Rentberry offers a radically improved way to rent an apartment

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When was the last time you rented a home or apartment? You probably went to apartments.com or Craigslist, searched for rentals in your area and then began a series of calls trying to learn more about the property. If you were lucky you got to see the place, then you’d have to fill out an application, pay a fee to the landlord for a credit and background check and hope that you’re not outbid or turned down. Depending on your market, maybe you had look at a dozen properties and pay half a dozen application fees before you secured your new rental home.

Alex Lubinsky, had just this problem when he and a couple friends went looking for a home to rent in San Francisco. Instead of just moving on, they decided to do something about it and launched Rentberry an online auction place for renting an apartment.

In this episode of Bay Area Ventures I speak with Alex about Rentberry and how his service is radically changing the paradigm for both renters and landlords when engaged in the rental process. Rentberry offers a transparent marketplace where renters enter their information one time and then apply that same information to every rental they seek.


 
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The renter and the landlord can see how much rentals are going for in their area during the auction and by looking a past auction results. Rentberry manages the rental agreement and presents the credit and background information to a prospective landlord while maintaining the confidentiality and security of the renter’s personally identifiable information.

Of course, all this is not without some controversy. Will Rentberry price the average renter out of the market and only serve to raise rental prices? Or will an open market place balance the power between renters and landlords and optimize the prices paid. We also ask Alex about his take on the Bay Area way of business and what it’s like running a fast growing startup in the San Francisco area.

It a great story and Lubinsky is a great guest

This episode was recorded on May 22, 2017 on Bay Area Ventures on SiriusXM Channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Special follow-up edition Part 2 with Martin Plaehn of Control 4 and Mark Chung of Verdigris Technology

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Part two of my special two-part follow-up edition of Bay Area Ventures, featuring interviews with guests from the first three seasons of the show, is now available for streaming or download here and on iTunes, Spreaker and Facebook.

In this episode I speak with Martin Plaehn, CEO of Control 4 and Mark Chung Co-Founder and CEO of Verdigris Technologies.

 
 
 
Martin Plaehn
Control 4
 
Martin Plaehn is a seasoned CEO who has been leading Control 4 since 2011 (NASDAQ: CTRL). Martin first appeared on Bay Area Ventures back in August of 2015. At the time, Control 4’s annual revenue was $160 Million. For the first quarter of 2017, the company’s revenues were over $50 Million and Control 4’s stock has more than doubled since his last appearance on our show.

Control 4 is a leader or, perhaps “The” leader in the home automation space. They manufacture automation systems and software for smart homes and offices. Martin brings us up to date on the latest in IoT devices for the home as well as steps they are taking to prevent hacking of these systems.

Martin has lectured on leadership and has been at the helm of some of the early and most famous technology companies such as RealNetworks, Viewpoint Digital and Bungee Labs. He discusses the challenges of scaling his organization and how he manages his time to address Control 4’s technology, customer and shareholder needs. We also learn about his current reading list for when he’s traveling around the world.

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In the second half of the show we’ll check in with Mark Chung, Co-Founder and CEO of Verdigris Technologies (www.verdigris.co). Mark’s first appearance on Bay Area Ventures was in April of 2016 when Verdigris was still a seed funded company but already shipping product and generating revenue. Verdigris raised a $7M Series A financing in the second half of 2016 with backers such as Verizon and Jabil Manufacturing giving them the headroom to grow and capture more markets.

Mark started Verdigris with his brother after an incident in their home where their electricity bill spiked for some unknown reason. They developed a monitoring system that can automatically detect every type of device on an electrical circuit and track and monitory its electric usage.

Today, they are an AI or artificial intelligence company using machine learning to solve tough problems facing the operators of hotels, factories and other commercial facilities. Verdigris technology sends a customer’s energy usage data up to a cloud based dashboard and applies AI to the data to help those customers track energy usage and anomalies in their facilities. This knowledge allows customers to cut their energy usage by as much as 50%.

Verdigris Technologies
Mark Chung

Mark talks about many of the challenges he has faced since his last appearance due to rapid growth and both internal and external factors. The company’s headcount has more than doubled in the past year and they encountered some surprises doing business in the European Union and Great Britain since the UK passed Brexit. They are also still struggling to build up a world class sales team to keep up with growth.

