Microsoft Locks Up The Guild

felicia-dayFelicia Day, creator of web series The Guild, said during her talk at NewTeeVee Live that she had some major sponsorship on news on the way. Looks like it’s a bit more than just that: The Hollywood Reporter writes that Microsoft (s MSFT) has nabbed the exclusive rights to the second season of the series and will show it across the Xbox, MSN and Zune platforms.

Sprint (s S) will sponsor all 12 episodes of the season across the three Microsoft outlets and will have commercials attached as well as product placements within the show.
Day told us earlier this month that she rejected about 25 offers to sponsor the geek-friendly comedy, saying, “For me, an important part of the show is that I retain the rights to the show.” Her deal with the Redmond giant lets her keep the intellectual property rights to The Guild while collecting an up-front fee. This means that should The Guild follow in the footsteps of Sanctuary (another series where the creator held on to the IP) and move to TV, Microsoft won’t participate in any revenues generated from that.
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Found|LINKS: Mar. 29 – April 5

This week’s short list of stories, posts and other founder-resources you shouldn’t miss.

1.) missionaries.png From VC John Doerr, check out this slide outlining the difference between mercenaries and missionaries of entrepreneurship.

Missionaries are good (passion). Mercenaries are not (paranoia). The slide is from a presentation Doerr gave at Stanford on April 2, 2002 (!). We got it courtesy of our friends at VentureHacks, who do a great job of finding needles in haystacks.

Also watch the video of Doerr’s talk:

2.) Valuation: Bad economy? Yeah. Selling opportunity? Maybe. Check out Inc. magazine’s flagship company valuation guide, The Most Valuable Companies in America : “Investors are loaded with cash. Boomers are looking to buy. Foreign firms are eager to invest. What does that add up to? A seller’s market for your business.” It describes the main buyers (serial entrepreneurs is one to pay attention to!) and has slides on cheap vs. expensive shops. We note that besides software, the hottest businesses are “anything aimed at the aging U.S. population.” (F|R has written about this previously.)

3) Understanding Venture Capital. It’s a hard nut to crack. But this paper form Havard Working Knowledge attempts to decode the often seemingly arbitrary valuations of vc-backed startups by “explor[ing] mechanisms for limiting the asymmetric information that potentially plagues the acquisition of young venture capital-backed companies.” As you seek funding for your own company, this ought to help you understand how startups are VC-funded and why; how they’re bought and sold, and why. One of our key takeaways: it is strictly because the notion of value is relative/subjective that relationships are so important in this business; for deals to work well it is critical that perceptions of value between two parties are compatible, which usually (but not always) means interests must be aligned. Hence Harvard’s emphasis on the “bridge-building alternative [because] the personal relationship between the two firms is critical to conveying value-relevant information about both the target and the acquiring firm.” Just ask Jerry Yang at Yahoo!.

VentureHacks wants to help you get “venture-hitched.”

Our friends over at VentureHacks, who’ve made it their business to help founders parse the arcana of term sheets, have gone soft. Recommended is a new site feature through which Venture Hacks community members endorse founders and their ideas to potential investors. Our beloved hackers are now matchmakers.

Here’ show Nivi and Naval introduced it yesterday:

The most common question we hear from entrepreneurs is, “Can you introduce me to investors?” Yes we can. We’re going to recommend startups on Venture Hacks. Investors are invited to subscribe to our recommendations. And everyone is welcome to recommend startups here. Request an invite if you want to help test the Recommended feature before we open it up—it’s also open for browsing in the meantime.

“It is really straightforward, simple and stupid. It’s like RSS for deal flow,” Nivi told us this morning. Think Twitter meets LinkedIn.

Here’s how it works… Read More about VentureHacks wants to help you get “venture-hitched.”

Yes, Dilbert, you can keep your day job!

There is a well-established rule in our business that you can’t really found a company part-time. Moonlighting sounds great, but it’s a bit like being half pregnant. At least, this is the conventional wisdom, some of it very well-informed. (Paul Graham: “The number one thing not to do is other things.”)

But I ran across a great post this morning, courtesy of VentureHacks, by repeat founder Tony Wright, who suggests it is possible to launch your founder’s ship with one foot still on the dock — with one caveat: your goal must be to “prove whatever you need to prove as quickly as possible, so you can dive in full-time.”

In Half-Assed Startup: How do I start my company and keep my day job?, Tony offers 7 Tips for how to do this. Tony’s current company, RescueTime, is a Y Combinator shop — which means Graham must agree with some of what Tony has to say! We list Tony’s abbreviated tips below… Read More about Yes, Dilbert, you can keep your day job!

FoundLINKS: Feb 17 – Feb 23

This weeks pics for helpful posts to read over your weekend. If you had a bad week, or just got turned down for funding, do yourself a favor and skip to #5 right away. Then work backwards…

1) Operations: 5 Lessons Learned From Gordon Ramsay (the infamous chef from Kitchen Nightmares) brought to our attention by Micah, at Learn to Duck. Micah writes: “Ramsay’s rules for running a successful restaurant are really not all that different than getting a startup off the ground.”

2) Leadership and Hiring:
More in the restaurant motif, a short video interview of celebrity chef and entrepreneur Charlie Trotter, from Crain’s Chicago. A hyperactive Charlie talks about how you can never get complacent with your success (recall our Lombardi post on the same) and his tricks for spotting future leaders in 10-minute job interviews. (See also Passion Spotting.)

3) Mentorship :
Rules for Great Advisory Boards, from Marc McCloud, a serial software entrepreneur, on his blog Startup CFO. (Also read F|R contributor Ben Yoskovitz’s take on the subject: The Importance of Advisory Boards for Startup CEOs.)

4) Strategy:
A reminder of why failure is nothing to be afraid of, and why you should embrace sooner rather than later, from Mitchell Ashley: Fail Early and Often.

And saving the best for last….

5) Funding & “PC”-VC-Fashion : we found this hilarious post courtesy of VentureHacks, whose authors have shared their tricks for getting the better of nasty term sheets with us in the past. (See: Vesting Hacks: Part I, Vesting Hacks: Part II, Vesting Hacks: Part 3, and Vesting Hacks 4.) I just can’t decide which T-shirt to order as the F|R holiday gift next year!:




There are many more to choose from, so take a break and spend some time this Sunday on my new favorite home page: VCWear.

My Case Against Venture Capital

Even though my company, Altos Research, isn’t actively seeking capital, I had breakfast the other day with a venture guy at Buck’s in Woodside, Calif. VCs can be very useful for strategic advice even if — or, especially when — you don’t want their money. Interestingly, we spent much of the time talking about why Altos should not take venture capital.

From day one my cofounder and I planned to bootstrap Altos, which provides real-time real estate market analytics, but it was really an intuitive decision. I left Woodside pondering how to express the logic behind our bootstrapping choice. I finally hit on the straight answer: taking venture capital actually reduces your odds of success.

I’m talking about your success as founder. This is considerably different than the ultimate success of a company. Maybe I’m romantic, but… Read More about My Case Against Venture Capital