18-rotor electric helicopter makes maiden flight

If its 18 rotors aren't enough to get you excited, this crazy flying machine has a "pleasant sonorous sound," according to German engineers who built the Volocopter VC200.

The successor to the even more outrageous Volocopter VC1 is being billed as "the world's first green helicopter," but a number of other projects have also claimed that title.

The multicopter recently took to the skies for the first time in a series of remote-controlled, unmanned flights in an arena in Karlsruhe, Germany. … Read more

Ex-Microsoft exec Steven Sinofsky joins VC firm

Steven Sinofsky has found yet another gig following his departure last year from Microsoft.

Sinofsky revealed in a blog post on Thursday that he'll join venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a board member. The former Windows president explained that he'll represent Andreessen Horowitz on the boards of portfolio companies as opportunities arise but won't be a full-time board partner.

In his blog, Sinofsky admitted that he's relatively new to world of venture capital and has a lot of learning ahead of him. So, why join the firm?

"Andreessen Horowitz is a VC firm that believes … Read more

Nokia to invest in array camera start-up Pelican Imaging

Nokia's VC arm, Nokia Growth Partners, is set to invest in an imaging start-up.

According to Bloomberg, Nokia Growth Partners plans to put funds into array camera company Pelican Imaging. Based in Mountain View, Calif., Pelican Imaging created its first array camera for smartphones in 2011. Rather than using a single lens, array cameras are made up of a series of lenses and build up a picture from the images taken by each. As well as being thinner than a traditional smartphone camera, arrays open up the possibility of post-capture focusing -- similar to what Lytro does with traditional … Read more

Choosing an investor: 5 tips from 5 entrepreneurs

Investors rarely make or break a startup, but they can make life a hell of a lot easier or harder for an entrepreneur. That's why entrepreneurs need to put some thought into who they want to add to their team, instead of taking the first money that's offered to them.

But how do you choose the right investors for your startup?

There are hundreds of factors to consider, but some stand out more than others. While anybody can give you money, only a few can give you the sage-like advice you need to succeed. And while adding a … Read more

Former Square COO Keith Rabois lands at Khosla Ventures

Keith Rabois, the former Square COO who resigned last month amid sexual harassment allegations, is joining Khosla Ventures, one of Silicon Valley's leading VC firms.

Khosla Ventures was founded by former Kleiner Perkins partner Vinod Khosla and was an early investor in Square, the mobile-payments company. According to TechCrunch, Rabois had been considering an offer to join Airbnb as an executive before deciding on the Khosla position. Clearly, the cloud of scandal hanging over his head did nothing to cool the ardor the tech industry felt for him.

That might have something to do with the fact that on … Read more

Startups jump the shark (and get their own TV show!)

In April, Facebook said it would buy the young but fast-growing, photo-sharing service Instagram for a jaw-dropping $1 billion. By early December, consumer and entertainment startups were complaining they were having a hard time finding early-stage funding. So what happened? It would be easy to blame Bravo's nausea-inducing reality TV show for the reversal of startup fortunes, but the reality is something a little less Hollywood: Lack of good ideas, economic fears, and poor returns from many of the startups that have already been funded.

In other words, an investment cycle obsessively focused on consumer-tech startups may have finally … Read more

Ron Conway steps back as Y Combinator cuts team funding

Superstar angel investor Ron Conway will no longer be part of the team of investors giving money to the dozens of startups taking part each year in Y Combinator, one of the world's most prestigious incubators.

Y Combinator said today that it is sharply reducing the amount of venture funding each startup coming through the program is given. For the last two years, each team was seeded with $150,000 in funding from Conway, of SV Angel, Yuri Milner, and Andreessen Horowitz. Starting today, that amount has been slashed to $80,000 per team, the incubator said, as it … Read more

Y Combinator founder: Startup funding could get scarce

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- The future for startup funding is "getting more unpredictable."

That's what Y Combinator founder Paul Graham said today, theorizing that because there are so many more young companies getting off the ground these days, venture capitalists may well have a much harder time predicting winners than in the past.

It makes sense. Startups can get going today for as little as a few hundred thousand dollars, so there are many more of them. "But the funnel at the top is the same," Graham said during the Y Combinator Demo Day. "… Read more

In the social media era, even VCs need personal brands

Nobody wants to admit it, but building a personal brand is essential if you want to thrive in a business world dominated by social media. This is especially true for entrepreneurs and even venture capitalists who have only recently stepped out from the shadows and into the spotlight.

I became intrigued by the rising role of personal branding in the VC world by a New York Times article last week that discussed how more VC firms are hiring PR specialists to help brand their firms.

Here's a quick excerpt from that article:

"Now, Sand Hill Road in Silicon … Read more

Five ways to screw up your startup's pitch

Pitching your startup idea to investors, journalists, and random people on the street is a rite of passage for all entrepreneurs. You have to convince hundreds (if not millions) of people that you're building something worthwhile and that they should get on board.

Most pitches fall flat though (the best VCs invest in perhaps 1 percent of the startups that pitch them), and it's often because of simple problems that could've been avoided. Nervous entrepreneurs stray from their story, and arrogant entrepreneurs demand unreasonable valuations and then get laughed out of the room by top-tier angels.

Here … Read more