Month: February 2015

Mattermark vs. CrunchBase

I love Mattermark. I think what they are doing with big data compilation and analysis is spot on for investor decision making and support for new ventures.

Presently, I’m not a paying subscriber to their service. But, I’ve been a short-term user of their services. And, I’ve really enjoyed their daily e-newsletter, ranking it in LinkedIn as one of my top 10 reads for professionals.

MM vs CB report coverRecently, Mattermark promoted their mobile database edition to some of us dedicated evaluators. I downloaded it and have tried it out a couple of times. My initial summary is: it’s got a ways to go to catch up to CrunchBase, which I’d consider the mostly widely available-to-the-public alternative.

To illustrate, I chose a private Austin tech company that received the most funding in the past year, a mobile software company called Mozido, and browsed the information provided by Mattermark vs. CrunchBase.

I saved a PDF of the screens, which you can view or print.

I like the clean white-space look, fast response time, and employee growth chart from Mattermark. But, I expected a lot more of the reference information to be click-able, rather than static.

And, I also expected to see more images of people, products, and places, e.g., Mozido’s headquarters building, maps of their locations, photos of the home screen of their flagship app, and the like.

These are the areas where CrunchBase outperforms Mattermark, at the moment. It is more visual, more complete, exceeding the information that Mattermark provides.

Since CrunchBase provides company officials and other 3rd parties the option to edit the company’s information, there is an incentive for the company to invest in good information “hygiene” – keeping their listing up-to-date, relevant, and highlighting positive achievements, while eliminating negative or old information.

Unlike a wiki-style approach, where edits are first allowed unencumbered, then corrected or reversed by moderators (like Wikipedia), any edits that you make and save to CrunchBase are put in a queue for a moderator review before being posted.

Sometimes, the new information is posted quickly to CrunchBase; other times, it seems like the refresh takes days. This delay can be a little frustrating to companies that are trying to spruce up their profiles before meeting with investors, customers, or the release of a piece of significant news.

In any event, it will be interesting to see how Mattermark continues to improve and refine their mobile offering. As of this moment, if I had to choose one new venture company profile database to use, I’d go with CrunchBase.

But, that’s the beauty: you don’t have to choose just one. So, I recommend you use them both, actively managing your company’s “face” to the investor world.

Austin Clean Energy Initiative Reunion

ACE-reunionThis is a photo of Allan (“Chip”) Wolfe and me, taken recently at a reunion lunch of what I liked to call the “Batman and Robin” of cleantech evangelizing in the early 2000s. NOTE: Chip was Batman; me, Robin.

What we’re each holding is the original copy of a modestly historic City of Austin resolution that we were proud to have received.

It says, simply: “Be it resolved by the City Council of the City of Austin: The City Council endorses the Mayor’s Task Force on the Economy’s Austin Clean Energy Initiative, adding the clean energy cluster to Austin’s local economy.”

You see, back in late 2001, it was pretty clear that a virtual neutron bomb had dropped on the economic activity of any US city that had been benefitting from the dot-com boom, what we know fondly refer to as “web 1.0.”

ACE-resolutionEarlier in the year, the Dow and S&P had shown their first sounds of cratering, under the dual weight of ridiculously overhyped dot-com investing and the drying up of Y2K remediation dollars, on which companies had spent billions. Throw in the third blow of 9/11, which happened that dark September day, and what you had was the Austin tech economy in a free fall.

Then, in early 2002, I found myself sitting in my friend and colleague Angelos Angelou’s office who more-or-less said “Hey, I’m going over to IC2 to sit in with some people who are getting together to talk about clean energy technologies. Want to come along?”

Having spent the first dozen years of my professional life growing up and doing business in the oil & gas patch of Houston, Texas, I was intrigued and said “Sure!”

That meeting is where I met Chip. Others I very clearly remember at that first meeting, in addition to Angelos and me, were Richard Amato (the 1st director of ATI’s Clean Energy Incubator), Randi Shade (before she made her 1st Austin City Council run), Dennis Corkran (operating his family business Corkran Energy at the time), and a handful of others.

At the time, I’d been scanning the economic landscape for sectors to invest some time & effort, including life sciences, biotech, financial services, social ventures, and others that were a few steps removed from the hobbling dot-com industry.

An_Inconvenient_Truth_Film_PosterWith this merry band of sisters and brothers, I instantly knew I’d found something. Mind you, this was a full four years before “An Inconvenient Truth” exploded on the scene and made cleantech and its evil twin, global warming, household discussion topics.

But, once we started talking, the group – which we dubbed the Austin Clean Energy Initiative, or ACE Initiative for short – saw with clear-eyed conviction that, not only was the time right, but in fact the Austin and central Texas region had an enormous cluster of industrial, environmental, university, and civic resources already present that made cleantech a natural candidate for entrepreneurial activity.

However, as it is unlikely to surprise you, few business leaders at the time saw things the way we did. To his credit, Will Wynn, Austin’s mayor at the time, did “get it” fairly immediately and became an important advocate of ACE.

But, to win over the rest of the business community, we had work to do. I’ll leave a description of those efforts to another day and a cup of coffee, if you are really interested.

To jump to the end, Chip and I – as Batman and Robin – and the rest of the ACE Initiative team (including a big shout out to Jon Lebkowsky, who I’ll call our “Alfred” of the team, which means he was really often the brains of the operation, but kind enough to let us take some credit!) met with hundreds of city, business, and academic leaders, all around Austin, Texas, and parts beyond, advocating our position.

ACE-reportThe effort culminated in the publication of a major report, commissioned by the ACE Initiative and rolled out at a significant press conference, that convincingly established what we had known — that Austin/central Texas had the resources, people and financial capital to be one of the major centers of cleantech entrepreneurial activity in the country.

We were quite proud of that 100-page report, which you can still download today, and have been pleased at its prescience (in that cleantech, indeed, did become a welcomed part of the entrepreneurial, business establishment in Austin) and its durability, with most of the main arguments researched in the report as valid today as they were at the time.

So, back to the Austin city council resolution, which I had found sandwiched in some old files I was cleaning out over New Year’s day. I hadn’t broken bread with Chip in over a year, so I thought it was time to pass the resolution from Robin to Batman and reminisce about one of my favorite advocacy projects in the 20 years I’ve been in Austin.