Liveblogging The Smart Money of Crowds: Collaborative Investing Startups

I’m liveblogging notes from tonight’s MIT Enterprise Forum event on The Smart Money of Crowds: Collaborative Investing Startups.  This was not hard to organize, and I’m very happy with how the event turned out.

 

Panel Biographies

Roger Ehrenberg, Moderator, Managing Partner of IA Capital Partners, LLC

Roger Ehrenberg is Managing Partner of IA Capital Partners, LLC, his personal venture investing vehicle. IA has made 27 investments since 2004, principally in the areas of digital media and financial technology. IA`s portfolio companies include TheLadders.com, Mimeo.com, Clickable, Covestor, BlogTalkRadio, Buddy Media, Silicon Alley Insider and Stocktwits. Roger was also an original investor in Wallstrip (sold to CBS Interactive) and MyTrade (sold to Investools), sits on five Boards of Directors and advises the gaming company Genesis Interactive and the location-based messaging platform Socialight.

Prior to founding IA, Roger spent 18 years on Wall Street in Mergers & Acquisitions, Derivatives and Trading. Most recently, Roger was President and CEO of DB Advisors, the $6 billion multi-strategy hedge fund trading platform of Deutsche Bank. As head of derivatives businesses at both Citibank and Deutsche Bank, Roger`s teams twice won awards, securing Global Finance magazine`s `Interest Rate Deal of the Year` in 1998 and Institutional Investor magazine`s `Equity Derivative Deal of the Year` in 2000.

Roger has penned the popular business and technology blog Information Arbitrage since July 2006, and has had over 1 million readers since inception. He has also been interviewed broadly on topics ranging from hedge fund regulation and algorithmic trading to deep-web search and building vertical communities by The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, NPR, Reuters, CNBC and many others.

Roger received his Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor, and his Masters of Business Administration from Columbia Business School. Roger is Trustee of the Little Red School House/Elisabeth Irwin High School and a Board Member of the Integrative Pediatrics Council. He lives in New York City with his wife Carin and two boys.

 

Divya Narendra, Founder and CEO, SumZero

Before founding SumZero, Divya was an Associate at Sowood Capital Management, a $3.5B multi-strategy hedge fund located in Boston, MA. At Sowood, Divya analyzed investment opportunities across the capital structure, spanning credit and equity. Prior to this, he was an analyst in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at Credit Suisse Securities in NYC. In 2004, during his senior year at Harvard College, Divya co-founded ConnectU.com, an online social network dedicated to the university community, and predecessor of Facebook.

SumZero is the largest online community of professional investors worldwide, currently consisting of more than 1,200 analysts/PMs from nearly every well-known buyside fund. The site is free to use, but membership is by invitation-only. Each member lists 3 or more tickers for companies he/she has extensively researched. As such, an analyst can search for a company he is interested in and find the buyside analyst at another leading firm who has already spent months researching that name and initiate a dialogue. As a by-product, an analyst grows his network. SumZero also contains a fully searchable database of concise investment write-ups focussed on valuation. Though not required, only those members who contribute an idea can access the database. Please emaildivya@sumzero.com for more information and an invitation to join.

Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Writer, Financial Times Alphaville/Long Room

Stacy-Marie Ishmael is a New York-based writer and blogger for FT Alphaville, the Financial Times’ award-winning blog. Her responsibilities also include FT Alphaville`s Long Room, which is a “digital restaurant” where finance professionals are encouraged to share research and comment on the work of others. Stacy-Marie is actively involved in the development of the FT Alphaville platform and brand.

FT Alphaville is a Webby-award winning blog focused on global financial markets, with a team spanning London, Tokyo and New York. The Long Room, which was launched in October 2008, is a members-only extension of the main site, focusing on comment and analysis. Both FT Alphaville and the Long Room are free to readers (an FT subscription is not required to access content) and are supported primarily by display advertising opportunities on the site and in FT Alphaville`s email briefings. In the case of the Long Room, revenue is generated from the sponsorship of “digital tables”.

Phil Pearlman, Director, StockTwits

Phil Pearlman was a co-founder of Lumina Fund Management, a long/short equity hedge fund which focuses on behavioral and sentiment analysis to exploit under and overreactions in options markets. He is an expert in the area of market participant behavior and emotion and consults with professional investors employing strategies adapted from empirically validated psychological treatments to improve trading performance. Phil has developed a proprietary prescriptive model of investor experience which integrates empirically validated clinical models and behavioral finance. He is a contributor to Real Money, a paid service owned by TheStreet.com. He currently trades a private account in New York.

Phil is an investor in and director at StockTwits. He also makes angel investments in other social media based start ups and focuses on the relational and community aspects of online social networks. Phil earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from Argosy University in Washington DC.

Rikki Tahta, Co-Founder Covestor

Rikki Tahta has held a number of senior roles in Finance and Information Services. Previous start-ups include ARK Information (acquired by Thomson Financial), WebTrack (acquired by Jupiter Communications – later public on NASDAQ), Steelhead Systems (acquired by Merrill Lynch) and Bookpages (acquired by Amazon.com). Other positions include Chase Capital Partners (private equity) and Thomson Financial (Securities Data Corporation). Rikki lives in New York and loves fishing. Username: RikkiTahta

Covestor is a portfolio sharing service for proven self-investors and for those wishing to track them. Tens of thousands of self directed investors share their real trades and you can follow them live for free. Covestor is funded by New York based Union Square Ventures, Boston based Spark Capital and London based Amadeus Capital Partners. We also have a strategic investment from Independent News and Media Group.

 

My notes

 

Roger:

I just spoke with a major ebroker. They’re not worried about trading volume, which is fine. They’re worried about durability, because they feel that their community is not loyal.

You remember stock message boards in the first dot-com wave. Problems of anonymity. Whole Foods CEO going online and bad-mouthing other peoples’ companies.

I spent 18 years on Wall Street at Citi/Deutsche. Left in 04 after running a hedge fund business for Deutsche

Stacy-Marie Ishmael.

Officially, she’s a credits market reporter for FT.  Unofficially she’s a web geek there.

Alphaville was viewed as the ‘badly behaved little brother’ of FT: their first blog. It was a response to perceived need for real-time interaction/dialogue.

Performed two functions: a) trendy (in 2006, everyone had to have a blog), and b) increased engagement.

Alphaville has 9 person team, based mainly in London. We do combination of reporting and commenting. We’re encouraged to have an opinion on financial stories.

When we launched, traditional FT readers were slow to respond. We got 2 comments/week. FT’s historic market were C-suite.

Brits much slower to take up social media. We had a lot of readers but minimal interaction.

Shortly after, we launched MarketsLive: a real-time chat every day at 11am ET between two senior market reporters. When this launched , we were the first. It made people realize that there were real people behind the concept of Alphaville. We got to a point of 420 comments per MarketsLive event, and quality of comments went up.

