We have some entertaining news to share with you today. We have recently registered with the SEC and are now considered Registered Investment Advisors. Did we do this so that we can have cooler business cards? No. Did we do this because our back office was lacking in purpose? Heck no.
We had to, per the SEC rules. And the reason you ask? Well, we can’t tell you that or we could possibly break some other SEC rules. So for now, just accept that your friendly neighborhood venture capital firm is now subject to a lot of new and stimulating paperwork.
Why are we even bothering telling you this? Because it will affect what we can say on the Foundry Group blog and personal blogs that we write. We’ll have to be careful with statements that we make about companies we invest in. We’ll also be cautious in what we write about our funds or the industry in general. According to the SEC rules, we can no longer write anything that “promotes” our funds. While we’d argue that we never try to promote our firm, but just write anything that comes to mind and try to have fun doing it, with our new registration status comes new responsibilities.
This will be a learning process for us and our goal is to bring you content that is still 100% transparent. Please be patient with us if there are hiccups along the way, or perhaps even questions that we can’t legally answer in the comment sections anymore.
And as always – thank you all for the support. We love what we do and the community, and our interaction with you through our blogs, is a big reason why. And, don’t worry, there will be a third VC video from us – someday.
I’ve decided to try something new on this blog. Rather than using up full posts for short announcements, I’ve added a new block for announcements at the top of the home page. It’s in orange, will generally be only a few lines, and include a link.
Since these are just blog posts being formatted differently, they will show up in the RSS feed and the daily email. In addition, there is a page in the Archives for the announcements.
If you have any feedback on this (good or bad), I’d love to hear it.
Every few years I update the look and feel of my blog. This year is a significant upgrade, both on look and feel as well as the entire back end infrastructure.
In the past six months, I’ve started to notice complexity creep into everything in our world. While design is still front and center for many developers and entrepreneurs, I’ve gotten tired of the overwhelming UIs, confusing UXs, and immense complexity under the hood. It’s kind of like a calendar that just keeps getting stuff added to it – all of a sudden you are busy for all of your waking hours with meetings, and have no time to really get any work done.
We took a completely bottoms up approach this time and started from scratch. We tossed everything out and rebuilt everything – the infrastructure, the blog, and the design – from the ground up.
A thing you probably won’t notice, but is the starting point, is that we’ve moved feld.com to Pantheon. We are investors and love the company. The only thing you should notice is lightning fast response all the time, regardless of traffic load. If you ever notice anything different, please tell me.
Next, we approached the design from a minimalist perspective, which is coming back into vogue in a lot of places. My blog was starting to feel like a Geocities site to me, with all kinds of additional crap on it beyond my writing, and I decided I just wanted it to focus on my writing and my community in the comments. I copied Fred Wilson in this regard as he made this shift a while ago. After looking at many popular blogs, I kept coming back to his approach.
We’ve tried to do this in a way that keeps the writing front and center but still has easy access to other things on feld.com. On the left is site specific stuff, such as additional feld.com content (About, Investments, and Marathons), clear discovery (Search, Categories, and Tags). On the right is post specific actions (Comments, Category for the Post, Tags for the Post, and Sharing options.)
If you want to subscribe to anything or follow me anywhere, that’s on the top right.
We’ve also rebuilt the data underlying things from scratch. We’ve gotten rid of a ton of plug-ins that either weren’t being used or didn’t add anything (other than slowing the site down). We worked hard on a site that could be viewed on any platform, regardless of browser or mobile device. And we’ve tried to keep the principle of clean, minimal, and readable – with the focus on the content – throughout.
I’m sure there are many, many things we could improve. As I roll into 2015, we are going to finalize this theme with your feedback, and then apply it to all the other active sites in our universe, especially StartupRev.com which desperately needs an overhaul.
So – comment with any feedback you have – good, bad, and other. Constructive or flamey. In the comments, or via email to me. And, if we blew it, we’ll keep iterating.
At the beginning of October, I wrote a post titled New Email Newsletter on Work-Life Balance where I decided to try a new email newsletter tool called Letter.ly to produce a paid email newsletter on work-life balance ($1.99 / month). I’ve decided to end this experiment and sent out the following letter to the email list tonight. Of course, because I didn’t tune the settings on Letter.ly it tweeted out the post, which recursively forced you to subscribe to read it. Oops. Here it is.
