Nic Is Back


Open Coffee MeetUp: New Location
Web 5.0: Face Time
Nic Butterworth's Open Coffee MeetUp
Scott 2.0, MeetUp.com 2.0

I was running a little late. I got up late. I dillydallied. So instead of at 9:15, I show up around 9:30. I got lost a little. Is the place on 17th or 18th? I went into another coffeee store and asked. I was off mark by one block.

Before that I had bought a 50 cent doughnut. I am a big fan of street food. Gyro, falafel: those can make your day any day. Street food makes you street smart.

The meeting had already started around the same table as last week. Half the introductions had been made. Curiously there was an empty chair that I took, and one person spoke before me. Right time, right place.

Right after I sat down, I noticed Andrea at the other end. We met on Facebook, and are Facebook friends. This was our first time seeing in person. She is substance. She got the ingredients. The confidence. I don't want to be just be a face in fashion, I want to be a power. I dig that. She came across as knowledgeable and daring. She has a promising startup. Only since it is fashion and not tech, to most people present it did not feel concrete. They did not follow. So she talked some banking stuff, "structural" this and that, "Is anyone following?" to which the formerly Goldman guy Scott said he is the only one in the room close to following.

"I want to take over fashion." (She corrected me over email that her startup is "tech.")

"Hi, I am Paramendra, and I am here primarily because I consider it a great learning experience to interact with entrepreneurs at different stages of their growth."

"Tell about your company," Nic said.

"I did that last week." Nic was absent last week.

I proceeded to sum up my venture in two sentences. I talked about my IC as "the frying pan."

It is between the fire and frying pan.

Some interesting ideas were circulated.

Amy sounded real early stage. She got a slight sexist hit from what looked like the biggest name in the room, a guy who later Nic was courting for business. Young guy dabbling in some big bucks. That you need a partner, a boyfriend, husband. It did not sound evil, just mischievous. Tough. In this city, people love presenting tough. Tough is permanent fashion.

If you invest half a mil in a company you value at two mil, that can make you feel powerful, but you stand to make more investing 100K in a company valued at five mil, if it is a promising vision.

Rohit is a transplant from the West Coast. He has a pretty interesting startup. It could be a great application on Facebook, or a stand-alone entity. It will allow you to keep up with the news on your clients, customers. So you can send them quick notes when stuff happens in their life.



When the formal meeting ended, people just stood up. There was much noise, much mingling.

The store manager had to walk over and remind us we were scaring some of her customers away. We needed to stay sitting around one table. You would not run into that problem at the previous Starbucks venue. My favorite MeetUp venue is a living room. The Obama MeetUp does that. (Jeff Kurzon's Living Room, Union Sqaure, Times Square, King Arthur)

Soon thereafter, the meeting ended.

Lefty was back. It was a nice meet and greet.

Scott and I walked over to Union Square. He used to be with Goldman. He taught himself Java. Now he has a startup.

After that I walked over to the Strand bookstore that I got told about last week but did not have the time to go to. I read one chapter in Alan Greenspan's new book, his much talked about autobiography. He is going gungho about Adam Smith and "the invisible hand."

Then a train ride back home. I thought of going to the library near Times Square but decided against it. I bought a small bag of roasted huts, and headed home.

There were follow up emails I needed to send out.

The place Taralucci reminds me of lychee, hence the lychee in the picture.

Before I parted ways, Scott suggested it would be great if the larger NY Tech MeetUp would hold a second MeetUp each month which would be a place to mingle and socialize and network. MeetUp CEO Scott I guess did something along those lines which he called the UnMeetUp during summer when the attendance was low.

I am friends with Scott. I said I would pass on the word. This second Scott was so impressed that I am friends with the CEO Scott. "NY Tech MeetUp is the most impressive collection of techies in the city I know," he said. "But that is not used as well as it can be."

There is Justin Krebs at Drinking Liberally, and there is Scott at MeeUp. Knowing those guys is like status symbol. I got the Scott reaction also at the soccer MeetUp I am part of.

"Oh, you are friends with the CEO?"

He is a very unassuming guy. But very well networked in the industry. Steve Case, Esther Dyson, Marc Andreessen are some of his Facebook friends.