In late 80s, there was a well-known restaurant known as the Long Room, which attracted all the significant traders in the City.  That’s the origin of the name.

Today we feel that our main job is to moderate and edit, not write, because there’s so much quality content.

Divya, Sumzero

Our vision was to create a Wikipedia for investing, but focused on professional investors.

We wanted to be as universal as possible.

Most writing to date is on single-name credits

We launched a year ago.

1700 analysts are members

Even if you haven’t submitted a note, you can still see who has extensively researched a given company.

You can send a message to other analysts and start a dialogue.

This is the first way that analysts can communicate with one another about trades.

We have an earnings template which is searchable so you can run a screen based on buy-side consensus. We believe that’s much more valuable than sell-side consensus.

(Teten note: this reminds me of Novus, as well as some of the other competitors I blogged about earlier.)

Phil Pearlman, Stocktwits

A community built atop Twitter

We’re getting a lot of people, including amateur investors, professional investors

There’s a high correlation between people we see subjectively as being experienced, and the number of followers they have

We have 2 semantic tags: 1) Put $ in front of a ticker, or:

2) general market comment: $$ at beginning or end of tweet.

 

Certain stocks are very popular on certain days.

Finance websites usually have huge dropoff on weekends. So in response, we’ve set up programming on weekends, where professionals do Q&A.

We also have a discussion, Macrotwits, Sunday night. Our speaker will advance a global macro thesis and debate it.

Rikki Tahta, Covestor

Our goal is to democratize fund management. We don’t care about what you do ; we care about what you invest in.

(Teten note: I like his model, but I would never be a customer.  It’s like Marketocracy; there’s so much noise in the data that I’m very uncomfortable delegating my investing decisions to someone else’s etrade account.  Investing is not a democracy; it’s a game rigged in favor of the professionals.)

Most of the tools for investing are available free on the web.

BofA has even launched a free market trading platform.

In 2000, a big change in UK investment research : Marshall Wace led a movement towards ‘Alpha Networks’: a focus on actionable ideas instead of just opinions. They then quantified who gave the best advice and allocated trading flows instead. This concept never took off in the US.

This was a complete disassociation between brand name of the institution. We said investment talent does not logically have to be inside a financial institution.

Our principals:

Treat anyone as a fund manager. But, they have to be investing real money, which we verify. We also require full transparency, so you can’t selectively share your trades. We create a Morningstar tear sheet for individuals.

Find best and invest alongside. Covestor replicates in your own account what other people are doing. Madoff is something of an inspiration: We think you should keep your money in your own account, and just take advice from others. This is like a distributed UMA. Our investors can treat their own account like a fund of funds.

Benefits for investors. More choice, more control, more transparency. This is what big banks give people with $30m in assets. This is a better way to get active management

Roger

Does community matter?

Rikki

It matters less to us. Our focus is building an ability for an individual to invest with better resources than he would otherwise.

Divya

Credibility matters. We help people vet out their ideas.

Stacy

Community definitely matters.

Phil

We have people who make a lot of bold calls. 50% of the time they’re right.  We find out what they’re really like when they admit (or don’t admit) their mistakes). 

Divya

If you hold a position, you have strong incentive to publicize why you hold that position.  The guys who run their own funds are happy to discuss. The junior guys are nervous about ticking off their bosses.  The people at very large hedges (e.g., och-ziff) and large investment banks are more hesitant to talk about their positions. 

Phil

Ego

Rikki

People who are great performers but don’t communicate, don’t attract as many investors as those who can do both.  The former is a much bigger driver than the latter.  (Teten note: Jim Cramer is a far better performer than investor.)

Roger

Who gets into the community?

Stacy

We have very strict criteria for joining.  We independently verify that a person is who he says he is.  The person must be an active participant in the financial markets.  This ticks off a lot of Alphaville readers who did not qualify for entry into the Long Room.  There was a lot of angst over this among some readers.  We don’t allow people to discuss specific trades.  Most of the discussion is about sectors/macro issues.  So pumping and dumping don’t happen. 

Because people are anonymous, talent will out.  People decided whether to trust the source or not based on commentary. 

Rikki

The only hurdle is a $10,000 account.  We run rankings on 78 different criteria.  I learned this from Thomson: the more rankings the better.

Divya

Screening process is viewed positively.  They have to work at a reputable fund, or submit a quality writeup showing they fit in. 

Phil

We earlier built a vote up/vote down feature, but we found we didn’t need it.  The crowds made the picks for us.  We subjectively made picks of who we thought was most value-added.  The better people were building large followings. 

Divya

if we hit our targets, we’re very monetizable.  Our content has tremendous value.  We could charge our members for access.  Set up section on website for outsiders to access our content for a fee.  We could license our content to SeekingAlpha for a fee. 

Phil

We view ourselves as a farm system.  We’re launching next week 2 premium products with two guys who are pros, and have built significant findings: Brian Shannon (technician) and Joe Donahue (hedge fund manager) .  Next product will be options product. 

In finance vertical, people will pay for information. 

Stacy

I work for a news organization..that itself is a problem.  We’re one of the few parts of the FT which is completely free.  You dont have to be a FT subscriber to get into Long Room.  This is a constant source of friction between editorial team and ad team.  We think being free is critical to our success in getting the community where it is.  We’re a loss leader.  We do sell advertising. 

Alphaville readers are much more sticky than FT.com readers.  Our uniques and repeat visits are very high.   We have people who are constantly updating RSS feeds. 

Rikki

We haven’t launched revenue model yet.  We’ll charge investors a management fee. 

 

Gary Mueller

Which B2B communities are making money now, besides your own?

Roger

Gerson Lehrman Group.  Revenues around $300m, valued at $1b by Silver Lake.  280,000 experts. 

Stacy

Bloomberg.  They own the major messaging system used on trading floors.  They were a community before people talked about communities.

Rikki

LinkedIn

Phil

Look at ResearchEdge in New Haven. 

Teten

How can users manipulate each of these sites; how are your users doing so now; and how are you defending?

Phil

We eliminated microcaps.

We also monitor the stream very closely and remove anything that smells funny.

Divya

We think reputation is the solution.  Other users can rate content.

Stacy

We allow people to use pseudonyms.  A certain analyst at a bank kept posting “CIT looks great today.”  We emailed him at his work address, and that put a stop to him doing that. 

We’re very strict on copyright and libel issues; as a news organization our awareness of those issues is high. 

Wachtler:

What sites do you recommend for discussion of macro issues?

Roger

Use disqus to track individual comment streams, which creates a community around a comment thread.

Phil

9pm Sundays: Gregor Macdonald discussion.    We squeeze a lot of meaning into 140 characters.

Stacy

Zerohedge came out of nowhere and has really taken off.  We’re sensitive to paranoid about whom we link to, since they can be thought of as sources.  Look on our website for links to blogs we think are most worth reading. 

