As we transition from websites to mobile apps, we need a universal way to link between them. URX cleverly detects if a user has an app installed and automatically redirects to the appropriate "page" within an app, or to the mobile web version if the app isn't installed.
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Jonathan Matus over the past 6 months. Jonathan has been an important figure in the mobile world for years, most recently as a leader on the development of Facebook's mobile platform, and previously as a Google product lead on the original Android team.
The problems solved by the best consumer apps are anthropological. The starting point is understanding the things that people have always done and why. Then you study how technology can be used to enable people to do it with much less friction. That's the start of a great consumer experience. And if it's done well - really well - the resulting product will feel deceptively simple.
I was relatively new to the venture business in 2006 when I first met Matt Brezina and Adam Smith. They entered YC (which itself was only a year old at the time) with the idea to make sense of the inbox. They called their company, Xobni (that’s “inbox” spelled backward, by the way).
We're in business to support massive ideas that can change the world. Increasingly, even at the seed stage, we're noticing that those ideas are coming at the intersection of hardware and software. For example, recently we announced our investments in Thalmic Labs (the creators of the MYO), Airware (creator of autopilots for drones) and SmartThings (rethinking the connected home).
"Why does this matter to you?"
This is one of my favorite questions to ask Founders. The answer to "Why does this matter to you?" is telling. It's tough to hide behind a question which betrays so much about motivation. There is a difference between starting a company to solve a problem and starting a company to seize an opportunity. It reveals whether someone is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. It can tell whether someone will tough it out through the turbulence every startup is bound to face. It shines a light on the vision that a Founder has for his or her company.
One of the myths consistently perpetuated in Silicon Valley is that great companies are built overnight. They aren't. Companies with impact take time to build - often because their founders see the future before anyone else can live it and as Jeff Bezos says, "are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time". Out of the limelight, great founders fight on when everyone else doubts them.
It is very cool to be a part of the Grand St. team and I am really glad to be an investor. Today, Grand St. is the best place on the web to buy creative technology products. But, while I love eCommerce and think it is very smart to generate revenue if you are a consumer facing company today, to call Grand St. eCommerce misses the broader marketplace vision and the massive trend that the team at Grand St is going after.
I'm excited to announce our latest investment in Sift Science today
Fraud on the web is a huge problem. In 2011, online fraud cost U.S. merchants $3.4B in lost revenue. At First Round, we have direct experience with the problem through our e-commerce and marketplace investments in Fab, Uber, TaskRabbit and many others. The sheer number and variety of attacks by fraudsters is mind numbing and fighting back can drain a company's human resources and capital.
When you build a moat, you put yourself on an island.
A week or so ago, MessageMe launched their product. I wrote a brief blog post about why First Round loved their product and team. A lot has happened since then. MessageMe has signed up more than a million users who have sent tens of millions of messages, videos and doodles. And the product has been featured in the Apple App Store, Google Play, and *shut off* by Facebook.
One of these things is not like the others.