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New Hackathon Keynote Speaker added: Naval Ravikant!


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We’re excited to announce that AngelList Founder and CEO @Naval Ravikant will join us at the LAUNCH Hackathon (Nov 8-10, San Francisco).  On the final day of coding, Naval and @Jason Calacanis will take to main stage for what’s sure to be an inspiring conversation!  See their previous “This Week in Startups” interview:

The Hackathon will open with a fireside conversation between @Jason and Kevin Rose (Digg, Google Ventures), and is poised to be the largest hackathon in the world with over 1k developers and designers competing for $1.7M+ in investment prizes.  

Spots are going quickly – there are only about 200 left – so register your team now!  All applicants will be screened, but participation is completely free, and includes breakfast, lunch, massages, workshops, and more.  

Learn more and reserve your team’s spot:



The Value of Starting from Zero (Divergent Thinking FTW)


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Yesterday I met with a savvy founder working on her first startup. She was looking for feedback and, of course wanted to mention that they happened to be closing out their angel round – there *might* be a little room left for me.

In all meetings, I like to get to the product as quickly as possible, so I asked:

“Can you show me your product?”  I’m a sucker for good product.

The founder proceeded to show me a site that looked exactly like Pinterest, but that was focused on a single vertical (which I will leave out).

“Pinterest clone!” was my immediate thought.

As the product was only 70% as refined as Pinterest, I quickly moved on:

“Uninspired founder!”

… and “Poor executer!”

At that point the meeting was basically over in my mind. Why?  

a) the projects and people I tend to invest in are ‘starting from zero’ and building up, and b) I only invest in folks who can build products that are as good or better than what’s in the market.

The LAUNCH Fund’s investments all have wickedly designed products:, and (and hey, two of three have .io domains – hmmmm).

These are my biases, and they’re largely based on my own reflection of when I’ve done great work and when I’ve done ‘menza menza’ work.

The Save
Interestingly, in the last five minutes I asked the founder why she wanted to build this product and she got a huge save. She explained her personal frustration trying to solve a problem in her life: the granular details of the problem and the potential solutions she tried after talking to her friends.

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Invite: LAUNCH Hackathon, This Week in Startups Live! Boston


1. We're hosting the world's largest Hackathon, November 8th-10th in San Francisco. Over 1,000 verified developers will be there (600 have been confirmed already, 400 left).


2. The LAUNCH Fund will be investing $50k in each of two of the top 10 projects. Those two projects will also be shared with my AngelList Syndicate, making the investment $800k in each. So, we now have the world's largest investment prize (by a factor of 20x+) at $1.6M!

3. I'll also be interviewing Kevin Rose (Digg, Google Ventures), and two other awesome visionaries (suggestions welcome).


PS - A quick recap of the LAUNCH Mobile & Wearables event last week (300+ founders & investors came):

PPS - Had a great interview with Steve Jurvetson last week:

PPPS - My new startup will launch in November and I'm looking for 500 beta testers now:

PPPPS - Will be in Boston this Friday to interview Bill Warner:

PPPPPS - LAUNCH Festival has a stretch goal of 8k attendees (we hit 6k last year!), and you need to be there.  Visit for a free founder ticket. They will run out quickly!


LAUNCH Mobile & Wearables Wrap-Up

 Jason Calacanis in conversation with Sean Rad (Tinder). Photo: Mark Rahmani

Thank you for attending LAUNCH Mobile & Wearables. Your energy and enthusiasm made it a success and we have some information for you:

1. Company Demos

9 companies debuted their new products on the Mobile & Wearables stage, for an opportunity at a $100k investment prize from The LAUNCH Fund.  The 10 judges voted on their favorites (and to keep the playing ground level, @jason did not vote). The winners are:

1. MyTime

2. SoundHound

3. Zepp Labs

In addition, judge and TenOneTen Managing Partner David Waxman selected 3 companies with debuts, and an additional presenting company, for consideration to receive an additional $50k investment.  They are (in no particular order):

The remaining 6 companies that launched products were:

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The Great Venture Capital Rotation

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A couple of years ago, I was chatting with a guy named Naval, who had a site called AngelList. He had a fiery passion for helping founders and an outsider’s chip on his shoulder.

He wasn’t taken very seriously in the industry, and the venture capitalists I spoke to dismissed him as somewhere between a loon and a jerk.

I literally heard a dozen VCs dismiss AngelList and Naval. They hated it. Some hated him. 

That’s when I knew he was going to change everything.

One VC you’ve never heard of famously deleted his AngelList account in a huff ( 

[I wonder if that VC – who turns out to be a nice guy – will ever do a follow up post?] 

Naval wasn’t a loon or a jerk; he was just three years ahead of everyone in seeing the power of decentralized funding – and it scared the living sh@#$t out of VCs.

So the petty VCs – especially the ones taking 12 weeks vacation while collecting 3% management fees and showing up late for board meetings – did everything they could to deride him. 

Last week he opened up a radical new platform called “AngelList Syndicates.” 

It’s basically a “pop-up” VC fund. 

Here’s how it works:

1. A “power angel” with a solid track record, who provides massive value, invites other angels to piggyback on his or her deals. 

2. AngelList manages that process and takes a 5% ‘carry’ for doing so. 

3. The “power angel” then gets a 15% carry. 

[Note: a carry is a percentage of the upside. So, if you invested $10k as a syndicate and it turned into $100k, there would be a $90k gain. So, 5% of that gain ($4.5k) would go to AngelList and 15% of that gain ($13.5k) to the super angel. This is fairly standard, with the top firms / fund managers getting 30-35% carry after years of proving themselves.] 


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