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January 26 2010
by Scott Johnson

Fostering Innovation

I recently sat on a panel to discuss how to create an innovation economy with a high-level delegation from an Eastern European country. To prepare for this discussion, I sat down with a clean sheet of paper and outlined the necessary conditions for innovation to occur, and the attributes innovation hubs tend to share. I […]

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January 19 2010
by Scott Johnson

Beware Of The “No Question About It” Advisor

Advising and taking advice are a true art – particularly when it comes to questions of strategy.  There is no advisor who can give a team of executives an unqualified point of view on a strategic issue.  Yet such resolute advice is quite abundant.  I am as guilty as anyone.  It is so clear to […]

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January 12 2010
by Scott Johnson

We Have Very Little To Whine About

I was wandering through stock chart land and decided to compare Art Technology Group against the Nasdaq since its IPO in 1999 as I hadn’t checked in on that company since 2001 or so.  I noticed that the Nasdaq was flat since the ATG IPO, and that ARTG under-performed the Nasdaq but is still alive […]

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January 11 2010
by Scott Johnson

Follow-on Capital

I see seed stage investing happening all around me.  Angels appear to me to be very active as individuals although I have nothing but anecdotal data to support that.  Dedicated funds doing seed investing are gaining traction with LPs who want their piece of the next super-deal.  We at NAV do the occasional seed deal, […]

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January 5 2010
by Scott Johnson

The Fourth Screen – Are Tablets for Real?

I am seeing startups that are using “tween” computers (essentially ipod touch look-alikes running android or linux with a 5×7” screen) for a variety of new applications. The price point is at $300 and declining for a fully performant connected machine, and I wanted to come right out and say that I am a believer in this category.

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November 30 2009
by Scott Johnson

Tom Tom and Garmin In Serious Trouble

Personal Navigation is being disrupted.  Garmin and Tom Tom, as their share prices show, are being Googled.  That is, their expensive consumer service is suddenly free from Google.  Can they survive?  There is a great deal of speculation about this in the press.  So I thought I would add mine, as I am an investor […]

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November 24 2009
by Scott Johnson

Is the EU actually right about something?

> Update on 11/30.  I spoke to several of my companies, and learned that MySQL from Sun is not something they can’t live without.  They would prefer Oracle didn’t own it, but the premise that Oracle will harm startups as an owner of MySQL is not true.  The argument that Sun/MySQL is the preferred vendor […]

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October 16 2009
by Scott Johnson

Well Spaced Bread Crumbs

In the story of Hansel and Gretel, Hansel drops breadcrumbs as he is carted away with Gretel, leaving a trail to follow for any would-be rescuer. This was a good strategy except that bread crumbs are edible. But that is aside from the point of this post, which is that investors need an easy trail […]

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September 30 2009
by Scott Johnson

Make your customers surly?

My partner Todd Hixon relates a story about when he was a young analyst meeting with a crusty old telco exec to talk about pricing, and was told that they wanted to price so their customers were “surly, but not rebellious.” “How hilariously old school” you are thinking.  “Isn’t Steve Jobs’ ability to delight his […]

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September 21 2009
by Scott Johnson

“Tranched” Investments

We occasionally do investments in stages or “tranches” where we put an initial amount of money into a company, with the option to put more in later when certain milestones are met.  Some investors like to do this, and some are philosophically opposed.  The opposing view is that contingent cash based on uncertain milestones adds […]

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