At Vator Splash: Super angels here to stay?

Bambi Francisco Roizen · January 23, 2011 · Short URL:

Hear from top early-stage VCs on what's happening in tech and how funding is changing

In about 10 days, we'll be holding our fifth Vator Splash, an evening event that will be held on February 3rd, at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco. As always, at the event, will feature 10 promising young high-tech startups to present onstage in front of prominent investors and corp development officers, and two seasoned and successful entrepreneurs.

There's still time to get early-bird tickets. Go to the registration page to reserve your tickets and see the agenda. These prices are good until next Monday!

Given the changing dynamics in early-stage investing, we've added a new twist to our evening event.

This time, we'll have a panel of top-notch early-stage investors take a look at how early-stage funding is evolving, and how the emergence of super angels are helping to change it. The super angels are emerging  not only as startup creation is transforming, particularly for consumer Internet companies, but as the number of VC firms is shrinking. There were 6,828 investment professionals in venture capital at the end of 2009, down from 8,892 in 2007, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

Our moderator will be Duncan Davidson, former VC at VantagePoint Venture Partners and now co-founder of Bullpen, a newly-launched VC fund focused primarily on second rounds of super angel funds. The first question to be explored is: Are super angels here to stay? After all, aren't they just early-stage venture investors? And, if they're here to stay, how does this change the dynamics of fundraisings and exits?

If $500,000 is the new $5 million, is a $20 million acquisition the new $200 million IPO?

The other is: Is this the next tech boom? (1978-83, PCs; 1995-00, dot-coms)?

You won't want to miss this panel, along with our other VC panelist/judges, and keynotes Tim Westergren, founder and CSO of Pandora, and Neil Young, founder and CEO of ngmoco, which was sold to DeNA for $400 million last fall.

Other questions Duncan wants to explore are:

Wll this IPO season spark the herd recognizing the boom (Demand Media next week, then Linkedin,  etc)? Or is this just Web 2.0 version two?

Is consumer internet peaking? what is next, consumerized enterprise?

With all the focus on the apps economy, what happens to core tech deals?

On the panel will be John O'Farrell, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who prior to the one-year-old VC handled M&A and partnerships at Opsware, a software company founded by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. In addition, Joe Kraus, partner at Google Ventures, will join the panel. Joe had a long career as an entrepreneur, before jumping into the investor seat. Prior to Google Ventures, Joe was founder of pioneer search engine, Excite, and the founder of JotSpot, which was acquired by Google in 2006. Another panelist is Tod Francis is a managing director at Shasta Ventures. Some of his investments at Shasta include Mint, Turn, Logoworks, Plastic Jungle, Pixazza, MovieClips and companies still operating in stealth mode. David Hornik of August Capital also joins the panel. David is on the board of Gravity, Nomis, Ohal, StumbleUpon, Splunk and SAY Media. He was also an investor in Aardvark (acquired by Google), Evite (acquired by Ticketmaster).

There's still time to get early-bird tickets. Go to the registration page to reserve your tickets and see the agenda before ticket prices go up!

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder Vator, Managing Partner - Vator Investment Club; Former Columnist/correspondent Dow Jones MarketWatch; Business anchor CBS affiliate KPIX

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Pandora, the leading internet radio service, gives people music they love
anytime, anywhere, through a wide variety of connected devices: laptop and
desktop computers, smartphones, connected BluRay players, connected TVs,
etc. Personalized stations launch instantly with the input of a single “seed” –
a favorite artist, song or genre. The Music Genome Project®, a deeply
detailed, hand-built musical taxonomy, powers the personalization or
Pandora. Using this musicological “DNA” and constant listener feedback
Pandora crafts personalized stations from the more than 800,000 songs that
have been analyzed since the project began in January 2000.
More than 75 million people throughout the United States listen to
personalized radio stations for free on Pandora through their PCs, mobile
phones and devices such as the iPad, and connected in-house devices
ranging from TVs to set-top boxes to Blu-Ray players. Mobile technology has
been a significant factor in the growth and popularity of Pandora, starting
with the introduction of the Apple app store for the iPhone in the summer of
2008. Pandora instantly became one of the most top downloaded apps and
today, according to Nielsen, is one of the top five most popular apps across
all smartphone platforms.

Pandora is free, simple and, thanks to connectivity, available everywhere
consumers are – at the office, at home, in the car and all points in between.
In 2009 the Company announced that Pandora would be incorporated into
the dashboard in Ford cars via SYNC technology; GM has already followed in
announcing plans to integrate Pandora into its vehicles and Mercedes-Benz
introduced their Media Interface Plus device that works with the
free Pandora iPhone app to provide direct control of Pandora from in-dash
stereo controls. This was all great news for the millions of Pandora listeners
who had been plugging their smartphones into car dashboards to listen to
personalized stations while driving. More than 50 percent of radio listening
happens in the car, making it a crucial arena for Pandora.

Today tens of millions of people have a deeply personal connection with
Pandora based on the delight of personalized radio listening and discovery.
These highly engaged listeners reinforce the value Pandora provides to: 1)
musicians, who have found in Pandora a level playing field on which their
music has a greater chance of being played than ever before; 2) advertisers,
who benefit from the multi-platform reach of Pandora, as well as its best
practices in targeting consumers for specific campaigns; 3) the music
industry, which has found in Pandora a highly effective distribution channel;
and 4) automobile and consumer electronics device manufacturers, who have
noted that incorporating Pandora into their product makes it more valuable
to consumers.

Pandora continues to focus on its business in the United States. The radio
arena has never been hotter, thanks to technology that enables radio to be
personalized to the individual and more accessible than ever before. Right
now millions of people listen to Pandora in the United States and we hope
someday to bring Pandora to billions of people around the world.

• 2000 – Tim Westergren’s Music Genome Project begins.
• 2005 – Pandora launches on the web.
• 2008 – Pandora app becomes one of the most consistently downloaded
apps in the Apple store.
• 2009 – Ford announces Pandora will be incorporated into car
dashboard. Alpine and Pioneer begin selling aftermarket radios that
connect to consumers’ iPhones and puts the control and command of
Pandora into the car dashboard.
• 2010 – Pandora is present on more than 200 connected consumer
electronics devices ranging from smartphones to TVs to set-top boxes
to Blu-ray players and is able to stream visual, audio, and interactive
advertising to computers, smartphones, iPads, and in-home connected


Tod Francis

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Tod Francis is with Shasta Ventures. He focuses his investing activity on early stage companies that leverage technology to improve consumer experiences.

Neil Young

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Working on next project. Founded ngmoco in 2008, 25+ Top 5 Apps, first company to have top grossing free-2-play iOS titles & Plus+ Social Network became Mobage West.

Tim Westergren

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Joe Kraus

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David Hornik

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