Monday, March 19, 2012

VC Fred Wilson now a brand. Merchandising strategy anyone?

Fred Wilson ( is named the #1 venture capital brand online with a Heardable Score of 627 out of 1000, followed by Andreessen Horowitz at #2, Venrock Associates at #3, Intel Capital at #4, and Mayfield Fund at #5.

Fred Wilson outscored such brands as Venrock Associates and Mayfield Fund to secure the top position, which was calculated by a thorough examination of over 200 VC brands and 779+ data variables per brand. Fred Wilson's score of 627 out of 1,000 beat its nearest competitor, Andreessen Horowitz, by 16 points (2.6%). 

So what is Fred Wilson doing right? Lots of things: 

- Compelling content publishing (syndicated and embedded)
- Website optimized for smartphone browsing
- Strong social media presence, participation & followers

As many of you may already know, Fred Wilson is a partner with Union Square Ventures, a VC firm that ranked #25 in this report. Every firm featured in this report is a stand alone venture capital company except for Fred Wilson, who is both a partner in a leading VC firm and the most popular venture capitalist brand in his own right.

Heardable wrestled with whether to include Fred Wilson as a separate brand in its report, since all other competitors were traditional venture capital companies. But the research results were clear and compelling. For example, Fred Wilson has 209,876 Twitter followers, which is 380% higher than the next closest VC firm on Twitter. His website,, generates 70k visitors per month, which is 2,021% higher than second place Andreessen Horowitz. 

Top 10 VC Brands, Ranked by Heardable Score (1000 points possible)

1. Fred Wilson - 627
2. Andreessen Horowitz - 611
3. Venrock Associates - 603
4. Intel Capital - 602
5. Mayfield Fund - 592
6. OpenView Venture Partners - 591
7. Scottish Equity Partners - 583
8. DCM - 573
9. Benchmark Capital - 568
10. Sequoia Capital - 561

Heardable evaluated over 200 venture capital brands and many well-known VC firms did did not make the cut into the Top 50, including: Google Ventures, Atlas Venture, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Summit Partners, BOLDstart Ventures, General Catalyst, Y Combinator, Sigma Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Austin Ventures, and U.S. Venture Partners.
"Fred Wilson's Heardable score represents his participation as a category leader in the VC community," said Gunther Sonnenfeld, co-founder of Heardable, Inc. "Any company in today's landscape must think and act as a live brand, with its own expressions, actions and scalable value offerings.

In the venture space, this is especially important: While there might be plenty of capital to invest, the fact is that deal flow is a challenge, and therefore the best way for entrepreneurs and venture firms or institutional investors to connect is through the sharing of critical information.

Fred Wilson understands this better than anyone, and has grown his business through the power of social interactions, as well as through a rich digital footprint -- an optimized web presence, pervasive applications, compelling social media content and unparalleled perspectives on the market that incorporate his own thinking, and that of industry stalwarts, all of which he syndicates with consistency. At the end of the day, Fred conducts a deep and direct dialogue with all the stakeholders in the investment process, including prospects, and this is an example for all great venture firms to follow."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

With $55M, Search Engine Blekko takes on Google

Search engine Blekko has raised $30 million in new funding Yandex, MLC Private Equity, and existing investors U.S. Venture Partners, CMEA Capital and PivotNorth Capital (Ashton Kutcher is also a previous investor). This brings Blekko’s total funding to $55 million. Yandex’s CEO Arkady Volozh will join Blekko’s board.

Blekko launched last year as the shiny new search engine that wanted to take on Google.  

Blekko is a search company founded by Rich Skrenta and his core team from previous company Topix and Netscape’s Open Directory. Blekko was founded halfway through 2007 and has already earned itself an angel round from Baseline Ventures and two ex-Googlers 

The search engine differentiates itself from Google by giving users tools to do new types of searches that they can’t do elsewhere. Blekko offers unique query refinement tools to human editors called Slashtags (i.e. /news or /date or /amazon or /blogs) to filter results to what you are looking for (you can read our full review of the platform here).

Earlier this year the search company expanded its efforts to eliminate spam from search results and banned pages from well-known content farms as well as blockingpages from 1.1 million domains that were generating spam. The company has also signed partnerships with Topix, fellow search engine DuckDuckGo and recipe search engine Foodily. Blekko has also integrated social data into results, as well as Facebook comments. The company also considering integrating Twitter data into results as well. Volozh says of Blekko: “We love blekko and think it’s a great product – a quality search engine that organically combines search algorithms with expert opinions. We believe the outlook for this approach is strong and that the blekko team is poised to make it a success.” “Yandex is a partner and investor that shares our mission of making search the best experience it can be,” said Rich Skrenta, CEO of blekko. “Having access to one of the world’s top pools of search talent and the fantastic products they have built will help us grow blekko in the U.S.” The search engine currently indexes approximately 3.5 billion URLs, which pales in comparison to Bing and Google, which are both over 15 billion. But one of the key advantages to using Blekko is that it is such a thorough spam blocker.

courtesy: techcrunch

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why Los Angeles Will Outpace Silicon Valley As The Tech Startup Capital

Courtesy: Tara Tiger Brown,

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008 from San Francisco, I wasn’t very excited about the move because I’m a technologist and moving away from the tech hub of the world to the land of Botox seemed like a really bad career move. I assumed that the people of Los Angeles were disingenuous, attention whores and didn’t know anything about technology.

My husband coerced me into moving to SoCal because he would rather get a tattoo of Tinkerbell than rent an over-priced faux-loft in San Francisco. He asserted that the Web 2.0 or tech startup people do the same thing day after day, go to the same bars, the same coffee shops and work on products that aren’t discernible from a pet rock, and are geared toward the same 100 bot followed Twitter celebrities that are stuck together with gorilla glue on a postage stamp. more here:  Why Los Angeles Will Outpace Silicon Valley As The Tech Startup Capital - Forbes