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L009: LAUNCH Conference Winners: Why They Won

More than 500 companies applied to present at the LAUNCH Conference, and only 54 of them made it to the main stage last week. Of those, 13 won awards.

This is what we  -- and the Grand Jury -- saw in those companies.

It's important to note that while the LAUNCH team selected the participating companies, we left the voting up to our amazing Grand Jury, whose members gave up two full days of their lives to watch every presentation from the front row (list + bios here). On behalf of the companies we thank them for their service.

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L008: A Dozen Launches with our Signature Blunt--and Sometimes Brutal--Analysis of Actual Products

We love analyzing these launches, and we love that you love what we're doing. With the LAUNCH Conference just 10 days away, though, we'll be focusing on that and be back atcha after the 24th. See us there or miss us much till then!



L008.1: A Dozen Launches with our Signature Blunt--and Sometimes Brutal--Analysis of Actual Products (for the week of Feb. 7 to Feb. 11)

    1.    Asana: Nothing unique but expect relentless iterations.
    2.    500 Startups accelerator program: Dave McClure is PO'd about YC deal.
    3.    HP TouchPad tablet: Thankfully, a competitor for Apple.
    4.    Yahoo Livestand: Not gonna change the world, but we have an idea...
    5. Nice business, just give up the domain name.
    6. Bloody brilliant, mate.
    7.    Instapaper: A clever solution for making $$.
    8.    Chirply: Stick it to Hallmark and Evite.
    9.    Crowdbeacon: Good luck banging your head against the wall.
    10.    RippleFunction: We don't want to be in this dogfight.
    11.    Twitpic: Soon to be toast.
    12.    Convore: Elegantly designed Yammer/SocialCast for casual convos.

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L007: Nine Notable Launches with Brutal Analysis

You guys told us you loved our signature blunt analysis of Yuri and Ron's new splash-cashy/spray-and-pray angel fund in L006. We're flattered and delighted. We're not trying to keep up with the "one-laptop-per-story" tech-gossip blog of note (zing!). Nope, we're trying to be slow and soulful like Dave Morin's $100M

Instead of writing a 600-word post for 300 vile comments, we thought we would pick a dozen or so stories each week, talk to the insiders who built it (or compete with it) and give you guys the straight dope. 
No press releases, no fabricated LinkBait/AngelGate. 
This is simply analysis and highly conflicted insider information that anyone could pick up if they were invited to Sean Parker's townhouse for brandy, David Goldberg's double-secret poker game or Shervin Pishevar's "we'll take the chef's tasting course" excursions.

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L006: Angels Respond--Anonymously--to Yuri & Ron's All-in: $150K to 43 YCers

A week after our proposal for 500 Y Combinators (L005), the most exhilarating news in the history of internet startups broke this weekend. Well, perhaps second most exhilarating after AOL went flat-rate in 1996. 

Yuri Milner of the Russian investment firm DST, along with legendary investor Ron Conway, offered all Y Combinator startups from this year's class a $150K investment in the form of a convertible note -- without a discount.

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L005: A Modest Proposal for America: Build 500 Accelerators

An Inflection Point Is Reached

Since Y Combinator launched in 2005, the tech accelerator has become a darling of Valley circles. The company has been the subject of much hype, and its inevitable companion: accusations that there has been much smoke but no fire. The question: Why wasn't there a significant exit? (think: $100M+)?

But it's just now we're seeing that this revolutionary model is fundamentally changing how tech startups are created, funded and sold. YC and competitor TechStars have pioneered the trend, spawning at least 38 similar programs around the globe in the past two years alone.

Sizeable exits and investments to YC and TS companies have been nothing short of stunning. Y Combinator has had the biggest win in the space: a recording-setting $200M+ exit for 2008 graduate Heroku, a cloud application platform for Ruby.

Including Heroku, YC had three exits in Q4 2010 totaling more than $250M - at a standard of 6% of common diluted down by one-third or 50%, the accelerator probably pocketed $5M (or so).

Those profits could fund another 250 YC startups - and chances are they will.

The Accelerator Model

Accelerators are short-term programs, typically 12 weeks long. Structurally, they provide hands-on mentoring to new entrepreneurs, in addition to modest, ramen-level funding in the $5K to $6K per founding partner range, or between $12K to $20K per idea.

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