Tuesday, January 20, 2009

10 Ways President Obama Can Create Jobs

While watching the inauguration today I decided to actually be productive and put some thoughts on paper about how the government might help get us out of this depression (not a recession anymore).

1) Give tax credits for direct investments in private companies not funds or public companies.

2) Give tax credits for companies who make cash acquisitions and create liquidity for shareholders to restart the capital cycle.

3) Open up the IPO markets by reducing restrictions on companies to go public creating liquidity for shareholders which eventually cycles back to new companies.

4) Create a new Securities Exchange Commission that is willing to legitimately combat securities fraud and will bring back old short selling and uptick rules.

5) Give money to smaller regional banks and VC focused banks who can smartly lend money (debt) to companies who are creating innovation and jobs.

6) Encourage more government based Venture Capital funds (equity) to invest in companies who can help government harness the benefits of technology and become more transparent.

7) Give tax credits for hiring U.S. based staff

8) Reduce government regulations on big business monopolistic behavior stifling start-up innovation: Telecommunications, Energy, Biotech, Automotive, Media.

9) Demand more transparency from all financial vehicles who create jobs: private equity, venture capital and those that destroy jobs: hedge funds.

10) Weed out the government bureaucrats and lobbyist who waste tax payer money.

Related Stories:
How About Some QE for Venture Capital?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Media Optimization Firms Are Red Hot In Southern California in 2009


Media optimization is starting to become a headline buzz word in 2009 as the recession drags into the near year. Optimization is one solution to cutting costs that will virtually guarantee a return on your advertising investment if executed properly. If you are a savvy agency, advertiser or publisher and you are not using a platform or service to optimize your paid search, display and landing pages, you are getting behind the curve. Advertisers are demanding accountability and performance in this economic downturn and are increasingly moving toward performance based arrangements or CPA deals. Why, because it hedges some of the risk and the publisher or agency is required to produce results. The old model of buying impressions or clicks and hoping for conversions to sales is GONE for the sophisticated online marketing companies. Here are 4 companies using optimization technology to build competitive advantages in their respective spaces:

Magnify360 - Landing page optimization using predictive data analysis
Adisn - Display advertising optimization for advertisers
Rubicon Project - Publisher ad network optimization
Oversee.net – Domain parking ad network optimization

Stay tuned for a list of large publisher advertising networks in Southern California that I am gathering information on: Demand Media, Gorilla Nation, Specific Media, Tsavo.

Monday, January 12, 2009

99% of Angel Investors Don't Know Jack


Angel investing in startups is probably the most challenging form of private equity there is. Having been involved with the Tech Coast Angels for the last 10 years I have seen 150+ companies funded and very few successes. One thing I have learned over that time is that about 90% of the investors in each company "didn't know what they didn't know". Why? Unless you are full time investor looking at business plans all day long or have some particular domain expertise, angel investing will turn into a charitable tax exercise for you. However, the angel successful investments usually had these top 10 elements going for them:

1) Investors had to earn their right to be part of the investor syndicate and invest
2) Investor syndicates typically had less than 5 investors investing $50K-$250K each
3) The investor syndicate only had domain experts in the deal
4) All investors contributed contacts, industry knowledge or competitive intelligence
5) Investment was sourced through contacts and NOT blindly through random submissions
6) Sophisticated angels (like VCs) had looked at many other competitors from around the U.S.
7) Valuation was never an issue in negotiations and completing understood by both parties
8) The market was in a recession and lacked institutional Venture Capital competition
9) The management team had worked for previous start-up successes and failures.
10) The company had bootstrapped themselves into a beta product and had paying customers

Having investors who are unknowledgable about the game or industry creates numerous issues which I will expand on later.

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