Jana Rich, Thumbtack, & More from the New Silicon Valley

Jana Rich, Thumbtack, & More from the New Silicon Valley

Why you should care

Because it’s all fun and games — until someone makes a billion dollars.

Silicon Valley is hot again. With billions in VC funding comes new ways to spend that money, new ways to bet on the next big startup and new people who just might become household names one day.

The Power Broker of Silicon Valley

Perhaps no stretch of town is as red hot — economically speaking — as Silicon Valley. Remember the crazy startup activity that launched the greatest tech boom (and bust) in history? According to job growth figures from Santa Clara and San Francisco counties, the valley is right back where it was then. Plus, there’s some $17 billion in venture capital funding out here. In the middle of this frenzy is the friendly yet seemingly unremarkable Jana Rich, a 47-year-old headhunter with an uncanny skill for connecting. Read the story here.

The Yellow Pages, Re-Re-Reinvented

Jonathan Swanson slept in a closet for two years. That’s something to boast about in startup land, and the founders of Thumbtack seem to enjoy invoking that era. Does it matter that the closet was a walk-in? That the house was a three-story townhouse atop a hill near San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park, and that a chef came by once a week? Or that Swanson had the kind of CV — Yale, the West Wing, admission to Harvard and Stanford business schools — that sort of ensures a bounce back from failure? At any rate, it’s all origin myth now that Thumbtack has raised some $130 million over the past year. Read the story here.

Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way

Venture capitalist Eric Moore is part of a very small Silicon Valley club: black founders of venture capital firms. And he’s got some unorthodox views about that. “We shouldn’t feel special in tech,” Moore says matter-of-factly, leaning back in his chair in his quiet office, where the white boards hanging on the walls are scrawled with data points on potential investments. He’s tall, with a wide frame that befits him as a former high school football captain and an easy grin. As he discussed his career, Moore didn’t look inspired by questions about the dearth of blacks in Silicon Valley not just as investors, but as startup founders and engineers. But he went on to talk about it plenty, anyway. Read the story here.

Jerry Shen: Making Fantasy Sports a Profession

One of Silicon Valley’s most successful entrepreneurs — Jerry Shen, who founded a fantasy football app that was sold to Yahoo — has no illusions about glamour. “What I tell people is, if you can do anything else besides starting a company and you can be happy doing it, you should probably do that. It’s not fun, it’s not glamorous. I would describe it a lot like war.” He pauses and likens it to a bad action movie. “It’s boring except for a few minutes when there’s this really intense action. It’s running in quicksand, not making any progress, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” Read more here.

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