Month: December 2005

Dec 11 2005

CEO Marathoning

The Denver Post had a nice profile article on a couple of local Boulder / Denver CEO’s that run, including me (ok – I’m a “managing director” – but who really cares about titles).  Ed Roberto – the CEO of Newmerix and occasional running partner was featured also.

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Dec 10 2005

Egopedia

I’ve received a variety of entertaining (and thoughtful) presents for my 40th birthday.  Earlier this week, Dave Jilk gave me another one – my own Wikipedia entry.  I suppose every kid wants an entry about him in the dictionary – my ego is highly entertained.  Thanks Dave.

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Dec 10 2005

Conserve 2,000,000 Acres in the Next Decade – Let’s Get Going

Now – that’s a mission statement.  I’m on the board of the Colorado Conservation Trust and we had a board meeting last week.  CCT is one of the best organized non-profits I’ve ever had the privilege to be involved with and is unambiguous about its goal.  The mission statement says it all – “Conserve 2,000,000 Acres in the Next Decade – Let’s Get Going.” 

I’ve lived in Colorado for 10 years.  Part of the magic of this place is the mountains, the open space, and the wide stretches of undeveloped land.  Boulder benefits greatly from the city and county’s forward thinking conservation attitude from many years ago, resulting in a magnificent city in an environmentally protected setting.  None of this was by accident and I’ve tried to do my part in the last decade to help locally.

CCT broadens this view across the entire state.  There are numerous environmental organizations in Colorado – some effective, some not.  There is the typical conflict you’d expect from an area that is undergoing huge growth ranging from private property rights to zoning issues to wildlife protection.  In addition to actively participating in conservation, CCT has taken a leadership role in understanding what is going on in conservation across the state.  Recently, they released Colorado Conservation at a Crossroad – their first comprehensive report on conservation in Colorado

Since it was founded in 2000, CCT has contributed to the protection of more than 30,000 acres in Colorado.  It’s raised $10 million from 30 foundations in and over 300 individuals.  It’s leveraged the $10 million with an additional $24 million of public and private dollars.  It does this with a staff and organization that is 100% underwritten by its board of directors – we cover 100% of CCT’s operating costs so that all of the money that is contributed can be directly deployed against land conservation programs.

If you live in or enjoy Colorado, you should be happy there are folks like Will Shafroth and his team at CCT working hard to help keep it special.  We’re always looking for additional support of any kind and – as the end of the year rolls around and you consider any philanthropic giving – I’d encourage you to consider a gift CCT if you are conservation minded and enjoy Colorado.  Remember – 100% of your money will go to land conservation – we (the board) has got the admin stuff covered.  If you want to learn more or get involved, feel free to contact me.

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Dec 10 2005

The Signal to Noise Ratio Feels Out of Whack To Me

I monitor around 400 blogs and try to stay on top of them daily (I use FeedDemon and NewsGator Online and have developed an awesome personal algorithm for getting through all the items quickly.) I also use a handful of services such as Tech Memeorandum to follow what people are talking about. I’m a fast reader and excellent skimmer so that helps.

I had a very busy day yesterday that started early so I didn’t read anything from Thursday evening through Saturday morning.  I just finished going through everything and was stunned by the amount of discussion about the Yahoo / del.icio.us deal.  I’m very excited and happy for everyone involved, but as I read through post after post after post saying “Yahoo bought del.ciou.us” I started to feel something was wrong.  I checked on Technorati – “delicious” is the number one search this hour (and Yahoo is four; Delicious Yahoo is six).  I checked NewsGator’s Latest Buzz – the first is Joshua’s post and the second is Jeremy Zawodny / Yahoo’s post.

Forget about the TAR stuff (trust / attention / relevance) for a second – there is a huge content imbalance when everyone is writing about the same thing.  There was a very large and interesting deal done on Monday last week that arguably has much greater importance to the structure of the tech / media business than Yahoo / del.icio.us and it had extremely little coverage by the tech bloggers.  Can you name that deal?

