Former Medicare chief Andy Slavitt formally launches Town Hall Ventures to invest in healthcare

Town Hall Ventures launches today as the latest venture investment firm to take a stab at transforming the woefully broken U.S. health care market through technology. What Town Hall has that many other firms trying to invest in healthcare technology don’t is a group of founders who have spent time in the trenches of the American healthcare system. The firm is led by Andy Slavitt, the former Administrator of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Service and the group executive vice president of Optum . Joining Slavitt are Trevor Price, the founder of Oxeon Holdings, an executive search and investment firm focused on life sciences, and David Whelan, the managing general partner of Oxeon Ventures — the predecessor to Town Hall. Basically, it seems like Oxeon’s sort of spinning out its venture operations into a separate fund and has brought on Slavitt as a new top investor to manage things
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Podcast: A chat with Tony Haile

Tony Haile is the CEO of Scroll, a New York-based company that is helping media outlets build a sustainable pay-to-read strategy. From 2009 to 2016 he worked for Chartbeat, a digital media analytics company. As a result, he thinks a lot about media, economic models and the open web. He talks about it with reporters, on panels and, obviously on podcasts such as this. We have gotten to know over the years — me as a recovering media entrepreneur who thinks the end is near, always get into arguments with Tony, who oddly remains optimistic about the digital medias future. I am obviously right, and we get into this during this podcast. We talk about Tony’s journey into technology, Facebook and big dumb media incumbents. My words, not his. You can listen to the podcast on Soundcloud or download it from the iTunes.

Winning deals as a new venture capital fund

 This is my third time joining a new firm and second time starting one of my own. One would think that I would remember the challenges of building up a new firm, like a type of muscle memory, but I always forget how hard it is to stay relevant and have a seat at the table for top tier deal flow. 2017 could be characterized as the “Year of the new VC,” with an unprecedented number of… Read More

Pioneer Square Labs’ Greg Gottesman on the studio model for high growth startups

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Randy Stewart. You were a Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group for many years but recently left to found Pioneer Square Labs. You employ a different model for building startups i.e. it is neither a venture capital firm nor an accelerator. How is this new model different or better? The traditional way of starting a company will remain the most common, which is you have an idea and bootstrap it or… Read More

AI is for real and intelligent apps is its vehicle according to Madrona Group’s Matt Mcilwain

artificial intelligence Q: You’ve been incredibly successful as a VC—you’ve had numerous major exits and been named to the Forbes Midas list several times. To what do you attribute your success? I think the most important thing about being successful in the venture business is being able to work with these great entrepreneurs. We try to find them at an early stage then roll up our sleeves and help… Read More

All your questions about startup fundraising for KPCB… Asked and answered.

money tub Start-up fundraising is hard. Despite ubiquitous headlines about unicorn valuations and how it’s never been easier to raise money in Silicon Valley, the process of raising capital can be gruelling, unpredictable, and non-transparent. To shed some light on best practices for successful startup fundraising, I sat down with my partners Eric Feng and Randy Komisar to ask and answer the… Read More

A Q&A with DFJ Partner, Bill Bryant, on “unicorn” valuations and startup investing

Adam Jacobs, founder and CEO of Chef (formerly Opscode) Pundits are painting a picture of doom and gloom for startups, saying it will be harder to raise money. What do you think? I think the next several months and possibly years will be challenging for raising capital. There has definitely been a reset. The market was over extended in an unhealthy way and we are seeing the impact across the board. The catalyst for this reset has been the collapse… Read More

Fewer deals and smaller checks: Startups suffered in Q1 as first-time financing fell 31%


While it’s never easy for entrepreneurs to convince venture capitalists to invest in their new companies, it was especially difficult during the first quarter of this year. Fewer startups received first-time funding, and those that were fortunate to do so saw smaller checks.

For the first three months of 2016, initial funding deals declined 16 percent to 297, and the total dollars invested fell 31 percent to $1.7 billion, according to the latest MoneyTree report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (based on data from Thomson Reuters).

Moreover, the average amount for first-time financing dropped 17 percent from $6.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 to $5.7 million in this quarter.

Source: MoneyTree Report

Source: The MoneyTree Report

Of the $1.7 billion of initial investments, software startups garnered $666 million (39 percent) across 121 deals. The next closest industries were media and entertainment, biotechnology, consumer products and services, and IT services, in descending

Funding by industry 2016 Q1
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ASO master class: Get up to 40K app downloads for free and other growth hacks (webinar)

app store.shutterstock_302135009

You could spend $10K to drive paid traffic and get some users — or you can growth-hack and land 40,000 downloads in just a few days. What’s the secret? Join top ASO gurus for this free half-hour master class in getting your app ranked, fast.

Register here for free.

“There’s this notion that you build a great app, and people will find it. Unfortunately that’s just not true anymore,” says Steve P. Young, ASO wizard and founder of App Masters.

Young, the host of the top mobile app podcast, has been picking the brains of hundreds of mobile developers since 2013. He’s successfully launched hundreds of new apps with his PR firm, And he knows what mistakes make an app sink — and more importantly, how to make it rise.

App store and app marketing optimization (ASO and AMO), Young emphasizes, is not optional any more. “With

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‘Allumette’ proves that virtual reality cinema is no joke


Allumette, a lovely animated feature by Penrose Studios, illustrates why virtual reality film should be taken just as seriously as traditional film.

The folks at Sundance and the Tribeca Film Festival have already figured this out — both festivals showcased virtual reality this year. But in such early days, the quality of each VR experience varies wildly from project to project.

That’s why Penrose Studios — founded by Oculus’ first cinematic hire, Eugene Chung — surprised me yesterday. Here’s a behind-the-scenes teaser of Allumette:


Allumette is 20 minutes long — lengthy by VR standards, but it never feels drawn-out. The world Penrose creates for the viewer leaves you wishing it lasted a bit longer. The experience is like a good song in that way; you want to repeat it again right when it ends.

The film premiered today at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Penrose tells us a teaser of Allumette is coming “in the next few days” to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive owners. The

Penrose_Allumette (9)
Penrose_Allumette (13)
Penrose_Allumette (10)
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Artificial intelligence startup DigitalGenius raises $4M to make customer service agents superhuman


DigitalGenius is announcing a Human+AI Customer Service platform today with a $4.1 Million seed investment. The platform integrates with existing customer service software suites — like Salesforce, ZenDesk, or Oracle — to automate the most repetitive parts of customer service through AI and machine learning-powered chat bots in an augmentative way — while still keeping the human element decidedly at the center of their operation. It’s interesting to note that Salesforce was part of the deal, which could conceivably help the startup scale quickly in this space with their massive distribution network and suite of automation products ripe for AI.

AI is the biggest buzzword of 2016

Haven’t you heard? #Botopia is officially upon us. Facebook made it so! I talked to DigitalGenius Chief Strategy Officer Mikhail Naumov to wrap some definition about what AI is and isn’t. “It’s important to decipher between Hollywood AI and practical AI you can

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Startup ecosystems around the world are getting mature enough to create more billion dollar unicorns


This sponsored post is produced in association with

While Silicon Valley remains the center of innovation and startup activity in the globe, other geographical markets are developing startup ecosystems in varying degrees of maturity. Comparing these bubbles of startup activity, it’s clear that more globally successful companies are coming out of Israel compared to any other geographical region apart from Silicon Valley.

Contrast this to a region like India with its own dynamic startup scene — and a population around 150 times bigger than Israel — and patterns start to emerge. Patterns that show the factors that make a billion dollar company.

“This is an intriguing question for us,” said Venktesh Shukla, Chair of TiE Global and President of TiE US, “we observed a couple of reasons why Indian startups are not as globally successful.” TiE — or The Indus Entrepreneurs — is a global network

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Shopify acquires Kit, the artificially intelligent marketing bot


We’re standing on the edge of the chatbot revolution, and I’m reminded of how I felt when those first apps hit the store in 2007. Only this time, the apps talk back.

And following its announcement at Facebook’s F8 developer conference yesterday — where it became the first commerce platform to announce an integration with Facebook Messenger — Shopify has today announced that it has agreed to acquire privately held Kit CRM Inc. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Kit is the virtual marketing assistant I’ve covered at length before. It leverages SMS and other messaging platforms to help companies market their online stores by asking salient questions at the right time.

Kit can email your customers, build Facebook ads, sponsor Instagram photos, and send you timely reports to let you know if you sold those last ten pairs of designer jeans. And last month we announced it

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VCs raised billions in Q1 even as they made fewest investments in 3 years

Q1 2016 VC deals

At first blush, a review of venture capital dealmaking during the first quarter of 2016 suggests an industry gone mad.

VC firms raised the highest amount of capital raised in more than decade, even as they made the lowest number of investments in three years. What gives? The Q1 2016 Venture Pulse Report issued today by CB Insights and KPMG provides some method to this madness.

On Monday, the National Venture Capital Association had reported that U.S VC firms raised $12 billion across 57 different funds to invest in startups, calling it the largest amount raised in 10 years. KPMG and CB Insights did not specify a figure for the amount raised by firms, but called the billions raised the most since the dot com craziness of 2000. Regardless of the final amount, we’re talking about a vast amount of capital ready to be invested. For instance, Founders Fund raised

Q1 2016 Vc funding by quarter
VC investments 2011-2016
Q1 2016 header
10 biggest deals
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Destiny fans want better matchmaking, so they’re making it themselves

The FTW app promises to connect like-minded online gamers looking for a group.

Beerock Studios’ founder Brock Busby and resident adviser Mark Norris can easily recall some of their worst online matchmaking experiences.

For Norris, it was a recent Call of Duty match. “The guy who won … his emblem was all White Supremacist stuff,” Norris told GamesBeat in a recent interview. “And so it was a horrible experience at the end of the game.”

The desire to avoid those kinds of situations led Busby to create a community site for Bungie’s popular online shooter Destiny called “LFG” is an acronym often used in MMORPGs that stands for “looking for group.” If the game lacks matchmaking tools, typing “LFG” into chat is often the only way to connect with players looking to do the same activity, but the resulting group’s quality is often sketchy at best.

Busby recalled an incident from his days playing Blizzard Entertainment’s massively multiplayer

FTW will support games like Destiny and The Division at launch.
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Mobile user acquisition fraud: Rovio and others share how to fight it (webinar)


How do you combat user acquisition scams that are increasingly slick and nearly undetectable? Find out from the front line how pros are successfully combating mobile fraud.

Access the webinar on demand right here.

You’re spending up to $25 per high-quality user — but how many of them are real? User acquisition fraud has doubled since 2015. Unreliable install and conversion rates threaten your rank in the Google and Apple stores and squander a significant chunk of your already tight marketing budget.

Is there any hope for mobile app developers? To find out, VentureBeat gathered pros from the front line who have diagnosed, identified, and successfully combated fraud: Eric Seufert, VP of user acquisition at Rovio Entertainment — the company that blew up the mobile gaming industry with Angry Birds; Yevgeny Peres, VP of Growth at Supersonic by ironSource; and Paul H. Müller, CTO at adjust.

It’s an

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YapJobs raises $1.4 million to match job seekers with hospitality roles

YapJobs screen shot

YapJobs, an app which seeks to match jobseekers and employers in the hospitality sector in real-time, has raised £1 million (about $1.4 million) in funding.

Investors in the round included Ziad Tassabehji, who invested in an angel capacity, and various other private investors.

Shahzad Ali, CEO of YapJobs, spoke about the raise: “I grew up in the heat of a restaurant and know that the people employed are the lifeblood of the service industry, but I also know how the wrong environment can make it a very difficult place to work which has an impact on staff retention.

“That’s why I launched YapJobs, to help the best people find work quickly in the places that they really want to work. We want to use technology to help drive a real change in the industry, ensuring that people are also matched to company culture which will help promote a better working

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3 key ways to improve your subscriber value (webinar)


Guaranteed residual revenue through subscription models is hugely attractive and highly scalable — but missteps could lead to costly attrition and churn. Join Netflix Head of Payments Luis Vargas to learn how payment models factor into success and how to turn subscribers into the profitable customers you hanker for.

Register here for free.

Back in the day, a subscription service meant a membership to the gym, not a way to binge on online videos during the weekend. Those days are long gone. Subscription models popularized by Netflix and the like have changed the way consumers buy and consume content and products. The affordability, accessibility, and variety associated with subscription services have led to big profits and happy customers. Just look at 75 million subscribers Netflix has under its belt. Or, the 20 million paying subscribers and 75 million active users on Spotify. Or services like the beauty box subscription company Birchbox and grocery

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Calling all entrepreneurs: France wants your help to build a strong economic future…and its wallet is open


This sponsored post is produced in association with BPIFrance.

Investing in companies these days can be pretty easy. You do some research into firms with a good potential for revenue and profit — maybe get a hot tip from a friend or relative — then find a broker and give them a few bucks to stake your investment. From there, you can just sit back and hope for a good return.

France has decided it wants to invest some major money into its future, but it’s taking a much more pro-active approach with its investment method. So, it’s created its own version of a startup jam to seek out and incubate entrepreneurial thinking, then turn those projects into actual companies that are doing business in the country.

In 2013, France President François Hollande called for the creation of the Innovation 2030 Committee, with plans “to confront the major challenges

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Deal meetings don’t come with subtitles, but what if they did?

pitch meeting

Raising your first round of funding can be a daunting endeavor. While you’re delivering your business plan, wouldn’t it be great to able to read the minds of angel investors and VCs? Well, that may not be possible, but I can give you a few ideas of what most investors will be pondering while listening to your pitch:

1. This entrepreneur knows the technology and market but hasn’t led a growth company before. Will a new CEO be necessary to grow this company to its fullest potential? And if that turns out to be the case, how will this entrepreneur react?

From the beginning, investors are thinking about life-after-entrepreneur. Early stage investors don’t put money in until they’ve thought through a path to get their equity back out. Usually that means scaling up operations and revenue until the company has enough customers and market share to be an interesting

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