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from A Round to Apple Inc.
General Commentary
July 24, 2016

Mission: Possible

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Market Snapshot

Indices Week YTD
GSV 300 0.00% 53.10%
S&P 500 -0.20% 15.30%
Dow -0.50% 18.50%
NASDAQ -0.20% 25.40%
Russell 2000 -1.30% 8.70%
MSCI -0.10% 32.20%
Valuations P/E Fwd P/E/G
GSV 300 27.5x 0.7x
S&P 500 19.4x 2.6x
I-Rates Now YTD
10-Year Note 2.40% -2.00%
3-Month Bill 1.23% 141.20%
Sentiment - Current
Bull-Bear - 45.1-23.1
Put-Call - 1.16
Vix - 11.29
Inflation Now YTD
Gold $1276 10.70%
Oil $56.90 5.70%
Mutual Funds - Week
Fund Flows (bil) - $4.70
Growth-Value 00-09 09-Now
Growth -34% 244%
Value 87% 147%

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

— Michelangelo

Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.

— George Carlin

Where do big companies come from?

Just as trees don’t start as trees — they start as acorns — big companies don’t start as big companies… they start as small companies. 

As a liquid, publicly traded stock, GSV Capital is a unique vehicle that enables public investors to access dynamic private companies like Spotify, Snapchat, Dropbox, Palantir and Lyft. As companies stay private longer, the opportunity to invest in emerging growth businesses has increasingly been limited to select venture capital firms and institutional investors. (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Spotify, Snapchat, Dropbox, Palantir and Lyft)

Changes in the IPO Landscape (1990-2000 vs 2001-2015)

Source: National Venture Capital Association, GSV Asset Management

According to the National Venture Capital Association, from 1990 to 2000, there was an average of 406 IPOs in the United States per year. From 2001 to 2015, there has been an average of 111 IPOs. The time from initial Venture Capital investment to monetization has gone from an average of three years in 2000 to approximately ten years today.

We believe that growth drives enterprise value, and accordingly, our mission is to build a portfolio of rapidly growing, venture-backed private companies — the “Stars of Tomorrow”. What’s exciting to us is that innovation is accelerating. Some may quibble about appropriate values, but we’re very pleased with the value creation opportunity. (Click HERE to see my recent remarks on the state of play at GSVC from our annual Investor Day in June)

Connecting Investors with Opportunity
GSV Capital is unique vehicle that enables public investors to access dynamic private companies

Source: GSV Asset Management

From September 14-15, GSVlabs — a global innovation center that is home to over 170 startups that GSV Capital owns 70%+ of — will host the second annual GSV Pioneer Summit. The objective of the Summit is to catalyze transformative ideas by bringing together visionary founders, investors, and leaders who are changing the world for good. It gives us a window to what’s next. It gives GSV a window to future opportunities and is a platform to accelerate investments we’ve made.

A fundamental screen we use to select presenting companies is to search for problems that require fresh thinking and solutions — the greater the problem, the bigger the opportunity. In 2016, the Summit will focus on five key themes, emphasizing bold and creative solutions for the “wicked” issues that plague societies the World over.

1. EXPONENTIAL MACHINES

How will artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented reality tools change global industries and society?

In 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every two years. The effect of “Moore’s Law” is that computing power has doubled (or, costs have been halved) every two years for the past 50 years. Dramatic reductions in storage and computing costs have enabled the rapid rise of powerful new technology platforms, including Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The current frontier is “Deep Learning” — a process where computers “teach” themselves concepts and tasks by crunching large sets of data. It’s a way of getting computers to know things when they see them by producing rules that programmers cannot specify.

Exponential Growth of Computing Power, 1900-2100

Source: Ray Kurzweil, GSV Asset Management

By working from the bottom up, Deep Learning algorithms learn to recognize features, concepts, and categories that humans understand but struggle to define in code. For these algorithms to work, they first must be “trained” with massive quantities of data inputs. For example, Facebook’s facial recognition algorithm, Deep Face — which can recognize human faces with 97% accuracy — was created by feeding computers with millions of images of faces.

Deep Learning and related AI technology has powerful commercial applications — particularly in the ability to create a personalized experience for people using a variety of apps and services.

