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Showing posts from 2006

Boulder Smartness, education or attitude?

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Is Boulder, CO. really America's smartest city? David Cohen in his Coloradostartups blog tidbits section pointed me to the Forbes magazine article on this.

The article, dated December 15th, 2006, in Forbes, titled Amercia's Smartest Cities is here.

They seem to be using two criteria: Percentage of population with Bachelor, Masters and PhD degrees, and 'degree of stickiness' (keeping people in town after they graduate).

I have to wonder if this is a valid criteria. At the same time, I have to admit, Boulder IS a great place (considering it's actual population of a few hundred thousand people) for finding really talented people (or attracting them).

This focus on education level, though, bothers me. Education is a great thing, but at the same time it's also limiting in that it can create a sort of fence around what you're willing to accept as the right way to think about (and effectively, how to do) something. It can limit you. I've known more than my f…

Web 2.0 and VC's= maybe a good thing afterall.

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There's been a huge amount written in the blogosphere about how Web 2.0 with it's low startup costs and rapid growth patterns negates (or at least minimized) the need for traditional venture capital.

Fred Wilson of Flatiron Partners in NYC has an excellent blog post up on how, and why, Web 2.0 and VC's mix very nicely, thank you. He sums it up with the following graph:



His premise is simple. The cost, in the early years, of a startup has dropped significantly. As the business takes off, all the usual business expenses (hardware, bandwidth, sales force, etc.) still pop up. So, the costs rise and need for capital required from VC's kicks in.

The upside is much of the risk is removed for VC's in the early stages (due to the low costs) and, assuming your company survives and grows, more of the equity remains in the hands of the founders (because much of the risk was removed along the way, requiring less equity be given up).

Nice trade off all around.

4 hours of snow in Boulder

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LOTS OF SNOW. Three pictures taken of a table on my back deck. 3:30pm, 5:30pm and 7:30pm. Check it out:



The Second Board Meeting

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So, our second board meeting for ClickCaster was yesterday. We had everyone in attendance: Myself and two of my folks (Pete and Marsha) and our directors, Brad, Niel, Jerry by phone, and a guest (David, one of our investors) who's likely to join the board shortly.

We went over some of the mechanics (approving the minutes from the last meeting with some input on how they should be short and highlight via bullet points what was discussed, how to best report finances consistently, etc.) and then went over the current state of the business.

This was an excellent discussion. We went over our activities over the last month such as development, new product capabilities, growth, status of existing customers and contracts, and results of interviews with potential customers but we spent the bulk of our time talking about where the business should go.

We looked at competition and determined we were well positioned. We looked at and discussed other companies our board members were familiar …

Chaos

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Oh baby, I love it. The big mondo media world is finding size, in fact, does not matter.

From today's Wall Street Journal:
The first round of bids for Tribune Co. have come in low, prompting the newspaper and TV company to notify bidders that it is now prepared to consider offers for parts of the business, say people familiar with the situation.The brief story then talks about how 'wealthy individuals' like David Geffen are interested in buying parts of the Tribune Company like The LosAngeles Times.

We're seeing this in radio land as well. Rumors are afoot that Clear Channel, with flat profits and no more room to grow, is looking at selling off stations.

Could it be the value of these assets is dropping as they get farther and farther behind how real people are using media? Smearing ink on ground up tree's and sending out energy on a tiny slice of electromagnetic spectrum were once cutting edge technology for media distribution. No more. Geffen is in his 60's.…

Are early stage startups and normal lives incompatible?

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I've been thinking about this the last few months. Much has been written about how todays startups are made up of a bunch of under 25 year old single guys living together in a house they rent to start an internet company.

Well, it's bascially true.

But there's another group that's also well suited for this lifestyle (and it's very much a lifestyle: it effects every part of what you do).

Who? Middle aged folks (between 40-60) who are either single/divorced or empty nesters.It’s not a large percentage of this group.But there’s a lot more potential startup guys in this group than you might think.

I'm in my 40's. I'm divorced. I'm in good health. I don't feel much different than I did when I was 25. I don't party like a 25 year old any more, but I have no problem staying up to 2am, working through weekends and doing whatever it takes. I also have no problem using my personal resources to make this fly, including my house as our office/develo…

SEO and politics= just a matter of time.

