Archive for the ‘Mobius Companies’ Category

AdBurner, FirstDocs and our 2008 investments

First off, happy 2009 to you all! I’m looking forward to a little more frequent blogging this year (if not exactly a resolution for 2009 since I think those are a bit cheesy, at least a goal for the year).

A few items of note to start off the blogging year:

Today NewsGator, AdMeld, Technorati, Gigya, Medialets and Tremor Media announced AdBurner – a partnership that is designed to optimize the management and monitization of network traffic for large publishers. NewsGator is providing the distribution platform through their widget network and existing publisher relationships and the remaining companies are the key partners for monitizing that traffic – whether that traffic is a diverse media type, on a mobile platform, etc. With NewsGator, AdMeld and Technorati all in the portfolio (NewsGator and Technorati are Mobius portfolio companies, AdMeld is a Foundry Group investment) I’ve been close to the formation of this partnership. There’s clearly a market need here and the companies involved are all clearly top of class – they together have really created a compelling product.

In case you missed it over on the Foundry blog, Brad has a nice post up that summarizes the 7 new investments we made as a firm in 2008. It’s humbling for me to read through this list of great companies and think that each chose to work with us.  I’ve said it many times and Brad says it at the end of the post – it’s the entrepreneurs that make our world go around and we have great respect for them.

Lastly, my partner Jason has a post up (both on his own blog as well as the on the Foundry blog) that describes our latest investment (we completed it just prior to the end of the year) – FirstDocs.  For me the title of Jason’s post says it all – "Our Investment in Law Firm 2.0". Jason has been a thought leader around some of the changes that are happening (or should be happening) in the legal world and our investment in FirstDocs follows directly from his work in this area (and not just figuratively – FirstDocs initially reached out to Jason after reading his posts on Lawfirm 2.0).  The company has developed a software platform that automates much of the creation process for the legal profession’s most commonly used documents (freeing up time, energy and client money for more important matters).  This will definitely be a fun one to watch!

January 6th, 2009     Categories: General Business, Mobius Companies    

Go Newmerix! Go!

I’ll keep this brief since I hear from readers that they are not crazy about me using this space for plugging portfolio companies.  I rarely do that, but yesterday’s announcement from Newmerix was too good to pass up.  You can read the full release here.  For the 95% of you who aren’t familiar with the company, Newmerix provides a suite of tools for managing, testing and maintaining packaged application environments – specifically SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft. I know – you’re probably wondering where you can get a copy for yourself (here), but actually it’s a sticky problem for a huge number of companies around the world. 

As you’ll see from the release the company had an outstanding 4th quarter and fiscal 2007, signing a bunch of new customers, more then doubling bookings and revenue and releasing a handful of key products.  I’m pretty sure this is their first "here’s how we’re doing" release – they picked a good one.

February 8th, 2008     Categories: Mobius Companies    

Progress

Newsgator announced a series of product enhancements last week (see here and here) along with their new website layout. Looking at the new site got me thinking about how far they’ve come since our initial investment. In the spirit of a picture being worth a thousand words, take a look at the following links to see just how much progress they’ve made.
Newsgator’s current web site

Web site from January 2004 – right around the time of our first meeting with Greg

Web site from June 22, 2004 – the day after our first investment in the company

April 3rd, 2006     Categories: Mobius Companies    

smartfeed

NewsGator jumped deeper into the mobile app world with its recent purchase of mobile podcatcher smartfeed along with its companion mobile reader, smartread. They also hired the smartfeed/read creator, Kevin Crawley, to head NewsGator’s mobile product development. It’s a great move by NewsGator to extend their vision of ‘any time, any place, any device’. Greg Reinacker covered the key points about why we did this on his blog, and Kevin added some more background color in his, so I won’t repeat it here. The thing I like most about this story is how Kevin came to be hooked up with NewsGator – particularly relevant to a series of side-bar conversations I’ve been having recently on the value of VC blogs (thoughts on that topic from last year are here).  Kevin apparently read something interesting in one of my blog posts and, since we were both Boulder locals, reached out to me. We met about 9 months ago for coffee and to talk about technology in general and RSS and podcasting specifically. It turned out that we knew a bunch of people in common, had common interests, etc (this being Boulder, it was pretty much a certainty that we’d have at least a dozen ‘one degree’ connections). Nothing specific came of the meeting, but we agreed to stay in touch, which we did over the months. Long story short, voila!, Kevin is working with NewsGator who now owns the IP from the project that we originally got together to talk about. Not where I thought that cup of coffee was headed, but a great blogging success story.