Personalized Technology Driven by Artificial Intelligence

Source: GSV Asset Management

Similarly, Virtual and Augmented Reality (AR/VR) has been promised since the 1950s, but the convergence of low-cost mobile hardware and powerful new software platforms is bringing it to life.

Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey, a college dropout, created a Virtual Reality “prototype” in 2011 with a smartphone, two eyeglass lenses, duct tape, and a bucket. One year later, Luckey tried to raise $250,000 on Kickstarter and reeled in $2.4 million.

In 2014, Facebook bought his company for $2 billion and VR had seemingly arrived. At the time, Mark Zuckerberg observed, “Every 10 to 15 years a new major computing platform arrives — we think that virtual and augmented reality are important parts of this upcoming next platform.”

2. HUMAN RENAISSANCE

How will humans learn, work and live in an accelerating world and what technologies will help us educate leaders of the future?

Throughout history, whether in pre-industrial or industrial times, great nations developed based on their access to physical resources or their ability to surmount physical barriers. England and Spain crossed oceans, Germany turned coal and iron into steel, and the United States exploited a wealth of agricultural and industrial resources to become the World’s breadbasket and industrial superpower.

But the advent of the personal computer, the Internet, and the digital delivery of information has shifted the World’s focus from physical capital to human capital.

The most valuable resources in a physical economy are commodities like coal, iron, and oil. Their value is judged by metrics like purity and volume. In a knowledge economy, the most valuable resource is talent. Talent is valued based on brainpower, and the ability to acquire, deliver, and process information effectively.

Our “modern” education system was designed in the early 1900s to produce predictable talent for process-driven work, from factory floors to the massive bureaucracies that supported industrial corporate titans. In this model, you learned until age 25 and then transitioned to a predictable career.

But in an era of globalization and technology automation, career obsolescence is the new normal. Oxford researchers have projected that 47% of American jobs are at “high risk” of being automated in the next 20 years. McKinsey estimates that 12 million U.S. “middle skill” jobs will be eliminated by 2025. Globally, there are over 350 million manufacturing and warehouse workers — roles that are rapidly being replaced as companies like Amazon, which already “employs” 30,000 warehouse robots, seek low-cost, high-efficiency alternatives to human labor.

Kaizen is a Japanese business term meaning “continuous improvement.” An education corollary is GSV’s concept of “KaizenEDU,” which means “continuous learning.” Hard work and a college degree are the minimum price of admission in the Global Knowledge Economy. But in a rapidly changing World, you can no longer fill up your “knowledge tank” until age 25 and cruise through life. Effective workers must refill their knowledge tanks continuously.

The same dynamics that have paved the way for disruptive global businesses to launch at lightening speeds — from Uber, which is upending the transportation industry, to Airbnb, which is redefining the hotel industry — are now propelling a new generation of rapidly scaling education and talent companies. We call these platforms “Weapons of Mass Instruction” because they are increasingly enabling people to learn anytime, anywhere.

Coursera (2015 Pioneer Summit Presenting Company), for example, is democratizing global access to high quality education. It partners with universities to provide best-in-class online courses in a freemium model, charging for certification of program completion. Founded in 2012, it already reaches more than 18 million students with 1,800+ courses created in conjunction with 140+ university partners. (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Coursera)

The Pioneer Summit will focus on innovations in talent and education that reduce cost, improve quality, and broaden access.

3. SUSTAINABLE WORLD

How will our 7 billion and growing global population live happy, healthy, and prosperous lives while preserving the planet?

The good news is that the world’s middle class will more than double to five billion over the next 15 years. The bad news is that the strain this will put on the environment will be extreme, with wealthier people traveling more, consuming more, and using more electricity for everything — from air conditioning to lighting larger homes.

The World has never witnessed income growth at this speed or magnitude. China and India, for example, are doubling their real per capita incomes at 10 times the pace of England during the Industrial Revolution and 200 times the scale. 

Size of Global Middle Class Population (Billions)

Source: OECD

Defined as households that spend between $10 and $100 per day, the Middle Class is a cohort of CONSUMERS. The American way of life — house(s), car(s), modern appliances, travel — has become the World’s gold standard for quality of life. 

