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Why I am delighted that Publicis invested $15mm into JANA.

Jana recently closed a $15mm investment from Publicis and Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis, agreed to join the board.  Publicis is one of the leading Advertising Holding Companies in the world and Maurice is one of the most respected leaders in the Industry.  Publicis is dedicated to Emerging Markets as it seeks to find the next 1 billion Customers for it’s clients.  There is no better Partner for Jana to help build out it’s platform globally.  The deal was announced in the New York Times-http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/business/media/eye-on-emerging-markets-firm-invests-in-start-up.html

Jana is building a mobile engagement platform for Emerging Markets.  Mobile engagement is about registering consumers and encouraging them to perform an action. The action could be trying a new product, reviewing a product, downloading an App, or responding with the price of sugar at their local store.  In most instances, the consumers are rewarded for their action with mobile airtime but the model will evolve into social actions in which the actions themselves become the reward.  In emerging markets, mobile phones are the center of the consumers’ universe and airtime is a precious commodity.  The percentage of income spent on airtime is substantial and the vast majority of plans are pre-pay. Therefore, airtime = money.

Jana currently reaches 3.48 billion people over 230 mobile networks around the world including India, Africa, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and 75 other Emerging Market Countries.  Jana’s self-serve platform allows advertisers to target, acquire, engage and delight billions of mobile subscribers.  No other independent platform exists to accomplish what Jana is capable of delivering.  Another thing I like about Jana is the value the Company delivers to subscribers.  As Nathan Eagle, Founder of JANA says- “we aspire to give the World a raise”.  Yes, I am enthusiastic about Jana. Companies such as this are relatively rare.  It is early and Jana has lots of wood to chop but I love this little Company and I am pumped to have Publicis as a Partner.  Let the engagement begin.

P.S. Jana is hiring Senior Engineers in Boston.  Visit JANA.com for details.

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Spark IV

Today we announced our fourth Fund.  Spark IV is a $450mm fund focused on early stage technology Companies.   I reflected a bit while thinking about the new Fund.

It occurred to me that eight years ago we launched a start-up to invest in start-ups.   We were Entrepreneurs with a plan and a tin cup.  Here we are eight years later with $1.5 billion across 4 Funds. 

We have been fortunate to partner with some great Companies such as Twitter, Tumblr, Admeld, OMGPOP, IP Wireless, Adapt.tv and Wayfair.   There is a great sense of pride and satisfaction when a Company goes from a start-up to a valuable enterprise employing thousands of people and making an impact on the World.  

I am lucky to be surrounded by such a great Team.  I love that we argue about how to do better, help each other without being asked and laugh a lot.  It isn’t clear how such a diverse cast of characters acts in synchrony.  My only explanation is that different perspectives can meld into good decisions when the objective is clear and the egos are in check. 

We have amassed a great collection of Entrepreneurs and leaders in our Companies.  I am grateful for their effort and for making us look like we know what we’re doing.  These people took loads of calls from our Investors and went beyond the call of duty.  They have willingly spoken to prospective Entrepreneurs on our behalf and helped peers in our Companies. 

We have a great set of Investors.  Most have been with us from Day One.  When we started Spark we had a power point, an offering memo and a strategy.  Our Investors took a chance on us.  These are Endowments, Foundations, and Pension Funds mind you.  They do good work with their money.  We are grateful and determined to reward their trust.  

We have another chance to invest in the next great Entrepreneurs, Products and Companies.   We can continue to mine the massive value creation driven by the Internet.  We can anticipate the path of technology as it spreads into the emerging markets.  We can search for the next category leader.  We can maybe even have a hand in the construction of a Company that has a profound impact on the planet.  How cool is that?

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Cliff my Ass; it’s a Crevasse.

Forget the Fiscall Cliff.  That was nuttin”.  The real issue is the Fiscal Crevasse we are in now.  We are stuck in a hole that we keep digging deeper.  First rule of holes- when you’re in one stop digging.  We have a mind-numbing $222 trillion gap between the present value of projected future spending and the present value of projected future taxes according to Laurence J. Kotlikoff- Economics professor at Boston University.  That means we have to bridge a $222 trillion funding gap.  That’s a gap of about $592,000 for each man, woman, and child in the US.  

So here’s why we’re in a Crevasse- we need to hack off a body part two to escape.  It won’t be pleasant.  it will hurt like hell.  It will be unpopular and cause widespread discontent.  The unions will hate it.  The fictional “middle class” won’t like it.  The 1% will whine and swallow it hard.  And guess what-  Politicians won’t do it because they are Woosies.  

There isn’t a single Economist in Congress.  Most are Lawyers.  They talk in conundrums.   Most are worried about Numero Uno and getting re-elected.  Since there are no term limits there is a strong self-preservation force in Congress. 

The President is the ring-leader in wanting to kick the can down the road.  Who wants to be the President that ruined the Party; pissed in the water hole; brought a skunk to the picnic.  Not this one.  He is working on a legacy and economic pain and suffering are not on the agenda.  Number 45 or 47 or 50 will deal with it, not number 44.  Number 44 will be writing books, giving speeches, advising companies and paying much higher taxes when the excrement really hits the ventilator.  

So, what’s the solution?  Cut baby, cut.  Cut an arm off so that the body may live.  When I say “body” what I really mean is our Children and Grandchildren.  We are writing checks they’ll have to make good.  Our Parents didn’t do that to us.  We shouldn’t do it to our Kids.  

