Markets for consumer internet start-ups have become international.
Recent successes of global platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Apple iPhone and Google Android took place on the back of the proliferation of technology and trends such as the Open Web and its standards, advanced software development methodologies (i.e. Agile), and the availability of cloud infrastructure.
As a result, startups, particularly those innovating in the consumer Internet space, have seen their cost of product development significantly lowered and their pace of innovation accelerated. Entrepreneurs are now able to bootstrap with less, and iterate on their products and services quicker.
These trends are changing the way and timing of how companies raise funds, how venture capital works and has provided an opportunity for a globally networked, early-stage focused consumer Internet fund.
Neoteny is participating in this new trend with like-minded angel investors and venture capitalists, with a focus on Asia and the Middle East.
Joichi “Joi” Ito, General Partner
Joi was the CEO of the first commercial ISP in Japan, PSINet Japan, which was later sold to Cable and Wireless. He went on to set up Infoseek Japan, which was acquired by Disney and then Rakuten. He also co-founded one of the first web companies in Japan, Digital Garage, which is now a public company trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (t.4819). Joi has worked closely with government, academia and standards organizations to promote the Internet and innovation. Previously a board member of the Open Source Initiative, ICANN and a variety of other non-profits, he currently holds positions at Keio University and is CEO of Creative Commons, a board member of Digital Garage, and board member of the Mozilla Foundation and an international advisor to Twitter.
Joi also set up Neoteny, an incubator in Japan which had worked with Singapore’s Kent Ridge Digital Labs, and was the first investor in Six Apart, the largest independent blog software company. As an angel investor, he was an early investor in Flickr, Last.fm, Kongregate and other firms. His firm Digital Garage is an investor in Twitter.
Reid Hoffman, Advisor to the Investment Committee
Reid Hoffman is a Partner at Greylock, and Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at LinkedIn.
An accomplished entrepreneur, executive and angel investor, Hoffman has played an integral part in building many of today’s leading consumer technology businesses, including LinkedIn and PayPal.
Reid is a board observer at Gowalla and Swipely and is a director at Zynga, Mozilla Corp., Six Apart, Shopkick, and Kiva.org. He is an angel investor in numerous influential Internet companies, including Digg, Facebook, Flickr, Last.fm, Ning, Six Apart and Zynga.
James Chan, Principal
James is Principal at Neoteny Labs, and works closely with General Partner Joichi Ito on the fund and its portfolio companies.
Prior to Neoteny Labs, James served as Investment Manager at Walden International Singapore, where he worked on Seed Ventures IV Pte Ltd (S4), a new fund organized under the National Research Foundation’s Early Stage Venture Capital Fund Scheme that was focused on making investments into early-stage technology companies in Singapore. In 2007, James served as Investment Manager at Infocomm Investments, a wholly owned subsidiary of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, which made equity investments into growth-stage infocomm enterprises.
James completed his Double Major: B.Sc in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon, and earned his M. Sc in Management Science and Engineering (MS&E) at Stanford University.
Andrew “bunnie” Huang, Venture Partner
bunnie takes a push-and-pull approach to open hardware: he contributes original open designs, and also liberates closed designs. He wrote a book on reverse engineering, “Hacking the Xbox”, and released an open implementation of a man-in-the-middle attack on HDCP — enabling overlays on encrypted video without circumventing copyright controls. His design contributions include a line of open hardware internet appliances for chumby industries, and a geiger counter reference design aimed at improving radiation monitoring by civilians in Japan.
bunnie is also an educator; he serves as a Research Affiliate for the MIT Media Lab, technical advisor for several hardware startups and MAKE magazine, and shares his experiences manufacturing hardware in China through his blog.
bunnie currently lives in Singapore and helps out as Venture Partner at Neoteny Labs with littleBits and Formlabs.