Liberty Media acquired Provide Commerce for $477 million (PRVD was public – $33.30 / share – 50% valuation increase in the past 60 days).  Now, maybe I’m more sensitized to PRVD and L since they are both Colorado related company (L is headquartered here, PRVD is headquarter in San Diego, but the founder and good friend Jared Polis is based in Boulder.)  This is Jared’s second monster win – his first was the sale of BlueMountainArts.com to Excite in 1999 for around $800 million.  Oh – and he had other successes like the sale of AIS to Exodus in 1995.

But – no one is talking about this.  More specifically, very few people are speculating on what Liberty Media is up to.  John Malone and Liberty are clearly interested in making yet another round of moves, this time with focus on Internet related properties.  Greg Maffei joined Liberty Media as CEO a few weeks ago and – while Fortune had a decent introductory article setting up the landscape – there’s been very little chatter about what might become another key entrant in GAAMEY (Google / Amazon / AOL / Microsoft / eBay / Yahoo).  Oh – and where is the discussion about InterActiveCorp (IACI) – same drill  – $9 billion market cap company with key online assets and a chairman (Barry Diller) who happily and regularly makes big strategic moves.  Should GAAMEY become GAAMEYIL (or maybe AGILEAMY in honor of my wife.)

I’m perplexed.  Fortunately I have a two hour run today to ponder this more.

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Dec 10 2005

The Retired Smoot

Anyone that’s walked (or run) across the Harvard (aka Mass Ave) bridge has noticed little numbers painted on it that end at 364.4 (and one ear).  If you are an MIT grad, you know that in 1958 Oliver Smoot and his frat brothers from Lambda Chi Alpha measured the bridge in “Smoots” (Smoot was 5’7” and was the shortest dude in his pledge class), painting the bridge in intervals of Smoots one fall evening.  This tradition of repainting the bridge has lasted since 1958 and I always get a chuckle in the fall when I end up in Boston and go for a run that crosses a bridge when I hit “69” or “halfway to hell”.

Oliver Smoot retired last week.  His day job was as Vice President at the Information Technology Industry Council (DC-based high-tech trade group).  He also served on the board of the American National Standards Institute, the DC-based association that sets standard units and measurement guidelines. 

Ok – pause and think about it – the guy that became the unit of measure for the Harvard Bridge (a Smoot) has been serving on the board of the American National Standards Institute.  I love it.  NPR had a great interview with Oliver Smoot on Pearl Harbor Day – if you’ve ever walked across the Harvard Bridge, you’ll get a good chuckle out of it.

Smoot is now a serious and endearing measurement.  If you ever wondered how long the Harvard Bridge actually is, Google Calculator will happily provide a translation from smoots to yards.  I expect that if you are a math nerd, you’ve known for a long time that the ear is a proxy for epsilon.

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Dec 10 2005

The Difference Between Christmas and Chanukah

I get a little grumpy around Christmas.  I’ve always felt like I get short changed with Chanukah.  Alan sent me this hysterical overview that provides a little perspective.

1. Christmas is one day, same day every year, December 25. Jews also love December 25th. It’s another paid day off work. We go to the movies and out for Chinese food.  Chanukah is 8 days. It starts the evening of the 24th of Kislev, whenever that falls. No one is ever sure. Jews never know until a non-Jewish friend asks when Chanukah starts, forcing us to consult a calendar so we don’t look like idiots. We all have the same calendar, provided free with a donation from the World Jewish Congress, the kosher butcher or the local Sinai Memorial Chapel (especially in Florida) or other Jewish funeral home.

2. Christmas is a major holiday. Chanukah is a minor holiday with the same theme as most Jewish holidays. They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.

3. Christians get wonderful presents such as jewelry, perfume, stereos, etc.  Jews get practical presents such as underwear, socks or the collected works of the Rambam, which looks impressive on the bookshelf.

4. There is only one way to spell Christmas.  No one can decide how to spell Chanukah, Chanukkah, Chanukka, Channukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, etc.

5. Christmas is a time of great pressure for husbands and boyfriends. Their partners expect special gifts. Jewish men are relieved of that burden. No one expects a diamond ring on Chanukah.

6. Christmas brings enormous electric bills. Candles are used for Chanukah. Not only are we spared enormous electric bills, but we get to feel good about not contributing to the energy crisis.

