Union Square: Open Venture Capital

Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, a New York venture firm, has done a great job opening up the financial drivers for VC firms. For other venture guys his comments may be nothing new, but for most entrepreneurs they represent an excellent and somewhat rare insight into the VC black box.

Why is this important? Entrepreneurs can greatly improve their prospects of getting venture funding and of a good relationship with their VC partners post funding by taking the time to understand what motivates a VC.

Read Fred’s posts on the venture model behind Union Square here and here.

VentureWrap: Zynga Brings Kleiner Into Play With $29M

The Potrero Hill, San Francisco-based Mark Pincus social games venture, Zynga Game Network has closed a $29 million Series B funding round led by Kleiner Perkins.

New Kleiner partner and former Electronic Arts Chief Creative Officer Bing Gordon will be joining the board and getting actively involved in operations.

This follows a recent $10 million Series A and the investors in that round (Avalon Ventures, Foundry Group and Union Square Ventures) have participated alongside Kleiner and IVP in the Series B.

I suspect this funding will be used to fuel a number of acquisitions. This is borne out by Zynga’s additional announcement that they have acquired YoVille, a virtual-world app that has over 150,000 daily active users on Facebook.

[Hat tip to Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures]

VentureWrap: Twitter Takes On Amazon

Following on from Twitter‘s $15M Series B funding round at a pre-money of $80M last month, the South Park-based micro-blogging phenomenon has taken on board two further investors.

Joining the already impressive investor lineup of Union Square Ventures and Digital Garage, Spark Capital and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s investment vehicle, Bezos Expeditions, have bought equity in the business.

Spark’s Bijan Sabet will join Twitter’s board and Jeff will no doubt provide invaluable advice around scalability.

In fact, writing on the Twitter blog, Evan Williams points to the vision for the business, and it’s all good:

Twitter will become a sustainable business supported by a revenue model. However, our biggest opportunities will be worth pursuing only when we achieve our vision of Twitter as a global communication utility. To reach our goal, Twitter must be reliable and robust.

Private funding gives us the runway we need to stay focused on the infrastructure that will help our business take flight. We will continue hiring systems engineers, operators, and architects, as well as consultants, scientists, and other professionals to help us realize our vision.

Be sure to follow metarand on Twitter!

The Big Picture: A Vision For Social Media

Imagine a world in which:

every single human being is posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet.

This is the world that New York-based VC, Fred Wilson, sees within his ‘grand vision‘ for social media.

I applaud Fred’s simplicity. All too often the bigger picture can become obscured by over complication. If we take a look through his firm’s portfolio, we quickly see that he is pulling together a mosaic that will progress us towards achieving his vision:

Twitter – microblogging

Disqus – distributed comments

Oddcast – conversational chararacters

Tumblr – microblogging

Zynga – social gaming

There are a bunch of other companies in the Union Square Ventures portfolio, but these are the stand out ventures that speak to Fred’s simple vision.

Turning this vision into reality will take a lot more determined effort by all of us. Besides supporting the right technology pieces, achieving standards (think what Gears is doing for HTML5), and gaining wide user traction there are regulatory and plumbing issues that will need to be solved.

Currently we see a lot of infighting and an almost continuous bitchmeme, at present this seems to be over whether Friendfeed is better than Twitter. And this within the context of a world in which millions are unable to express themselves, a world in which millions are dying because of oppressive regimes.

It is high time the social media industry rallied together. By focusing on this simple end goal, by setting a target we can come together around, we can achieve so much more.

[Picture courtesy of hellomartin]