Verdigris is a real success story and Mark shares his philosophy of how to handle the stresses and challenges of being the leader of a fast company. He is a brilliant engineer who has worked at top technology companies such as AMD, PA Semiconductor and Netlogic. PA semiconductor was acquired by Apple while Mark was an employee and Netlogic was acquired by Broadcom, as well. Like these great companies that hired Mark you can benefit from his knowledge and skills by listening in and following his company’s progress.

This jam-packed show is sure to be a good use of your time.

Recorded on April 24, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Special follow-up edition Part 1 with Christopher Farm of Tenjin and Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewing

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In this, the first of two special follow-up editions of Bay Area Ventures, we check in with guests from the first three seasons of the show.

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In this episode, we speak with Christopher Farm, Co-Founder and CEO of Tenjin, Inc. Christopher first appeared on Bay Area Ventures in April of 2016. Back then, Tenjin was a young company, recently graduated from the Y-Combinator incubator. How has Tenjin grown in the past year? What are some of the biggest challenges and surprises that Christopher and his team have had to deal with? We will cover it all and see what is next in store for his company.

Chris takes calls from listeners and talks about how they have manage to find technical talent for their team at a time when competition for programmers and engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area has been fierce.

In the second half of the show we’ll check in with Dave McLean, Founder of Magnolia Brewing. Dave was my first guest on Bay Area Ventures in March of 2014. Back then, Magnolia Brewing had its sole location, Magnolia Gastropub on Haight Street in San Francisco. They were just building out a new restaurant and brewing facility. We’ll find out when those projects were completed and how they have fared. We’ll also talk about Magnolia’s recent entry into retail sales with their new line of canned beers.
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Dave Mclaean is one of the leaders of the modern San Francisco Bay Area craft brewing industry. He is also the founder of the San Francisco Brewer’s Guild and helped grow the membership to hundreds of craft brewers throughout the Bay Area. The Guild also hosts dozens of major community events each year including San Francisco Beer Week and their annual Brews by the Bay festival.

McLean is passionate business man and brewer. He has built a thriving enterprise with thousands of devoted fans in a city whose roots as a brewer’s haven go back to the gold rush days of the 1800’s. That’s no small feat and Dave will tell you how he’s done it.

This is a jam-packed show with a lot of great takeaways for your business.

Recorded on April 24, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Q1 2017 San Francisco Bay Area Economic Update with Jim Wunderman

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On this special Bay Area Council quarterly economic update edition of Bay Area Ventures we speak with Jim Wunderman, CEO of The Bay Area Council about the first quarter 2017 San Francisco Bay Area economy.

Additionally we talk about the results of the Bay Area Council’s recently completed 2017 poll. Jim let’s us know what questions were asked and what were the top issues on the top of minds of Bay Area residents. In particular, which issue is considered a crisis.

The Bay Area economy began 2017 on a strong note with robust growth in the tech industry, many large M&A deals and the lowest unemployment rate of any region in the state of California. However, all that success is not without some pain and the Bay Area still suffers from extremely high cost of living and horrendous traffic congestion.


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Jim and his organization have been working for years on policies and bills to address these key issues and, in the first quarter, several new laws were passed by the California State Senate to help. Additionally a $52Billion gas tax and DMV fee package was championed by Governor Jerry Brown and passed into law. In this episode Jim talks about all of these acheivements and how they will impact the Bay Area. He hints at when to expect these initiatives to make an impact and then discusses which key issues he’ll be working on next.

 

The Bay Area Council is a public policy organization focused on making the San Francisco Bay Area and the Silicon Valley the most globally competitive and economically productive region in the world. The Council’s membership is comprised of CEOs from hundreds of the top businesses in the nine-county Bay Area. Jim Wunderman has been the Council’s CEO since 2004. For more information on Jim and to see the results of the Bay Area Council’s 2017 poll go to bayareacouncil.org.

This interview was recorded on April 24, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Launching and growing startup ventures in Colombia with Wenyi Cai of Polymath Ventures and Jeremy Dann of USC

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Wenyi Cai, Managing Partner of Polymath Ventures and Jeremy Dann, Professor of Innovation at USC’s Marshall School of Business’ Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies joined me on Bay Area Ventures to talk about entrepreneurship and its impact on economic development in emerging markets like Latin American and specifically in Colombia.


