First Round Capital put out a cleaver holiday video a few days ago that is quite entertaining. It features many of their investment companies as well the partners of First Round. Check it out and Merry Christmas!
Monthly Archives: December 2011
Reading List: Venture Deals
I’m currently reading “Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist” by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson including a foreword by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.
It is a solid read (thus far) and provides some great insights into the world of venture capital. I’m just about a third of the way through and am enjoying to easy reading style of the book. If you are thinking of raising money or are curious as to how the process works, check out Venture Deals, its a great place to start.
Side Note: Brad Feld is working on another book, this one is all about startup communities and how to create a great one in your city. You can see more details of the book here as well as submit your thoughts to potentially be included in the book.
Telegraph Hill Stairway Hike
(SF Hacks – A series of posts about the unique things we have found about San Francisco)
One of the things we have been trying to do while in San Francisco (besides working and networking) is to see more of the city. One fantastic way to do that is work San Francisco City Guides. We did the Cow Hollow walk the first or second week of our arrival as we wanted to know more about the neighbourhood we were going to call home for a few months.
Yesterday we did the Telegraph Hill Stairway Hike with San Francisco City Guides. The word “hike” is a bit much as it is not really a hike. It is a very cool tour of Telegraph Hill and the homes on it. There are some stairs involved but not a “hike” as I assumed it was going to be.
The tour was very cool. We got to see some of the wild parrots, some homes from 1850s as well as a few legal streets that are nothing more than wooden stairs through a vast garden where a street would have been. If you are in San Francisco then I suggest taking one of the walking tours with San Francisco City Guides. They are free, and the guides have lots of knowledge about the area.
Here are some iPhone pictures I snapped along the way.
(one of the legal streets on Telegraph Hill)
Robert Scoble Gets A Preview of Payroll Hero
My business partner Michael Stephenson and I stopped by Rackspace’s new San Francisco office a few weeks ago to meet up with Robert Scoble and show him Payroll Hero. He posted the video yesterday to the web for all to see. Check it out, you will get a good idea of what we are up to at Payroll Hero. If you are interested in getting on the beta invite list, drop your email in here.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Who are you?
Michael Stephenson: Mike Stephenson with Payroll Hero
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): And welcome to my new studio over here at Rockspace San Francisco… And who are you?
Stephen Jagger: I’m Steve Jagger, Payrollhero.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): And what do you guys do?
Stephen Jagger: Ah… We do payroll softwares.
Stephen Jagger: Oh… I do the business development
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): And How About you?
Michael Stephenson: CEO
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Excellent, so what’s payrollhero?
Michael Stephenson: Payrollhero is a happy human capital management software.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): ah…it’s where you pay your employees, hahaha!
um… I love ??? your entrepreneur crazy enough to enter a very crowded market, that’s almost a… really mature market is in it, because when I paid my bills I start up in a… 2003 I was using the ADP, I’m using Quickbooks right. So why do we need yet another way to pay people?
Michael Stephenson: Currently employees don’t dig the way their paid, they don’t dig the fact that they get the payroll every two weeks and it’s paper and they have to request if they loose it. They want the online equivalent and were do it yourself repository, so were trying to approach with our own findings and our own problems it is how do employees want to interact with HR, how do they want to get paid, so using payroll as the base, a way to engage an employee or it’s workforce on a daily basis
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): This is not right aim huge enterprises like rockspace so were probably small, mid size company, like for about four thousand employees.
Michael Stephenson: Yup.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): who are you aiming at right away?
Michael Stephenson: Our current users are actually alpha client right now, it’s about a thousand employees using our system, so they have this big monstrous HR and payroll administrator back ends, this don’t relate to their current workforce.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): And so… Tell me a little about what the first experience is going to be using… using as an HR person instead of using an ADP or any other kind a… What makes you separate, maybe I have to see it..
