Crash! NYC Angel/Seed Funding Down 25% in 2017

2017 was a down year for angel/seed funding in NYC!  Despite the continued growth in NYC’s startup ecosystem, particularly from eager first-time entrepreneurs, the number of seed deal funded in 2017 declined to 235 from 328 in 2016, a decline of 28%, according to AlleyWatch.







Seed stage funding in NYC declined to $361 million in 2017, from $483 million in 2016, a decline of 25%.

While the data from other markets has not been assembled, I don’t expect NYC is an outlier:  2017 was the year of me-too startups, with companies piling on and overhyping areas like AI and Big Data.  Investors saw through the clutter to be more selective in 2017.  Median round size increased to $1.25 million, up 25% from $1 million, a sign that investors were more confident concentrating more money in fewer deals.

23 New Geo Big Data Sets for Smart Cities

The universe of geographically-tagged big data is growing exponentially.  From Brookings, here are 23 public and private sectors generating data 24/7 across the globe.  The possibilities are vast.

Why SMB Digital Marketing is a Huge Opportunity

Hard to believe, but 63% of local businesses still have no website, despite the evidence that 88% of local mobile searches for a business result in a visit or call to that store in the next 24 hours.  And 25% of local businesses don’t show up at all in search results.  While there are now a glut of competitors, SMB digital marketing is still a huge opportunity.  This infographic from Marketecture has the data and sources.


Investing in the Future of Shopping

 from Streetfight 16 JUNE 2014 BY 

Discounts. Shopping cart and cubes with percentWhat happens when you combine some of the largest and glitziest shopping malls in America – places like Copley Place in Boston, the Houston Galleria, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Westchester, and Tanger Outlet Centers – with tens of millions in investment capital in early stage digital shopping ventures? That is exactly what J. Skyler Fernandes is charged with figuring out as the head of Simon Venture Group, the new venture arm of Simon Property Group, the largest real estate investment trust in the US and the top owner of shopping malls.

A few months ago, I predicted in Street Fight that “2014 would be the year that hyperlocal goes indoors,” and “the battle will turn to reaching the shopper walking in the mall and right in front of the shelf.” Simon Venture Group is looking to invest $250,000 to $5 million per company in up to 50 companies over the next 5 years to do precisely that. Fernandes is presciently focusing on 5 areas for new investment, all of which are aimed to use the web to improve in-store shopping:

1. In-Store Data Analytics. It is ironic that data analytics for e-Commerce companies has far surpassed that of most retailers, with the exception of the largest retail chains like Macy’s and Walmart. Nomi, Euclid, RetailNext, Path Intelligence, MotionLoft and other companies are working to connect the cloud of purchase history and intent with individual bodies walking into and through stores, hoping to return some of the in-store shopping momentum that Amazon has captured.

2. Malls as Delivery Centers. With your nearby mall stocked full of inventory, why should Amazon and all of its partners be faster with next-day delivery? What about same-day, local delivery? In 2013, Simon invested in Deliv, a company which does same-day delivery from local malls, and is continuing to explore this arena.

3. The Internet of Things (IOT) in your Mall. One of my personal reasons for disliking retail shopping is how difficult it is to find your way around a large, crowded mall. Mobile devices offer the potential to change that, but the technology has to catch up to deliver more precise indoor location. Fernandes says we are still 12-24 months away from a good solution for in-store. Meanwhile, Simon recently invested in digital eyewear solution company Augmate to assist sales associates in finding you the right size and color from their shelves.

4. Building Mall Loyalty and In-Store Incentives. Retailers like ShopRite and Starbucks have done well with loyalty systems for frequent shoppers, but it is relatively rare for nearby stores to collaborate on loyalty programs. Traffic and sales in shopping malls tend to rise in step across stores, and Simon is looking for new solutions to break down data silos across stores and incentivize and reward frequent mall shoppers.

