Jason Ball's TechBytes

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

Mobile Video Content

Apit_060525_starwars
iTunes has released Star Wars "The Clone Wars" formatted for release on iTunes. The first series  consists of 20 three-minute episodes.

It’s a great example of the right content for portable devices. I’ve been discussing with different companies providing video to mobile networks here in the UK what impact the iPod video, PSP, etc they expect to see on video sales/downloads to mobile phones. There are mixed opinions, but most believe that video downloads on mobile phones will be a long time coming.

I’m convinced that unless the consumer experience can equal that of iTunes, mobile video on phones will never really take off. If you have $10 to burn, I recommend you grab the Star Wars series and Channel Frederator (free) on iTunes.

Filed under: iPod, Mobile

Cleantech Investments

Cleantech seems to be getting an extraordinary amount of coverage lately.

Venturewire highlighted the level of renewable energy financing is at an all-time high earlier this week.

Financing for companies attempting to develop new sources of renewable energy, new processes and materials for manufacturing, and new technology for managing energy use, rose to a six-year high of $513 million in the first quarter of 2006, according to data from Cleantech Venture Network LLC. The figure is up from $502 million in the fourth quarter of 2005 and over 50% above the $336 million invested in the first quarter of 2005.

Again, it was new energy investments that led the way. Companies developing new technologies for energy generation raised $357 million in the first quarter, more than the total invested in all clean technology sectors in the first quarter last year, according to data from the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based industry tracker.

Apparently, Sequoia has made their first greentech investment as well.

London Seed Capital has just led a round into a fuel cell technology, Bac2 Composites. This is the second investment we’ve made into the renewable energy space.

And, I’ll be attending the 3 day Cleantech venture forum in London next week as well.

Filed under: Clean Technology, Technology, Venture Capital

Seraphim Capital- Enterprise Capital Fund

As pointed out in my previous post, we’ve been awarded a £30 million Enterprise Capital Fund, one of the four Enterprise Capital Funds announced to date. The announcement from the dti comes alongside Amadeus Capital Partners’ ECF fund as well.

The fund is a co-investment model, much like London Seed Capital, providing venture capital to companies in the equity gap. It will consider companies across the UK and will be investing in slightly later stage companies – those companies seeking between £600k and £1.5m, but still pre-series A funding. The managing partners include GLE (London Seed Capital’s parent), New Vantage Group, based in Washington D.C. along with Pi Capital, based here in London, among many others.

This fund goes further than London Seed Capital to provide venture capital to companies operating in the equity gap. This round of funds is a pathfinder round- with the intent to roll out the successful models on a wider basis.

Filed under: Venture Capital

Where are the boutique VCs?

Silicon beat posts the question Where are the boutique VCs? quoting the lack of funding available a the $1million level in the valley. This same issue plagues the UK.

A recent article in Real Deals refers to the equity gap in the UK and the measures taken to address this problem. Angels are expected to shoulder the high risk and get in the trenches with the entrepreneurs.

London Seed Capital is directly involved in this area- actively sourcing business angels with relevant skill sets that can get involved in the very early stages of development. The GLE (London Seed Capital’s parent) is also a managing partner of one of the new Enterprise Capital Funds which are “loosely modelled on Small Business Investment Companies in the US, but with the wrinkles ironed out”.

I’ll post separately about the Enterprise Capital Fund separately.

Filed under: Venture Capital

European VC reaches 6 year high

Venturewire notes that median funding levels for European VC have reached 6 year highs. Surprisingly, the growth has been in seed and early stage venture investments- a startling result given the general lack of appetite for risk on this side of the pond.

Growth in deal size was attributable largely to increased commitments in early-stage, or seed and first round, deals. While total investment rounds in early-stage companies during the first quarter of this year fell to 71 companies from 77 compared to the year earlier period, the amount invested in seed and first round deals grew some 40% to EUR322.4 million from EUR223.2 million.

Meanwhile late stage rounds actually shrank during the quarter, to EUR454 million from EUR486 million in the year earlier period, the lowest late stage amount raised since the second quarter of 2005.

The increased attention paid to early-stage companies may be a result of growing assurance of an IPO exit. European VC-backed IPOs crested in the last quarter of 2005, with a total of roughly EUR2 billion raised from such offerings. That was the highest total raised from European venture-backed IPOs since the last quarter of 2000.

Filed under: Venture Capital

Red Herring’s Top 100 European Companies

Red Herring has included their annual Top 100 list in the latest issue. A quick review shows that the UK outstrips other EU countries in terms of activity (no surprise there).

I see several familiar companies on the list: Cognima, Otodio, Skinkers and SpinVox. One of our portfolio companies, Intamac, is included as well.

Quite a few Spanish companies from my days in Barcelona are on the list also- I would expect to see them being replaced by new investments- it’s almost 3 years since I lived there…

Filed under: Technology

Red Herring’s Top 100 European Companies

Red Herring has included their annual Top 100 list in the latest issue. A quick review shows that the UK outstrips other EU countries in terms of activity (no surprise there).

I see several familiar companies on the list: Cognima, Otodio, Skinkers and SpinVox. One of our portfolio companies, Intamac, is included as well.

Quite a few Spanish companies from my days in Barcelona are on the list also- I would expect to see them being replaced by new investments- it’s almost 3 years since I lived there…

Filed under: Technology

Red Herring’s Top 100 European Companies

Red Herring has included their annual Top 100 list in the latest issue. A quick review shows that the UK outstrips other EU countries in terms of activity (no surprise there).

I see several familiar companies on the list: Cognima, Otodio, Skinkers and SpinVox. One of our portfolio companies, Intamac, is included as well.

Quite a few Spanish companies from my days in Barcelona are on the list also- I would expect to see them being replaced by new investments- it’s almost 3 years since I lived there…

Filed under: Technology

Second Chance Tuesday [Updated]

I’m off to the Second Chance Tuesday meeting this eveing. Look forward to seeing how the First Tuesday 2.0 compares to the original.

Well, Second Chance Tuesday felt just like the bubble years all over again. The place was packed with  entrepreneurs and VCs – and it’s only their second event. Don’t know the numbers last night, but it was pretty close to the 1,000 that attended the last one.

My favorite question 2.0 for the budding entrepreneurs: "What’s your business model?" The answers ranged from "what?" to "we’re turning over £1.5m".

I noticed BT had their Web 2.0 program director there. I wish I could have spoken to him. There were quite a few web 2.0 companies fishing around for funding (none with a business model however).

If you’re in London, I’d recommend you attend the next one- it’s good fun and brings back fond memories. (No schwag though.)

Filed under: Events, Conferences and Panels

Personalized Search

There’s no way to search my website, so I’ve added a new TypePad widget to my blog: Swicki. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include my site in the search….

Swicki is new kind of search engine that allows anyone to create deep, focused searches on topics you care about. Unlike other search engines, you and your community have total control over the results and it uses the wisdom of crowds to improve search results. This search engine, or swicki, can be published on your site. Your swicki presents search results that you’re interested in, pulls in new relevant information as it is indexed, and organizes everything for you in a neat little customizable widget you can put on your web site or blog, complete with its very own buzz cloud that constantly updates to show you what are hot search terms in your community.

The federated search function doesn’t seem to be working correctly, but hopefully I can get it fixed and working. If not, I’ll switch over to Rollyo.

We’re in the final stages of completing an investment into a similar technology for the enterprise, so I’ll post relative to the Swicki search technology once the deal is finalized.

Filed under: Technology, Venture Capital

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