 

Innovate NY Series panel on

 

Following are my notes on the LEVIN Institute’s Innovate NY Series panel on “Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, on April 1.   A clear theme of the panel: our immigration policy is counter-productive and hurts our economy.  This is particularly apparent in NY, where 37% of the city are immigrants.

 

The panel:

Matt Nimetz, General Atlantic

Jonathan Bowles, Center for an Urban Future

Vivek Wadhwa, Harvard, Duke, Entrepreneur

Amar Bhide, Columbia (and my former professor in business school)

Garrick Utley, Levin Institute, Moderator

 

 

Matt Nimetz, General Atlantic

We invested $1.5b last year, about half in the US. 

We’re neutral as to geography, and very focused on value.

We’re big investors in outsourcing, since 1997.  We’re not apologetic about it.

Right now, we’re not that active.  But that will change. 

There’s $1trillion of dry powder in our industry. 

I don’t think NY will lose its dominance.  We used to have only a CT office, but 1.5 years ago we set up a NY office.  No one would visit us in CT.  People didn’t want to work there.  CEOs who fly in want to see people in Manhattan, for four meetings in one day; they don’t want to go to CT. 

 

Vivek Wadhwa–Harvard, Duke, Entrepreneur

 

I formerly ran a startup that moved from NY to NC, for cost reasons. 

 

I’m now an academic, focused on studying immigration.  52% of Silicon Valley startups were founded by immigrants.  A quarter of all global patents filed by US were foreign nationals (not including immigrants who got US citizenship, like me). 

 

We found these immigrants were very highly educated.  They felt like 2nd class citizens in the US and wanted to start their own firms.

 

There are over 1m skilled immigrants in the US waiting for green cards.  But there are only 120,000 visas available per year.  Indians only get 8,000 visas/year. 

 

H1B is a horrible program; it ties people to one employer.

 

We predicted a massive brain drain in our last report, and it’s happening now. 

Historically, 80-90% of immigrants stayed 5 years or longer.  Now, they want to go home. 

 

NY is ground zero of immigrant unemployment.  You get laid off on an H1b, you have to buy a one-way ticket home. 

 

37% of NY is foreign-born. 

 

Jonathan Bowles, Center for an Urban Future

 

Non-immigrants start businesses less, and they don’t grow their businesses as fast. 

There are very few micro-lending organizations in the US.  Accion’s total loan budget is less than the budget of one Citi branch office in Queens.

We don’t have an angel system of entrepreneurial investors who are focused on immigrant population. 

 

Amar Bhide, Columbia

Question from moderator: can entrepreneurship save NY?

Karl Marx said technological progress is the critical feature of the capitalist system. 

We have a romanticized view of technological progress: the heroic entrepreneur.  “Silicon Valley envy”. 

However: technological progress is not worth very much unless it raises local productivity.

 

Rochester, NY has more patents per capita than anywhere else in the US, but it’s not a strong economy.

I moved to MA in mid-70s, when it dominated computer industry.  It was not a strong economy at the time.

Silicon Valley unemployment is 2% above national levels.

 

Reason: the production of high-tech can only account for a small fraction of the total employment in a region.  Even in Silicon Valley, only 10% of population work in tech.

 

Unless you personally engage in the innovative process, there can’t be widespread progress. 

 

So tech innovation has to be a massively multiplayer game. 

 

The use of tech is far more important than the development of tech.

NY and Chicago are prosperous because they’re heavy users of tech.

 

The challenge for NY is not: how to emulate Silicon Valley.  It’s: how do we weave these new technologies into all of our processes?

 

Bowles

Natural assets of NY: growing immigrant population,  Also, academic research institutions

But: our universities were typically not as entrepreneurially minded as others.

Nimetz

We have to pay a lot more for our own staff in NY even than in CT.  The recession will alleviate this issue a bit.

When I was a kid, there were a lot of ethnic focused banks, e.g., a Chinese bank where the staff didn’t necessarily speak English.  These were a source of capital for entrepreneurs in the community.  Those banks have since been rolled up.

Vivek

We moved out of NY because we couldn’t afford team.

Amar

I am very skeptical that the great NY universities can have an economic impact, because of the size and workforce of NY.  It won’t have much more impact than a great ballet.

Even MIT has not had a meaningful impact on the economy of MA. 

 

Bowles

One of the reasons downtown became Silicon Alley : cheap office space

DUMBO is the only other area that attracted cheap startups, because it had amenities that the sort of people who run startups find attractive.

Teten

What is being done/should be done to promote pro-immigration policy change?

Bowles

This has happened before.  In the 70s, immigrants saved communities like Flushing that were empty. 

We may see NY political leadership suddenly hungry to diversify out of Wall Street.  NY hasn’t been serious about that for a long time.

Bhide

Know-how of a chip manufacturing organization is at multiple levels: how to run a semiconductor plant, how to design it, how to clean a clean room.

Universities build the high-level know-how, but it’s the least rooted type of know-how.

The other types of know-how are typically much more rooted.

Very little of Apple’s products draw on know-how from Stanford.

The integrative ability creates prosperity

Vivek

Quick fixes: open-source all of university’s IP to startups that use the tech locally.  The licensing revenue the universities get is trivial.  Any startup that stays in NY for 5 years should be able to use Columbia’s IP to start a startup for free.

Question

Silicon Alley is the wrong name.  Where is the nearest silicon wafer fab?

Bowles

The VCs who specialize in tech/biotech tend not to be based here.

Notes on Liminal Group’s 2009 Sales & Marketing Symposium

Following are my notes on Liminal Group‘s 2009 Sales & Marketing Symposium, which took place Wednesday.

—————————————

First speaker: Paul Greenberg,

author, CRM at the Speed of Light: Essential Customer Strategies for the 21st Century, President, The 56 Group, LLC; founding partner of CRM training company, BPT Partners, LLC. At the end of 2007, he was the #1 non-vendor influencer ranked by InsideCRM in their annual “25 Most Influential CRM People” announcement. He was also named one of the most influential CRM leaders in 2008 by CRM Magazine.

Gen Y are first generation to spend more time on Net than watching TV

31% of people age 20s-early 40s are elite tech users (source: Pew)

The number of people who say “people like me” is their most trusted source of information has grown dramatically in the last 5 years, and is now rated the most trusted source of information. (Source: Edelman)

Member communities reach more internet users (66.8%) than email (65.1%) (source: Nielsen Online research: “Global faces on networked places”. )

You have to accommodate even ‘low value’ customers because of what they can do to you. And no customer thinks he’s ‘low value’.

A few years ago Disney Destinations changed the CRM acronym to CMR (Customer Managed Relationships). This meant customers could plan/adjust their own vacations.

This means they didn’t need as many live agents. And many customers prefer this.

