Month: October 2006
I love my two giant golden retrievers (Denali and Kenai). I’m definitely “a dog person” – I once had a cat named Tiny (who of course was huge) and when I got divorced from my first wife I offered to give her the left half or the right half (or the front, or the back – whatever she preferred.) While no animals were actually harmed in the divorce settlement, I’ve never had a cat since, although I’ve become more respectful of my cat friends and rarely pull their cats’ tails anymore. When Amy suggested we get a dog, I agreed as long as she was willing to take care of it. I don’t do vomit and shit very well, but these guys have definitely become two of my best friends.
So – when I had the chance to invest in Dogster, I did. Instinctively I understood the deep emotions that my dogs evoked in me and – based on Dogster’s traffic – I seemed to be on the “ambivalent” side of the equation. Besides – who wants to talk to other people – it’s way more fun to be part of a social network of dogs (or – if you prefer cats – Catster.)
Plenty of people have laughed at the company – often suggesting that Hamster is next up in the list of sites (I had a hamster – actually a guinea pig – once – it died while Amy was away and she made me put it in a tupperware container in the freezer so she could bury it when she got home from her trip.) I tried to explain how powerful the attraction of the site is a few times, but don’t try too hard because people either get it or they don’t. So – when my friend (and restaurant consultant) Laurie Aaronson told me that she’d become addicted to Catster, I encouraged her to “guest blog” about her experience.
I never thought that I’d have a blog, but after finding Caster, I have found my “inner blogger” in the form of a slightly portly kitty named Sammie. She likes to blog about her sedentary life as a house-cat. It’s been real fun, I’ve been surprised by the support of the Caster community and I’ve even found myself buying items on the site. Most importantly, Sammie was recently chosen as “Diary of the day” and because of her success, the search “Sammie Mendelson” now ranks first on Google Search! One question, though… Why can’t dogs and cats be friends? Dogster and Caster are mutual exclusive environments and while Sammie has made many feline friends, she’d like to branch out a bit.
My mom (Cecelia Feld) is having another exhibition this fall in Boulder at Blink Gallery. The show is called In The Mind’s Eye and includes photos from mom, paintings by Patricia Bramsen, and ceramic sculpture from Caroline Douglas. The opening reception is on Saturday November 11th from 6pm to 9pm at Blink Gallery – 1011 Pearl Street – in Boulder, CO. Come join us and say hi to me and my mom (and buy her art.)
I’m sitting in first class on an evening flight from Denver to New York. I’m in row 6 and just got up to go to the bathroom. As I stood up I had a nice view of the 20 people in front of me. Eight of them (nine including me) are on their computers. They are a mix of Dell and IBM laptops. Every single person is working in a Microsoft Office app – about half are in Outlook, a few in Word, and one in Powerpoint. No Macs. No “online thingys” (we’re on an airplane – that online thingy doesn’t really work so good without connectivity.) Fascinating. And – yes – it’s United and the bathroom – even in first class – is filthy.
I was looking forward to getting up at 3:30am this morning and flying to Chicago for the FeedBurner board meeting. At 1am I woke up with the feeling that a bug had crawled into my ear and was gnawing on my eardrum. I suffered through the next few hours but at 3:30am decided I was unfit for getting out of bed and schlepping to the airport so I rolled over and slept some more.
I joined the FeedBurner board meeting by phone. By the time it was over, I felt well enough to head to New York at the end of the day. However, I missed the moment of truth at the board meeting when the board morphed into eight Dick Costolo’s.
I love simple, descriptive tag lines (or mottos) for companies. My first company – Feld Technologies – has a very clear motto – “We Suck Less.” I was at Newmerix yesterday looking at some of their new stuff. Whenever I’m asked about Newmerix, I describe them as a “software quality assurance / change management suite for packaged applications.” The long version – on the Newmerix web site – is:
Newmerix offers an integrated suite of program management, functional testing, and change control software to manage your PeopleSoft application lifecycle. Newmerix’s Automate! software suite helps you:
- Stay current with PeopleSoft patches, bundles and upgrades
- Comply with regulatory mandates such as Sarbanes-Oxley
- Improve PeopleSoft application quality and minimize affect on business operations
- Control PeopleSoft application change processes
They’ve recently come out with a change management product for SAP (guys – time for a minor website upgrade.) As we devolved into a discussion about how difficult it is to deal with managing packaged applications, Niel Robertson – the CTO – blurted out “managing packaged applications is a pain in the ass.”
