Friday, January 19, 2007


WHO: Seth Sternberg (GSB06 Social)

Seth started working with the cofounders of meebo on some different ideas, including file transfer, before hitting the jackpot with browser based IM. I am not sure I can say too much new here given that Seth has become a media darling and the meebo story is everywhere (Newsweek, NYT, Techcrunch, GigaOM, PC Magazine, Rolling Stone, etc), kind of like how meebo is everywhere. They even show you that on this world meebo map of users:

The history as I know it is as follows, Seth meets co-founders, ideas swirl, meebo drops out, Seth drops out (of the GSB), Sequoia drops in 3M bucks, meebo spreads like a virus, DFJ joins the party with another 9M green friends (that is news from this week), and, meebo sells for $925M to one of the big internet players allowing Seth to spend the rest of his life flying around in small planes. Or more likely a not-so-small plane. The last part still needs to be written and DFJ will never let it go that cheap if their negotiating style from Skype is still around.

The meeboME widget is in the Widgetbox panel on the right side of my blog. It is a pretty cool way to distribute IM and showcases what meebo's strength is - it is all in the browser, no client, no installation, just fast chat. Use it while traveling, use it if you are in the military, use it at work if you cant install a client, just use it!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


WHO: Pete Flint (GSB05), Sami Inkinen (GSB05)

Pete and Sami started Trulia in 2005 straight out of business school at Stanford. Trulia is a residential real estate search engine that helps house shoppers (and sellers) to understand the market without the painful process of talking to a realor. Trulia was one of the first vertical search engines to hone in on a market where distributed data that could be leveraged in a consumer friendly industry funded model. They have essentially allowed the average person to access multiple listing services but making pay-for-performance revenue from the various listing agents.

Trulia launched around the same time as Zillow who has elected for a much more aggressive advertising model with lots of banner ads around the content. Their key differentiator is providing a specific house value based on local comparable sales - an offering that has taken a lot of heat in the community for it's accuracy and reliability.

Trulia is a great way to keep tabs on a market that you may be interested in later, without asking a realtor to send you the listings and starting that discussion. They provide some great neighborhood guides and heat maps that can quickly get you up to speed on any local area that you are interested in. Knowledge is power, and starting a real estate transaction is a good place to have some power. Pete and Sami have leveraged the data to provide some real research and analytics power - I would guess that they get some good value from that in the future.

I know these guys are agressively growing and hiring - reach out to them if you are interested in this space or know someone who would be a good fit. I think their immediate needs are on the engineering/infastructure side.

Friday, January 12, 2007


WHO: Jeff Fluhr (GSB 01 Social), Eric Baker (GSB01)

This is a posting to congratulate a couple of GSBers who built a great company and recently sold it to one of the big internet players. The news came out on TechCrunch that StubHub was being acquired by Ebay for $310M last week after a few earlier rumors. The TechCrunch article is a little misleading because they quote gross revenue for StubHub which I think includes the ticket prices instead of just the StubHub service revenue (my estimate on that is about $100M).

I dug out the Stanford GSB case on StubHub and found this great quote:

"Sure, you can call us Ivy League scalpers. But this is a very attractive business, and the more that teams embrace it, the more legitimate online trading becomes."
- Eric Baker, StubHub founder and President

StubHub started with a great market - sports enthusiasts - and found a niche where no other online player was willing to go - between the buyer and seller - to make a great company. StubHub was able to thrive and win business away from Ebay because they placed themselves in the transaction, taking the sellers credit card details and a terms of use clause that allowed them to use the credit card to find the buyer an equivalent ticket if the transaction failed. StubHub made money and generated healthy cash margins allowing them to build the company on a low investment. I don't know the details but I be both founders will be happy with this outcome.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Visit Save the Waves Coalition's store
Shop • Donate • Feel Good


WHO: Jonathan Xu (MS MS&E 03), Caroline Bernardi (GSB06 SO), Valorie Cook Carpenter (GSB 82), Alex Musatov (GSB06) and Farida Sandsui (GSB07 SO)

FreePledge is a project that is hoping to remake philanthropy into e-philanthropy and leverage the power of growing e-commerce market to power non-profit organizations. It took me about five minutes to sign up, designate a non-profit and look up participating retailers - go to FreePledge now to do the same. Once it is configured all you do to donate is start your next ecommerce transaction by following the link to the e-tailer on FreePledge. The item is bought, shipped and supported by the e-tailer (SAME PRICES, or lower) and FreePledge handles getting a portion of the profits to your designated non-profit. Simple. Hopefully once FreePledge gets established they can tap into browser cookies and let you start with the e-tailers directly.

