Sunday, September 25, 2011

Term sheet advice for entrepreneurs from GigaOm

GigaOm features a good, nuts and bolts article on the Top 5 things you should know about term sheets today.

They cite:
1. Valuation
2. Resetting vesting
3. Liquidation preferences
4. Protective provisions
5. Expanding the options pool

And they provide good basic info about what to expect and what to look for.

I would only add this: When BlogHer was looking for its first round of funding, Lisa Stone and I met with entrepreneur Caterina Fake (she of Flickr and Hunch fame). She shared some timeless advice with us that I reference all the time, and cite as the single most useful piece of advice I ever got. Her advice was to prioritize:



Before you take a dime, hey, for that matter...before you partner or hire, you better make sure you trust the people involved, that you feel they get you. Perhaps even more importantly, you want them to trust *you*, to respect what you have built. Finally, they should bring value beyond the money...strategic insight, key industry connections, you name it. You're getting hitched, make sure it's a relationship that can last and thrive.

To understand Terms over Valuation as a priority, read the GigaOm post. Hearing high valuation numbers can put stars in your eyes, but as the cliche goes: It's better to walk away with a reasonable chunk of a smaller exit than to have a high exit out of which you get nothing. Usually, if not always, higher valuations come at the sacrifice of favorable terms for the founders and common shareholders. Know what you're signing up for and protect your interests. A valuation does not an exit price guarantee, so don't be seduced!

So there are your weekend words of wisdom!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gut reaction to Facebook Timeline

A friend just let me log on to her Facebook, so I could check out folks with Timeline enabled. Here was my gut reaction to her, after noting that it was indeed more visually appealing than Facebook had ever looked before:

I think that they're biting off more than we as users want to chew. It's too much; it's overwhelming; and seems too complicated to manage. Everything I hate about FB amplified, but prettier.

Here's how social media use breaks down for me:
Pinterest and Instagram: Look at pretty things from people I like
Twitter: Make small talk with friends and see what's hot and trending
Blogs and Google+: Have substantive conversations of my choice with people of my choice
StumbleUpon, Delicious: Share things I like

With the latter function also being part of why people use Pinterest, blogs and Google+.

Facebook is now, what? Hard to follow and still hard to connect dots. But now about EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine. I run away just looking at it :)

I don't know...sometimes more is less. That's my gut reaction.

And her response?

That’s exactly the problem with Facebook. Some of us can look at it and see a world of opportunity but others… just see chaos – pretty, pretty chaos, lol.

I know statistically almost every online adult is touching Facebook at least once a week. more than any other social media service. Next year when BlogHer does its annual study I want to delve into love and hate, though. I know more people who use FB yet seem to hate it. That would be me. Can't deny I'm there probably at least once a day. But almost under duress.

The question is whether there will ever be an *anti*-tipping point for Facebook?

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Marketing: If You Can't Say Something Nice...

I think I'm old-school.

Perhaps I've missed some new data or wisdom.

Suddenly I see anti-marketing cropping up, and I find myself wrinkling my nose like the Queen of England smelling something bad.

What do I mean when I say "Anti-marketing"? I mean marketing based on criticizing your competitors instead of touting your own accomplishments, features, benefits or advantages.

So, instead of Avis's famous "We're #2 we try harder", in anti-marketing land they might have gone with "We're not like *other* (unnamed, but totally obvious) car rental companies that have [insert lame policy here]!"

One of the most prominent anti-marketing campaigns I've seen in the last year has been's ads that exist solely to say they're not Sharepoint. I'm hardly the only person to notice the campaign being negative, and to complain that it didn't really tell me why I should care about In fact, truth is: We're a user and all those negative billboards and ads did was make me think I should check out Sharepoint to see what all the fuss was about!

My advice is to stop after you've touted what is awesome, unique and amazing about you and your offering. You don't have to be coy about it. And you don't have to give your prospects any funny ideas. If they've been checking out your competitors, they'll know that the benefits you're describing are different or better. If they haven't been checking them out, they probably won't even start, hearing how awesome, unique and amazing you are!

If you feel the need to follow up with a thinly veiled reference to who or what you are not, maybe you're not proud enough of who or what you are.

Just to be fair: I realize this post could be considered a total example of me being all thinly-veiled myself, so I will say it was the billboards cropping up last year that started me thinking about this subject, but it's the marketing that goes on in the social media space that keeps me thinking about it! And challenges me always to remember: Anti-marketing won't fix lack of differentiation...or unclear articulation of differentiation.

It's a small world. Most industries are small industries. Today's competition may be tomorrow's collaborator, both at the individual and organizational level. And I'm an old-fashioned marketer who doesn't want to tear others down to build my brand.

Am I impossibly old-school? Missing the boat? Shooting myself in the foot?


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