5. Improving Payment Technology. As with in-store data analytics, many mall retailers lack a complete solution linking register payments and inventory management systems, and are falling behind the best e-commerce companies. Mobile payments have been slow to come to the US, but Simon sees a better possibility for companies that link payments and a systemic retailer supply chain solution.

Corporate VCs have had uneven financial returns, but Simon is basing its new venture group on a study of best practices across successes like Google Ventures, Comcast Ventures, and Intel. One lesson is to keep the investing scope broad enough to cover adjacent sectors, and not limit deals to companies that are takeover targets or essentially outsourced business development. Simon has a window on the future of shopping, a great platform to help in-mall companies get established, and appropriate focus on ROI as its core metric of success. As the only corporate VC fund backed by a major shopping mall company, its investments should be of interest to Street Fight readers.

As for my other 2014 predictions, I also wrote that Street Fight would spin off a new site called Bar Fight. That prediction is still open.

Jason KleinJason E. Klein is the founder/CEO of On Grid Ventures LLC, and investment and advisory firm focused on the startup and reinvention of businesses capitalizing on digital and location-based technologies.  He is also the Chairman of Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York. Follow him on twitter @JKNews.

GeoIntent: Going to Where the Puck Will Be


reposted from Streetfight



In my last column for Street Fight, How the GeoWeb Will Change Consumer and Business Behavior, I talked about how location-based technologies will continue to be a dislocating force across B2B, B2C, and C2C Markets.  So what can make a business geo-disruptive?  Beyond location awareness, it is far more important to know where a person is headed and his needs and wants at the destination.  Let’s call this “GeoIntent.”

Consider OpenTable, the dining reservation booking engine. It’s an excellent example of a multi-platform application that requires users to express their intent for dining — in terms of travel distance, timing, type of cuisine, and potentially many other factors. OpenTable is opt-in, and the user readily volunteers his geo-intent in as much detail as he or she is willing to share. While restaurants may dislike splitting a booking fee with OpenTable, isn’t this better than a world where geo-intent is unknown, and mobile devices are bombarded with tiny, irrelevant banner ads when you are within range of a seemingly clueless advertiser?

For the geo and mobile world to move towards its promise, web designers should be focusing more on creating engaged, opt-in behavior, and gaining robust information on GeoIntent.  With better information on geo-intent, solutions can be well targeted, and privacy concerns are more likely to fade.

I recently came across a very clever early stage company called Transit Chatter that’s a wonderful illustration of using predictive analytics to determine geo-intent. Transit Chatter is designed to be the app for everyone riding the Chicago Transit system, which, unlike New York, has most of its riders above ground getting a live mobile signal. The app knows where you are going and when you will get there, and provides timely information and advertising based on this geo-intent. Plus, it reaches commuters when they are highly likely to be engaged in their mobile devices, without a TV in the background. Once the commuter is disembarking from the train or bus, and caught in the rush of the crowd, it’s too late.

Waze, the Israeli crowd-sourced navigation app that Google just purchased for $966 million, also has real-time information on where you are headed, but an engaged mobile user on a traditional mobile device should not be in the driver’s seat of a moving vehicle. There is geo-intent in the app, but engagement at the wrong time can be life-threatening. Waze, of course, offers other advantages to Google in terms of keeping its geo-data robust, and Google wants to replace human drivers anyway.

Other notable examples of geo-intent include, which elicits information on your destination and activities, and, of course, numerous travel sites.  All these companies are a great example of Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

The risk of focusing myopically on where the puck, or an individual, is at a particular moment, is that by the time you message gets there, it’s marginally relevant at best, annoying and creepy at worst. Poorly targeted mobile ads, particularly ones that are supposedly more clever and disruptive, are the enemy of enterprises that relay on consumer’s opting in to truly useful geo-applications.

One final note, congratulations to Jumptap, cited in my last column as strong “geo-infrastructure” provider who offers marketers new ways to make location relevant, which was sold to Millennial Media in a deal valued up to $225 million in August.