The idea sounded like I wish there were a way to let the Open Coffee MeetUp tap into the human collection of the NY Tech MeetUp. Maybe that is an idea for MeetUp.com: make cross pollination possible across MeetUps. They have a picnic in Prospect Park on the 29th of this month. That is going to be some major cross pollination.

Maybe Scott can add a feature for the MeetUp organizers. If you liked this MeetUp, you will also like, fill in the blank. So Nic could recommend Scott's MeetUp, and he would try to get Scott to recommend his MeetUp to people. Granted the site already has search.

Heck, MeetUp could build an application for Facebook like so many others are doing. It would allow users to search for and schedule their MeetUps without leaving the Facebook interface.

And the members' profile pages should also allow the members to link to their Facebook profile page. That might be better than trying to copy elements of Facebook. Definitely quicker.

Andrea said she wanted to bring along a MTV crew to a future Open Coffee MeetUp. I have a feeling I am going to get famous.

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Early Stage Venture Capital

In The News

Goldman's Golden Quarter BusinessWeek While rival investment banks struggled, Goldman used its global reach and subprime savvy to increase profits sharply ..... the undisputed leader of the investment banking sector. ..... Goldman's performance was stellar during a period marked by crisis in the U.S. and European credit markets. ..... Citing a global revenue base and savvy bets on subprime mortgage .... the second-highest in the firm's history. ... included $1.5 billion in losses stemming from the reduced value of assets such as leveraged buyout loans ..... all but sailed through one of the most painful and abrupt financial crises in memory. ...... worse than the stock market crash of 1987 or the credit crisis of 1998 .... Goldman reported record revenue in investment banking, equities, and even fixed-income investments. ...... even though Goldman made some bad bets on the subprime mortgage market, they were offset by others wagering that the subprime mortgage market would fall. Its net position was a bet on falling asset prices ....... clever and swift in exploiting volatility in the mortgage market .... Goldman has benefited tremendously from its globalization. In 2006 it derived 52% of its revenue from outside the U.S. ..... Goldman has one of only two domestic securities licenses in China, allowing it to sell securities on the local exchange, and to "try to capture some of the $3 trillion in domestic savings…and win additional investment banking and trading with a portion of the 250,000 state-owned enterprises that may ultimately go public on the local exchange." ...... China…It is one of the biggest, if not the biggest focus we have ..... Beyond China, Goldman has extensive business in other "hot spots" such as India, Russia and the Middle East ..... a market cap of $83 billion .... $16.7 billion Bear Stearns .... Bear reported Thursday that its third quarter profit fell 62%. ... smallest of the top-five investment banks ... will be able to outpay any of its peers in competition to hire top talent.
Dear Ben: Please Fix the Housing Mess Oversight of the lending industry leaves much to be desired. Whether the markets should continue to work out the excesses or the government should step in with more aid—either through monetary or fiscal policies—is very much an open question and one that the experts are debating vigorously. ..... Years of lax lending standards and aggressive practices by Wall Street banks to fund risky loans have touched off a housing crisis that spans not only the U.S., but the globe. ...... The worst operators have gone out of business and the lenders still standing have seriously reined in bad practices. Big banks and institutional investors, such as hedge funds and foreign pension funds, have taken billion-dollar hits and reassessed their appetite for risk. ..... Some compromises are already on the table
Nasdaq, Dubai, OMX in Tieup A far-reaching deal involving Sweden's OMX Group as well as the London Stock Exchange alters the dynamics in financial markets ..... the fast-growing and rapidly consolidating universe of financial exchanges. ..... This deal is a snapshot of how fast the world is changing. .... The money piling up in the Gulf has to go somewhere ..... the two exchanges figured out that their interests were "parallel; they did not intersect." ... Dubai, meanwhile, wanted to use OMX technology to take a leadership role in emerging markets. ...... one of the world's fastest-growing regions—one that has amassed trillions (BusinessWeek, 3/13/06) in petrodollar wealth over the last few years. ..... Dubai's so-far-successful effort to be the financial center of the Gulf region and beyond ...... Dubai as a kind of New York or London of the Gulf. ..... become the center of capital-markets activities in the emerging markets ....... Borse Dubai .. its new 28% ownership stake in the London Stock Exchange. ....... Qatar on its own acquired 20% of the LSE .... the exchange wars are far from over.
