When did Steve Ballmer join Microsoft's board of directors?

January 13th, 2000, according to: http://www.forbes.com/2000/01/13… – "Ballmer also will join Microsoft's board of directors."

This was also the day he became CEO – see When did Steve Ballmer become CEO of Microsoft?

Further evidence that this was his first time on the board: He wasn't on the board at the end of 1998 (http://www.microsoft.com/msft/re…) or 1999 (http://www.microsoft.com/msft/ar…) but he was there at the end of 2000 (http://www.microsoft.com/msft/ar…).

Who invested in Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg put in some money early on along with Eduardo. Also in the series A round (led by Peter Thiel) Mark Pincus and Reid Hoffman independently invested some money.

Greylock and Meritech invested in between Accel's investment and the DST investment.

Also Microsoft invested $240 million at $15 billion in October 2007.

Who are some great product marketing managers at Google? Why?

Since there is likely no objective way to answer this, I’m going to give you a very subjective answer. I worked with Bobby Brenman (https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobb…) when he worked at Salesforce, he was a fantastic Product Marketer, smart, strategic and creative. He left to work at Google and is now the Product Marketing lead for the G-Suite and I’m sure a big part of the wild success that that business has had.

What are industry-standard terms for venture debt?

Let me add our learnings, that for term loans, there are basically two types — "very, very little risk" loans from a bank, or "little risk" loans from a venture debt company.  The first type is Silicon Vally Bank, Comerica, Wells Fargo etc.  These debt lines are relatively cheap in terms of interest and warrants (prime +2-3% or so), but the banks require you to keep all your capital at the bank (and sometimes even process all your credit card payments if you do that), and typically add covenants or other terms so that in practice, they can simply recapture the cash should the debt be at risk.  Since your cash is all there, they can simply take it if need be, along with all your IP.  But, it's cheap.   The real goal here for the bank is to develop the banking relationship and not the profit from the debt.  Ultimately, in this case, they really only want to invest in venture-backed companies in between rounds, as then they are really in practice providing low-risk bridge financing, where the modest risk they are taking (for a very modest cost) is extinguished in essence in the next round.

Pure venture debt firms don't require you to keep your banking relationship with them, and in essence, take more risk because of it, and provided you have decent revenue and revenue growth, are less focused on in reality providing bridge financing to another equity round.  As a result, the loan terms can be longer and more flexible, and in some cases, the loan amounts can be subsantially higher in absolute terms and relative to the equity/cash position of the company — but at a much higher price in terms of interest, warrants, and repayment penalties: 2-2.5x or even higher.  They want to make money of the debt, not the banking relationship.  The interest rates here can seem obscene, but if they allow your start-up to grow more quickly and/or avoid equity dilution, in practice, even paying 15-18% interest here may be cheap.

In either case, your IP is going to be encumbered one way or another.  There's too much (perceived) risk without it.

The latter is a bad deal if all you need is the former b/c it's much more expensive.  The former is a bad deal if you really need the benefits of the latter because it's a waste of time.

Is TripAdvisor any good?

TripAdvisor has become an important resource for any traveler because of its very extensive global coverage, the large number of reviews (no other site comes even close), and its “candid traveler photos” (which in my opinion is the single most useful feature of the site).

There are a lot of problems with the site, as many others have noted. Some of these, such as the ugly and cluttered design, are important but will probably be addressed over time. Deciding whether TripAdvisor is “any good” really comes down to one thing: the quality of the reviews

As many others have noted, fake reviews are a significant problem. But I’d like to add one important point, which is that even if fake reviews are weeded out, the TripAdvisor score will still be an unreliable guide to hotel quality.

Why? Because there are certain characteristics of user reviews that make them a flawed way of rating and ranking hotels:

  • The people with incentives to post reviews have generally had a non-representative experience. On virtually every user review site, the distribution of scores is bimodal: there are a lot of 1- and 5-stars and relatively little in the middle — see HBS study. Someone who has had an average experience isn’t compelled to spend their time reviewing a hotel, which means that there are relatively few reviews that thoughtfully consider the pros and cons of the hotel. Instead, there are lots of rants. It’s often people who are angered — sometimes unfairly and for reasons that have little to do with the hotel at all — that post reviews.
  • Some kinds of hotels, and hotels with certain facilities, get unfairly penalized. Many luxury hotels perform surprisingly poorly on TripAdvisor. The site is full of 1-star reviews of outstanding hotels that were written by someone who claims to have been treated brusquely by some member of staff.  High-end hotels have more facilities and guests have more contact with staff, which means that there are more ways for them to screw up and more ways in which people can get angered by something going wrong. My favorite example is hotels with nightclubs, which invariably perform poorly on TripAdvisor because people post negative reviews of the hotel when they get turned away by the bouncer. Often, these reviewers have never even stayed at the hotel. 
  • No basis for comparison. If you go to Prague, you’ll probably only stay in one hotel. What do you know about all of the other hotels in Prague and how they compare?
  • Demographics. Some kinds of people are more likely to post reviews than others. For example, business travelers are underrepresented on TripAdvisor. In many places they account for the majority of people staying in hotels, but most reviews are written by leisure travelers, especially in certain demographic groups. This is a problem for user review sites in general. On Yelp, for example, young women reviewers dominate. This has consequences. For example, the #1 restaurant in New York City on Yelp is apparently a vegan food truck: Yelp Data Reveals Top 100 Places to Eat.

You can still get a lot of value out of TripAdvisor, but you need to spend time reading the reviews. You can't rely on the overall score or rank for a hotel. If you look at the rankings in a city with which you're familiar, the results are often laughable. For example, in New York, there is no way that the #1 hotel is the Chelsea Pines Inn.
 
I've written an article that addresses these issues in more detail: The Limits of User Reviews 

[Disclosure: I co-founded TripExpert, which competes with TripAdvisor]