Archive for March 2006

Search and Online Advertising – Big market ahead

March 24, 2006

Search and Advertising are becoming more and more important. Nielsen/ Netratings recently posted that “Online search conducted across approximately 60 search engines in the

U.S. rose 39 percent year-over-year in January 2006 from four billion searches to nearly 5.7 billion, the highest number of online searches to date. Nielsen/NetRatings reported last month that online search in December 2005 rose 55 percent from a year ago to nearly 5.1 billion searches, corresponding to the aggressive growth in search marketing revenue during the same period.” 

Takeaway: Advertising is getting bigger and bigger after a few years of “unfulfilled promises”. The expectations of the late 90s did not at all materialize, but now the offerings around search and online advertising are becoming main stream. I am sure there is more to come and many start-up opportunities are out there to capitalize on this trend. 

Recommendations: If anybody is interested in this topic, there is a great event taking place next week here in

Munich, Search Engine Strategies 2006

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Is eBay a market place for successful start-ups?

March 15, 2006

Various people asked me whether eBay is an interesting starting ground for start-ups. I have been thinking about this question for quite some time now. On the one hand, eBay is clearly a huge market place. eBay has recently opened its APIs to third-party developers in order to spur innovation in terms of sw and services. Clearly, eBay has recognized that it needs help from the IT industry to keep innovation levels high at eBay. From this perspective, start-ups seem to be welcome by eBay these days.

On the other hand, I have some doubts. First, is eBay a large enough market place yet to sustain a large 3rd party business on its own? Yes, starting ideas out of the eBay environment and then growing into other market places or the general eCommerce arena is a good approach, but relying entirly on eBay might not result in a large company per se. Secondly, would eBay tolerate a large company side-by-side? Well there are examples such as Auctionmaster etc., but these are rare examples and I doubt if these companies can grow very big. eBay will clearly keep a close eye on these companies, that they don’t take too much of the eBay pie.

Takeaway: Yes, it’s a valid idea to expect emering, interesting start-ups in the eBay environment. I doubt it, that these companies can only “survive” with eBay as their only market.

Recommendations: A good ground to start looking for “eBay related spin-offs” is eBay Live coming up soon here in Germany. Hopefully, see you there!

Blogging in the Venture Capital World!

March 14, 2006

If you are interested to know, who else is blogging from a VC perspective, have a look at a recently compiled list of VC related blogs at BloggingVC. Thanks Christian for putting this up. Let’s see how fast the list grows!

Meeting Cisco, Intel and Microsoft

March 14, 2006

Interesting networking event taking place on April 20th in London. As part of the Gate2Growth initiative, start-ups and portfolio companies of VCs have the opportunity to meet Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft and listen to their partnering strategy and what they are looking for from start-ups.

Takeaway: Many acquisitions start with a strong partnership way before any acquisition.

Recommendation: If your company is active in one of Cisco’s, Intel’s or Microsoft’s target markets, you should not miss this event. Just off the record for IT/SW start-ups: Microsoft has done over a dozen acquisitions in the last 12-18 months!

Ether went live – opportunity for new e-commerce model

March 14, 2006

If you haven’t seen Ether yet, please have a look. I believe it’s an interesting core-service in order to grow another new e-commerce offering for services. “Earn money on what you say” is Ether’s slogan. Ether is aiming to get a 15% flat fee of the charges. This apparently covers their payment, billing and processing costs.untitled.jpgTakeaway: It all sounds very simple: Get a phone number, name your price and the clock starts ticking for you! Ok, in principle I get it, but show me the money! Show me users, who trust this service yet? It might take some time before users appreciate these kind of services and have trust in them. Once this trust level has been surpassed, Ether could become an interesting enabler for people’s business ideas.

Recommendation: I like these kind of enabling technologies and platforms. eBay was a very good example, when it targeted the powersellers with its offering. Now, a sheer 15.000 powersellers earn their living on eBay here in Germany alone. Any other enabling technologies out there in the blogging space, podcasting space or other Web 2.0 spaces?

Meeting Ms. Web 2.0 Blogging Lady Valerie Thompson

March 3, 2006

At PrivateDC I finally had a chance to connect with Valerie Thompson, No. 1 blogging lady on European Technology start-ups through her blogs Swiss Ventures and The alarm:clock euro.
 

Takeaway: It is great to see that there are many motivated and talented people out there, who believe in the emerging opportunities around Web 2.0 and the role blogs can play in forming a public opinion. It’s still only the tip of the ice-berg in terms of chances and opportunities around these fascinating topics. Luckily there are people out there, who loudly think about those “dreams” and get other people going!

 

Recommendation: Take your time and read the alarm:clock euro and you will get a feeling of what’s happening out there in the brave, new world 2.0.

PrivateDC – Premium Business Angel Platform

March 3, 2006

The Private Deal Conference organised by Brains-to-Venture has become the platform for seed investing in Germany. Celebrating its 5th anniversary, PrivateDC “aims to become the world’s leading platform for entrepreneurial investors solely dedicated to private investment activities in high-growth companies.”

Over 120 business angels, private investors and leading VCs came together to discuss early stage investing, exciting start-ups and promising business concepts. In addition, I had a chance to connect with Marc Samwer, Lars Hinrichs, Klaus Hommels and other leading figures of the seed and early stage investment scene.

Takeaway: Seed-Investing is alive! And PrivateDC is a great platform to bring start-ups, experienced managers, wealthy individuals and “hungry” VCs together. Besides good panel discussions and interesting start-ups, the networking effect of this event is unparalleled. Thanks to Jan, Florian, Christian, Sven and all other B-to-Vs for making this a great event!

Recommendation: PrivateDC is a must attend event for everybody who is serious about investing in seed stage deals. If more private investors would join such platforms, the rate of successful and innovative start-ups in Europe would sky-rocket!