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When I first met Dick Costolo – the CEO of FeedBurner (well before I had invested in FeedBurner), he had a blog called SomethingICantRemember that had a hysterical “what would I do if I was CEO of Disney” post. Over the last three years we’ve become really good friends and business partners. I’ve learned a huge amount from Dick and his partners – and not just about feeds.
Relatively early on in our relationship, Dick stopped blogging. He’s a classic always working entrepreneur and blogging quickly fell to the bottom of the pile as FeedBurner started its incredibly rapid growth curve. Amy and I have had a few nice dinners with Dick’s wife (who I’ve nicknamed Tiffany – hi Tiffany) and I can only imagine her rolling her eyes whenever Dick says something (at 2am) like “I really should start blogging again.”
Apparently the effort that Jason and I have put into Ask the VC has motivated Dick to start a blog named Ask the Wizard. If you know Dick, you get the sarcasm here and – if you don’t know him he gives you a hint with in his Welcome to Ask the Wizard post where he says “and it also brings to mind the Wizard of Oz, in which unsuspecting Dorothy only realizes too late that the Wizard is just another jackass with stage lights.”
If you are an entrepreneur (at any stage – including an aspiring one), wander over to Ask the Wizard and subscribe. At the minimum Dick will have you chuckling whenever he posts and says something like absolutely correct like “If you find yourself reading this and thinking “There’s no way I can pitch everything about my product in only 8 slides”, I assure you that you are wrong. Nobody wants to sit in a room and read data-packed powerpoint slides with pull quotes from Gartner Analysts that describe your market as being a 9 bazillion dollar industry in 2012. Get a short pitch deck together that tells a story.”
Tonight must be the night that I’m pointing to new blogs from friends of mine. The guys at Collective Intellect have started a corporate blog titled New Media Intelligence. Two of Collective Intellect’s execs already have blogs (Tim Wolters and Darren Kelly) – this will be a nice add to our collective intellect. I worked closely with Tim and his partner Don Springer (Collective Intellect’s CEO) at their previous company (Dante Group – acquired by webMethods) – these are super smart dudes worth paying attention to. They are part of my Intelligence Amplification theme, even though they are not fans of the label.
Tom was one of the first people I met when I moved to Boulder. He was running a company he’d started called NetDelivery. I introduced Tom / NetDelivery to Charley Lax at Softbank (at the time I was an affiliate of Softbank – this was prior to us starting Softbank Venture Capital) who passed on investing, but I got to know Tom anyway. NetDelivery struggled and Tom eventually left. In 1997, as I was working with Raj Bhargava and Niel Robertson to start up Service Metrics, I introduced Tom to Raj and Niel. Tom became a co-founder / CEO of Service Metrics, which we funded. Eighteen months later, Exodus bought Service Metrics for $280 million and everyone involved was very happy.
Tom did his tour of duty at Exodus and then left after about a year. He took some time off and got deeply involved in music (one of his passions). In 2000, Raj and I cooked up a new idea (originally called MetaColo) and convinced Tom to come on board and be the startup CEO of Latis. Tom did this for a year until we hired a CEO (who subsequently didn’t work out, at which point Raj became CEO of Latis, which has become a successful security software company known as StillSecure.)
At this point, Tom officially retired (at least for a while) to go play and compose music. We stayed in touch, seeing each other socially, but I left him alone because he was pretty clear that he wasn’t in the mood to run a company again (at least for a while…)
Fast forward to 2005. Tom was the lead angel investor in a new company called Vault Alliance doing online music-related stuff. I participated in the round, but leaned on my partners Jason Mendelson and Ryan McIntyre who are musicians (and have become good friends of Tom) since I’m generally clueless about the music business. Vault has evolved nicely and Tom recently decided to take the helm and become CEO in order to accelerate the growth of the business.
Tom’s super articulate, has a ton of entrepreneurial experience (good and bad), and has a great range of interests. If you are interested in the intersection between music and the Internet, the Colorado entrepreneurial scene, or just the thoughts of an experienced and enlightened entrepreneur, I expect you’ll like Tom’s blog.
It eventually happens to all bloggers that become popular. I’ve had several of these moments – you get feedback that causes you to take a step back and re-evaluate what you are doing an how you are doing.
My friend Alan Shimel had one of these the other day and has written a very thoughtful post on it. If you know Alan, you can almost hear him saying this to you – that’s how lucid his self-reflection is. His conclusion is 100% Alan.
“I actually do love blogging and expressing my opinion on these topics. In many ways I was born to blog, I guess. I have always been opinionated and eager to express my views. Blogging is the perfect outlet. To those of you who read my blog regularly, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those of you I might offend, my sincerest apologies, but I will not change what I write. To those of you who think you are going to spin a story and believe by shouting it loud enough or saying it enough times, people will believe it, know that I am going to continue calling BS on it on here- for whatever it is worth.”
Keep it up my friend.
The FeedBurner Venture Capital Network continues to expand with the additions of new VC bloggers Santo Politi from Spark Capital and Susan Wu from Charles River Ventures. I’m on the board of Me.dium with Santo and we’ve been having a good time working together – expect plenty of deep and insightful stuff from his blog.