FreePledge is a technolgy solution that is trying to reach out to all the socially-minded consumers out there and leverage non-profit supporting programs offered by most major e-tailers. They are following the lead of serveral off-line examples including SchoolPop (support your local school by shopping) and the latest Red Campaign (fight AIDS in Africa by buying iPods, using American Express, shopping at the Gap, etc). It is also a big opportunity as Jonathan has shared with me - there are 1.4M non-profits in the US that spend a total of $1.3T and employ 10% of the US workforce.

I would like to congratulate these guys on building out the idea and having great early success:

- launched in September 2006
- 150 non-profits signed up
- 150 (and growing weekly) retailers participating
- growing user base and over $5K donated so far

Help them out - every transaction helps and it does not take much to make a difference.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Present and Future of Online Communities Conference
CommunityNext Conference

I wanted to make a plug for a community building conference that I will be attending next month. It is an event at Stanford put on by Noah Kagan and friends. If you are going to be there let me know so that we can meet up.

The attendees range from community creators, industry executives, students and the occasion venture capitalist. The presenters are from Dogster, Threadless, HotorNot, Garage Technology ventures, ClaimID, Plenty of Fish, Citizen Agency and many more. More details can be found on the website.

See you there.

Friday, January 05, 2007


WHO: Erik Burns (Biological Science and CS 98) and Jeremy Kassis (Computational Molecular Nanotechnology [wow!])

Jeremy and Erik are two super-smart Stanford grads who have been working on the stealth company bumpQ and its predecessor since I met them a few years ago. The challenge for this post is that bumpQ is a stealth company and Erik and Jeremy are keeping the details close to their chests. What I can say? Well, they are two stanford engineers working on a software idea to change the world. Sound familiar?

Their website gives a few hints of where they are headed in their tagline, "always have something to do" and from the graphics. I guess they managed to fit in some classes in design/graphics between computational nanotechnology seminars...

I promise to post more details as bumpQ moves forward. I expect more details on the product offering soon, and given the passion behind these guys there will probably be an angel funding announcement before too long as well.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

WHO: Andrew Turner, GSB 2006

Andrew Turner has launched WorkshopShirts to bring quality custom shirts to the masses. You currently order from an offline sheet but online ordering is on the way. There have been a groundswelling of mass customization products that have hit the internet, from bags (Timbuk2), candy (M&M's), t-shirts (Zazzle), snowboard decks (CustomBoards) and even cars (Scion - although I think you cant really get all the features they promise) . All of these businesses succeed by building the operations back-end to allow fast customization and flexibility. They get a premium from the customers for letting them put the personal touch to a product that is mass produced on the back end.

Back to WorkshopShirts - they let you customize everything from sizing (chest, neck, waist, sleeves) to button styles, to monograms, to cuff styles, to collar styles, to fabric, etc. Essentially you can measure yourself and then make a shirt that is perfect for you. I can see getting a few made and slowly tweaking my design until its perfect and then never buying another shirt elsewhere again. Just change the fabric and go.

I personally applaud Andrew for the idea - I currently get my shirts from a little specialty shop on Union Street in San Francisco called Sean because they carry shirts that dont fit me like a balloon. They don't do custom shirt but luckily for me they have my body type nailed. I tried others like Thomas Pink and more expensive options and was left underwhelmed by the fit. They are usually good for the collar and arm length but the shoulders and waist turn my shirt to a tent.

There was some chatter around another GSB Grad, Lu Dong, who launched a similar custom shirt site in China called BeyondTailors but unless you are fluent in Chinese it will be hard to order a shirt from him or learn more about that service.

NEW - I had an email from someone noting another interesting custom shirt company. They have a twist that includes user generated content and crowd-ranking for T-Shirt designs. See more at Threadless.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

WHO: Charles Hudson, MBA 2005

Meeteor is a fun side project that Charles has been working on for a while. His motivation behind the project was the observation that after leaving college that it becomes increasing difficult to meet people with common backgrounds and experiences. This is a social networking site made by one of the best networkers I know - Charles knows everybody. Meeteor borrows a little from Facebook (you need a .edu (student or alumni) email to join), Doostang/LinkedIN (you build a profile with your background and interests) and surprisingly Charles through me a little bit of a curve ball when one of the profile questions was dating status [available/not available]. The Meeteor motto is FIND-CONNECT-MEET and I think he should add DATE on the end...

It looks like Charles has taken some heat for being elitist given that he addresses it on the About Us page:

"We didn't build this site to be elitist; we built it to be exclusive. Our goal is to provide a new place for people to meet others like them and hopefully build meaningful bonds and connections."

In addition to addressing this concern, Charles has over 100 schools listed and appears to be working on adding more - Meeteor is not more restrictive than Facebook and you don't hear many complaints about them.

Charles has done a great job of making a fun and easy to use site for networking. Oh, and it is free. I logged on and set up a profile in about five minutes plus managed to find a few friends who were already members. Let me know when you sign up.