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The Venture Adventure

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Adventure Capitalists

Some private parties like to find hot little startups in which to invest. Their primary business might be investing part of their own fortune in others who appear to have an exciting e-business that needs an infusion of cash.

These people are adventure capitalists. Although the risks are high for adventure capitalists, the possible rewards are also high. They don't necessarily have as much money to invest as a major investment company but sometimes they will pony up a million dollars, sometimes much less.

During the very early days of your startup, you might find that the major investment capital firms aren't interested in your company. But a private investor might give you enough to build your company up to the level where you can succeed in obtaining the interest of one of the really big players.

As always, be sure that your attorney puts in writing each and every aspect of your agreement with an adventure capitalist. Be sure that you get all the money at once. If your business doesn't speed to success as quickly as your investor feels that it should, subsequent agreed-to payments might be difficult to obtain. When dealing with any private party, you can only spend the money that has actually been given to you. Promises, even promises in writing, are not money.

Salon: Sex, Politics, and Culture

Web site name: http://www.salon.com

Founded: 1995

Service provided: Online magazine

Business model: Salon is perhaps the most visible online magazine. Its content, updated at least daily, covers a wide range of general-interest topics, with strong focus on politics, health, culture, and sexuality. The largest burst of attention the site received was over its controversial revelation of the extramarital affair of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde. However, it has also built respect on the basis of calm and thoughtful commentary on such topics as the Littleton shootings, while other media outlets were dealing more in hysteria and inaccuracy. Salon has multiple economic models. It sells advertising and it helps e-commerce partners sell products. It sells service in multiple ways; one is through memberships, which are much like public TV memberships, giving the members the exact same access as nonmembers, but with a few logo-bearing items as gifts. It also bought out and operates The Well, one of the oldest and most-respected online communities, which charges for access. Salon also provides contents to other sites such as CNN.com. With the cable TV giant Cablevision having bought into Salon, there are plans for Salon to begin producing material for television.

Where the money came from: Salon went public on June 22, 1999, with shares trading for $10 apiece. As of January 20, 2000, the stock was trading at 9 1/16, giving the company a market capitalization of $103 million. The company trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol SALN. Naturally, stock prices can vary a great deal from day to day, so please consult your favorite online stock quotation service for the latest quotes. I like to use the one found at http://www.fool.com/.

AdVenture Capital Register

The AdVenture Capital site (http://adventurecapital.com/) claims that through its merchant banking correspondence relationship it can make direct investments up to 10 million dollars. However, it also does something that is very interesting. It claims to send out to about 10,000 venture capital firms, individual investors, and other subscribers, its AdVenture Capital Register. This is a traditional, printed document, which is either mailed to subscribers or sold on newsstands. For $99 you can buy a listing in this monthly periodical. See Figure 10.3 to find out what its home page looks like.

Figure 10.3 AdVenture Capital Register is a Journal of Entrepreneurial Financing. See it at http://adventurecapital.com/ to learn more about its advertising services.

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