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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Learn to Build iPhone or Python Web Apps

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Today on Brad Feld’s Amazing Deals I’m bringing you another offer from the online academy Udemy.com. A few months ago, Udemy was responsible for one of my most popular deals to date, a suite of deals relating to startups. Today they are offering your choice of two courses for $75 (normally $250). Pick either Learn to Develop an iPhone or iPad application in 4 weeks or Learn Python the Hard Way. Both courses include multiple videos, lectures, and code examples.

If you were one of the 100+ people that bought the last Udemy deal, I’d love to hear your feedback on the course.

My Quest For The Perfect Smartphone

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Now that my Apple and Google experiments have been huge successes, I thought I’d try an Android phone one more time.  I like my iPhone 4, but it’s pretty weak with all the Google apps.  Specifically, I badly want better contact integration, clean email sync, and Google voice.  Plus, AT&T still blows in Boulder.

Any suggestions out there for the “best Android out there today.”  I was using a Sprint EVO for a while (and liked it a lot) until it was stolen by my assistant Kelly.  So, I open to any choice – suggest away.

Rally Software Acquires Agile iPhone Product

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I love when companies I’m an investor in use acquisitions to build out their product line.  In April Rally Software did one when they acquired AgileZen; yesterday they announced that Rally Software has acquired the ScrumAway iPhone app from Blue Hole Software.

Rally has re-released the product (previous a $15 download) as a free product called Rally for the iPhone that tightly integrates with the Rally SaaS-based Agile software lifecycle environment.  If you are a Rally customer, this is a no-brainer app for you; if you aren’t a Rally customer but are an Agile development shop that also has a bunch of iPhone users, take a look at Rally’s products.

And – if you are an entrepreneur running a company that you think fits with any of the companies I’m an investor in, don’t ever hesitate to drop me an email to explore things.

eBay Acquires RedLaser

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Another TechStars company has been acquired.  Well – part of it has been acquired.  Today it was announced that eBay has acquired the RedLaser product from Occipital. The Occipital guys tell the story in their post titled Arrival at the Launchpad.

Occipital’s founders – Jeff and Vikas – are the epitome of bootstrap entrepreneurs.  Every TechStars class seems to have one and Occipital wins the bootstrapper of TechStars Boulder 2008 award.  At the end of the program they had a few chances to raise money but weren’t happy with the valuations so decided to hunker down and just bootstrap things.  They reinvented themselves several times until they launched RedLaser which has been a runaway hit (over two million copies sold to date.)  As RedLaser took off, they had another set of interesting investment offers but no longer have any need for outside capital.

While they were on their way to creating an interesting mobile ecommerce company, they wanted to work on a much bigger set of technical challenges than RedLaser in computer vision and augmented reality, their areas of passion and technical expertise.  In their travels they had a few inquires for an acquisition of the company, but really only wanted to sell the RedLaser product, not the entire company.  Fortunately, eBay was very interested in the RedLaser product and the match worked extremely well for both parties.

Given this sale, I expect Occipital is now a long way from ever raising outside capital.  Jeff and Vikas are now extremely well funded, are scaling up a very interesting team, and going after a huge vision. Oh – and RedLaser is now free in the iPhone AppStore.  Congrats to Occipital, Vikas and Jeff!

Two Weeks Later, I’m Loving The HTC EVO

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Google gave all 5000 Google I/O attendees an HTC EVO (I guess it’s a Sprint EVO) running Android.  For the past two years I’ve been using an iPhone and have become increasingly disgusted by AT&T’s service which is horrible (and deteriorating) in the cities I frequent – most notably Boulder, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, NY, and Boston.  So – I decided to give the EVO+Android a real shot and use it for a week as my permanent phone. 

When I wrote my post Open Android vs. Closed iPhone right after Google I/O a few folks took shots at me for pimping a free phone that I got at a conference.  Given the amount of money I regularly shell out to screw around on hardware and software (I’m one of those guys who happily buys things just to try them out) I shrugged this off but figured it was worth pre-empting since I’m sure this nonsense will come around again.  So – there’s the disclaimer – I got this phone for free (although I did sit on two panels and spent a day and a half talking to people at Google I/O.)

While there has been plenty of fan boy and anti-fan boy chatter about this phone, I can only find one thing to complain about – the battery life.  It’s still running Android 2.1 so I expect there will be plenty of battery tune up in Android 2.2, but out of the box the battery only lasts about six hours.  I’ve tuned my settings so I can get a full day out of it, but am still carrying my USB cord to grab some juice from time to time.  There a few tricks (like charge it with it turned off) that help a lot, but it feels like the iPhone 3G did when it first came out where I was always paying attention to how much charge I had left.  Fortunately this will get better with software (quickly) and – since the battery is removable, I can just carry a spare around.

Ok – that’s literally the only thing I don’t like.  The screen is phenomenal.  All of the apps I run on my iPhone are available on Android – I even found a few new ones.  The camera is killer.  The email client is much better than the iPhone.  Search for anything is lightening fast.  Voice recognition – er – recognizes my voice.  I have a phone that tethers and – if I want – I have a hotspot (bye bye MiFi.)  My applications remember their state and come up instantly because they are still running in the background.  The browser is fast.  Google Maps + Navigation is incredible, especially for someone who can’t read a map to save his life.  I can dial a phone number, look up an address, and get directions from within the calendar.  The weather app knows where I am.  Google Voice works great and is tightly integrated.

And – for the payoff – I can make a fucking telephone call on this thing.  I can’t remember the last time I looked back after a day and thought “wow – I didn’t drop a single call today.”  Now the only dropped calls I’ve had are when I’m talking to someone on an iPhone and they drop.

I’m looking forward to iPhone 4.0 coming out so I can see how it compares.  My guess is that I’ll get the Android 2.2 upgrade at about the same time so I’ll have both to play around with in June and July.  The real result will be to see which phone I’m using when I get back from Alaska in August.  In the mean time, the HTC EVO is a winner and – as a result – the smart phone thing is going to get interesting now that Apple has some real competition and can no longer just walk all over Microsoft and Palm.

Did I mention that I can’t wait to get my hands on an Android Tablet?

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