JEK Goodman Headshot Compressed SquareJason E. Klein is the founder/CEO of On Grid Ventures, an investment and advisory firm focused on the startup and reinvention of businesses capitalizing on digital and location-based technologies.  Follow him on twitter @JKNews.

How the GeoWeb Will Change Consumer and Business Behavior

Reposted from Street Fight.

How the GeoWeb Will Change Consumer and Business Behavior

30 JULY 2013 BY 

The new Google Maps personalized interface.For about 2000 years, ever since Ptolemy wrote his treatise Geographia, maps and geography have helped humans understand their surroundings in the context of their neighbors, their town, their country, the Earth, and the Universe. For about 400 years, since Mercator figured out how to portray the curved Earth on a flat piece of paper, not much changed in the world of geography — until the launch of 24 GPS satellites by the U.S. Department of Defense about 30 years ago.

Digital location-based technologies are now a transformative force for consumers and businesses, particularly when coupled with the rapid adoption of mobile and the growth of big data. I’m a big believer in the future for “GeoDisruption” — the potential for consumers and businesses to interact in fundamentally new ways to take advantage of increasingly precise location-based technologies.

This is the debut of a column I’ll write for Street Fight exploring the growth of the “GeoWeb” and the emergence of GeoDisruptive trends and companies. When I’m not writing columns, I am the CEO/founder of On Grid Ventures, an investment and advisory firm focused on digital and location-based technologies.

GeoDisruption:  Where we are
Location-based technologies have already been a dislocating force in many industries.

  • Automobile marketing at the local level used to be all about newspapers and television, and companies like, and Autobytel have used geo-based lead generation to irrevocably shift in-market auto buyers and local car marketing spending to the GeoWeb.
  • GPS has made paper maps obsolete.
  • General B2C platforms like Yelp are changing the way we evaluate local services.
  • Vertical B2C platforms like OpenTable are changing the way we find and book nearby restaurants.

The major portals and aggregators are all making increasing bets on the potential for GeoWeb.  Google, with Google Maps and Places; Yahoo, with its leadership position in local news and content aggregation; IAC, with CityGrid and UrbanSpoon; and AOL with Patch.Google’s recent acquisition of Israeli startup Waze for over $1 billion is a high-water mark in the development of the GeoWeb as it affirms the importance of user-generated, location-based content.

GeoDisruption:  Where we’re headed
While the growth ambitions of Google, Yahoo, and others will continue to be fed with more acquisitions of GeoWeb companies, the application of location-based technologies is increasing more broadly in three areas: Business-to-Consumer, Business-to-Business, and Consumer-to-Consumer.

  1. B2C marketing (i.e., GeoMarketing) will continue to be transformed as innovative companies apply location-based technologies to how they acquire, transact with, and retain customers. GeoMarketing will be essential for most local retail and service businesses, and the landscape is ripe for vertical players in areas beyond automotive and restaurants, across the entire local landscape. Early stage companies like BeautyBooked are already trying to become the dominant search and booking platform in verticals like place-based salon services. ReachLocal and Yodleare growing fast as companies that help local businesses reach consumers, and national marketers are increasingly shifting dollars to locally targeted digital marketing and promotion.
  2. C2C interaction (i.e., “GeoSocial”) can also be further shaped as individuals increasingly become comfortable with sharing their location with family, friends, colleagues, and people with similar interests. Foursquare has jumped to an early lead as the platform for consumers to share their location, but Facebook, Google, and others are gaining fast.
  3. B2B companies that enable location-based innovation (i.e., “GeoInfrastructure”) continue to be a hotbed for venture investment.  Location itself is nice, but it needs to be in the context of an individual, the surrounding locations, time of day, and other factors.  This all needs to be accomplished respecting an individual’s privacy. Companies like Jumptap and Place IQ are finding new ways to provide marketers with context that makes location relevant.

