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Powerful Facebook investors just co-filed a proposal to take down Mark Zuckerberg as chairman

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and chairman.
  • Four powerful institutional Facebook investors have co-filed a shareholder proposal to split Mark Zuckerberg’s dual role as CEO and chairman.
  • The proposal was originally filed by the activist investor Trillium Asset Management and revealed by Business Insider in July, after Facebook’s brutal second-quarter earnings.
  • Scott Stringer, the New York City comptroller, and Joe Torsella, the Pennsylvania state treasurer, are among those lending their support, giving significantly more weight to the governance-change demand.
  • But the chance of the proposal becoming a reality is slim. A similar proposal in 2017 was popular among independent investors but crushed because of Zuckerberg’s voting power.

Four powerful institutional Facebook investors have co-filed a shareholder proposal to take down Mark Zuckerberg as chairman following what they say was his “mishandling” of several scandals this year.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, and Pennsylvania State Treasurer Joe Torsella are joining forces to pile the pressure on Zuckerberg.

They have put their names to a proposal, originally filed by the activist investor Trillium Asset Management, demanding that Facebook appoint an independent chairman. Business Insider first reported on the proposal in July.

Their support gives the demand significantly more weight, given that they control more than $1 billion in Facebook stock. It also points to an increasing base of support for sweeping governance change at Facebook.

If approved by investors — including Facebook’s management — at its annual shareholder meeting next year, Trillium’s proposal would require the company to appoint an independent chairman, breaking up Zuckerberg’s dual role as CEO and chairman.

A similar plan was put forward last year. Though 51% of independent investors voted in favor of that change, it was crushed as a result of Facebook’s dual-class share structure; Class B shares have 10 times the voting power of Class A shares, and Zuckerberg owns more than 75% of Facebook’s Class B stock.

That means he has more than half of the voting power at Facebook and therefore the ability to swat away investor proposals, making the chance that Trillium’s proposal becomes a reality slim.

A new chairman is essential to helping Facebook out of its ‘mess’

But unrest among investors is growing.

“We need Facebook’s insular boardroom to make a serious commitment to addressing real risks — reputational, regulatory, and the risk to our democracy — that impact the company,” Stringer said in a statement, adding, “An independent board chair is essential to moving Facebook forward from this mess, and to reestablish trust with Americans and investors alike.”

Magaziner said: “Without an independent board chair, the board’s oversight of the company remains inadequate, as evidenced by the recent mishandling of several controversies. Having an independent board chair … is in the best long-term interest of Facebook shareholders.”

Chris Wylie
Christopher Wylie blew the whistle on the Cambridge Analytica crisis.
Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images

Trillium’s proposal cites a series of scandals involving Facebook as the reason for a change, including the use of its platform to meddle in the 2016 US election, as well as the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Trillium also mentioned last month’s Facebook data breach, which affected 30 million users, in an email to Business Insider. (You can read Trillium’s proposal in full here.)

Stringer and Frerichs have previously spoken to Business Insider and other news organizations about the need for an overhaul.

Together, the four manage $333.4 billion in state funds, including pensions and college-savings plans.

Stringer oversaw about $895 million worth of Facebook shares, while Frerichs had $35 million invested as of June — before the firm’s stock price cratered following its brutal second-quarter earnings in July. Trillium had $11 million of Facebook stock under its management.

Facebook declined to comment. It has previously said that removing Zuckerberg as chairman would cause “uncertainty, confusion, and inefficiency in board and management function.”

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Hackers stole millions of Facebook users’ highly sensitive data — and the FBI has asked it not to say who might be behind it

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
  • Facebook says 30 million users were affected by the massive hack it first disclosed two weeks ago.
  • On Friday, the social-networking firm revealed more details about the attack — and said the FBI had asked it not to reveal who might be behind it.
  • Hackers accessed millions of victims’ highly sensitive personal data, including locations, relationship information, recent searches, and birthdates.

Thirty million people have been affected by a massive hack of Facebook, with the attackers gaining access to millions of victims’ highly sensitive personal data.

