Better Health

Got my physical results last week, without getting into specifics, the doctor says I need to take better care of myself. So I set out to five goals for myself for the next 30 days:

1. No booze. I do a lot of entertaining/networking for my job and also watch a lot of ball games, so I tend to consume a fair amount of alcohol, this is going to be challenging but I’m mentally prepared.

2. No caffeine. I hardly drink any sodas but I do drink at least two cups of coffee a day, sometimes three, so this is going to be the most challenging part for me.

3. Participate in Movember. Will raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health. Will be raising money (see link) and also growing out a mustache (see pic below).

4. Trying to reduce the consumption of red meat and sweets.

5.  Lastly, doing a 3 day liquid cleanse during the 1st week of this new diet (see pic below)

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The $600B Opportunity

Four years ago, I wrote a post about how there is $240B on the balance sheet of some of the biggest technology companies (10 of them) in the world, which is a great sign for startups who are looking to get acquired.  Almost all of the companies in 2011 have added significant cash to their balance sheet over the past four years. I pulled up the cash on hand for an expanded list (21 companies) and now there is $600B available to make acquisitions of startups.

I included cash and short-term investments only for this and previous post.  So in reality there is much more than $600B available via long-term accounts / offshore accounts.

cash 2cash

active VC firms in NYC who invest in seed stage startups (2015)

VC Firms who do at least four seed deals per year AND are based in NYC. In addition, seed investing has to be a core strategy of the firm. I used CB Insights primarily to get data on arriving to this list. Please let me know if I’m missing any firms

Advancit Capital
Armory Square Ventures
Avenue A Ventures
Basset Investment Group
BDMI
Betaworks
Bloomberg Beta
BoldStart
Bowery
Box Group
Brand Foundry
Brooklyn Bridge Ventures
Collaborative Fund
Contour Ventures
Deep Fork
Eniac
ffVC
Flybridge
First Round Capital
Founder Collective
General Catalyst
Google Ventures
Gotham
Great Oaks
Greycroft
IA Ventures
Lerer Hippeau Ventures
Liberty City Ventures
Mesa+
Metamorphic Ventures
Neu Venture Capital
Notation Capital
Primary Venture Partners (fka High Peaks)
Quotidian
Red Swan
Red Sea
Rothenberg Ventures
RRE
RSE Ventures
Scout Ventures
Softbank Capital
Tribeca

Pivoting

After a great experience at 500 Startups, I’m pivoting 🙂 (i.e. my last day is Dec 30th)

Over the last 15 months, I’ve had the opportunity to work on several parts of the venture business.  I helped raise the $44M Fund II (sourced our largest LP), launched the NYC coworking office, led four investments, worked on 20+ other investments, helped with portfolio management, assisted in finding/screening startups for the accelerator, organized community events and also covered several geographies (NYC/Boston/Israel).

The #500strong family is a special one, truly unique, happy to say that I was part of it and hope to stay involved in some capacity.  Thanks Dave for the opportunity.

Will be taking a little bit of time off and also explore several opportunities within the startup ecosystem and will let you know in February as to which company I end up choosing to work with.  If you want to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

New York Tech Meetup (NYTM)

For the very first time in my life, I’m running for a position.  The New York Tech Meetup (NYTM) is one of the pillars of the NYC startup community and they have a few board seats available and have opened those up to the general community.

I believe that I’m a great candidate for the open position, here is why:

  1. The current board of directors in mainly comprised of investors or entrepreneurs, which is very important.  However, the board could be more diversified and with my background of supporting both investors AND entrepreneurs, it provides me a very unique perspective into both worlds.
  2. I recently relocated to NYC, so I have unique perspective of what it means to move to a new community with limited contacts.  A lot of people are now moving to NYC to be part of the startup community and we need to make sure they have smooth transition to NYC and are feeling welcomed
  3. Having spent nine years in the Bay Area, working with startups and investors, I bring a unique perspective as to what a thriving tech community has done well and not so well.   We can learn from other communities and make NYC an ever better place for startups to do business

Here are some initiatives that I would focus on if I am to join the Board of Directors of NYTM.