The Debt Market: Signs of Life parts of the debt markets that nearly shut down in August are coming back to life. ..... The rapidity of the recovery in some hard-hit sectors is impressive. .... investors fled to ultra-safe U.S. Treasury bills. ...... investors are making sharper distinctions between risky and less risky securities instead of trashing them all equally
Is Jaguar Facing Extinction? Critics say the design isn't radical enough .... 18 years of failed attempts to revive Jaguar ..... eight full clay models for management to consider
Barry Diller's Web Gaming Play
IAC/InterActiveCorp's gaming foray could revolutionize online games and hurt console makers—if it succeeds .... Web-based gaming ..... Web gaming, which is already the third most popular online activity after e-mail and chat .... sector attracted 28% of the total worldwide online population in May ..... revenue of $3.4 billion in 2005 to more than $13 billion in 2011. ..... launch InstantAction.com, a Web site offering first-person shooter, real-time strategy, and action games of the quality currently found on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo's Wii. ...... users won't need to invest in additional hardware: They'll be able to play through any device with a browser, be it a low-end personal computer, a Web appliance, a gaming console, or even a mobile phone. ..... browser-based games won't require users to download software or install it from a disk ..... InstantAction.com will offer some games free if users view ads. ...... easier, more robust Web offerings would likely bring a flux of new players.
SAP's Down-Market Gamble The German giant's new, Web-based software targets smaller outfits than its usual corporate clients. ....... software, called Business By Design ..... Sept. 19 press conference in New York ..... A company with 100 users could license it for less than $180,000 year ..... SAP's traditional software for managing companies' manufacturing and back-office operations. ...... a computer industry that's shifting quickly toward software delivered online. ...... SAP software's notorious complexity ..... SAP's shares are up just 10% in 2007, while arch-rival Oracle's (ORCL) stock has jumped 21% on growth from a string of acquisitions. ...... SAP's engineering, marketing, distribution, and sales are tuned to reach big accounts (BusinessWeek, 9/14/07), not the fragmented small-business market. ..... Business By Design's price—$149 a month per user— ..... Business By Design will aim for companies that have outgrown Intuit's (INTU) QuickBooks or Microsoft's (MSFT) Great Plains accounting software—plus offer them supply-chain management, customer relationship management, and human resource features. ..... Salesforce.com (CRM) on Sept. 17 introduced programming tools called Force.com that would let independent software developers use its technology to create new software products ...... "I don't know what their slogan will be. Maybe 'the world's most complex software for small business'"
The Maestro Speaks His Mind his willingness to say straight out that "the Iraq war is largely about oil." ....... the leading practical economist of our era .... The liveliest personal anecdote describes his first date with future wife and NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell. "At the restaurant we ended up discussing monopolies," writes Greenspan. "I told her I'd written an essay on the subject and invited her back to my apartment to read it." High romance indeed! ...... praises Ronald Reagan for "the clarity of his conservatism." ...... Bill Clinton, whom he calls "as far from the classic tax-and-spend liberal as you could get and still be a Democrat." ..... compliments Clinton for having, unlike most politicians, "a preference for dealing in facts." ...... He refused to join the Nixon Administration in 1969 because of the dark side of the newly elected President's personality. ......... George H.W. Bush, in Greenspan's view, did not have a "thoughtful view" about interest rates. And he is upset about George W. Bush's approach to economic policy: "Little value was placed on rigorous economic policy debate or the weighing of long-term consequences," writes Greenspan. "'Deficits don't matter,' to my chagrin, became part of Republicans' rhetoric." ...... reserves his maximum scorn for the congressional Republicans who voted for budgets that were almost guaranteed to produce big deficits. ..... Greenspan's disdain for academic economics. "As elegant as modern-day econometrics has become, it is not up to the task of delivering policy prescriptions," Greenspan writes. "The world economy has become too complex and interlinked." ...... "while politics had not been my intent, I'd misjudged the emotions of the moment." ..... acknowledged that he didn't understand how deep the subprime problem was until very late in his term at the Fed. ..... he gives globalization and financial markets far more attention than technology, despite his identification with the 1990s New Economy (a term, incidentally, that he mostly avoids). ..... "sometime before 2030 the world is likely to be trading ten-year U.S. treasuries at a rate of at least 8 percent."
