Entrepreneurial

Flickr founder looks to strike lightning again

– Connie Loizos is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Stewart Butterfield has it made. He’s famous for co-founding the popular photo-sharing service Flickr in 2004. He lives comfortably in Vancouver, having sold Flickr to Yahoo for a reported $35 million in 2005. And investors including Accel Partners and Andreessen Horowitz have thrown $17.2 million behind his two-year-old game company, Tiny Speck, even though the Flash-based multiplayer game it’s been developing, Glitch, hasn’t launched publicly yet.

So why does Butterfield confess to living in “perpetual fear” these days? The truth is Butterfield is under enormous pressure. Expectations for Glitch, which Butterfield describes as a “shared, perpetual game with its own ecology,” are exceedingly high, both because of Butterfield’s personal brand and its ephemeral launch date. (Even after two years of alpha and beta testing by roughly 20,000 gamers, Butterfield declines to disclose when he plans to release the game. “We haven’t finalized (the release date) yet, though the end of September is likely,” he says.)

More significantly, Glitch is hard to categorize. Butterfield credits Zynga — the online gaming company behind the Facebook hits — as “the best thing that could have happened to us, pre-launch. Now there is something like 150 million people who previously didn’t think they’d play a game online and now do.” But Glitch aims to deliver a much higher level of engagement than Cityville or Farmville, two of Zynga’s most popular titles on Facebook. Butterfield says that it’s hard to play Glitch satisfyingly for less than 15 minutes at a time, and that Glitch’s beta testers play an hour on average — with some playing for up to six hours at a time.

At times, what Butterfield seems to be describing is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) that Facebook gamers can play. The game of Glitch — which involves traveling billions of years back in time in order to re-create the future, by creating and collecting resources, gaining skills, and completing quests in increasingly challenging environments – will invite users to customize their virtual homes or to buy clothing items for their avatars. (Subscribers will receive more customization options, and be able to purchase more a la carte.)

Silicon Valley recruiter on tech hiring frenzy: “Everyone’s desperate”

Robert Greene, the founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based GreeneSearch Inc, specializes in recruiting hands-on talent for technology-focused companies, primarily startups. He provided his perspective on the current boom in technology hiring.

Q: How would you characterize the tech hiring market now?
A: It’s very competitive right now. It’s been like that for a while; it’s probably heated up even more of late. You have the bigger companies – Groupon, Zynga, Google, LinkedIn, companies that have been proven and successful – and then you have all these startups.
The supply doesn’t meet the demand.

Q: Is there an advantage to being a small company?
A: The advantage they have over those (big) companies is that they can move really quickly. They’ll do everything in a day and make an offer and hope that person will accept right away before they get into the bigger companies. Those are their selling points. They have to move quickly, they have to be agile, have to have the compelling story, have to give equity, along with competitive salaries.

As startups ponder the secondary market, more seem to make private info public

– Mark Boslet is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

The secondary markets for private company stock may seem like the Wild West, with unstructured valuations and less than ideal information disclosure.

Yet several securities laws apply to transactions now taking place, and the onus falls on companies to follow rules meant to level the playing field, including making some confidential information about their businesses public.

There’s a bubble in talk about bubbles

– Joanna Glasner is a contributor to pe HUB, a Thomson Reuters publication. This post originally appeared here. The views expressed are her own. –

There may or may not be a bubble in Internet startup valuations. But one thing in which there is definitely a bubble is in talk by journalists, investors and anyone else looking to raise their online profile through constant punditry about bubbles.

A recent Google News keyword search for instances of “Internet” and “bubble” unearthed 960 links. Facebook, Twitter and Zynga are bubbles, said one. Is Yelp: the dot com bubble part deux? asked another. One more asked: Is Twitter the harbinger of the second bubble?

It’s not a bubble, people; It’s a pyramid scheme

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared on PE Hub. The views expressed are her own. –

Mark Cuban knows a thing or two about bubbles, having profited handsomely from an earlier Internet boom. But ask him if we’re seeing Bubble 2.0 and he’ll give you a different theory.

“It’s almost the 2011 version of a private equity chain letter,” said Cuban, who sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion and went on to buy the the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

TechCrunch founder gets last laugh

Michael Arrington

The saying “he who laughs last, laughs best” comes to mind in relation to a recent spat between TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington and Offerpal Media founder Anu Shukla over Arrington’s assertion that social gaming companies, like Zynga, are making hundreds of millions through “unethical” means.

Arrington’s original post on the issue, titled “Scamville: The social gaming ecosystem of hell”, details how social media sites like Facebook and MySpace are complicit in the scams, because “they’re getting such a huge cut of revenue back from these developers in advertising.”

Arrington followed this up by challenging Shukla at last week’s Virtual Goods Summit in San Francisco; claiming that direct-marketing companies like Offerpal act as middle men in facilitating these scams. Warning the following video has strong language:

from MediaFile:

Web 2.0: Ning does Virtual Gifts and Demand Media does healthcare

With the Web 2.0 conference about to kick off in San Francisco, Internet start-ups are unveiling new products and tossing out crumbs of data about their businesses intended to illustrate how fast they're growing.

Social-networking firm Ning led the charge on Tuesday with the news that it has grown 300 percent year-over-year to 36 million registered users and that it is jumping on the virtual goods bandwagon.

The company said it will begin selling virtual goods across the 1.6 million specialized social networks that exist on Ning for $1.50 per gift. The company said it will split 50 percent of the revenue with the Ning network creators who offer the goods on their respective networks.

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