Asking the Right Question About the WhatsApp Acquisition


whatsapp acquisition

From Benedict Evans

Facebook just bought WhatsApp, paying $16bn in cash and stock and $3bn in RSUs. WhatsApp has 450m active users, of which 72% are active every day. It has just 32 NibzNotes34engineers. And its users share 500m photos a day, which is almost certainly more than Facebook.

This is interesting in all sorts of ways – it illustrates most of the key trends in consumer tech today in one deal.

First, it shows the continued determination of Facebook to be the ‘next’ Facebook. It’s striking to compare the aggressive reaction to disruption shown by Google, Facebook and other leading web companies today with how some of their predecessors a decade ago stumbled and lost their way.

Second, the winner-takes-all dynamics of social on the desktop web do not appear to apply on mobile, and if there are winner-takes-all dynamics for mobile social it’s not yet clear what they are. There are four main aspects to this:


Will a New NSA Chief Lead to Real Reform?

EEHeadline National Security Agency Seal

From the Wall Street Journal

President Barack Obama plans to nominate the Navy’s cybersecurity chief to become the next director of the National Security Agency and the commander of the U.S. NibzNotes2Cyber Command.

Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, currently the commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, will be named to the post, said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday. If confirmed by the Senate, he will succeed Gen. Keith Alexander, who has held the NSA post since 2005.

“This is a critical time for the NSA, and Vice Adm. Rogers would bring extraordinary and unique qualifications to this position as the agency continues its vital mission and implements President Obama’s reforms,” Mr. Hagel said.

Mr. Hagel also said that a civilian official, Rick Ledgett, would become deputy director of the NSA. Mr. Ledgett currently serves as chief of the NSA response unit handling the fallout from the leaks by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. Mr. Ledgett’s appointment doesn’t require Senate confirmation.




Is Your Startup’s Founder Paying Themselves Too Much?


Golden_Dollar_SignWe’re all familiar with some of the stereotypes of 20-something founders at mega-financed, VC backed startups. Too often parties, fast cars, and fancy restaurants come into the picture.

We all know that’s not really accurate, though. In fact, last week we talked about how a majority of founders pay themselves less than $50,000 a year. Especially in places like the Valley and New York, that doesn’t go very far.

Location isn’t the only factor that affects salary, though. What about age, experience, and family responsibilities?

Oh, yeah, and revenue. How exactly does the “R” word affect founder salaries?

It turns out, according to Compass, monthly revenue is the most important factor in determining a founder’s salary. Until a company breaks $10k a month, most founders are still in the less than $50k range. When monthly revenue tops $1 million, founders seem to be more willing to increase their salaries above $100k a year.

The correlation really seems pretty obvious. If founders are fighting for every monthly penny, they’re less likely to want to pay themselves higher salaries. Company growth comes first. However, there’s obviously a point at which the company can grow AND the founders can pay themselves a living wage. That’s what we like to call the sweet spot.

startup revenue


Revenue was a big factor in founder’s salaries, but it wasn’t the only one.

Older founders pay themselves 71% more than younger founders, even though that is still just slightly more than $60k a year. Hardly raking it in or anything.

While it’s unfair to make blanket statements, it’s probably fair to say that younger founders can generally live on less. They usually don’t have kids or mortgage payments, and for the youngest set are still on Mom and Dad’s insurance. On the flip side, founders over 50 are likely to have savings or other sources of income and can therefore afford to take a smaller salary.

founders salary

Both Compass studies come from self-reported data, so some of it is to be taken with a grain of salt. For example, they found that 78% of founders are under 40. That’s not really a full picture of startups, as Darmesh Shah points out.

Neither Compass study controlled for VC funding, either. It’s safe to say a series A company will be paying its founders more than a bootstrapped one will be.

What these studies do,though, is give us a baseline for founder salaries. That helps us have perspective on some of the rigors and sacrifices starting a company requires.

It also reminds us that the rich technobrat is probably a figment of our collective imaginations.


