Yep, we’re still here . . .

I probably should have mentioned this far earlier.  I’ve been getting a considerable amount of flack for not having updated this blog for half a year. Marc Andreessen has been on blog break since last August – I wonder if he would commiserate with me . . .

I decided to take a break from blogging, but that doesn’t mean we’ve taken a break from working!  It just means we’re doing quiet, sneaky things that we don’t feel like talking about.  It means that right now, spending 30 minutes on product development is going to move the needle a hell of a lot more than spending 30 minutes on discussing plans for product development to the netherworld of cyberspace.  Which raises the question of, how often is that not true?  Certainly less often than the volume of entrepreneurial bloggery, Twittery, and Facebook status updates out there would indicate.  Sometimes it seems as though we young entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in leveraging every possible promotional opportunity that we sacrifice time and energy that would have been better spent on the core of the business.  Anyone feel me on that?


Bust or Needless Fuss? The Chaotic State of the Valley

I actually had a dream/nightmare a couple months ago about the market crashing.  In the dream, I was standing on Google’s pristine campus, except it wasn’t Google; it was some sort of Mountain View central stock exchange.  A couple minutes in, the huge stock ticker on the outside started showing stock after stock plumetting down to 0.  And then I turned around, and the entire city of San Francisco was stampeding toward the exchange, while a valiant few tried to stop them.  People everywhere were falling down and getting crushed, stockbrokers flying out of the surrounding trees and frantically trying to sell everything they had, and some larger-than-life man yelled, “STOP!!!  You’ll cause another Great Depression!”.

This quasi-ridiculous dream halfway came true a couple weeks ago (right after the House voted down the bail-out bill), as I watched my personal desktop widget stock ticker – representing the stocks I had at one point or another so thoughtfully and methodically invested in – throw all my assets into the red at frighteningly high rates.

How does this affect the VCs?  It’s darn hard to tell.  You’ve got Sequoia’s scary “R.I.P. Good Times” presentation; Ron Conway’s ominous words of warning; but at the same time, Ron has been quoted as saying that the Valley will continue to thrive and he’ll continue to invest; and ventures at various stages are closing deals every day (Ignighter, FatTail, JS-Kit, and more).  And everyone is buzzing about how 1st Round Capital is showing no signs of slowing down.  Some of the guys I’ve met with openly admit that they’re shutting off for a while; some say they’re tightening up; some say they’re fine for now but anxious to see what’s about to happen; others say we’re entering the equivalent of a Silicon Valley apocalypse.  I’ve been advised by some not to bother looking for funding because at this point it’s all a “charade”, and by others to make sure to keep looking because the burst hasn’t happened yet.  Reactions are all over the spectrum.

I don’t think it’s in question that the individual investors behind some of the big funds are tightening up, but it seems yet to be determined whether the anxiety is going to affect the commitments of limited partners as well.  If the LPs pull out, then we may have a situation even more dire than in the first bust.  But it’s hard to say how realistic this is, when no one is even decided on whether this slump is going to last 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 years.

Favorites from TechCrunch50

When we’re weren’t presenting or evangelizing MIXTT, Diana and I had the privilege of getting a first glimpse and an inside look at some other awesome startups and the teams behind them.  By far the greatest standout for me was Swype, a technology that lets you input text through a continuous “swiping” motion on a keyboard screen.  It lets you easily write text at over 50 words per minute, compared to regular tapping or T9’s systems’ average of 20.  One of the co-founders is the guy who invented T9 predictive text – it’s really neat to see an entrepreneur improving upon his own product (rather than continually insisting that it’s the best there is).  If the competition were up to me, Swype would have won.

For its practicality I loved DropBox, which leverages cross-platform cloud storage to give you a headache-free, online back up all your essential files.  It syncs conveniently and easily with your PC and enables you to share as well.  Also of note in the practical category was GoPlanit.  I’d honestly use this to figure what on earth to do when I land in a new city and only have two days to experience it.  Hats off to those guys as well for coming up with a smart name.  We’re still trying to come up with some catchy (AND not lewd) that MIXTT can stand for.  Suggestions always welcome.

