George Zachary, General Partner, Charles River Ventures
George Zachary joined Charles River Ventures in 2004, bringing more than 17 years of operating and investing experience in computing and consumer technology. Zachary focuses on building services and software technology companies, and he’s led CRV’s investments in Twitter, Yammer, Millennial Media, Cloudshare, Geni, SocialMedia, Metaplace, and Scribd (co-led with Bill Tai).
Topicmarks can take heaps of text and digitally read and summarize them in seconds. We help people quash information overflow by instantly extracting the key points, and remembering all the rest in your “external brain” forever. Topicmarks plays in the overall $128b information market, where value has been shifting from digital publishing through digital distribution to digital aggregation. The logical next step will be digital reading, or “what you do after googling”. Competitors focus on filtering and prioritizing, just telling you what to read first, not freeing you of reading itself. Topicmarks actually digitizes the reading itself so that you can process all information with digital speed. The core technology is ready and proven by a public beta that has attracted over 10,000 users worldwide. We’re now repackaging the beta with tools for specific target groups and use cases like writing a paper, launching in the next months.
Fatminds enables an education seeker to find courses, webinars, seminars, certificates and degrees, based on location, Q&A, reviews, tuition reimbursement and relevant recommendations. Think Kayak meets Yelp meets Netflix for education. Education institutions alone spend over $5 billion annually in marketing to prospective students and there are currently 84 million adult learners taking at least one formal course a year. Competitors predominantly focus on the for-profit sector, expose users to a high pressure sales tactics, and don’t foster a long term relationship. Fatminds is focused on choice, targeted recommendations, community and objective decision making.
- BookBrewer: BookBrewer helps aspiring authors and bloggers quickly create and publish eBooks to retailers such as Amazon, Apple, Borders, Barnes & Noble and Google Editions. We run a standalone service, as well as a co-branded service for Borders. eBooks sales are increasing 300% a year and are projected to account for 15% of a $20B market by 2012. There are 145 million blogs in existence, and we’re targeting the top 100,000. Our goal is to get them to publish 10,000 books in year 1. We’re the only major retailer-aligned eBook creation service that offers simple online tools for creating DRM-protected books that can be distributed to every major retail site, and the only one with a blog-import feature.
- CipherPoint: CipherPoint provides a solution to transparently secure content in Enterprise Content Management Systems such as SharePoint. We serve organizations that use or want to use ECMs to store or manage sensitive or regulated information. CipherPoint’s solutions address a $930M need driven by data security and compliance requirements in the Enterprise Content Management market which is growing at 20% CAGR. Our initial target market is Microsoft SharePoint. CipherPoint is the first mover with solutions to address the threat of IT administrators viewing sensitive content. In addition, our solutions are centrally managed, transparent to end users, and include advanced key management capabilities. We have released a production product and started to build a sales pipeline including early stage sales opportunities in the SMB and enterprise markets.
- KlickFu: KlickFu enables users to play instant games and apps and access social media with a single click at the point of the mouse cursor–to fill odd gaps of time during the day with something fun or useful. The social games market is currently $2B annually, growing 20% per year. KlickFu has a unique, patent-pending method for launching apps directly at the point of the cursor and instantly accessing content in a single click. We have launched the initial version of the KlickFu desktop application and are starting distribution with a major software partner next month.
- LetsLunch: Tired of eating alone or with the same faces everyday? LetsLunch will help you expand your social network by matching you with interesting people to go to lunch. 50 million people within close proximity to each other eat out during lunch every day , either alone or with the same people. We could utilize this time to network with other like-minded people. Other companies don’t understand that people want to meet other people face to face without excessive effort, like searching for matches,restaurants, etc. Customers won’t need to visit the website every time — we send them matches. We are about to launch our site for Beta Testing.
- Loudlever: Loudlever helps magazine publishers lower their content acquisition costs, while enabling them to get a handle on their copyright, licensing and royalty obligations. There are over 60,000 print-based magazines/periodicals in the US. The number of online-only magazines, journals, and community-powered blogs is several times this size and growing exponentially. Loudlever is mapping the writer/publisher ‘genome’ through our site, HeyPublisher.com, enabling publishers to discover writers outside their submission stream, and writers to find markets for their work more quickly. The company has 100+ online publishers currently using our service to handle submissions, with works from nearly 1,000 writers having been submitted to-date.
- Mosoro: Mosoro connects Bluetooth & WiFi augmented objects through smartphone apps to the Internet, opening new ways to interact with & monetize the objects around us. Mosoro’s technology platform spans numerous industries but a fun one to highlight is toys & skateboards. Retail sales of stuffed plush animals including teddy bears was $4.44B, toy vehicles sales were $1.4B, & skateboards sales were $4.8B in 2009. Mosoro’s team has built successful companies in the Bluetooth/WiFi, mobile content, consumer electronic, personalization, & social media spaces and is using their depth of knowledge and industry connections to quickly evangelize the Mosoro platform In early 2011 Mosoro will release a API & mobile libraries allowing anyone to connect a physical object to the Internet through a smartphone.
- VisuTalk: VisuTalk allows businesses to leverage new mobile video technologies from Apple (facetime) and Skype and significantly increase revenues and reduce costs through more accurate real-time communication with their customers. We make video calls useful. The market rapidly growing. Private researcher Market Murmurs expects the market to exceed 500M in 2011 and increase to 1.5B in 2012. In addition, the number of individuals with mobile devices capable of video calling increases to over 50M in 2012. VisuTalk’s layer of intelligence allows for search so experts can instantly be consulted. In addition, transactions are embedded within the call, so problems are quickly and easily solved. Clients save money and time. VisuTalk”s solutions are based upon our visual calling platform, but can be ‘glued” to any communication protocol as it opens APIs, adopts standards or open sources it product; Facetime & Skype are two examples moving in this direction.
- Wholeshare: Wholeshare saves people 20% on their groceries by organizing group purchases. The site helps consumers who live or work near each other form groups and buy together, allowing them to bypass grocery stores and buy directly from wholesale sellers. Our model also allows people to buy directly from local farmers, leveraging the rapidly growing demand for local and organic food. Last year, organic food was $24.8B (out of $600B+ for all food) and has grown 16.9% yearly since 2000. Unlike other online food retailers and listing services, we’re building a network of local buying groups, enabling wholesale sellers to directly access the consumer market without changing how they do business. The site is currently in private beta – we’ve partnered with one natural food distributor (with over 5000 products) and have a handful of initial groups.