Our economy and wealth as a Nation is our best security.  We are in a World that is getting smaller and more dangerous.  Last night I watched the Movie called Looper.  In scene, Bruce Willis’ character comes back from the future and advises his younger self to move to China vs. France.  ”Trust me, I come from the future.  Go to China”.  The movie wasn’t great but the message rings true.  Who has the guts to invest in the next 25 years of this Country rather than the next 4?  Raising taxes on the rich isn’t the only answer.  It is part of the answer but it can’t bridge the gap  Taking a major hack at spending is the way.  Let’s stop wasting money.  Let’s stop giving incentives to the Takers and instead convert the Takers to Makers.  Give the so-called “Middle Class a chance to be successful and build financial security.  But do it for the long term, not just the next election.  

And what about the Poor?  In the last election all we heard about was protecting the Middle Class and making the Rich do more.  Fine, that’s a reasonable approach.  We heard very little about the Poor.  Why?  The Poor don’t vote.  At least they don’t carry elections.  The term Middle Class is code for- a majority of voters.  What we need to make sure of is that the Poor don’t get Poorer and have a chance to build wealth.  We have to make sure that people on the edge of Poverty don’t slip into it.  We need to take care of those that need help and deserve it.  We must do so not with hand-outs and entitlements but with education, jobs, and respect.  

How does this jive with cutting?  It forces us to cut where we, at the margin, do the least overall harm.  It challenges us to preserve the spending that has the greatest value to the Country.  

It would be pretentious to claim I know exactly where to cut.  I am not in that business.  But I have lots of business experience.   And I do know that when you are piling up debt and heading towards bankruptcy, you cut expenses.  You cut so that you can survive.  The Companies that cut early and deep enough are the ones that survive and later thrive.  It’s time to make the tough choices and pass a Nation to our Children that is at least as sound as the one we were passed.  Right now we are Takers.  We are taking from the future and we are taking from them.   

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You are a D-bag

It’s that magical time of the Year. The time to recognize those most deserving individuals for their accomplishments of the last Year. Yes, it’s time for them to receive their just desserts- vinegar and water.. i am referring of course to my D-bag of the Year Award. This Year there were several contenders but no one came close to the eventual winner. The Runner-ups are:

Runner-up- Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s new Dictator. A cow-chip off the old block.

Runner-up- Taylor Swift. Cradle-robbing Kennedy offspring. Come on, go back to John Mayer, he is the Bitch-whisperer.

Runner-up- Franchesco Sentino- Italian Cruise ship Concordia Captain. He may be the new Gilligan. This skipper scuttled his ship during a sail-by a Friend’s house. What’s Italian for nitwit?

Runner-up- Mel Greig and Michael Christian, Aussie DJs who deceived the Nurse in London that took her own life out of crushing embarrassment. I hope it was worth the ratings boost. Imagine your conscience is a Kangaroo that constantly kicks you in the face.

Runner-up- Kristen Stuart. Who’s the real Vampire? Her Director deserves some of the credit so we’ll give him a slug of vinegar from her bag, Poor Rob, he should have stuck to his own kind.

Runner-up- Jerry Sandusky- They are waiting for you in the Big House shower to deliver your award Gang-bang style.

Runner-up- General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell. The good General was caught “All In” with his Biographer. A military genius that forgot that when you are mounting an offensive, make sure you cover your rear, dah.

Runner-up- Wayne LaPierre- the NRA dude who thinks assault rifles = freedom and schools should have them around for protection. He may be compensating. I know it’s your job but get a F-ing clue.

Bashar Assad- Voted most likely to be hanged by his own people in High School, B Ass, as his friend’s call him had a Year to forget. Here’s to a better 2013 marked with imminent overthrow.

Runner-up- The Chinese Olympic Badminton Team- Players laid down in early matches to get into an easier bracket. Now that’s what I call a load of Shuttlecock. Note to self- just because it’s called BADmitton…..

Runner-up- The Politicians in DC for taking us to the fictitious Cliff and coming up with a compromise that coddles Greedmongers and saddles our Children with crushing debt. You know what, your job is less important than this Country. Grow some.

Runner-up- John Edwards- I know, I know he was on the list last Year and didn’t do anything this Year but I can’t resist. He’s a perennial D-bag,

Runner-up- Todd Akin, candidate for Senator of MO that famously stated during his campaign that a Woman can’t be “technically” raped because her body “shuts down” during rape. Todd, first please change your name and second, go conduct some research and see if your body shuts down.

Runner-up- Judge Mark Wolf, the MA Judge that ruled that a convicted murderer, Michele (Robert) Kosilek has the right to a Sex Change operation paid for by Taxpayers’ money. This makes New Hampshire look better.

I hate to end on this note but I have to do it. How can I leave out the clear loser, I mean winner. So here goes. And the winner of D-bag of the year is the coward that perpetrated the heinous act that ended the promising and courageous lives in Newtown, CT. I refuse to use the name of this evil little bitch. Congrats on your posthumous win, Now burn in Hell for 26 eternities.

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The Entrepreneur’s 12 Days of Fund Raising

On the 1st day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- an expiring term sheet at $4mm Pre.

On the 2nd day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a due diligence list from A to Z.

On the 3rd day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a junior Associate with ADD.

On the 4th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a meeting with a blackberry-addicted GP.

On the 5th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a CEO candidate with an Ego and a gotee.

On the 6th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a Lawyer and an uncapped legal fee.

On the 7th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a co-investor with an embellished CV.

On the 8th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a lavish dinner paid for by me.

On the 9th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a technical consultant with Turrets and a double E.

On the 10th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a 40 minute wait and cold cup of tea.

On the 11th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a ride in his beloved S63 AMG.

On the 12th day of Fund Raising my VC gave to me- a revised term sheet with a new T and C.