Why Ann Coulter Dropped by Peter Thiel’s Place

Peter Thiel has always scoffed at convention. So it shouldn’t have surprised us—though it did—to see that he invited conservative firebrand Ann Coulter to his apartment.

Yes, Coulter, the evangelical Christian commentator who has openly made fun of homosexuals and who opposes same-sex marriage. Yes, Thiel, the openly gay co-founder of Founders Fund and PayPal and an early Facebook investor.

So why would Thiel open his place to Coulter? Apparently, his conservative ideals outweigh everything else. Thiel made his New York City apartment available in late September for “HomoCon,” which was headlined by Coulter. HomoCon, which is short for “Homosexual Conservative,” drew about 150 backers of the conservative gay group GOProud.

In case you missed it, Coulter delivered a talk that was more reminiscent of a comedian’s shtick than a conservative missive. But she got her digs in. “Marriage is not a civil right,” she told the attendees, according to a report by Talking Points Memo. “You’re not black.”

Talking Points said that even though attendees laughed at Coulter’s jokes about same sex marriage, her remarks were not well-received by much of the crowd.

From Hip to Nerdy

In the summer of 2009, the Foundry Group decided to have a little fun when it redesigned its website by having the partners strike a pose reminiscent of the Quentin Tarantino movie “Reservoir Dogs. When it closed its sophomore fund last month, Foundry Group did yet another homage, this one to the hip TV show “Mad Men.” “We just wanted to have a little fun,” says Managing Director Jason Mendelson. (For a look at Foundry Group’s partners doing their best “Mad Men” poses, see their photo in Fund Notes in this issue.)

Andreessen Horowitz went in the opposite direction. The firm finally launched a website more than a year after it raised its first fund, but there’s not much to the black-and-white site. There’s no staff info, for example, which makes us wonder if Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz are planning to bring a new partner on board to help invest what will reportedly be a $650 million second fund.

The one cool feature of the site is how the name Andreessen Horowitz morphs into A16Z. Each of the letters between the “A” in Andreessen and the “Z” at the end of Horowitz fades out, and the A and Z move toward each other, snuggling up to the number 16 between them. Science geeks will recognize this as a numeronym, an abbreviation based on numbers, like “i18n” for “internationalization.”

“Correct,” according to “B1n” Horowitz, who answered a question about the firm name on Quora.

Stuck on 13

One would think it was an honor for VCs to make it to the top ranks of the Midas List, the annual ranking that Forbes magazine used to do of influential investors.

For Howard Hartenbaum, however, it was more like a curse.

That’s not just because the August Capital partner ended up as Lucky No. 13 on the publisher’s final annual ranking, which it produced last year. The problem is that a high rank can be a mixed blessing, according to Hartenbaum, who quipped last month to attendees of the Private Equity Roundtable meeting in Palo Alto, Calif., that when one gets near the top, the most likely next step is to drop like a stone. However, that didn’t happen to Hartenbaum, who actually bested his 2008 rank, when he came in at No. 23.

Hartenbaum said it was nice to be recognized, but he couldn’t stand the teasing. Colleagues addressed him as “Hey, Number Thirteen,” says Hartenbaum, who’s best known as a founding investor in Skype while at Draper Richards. His other hits include Bebo, the social networking site bought by AOL for $850 million, and Photobucket, which was acquired by Fox Interactive Media.

It looks like for now, Hartenbaum is stuck with the 13 moniker, and he doesn’t have to worry about taking a tumble in the rankings since Forbes has put the Midas List on ice.

Mishra Wants to Be Wowed

Vish Mishra

, a venture director at Clearstone Venture Partners, likes entrepreneurs to wow him when pitching their startup ideas.

During the Mobile App competition at the SVC Wireless Conference in Mountain View, Calif., in late September, Mishra and a panel of other wireless industry judges listened to the quick pitches of 10 promising startups.

One by one, the mobile app developers came up on stage, and delivered their best pitch as to why they should win the competition. A couple of the presenters were obviously nervous and some were a bit more polished than others. The crowd favorite was Beerby, maker of an iPhone app for craft beer lovers.

But Mishra had other ideas. After the pitch competition, Mishra—who previously founded Excelan, which raised $7.3 million in startup capital before it went public and then sold for $225 million to Novell—gave his thoughts about what he was hearing.

“All the presenters had interesting apps, but they didn’t do a good job presenting,” he told the audience “Get me interested. You need to come up here and wow me with your presentation.”

Beerby, which a couple of the other judges praised, came in second behind ShoutOUT, a voice-to-text translator app for updating Facebook and Twitter posts.