My suggestion for the new Newmerix motto: “We make managing packaged applications less of a pain in the ass.” If you work for a big company and have to deal with Peoplesoft and SAP patches / upgrades / customizations / migrations and this motto resonates with you, send me an email and I’ll get you connected with the Newmerix guys.
Last week it crossed my mind that I hadn’t seen any new VC bloggers in a while. Suddenly – in a matter of days – three popped up: Bijan Sabet (Spark Capital), George Zachary (Charles River Ventures), and Rob Hayes (First Round Capital). I’ve invited them all to the FeedBurner Venture Capital Network. If you are a VC blogger and not in the network, drop me an email.
My next marathon is on December 9th at Kiawah Island. Dean Kanazes – who is 44 marathons into his 50 in 50 quest (a marathon in each state over a 50 day period) just did #44 on Kiawah Island. His description of it is motivating – even with the wrong turn that added a mile or so. Dean finishes up this weekend in NY – he’s been blogging daily on what has turned out to be an amazing run.
The first public stuff about one of my fun new investments has started to emerge. Me.dium – which is based in Boulder and funded by Spark and Appian – got a few writeups including one in GigaOm (Medium Makes Web Browsing Social) and David Cohen’s Colorado Startups (Me.dium – Social discovery in real time.) Both do a nice job of introducing the concept, including the challenge of having your Me.dium “aha moment” which – once you have it – you’ll totally get it. Bijan Sabet – a partner at Spark and new VC blogger – also has a quick post on it.
Me.dium’s still in private beta, but feel free to apply if you are interested in seeing what it’s about. I’m bfeld in case you want to invite me to your network.
I was at a board meeting on Friday for a company that is doing great and growing quickly. This will be their second year of revenue and – for a software company – it’s far ahead of its peers for being in its second year of having products in the market. I’m really impressed with and proud of what the founders and leadership team have built to date – and they are good at being introspective about what is working vs. what is not working.
One of the board members – who is also an entrepreneur – made the observation that we’ve built an “excellent small business.” The challenge now – especially as we look at some of the things we are uncomfortable with – is making the transition to an “excellent medium sized business.” While a few companies blast through this barrier, the vast majority of the ones that I’ve been involved with or observed that have made this transition have struggled to get there as they were faced with numerous challenges, including many that were new to the leadership team – either due to experience or to the growth vector they were on.
I’m currently involved in a few companies that are excellent small businesses that are now in their transition to a medium sized company. I’ve experienced this a lot over the last decade and have plenty of views on it – both around what succeeds and what fails. One of the neat things about being on my side of the table (e.g. the investor) is having lots of data points – time to put that to work again.
Education in Colorado is a well known “issue” for anyone that lives here. While our current (and soon to be previous) political leadership (e.g. the governor’s office) hasn’t done much, a number of incredibly hard working and dedicated people – such as my good friend Jared Polis – have thrown themselves deeply into the challenge of trying to improve the education system in Colorado.
Lisa Reeves of SAP – who happens to live in Boulder – send me two great things last week. The first is a remarkable blog called The Fischbowl which is spearheaded by Karl Fisch – the Director of Technology at Arapahoe High School. It’s an awesome example of how blogging can be used to in a high school. In addition to Karl’s blog, Lisa send me a superb presentation that everyone should click through and ponder. My favorite slide segment is “Name this Country:
- Richest in the World
- Largest Military
- Center of world business and finance
- Strongest education system
- World center of innovation and invention
- Currency the world standard of value
- Highest standard of living
The answer is – England – in 1900. Sound familiar all you American’s out there? The presentation ends delightfully with “shift happens” which – of course – is where we started.