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February 29, 2008


Stay tuned:  Bisnow on Business is on a search for the Top 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35 in the Washington region. Details to be announced next week.


Yesterday we joined 400 VCs and entrepreneurs for the 2008 Southeast Venture Conference at the Tysons Ritz. Keynoter Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, entertained the crowd with his dry humor and tale of humble beginnings for the site that now gets over 9 billion page views a month and over 75 million users posting on over 100 forums in 450 cities and 55 countries.


Craig, center, said he runs Craigslist as a community service and makes money from charging for job listings in 11 cities and apartment listings in NYC. Craigslist has no loans or private investors. One member of the audience asked him why, if he doesn't need a VC, he was speaking at a VC conference. Craig got some laughs when he matter-of-factly replied, "I thought, what the hell? I really like the sound of my own voice."  The self-proclaimed "nerd" (in high school he said he wore a pocket protector and thick black glasses) got his start in his San Fran living room. A few years and millions of hits later, the company has 24 employees supporting 30M visitors a month. As for the strangest thing ever posted, Craig said he got a call from the police asking him if he knew of a listing for plutonium. (The problem was solved after the poster got a stern talking to from his parents.) Above, Craig is joined by Searchles CEO Elias Shams and Pre-Eminence Strategy Group CEO Jet Hollander for after-speech questions.


We snapped this shot of the "Wild Wild West" panel, which compared the western VC world with things going on here in the SE (we haven't figured out why we're classified in that geography): Interwest Partners' Khaled Nasr, Sierra Ventures' Vimal Patel, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners CFO Todd Forrest, Rustic Canyon's Renee LaBran, and Hutchinson Law Group's John Fogg. They even speculated why Silicon Valley is what it is. Hint: It has something to do with all those sunny days.


We caught Square One's Patrick Scheper and Aldis CEO Bill Malkes talking about Aldis' new vision-based traffic management system that Bill says will reduce congestion by 40%. The product consists of fish-eye lens cameras that anticipate traffic and adjust signals to improve flow. He rolls out the device at the World Traffic Congress in NYC this November. Our question: When can he bring it to Northern Virginia??


This picture could be an ad for Colgate toothpaste, but in fact was a panel that talked about the balancing act between investors and senior management: Novak Biddle's Phil Bronner, Clearspring Technologies CEO Hooman Radfar, Vitrue CEO Reggie Bradford, and Sunrock Ventures' Matt Shaw. Reggie's advice: Don't assume just because you make an investment that you and the CEO are on the same wavelength. He said you can't spend enough time going over expectations for the partnership.


P2P Cash president Tom Meredith and Eastward's Ed Dresner compare VC notes at the coffee bar. Tom says P2P Cash sends money to any cell phone worldwide, even allowing users to hand the cell phone to retailers who will read the code and dispense the money.  Mexico, China, and the Philippines are the first countries to access the service. P2P has also negotiated the rights to sell Chinese lottery tickets via cell phone anywhere in the world.


Disruptor Monkey Inc. CEO Nick Napp, iContact Corp's Aaron Houghton, Arcapita's John Huntz, Council for Entrepreneurial Development's Jessica Hegele, Hutchinson Law Group's Helga Leftwich, and Square One's Adam Smith.  Aaron told us the Durham-based iContact is on a hiring spree, but they can't find management and software builders to fill positions fast enough. The UNC alum and die-hard basketball fan also said that the only reason he was at the conference was because there wasn't a home game.



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