Celebrating Chegg

Posted by Paul Holland

When I was first introduced to Chegg  several years ago, the company’s original concept was to be a Craigslist for college students. But soon after launching, the founders discovered that what people needed more than anything else were used textbooks.

At the time, it was far from certain that a business could be built around distributing used textbooks.  After all, most people felt that need was being adequately met in the dusty backrooms of college-town bookstores. However, standing here today at the New York Stock Exchange celebrating the company’s IPO, I can say that we have once again seen the success of an approach that involves more than simply funding a company and hoping for the best.  In the course (pun intended) of working with Chegg for the past several years, we began to see striking parallels between Chegg and other iconic companies that had found success.

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A good week for Aggregate Knowledge, Neustar and Foundation

Posted by Ashu Garg

At its essence, the Venture business is largely about people. It’s my job to get to know great entrepreneurs with bold visions and help them navigate the usually treacherous startup waters as best I can. It’s an understood occupational hazard that often times, things don’t work out as planned. But when they do, it’s very sweet. Particularly for entrepreneurs who have truly “lived” the startup journey and had the tenacity to see things through. Paul Marino, Dave Jakubowski and the Aggregate Knowledge (AK) team are just those kind of entrepreneurs. And I’m very pleased to have played a small part in helping them achieve their vision, culminating in this week’s acquisition of AK by Neustar.

When I first met Paul Martino sometime in 2007, AK was flying high on its initial idea, the notion of making recommendations based on implicit behavior. I was trying to figure what to start myself and so we exchanged ideas, and even briefly entertained the notion that we might work together. By early 2009, I had joined Foundation Capital as a Venture Partner and around that time Paul had decided to “bet the company” on helping advertisers reach their audiences online and in-exchange capture a meaningful share of the growing online ad budgets.

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Be Un-substitutable

Posted by Jonathan Ehrlich

Imagine for a moment you need to take the 7 a.m. flight tomorrow from San Francisco to Seattle. You have three choices: United, American and Delta, all priced at $399 return. Which one do you choose?

I’ve asked this question to many audiences over the years and the answer usually comes down to the one who “pays” the most.  Sadly, it’s about loyalty points, not desire. Now, let’s add a fourth option: Virgin America. Now which one would you choose? Again, the choice is usually clear and un-ambiguous. You fly Virgin. Why? Because you just know it’s “better”. You might like the comfy leather seats or the funky disposition of the flights attendants. Or you might simply feel cooler flying Virgin.  Regardless of your rationale, your reaction was instantaneous and, hopefully for Virgin, infused with powerful emotion. You just knew.

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