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in Online Media Daily today:

A GOOGLE SEARCH ON THE name "George Allen"--a Republican U.S. Senator from Virginia running to retain his seat--now returns his official Senate page as the top organic result. But if some bloggers have their way, the top result will instead be "New 'N Word' Woe For George Allen," a CBS News article from September, highlighting the Senator's alleged use of a racial slur.
This is an interesting development. The Dems manipulating SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for their candidates benefit?

If you think of it, also makes complete sense. People likely to vote are also likely to use the internet. If you use the internet a lot, what do you do if you want to know more about someone? You Google them.

the Dems have been getting their butts kicked for years now by Republican media manipulation (Fox News anyone?), but this is an area where they might actually have a chance to level the playing field a bit.

Is it good? No. It sucks. …

The HELLISH World Of Four, no 5, Browsers

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Did they PLAN to make the lives of web focused services companies hell?

It does feel a little like they're picking specifically on us, but I'm sure there are thousands of other small Web2.0 developers saying the same thing right now.

I also think you've just seen the 'rapid' development on the web drop to half speed. At least for awhile.

Why? Because we effectively have to now develop for 4 browser environments. IE6 ,IE7, FF1.5 and FF2.0. And in reality, a 5th as well, Safari on Macs.

And, sadly, these bright shiny new versions of browsers did not bring everyone in line with agreed on standards. In particular IE7. Nothing is simpler, everything is more complex and, now, we have to develop 5 different set of hacks for each browser. At least for the next couple of years.

At least we have some time until Vista comes out.

Well damn, that took all 10 minutes. I wrote the above words and, in my mail I get this:
Like it or not, starting this morning every machine built b…

Is Angel investing good?

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Great discussion with Kimbal Musk and Brad Feld, hosted by Podcaster, blogger and investor, David Cohen. Damned interesting stuff. Kimbal, apparently, told David that he no longer believed in angel investment at a tech meetup in Boulder and David decided he wanted to go deeper, and to podcast it. So the three of them met at one of Boulders best restaurants (which happens to be owned by Kimbal) and chatted about it over coffee. Check out David's blog here, and listen to the podcast on ClickCaster here. Or click on the title of this blog entry.

What follows is a recap of the podcast in my own words with some color commentary. If you're going to listen to the podcast, you can skip the rest of this (and I'd encourage you to listen.. it's short, about 22 min, and loaded with great info).If you’re more of a reader than a listener, then read on…

Kimbal thinks a $500K investment is the same as a $50k investment (you get a prototype, but not alot more). Even with $500K, yo…

The First Board Meeting Redux

Well, that was an experience.

In my last post, I talked about the run up to our first Board of Director's meeting. We had that meeting on Friday.

Sooo... Things I learned from my first board meeting as a first time CEO:

Tell your CMO not to try out his EVDOhighspeed wireless card with Skype (for the first time) to call into the meeting.

Make sure you've checked every single one of your spreadsheets and that all the numbers match up perfectly, because your directors are going to find the ones that don't quite jive, guaranteed.

Make sure you have enough time. If you need 3 hours (not, say, 2) Schedule 3- not 2.

If the meeting time gets changed, make very sure all the directors know about it at least a week beforehand, even if you're not setting up the meeting personally. You should, personally, check to make sure everyone's on the same page on day and time. This seems obvious (and like a small thing). It's not.

Ride herd on the time spent on each agenda item. Dire…

The First Board Meeting

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Our First Board of Directors Meeting is tomorrow.

It's been an interesting experience. The board is made up of 3 of our investors (Brad Feld, Niel Robertson and Jerry Colonna) along with Marsha Davis, our CFO and myself.

Brad and Jerry have been on the boards of, I would guess, hundreds of companies. They've been to thousands of these. Niel's started several companies and been to more than his fair share himself.

Me? My first. At least as a CEO.