Mike: well from a HR person point of view lot less interaction with employees, they could really focus on retention and motivation instead the day to day working more of “i need this payslip from two months ago or need a, this tax form I need to understand how many vacation days I have and a… can I use them”. So a lot of that questions should be naturally answered online then place one answer quickly, and they don’t want to wait a week for response from HR, can get answer immediately, when they want, how they want.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): So, it builds a webpage for them all about their paid life. And it’s not just getting a check anymore. You need ah… If your going get a house you need the paystub right, I wont do that, and that was pain of the ass to get the pay-stub from my employers because I delaying to get them. Now you get everything electronically so fighting out where all that stuff was and who had it was pain in the ass back in a day now. can show you me a little bit of that…
Michael Stephenson: Sure. I’ll show you from a couple of point of view. So this is from the point of view of an employee. Ah.. An employee
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Can you check the screen down just a little bit?
Michael Stephenson: So when they clock in, if they want any of their prior pay-stubs, ah they could just view them all and they can automatically see if they have any missing requirements. So, this is actually for our own company that we ran out in Manila. Ah so, this are all the requirements need from employees they can see if they… have them ready or not. The thing ???? from previous pay-stubs they could self provision them. And then the different factors with us is, a lot of companies, they worry about ghost employees and ah.. body punch in. So some of them use thumb prints others may use key-cards what we used is the face as the biometric. And what we know.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): It’s hard to fake… this right. hahaha
Michael Stephenson: Yah.. So when they clock in, clock out we get a picture of their face and we analyze it. To make sure it’s the employee and some learnings we’ve been finding is, we could actually get the employees like using their face. Like, whether they use daily mugshot, or whatever, they like having a repository or a journal of their face when they clock in, clock out. And a lot of them will get together or they’ll clock in pairs or as group so they’ll take this photos and they’ll upload on Facebook. So that’s one social engagement the employee has. As it They could take their daily photos, clock in, clock out, and oh.. upload them and they’ll like share with them.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Interesting… This is interesting cause.. ah separately I interviewed a Path who just came out with a new journalling software for their iPhone. To be interesting they have this goes straight to Path or go to Facebook or ??? come back in my Path. Because path is gonna be use for exactly that.
Michael Stephenson: Yeah..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): A great way to journal your life. Or check in ??? that work. I do that when I get to Rackspace like check on Foursquare and I take a picture usually and post it.
Michael Stephenson: Yeah.. See.. We found.. We found is that, beyond this clocking in, and clocking out from work, they wanna check into work. Uhmm, they want to really to engaged their friends and followers…
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Yeah.. You gotta be the Mayor of the headquarters. Ahahahaha
Michael Stephenson: Yeah.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Or should I say you’re really checking in a lot. Ahahaha
Michael Stephenson: And one thing we’re actually doing the photos is kinda interesting we’re very concern with the happiness of our work force. So we’re analyzing the photos beyond is it the right person? or analyzing their mood. Are they happy? or they’re sad? are they bright eyed? Or bushy tailed in the morning and just dead dog tired at the end of the day. So in short, we sort flagging’s some conditions we ?? investigate if they’re really energetic in the beginning of the day and just dead tired in the end of the day. That employee may be over worked. We flag HR automatically and they can investigate. Is this employee over worked will they burn out? Same thing, we kinda call the devil boss scenario. Is if you have a Manager, that super happy everyday and all subordinates are sad. That’s something HR should investigate and converse if an employee is happy on a Monday and sad on a Friday. They might really love their job and you should explore for the corruptions of them. (interviewer laughing in the background) Vice Versa if they’re really sad on a Monday and really happy on a Friday. You have an employee who might hate their job. So we’re starting to think about beyond us..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): So you better put on a good face when you check in at work. Ahahaha. Your boss will like ahh “Oh you’re not too happy this morning. What’s going on..”
