Brad's Books and Organizations

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Books

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Organizations

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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Current Fascination With Google+

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Jeff Clavier is hanging out with Amy and me in Paris for a few days. We had an incredible dinner last night at L’Arpege - we’d been there once before with another friend (Ed Roberto) about five years ago and it was even better than we remembered it to be. We got home five hours after we started dinner which included an epic cheese course and two dessert courses.

Jeff’s been spending a lot of time on Google+ as have I and many of the VCs and tech early adopters that I know (my VC Circle is my largest circle.) Google+ is rumored to have reached 10m users already and show no sign of slowing. My experience with it has been fascinating – I didn’t do much beyond set up my account, figure out the right login approach since I use Google Apps and Google+ doesn’t yet work with a Google Apps account, and put up a few posts. I’ve got 1400 followers already who presumably simply auto-discovered me via Google’s algorithms (they do have a great social graph already given all the Gmail emails and address books.)

Recently I wrote a post titled Rethinking My Social Graph. I’ve struggled to get my Facebook social graph in order (3000 friends later – lots of acquaintances, not that many friends) and pondered how I use LinkedIn (promiscuously – I link with pretty much anyone). Twitter has been my ultimate broadcast tool and when I think about Google+ vs. Facebook, I realize that the power is the “follow” model vs. the “friend” model.

Facebook has become not that useful for me because while it’s the friend model, I’ve treated it as a follow model. As a result, there isn’t that much intimate communication on it for me, or if there is, it’s completely lost in the noise of the people who I’m acquaintances with. I’ve tried to solve this by sorting them into Lists but there are two problems. The UI for doing this is awful / tedious / excruciating and the control over what you do with lists is weak, especially in places where you really want the control (such as the news feed).

In contrast, Google+ nailed this with the follow model, letting anyone that is interested in what I have to say follow me, while I only follow people I’m interested in. While this is the Twitter model, you get much finer control over both consumption and broadcast through the use of Circles. Now that I have enough activity on Google+, I’m starting to understand and see the impact of this. Oh – and I guess I should start calling it G+ like all the cool kids do.

As Jason and I are about to launch our new book Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist I’ve been once again thinking about communication and promotion via social media. My experience setting up the blog and twitter feed for Startup Marriage reminded me how easy it is to get the tech set up, but how challenging it is to get engagement. And my investment in Gnip is showing me the continued geometric expansion of social data across an ever increasing number of platforms.

Get ready – I think we have now finally “just begun.”

Book: The Thank You Economy

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Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book The Thank You Economy came out today. Gary sent me an uncorrected manuscript a few weeks ago and I read it the night I got it. It’s dynamite and I highly recommend it for anyone who is doing anything in business today.

I’m a huge Gary V fan. I can’t remember where I met him, but it was at a small dinner about five years ago at some event where I also met Tim Ferris for the first time. When I look back on the evolution of the gang in the room (I think Sacca was there and I’m now digging for some of the other attendees, but Gary fed me so much wine that my memory is now hazy) it’s pretty cool to see what everyone has accomplished.

My first real dose of Gary was Wine Library TV. I’m not a wine guy (there are a lot less brands of single malt scotch so I’ll stay with that) but I was fascinated with Gary’s reach and what he was creating. Crush It! was his first book and was full of energy, inspiration, and insight. The Thank You Economy takes it to another level.

What I love about Gary is his intense passion for what he does, his endless examples that are right on the money, his irreverence for the status quo, his complete dedication to his ideas, and his obsession with mastering anything he gets involved in. Books like The Thank You Economy are easy to read – they are full of great examples knitted together with Gary’s thoughts and ideas, written in a very accessible way. While reading the book, you feel like you are a having a long conversation with Gary, which of course, you sort of are.

Gary – congrats on crushing it again. Thank you for writing the The Thank You Economy!

Update: Brian Williams of Viget reminded me that he organized the dinner I referred to above. It was in 2007 at a Web 2.0 related conference in DC. Here’s the note from Brian reminding me of this – thanks Brian for dislodging this memory (and for organizing that great dinner).

“Was the dinner you mention the one we had in Virginia around the Web 2.0 conference I helped organize back in 2007 (no longer running)?  As far as I remember, in addition to you & me we had Gary and AJ, Tim Ferris, James Surowiecki, Ryan Carson, Frank Gruber, Om Malik, Rohit Bhargava (Ogilvy), and JD Kathuria (co-organizer).  Not a bad dinner!  I don’t think Sacca was there, but there was a lot of wine …

I remember suggesting to the guys organizing the conference with me that we invite Gary to speak because I loved his approach to WLTV and figured he’d change the world — they thought I was crazy. ;-)”

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