  1. NYTM can be the platform to assist people who want to relocate to NYC.  Given how fast the community is expanding, startups need more experienced professionals and NYTM can be utilized to inform people about the opportunities in NYC and how to integrate into this community more effectively
  2. Startups don’t have a collective voice when it comes to politics and laws that can positively/negatively impact them.  NYTM could create a Political Action Committee (PAC) so the voice of NYC tech community is heard in NYC, New York State and in Washington D.C.  Topics such as net neutrality, wireless spectrum, immigration laws, patent laws, etc are all topics that are important to this community and NYTM could serve as a platform to communicate our opinions
  3. NYTM should serve all the sub-sectors of the NYC startup community.  Committees could be formed around various sub-sectors such as ecommerce, fintech, enterprise software, mobile, healthcare IT, etc.  These committees could be formed to highlight trends and also make sure that the NYTM monthly meetups have more diversity in terms of the presenters on stage

For more information about NYTM and the upcoming election, please visit http://nytm.org/election/

Zynga IPO S-1 Filing

This blog post was also published on Betabeat.

Zynga, the biggest casual gaming company in the nation and the maker of popular games titles such as Farmville, CityVille and Mafia Wars, filed for its IPO today.

To summarize quickly,  Zynga is performing extremely well. They were profitable in 2010 and will continue to be profitable in 2011 (based on 2011 Q1 figures). They are looking to raise $1B through the IPO and have $996.7 in cash on the books.

One of the highlights is that top line revenue is growing quickly, from $19.4M in ’08 to $121.5M in ’09, roughly 600% growth. It jumped another 500% to $597.5M in ’10 and their 2011 revenue run rate is $941.7, roughly 150% growth. Although their run rate is $941.7 for 2011, revenue expectations are closer to $1.5B, which would be 250% growth from 2010.

Zynga has raised over $500M from New York City investors such as Union Square Ventures, who own 5.5%. Based on this IPO, it would be safe to assume that Zynga’s valuation would allow USV to make back their entire fund $125M 2004 vintage fund.

Other investors include Foundry (6.1%), KPCB (11%) , IVP (6.1%), DST (5.8%), Avalon (6.1%), Andreessen Horowitz, Softbank, Google, Tiger Global, Reid Hoffman. The CEO of Zynga, Mark Pincus owns 16%.

While the company is performing very well, there are some significant risks to consider. The main issue is that Zynga continue to be very dependent on Facebook for distribution and monitization. Can Zynga find alternative avenues to lessen the dependency on Facebook?

The other challenge is that casual gaming in still a hits-driven business. Can they continue to produce great titles to retain existing players and entice new users to their games? Another challenge is that casual gaming has a very low barrier to entry. There are a lot of competitors who are developing good casual games: Angry Birds (Rovio Mobile), Crowdstar, Pocket Gems, Papaya Mobile, Disney (Playdom – $763M acquisition), EA (Playfish – $400M acquisition, PopCap, Firemint, Chillingo), DeNA (Ngmoco – $400M acquisition).

The evolution of gaming is mobile, which is not Zynga’s core strength. Zynga needs to become dominate in the mobile gaming market and develop on platforms such as iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. While mobile games lessen the dependency on Facebook, there are still gate keepers in the mobile space including Apple, Google, Zong and Boku. Lastly Zynga is only four years old, which is still relatively young to be going IPO. If you look at the history of casual gaming, dominant players have come and gone, just look at the ups and downs of Atari, Sega and Capcom to name a few. The point being that remaining a dominant player in the casual gaming world is challenging and maintaining this level of growth, even tougher.

To summarize, Zynga is legitimate company that diminishes the argument of those who proclaim a tech bubble. The company faces many challenges but what is certain is that gaming is a huge market and Zynga has the opportunity to remain dominant.

Data in this story is taken from Zynga’s S-1 filing and acquisition numbers on Crunchbase. This post reflects Shai Goldman’s personal views and are not the views of his employer.