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20 Tech Ideas VCs Want to Fund 170

An anonymous reader writes "CNNMoney reports on the top 20 technology ideas that our beloved VCs want to throw money at. Are these the brilliant ideas that will change the world (and make you rich in the process)?" From the article: "Delivery of new types of Web search to mobile phones. Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are all taking a swipe at this, but Rimer believes they're betting on a losing strategy by simply shrinking their existing desktop features into a handheld package. He says he's willing to invest in new search applications that, for example, depend as much on voice recognition as on text input and would offer up everything from shopping and news headlines to driving directions and restaurant reviews with a few voice commands and keystrokes ... What he'll invest: $2 million for a working demo application."
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20 Tech Ideas VCs Want to Fund

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  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:47PM (#16338969) Homepage Journal
    The thing about all of these ideas is that they are not really very interesting or innovative. No slam on any of the VCs involved here (particularly the Draper Fisher Jurvetson folks as they are top notch), but these ideas are all about derived markets and products. It seems that the VC world has gotten lots more conservative over the past five years or so and they are looking at giving larger amounts of money to easier/simpler concepts rather than encouraging real cutting edge research.

    This of course is a major problem as the US has historically relied upon federal funding to help develop the real cutting edge stuff, yet federal funding for basic science research is being cut dramatically in favor of applied research. So, we now run the risk of losing out on our technological advantage from both traditional government funding and now private funding. (notable exceptions for a number of philanthropists such as Paul Allen, Bill Gates, John Moran and others).

    It's harder for VCs to find basic science research projects that have a significant payoff, but the projects are out there. We're banking on our technology and approaches to an area of bioscience and metabolomics to pay off in a variety of spaces from agronomics to medicine, drug development, defense and nutrition among many other applications, but I've found most VCs to be remarkably limited in their approach preferring to focus only on the short term, 1-3 years, rather than the 5-6 necessary for many projects. Its an old story, but focusing on the short term is a good business model where you invest 50% of the capital (or less) for 70-80% of the profits only after 80% of the work has been done. Unfortunately, you miss out on prospects for real impact by focusing on the next marketing tool rather than the next disease cure.

    • by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:15PM (#16339385) Homepage
      Quite often the best business ideas (as in, the basis for a business that makes money) are evolutionary, not revolutionary. It's a worthy goal to take the state of the art and add something that just makes it better.

      Think how much Linux is benefiting from things like desktop interface improvements - it's not cutting edge amazing ideas, but it does have value. The same thing applies in business.

      Really the right place for basic research is in the public domain where the stakes are high and the rewards few and far between. It makes the search for groundbreaking ideas more efficient because people can trade information with no fear or losing out on millions.

      This also means that the basic research is then available to businesses who can add *their* value in turning it into something usable for the rest of us... along with another bunch of businesses ensuring that competition brings it's benefits to bear. To look back at the Linux analogy, this is essentially how we are seeing the Open Source model turn out high quality at low cost - the research is all public, and the refinements to make it accessable are driven by people who want to sell it.
      • by BWJones ( 18351 ) *
        It's a worthy goal to take the state of the art and add something that just makes it better.

        Which is exactly what we are doing, by taking technology from a variety of sources (computer science, remote sensing, immunology, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, optics and mechanics) and making something of it that tells us more about biology and biological processes.

        Really the right place for basic research is in the public domain where the stakes are high and the rewards few and far between. It makes the s
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        OR to put it another way, we all stand on the shoulders of midgets.
    • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:15PM (#16339389)

      This of course is a major problem as the US has historically relied upon federal funding to help develop the real cutting edge stuff, yet federal funding for basic science research is being cut dramatically in favor of applied research. So, we now run the risk of losing out on our technological advantage from both traditional government funding and now private funding.


      You are 100% correct. Just a nit to pick: it's not just the US - it's everyone. Profit-driven business are - generally - too constrained by the need to increase shareholder value RIGHT NOW to take on large, speculative research projects, so it falls to governments to spur advances in this sector.