Michael Stephenson: So over the course of the year, ah sometimes people wanna fake photos. But over the course of the year we get really understand of a baseline. And beyond that we’re letting employees rate their moods and we’re letting them curate on how they wanna show their ??? it’s just for a personal self so they can reflect upon. This is a job for me. If they would look at their schedule calendar, and see a ton of sad faces they know they should seek happiness and they need to do something about it. Vice versa if they are happy everyday, they know this is a job for me and how can I certainly look for different corruption. So so.. From the Payrollhero from the mid-point of view, we curate and categorized the moods of employees, and from the employees point of view they could help with that cu-ration and help ah… us understand is the ??? true or not.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Yup. It’s very cool. Uhm.. So give me a tour of what makes you different. and then uh..
Michael Stephenson: So this is, uh employees point of view which allows them to clock in, clock out. Ah… Say they are ???? environment they could see when their schedules are, they could understand, they could like ah, “is my schedule gonna change?”, Or some employees like ??? or get in a coffee shop, they may have morning shift, One week and the next week they have evening or afternoon. They could see upcoming holidays and what.. base on feedback from a place they would also like to see beyond their schedule, they wanna see how much they made each day. They don’t wanna wait 2 weeks and they count on how much they made, they wanna be told when they clock in, and when they clock out is “Congrats John! You made this much.” and from employees point of view, they also want social recognition from their employer. So.. if From John ??? I work from an ex coffee shop and I just hit my 1000hours as a 20yr old kid, thousand hours doing anything is big milestone in my life so from my employer to post to my wall on Facebook, “Congrats John, you just hit 1000 at ex coffee company.” ah.. they feel proud of that. Besides telling their friends now their employers telling them and beyond that the employer gets ah.. more brand awareness amongst their target hiring market.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Now when I was ??? I was paid ah.. partly on a hourly wage and partly on commission kind of thing or a ??? for a incentives right or you sell somebody camera here and get 100 bucks can you mix that kind of payroll in here?
Michael Stephenson: Yeah.. so and then we could also account for…
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): or car dealers are often paid this way right?
Michael Stephenson: Yeah. Those are other things you could look into when you start introducing the productivity measurements, you get even more out of our happy feature. So ah.. Understanding what the corollary between is it sales and happiness? So if in a work force, is Happy on a sunny day vs. a rainy day and if it’s a Friday, has a company know when is.. when your should spike. But conversely when its been raining 5days in a row, ah.. you don’t wanna introduce a stern memo during that week. Cause you know the mood is down. So it allows the company to know, when they need to buy pizza for the company. So I’m just surprised to like the stuff. So if your goal is always constantly making your staffs happy, we believe that the first step is, measuring what is the current state of the fares and ahmm.. that’s aim to do.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Very cool. How do you.. How does the business pay for you guys?
Michael Stephenson: Ah.. They pay per employee.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Ok. And do you discuss that or is that..
Michael Stephenson: Yeah. We’re still playing around it. So one thing we’re thinking about is making access to the software completely free and then when they start want some of the more higher end in terms of HR kind of modules, like happiness or will start charging per employee for that. If the inside proofs is valuable to them. But our goals really is just to shake up and dis-wrap the industry. One of our focus is in small businesses. 52% of employed people in the United States are employed by small businesses and ADPs and paychecks don’t really speak much to them. They really like the laggard big corporate clients. So..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Now the two of you know where the force is right?
Michael Stephenson: Yeah.. So from a small business point of view, lot of them are struggling. And they finance business and credit cards and now this payrolls providers acknowledge that. So as a small business, why do I have to have money debited for all my staffs 5 days before it’s actually paid to the staff? We know the reasons, because they wanna hold up money, why do I have to have quarterly remittances take every two weeks when you only pay them every 3 months.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Do you pay through Paypal by the way? I don’t know if any employee wants that yeah but? I paid…
Michael Stephenson: We’re looking at..
Stephen Jagger: I paid it…. I pay for it..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): I paid my employees through Paypals..
