Comcast to limit home internet users bandwidth – How will this impact startups?

Comcast appears to be preparing to limit residential internet users’ bandwidth, starting October 1st. Comcast’s Network Management Policy website puts this limit at 250 gigabits per month. As a user of Comcast internet, I find this a little bit of a bummer. I don’t make a habit of analyzing my monthly internet usage (anyone remember AOL when you had to stay under a certain number of minutes online per month?), but I’ll have to start paying a bit of attention. However, it’s highly unlikely that I personally exceed this limit, despite enjoying Hulu and other online video, downloading songs, tons of files for work and using a filesync program to keep my home and work computers files the same. I do worry about how this will affect startups and new internet business ideas.

Several things about Comcast’s bandwidth limit do really annoy me:

  1. Working from home. What will this do to information workers who work from home on a regular basis? I imagine that self-employed computer programmers who work from their home office could be particularly hurt. What about people who edit movies and other media from their home office? Will they be unable to upload their files? Telemedicine – doctors on call use the internet to look at medical images from home before heading into the hospital. Those high resolution images are very large, and can you imagine a doctor saying to a patient, “well, I don’t want to go over my bandwidth limit this month, so you’re going to have to wait for me to get to the hospital to see the ALL the scans we took of your brain…” Sure, you are probably supposed to get a “commercial” internet subscription if you do these things, but do you really feel that someone who works from home on Fridays should have to??
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Pretend you are on the board of a startup. Unfortunately, this startup is not living up to its potential, and is failing to get sales traction as you and the team hoped. Why are sales not materializing? I had a brief, but insightful, conversation with one of my partners today. This partner (like most venture capitalists) is on several startup boards. Most of these startups are growing quite well; however, one of them is not.

The question is why? From a board level, it is quite difficult for a venture capitalist to determine the cause of the startup’s sales slippage. Is it the sales team? Or is it a market/product issue?

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Seed funding objectives – a specific example

Today I had the pleasure of spending time with an entrepreneur planning a seed fund raise for his startup. While most of my fund’s investments are at the Series A stage, we do occasionally get involved with businesses raising a seed. We (several partners, the CEO and me) put together a pretty simple list of objectives that we hope the startup will accomplish with the seed financing. While this list is pretty simple, I thought I’d share it since it makes a lot of sense, if I do say so myself! (It is important to note that this list is for a web service company that already has a bit of traction; the list would be different for a startup in a different space or at an earlier stage.)

Milestones (for more of my opinion on why milestones are important see my post on setting them check out my previous posting) By the time that the company has run out of the seed financing the following should be accomplished:

  • Team – Critical technical, business and customer support team members should be in place and fully functioning.
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More Facebook spam – How open is too open?

What should greet me my return from vacation but yet another piece of real spam in my Facebook account. Similar to the Facebook virus/spam I wrote about earlier, this spam appeared as a message from a friend. This time I was directed to a random website that claimed to be a youtube video, although it clearly was not. This feels more like a virus (vs. traditional Facebook application “join me” spam) because the message was generated without her consent and directed the target user away from Facebook and to a site that was likely selling something or that had a malicious intent. It’s evil junk marketing generated without the user’s consent.

I’ve been excited by and met with a number of Web 2.0 startups who are planning on having an open API, and who believe that this will enable them to more nimbly develop relationships with their customers. I hope that this promise will not be destroyed by malicious developers who exploit the openness of Web 2.0.

Facebook virus spam comment

It would really bum me out if Facebook became over run with nasty spammy messages like most of my email accounts have… I hope the folks at Facebook can find a way to keep their system open and yet avoid having virus writers and spam marketers take advantage of them.

When Facebook opened their API last year to outside developers they seriously accelerated their business and became the face and forward thinker of the real Web 2.0 movement. Supposedly in 2007 alone 12,000 applications were generated on the Facebook platform. The key to the success of the platform is that outsiders are trusted to help direct the evolution of a company’s relationship with their customers.

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Stealth startups: To blog or not to blog?

To blog or not to blogShould a startup blog even before they are ready to tell the world about their idea? By blogging will you be giving away your idea? Is there a real benefit to creating a blog and updating it on a regular basis? These are questions I asked myself when we founded Pixily and in the ensuing months when we were in stealth mode.

Reflecting back on these questions, we at Pixily wish we started blogging within the first couple of months of founding Pixily. It would have helped us in a number of ways including acquiring customers, being perceived as an authority in the market and in recruiting employees. In this post, I will cover the benefits and in a following post I will talk about blogging strategies that a stealth mode startup can employ.

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