I have a CRM podcast, CRMPlayaz, and all we do is rip on things

Old research said Advocates will speak to 5-9 people about what they love; detractors will speak to 9-16 people. But new research: detractors can now reach millions. Now just the threat of public detraction is sufficient.

Recommends looking at Doubleclick Simultaneous Media Usage Study.

The New Marketing Model

The reputation of the company, not the message, becomes the brand

Example: Sanvick, a mining company in Sweden, is rated most trusted company in Europe. Has a fair play code that governs everything they do. One of their core values is transparency. In their annual report, they release information about criteria for executive’s bonuses; whether they got bonus or not.

Counterexample of what not to do: Walmart’s ‘flog’: fake blog with some actors pretending to be Walmart customers

Authenticity and trust is what matters, more than consistency of the message

From “How consumer conversation will transform business”-PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2007. Free report.

We need to ‘hear whispers’. Measure:

– Volume: amount mentioned vs. Historic pattern

– Tone

– Coverage: # sources generating conversation

– Authoritativeness/Reputation

New business model

Lines between producer and consumer are blurred. They are co-creators of value.

Open lines of communication.

Producer is an aggregator for the user’s creative activity

User is an advocate of the experience and the company

When you listen to the customer, you often learn that what you thought about the customer is completely wrong.

BMW now has identified and developed with customers 15 telematics features.

Samsung overtook Sony as leading consumer electronics company, because they worked with customers to identify 25 customer touchpoints.

When Skype was first launched, there was a Skype user group called “public mind” which was particularly active . Skype mined that user group for ideas to prioritize.

Skype was acquired for $1.6b . At the time had 54m customers, $11m revenue.

KarmaLoop sells Gen Y clothing. Sells traditional brands, plus independent brands. They now have 100,000+members in their community.

Have junglelife social network, by invitation only to trend-setters.

Also have Street Team. They are 1% of KarmaLoop community. Their job is to sell KarmaLoop products. You sign up and get a unijque code. Get friends to buy on the site using your code. They get discounts plus points. Additional points for uploading content of their street activities.

Another similar company: Threadless. $26m revenue.

BY 2010, 60% of Fortune 1000 will have some sort of community (Gartner Social CRM 2009 Forecast) but 50% will fail to be managed properly. They won’t participate enough; they won’t keep content fresh.

KLM Club China: looks like traditional online community. What’s unusual: it includes an ‘experiences’ section, where members can upload their experiences doing business in China. Not just travel. Also includes suggestions on doing business in China.

Contrast this with United Red Carpet Club, which is missing all this functionality.

V. Kumar came up with 3 lifetime metrics: Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Referral Value, Customer Brand Value.

Tools of CRM 2.0

The Social Stack

Identify and Object interface in these domains: Reputation, relationships, conversation, groups, sharing, collaborative, actions, presence.

Only 30% of companies have holy grail of one person, one record.

The new holy grail: "a company like me", who is trusted in the same way that a "person like me" is trusted.

—————————————

The next speaker was Penelope Trunk, author, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success .  She’s a very entertaining and personable speaker.  I generally agreed with her points, with two major exceptions.  

1) Her speech sounded as if it could have been delivered a year ago, and hasn’t been adjusted for US debt bomb exploding.  I don’t believe her claim that Generation Yers don’t care about money and can go move in with their parents when Gen Y’s father just lost his job, and Gen Y’s mom just had her house foreclosed upon. 

2)   I thought that some of her comments about "managing Generation Y" were really comments about "manag
ing Generation Y children of upper-middle-class parents"

—————————————

Gen Y doesn’t believe money = happiness. They’ve all taken classes in positive psychology, which have taught them that. Janitors are usually happier than lawyer. Lawyers are the most suicidal of all professions.

You need to make $150K more to offset cost of moving away from family/loved ones.

65% of Gen Y lived with parents, BEFORE recession

Gallup: If you have 2 friends at work, it’s virtually impossible to have a bad time.

If one person quits a restaurant, the others will likely quit also.

They think that experience of work should be like experience of doing stuff in teams. They did prom in teams, they did sports like soccer which is very team oriented. They love their parents.

I’ve had dinner with the parents of everyone who works for me.

Gen Y doesn’t like to pay their dues.

They don’t believe in the ladder you climb, so therefore why do the grunt work at the bottom?

So every day is a trade: they’ll do your Xerox, but they want you to do something for them in exchange.

They really value learning

They’re not argumentative, not protesting in streets.

Mentoring is the new currency.

They’re used to their parents being very invested in their success.

They expect authenticity.

A good blog post/tweet should make you nervous, that you’re providing too much information.

Everyone believes that they’re authentic, but they’re not.

Gen Y is so productive. They always have an empty inbox.

Career Goal for Gen Y is be an information synthesizer. Information is commoditized, so the real value is being on top of it.

Gen Y is genuinely nice. This is shocking because the workplace is not set up for that.

This is a generation of team players, not leaders.

They have very good social skills, are good at office politics.

We all have the same values. Gen X complains the most because no one pays attention to us.

There’s still a shortage of Gen Y jobs in this economy. When they say, ‘there are no jobs’, they mean, ‘there are no good jobs’.

Question : 50% of 2009 graduates will be unemployed. Do you think this perspective has changed?

Media is run by boomers, and they’re panicked because 50% of boomers are unemployed. (David: I doubt these statistics).

Gen Y in India and Gen Y in US have access to exact same info.

Gen Y finds entrepreneurship very easy. It’s cheap to start. Easy to market initially to their friends. Whole VC market has shifted. Job market is getting worse , so the drive is greater. They have incredible need for multiple revenue streams.

Gen Y doesn’t complain about being grouped as a generation. Only older people do.

Gen Y thinks it’s a joke if you don’t have CRM

Gen Y picks up the phone because Gen X expects them to.

Emptying your inbox is an "inbox enema."

Guy Kawasaki uses Twitter exclusively to promote himself; I use Twitter just to discuss my life.

Apr. 7 MIT Enterprise Forum NY event: Collaborative Investing Startups

I look forward to attending a MIT Enterprise Forum of New York panel on April 7, 5-8pm, titled, “The Smart Money of Crowds: Collaborative Investing Startups”. We are fortunate to have as our moderator Roger Ehrenber of http://informationarbitrage.com .  Our speakers are the CEOs or managers of SumZero, Financial Times Alphaville/Long Room , StockTwits, and Covestor. Incidentally, SumZero was just featured in FINAlternatives

If you can’t attend the event in person, you can follow the conversation via Twitter hashtag MIT0407.  For an introduction to how to use Twitter hashtags, see http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/archive/2008/03/11/an-introduction-to-twitter-hashtags.aspx .

Register here.