Unfortunately, our account with the Bank of Mother Nature is already overdrawn. Today, we are using 1.5 planets worth of resources to meet global consumption demands. In other words, it takes 1.5 years to replenish the resources we consume in a year. We will need another half of a planet to simply sustain the next generation. 

Confronting these grand challenges means that we need to reimagine how we create, cultivate, and consume everything — from energy and food products to consumer goods, cars, and construction projects. We need to focus on innovation and big ideas, not incrementalism.

Importantly, “Sustainability” is about more than green technology. It’s about living a happier, healthier life. The fact that everybody can and should have their own genetic profile, for example, has profound implications for the future of personalized medicine and extending human life.

Pioneers: Anne Wojcicki, CEO, 23andMe
Anne Wojcicki, Co-Founder + CEO, 23andMe (Left) Interviewed by Katy Steinmetz, San Francisco Bureau Chief, Time Magazine, at the 2015 GSV Pioneer Summit

Source: GSV Asset Management

In 2003, it cost $3.8 billion to map out the human genome. Today, 23andMe (2015 Pioneer Summit Presenting Company) enables people to order a mini-map of their genetic make-up for $199. We are entering a new world where people can affordably live longer, smarter, and “greener” lives. We are on the verge of an era of sustainable living. 

4. COMMERCE REIMAGINED

How will commerce and finance be transformed by new innovation fundamentals, including blockchain, digitalization, peer-to-peer marketplaces, and a mobile workforce?

Enabled by smartphone access and enhanced logistics, global e-commerce has been steadily growing. Yet while it is expected to surpass $2 trillion in 2016, e-commerce will still represent less than 9% of global retail spending.

Global E-Commerce Sales, 2014-2019

Source: eMarketer, GSV Asset Management

For participants in this market — old and new — growth has been fundamentally driven by logistics, not an expansion of products, offerings, or experiences. To date, this has been a market where you win on scale and efficiency — think Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba.

But if you look at the world of physical stores, many compete on service — the customer experience — not just efficiency. For every Best Buy, there is an Apple store. For every Target, there’s a Nordstrom. The next wave of digital commerce will bring a renewed focus on combining efficiency with a superior personal experience.

COMMERCE EVOLUTION: DIGITAL EXPERIENCE IS THE NEXT FRONTIER

Commerce Evolution: Digital Experience is the Next Frontier

Source: GSV Asset Management

Enjoy (2015 Pioneer Summit Presenting Company), co-founded by former Apple retail head Ron Johnson, is at the forefront of this trend. It’s a personal commerce platform built to revolutionize the way people buy and experience the World’s best technology products — from smartphones to wireless sound-systems and drones. The central feature of the company is hand-delivery of every item within 2-3 hours, including product set-up by an Enjoy expert. Effectively, Enjoy is Uber-meets-Apple Genius Bar. (Disclosure: GSV owns share in Enjoy)

The magic is in the experience Enjoy delivers. Efficient, on-demand delivery is table stakes. Enjoy experts meet customers at a time and place of their choosing, arriving early 97% of the time. Delivery is free and the product prices are the same or less than Amazon, Best Buy, or the Apple store.

How does it work? Enjoy doesn’t build stores. It hires great people. Enjoy can deploy a team of highly trained, engaging product experts a lot less expensively than building a physical storefront. Effectively, it works off the same margins as a physical store, but with a different model.

Ultimately, Enjoy is part of a trend where companies will increasingly focus on creating a delightful experience for people that make digital purchases. In this respect, popular, emerging consumer businesses like SoulCycle are kindred spirits.

There is nothing about what SoulCycle does that can be patented. The casual observer might even mistake it for a “spinning class.” But when you study SoulCycle, you realize that its monster success derives from doing a hundred little things better than anybody else.

Fundamentally, SoulCycle is a digital commerce platform. You go on your phone. You pick your class, your bike, your instructor, and your session time. Mobile payments are fully integrated. And then you show up and have a delightful experience. The instructors are trained to be both inspirational and aspirational. The music is perfectly choreographed. Despite the heavy sweat, SoulCycle studios sparkle and smell fresh.

The Pioneer Summit will explore how an emphasis on experience, as well as a variety of technology and business model innovations, are shaping the future of commerce.

