Brad's Books and Organizations

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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The Last Firewall – The Best Near Term Science Fiction

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William Hertling is currently my favorite “near term” science fiction writer. I just read a pre-release near-final draft of his newest book, The Last Firewall. It was spectacular. Simply awesome.

You can’t read it yet, but I’ll let you know when it’s available. In the mean time, go read the first two books in the trilogy.

They are also excellent and important for context for The Last Firewall. They are inexpensive. And they are about as close to reality while still being science fiction as you can get.

I define “near term science fiction” as stuff that will happen within the next 20 years. I used to read everything by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Neal Stephenson. Gibson’s Neuromancer and and Stephenson’s Snow Crash were – until recently – my two favorite books in this category. Suarez’s Daemon and Freedom (TM) replaced these at the top of my list, until Hertling showed up. Now I’d put Daemon and The Last Firewall tied for first.

Amy and I were talking about this in the car today. Gibson, Sterling, and Stephenson are amazing writers, but their books have become too high concept. There’s not enough love and excitement for the characters. And the science fiction is too abstract – still important, but not as accessible.

In contrast, Hertling and Suarez are just completely nailing it, as is Ramez Naam with his recent book Nexus. My tastes are now deeply rooted with these guys, along with Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross.

If I was writing science fiction, this would be what I was going for. And, if you want to understand the future, this is what you should be reading.

Zen and the Art of Entrepreneurship

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One of my favorite books of all times is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read it every few years and recommend that every entrepreneur read it early in their journey.

While a plethora of entrepreneurship books have come out recently, including the ones I’ve written in the Startup Revolution series, there hasn’t yet been the equivalent of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for entrepreneurship.

Matt Blumberg’s new book -Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business - has elements of it and is awesome. It should be out next month and every entrepreneurial CEO should buy a copy of it right now as it’ll be an incredibly important book to read for any CEO at any experience level.

Riz Virk’s post on TechCrunch yesterday – The Zen of Entrepreneurship - also caught my eye. He’s got a book out called Zen Entrepreneurship: Walking the Path of the Career Warrior. He’s sending me a copy but I went ahead and grabbed it on Amazon to read this weekend.

I know Riz from the 1990′s in Boston – I was an advisor to his first company Brainstorm Technologies. It was long ago enough at this point that I don’t know if I was helpful or not, but I had warm feelings toward Riz and smiled when I saw his name pop up again after not seeing it for a while.

Jerry Colonna and I have talked on and off about really digging into this topic and trying to write a philosophical treatise on entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial way that will stand the test of time. I’m not ready to take this on as I’ve got enough on my plate, but I know it’s out there somewhere. In the mean time, I’m psyched to see more CEOs writing real books about entrepreneurship, rather than yet another ego testament to themselves.

Matt and Riz – thanks for putting the effort into this!

Linking First and Second Editions of a Book in Amazon

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When the Second Edition of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist came out, I was baffled that the books were listed as two separate Amazon items. The biggest impact was that all the reviews for the first edition did not sync with the second edition, so anyone coming across the second edition wouldn’t see all the first edition reviews. There was also a bunch of other content missing from the Second Edition page. In frustration, I wrote a post titled The Mess of a Second Edition Book.

For several weeks I dug into this with Wiley (my publisher) to no avail. I kept hearing back that the Second Edition is considered an entirely new book. I accepted that (it has a separate ISDN number), but I still wanted the two pages to be linked. The First Edition pointed to the Second Edition, but the Second Edition didn’t point to the first edition. And – none of the content on the pages was synchronized. I kept thinking some version of “c’mon guys – this is just meta-data – how hard could this really be?”

Dane McDonald, who works for me, eventually just took it on himself to figure this out. He went to the Amazon Author Central site, found, and followed the instructions.

  1. Login to your Amazon Author Page.
  2. Click on the “Help” button in the navigation Bar.
  3. Click on the “Contact Us” button in left hand sidebar of your screen.
  4. Under “Select an issue,” select My Books.
  5. Under “Select details,” select Update information about a book.
  6. In the field that appears, select Update something else.
  7. In the next field that appears, select I want to link one edition of my book to another edition.
  8. Make sure to include your email address as well as both ISBN #’s for the two editions of the book you would like to link.
  9. It takes 1-3 business days for the link to take effect.