    • I disagree. VCs want to back an idea that has a reasonable chance of success, and a better than reasonable chance of getting a return on their investment. Some of the ideas might be "obvious" but then again no one has pulled them off yet. Thats what they are looking for - the right management team with the right product and the right customers at the right place and right time.
      • by dpilot ( 134227 )
        Some time back, I believe it was Cringely who criticized VCs for not doing their job. In his opinion, once upon a time, VCs would fund 10 ideas hoping for 1 or 2 things that did fairly well, 1 real winner, and accept 7 dogs. They don't want to accept the dogs any more, and in clipping out the dogs are very likely to be clipping out the real winner, as well.

        If they were betting on a sure (or nearly sure) thing, they'd be ordinary investors instead of VCs.
      • by BWJones ( 18351 ) *
        Thats what they are looking for - the right management team with the right product and the right customers at the right place and right time.

        Sure, and I am all for this. The only problem is that since so many of them are focused on the very short term, they miss the larger picture (and larger profits). For example, I recently met with a VC group and the first thing they started doing was trying to figure out how to profit *immediately* by breaking the technology up into little bits that they could then se
    • The reason... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jbeaupre ( 752124 )
      Don't forget, this is a list of projects they are willing to discuss publicly. They don't have to worry about someone stealing an old concept for a product and they might just get someone to call them up with a way to do it. They guard the innovative stuff a little more jealously.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cultrhetor ( 961872 )
      Marketing matters: witness the dotMobi [mtld.mobi] top-level idea. So far they have BMW, Rolls-Royce, CNN Money, and a number of others. If you take a look at the sites (see http://kicker.mobi/ [kicker.mobi] for an example), they're nothing more than standard html reformatted to look normal on a mobile phone. Why not use a simple @media command? Because marketing to the money men is how you get funded. Simplistic ventures that capitalize on a branding mechanism, with little real innovation behind them, will return quite handsom
    • Is it just me or did anyone else get the feeling that these guys just want in essence, free money? All of the projects in the list would require MASSIVE ammounts of captial to begin with to get to them to the point that they would even look at them. By the time they'd put up money for your project you either have the cash needed or your going to fail anyways. The only people who would really benifit from these people are those with a product they themselves don't see selling verry well and just want money.
    • Um, I've read your post from start to finish , but I still don't get why the Viet Cong want to get into tech :|
    • The thing about all of these ideas is that they are not really very interesting or innovative. No slam on any of the VCs involved here (particularly the Draper Fisher Jurvetson folks as they are top notch), but these ideas are all about derived markets and products. It seems that the VC world has gotten lots more conservative over the past five years or so and they are looking at giving larger amounts of money to easier/simpler concepts rather than encouraging real cutting edge research.

      Like in number t

    • Personally, I'd like to see some geniuses take the open source 3D modeling software BRL-CAD and build it into a giant-killer.

      The (non-software) engineering world has been fragmented by differing, non-interchangeable data formats over the past 30 years. This hurts not only the end owners of the files but also those who wish to learn or obtain employment in the field (eg, "good designer but no knowledge of program X that *we* use? Sorry")
  • That's retarded! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:49PM (#16339003)
    A driver's tech fantasy fully realized: an in-dash computer with a keyboard built into the steering wheel and a full-screen heads-up display projected on the windshield.

    So drivers can read email while driving.

    That's just fucking retarded. People have trouble driving while "reading" the road and traffic conditions. Why split their concentration any more?
    • You've never driven on the M25, have you?
    • ...material diversions to the driver's attention, with the advent of the cellphone, that ship, as they say, has sailed.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:11PM (#16339343) Homepage Journal

        True, but a heads-up display is the wrong answer to the wrong question. What we need is a transparent backlight with an LCD windshield (or an OLED windshield). I'll explain.

        With an LCD windshield, coupled with a sufficiently advanced computer and external cameras, the car could use overlay boxes to alert the driver to potential hazards. For example, it could alert the driver to pedestrians standing beside the road, large animals beside the road, police motorcycles sitting in the bushes, etc. All of these things represent potential traffic hazards, as any of these things could suddenly go from being beside the road to being on it very quickly. (I know that law enforcement would hate this because of the reduced ability to set up speed traps, but the improvement in overall safety is hard to dismiss, and might even make speed limits less critical except in inclement weather.)

