Good morning, All,
Our next Breakfast with An Investor is snext week on Wednesday, May 20th and we hope to see you there: it took us four months to nail down a date that fit into our guest investor Nnamdi Okike’s schedule. He is Co-founder & Partner at 645 Ventures, a seed and early-stage venture capital fund that invests in software and Internet companies. While they launched just over a year ago, they’ve already invested in 15+ companies – and are actively looking to invest in more!
Nnamdi is an experienced venture capital investor, having spent eight years at Insight Venture Partners, where he sourced and invested in several successful companies, including Folhamatic (acquired for $300 million), Astaro (acquired by Sophos), and Hitwise (acquired for $240 million). He served on the boards of Kabum, CSSN and Folhamatic. He currently works closely with 645 Ventures’ portfolio companies Keaton Row, Trendalytics, Hire an Esquire, and Poshly. He serves on the board of AbbeyPost and Rifiniti. He received a BA in Biology, MBA and JD degrees from Harvard.
Bonus Breakfast this Sunday, May 17th, with the Chairman of the New York Angels: We’re also co-hosting a Brunch and Q&A with Brian Cohen. It’ll be a small group, so get your tickets now, and when are you going to have another opportunity to have brunch with the Chairman of one of the most active angel investing groups in the country? Here’s your chance! Register here. It’s a full on brunch, too, complete with mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, and lox and bagels.
We spent most of last week at TechCrunch DisruptNY, a conference we’ve always looked forward to since the first one the publication launched in NY. In those days, it was run by Michael Arrington, whom one could always count on to do interesting if not provocative, interviews. He knows the space, he knows the players – and he’s a lawyer by training. A few years back, TC was bought by AOL and Arrington was relegated to reporting to Ariana Huffington, since AOL had also purchased the HuffPo. We all knew that was a non-starter, and it wasn’t long before Arrington exited. As did many key TC reporters. This year, for the first time, Arrington was missing from Disrupt NY, and believe us, he was missed. It wasn’t the same. Many of the interviewers/moderators were young TC reporters, and we know that they were young, as many of them mentioned their age/youth, at some point during the interviews. Tom Wheeler was among the speakers. With the new so-called net neutrality regulations (for the record, that’s 400 pages of new regulations, and that number alone smacks of a heavy hand rather than anything that might resemble true ‘neutrality’) about to take effect on June 12th, the interviewer did bring up that Wheeler was a former cable industry lobbyist, and Wheeler was quick to mention that that was 30 years ago. Which was when the interviewer mentioned that he was minus five years old at the time. From what followed next, we can only assume that anything that happened prior to the interviewer’s presence on the planet doesn’t count or in no way impacts events that happen in his lifetime. The session might have been more interesting had the young interviewer delved into something like, say, this worrisome bit in the regulations that Wheeler oversaw. From Watchdog.org: FCC net neutrality regulations include one really scary sentence –
‘“A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non- harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management,” reads page seven of the new Internet regulation adopted by the FCC. The FCC itself mentions only “unlawful material such as child pornography or copyright-infringing materials,” but leaves the exact interpretation open. Even the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which pushed and eventually celebrated the FCC’s intervention in the Internet marketplace, labeled this section of the net neutrality regulation as the “worrisome bit.”’
So, someone will be policing content, and it’s left intentionally vague. It’s 400 pages. A lot is spelled out, but not that bit, which does smack of censorship. Arrington would never have let that one slide, no matter that he was no doubt a bit more than minus five years old when Wheeler was earning a no doubt considerable income as a cable industry lobbyist.
Kudos, though, to Dave McClure (500 Startups), who has been talking about unicorns and dinosaurs for the past few weeks. He intends to be the biggest VC in Silicon Valley, and stressed the importance of investing not only in unicorns, but what he called centaurs and my little ponies and we hope that those investors who love high-flying valuations took and take heed: centaurs and my little ponies may not be the sexiest companies and may not be the headline-grabbers, but lest we miss it, the centaurs and my little ponies are the online equivalent of the moms and pops – the backbone of any stable and growing economy. Let’s also hope that they’re not somehow casualties along the information highway, once the new FCC regulations kick in. As we also hope that TechCrunch will bring in real moderators next time they do a conference in NY or anywhere. Youth is fine; ignorance is inexcusable. Do your research and use your position to ask the hard questions. We’re at a critical time in tech. This is no time to send in the clowns. Onward and forward.