Voila. Several days later what Wiley had said was impossible now worked. The two editions were linked and all was good in the world. Until the other day, when the books magically unlinked. Boo.

Yesterday, I followed the instructions again to relink the editions. This time I got a disappointing email from Amazon.

I understand you would like us to link ISBNs 978-1118443613 and 978-0470929827.

The books requested for linking, Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist ISBN 978-1118443613 and 978-0470929827 don’t meet the qualifications to be linked. Please accept my sincere apologies for this disappointment.

In order to be linked, books must have the same content. Linking books such as the hardcover and paperback edition is meant to allow customers to choose between different formats, but customers should be able to expect to read the same content. Newer editions of nonfiction books generally have additional primary content, and therefore aren’t considered materially the same.

Books that are different parts of a set, or derivations of one another can’t be linked, even though they may be similar.

Thank you for contacting Author Central. We hope to see you again soon.

Double boo. I guess I should be frustrated, but pretty much everything about the old school publishing process baffles and perplexes me. Almost none of it is from a reader or author’s perspective. The publishers and distributors have their own magic language, special rules, and byzantine processes. Everything is harder than it needs to be, doesn’t work quite as expected, and has a bunch of extra words around each step.

I’ve let go of my frustration. Now I’m just amused. And I’m glad stuff like Bookshout exists – hopefully it’ll stimulate another wave of reader-centric disruption.

Book: Playing For Pizza

Comments (4)

I needed some mental floss one night in New York last week when I was having trouble sleeping so I read Playing for Pizza: A Novel. My mom had recommended this one – I can’t remember why – but I usually read whatever she recommends. Put it in the “good son” category (although she helped me develop my love of reading and she’s almost always on target with recommendations for me.)

I grew tired of John Grisham and his legal thrillers over a decade ago. But I always enjoyed his writing so it was fun to dig into something completely different. I love Italy, pizza, and food, so that made sense. Football, however, is low on my list of things I care about. I decided to blow off caring about the football stuff and just get lost in the book.

Grisham has always written a book I can read in one sitting. I turned off my iPad at about 1:30am NY time and smiled. The Italy stuff was good. The pizza stuff was good. The food stuff was good. And the football stuff was even good.

If you are looking for something light, clever, engaging, and written in typical fast moving Grisham style, grab it. Solid mental floss.

Book: Worm – The First Digital World War

Comments (9)

I’ve been reading a lot more lately – mostly on the weekends – but I’m getting back into a good book rhythm. I can feel it helping my brain and my soul – I’ve always been a huge reader and when I go through phases where I’m not reading something is clearly off.

The second of the three books I read this weekend was Worm: The First Digital World War. It was crap in your pants scary in that real life, cyberwarfare way. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a DDOS attack, you have to read this book.

The author, Mark Bowden, does a great job of telling the story of the Conficker worm in English. Even if you aren’t technical, you’ll enjoy this book as it borders on cyberthriller while telling a real live story that unfolded over several months in late 2008 / early 2009. I was vaguely familiar with Conficker (as in I remember the hoopla about it) but I didn’t know the backstory.

Now I do. And it’s terrifying. And amazing. At many different levels.

We continue to visibly see the impact of physical war and terrorism all the time. But we are just beginning to see cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism. On one of the participants, Paul Vixie, is quoted near the end brilliantly in his “one command away from catastrophe” rant.

These problems have been here so long that the only way I’ve been able to function at all is by learning to ignore them. Else I would be in a constant state of panic, unable to think or act constructively. We have been one command away from catastrophe for a long time now. . . . In a thousand small ways that I’m aware of, and an expected million other ways I’m not aware of, the world has gotten dangerous and fragile and interdependent. And that’s without us even talking about power grids or the food stocks available in high population areas if rail and truck stops working for a week. AND, in a hundred large ways that I’m aware of and an expected thousand I don’t know of, ethically incompatible people out in the world have acquired and will acquire assets that are lethal to the industrial world’s way of life—criminals and terrorists using the Internet for asymmetric warfare is the great fear of our age, or at least it’s my great fear. But I’ve lived with it so long that I have lost the ability to panic about it. One day at a time, I do what I can.

We are just at the beginning of this.

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