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Wow – I guess Web 2.0 is happening somewhere (fortunately I have a delegate there – my partner Ryan McIntyre). That not withstanding, the tempo of stuff going on today is staggering. I’m having a blast sitting here in Boulder just trying to stay mildly ahead of all the stuff flying around. I thought I’d share some of it with you in case you need a fifteen minute break like I do.
Angels Weigh In on Net Neutrality: The WSJ has an article talking about the letter a bunch of VCs (including me and my partner Jason Mendelson) sent Julius Genachowski in support of Net Neutrality. I’m seriously bummed out that my good friend and Representative Jared Polis is opposed to Net Neutrality – if you are in Jared’s district (or any district) fill out the FreePress Save the Internet petition and have it sent to your congresspeople. (update: it looks like according to the OpEd that Jared wrote yesterday that he supports Net Neutrality.)
Incubating Change to Immigration Law with the Startup Visa Movement: Mark Hendrickson over at TechCrunch has a nice post up on the Startup Visa Movement.
Lijit contributes analysis to Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2009: If you are a stats geek, Lijit has some great info for you including Search Engine Referral Data (some of it is surprising), average blogroll size, the impact of Twitter, and some special ad tag info.
When you need an “app for that”, Slice of Lime can build it: My friends at Slice of Lime are now building iPhone apps built on the NewsGator TapLynx framework (more on that soon). If you’d like to carry me around in your pocket, give the Foundry Group iPhone app a try.
Music Hack Day Boston: Ian Rogers, the CEO of Topspin Media point this out to me. It’s happening on 11/21 and 11/22 in Boston at Microsoft NERD and includes plenty of friends (such as Harmonix, Sonos, and Boxee). If you are into music + tech don’t miss it.
I just punked my partner Seth (I expect he’ll figure it out before he reads this) and had my first good run in about 30 days. Now if the sun would come out I’d be uber-happy. Back to work.
Periodically I get way behind on my “daily routine” and skip my RSS feeds for a while (up to a week). This week was one of them – I had two 4am wakeups that led me to the airport followed by a 7am wakeup (due to me being glued to my bed) followed by a 8am board meeting. So – no RSS feeds. This morning, after sleeping 12 hours, I spent an hour and read through what I missed this week. There’s some great stuff that came out of it (most from the last few days) – here you go.
GigaOM Special Event: What Comes Next for the Web? October 19, 2009: 9.30 AM: Om has a great live discussion of what comes next for the web that includes Caterina Fake (co-founder, Flickr & Hunch), Tom Coates (Yahoo), Bret Taylor (Facebook & co-founder, Friendfeed), Jeff Veen (TypeKit), Doug Bowman (Twitter) and Dave Winer. It’s a three hour detour from the discussion of the “real-time web” that explores the implication of (a) super-speed broadband and (b) the growing pervasiveness of super phones (e.g. the iPhone).
The making of Zyng’a’s Cafe World, the fastest growing social game in history: I am extraordinarily proud of everyone at Zynga for the amazing company they have created. Their newest game, Cafe World, is now the fastest growing social game in history (eclipsing FarmVille, the previous leader, also a Zynga game). I’m a huge FarmVille and Cafe World (and Mafia Wars) player, and not just because I’m an investor in the company.
The History of SharePoint: SharePoint 2010 is going to be disclosed at the SharePoint Conference starting Monday. Because of my investment in NewsGator and our huge success with NewsGator Social Sites (Enterprise Social Computing built on top of SharePoint), I’m deep in the SharePoint mix (and use it daily at Foundry Group.) This post walks through the SharePoint history starting in the last 1990’s.
The End is Not Fixed: Short and sweet advice referenced by Ben Casnocha. Remember, the lights will go out at some point and you never know the exact moment.
Boston startup events, resources, people you need to know: I spent plenty of time in the past year in Boston in and around the entrepreneurial community while I helped get TechStars Boston up and running. I lived in Boston from 1983 to 1995, started my first company there in 1987 (sold it in 1993), and made my first angel investments there including NetGenesis (IPO), Thinkfish (acquired by CA), and Harmonix (acquired by MTV). In the past year a bunch of people have worked hard to re-energize the Boston/Cambridge software / Internet scene with great results. Don Dodge from Microsoft (who has been an important part of all of this) has a great summary post up about this.
Small c: The penis post: I’m a huge Jeff Jarvis fanboy. We’ve only met a few times and haven’t ever worked together, but I’ve always found his writings at BuzzMachine to be interesting, informative, and insightful. His recent post about his penis is extremely personal, but shows the power of how you can “let it all hang out” when you blog.