Funding Friday: It Is Possible to Raise Money Everywhere Else


The common theme in the startup world is that it’s very hard to raise money outside of Silicon Valley. But, let’s be real here. It’s really hard to raise money inside the Valley, too. No one said entrepreneurship was easy, and sometimes the best things are difficult to accomplish.

Sometimes, though, it’s nice to see other companies doing it. Whether it’s a seed round or an IPO filing, watching other companies succeed can be a good reminder than we can, too.

With that in mind, here are 5 companies from everywhere else that raised money recently*:

  1. GROUNDFLOOR, based in North Carolina, raised $125,000 in a seed round. Founders Brian Dally and Nick Bhargava are building a new way to invest, starting with real estate. “The banks aren’t invited, but you are,” it says on the website. The two men have plenty of experience between them, and if you’re interested in investments, you should check them out.
  2. Traxo announced a $4.2 million Series A on the company blog last week. Part social network, part travel itinerary, the Dallas-based company is looking to make the travel process easier.
  3. KidsLink calls itself a “family management tool.” Parents can aggregate and organize essential documents and receive alerts about milestones and seasonal events. The team at KidsLink sees their product as a great solution for the lack of technology in most medical and educational institutions. The Atlanta-based company announced $1 million in funding.
  4. Nextly offers a new browsing solution for online content. You can follow streams and save pages to your collection. The Boston-based startup is a well-designed competitor to StumbleUpon. The $600k in another seed round, and are already backed by prominent angel investors like Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot.
  5. NoWait is an iPad app that allows restaurants to text customers when their table is ready. With offices in Pittsburgh, New York, and (soon) Austin, they are definitely everywhere else. The company raised a $1.9 million Series A.

So, take heart, founders everywhere else. With a great solution and a great team, it is possible to raise money outside of Silicon Valley. However, as these founders probably know, raising money just means the work can get started.

*All funding news and most numbers came from the Mattermark newsletter.

Wow! 19 Chicago Startups Raise $265M In Q3 2013

Builtinchicago, startup news, Chicago startup fundingOn Friday Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, in conjunction with Built In Chicago, announced that 19 startup and technology companies in Chicago’s Tech Sector raised a collective $265 million dollars in Q3 2013. This is an  amazing testament to the success of Chicago’s startup and technology ecosystem.

“Capital investments like these in Chicago’s growing companies are solid proof that what is happening for our technology sector will have a lasting and substantial effect on Chicago’s economy,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These companies are creating jobs and the technologies they are developing will shape the future of the city’s economic landscape. I am proud of their success and I look forward to working with all of these companies as they continue to grow.”

The biggest raisers were Network Merchants with $100 million, Cleversafe with $55 million, and Avant Credit with $20 million. Additionally, the breadth and depth of Chicago’s growing digital economy was evident in this fiscal quarter with nearly 40 startups receiving funding, 19 of those raising more than $1 million or more. 44 new startups came online.

builtinchiq32013Matt Moog, founder and chairman of Built in Chicago added,  “The growth of funding and new digital technology startups being created combined with the breakout growth of companies founded in the recent past is helping fuel a job creation boom in the digital sector.  And there is more to come.  We are seeing the benefits of a culture of innovation and risk taking.”

Last week, Built In Chicago released the Top 100 Digital Companies report on the Chicago technology sector, which had some outstanding news for Chicago’s digital technology sector. In 2012 367 startups launched– that is one new startup every 24 hours in Chicago (up from one every two days in 2011). The total employment in the tech sector ballooned to over 40,000 people, up more than 20 percent from the previous year. And more than 1,500 technology companies now call Chicago home.

The diversity of Chicago’s technology companies is also notable.  No sector of the digital economy occupies more than 33 percent, ensuring that all five major sectors (software, ecommerce, agency, consumer web, and b2b web) have a significant share of the digital market. Additionally, 90 percent of the technology companies in Chicago are now more than 5 years old, meaning that there is a level of maturity in the companies as they move into the next stage of their development.

Chicago is preparing for Chicago Ideas Week next week, which will bring together entrepreneurial speakers, innovators, and thought leaders from across the country to Chicago for a week of amazing discussions, talks, lectures, hacking and more. You can find out more about Chicago Ideas Week here.