China's Rising Leaders Beijing's next cadre is market-smart, business-savvy—and perhaps even open to change .... once every five years .. 2,000-plus bureaucrats ... they'll listen to hours and hours of turgid speeches and then cast near-unanimous votes. ..... President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will almost certainly rule for another five years. But below them, a new generation of leaders will likely be promoted into key positions. ...... Many of these up-and-comers have fought in the trenches of China's reform wars, have the skills needed to run complex economies, and have shed earlier generations' mistrust of foreigners. They certainly won't turn China into a replica of the U.S. system. But the dialogue they start with the West may be the most sophisticated yet. ..... they will be more progressive, pragmatic, and forward-thinking ..... many in this generation speak English and have traveled widely. Some have studied at Western universities, and most have advanced degrees in social sciences, economics, and law. ...... Zhou Xiaochuan, currently head of the People's Bank of China. ..... a strong contender for vice-premier in charge of finance. .... He shares major responsibility for opening China's financial sector to big Western banks and brokerages. ..... Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, for instance, may become vice-premier and take over as China's top trade official. Bo would be at home in Washington or New York: "He's stylistically very un-Chinese, a Mayor Ed Koch type ....... his rhetoric is matched by his mastery of the issues. .... Li Yuancho, 56, is a contender for Hu's job. ..... took a backwater northeast town, Dalian, and turned it into an outsourcing center for Japanese business. That made it one of the hottest urban economies in China. ..... these new leaders, once they take over the top positions, might even start to dabble in democracy. ..... Li Keqiang, the 52-year-old ... Wang Yang, 52, who runs China's largest city, Chongqing. ..... local officials who often ignore Beijing's edicts and focus on economic growth, no matter the cost.
Selling Computers to India For years the world's computer manufacturers focused the bulk of their energy in Asia on China. ..... This year, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL), Lenovo (LNVGY), and Acer (ACEFF) have all announced major initiatives there, making India one of their key battlegrounds. ....... "All three segments of the market will grow at 25% to 30%," says Rajan Anandan, Dell's general manager for India. ..... India's economy is booming, with growth running at above 9% annually. .... Over the past three years, the average cost of a Windows PC has fallen from $500 to $350 ..... 22 million machines. .... PC sales in India are expected to climb at 20%-plus rates annually through 2011 .... China, though, has some 110 million computers installed, vs. the 22 million in India. ..... The People's Republic has long been dominated by Lenovo, but in India, HP has overtaken local favorite HCL Infosystems .... In March, HP opened a new factory near Delhi, its second Indian plan ..... In August, Dell opened a factory in the southern city of Chennai, its first in the country. The company expects sales of $500 million this year. ...... "In the consumer market, all the growth is coming from notebooks" ..... India is one of the best overseas markets for Lenovo ...... Lenovo is also contending with the departure of South Asia Managing Director Neeraj Sharma, who quit last month to take a job at IBM ...... Taiwan's Acer, which is acquiring Gateway ..... HCL skimped on brand-building for more than a decade ..... it is partnering with Intel .. to produce a low-cost notebook called the Classmate PC. ..... "Our No. 1 challenge," says Venkatesan, "is to make the PC more compelling and relevant."
Confessions of a Debt Pusher He ended up with $13,000 worth of debt that he is now struggling to repay. "I hadn't learned anything about credit cards in high school, and I didn't know anything about them at the time," says Rhoades. "I was duped." ..... maybe that's another person who got a credit card because they wanted a free T-shirt .... "He told us phrases to tell students if they were skeptical about filling out an application," says Rhoades. "He told us to say things like, 'Even if you apply, you can always cut up the card,' and 'It's easy to pay off your balance once you graduate and get a great job.'" ..... lures—the promise of a job and the prospect of just using the card during emergencies— ..... He was pretty successful, signing up roughly 29 students in a single morning. "Most of the students just wanted the T-shirt, and so I told them to fill out the application anyway," remembers Rhoades. "I just told them to fill it out and never use the card again." ....... even though the credit-card application terms and conditions were listed in fine print, none of the students even glanced at them. ..... "Students are rarely given financial literacy training," notes Dahlheimer. "And access to cards in the absence of a warning is like giving car keys to someone who has never been taught to drive." ...... He was just one application short of getting a cash bonus so he decided to fill one out himself. After marketing the cards all morning, he had begun to buy his own sales pitch ..... "They should put warnings on credit cards like they do on cigarettes," he says, "to make sure people know how dangerous the cards are."
