December 2008

As the sun was setting for the last time in 2008 and the sun dipped into the horizon, setting the sky and sea ablaze with color, I thought about what a wonderful and diverse year 2008 was. We’ve experienced highs and lows, health and hospital, we’ve welcomed new clients and lost some, and made new friends while nurturing old ones.

Tonight we’ll watch as fireworks are a-lit and salsa and mariachi bands play while revelers dance in the new year. It’s an idyllic setting and I’m grateful for the beauty I can witness and experience here. And I’m looking forward to the new companies, people, experiences and lessons to come in 2009.

Wishing you all the very best year ever – filled with pure joy, gratitude, laughter, love and health.

Xing buys Socialmedian
Image by gabemac via Flickr

Perhaps Lars Hinrichs‘ Christmas list this year included a new tie, a new iPod, and maybe an acquisition of leading news company in the states.  I don’t know if he’s getting the tie or iPod, but I can report that XING has acquired New York-based socialmedian, an innovator in the online social news category founded by Jason Goldberg who also lead Jobster (by the way, the photo is of Daniela Hinrichs holding the newest addition to the XING family).

In the deal, XING will pay a combination of cash and stock valued at 2.9 million Euros (approx. $ 4 million), with a performance-based earn-out valued at between 0.5 – 2.5 million Euros (approx. $700K to $3.5 million) payable over three years.

With socialmedian, XING members will be essentially have their own personal news assistant trolling all sources of news, which we know doesn’t just include websites.  Socialmedian essentially collects, sorts and organizes information from social services such as Twitter, Digg, Del.icio.us, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, GoogleReader, FriendFeed, the international blogosphere, and industry and online media sources, then filters that information through your social contacts.  What this means is that you only receive the news you need to know based on your interests, job, and passions, from the people in your networks.   Given we at Consort use many of these various services, we all applaud XING’s newest baby.

While many have talked about the video gaming industry being recession proof, we’ve seen cracks in that assumption as EA‘s shares have been slumping as their holiday sales are falling short of their goals.  People definitely love to play games, but asking them to pay $40-$60 for a game, plus a console, plus monthly subscription fees can add up to a lot of hard earned cash.  What if there was a free game that was just as addictive and fun.  What if a 21-year old university student cobbled a game together in six weeks from his bedroom, using the wallpaper from his PC to serve as some of the graphics, then partnered with King.com to distribute the game.  That did indeed happen and in the first month the game went live, it was played 2 million times on over 1,000 sites, earning him a tidy sum while providing free fun for players worldwide.  The game is Hunted Forever and the developer is Evan Miller and last week, Hunted Forever was named one of Time Magazine’s top video games of 2008.  Others on the list are the usual suspects – Grand Theft Auto IV was ranked #1, Rock Band 2 was #4 and Spore was #10.  But ranking at #8 was the hottest game you’ve never heard of:  Hunted Forever.

While the recession looms heavy over our heads and layoffs abound, it’s good to hear good news emerging out of Silicon Valley.  Kosmix, a company that is twisting the traditional search model on its head, has just raised $20 million, led by Time Warner and other luminaries investors, bringing the total to a cool $55 million.  This is a testament to the co-founders Venky Harinarayan and his business partner Anand Rajaraman, who co-founded Kosmix in 2005 with the vision to connect people to the information that makes a difference in their lives.  Instead of wading through pages and pages of three-lined links in traditional search engines, Kosmix takes the work out of search and instead automatically categorizes and organizes relevant information from a variety of sources (photos, videos, community comments, web pages, blogs) so we can discover new things about our search topic.  In fact, have you ever wondered what Consort really means?  Check out the way Kosmix provides the answer here.

Plus, Kosmix has also revamped their site – check out the shiny new “beta-ish” version at Kosmix.com.

Tim Draper (DFJ), Kathy Johnson (Consort Partners)
Image by kathyjohnson via Flickr

I have to say that Tim Draper is a refreshingly original character.  He’s full of life and joy, with seemingly no fear.  You know that saying – “Sing like no one’s listening… Dance like no one’s watching…” – well, Tim does that, even when people are watching!  He’s cut a CD even though he doesn’t have a voice like Sting, and he dances without abandon – and as I’ve just discovered… without any clothes!  (Okay – he’s kept some “information” under NDA…).

You’ve got to check out his brand new blog – and be sure to “follow him” as I’m sure there will be plenty of more “must see” stories, photos and videos coming in the new year.

In the meantime, if you want to see Tim take it all off in honor of women entrepreneurs, check out this video here (for mature audiences only 😉 ):

She is the Riskmaster

Dominic, David Hiller (photographer) and Kathy...
Image by kathyjohnson via Flickr

The green hat photo that has been used on this blog is a bit old and I’m tired of looking like Kermit’s sista, so we’ve recently swapped it out for a more recent picture.  Indeed, it was just taken last week by famed photographer David Hiller (in the middle of this photo), best known for shooting rock & roll legends like Hendrix, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and my all time fave, Neil Diamond (swoooon).  He’s also shot the likes of Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie and several other celebs.  Now he can count a couple of nerds amongst the profile shots in his portfolio.

The photo is just a placeholder for now.  You will probably be seeing some slight modifications to the site and blog in the days and weeks to come.

I was recently asked by Blogs.com to contribute my Top 10 list of must-read blogs.  They just published my list, so I’ve also included them here.  You can see the post in its entirety by clicking here.

Top 10 International Tech Insider Blogs

BBC News | dot.life

Blog.Pmarca.com

Cnewmark

FT.com’s Tech Blog

Fred Destin

GigaOM

New York Times Bits

Silicon Alley Insider

TechCrunch

VentureBeat