5. MOONSHOT IDEAS

How will humanity explore the next frontier using drones, rockets, hyperloop pods, supersonic jets, and ultimately, our imaginations?

While all of the entrepreneurs at the Pioneer Summit are bold and ambitious, some of them are taking on especially challenging moonshot ideas. These companies work in regulated industries, compete against stagnant incumbents, and solve difficult, technical challenges. But these companies have the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the world and beyond.

One literal “moonshot” industry that the Pioneer Summit will cover is space. Until recently, the rule with rockets has been that what goes up usually comes down in pieces. The cost of getting anything into orbit — from satellites to people and supplies — has routinely cost upwards of $250 million per launch because expensive rockets are used once before falling from the sky like confetti. It would be like having a commercial aviation industry where planes were flown once and then discarded — not exactly cost efficient or scalable.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin are shattering the old paradigm by making rocket reusability a reality. In April, Blue Origin successfully landed its New Shepard rocket, its third successful test flight in less than five months. This week, SpaceX landed a rocket on a robotic barge nicknamed “Of Course I Still Love You” off the coast of Florida, its second successful landing in five weeks.

The personal computer paved the way for a new category of software companies. Affordable computing infrastructure like Amazon Web Services (AWS) spawned scores of cloud applications. Today, reusable rockets are poised to drive down cost and catalyze a variety of space “applications” — from travel to satellite-enabled logistics, business intelligence, and security.

An extension of this trend is the rise of Nanosatellites, or or “Nanosats”. Ranging from the size of a shoebox to a refrigerator, Nanosats are significantly smaller and affordable than traditional satellites. In the next twelve months, Planet Labs (2015 Pioneer Summit Presenting Company) will have deployed 150 Nanosats (“Doves” in Planet Labs vernacular), the largest fleet of Earth imaging satellites in the market — among private companies and government agencies alike.

Pioneers: Will Marshall, CEO, Planet Labs
Featured Speaker at GSV’s 2015 Pioneer Summit

Source: GSVlabs

The applications for new troves of imaging information from Space are wide-ranging. Planet Labs, which produced the first set of daily, global earth images, is generating 370,000 images and 11 terabytes of data per day. Weather services can utilize sensors on Nanosats to gather better data and provide a clearer picture of climate patterns. Governments agencies can analyze imagery to monitor deforestation and environmental impact over time.

Until recently, it was possible to track a UPS truck to a city block, but cargo ships carrying millions of dollars worth of goods remained elusive. Spire (2015 Pioneer Summit Presenting Company) is dramatically improving global supply chain management by using satellite imaging to eradicate the “data dead zones” that exist across the Earth’s oceans.

We’re just scratching the surface and we hope you will join us at the 2016 GSV Pioneer Summit to explore our wildest frontier together.

Bubblin'

by Luben Pampoulov

Quality Drives Success

Last week I was reminded about the importance of Customer Experience. I hadn’t flown Singapore Airlines for over three years, and had been getting used to the mediocrity of most major airlines. But boarding an SIA again, blew my mind anew. The airline is in a league of its own, with few other coming close to it (Emirates, Qatar Airways, Turkish). The friendliness, the service, the experience, the offer, the comfort, tech technology, the punctuality — SIA not only delivers but tops the highest expectations.

Top Airlines by Quality

Source: World Airline Rewards

Top Airlines by Quantity

Source: IATA

When looking at the best airlines ranked by quality, and the largest airlines ranked by number of passengers, there is an obvious mismatch. The highest quality airlines are very focused and are not among the largest airlines, while the largest ones score low on quality. Impressively, Turkish Airways is the one exception that makes the top 10 on both lists. (If only this could be the case with their political situation…)

One of the key indicators for great businesses is how they treat their customers. A major reason why Apple blew past all of its competition during the last decade was because of the experience you got from the products and when visiting the Apple Store.

In another case — on a trip to NYC last year, I booked an apartment through Airbnb. Unfortunately, the host hadn’t shared all of the right information on the Airbnb listing, and what looked good on pictures, was bad in reality. After staying through the first night, I felt highly misled and contacted Airbnb’s support. Immediately, the Airbnb representative offered me to find a better listing and said I can leave without incurring cancellation fees… Imagine staying at a hotel and asking to cancel (without fees) the rest of your stay because they didn’t deliver on expectations? Good luck!

