Philadelphia-based venture firm First Round Capital is a pretty small outfit: It has seven investment professionals and 24 other employees in various support roles. But when it comes to deploying social-networking tools, First Round punches above its weight.
Over the past two years the firm, which specializes in early-stage bets, has built a private digital network for its portfolio companies -- think Yelp meets Quora with a dash of LinkedIn -- that has become the go-to resource for time-starved entrepreneurs seeking advice on everything from debt funding to figuring out how much to pay a senior software engineer.
The tool isn't just for founders; the private site is also a forum for the marketers, engineers, and salespeople who work for First Round-backed companies. The social platform helps differentiate First Round from its rivals. It also gives the financiers direct insight into the power of social software. --Jessi Hempel