Taking advantage of the horrible environment

My expectations for 2009 are that things will get worse before they get better.  On the portfolio company side, I would rather have my companies growing at a lesser rate getting closer to breakeven than growing too aggressively and burning lots of cash.  Once your house is in order (see some earlier posts I made on this topic), I do see opportunities to take advantage of this environment.

As we all know, in a distressed environment prices come down.  So while now may not be the best time to sell your business as multiples and valuations have come down significantly, it could be a great time to pick up technology to expand your product line. In a world where everything is cheaper, those who are strong enough to make moves can find some great opportunities.  One of my portfolio companies, netForensics just did that as it picked up High Tower Software in an asset purchase.  What this does is allow the company to offer its customers the ability to manage the entire security compliance lifecycle - from log management to a complete security operations center - for all sized organizations, from the smallest departmental installation to the largest enterprise.  In other words, this filled a huge gap in our product line and on our product roadmap and allows us to deliver these capabilities ASAP. 

So in a world where everything is cheaper, you may be able to pick up some great assets at great prices as long as you have your house in order.  Rather than being a distraction, this fit right into our product roadmap and accelerated our product strategy.  One other way to take advantage of this environment is by hiring great people.  There is lots of talent in the market, and it is clear that expectations for total compensation have come down over the last year.  Be on the lookout for these A players so you can continue building your business and be prepared for when the tides turn.

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Cisco raises another $4b in cash and looking for acquisitions

Ashlee Vance from the Bits Blog has a nice piece on why Cisco raised another $4b of cash through a debt offering yesterday even though they have $30b in cash.  "As word of Cisco‚Äôs debt sale hit Wall Street, the standard chatter surrounding possible targets began anew. As usual, companies like EMC, NetApp, Sun Microsystems, […]

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Best iPhone Photo App – Phanfare Photon

It is great to see my friend Andrew Erlichson getting some rave reviews for Phanfare Photon, his iPhone photo app.  According to ReadWriteWeb:"Phanfare's Photon is currently the best photo sharing and photo management app on the iPhone. It is important to note that Photon puts less emphasis on social feature than other services like Radar, […]

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Positioning and pitch decks for startups

A friend of mine is putting together his first deck for potential investors.  In typical startup fashion, they launched a product, got a number of users, and then iterated several times to improve the service.  With the product in the hands of tens of thousands of users, they started getting inbound requests from larger organizations […]

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Sundance and a movie about a web pioneer you may have never heard of

My brother-in-law, composer and recent Emmy winner, Ben Decter, is kicking it this week in Sundance while two of his movies Heart of Stone and We Live in Public make the rounds. This summer he and I spoke about We Live in Public and Josh Harris.  It took me a few minutes to remember who […]

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Going old school – how to reach people effectively

I had lunch with a friend last week when we were talking about the days years and years ago where it was cool to have an email address on your business card.  In fact, I remember picking attorneys to work on our venture deals in the mid-90s not only based on cost and experience but […]

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Is 2009 the year of mobile computing?

 As I look around post-holiday season, I am seeing more and more regular, non-technical friends and family get connected on their mobile devices.  What does that mean? A great example is that of my father-in-law who got rid of his old Motorola Startac and exchanged it for an iPhone.  Yes, he got an iPhone, and […]

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Cloud computing for SMBs

Cloud this, Cloud that – the word cloud is clearly an overhyped word and reminds me of the beginning of the hype around hosted models and ASPs (application service providers) in the late 90s and the term SAAS today.  Anyway, as I look at announcement after announcement released about cloud computing platforms, one thing is […]

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More reasons to watch your burn

Despite these tough times, there are still some bullheaded companies who think they can grow their way out of this mess or find the right M&A partner to bail them out.  I can guarantee you that this is a recipe for disaster.  I was on the phone today with the CEO of one our portfolio […]

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A ray of light in this environment?

I did an interview with Rich Maguire of Datamation last week which he just posted yesterday.  While the markets seemed to get excited for a day about the bank bailout, attention is turning toward an even bigger problem for startups, a potential recession.  The consumer no longer has that ATM called their house and confidence […]

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