Another obvious example is the Taxi industry. In most big cities around the world, the Taxi experience can be horrifying: unfriendly and arrogant drivers, bad driving, taking you through longer routes, overcharging, etc. Seven years ago that was the norm and you didn’t really have alternatives. But with the rise of Lyft, Uber, Didi, etc. the customer is King again! (Disclosure: GSV owns shares in Lyft).

Lyft specifically puts enormous focus on quality and experience, and as a result it is the preferred choice among Millennials. At GSV, we always perform our “field research” and ask drivers who they prefer to drive for (as most drivers are on both, Uber and Lyft). We find that increasingly drivers chose Lyft over Uber because they “are treated better.” It is no surprise that Lyft has been catching up to Uber in the U.S.

When Shaq Is Your Lyft Driver

Some other examples of experience-driven success include Spotify, Dropbox, and DogVacay. In Spotify’s case, its superior user interface combined with a data-driven suggestion engine add significant value to the whole music experience. The likes of Apple, Amazon and Alphabet are still struggling to compete against the Swedish leader, and especially Apple is now trying everything and anything to get closer to the top. Similarly, Dropbox’s innovative culture and its laser-sharp focus on providing best quality in file storage, sharing and collaboration are the reasons it continues to be ahead of Alphabet, Apple, Box, etc. And just like Airbnb, DogVacay delivers a high customer satisfaction to both pet owners and pet hosts, which was also reflected in its 94 Net Promoter Score!

But quality is difficult to maintain! Over time, as companies grow in size, it becomes harder to keep innovation and quality at top levels. Both of these go hand in hand, and if one starts to lag, the other will too. If innovation starts to fade, so will quality soon too. Among the large consumer technology companies, there are only very few that continue to impress with their innovation and best-in-class quality.

Large Cap Consumer Tech Companies With High Customer Quality & Innovation

Source: GSV, Wonda

Pioneer Notes

by Li Jiang

Episode 4: Why this entrepreneur joined a company 2.5 weeks away from failing

By Sunyoung Kye & Bryce Morisako

trail·blaz·er: a person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled territory

GSVlabs is dedicated to accelerating global innovation. With over 150 startups in the EdTech, Sustainability, Mobile, Big Data, and Entertainment verticals, we work with a diverse range of amazing entrepreneurs.

Above all else, we believe the “one-size-fits-all” mold is not what shapes entrepreneurs. We believe each person has his or her own path to entrepreneurship. Their own trail to blaze.

This week, we interviewed Gene Wang, the founder and CEO of People Power, to understand why he took the risks he did to become an entrepreneur.

Gene Wang working at GSVlabs

Finding a Focus

Gene Wang is a serial entrepreneur. He is a four-time CEO and has now worked on a total of five startups. But he did not always plan to be an entrepreneur. Instead, he started out on track for corporate life.

Gene entered UC Berkeley as an intended Computer Science and Music double major. By senior year, he realized that he could not handle both of them, so he looked to his friends for direction.

“I looked around at my computer science friends and they were all doing great. I looked around at my musician friends and they were starving to death. It was at that moment that I realized that I needed to focus all of my time and energy on computer science and make music a hobby.”

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a computer science degree, he secured a full-time job at Wang Laboratories. But after a short stint, Gene decided that life at such a traditional corporation was not the future he wanted.

“I decided after watching Wang Laboratories move from this nimble company to this real market leading sloth of a company, that I wanted to do a startup.”

Unsure how to break in to the startup world or even what it really entailed, Gene took his first step by applying to Harvard Business School.

“I think there was an error in admissions and they let me in — that’s when I really got exposed to startups. I joined the entrepreneurs club. I listened to all these great CEO speakers.”

At HBS, he gained the exposure to entrepreneurship that he wanted and learned what it meant to own an idea and a business. After a year, Gene returned to Wang Laboratories, but this time, in a completely different field: marketing. His goal was to round out his computer science background and gain real life marketing experience.

After just 3 weeks as a marketing intern, Gene’s boss asked him to be the co-founder and Vice President of Marketing for a startup that was an MIT spinoff out of the Artificial Intelligence lab.