        Even better. by combining it with cameras in the car to measure the position of the driver's head, since the entire windshield (and, ideally, the side windows) would be LCD panels, you could do other things like darkening a small portion of the panel so that the sun is reduced in brightness to a more manageable level on a bright, sunny day. Ditto for overly bright car headlights, the light bridges on police cars when they park next to road construction (yeah, like being distracted by bright, flashing lights is going to make me drive BETTER!?!), and so on.

        Finally, this would be one step towards having fully automated driving. As the reliability of external threat detection improves, it will eventually evolve to the point that people don't actually have to touch the wheel except in the event of a computer failure. That's many years down the road, but you have to crawl before you can run.

        Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that a heads-up display isn't a good idea for reducing driver distraction. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But any such technology should be combined with what I'm describing here to maximize driver safety FIRST, then reduce distraction as a side effect.

        • BSOD (Score:2, Insightful)

          >With an LCD windshield, coupled with a sufficiently advanced computer and external cameras

          Hmmmm... One crash (computer) could lead to another (car) and a new definition of Blue Screen Of Death.
          • He did mention transparent backlighting, thus making it seem like the entire windshield is see through.

            Have you seen some OLED demo videos? The substrate is clear with the used portions emitting light. Similar effect to the standard mirrored HUD.

            I doubt the OP is suggesting we just mount a 24 inch standard LCD monitor to the dash to obstruct our view.
        • by 955301 ( 209856 )
          True, but a car is the wrong answer to the wrong question.

          What we really need is to stop making cars more and more high tech and intelligent and surrogates to the driver's abilities and start pushing forward with Personal Rapid Transit. There's no reason for passengers to have to steer just to keep on the "rail". There isn't any reason to pump AI into the vehicle to keep it on the track. Highways are *not* scaleable because of the 2.5 meter footprint of each lane. Cars cause more problems than they solve an
          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            Also very true. I've been advocating such a thing for years. However, short of a massive federal government project to build out a network of interconnecting rail lines, I don't see that changing any time soon. Also, roads are very efficient at a local level, as a rail-based system cannot climb steep grades. The fundamental flaw in rail-based schemes is that it ignores the fact that long distance travel doesn't lend itself to a few centralized stops. You'll have to drive somewhere to get on, and for th

            • by 955301 ( 209856 )
              I take the other position on the funding and implementation. Given that we are effectively in a fascist country, any attempt to build such a system by a government would be killed by the companies who stand to lose money over the undertaking. And I wouldn't blame them - why pay taxes to a government who implements systems which compete with your business?

              My "spherical chickens in a vacuum", i.e., ideal, hypothesis is that this thing should be shopped out to the companies it invalidates: gas stations, auto s
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by neonfrog ( 442362 )
          Cool! Then it could darken like Zaphod's sunglasses so you wouldn't have to panic just before impact!
        • As the reliability of external threat detection improves, it will eventually evolve to the point that people don't actually have to touch the wheel except in the event of a computer failure.

          I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you drive down that gravel road. I might get chipped, and not in a good way.

          I, for one, welcome our cracked $10,000 LCD windshield overlords...

      • and to use your cell phone whilst driving is rightly banned in some countries - e.g. The UK. The email thing doubtless would be there too, and might even encourage new legislation in countries that didn't have it before.

        It's a really dumb idea right off the bat. Some VCs clearly have more money than sense.
    • Just think, all we'd really need is a third hand to help out while driving and surfing the web for porn.
    • That's just fucking retarded. People have trouble driving while "reading" the road and traffic conditions. Why split their concentration any more?

      Of course if we get a winner at DARPA Urban Grand Challenge 2007, this might be a moot point by 2015 when most new cars have their own automated driving systems.

      Of course this would make the inboard dash device a pointless thing because if you don't need to pay attention to driving then you could just use a regular laptop on the road.
    • Don't forget as they are reading their email while driving they will get a call from the starbucks, arbys, best buy, and wal-mart that they just passed. These stores will occupy more of his concentration with ads and coupons. God I hope the cell phone ads don't take off. I can already predict it will be a pain in the ass and everyone will complain about it.

