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MLM SF: Stewart Alsop Sees the End of Apps

By: 27 June 2012

Legendary venture capitalist Stewart Alsop of Alsop Louie Partners sat down with BIA/Kelsey analyst Matt Booth here at MLM SF to offer a glimpse into the fertile mind of a leading tech investor. Interestingly enough, one of the first things Alsop said was that he wasn’t investing in mobile, since it has already attracted enough investor interest. As an early stage investor, Alsop is forever after the next new thing. Here are a few highlights from the dialogue.

What do you look for when you fund a start-up?

We are risk oriented. We are early stage. Most investments do not succeed. We are looking for the outlier to pay off the entire fund. A lot of venture capitalists today only invest in demonstrated traction. We are not interested in mobile; everyone is already investing in it, though we do have some mobile investments coming to fruition now. Mobile is still early, just not early enough.

A lot of venture guys are saying “I need the next Instagram” something that pays off in 18 months. Is this realistic?

The ability to predict an Instagram is difficult. We try not to participate in momentum investing.

Why did Facebook buy Instagram? And for so much money?

Faceboook doesn’t have a mobile culture; their apps suck. It is their weakest point. The Instagram team is the only app team that figured out how to organically grow usage. Facebook paid them to come in and build a separate culture around native mobile development around the Instagram team to lead Facebook to a more powerful position with consumers.

Do you think the mobile app market will disappear?

The mobile app business is a temporary condition. It came about to solve problem of multiple platforms that didn’t have functionality in the browser.

Will there be an all new monetization ecosystem?

The future business model will not be the same as the last business model. It has to be blended monetization between phone and Web. The Web is the place for configuration, storing data. Mobile is the delivery platform. Monetize through the integration.


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