Archive for July, 2011

Sticky Summer Night

Posted on July 24, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I sit awake, mentally constipated, physically stifled by a heat that leaves me sticking to my self and melting at the feet of an overheated macbook pro.  Only a pillow and case separate my skin from this radiating collection of chips and bits, spitting out songs that remind me of when I was poor and down to the last dollars in my bank account.  I am transported back to summers ago, navigating similar weather, again then, as always, without an air conditioner or defense against summer’s maddening fever.

I don’t have air conditioning because I loath the artificial, stale, manufactured environment that it delivers.  I sweat and dehydrate in the throws of a 90 degree July day because I don’t want to escape this feeling.  This feeling connects me to a much less cerebral side of myself.

A $300 Dyson fan blows hot, stiff air onto my face.  It is “bladeless” and free thanks to some PR agency that decided it wise to run a “technology influencer” campaign in which influential, albeit illiquid, founders like me get to cool off without the deathly risks of traditional “bladed” alternatives.  In fairness, a General Partner at Redpoint visited HP’s offices on Friday and was immediately drawn to the fan’s sleek design and form.  He went so far as to request the manufacturer’s name, and certainly has $400 to blow on a gimmicky appliance, so I guess that PR agency isn’t so dumb after all.

I prepare for a week of hustle, resist an inbox with 86 unread messages because the NY Times told me it was bad to email in the 30 minutes before bed, and pull myself deep into my consciousness, trying to reflect on the blur of weeks past.  I look at the present and wonder how deep satisfaction and extreme impatience can be such close friends inside the sticky epithelial walls of my being.  My room fucking sucks.  I live on 10th st between 1st and A, where every truck and van that needs to head East while avoiding Thompkins Sq park seems to break abruptly and often not 50 feet from my window.  I have one poster on my wall and stacks of objects collected over years of non-materialistic indifference piled atop of Crate & Barrel furniture and Pinesol covered floors.

Alert after alert light my phone and send friendly dings of seduction echoing through this tinder box I call my bedroom.  My mind clears, words come more smoothly, heat retreats in the face of a strain of thought more interesting than discomfort.  Gchat pops, I break briefly, but do not respond.  I am present in this moment, and do not wish to be interrupted.

Tomorrow I will fall to these alerts, engage with the fabric I have woven for myself, ingest, process, and react to a never ending stream of data and opportunity, but not tonight.  Tonight I will remember what it is like to be hot.  I am Jordan, human and weak, defenseless against the will of summer.  I will wait for rain to fall, and cool the cooking pavement, for no deal, dollar, or data is going to help me sleep in this heat that I have waited all year to suffer.

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Sponges Scale, Faucets Don’t

Posted on July 19, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Last night I hung out with an incredibly smart first time entrepreneur.  He is super young and thirsty for knowledge and does an amazing job of communicating with his investors and advisors as he navigates his role as CEO of a venture backed company.  In listening to him articulate his appreciation for the support of the various mentors in his life, I realized that I used to have a very similar architecture of outside influencers on my own professional decisions.  Sometime between my first exposure to startupland and now, I moved from a position of asking tons of questions and relying on others, to giving tons of advice and having others rely upon me.  Generally speaking, I am thrilled that I am able to communicate my learning to young founders and those endeavoring into entrepreneurship for the first time, but last night I realized that this shift might not be 100% positive.

It occurred to me that when you get into the rhythm of doling out advice, it can become easy to stop asking for and receiving it.  I used to pride myself on climbing curves quickly due to a complete lack of regard for pride when expressing ignorance to outsiders, and last night I noticed that I am not having enough conversations on the receiving end of advice and mentorship.  Sure I have Kenny and some other investors in HP who are providing feedback and valuable thinking to the company, but I miss the days when I used to Google the 10 most important people who would have a perspective on whatever I was working on, and then email them begging for 30 minutes to share their thoughts.

Somehow, as I have grown up in this world, it feels harder to reach out to strangers, friends and more experienced folks and bow at their feet in recognition of the delta between what they have achieved and where I am in my career, and that is something I am going to correct today.  Right this second.  The notion that you somehow arrive at a point where you are too far along for guidance and advice is absurd, and I’m hugely grateful to this young entrepreneur for reminding me of that.   As HP continues to grow and mature, I consistently encounter new situations and challenges that I have not seen before.  So far, we have done a good job of moving through these new situations gracefully and successfully, but the curve is always steeper when you ask a million questions.

