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Think Big. Move Fast.

Well we were hoping not to announce our investment in Flixster until they got a PR firm engaged, but Mike Arrington at Techcrunch has his sources and broke the news tonight.

We’re very excited to partner with Joe and Saran (the two founders) and the rest of the team. They have built an amazing user generated content site around movies, including ratings, reviews, actor pages, trivia quizes, movie compatability tests and tons of other stuff. Traffic growth has been truly viral and the site has grown from nothing a year ago to very meaningful pageviews per month from users all over the world. They’ve done a great job of applying social networking and viral best practices to engineer this growth.

As we’ve posted in the past, we’re big believers that this year social networking becomes a feature, a mechanism used to incent users to create content that will be of broad interest to many other users. We think that this is most interesting around verticals with endemic advertising opportunities. Web based advertisers still pay a premium for content related to their product (vs buying demographics or broad reach). As movie studios follow their audiences online they will be marketing more on the web, and movie related content will continue to draw premium CPMs, just as it does for Moviefone, Yahoo Movies, etc. Flixster fits right into this model.

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Ask the VC points to a good post by Matt Macall at his blog VC Confidential about why startup entrepreneurs should not get too focused on the issue of control and of owning more than 51%.

In a nutshell, he says that “control” is a bit of an illusionary concept, and that in reality having everyone aligned around a startup’s strategy is far more important than either company management or investors being able to “force” their point of view on the other side. We completely agree.

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The best part of being a ‘VC’ is meeting passionate entrepreneurs and listening to pitches about how their idea is going to change the world. Since I joined Lightspeed, I’ve found myself meeting amazing people and debating revolutionary ideas on a daily basis.

I’ve had the opportunity to listen to hundreds of pitches and as a former entrepreneur I did my share of pitching. I firmly believe that all great plans highlight the four key areas that are at the heart of every good VCs decision process.

1. Demonstrate you are addressing a Billion dollar plus market. This is the most important thing. If you can’t convince the VC you’re solving a problem in a huge market, you’re dead in the water. Big markets make big companies. Big markets can also hide mistakes. Do the bottoms up analysis. Talk to your assumptions.

2. What is your unfair advantage? Describe this in 30 words or less. Repeat it as many times as you can in the presentation.

3. Does the team have a visionary? VC’s are NOT visionaries. The team has to have someone on it that sees where the opportunity is going to be and can pick the right products to take advantage of that market.

4. What are the capital requirements for the major milestones? VCs want to back capital efficient businesses. They want to understand what the major risks are in the busines, when they can be mitigated and how much money it takes to do it. A simple timeline with milestones compared to cash needs is one of the best slides an entrepreneur can provide.

My final comment. Have fun. Remember — your job is to inspire and compel!

As always, all comments are welcome. Or send email direct to jvrionis@lightspeedvp.com

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There have been a lot of posts on startups laying people off, losing founders or closing down in the last couple of months, part of the natural cycle in the valley. But what has disturbed me has been …

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I’ve been thinking a bit more about how consumers adopt “new” products online recently, in part because of a couple of recent posts I wrote in reaction to rumors of a Safari browser for Windows and questions on the value

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Todays’ NY Times article on Widgets and the blogosphere reaction brought to mind Josh Kopelman’s post last May on the 53,651.

Josh made the point that too many companies are targeting an audience of 53,651 (Techcrunch‘s audience …

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Just a short addition to my previous post. There’s been some interesting commentary on the need for both “art” and “science” to induce viral growth. The science component is comprised of a website’s ability to systematically measure all aspects …

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Two good posts today on why VC’s don’t sign NDAs, one from Brad Feld at Ask the VC and the other from Rick Segal at The Post Money Value.

When I was VP of Strategic Planning at IAC and …

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For websites with social networking or community features “going viral” or acheiving a viral coefficient greater than 1.0 represents the holy grail of traffic acquisition. What’s behind this? Going viral means that new user acquisition costs have essentially been driven …

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Toby Coppel recently posted on the Y! corporate blog with his thoughts on interesting startups. He calls out some companies he finds interesting (one of which Y! has since acquired!), talks about how this wave of startups is different …

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