Yes, I've been one of the guys who presents to the board before (usually some staid group of industry luminaries at a Fortune 50 company). I always knew they were just tolerating me though. They generally weren't really sure what I was talking about (the curse of being the guy in a big company who's presenting the 'vision' and future directions). You'd think they'd find that interesting... oddly, these companies tend to shy away from things that change their businesses. Even really good companies. …

Andy's got some magic

Judy's Book InsightsThis is cool, and I'm going to do it with ClickCaster at our next group meeting.Andy's the CEO of Judy's Book (click here for the Seattle version of the site: JudysBook ) and he's got some great approaches to business.  I've only been reading his blog for a little over a month now and I've already gotten some incredible insights from some of the shortest of posts.  Very Zen Andy... keep it up man!

On deadlines and director meetings

All I can say is shit.Our first Board of Director's meeting is Friday.  And we have a big deadline for delivery of a custom podcasting site for one of our customers, and, of course, we rolled out a slew of new features and capabilities, all this week.  And, of course, all the fun that goes with it (ton's of directors questions;  requests for more info; oh.. yea, that's a serious bug we didn't catch before rollout; you want that new server farm up and running when?  That's funny Scott;  the artist and the developer fight, all of it at once).Always seems to work that way doesn't it?The good news is the team is pulling together well, and we're identifying (and addressing) the holes in our communications systems, processes and methodologies for getting things done.Sometimes, even though it's damned frustrating some days, overall, I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing than getting this startup company from 'emerging' to real.  I haven…

Gas Price Manipulated To Influence Nov. Elections?

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Noticed how drastically the gas prices have come down the last month? I get gas as Costco, and go sometimes 3 or more weeks before filling up (thank you Toyota Yaris) and I keep my receipts. The last price? $2.97 for regular in Mid Sept. Today? $2.29. That's a significant drop. Think there's any connection between that and the upcoming elections? Did you know that Bush's popularity rating is more directly tied to the price of gas than just about any other single polling measure out there? It is.

Ahh.. come on. That can't happen right?

From Lew Rockwells blog (www.lewrockwell.com):
An article appeared this Saturday in the New York Times pointing to some unusual trading by Goldman Sachs in the gasoline futures market. As Raymond Keller, who spotted the article, points out, "They always hide the good stuff in the low circulation Saturday edition."The article's worth reading. O…

RETAIL-IATION

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WAL-MART WARNS STUDIOS OVER
DVD DOWNLOADS Apparently, Wally World is feeling the heat from the digital age and worried about sales of those blobs of plastic we lovingly call DVD's. From a story by Tim Arango in the New York Post (click on this entries title for the full story):
Several weeks ago, in the midst of rumors that Apple was close to announcing a deal with Disney, Wal-Mart's David Porter - the executive responsible for stocking the retailer's shelves with DVDs and CDs and whose influence is so immense in Tinseltown that he's been named to Premiere magazine's annual power list - made the rounds of Hollywood studios. His message, according to a studio exec involved in the discussions: that there would be "serious ramifications" if the studios hopped in bed with Apple. "They threatened to hurt us in terms of buying less products," said this person."Serious Ramifications"? I'm pretty sure those are the exact words used by t…

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

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Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House. ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.
GREAT article in the Rolling Stone on how Bush did, indeed, rig the 2004 election. Lots of pretty compelling arguments and statistical analysis that shows that's what happened (Bush being elected) was, pretty much, impossible. I love the title. That question mark at the end is one of the tricks networks like Fox use to make accusations without having to support claims. Kind of like saying "Could your mother be a whore?" (Thanks to Jon Stewart for this example). An excerpt from the article:
But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted …

The US National Debt

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I've got to wonder if anyone's really paying attention to what our government is doing to the national debt. And we're not talking a slow decades long problem. Just a few years ago, I'm talking 3 years, we had a 500 billion plus surplus.

Today? Well let the US National Debt clock tell the story:

U.S. NATIONALDEBTCLOCKThe Outstanding Public Debt as of 17 Sep 2006 at 07:36:58 PM GMT is:
The estimated population of the United States is 299,521,300
so each citizen's share of this debt is $28,487.27.The National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$1.70 billion per day since September 30, 2005.


















Above is a graph that gives you a visual representation over time.

Now, I know that the Republicans have a semi-unstated goal of bankrupting the federal government in order to lessen the influence of government in our lives. But I've got to ask is this is something that works.