Cincinnati Startup Modulus Wins Everywhere Else Cincinnati 2013 Startup Champion

Modulus, Startup News, Everywhere Else Cincinnati, Startup ContestModulus founder Charlie Key wasn’t looking to win a startup pitch contest when he signed up for this week’s Everywhere Else Cincinnati conference. Key is very active in the local Cincinnati startup community and likes attending startup events. The Modulus team ended up leaving the event with the big ass trophy.

Startups in the Startup Avenue at Everywhere Else Cincinnati participated in the CincyTech, and Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Startup Poker Run. Over 50 investors and VIP’s at the conference were given five poker chips on Monday morning when they checked in. From 1:00pm-5:00pm that afternoon the investor group was told to check out all of the startups and hand out their chips to the startup they thought was the best. At the end of the afternoon the 5 startups with the most chips got to pitch to the crowd and to a group of judges.

West Capital’s Mark Richey, Draper Triangle’s Will Indest, a>m ventures Patrick Woods and Cincy Tech’s Avi Ram served as the contests judges.

The five finalists were:

Energy Harvesters- a Boston based startup that uses kinetic energy built up through walking and footwear to charge cell phones.

Kids360 a Memphis based startup that helps parents have  a better piece of mind in emergency situations while their children are in the care of others.

Tixers- a ticketing platform aimed at season ticket holders and others that eliminates the risk of tickets not selling on Craigslist or StubHub.

Spacefinity- a Pittsburgh startup in the sharing community that allows people to rent space in their homes, sheds, garages, basements and other areas for others to store their stuff (AirBnb for storage).

Modulus– a scalable application platform for developers that offers node.js hosting, MongoDB and performance analytics in the cloud, based in Cincinnati.

All fives startups made engaging 3 minute pitches and then were put through a 3 minute Q&A session with the judges.

Modulus was the judges’ favorite with Tixer in 2nd place. Modulus was crowned the Everywhere Else Cincinnati 2013 Startup Champion. They received a huge trophy, bragging rights, and startup services including a branding consultation with archer>malmo (a>m ventures) and an investor meeting with Cincy Tech.

Key was surprised that their team had won, and they quickly took their trophy back to the office and shared it with their social networks.

Find out more about Modulus here. 


Startupland Director Announces Vine Pitch Contest at Everywhere Else


There’s already a lot happening at Everywhere Else Cincinnati, and we’re not even through the first morning!

We’ve talked about the new Startupland documentary before. The new movie, set to premiere in February, chronicles the lives of startup founders going through The Fort accelerator in Washington, DC.

It’s been quite a summer for Justin Gutwein. He finished filming the movie, closed out a successful Kickstarter campaign, and is now wrapping up post-production on the documentary. His team has also grown, they’re adding a few new interviews to the documentary, and finalizing the tour schedule.

Most people would think that’s enough going on, but entrepreneurs know we’re never too busy for another great idea.

Today at Everywhere Else Cincinnati, Gutwein announced a first of its kind Vine Pitch Contest. It’s simple enough to enter. Just record an 8 second pitch on Vine and mention @startup_land and #VinePitch. At the end of the month, the Vine with the most (real) retweets will win an iPad.

“It’s a creative and fun way for us to engage our audience in a way that resonates them, it’s about sharing ideas, and having fun with them,” Gutwein told me. “We also know how important the pitch is for any entrepreneur in any industry – so thought that we would put a fun challenge together to see if people could put something effective and creative into less than eight seconds!”

And you thought an elevator pitch was hard!

For all the rules and official stuff, head over to the Startupland site. The first contest opens tomorrow, October 1, and closes on October 31.


1776 Lands Partnership With General Assembly

1776, GeneralAssembly, DC startups, incubator, startup newsWith a name like General Assembly, you would think one of the  most respected incubator organizations in the country would have a presence in Washington, DC. But that’s not the case. PandoDaily’s DC based reporter Hamish McKenzie reports that “A couple of years ago, entrepreneurial educational institution General Assembly scouted Washington DC and decided there wasn’t enough startup activity to warrant starting a program in the city just yet.”