On Friday, Facebook provided more details about the attack that it first disclosed two weeks ago — and said the FBI had asked it not to discuss who might be behind the attack.

In its update, Facebook said that the company was cooperating with the American law-enforcement agency and that 30 million people were affected, down from its original estimate of 50 million. In the case of 14 million victims, the attackers gained access to a variety of data including locations, contact details, relationship status, and recent searches — highly sensitive data that could be used to facilitate identify theft.

It appears to be the worst hack in Facebook’s 14-year history.

The hackers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in Facebook’s code to get their hands on “access tokens” — essentially digital keys that give them full access to compromised users’ accounts — and then scraped users’ data.

“We’re cooperating with the FBI, which is actively investigating and asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack,” the Facebook executive Guy Rosen wrote in a blog post.

“We now know that fewer people were impacted than we originally thought. Of the 50 million people whose access tokens we believed were affected, about 30 million actually had their tokens stolen.”

For 14 million victims, the attackers accessed a trove of user highly sensitive data, including gender, relationship status, religion, hometown, current city, birth date, devices used to log in, education, locations checked into, pages followed, recent searches, name, and contact details.

For another 15 million, the hackers accessed less information — only name and contact details.

And for 1 million affected users, the hackers did not access any information.

Users can check whether they were affected, and what information was accessed, by visiting Facebook’s help center.

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‘Not a random idea factory’: Why Facebook says its brain sensors are closer than you think

Regina Dugan Facebook’s Regina Dugan Facebook/Business Insider

Brain scanning and skin sensors sound like the stuff of science fiction.

And Facebook’s recently announced efforts to create this technology could easily be dismissed by cynics as a public relations stunt by a large company looking to prove its innovation bona fides.

But the 60 scientists and engineers working at Facebook’s “Building 8” — as the skunkworks hardware lab is known — are already making detailed plans for this sci-fi-like future.

Within 18 months, Building 8 hopes to have a working prototype of a brain sensor capable of typing 100 words a minute. And the group is drawing up plans to form a panel to examine the ethical implications of brain scanning.

Regina Dugan, head of Building 8, along with two members of her team, sat down with Business Insider to discuss the group’s progress to date and its plans for the future.

While Facebook’s ability to interface directly with the human brain is still years away from reality, Dugan and her team are serious about their work and its massive implications on Facebook’s businesses and society as a whole.

“We have an entire product launch team whose job it is to move out products at scale,” Dugan said.

Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer went out his way to stress the reality of Building 8’s efforts in a separate interview, telling BI that the point of the lab was not simply to have a “random idea factory” that never results in actual products.

Right now, the most pressing goal is to develop a working prototype in the next 18 months of a noninvasive brain sensor that’s capable of turning thoughts into text at 100 words a minute, according to Dugan. After that, Building 8’s next mission will be to figure out how to mass produce and sell the sensor.

Dugan, the former head of Google’s advanced projects group who joined Facebook in 2016, said that Facebook’s plans to form an ethics and legal panel with Building 8’s outside university partners to examine the privacy and health implications of brain scanning.

“This is early days,” said Mark Chevillet, the neuroscientist Dugan hired last year to led the brain-to-text project at Building 8. “We have some big challenges ahead of us.”

‘This is not a random idea factory’

12983910_10102777875412201_1824114153464567549_o From left: Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, Regina Dugan, and Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook

Aside from the scientific and technology challenges behind communicating directly with the human brain, shipping and selling hardware to millions of people represents a new challenge for Facebook.

With Building 8, Dugan and Facebook appear to be taking a page from Alphabet’s X “moonshot” division, which is known for developing far-flung, futuristic products within fixed time frames before either shutting them down or spinning them out as standalone businesses.

Similarly, Building 8’s projects have two-year deadlines to determine whether they can be successfully shepherded from the prototype stage to consumers. Every product that comes out of Building 8 will align with Facebook’s broader mission to connect the world, according to Schroepfer.

