Month: August 2009

True's Braughm Ricke, WeGame's Jared Kim, the Business Plan, and Wrapping Up

Andrew Boni NBC Trauma Set

Me in front of the set of NBC's Trauma, set to debut this Fall

It’s amazing how quickly this summer seemed to have passed. Well, you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. I have to say that I miss the program and San Francisco in general. I’ve been going through San Francisco withdrawal lately.

Anyway, in the last week of the program, I met a good friend from home for lunch, finished my business plan, gave GigaOM a facelift, walked onto the set of the new NBC TV series Trauma, heard from True’s Braughm Ricke and WeGame’s Jared Kim, helped film a NewTeeVee webisode, and more.

On Monday, my buddy Tim had a flight from Tokyo, Japan to Philadelphia, PA with a 6 hour layover at SFO. So, he took BART from the airport and met me for lunch. It’s strange seeing a friend from home come in a new city across the country. It makes the world feel so much smaller. Later that night, I had to go and put the finishing touches on my business plan for a media company that I’d like to start, Jetcomx Media Lab. Up to that point, I had been so busy with GigaOM stuff that I was only about 40-50% done with the business plan. But, I’ve always been a last minute, down-to-the-wire kind of guy, so I knew that I would be able to get it done. I spent about 4 hours hunched over my laptop working on a little table in the corner of a downtown Starbucks before I decided to retire back to my apartment and finish the plan. We didn’t have our own internet connection at the apartment, so I had to leech off of San Francisco’s free wifi network, which is shoddy at best. Fortunately for me however, the wi-fi gods were with me that night, and I was able to submit my plan just before the deadline. It felt great to have finished it, although I know that I could have easily spent another month or two conducting more research and perfecting it.

On Tuesday, I was walking to Pier 1 like I normally do, when I noticed that there was a huge commotion going on in the Justin Herman plaza. It turns out that a new NBC primetime drama known as Trauma was shooting an episode there. It was the first time that I had ever been on the set of a TV show. After seeing the set and the actors, I’m actually looking forward to checking out this NBC drama sometime in the fall.

GigaOM New vs Old

GigaOM: Old vs. New

On Wednesday, I worked on designing a completely new header for GigaOM. Om gave me some guidance on what he was looking for, and I made it a reality. I think the new design is much more aesthetically appealing than the old design. Along with the new header, GigaOM also had its fonts tweaked for better readability. Later that night, I put the finishing touches on my TEC commercial. It actually turned out to be much longer than what Christiaan and Shea were expecting; the thing was that I had so much footage I wanted to share that I couldn’t bring myself to cut any of it out. It was also more of a montage than a commercial, but I felt that it had the perfect tone for wrapping up the program.

Thursday was our last True session of the summer. We sat down and listened to Braughm Ricke and Jared Kim. As we ate lunch, Braughm went over the roles and duties of a venture capital firm’s CFO. Throughout his presentation, he answered a myriad of questions that we seemed to have. After that, Jared Kim, founder of WeGame.com, came in to chat with us.

Jared’s story is pretty remarkable. A native of South Korea, he founded his first company at age 16 while going to boarding school in China. He was able to scrape up a couple of thousand dollars from his dad to start the company. Over time, Jared managed 70+ people. As he later told us, it was a very difficult task to undertake. There was constant tension between various employees at the company and it was hard to build a sense of camaraderie. After that, he moved to the US and went to college at UC Berkeley. There he began to work on something known as Yaqqer.

Yaqqer is a location-based mobile social network that connects college students through their mobile phones. Yaqqer allows you to broadcast your current location to all your friends via SMS. In college, students always want to know where their friends are or what they are doing. Yaqqer helps solve this common need.

After Yaqqer, Kim moved on to found WeGame which is essentially a YouTube for gamers. He told us how he miraculously managed to get people like WordPress’s Matt Mullenweg and XFire’s Dennis Fong to advise him.

Once we finished talking to Jared, it was time to present our research papers/business plans and showcase our commercials. When that was finished, we went out to eat at Paragon, which was the place where we ate lunch during our second week. We came full circle in a sense.

