Breakfast with An Investor

Breakfast with An Investor

Good morning, All,

First, a big thank you to Brian Cohen, Chairman of the New York Angels, who spoke at our brunch on Sunday. Great information, and thank you for staying and listening to everyone’s pitch. We appreciate it- and according to those in attendance, it was a big hit!

Our next Breakfast with An Investor is this 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.

Actually, there were two burps, and they had nothing to do with Verizon’s $4.4B bid for AOL: Can Google Outsell Amazon and eBay? Is Facebook about to become to world’s newsstand – or the world’s biggest media mogul?

Google is about to launch ‘buy’ buttons in the next few week, according to the WSJ article and Facebook just became a publisher, and may well become the go-to destination for news for a lot of people on mobile, with Instant Articles. And lest we forget, there are a lot of people on mobile. Did we miss something, or did we not learn not too long ago, that Facebook decides which news articles you’ll see, and does censor content. And has done for quite some time. We do understand that they’re the world’s street corner, but putting a newsstand there – all well and good, but proceed with extreme prejudice. It is Facebook after all, who changes the games and the terms of service all the time.

“Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses,” wrote the New York Times.  And as the Times itself reminds us, Facebook has a long history of changing the algorithm that determines what people see in their feeds. Here’s How It Messed With Your Feed in 2012. The social network tries to promote voting, but it also has conducted tests that affect users’ voting behavior—without telling them.  Lest we forget.

Their other current media partners are BuzzFeed, National Geographic, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Der Spiegel Online and Bild.

“Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, was unapologetic about the shifting rules. In an interview at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, he said that Facebook’s mission was to give its users what they wanted most,” said the NYT article. Which, taking a page from the NYT itself, means ‘all the news that (we see) fit to print.’ Or, as Gawker puts it, When Everything Is Facebook, Facebook Sets the Standards. Although it still frankly shocks us that with all of the so-called innovation, so much is still based on an ad revenue model. Early days.

We were also reminded in the many articles that covered the Facebook news that FB is not a content company, so deep sigh of relief? Neither was Medium until it came along and now there’s Medium, where anyone can self publish. Gee, imagine something like Medium on a platform something like Facebook. But what good does it serve to look twenty minutes into the future, when it’s so much easier to bury one’s head in the sand?

We also know that Google has a very self-serving way of delivering/skewing search results, so we’ll see how their new ‘buy’ button affects Amazon and eBay, all things considered. “The products will still be provided and sold by retailers, rather than by Google. Retailers including Macy’s Inc. are in talks with Google about taking part in the launch. A Macy’s spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday,” said the WSJ piece. Let’s not forget that Amazon picks the products that they themselves will sell directly by how well those products do with other retailers on the site – and eventually killing off those moms and pops by effectively undermining their businesses. Looks like a bigger bully might have just come along. Time will tell.

Google lost their mojo on mobile and Instant Articles might just have sealed Facebook’s dominance there, and you have to give them credit for staying relevant. Again, we mention Dave McClure and his warning that All Dinosaurs Gonna Die. Now it looks to us as though the unicorns/gorillas are starting to encroach on each other’s turf. Net Neutrality was about who controls the delivery mechanisms, qua the pipes, and can’t have that but the Verizons and Comcasts of the world are not the only delivery mechanisms, as Facebook and Google well know, in case you missed it. Should be interesting, as we go onward and forward.

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