Time to go cold email Sergei and Larry…”dear Sergei, I am a young entrepreneur in NYC building a mobile first, local search product.  I am looking for advice and mentorship from founders who have built similar businesses in the past and I would love to run my thinking by you if you have time for a short call or meeting.  I will be in Silicon Valley the week of August 8th, can I buy you a cup of coffee?”  God that feels good, can’t believe I lost that scrap for a minute…

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Revealed: A few secrets about Hyperpublic

Posted on July 18, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I’m always amazed when people who I meet for the first time come up to me and say “I really love Hyperpublic, it’s awesome.”  I think to myself, “gee, that’s weird. Unless this person is a developer, I can’t imagine what they love about us.”  I ask for a layer of detail and they pretend to appreciate the display application that we’ve pushed at  I say “thanks very much, but there really isn’t a lot to do there, Hyperpublic,com is just meant to show engineers and developers what types of data we’re working with and making available through the HP API.”  They sort of smile awkwardly, and that’s pretty much that.

In light of those types of interactions, I thought I’d uncover a little detail about what we’ve been up to at HP.  Really, I’d prefer to stay under the radar, given the massive companies triangulating around our space, but recruiting an A+ team has become our number one priority and I want the top engineers in NYC and beyond to understand what we’re focused on and how interesting it is to be a part of the effort under way at HP. represents about 2% of our attention and bandwidth at HP, with the other 98% focused on the crawling, ingestion, normalization, organization, dissemination and surfacing of geocoded data.  We see a world where consumers are starting to believe that they can navigate the physical world with the same ease and insight that they navigate the web.  In order for that belief to become a reality, someone needs to build and organize an underlying geodata set that is incrementally specific to what is available within the tools consumers are most commonly using to effect local discovery on mobile devices today.  At HP, we are building the infrastructure that will allow hundreds of thousands of location based and location aware applications to satisfy their users’ demands for more acute and deliberate movement through physical space.  We are not a recommendation engine, we are not a reviews product, we are not a social network, we are a data platform.  There is a killer application for the dataset we are working with, we have a pretty good sense of what it is, and if you like building Google scale consumer utilities, we are hiring PM/Mobile Dev/Back End Devs for our Apps team, but to date, our IP and accomplishments are squarely in the realm of “big data.”

The good news is, we’ve captured and organized hundreds of millions of local objects and metadata points and our asset is scaling very fast.  The bad (and good if you are a masochist) news is there is effectively an infinite amount of data that exists in the physical world (hard to index infinity).  If you are excited about working with large data sets, mashing up disparate data sources linked by a common lat/lon in order to deduce interesting signal and product, or generally excited about working with a team of deeply thoughtful engineers in New York City, we’d love to share some more secrets with you.  Email:  I don’t care if you are looking for a job, or happy at your job, or whatever.  Emailing me does not = applying for a job, it just means you want to understand WTF I’m talking about.  For the right people, our effort will consume you.  Oh, and we pay absurdly well, full healthcare, real equity, flexible schedule, wonderful people, yada yada yada.

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Guest Post: Betting on NYC and Joining Lerer Ventures

Posted on July 11, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Lerer Ventures has been growing up over the past few months.  Super pumped to announce the addition of Steve Schlafman to our team.  Steve is joining us as a Principal most recently from Stickybits (aka, but as you’ll see below, he’s had amazing experience both as an operator and an investor prior to LV.  He’s a deeply thoughtful guy so I asked Steve to write a guest post to share his latest decision to join the fund.  Without further ado, Steve Schlafman:

Betting on NYC and Joining Lerer Ventures

By Steve Schlafman 

Only a year ago I decided to leave my dream job at The Kraft Group / The New England Patriots to jump head first into the NYC startup scene.  During my time at The Kraft Group, I focused on early stage investments, strategic partnerships and digital media strategy.  While I enjoyed living in my hometown of Boston (Go Sox!) and working for a highly respectable and influential company, I recognized something special was happening a few hundred miles south. The NYC tech community was heating up, and I was itching to join a startup.

That opportunity came when Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein of Stickybits (now made me an offer to join the company as their VP of Biz Dev and first business hire.  I arrived last summer and worked out of DogPatch Labs. Immediately I realized that the startup culture here had a distinct energy and momentum, different than anything I had experienced in Boston, Seattle, Austin, New Orleans or LA.

After spending the last twelve months entrenched in the NYC tech community, I’m now convinced that we are witnessing a tech renaissance – and in less than a decade, the tech industry will certainly be as influential (if not more) than any other sector in NYC.