7. Christmas carols are beautiful…Silent Night, Come All Ye Faithful etc. Chanukah songs are about dreidels made from clay or having a party and dancing the hora. Of course, we are secretly pleased that many of the beautiful carols were composed and written by our tribal brethren. And don’t Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond sing them beautifully?

8. A home preparing for Christmas smells wonderful. The sweet smell of cookies and cakes baking. Happy people are gathered around in festive moods. A home preparing for Chanukah smells of oil, potatoes and onions. The home, as always, is full of loud people all talking at once.

9. Christian women have fun baking Christmas cookies.  Jewish women burn their eyes and cut their hands grating potatoes and onions for latkes on Chanukah. Another reminder of our suffering through the ages.

10. Parents deliver presents to their children during Christmas. Jewish parents have no qualms about withholding a gift on any of the eight nights.

11. The players in the Christmas story have easy to pronounce names such as Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  The players in the Chanukah story are Antiochus, Judah Maccabee and Matta whatever. No one can spell it or pronounce it. On the plus side, we can tell our friends anything and they believe we are wonderfully versed in our history.

12. Many Christians believe in the virgin birth. Jews think, “Yossela, Bubela, snap out of it. Your woman is pregnant, you didn’t sleep with her, and now you want to blame G-d? Here’s the number of my shrink”.

13. In recent years, Christmas has become more and more commercialized. The same holds true for Chanukah, even though it is a minor holiday. It makes sense. How could we market a major holiday such as Yom Kippur? Forget about celebrating. Think observing. Come to synagogue, starve yourself for 27 hours, become one with your dehydrated soul, beat your chest, confess your sins, a guaranteed good time for you and your family. Tickets a mere $200 per person. Better stick with Chanukah!

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Dec 9 2005

Global Warming

George Bush recently had some deep and insightful thoughts on global warming.  “We just need to get nature to cooperate with us.  We don’t need to listen to nature.  Nature needs to listen to us.”

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Dec 9 2005

Were You Around When The Internet Bubble Peaked?

Tom Evslin’s brilliant blook hackoff.com is grinding through the April 1, 2000 – June 30, 2000 time frame.  If you were an executive at a company during Q200 you’ve got to read Chapter 9 as part of a sick, twisted reminder of what was going on.  Today’s (and yesterday’s) episodes are the first of the “exec meetings from hell” where the public company realizes it is going to miss it’s numbers in Q200.

The entire blook – soon to be released as a book – is phenomenal and getting better chapter by chapter.  If you are a reader, give the whole thing a try.  Tom lived this stuff at ITXC and has done an awesome job of capturing the backdrop while incorporating the sex and violence we all expect from a contemporary murder mystery.

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Dec 8 2005

New Hires, New Customers, New Products

Next week is Syndicate.  As a result, you are going to see a bunch of bullshit press releases for a wide variety of companies announcing nothing (I’ve already seen a few – how’s that for “embargoed press releases”.)  Anyone that knows me knows that I general dislike the “broadly defined” discipline of marketing (I much prefer its skinny and much more powerful sibling “demand generation.”)  However – I’m not from the school of “press releases are useless – just blog about it” as I think press releases can serve a purpose especially in conjunction with additional active outreach (e.g. blogs).

As I was driving back from a meeting this morning I was pondering what things were useful to put in a press release.  When I got back to my office, I bumped into Matt Blumberg in the hall and asked him what he thought were useful topics for a press release.  He answered immediately “new hires, new customers, new products.”

Those were exactly the same three topics that I had thought of in the car.  Lots of companies – including ones that I’m an investor in – are guilty of the “barney press release” (two companies announcing a partnership that is akin to nothing more than saying “I love you, you love me”) – this was particularly pernicious during the Internet bubble. In addition, there are endless content free releases that don’t actually address anything specific.  As I scan my RSS headlines, I’m seeing more and more of this – specifically a partnership between two young private companies that doesn’t specify what they are actually doing and why anyone should care or a headline describing something that seems like it might be interesting but – when I dig in – there’s no there there.

Beware the press release that says nothing.

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Dec 8 2005

RSStroom Reader

This product is going to really clean up.  It’s way more interesting than an Ajax Reader.  I can’t wait to get one.  It’ll go perfectly with my craptop.

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