While I have a background in computer science, I’ve never been a fan of pure technology. I am a believer, however, in the potential for increasingly accurate digital, location-based, real-time data to better inform the decisions we all make every day on where to go, with whom, what to buy, and other areas. The rapid proliferation of mobile devices is certainly an enabler, but the greatest innovation will come from insights into how a consumer’s behavior varies based on his or her specific location. We’re now a long way from zip-code targeting, and more GeoDisruption is on its way.

Jason E. KleinJason E. Klein is the founder/CEO of On Grid Ventures, and investment and advisory firm focused on the startup and reinvention of businesses capitalizing on digital and location-based technologies.  Follow him on twitter @JKNews.

Why Google’s Acquisition of Waze is a Game Changer

From a recent article in Forbes, here are several reasons why Google’s acquisition of Waze will be a game changer.waze

  • Waze’s community of users is key to helping Google achieve its next big goal: mapping how we move.  Waze simply collects GPS data from its 50 million users. Anyone who drives with the Waze app turned on is passively providing data that the company can use to better understand not only the world that user is driving through, but their intent.
  • Waze is one of only four major companies that built its own extensive maps of the world, the others being TomTom, Navteq and Google. “Just like search became the interface for monetization on the web, maps are going to be a big part of the monetization engine for mobile,” he said, “because that’s what you open when you’re going places.
  • Waze grows organically every day.  Wave’s Wikipedia-style structure of day-to-day contributors, who make up about 10% of users, and voluntary editors, who make up a tinier percent, allows it to chart new roads in new countries, and even include roadblocks and construction zones.
  • Waze understands the intent of its users. “Now that I know where you drive, I can begin offering you deals, I can begin enhancing the experience.”  When a Waze driver in the U.S. is stopped at a light or parked, they’ll often see a ad pop up for Taco Bell, Starbucks or AT&T.  Nearly all Waze’s ads are based on location, cross referencing where the Wazer and advertiser are in a given moment.  The Holy Grail here was cross referencing all of that GPS data with another component: the consumer’s destination, or intention. “If you’re driving to work it’s a different experience than if you’re driving to [the American department store] Macy’s,” said Bardin.


Introducing Luminoso

LuminisoIntroducing Luminoso, a new text analytics engine that understands what people are saying, based on the way we understand each other. 

Developed by MIT Media Lab alumni, Luminoso’s software is built on a structural foundation of common-sense reasoning. Because it contains a massive body of cognitive understanding, Luminoso identifies the nuances and colorations of meaning in any written text.

It connects the dots and draws out patterns and associations not possible before, because it grasps the conceptual meaning of language. The name Luminoso is a musical term meaning “to play clearly, brightly, scintillatingly.”
Luminoso team
From Mashable:

Catherine Havasi, Luminoso’s co-founder and CEO (pictured, third from right), says the company’s technology is based on 14 years of research at MIT that applies artificial intelligence, probability and a database of 17 million facts (many taken from Wikipedia) to appropriate common sense knowledge to text mining.

Such nuggets have prompted the likes of Mars, BP and GlaxoSmithKline to sign on for Luminoso’s services. The startup also received $1.5 million in funding last December led by Boston-based angel investor George Kassabgi, who believes the company’s technology is “a giant breakthrough.”

The company has two revenue streams — for its dashboard-based services including its own consulting and for its API, which is now available to developers. The API is in private beta; the firm claims there are more than 500 developers on its waiting list.

Luminoso has been successful in convincing some top companies — who pay in the five figures for its services — that it has built a better linguistic mousetrap. Partially this is because of the rigor that Luminoso has applied to its searches. Havasi says that YouTube comments are often richer sources than Twitter, and “don’t get me started on mommy blogs.”

The technology’s efficacy has let Luminoso exist without funding since 2009. The company has also attracted MIT Media Lab alums Jason Alonso and Rob Speer as well as Kenneth Arnold, a doctoral candidate at Harvard.