Among the issues we will discuss:  

  • What is the quantitative track records of these services in increasing investment returns? Comment on the studies showing that individual investors underperform indices (on average), and individual investor groups underperform individual investors acting alone.
  • How do collaborative investors determine membership criteria for their services?
  • How do these firms handle reputation management: rating of contributors and contributions; minimization of gaming and spam; and compliance issues?
  • What are the business models used by these firms? (ads, subscription, using investment information)
  • What is the value proposition?
  • How do these startups increase returns? Do they provide investors with valuable data? With access to insights from other investors? Are they educational? Do they help with trade execution?

 

 


 

 BIOGRAPHIES OF OUR SPEAKERS

 Roger Ehrenberg

Managing Partner of IA Capital Partners, LLC

 Roger Ehrenberg is Managing Partner of IA Capital Partners, LLC, his personal venture investing vehicle. IA has made 27 investments since 2004, principally in the areas of digital media and financial technology. IA`s portfolio companies include TheLadders.com, Mimeo.com, Clickable, Covestor, BlogTalkRadio, Buddy Media, Silicon Alley Insider and Stocktwits. Roger was also an original investor in Wallstrip (sold to CBS Interactive) and MyTrade (sold to Investools), sits on five Boards of Directors and advises the gaming company Genesis Interactive and the location-based messaging platform Socialight.

 Prior to founding IA, Roger spent 18 years on Wall Street in Mergers & Acquisitions, Derivatives and Trading. Most recently, Roger was President and CEO of DB Advisors, the $6 billion multi-strategy hedge fund trading platform of Deutsche Bank. As head of derivatives businesses at both Citibank and Deutsche Bank, Roger`s teams twice won awards, securing Global Finance magazine`s `Interest Rate Deal of the Year` in 1998 and Institutional Investor magazine`s `Equity Derivative Deal of the Year` in 2000.

 Roger has penned the popular business and technology blog Information Arbitrage since July 2006, and has had over 1 million readers since inception. He has also been interviewed broadly on topics ranging from hedge fund regulation and algorithmic trading to deep-web search and building vertical communities by The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, NPR, Reuters, CNBC and many others.

 Roger received his Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor, and his Masters of Business Administration from Columbia Business School. Roger is Trustee of the Little Red School House/Elisabeth Irwin High School and a Board Member of the Integrative Pediatrics Council. He lives in New York City with his wife Carin and two boys.

 Divya Narendra

Founder and CEO, SumZero

 Before founding SumZero, Divya was an Associate at Sowood Capital Management, a $3.5B multi-strategy hedge fund located in Boston, MA. At Sowood, Divya analyzed investment opportunities across the capital structure, spanning credit and equity. Prior to this, he was an analyst in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at Credit Suisse Securities in NYC. In 2004, during his senior year at Harvard College, Divya co-founded ConnectU.com, an online social network dedicated to the university community, and predecessor of Facebook.

 SumZero is the largest online community of professional investors worldwide, currently consisting of more than 1,200 analysts/PMs from nearly every well-known buyside fund. The site is free to use, but membership is by invitation-only. Each member lists 3 or more tickers for companies he/she has extensively researched. As such, an analyst can search for a company he is interested in and find the buyside analyst at another leading firm who has already spent months researching that name and initiate a dialogue. As a by-product, an analyst grows his network. SumZero also contains a fully searchable database of concise investment write-ups focussed on valuation. Though not required, only those members who contribute an idea can access the database. Please email divya@sumzero.com for more information and an invitation to join.         

 Stacy-Marie Ishmael

Writer, Financial Times Alphaville/Long Room 

 Stacy-Marie Ishmael is a New York-based writer and blogger for FT Alphaville, the Financial Times’ award-winning blog. Her responsibilities also include FT Alphaville`s Long Room, which is a “digital restaurant” where finance professionals are encouraged to share research and comment on the work of others. Stacy-Marie is actively involved in the development of the FT Alphaville platform and brand.

 FT Alphaville is a Webby-award winning blog focused on global financial markets, with a team spanning London, Tokyo and New York. The Long Room, which was launched in October 2008, is a members-only extension of the main site, focusing on comment and analysis. Both FT Alphaville and the Long Room are free to readers (an FT subscription is not required to access content) and are supported primarily by display advertising opportunities on the site and in FT Alphaville`s email briefings. In the case of the Long Room, revenue is generated from the sponsorship of “digital tables”.

  

Howard Lindzon

StockTwits Founder

 Born in Toronto, live in Phoenix with a loyal wife (11 years, 12.5 in Canadian), two awesome kids and a dachshund. Schools – University of Western Ontario, Arizona State University, American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird). I currently manage a hedge fund and have done so since June of 1998. The fund has evolved into a long only fund with approximately 50 percent in equities and 50 percent in private investments. In the Summer of 2006, I created Wallstrip and with the help of Adam Elend, Jeff Marks, Lindsay Campbell and a hard working crew we have created over 300 shows. In May 2007, Wallstrip was purchased by CBS and I continue to work with CBS and Wallstrip today. I am a partner in two other funds calledKnight`s Bridge Capital Partners .

 Stocktwits is a social, stock microblogging service. StockTwits is an open, community-powered idea and information service for investments. Users can eavesdrop on traders and investors, or contribute to the conversation and build their reputation as savvy market wizards. The service takes financial related data – using Twitter as the content production platform – and structures it by stock, user, reputation, etc.      

  

Rikki Tahta

Co-Founder Covestor

 Rikki Tahta has held a number of senior roles in Finance and Information Services. Previous start-ups include ARK Information (acquired by Thomson Financial), WebTrack (acquired by Jupiter Communications – later public on NASDAQ), Steelhead Systems (acquired by Merrill Lynch) and Bookpages (acquired by Amazon.com). Other positions include Chase Capital Partners (private equity) and Thomson Financial (Securities Data Corporation). Rikki lives in New York and loves fishing. Username: RikkiTahta

 Covestor is a portfolio sharing service for proven self-investors and for those wishing to track them. Tens of thousands of self directed investors share their real trades and you can follow them live for free. Covestor is funded by New York based Union Square Ventures, Boston based Spark Capital and London based Amadeus Capital Partners. We also have a strategic investment from Independent News and Media Group.

 Register here.

Power and Impact of New Media: Coping with the Economic Crisis

 I enjoyed last night’s panel on Power and Impact of New Media: Coping with the Economic Crisis at the Harvard Business School Club of New York. My notes follow. 

 

Biographies of the panel participants:

Harris Diamond is CEO of Constituency Management Group (Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG.). The group includes IPG companies in the areas of public relations, public affairs, sports and entertainment marketing, corporate/brand identity and experiential marketing, including Jack Morton Worldwide, GolinHarris, FutureBrand, Octagon, DeVries Public Relations, MWW Group and Rogers & Cowan. He also serves as the CEO of IPG’s Weber Shandwick Worldwide, a public relations industry leader. Regarded as one of the industry’s great experts in corporate and industry positioning, Mr. Diamond has counseled Fortune 500 companies that were undergoing profound changes or facing intense public scrutiny. While specializing in crisis and change management, he also provides ongoing strategic communications counsel to an array of clients, including several industry and trade associations.

Mr. Diamond is a member of the Board of Directors of the not-for-profits, Business for Diplomatic Action and the Ronald McDonald House of New York. He is also on the Board of Councilors of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, and is the former Chairman of the Council of Public Relations Firms, the U.S. trade association for public relations agencies.

Previously, Mr. Diamond served as a political campaign consultant working on U.S. gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns, and advising foreign governments and political parties. He has held senior positions in the public sector. Mr. Diamond holds both MBA and JD degrees, and is a member of the New York State Bar.



Amy Binder
 is CEO of the New York City-based RF|Binder Partners, Inc., one of the companies of the Ruder Finn Group. RF|Binder Partners has a reputation for research-based strategic counsel and creating a symbiotic approach across communications channels. Among the firm’s major clients are Bank of America, L.L. Bean, Citibank, Dunkin’ Brands, Eli Lilly and Company, Reebok, and Staples.

Ms. Binder brings 25+ years of experience developing corporate reputation and branding programs. For the five years leading to the formation of RF|Binder Partners, Ms. Binder, as President of Ruder Finn Americas, was responsible for growing the firm’s work with Fortune 100 corporations as well as entrepreneurial start-ups which were developing new business models as a result of the Internet, new technologies and the dynamic business environment. Before joining the Ruder Finn Group, Ms. Binder was Director of Communications for the City of New Rochelle where she focused primarily on community based programming and economic development initiatives. She left there to form the Ruder Finn Group’s Urban Marketing division and worked for corporations involved with community relations including American Can, and for cities around the country.

Amy Binder started her career as a freelance photographer primarily handling corporate assignments. She studied at Rhode Island School of Design and the Center of the Eye in Aspen, Colorado. She has two published books of her work.

Ms. Binder is a board member of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business E-Business Initiative, The Institute for Public Relations and the Media Advisory Council for Brown University, as well as a member of The Arthur W. Paige Society. She received her A.B. with Honors from Brown University and her M.B.A. from the Graduate School Of Business, Columbia University.

 

Lex Suvanto is the Managing Director, Strategy and Operations, at The Abernathy MacGregor Group. At Abernathy, Mr. Suvanto provides strategic counsel on corporate communications, financial public relations and investor relations. He has particular expertise in strategic planning for communications, supporting complex media and investor outreach programs, and speechwriting. Mr. Suvanto also serves as an operational leader of the firm’s marketing and strategic planning activities.

Lex Suvanto has extensive experience working for media, entertainment and Internet companies. Selected client experience includes Comcast, Viacom, Sony, THQ, Take Two Interactive, IAC, Gemstar/TV Guide, AOL, CBS, Blockbuster, Quadrangle, DivX and RealNetworks. Mr. Suvanto has helped a number of media companies transition to the public markets, having worked on Viacom’s split from CBS, Discovery Communications’ split from DHC, IAC’s spin-off of HSN, Ticketmaster, Lending Tree and Interval, and Blockbuster’s spin-off from Viacom. He also has significant M&A experience having worked on recent deals such as CBS’s acquisition of CNET, Viacom’s acquisition of DreamWorks, the merger of RealNetwork’s and MTV’s online music properties, Sony’s (and private equity) acquisition of MGM, Quadrangle’s acquisition of several media companies, Comcast’s acquisition of various cable and internet properties, and Gemstar’s sale to Macrovision. He also has significant experience working with Web 2.0 companies both public and private to devise strategic positioning and raise visibility.

Before graduate school, Mr. Suvanto spent five years working in business development at Hearst Magazines, where he worked as part of an executive team launching new consumer publications which included titles such as ESPN Magazineand SmartMoney.

Mr. Suvanto has an honors degree in Economics from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He serves on the board of the Urban Video Game Academy and provides pro bono communications support to various non-profit organizations. 

    Moderator
    Justin Fox
     is the Business and Economics Columnist for Time magazine and writes the Curious Capitalist blog at Time.com. Before joining Time in January 2007, Fox spent more than a decade at sister publication Fortune, where he covered a wide variety of topics related to economics, finance, and international business. In 2000 and 2001, he was the magazine’s Europe Editor, based in London. Before joining Fortune, Fox worked at several newspapers, among them American Banker and The Birmingham News. He has a B.A. in International Affairs from Princeton University.

    Fox is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. His book, The Myth of the Rational Market, will be published by HarperCollins in June.

      

    ——————————-

     

    Justin: This panel started with a very different focus, just on new media.  We asked last week, in light of recent events: do we need a new focus?

    Lex: This crisis initially caused old media to re-emerge as the most credible source.  Everyone turned to Wall St. Journal, etc.  At the same time, there’s tremendous hype around Twitter.  Ebay recently tweeted its analyst meetings and last three quarters of earnings.  (How do you squeeze safe-harbor statements into 140 characters?)  An issue that I struggle with: is this just a new vehicle replacing the old?

    Three sources of info about a company: what the company says, the research analysts say, and the media say.  Arguably the first source is the least credible.  Now we have a 4th source: social media (your peers).  And many people paying attention only to that 4th source. 

    Does this change something fundamentally about how a company talks about itself?

    Amy: Historically you could talk to a group on a party line phone, or in the town square.  Then the media became the only way to group-communicate.  Now, we’re going back to the old model. 

    JP Morgan now has a button on their site where they correct miscommunication about themselves. 

    Obama was a model: he said, I’m not going to allow media to publish misinformation about me. 

    Harris: I have 5000 employees but my kids say that on Facebook it says I have no friends.  The web allows misinformed people to roll up into a force that has a voice. 

    Example with AIG: the bonus story came out several months ago, and then again in Dec., and then again in Jan.  But only now has it become a big story.  The Web created a furor via the amount of people who got in touch with politicians, old media, etc.  Politicians saw this,  seized on it.  “We’re not going to see an eruption like this that often.”  (Teten: I’m forced to disagree with that statement.) The web empowers people to create movements that can shape public policy/perception of companies.  That can be dangerous. 

    The web also allows companies to better engage with people. 

    Social media have destroyed ability of old media to become news vehicles, because they can’t keep up with the new information flow; they become commentary vehicles. 

    Justin: How is the AIG furor different than past media frenzies?

    Harris: it’s different both in nature and scale.  Reasons:

              Democratic administration

              Business that can’t communicate the way it used to

    Amy: Youtube et al. make TV more engaging, because people can see again a video any time.  It used to be if there was a bad TV story, it would fade quickly, because TV is an evanescent medium.  Now, anyone can see a video at any time. 