Friday was my last day. I started off the day by working on a new design for jkOnTheRun. After lunch, I helped Liz Gannes and Chris Albrecht of NewTeeVee film a chat that wrapped up the biggest online video news of the week.
[blip.tv ?posts_id=2446160&dest=-1]

After that, we had a small get together across the street at Osha for my departure. The GigaOM crew was kind enough to present me with a cool San Francisco t-shirt, among other things. When that came to a close, Greg and I went back to the office. We ended up staying there until about 10:30pm due to the fact that I had to clear all of my data off of the MacBook that GigaOM had let me borrow. It was definitely a surreal moment when I left the office for the last time, knowing that I wouldn’t be back in there on Monday.

All in all, I just want to say again that this experience has been better than I could have dreamed. I ended up learning and doing the kinds of things that I came out here hoping to learn and do. I was able to meet and befriend an amazing group of people. I was able to hone my skills/knowledge and apply them to my own ventures. I learned a TON about the VC industry, tech industry, and startups in general. I just want to say thanks to Christiaan, Shea, Jon, Phil, Om, Paul, Jaime, Chancey, and everyone else who made my summer the stuff of dreams.

Socialcast's Tim Young, GigaOM's Paul Walborsky, True's Puneet Agarwal, BackType's Chris Goulda, and GigaOM Pulse

Andrew Boni GigaOM

Working hard...or hardly working?

Hey all — I can’t believe that week seven of the program has already come and gone. This week was cut a little short due to the fact that we returned from the company off-site retreat on Tuesday. The retreat was an amazing time — I got to meet and befriend people who I had previously only known through email, Skype, or Google Talk. It was also a great opportunity to see my co-workers in a non-office type of environment. This kind of interaction really helps to facilitate a sense of camaraderie.

For the rest of the work week, I worked on a couple of different things, including implementing a Google search referral related posts box (that’s a mouthful) on GigaOM, implementing commenting via Twitter on GigaOM, and developing something known as GigaOM Pulse.

GigaOM Google Search Referral Related Posts BoxThe purpose of the Google search referral related posts box is to present the Googler with a list of potentially related posts at the top of the current post. This is designed to help increase the users time on the site, increase the number of pageviews, and decrease the bounce rate.

Regarding the commenting via Twitter, Intern Greg came up with the idea to allocate a unique Twitter hashtag to each post on GigaOM. If people wanted to post a comment using Twitter, they would just include the unique hashtag in their tweet somewhere, and it would automatically get pulled into the comments section of a particular post.

Now, you may be wondering why people would bother to comment via Twitter rather than in the regular comments section of GigaOM. Well, we figured that many people have their own platform/podium from which they like to comment on (in this case it’s Twitter, but it could just as easily be Facebook, Friendfeed, or their own blog). So why would someone like Om (who has 650,000+ Twitter followers) comment on some small, obscure blog, when he can post an insightful comment on his own soapbox for hundreds of thousands to see? It’s a win-win situation for both the commenter and the blog.

GigaOM Twitter CommentingYou may also be wondering how this is any different from retweeting. Well, when most people retweet, they simply post the title of the article and then a link, while providing no additional comments. That’s why we also included a designated retweet link. As far as we know, GigaOM is the first major online publication to implement Twitter commenting in this fashion. It will be extremely interesting to see how successful this pans out to be and what other publications (if any) decide to copy us.

GigaOM PulseOne of the most interesting things to be developed on GigaOM is something known as GigaOM Pulse. Om came up with the idea, and wanted Greg and I to make it come to life. In a nutshell, GigaOM Pulse is a live Twitter feed/aggregator of everyone who works at GigaOM that updates in real-time. The purpose of Pulse is to give GigaOM a more personal feel and make the readers feel like they have a connection to the founder, CEO, writers, editors, events people, sales people, and tech people. It’s a really cool service that more websites should implement.