Michael Stephenson: Some do, and ahh.. Some wanna be paid for bank accounts. So one thing we’re trying to tackle, with the ??? like ??? Is, can we take the money out of their bank account, Friday and be paid that Friday afternoon. So they no longer have to use bridge financing and if they need to pay by credit card, they don’t have to go to an atm machine and take up money at a service fee that more still than purchasing something and having a daily interest rate, can they just pay there payroll via credit card. and they could can at Paypal.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Oh the employer can I see ah., Like ah the employees sick time over the last year? And that’s more or less based on hammerhead or somebody is taking out.
Michael Stephenson: Yeah.. So.. What we wanna..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): and wanted to have discussion with somebody “hey you’re sick a lot what’s going on?”
Stephen Jagger: Every third Friday you’re always late.
Michael Stephenson: Yeah or after Football game you’re always late if it’s ah.. So what we wanna start to do is take all that information that is round attendance so whether it be tardiness or absenteeism and we wanna make it transparent. We wanna make whatever reports available from the employer, available from the employee. So time for review and they’re on power. They can show and you know what “I stayed 30minutes late everyday, I come an hour late. I deserve a promotion cause I work my ass off” So whatever kind of reports we’re gonna give to the employers, so they can make easier decisions about who to promote and who to fire. We wanna empower the employee to be owners of that information as well.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Can the employer.. Let’s say working for me in a coffee shop and you had a really busy day and I notice that the cash register had double the number of sale and you guys did great and everybody is happy. Can I put that on you’re day. Like “great day you rang up double the number of sales of average and thanks…
Michael Stephenson: Yep. That’s definitely one thing we’re working on this integration with PO system so they could really calculate. Ahh…. Their staff really needs up to base on sales. So if I have too many baristas and I know sales are down on a rainy Tuesday, I can lower my staffs I need and If I know it’s a sunny Friday, I… the system will tell me you need this many employee hours ready to go. And it’s also ah.. The other thing we try to do is the thing from the employees.. one of the.. If I’m a key holder, and I have to open up the coffee place and I can’t make it in, but there’s 3 other key holders instead of meet or chasing them down, and trying to get them to cover for me, I could.. The system could make a ?? offer and I could add a little something to it. I could say, “Who could cover for me? Cover for me and I’ll thrown in 6 bucks” Or offer them 2 tickets in the next game and have in a.. have in that go out to the SMS.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): thats the thing. Because that way I can ah.. I can auction off my days and see if somebody..
Stephen Jagger: Your shifts..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): my shifts or my days. Yeah.. And ah re-configured it on the fly..
Stephen Jagger: And the system will be smart enough to tell them which people can’t take certain shifts. Like if you’re the key holder for this location, you know, you can’t give your shift to somebody else that’s not a key holder cause they can’t open the store or whatever it is. SO be smart enough to say, you know showing the shifts to the right people.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Now it makes sense.. Uhm..
Michael Stephenson: The other… One other measures we looking at is, Geo location so when they clock in, clock out, we’re not only looking at their face, we look at where they are. So whether it’s IP white list or its a Geo tagging, so if they clock in.. So let’s say my sales person or savers technician I have to go so many homes, ahmm… I clock in each home and don’t know I’m there, I’m not there. So for the employees… that matter they really want to be recognized, for their good work, ah they can.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): ??? for that employer I could say well you know, “Hey John you’re taking ah.. 30minutes per visit. Your competitor is taking 15..
Michael Stephenson: Yep..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): What’s going on? You know…. You know you can sort of say have a conversation about why the prior activity is different than with one employer..
Michael Stephenson: Yeah. You can definitely word on ??? in 15 minutes and help coach the one whose doing 30 minutes per session. And then there’s other interesting needs ah.. where I find my restaurant in California, my employees don’t take the 30minutes break and doesn’t ??? upon meeting and sure they take their 30 minutes break. If they don’t I’m in trouble. So.. We automatically if the conditions of the employer sets, So.. it recognizes the break hasn’t been taken by Bill and he’s a server, we’ll IM him or will SMS him like time to take his break and that covers the employer.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Very cool. Uhmm.. How you guys funded with.. with step on the middles of your business?
Stephen Jagger: there you go.. ??? self funded with ???
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Self funded. That’s awesome..
