10 lessons from a failed startup

A year and a half ago, my co-founder Dev Nag and I started an internet TV network for games called PlayCafe. Our ambitious plan was to run highly interactive game shows in which everyone was a contestant. Players could watch our hosts, answer questions, win prizes, form teams, call our studio, live chat, and run their own games. It was a huge undertaking, but despite great engagement — users watched for 87 minutes per session and 40 percent returned within a week — we didn’t reach enough users. We may revive it in the future, but for now, we’ve placed the site in hibernation and returned remaining funds to our investors.

What VCs need most: A shift in policy

The Obama administration has already done a lot to re-ignite small business growth, raising guarantees on SBA loans to 90 percent, eliminating costly fees for borrowers and lenders, and introducing a series of beneficial tax cuts and incentives. But when it comes to venture-backed small businesses, current policy once again falls short, and some proposed regulations may have damaging ramifications.

FriendFeed rolls out redesign plus list-replacing email features

FriendFeed rolled out its redesign earlier this month in beta. The life-streaming service’s changes were controversial because it hid some features in the old interface, and more importantly made everything update in real-time. It’s similar to what Facebook is working on with its own redesign — but many FriendFeed users didn’t want real-time.

Does Paris Hilton have a Wolverine Coveroo?

Cell-phone engraver Coveroo is announcing today that it has deals to create customized phone covers with images from Marvel Entertainment and NBA properties. These covers are the vanity license plates of the iPhone age, and celebrities like Paris Hilton have flocked to them.

IMShopping provides online personal shoppers, at your service

IMShopping launches today, offering online shoppers the chance to ask for advice or recommendations from real life, human shopping guides via its web site and Twitter. Now, as you browse, you can get answers to your questions on-demand, just like you would by asking a clerk for help at a store. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., the company has also raised $4.7 million in a first round of funding.

Quantenna channels $14M for HD home networking chips

Quantenna Communications, a provider of silicon chips for high-speed, wireless networking services, announced today that it brought in $13.85 million in a third round of funding to build its brand and expand its sales and engineering operations. Southern Cross Venture Partners led the round, which included Grazia Equity, Sequoia Capital, Sigma Partners and Venrock Associates.

Associated Content nabs $6M for its publishing tools

Associated Content, the company that allows 250,000 media companies and unaffiliated users easily publish text, video and audio content on the web, has snagged $6 million in a third round of funding from Softbank Capital, Canaan Partners and new AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong (its first benefactor when it was founded in 2005).

Peer-to-peer lending site Prosper gets second wind in California

For the last six months, peer-to-peer lending service Prosper has suspended transactions while it waits for the Securities and Exchange Commission to approve its new system for online lending. But now, with the blessing of the California Department of Corporations, the company has legally resumed activity — as long as the lenders in question are located in the golden state (borrowers can be from anywhere in the U.S.)

Cloud provider Cassatt close to evaporating

Cassatt, one of the first companies in the cloud computing space, may have to shutter after spending its full $100 million in venture capital and failing to find an appropriate buyer, reports VentureWire. If one can’t be found, the San Jose, Calif. firm will be forced to declare bankruptcy.