Hot Prospects: Chi-Hua Chien, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

– The following profile is an abbreviated version of Venture Capital Journal contributor Deborah Gage’s piece for the the VCJ’s series on “Hot Prospects” within the venture capital industry. –

Chi-Hua Chien’s first experience with VC wasn’t pleasant. Nearly every morning for an entire week, at 7:00 a.m., he was summoned to a meeting with the backers of Coremetrics, who were threatening to shut down the faltering dot-com.

Coremetrics ultimately worked through its problems – just two months ago IBM said it would buy the company. And Chien’s performance during the company’s troubled period was not lost on Peter Fenton, then a partner of Accel Partners, one of Coremetrics’ backers.

“Chien’s most distinctive quality is his tireless optimism,” said Fenton, now a partner at Benchmark Capital. “He has absolutely zero cynicism, and that’s part of what you have to have in venture – a true belief in entrepreneurs and their ability to change the world.”

It wasn’t long before Chien caught the attention of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which offered to make him a partner and give him a key role in its iFund, which focuses on developers of apps for Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and now iPad.

From aerospace engineer to horse healer

photo: courtesy Gail SnyderSecondAct contributor David Ferrell is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and the author of the comic baseball novel “Screwball”. This article originally appeared on SecondAct.com. Top photo courtesy of Gail Snyder.

As an aerospace engineer, Gail Snyder labored on the frontiers of science, devising experiments for the Space Shuttle and later designing flight-simulation software for the X-31 high-maneuverability fighter jet. She spent her final years in the corporate world at Boeing Aircraft, in Southern California, doing flight simulations for satellites.

Two bad breaks, however, knocked her life into a wholly different orbit. One was the loss of her job; Boeing retrenched in 2002, laying off close to 5,000 workers. At about the same time, Snyder’s young horse, Clover, went lame.

Why Junior shouldn’t take over your business

Entrepreneur and author John Warrilow believes business owners are engaging in a “twisted form of child abuse” when they pass their companies onto their children.

In his new book, “Built to Sell: Turn Your Business Into One You Can Sell”, Warrilow offers his advice to creating a sellable company and argues that 99 percent of businesses can’t sell because the companies can’t be run without their current owners.

In a recent telephone interview with Reuters, Warrilow said business owners should have the best possible exit strategy before they consider handing over a company to their children.

Index, Accel bet big on Squarespace

- Lawrence Aragon is the Editor-in-Chief of the Venture Capital Journal and Private Equity Week, both Thomson Reuters publications. This story originally appeared on PE Hub.com. -

Fast-growing Squarespace, a competitor to blogging platforms such as WordPress and TypePad, recently announced it has taken its first institutional money – a $38.5 million growth investment led by Index Ventures and Accel Partners. The deal values the company between $80 million and $100 million, according to a knowledgeable source.

The New York-based company landed on the Inc. 500 last year, coming in at No. 339. Inc. magazine reported that the eight-employee company had grown its revenue from just under $270,000 in 2005 to $2.2 million in 2008.

Stones’ rocker turns eco entrepreneur

SecondAct contributor David Ferrell is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and the author of the comic baseball novel “Screwball”. This article originally appeared on SecondAct.com. Top photo courtesy of Chuck Leavell.

Chuck Leavell has lived the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll fantasy, but he’s so modest that he doesn’t always own up to it. At a recent lunch, a new acquaintance had to bombard him with questions to gauge Leavell’s prowess on the keyboard.

“You play around here?” the man asked.

“I play all over,” Leavell said.

“You got a band? Or you perform by yourself?”

Leavell’s friend Joel Babbit, who witnessed the interrogation, chuckles at the memory. “You had to squeeze it out of him,” Babbit says. Finally Leavell conceded that he belonged to a band – and a pretty good one.

How to survive the entrepreneurial rollercoaster

- Tina Paparone is the co-founder and CEO of gift company BeMe. This article originally appeared on Under30CEO.com. The views expressed are her own -

Entrepreneurs tend to be a little bit crazy. Starting a business takes a touch of insanity, but running a business can sometimes send you over the edge. You put everything you have into your business, face challenges you never could have prepared for and on top of it all are constantly scrutinized. How do you stay sane? After two years of being on the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship, these are the things I’ve found help me manage the dips and stay focused on the loops.

Learn to be patient: Patience has never been my specialty. I come from a hyperactive, scream-over-each-other-to-be-heard type of family, where if you don’t move quickly you are likely to be left behind. This life in the fast-lane mentality had propelled me forward in both my education and career so I applied it to my startup, setting ambitious goals & keeping busy with an endless list of daily tasks. I became increasingly frustrated, however, when my efforts weren’t yielding the immediate results I expected them to.

Startup pays consumers for old iPhones

Apple CEO Steve Jobs discusses the new iPhone 4 during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Robert GalraithRather than throwing out their old iPhone or recycling it, people wanting to upgrade to Apple’s latest iPhone 4 have another option in Gazelle.

“It’s almost early Christmas at Gazelle with the introduction of a new generation of iPhone,” said Israel Ganot, CEO and founder of the Brookline, Massachusetts-based company.

Gazelle, launched in 2008, buys electronics ranging from camcorders to LCD monitors. Ganot started the company after he tried to recycle some old cell phones, but was told by a store he would have to pay for doing so. He got the idea for Gazelle (its motto is “don’t just sell it, Gazelle it”) after realizing his phones still have value in them.

Can Jelli make radio compelling to iPod generation?

Entrepreneurs Mike Dougherty and Jateen Parekh have developed software that changes the way listeners interact with live radio, but a panel of experts was divided on whether their innovation would be able to bring iPod users back to the box.

Jelli, their San Francisco, California startup, uses a Web-based platform that allows listeners to make song requests through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and actually control the music that gets played on a live radio station (read original story here).

Popular music websites such as Pandora and Slacker already allow readers to vote on songs and control what gets played, but Dougherty said Jelli takes it a step further, giving surfers the ability to interact with a live FM radio station and “take over the stick,” as he called it.

Rate this innovation: The treadmill bike

bike1Love to run outside, but hate getting your feet dirty? Well you’re in luck. Entrepreneur Brent Curry has bolted a treadmill onto a bike frame and created a “treadmill bike”.

The bike has no electronic parts and runs entirely on human momentum. As the rider walks on the treadmill, the belt butts up against the rear wheel propelling the bike forward.

It’s a novel design – and when Curry took the bikes out for a spin with Reuters, numerous people asked where they could buy one.  So far, he only sells his bikes online through his company The Bicycle Forest.

Does Posterous have staying power?

posterousSachin Agarwal created Posterous as a way for his parents to be able to see what he posted online. Two years later the blog publishing tool has more than 15 million monthly users, but experts still wonder whether its ultra simple functionality can catapult it into the rarefied air of Facebook or Twitter.

“No one has solved the problem of how does my 60-year-old dad see my photos,” said Agarwal, who launched his San Francisco, California-based technology startup two years ago with friend and former Stanford University alum Garry Tan. He said it was important for him that Posterous appealed to people who may be intimidated by the terms “blogging” and “social media.” “We don’t want to be thought of as a tech toy for Silicon Valley geeks. We’re surrounded by a lot of crazy tech, but our goal is to be so much more universal and applicable to normal people.”

Agarwal said Posterous gets around the need for having users register accounts by getting them to post their content – text, photos and video – directly via email to a central Posterous email address, which is then immediately published online in the form of a blog.