Stephen Jagger: Yeah. We’re the.. We’re.. I guess unique spot. Mike and I got a couple of other businesses that… You know help us. Build out this product.. That’s ???
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): That’s very cool. You’re crazy and you’re using your own money… Ahahahaha….
Stephen Jagger: That’s one of the reason we’re in San Francisco to try and you know.. meet people and meet pc’s and learn more of that side of the world. As well as continue developing the product.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Well.. That’s really really cool. Uhmm… What have you learn so far
by doing this? Cause you know.. This is a different kind of business. Not usually see. You know.. Consumer..
Michael Stephenson: Ah.. ??? our own campaign. We got a hundred employees that we need to deal with ourselves and ah.. among the fundamentals beliefs that if you hire the right person, he really love his job, you really don’t need an HR division.. So ??? you hire a HR team and like you say, why? why? It’s like does it make sense? If they love their job which they do, is their a way we can empower them or they could take care of the daily administration. and I think if you look at small companies, they really happy because HR ??? have face to face contact and they could read moods. Ah… When you start getting bigger HR’s and another building behind ??? they never interact with their employees. So our fundamentals is if you could make the moods a ??? HR or at-least get HR on the floor cause they don’t have to deal with the dealing administration.. Ah.. you could have a happier company. That’s really what really inspire us. Tony Shane delivered happiness.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Yeah..
Michael Stephenson: We did his book camp last year and we brought back his ah.. guidelines for making a happy workforce and it just done amazing change to our culture and our company.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): and we really ??? should see if you ah.. even go as far as ah.. stunning people’s job on ??? you know.. I just heard one side how do you ah… But Mike ??? ring ah.. a job on ??? so that reports ah.. whether he’s exercising or not. and it will be interesting to see when you even get that kind of a data fed into this things uhm.. I don’t know where this all going cause this ah.. It’s really ah.. Stalkering.. Stalker society… that we’re going in. I mean not just you. I mean that was just Facebook talking but open graph on how.. how much stuff they’re gonna be studying about us and feeding back to us. Let’s say hey you’re listening to school all the time on school. ahahaha. Or you what running three times this week and also we are.. Or in the case of you guys, you gonna be studying how well I’m doing at work. You should have work, five times in a row. Ahahaha.
Michael Stephenson: Yeah…
Stephen Jagger: Good job.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Congratulations. Good Job. Ahahaha.
Michael Stephenson: Yeah. And definitely for a certain segment they wanna be congratulated for showing up five days in a row.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): People wanna put on their Facebook page and..
Michael Stephenson: Yeah. They wanna badge.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Yeah. So in new worlds that’s comin’ out us, that’s really interesting. Where can we learn about you guys? Website?
Stephen Jagger: There’s no sign up yet. Payrollhero.com but ah.. We got a blog after the blog Payrollhero.com.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Very cool. You’ll gonna be on Twitter and Google+ and Facebook and stuffs like that.
Stephen Jagger: Yeah. That’s ??? set up. but that’s good the blog is documenting our whole experience in San Francisco. We’re her for four months. So.. Just trying ahh..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Make it happen..
Stephen Jagger: Yeah..
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Living the dream.
Stephen Jagger: Yeah. Hahaha
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Very cool. Thank you so much for coming up.
Stephen Jagger: Thanks for having us.
Michael Stephenson: Thanks.
Robert Scoble (Interviewer): Great!
Payroll Hero Has An Adjusted Logo, New Tagline
Payroll Hero logo has been adjusted, just a tad, to include a smile on our hero’s face. We wanted to adjust it a bit to keep the logo instep with the goal of what we are doing at Payroll Hero.