My life as a one-armed man: Jeffrey Kalmikoff showed up in Boulder a few years ago and immediately became deeply involved in the startup scene here. He left a few months ago to go to San Francisco (I hear there’s a girl involved) and is now at Digg (Jeffrey – we miss you – a LOT). He posts a very personal story that describes the “almost loss of his arm” around 2003 along with some other health issues. If you’ve got alphabetical order figured out, you’ll realize that I read about Jeff’s penis and then Jeffrey’s arm close to each other. Wait, that’s not what I meant. As a special bonus, take a look at this amazing video on Jeffrey that I found via Andrew Hyde’s blog post titled Brilliant Short Film on Jeffrey Kalmikoff.
Nowhere: I told Amy that there is nowhere I’d rather be today than in Eldorado Springs with her. I hope she doesn’t read xkcd.
Videos: Google Wave Acts Out Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting: I continue to really struggle to understand Google Wave. Joe Sabia tries to explain it. As a bonus, take a look at the Good Will Hunted trailer.
The ‘We Need to Own’ Baloney: Fred Wilson aggressively (and appropriately) calls bullshit on the VC’s nonsense on insisting they own a certain percent of a company. Josh Kopelman follows up with a great post titled “Company Math vs. VC Math.” If VC’s said “I want to own” they’d be expressing a rational and honest perspective. By saying “I need to own”, the entrepreneur should respond with “why are you starting this relationship out with a lie?”
The VC Gender Gap – Are VCs Sexist? More provocative and appropriate VC fodder from a VC. This time Jeff Bussgang asks why there are so few female VCs. His conclusion – “Otherwise, our industry is tragically losing out on 50% of the world’s best talent!” is the same we reach at NCWIT for why there are such a lower percentage of female software engineers. This isn’t about feminism, it’s about getting a whole bunch more smart people involved in what we do!
Well – that should keep you busy for a while. Time to go for a run – my first in a couple of weeks since I’ve been apparently struggling with a bacterial infection.
Tired of the health care debate? There’s a ton of other great stuff out there today. Here’s some of the things I came across on my Sunday morning pre-run scan of all things web.
A Laser Strike at the Galactic Center: I like to learn at least one new thing every day. The Astronomy Picture of the Day site insures this happens. Today I learned about our Galactic Center and very powerful lasers that create artificial stars. This is something for my Boulder Hack friends to aspire to.
Financial Times Feels Vindicated by Web Strategy: Does anyone actually believe any of this? Does anyone find it ironic that this article is in the New York Times. I wonder when a black hole is going to emerge and swallow the newspaper industry because of all its self-referential articles.
Scanning Headlines: Now this is more like it. Maybe the Financial Times will learn something from Fred Wilson. Oh – and when I page around on the Financial Times site, they appear to give me access to everything (I’m 20 clicks in and still haven’t been asked to sign up to pay.)
Editorial: X Could Learn a Lot from Vista, Windows 7: Articles like this entertain me. Every time I’ve ended up using a computer that runs Gnome on top of Ubuntu, I think of things like this. Well – not really.
How To Fly Without ID: Awesome description of the real truth behind “has your bag been unattended; have you accepted gifts from a stranger; can I see your identification please?” I’m not flying on an airplane again until September, but I’m definitely going to try some of this when I do and see if I can increase the level of harassment I receive from the airlines.
Caution: Disruption Happening: Very smart post by Micah Baldwin about disruption, some of the TechStars Boulder 2009 companies, and comic books.
The Flawed Terms in VC Deals: Suddenly VC terms seem to be an issue again. I haven’t ever been able to figure out what drives the cycle of interest / non-interest here, but when I ran across the article Ensure VCs don’t drag you out of your venture immediately after I knew there was at least a trend.
Weinsteins Struggle to Regain Their Touch: If you are a Tarantino fan and are excited about Inglorious Basterds, read this article to find out why this is such an important movie for the Weinsteins’ empire.
I’ve always wanted to use the word hodgepodge in a title of a blog post. I wonder if I’ll make the first page on Google – there’s not much competition other than some definitions and a few stores.
As many of my friends are cranking through the TripleByPass bike race and I prepare to go for a long run in the mountains near my house in Keystone, I thought I’d leave you with a few tech blog posts and articles I read this morning.
Has enterprise software has always been terrible? Gnip’s Eric Marcoullier says yes: Always one for a pithy quote, Eric Marcouiller (Gnip) got one in during his 30 minute panel (with 7 panelist – eek – just about enough time for one question for each panelist) at TechCrunch’s Real-Time CrunchUp. The real idea is that Consumer Internet is now setting the expectation for how enterprise software should work (e.g. the UI / UX is so much better).
Ok – enough of that real time shit, time for some other stuff.
Technology Going Downhill: Great story about a mountain bike crash, some dislocated fingers, an iPhone, and presence of mind.
Welcoming Andreessen Horowitz: The gang at True Ventures has a great essay on early stage entrepreneurship that ends with “If you are an entrepreneur today, this is an historic time to chase your dreams. With over $1 billion in fresh seed capital in the very early stage market, what are you waiting for?”