I’ve decided to end my experiment with Letter.ly (and – more importantly – “paid subscription content.”) I want to thank each of you for being part of this experiment.
I realize there was a cost to it (I think some of you have paid $1.99, others have paid $3.98 to date.) I tried to refund the money, but there wasn’t an easy way to do this. As a result, if I encounter any of you in the next year, I’m perfectly happy to reimburse you directly (just ask for the cash). If we don’t cross paths physically, please feel free to ask me for a favor via email (email@example.com) or, if you really want your money back, email me your Paypal account info and I’ll Paypal you $1.99 or $3.98 (depending on how much you paid.)
Now, on to why I decided to stop this experiment. Basically, I found it incredibly unsatisfying. As an almost-daily blogger since 2005 (and often more than once a day), I thought it would be interesting to explore paid content via an email newsletter approach. It was interesting – in that I feel a combination of “strange pressure to produce” combined with “discomfort with charging for the content.”
1. Strange Pressure to Produce: After five years of blogging, writing a post has no emotional content at this point. I just write. Sometimes my posts are insightful; often they are just words. I don’t feel the need to “produce valuable stuff” – I figure people will read the posts if they want. In contrast, every few days I thought about the idea of writing something for this newsletter. Ideas would cross my mind, but they were rarely compelling to me. Yet I felt pressure to write. Periodically, the following thought would cross my mind: “If I don’t write at least $1.99 worth of stuff a month, I’m going to be letting down my readers.” And then I’d contemplate this. $1.99? Seriously? Is this how I’m valuing things all of sudden? The mere fact that I was thinking about this, especially since there was no practical way that the amount of money I’d make from this would have any impact on my life, seemed like a waste of mental and emotional cycles.
2. Discomfort With Charging for the Content: This is related to the idea that the money isn’t material to me. Over the past 60 days, I’ve seen several tweets that said some version of “Seriously Feld, you are charging for your content?” of “Feld puts up a paywall.” While I don’t object to getting paid for content, this seemed like a really strange / retro way to do it. Whenever I pondered it, I was uncomfortable; whenever someone called me out on it I felt strange.
I learned what I wanted from this experiment – I don’t want to write a paid newsletter, nor do I want to charge subscribers directly for blog-like content that I produce. With that, the experiment is over. Going forward, I’ll be posting all of my Work-Life Balance writing to my blog at www.feld.com, regardless of whether or not this impacts my book publisher’s view on the content.
As there appears to be no way to delete this newsletter, please unsubscribe. In the mean time, I’ve lowered the monthly price to $0.10 (the lowest the system will let me charge.)
A few weeks ago I had my weekly mentor meeting with Ian and Adam from Gearbox. We messed around with the latest version of “the ball” on an Android phone and then talked about a bunch of things that were going on. I am totally amazed at the technical progress they are making this summer – these guys are magicians. But they’ve been shy about getting out there and showing off what they’ve been up to. My sense after talking to them is that their hesitancy was a combination of prioritization, focus, and “the need to get everything right.”
I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something like “this stuff is so fucking cool – just start blogging about what you are doing, get the API out there, and get out in front of the world with this.” Two days later they sent me a note that their first blog post Gear What? was up and they’ve been blogging and talking up a storm ever since, including emerging on the bunker to play on the Pearl Street Mall and flying to Aspen in Paul Berberian‘s plane to spend the day at Mini Maker Faire Aspen.
Now they are having a Hackathon on the weekend of July 24th/25th. An early version of their API is out and I’ve seen some cool shit running on an Android phone so I know it’s hackable. If you are an Android developer, this is going to be fun, plus there’s the staple of every hackathon (free food, beer, and red bull.) If you want to play, send an email to ian [at] gearbox [dot] me.
Oh – and if you are into robots, go check out the 2010 Denver Robot Expo & Mini Maker Faire. Yup – the Gearbox guys will be there.
As you may have noticed, I’ve got a new blog design, as do my partners Jason Mendelson, Ryan McIntyre, and Seth Levine. Every year or so I get bored of my blog design and we go through a nice little upgrade. Our good friends at Slice of Lime do all the design work and Ross (our IT guy) wrangles everything.
We’re still changing some stuff, but if you have any suggestions or notice any bugs, please leave comments so I can tune things up.