Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

Delicious Library Review

DlibrarySince I was given an iSight for Christmas, I thought I would download Delicious Library and give it a try. It’s a slick looking app and the iSight integration is a nice touch.

However, the proof is in the pudding and a quick scan of the nearest CDs and books I could get my hands on didn’t exactly impress me. Only about 1/3 of the items showed up (click on the image to see the full screen shot). Most of the CDs don’t even show a title…I set the preferences to use Amazon.co.uk, but that didn’t help matters much.

At the end of the day it isn’t the developers fault that most titles don’t show up, but for me, the end user, it means this product doesn’t work. Sorry guys, this app gets 1 star in my book.

Filed under: Apple Computer, Software

Alarm:Clock, a new VC Blog [Updated]

Flow of Time flags up a good looking blog:

“Alarm:clock is a great weblog that covers start-ups and VC deals. It is run by ex Red Herring old timers….”

Ever since Red Herring was bought out, I have never found its equivalent (even though Red Herring in being published again and we have Tony Perkin’s AlwaysOn). Hopefully alarm:clock will help fill some of that void.

Update: On further investigation it looks like alarm:clock has been going since last July. Even though I regularly look for new VC related (and especially London or UK VC blogs), Google never seems to return the relevant information. Good thing other blogs post relevant info…

(Via Flow Of Time.)

Filed under: Venture Capital

London Innovation Conference

I attended the London Innovation Conference yesterday. The only session I caught was the “Investment Readiness” session with Doug Richards (of Dragon’s Den fame). I think he did a very good job of expressing the investor mindset and investment criteria. One key comment regarding investment readiness was “Are companies investment suitable?”

So many of the businesses I look at are not investment suitable businesses. This doesn’t mean they aren’t good companies, but rather that they will not provide the growth opportunities and returns that business angels and venture capitalists are looking for.

One of the other points Doug made was “do your research before you contact an investor”. I can tell you now, if you forecast that your business will be turning over £1 million in 3 years time, you are not going to get venture capital funding. What types of companies are suitable for venture funding? Companies that have:

1. A large market opportunity

2. Unfair, sustainable competitive advantage

3. Relevant management experience

Those are my three cornerstone criteria, of course there are other characteristics. If your company does not meet those three criteria, then it is not going to be an investment suitable company.

Again, not all companies are suitable for venture capital and venture capital is not suitable for all companies. At the end of many meetings, I have sent companies away because they did not need equity funding. They could finance their customers and through their bank. No VC required.

I was delighted to see the level of interest in innovation and venture investing at yesterday’s conference. London is very much alive and kicking, but companies should be innovative in their financing decisions as well… VC is not the only way to finance your business.

Filed under: Venture Capital

To buy or not to buy

I have been making the following argument for years:

Take a two-bedroom flat in London, which you could buy for £450,000 ($865,000). To rent the same flat would currently cost £1,700 a month. In addition to a 6% mortgage rate, a buyer would face annual maintenance and insurance costs of, say, 1.25%. In the first year, the rent of £20,400 compares with total mortgage interest and maintenance payments of £33,000, a saving of £12,600. Interest payments would be less if a large deposit were paid, but in that case the income lost from not investing that money elsewhere has to be taken into account.

Assume that rents rise by 3% a year, in line with wages, while house prices from now on rise in line with inflation of 2%. At the end of seven years (the average time before the typical homeowner moves), you would be almost £35,000 better off renting, taking account of the capital appreciation and buying and selling costs. In other words, even without a fall in real house prices—which many believe to be likely—buying a house in Britain today seems a poor investment.

I’m glad to see that the Economist backs up my calcullations. Hopefully, house prices *will* finally start to drop. Also, don’t miss the point that house prices are supposedly 60% over valued in the UK.

Link via TJ’s Weblog

Filed under: Other

Groove Networks sells out

No!!!!!!!!!

Groove Networks has been assimilated….

Groove Networks exists successfully to Microsoft after 8 years of development. Founder Ray Ozzie will be joining Microsoft as CTO:

Ozzie will have responsibility for influencing corporate-wide communication and collaboration products and associated platform infrastructure. He will report directly to Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates.

(Via TJ’s Weblog “Technology, Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship”.)

Filed under: Mergers and Acquisitions

Dodgeball

My morning read of Urban Junkies turned up a fun mobile service:

Dodgeball can tell if there’s a ‘friend of a friend’ within close range and put you in contact. And you can even flag up strangers profiles who look ‘appealing’ to you and then be notified when you’re socialising in their proximity.

The friend of a friend, or LinkedIn effect, is probably the most appealing aspect of this software- especially if you live in a large city. I can imagine its even more useful if you’re single.

It wasn’t clear if you have to pay for the service though…And, since it’s not available in London, I won’t be trying it anytime soon…

Filed under: Software

iPod Shuffle Tip

This one is straight from Apple’s eNews March 10, 2005 newsletter:

If you’re after the highest quality tunes and regularly import songs at bit rates higher than 128 Kbps, iTunes offers you the best of both worlds, letting you keep your high-quality songs in iTunes while exporting leaner versions of the songs, sized just right for iPod shuffle.

Here’s how: Connect iPod shuffle, open the iPod Preferences dialog, and click the iPod tab. Click the check box next to “Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC for this iPod.” Then click OK.

The next time you Autofill iPod shuffle, iTunes will automatically convert songs to 128 Kbps as it exports them to iPod shuffle. The original versions in your iTunes collection, meanwhile, will remain in your library at their higher encoding rate.

Filed under: Apple Computer, iPod

Nokia’s iTunes Compatible Phone

01_6230i_lowresNokia introduced three new phones at the 3GSM event. One of them, the 6230i, plays iTunes Music AAC files. I seriously considered buying the 6210 almost one year ago- now that the 6230i plays iTunes files, I think I know what my next phone will be…

Nokia’s 3650

Filed under: iPod, Other

Nokia’s iTunes Compatible Phone

01_6230i_lowresNokia introduced three new phones at the 3GSM event. One of them, the 6230i, plays iTunes Music AAC files. I seriously considered buying the 6210 almost one year ago- now that the 6230i plays iTunes files, I think I know what my next phone will be…

Nokia’s 3650

Filed under: iPod, Other

Nokia’s iTunes Compatible Phone

01_6230i_lowresNokia introduced three new phones at the 3GSM event. One of them, the 6230i, plays iTunes Music AAC files. I seriously considered buying the 6210 almost one year ago- now that the 6230i plays iTunes files, I think I know what my next phone will be…

Nokia’s 3650

Filed under: iPod, Other

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