Also, this week at the True Ventures Thursday session, we heard from Socialcast‘s Tim Young, GigaOM‘s Paul Walborsky, and True’s own Puneet Agarwal. Tim gave an awesome presentation that essentially gave us his entire background and how he got to where he is today. He talked about how he used to design websites for various artists and events within the entertainment industry before he founded SocialCast. Tim, an avid reader, mentioned how he reads for 2-3 hours each day. He also made a great point when he said that reading blogs may add breadth to your knowledge, but reading books adds depth. On entrepreneurship, he also said that, “you learn more about yourself than anything else.”

GigaOM’s CEO Paul Walborsky talked to us next. In his presentation, he highlighted Amazon’s acquisition of Zappos.com and Jeff Bezos’ subsequent commentary. Paul also gave us examples of how older companies are losing out to newer, more efficient companies. For example, GigaOM vs. the New York Times, Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble, and Netflix vs. Blockbuster. We also went over the idea of exploiting the value curve. Paul also introduced us to what he calls the BLT business model. He left us with the notion that, “You can make money back, but you can’t get time back.” This is the third time that Paul has given a presentation to me, and I’ve noticed that he is a very engaging and charismatic speaker. Being a great public speaker is an amazing asset to have.

Last but not least, we heard from Puneet Agarwal. He talked to us about some of the new and emerging technologies that are being utilized in the start-up world. Integral services and components that used to cost thousands and thousands of dollars are now available for next to nothing. New companies are taking advantage of services like Skype, GTalk, Salesforce, and Google Docs, to name a few. We also discussed Amazon’s AWS cloud and various SaaS (Software as a Service) companies.

On Friday, I was lucky enough to have a face-to-face chat with Chris Goulda, the co-founder of BackType. Since BackType specializes in comments, Greg and I pitched him our Twitter commenting idea, and he seemed to really like it. Chris also told us a little bit about his background and BackType’s history. The company was actually initially funded by YCombinator and subsequently funded by True. I’ve been using BackType’s software on my personal projects for some time now, and I absolutely love it. I think BackType definitely has the potential to make it big in the coming months.

Thanks for an AMAZING Summer

My Dad and I often joke that I couldn’t have designed a better internship for myself this summer. Our conversation normally goes something like this…

Dad: I still can’t believe the internship you landed this summer. You spend 4 days a week doing Biz Dev work at a hot tech start-up, you would have been happy just doing that right?
Me: Yeah
Dad: Then on Thursdays, the VC’s funding the company you work for, bring you up to S.F. where they provide lunch and bring in CEO’s from their portfolio companies to speak to you. They bring you to conferences, give you all sorts of free stuff, and you said you really like all of the other interns right?
Me: Uhm yeah basically
Dad: If you could have any internship in the world, do you think you could have designed one better than this?
Me: Hmm, no way
Dad: Yeah huh, some program!

And he is 100% right. I really can’t imagine a better way to have spent my summer this year. Having a job with interesting work is important, and at my age, one with good industry exposure is arguably even more important. True Ventures’ TEC program does an amazing job delivering both interesting work and industry exposure, but these aren’t even the best parts of the program. The TEC program gives you a first hand look at the thoughts and people who are changing the world. It gives you in depth exposure to the passions, quirks, and dreams that fuel entrepreneurs. Being part of this program has been one of the most inspirational experiences of my life, and has already changed the way I observe and analyze opportunity.

Special thanks to Christiaan, Shea, Phil, and Bob Perreault (my boss at TextDigger), You guys made this summer one I will never forget.

Thank you True Ventures!
Chris

Thank you True Ventures.

I just wanted to take this time to express my gratitude towards the people at True Ventures, for setting up this incredible opportunity to 8 extremely lucky students. Not only have I learned an immense about the venture capital and startup space, but True Ventures has opened my eyes the infinite possibility and seriously infected me with the startup bug. The people that helped make this happen have not only shown us the day to day happenings in the life of a VC, but the enormous blue skies of possibility, and have encouraged myself to the point where I don’t think I can go another day without being involved in some kind of venture aiming not only to disrupt several trending markets, but to make the world a better place. Thanks True Ventures!