“When we were talking to Regina about joining us, one of the conversations we had is, ‘Look, this is not a random idea factory to go do whatever the team wants to work on,'” Schroepfer told BI. “We want to focus people on things that are directly associated with the mission.”

“We were like, ‘If you deliver on this, we know what to do with it,'” he said. “It’s not just going to be some random tech demo. It’s going to go into our products and make a difference.”

Augmented reality and vibrating vests

The brain research that Building 8 is working on will eventually also influence Facebook’s efforts in virtual and augmented reality, the latter of which could one day replace smartphones by overlaying virtual information onto the real world.

“It has huge applications for communication and connection, which is part of our mission,” said Schroepfer of Building 8’s brain-to-computer – or “BCI” — work. “And it’s also a critical technology for AR and VR in the long run. Because the problems of input are a big challenge there.”

Mark Zuckerberg AR glasses F8 Zuckerberg recently said that the goal with AR was for it to work inside glasses “we all want” to wear. Getty

Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives have said that the goal for AR is to have a pair of lightweight glasses that can display virtual objects onto the world around you. The nascent technology is also being worked on by tech titans like Apple and Microsoft along with startups like Snapchat and Magic Leap.

The first AR-equipped eyewear will likely feature some sort of brain-controlled input, according to Schroepfer.

“If you are just able to move your eyes and do a single click from your brain, which is just a single-bit signal, I’ve now just rebuilt the mouse,” he said.

For Building 8’s first brain-scanning tech, Dugan and Chevillet stressed that the sensor they build won’t be able to listen in on all of a person’s thoughts. It will rather focus on transmitting text you think “right before you would say it out loud,” according to Chevillet, who likened the concept to “decoding imagined speech.”

“The signal we’re trying to decode is the signal you’ve already giving intentionally,” said Dugan. She said that the sensor will be able to pair with a device like a laptop or smartphone and function like dictating to Apple’s Siri without your voice.

Along with Chevillet’s brain-to-text sensor, the second Building 8 project aims to let you “hear through your skin” and is being led by Freddy Abnousi, an interventional cardiologist who previously worked at Stanford. His product will likely take the shape of some sort of wearable, like a vest or armband, that vibrates to convey words into the human brain.

He described physical touch as “this innate way to communicate that we’ve been using for generations, but we’ve stepped away from it recently as we’ve become more screen-based.”

The goal is for the device to be “just part of you,” he said. “It’s very natural if you think about it.”

Dugan sees the two projects, which are just the first of others Building 8 is working on but won’t talk about yet, as complementary to each other. One is focused on deciphering what the brain wants to say, while the other is trying to send unspoken thoughts from the body to the brain.

“There’s an interesting similarity in that they’re both communication mechanisms, just in different forms,” she said. “It’s about giving users more alternatives to having input and output into their devices.”

While Dugan said that Facebook’s brain interface would first likely help people who have communication disorders, she acknowledged that the potential for the technology is open-ended. There are massive privacy implications that come with Facebook having access to your thoughts, but for now, Dugan is betting that the positive outcomes will outweigh any negatives.

“I feel tremendously optimistic,” she said.

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Analysts are going gaga for Facebook’s earnings beat

mark zuckerberg facebook happy smiling virtual reality oculusFrank Zauritz – Pool /Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook-A $118.84

 

Facebook smashed it.

The social-network giant beat expectations when it reported its first-quarter earnings on Wednesday, sending stock soaring in after-hours trading by 8% to an all-time high. The growth comes off the back of the company’s strong mobile business.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is also proposing a new share structure that will allow him to give away the majority of his fortune to charity while retaining voting control of the company.

Analysts are responding uniformly positive to the news, raising their price targets for the company as they reiterate overweight/buy ratings across the board.

