Elevator Pitch: Tapit

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Jamie Conyngham, co-founder and CEO of NFC specialist Tapit. More »


Lifehacker Australia
Angus Kidman

Feds Nab BitInstant CEO In Silk Road Bust, Charged With Laundering $1 Million In BTC


The Silk Road is still claiming victims, today taking down BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem and Robert M. Faiella, a BTC broker, known as BTCKing or BTC-KinG. Police arrested the Shrem, 24, yesterday at JFK airport and Faiella, 54, in Cape Coral, Florida. According to a release, the pair are charged with “conspiring to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.”

The DEA, IRS, and Manhattan U.S. Attorney stated that the pair were instrumental in selling about $ 1 million worth of BTC to Silk Road users which, according to the complaint, was used by Silk Road users to buy and sell drugs. “Hiding behind their computers, both defendants are charged with knowingly contributing to and facilitating anonymous drug sales, earning substantial profits along the way,” said DEA Acting Special-Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt. From the release:

Authorities also noted that Shrem bought drugs from the Silk Road and was aware of its use as an illicit marketplace. The authorities made it clear that it was Shrem and Faiella’s interactions on the Silk Road was most interesting to the DEA and IRS. However, there is no way to tell at this point what this means for the legitimate BTC markets and where BitInstant exists in the grey area between legal and illicit exchanges. Shrem’s site, BitInstant, is currently down.

John Biggs

After A Pivot, WePay Raises $15M To Focus On Payments API For Marketplaces, Crowdfunding Sites And Others


WePay, an online payments startup, is announcing $ 15 million in Series C financing, led by Phil Purcell of Continental Investors, who us the co-founder of the Discover Card and former CEO of Morgan Stanley. Others who participated include Max Levchin, Maynard Webb (WIN Investment Network) and Raymond Tonsing. This brings WePay’s total funding to $ 35 million.

The Y Combinator-backed startup originally formed to make it easier for groups to collect money and make payments together. The startup then pivoted slightly to become simple platform for businesses to collect and manage payments online. The startup added support for event registration and ticketing, custom invoicing, donations, mobile payments and e-commerce.

In 2012, WePay rolled out a white-label payments API and lowered its prices to court third-party developers and debuted an easy way to embed in-line payments. The startup has also been doing some compelling work in the development of Veda, an intelligent social risk engine that leverages social media data as well as traditional business data to catch merchant fraudsters.

As founder and CEO Bill Clerico tells us, now WePay’s entire business is its payments API, which focuses specifically around on infrastructure needed for payments for platform businesses. Specifically, WePay specializes in coordinating payments for marketplace or crowd funding platforms, basically enabling individuals to transact and process payments at scale between a lot of individuals. For example, Care.com uses WePay for payments. And marketplace for artisan goods CustomeMade is also a customers.

Another area where WePay has aimed to differentiate from others in the space like PayPal, Stripe and Balanced, is in fraud and compliance risk.

The startup’s proprietary Veda social risk engine uses data as a way to underwrite merchants and make sure they are actually verified sellers. Sort of like a ‘WePay credit score,’ the engine uses data from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp coupled with proprietary algorithms to mine and analyze a merchant’s social signals to gain a more accurate picture of risk. Veda also uses pattern recognition, integrated support data, and automatic cross-referencing to analyze risk. Veda needs five pieces of information (versus the 21 some payment companies require) to get started: first name, last name, name of business, email address, and phone number. Merchants can be approved within minutes.

Despite the slight pivot from group payments, the new bet seems to be paying off from a growth standpoint. Revenue from WePay’s payment API has grown over 600% in the last year, and the company has over 300 platform partners.

Clerico says that the new funds will be used for product development and international expansion.

Leena Rao

WA Govt exposes dodgy IT deals

An investigation by Western Australia's Corruption and Crime Commission investigation has found that more than $ 1.2 million of IT software was purchased by a former council CEO without going to tender or getting quotes -- over a period in which they received gifts and benefits from the supplier.
Renai LeMay

Cisco CEO John Chambers Values Internet of Things at $19T #CES2014

John Chambers.jpg

You probably already know that John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, likes big numbers. Today in a keynote at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, he may have picked his biggest number ever.

He pegged the value of the evolving Internet of Things (IoT) — or Internet of Everything, as Cisco calls it — at $ 19 trillion.

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In collaboration with GigaOm and TechCrunch, VentureBeat is excited to announce the finalists for the 2013 Crunchies awards!

We combed through thousands of your submissions and put them together with the vast expertise of our three sites’ editors to come up with this list. The nominees on this list are some of the most impressive companies and people the tech world had to offer in the past year.

Check out our finalists in all 20 categories below, ranging from Fastest Rising Startup to CEO of the Year. And congratulations to every one of them for making it to this exclusive list.

Now we need you to vote on the finalists! Head over to the 2013 Crunchies voting page and tell us which is your favorite in each category. Keep in mind that you may only vote once per day per award category until voting closes on Sunday, January 26, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Winners will be announced onstage at the 7th Annual Crunchies.

The award show will take place on Monday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. followed by the after party from 9:00pm to 11:30 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco. You can purchase tickets here. Be sure to act fast!

We hope to see you there!

