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Congratulations to the team @ Fizzback

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Fizzback exits for $ 80m to Nice Systems     

This is a great result for the people we know at Fizzback. Fizzback is one of the companies that could have gone on to be a significant European success, so the question that one has to ask is, why did they sell out now for $80m? As Robin Klein of TAG puts it “On the other hand, its a disappointment that a company which had begun to make a global impact in the world of Customer Experience Management, had captured some of the largest corporate clients worldwide, is not going solo ‘all the way’.” . “The TAG philosophy has always been to support founders and to recognize that entrepreneurs’ own motivation must ultimately be the deciding factor in these types of decisions.”

It seems like the founders have executed brilliantly but have now decided that it’s time to call it a day.

Hopefully we will see a new group of angel investors Fizzing around that London scene in the coming months.





Facebook In Utero: What’s on your unborn baby’s mind?

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 A few weeks ago, it came to the world’s attention that expectant parents can list their  unborn children on their Facebook profiles. Whilst the more nostalgic amongst us  might not be quite ready to throw our “We’re Expecting” notelets away, “Expected:  Child” is undisputedly a quick way to get the message across to everyone in your network.

Facebook have suggested that this new addition is a reaction against the illegal profiles people have been creating for their children (users have to be over 13 before they are legally allowed to create a profile). Look no further than this extraordinary screenshot here  to see the problems that can occur when the rules are ignored.

With this in mind, it seems that Facebook is trying to exercise control over already established social media behaviour. Despite their “over 13’s” policy, an estimated 5% of babies have a social media profile and almost half of British children between the ages of 9 and 12 have a Facebook profile. 

Clearly social networking is appealing to a younger audience, and the more users Facebook accumulates, the more underage children who aren’t allowed to join feel like they are missing out. Now it seems that pregnant mothers don’t want their babies-to-be to be left out either.  By allowing parents to create a profile for their baby, Facebook are acknowledging that their “over 13’s” policy is being ignored and that they are taking control of the reigns again.

In the world of social networking where relationships are announced, photos of intimate gatherings are uploaded, and status’ reveal the trials and tribulations of everyday life, is this latest addition to Facebook really a big deal? I think that for those of us who feel it is a step too far to put an unborn child on a social networking site, it is because one feels the innocence of the child is somehow compromised. The child is not in control of the pictures that are displayed on behalf of her, or who is in her network. If a baby can have an online existence before it has been born, in a way, her parents have already assigned it a character or personality, especially if the parents interact with other users comments on behalf of the child.  At present, the expected child cannot have a full profile created by its parent, but their name, due date and scan picture can be added. It surely follows that from a very young age such a baby would be introduced to Facebook and the online profile and comments that existed before she did. In such scenarios as the absurd case of the “unborn child Facebook argument” linked to above, this could surely lead to some disturbing revelations.

As far as Facebook is concerned, it helps them to curb the creation of illegal profiles. It also gives them a chance to compete with the arrival of Google+ and its “family circles” by promoting the family unit. I expect that a big plus of the whole thing is that it enables Facebook to target advertising at expectant parents. The site has come under fire multiple times for using members’ personal information to make relevant adverts pop up whilst they are using the site, and it is more than likely that those who advertise their pregnancies on their profiles will be subjected to banner ads about nappies and strollers.

All in all, being able to put your unborn child’s profile on Facebook is not a big deal. Technology is moving so quickly thatassigning your unborn an online profile is arguably no great leap from putting all the details of your own life online.  Facebook have seen the writing on the wall and know if they don’t do it, one of their competitors will. The money that can be made from targeted advertising is a massive incentive in itself, and if the targeted advertising works well for Facebook, I expect pet profiles won’t be far behind.

A random round up of interesting happenings on the web.

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The Groupon IPO filing has had lots of airplay this week. Apart from everything else, this really impressed us:

The company now has more than 8,000 employees worldwide, up from 37 employees two years ago. Via CNN

Another Groupon titbit, if you do a search for Eric Lefkofsky on Google, the second automatically generated result is “eric lefkosky fraud”. FYI, Eric is the main shareholder with almost 22% of Groupon. Via CNN

Paul Kedrosky posted Eric’s quotes from his Ha-Lo days in “Then and Now”. If you try and access the original link, it seems to have disappeared though…

We will watch the Groupon IPO with interest.


Companies don’t want to be “Samwered”

William Quigley of Clearstone Venture Partners wrote an interesting guest post  on TechCrunch and I was struck by a number of points in the post. One really resonated with me, as we are seeing this happen with a number of our clients.

“The third factor contributing to the far high valuations accruing to private companies today is the speed at which companies can now exploit the global marketplace. When I was at idealab in the 1990s, none of our start-ups attempted to address international markets in the first few years of their existence. In fact, for many of those companies, international markets didn’t become a serious focus until after they went public. How times have changed.”

One of our early stage US clients expanding to Europe will hire 8-10 people in their new London office in the next 12 months. They will also hire locally in the German, French and Scandinavian markets. In the last 6 months we have sourced Head of Sales/Country Managers for the UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands for a Denmark headquartered client and are now assisting with their expansion into the US. There is an increased urgency with which companies, with serious traction in their home market, are attacking international markets.

William also noted “Today it is possible to pursue an international growth strategy almost as quickly as a domestic one. The cost of running a global business has dramatically shrunk, and while costs of going overseas have plummeted, the revenue opportunities have increased manifold.”

It takes a lot less time and money to start a business than it did 5 or 10 years ago, by the same token it takes even less time and money to copy a successful business model. Companies do not want to be “Samwered”  and watching eHarmony acquire the rest of  eDarling who have rapidly expanded into 10 countries in Europe, is going to be fascinating, to say the least! Companies with an experienced executive management team, traction and deliverable growth strategies have to think international and this has to be good for the ecosystem.

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