That seems to have changed now that 1776, the DC startup hub and coworking space founded by Startup Veterans Evan Burfield and Donna Harris, is up and running on all cylinders.

Since opening this Spring, there hasn’t been a dull moment at 1776. They’ve hosted Startup Grind, TechCocktail events, several hackathons, startup launch parties, and several other startup activities. They’ve also announced major partnerships with top educational publisher Pearson,and others. They’ve even announced a global startup challenge that will bring startups from around the world to Washington, DC for a tournament style final next year.

Now, General Assembly has given the nation’s capital a second look. They’ve decided to take up residency on two lower floors of 1776’s space on 15th street in NorthWest Washington, DC. The space sits directly across from the Washington Post which is in the process of being acquired by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

McKenzie reports that DC’s General Assembly will begin hosting workshops and short form courses as early as next month with their long-term curriculum kicking off in 2014. This marks the 9th General Assembly campus. They also have locations in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, London, Sydney and Hong Kong.

Burfield and Harris were influencers with Startup America before founding 1776 a short seven months ago. Harris was a director with the Startup America Partnership, and Burfield was the founder of the DC region for Startup America. They’ve attracted over 100 startups to the 1776 space. In addition to serving as a hub for startups in Washington DC they are also linking startups from across the country and around the world to the federal government which happens to be the largest enterprise client in the world. 1776 sits just four blocks from the White House.

Find out more about 1776 at and General Assembly here.

Several DC area startups and founders are headed to Cincinnati later this month for this huge startup conference.


St. Louis Startup Aisle411 Raises $6.3M Series A

Aisle411, startup news, funding, St. Louis startupThe St. Louis startup that’s changing the in-store experience for everyone has just closed a massive series A round. Aisle411 is an interactive indoor mapping startup for grocery stores and other places where you need to locate things on an indoor map.

The St. Louis based startup has raised $10M since its launch in 2008.

This latest round of funding came from Google’s Don Doge, Plug & Play Ventures of Silicon Valley, Cultivation Capital and St. Louis ArchAngels. In addition to the funding the company already has some big partnerships in place including one with Walgreens, Home Depot, Schnucks, and Stop and Save.

While people immediately recognize the need for Aisle411, the company is still working on aggressively building scale and going global.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in demand from the retail market for our services,” Nathan Pettyjohn, founder and CEO of aisle411, said in a statement. “The investment round allows us to aggressively scale to a growing list of global retail partners.”

You can check out Aisle411 here.;


Tech Cocktail’s Kira Newman Wants Entrepreneurs To “Audit Your Soul” At SXSW

sxsw, panel picker, tech cocktail, startup, entrepreneur

Kira Newman is a senior writer over at Tech Cocktail. She’s been covering startups and entrepreneurs for a while now and even took a trip across the world learning about how they do things in different cities. After covering hundreds and hundreds of entrepreneurs she has some great insight.

Newman has noticed that in the “just do it” and do it now, lives of entrepreneurs, they don’t take the time to “know thyself.” Many entrepreneurs know how important it is to know their customers, but they often overlook their team and themselves.

We are combing the pages and pages of the SXSW panel picker for 2014 to find some of the more interesting startup discussions vying for a spot in the SXSW lineup. Newman’s talk is definitely worth a vote.

Why is looking into your soul and knowing thyself important? This is Newman’s take from the panel picker page:

“Entrepreneurs who pinpointed their fear of failure would perform better than those plagued by unknown terror. Entrepreneurs who understood their personality quirks could build a more cohesive team. Entrepreneurs who consciously valued independence would make completely different decisions from those who valued money.”

During the two and a half hour workshop, Newman will go over ten important questions that every entrepreneur should ask themselves.

You can vote for Newman’s talk here!


YEC Founder Scott Gerber To Keynote Everywhere Else Cincinnati On October 1st

Scott Gerber, YEC, Everywhere Else Cincinnati, Startup NewsOver the past few months, we’ve been part of an amazing partnership with the Young Entrepreneur Council. The YEC provides some great content, including many of our startup tip stories. The best part is that many of their members are founders of startups we’ve covered here at Nibletz.