Here are my top 9 reasons why I think NYC has all the elements of a world-leading tech ecosystem:

  1. Talent: Startups in New York City are attracting talent from cities across the country, well-established companies in NYC, and world-class universities. New York has always been known for creativity and innovation in the arts.  For the very first time, the creatives in NYC are shifting their focus to digital.
  2. Co-Working Spaces: Co-working spaces like General Assembly and DogPatch Labs are helping entrepreneurs get their business off the ground and get plugged into an instant network.  For a comprehensive guide to NYC co-working spaces, see A Hitchhikers guide to NYC.
  3. Meetups: Meetups are critical to our ecosystem because they physically connect the community, facilitate new relationships, foster collaboration and encourage discussion. To stay on top of the latest events, subscribe to Charlie O’Donnell’s weekly email and the NYC Startup Digest.
  4. Hackathons: These are essential to any thriving tech community because they provide developers and designers with an opportunity to improve and showcase their skills, build and test new products / ideas, and meet other members of the community. A handful of recent hackathons include: TechCrunch Disrupt, Startup Weekend, Music Hack Day, News+Gaming Hackathon, and FourSquare hackathon. To catch details on the latest hackathons, follow John Britton on Twitter.
  5. Strategic Partners: NYC has a treasure trove of strategic partners including large financial institutions, advertising agencies, and media companies.  Even the tech titans have established and grown their offices here over the past decade to take advantage of the talent and innovation that is taking place.
  6. Customers / Users – NYC has the largest population and highest population density of any city in the US by more than a factor of 2.  Additionally, there are tens of thousands of large, medium and small businesses.  Because users and customers are everywhere, it’s arguably the perfect petri dish to test / launch new products.
  7. Government Support: Mayor Bloomberg’s office has made a commitment to the local tech industry and he recently hired Rachel Sterne as NYC’s Chief Digital Officer.  Additionally, the mayor’s office recently released NYC’s Digital Roadmap outlining the path to embrace NYC’s potential as the world’s leading digital city.
  8. Breakout Companies: The city now has more than a dozen breakout companies such as FourSquare, Etsy, BuddyMedia, Tumblr, Gilt Groupe, and Kickstarter.  And there are some super innovative newcomers like, Skillshare, GroupMe, Lot18, Canvas and Kohort.
  9. Venture Capital: It might be the best time since the 90s to raise money as an entrepreneur.  Capital is abundant and the terms are favorable.  West coast firms like Accel have set up shop here in the city.  Others like SV Angel have partnered with Lerer Ventures to gain access to the many great entrepreneurs here in NYC.  Even investors from Boston are spending more time here than ever before.

That said, I’ve decided to go all in and bet the house on NYC. I’m extremely bullish on this amazing city and I’m thrilled to announce that I have joined Lerer Ventures as a Principal to help Kenny, Ben, Eric and Jordan partner with and support this world-class community.

Here’s 6 reasons Lerer Ventures is getting me out of bed in the morning/and keeping me up late at night:

  1. Team: Companies are only as good as their people.  That said, I’m most stoked to join Lerer Ventures because the team is first class. Everyone here has built, operated, sold and invested in startups. And each person has a high degree of intellectual horsepower and a strong moral compass. Additionally, the firm has expertise in media and entertainment, technology, publishing, e-commerce, and finance, which aligns with my experience.
  2. New Fund: During TechCrunch Disrupt in May of this year, the firm announced a new $25M seed fund, which will be used to back even more awesome companies in NYC and elsewhere.
  3. Value Add Investor: Working at The Kraft Group taught me that all money is not the same and entrepreneurs should always strive to find smart money.  I’ve already witnessed Lerer Ventures working tirelessly for our portfolio companies.  Whether it’s making high value introductions or helping our entrepreneurs think about their business strategy, the firm is continually helping entrepreneurs grow as business leaders and build special companies.
  4. Portfolio: I absolutely love our current portfolio because they are run by awesome entrepreneurs and have innovative products and business models.  Some of our partners include BirchBox, WarbyParker, GroupMe, Greplin, BankSimple, Pulse, and OnSwipe.  I’m very much looking forward to helping our existing (and future) portfolio companies any way I possibly can.
  5. Investment Focus: The fund has a heavy emphasis on the core competencies of New York and many sectors that I’m particularly passionate about.  This includes, but is not limited to, social commerce, media, ad tech, gaming, and mobile / social broadly speaking.
  6. Co-Investors: Lerer Ventures has a strategic relationship with SV Angel and we regularly invest alongside some of the most respected firms including Union Square Ventures, Founder Collective, IA Ventures, First Round Capital, Accel Partners, and Softbank.

I love nothing more than learning about new companies, meeting passionate entrepreneurs, and helping them succeed, so don’t hesitate to connect with me.

I’m looking forward to working you all in the coming years and supporting NYC as the premier digital city on the globe.

Have a great summer and here’s how we can keep in touch:

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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