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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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Defrag 2013 In One Month

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We’re just under one month until Defrag, and if you’re a startup founder, a VC, and IT exec, or anyone that wants to have their brain stretched, I hope you’ll join me in being there.

The agenda is now about 90% complete (check the google doc for real-time updates) and Eric tells me that he’ll be finalizing everything in the next week or so.

For those of you who attended two years ago, you may remember my “Resistance is Inevitable” talk about the rise of the machines. This year, I’ll be leading two different sessions.

First, Jerry Colonna and I will be having a discussion about the emotional challenges of entrepreneurship. I’ve written about Jerry many times on my blog. He’s a huge resource to entrepreneurs, a great mentor and confidant of mine, and I’m looking forward to a public conversation about some topics near and dear to both of us.

Second, I’ll be having a conversation with Boris Sofman of Anki. Hopefully he’ll bring some toys for us to play with.

For a taste of some of the other topics, ponder:

  • The Rise of the Citizen Explorer (which about the happenings at OpenROV)
  • The History and Future of Calm Technology
  • One Billion per Second: The Rise of Designer Data Architectures
  • Lighting up the world with sensors: using data to effect change

Add in great WiFi, amazing people, an intimate and welcoming atmosphere, and three days of impact-filled ideas, and you’ll quickly find out why Defrag is one of my favorite events of the year.

If you register before Friday, the code “brad15″ will take 15% off of your registration.

See you there!

Defrag 2013 – Year 7

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Defrag is entering its seventh year of existence. That’s kind of amazing to me. What started as a simple email exchange between myself and Eric Norlin almost eight years ago resulted in a conference that has grown in importance, had meaningful impact on my thinking (and that of many others), and spawned other shows, most notably Gluecon. Most tech conferences don’t last seven years, and they certainly don’t get better with time. Defrag has and is.

Eric has been outlining his thinking for this year’s agenda here, but let me point out a couple of things of note:

  1. Defrag is 3 days long this year, as we’ve rolled the Blur content into the overall Defrag agenda. This means that if you register for Defrag, you’re registered for 3 days (not 2, as in previous years). By the way, we did not increase the price as we did this.
  2. We limit Defrag to 325 people (25 press/analysts; 300 attendees) on purpose, as the primary goal of the Defrag conversation is intimacy. All of which is to say, don’t delay in grabbing a spot - it will sell out.

This year’s Defrag is covering everything from drones to robots to the cloud to APIs to big data. The full Defrag 2013 agenda is here (and it will continue to evolve) but topics will include the following:

  •  The History and Future of Calm Technology (Amber Case)
  • The Identity Manifesto: Seven Points On The Future of Identity (R Ray Wang)
  • Great, Software Ate My World. Now what? (Oren Teich)
  • Industrial Entropy and the Future of Work (Chris Devore)
  • The Coming Digital Dark Ages (Maggie Fox)
  • The Girl Geek Imperative (Lorinda Brandon)
  • How to make Skynet User Friendly (Bret Tobey)
  • Security in the Cloud for the API Economy (Andy Thurai)
  • Healthcare After The Deluge (John Wilbanks)
  • Existence as a platform: Quantified Self meets the internet of Things (Chris Dancy)
  • The Future of Flying Robots (Chris Sanz)

Jerry Colonna and I are also going to have a special fireside chat about surviving the startup life.

Use “brad12″ to take an additional 10% off of the early bird pricing (which ends September 20th).

See you there!

Amazon Top 10 Business Books of 2012

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I just found out that Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City made the Amazon Top 10 Business Books of 2012.

I’m not a huge “made that list person” but as a writer this is a very cool thing, especially when I look at the other books, and writers, on the list. I’m downloading all of the other books right now and taking them on my two week vacation which is coming up.

I’m at Defrag this morning listing to Kevin Kelly explain how the global super organism already exists and why it is different than the Kurzweil defined Singularity. Awesome – and extremely consistent with how I think about how the machines have already taken over. Kevin’s intellectual approach is clearer and deeper – which I like, and will borrow heavily from. Kevin’s book, What Technology Wants, is also in a swag bag and I’ll be reading it next week.

One of the powerful concepts is that the “city is the node.” As I’ve been talking about Startup Communities, I’ve been explaining the power of “entrepreneurial density” and why everyone is congregating around cities again (intellectually referred to as the reurbanism of American). It’s really cool that he’s using the Degree Confluence Project to “show” (rather than simply “tell”) this.

A few of the books on the Amazon Top 10 Business Books of 2012 touch on this theme – I’ll be looking for it as I read a lot on the beach the next few weeks.

Defrag Version 6 – Early Bird Registration Special

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In approximately seven weeks, Defrag will be happening again. It’s the sixth incarnation of Defrag, and over time it seems to have become an annual Fall rite of passage.

This year’s Defrag is no different: an intimate gathering and great conversations. Speakers like Kevin Kelly (founder of Wired Magazine), Jeff Ma (inspiration for the movie, “21”), Bre Pettis (of Makerbot), and many, many others. Topics like mobile development, identity management, social business, big data, and APIs.

One key difference with this year’s Defrag, though, is the addition of Blur. Defrag and Blur will overlap for half a day. This means that in three days time, you can get the experience of Defrag, and then stick around for robots, 3D printing and all kinds of cool HCI stuff at Blur. Two shows in three days in one place. (Note: we’ll also be having the Boulder is for Robots meeting at Blur, and opening up some “hacking space” to build stuff.)

In short, you should plan to be at Defrag and Blur (November 14-16). Early Bird registration expires this Friday, and “brad12” takes an additional 10% off. See you there!

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Glueing Things Together To Make Great Software

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We’ve been investing in our Glue theme and Protocol theme for a long time – well before we started Foundry Group. Many of our Glue investments and our Protocol investments are growing quickly and becoming integral parts of the Internet and web software infrastructure.

It made me smile to see a recent post from Promoboxx titled We’re Powered by TechStars CompaniesIt’s a great post about focusing on what matters for your product while leveraging great technology infrastructure from other companies. Several of the companies we are investors in are mentioned, including SendGrid and FullContact, each which are TechStars companies that we invested in after they finished the program.

For as long as I’ve been involved in writing and creating software there has always been a deep philosophy of creating building blocks that you can leverage. Something magical happened around this with the web and in the past five or so years there have been a number of amazing companies created that are easy to quickly integrate, either through a little bit of code or an API. It’s part of thing that has changed the dynamics of creating and launching a web software company, dramatically lowering the price of just getting something out there so you can start getting real feedback from users and customers.

When I reflect on this year’s Glue Conference, it feels like we’ve finally reached a tipping point where this concept is ubiquitous. I expect we’ll talk about it at Defrag and Eric Norlin’s post from yesterday titled The 20 Year Cycle hints to some of the deeper ideas about how this affects enterprise software and corporate IT, in addition to all the obvious consumer implications.

It’s a great time to be building software – the innovation curve is speeding up, not slowing down, and I expect when we look back 20 years from now we won’t recognize what we were doing in 2012.

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