Founders like Danny Boice (speek), Neil Thanedar (LabDoor), Derek Flanzraich (Greatist), and many more are members of the invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.

Now, we’re proud to announce Scott Gerber, the founder of that organization, will be one of our lead keynotes on Tuesday October 1st during Everywhere Else Cincinnati. Scott is a huge advocate for young entrepreneurs and ending youth unemployment through entrepreneurship.

In addition to founding the YEC, he is the author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job. He is also a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated columnist, and the host of Founders Forum on Scott has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Fortune, TIME, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Reuters, Mashable, BBC, NPR, Forbes, The Daily Beast, CBS News, US News & World Report, Fox News, Inc, and Entrepreneur. He has been honored by NASDAQ and the White House.

As entrepreneurs get younger and younger, it’s a real privilege to have Scott participate in the conference.

Scott joins this already amazing list of speakers:

  • James Dickerson (former LightBank Associate)
  • Rob Woodbridge (founder,Canadian mobile expert)
  • Blair Garrou, Managing Director Mercury Fund
  • Joe Medved, Partner SoftBank Capital
  • Naithan Jones, Founder AgLocal
  • Derek Flanzraich, Founder Greatist
  • Andrew Warner, Founder Mixergy
  • Andy Sparks, Co-Founder MatterMark
  • Wil Schroter, Founder Fundable
  • Jake Stutzman, Founder
  • Jonathon Perrelli, Managing Director, Fortify Ventures
  • Justin Gutwein, Filmmaker and Entrepreneur
  • Mark Hasebroock, Founder Dundee Venture Capital
  • Jason Healy, Founder Blu
  • John Bracken, Founder Evite and Speek
  • Dave Knox, CMO Rockfish, co-founder Brandery
  • Patrick Woods, Managing Director a>m ventures
  • Sarah Ware, Founder Markerly
  • John T. Meyer, Founder
  • Raghu Betina, Managing Partner The Starter League
  • Ryan O’Connell, VP Influence & Co
  • Blake Miller, Managing Director Think Big Accelerator
  • Michael Bergman, Founder Repp

Get your early bird attendee ticket or startup avenue booth below. Early bird pricing only runs until Labor Day.


Chicago Startup DoggyLoot Gets Just That

DoggyLoot, Chicago Startup, startup news, funding

Doggyloot, an internal project at Chicago’s Sandbox, a startup incubator of sorts, has just closed a $2.5 million dollar round. The company was founded in 2011 and already has 700,000 subscribers according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Doggyloot subscribers get access to flash sales on products they need for their animals. It’s a modern day complete with all of the things that are making e-commerce startups successful in 2013. To add to that success the company is led by former Orbitz guy Jeff Eckerling.

Eckerling said they will use the money to “crank up the company’s technology, especially mobile apps and more personalized targeting of its offers, and to step up advertising to attract more subscribers. ”

Although was one of the biggest victims of the dot com bubble, the pet industry is stronger than it’s ever been. It’s a $50 billion dollar a year industry with that doubling over the last decade. closed in November of 2000.  “There are over 50 million households in the U.S. with dogs. That’s more than have kids under 18,” Eckerling said.

He’s no stranger to the flash sales market either. He developed the flash travel site BonVoyou which was acquired by HauteLook.

Peter Krasilovski, an analyst with BIA/Kelsey told Crain’s “Newspaper sites get thousands of visitors from pets. We have a luxury culture for pet owners. There are dog biscuit stores popping up all over. But we all saw the big flameout of Is it time to revisit, maybe? It might be a good niche opportunity.”

Check out DoggyLoot here.


Startup Factory Drops “Triangle”, Announces Fall 2013 Cohort

Startup Factory, North Carolina startups, startup news, acceleratorThe Triangle Startup Factory, the premiere acceleration program in North Carolina has made a slight change in their name and announced their fall class. The accelerator program will now be know as just “The Startup Factory” dropping the word “triangle” from it’s name.