Luminoso’s free launch webinar is on Tuesday, April 16th, 2 PM EDT.

Registration URL:
Webinar ID: 135-448-403



OnGridVentures Top VC Deals of 2012

Here’s our list of the top Venture Capital deals of 2012 in our sectors, culled from the VentureBeat Top 15 list:

Big Data-Enabled, Next Generation Content

Drilling Info, $166 million

Drilling Info might have the least interesting name on this list, but what it offers is certainly attractive — so much that it raised $166.2 million in a major Q1 funding round. It offers a SaaS-based oil and gas business-intelligence platform, and it claims to be the “most complete source of North American and offshore waters oil and gas information.” It’s easy to see how a company offering easy access to that kind of data could get some serious cash. The round was raised by Insight Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, and Eastern Advisors Private Fund, with Vaquero Capital advising the deal.

Big Data Enabled

Box, $125 million

Cloud storage and collaboration startup Box had a huge year with lots of developments including its OneCloud syncing solution, the opening of an international headquarters in London, and more. But one of its biggest pieces of news was when it raised $125 million in fresh capital for aggressive growth around the world. This latest big round was led by General Atlantic, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, DFJ Growth, New Enterprise Associates, SAP Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and new investor Social+Capital Partnership.

E-commerce; Social Frameworks

Fab, $117 million

Social shopping startup Fab had a big year, and it recently announced that it sold $6.5 million worth of goods between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29, which is a very good number to kick off the holiday season. With that kind of traction, we’re sure its many investors — Atomico, Pinnacle Ventures, re-Net Technology Partners, Mayfield Fund, DoCoMo Capital, Menlo Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Baroda Ventures, and First Round Capital — were glad they put up more than $100 million back in July. Fab CEO Jason Goldberg also informed us that his startup raised another $16 million in October and November at the same terms as the July round, bringing the total to an impressive $117 million. Fab also recently said it plans a “pivot” in 2013, so we’ll see how that pans out.

Social Frameworks, Next Generation Content 

Pinterest, $100 milion

Pinterest, now the third most popular social network in the U.S. after Facebook and Twitter, had a hard time getting VCs’ attention when it first started out. But it didn’t appear to have much trouble raising a new $100 million round in May. The round was led by Japanese web retailer Rakuten, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Glencoe Capital, and other angel investors. As 2012 has continued, Pinterest has gained more traction. Recently, it added pin previews inside Twitter and opened its doors to business accounts.

Health Efficiency, Social Frameworks

Castlight Health, $100 million

Castlight Health, one of two health care companies to make this list, dubs itself as “the leader in health care transparency.” It offers consumers and companies comprehensive data about the price and quality of health care, ideally to help them save money while also improving their care. The company attracted astellar $99.9 million investment in May from T. Rowe Price, Redmile Group, Allen & Company, Maverick Capital, Oak Investment Partners, U.S. Venture Partners, and Venrock Associates.

Social Frameworks

Github, $100 million

GitHub, easily one of the most exciting startups of the year, caught a lot of attention in July for raising nearly $100 million for a Series A round. (It could be the biggest Series A ever.) Investors Andreessen Horowitz and SV Angel clearly believe in GitHub’s mission of supplying social coding tools to developers. The company has grown quite popular since its launch in 2008, and it has more than 1.7 million members who have shared more than 3 million code repositories. It recently hired Vlado Herman, the former CFO of Yelp, to help it manage its huge round of funds.

The Big Data Landscape

Once again, bigger than ever, here is the 2017 Big Data Landscape:


For more on Big Data, click here.  

For our investing criteria:  Investment Criteria.

For Matt’s useful 2017 update, here.

Here is version 3.0 of the Big Data Landscape, from Matt Turck, now at FirstMark.

Big Data Landscape


And, for some context, here is the prior version: