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Fabrice Grinda on Bloomberg TV Interview about his Angel Investing and one of his favorite companies:

Spotflux   http://spotflux.com

Please see Interview below – Spotflux around 5 minute 30 second mark towards end of interview

http://www.fabricegrinda.com/entrepreneurship/bloomberg-tv-interview-about-my-angel-investing-heuristics/

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Article from GigaOm.

Despite concerns that Kickstarter wonder Ouya, an Android-based TV gaming console, might not deliver, the project is hitting its deadlines with the release on Friday of 1,200 developer consoles.

Ouya announced that the development kits were being shipped to developers, who can also access the Ouya SDK (ODK) online under a free Apache license.

The release of the hardware and software should give developers time to prepare games for the platform, which is expected to be released to the public around March. That’s still the milestone that everyone will be watching but the signs look good for Ouya to make it there.

Ouya

An early look at the Ouya UI

The company has been under a lot of scrutiny since it debuted as a Kickstarter project in July. The $99 console, built off the Android platform, raised $8.6 million from more than 63,000 backers. That has raised expectations and also concerns about whether the system is for real and can deliver as promised. We chatted with CEO and founder Julie Uhrman shortly after the launch — she assured us that it wasn’t rocket science putting Ouya together and that she was confident Ouya will hit the market by this spring.

The developer console still has plenty of bugs, Ouya has warned developers, and the triggers and D-pad on the controller are not final. Developers will also get a look at an early version of the console UI.

Following a recent CNN report that most of the biggest Kickstarter projects were shipping late, it’s nice to see that Ouya is keeping to its promise. We still don’t know what the quality and experience is like and what the game library will ultimately be. And as Kickstarter has pointed out, it’s not always important that projects ship on time if the end result suffers. But this thing looks like it’s for real.

Read more here.

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Article from SFGate.

It’s suddenly a lot harder for venture capitalists and startups to raise funds, as investors fed up with low returns turn their backs on the sector.

Most industry observers agree that lots of young firms will simply not be able to raise their next round of funding, commencing a period of belt tightening, consolidation and closures. At a minimum, it seems to mark the beginning of a more level-headed investment climate in Silicon Valley, after years of insatiable lust for all things mobile and social.

But if the drop-off is too sudden and steep, this new austerity could spill over into an economy highly dependent on the tech sector. Indeed, as The Chronicle reported last week, the industry has an enormous impact, with each tech job creating 4.3 indirect jobs in the community, according to a Bay Area Council Economic Institute report.

The investors and venture capitalists I spoke to insisted that we’re not on the verge of anything like the dot-com meltdown, characterizing the shift as a minor and healthy correction, or a “rationalization.” One suggested it was little more than the usual process of separating good and bad ideas in the marketplace.

But the numbers suggest something new is afoot. In the third quarter, the amount that U.S. companies raised in venture capital dropped 32 percent from the prior year, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Venture capital funds themselves raised 17 percent fewer dollars from the second to third quarter, even as the number of funds grew, according to a joint report from Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.

Economic uncertainty

Some partially blame the economic uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the election and the “fiscal cliff.” But the main problem seems to be that many of the “limited partners” that fund venture capital are pulling back after years of frustration.

Ever since a brief period in the late 1990s when venture capital burned bright, the industry has been delivering consistently weak returns on the whole.

In fact, despite requiring greater risks and larger capital outlays, venture capital has been underperforming the stock market over the past decade, according to a report this year by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Joe Dear, chief investment officer for CalPERS, told Reuters this summer that venture capital “has been the most disappointing asset class over the past 10 years as far as returns.” The huge pension fund for California’s public employees didn’t return repeated calls from The Chronicle.

Investment horizons have steadily spread out, from five to 10 to sometimes 15 years, as exit opportunities like acquisitions and initial public offerings fail to materialize. This has sometimes forced investors to put in more money to protect their initial funds.

‘Pretty grumpy’

“The industry definitely, for the last decade, has been a tough place to be,” said Ray Rothrock of Palo Alto venture capital firm Venrock. “We’re all pretty grumpy right now.”

Some of this is due to macroeconomic conditions outside the control of venture capitalists, notably the housing and banking crises. But at least some of it has to do with poor picks and herd mentality, funding companies with few real prospects and driving up the entry price for legitimately promising companies beyond what they could pay off.

“The market overfunded the number of companies in the system,” said Hans Swildens, founder of Industry Ventures in San Francisco. “There’s a glut.”

Even the grand promise of Web 2.0 companies that lured so much recent money hasn’t generated the hoped-for returns. The ones that managed to go public were often disappointments, including Facebook, Zynga and Groupon, in some cases leaving late-stage investors underwater on their holdings.

That was a final straw for some.

Last week, Forbes dug up figures from CB Insights that highlighted a wide and growing gap between the number of companies that raised initial funding and companies securing the follow-on investments, known as a Series A, generally necessary to keep going. This year, there have been 1,747 seed or angel rounds but only 688 Series A deals, underscoring the coming crunch.

Bad businesses

Based on as scientific a survey as the PR pitches in my inbox, there’s a tremendous number of silly, redundant and poorly executed companies out there that don’t warrant additional funding. The real problem isn’t that many of these companies won’t raise more money; it’s that they raised money in the first place.

For the venture capital industry to get back on track, it needs to embrace a renewed sense of discipline – on company picks, deal terms and total spending.

But hope springs eternal in Silicon Valley.

Rothrock stresses that the industry’s trend-line averages mask very strong results and ongoing investment at top firms, as well as growing venture capital activity among corporations like Google. Companies are just being more selective and looking beyond consumer Internet opportunities.

“We’re steady as she goes in terms of funding enterprise,” he said.

Secondary opportunity

Swildens oversees a secondary fund that buys shares from limited partners and venture firms looking to liquidate part of their holdings. He sees this period as a ripe opportunity for bold investors to get into promising companies at suddenly reasonable rates.

“Ours is one of the few firms aggressively putting money into these funds,” he said.

Mark Heesen, president of National Venture Capital Association, is similarly optimistic. He says the industry could be primed for a strong comeback in 2013, as long as the broader economy strengthens.

Above all, what the industry needs are some wins – acquisitions or initial public offerings that put investors clearly in the black and start to restore some lost confidence.

“If we see these exit markets start to generate good returns, I think you’ll see limited partners look at this asset class again,” he said.

James Temple is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. E-mail: jtemple@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @jtemple

Read more here.

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Article from Techcrunch.

Cisco has announced it plans to acquire Cloupia for $125 million. The software company helps customers automate their data centers.

Cisco sees Cloupia’s infrastructure management software enhancing its Unified Computing System (UCS) and Nexus switching portfolio. Cisco expects Cloupia will help better manage the automation of compute, network and storage as well as virtual machine and operating system resources.

Cisco UCS is a converged infrastructure play. Cisco has made a big bet on providing converged infrastructures that consolidates compute, storage and networking into one box. IT wants to decrease its data center dependency. Vendors like Cisco, EMC and IBM see converged infrastructures as a way to sell their hardware into the enterprise.

Investing in these systems has its costs for IT. The systems are pricey and create a lock-in with one vendor.

Cisco wrote a blog post about the acquisition today. Here’s a snippet:

Cisco’s acquisition of Cloupia benefits Cisco’s Data Center strategy by providing single “pane-of-glass” management across Cisco and partner solutions including FlexPod, VSPEX, and Vblock. Cloupia’s products will integrate into the Cisco data center portfolio through UCS Manager, UCS Central, and Nexus 1000V, strengthening Cisco’s overall ecosystem strategy by providing open APIs for integration with a broad community of developers and partners.

The post is a window into Cisco’s data center strategy. Like other big enterprise software companies, Cisco partners with companies such as NetApp and VMware to sell its solutions through its extensive sales channels.

Read more here.

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Spotflux Internet Privacy Application gives Free Online Security

Review of: Spotflux

Summary:

Spotflux is a new growing Internet Security Software that offers a free online privacy service

Founded by Chris and Dean, they claimed that Softflux is not another VPN or Proxy service; but it offers a real time internet privacy service. Spotflux internet privacy application is dedicated to securing your digital data on any device in any location. Apart from encrypting your internet traffic, this application cleans tracking cookies and viruses with your system not slowing down.

Spotflux Spotflux Internet Privacy Application gives Free Online Security

Here are the functions of Spotflux internet privacy application

  • Encrypted and Secure Connection

No matter where you are browsing, travelling, home, public Wi-Fi, Spotflux gives you the best of protection and keeps your privacy while you browse.

  • Malware and Virus Protection

So much threat are loaded on the internet, Spotflux internet privacy application scans your connection continually and secure your connection from malware and viruses.

  • Open and Unrestricted Access

Spotflux internet privacy application opens you to restricted contents, the language of” this service is not available in your area” is never found when you have installed Spotflux.

  • Private, Ad-free Browsing Experience

You location and IP is kept private. Spotflux saves bandwidth and gives you an ad-free surfing experience. No ads pop up will ever disturb you.

How to get Spotflux internet privacy application

The application is available for download at Spotflux.com, run the software, enable it and enjoy an unlimited browsing experience.

Spotflux in Action Spotflux Internet Privacy Application gives Free Online Security

How is Spotflux internet privacy application different from other VPN and Proxy service?

  • The geek is behind the mechanism in which Spotflux employs, and it was explained by Chris and Dean who happens to be the author.
  • You need not to trouble yourself on browser’s settings to redirect IP as proxy service providers will tell you to do. Just enable the Spotflux internet privacy application application, and enjoy your internet.
  • Spotflux internet privacy application encrypts and forwards your internet traffic through it own cloud.
  • Millions on calculations runs on Spotflux cloud, removing cookies, ads and other internet parasites that follow your connectivity around.
  • Other threats such as viruses and malwares are taken out of the way.
  • Spotflux conceals the identity and location of your device, making you browse into any server anywhere.
  • To crown it all, you enjoy unrestricted, safer and confidential internet browsing.

Spotflux internet privacy application is a new product that just got introduced around March 2012 and the makers are New York based. They have a goal in providing tools that can work to give privacy and security without limiting access to full information not minding the location.

My Personal Experience with Spotflux internet privacy application

The product website was sent to me from the author who got to know about me through the web, before I downloaded the product, I carefully went through the website and I feel if all the recipes provided on the website were true, this product is worth trying out.

Experiencing no difficulty, I downloaded the software, which was redirected from CNET download.com, I installed and guess what, and the experience has been great so far.

My other internet provider usually has a difficulty in visiting some web at afternoon hours, the power of Spotflux has worked wonders, and the product is just great. Unlike the VPN and Proxy which redirects, Spotflux is something totally different.

What amazes me so much is that this service is free; I guess these guys are running a philantropy organization because I know how much I pay to get a VPN service. I have tried so much of them anyway; none has really pleased me to an extent.

Spotflux system Spotflux Internet Privacy Application gives Free Online Security

About Spotflux internet privacy application developers

Chris Naegelin and Dean Mekkawy are co-founders of Spotflux, they were tech addicts around the 1990′s during their high school days. Around 2011, Chris and Dean came together in the same dream of creating some tools that will bring sanity to the world of internet to offer people an online privacy they desire, they began with just a few serves around Chris’s basement, that was what brought about Spotflux internet privacy application, and within few months, the product has hit over 100, 000 users who got amazed about the magic.

Today, Spotflux is exponentially growing as people can now comfortably sit down to enjoy their online privacy.

Some of the investors who has found interest in the good work includes; New Atlantic, Kima and some other ventures who has really been of help in the funding of the Spotflux internet privacy application project.

Spotflux is presently available for free, but the authors are really working to add new features which they will later offer for purchase by the general internet users.

The Spotflux internet privacy application guys are really sure of their product as they publish their street address their website, as well as their Facebook and Twitter page. The six member team working on this project has their mini profile on the Spotflux website.

Download this product, enable it, and tell us what your experiences looks like.

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Article from GigaOm.

After making a public appeal for investors, MiaSole has found a suitor in Hanergy, a large renewable energy company in China that just bought another solar equipment maker in Germany. The $30M sales prices of MiaSole shows how cheap solar manufacturing assets can be picked up.

Thin Film Solar Underdog MiaSole Looks Ahead to New Plant, Solar Shingles

The search for a financial suitor is coming to an end for solar thin film startup, MiaSole, which has agreed to be bought by China-based Hanergy, according to a shareholder letter.

Hanergy plans to buy MiaSole for a measly $30 million, according to the letter, and also reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. While the Silicon Valley solar company has been mum about how much venture capital it’s raised since its inception in 2001, published reports have put the figure somewhere between $400 million and $500 million by the end of 2011. Earlier this year, the company raised $55 million.

MiaSole was desperate for a white knight to rescue it from oblivion. After years of research and development, the company seemed to have finally nailed its manufacturing process to making solar panels out of copper, indium gallium and selenium (CIGS) that are more efficient than many rivaling CIGS thin film companies. But it was running out of money and needed to expand its production and attract customers. CEO John Carrington joined MiaSole late last year, and he made a public appeal in December for investors and partners who could bring money and sales and marketing expertise.

Hanergy may not be a well-known company in the U.S., but it’s large renewable energy producer in China. We pointed out in this post back in June that Hanergy is a company worth watching not only because of its large hydropower and solar panel production plants in China, but also because of its involvement in installing solar energy equipment. Hanergy won a 3-year deal to install solar panels on Ikea’s stores in China. The company also has built a wind energy generation business within China.

With the purchase of MiaSole, Hanergy is knitting together a global solar thin film empire. Last week, the company completed the purchase of CIGS thin film maker Solibro from Q-Cells in Germany. Hanergy said it would increase Solibro’s production for the European market. With MiaSole’s purchase, Hanergy, of course, will have a CIGS thin film manufacturing base in the U.S.

Solar startups have been picked off one by one cheaply – or filed for bankruptcy – over the past 19 months because the global solar market has been plagued by a glut of solar panels. The fast-falling panel prices – roughly 50 percent in 2011 alone and 30 percent so far this year – have put an enormous pressure on companies to lower their prices. That pressure is particularly difficult to handle for startups, which often have higher manufacturing costs initially when they are scaling up production of their technology. And many of them indeed were trying to raise more money and make that leap to mass production when the financial market crisis hit in late 2008, followed by the oversupply of solar panels starting in 2011.

One of the remaining CIGS thin film company from Silicon Valley, SoloPower, hopes to reverse the trend. The company inaugurated its first large factory in Portland, Ore., last week and plans to start making use of a $197 million federal loan guarantee to expand production.

Read more here.

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Article from NYTimes.

Few investors have ridden the recent Internet boomlet like the GSV Capital Corporation.

After GSV announced in June 2011 that it was buying a stake in the privately held Facebook, the closed-end mutual fund surged 42 percent that day. Capitalizing on the euphoria, GSV sold another $247 million of its shares, using the money to expand its portfolio of hot start-ups like Groupon and Zynga.

Now, GSV is feeling the Facebook blues.

When the public offering of the social network flopped, GSV fell hard, and it still has not recovered. Shares of GSV, which were sold for an average of $15.35, are trading at $8.54.

“We probably benefited from our stake in Facebook more than we deserved on the way up,” said GSV’s chief executive, Michael T. Moe, “and were certainly punished more than we deserved on the way down.”

GSV, short for Global Silicon Valley, is the largest of several closed-end mutual funds that offer ordinary investors a chance to own stakes in privately held companies, at least indirectly. Closed-end funds like GSV typically sell a set number of shares, and their managers invest the proceeds. In essence, such portfolios operate like small venture capital funds, taking stakes in start-ups and betting they will turn a profit if the companies are sold or go public.

“I think GSV was really innovative in creating a kind of publicly traded venture capital fund,” said Jason Jones, founder of HighStep Capital, which also invests in private companies.

But the shares of closed-end funds trade on investor demand – and can go significantly higher or lower than the value of the underlying portfolios. The entire category has been hit by Facebook’s troubles, with GSV trading at a 38 percent discount to its so-called net asset value.

Mr. Moe, 49, has previously experienced the wild ups and downs of popular stocks.

A backup quarterback at the University of Minnesota, he started out as a stockbroker at the Minneapolis-based Dain Bosworth, where he wrote a stock-market newsletter called “Mike Moe’s Market Minutes.” He met the chief executive of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, on a visit to Seattle in 1992, and he began covering the coffee chain after its initial public offering.

“I left believing I had just met the next Ray Kroc,” Mr. Moe wrote in his 2006 book, “Finding the Next Starbucks,” referring to the executive who built the McDonald’s empire.

After stints at two other brokerage firms, Mr. Moe became the director of global growth research in San Francisco at Merrill Lynch in 1998. There he ran a group of a dozen analysts at a time when mere business models “were going public at billion-dollar valuations,” he said.