The Fine Line Between Informing and Spamming Your Followers: Fred Wilson talks about how he inadvertently spammed his 27,162 followers on Twitter, why that sucks, and how he tries to deal with it.
Playful New Ways to Waste Your Time: It’s fun to see how the mainstream media perceives the dynamic of social gaming. I assure you that my endless time spent in front of FarmVille and Mafia Wars is research, since I’m an investor in Zynga.
Ok – time for that run.
I usually sleep in on Sunday’s but I’ve got a 16 mile run and want to meet Amy at the end of it at 10:30 for brunch. So – good morning 5am and my normal daily reading routine. I ran across a lot of intriguing stuff this morning that I thought I’d share with you. I encourage you to trade your TV watching time for a handful of clicks.
Will Google’s Purity Pay Off? If you have engaged in the “yes Twitter is cool, but how will it make money” conversation I encourage you to read this BusinessWeek article from Pearl Harbor Day in 2000. And I quote: “LIMITED BUSINESS. But how will Google ever make money? There’s the rub. The company’s adamant refusal to use banner or other graphical ads eliminates what is the most lucrative income stream for rival search engines. “
Are We Home Alone? Sometimes Thomas Friedman nails it and sometimes he doesn’t. Today, he nails it. I completely agree that Obama (who I voted for) completely blew it on the AIG bonus thing. Per Friedman:
“President Obama missed a huge teaching opportunity with A.I.G. Those bonuses were an outrage. The public’s anger was justified. But rather than fanning those flames and letting Congress run riot, the president should have said: “I’ll handle this.” He should have gone on national TV and had the fireside chat with the country that is long overdue. That’s a talk where he lays out exactly how deep the crisis we are in is, exactly how much sacrifice we’re all going to have to make to get out of it, and then calls on those A.I.G. brokers — and everyone else who, in our rush to heal our banking system, may have gotten bonuses they did not deserve — and tells them that their president is asking them to return their bonuses “for the sake of the country.” Had Mr. Obama given A.I.G.’s American brokers a reputation to live up to, a great national mission to join, I’d bet anything we’d have gotten most of our money back voluntarily. Inspiring conduct has so much more of an impact than coercing it. And it would have elevated the president to where he belongs — above the angry gaggle in Congress.”
Dov Seidman, the CEO of LRN (I’m an investor) summarizes it well: “Laws tell you what you can do. Values inspire in you what you should do. It’s a leader’s job to inspire in us those values.”
Tit for tat: TomTom sues Microsoft for patent infringement: The Microsoft / TomTom patent suit battle is heating up. This is an important one to watch for a variety of reasons including it’s one of the few offense patent litigations from Microsoft to date.
SpringStage goes live: A year ago, David Cohen (TechStars co-founder and author of the ColoradoStartups blog) told me about the idea he had with Alex Muse for creating a national network of startup blogs. SpringStage now has over 30 startup blogs in its network. Pretty cool – take a look.
Concur’s stock sinks after CEO admits he didn’t earn degree: I have never, ever understood why people lie about graduating from college. The reputational effect (and general ease) of getting caught – especially today – far outweighs any benefits. For the record, I have an S.B. (bachelors degree) and S.M. (masters degree) in management science from MIT and was in the Ph.D. program for three years before I got kicked out. I do not have a Ph.D. My dad is Dr. Feld, but I am not.
Investing in open source hardware: Eric von Hippel – my MIT advisor and professor that I worked with (before getting kicked out of the Ph.D. program) has been researching user driven innovation since the 1970’s. He invited me to come talk at his annual MIT Innovation Lab seminar last week about open source hardware from a VC perspective. I wasn’t able to make it to Boston, but suggested Bijan Sabet from Spark Capital talk, as Bijan is an investor in BugLabs and Boxee and has a point of view about this stuff.
What Is A Good Venture Return: Fred Wilson digs a little deeper into what makes a good venture return on the heals of the PE Hub article asserting that the $590m acquisition of Pure Digital by Cisco was a decent return for a middle-of-the road VC firm, but “for big name backers Benchmark Capital and Sequoia Capital that’s pretty much a dud.” Fred decomposes this more and concludes “It’s an investment that worked out well for the investors and I am sure they are quite happy they made the investment and with the returns.”
Try, Try Again, or Maybe Not: I guess I have to go read this paper by Harvard professor Paul Gompers, Anna Kovner, Josh Lerner, and David Sharfstein. In it, they claim to have determined that the answer to the question “Does failure breed new knowledge or experience that can be leveraged into performance the second time around?” is “In some cases, yes, but over all, he says, “We found there is no benefit in terms of performance.” Mark Pincus and Zynga (I’m an investor) are highlighted in the article. I’ve been an investor in two of Mark’s successes and missed one of his failures; my experience is that the lessons he learned from his failure have been extremely well integrated into his brain. My own anecdotal experience runs counter to the study – I love working with entrepreneurs that have both success and failure.
Ok – I’ve stalled long enough. Time to go run.