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Venture capital roundup: The MySpace "touch", True Ventures and Maven's web woes

MySpace touch
Brad Greenspan, former chief executive of Intermix Media, launches venture fund -- Greenspan was former chief exec at Intermix. He was there when the company formed MySpace, the popular social networking company. Greenspan's venture fund, called BroadWebAsia, will invest in Asian social networking, entertainment and Internet search start-ups, according to the site.

Greenspan has invested in China-based meta-search engine BBMAO.com, and has made commitments to up to 20 other companies over the last nine months, according to VentureWire, where we first saw this mentioned. BroadWebAsia plans to raise as much as $50 million to continue building its portfolio, either from investors or through an IPO in China or the U.K., Greenspan said. He apparently has a dozen or so employees in Shanghai and Beijing.

Greenspan, you'll recall, filed suit against the Intermix, and its VC backers, VantagePoint, earlier this year, which we covered here. (Update: Very interesting link provided by someone in the comments, which we will lift here. It shows the dates of Intermix's insider share sales, and how they develop as the NY Attorney General investigation continues; we hadn't seen it before.)

Success has many fathers. Greenspan is being referred to now as a "co-founder" of MySpace (though we don't know if this comes from Greenspan, or from VentureWire). That is news to us, because we've always seen Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson listed as the two founders, and MySpace's European marketing person Jamie Kantrowitz tells us Greenspan was not a MySpace founder. We note that Greenspan doesn't claim founder status on his new site. Greenspan was the largest shareholder at Intermix Media, but left in 2003, shortly after the idea for the popular service MySpace was started. So he will carry the magic "MySpace touch" regardless.

True Ventures has finished raising its $155 million fund -- This San Francisco firm is active in the social media arena. Dan Primack, of PE Wire, write summarizes the early-stage venture firm's origins. Before forming True, its partners, as individual investors, backed companies like Meebo (instant messaging), Automattic (blogging software), ScanR (capture digital info via camera phone), Sphere (blog search engine). True has since invested in GigaOm (content), SendMe (mobile entertainment) and two undisclosed companies.

Maven Venture Partners pulling the plug? Not yet, long story -- Dan also reports that Maven, another venture firm here in Silicon Valley (Menlo Park), has failed to get any traction on its fundraising effort. The team was formed earlier this year by Jennifer Gill Roberts (formerly of Sevin Rosen Funds), Marc Friend (Summit Partners, USVP) and telecom exec George Richard. We can see why you'd think the firm is shutting down: We got an auto email response from Marc Friend saying MavenVP.com will not "be accepting email as of Friday August 24." Alas, things are never that simple. We then got a call from Roberts, who said Marc has departed, but that she and George Richard were hiring a new partner, to be announced in a "couple of weeks," and are on track to raise $150 million this fall. There's a longer story around the Web site. They are chaging the domain name to www.MavenVenturepartners.com, and thus the confusing email sent out by Marc.

In other news:

-- Apple has settled a patent infringement lawsuit surrounding its iPod music player, agreeing to pay Creative technology $100 million. Here's the Merc story.

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To clarify: True Ventures invested in Meebo, Automattic, ScanR and Sphere. It did so with partner money before the fund held a first close, but those investments now all have been rolled over into the fund itself.

Dan Primack on August 24, 2006 11:10 AM
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I think the MySpace Co-Founder label is coming from Greenspan--it showed up in a Red Herring article. They actually went one step further and called him Founder. Not even sharing the glory with the people who actually founded it... I complained to the author but the story has not been corrected.


Here's what I emailed Scott Martin about his story:

Where did you get the idea that Brad Greenspan founded MySpace? He may
be the self-described founder, but that doesn't make it true.

MySpace was founded by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe. They met while
working at XDrive and left to form their own company called
ResponseBase. They did email list brokering (spam in business
language). Brad Greenspun was heading up eUniverse (that company was
later renamed Intermix Media, which is what News Corp. bought), a
company that did online advertising in the form of spyware. He bought
ResponseBase to invest in Anderson and DeWolfe but was out of the
picture in an ugly downfall less than a year later. Even after all the
fighting he came out of the Intermix buyout with a cool $47 million,
reportedly more than Tom and Chris.

Greenspan's involvement was an investment, that allowed Anderson and
DeWolfe to work on the site. Yu don't call the investor who provided
seed capital the founder. You call the founders founders. Otherwise
you end up with the crazy idea that YouTube was founded by Sequoia
Capital, Google founded by Stanford, etc.

Jon Gales on August 24, 2006 5:36 PM
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Social networking in its simplist form is so 2005. I think the trend now is using the collective wisdom that such networks can provide to power new services. One area where I've seen some novel concepts spring up in recent months is in the job/services area, with services such as mkt10.com getting underway and even smaller players like wagescore.com having an even more revolutionary, yet embryonic model. the next 10 years of social network on the Internet will be fascinating.

Martin Rose on August 25, 2006 12:05 PM
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