Jason Ball's TechBytes

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

Techcrunch UK launches

Techcrunch has set up shop in the UK. Call me cynical, but this type of expansion hasn’t worked well in the past. The Last Great Expansion was just before the bubble burst- I was working on the team that was going to launch Business 2.0 in Spain (remember Business 2.0 Uk, The Industry Standard and Red Herring 1.0?). That was just before everything went pear shaped and has me eyeing Techcrunch’s arrival with suspicion.

Plus, I think there is an amazing amount of hype and me-too products in the Web 2.0 space just like 1999.

That said, sites like Techcrunch act as a water-cooler for entrepreneurs and funders alike. I see there is an “Events” tab- which hopefully will aggregate the multitude of networking events and conferences in London and the UK: we’ve also seen the revival of First Tuesday with Second Chance Tuesday and I received an invite for the Internet People dinners next month as well. Geek Dinner has been going for a while, and I’m sure there are many more I’m unaware of. It would be great if Techcrunch UK could pull those and others together into a single resource.

Filed under: Technology, Venture Capital

Business Angels: US vs UK

I was interviewed yesterday about university spinouts, seed funds and angels for a report focusing on the “Equity Gap” in the UK. Normally, I don’t have much to post about angels, but this tech:gigger post over at alarm:clock caught my eye earlier in the week.

Now, our conversation centered on comparing US angels to UK angels/entrepreneurs recycling their cash and know-how, which we see plenty of through the London Business Angels network – and their involvement in some of our investments has been invaluble. The fact that most UK entrepreneurs may not be worth $100s of millions like in the US doesn’t really matter, they are worth £10s of millions, and they do have the time, skills and money to put to work.

But, just when I thought the UK was catching up with the US, something like the post above comes along and blows me away. I can’t imagine an angel from our network posting an open offer like those… it just shows how those two regions (Bay Area and Seattle) continue to set the pace.

Filed under: Venture Capital

American Expat Meetup

I received an email today to forward on inviting any American expats I know re the upcoming Meetup here in London, so I thought I’d post instead.

If you are an American (Canadians welcome too) living in London, I’d highly recommend you attend one of the Meetups. Most of the expats I’ve met have had a very similar profile to me: living abroad for ~10 years, a healthy appreciation for The Daily Show, married to a non-US citizen, multi-lingual, educated abroad, etc. (i.e., not college exchange students.)

Funnily enough, I met Dan Carter, principal at Conduit Ventures at a meetup ages ago.

I tend to only hit the big Meetups these days- 4th July, Turkey-fest and Christmas party, but have made some really good friends through the network, but it was a good starting point when I first arrived in London.

If anyone picks up on this and is attending, drop me a line at techbytesatmacdotcom.

Filed under: Other

American Expat Meetup

I received an email today to forward on inviting any American expats I know re the upcoming Meetup here in London, so I thought I’d post instead.

If you are an American (Canadians welcome too) living in London, I’d highly recommend you attend one of the Meetups. Most of the expats I’ve met have had a very similar profile to me: living abroad for ~10 years, a healthy appreciation for The Daily Show, married to a non-US citizen, multi-lingual, educated abroad, etc. (i.e., not college exchange students.)

Funnily enough, I met Dan Carter, principal at Conduit Ventures at a meetup ages ago.

I tend to only hit the big Meetups these days- 4th July, Turkey-fest and Christmas party, but have made some really good friends through the network, but it was a good starting point when I first arrived in London.

If anyone picks up on this and is attending, drop me a line at techbytesatmacdotcom.

Filed under: Other

New UK VC Bloggers

alarm:clock has highlighted two new VC blogs from Nic Brisbourne (Esprit Capital Partners) and Fred Destin (Atlas Venture), both UK based.

One is the loneliest number, so I was delighted when I met Paul Fisher last year, even if he’s on the advisory side, he’s still intimately familiar with this end of the market. Then Max Bleyleben at Kennet joined and now Nic and Fred. I’m glad to see we now have 4 VC bloggers- from Seed up to Growth capital commenting on what’s happening in the UK.

(There are also rumors that one of the guys at Amadeus has a blog in stealth mode…we’ll see when he makes an official appearance.)

I’m always impressed by the prolific blogging of my fellow Americans back in the US. I can get a post out once per week at a push- I simply don’t have the time. Maybe now with a bit of a blogging community I’ll be pressed to get out there and blog more…

Filed under: Venture Capital

New UK VC Bloggers

alarm:clock has highlighted two new VC blogs from Nic Brisbourne (Esprit Capital Partners) and Fred Destin (Atlas Venture), both UK based.

One is the loneliest number, so I was delighted when I met Paul Fisher last year, even if he’s on the advisory side, he’s still intimately familiar with this end of the market. Then Max Bleyleben at Kennet joined and now Nic and Fred. I’m glad to see we now have 4 VC bloggers- from Seed up to Growth capital commenting on what’s happening in the UK.

