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Last Week’s Links (2/8/16)

The magical promise of algorithms to side-step hard work and human acumen has long allured people engaged in finance – recently, Hollywood woke up from its own enchantment with mathematical models to predict slate successes.  Similarly Venture Capital is starting to wake up to the reality that unicorns don’t actually exist and more often than not tortoises win the race to profitability – something that will benefit ecosystems grounded in quality engineering and institutional support (like Kitchener-Waterloo.)

Though Africa’s middle class is still growing and the successes of mobile banking have spawned investment interest globally, China is taking a lead on the continent.  However, opportunity exists for PE locally and globally across Africa amongst SMEs, and some African startups continue to surprise global audiences with unique takes on conventional industries.

 The so called ‘Internet of Things’ is conceptually so much larger than an investment industry vertical – connected devices will become ubiquitous in the next few years and innovation in this area should not only come from consumer devices but hacknology as well.

*The cover photo on this post was taken on a walk last weekend and relates how strange the weather has been in Toronto this winter.

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Last Week’s Links (2/1/16)

Technology is increasingly helping mankind improve its health whilst curbing the effects of disease through helping us better understand how the body works.  We’re supposedly getting happier as we age but perhaps this phenomenon is reserved primarily for people in MDCs with adequate healthcare – again, something technologists , healthcare professionals and businesspeople are attempting to change.

As deflated currencies and crude prices send public markets spiraling downwards this year, investors are taking a new look at valuations whilst opportunist founders are bringing the pump closer to home.  It’s interesting to consider that there are still Communist and post-Communist communities without fast and abundant internet access in various places of the world whilst startup culture has gone pop in America – its legacy icons are often finding a new market relevance – leveraging domain knowledge through roles as co-founders of ‘new media’ plays.

As companies grow to become large enterprises they need to maintain startup values – something Nokia has realized through recent pivots to now find niche in VR.

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Contextualizing Conversations

Back before everyone had a ‘smart’ phone in their pocket the context of conversations was often set by how you’d make a call.  Walking down the street you’d be compelled to call someone and chat because you were inspired by the moment – from visual cues or simply because your juices were flowing from the walk.  

These days it seems phones are always online, on-person and able to allow communication through a myriad of media.  Short attention spans often lead to text or photo messages being fired off through handheld devices and they are less and less being used for actually making calls.

In fact, not listening to voice messages has become the norm – with services auto transcribing them into texts and people otherwise messaging back to ask what you were calling about etc…

I hope to find companies in 2016 that want to make modern telephone conversations important, engaging and spontaneous – and to that end will actively be seeking investment opportunities in this area…. Please get in touch if you are involved in such a venture 😉

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As Angel Investors Pull Back, Valuations Take a Hit – WSJ

The number of active angel investors climbed to 316,500 in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, from 259,500 in 2009, according to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, while the amount they invested rose to $24.1 billion from $17.6 billion.

But some investors are concerned that the growth in the market has pushed valuation levels too high, similar to what happened with so-called unicorns valued at $1 billion or more.

As 2016 revs up without much economic gusto its interesting to read posts like this all over the place.  Here, the Wall Street Journal relates frustration US investors are feeling now that the economy is correcting the last couple years of inflated tech startup valuations.

These investors should better understand the risk they are taking (plus the contextual dynamics of how those companies were priced) when investing in emerging enterprise… but then again there are a lot of folks experimenting in startup investing without an understanding of what they are investing in, and that holds true for personal money going into companies directly (or through platforms like Angelist) and institutionally (through the myriad of VC firms which have popped over the past 5 years to place supposedly risk-tolerant money which previously may have gone into bogus instruments of the sub-prime mortgage millieu.)

As with the gold and oil rushes of days gone by, its important for investors to make sure that there is actual value determining the valuations they buy into.  Of course, digging in for the medium or long term is also a good approach as most Get Rich Quick schemes invariably fail.

Source: As Angel Investors Pull Back, Valuations Take a Hit – WSJ

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Last Week’s Links (1/25/16)

There’s just a few posts I read last week to share here this week; we’ll go from geo-specific globally branded web properties to inflation due to depressed currencies hitting digital products to advances in wearable tech to startups running out of breath racing towards uber scale to an advertising agency investing in… wait for it… start-ups. 😉

  1. YouTube returns to Pakistan after 3-year ban lifted
  2. Apple raising App Store pricing in 7 countries this week
  3. Samsung’s next fitness tracker could measure your body fat
  4. The Mistake That’s Killing So Many Silicon Valley Startups
  5. Advertising company Publicis Groupe is launching a fund that will invest tens of millions of dollars in 90 startups

*The cover image for this post is from a CFC IdeaBoost event I attended on Jan 20th where a panel discussed ‘influencers’ – human tools for brand placement leveraging their popularity through online social media to make thousands in product/service endorsements.

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