Recently by Andrew McCalister
Tony Blair, the ex-Prime Minister, has just been announced as the newest addition to Khosla Ventures as a senior adviser.
Khosla are one of the more prominent venture capital firms in the Valley with companies like Boku and Xobni in their portfolio.
Why would this marriage occur you may ask... rather simple, it's a win-win situation.
Over the past few weeks I have been lucky enough to meet with the CEOs and Co-Founders from some of the most innovative companies in the Valley.
From a technical standpoint it was great to chat with Alan about Lehigh's manufacturing process. The company enables vulcanised rubber to be recycled in high end goods such as car tyres, which was previously not possible. The process for doing this is remarkable, involving chopping the rubber, freezing it with liquid nitrogen and then putting it through a grinder that Alan describes as a 'jet engine with teeth.'
Because of the rather extensive workload over the past week I feel the need to supply a slightly more lighthearted entry for you to ponder...
Earlier this week, during my daily cycle into work, I noticed a sign stapled precariously onto a telegraph pole, stating:
"START-UP CRAWL. Stop 10"
I had to laugh. The U.K's passion for drinking can be marveled at through the institution that is the Pub-Crawl (a past-time I must admit to being rather fond of). However, the passion for entrepreneurship in the Valley is so great, this British tradition has been adapted in-order for like-minded individuals to unearth new and exciting companies. As opposed to new and exciting liquid substances.
Upon greater inspection, I later discovered a colleague of mine was hired during one such "Crawl". Convincing the Company's Co-Founder to buy a pen off him after an impromptu sales interview.
If both the alcohol consumption of the standard British Pub-Crawl and entrepreneurship activities of the Start-Crawl could be combined into one, interesting results would surely flourish. However, some sorrow would have to be directed towards the final company en-route!
With my body still recoiling from the sleep deprivation obtained during the recent product launch I feel the need to divulge more about the industry Heyzap has entered. It's worth $1Bn and no-one has noticed it exists. Well, to be honest, when I say no-one, everyone in the Valley is talking about it but I never appreciated its potential until I arrived.
I'm referring to Social Games, those procrastination tools on facebook such as Farmville and Mafia Wars. Behind these innocent looking distractions lurks an industry worth $650M in 2009.
However, the truly remarkable aspect of this industry is its sheer growth, with revenues looking to hit over $1Bn in 2010. The shining light in this field is Zynga, makers of Farmville and Texas HoldEm Poker. It was only founded in 2007 but has already reached predicted revenues of $480M for 2010, in addition to a potential $3Bn valuation. Although this may sound like a rather steep estimate the true value can't be too far off, mainly due to an impressive expansion from 10M to 230M players in a mere 10 months!
So, the next time you buy a virtual tractor just remember the sheer revenue potential of 230M people doing the same thing.
As you can imagine with an office in Silicon Valley that has a 50 per cent British workforce, the conversation can very often circulate around visas.
Generally this consists of trading techniques in avoiding deportation, spliced with random letters of the alphabet in reference to document types (J1, H1B, O1,etc). To any outsiders it must sound rather odd.
Recently there has been a sense of urgency about these chats due to changes in legislation.
Apart from my duties at Heyzap, the last week has been taken up shadowing the top 20 U.K Cleantech entrepreneurs around the Valley.
UKTI, with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Polecat, was running its annual mission that takes the fastest growing businesses from a specific sector out to Silicon Valley for a week of wining and dining. This year it was the turn of the Cleantech sector.
Apart from forcing down fantastic food and drink at the evening celebrations (one such event took place at Michael Birch's house, founder of the social networking site bebo.com) it was a truly fantastic week.
I got the opportunity to meet an enlightening group of entrepreneurs who were truly on top of their game, developing and researching a broad range of products from Axial Flux Motors (Evo Electric), and it's not the same device used in the Back to the Future movie as I asked, to home energy monitors (DIY Kyoto). However, as always, things have to be put into perspective, these represent the top entrepreneurs, not the average!
A tip of the cap really has to be given to UKTI, the TSB and Polecat. It takes a lot for an organisation, especially in the U.K, to realise they aren't the best at something, in this case entrepreneurship and venture funding, and then act on it. UKTI did just this....how refreshing.
However, remembering back to my previous post that discussed the prospect of the U.K's best entrepreneurs moving out to Silicon Valley, especially with the possibility of the start-up visa. There was no answer from the TSB to the question I posed about talent drain. After all, there must be a fairly strong reason that one of the shining lights of U.K entrepreneurship, Michael Birch, now lives in San Francisco!
I find myself writing this introductory blog in the foyer of the Best Western hotel by San Francisco International Airport.
After 28 hours traveling I finally arrived in the Bay Area, ready to throw myself into the four months of internships and projects I have undertaken.
However, before I discuss the things I'm hoping to get involved with over the next four months I think I should do the polite thing and introduce myself.