(There are also rumors that one of the guys at Amadeus has a blog in stealth mode…we’ll see when he makes an official appearance.)

I’m always impressed by the prolific blogging of my fellow Americans back in the US. I can get a post out once per week at a push- I simply don’t have the time. Maybe now with a bit of a blogging community I’ll be pressed to get out there and blog more…

Filed under: Venture Capital

Shell’s Springboard Contest now open

Shell002pectencolour_1
The Shell Springboard fund is now open for a second round, giving a cash boost to small businesses with a product or service that helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Awards of between £20,000 and £40,000 will be available in early 2007. To be eligible:

  • Your product or service must reduce greenhouse gases, be innovative and commercially viable
  • You must have been in business for at least three months, as a sole trader or a company employing fewer than 250 people
  • You must be based in the UK

Last years winners include:Scotrenewables for its innovative turbine system which extracts energy from tidal currents.

The runner-up was Mantle Panel Ltd in Surrey for its building system based around an innovative insulating material.

The other UK finalists last year were:

  • Derbyshire-based NetComposites for LoPlas, a new plastic enabling car manufacturers to build lighter vehicles that give off fewer emissions.
  • EA Technical Services in Lancashire for its Clean Heat ultra-efficient heating pump.
  • Luton-based Chalmor for its simple heat-saving device for householders.
  • Water Innovate in Cranfield for N-Tox®, a new low-cost monitor that detects nitrous oxide emissions in wastewater

The application deadline is 10 November 2006. Go to www.shellspringboard.org to find out more.

Filed under: Venture Capital

Shell’s Springboard Contest now open

Shell002pectencolour_1
The Shell Springboard fund is now open for a second round, giving a cash boost to small businesses with a product or service that helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Awards of between £20,000 and £40,000 will be available in early 2007. To be eligible:

  • Your product or service must reduce greenhouse gases, be innovative and commercially viable
  • You must have been in business for at least three months, as a sole trader or a company employing fewer than 250 people
  • You must be based in the UK

Last years winners include:Scotrenewables for its innovative turbine system which extracts energy from tidal currents.

The runner-up was Mantle Panel Ltd in Surrey for its building system based around an innovative insulating material.

The other UK finalists last year were:

  • Derbyshire-based NetComposites for LoPlas, a new plastic enabling car manufacturers to build lighter vehicles that give off fewer emissions.
  • EA Technical Services in Lancashire for its Clean Heat ultra-efficient heating pump.
  • Luton-based Chalmor for its simple heat-saving device for householders.
  • Water Innovate in Cranfield for N-Tox®, a new low-cost monitor that detects nitrous oxide emissions in wastewater

The application deadline is 10 November 2006. Go to www.shellspringboard.org to find out more.

Filed under: Venture Capital

Shell’s Springboard Contest now open

Shell002pectencolour_1
The Shell Springboard fund is now open for a second round, giving a cash boost to small businesses with a product or service that helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Awards of between £20,000 and £40,000 will be available in early 2007. To be eligible:

  • Your product or service must reduce greenhouse gases, be innovative and commercially viable
  • You must have been in business for at least three months, as a sole trader or a company employing fewer than 250 people
  • You must be based in the UK

Last years winners include:Scotrenewables for its innovative turbine system which extracts energy from tidal currents.

The runner-up was Mantle Panel Ltd in Surrey for its building system based around an innovative insulating material.

The other UK finalists last year were:

  • Derbyshire-based NetComposites for LoPlas, a new plastic enabling car manufacturers to build lighter vehicles that give off fewer emissions.
  • EA Technical Services in Lancashire for its Clean Heat ultra-efficient heating pump.
  • Luton-based Chalmor for its simple heat-saving device for householders.
  • Water Innovate in Cranfield for N-Tox®, a new low-cost monitor that detects nitrous oxide emissions in wastewater

The application deadline is 10 November 2006. Go to www.shellspringboard.org to find out more.

Filed under: Venture Capital

iPod Hi Fi Review


  iPod Hi Fi in situ 
  Originally uploaded by Jason Ball.

Well, I’m one year older today, and my wife bought me an iPod Hi-Fi for my birthday. I’m not an audiophile, but I am pretty picky about what I listen to music on. I threw out my iPod headphones on day one and bought some Sony’s, which I then replaced with my Shure’s.

I have to admit, the iPod Hi-Fi sounds great. In our bedroom, I keep it on the "Treble" setting. That provides the right amount of highs and plenty of Bass. The normal setting adds further bass- followed by the "Bass" setting, which really just thumps. YMMV, but I’m really pleased with the sound. If you keep the box at close to ear level, it sounds spectacular.

Perfect integration with the iPod makes it a winner as well. The only issue I’ve found is the "Menu" button doesn’t control the iPod in the same way as on Front Row. I’m sure this will be addressed in a future software update. If you’re in the market for speakers for your iPod, I would seriously consider the iPod Hi-Fi.

Filed under: Apple Computer, iPod

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