Tech Summit Q&A, day 3: “Unsexy” tech companies

May 18, 2011

The third day of the 2011 Reuters Global Technology Summit saw a lot of discussion about the valuation and  potential of “sexy” social networks and lesser known startups.

Saad Khan, Partner at CMEA Capital, talked about investing in LiveOps and Pixazza, two companies the former which he called “unsexy”, and how they “stitch together the world’s labor force.”

One could say that Real Networks Chairman Rob Glaser, who saw his company’s Real Player go from being the standard used in streaming media on the Web to a bit-player, is familiar with what is and isn’t “sexy”. Here he is talking about revamping his company around phenomena:

And Google Ventures Managing Partner Bill Maris questioned the value of social media startups:

“Are our smartest people working on our most difficult problems?”

“The degree to which a lot of focus is put on social media, which is interesting and fun and great in lots of ways, does take away from a lot of the other companies we invest in like Adimab, or transphorm, or Silver Spring.”

“They might be a little more difficult to understand or they’re not as sexy, in a way, to talk about or doesn’t touch consumers as readily. But these are real businesses with eventually hundreds or thousands (of) people working at them.”

“The company creation barrier has been lowered in some ways. But to create a company outside of the social media sphere is as difficult as it always was.”

All the talk about the appeal of one tech company over another left me wondering what the threshold is for calling any company sexy.

*This blog was corrected after I received clarification from Sylvie Tongco of AtomicPR, stating:

“To clarify, he (Khan) was talking about LiveOps and its focus on the unsexy area of call centers.”

“But he actually thinks Pixazza is a very sexy company, turning images into eCommerce, celeb fashion into Zappos transactions. They do levarage distributed labor but for a totally different and very “now” market.”

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