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One of the neat things about business is that it runs in cycles. I’ve been involved in the software business since 1985 when I started my first company. Since then, I’ve seen numerous cycles with a wide range of amplitudes. I don’t try to time any of the cycles, the peaks, or the troughs; rather I just invest and work hard all the way through each of the cycles.
Given the negative sentiment across many parts of the business universe (e.g. the NY Times headline this morning Jobless Rate Hits 8.5%; 663,000 Jobs Lost), I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Q1 performance of many of the companies I’m an investor in. Several had record quarters, most made or beat their Q1 plan (obviously the easiest plan of the year to make since it’s usually baked near the beginning of the quarter), and a couple had extraordinary growth that surprised everyone. Some struggled, but when I look at the overall distribution of behavior across our entire portfolio, it was kind of what you’d expect from a typical economic environment versus one that is either distressed or bubbly.
This morning during my daily information consumption routine, I noticed four things that stuck out.
- RIM announces strong earnings.
- Changyou has a strong IPO.
- IBM is rumored to have reached a deal to acquire Sun.
- Google is rumored to be in discussions to acquire Twitter (or not).
All of these are nice leading indicators that the exit environment for tech companies, which has been frozen for the past few quarters, is starting to thaw out. It’ll be interesting to see if this is just a warm day mid-winter or actually the beginning of spring.
As co-chairman of the Colorado Governor’s Innovation Council, I’ve been regularly exposed to the acronym ICT. It’s not a familiar or comfortably one to me and I chronically call it “CIT” or expand it incorrectly.
I am looking for a phrase that covers IT + Communications + Software + Internet. These are the four components of ICT that drive a huge chunk of business activity and innovation in Colorado. In my world as a VC, I call this software + Internet, but that doesn’t cover the full landscape.
My friends at Silicon Flatirons have put together a Wiki titled Innovation in Colorado and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) where we are compiling the history of the ICT ecosystem in Colorado. If you have participated in this in any way, feel free to jump on and add your thoughts and facts.
What’s your favorite phrase or acronym for this?
If you’d like to do something political that has nothing to do with the upcoming elections, read through Tom Evslin’s post Act Now for Better Internet Access. Then go sign the online petition at freetheairwaves.com.
It kind of blows my mind that the National Association of Broadcasters is still fighting this stuff, especially with the impending federally mandated cutover to digital TV in February. But hey, lots of things seem illogical – this is nothing new.
Thanks Tom for alerting everyone to this. The deadline for comments is Tuesday 10/28 so click and comment now.
Fred Wilson gave a phenomenal speech at Web 2.0 Expo NY titled New York’s Web Industry From 1995 to 2008: From Nascent to Ascendent. It’s about 25 minutes long – worth watching from beginning to end. It’s a fantastic history lesson that details the rise, fall, and re-emergence of the Web industry in New York.
As part of this, Fred makes a plea to "bury the name Silicon Alley." He hates it in the same way I’ve always hated the names "Silicon Flatirons" and "Silicon (whatever)" to describe the tech communities in other geographies than Silicon Valley. Fred appropriately suggests that we should call "New York" simply "New York" – which I completely agree with.
Now that I’m 42 years old, I’ve been around the computer industry long enough to understand that it runs in cycles. I don’t know how long the cycles are going to be, when they are going to reach a peak or a trough, but I do know that things will get better, will get worse, will get better, will get worse, will get better, …
When I reflect on it, the long term trend over the last 42 years has been amazing. There are lots of formal and informal studies and articles on this that all link to Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction and Clay Christensen’s ideas around disruptive innovation. As the cycles play out, great new companies get created around new innovation, some reach escape velocity, some get absorbed into other large incumbent companies, and some disappear.
Today’s New York Times has two short articles – one in Bits and the other in DealBook – that reminded me of this.
Our good friend Microsoft makes a key appearance in both articles. Pondering the rise, fall, rise, fall, … of each of these companies over a 50 year period – both at a macro company level and within specific product groups – is a fun mental exercise (at least for me.)
When I reflect on the various companies we’ve funded over the past year I get really excited about the stage of the cycle we are in with the new Foundry Group portfolio. Independent of who wins the upcoming election, I think the vector of innovation around software and Internet will be steep and many of the things we’ve been talking about for the past 20 years as science fiction are going to start to instantiate themselves as real products and services. The relationship between humans and computers is once again changing rapidly and the number of different amazing things that I can envision happening in the next two decades is extensive.