S&P has upgraded Turkey's sovereign credit rating today. I think i's well-deserved and long overdue, given the level of resiliency Turkey's shown through the global credit crisis. It's also a bit ironic that the move coincided with recent troubles all over the EU, particularly Greece and Portugal (via Marketwatch).
We have not seen any bank failures, significant stimulus moves by the state, or any large company busts. Turkey's held up remarkably well and that performance supports my overall bullish stance on my country.
Dave McClure has a fun recent post/rant on business models. In it, he makes a simplification:
Well because as we transition to a Startup Ecosystem driven by direct payment & subscription business models, i want to make it clear how IMPORTANT it is to make sure users don't forget their passwords. If they forget their password, and/or can't recover it, then guess what MoFo -- YOU DON'T GET PAID.
While I agree with his point, he then goes on to assert that the frequent-use models don't have this problem and therefore should win the transactions/subscriptions business models, which is where I start to get question marks. He provides examples from his tenure at PayPal and concludes that since Facebook and Google are the most frequently used properties, this is their game to use.
I also agree with the last point. However, I think it's a gross simplification to tie the causality to frequent use. It's the identity layer that counts. Not the frequency. I play some casual games daily. but they don't know about me nearly as much as Google or Facebook does. It's that intimate knowledge of who I am that counts!
TBI Research is pointing out the revenue potential demonstrated by some recent data at Facebook through payments. It's not surprising that the results are positive. Payments are directly tied to identity. PayPal is under huge threat here. In fact, once the payment structures start to slip, eBay will be under threat as well.
The identity layer is enormously valuable. The biggest contenders for it are Google (because of Gmail) and Facebook. The identity layer will allow these companies, as well as those who will be able to grab a piece of it, to challenge some very large internet commerce areas. Payments are a great candidate. Others will be classifieds & listings, and loyalty programs.
I think there still is an opportunity in the Turkish identity layer, despite Facebook's domination here. Not sure how one should play it but I continue to think about it.
I blogged about the NuBridge Venture Summit (and the preceding NuBridge Angel Summit, which took place last week and was extremely successful) last week. However, as we are about to kick off this event, I believe it's such an important event for the Turkish internet industry, that I wanted to blog about it again, this time in a dedicated post.
The organizer of the event, Pamir Gelenbe, is London-based VC with Turkish roots. He approached me with the idea that a TechTour-style mini-conference would make sense for the Turkish market, while we collaborated on the European Tech Tour's Web & Mobility Summit back in November. I thought it was a great idea and said that we'd support the event.
In the following months Pamir worked hard at putting together an event that now has such a spectacular line up of participants that my expectations are far exceeded.
The event's format is primarily short presentations by leading Turkish internet companies, interspersed with panel discussions by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. There will be networking opportunities that will allow participants to connect and hopefully, a few funding deals will emerge from the event.
As with all events of this type, the critical success factor is who the attendees are. On that front, Pamir has done an excellent job and has lined up the following participants, each of whom play an important role in global venture capital:
For the event to accomplish its mission, an investor list of this caliber would have to be met with a local internet company line-up of equal strength. On that end, the event boasts a who's who of Turkish internet sector:
First is the NuBridge Angel Summit, organized by my friend Pamir Gelenbe, who's a London-based VC of Turkish origin. The event brings to Istanbul a group of world-class angel investors, including:
I am also participating in the event, which will take place on January 14 & 15. It should provide an excellent venue for Turkish internet ventures looking for angel backing.
The second event is the NuBridge Istanbul VC Summit, scheduled for January 21 & 22, which we're proud to sponsor as GHV. I think this event will be an important milestone in the development path of the Turkish Venture Capital industry. The event's format will resemble that of the European Tech Tour Association's events, in that a group of top-tier VCs from around the world will get a chance to meet a select group of Turkish internet and technology companies. You can find a list of participants at the event's website and Çağlar Erol's blog (in Turkish).
If you are interested in being associated with either event, please contact Pamir through the event website, although I understand that attendance will be extremely tight due to space constraints.
Mark Suster has been blogging about entrepreneurial characteristics. I like his list and agree with all of his points.
The topic has made me think about a key difference I have noticed in Turkish entrepreneurs and their counterparts in the US (and largely, western Europe): multiple, parallel ventures.
I understand this in the entrepreneurs who are emerging out of a "work for hire" service shop. In those cases, many of the parallel ventures are off-shoots of ideas or products developed previously.
I also understand large groups of entrepreneurs. In that case there may be excess capacity at the leadership level that gets taken up by a new good idea that the team just does not want to let go.
However, it's surprising to me that a small team that's gone to work on a great idea can find time to focus on a second (or sometimes, third or fourth) project. There's usually so much work involved in getting one idea off the ground that it should be extremely difficult to parallel process multiple projects.
One reason for the popularity of this model in Turkey may be the scarcity of capital. Entrepreneurs don't want to put all of their eggs in one basket. And if they don't have an outside investor who's directing them to focus on one idea, they try to progress several ventures together to see which one is getting traction.
In our investments, we try to get the entrepreneurs to focus on the idea at hand. Many times, there are previous projects they continue to be involved in, but the core focus always has to be in the company we've invested in.
UPDATE: The folks at Etohum have just uploaded a video of my presentation on Venture Capital, on December 19th at the Etohum Entrepreneurship Camp. The video is in Turkish.
Here's the presentation accompanying my talk on venture capital at Etohum last week. Sorry for the tardy post.
NB. It's in Turkish.
Yesterday I blogged about my surprise upon seeing the Turkish virtual world Sanalika on Google's fastest rising list for 2009. I further commented that "it has not made much of an impact in the Turkish internet scene so far".
I have since been contacted by a few friends in the Turkish gaming community who informed me that in facti Sanalika is a strong contender and that Alexa does not fairly represent Sanalika's traffic because of its flash-based site. I stand corrected.
Right after my earlier post today on top search terms of 2009, I saw that Google had just released their Zeitgeist 2009. While it's difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison with Yahoo and Bing, the Fastest Rising List gives a taste:
And, yes, MJ tops this list, too! :)
However, what piqued my interest the most in Google's Zeitgeist this year are the Turkish entries, namely:
Sanalika, #5 in Fastest Rising
Sahadan, #4 in Fastest Rising in Sports.
Mind you, these are Global lists...
Sahadan is a Turkish sports news website, and to me, it's the less surprising of the two. It's a solid property, a long-time resident of the Turkish Alexa 100, and given the level of interest in football in Turkey, a top Turkish site is not a far-fetched entry in the Google list. Also notable is the fact that it's ranked above Livescore.
Sanalika, however,is a different story. Ranking 375th in Alexa's Turkey rankings, it's a virtual world similar to IMVU or Popmundo. It has not made much of an impact in the Turkish internet scene so far, so I had to doublecheck when I saw its name on the Google list.
I still suspect Sanalika's inclusion on the list may be a quirk of the methodology used. Curious...
Also, note KralOyun, a Turkish game portal, #6 in the Fastest Falling list.