      It may have one advantage though. Maybe people would stop bringing their cellphones with them to places like the movies.
    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )
      Why split their concentration any more?

      You can't split their concentration -- it's already split. They're going to do this stupid shit whether you think it's a good idea or not. They already do.

      The question is: do you want their concentration to be split between the road and something superimposed on the road, or between the road and a little screen in their hand? It's going to happen, so you might as well minimize the suckage.

  • by joshetc ( 955226 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:50PM (#16339011)
    Don't you need internet access on your cell phone before mobile search engines hit it big? In which case there would need to be almost nothing different than current websites. Maybe they should focus on getting decent broadband to mobile phones in the area of $20 a month before worrying about super-duper mobile phone websites. Otherwise nobody will use the websites....
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Every major provider in US (Cingular, Verizon, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile) offers Internet access on phones, and most of these providers offer broadband connectivity already. The remaining ones plan to launch it within months. Not many people use it because, well, content is mediocre.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by peragrin ( 659227 )
        Well it's not so much content that's mediocre but the price. a basic data plan from cingular will set you back $20 a month. That's just for data and on top of your regular phone bill. I have always wanted to hook my cell phone up to my laptop for quicky net access, but there is no way in hell I am paying that much three times for occasional net access. Once for your land connection, once for your mobile phone and once again for your datalink over the mobile phone.
      • and you forgot to mention that it is slow, unreliable, expensive and the screens too small.
    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:12PM (#16339365)
      Don't you need internet access on your cell phone before mobile search engines hit it big? In which case there would need to be almost nothing different than current websites. Maybe they should focus on getting decent broadband to mobile phones in the area of $20 a month before worrying about super-duper mobile phone websites. Otherwise nobody will use the websites....


      Who says you need internet access on your phone for this? Those are the types of assumptions that hinder innovation. Couldn't you do some kind of query/response to a server somewhere? One of the things that always seems kind of obvious AFTER some kind of innovation is what assumptions were thought about in a different way. Think of the problem, and how it could be solved, without getting caught up in what already exists. That is just one way to do it, obviously another is to try and use what already exists. But all ways should be looked at to solve problems.


      It's like looking back on the comments around flying before airplanes where they thought it was impossible because things were too heavy, so they tried to make things really light in order to fly. That is why I love the "50,100, 150 years ago" section in Scientific American magazine. It is really interesting to read the thoughts on science from those time periods. Sometimes it is amazing at how forward-thinking they were, and sometimes it is funny to see how far off they were.


      Always look at your assumptions, and consider how to eliminate them if they are hindering your solution. Like Google's recent comments on PC power supplies (a href=http://informationweek.com/hardware/showArtic le.jhtml?articleID=193005875> here. It is one of those simple and innovative ideas.
       

      • by joshetc ( 955226 )
        Sounds like an even better business plan. Make people pay $5 a month for each piece of generic content they want, like ESPN Mobile which is shutting down.

        I realize most major carriers offer broadband, which is overpriced junk.

        Once mobile carriers are giving 512kbit+ lines for low prices w/ out restrictions (ie. ethernet or some other port on the phone where you can plug any web capable device into it for an instant connection) and no bandwidth limits will mobile internet finally pick up.

        Eventually it needs
    • Even if you do need the internet for this, which some other posters have pointed out that you might not, you have to consider that starting a project at this point it may only be ready in a couple of years from now. At that point internet access on a phone could be common/fast/cheap.
    • Maybe they should focus on getting decent broadband to mobile phones in the area of $20 a month before worrying about super-duper mobile phone websites.

      $20 a month? Are you kidding me? Don't you have free WiFi most anywhere you go?

      T-Mobile's SDA and MDA smartphones both have WiFi connectivity (as well as EDGE, if you choose to pay $30/month for it).
  • I want my flying car.
    • I agree. I also want the promised:

      paperless office

      three-day work week

      house under water (although I have come close to this)

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) *
        house under water (although I have come close to this)

        You know that little drain plug in the back of your boat? You're supposed to put that in before you put the boat in the water. Just a tip, don't bother to thank me.

