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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Supporting the New Museum of Boulder

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Amy and I recently agreed to support the new Museum of Boulder with a substantial gift that entitles us to sponsor all the bathrooms in the new museum.

This highly interactive museum of history, science, and technology of Boulder will be located in the old Masonic Lodge building at the corner of Pine and Broadway.  The Boulder History Museum purchased that building last year and is raising money for the renovation of the building and the construction of the new exhibits and facilities.

The “old” museum is located at 12th and Euclid in the Harbeck House and, while this is a beautiful old house, it lacks the space for the exhibits and programs that are envisioned for the new museum.

The new museum (renamed the Museum of Boulder because of its greatly expanded scope) will include a permanent exhibit space exploring the past, present, and future of Boulder and  a large temporary exhibit gallery so that Boulder can host Smithsonian quality traveling exhibits.  The building will also contain a children’s museum, expanded educational facilities, and a Maker Space.  Permanent exhibits will include the overall history of Boulder and the evolution of the Food, Fitness, Science and Technology innovations, and businesses in Boulder.

Amy and I are pleased to support the campaign to build the new museum and urge others to contribute to this worthwhile cause.  For more information or to get a tour of the new building, contact Nancy Geyer, the CEO of the Museum, at ngeyer@boulderhistory.org.

A Little Techstars Video History

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I got asked today for a picture of the four founders of Techstars together (me, David Cohen, David Brown, and Jared Polis.) I did a search and came up with a few, but also stumbled upon this beauty. This is the original promotion video for the first Techstars program, filmed at the end of 2006 and apparently uploaded to Youtube on January 14, 2007.

Following are my comments on the video.

  • Look how young David Cohen looks.
  • Notice all the excellent red and white fonts.
  • Danny Newman needs a haircut.
  • Jared Polis wasn’t yet a congressman.
  • Our Donkey Kong machine worked.
  • Foundry Group wasn’t yet started.
  • Our office (and the film) was done in our old office in Superior.
  • I hadn’t started wearing Robert Graham shirts yet.
  • My Treadputer v1.0 was up and running.
  • David Brown looks exactly like he does today.
  • We didn’t have the .com domain yet.

It used to be hard to find historical artifacts like this. They lived in an attic or a basement and were covered by dust. The web is just amazing.

The Human Inclination to Rewrite History

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“History is written by the victors” – maybe said by Winston Churchill
History is Written By the Winners” - George Orwell
“To the victor belong the spoils” – New York Senator William L. Marcy

Yesterday I wrote a post about my first experience as a venture capitalist. I didn’t try to dramatize anything – I just wrote what I remembered. I got a handful of emails from people involved in some way.

One line that jumped out at me was “Nice to see at least one guy who is not into rewriting history.”

Another that jumped out at me from a different person was “I didn’t know the history with you and Netgen.  Sorry that it was a hard experience.   The ironic thing is I have always considered you one of the three fairy godfathers of Netgen.”

Today Fred Wilson wrote a fantastic post titled “My First Investment“. He bluntly referred to it “a shitshow” in a comment on my post. Joanne Wilson also wrote about her first angel investment (Curbed) which recently had a nice exit.

I love these origin stories – both the successes and the failures. While I didn’t experience Fred and Joanne’s, they both write from the heart so I expect they are their truthful stories. But as I read so many other origin stories, especially those that are presented by third parties as histories or by respected thinkers, politicians, or journalists as justification for their current position, I’m reminded of the quotes at the beginning of this post.

I ran across a great juxtaposition of this today. On Twitter, I saw a link to a NY Times OpEd from David Brooks on marijuana titled Weed: Been There. Done That.I normally don’t pay any attention to what Brooks writes, but I clicked since it showed up in my Twitter stream and read it. It felt like bizarre, sanctimonious bullshit, especially the punchline “In legalizing weed, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.”

So I tweeted something about whether Brooks still drinks alcohol in an effort to be amusing. I was then pointed on Twitter to an amazing post by Gary Greenberg, who was one of the people Brooks referred to in his OpEd about the kids he used to get high with. It was titled “I smoked pot with David Brooks.” Now, I don’t know Brooks or Greenberg, nor do I really have any stake in the discussion between them, but I thought it was an amazing example of how as humans we tend to rewrite history to fit our current circumstance.

Now, I don’t really care about the legalization of marijuana. I don’t smoke pot and haven’t since the one time I tried it in college and hated it. But I also don’t care if others smoke it – I have a lot of friends who enjoy it. And since I’m ignoring politics in 2014, I’m not going to pay attention to the legalization discussion.

But I do find the dissonance in origin stories to be fascinating. Maybe Brooks is remembering things differently. Maybe he’s limited by the number of words the NY Times allows him. Maybe he cares more about making a point about society linked to the legalization of marijuana. Or maybe he was drunk when he wrote this OpEd. I don’t know – that doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that it’s important to always remember how origin stories get rewritten by the winners, by people in power, by people trying to justify their position, or just because it’s human nature. Being TAGFEE is really, really hard.

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