We’ve rounded up a selection of reactions from analysts — but first, here are the key numbers, via Business Insider’s Jillian D’Onfro:

  • Earnings per share: $0.77 versus $0.62 expected.
  • Revenue: $5.38 billion versus $5.25 billion expected, up 52% year-over-year. Ad revenue is up 57% year-over-year.
  • Monthly active users: 1.65 billion versus 1.62 billion expected.
  • Daily active users: 1.09 billion on average for March. This quarter, 66% of Facebook’s monthly active users were daily active users, which is up from 65% during the same period last year.
  • Total costs and expenses were $3.37 billion, up 29% year-over-year, and capital expenditures were $1.13 billion.
  • Free cash flow for the first quarter of 2016 was $1.85 billion.
  • Facebook has 13,600 employees, up 35% from the same time last year.
  • Most of Facebook’s revenue comes from North America and Europe, with only about 24% ($1.3 billion) coming from Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world. But those areas account for 66% of its monthly active users. The average revenue per user in those regions is still tiny, compared to in the US: $1.56 and $0.91, respectively, versus $12.43 and $3.98 in the US and Europe.

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FACEBOOK’S ATLAS AD SERVER: What it is, how it works, and why it could finally move digital advertising beyond ‘cookies’

Slide3BI Intelligence

For years, digital marketers have been shackled to an increasingly outdated technology known as cookies, which are still used to measure and target digital ads.

Cookies — bits of code dropped into web browsers — are known to generate poor approximations of how many people view a digital ad, inaccurate estimates of how many times any given individual sees an ad, not to mention unreliable measures of clicks and sales. Worst of all, cookies are a non-starter within mobile apps.

In a new in-depth explainer and report from BI Intelligence, we dive into how Facebook-owned Atlas aims to take digital marketing beyond the cookie. Atlas is notable for how it leverages anonymous Facebook identity data to correct cookies’ inaccuracies and shine a light into what’s happening within the cookie-less world of mobile apps. In addition, Atlas’ ambition is to be able to connect offline purchases and conversions to digital ads shown across mobile and the web.

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Here are a few of the report’s main takeaways:

  • Facebook’s Atlas is an ad server that also allows ad buyers to measure, target, and optimize digital and mobile ads across digital (i.e., not just on Facebook). Atlas operates separately from Facebook, does not access personal information from the social network or share marketing data with Facebook.
  • Atlas is pitching itself primarily based on the claim that it can go far beyond cookie-based measurement to more clearly establish the ROI of digital ads, particularly when mobile is involved. Taking measurement beyond the cookie means marketers can focus on metrics beyond the last click, and observe the multi-device process that often leads in purchasing online or offline.
  • Atlas’ ambition is also to be able to connect offline purchases to digital ads shown across mobile and the web. To do so, it must have access to advertisers’ customer data or consumer data from third-party data vendors.
  • Atlas has a particularly strong advantage when it comes to measuring mobile ads. Cookies don’t work in mobile apps, so many marketers are flying blind when it comes to in-app ads. Atlas matches device-ID data with anonymized identity data of the user that accesses Facebook on the same device.
  • It’s important to remember that Atlas works with ad buyers, not ad sellers. Some major brands and agencies are already using or at least testing Atlas. 
  • Despite some clear advantages, Atlas has some crucial limitations, which are spelled out in the report. The principal one is that it will be very difficult for Facebook to wean the digital-media ecosystem off its reliance on Google’s DoubleClick platform, which is so well-entrenched.

The report has charts and data that can be easily downloaded and put to use.

In full, the 22-page report:

  • Explains how Atlas plans to take digital advertising beyond cookies, and the advantages this entails
  • Lists the limitations and barriers faced by Atlas in the context of the ad-server space
  • Discusses how a few agencies and brands have moved tentatively to adopt Atlas as their ad server
  • Includes 8 charts and 3 explainer slides on how ad serving works, how Atlas measures mobile ads, and how Atlas measures ads within browsers
  • Analyzes the difference between ad serving and measurement and how Atlas advances each function
  • Delves into market-share numbers for ad servers in the digital-ad industry

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Article from Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Institutional Venture Partners’ Steve Harrick sees a lot of opportunity in the enterprise and B2B startup space and has a $1 billion fund that was raised last year to work with.

His Menlo Park firm focuses on later-stage venture and growth equity investments, so it’s not the small fry they have their eyes on.