    • by chill ( 34294 )
      Flying cars would be a great -- for thinning the population. Have you seen how people drive? Think how it would be with gravity and no true brake.
  • A new database? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mspohr ( 589790 )
    Whoopee! This is really cutting edge. We already have more different shapes and sizes of databases (many of them free) than we could possibly use.

    Hot tip to VC... if you really want to do something with a database, pick one of the existing "flyweight" OS databases and put together a sales and support organization... don't reinvent the wheel.

    • *laughing hard* No kidding! Adding capital and effort to expanding and improving an existing product that shows real potential means you're likely to get SOME return on the investment, even if it doesn't take off like a runaway rocket.

      Investing cash to recreate the same product with a different name is asking for trouble unless the designer(s) involved have a proven track record (like multi-millions worth of track record)...which is pointless if said designer(s) are already successful because they don't ne
    • I think there's still plenty of room for innovation in databases, even databases that are still fundamentally relational (replacing SQL with a real functional language would be a huge gain, for one). The VC doesn't seem to want innovative, though, just cheap.
    • by Shadowlore ( 10860 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:36PM (#16339739) Journal
      Rather than use my mod points, I'll point this out for other mods and meta-mods:

      It specifically said:
      What he wants now: A new database company. "


      Just because you the poster failed to read that last word does not mean you get to then say what he wants as if it was your idea,and slam him for not thinking it. Mods, please take appropriate action regarding parent post.

      That said, your idea is a paltry imitation of his. He wants more than a sales organization. He wants a company that can take on the big boys on their own turf: big database work. That means application support that goes beyond the little stuff done by most (all?) current DB smaller companies.
      • by mspohr ( 589790 )
        Yes, you are correct. I was taken by the heading "A Flyweight Database" and didn't read the article carefully. So he is thinking of a sales and support company. Good. However, if he wants to go against IBM and Oracle in the sales and support services, he'll need big bucks (and a long sales cycle) to establish credibility. It's not clear whether or not he's looking to create a "flyweight database" or "flyweight company"... either way, it sounds like a paradox... a lightweight "under the radar" database/
  • Do you really want to be funded by these vulture capitalists?
  • With real-time traffic updates, navigation, and information feeds ...

    http://www.dash.net/ [dash.net]

    Rocket

  • Vulture Capital (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:04PM (#16339247)
    Are these the brilliant ideas that will change the world (and make you rich in the process)?"

    They may change the world and the certainly will make somebody rich if they do succeed, but that person will probably NOT be the poor developer or inventor who came up with the idea in the first place. They don't call it "vulture capital" for nothing you know. If the idea or invention is a spectacular success then the inventor may receive some millions after the financiers have received their billions. Remember what happened to the inventor of the blue LED...there is a lesson to be learned there.
    • "Are these the brilliant ideas that will change the world (and make you rich in the process)?"

      They may change the world and the certainly will make somebody rich if they do succeed, but that person will probably NOT be the poor developer or inventor who came up with the idea in the first place. They don't call it "vulture capital" for nothing you know. If the idea or invention is a spectacular success then the inventor may receive some millions after the financiers have received their billions.

      What a dile

    • If the inventor is making millions whilst the VC makes billions, then the inventor must have given away 99.9% equity, which is pretty much his own fault.
  • I must've missed the first five minutes... what's a VC?
  • by EricTheGreen ( 223110 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:06PM (#16339281) Homepage

    Draper thinks there's an opening for a startup that can deliver most of the benefits of standard Big Blue products without millions of lines of code or an army of consultants and IT managers. "I'm not sure yet what this company would look like," Draper says, "but it would not have the technology baggage of the entrenched monopolists. If it can penetrate the market cleverly like we did with Hotmail and Skype, it might not take that much funding."

    What he'll invest: $3 million for a working application


    And if the folks at Postgres are smart, they've just found a way to add $3MM to their foundation funds with a simple email...