 
Polymath Ventures
Wenyi Cai

 

Jeremey Dann, Professor at USC

 
Professor Dann is back for his third appearance on my show and this time he is here to talk about his new case study about Wenyi’s venture fund and incubator Polymath Ventures. The case, which like all of Jeremy’s 30 plus case studies, is used as a teaching tool for entrepreneurs and business students in businesses and business schools throughout the world. Jeremy is an expert at walking one through the challenges and issues that a company or managers face in real world situations. In this case Wenyi and her team face new and unique challenges creating, incubating and funding startup companies in emerging Bogota, Colombia. The issues include a rapidly changing political environment, entrenched traditional standards for financing ventures and a lack of infrastructure for supporting the needs of a fast paced venture-backed startup.

 
Wenyi is a bright and dynamic woman who, at the age of 15, was working on fluid dynamics problems at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. She went on to earn her degree in Physics from Harvard University and, while there, founded Tuesday Magazine. After college, Wenyi worked at McKinsey & Company on management consulting assignments in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. She then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and became COO of Milo.com. One year later Milo was acquired by eBay for $75 Million. Ms. Cai did not wanting to join another Bay Area startup and opted instead to start up her own fund and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Wenyi and her team set out to identify the best place to found Polymath Ventures and settled on Bogota, Colombia.

Professor Dann picks up the case from there and walks the us through Polymath’s earliest ventures.

Wenyi and Jeremy discuss the case in detail and also offer their take on the difference between the Bay Area way of business vs. the startup and entrepreneurial environment in Colombia and other emerging markets We cover several of Polymath’s earliest ventures and found out how they have fared since Jeremey completed his research and published his paper.

This is a rare opportunity for students of business, to learn from the protagonist of a case study.

Jeremy’s Case Study of Wenyi and Polymath Ventures can be purchased at Harvard Business Press or The Case Centre

Recorded on March 27, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

First look at M&A for 2017 – Cisco acquires AppDynamics and two health insurance mergers crater

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, M&A, Venture Capital

In this episode of the M&A Moment, Rick Climan of Hogan Lovells, LLP, joins me to look at how the year 2017 is starting off in the Mergers and Acquisitions arena. We discuss the dollar volume for January 2017 and how that compares to the same period in 2016. We then discuss whether or not the January figures are a good indicator of how the whole year will fare.

The year started off with a couple high flying tech companies being purchased for a fraction of their peak valuations and look at how that might portend for the so call “unicorns” – privately held companies valued over $1 billion. January was also a month where the US government blocked two very large deals that were announced in 2015. Rick talks about those deals and how the Trump administration may or may not act in similar situations going forward. We end the conversation by talking about one very large deal just announced where the target company was simultaneously pursuing an IPO and an acquisition.

Rick Climan  Hogan Lovells logo

 

All this plus Rick’s usual analysis of the legal, financial and strategic thinking behind the M&A markets and these specific deals.

This episode was recorded during my Bay Area Ventures show on SiriusXM Channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School on February 13, 2017. Be sure to check out my Bay Area Ventures show page by clicking on the show link at the top of this page. For more information on Rick Climan you can go to Rick Climan on HoganLovells.com or go to www.MandAMoment.com.

The Bay Area economy 2016 year in review with Jim Wunderman

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The Bay Area economy, to put it simply, has been booming. It has been undergoing a sustained period of growth and economic development. But just how good was it? Jim Wunderman, CEO of The Bay Area Council, joined me to take a look back at the San Francisco Bay Area’s economy for 2016, and also takes a look forward to what might lie ahead for the region in 2017.

Was 2016 the “best of times” for the Bay Area? What were some of the factors that contributed to the current state of the economy? What were some of the biggest challenges the region faced in 2016 and what will be the key drivers and issues going forward? The Bay Area has some of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country but, at the same time, has some of the highest costs of living in the world. Can people afford to live in the Bay Area and, if not, can companies attract and retain the talent needed to maintain its position as one of the leading centers of innovation in the world? Will inflation become a problem for the region in 2017 and how will the Donald Trump administration impact existing and future initiatives and policies? Jim covers all these areas and more in this special extended edition of the Bay Area Council Quarterly Update feature of my show, Bay Area Ventures.