March 17th, 2006     Categories: Mobius Companies    

Factiva says ‘yes’ to RSS

Yesterday Factiva and Newsgator announced a deal that will allow Factiva customers to access their Factiva content via RSS (specifically through Newsgator’s Outlook reader and on-line system). This is a great milestone in the development and adoption of RSS – here’s my take on the deal: First, for those of you who are not familiar with Factiva, it’s a joint venture between Reuters and Dow Jones that provides their users with customizable content (from news articles to D&B reports to other types of company profiles). The idea is to allow their customers to stay up to date on news that is relevant to their business (customers, competitors, etc.). The deal with Newsgator marries specialized and proprietary content (Factiva) with a distribution platform (Newsgator) and is an example of where I think corporations are moving in how they consume information. Interestingly, the partnership came about in part because Factiva CEO Clare Hart was a user of Newsgator (and had been for quite some time) and she quickly recognized its power as a way to distribute information.

The idea is really simple. Factiva recognized two important things: 1) many information workers want the collection of important data integrated into their existing workflow (i.e., not in a separate application) and 2) these workers also want a single point of access for multiple data sources. By integrating Factiva “feeds” into the Newsgator platform they are addressing both of these concerns – driving adoption and usage in their existing customers and expanding their potential pool of users.

However, this is only the first step in the new model of information workflow. Imagine this idea applied to internal data. I’m using RSS, for example, to track changes on an internal Wiki for one of my companies – obviating the need for me to check in to the Wiki site to see if anything new has been posted and saving me quite a bit of time in the process. You could also imagine RSS feeds coming from a CRM system to alert account managers to problems that one of their major accounts is experiencing. You could also see this tied to a SFA system to automatically generate search feeds for a sales person’s key contacts and allowing them to easily keep up with news on their prospect. In every case delivering this information directly to the workspace (Outlook, most likely, but also to a desktop client or web based client if desired) of the worker that needs to know about these changes. This is jus the tip of the iceberg . . . watch for more from Newsgator as they lead the charge to make information easily available.

May 5th, 2005     Categories: Mobius Companies    

Catching Up

Nothing like a long, trans-continental flight to give me some time to think and write. I’m having a long travel week (first part of the week in CA and now a trip to Boston for a couple of days), but it’s a productive one.

Apologies for being silent for a while – there’s been quite a bit going on. Here’s a quick round-up: Newsgator closed its Series C financing round led by Masthead Venture Partners. David Beisel from Masthead wrote a great post on it here. Here’s also a link to Brad’s post on the subject, which gives a nice background of how this round came together (which I won’t repeat here). Feedburner is growing like crazy (hit the 50,000 feed mark) and recently announced a partnership with 20six (a European blog hosting company) and is in the process of releasing enhanced stats to their site (I’ve been using these for several weeks – they are fantastic).

Feedburner also announced support for AdSense in RSS. I’m sure this won’t be universally popular, but ad support is critical in my mind to the widespread adoption of RSS (more on that later).

Many of the other companies I work with just finished up great quarters and generally I’m feeling more bullish on the markets (which starts with sales in my world and steamrolls from there). I was remarking to a colleague recently that when I started in venture in late 2001 (4 days before 9/11, in fact) things like outside-led financing rounds and up-round financings were not common in my vocabulary. This year has seen companies beating revenue and bookings plans, unsolicited outside financing offers and an overall feeling that the market for early stage companies is on the mend. Companies that conserved capital and built strong foundations for future growth over the past few years I think are in very good shape . . . that’s my mantra at least, and I’m sticking to it.