Fixing the Credit-Card Mess limit the amount of credit extended to students to 20% of their total income if they have a co-signer, like a parent, or $500 without a co-signer. .... "No industry in America is more deserving of oversight by Congress ..... setting caps on interest rates, late payments .... Credit-card companies, according to consumer advocates, have operated since the early 1980s in a legislative no-fly zone ...... return address is most likely South Dakota or Delaware—states considered safe harbors for credit-card companies because they have no cap on interest rates or late payments ...... Credit in manageable amounts can be a wonderful thing for college students, allowing them to build credit histories and learn to manage money. ...... the Schumer Box, which clearly displays basic information like annual fees. ...... The warning, which would improve on the Schumer Box disclosures, would tell consumers how many years it would take to pay off their balance with only minimum payments, even if they never used the card again. ..... requiring that schools funded with taxpayer dollars disclose the key terms of their contracts with card companies. ..... extra charges and fees. Typically these are levied with impenetrable explanations that leave customers scratching their heads about how to avoid them in the future. ....... double-cycle billing. ..... Under universal default, a consumer who has two credit cards and never misses a payment on one card but fails to pay the other card on time can see the interest rates charged on both cards rise. ....... 8 in 10 banks still practice universal default ..... "pay to pay." .... ban any fees imposed for on-time payments by phone. ..... credit cards have become the most profitable arm of the banking industry. .... the explosion in money they've brought in from special fees and charges .... banks pulled in $17.1 billion from credit-card penalty fees in 2006 .... wide latitude to raise the interest rates and fees .. One common clause in their contracts is known as "any time for any reason, including no reason." .... Information is the lifeblood of a market economy. ..... crippling debt that could potentially harm their chances of getting a good job or an apartment. ..... the affinity contract between Virginia Tech and Chase.
Vodafone Eyes First Mideast Deal still in the hunt to win a contract to build a new mobile phone network in the Gulf state. ..... new Qatari licence could cost over $300m .... Vodafone has invested in high-growth emerging markets, most notably in India ..... Vodacom, the African operator of which it already owns half, and has invested heavily in Turkey and Egypt, pursuing growth in emerging markets while cutting costs and launching broadband services across Europe. ...... would strengthen Vodafone's hand in pursuing investment opportunities in other Middle Eastern countries
One Giant Leap for Entrepreneurs the $2 million first prize in the DARPA Urban Challenge—a series of races with driverless vehicles ...... sophisticated, unmanned vehicles for use in urban combat zones ....... the search giant's competition to land an unmanned vehicle on the moon and complete a series of tasks ...... the Google competition is an incentive for the emerging private space industry to build exploration technologies faster and on a tighter budget than the government ....... wily entrepreneurs like Whittaker .... deep-pocketed tycoons like Allen. ...... NASA, which plans to return a manned vehicle to the moon by 2020, makes no secret of the fact that if private entrepreneurs can build better technologies for cheaper, it will adopt them. .... it has awarded $200,000 to Peter Homer, who designed a better astronaut glove; and $250,000 to various entrepreneurs who engineered Jetsons-like personal air vehicles. ..... placing the bar so high is necessary to get great innovation ..... "The day before something is considered a breakthrough, it's considered a crazy idea, and the traditional industry will react against it" ..... in 1919 offered a $25,000 reward for anyone who could fly a nonstop flight across the Atlantic. ..... "As in any enterprise, the trick is not to spend your own money," he says. .... Japan, China, India, and Russia have all announced plans to fly to the moon .... create new industries or change existing ones.






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