links for 2009-05-01

  • A year and a half ago, my co-founder Dev Nag and I started an internet TV network for games called PlayCafe. Our ambitious plan was to run highly interactive game shows in which everyone was a contestant. Players could watch our hosts, answer questions, win prizes, form teams, call our studio, live chat, and run their own games. It was a huge undertaking, but despite great engagement — users watched for 87 minutes per session and 40 percent returned within a week — we didn’t reach enough users. We may revive it in the future, but for now, we’ve placed the site in hibernation and returned remaining funds to our investors.
    What follows is a post-mortem of what we did right and wrong and how we will improve next time. I feel too many entrepreneurs are afraid to discuss their failures, locking up important lessons. I hope you find some of this useful.
  • While venture capitalists search for a way to jumpstart the market for initial public offerings, corporate acquirers appear to be coming back on their own and giving investors a way to reap returns – if they can survive the negotiations, according to an investment banker.
    The M&A market has slowed down considerably since last September when the financial markets tumbled in the wake of Wall Street’s collapse. The fourth quarter saw just 65 M&A deals involving venture-backed companies, the lowest on record for a quarter, while the first quarter didn’t fare much better at 68 deals, according to industry tracker VentureSource.
    But there are some signs that large corporate buyers are getting back into the game. Dan Williams, a managing director in the technology practice of investment bank Montgomery & Co., said his firm is today seeing a very different mood than it did just 30 days ago.

  • After seeing a rehearsal for a new musical in La Jolla, Calif., in October 2004, venture capitalist Kevin Kinsella came away with one conclusion: He had to invest in it.
    “I’ve never invested in a Broadway show, but I know in my gut this is going to kill ‘em, as they say in theater,” Kinsella recalled saying following that performance that kept him on the edge of his seat.
    It turned out Kinsella’s instincts were right. The musical was called “Jersey Boys,” which has become one of the biggest smash hits Broadway has seen in years.
    (tags: vc)
  • Job interviews rank up there with root canal for most people. Wouldn’t you want to know in advance the trickiest question your prospective employer might ask on your job interview?
    In today’s recession, where competition for jobs is fierce, the interview experience is even more stressful. So, feeling better prepared can help.
    The folks at career site Glassdoor.com realize this and have launched a new service to help job seekers deal with the dreaded interview process.
    Glassdoor.com’s new “Job Interview Questions and Reviews” section features feedback from actual job applicants who completed job interviews at about 1,000 companies in a range of sectors–including technology employers like Google and Yahoo– over the last 18 months or so.
    (tags: career)
  • Late Tuesday, Apple made a fourth beta version of the iPhone 3.0 operating system available to developers. One new feature spotted in the software is a voice-recording application.
    Along with the new beta OS software, Apple also gave developers a sneak peek at iTunes version 8.2 beta. The only obvious thing I saw in iTunes 8.2 was the option to encrypt the iPhone back-ups stored on the computer. In other words, if your laptop is lost or stolen, hackers shouldn’t be able to get at the information stored in your iPhone backups because it is encrypted. Nice.
    As for the iPhone itself, the most obvious addition to OS 3.0 beta 4 was the voice recorder, and I absolutely live it.
    (tags: iphone)

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