on APM’s Marketplace.

Silicon Valley may be the financial center of the tech industry, but lately San Francisco is earning a reputation as the heart and soul of it. Tech workers who don’t want to live in the Valley’s sprawling suburbs have migrated northward. And hundreds of tech-related businesses have set up shop in San Francisco too. But the culture of tech that’s taking hold in the city hasn’t come without controversy. (more…)

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Is Hollywood Tech Hub io/LA a Dream Come True?

on Thursday, Jan. 10th

I had a dream last year– not a day dream but an actual I’m-asleep-and-the-subconscious-is-firing dream– about a wondrous place. A multi-layered venue that was one part cafe, one part co-working space, and then a collection of more traditional offices for start-ups looking to get off the ground.

After waking I made a note and filed the dream under “if I had a million dollars”. Later I found out that my dream was coming true, in the form of io/LA.

Now that wasn’t hyperbole for hyperbole’s sake. I really did have that dream. Which made me exceedingly curious about the people who started tech incubator i/o ventures had for developing their hybrid space in Los Angeles. To find out more I spoke with Chris Gartin, founding partner and managing director of io/LA. (more…)

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Discrimination, or Discernment? Silicon Valley and the Cult of Youth

on Tuesday, Nov. 27th

What’s a post-40 white male to do to get a job around here? If “here” is Silicon Valley, then shave your head, get an eyelid lift, and swap that button down for a slim fitting T-shirt.

That’s the transformation Randy Adams underwent as he pursued and secured the CEO position at Socialdial, and he tells Reuters he probably wouldn’t have gotten the job without it. (more…)

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Teens in Tech Attempts to Connect Young People with Tech StartUps

on Monday, May. 21st

Teens in Tech, a tech and youth-centric company that encourages young entrepreneurship, recently created a jobs board that will allow startups to post jobs for high school students. It costs $15 to post a listing and some of the current ones include positions like Mobile Engineer Intern at Backplane in Palo Alto, California and Technical Analyst Intern at Kiip in San Francisco, California.

In an article on TechCrunch Anthony Ha writes, ” there are lots of internship sites. However, they’re primarily targeting college students, not high schoolers — who are, after all, almost certainly cheaper, while still being able to accomplish some of the same basic tasks.”

Teens in Tech wants to change that.

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To Build The VR Education of Tomorrow One Scholar Turns To The Past

There are plenty of folks in the education technology field who are excited about virtual reality as the next great educational tool.



We’re Closer To Our Photorealistic VR Future Than You’d Think (INTERVIEW)

A look into the virtual world of tomorrow with USC researcher Paul Debevec.


Prepare Yourselves For The Personal VR Video Revolution

Virtual Reality is rapidly approaching a watershed moment.

Ralph Echemendia

Spoiler Alert: Hollywood Isn’t Taking Cyber Security Seriously (LA Film Fest)

Tonight at the Los Angeles Film Festival, squeezed in between movies and red carpet events, a symposium on Cyber Security is being held at the Grammy Museum.

Gumroad Rentals H

Rent Video Straight From Social Media Via Gumroad

The people who brought the “Buy Now” button to Twitter are going all-in on film distribution.