IVP is looking for startups that already have $20 million to $30 million in revenue and the potential to grow that by tenfold or more.

The firm had several big exits last year, including the $223 million IPO of CafePress and the $745 million sale of Buddy Media to Salesforce.

Harrick took some time to speak to me this week about the startups that are exciting him today and why IVP often remains an investor long after a startup has gone public.

Here are excerpts from that conversation:

There has been a lot said about a shift away from social and consumer-focused startups since Facebook’s IPO last year. What does that mean at Instiutional Venture Partners?

IVP has always invested in enterprise companies and we’ve been investing since 1980. We’re on our 14th fund, IVP-14. It’s a billion-dollar fund and we’re just beginning to invest that.

But enterprise has always been a mainstay of our investment effort. It ebbs and flows with budgets and where we see growth. But right now we’re seeing a lot of good activity in the enterprise space, a lot of innovation being brought to bear and the opportunity for new high-growth companies. So we’re actively investing there.

Can you tell me a little bit about the companies that are exciting to you right now from your portfolio?

There are a number of them. The most recent investment was AppDynamics. AppDynamics does application performance management. It’s really a very exciting area. The company allows anybody that’s creating an application to bug test it, to test it for security, to see if it can support high volume loads, all while they are designing the application.

The reason that this is such an interesting space is that every enterprise has applications that reach out to customers that they use internally and that they connect to partners with. It’s a real competitive edge for companies that do it correctly.

All the old stuff doesn’t support mobile. It doesn’t support the latest programming techniques. It’s long in the tooth. The market has been desperate for a more modern solution and AppDynamics really delivers that. We were really impressed with the growth the company has shown and just the massive demand for the product offering.

A lot of our portfolio companies were already using AppDynamics. That’s how we found out about the company and it’s a space that right now is at about $ 2 billion market size. It’s growing and it’s a very good management team. So we’re excited to be part of it.

Another one I understand you invested in last year is Aerohive.

Oh, yeah. David Flynn is the CEO over there. It’s a great company to watch in Sunnyvale. It’s a next generation Wi-Fi company. What Aerohive did very early on is it realized that a controller can be costly and also is a choke point for an enterprise deployment. If your controller goes down, you can’t change configurations. A lot of the old vendors had built a lot of cost around the controllers, which increased the cost of deployment for a customer.

Aerohive took that controller and put it in the cloud. You can manage your Wi-Fi deployments remotely from any computer. It doesn’t go down and their Wi-Fi deployments are enormously successful at scale. They’ve got a lot of enterprise and education and government customers. It’s a business that more than doubled last year and really one to watch going forward.

Are you finding a lot more company these days looking at the enterprise and B2B space than there were a couple of years ago?

Enterprise budgets have come back. People are recognizing that they have to refresh their technologies. They’ve got a lot of new demands in terms of supporting new trends in the enterprise.

Take another one of our companies for example, MobileIron. It is a software company that solves the bring-your-own-device problem for businesses. People are bringing iPhones and Android phones into the enterprise and they’re viewing enterprise information. They’re putting things in a Dropbox account and they’re leaving with it.

IT can’t control that and that is a big problem, particularly when you want to maintain rights and provisioning and state-of-the-art security and be able to track confidential information.

So MobileIron’s products allow you to do all that. It allows you to push out patches, security, rules and provisioning. It allows you to take control of a mobile environment in the enterprise.

Five, six, seven years ago, this wasn’t a problem. It just wasn’t happening. Now, it is and it is being driven by consumer behavior that has flown over to the enterprise.

So people are saying, I have a budget for this. I have to spend. We have to be on top of these issues or it’s going to be a big problem for us.

You know those kinds of trends are really unstoppable.

Are there other trends you are watching?

Another is Wi-Fi, which is being kind of taken for granted, how to be able to connect if I’m visiting your company or I’m in your auditorium or I’m having lunch in your corporate cafeteria. These are all things you need to have infrastructure for. You need to do it cost effectively. So these fund-smart entrepreneurs are seeing an opportunity and people are spending for it.

