If reports are to be believed, Google is about to buy Groupon for $6 billion.
When that happens, Chicago-based angel investors Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky will clear close to $3 billion between them.
(Lefkofksky owns about 30% of the company. Keywell, 10%.)
For their next trick, the pair have formed a new angel-investing firm called Lightbank.
With Lightbank, Keywell and Lefkofsky are betting millions of dollars on a series of startups in Chicago, the midwestern home of successful startups FeedBurner, Groupon, Threadless and 37Signals.
Eric tells us Chicago is part of a larger story about a “migration” of Internet startups “away from the Valley.”
“When we built our first shopping cart in 1999, it took 4 developers. Today my 11 year old son can download an open source shopping cart in 10 minutes. Because the reliance on technology has gone down, the other attributes of business become more important: hard work, sales. Those attributes tend to be population specific. Chicago, New York – These places wil have a great run. This is their moment in the sun”
Eric and his partner Brad have already invested in 8 companies and plan to invest in several more.
“They are studs,” says New York angel investor Chris Dixon.
Eric's comment: 'Uses technology to buy transportation. CH Robinson. The only technology transportation company to go public. Revenues went from $200mm in 2008 to $270 in 2009. Going to hit $350 million to $400 million in 2010. Employs 1,000.'
Official Description: 'Echo Global Logistics is a leading provider of technology-enabled business process outsourcing, serving the transportation and logistics needs of our clients. Our proprietary web-based technology, dedicated service teams and robust procurement power enables our clients to see significant transportation savings while receiving best-in-class service.'
Eric's comment: 'Digital procurement. Today has $35 billion worth of media going through its system. Touches 15% - 20% of US advertising market.' A recent deal with IPG Mediabrands has expanded its reach to more than 20%.
Official description: 'MediaBank was founded on a single principle -- data should be easy to use. Valuable information was once locked in a complex system only able to be extracted through hours of laborious manual input, but MediaBank knows there must be a better way to buy and understand advertising. MediaBank is an industry leader committed to combining the latest technologies and media applications for enhanced functionality. MediaBank has been and remains at the forefront of the move to electronic media procurement and management, offering leading-edge industry tools that streamline purchasing and allow for advanced analytics.'
Eric's comment: 'We've been told that it's now the fastest growing internet company of all time.'
Official description: 'Groupon was started to make it easier for people to enjoy the great things in their community. Each day, Groupon features something cool to do at an unbeatable price. It offers daily deals at unbeatable prices through the power of group buying. The deals are localised by city---there's a different Groupon site in different major markets around the country. They do everything they can to offer a 'too good to be true' experience from the moment you buy a Groupon to the day you use it.'
Eric's comment: 'Uses technology to help local experts, plumbers, doctors market themselves online.'
Official description: 'Lightswitch provides small businesses and professional service providers with a comprehensive platform by which they can create and manage their online presence through a dynamic & personalised business landing page, performance & analytics dashboard, and two-way social media integration - complete with search engine advertising, optimised for local search. lightswitch provides a complete, end-to-end online presence management solution for small businesses & service providers.'
Eric's comment: 'Help people get drink specials using the social graph. Building communities that go to bars and night clubs based on the size of the group.'
Official description: 'Poggled is a social utility focused around providing people with similar tastes a great value and a great time at a local bar. Consumers benefit by leveraging our negotiated deals to find destinations where a great time is all but guaranteed. Bars and brands benefit by having access to Poggled's business intelligence and marketing services.'
Eric's comment: 'Highly used social travel site where users post where they've been and where they want to go. Vacation discounts.'
Official description: 'Where I've Been is a leading travel social network, dedicated to enabling members to chart their past, present and future travel plans while discovering destinations for their next adventure. Launched in 2007, Where I've Been has quickly grown to more than 9 million registered users who have contributed nearly a half a billion global travel intents via Where I've Been's innovative, interactive map. Where I've Been's destination site and platform have been built around its proprietary back-end software, which allows users not only to capture their travel history and intentions, but also to share their maps and profile with their social networks.'
Eric's comment: 'Social relationship management tool to allow businesses to understand what their customers are saying about them on the Web.'
Official description: 'Sprout Social allows businesses to efficiently and effectively manage & grow their social presence across channels and turn social connections into loyal customers. The web application integrates with Twitter, Facebook Pages, Yelp, LinkedIn, FourSquare and other networks where consumers are engaging with businesses and brands. In addition to communication tools, Sprout Social offers contact management, competitive insight, lead generation, analytics and more -- all in a package that's intuitive and easy to use.'
Eric's comment: 'We're looking at one that's in the education space. We think can change the way people practice and learn and do test prep.'
Official description: None yet.
Eric's comment: 'Pawn shops have had a ntororieously terrible name. This startup will make them more respectable and transparent.'
Official description: None yet.
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