- Friday night party at Madrona Ventures
- Breakfast and lunch included on Sat + Sun.
- Google-provided devices to play and test with.
- Demo contest - great prizes for best apps of the weekend.
John Sechrest is bringing a new kind of Angel event to Seattle. Last night I joined with about 20 other Angel investors to pool our resources (we each contribute $5,000 toward the investment fund) and sponsor a new startup competition in Seattle. While I think it's great that John has created a great new way for startups to get funded, I think the real benefit is for the Seattle Angel community itself.
Other organizations in town do a great job of sourcing companies and providing "deal flow", but I find relatively few opportunities to improve my skills as an Angel investor. The process is very complex to do well. The fact is, most startups will fail. The most successful angels are able to improve their odds by:
- Placing a lot of bets to diversify risk.
- Eliminating startups with the most risk factors.
I think one of the barriers to getting more Angel investors active in Seattle, is that it's pretty hard to get started (not to mention that mistakes can be expensive). But with this new conference format our individual financial risk is minimal, and we get to learn from each other how we analyze prospective companies.
We're going to meet once per week for the next eight weeks to do due dilligence and dig into the business plans of each of the applying companies. I'm really looking forward to the process and learning from and helping other Angels in our group.
StartPad can help you purchase Pre-paid debit cards in exchange for BitCoin.
Fees: 10% of total value (minimum $10 fee per order).
Your prepaid card can be used like any other VISA card for US-only purchases. There are no transaction charges or interest on this card. After 12-months of inactivity, VISA will charge $2.50 against the card balance each month. You will be able to register your card online to verify the balance and history of transactions. A lost card is replaceable for a $15 fee.
How we compute the loaded value of your new debit card.
- When we receive your BitCoin payment, we convert it to $ using the current market price on the MtGox.com web site.
- We deduct our fee (10% or $10, whichever is higher) and round to the nearest whole dollar amount.
- If the total amount is over $500, we will divide the total between multiple gift cards.
- We will mail your cards via 1st class mail (insured for up to $400).
Gawker, a large blogging network, recently had a security breakin and over 1/2 million users passwords were compromised. If you're like me, you re-use the same password on multitple different sites. That would give hackers access to multiple web sites by getting one password (Facebook, Twitter, your bank, Amazon, etc.).
While I used a "more secure" password for some sites, I did not have a systematic way of dealing with managing a unique password on multiple systems.
So, last night, I finally bit the bullet and installed a (free) password manager - Last Pass. Last Pass will do two things for you. First, it created a cloud-based secure storage location for all of your passwords. They are available from any web browser. Second, you can install a browser plugin that will auto-fill your username and password into any site you use regularly.
So, now, I have the freedom to create a unique password on every web site I use, AND I can choose something that is much harder to guess - like a string of 12 randomly chosen letters and digits. Since my password is not in any dictionary, the only way to steal it from a web site (that stores passwords as cryptographically secure hashes), is to to brute force guess all possble 12 character strings. That's over 60 bits of random information - or over a quintillion (10^18th) combinations.
It feels a little odd not even knowing my passwords anymore (I just have to remember a single secure password to log in to the Last Pass site). But I feel much better knowing that my data is not vulnerable to the kind of security breach that happened at Gawker this week.
The only downside is that I now have a single point of failure in LastPass. If they loose their database, I could loose my passwords I haven't backed up locally. And if THEY have a security breach, I could loose all my account information to hackers. But I would rather put my faith in one company, dedicated to protecting security, than to distribute that obligation among lots of individual sites around the web. Since my Last Pass password is also a random string, it's very difficult to decode on a trial and error basis. I believe Last Pass also goes out of their way to use an encryption algorithm that is intentially slow. Making a brute force attack that much more difficult.
If all sites supported a distributed authentication system, like Open ID, or oAuth, it would be even more convenient to use just a single authentication provide you trust, to gain access to every service you use.