Causecast gets my vote for nice design and valuable content, Akoha for a pretty innovative and born-of-goodness idea, and BlahGirls for its entertainment value, and, admittedly, for being attached to Ashton Kutcher.  Pretty cool for a TV celebrity to make a foray into the tech world, if you ask me.

The best aspect of TechCrunch50 was the cast of people who made it what it was: the TechCrunch staff – bloggers-turned-event-creators, passionate entrepreneurs, enthusiastic investors, and big-name industry celebs like Ron Conway, Kevin Rose, Marc Andreessen, Roelof Botha, Mark Cuban, Don Dodge, Robert Scoble, and Yossi Vardi, to name a few.  I’m already excited to see who shows up next year.

Taking the Stage at TechCrunch 50 (1 of 2)

Our BIG news, and the reason we disappeared off the map for a few weeks, is that we were selected as one of TechCrunch’s 50 “Best Start-Ups” for 2008.  This means we got a spot on stage in front of 1000+ of all the industries top tech execs, VCs, and press to give an 8-minute presentation about MIXTT this past week.  We were honored to have the opportunity, and now, 2 days into the conference, can say we have been having an awesome time.

Before the real deal, though, I had the opportunity to take the stage for merely patriotic purposes, and open the conference with the anthem.  Day 1 also brought Diana and me the opportunity to stalk Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (Ashton was there launching, and to stuff our faces at the VIP party (sushi and oysters, holllllaa) while trying to “network” in between it all.  Here are some pics and clips of the highlights.

Ashton Kutcher talking up Blah Girls

Ashton Kutcher talking up Blah Girls

At Jason Calacanis's VIP Party . . . oooh V-I-P

At Jason Calacanis's VIP party - oooh V-I-P

That's Demi Moore!  (and example of how I'm short)

That's Demi Moore!

Taking the Stage at TechCrunch 50 (2 of 2) – MIXTT LAUNCHES!

Backstage, minutes before the presentation

Backstage, minutes before the presentation

Diana getting mic'd up

Diana getting mic'd up

Revving up with warrior pose

Revving up with warrior pose

OK, the real reason we were at TechCrunch 50 was not for my mediocre anthem singing (shocking), not to stalk Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (ok it sort of was), and not to gorge ourselves on the amazing food at the VIP party (ok, it sort of was that too) – it was to present, of which we are so proud.  And to get grilled by the likes of Kevin Rose, Mark Cuban, Don Dodge, and Roelof Botha.  Actually, the expert panel had a pretty positive reaction to our pitch overall, and we’re thrilled with how the whole day transpired.  We made some amazing progress with respect to funding and partnerships, and most importantly just ate up all the awesome energy of the place.

Check out TechCrunch’s coverage of MIXTT at

The article includes a link to the live recording of our on-stage presentation.  Enjoy!

After it was over, happy and relieved!

After it was over, happy and relieved!

Update on MIXTT Alpha

We’ve been eagerly collecting and queueing up the invaluable feedback from our friends on MIXTT Alpha.  Thanks so much to those of you who have helped us out by providing your user experience perspective.  People seem to really dig the social calendar, so our top priority is going to be enhancing the functionality around that.  We also plan to add in RSVP-like functionality to people’s social events so that you can quickly and easily get a grip of what people are up to and where as soon as you log into MIXTT.  If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see on MIXTT asap to make it serve you better, we’d love to hear about it!  Comment here or email me directly at eve (at) mixtt (dot) com.

Podcast: MIXTT Interview by UK’s Technology Gazette

Last Friday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Josh Chandler of Britain’s Technology Gazette.  Great guy with a passion for new startups.  He actually followed the interview with no less than five emails recommending additional features for MIXTT – love to see this kind of enthusiasm and excitement for the company, particularly coming from a young guy like Josh.  Click to hear the podcast of the interview!  If that doesn’t work, copy and paste into your browser.