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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 More Money Motivate Higher Performance?

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One of my blog readers – Boaz Fletcher – sent me an awesome video this morning from RSA Animate.  It’s 11 minutes long and is a fascinating lecture by Dan Pink about The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  I love the RSA Animate format – an artist animates the talk on a giant whiteboard in real time.

In this case Pink takes on the question of “Does More Money Motivate Higher Performance?”  In the first few minutes he shows that while this works for tasks requiring mechanical skill, this does not work for tasks that require even rudimentary cognitive skill.  In fact, in these cases there is an negative correlation between greater monetary reward and increased performance.  It’s counterintuitive, but the talk illustrates it beautifully with several examples that will appeal to any technology entrepreneur. 

There are several deeply insightful points including the notion that we crave autonomy and mastery in addition to simply making a contribution and getting rewarded economically for it.  Furthermore, if the “profit motive” gets unmoored from the “purpose motive”, bad things happen. 

Ultimately Pink makes a good case that as managers and entrepreneurs, we need to get past the ideology of using carrots and sticks to motivate people.  Grab 11 minutes and learn something important today.

Pick Your 2% And Own It

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I’ve always enjoyed hanging out with Om Malik.  We’ve had a handful of nice, relaxed discussions about some deep stuff.  Last week I took a break from Google I/O and spent an hour and a half with him.  We spent about an hour talking about life and some very personal things and then did a thirty minute interview which includes a really nice post on GigaOm about me and Foundry Group.

Om does a great interview and really brings out the best in people.  The next time he emails, he’ll have me at “Brad, would you talk to me about …”

Things To Hate About API-TOS

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I’m at the Glue Conference all day.  So far, it’s far exceeded my already high expectations.  I’m now sitting in the API track and the first two presentations have been dynamite.  Clay Loveless from Mashery just did a presentation titled “5 Things I Hate About Your API-TOS“.  He nailed it.  Here are his top five (most important last), along with some commentary from me. 

For simplicity, I’ll call the company providing the API’s the “platform company” and the companies using the API as the “ecosystem partners.”  Also – I’m not picking sides here as I’m an investor in both “platform companies” and “ecosystem partners”.  Rather, I’m just trying to summarize Clay’s points, bring out a few ideas, and give you a sense of the kind of stuff we are talking about at Glue.

5. Do You Think My Code is Yours?  While it may seem like a stretch that a platform company trying to create an ecosystem would try to assert this, the phrase “derivative rights” appears in a surprising number of platform company API’s.  And I’ve run into people that actually believe they own the code (or rights to the code) developed by their ecosystem partners.  The only thing I can say to this one is “be careful and don’t accept absurd assertions.”

4. It’s Just Tooooooo Loooooong.  This one is related to the next one, but it’s what happens when the lawyers take over.  See #3.

3. It’s Written in Legalese, But I Speak Geek.  Thanks for the 14 page TOS – now what the fuck does it mean?  Give me a one page summary in plain English and bullet points.  Be “ecosystem friendly” – all the time.  Don’t bury the lead on page 11.  Just tell me the rules so I can play by them.

2. Commercial Use OK Or Not?  I’m seeing this become increasingly contentious between some platform companies and their ecosystem partners.  Until the platform company is successful, this is a mellow and happy situation.  Once the platform company becomes successful, often in part to the adoption of their API by their ecosystem partners, the platform company starts trying to split out commercial and non-commercial use, at least in certain areas.  If you are an ecosystem partner and you think this evolution should be against the rules, just check page 10 of the TOS (per point #4) where it says “Company reserves the right to change any aspect of the TOS at any time in the future.” 

1. TOS != Product Roadmap Communication Platform.  As an ecosystem partner, you should assume the platform company will change its roadmap over time to support its business goals. It can be painful when this happens in the context of a TOS change, although I think there are some cases where the platform company just has to say “ok – here’s how we are going to do things going forward – deal with it.”  The solution to this one is clear and open bi-directional communication – as long as there is trust and no one is trying to hide the ball or do things that are clearly “over the line” in terms of the TOS, these situations are usually quickly resolvable with an appropriate commercial agreement.

Oh – and if you want to run Java on an Apple IIc, here’s how you do it.

Interviews on StockTwits TV and BlogTalkRadio

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I promise I’ll write something thoughtful tomorrow and not torture you with more video and audio. 

Over the weekend, I did a fun interview with Howard Lindzon on StockTwits TV during his annual Lindzonpalooza event.  We covered a wide range of entrepreneurial topics and gave each other plenty of good natured shit.  Eek – I’m a looking a little chunky – note to self: more running, more swimming, less eating.  Or maybe it was just the camera.

This afternoon I did an interview with Jon Hansen on Blog Talk Radio about an article that Ariana Huffington wrote on the Huffington Post titled When It Comes to Innovation, Is America Becoming a Third World Country?  Jon does a good, thoughtful, long form interview. 

Alan Levy, the co-founder and CEO of BlogTalkRadio, at Lindzonpalooza.  What an awesomely small world.

The Founders 2010 Episode 1: The Question is Why

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We’re doing the TechStars Founders video series again this year. The Rackspace Cloud has sponsored the series so look for some new and exciting twists.  Episode 1 follows!

"The Question is Why" The Founders | TechStars Boulder | Episode 1 from TechStars on Vimeo.

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