As a venture capitalist, we look for those tailwinds in terms of budget because that allows you to grow. It accelerates the sale cycle. It becomes less of a missionary sale and that’s how you have rapid growth in businesses. It is different from five or six years ago. There are a lot of people paying attention to it.

There is a lot said about the consumerization of IT, the trend where shifts in consumer technology is requiring IT departments and enterprises to change how they do things.

It’s a massive change in behavior. Enterprises are organizations that are comprised of employees that have jobs to do. Their behaviors change and the enterprises have to change with them.

There is also a lot of talks about what is being described as Network 2.0, involving things like software-controlled networking and flash storage. Are you guys involved in that at all?

On the network side, a lot of that is cloud computing and services around the data center. We are involved in that.

We invest in a company called Eucalyptus Systems, which is the leader in hybrid cloud deployment. They allow you to manage and test software on your own premises and switch seamlessly back and forth between Eucalyptus and the Amazon Cloud.

Cloud computing is still an area where people are trying to figure out exactly what their needs and specs are. It’s still early in the market. But there have been some large successes that have kind of changed behavior.

Salesforce is one of those. Salesforce is widely deployed. It really took customer relationship management and managing your sales force to the cloud. They’ve offered additional cloud applications and people have gotten used to paying by subscription.

That’s also a change from seven or eight years ago, when everything was license dominated. The old world was you paid for licensing and maintenance, 80-20. That was what you paid.

Those are perpetual licenses and they were often expensive. Sometimes, they were underutilized or never deployed and the world gradually shifted to paying on subscription.

Customers like it because they say, hey, if I’m not using it, I can turn it off. I don’t have to renew.

The vendors like it because it’s a more predictable revenue stream. You’re no longer biting your nails at the end of each quarter to figure out if you’re going to get those two or three deals that are going to make or break your quarter.

You get a lot of smaller deals that recognize revenue monthly and that provide a more predictable business and that have been a reward in the public markets. Networking and application functionality is being delivered that way now. The economics have changed and I think that is a very exciting trend. I think it leads to more sane management for software businesses.

How about the security? Are you into that at all?

We are. We were investors in ArcSight, which Hewlett-Packard bought. That was an example of a dashboard for enterprise security.

We’ve been involved with a number of other security companies. I think two to watch are Palo Alto Networks and FireEye. We aren’t investors in either of those, but they’re both very good companies. We’re looking at a lot of security companies currently.

The challenge with security is that it can often be a point solution and a small market. To be a standalone security company, you really have to have a differentiated broad horizontal functionality that could stand on its own.

You can’t have customers saying, I want that, but it’s a feature and should be delivered with a bunch of other things. A lot of small companies fall into that trap in security.

So we’re on the lookout for the broader security places that you know really can get the $50 million, $75 million or $100 million revenue.

Have there been any companies that you passed on that you wished maybe in retrospect you hadn’t? The ones that got away?

Yeah, you know, there always are. That would be the anti-portfolio. You run into those things and you try to see what you learn from it. Sometimes, they’re very hard to anticipate.

We passed on Fusion-io, the Salt Lake, Utah, flash drive memory company. They have done well, but I think they have fallen off recently in the public markets. That one would be in the anti-portfolio.

We also looked at Meraki. Cisco bought them for $1.2 billion, more than 10 times revenue. It’s hard to predict when somebody’s going to buy a company at that kind of multiple. We believe Aerohive is the superior company. That’s why we invested in Aerohive instead of Meraki. You can’t really invest in both. They’re competitors.

Then there was Yammer, which was acquired for $1.2 billion. That was also a company we were familiar with, good technology acquired for huge multiple of sales and it was hard to predict that happening, too. So I wish all those guys well. Sometimes you miss on big returns like thoses, but we like the investments that we have made.

What is it that you’re looking for at the top of your list when you’re considering a company that you might invest in?

Well, you know, the old adages in venture capital have some merit in them. But things change and you can’t rely too much on just pattern recognition. There’s always seismic shifts in technology where old assumptions have been disproven. You have to adapt to those.