April 29th, 2005     Categories: Mobius Companies    

NewsGator and VNU

Ok – I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I promised NewsGator that I wouldn’t forget to drop a post on their recently announced deal with VNU (see the press release here; Brad has a post on the announcement as well – view it here).  The two companies are going to co-brand an RSS aggregator for 7 European markets(VNU is a big tech publishing house in Europe).  It’s a great deal for both companies and an important step forward for NewsGator in their continued development.

Someone asked me the other day with all the noise in the RSS aggregator market, what is going to set NewsGator apart?  There are multiple parts to the answer to this question, but developing strong partnerships with distribution partners (to drive their subscribers/readers to NewsGator’s platform) is a key part of the mix.  (More on my thoughts on the rest in a later post.)

February 25th, 2005     Categories: Mobius Companies    

The Power of Location

The Mobius web-site was spoofed recently. Someone – presumably looking to pass themselves off as a legitimate venture capitalist and needing a web-site to do so – copied our site and changed the name of the firm as well as some of the biographical  information (contacts, team, etc). They even went so far as to pull live feeds from our site that updated our portfolio ticker.

We looked up information on the domain on whois and on some of the registry sites, but the most interesting data came from one of our portfolio companies – Quova. Quova has mapped the IP space of the internet for physical location. If you give them an IP address, they can tell you where it is located (the data are extremely accurate to the country level; very accurate to the city level and beyond). They can also tell you some useful things about the address (connection type; carrier; proxy info; device; etc). We’ve been investors in Quova for several years and I’ve worked with the company pretty closely since I joined Mobius. In this time I’ve had the chance to talk with some of the company’s customers (who use the data for things like fraud detection and localized marketing), sat through demos of the company’s service, talked with their technical team, etc. I’ve never really had the chance to use the service . . . until now. I was amazed with the data they were able to come up with and it was very helpful to our IT group who was trying to gather more information about the site in question. The Internet is often described as a place without borders. In reality that’s not correct. Technology exists that gives us the ability to define these borders. Technology also gives us the opportunity to take some of the anonymity away from the Internet and to create boundaries around our on-line lives. There is such a thing as ‘there’ on the internet (as opposed to ‘anywhere’) and I think we’ll see an increasing use of this technology to make each of our experiences on the Internet both safer and more relevant (just the past year has seen the ability to localize searches; more geographically targeted banner adds; etc. – often powered by Quova’s technology) and more profitable (routing traffic that was previously unserviceable, for instance, to a partner site who can service the traffic, etc.).  Think of the Internet as comprising both a virtual ‘there’ and a physical ‘there’ that combine to create our experience (and may separately be relevant to enhancing that experience). It’s not hard to come up with the ways that the combination of these data will quickly change our on-line experiences.

February 3rd, 2005     Categories: Mobius Companies    

eWork CEO Hans Bukow on OutsourcingTV

Ok. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of OutsourcingTV.com but apparently it exists and they did an “interview” with Hans Bukow, the CEO of eWork on the recent eWork/ProSavvy merger (see my last blog post). You can check out the interview at the following link:

http://www.outsourcingtv.com/ot/index.jsp?movieid=13688&channel=

I’m in the middle of writing a post on whether blogging means an end to traditional media and, not to steal my thunder, but I think this interview backs up the point I’m going to make – there’s lots of room in the world for niche media (or point media) to exist along side more traditional media sources. Clearly enough people care about the outsourcing market for there to be a website that supports it (and magazines, etc.). While the merger of two companies like eWork and ProSavvy won’t necessarily make it to traditional media (other than perhaps an inch blurb in the business section), it’s clearly important to people who follow the industry and, as this piece shows, warrants further discussion/elaboration.

January 28th, 2005     Categories: Mobius Companies