September 02, 2007

Why you can’t trust BT (off topic)


In the last 2 months I have bought and set up BT broadband and BT Vision. BT is woeful.  One simple reason.  Lack of trust.

BT just don’t get it. Start-ups do.

I think I’m qualified to talk about this. I spend all day registering on betas from start-ups.  Giving personal information. Gambling my laptop’s security by downloading new applications. 

And yet, I have NEVER had an issue with malware, data sharing etc (admittedly running joost and spotify at once screwed me up but this is a result of the machine’s lack of power).

So why my issue with BT?

1)    BT screws my setup.
In order to get the BT wireless you have to install the CD.  The CD installed loads of unwanted apps, changes my defaults to a proprietary Yahoo browser, and also Yahoo messenger. Lesson: BT forces  crappy software on you that you jut don’t want.

1)    BT gave me a virus.
I then get the sasser virus ( lsass.exe).  I find out this can only be transmitted by Yahoo messenger.  I don’t use Yahoo messenger. I don’t want Yahoo messenger.  Now £800 of laptop gives up the ghost.  Lesson. BT gives you viruses.

3) BT marketing is, like, so last 1990s.
I had to sign up to an additional package for one month in order to get the PVR “BT Vision V-box” (which by the way makes a piercing whining noise louder than my 3 week old daughter).  Whilst a slightly odd offer, I talk to the awful BT call center and look online at the football package. I read: 
“What is BT vision sport? 46 live Barclays Premier League games”
I go for “Standard sports” package where I get  “125 Coca-Cola Football League and Carling Cup games, plus archive sport”.
This sounds good.  I can see Southampton FC win the championship live and watch live premier league game.
… guess what this doesn’t transpire.  It’s not live and its only the odd game. 

BT have succeeded in over-promising and under-delivering.  I’m not just disappointed but I’m now actively opposed to them. I hate BT’s call centers.  I hate BT’s marketing. I hate BT’s PVR. I hate BT’s crappy software. 

And then my dad tells me that he doesn’t use the web much because he doesn’t trust it.  Well you sure as hell can’t blame the developers or the entrepreneurs.  You can blame BT.

What stuns me is how BT, with all its heritage and marketing campaigns and brand consultants can mess up something so fundamental as trust?  Seedcamp 2007 commences tomorrow where loads of start-ups are spending time with corporates to learn some of their secrets. 
I hope BT come and I hope at the marketing sesion they listen to the startups rather than try to impart any of their marketing “magic”.

November 22, 2005

Early stage VC being killed by Internet companies?

The Web2.0 event we held last week was a roaring success.

I will be posting a full overview of the presentations as soon as we have done the aggregation, but in the mean time I want to do a few posts on some of the important themes.


VC experiencing competition on deals from Yahoo.

Simon Levene at Yahoo gave a careful warning to Venture Capitalists that, if they hadn’t already, they were soon going to be competing for deals against Yahoo!

This links to my experience of many entrepreneurs, who still pre revenue, are asking me for an M&A process rather than VC.

(its not just Yahoo though: could Google also be on the case?)

Simon Levene gave the particular example of Accel being out bid by Yahoo on Flickr, which has been well documented elsewhere.

The more I think about this the more I think it is a quirk of this particular moment in the expansion for web 2.0.

I have raised this with a whole range people and there are two people (who I asked at the recent Silicon Valley comes to Oxford event) who I think are worth citing;

Allan Morgan from Mayfield:

His point was that, like many times before, we are part of a cycle, and right now this is frothy phase where certain coampnies are paying up. This has also lead to the Angels coming out again in a way we’ve not seen since the last bubble.

(Note. The logicial conclusion of this is that Angels see a quick return on the horizon and the company goes for it: remember off a $250k investment it’s pretty easy to turn an impressive IRR in a 12 month window.)

Allan believes there will still be many businesses who want to grow a significant stand alone business and these will always need venture.

Evan Williams founded Blogger and sold it to Google. Now in his second start up, Odeo, he’s raised venture this time around. Why?

Simple really

Because this time “The opportunity was big enough”

It seems some things never change: venture capital is most perfectly suited to entrepreneurs who have a compelling path to a half billion dollar business.

Not a six month flip.

November 13, 2005

Web 2.0: forthcoming London event

So we have decided to follow up on our previous two events (opensource and mobile multimedia) with one event which, in my mind, draws many of the themes we've been discussing together under the moniker of web 2.0. I know there are many people who hate this term and many people who think it very useful ; I think it's a very convenient way of pulling together the themes that I see pre-occupying many of the more visionary VCs and underlying the more strategic acqusitions.

If you want to come along drop me a mail or apply via our website:

Its a great speaker panel:

John Battelle Founder of Federated media publishing

Judy Gibbons, Board of Directors, O2. Corporate Vice President, MSN Global Sales and Marketing.

Simon Levene, Managing Director, Corporate Development Yahoo!

Nick Kingsbury, Global Software Head & Partner, 3i.


Web 2.0: disruption creates opportunity

"Thomas J. Watson famously said that he saw no need for more than five computers in the world.

We now know that he was wrong…

...we now know that he overestimated the number by four."*

Web 2.0 is here but how do VCs and entrepreneurs make sense of the disruption and identify where the real opportunities lie?


The speakers are:

* John Battelle, Founder and Chairman of Federated Media Publishing. Previously, Battelle was founder, chairman, and CEO of Standard Media International (SMI), publisher of The Industry Standard and Prior to founding The Standard, Battelle was a co-founding editor of Wired magazine and Wired Ventures. He is the author of "The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture" (Portfolio, 2005).

* Judy Gibbons, Board of Directors, O2. Corporate Vice President, MSN Global Sales and Marketing.

Judy founded the MSN business in the UK and then went on to manage MSN Europe and then MSN International. She was most recently responsible for MSN sales and marketing across the US and 39 other markets worldwide. Prior to joining Microsoft, Judy held positions in systems engineering, applications development and marketing with Hewlett Packard and Apple Computer. In 2004, she was presented with an award for 'Thought Leadership' by the IVCA for her contribution to the digital economy.

* Simon Levene, Managing Director, Corporate Development Yahoo!

The Yahoo! corporate development group reports to Terry Semel, Chairman and CEO of Yahoo!, and is responsible for developing corporate strategy and leading transaction activities across the company worldwide. Prior to Yahoo!, Simon was at AOL Time Warner, Excite@Home, Goldman Sachs and the LEK Partnership.

* Nick Kingsbury, Global Software Head & Partner, 3i. Nick's role involves setting the strategy for investment in software and he is a key member of the team reviewing all software investments globally. He also works closely with the major IT corporates to ensure that 3i understands their strategies, and makes introductions at very senior levels for 3i's portfolio companies.

*Credit to Clay Shirky.


The Internet is being transformed by lightweight & compatible software services, business models that rely on efficient lead generation, a very low cost of entry, and an equally low cost of scaling with huge operating margins.

ASPs, mashing, P2P, user generated content, monetising the long tail, podcasting, blogging, media convergence, AJAX, REST, cooperating internet services, multi device software, data syndication. What is this brave new world and where is the smart money going?

If the web is truly becoming one big operating system in the sky, how should VCs differentiate between the fads and the longer term trends?

This event is bringing together key individuals from the venture capital community, the entrepreneurial community and industry to stimulate ideas and discussion, through a number of short presentations from industry leaders, followed by a panel debate.


Registration will commence at 8.15am with coffee and pastries, with presentations commencing at 9am. After the debate there will be an opportunity for networking, and the event will finish at 11am.

This seminar is by invitation only, and is open to venture capitalists, strategic investors, business angels and entrepreneurs.