We have quite a bit of “happiness” functionality built into the system (more details on that when we launch) but our logo and tagline did not show that. The old tag line was “Super Human Capital Management”. While we are in the human capital management space, we do more than just manage your human capital and felt that we needed to adjust the tagline. So, we adjusted it to “Optimizing Work Productivity With Happiness”. Here is the new logo and tagline:
50 Coffees: Anthony Lee, C100 & Altos Ventures
I had the opportunity to sit down with fellow Canadian Anthony Lee at one of his portfolio companies DemandBase in downtown San Francisco. Rob Lewis of Techvibes connected me with Anthony so that we could meet up and chat about our startup as well as life in Silicon Valley as a Canadian.
Anthony is a partner at Altos Ventures as well as the co-founder of C100. Anthony explained how he operates from Vancouver and San Francisco as well mentioned just how many Canadians are down in Silicon Valley. He said there is a Canadian in a C level position in most of the top firms in the valley including Google and Apple.
It was great to hear about some of the success that Canadians are having down in the valley as well as how the C100 is help connect them all. (50 Coffees)
Cocktails At Payroll Hero
We had a few people pop in to the Payroll Hero house last night for cocktails and snacks. It was a diverse group, mainly people who we had met since we have been in town. I snapped a couple fuzzy photos on my iPhone.. not my best work.
Dan Martell giving me a demo of his new business Clarity.FM
(Dan took a call from a guy named Justin from Seattle who had startup questions via Clarity.FM)
Michael Stephenson and Brendan Baker
Tobi Adamolekun of Luxr.co and Damon Pace
Ken Seto of Massive Damage and Chikezie Ejiasi of Oakley
Founders Drinks: Philippines Edition
Last night we attended a cocktail party at Jonathan Swanson‘s condo overlooking the bay. Jonathan is the co-founder of ThumpTack.com and part of an informal group that meets every few weeks called “Founders Drinks”. Last night was dubbed “Founders Drinks: Philippines Edition” as everyone invited had something to do with Philippine workers in one way or another. It was a great event bringing together over 40 founders.
Along with Jonathan, the other organizers were Jamie Wong of Vayable, Jen O’Neal of Tripping, Liz Knopf of Sorced and Jessica Scorpio of Getaround. On the invite list was people from all sorts of interesting startups, including Hotel Tonight, Huddle, Klout, Sponsorfied, Socialize, Qwiki, Udemy, Tagged, CrowdFlower, Minted and quite a few more.
Our pals at Taskus.com, who moved into the Payroll Hero house for a night while they were in town supplied the beer and wine for the event! (Thanks Bryce and Jaspar!)
(Nice thank you gift left at our house from Taskus.com)
50 Coffees: Tony Conrad, True Ventures
Mike and I just got back from a meeting with Tony Conrad. Tony is a founder & CEO of about.me (acquired by Aol in 2010), and a founding member & Venture Partner at True Ventures. Prior to about.me, Tony co-founded Sphere (acquired by Aol in 2008) with Toni Schneider.
We sat for an hour or so with Tony at Ironside Cafe in downtown San Francisco and chatted about his amazing successes and the journey that we are on with Payroll Hero. Tony had some great insight about what we are up to and some really solid feedback on business models, choosing venture capital partners and our product.
(L – R) Michael Stephenson, Tony Conrad, Stephen Jagger
C100 – Networking Event, San Francisco
Last night Mike Stephenson and I found our way into (thanks to Kris Krug) the networking reception for the C100’s 48Hours in the Valley. The networking event was hosted by the Consulate General of Canada in San Francisco and Palo Alto and Ericsson. It was a great evening of networking with tons of other Canadian entrepreneurs and investors working in the San Francisco area.
What is C100?
“C100 is a non-profit, member-driven organization dedicated to supporting Canadian technology entrepreneurship and investment.
C100 is comprised of a select group of Canadians based primarily in Silicon Valley, including executives of leading technology companies, experienced startup entrepreneurs and venture capital investors. C100 members are passionate about leveraging their collective experience, expertise and relationships to help mentor and grow a new generation of successful Canadian-led technology companies.
C100 Charter Members include startups CEOs, top executives of companies such as Apple, Cisco, EA, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Oracle, and venture investors representing more than $8 billion in capital.”
Kris Krug and Stephen Jagger