Best Technology Achievement

Apple A7 Processor
Planet Labs low-cost satellites
Project Loon

Best Collaborative Consumption Service


Best E-Commerce Application

Good Eggs
Warby Parker

Best Mobile Application


Fastest Rising Startup


Best Health Startup

One Medical Group
Practice Fusion

Best Design

Exposure by Elepath
Nest Protect
Pencil by FiftyThree
Yahoo Weather

Best Bootstrapped Startup


Sexiest Enterprise Startup

New Relic

Best International Startup


Best Education Startup

Khan Academy

Best Hardware Startup

3D Robotics
Oculus VR

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Candy Crush Saga

Biggest Social Impact

Edward Snowden’s NSA Revelations

Angel of the Year

Steve Anderson
Michael Dearing
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant
Chris Sacca

VC of the Year

Peter Fenton (Benchmark)
Jim Goetz (Sequoia Capital)
Reid Hoffman (Greylock Partners)
Bill Maris (Google Ventures)
Bijan Sabet (Spark Capital)

Founder of the Year

Drew Houston (Dropbox)
David Karp (Tumblr)
Aaron Levie (Box)
Matthew Prince, Michelle Zatlyn & Lee Holloway (CloudFlare)
Deena Varshavskaya (Wanelo)

CEO of the Year

Jeff Bezos (Amazon)
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Travis Kalanick (Uber)
Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!)
Elon Musk (Tesla Motors & SpaceX)

Best New Startup of 2013


Best Overall Startup of 2013


VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
VentureBeat Staff

I often get asked how I ended up becoming a venture capitalist. When people ask me how they can become a VC, I point them to my partner Seth Levine’s excellent blog posts How to become a venture capitalist and How to get a job in venture capital (revisited)But it occurred to me today, after getting another email asking me how I’d become a VC, that I wasn’t really answering the question.

Amy likes to remind me that when I was an entrepreneur, I used to regularly give talks at MIT about entrepreneurship. I’d say — very bluntly — “Stay away from VCs.” I bootstrapped my first company and, while we did a lot of work for VCs, I liked taking money from them as “revenue” (where they paid Feld Technologies for our services) rather than as investment.

Feld Technologies was acquired in November 1993. Over the next two years, I made 40 angel investments with the money I made from the sale of the company. At one point in the process, I was down to under $ 100,000 in the bank, with the vast majority of our net worth tied up in these angel investments and a house that we bought in Boulder. Fortunately, Amy was mellow about this. We had enough current income to live the way we wanted, we were young (30), and generally weren’t anxious about how much liquid cash we had.

Along the way, a number of the companies I had invested in as an angel investor raised money from VCs. Some were tough experiences for me, like NetGenesis, which was the first angel investment I made. I was chairman from inception until shortly after the $ 4m VC round the company raised two years into its life. Shortly after that VC investment, the VCs hired a new “professional” CEO who lasted less than a year before being replaced by a CEO who then did a great job building the company. During this period, the founding CEO left, and I decided to resign from the board because I didn’t support the process of replacing this CEO and felt like I no longer had any influence on the company — and I wasn’t having any fun.

But I still wasn’t a VC at this point. I was making angel investments with my own money and working my ass off helping get a few companies that I’d co-founded, like Interliant and Email Publishing, off the ground. I was living in Boulder at this point, but traveling continuously to Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, where I was making most of my investments. During this time, I started to get pulled into more conversations with VCs, helping a few do some diligence on new investments, encouraging some to look at my angel investments, and investing small amounts in some VC funds whenever I was invited to invest in their “side funds for entrepreneurs.”

One of the VCs I overlapped with while in Boston was Charley Lax. Charley was a partner at a firm called VIMAC and was looking at some Internet stuff. I was one of the most prolific Internet angel investors in Boston at this point (1994 to 1995), so our paths crossed periodically. We never invested in anything together, but after I moved to Boulder, I got a call from Charley one day in early 1996. It went something like:

“Hey, I just joined this Japanese company called SoftBank, and we are going to invest $ 500 million in Internet companies in the next year. Do you want to help out?”

Um, ok, sure. I didn’t really know what help out meant, but on my next trip to San Francisco I had a breakfast meeting with Gary Rieschel and Jerry Yang. SoftBank had recently invested in Yahoo, and presumably the breakfast was to vet me. I remember it being pleasant and ending with Gary saying something like “welcome to the team.”

I still didn’t really have any idea what was going on, but I was making angel investments and having fun. Charley proposed being a “SOFTBANK Affiliate” which had a small monthly retainer, a deal fee for anything I brought in, and a carry on the performance of any investments I sourced. Informal enough for me to play around with it for a while.

I was in Boston the following week so Charley emailed me and said, “Can you go check out this company Yoyodyne and tell me what you think?” I went to a generic office park near Boston and met with two people who would become close friends to this day. The first was Fred Wilson, who had just started Flatiron Partners (SoftBank was an investor in Fred’s fund), and the other was Seth Godin, the CEO of Yoyodyne. I vaguely remember a fun, energetic chat as we met a few people at Yoyodyne, ran through the products, and talked about how amazing the Internet and email were going to be as marketing tools.

My formal report back to Charley was short — something like “Seth’s cool; the business is neat; I like it.” SoftBank and Flatiron closed an investment in Yoyodyne a few weeks later.

Suddenly I was a VC. An accidental one. And it’s been very interesting since that point back in 1996.

The post My First Experience As A Venture Capitalist appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

This story originally appeared on Brad Feld.

VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Brad Feld, Brad Feld