“I thought to myself, ‘it doesn’t get any better than this, let’s do this.’”

Needless to say, Gene accepted the offer and spent the next few years helping the team grow from 4 to 105 employees and amassing $8 million in annual revenues.

“I dove into Gold Hill Computers as the junior cofounder and chief bottlewasher. I did everything. I slept under the desk, I found our office space, I did QA on our products, and I also tried to fit in a lot of marketing when in reality I didn’t know what marketing really was.”

Despite initial success, the business hit a wall when the AI bubble burst. Having experienced his first entrepreneurial failure, Gene learned a valuable lesson.

“I used to think that marketing was all about the hype, PR, and the glamour, but it’s not. I personally did not understand that you really had to build products where you were meeting or exceeding the desires of our customers. Now I know that marketing is aligning what the company can really do with what people will really pay for.”

Failure turns to Success

Undeterred by this initial failure, Gene joined yet another small startup. Taking everything he learned from his previous venture, Gene started at Borland International and had his first breakout success. He helped create Borland C++, which became the number one programming language at the time.

“We sold over a million copies. My business unit went from a distant number two, behind Microsoft, and quickly became the dominant supplier in object-orientated programming.”

Gene’s success led him to an executive role at Symantec where he helped roll out another product, visual cafe. Similar to Borland C++, visual cafe quickly became the number one provider of Java programming, ushering in a new and elevated level of programming on the web.

Gene on the cover of Datamation Magazine for Borland C++

Taking a Risk

Despite the fact that corporate life offered him economic comfort and stability, Gene again started to feel that things were moving too slowly. He missed the excitement of the startup world. So he decided to join his brother as the CEO of Computer Motion, a company that created robots for minimally invasive surgery.

“I joined Computer Motion in a time when it only had 2 and a half weeks of cash. It was a really risky move but it worked out beyond my wildest expectations.”

Computer Motion was running out of money because Gene’s brother, although he was a brilliant scientist with a PhD in robotics, was not yet a businessman. Gene was ready to tackle this challenge as an opportunity to show himself and others what he could really do as a CEO.

With his business acumen and everything he learned from past experiences, Gene turned the company around.

His first order of business was to buy some more time from the investors.

“It turns out that on my flight down, I was paired next to one of the main investors, and got him really excited about me coming on board. So we ended up figuring out how to relax the immediate cash crunch.”

Secondly, he took over the business side of things

“I think that I motivated people. I took over the business and let these engineers and roboticist get back to work and focus on what they were truly good at. That whole thing accelerated the entire product development cycle of it.”

Lastly, he repositioned the product and reengineered the vision of the company.

Gene Wang at Computer Motion

The robots that Computer Motion was building was meant to replace nurses and human error when holding cameras and tools inside the patient’s body during a surgery. The problem was that nurses were cheaper, and for some surgeons, yelling at nurses was a staple part of the surgery. Although Computer Motion could improve things, the ROI was just not there.

So they upscaled the vision of the company.

“It’s not just about holding the camera. It’s about revolutionizing and bringing medicine into the operating room of the future where the surgeon can not only use voice commands to control the operating theatre but also robotic precision surgical tools. You can not hold a long surgical instrument perfectly still whereas robots don’t have hand tremor.”

Two and a half years later, Gene took Computer Motion public. Shortly after going public, Intuitive Surgical merged with Computer Motion, giving the company a third of the shares initially priced around $10/share. Today, Intuitive Surgical’s stock is priced around $668/share.

Learning From More Mistakes

After Computer Motion, Gene founded 2 more companies, Photo Access and Bitfone, before moving on to his current venture, People Power. With each startup came more mistakes, but also more lessons to learn and more potential for success.

With Photo Access, Gene tried to do too much with too little. He spent $22 million trying to build a chip called PhotoChip that would be able to take pictures, send them wirelessly, and then get prints by mail. At the time, this was a revolutionary idea, but they ran into problems with the operating system and expenses.

“I think that the vision was correct but I didn’t leverage other people and tried to do everything by myself. Looking back, I should have focused more. I would say that I learned to focus in on the MVP and to really think twice before making a chip.”