Shortly after the dot-com bubble burst, he founded a banking boutique now called ThinkEquity. At the time, he expected the I.P.O. market to shrug off the weakness and recover in a couple of years. Instead, it went into a decade-long slump.

“Market timing is not my best skill,” Mr. Moe said. In 2007, he sold ThinkEquity.

The next year, he started a new firm to provide research on private companies, NeXt Up Research. He later expanded into asset management, eventually changing the name to GSV. Within two months of starting his own fund, he bought the shares in Facebook through SecondMarket, a marketplace for private shares.

GSV soon raised additional funds from investors and put the money into start-ups in education, cloud computing, Internet commerce, social media and clean technology. Along with Groupon and Zynga, he bought Twitter, Gilt Groupe and Spotify Technology. The goal is finding “the fastest-growing companies in the world,” he said.

But Mr. Moe has paid a high price, picking up several start-ups at high valuations on the private market. He bought Facebook at $29.92 a share. That stock is now trading at $19.10. He purchased Groupon in August 2011 for $26.61 a share, well above its eventual public offering price of $20. It currently sells at $4.31.

Max Wolff, who tracks pre-I.P.O. stocks at GreenCrest Capital Management, said GSV sometimes bought “popular names to please investors.”

“This is such a sentiment-sensitive space, the stocks don’t trade on fundamentals,” Mr. Wolff said, adding, “If there’s a loss of faith, they fall without a net.”

GSV’s peers have also struggled. Firsthand Technology Value Fund, which owns stakes in Facebook and solar power businesses like SolarCity and Intevac, is off 65 percent from its peak in April. “We paid too much” for Facebook, said Firsthand’s chief executive, Kevin Landis.

Two other funds with similar strategies have sidestepped the bulk of the pain. Harris & Harris Group owns 32 companies in microscale technology. Keating Capital, with $75 million in assets, owns pieces of 20 venture-backed companies. But neither Harris nor Keating owns Facebook, Groupon or Zynga, so shares in those companies have not fallen as steeply.

GSV is now dealing with the fallout.

In a conference call in August, Mr. Moe was confronted by one investor who said, “the recent public positions have been a disaster,” according to a transcript on Seeking Alpha, a stock market news Web site. While Mr. Moe expressed similar disappointment, he emphasized the companies’ fundamentals. Collectively, he said, their revenue was growing by more than 100 percent.

“We have been around this for quite some time, and we are going to be wrong from time to time,” Mr. Moe said in the call. “But we are focused on the batting average.”

In the same call, Mr. Moe remained enthusiastic – if not hyperbolic – about the group’s prospects. Many of GSV’s 40 holdings are in “game-changing companies” with the potential to drive outsize growth, he told the investors.

Twitter, the largest, “continues to just be a rocket ship in terms of growth, and we think value creation,” he said. The data analysis provider Palantir Technologies helps the Central Intelligence Agency “track terrorists and bad guys all over the world.” The flash memory maker Violin Memory “is experiencing hyper-growth,” he wrote in an e-mail.

But Mr. Moe was a bit more muted in recent interviews. While he says he still believes in giving public investors access to private company stocks, he recognizes the cloud over GSV. “We unfortunately have a social media segment that got tainted. I completely get why our stock is where it is. It’s going to be a show-me situation for a while.”

Acknowledging some regrets, Mr. Moe said he was angriest about overpaying for Groupon, saying, “Yeah, I blew Groupon.” He said that he also did not anticipate what he called a deceleration in Facebook’s growth rate, and that it was “kind of infuriating” that some of its early investors were allowed to exit before others. GSV often must hold its shares until six months after a public offering.

But the downturn in pre-I.P.O. shares has a silver lining, Mr. Moe said. Since the Facebook public offering, he has been able to put money to work “at better prices.” He recently bought shares of Spotify at a valuation of about $3 billion, roughly 25 percent below the target in its latest round of financing.

The I.P.O. market is also showing signs of life, he said, with the strong debuts of Palo Alto Networks and Kayak Software. And he still has faith in Facebook.

Whatever its current stock price, at least it is a “real company” with revenue and profit, Mr. Moe said, adding, “It’s not being valued off eyeballs and fairy dust.”

Read more here.

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