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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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From Punch Cards to Implants

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While watching </scorpion> last night, Amy made the comment that we are the bridge generation. I asked her what she meant and she responded that we are the generation that will have gone from punch cards to implants. I thought this was profound.

BTW – </scorpion> was pretty good, although it’s getting crappy reviews according to Wikipedia. It’s not lost on me that the name of the show appears to be “end scorpion” so either someone in Hollywood is being too cute for their own good or they are clueless about HTML.

The first program I wrote was in 1977 in APL on an IBM mainframe (probably a S/360)  in the basement of a Frito-Lay data center in downtown Dallas. My uncle Charlie sat me down in a chair in front of a terminal, gave me a copy of Kevin Iverson’s A Programming Language, and left me alone for a while. He checked on me a few times, showed me the OCR system he’d helped create, and gave me some punch cards which I promptly folded, spindled, and mutilated.

My second program was on a computer at Richland College shortly thereafter. My parents got me into a community college course on programming and I was the precocious 12 year old in the class. I remember writing a high-low game, but I don’t remember the type of computer it was on. My guess is that it was a DEC PDP-something – maybe a PDP-8.

Shortly after I was introduced to a TRS-80 and then got an Apple II (the original one – not an Apple IIe – I even needed an Integer Card) for my bar mitzvah and was off to the races.

Almost 40 years later I’m still at it, but now investing rather than programming. When I think of what interests me right now, it’s all stuff that is in the “implant” spectrum – not quite there yet, but starting to march toward it with a steady pace. I believe in our AI future, think the Cylons are a pretty good representation of where things are going, am deeply intrigued with Hawking drives and the Shrike, and am ready to upload my consciousness “whenever.”

Assuming I live another 30+ years, I’ll definitely have experienced the bridge from punch cards to implants. And I think that’s pretty cool.

 

Hit Reset, It’s 2013

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Fred and Joanne Wilson Looking HappyMy long-time friends Fred Wilson and Joanne Wilson each had powerful posts about saying goodbye to 2012 and welcoming in 2013 yesterday.

Fred’s is titled Putting 2012 To BedI know many people who don’t know Fred other than via his online presence, public actions, and reputations. I expect that 99% of them, when asked if Fred had an awesome 2012, would say “of course – he has an amazing life.” But my answer would have been more nuanced based on the time Fred and I spent together. I would have said “some great things happened but it was a tough and complex year for him.” Fred’s response was characteristically blunt.

“I’ve wanted to write a year end post for days. I actually wrote one and stored it as a draft. But it comes across as a whiny complaint about the shitty year that 2012 was. And it was in many ways a shitty year for me. But the reason I couldn’t publish that post is it didn’t capture the greater picture that 2012 represents for me.”

The entire post is well worth reading. As is Joanne’s titled See ya 2012. Two big stressors from Joanne’s perspective were the damage to their house with their subsequent displacement from Hurricane Sandy and the shift to being empty nesters as their third kid gets ready to go to college. Her punch line is as powerful as Fred’s.

“This year I am hoping for a constant. I just want to live our lives under our own roof with no major disruptions. I could go for a real year of normalcy. 2013 is going to be a year for moving forward. Reflecting on the past and using that to move me forward. Not sure what that means but I will find out. The last few months we have lived out of more than 7 hotels and it is seriously thrown me off. Where it throws me, I will see. 2012 has taken me out of my game. I am hoping 2013 brings me back.”

My dad (Stan Feld) reminds us in his year end post that life is inches with a wonderful story of his from January 1, 1957.

All three of these posts brought me back to my December 3rd post titled Wow – That Was Intense which summarized a really tough period I went through last year between the start of September and the end of November. My dad’s post was especially poignant since if he had died on 1/1/57 I wouldn’t be here. And I so empathize with Fred – it’s hard for me to complain since overall my existence on this planet is awesome, but I had a really shitty three months at the end of the year.

I hit reset every year on my birthday (December 1) and describe it as “booting up a new version of myself” – in this case, v47. A month later I get to reflect on the reboot as everyone rings in the new year with hope, optimism, and renewal. If you had an Apple II, you know that hitting Reset rebooted the computer, so I’m not of the Ctrl-Alt-Del generation, but rather the Reset PR#6 generation. Either way, use whatever method you fancy and hit reset.

Welcome 2013. I’m looking forward to getting the most I can from the experience.

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