Redeye VC

Josh Kopelman

Managing Director of First Round Capital.

espite being coastally challenged (currently living in Philadelphia), Josh has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization. In 1992, while he was a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Josh co-founded Infonautics Corporation – an Internet information company. In 1996, Infonautics went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Read more or visit First Round Capital

Monthly Archives for 2010

View the older monthly archives »

2904 days ago...

Today:  

Aggregate Knowledge announced it's acquisition by Neustar for $119M.    All of us at First Round Capital are super-excited for Dave Jacobowski, the founders (Paul Martino and Chris Law) and the entire AK team.   It is particularly poignent for me, because I was just getting started in the venture business -- and this was one of our first investments from First Round Capital.  

 

2,904 days ago:  I wrote Paul the email below...

 

  -----Original Message-----

From: Josh Kopelman
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:45 AM
To: Paul Martino
Subject: Aggregate Knowledge

Paul –

Howard Morgan recently forwarded me your email about Aggregate Knowledge.  Howard and I are partners in a seed-stage fund that invests in early-stage technology companies.  I don’t believe we’ve met, but I’ve heard wonderful things about you from several folks.  I, like you, am a serial entrepreneur and have been an active angel investor over the last few year, with investments in LinkedIn, Del.icio.us, Riya/Ojos, Flock, IronPort, LiveOps and others.

I was particularly intrigued to learn about Aggregate Knowledge.  Over the last year or so I’ve been thinking about the difference between “explicit” and “implicit” actions – and how they impact online navigation.  I believe that while explicit actions (like tagging, bookmarking, entering in a query) clearly add immense value to users, there could be even more value derived from mining implicit activities (where did people go after they read this article, where did people go after they researched prices for a used honda accord at KelleyBlueBook.com, etc).  In addition, I also have been thinking about metaphors for using this knowledge to help web users before they ask for it (ie, why force users to search for information – what if there was a persistent tool in the browser that recommended sites based on your current navigation path).

Maybe I’m reading my thoughts into your venture – but it definitely sounded like we were on similar paths.  Howard and I are very interested in participating in your current angel round – so much so that if we were meeting in person, I would slide a check across the table right now.  Since I can’t do that I thought I’d do the next best thing.  Attached is our “virtual check” – just tell me where to send the original ;-).  

Check

I understand you are heading off on your honeymoon (congratulations, by the way) – but I would love an opportunity to participate.  (us “Philly Boys” need to stick together).  I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Josh

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul J. Martino [mailto:paul@aggregateknowledge.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 3:10 AM
Subject: Aggregate Knowledge

 

Friends,

 

We wanted to let you know that we have started a new company: Aggregate Knowledge (www.aggregateknowledge.com). Our goal is to deliver the best content to people based on the aggregate behavior of everyone who has gone before them. We think that the wisdom of crowds can help people get at the best of all the information that's out there. Our website doesn't have much information yet, but will soon.

 We are still very early in our company's life cycle. Currently, we are closing a small "friends and family" round of funding and thank those of you who are participating. Our goal is to do an institutional round in the spring.

 As many of you know, we previously launched WSFinder, a wiki-based directory of web services and APIs that people are using to create mash-ups. This was the starting point of our analysis of the web services landscape and marked the beginning of our goal to understand what was happening in the Web 2.0 world. The insights gained are driving much of the thinking behind Aggregate Knowledge.

WSRelater is the first web service that we are offering. It is an Amazon style "people who liked this, also liked that" engine that anyone can add to their website with a few hours of work. Since the engine is implemented as a web service, all sites that use the service can contribute to the aggregate knowledge database. We are pursuing direct applications of this technology with companies that are selling goods online and want to incorporate this functionality to their browsing experience.

 The WSRelater service is in "Alpha" mode. We will move from Alpha mode once we have good feedback from a few experimenters about the service and move to more production ready hardware. The API for this service and its documentation are online at www.wsrelater.com. Please send us any feedback.

 There are two things that we are asking our friends for assistance with in the short term.

 1.    If you know of a great sales / business development person that can help us knock on a few doors we'd love to meet them. Media and/or retail Biz Dev experience is really what we are looking for.

2.    If you have a site and would like to participate in the alpha of the recommendation service please let us know!

We are targeting a January unveiling of our first consumer facingservice.

This new service will leverage the WSRelater engine to create a compelling user retention solution for media portals. You will hear more about this at the beginning of the year.

We will keep you posted.

Paul Martino and Chris Law

Some Context on Cover

Today we’re excited to “take the cover” off our latest investment – Cover.  Cover is a context-aware Android app that automatically recognizes the places you spend time (home, work, car), learns which apps you use in those places, and puts them on your lockscreen for easy access.  While this sounds simple, we think it’s extremely powerful because the company is harnessing the power of two important trends:

First, we believe that context will be an increasingly important element of the mobile experience.   One of our early investments, Uber, for example, was one of the early apps to take advantage of a very simple contextual-layer (location).  Today we see an increasing number of opportunities to leverage context – so that, ultimately, you have a phone that seamlessly changes based on a user’s surroundings.  Google Now is an early example of an app that leverages context (through software) to enhance value.  And we’re already seeing companies begin to build context detection into hardware (like the MotoX and the M7 coprocessor of the Apple A7 chip).  

We expect contextual awareness to proliferate all all layers of the stack -- and Cover is one of the first stand-alone startups that is 100% focused on context.  Their product today learns when and where you use different apps, using your location as well as the day of week/hour of day (for example, you might use stocks/weather in the morning, and watch Netflix at night. You might use Foursquare/Yelp more on the weekends, etc). Your home and work are recognized through a combination of geo-fencing, wifi networks, and cell towers. Car detection is built using low-power sensors (no GPS) so it doesn’t drain your battery.  (Watch their video here to see Cover in action).

And contextual computing gets even more exciting when you add the “wisdom of the crowd” into the mix.  If everyone who walks into a movie theater puts their phone on vibrate, wouldn’t it be neat if your phone could automagically do the same – even if you’ve never been to the that specific theater before?

The second trend that Cover is harnessing is the power of Android.  We believe now is the right time to bet on Android.   A few reasons why:

  • Android phones have really improved in the last two years.  The first Android phone I used was the Google Nexus One – and it was really lacking.  However, I’ve been using the Samsung S4 recently – and have really been impressed with it.  It’s really fast, and the ability to customize the phone has actually made it easier to use.   I see why David Pogue called it a “rival to the iPhone.”  And I’ve heard even better things about the HTC One.
     
  • The market for Android has become immense.  Android captured 80% of the smartphone market last quarter (while iOS hit a new low of 14%).  And while there still is a big monetization gap between Android and iPhone, I believe that gap will close over time due to the staggering volume of billions of Android phones and nicer Android phones coming out – resulting in more high-end users switching to Android.  The hardware has now caught up – and as innovation moves to software over the next few years, Android developers stand to benefit.

  • The Android developer toolset has really improved in the last year.  Apple has had Xcode (Apple’s integrated development environment for iOS) for years.  Yet Android announced an officially-supported IDE (Android Studio) just five months ago. Google has been rapidly developing Android Studio, with over 20 new releases since May.  As more developer tools are built to make it easier to develop on Android, I believe you will see an increase in the number (and quality) of Android apps.
     
  • Even Android’s infamous “fragmentation” is getting less severe.  The vast majority of Android phones are now running Gingerbread or above, and Jellybean is approaching 50% of the market. That means that developers are benefitting from a more mature platform without the complexities that characterized early versions of Android (and though Gingerbread itself is complex, it is now reasonably well-understood and documented).

We are super-excited to work with the Cover team.  The founders have run massively successful projects at Facebook, Google and Yahoo – and they are building an incredible team of Android engineers.  Unlike most companies (who have just one or two Android engineers) the Cover team understands Android down to the metal.

We’re thrilled to welcome them to the First Round Capital community.  If you use an Android phone, be sure to join the waitlist for Cover here – it’s worth it.


Why Real Food Works

Today I’m excited to announce First Round Capital’s investment in Real Food Works -- a Philadelphia-based company that offers subscription-based programs for home delivered meals.  The company’s goal is to improve health by helping people to eat a real food diet for both weight loss and healthy living. Customers have an online portal where they manage their account and select meals.  And weight-loss customers have weekly coaching sessions and track their behavior and results and interact with the company through an online portal.

The magic of their business model is the supply chain. The company uses local restaurants (and their excess capacity) to produce the food. Each dish is the restaurants' own creation, tailored to fit within stringent nutritional specifications. They create delicious dishes that contain all whole foods — and nothing processed or artificial, no dairy, and very little added fat, salt, and sweeteners. Each plan provides customers with meals from a variety of restaurants each week.

Personally, I’m excited about our investment here for a few reasons:

  • First, as someone who’s been trying to avoid wheat and dairy for the last few years, I’ve had firsthand experiences with the challenges of finding quality food to  accommodate a restricted diet.  With Real Food Works customers don’t need to make a trade-off between good-tasting food and healthy food.
  • Second, in addition to First Round Capital’s investment, Real Food Works is the first investment from the StartupPHL seed fund (a public/private venture fund that we run in partnership with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation to increase the availability of investment capital for Philadelphia-based startups).  In fact, Real Food Works moved their offices to the city of Philadelphia as a result of the StartupPHL investment.

  • Third, it’s great to be working with the company’s founder, Lucinda Duncalfe, again.   I’ve known Lucinda for almost 20 years – and have invested in several companies she’s led (including Turntide – which was acquired by Symantec in 2004).  I’m thrilled to be working with her again on this project.

They currently service the Philadelphia-area  – so if you live in the region, please give it a try.  It’s a great way to save time, lose weight and eat healthy!  Or, feel free to join them for one of their free Farm Table Lunches!