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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Does Me-Too Stuff Bore You?

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As 2011 kicks off, I think we are in for a ton of innovative software and Internet stuff this year.  Yeah, some of it will be “just like everything else but different.”  However, of the areas we invest heavily in – human computer interaction – has an incredible amount of activity going on.  I’ll be at CES in Las Vegas this week so I expect to have a dose of nerd-eye-candy (e.g. the latest TV sets) along with a bunch of cool / amazing / clever / intriguing new HCI things.

I expect CES will be a classic case of “a mile wide and an inch deep.”  If you want to go really deep with HCI, consider joining me at the Blur Conference in Orlando on 2/22 and 2/23 especially if any of the following topics appeal to you.

  • markerless motion capture
  • phone controlled robotic gaming devices
  • augmented reality apps
  • alternative input mechanisms
  • neuro-physiological measurements
  • all kinds of Kinect hacks
  • 3D/digital sculptures
  • neuro-ergonomics
  • social robotics
  • multi-touch interfaces
  • speech recognition
  • human instrumentation
  • natural user interfaces

I’ve accepted the reality that the computers are going to take over during my lifetime.  I just want to help be involved in writing some of the code to hedge my bets.  Register now to come join me in my quest.

The Blur Conference Is Heating Up

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Periodically I promote the conferences we helped create with Eric Norlin – Defrag, Glue, and most recently Blur.  If you’ve been to any of these conferences, you know why I get so excited about them – it’s a chance for me and my partners to spend two days immersed in a theme we are investing in while surrounded with some of the smartest people working in that area.

Blur is all about human computer interaction (HCI).  We’ve done a bunch of HCI investments, including Orbotix, Fitbit, Sifteo, Oblong, and Organic Motion and we’ve spent a bunch of time exploring HCI as we believe the way we will use and interact with computers will be radically different in 20 years than it is today.  As a hedge, we believe that if the robots are really going to take over, we at least want a hand in creating some of their software to improve the odds that they’ll be nice to us.

When Eric and I started talking about Blur, he said he wanted it to be a deeply hands on experience.  The HCI stuff we invest and play around with is some of the funnest and most interesting tech.  The conference should line be equally fun while giving a bunch of smart thought leaders around HCI a chance to collaborate on what each of them is working on.

For example, Kinect Hacks?  Yup – a bunch will be there (the hackers and the hacks.)  The history and evolution of multi-touch - did you know it was invented in 1982 the USPTO rulings not-withstanding?  Want to play with personal robots?  Do you know what neuroergonomics means or why it matters?

As with Defrag, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has stepped up with a major sponsorship for up to 15 people who are either founders of pre-Series A startups or students doing research around HCI.

Blur is happening in Orlando, Florida on February 22nd and 23rd.  Early-bird registration runs through January 14th at which point registration is only available at the full price.  Come play!

Add-on-Con 2010

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Suddenly, browsers are interesting again.  Well – in my little corner of the world they’ve been interesting for a while, but suddenly when I look at the dock on my Mac I notice Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Rockmelt.  And yes – I use / play around with each of them regularly.

Recently, Wired declared that the Web is dead.  Nice cover bait, but whatever.  It’s not dead – like everything on the Web, it’s continuing to evolve at a dramatic pace.  My friends organizing Add-On-Con 2010 tossed up a nice call to action recently titled Embracing Change Add-On-Con 2010. The short message – there is more opportunity than ever for browser add-ons, but the add-on community needs to rapidly evolve along with the Web especially given the appification of everything.

If you are a leader at a company that makes browser add-ons, this is your conference.  It’s on 12/8 and 12/9 in Mountain View and should have a good crowd from all the major browser companies along with a bunch of your peers.

Glue Conference Invites New Startups To Apply To Participate For Free

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Eric Norlin is a conference master organizer.  The original conference we helped Eric create – Defrag – is happening for the fourth time in ten days in Boulder (11/17-11/18).  I know of several major announcements that are happening around the conference along with a long list of amazing people that are attending that I’ll get to hang out with for two days.

In the run up to Defrag, something awesome happened last week as Eric continues to work on the two other conferences he runs – Glue and Blur.  Alcatel-Lucent signed on to be the Community Underwriter and Partner Sponsor of Gluecon 2011.

Before I explain why that’s exciting, let me describe Glue in Eric’s words:

Glue is aimed aimed at developers, The topics are far technical and because Glue isn’t defined as “a cloud computing” conference, it’s not caught in the echo chamber of “defining” this, that and the other thing. Glue seeks to explore the connective “tissue” of the web and IT infrastructure. That connective tissue can be called a lot of things: service oriented architecture, web services, APIs, cloud computing, etc. But call it what you will, developers know that it’s not the name that counts, it’s the building of the application, and the underlying infrastructure that supports it.

His goal is simple: make Glue the gathering place for developers in the API/Cloud space.  Alcatel-Lucent has agreed to underwrite 15 companies to have free demo space at Gluecon (i.e., the demo pod includes passes to the show, signage, internet — everything you need; just show up with a laptop).

The companies will be selected by merit by the following group of people.

  • Eric Norlin
  • Chris Shipley (Guidewire Group)
  • Mathew Ingram (of MESH and GigaOm)
  • John Musser (Programmable Web)
  • Laura Merling (Alcatel-Lucent)
  • Alex Williams (ReadWriteWeb)
  • Jeff Lawson (Twilio)
  • Jeff Hammond (Forrester)
  • Ian Glazer (Gartner)
  • Ben Kepes (Diversity.net)
  • Vinod Kurpad (Best Buy)
  • Seth Levine (Foundry Group)

The process will be simple: Eric will accept applications for the 15 spots, every person on the selection committee gets one vote, and the top 15 vote getters have a demo pod.

Eric is trying to change the game with this one. If you take away the company specific conferences (Google i/o, Twitter, F8), there really just aren’t that many national-level gathering spots for developers in the cloud/API space. The key word here is “developers.”

Eric’s goal (with Alcatel-Lucent’s sponsorship) is to make it easy for 15 new and exciting companies to show up and participate. If you are one of those companies, apply now for the Alcatel-Lucent Demo Pavilion at Glue.

The Defrag Conference 2010 Is Almost Here

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The Defrag Conference is happening in Boulder on Wednesday November 17th and Thursday November 18th and is looking like it will be the best one yet.  If you haven’t yet registered, use the code “foundry2″ to take 15% off of your registration.

The confirmed Keynote Speakers include:

  • Alex Wright addressing the “deep history” of Oral Culture and Social Networks
  • Stowe Boyd speaking about “social cognition”
  • Esther Dyson on Exploration and innovation
  • Dion Hinchcliffe on the future of social analytics
  • Jeff Ma on Business Lessons from the Blackjack Table
  • David Weinberger on the Philosophy of Knowing
  • Paul Kedrosky talking about Monkeys, Typewriters and Data
  • Jeff Jonas on Organizations Getting Dumber, and IT’s to Blame
  • JP Rangaswami on Information as seen through the eyes of a Foodie

And that’s just some of the keynotes.  Toss in a bunch of networking, lots of stimulating discussion, and breakouts that cover everything from APIs to shifting to the Cloud to Social Media Analytics to the Social Customer and it’s shaping up to be dynamite.

If you’re from Colorado, I’d urge you not to miss this stage of deep thinkers from around the nation coming to our fair state.

If you’re from outside of Colorado, what could be better than a few days in a resort overlooking some of the nicest mountains you’ll ever see while thinking deep thoughts?

I hope to see you at Defrag.

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