This week we have Matt Mullenweg, Founding Developer of WordPress. For more information, show notes, and an upcoming schedule, go to www.thisweekin.com.
See the original post here: This Week in Startups – Matt Mullenweg, Founding Developer of WordPress
“In the Studio” begins to wind down the year by hosting someone who can lay claim to the following roles — developer, engineer, CTO, VP of Engineering, and founder — and now, after a few years of angel and seed investing, has moved down to Sand Hill Road as a partner at a large venture firm.
You may not notice on first glance, but Ross Fubini has racked up a diverse set of experiences in his 15 jam-packed years in the Valley. Well-known among technologists in the Valley, Fubini is otherwise another quieter builder who has amassed a dizzying array of experiences since interning at Netscape while studying engineering at Carnegie Mellon, moving from an engineer into leadership roles with more management responsibilities, founding his own company and quarterbacking the investment and acquisition process, and then getting involved with companies at the seed level as an angel investor with Kapor Capital in San Francisco. Fubini is also sought after for his opinions on core technology, and is a formal advisor to Palantir.
Now, in moving down south to Sand Hill Road, Fubini joins Canaan Partners, a large venture capital firm with an international presence. (TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha covered Fubini’s move earlier this year.) In doing so, Fubini is part of a line of operators turned angel investors with impressive portfolios who have taken partnership roles on Sand Hill Road, a trend started when Reid Hoffman went to Greylock a few years ago, and exemplified by others such as Shervin Pishevar (Menlo Ventures), Mark Goines (Morgenthaler), Mike Abbott (Kleiner Perkins), and most recently, Chris Dixon (a16z). In this discussion, Fubini and I discuss the arc of his career, from his days interning at Netscape to working as an engineering leader, to founding and selling his company, to his style and approach to investments, and what he hopes to do now as he moves away from seed stage and tries to work with companies in building more sustainable businesses, operations, and technologies.
Google’s early stumbles with Wallet are the startup ecosystem’s gains. Chicago’s up-and-coming Braintree just poached Aunkur Arya, who headed partnerships for Google Wallet, to be its general manager for mobile. The company, backed by Accel Partners, also picked up Klas Bäck to oversee international and payment strategy.
Braintree is processing about $1 billion per year in mobile payments, for clients including Hotel Tonight, Angry Birds-maker Rovio and Zimride, which runs ride-sharing service Lyft. They, along with other competitors like PayPal and YC-backed Stripe, are trying to grab a slice of what is fast becoming the most strategically important area in e-commerce.
Braintree estimates that about 20 percent of e-commerce shopping sessions are happening on mobile devices and that raw figure is growing by two to three times every year. Companies like Groupon say that mobile platforms account for about a third of their transactions in developed markets like North America. Braintree stresses that the $1 billion in transactions it’s facilitating aren’t just peer-to-peer transfers, they’re actual purchases of goods or services directly from mobile phones.
The company, which had been bootstrapped up until last fall, took a big slug of funding from Accel with a $34 million round that the Palo Alto venture firm took whole. They then turned around and acquired New York-based mobile payments startup Venmo for $26 million. Venmo operates as a separate unit.
“Venmo gave us a very slick consumer wallet application that sits right with our our checkout process,” CEO Bill Ready tells us.
Google Wallet, meanwhile, has seen a spate of departures to Square and smaller startups after an internal clash between new leadership brought over from PayPal and early team members who backed NFC. Rob von Behren, one of the founding engineers for Wallet, went to Square, while other founding team members Jonathan Wall and Marc Freed-Finnegan have started their own company Tappmo.
Arya becomes one of the latest to leave the team. Before Wallet, he led mobile app business development at AdMob. That means he should have a wealth of relationships with top tier mobile developers, which will help Braintree quickly rack up more big name clients. Bäck, meanwhile, will lead international strategy at a key time for Braintree. The company just opened in 30 new countries.
You’ve probably heard plenty of comparisons between founding a startup with someone and being in a relationship (heck, there’s even a service called FounderDating). Well, TheIceBreak has taken those comparisons to heart with a new iPhone app called Cofounderly.
When I describe this as a couples app for co-founders, I mean that pretty literally. TheIceBreak previously launched an app where couples can answer icebreaker questions (the responses are shared with the general community), post private messages to each other, and get scored on the quality of their relationship. When TheIceBreak co-founder Christina Brodbeck was looking at the app’s user data, she saw that there were co-founders actually using the app to communicate. And hey, it kind of makes sense — Broderick says she sees her co-founder more often than she sees her boyfriend.
So TheIceBreak team took the functionality of the couples app and created new content tailored for startup co-founders. Instead of asking “Do you think it’s more important for a couple to be friends or lovers?” and suggesting “Do an outdoor activity together,” Cofounderly offers questions like, “Which one is a higher priority for startups — retention or growth? Why?” and offers suggestions like “Come up with & serve a company-themed cocktail.” (I also suspect that when co-founders share photos, they’re less dirty than they are in the couples app. I could be wrong on that one.)
One drawback of Cofounderly’s roots — it only works for two-person founding teams right now.
But do you really need an app to communicate to with your co-founder? I mean, aren’t you guys probably talking a lot already? Brodbeck says that Cofounderly is supposed to encourage real-world conversations, rather than replace them. Ultimately, she says the app should be “leading to more in-depth, in-person conversations.”
Even though this is just a side project, it does suggest that the couples app model might be more broadly applicable. In fact, Brodbeck says that TheIceBreak is also looking at investigating partnerships with media brands, creating apps that allow them to interact with their community. It’s like a partner app, “except your partner is the brand.”
You can download Cofounderly here.
Continued here: Cofounderly Is A Couples App For Founders. Yes, Really.
Early-stage investment firm True Ventures has raised a $205 million third fund.
True says it now has $600 million management, and that it has funded more than 100 companies. It calls out some of those investments in its blog post announcing the fund. From the first fund, there’s WordPress-creator Automattic and ad company BrightRoll. From the second fund, there’s Salesforce.com-acquired Assistly, Adobe-acquired Typekit, and VMWare-acquired Socialcast. (On the media side, True is also an investor in GigaOm, former employer of TechCrunch writers Ryan Lawler and Colleen Taylor, and the site’s founder Om Malik is a True partner.)
An SEC filing last year suggested that True was raising a third fund, but that may have been an abortive effort — the firm tells The New York Times that the fund only took eight weeks to close. The news comes right after Madrona Venture Partners announced that it closed a $300 million fund, its largest ever.
The blog post also offers this recounting of the firm’s founding::
“When creating True, we asked ourselves a big question: ‘Why does the world need another venture capital firm?’ We found our answer in a segment of the entrepreneurial community we felt was not being served by the funding options available at that time. Great founders of early stage technology companies can and often prefer to start their businesses with $2.5 million or less of initial capital.”
That’s the vision that the firm says it plans to continue following with its third fund.
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