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Lessons Learned from the AWS Outage: The Netflix Tech Blog

As one of the larger customers on the Amazon Web Services platform, I always enjoy the insights provided by the Netflix team on the company’s experiences with the platform.  Another great post on Friday re: post mortem / Lessons Learned from the Outage.  Worth reading.

Separately, Glenn Weinstein, Appirio’s CTO, also put up post on the Computerworld blog with his thoughts on how enterprise CIO’s should be thinking about the AWS outage and strategies for using the platform going forward.

Why We Invested in Evolv

Today Evolv, the leading provider of science-based talent matching and talent intelligence solutions, announced a $15.75M Series C round of investment led by GGV Capital and existing investors Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.   I thought I would provide a bit of background information on why we’re so excited about Evolv.

Why’d we invest?

Two key reasons.  First, Evolv has the three main ingredients we look for in a great investment:  a GREAT team, a BIG (huge) market, and an EXCELLENT business model.  Secondly, there is a broader trend here that we at GGV have been betting on for several years, and Evolv is a shining example of our thesis:

Emerging SaaS platforms driving data and analytics driving increased revenue and profitability.  For these platforms, the data is as important / more important than the base software functionality.

Who else is employing this model?

Since early 2010, our firm has invested in a number of high-growth companies which fit this profile, Evolv being the latest.  Others include BlueKai (platform + data for the Internet ad market), Conviva (platform + data for digital media distribution), and Buddy Media (platform + data for social media marketing).   All of these companies have terrific technology, core IP, and rabid customers who rave about their offerings.

Perhaps the most well-known platform of this type is Omniture, which revolutionized the market for web analytics, changed the way companies do business on the Internet, and eventually was acquired by Adobe for $1.8B in the Fall of 2009.

Evolv is doing for the talent market (employers and employees) what Omniture did for web analytics – using science and data to optimize the continuous cycle.  For employers, this drives massive improvements in profitability and employee satisfaction.  For employees, it ultimately creates a better job market (less time pursuing the wrong jobs, more success in the right jobs).

Back to Evolv

It’s about Team.  Beyond investing in this thesis, we are huge fans of Max Simkoff (CEO of Evolv), his cofounder Jim Meyerle, and the rest of the Evolv management team.  As readers of this blog know, at GGV when we make a bet, our bet is squarely on the CEO and his/her team – we aren’t betting on a sector and assuming we’ll figure out the team later.  In this case, we were fortunate to be able to get to know Max and his team over the course of 9 months and watch them execute against an ambitious and visionary plan.  Prior to meeting Max, we also had the pleasure of watching Evolv VP Sales Jeff Bieller make a huge impact during his tenure at SuccessFactors (a GGV portfolio company), one of the most successful SaaS companies in the history of the industry.

Evolv is going after a massive market.  In the US alone, companies that employ hourly workers spend an estimated $540B per year on recruiting.  The leaders in the staffing and recruiting industry generate approximately $30B in annual revenue.  Online job boards represent several billion dollars more in transaction volume.  Net/net, it’s still early and I can’t tell you I know exactly how big Evolv’s market opportunity is, but I believe it’s many, many, many billions of dollars.  I’ll take that opportunity any day.

For more information on how Evolv’s technology works – and the science behind it – visit Evolv’s website.  Ultimately, Evolv is all about helping employers make the right decisions on which people to hire, enabling those hires to be successful, and then creating a continuous feedback loop on performance to refine and improve the hiring process.  For a parallel on what this looks like in the tech industry, read the recent NY Times piece on what Laszlo Bock, Google VP People Operations (and Board member at Evolv), and his team are accomplishing at Google.

We’re fired up to be a part of Evolv, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Max and his team.

Congrats to Josh and the Team at 21ViaNet

I tweeted this last week, but am adding to the blog a few days in delay: Congratulations to Josh and the team at 21ViaNet on last Thursday’s IPO on the NASDAQ!  We couldn’t be happier for a terrific entrepreneur who has spent more than a decade building his company.

What I Read for Tech News

I find myself sending an email once a week to someone who asks me what I read to keep up on tech news.  Posting the current short list here so I can just send the link in the future.  This the “short list” – what I read when I first get up in the morning.  Throughout the day, I pay the most attention to Twitter (laptop/iPhone/iPad).  At night, I’ll use FlipBoard and Reeder on my iPad.  (Note: this was also a cheap way for me to get Ted’s tweet this morning about his orange pants up on the blog….see somewhat blurry pic at right…go Giants!).





MyYahoo RSS (have about 45 blogs I follow)

Tech Sites:




TechFlash + GeekWire (Seattle)


SAI (Silicon Alley Insider)

For digital media, I subscribe to RSS feeds for the AllThingsD sites, Beet.tv,  and Dan Rayburn’s BusinessofVideo

Email Newsletters:

Dan Primack’s Term Sheet (Dan writes for Fortune, covers venture/PE)

SAI’s Ten Things You Need to Know

There are obviously tons of other sites I’ll hit throughout the day, but these are the “6:00 am with a cup of coffee” go-to sources.




Now, Group Buying Gets Interesting…

Worth reading Inside Facebook’s post today describing Facebook’s new Group Buying Feature (pic at right from IF post).  As the post points out, many of the popular group buying sites advertise on FB, and  have tens of millions of users.  FB has >600M users, and >250M using the FB mobile app.  Will be interesting to see how this plays out…

The IPO is Back (v2)

The engine continues to hum.  I wrote back in early January that the “IPO is Back, So Is M&A.” New Q1 2011 data from NVCA reinforces this point, as covered by GigaOM this morning.  14 venture-backed companies completed IPOs in Q1, with 11 trading up from their offering price. Another 49 venture-backed companies are on file.

IPOs are happening because, for the most part, the companies offering their shares in 2010 have beat or hit their forecasted numbers.  As a result, share prices have tended to increase or at least hold their gains.  This makes the investors who buy new offerings happy (they get paid to make money for their investors).  The average tech IPO traded up 42% from its offer in 2010. For those who want more detail on the performance of 2010 IPOs, Pacific Crest Securities has a nice recap available via this link.

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