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Jim Wunderman’s organization, The Bay Area Council, is a public policy organization founded in the 1940’s by a Who’s Who of San Francisco Bay Area business leaders. The Council is focused on making the San Francisco Bay Area and the Silicon Valley the most globally competitive and economically productive region in the world. The Council’s membership is comprised of CEOs from hundreds of the top businesses in the Bay Area and Jim has been its CEO since 2004.

Before the Bay Area Council, Jim had a distinguished career in both the public and private sectors. He served as Chief of Staff to San Francisco Mayor Frank M. Jordan from 1992-95, responsible for overseeing all departmental and budgetary functions, and management of the Mayor’s Office. Earlier he served as Special Assistant to Mayor Dianne Feinstein, from 1983-1987, with his duties including oversight of the city’s utility, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Department of Public Works. From 1988 through 1991, he served as Vice President and General Manager of two major waste collection, disposal and recycling firms in the Bay Area under its parent, Recology, Inc (formerly Norcal Waste Systems). From 1997-2004 he served as Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Providian Financial Corporation. Jim is also a Visiting Professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, teaching a course in Executive Leadership. You can see Jim’s full bio here http://www.bayareacouncil.org/people/jim-wunderman/

This interview was recorded on January 23, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time. For a list of upcoming and past guest information, click on the Show link above.

Bay Area Ventures replays now available here and on Spreaker

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I’m pleased to announce that replays of my Bay Area Ventures show will now be available on this site both on this blog page or on our Bay Area Ventures Guests page (available from the Show link above). The replays are hosted on Spreaker for streaming and downloading here as well as on the Spreaker mobile app, iTunes, Facebook, and elsewhere.

My first replay is an interview with Dr. Kirk Heath, Co-Founder and CEO along with Dr. Tom Clifford, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Modio Health recorded on July 25, 2016.

Modio Health is a startup with offices in San Francisco, California and Virginia Beach, Virginia focused on solving the inefficiencies of credentialing and career management for healthcare providers and the healthcare systems they work for.

Hear Kirk and Tom discuss how their backgrounds as surgeons and the hindrance to doing the work they love caused by burdensome paperwork, led them to create a high-tech solution to managing physician credentials. Learn how they teamed up experts in healthcare provider management from Virginia Beach with technology and marketing wizards from the San Francisco Bay Area to design and build their system and services.

Modio Health is a venture funded company experiencing rapid growth. Kirk and Tom share their story of transition from the Operating Room to the Board Room and how to develop a high performance entrepreneurial team.

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Bay Area Ventures on SiriusXM’s channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School is a show about the San Francisco Bay Area way of doing Business covering all aspects of what makes working and living in the Bay Area unique and special. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, from politics to public policy, from venture financing to mergers & acquisitions, and even to the lifestyles of those living and working in the Bay Area, I try to cover it all in order to help you apply the great practices of the Bay Area to your ventures. The show airs live on Monday’s from 4:00pm to 6:00pm Pacific Time and is broadcast via satellite radio from our studio at the campus of Wharton|San Francisco (The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania’s San Francisco Campus on the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco)

Every live show includes two feature guests for up to one hour each. Each of the Bay Area Venture podcasts on Spreaker covers one feature guest interview from the show. In addition to the feature guest, each month I host an “M&A Moment”, with Rick Climan, of the Weil law firm and every quarter I host a Bay Area Council Quarterly Update with Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council.

The M&A Moment is a look at top merger and acquisition deals involving at least one Bay Area company, as well as an exploration of strategy, tactics and financing inherent to this exciting multi-billion dollar business practice. The M&A Moment is available as a separate podcast here and on Spreaker at The M&A Moment.

The M&A Moment podcast premiers today

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I’m pleased to announce the premier of my new podcast The M&A Moment. The M&A moment is about the latest business mergers and acquisitions news involving San Francisco Bay Area companies as well as the art and legal aspects of negotiating a multi-billion dollar deal.

The show is hosted on Spreaker and is available here, on Spreaker on my Facebook page “The Free COO” and soon on my new website, MandAMoment.com. Here is the first episode:

Be sure to check here often for new episodes.