Why was a roomful of venture capitalists and lawyers clinking champagne glasses at Zibibbo in Palo Alto last week? The target of their fulsome praise was entrepreneur Anthony Soohoo, a former Yahoo executive. And the reason? He had managed to flip his website Dotspotter, yet another celebrity gossip site with thoroughly derivative social-networking features, to CBS for a quick $10 million. Dotspotter's short one-year lifepspan didn't scare off serial charmer Quincy Smith, the startup-mad head of CBS Interactive. Having bought financial videoblog Wallstrip and Web-based social music site Last.fm, we can only conclude that Smith's strategy is to buy a lot of startups, throw them against the wall, and see what sticks. Nice work, especially when CBS shareholders are footing the bill. And who's receiving the checks? One of Dotspotter's beneficiaries, we hear, is Facebook CFO Gideon Yu. Nice to have a backup plan in case all those social networks turn out to be a fad.
So, Facebook may be raising money at a multibillion-dollar valuation, according to Kara Swisher at AllThingsD. That sounds like it might be a bargain compared to the $10 billion valuation Facebook board member Peter Thiel had bruited about. You want in? Look to the finance and executive team, and start kissing major ass. Specifically, get to know Gideon Yu, Facebook's CFO. You know, the ex-YouTube CFO who was at Sequoia for one hot minute. Odds are, he's in charge of evaluating any potential investors, so make nice with him. Haven't met him yet? No worries! His Facebook profile is protected, from us, at least, but you can still send him a Facebook message to inquire about your potential participation. Or, if you're feeling saucy, give him a poke. It might be a good way to express your creativity and willingness to be flexible when hammering out that term sheet.
Founders never share power willingly, gracefully, or for very long. That's a lesson that Facebook's Owen Van Natta should have learned at the knee of Jeff Bezos, when Van Natta was an executive at Amazon.com. Instead, though, he's been schooled in it by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who just demoted Van Natta from COO to chief revenue officer and VP of operations, Kara Swisher reports on AllThingsD. Zuckerberg's former No. 2, once trusted to attend the Sun Valley media-mogul conference in his stead, now shares key duties with a host of other executives. Here's a rundown on Van Natta's new rivals.
Peter Thiel's behind-the-scenes war with Sequoia Capital continues. The latest battleground? Gideon Yu, YouTube's former CFO, had planned to leave after the Google buyout of the online-video site to hook up with Sequoia as a partner. Instead, he's joining Facebook, the social network in which Thiel is an investor and a board member, as its CFO. It's a loss for Sequoia partner Michael Moritz, who has feuded with Thiel's Founders Fund. But it's undoubtedly a gain for Facebook. The social network, whose board members already like to play fast and loose with revenue figures, needs a CFO who's not above a little white lie. Like, say, YouTube's budget. Or what his career plans really are.