On the Road Again

As it isn’t a good tone to have a blog sit stale for a year, I figured this place deserves at least a brief set of links as an update on what’s been happening.

The EIR period at Andreessen Horowitz was not only amazing on personal level, but also fruitful professionally. Even though I wrapped up there only in May, since beginning of this year I’ve been working on my next startup venture: Teleport. We officially founded it with Silver and Balaji in April, closed some seed funding soon after and now have been head down building team and product.

On November 14th, we released the first modest piece of our location search tech in public preview, aimed at helping startup people find the best place to live in the San Francisco Bay Area – give it a try and tell me what you think!

If you’re interested more about what we’re up to, read the coming-out-of-the-closet blog post from April, or a more recent one explaining our focus on startup people. Or just lean back and let me explain it to you in 10 minutes in a speech held at Slush 2014:

It is quite amusing now to see how all of this builds on my Slush 2013 speech and blogpost series on Looking at Europe from Silicon Valley… Some things are just meant to come together, I guess.

As you can guess, life on the early stage startup road is quite busy, the good kind of busy. Hence you can find me quicker at these places than on this personal blog for now:


Managing the Idea Buffet

As a follow-up to my post on what an EIR does, I promised to share a little more detail on how I practically go about filtering ideas. Effective filtering, choosing what to engage in and what to respectfully decline fast can be the pillar of effective time management in any case, but even more so when you are growing your own startup ideas list or get bombarded by incoming shiny new things through the dealflow at a firm like Andreessen Horowitz or while networking outside.

The tool I chose to increase control of the process is super simple: write down the list of properties that define an inspiring next venture for you. And then, iterate through discussions.

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So… What Does an EIR Actually Do?

This has been a persistent question since I started my Entrepreneur in Residence gig at Andreessen Horowitz, and one that I have had to both figure out for myself and explain over and over again. If you explicitly search for it, you can find an occasional article or Quora thread on the topic – but as people rightfully point out in those, it is a rather vague role that varies in each case and from VC firm to firm. So, once-and-for-all, here’s what it’s been like for me so far.

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On Bridges, Part 3: What Can Europe Give to Silicon Valley?

Bridge_drawingThis is the final post of 3 contemplating how Silicon Valley and European tech scenes could get closer to each other. The series are an expansion of a short speech I gave at Slush conference in November 2013 – video of which should be online soon. I believe this topic calls for more discussion and thinking along than 15 one-directional minutes on conference stage allowed. To get up to speed, read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

After looking at the widening gap between European and Silicon Valley tech scenes and establishing that the usual first priority, raising money from the other side might not be the most feasible way to fix this – the questions becomes: how can we build more non-financial ties between our scenes?

As US is not paying close attention I believe that the key to the solution is on the European side. And to succeed in driving this change in relationships, Europe needs a mindset shift.

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On Bridges, Part 2: Why Should Europe Care for Silicon Valley

Bridge_drawingThis post is 2nd of 3 discussing ways Silicon Valley and European tech scene could get closer to each other. The series are an expansion of a short speech I gave at Slush conference in November 2013 – video of which should be online soon. I believe this topic calls for more discussion and thinking along than 15 one-directional minutes on conference stage. As an intro, see Part 1 here.

Europe’s tech scene is buzzing. Those of us who have been on both sides can attest that the people innovating there, business models attempted and technologies applied in Europe are very much aligned with what’s happening in Silicon Valley, despite of the separation. So it would make sense to link up more, right?

As a healthy sanity check before jumping to that conclusion, let us ask: why would we need stronger ties? Looking from Europe, that is.

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On Bridges, Part 1: Realizing how Europe and Silicon Valley are drifting apart

Bridge_drawingThis post is 1st of 3 in the series aimed at discussing ways Silicon Valley and European tech scenes could contribute to and gain more from each other. The series are an expansion of a short speech I gave at Slush conference in November 2013 (video of which should be online soon) but I believe this topic is calls for more discussion and thinking along than 15 one-directional minutes on conference stage.

If you were to sit in the audience of any European tech summit these days you get soaked in action around you. Would it be TechCrunch Disrupt Europe, LeWeb, or the raising 5000-attendee rocket of the region, Slush in the November darkness of Helsinki – there is no arguing that the European startup scene is in its most bustling, vibrant shape ever.

Yet, a lot of this exciting renaissance seems still to be constrained to the Old World continent.
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First Decade of #SkypeMafia

skypemafia - full plot - thumbnail

On August 29th Skype is celebrating its birthday. As it did as a small European-rooted startup, so it does as a product in the portfolio of Microsoft. This time it is a round one, too: first 10 years. Sending the best wishes to all the friends who have built and are building Skype over these years, I figured it would be a good time to give in to an idea that has been in the back of my mind for a while: what would it look like if someone somehow visualized the impact of the company Niklas, Janus & a bunch of Estonian engineers started in 2003 to the broader startup ecosystem?

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Sten @ a16z

August 1st marked the end of my 8+ year journey with Skype, after returning from an academic break at Stanford. As expected, the top incoming question following my departure tweet has been “what’s next” – so let me share a bit more.

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Week 33: Network Centrality, Bass Diffusion, SaaS Sales & Data Science

Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 3 (33), Spring quarter

Head down in two inches of readings for this week and a fresh flow of first written project deadlines, like a two-degrees-deep analysis of your friends and advisors social graph or a set of regressions to be run on profitability data of a bank who has no clue if there is any connection between the demographics and profitability of their customers.

For a little different entertainment in the Sales Orgs class we are running a simulation game where you need to manage yourself through the pipeline as a sales rep of a medical devices company. Four virtual “years” in four weeks. After a miserable first year (I hit merely about a quarter of my quota – should have read the manual before I tried to just figure the game mechanics out for 2 “quarters”) I look forward to the Tuesday class from a much more comfortable position after “year” 2. I guess the hours spent as a teen with Civilization and the likes can sometimes pay off?

GSB hosted a fun networking event this week called “Fewer than 300” – bringing people in from over 30 companies who are about to grow out of their startup phase (but are yet to break 300 employees), but have raised money and shown traction and still are just burning of enthusiasm about what they are doing. Think of the likes of Uber or Nest or Visual.ly. Good people and good conversations.

Covered in this issue:

  • Analysing network centrality measures and deriving composite relationships from simple a matrix
  • Using Bass diffusion models for new product adoption predictions
  • Handling variability in processes (from job shops to continuous flow)
  • Economics of selling SaaS subscriptions and merging sales teams after M&A
  • More team-first entrepreneurial models
  • History of Sloan Program at Stanford
  • Data Science learnings from LinkedIn and other Greylock companies
  • Guests: Vinod Khosla, Mark Leslie & part of Veritas exec team, Corey Leibow, Eric Botto, George Parker, DJ Patil

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Extracurricular Fireworks: Friendster, Prezi, Rovio, Bonobos + O’Reilly & Doerr

With the end-of-quarter groupwork frenzy I am behind on posting the academic lecture notes – hope to get to that this weekend. But meanwhile, as the flow of new thoughts from extracurricular guest visitors in just last seven days has been mind-blowing I’ll post them for your enjoyment.

See further for tips, startup plugs, book recommendations and videos from:

  • Jonathan Abrams (founder of Friendster, Socializr, Nuzzel, Founders Den)
  • Peter Halacsy, Peter Arvai (co-founders of Prezi, Hungary)
  • Peter Vesterbacka (Mighty Eagle, Rovio)
  • Andy Dunn (CEO and co-founder, Bonobos)
  • Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media, O’Reilly Alphatech Ventures)
  • John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers)

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