The Investments We Made In 2008

by Brad Feld

We made seven new investments in 2008. Two of the investments were seed rounds, four were first rounds, and one was a second round investment. We invested across three of our themes: Glue, Human Computer Interaction, and Digital Life. We covered plenty of geography with investments in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and Boulder.

While the global economy took a major downtown in 2008, we are strong believers that great companies can be started in any economic environment. We invest in the very early stages of a company’s lifecycle with a view that it will take them three or more years to hit their stride. As a result, we don’t try to time markets. Instead we pace our investments deliberately and strive for a consistent investment pace through the investment period of our fund.

Following is the rundown by month.

March: Gnip is developing an infrastructure service that helps solve the “many to many” API communication scale problems of web services companies. Gnip has launched their data portability service and currently are processing around 10 million transactions a day between dozens of data producers and data consumers.

April: Smith & Tinker is creating a hybrid platform that integrates the best features of online and offline gaming with the goal of reinventing play for the connected generation. Smith & Tinker’s first game – Nanovor – will ship in 2009.

June: Topspin Media has built a CRM platform that allows recording artists and their management to control marketing, monetization, analytics, and distribution of their assets including digital merchandise and ticketing. Topspin is already powering artists such as Byrne & Eno and Paul McCartney’s band The Fireman.

July: EmSense has created the first scalable physiological and brainwave measurement technology platform, enabling quantitative testing of an audience’s cognitive and emotional engagement during a media experience.

September: Trada is developing an online advertising marketplace. Trada will drive a new level of efficiency and effectiveness into online advertising campaigns.  Look for Trada’s launch in 2009.

September: Pie Digital has created an “IT department in a box” for the average consumer. Their affordable software platform, desktop device and service dramatically simplify the installation, maintenance and expansion of home computing equipment and networks.

December: Brightleaf is a legal process automation company aimed at providing business and legal solutions to legal departments and law firms. While we don’t often invest in companies in vertical markets, Brightleaf is right in line with Jason Mendelson’s Law Firm 2.0 philosophy.

We also participated in follow on rounds for three companies that we initially funded in 2007: AdMeld, Lijit, and Zynga along with a follow on round for Gnip.

Thanks to all the great entrepreneurs we’ve had the chance to meet and work with this year. Whether we funded your company or not, thanks for spending time with us. You guys are the heroes of the innovation process!