The news about the name is no surprise. Earlier this month we reported that MapQuest co-founder and Startup Factory co-founder, Chris Heivly was speaking at an event in St. Louis, which reportedly could be paving the way for a new Startup Factory branch there. Heivly was very impressed with all of the efforts the St. Louis community has already focused on startups.

In addition to possibly expanding out west to St. Louis, the Triangle Business Journal reports that Heivly is excited about the announced expansion of the American Underground, HQ and the new ThinkHouse project.

Here are the five startups selected for the fall cohort at the Startup Factory.

+ Szl: A technology company that aims to help people get news from the internet. “Only a small percentage of people who get their news from the internet spend the time to set up RSS feeds and filters,” TSF says of Szl via release. “Szl addresses these problems directly and solves them.”

  • HomeWellness: A technology company creating “building science-based software,” programs that help employees improve the comfort, energy efficiency and air quality of their homes.
  • Coursefork: A technology company creating a platform for educators to share and collaborate on course materials. “In essence, Coursefork seeks to ignite viral teaching.”
  •  Brevado: A technology company hoping to create interactive timelines for project-based businesses. “Clients stay in the loop with automatic progress notifications as items are completed.”
  • Flagtap: A technology company trying to solve marketing engagement issues “by bridging the gap between getting traffic and getting traffic to engage in revenue-generating ways.”
  • 4Soils: A technology company trying to engage children with their faith in a new way. The mission? “To bring the Bible to life for kids.”



Portland’s Money Ball Customer Intelligence Startup Lytics, Raises $2.2M Seed Round

Lytics, Portland startup, funding, startup news

By now we all know about the movie MoneyBall that chronicled the way an economist set forth a new analytical approach to scouting vs the gut instinct of decades past. Being Memphis-based we’re seeing that all with our own Grizzlies, who’ve gone the analytical route. Although the naysayers in Memphis doubted this method last February when our star was traded to the Raptors, the team finished with the best record in franchise history. Does that method work, absolutely.

Now what if you could take that analytical approach and use it with almost any data point in customer analytics?

“We built the first cloud-based platform that collects and integrates digital and offline data to create the most comprehensive view of your customer,” James McDermott, CEO of Lytics said in a statement. “Effective marketing is built on organizations’ truly understanding their consumers – from their engagement across digital channels to previous purchases, and we deliver the most definitive and actionable customer record marketers have ever had access to.”

Using the Lytics tools, users can dive deeper into the view of their own customers, rather than taking a tiny sample of data and moving forward with a marketing campaign, direct mail, or engagement on a hunch.

Lytics collects, analyzes, and consolidates data from web, mobile, email, social, or any integrated system such as ExactTarget, SalesForce, Eloqua, SendGrid, Urban Airship, The result is a powerful solution that enables marketers to segment data from any source, create targeted audiences and trigger highly relevant interactions with consumers in real time.

“Connecting our key platforms to derive customer insights from SalesForce, Eloqua and Netsuite is an inefficient and cumbersome process,” Jascha Kaykas Wolff, CMO of Mindjet said in a release. “With Lytics, we can finally create a customer gold record that you don’t need a PHD to understand. Lytics gives our global marketing organization meaningful intelligence about our customers and makes it even easier to orchestrate a great experience, with our current marketing tools.”

This powerful and intelligent data form was enough to garner a $2.2 million dollar seed round lead by Rembrandt Venture Partners. Voyager Capital also participated in the round.

“The shift in technology purchasing from CIOs to CMOs has created an immediate need for a new kind of digital CRM to transform customer data into a meaningful timeline that marketers can use to manage a lifecycle,” said Scott Irwin, Rembrandt Venture Partners in a statement.  “Lytics has a stellar team and their new data platform is solving a big problem.  We’re excited to invest and accelerate their innovation to build a solution that is helping brands strengthen customer relationships.”

One of the top cable providers and two major retailers are currently in a private beta with Lytics. The company plans to use the funding  to hire staff, accelerate development, support, and grow customers.

You can find out more about Lytics here at