California Calling

February 24, 2006

I spent the past two weeks in the Bay Area. I am happy to report that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well. I mostly met new startups that were just getting off the ground and was fascinated by the passion, intelligence and vision of all the entrepreneurs I met.

Some of the interesting entrepreneurs I met include Rob Lord and Nivi. Rob Lord is a serial entrepreneur and visionary whom you may remember for creating Winamp – the wildly successful media player bought by AOL during the bubble days. Rob is now the founder of Songbird (www.songbirdnest.com) – the ultimate integrated browser/media player with lots interesting features. Nivi, while officially an EIR at Bessemer (www.bvp.com), is also a passionate entrepreneur helping out with business development and hiring at Songbird.

I was also very impressed by Jeremy Stoppelman, the CEO of Yelp (www.yelp.com). A former Paypal employee, he had the vision to create an online user generated Yellow Pages / City Guide killer. What is most intriguing is that he seems to have found the secret sauce to provide enough social currency and value to the reviewers so that they willingly contribute and create a site that feels much more authentic and lively than CitySearch – in addition to being more exhaustive (e.g.; covering doctors). He just launched New York and I expect him to continue growing rapidly. Kudos to my friend Jeremy Levine from Bessemer for boldly investing early on!

I also want to mention Naval Ravikant who both writes an iconoclastic amazing blog on entrepreneurship (www.startupboy.com) and is the founder of Vast (www.vast.com). Naval is clearly a subject matter expert on the auction and classified space and I look forward to Vast’s release in a few weeks.

Last but not least, I want to commend my good friend and fellow Princeton and McKinsey alum, Dan Rosenthal, for joining Mayfield (www.mayfield.com) as a principal. I can now be assured of funding for all my future startups 🙂

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