    Lex: We had a situation with a large services company, which was a few months from bankruptcy.  All 800 Managing Directors were leaking information onto chat rooms.  In the past, you could keep this information more quiet, maybe just in the Wall St. Journal.  Past conventional wisdom if a journalist asked ‘comment on rumors about bankruptcy’: say, “We don’t comment on rumors.”

    However, in this case, the CEO said, “Well, let’s talk about what bankruptcy would look like.”   He had to address what everyone knew.

    Harris: US Attorney General says, If you give comforting facts to the media, and then file for bankruptcy not long after, you may have violated securities laws.  Regulation has not caught up with the consequences of this transparency.  Problem: if you talk about bankruptcy, customers/suppliers will immediately stop doing business with you, and the problem becomes self-fulfilling.  

    Transparency has costs, can be dangerous.  It can trigger events. 

    Amy: We cant ignore this anymore. 

    Harris: AIG is over as an entity.  Insurance is about trust, and they don’t have it. 

    Lex: we had a case: some class action lawyers were on facebook.  They were trying to get $ from a university.  They had made a facebook page to discuss an issue that the particular university had, in order to collect participants in the class action.  Lawyers went to university and committed “Facebook blackmail”: give us what you want, or we’ll keep doing this.  We decided to use a completely different channel to respond. 

    Harris: we own a very small % of Facebook. (which is equivalent of 4th biggest country in world, with 175m people.)

    Wikipedia has a rule: no PR firm can put input into Wikipedia.  UK had major controversy over this, because many PR firms were doing this.  However, part of the job of  a PR firm is to correct misinformation about us.

    Q: What should company do with employees who want to participate online?

    Amy: Much easier for consumer products co. to address this.  Dunkin Donuts has rules on this.  Much more complicated for an investment bank. 

    Lex: you have to monitor the online sources that are monitoring you.

    Harris: As of end of February, 31% of companies in finance industry have something on their websites about the finance crisis.  69% don’t.  Shouldn’t more of them engage?

    Lex: I heard someone say, “Websites are so 90s”. 

    Teten: We’re moving from ‘mark to market’ to ‘mark to media’ accounting.  How do you advise a distressed company on how to respond all the buzz about their problems?

    Harris: we used to get periodic emails from SEC saying, “Do you know any of these people?”  We would hope that no one we knew was on that list, and definitely no employees.  We get fewer of these messages now, because the SEC can’t keep up with the deluge of information. 

    With a blogger, you have a little more time to react to his opinion, because at least initially, only one lone blogger might raise an issue.  With the Wall St Journal you have to respond that day.  Everything is on trigger mode now. 

    Someone asked me, how come CEOs aren’t coming forward with solutions?  The reason is that senior business figures are scared that if they do that, someone will pull out skeletons in their closet.  Have you noticed how the number of CEOs on the TV news shows have plummeted?

    Q: When is the media going to report positive stories?

    Fox: All the optimists have been discredited. 

    Harris: You can’t minimize the amount of skepticism about there.  People don’t believe what they might have used to believe. 

    Lex: You can leak news that moves stock (like Citi releasing news that it had made $ in first two months of 2009), and then have 4 days to submit an 8-K.

    Harris: Online will have biggest amount of influence on stock prices.  In old world, Obama’s comment about ‘bitter’ voters would not have been picked up.  Nothing is private anymore. 

    Amy: You move public opinion by reach & frequency.  Nothing has reach & frequency like online. 

    Harris: More & more companies are emulating Clinton/Carville ‘war room’ concept in order to respond to media.

    Lex: The amount of non-consensus information in the market has exploded, which means volatility has gone up.  Millions of people think they know about a company, but really don’t. 

    Harris: People think they’re entitled to influence on companies….are they?

    Can you imagine GE today fighting the battle of the Hudson River?  It’s unimaginable.  They’d have to deal with hundreds of good government groups. 

    Q: How big a problem are imposters?  E.g., a rival posts negative information about you.

    Harris: I’ve always held: A statement that is unanswered is accepted and believed as true. 

     

    Free Pass for 2009 Sales & Marketing Symposium: Winning Customers in the Era of Social Media

    I look forward to attending Liminal Group’s 2009 Sales & Marketing Symposium, a half-day morning taking place next Wednesday, March 25, 2009 from 9am to 12pm, at Asia Society, 725 Park, NY. I have one complimentary pass provided by Liminal Group —if you’d like it, write in the comments (preferred) or mail me to indicate why you would benefit from a free pass.”

    Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2009
    Time: 8:00am – 12:00pm EST
    Location: Asia Society
    725 Park Avenue
    New York, NY 10021

    Speakers:

    Penelope Trunk, author, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success .

    Paul Greenberg, author, CRM at the Speed of Light: Essential Customer Strategies for the 21st Century, President, The 56 Group, LLC; founding partner of CRM training company, BPT Partners, LLC. At the end of 2007, he was the #1 non-vendor influencer, by InsideCRM in their annual “25 Most Influential CRM People” announcement. He was also named one of the most influential CRM leaders in 2008 by CRM Magazine.

    David van Toor, General Manager for Sage’s CRM group.

    ACG InterGrowth, May 12-14, 2009–world's largest conference for deal industry

    I’m looking forward to attending ACG InterGrowth in Las Vegas, May 12-14, 2009. For those not familiar with it, ACG InterGrowth claims to be the world’s largest conference for the deal industry. We expect more than 2,000 middle market M&A professionals (excluding government-owned companies which are nervous to send their employees to Vegas). Participants include private equity professionals, investment bankers, corporate development officers, lenders, lawyers and accountants. The cost of registering goes up after March 16; to register, click here.

    ACG was kind enough to invite me to give a keynote talk at the conference on “How to Win Clients, Originate Deals and Raise Capital Using Online Networks“. You can see a preview of the talk here.

    ACG just launched a gated online community for their members. I’d welcome feedback from anyone who’s a member.  The ACG online network is going after a market segment that overlaps somewhat Angelsoft.net, Village.Albourne.com, and Finemrespice.com . In the world of investors in public markets, the closest comparables are FT Alphaville Long Room, SumZero, ValueInvestorsClub.com, and Village.Albourne.com.  For a list of online networks for traders, see SFO magazine.  However, unlike all of the competitors I mentioned, ACG has the advantage of decades of experience running a significant trade association.

    As a general comment, there are relatively few examples of offline trade associations who have successfully built online networks for their members. For more on this, see Outsell’s report on Social Media in Scientific, Technical and Medical Information Part 1: Social Networking. ACG is aspiring to be the exception, and I look forward to seeing their success.

    For anyone in the mid-market private equity world, this is one of the most important conferences of the year. If you’re going, please drop me a note via the ACG online network.

