Secrets of Silicon Valley
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because these are the people and companies shaking up the Valley and the world, and chances are, you heard about them here first.
Back in the fall, we trained your eyes on Bismarck and Belsasar Lepe, the fraternal co-founders of video-platform firm Ooyala. They’re a real American success story — embodiments of the American Dream, even. Their parents were migrant workers who worked hard and stressed the importance of education. Bis, the older brother, went to Stanford first, and then made sure his kid brother did, too. (Bel dropped out, eventually, to become a Valley giant-in-the-making instead.) More news on them: Ooyala just got acquired by Australian telecommunications and information-systems firm Telstra, and the company’s valuation is in the hundreds of millions. Read the story here.
Oh, and about that firm, Telstra, that acquired Ooyala? It’s an Australian one. We told you earlier this summer that the Valley’s hot new players come from the land down under. Aside from Telestra, there are plenty of Aussie entrepreneurs, too, and while they may be newcomers, they’re not starting from scratch. Instead, they arrive with small companies in search of the next big thing. And bigger is what they get here: bigger markets, bigger investments, more chances at big-time capital. OZY spoke with some of Aussie entrepreneurs now operating in the Valley about why they’ve set their sights on the U.S. — and what to expect next. Read the story here.
Under the radar: Some companies could be getting too big to acquire. Dropbox, Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb and Box are among the latest “startups” to get valued by private investors in the billions. While that’s led to rounds of high-fives among employees, these $5 billion-plus valuations put most potential acquirers out of the market. When you’re growing so fast and getting valued so highly, it doesn’t make sense for even a deep-pocketed company like Big Daddy Google to buy you. That’s why more hot startups are being “forced” to IPO, which is no cinch, either. Indeed, the too-big-to-acquire types sometimes learn that going public as a young company with an unproven business model can lead to heartbreak instead of triumph. Read the story here.
Can once-fallen Internet giants ever make a comeback? Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer hasn’t embraced the in-vogue strategy of hiring tech rock stars, the out-and-out obvious winners. Instead, she’s focused on folks who’ve been cut up a bit and are hungry for a big win. Mayer’s hiring strategy is also unusual for the number of women she’s brought on board in prominent positions– especially in a Valley that still lags far behind equal representation when it comes to gender. It’s too early to know if she can pull off a turnaround. But the numbers look promising. The company’s stock price has more than doubled since Mayer took the helm in 2012, and it has made a series of high-profile acquisitions (Summly, Tumblr, Vizify) and might reap serious cash from prior investments. Read the story here.
You’re not going to get better advice on building the best startup than from Ron Conway. He isn’t just an investor; he’s an early investor, which means he puts his money into startups when they’re just a few people and a big idea. No surprise that the role is dubbed angel investor — who else would give you money at that stage? — and Conway is one of the best known in Silicon Valley. Over the years, he’s helped launch companies like Google, PayPal and Facebook and lots of others that appear in your daily life. In this clip of his OZY interview, Conway talks about his favorite investment right now — besides OZY, of course. Read the story here.