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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Huffington Post Shows Up In Boulder/Denver With Substance

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The Huffington Post launched their Denver channel today (but I’m going to call it the Boulder/Denver channel because it’s really both.)  And they launched with a bunch of great, substantive stuff.  Following is a sample of some of the entrepreneurial articles.

Boulder: You’re Not in Kansas Anymore …:  Kimbal Musk, the CEO of OneRiot and co-owner of The Kitchen has a great essay reflecting on what’s he has learned about Boulder in his seven years living here.

Why I Love Startups: Holly Hamann, the co-founder and VP Marketing for TheBlogFrog, talks about why she loves working in the Boulder startup community.

Boulder/Denver New Tech Meetup Helps Entrepreneurial Community: Brett Green, the Chief Marketing Officer for Oxstein Design Labs, explains the Boulder Denver New Tech MeetUp (BDNT) phenomenon that was founded by and is stewarded by Robert Reich, one of the co-founders of OneRiot.

And, as a special bonus, the old school Denver Business Journal has a fun article that I’m in titled Down on the FarmVille about my addiction to FarmVille.

Never Mind The Valley, Here’s Boulder

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I’m in LA today taking a break between a board meeting and a dinner meeting.  I’ve got a few calls and am then going running somewhere, although I haven’t yet figured out where that’s going to be since I’m deep in downtown LA.  While I was stalling before putting my running shoes on, I stumbled onto a video on ReadWriteWeb today that made me homesick.

Never Mind the Valley, Here’s Boulder from ReadWriteWeb on Vimeo.

I think I’m going to give Micah the new title of Ambassador of Boulder.

Naming Colorado’s Tech Scene

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I suck at naming things.  I named my first company “Feld Technologies” (yeah, that was super creative, but I bet it made my dad proud.)  I learned an important lesson from that one – when things go wrong people call for Mr. Feld and yell at him.  Better to name your company Costolo Technologies if your last name is Feld.

I then went on to name another company I co-founded – this one that was one of the first email service providers (in the mid-1990’s we referred to this as “publishing email”).  Guess what we named it?  If you guessed “Email Publishing” you are now demonstrating your strong deductive reasoning skills as they pertain to my completely lame naming skills.

At some point, I took myself out of consideration for naming things.  I take no responsibility for any company names after 1997.

A year ago I learned that the “tech scene” in Colorado was referred to as “ICT” or “Information and Communication Technologies”.  This happened during my activity with the Colorado Governors Innovation Council while we were trying to  convince people (successfully) that the software / Internet industry is a key part of the economic activity in Colorado. A side note: we succeeded – as Governor Ritter has recently stated ICT is now the fifth pillar of economic development in Colorado, joining bio, aerospace, tourism, and the new energy economy.

As part of this, I discovered that ICT is a popular TLA in government for referring to software + Internet + communications.  Fortunately, very few people outside of government (except for the government affairs people at tech companies) use the phrase ICT or even know what it means.  I commented several times (especially after endlessly referring to it as CIT) that it was a terrible name.  When asked what I’d call this sector, I responded with “I suck at naming things.”  Kettle – pot – black.

Some of my friends have started talking about a better name for “the Colorado Tech Scene”.  After encouraging them to please please please not use the word “Silicon” in the phrase, I proceeded to bow out of any real discussions about this as “I suck at naming things.”  Recently a group of them got serious about figuring out a name and the guys at Rocky Radar agreed to take the lead on crowd sourcing suggestions.

So – if you have any ideas, send an email to nameCO@rockyradar.com or tweet it with the hash code #nameCO.  Help us replace ICT with something other than CIT.

Colorado Company Index

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My friends at Rocky Radar have launched a Colorado Company Index.  It’s a free resource designed to catalog the technology companies working within the state, from IT to Life Science to Clean Tech.  Thanks also to the guys at SurveyGizmo for helping out here.

They are currently bootstrapping the index – submit your company info here.

Transforming the State of Colorado’s Information Technology Services

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After Bill Ritter was elected governor of Colorado in 2006, I was asked to be a member of the IT transition team.  We had about a month to review the current state of affairs with regard to broadband, the Colorado IT structure and strategy, and to recommend a CIO candidate. 

I’d never been on a transition team before so I found it to be an interesting experience.  I don’t remember the number of transition teams (I have the number 16 in my head) – they were all busy trying to collect, assimilate, and understand what existed, put together clear recommendations that the new Governor and his staff could build on, while trying to separate a bunch of signal from noise of the outgoing administration.

I was part of a group of about 30.  I knew nothing about broadband policy (which I later found out was in the extremely capable hands of Phil Weiser) so I focused my energy on the State of Colorado IT systems and on recommending a CIO.

Both turned out to be easy to deal with.  I was part of a task force that reviewed over 50 credible CIO applications, interviewed a dozen CIO candidates and had an easy choice in selecting Mike Locatis.  Mike had previously been the CIO of the City of Denver and had plenty of private sector experience; he stood out as a uniquely qualified candidate. 

Assessing the State of Colorado IT systems was equally straightforward – they were a disaster.  The entire IT organization was completely decentralized by agency.  Each agency had the equivalent of their own CIO that had purchasing authority up to $100,000.  The was minimal central planning and coordination, no purchasing leverage, and no integrated strategy across all the agencies.  I felt bad for the incumbent CIO – it was a classic case of all the downsides of decentralization with none of the benefits.  Oh – and this was written into the law so you couldn’t just reorganize the IT organization – the law actually had to be changed to centralize the State CIO’s authority.

We recommended the obvious – change the law to centralize everything under a single CIO.  Being government, this took a year, but it got done.  Then the real work began as Mike and his team went from talking about IT consolidation to actually doing it.

They’ve got a bunch of it under their belt and are now looking forward to the next wave of ideas around modernization of many of the IT systems and approaches.  Like most of the country, Colorado is working through their budget shortfalls to economic leverage on any level – including at the raw systems level – is a good thing.  Mike and his team recently put out Solicitation RFI-TK-003-09 which is an RFI for Transforming the State of Colorado’s Common/Shared IT Services.

As the cliche goes, you need to walk before you run; this RFI gives companies developing innovative Cloud Computing approaches (e.g. Google and Amazon) as well as numerous entrepreneurial companies an opportunity to get in front of Mike and his team to weigh in on the forward directions of the State of Colorado’s IT infrastructure.

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