China blog bubble


Mike Masnick has news from the Chinese hype generator : “Over the summer we wrote about a bizarre story about a Chinese blogging firm that was getting attention for claiming that it was going to go public with a $1 billion valuation. There was no reality to back up the claim — just a CEO saying it would be so. There were a lot of other problems with the article, as well (including misleading statements about how much money the company had raised and how much revenue it was making), but it should come as no surprise to find out that the company (which did, indeed, raise the $10 million it was looking for just a few months ago) is now laying off one-quarter of its staff, or about 100 people, claiming that maybe the Chinese blogging business isn’t such a big business after all. Of course, the really bizarre part is that this blogging firm could actually already employ 400 people. That seems like an awful lot of people, especially considering that the company wasn’t making very much money and (despite the misleading claims) hadn’t really raised that much money either.

Are you at Syndicate?


If you are interested in the RSS and syndication space and the upcoming opportunities you should check if you can make it to Syndicate in San Francisco next week (Dec. 12-14th).

“Themed “Transforming the Way Businesses Do Business”, Syndicāte is a two-and-a-half day, business and technology conference providing awareness, clarity, education and strategic business opportunities for media, publishers, corporate marketers, product managers, advertisers, public relations and associated industries…everybody who knows their business will be transformed by syndication–and needs to know more! “

Speakers include:

    • Anil Dash – VP, Professional Network Six Apart
    • Jonathan Schwartz – President & COO Sun Microsystems, Inc
    • Jeremy Zawodn – Technology Development Group Yahoo! Inc

The team and I will be there Tuesday and probably Wednesday. If you would like to meet – please ping me at mail – at – OR leave me a comment.

Entrepreneurship in Germany – New Survey

German based VDI Nachrichten has published a pretty extensive survey asking German Business Angels and researchers about the state of entrepreneurship and business angels. Nothing surprising in there – the lack of initiative during the last years is acknowledged and the call for tax exemptions for early stage investments is raised.

amp’d poised for growth?


Daniel Primack sums up in his newsletter the story of MVNO Amp’d:

“It’s been four months since I first began researching and writing about Amp’d Mobile Inc., the Los Angeles-based virtual mobile network operator (MVNO) targeting teenagers and young adults. My original prompt was the company’s massive Series A funding, which totaled $67 million (including the rollover of $7 million in loans). My continuing interest, however, was twofold. First, I believed that MVNOs/MVNO infrastructure would become a very hot VC sub-sector, due to its advantages for both brand-conscious multimedia content providers and capacity-loaded mobile carriers. Second, Amp’d seemed to have the right management pedigree (particularly Boost Mobile founder Peter Adderton) and the right target audience (let’s face it, senior citizens don’t want/need Larry King streaming through mobile phones).

For the uninitiated, MVNO is a term that loosely means reseller. MVNOs buy or lease unused mobile carrier spectrum at wholesale prices, and then sell the “minutes of use” to retail consumers with a device that can access specified content. Perhaps the best-known example of an MVNO – although it’s not typically thought of as one – is OnStar, the automotive communications companion that uses extra Verizon capacity. More “traditional” MVNOs would include things like Virgin Mobile or Disney Mobile.

So why did yesterday change everything? First, it signed the best possible branding partner for the youth market: MTV Networks, which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Spike TV, etc. Not only will MTV content/branding be prominent on Amp’d products, but Amp’d will become very visible on MTV Networks products. This obviously will include traditional advertising, but I’d also expect it to eventually include various product placements (“For winning today’s Real World/Road Rules Gauntlet, you win an Amp’d Mobile handset…”). The deal also has effectively blocked MTV from offering its own MVNO, since MTV now has an equity stake and board seat with Amp’d. Why compete against yourself?

And then there is the cash. The MTV deal includes an initial $50 million investment, and this is only the beginning. Amp’d already has a much larger financing set up, of which the MTV infusion is just an opening tranche. A secondary close is likely will occur within the next 30 days (which would include original backers like Highland Capital Partners, Columbia Capital, Redpoint, etc.). If it manages to close by year-end, expect Amp’d to jump from #7 to #3 in terms of the most VC dollars raised in 2005. This certainly will help with product rollout, which begins today. Oh, as an unrelated funding note, MTV Networks now has an Amp’d minority equity stake approximately equal to most of the Series A backers.”

Amp’d is certainly not in for the cheap – $67 million for a first round is not exactly nothing as they do not build any communications infrastructure but us an existing network.