But the adages that do hold are quality of management. We really look for companies and management teams that can take a company to $50 million to $500 million in revenue.

That’s a very mature skill set. They have to show the ability to hire, the ability to supplement the businesses, to attract great board members and to build a company that can be public.

There are a lot of demands on being public today. The industry is still dominated by mergers and acquisitions, as it always has been, for exits. Probably about 80 percent of the exits happen from M&A.

But we really look to exceptional management teams that we can be in business with for many, many years.

How does being a later stage investor change what you are looking for?

We have a long-time horizon for investment. We often hold after a company goes public and even invest in the company after it’s gone public. That’s in our charter.

So we really look for these management teams that are really exceptional and deep.

As a late stage investor, you can’t really invest in small market opportunities. The early stage can do that, and they can exit nicely. You know they can invest $10 million valuation, the company sells for $60 million and they do great.

When you’re investing at a later stage, you know looking for companies that have $20 million or $30 million of revenue so the valuation is higher and you have to get these companies to a higher exit value to get a great return.

So you have to able to identify large market opportunities and AppDynamics, Aerohive, MobileIron, Spiceworks, all have really large market opportunities. That’s why we’re excited about them.

Interviewer: Tell me a little bit more about the philosophy of holding on to companies after they’ve gone public.

Our perspective is that going public is a financing event. It’s also a branding event for a company. It raises awareness. It creates liquidity in the stock.

But valuations fluctuate with market conditions. We say this is just the beginning of growth. That valuation that it’s at now may not be the right place to exit .

If you look back historically, venture capitalism left a lot of money on the table by exiting companies prematurely. You know if you exited when Microsoft or Apple or Cisco went public, you probably left a 10X, 20X, or 50X return on the table by doing so.

Obviously, that requires a lot of judgment. Not every company is going to be an Apple or a Cisco.

So that’s a judgment call and when we make the judgment that there’s a lot of growth ahead and the current valuation doesn’t reflect that, we’re happy holders. We establish price targets for exit and when it reaches that price target, we make a new assessment.

We do have to exit eventually, but we raise 10-year funds and our holding period is typically 3 to 5 years and then oftentimes its 5, 7, 8 years.

Is there a specific example to illustrate this from your portfolio?

Sure. One would be HomeAway. HomeAway is a remarkable business. People list homes on the website. If you’re traveling with your two kids, you get a home for 800 bucks for the week and you would’ve paid 500 bucks a night for a hotel. It’s a great service. It’s public. We invested, my gosh, about five years ago and we’re still holding that stock.

Read more here.

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Article from GigaOm.

Snapchat, the hot startup that allows you to send and receive photos or videos that sort-of-maybe disappear afterward, has raised a $13.5 million Series A funding round led by Benchmark Capital’s Mitch Lasky, putting the company’s valuation at $60 million to $70 million. The company’s growth hasn’t exactly been controversy-free, but has demonstrated the intense interest right now surrounding messaging apps that transcend the basic SMS.

The funding news was first reported by The New York Times and TechCrunch and was confirmed to us by CEO Evan Spiegel on Friday evening. Om Malik reported in December that Snapchat was getting funded by Benchmark, the firm that was also one of the early backers of Instagram.

“People are looking to communicate in a real way,” Lasky told the New York Times on decision to invest.

The Times reported that Snapchat is now seeing 60 million photos or videos sent per day. Snapchat added video to its product in December, when it was seeing 50 million photos sent per day. Facebook has since rolled out Poke, its obvious competitor to the popular startup in December, but it’s unclear that Poke has really challenged Snapchat’s dominance in the disappearing content realm.

Update: On Saturday, Lasky published a blog post explaining that he’s joined the board of Snapchat and believes the company has real staying power among mobile users:

“We believe that Snapchat can become one of the most important mobile companies in the world, and Snapchat’s initial momentum — 60 million shared “snaps” per day, over 5 billion sent through the service to date — supports that belief. Snapchat’s ramp reminded us of another mobile app Benchmark had the good fortune to back at an early stage: Instagram.”

Read more here.

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