Despite the roadblocks, Photo Access sold successfully into two halves: Agilent acquired the chip business unit and ended up embedding PhotoChip into 100 million camera phones, and the company’s photo printing web service was purchased by American Greetings to print photos and photo merchandise.

After Photo Access, Gene’s next business, Bitfone, ended up being a huge success. It became the world’s largest mobile phone device management software and was bought out by HP for $160 million.

Gene has come a long way from the student at UC Berkeley who couldn’t choose between a major in Music or Computer Science, and the full-time engineer stuck in a boring corporate job. He chose to take a risk, and it worked out. And after years in the entrepreneurship world, he learned some incredibly important lessons.

“It’s all about people. People first, product second. As you wander throughout life, you should keep close relationships with the real stars and treat them well. If you do that, they will come back.”

And they really did. Fourteen members from Bitfone now work at People Power, as do Stan Curtis and John Teeter from Gene’s first startup attempt, Gold Hill Computers. Stan is the VP of Business Development and John is the Chief Scientist and Chief Security Officer.

With a solid team backing him, Gene launched People Power and the popular Internet of Things app, Presence. Presence is a free app that turns your smartphone into a security camera with built-in motion detection and video alerts. It also works as a home security monitoring system by providing entry sensors, motion detectors, temperature and water sensors, smart plugs, and other devices that are controlled by brains in the cloud.

People Power will next expand to senior care with a new IoT care service that allows families to share precious moments captured in video and photos, while also helping seniors live more comfortably in their homes.

Gene with part of his People Power team

Gene attributes much of his success to having the right team. He trusts the people he brought on to People Power.

“I share a lot more than I used to. I used to pretend that I knew all of the answers. These days, I tend to be really open with my team. If I don’t know, I’ll tell them that I don’t know. I try and get my folks to rise up and tackle the problems.”

Over the last several years, he risked everything in order to do what he loves and finds exciting.

“Don’t confuse the pressure, the stress, and the obstacles with not loving it. You can love what you’re doing even though it’s hard. 9 out of 10 startups fail. If you want to be in that top 10 percent you need to be resilient, persistent, and form a great team that will stick close to you.”

That persistence and perseverance are the most important traits an entrepreneur can have. It separates the successes from the failures.

“My company mascot is the cockroach because long after humans are dead and gone, the cockroach is going to be here. You can step on one, burn one, or poison one, but these things are tough. It’s not the most glamorous, but it works.”

Market Update

Week ending July 24, 2016

World Indices

America Index 11/12/2017 YTD Week
U.S. GSV 300 115.7 53.1% 0.0%
NYSE 12322.6 11.4% (0.4%)
Dow 23422.2 18.5% (0.5%)
NASDAQ 6750.9 25.4% (0.2%)
NASDAQ-100 6309.1 29.7% 0.2%
Russell 2000 1475.3 8.7% (1.3%)
S&P 500 2582.3 15.3% (0.2%)
Brazil Bovespa 72165.6 19.8% (2.4%)
Mexico IPC 48028.3 5.2% (1.0%)
Canada S&P TSX 16039.3 4.9% 0.1%
Euro-Asia Index 11/12/2017 YTD Week
China SSE 3432.7 10.6% 1.8%
Heng Seng 29120.9 32.4% 1.8%
Singapore Straits Times 3420.1 18.7% 1.1%
Indonesia JKSE 6021.8 13.7% (0.3%)
Japan Nikkei 225 22681.4 18.7% 0.6%
India Sensex 33314.6 25.1% (1.1%)
Russia RTS 2169.3 (2.8%) 4.2%
France CAC 40 5380.7 10.7% (2.5%)
Germany DAX 13127.5 14.3% (2.6%)
U.K. FTSE 100 7433.0 4.1% (1.7%)



U.S. Indices Snapshot

Valuation P/E Est. P/E/G Price/Sales
LTM NTM Growth LTM NTM LTM NTM
S&P 500 24.3x 19.4x 7.60% 3.2x 2.6x 2.4x 2.1x
NASDAQ 25.5x 17.6x 7.80% 3.3x 2.3x 2.7x 2.2x
Russell 2000 25.1x 17.7x 6.30% 4.0x 2.8x 1.9x 1.7x
GSV 300 54.1x 27.5x 38.60% 1.4x 0.7x 5.7x 4.0x

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