    Kidding aside, one thing that _would_ be interesting to see--high-quality, moderate cost OLAP analytics engines, preferably running ROLAP on top of an engine such as PostgreSQL. Maybe they're out there, but I don't see much of them (other than Mondrian). As the commercial OLAP market is structured now, it's hard for midsize companies to justify the outflow for decent analytics. No lack of demand though, just need something at the right price point...

  • He says he's willing to invest in new search applications that, for example, depend as much on voice recognition as on text input

    Am I really the only person who feels like an idiot when I have to talk to a computer?
  • by Chacham ( 981 )
    Does Rimer _want_ to support bad ideas? As they say, where there's a will, there's a way (to $300 million.)

    Maybe he'll support my idea of dragging Arctic ice to the Sahara desert.
  • "drive and check e-mail at the same time. That's vastly safer than drivers looking down and taking one or both hands off the wheel to play with their BlackBerry" - Jonathan Fram

    This fool wants to pay people to put email in the hands of people driving down the road. These are people who can't drive their giant SUVs already, read signs, use their signals. He thinks putting their Blackberries in a virtual page on the rear end of the car in front will be safe, not just make them tailgate even more.

    Combining the
  • What he wants now: Concierge-grade trip planning over the Web. Imagine getting a message on your BlackBerry alerting you that your villa is booked, dinner reservations are confirmed, and a driver will pick you up in an hour for the flight to Belize. It's not live agents making that happen, but software that taps into the growing number of travel-industry databases - of hotel chains, restaurants, limo services, amusement parks - to assemble smarter, more personalized itineraries than can be found on major tr
  • TFA mentions that one of the VC wants to fund a new RDBMS product to take on Oracle. What he apparently doesn't know is that there are already better products on the market, which have no chance in hell of getting any significant mind-share away from Oracle.

    -jcr
  • Hey big spenders! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by popo ( 107611 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:19PM (#16339449) Homepage
    What they want now: A driver's tech fantasy fully realized: an in-dash computer with a keyboard built into the steering wheel and a full-screen heads-up display projected on the windshield.

    What they'll invest: $5 million for a deeply qualified 20-person team to deliver a prototype and a plan for pitching a commercial version to automakers within three years


    Gee, a whole $5 million for a DEEPLY QUALIFIED 20 PERSON TEAM FOR 3 YEARS. LOL.

    Apparently, on-shore development teams need not apply.

    • by hsoft ( 742011 )
      Well, unless I made a calculation mistake, that's about 80k per person per year. It isn't so bad. And it would certainly be hell of a salary in India (I guess).
      • by Isao ( 153092 )
        I'm afraid you did overlook some costs.

        Assume 30% employment overhead for each staffer, plus 10% risk of doing business (short-term work), plus costs for a development environment (location and equipment).

        What I think they're essentially looking for is a university development environment, not a strictly commercial organization.

      • by COMON$ ( 806135 )
        Depends on whether the 5M involves all admin costs. You have to figure in benefits, building costs, software, hardware, QA groups, bonuses...
      • In this country, you need to multiply the salary rougly by 2.5 to get the overall yearly spending on a single "individual contributor" employee. You need to rent a building, you need to buy hardware, bandwidth, electricity, you need to pay health insurance, heating, janitorial, "morale" events, etc, etc. And $83K a year won't get you anyone "deeply qualified". It's a mid-level salary of a decent programmer in, say, WA.
      • He's looking to make a venture capital investment not probably buy the company. I'd guess he's shooting for something in the neighborhood of 20-50% ownership depending on any resources your firm would begin with and how far the technology is when you make the pitch. That leaves you with an additional 50-80% of the company to sell if you need more resources to complete the project (more importantly the share of the company you'd sell in later rounds should decline and the funds raised might increase).
    • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      Aren't these VC ventures usually a team of investors?
  • by TheWoozle ( 984500 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:22PM (#16339491)
    5 out of the 20 were about different ways to advertise. One was about a way to automate product placement on TV shows and in movies.