    Giving Away 50 Free Guitar Lessons to Bloggers

    1077302_playing_guitar_2 I posted this on my new personal blog on Friday, but as we all know, big announcements really should go out on Monday, so I saved it for here until now. 🙂

    I’ve been hinting on Twitter for the past couple of weeks about my “big new venture”. Well, this is it! I’m the new Director of Online Marketing for American Guitar Academy. Cool story, in brief. I met the founder, Andy Harrison, at an event where I got introduced to him by my friend Ann Collins (who I met on Twitter). Andy and I talked for a couple of hours that night, one thing led to another, and here we are! (See.this stuff really does work!). This venture brings together my love of music and my experience with social media, working with people with whom I’m philosophically/spiritually aligned – doesn’t get much better than that.

    And as my first official order of business, I get to give away 50 free guitar lessons!

    Have you always wanted to learn guitar? Or did you start and then drop it because you weren’t learning fast enough? Or maybe you already play and want to take your playing to the next level? No matter what level you’re at, this offer is for you.

    American Guitar Academy has trained thousands of guitarists and bassists in the Portland, Oregon, area over the past few years using their patent-pending learning system, which has been shown to be as much as 8x faster than other methods at helping you achieve your learning goals.

    AGA now wants to take this method to the world. How?

    Skype!

    That’s right – live one-on-one lessons in the comfort of your own home. Personal attention from a patient, compassionate guitar coach who will help you achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible.

    Here’s what one AGA customer had to say about her experience:

    “I had tried several teachers before working with AGA but was frustrated with the results. I love the one-on-one attention vs. the classroom setting, and my AGA guitar coach seems to understand how I feel as a beginner – he’s very encouraging and supportive. AGA’s online lessons are very affordable compared to the local teachers. The convenience is great, too. I used to drive 45-60 minutes each way for guitar class. Even the closest option is 15 minutes each way – I was spending more time driving than learning. I’m still a beginner, but for the first time I’m really happy with the progress I’m making.”

    – Jonalynn, Hawaii

    Now I could go on and on about how great the AGA learning system is, but why? The best thing to do is just let you experience it for yourself.

    So here’s the first offer.

    The first 50 bloggers to call (503) 430-1484 get a free 30-minute lesson to try it for yourself. Now there are some eligibility requirements:

    1. You must have a guitar available to you (duh!). Actually AGA provides guitars for the free lessons in their Portland office, but that wouldn’t be very practical in this case. 🙂
    2. You must have a working webcam and Skype. These lessons are interactive. YouTube videos can’t give you feedback.
    3. You must have an active blog, i.e., 4 or more posts within the past month. Honestly, I’m probably not going to check it. Honor system.
    4. You must speak English fluently (but you can be anywhere in the world). We may hire guitar coaches for other languages in the future, but for now it’s just English. Also, if you’re not in North/Central America, we’ll do our best to find a mutually agreeable time, but we can’t promise at this point.
    5. All levels and ages (well, let’s say 10 and up – we’re not sure yet how well young kids will work with the webcam) welcome! AGA’s system starts with the very basics and goes through highly advanced techniques on both acoustic and electric.

    That’s it – no strings attached!

    Try it out. Of course, we’d greatly appreciate it if you blogged about your experience – good, bad or neutral. This is a new program and we want the feedback as much as the buzz.

    If you love it and want to learn more, here’s offer #2.

    If you decide you want to continue your learning, you’ll be eligible for a 50% discount off the regular price. When we launch this program in full, the standard price will be $99 a month, with discounts for longer commitments. If you participate in this pre-launch event, you’ll be eligible to be locked in at 1/2 price – $49 a month (1/2-hour weekly lessons) for as long as you want to keep working toward your learning goals. Only one catch: to be eligible for this offer, you’ll need to:

    1. Post a link to your blog post about your first lesson in the comments here, AND.
    2. Tweet a link to your blog post about your first lesson to @AmerGuitarAcad.

    One more offer (that’s #3).

    WillBlog4Guitar OK, I’m not going to call it a contest, and I won’t insult your intelligence by calling it “free guitar lessons for a year”, because there is an exchange. So let’s call it an audition. Simply put, we’re going to pick one (or two or three) people to keep blogging about their experience in exchange for lessons. No length requirements – just blog about your lesson every week. No money out of your pocket, just a few extra minutes of your time.

    If you’re interested in blogging for guitar lessons, same requirements as offer #2 above – post a link to your blog post here and tweet a link to @AmerGuitarAcad.

    So are you ready to start learning guitar faster than you ever thought possible?

    All you have to do to get started is call (503) 430-1484 to schedule your free lesson.

    And please. feel free to tweet this, blog this, etc., if you think it would be of interest to your friends/readers/followers.

    Top image: Jesse Therrien @ stock.xchng
    Bottom image: Txt2Pic.com

    Career Opportunities with Private Equity and Venture Capital Portfolio Companies

    I’m speaking twice in the next few weeks on ‘Career Opportunities with Private Equity and Venture Capital Portfolio Companies’ . Institutional investors are certainly paying much more attention now to operational issues, which is good from the point of view of executives who are seeking opportunities at portfolio companies.

    My hosts for these two presentations are both private executives group, so the programs are not open to the public. However, I have posted below the slides, also visible at http://teten.com/executive.htm . Of course, I always welcome feedback.

    Issues I’ll discuss:
    – Common engagement models with private equity and venture capital firms: Expert networks, senior advisor networks, executives in residence, and deal executives.
    – How you can work with a private equity portfolio company: board member, deal origination, consultant, employee, interim executive.
    – Why operational expertise is now far more important for private equity portfolio companies.
    – How private equity ownership impacts a company.
    – How you can use online networks and other “Web 2.0” internet technologies to increase your pool of potential employers.
    – Non-traditional tools to win consulting projects.

    New York Events: Best Practices of Venture Capitalists in Identifying Investment Opportunities

    I’m starting to release the findings from the large research study I’ve been leading on “Best Practices of Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Firms in Identifying Private Company Investment Opportunities”. My colleagues from Evalueserve and I have interviewed over 100 venture capitalists and private equity investors for this study.

    I have two speaking engagements coming up in New York where I’ll be discussing our findings. I hope that you can attend! Of course, I welcome feedback/discussion.

    Feb. 19, 6:30pm: Israeli Business Forum
    1500 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, NY

    Feb. 24, 6:30pm: MIT Enterprise Forum,
    100 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY

    Among the issues I’ll discuss:
    – How are you positioning yourself to become a company`s preferred investor?
    – In the current tough climate, how can you lower your deal origination costs?
    – What does research on deal-origination indicate are the primary sources of deal flow for institutional investors?
    – What are you doing to identify companies that might be interested in being approached?
    – What are the earmarks of a potential investment opportunity?
    – How are you systematically identifying industries/situations in which you may be able to create new companies, rather than find existing companies?
    – How do you increase your inflow of useful referrals?
    – What is the best way to make warm cold calls?

    I have attached the draft slides below: