Monocolumn: Where Does All The Money Go?

Monocolumn: Where Does All The Money Go?

One million dollars, $2m, $7m, $12m. These are just some of the amounts that venture capitalists have doled out recently to Silicon Valley companies.

  • 23 june 2010

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

Monocolumn- Where Does All The Money Go-23

One million dollars, $2m, $7m, $12m. These are just some of the amounts that venture capitalists have doled out recently to Silicon Valley companies, with recipients ranging from three-people start-ups working out of cafés to established firms in gleaming offices.

Numerous reports and surveys suggest that while US venture capital is not back to 2007 or 2008 levels, it is growing again. But what do these cash infusions mean in practical terms? Or to put it more bluntly: what happens when $5m is wired into your company’s bank account?

Take BlockChalk, an app that enables residents of a neighbourhood to connect over local issues such as crime or schools. Prototyping began in November 2009, and seven months later, in May this year, the firm raised $1m. This may sound like a quick dash from development to funding but that’s not the case, according to one of its founders, Dave Baggeroer, 36, who teaches at the Stanford University design school.

“The Valley moves crazy fast. Six months actually sometimes feels like an eternity when you’re watching other companies move closer to the space that we’ve envisioned,” he tells Monocle in a pub not far from the site of his new office in San Francisco’s SOMA district.

The venture capital investment has enabled major growth at BlockChalk. Previously the three founders, who live at different points along the 45-mile stretch of peninsula that links San Francisco to San Jose, would collaborate online using applications such as Skype and Google Docs or meet at cafés or each others’ homes. This phase is often called bootstrapping, meaning when firms make do with few resources.

Now BlockChalk has been able to rent an office in a space shared with 20 to 30 other start-ups, and will move in come July. It plans on hiring two engineers to ramp up the development process. That said, the three founders intend to draw minimal salaries for a while – Baggeroer uses the term “ramen salaries”.

Fifteen miles south of San Francisco, in the affluent town of San Mateo, a company named Jelli is growing on a different order of magnitude thanks to its recent $7m funding round – $5m was raised this year, with the remainder obtained previously.

Jelli allows listeners of participating radio stations to vote for what they want to hear, and should soon be present in 17 US cities. The extra funding means the company can pursue its plans to go fully national, its founder, Mike Dougherty, 39, explained to Monocle in an office featuring a wall covered with vinyl record covers (think classic Madonna, Iron Maiden, even Peter Frampton). Ten employees will become 18, including two from Yahoo; Dougherty estimates that around three-quarters of the company’s costs are personnel-related.

Jelli is also adding on space – it’s knocked through to the office next door, expanding from 1,800 sq ft to 3,500 sq ft. It bought the domain name after making do with And it’s hired a chief financial officer from a CFO outsourcing firm.

The employees are not resting on their laurels, however. To celebrate receiving the funding, there were few snatched hours of celebration – they took a boat onto San Francisco Bay. Then it was back to the Silicon Valley grind.

Alastair Gee is a regular contributor to Monocle

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Click here to read more, or here to subscribe to the monthly magazine.

Image by AMagill


Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile Yesterday

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture Yesterday

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Design Yesterday

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion Yesterday

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times


Steve Dennis

Marketing Consultant

Syndicated Yesterday

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability Yesterday

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 24, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising Yesterday

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising Yesterday

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Design Yesterday

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia Yesterday

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Yesterday

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.