    There are a lot of technology-gone-horribly-wrong scenarios; the one that leaves me in a cold sweat is inescapable advertising.
  • The missing field in that CNN list of VCs, what they'll buy and what they'll pay, is "What they'll let you keep:". When a VC gives you money to startup a company, they get most of the equity in the company. So they can sell it when (if) its value goes up on the value of the product you develop. They'll make you spend that money you get from them on developing their company. Expenses and operations designed to increase the apparent value of their company, even when that doesn't reflect the actual value of th
    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) *

      It doesn't have to be that bad. These people want a product; make sure that's all they get. No one says you have to sell your soul — at least, not yet. If the terms aren't acceptable, walk.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Teancum ( 67324 )
      As pointed out, the quantities of money, while sounding impressive to people who are not well aquainted with this type of business, are actually rather low in terms of what it really would cost to get a team of software developers to get something like this put together.

      My experience is that most people who don't directly understand the costs of software development underestimate the actual cost of development by only willing to pay about 5%-10% of the real world cost, especially if you are talking a full l
  • At the proposal meeting: "We have this terrrific battery that lasts longer than any Lith-ion batteries out there. The only problem we have, that we are sure we can fix, is that one may occasionally explode."
  • >Text-messaging software that allows local merchants to send offers to mobile phones. Some companies already do this in basic form; Moldow's idea would give merchants more control.

    Just Fucking Great... text message spam. It's hard to think of a suitable response to this that isn't a felony.
  • The web-based spreadsheet thing sounds downright easy. What is the catch? Someone's willing to spend $5 million on a project that a typical student could probably implement (at least in a rough form) in a week? I don't get it.

    The HUDs on autos is a good idea. Complain about safety all you want, but the fact is, mitigating distractions is the best you can do. The People have already spoken and demanded that the distractions exist -- look around for drivers talking on their phones if you don't believe m

    • The Massive Entertainment still amazes me. 15 years ago, who knew there would be money in MUDs?!? Ok, maybe you did, but I would have laughed.

      I did although honestly it wasn't really that far out from Ultima Online so really it was already on it's way. I had friends who played MUDs and were simply addicted to them. I played too but I just couldn't get around reading all that text. I got my characters to level cap but didn't quit because it was how I kept in contact with my high-school friends during
      • So, we've started a pool here in the office about how long it will take for someone to post a reply that tells you they had a 2400 baud modem. And then someone else will post about their 300 baud modem. And then someone else will need to pipe up who admin'ed a BBS using semaphore and carrier pigeons.

        But of course, we know you're not *really* old until you used the original nam shub sneakernet with Sumerian clay tablets...man, Slashdot is the best ;-)
  • Spreadsheets That Truly Excel

    That should be easy enough. Rip the GUI off openoffice and build a web-based front-end.

    The eBay of Product Placement

    The only trick to this one is building a tech-driven company when everything except the hollywood exec insider contacts are a commodity. Put a hollywood exec in charge and he'll foul it up the same way the airline execs fouled up their spare parts auction company. I don't want to say they're stupid, so let me instead say that they're "not the right kind of smart."
  • Number 20 (Score:2, Interesting)

    $5 million for a working game or site that shows MMO growth potential. "It's so hard to predict what will take off," Gurley says, "that it's easier to pay more for something that's further along."

    I've thought about this type of thing for a long time. There are several open source gaming engines out there, including fully functioning, community driven, MMORPGs. He mentions that it is easier to start with something further along. A few million spent on some full time developers for bug fixes and a few mill

  • Anemic ideas (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gatesvp ( 957062 )

    Is is just me, or are most of these ideas pretty anemic? Pathogen detection sounds pretty far out, but much of the rest is questionable. They either want an incremental software upgrade or a monumental leap in the energy field.

    Of course you want a li-ion battery with 5 times the power, we all do. R&D labs have been working on it for years, remember li-poly? And your investment? 2M, that's 66k / person for 2 years! And I need PhDs for this kind of work! 2M won't even cover salary and ops expenses f

  • Ah hello, can I have the $5 mill? I think sharepoint does exactly what she wants... Geeze some of these are just as silly.

  • Trip Planning 2.0
    What he wants now: ....software that taps into the growing number of travel-industry databases....
    What he'll invest: $5 million to create a working prototype within two years

    I know of several free tools that will tap into pretty much anyone's database. :D

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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