I'm technically an independent. I don't really follow a party line. But I know one…

My First DECLINED LinkedIn invitation!

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I am crushed.

An old collegue from Apple Computer (who, albiet, I didn't know well, I just remembered her name) TURNED DOWN my LinkedIn invitation!

A first! I'm sad. And a bit happy. I'm glad to see that there's at least some degree of filtering going on. I know I've said no to alot of the guys just looking to add names to their list, but not all of them (LinkIn 'notches' on the belt... so to speak.. God, when I think of it, I feel so... used....sigh).

Invitation DeclinedLinda XXXX (formerly XXXX) declined your invitation to connect, because Linda doesn't know you well enough to represent your interests when forwarding requests or facilitating contacts.And added these comments:Sorry, I'm keeping my network restricted to those I know very well.You can view your connections here, or by pasting the following link into your browser:http://www.linkedin.com/xxxxxThank you for using LinkedIn.--The LinkedIn Team
http://www.linkedin.com/

Bob Dylan... Luddite!

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Bob Dylans a Luddite!

What's interesting about this is he's been on the cutting edge of music for so long, and is obviously using digital technology in the studio.

I wonder if he's releasing the new album on vinyl.

Who'd a thought? From Wired:
Bob Dylan says the quality of modern recordings is "atrocious," and even the songs on his new album sounded much better in the studio than on disc."I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," the 65-year-old rocker said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.Dylan, who released eight studio albums in the past two decades, returns with his first recording in five years, Modern Times, next Tuesday.Noting the music industry's complaints that illegal downloading means people are getting their music for free, he said, "Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway.""You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sou…

Verizon's now making up fee's, literally

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Anyone who thinks the phone company will do the right thing and 'pass on savings to the consumer' just got a nice screw you from Verizon.

Apparently, the government stopped requiring Verizon charge a universal fee to help cover the cost of phone service coverage in rural areas on DSL lines. From $1.20 to $2.80 a month. Your bill should drop by that much now, right?

Not so much. The unvarnished word directly from Verizon:
"Effective August 26, Verizon will charge a Supplier Surcharge for all DSL customers. The surcharge helps offset costs we incur from our network supplier. The Supplier Surcharge will be $1.20/month for 768Kbps service customers and $2.70/month for higher DSL speeds.

Verizon Online will cease charging an FUSF recovery fee, beginning August 14, 2006. The impact of the elimination of the FUSF fee is for DSL customers up to 768Kbps, fee eliminated is $1.25.month; for DSL customers of up to 1.5Mbps and 3Mbps services, the fee eliminated is $2.83/month. On balan…

Windows Live Writer: Just Stupid?

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Alright.. isn't the point of web 2.0 to be on the WEB? Isn't the concept of a downloable application like this just announced Windows Live Writer from Microsoft against everything Windows Lives is supposed to be? (LIVE.. like.. right there... on the web. AJAX, WebApps, yadayada.... you know Web 2.0...).

Introducing Windows Live WriterWelcome to the Windows Live Writer team blog! We are excited to announce that the Beta version of Windows Live Writer is available for download today.Windows Live Writer is a desktop application that makes it easier to compose compelling blog posts using Windows Live Spaces or your current blog service. Blogging has turned the web into a two-way communications medium. Our goal in creating Writer is to help make blogging more powerful, intuitive, and fun for everyone.

Am I missing something or is this as it appears: just stupid?

I'm actively deleting my stand alone applications from my computer. I use google spreadsheet for 80% of the sprea…

Cars: Stepping down while stepping up

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I just traded in my Mini Cooper for a 2007 Yaris. It's weird, As I get older, I'm finding I like simpler, and friendlier to the world I live in.

At 40MPG, this little beastie puts even the Mini Coopers high 20's low 30's to shame.

I paid about $12,500 for it. (actually, I traded the Mini and got a nice big check back).

I've owned Porche's, Lexus and Audi's. I've spent twice the average American's annual income on a single car several times. I've come to the conclusion it's just dumb. That 12 MPG Landcruiser cost as much as 5 of these cars. Did I ever take it off road? Did it save my ass in a pileup? Was there really any reason to buy it other than it was big, it was impressive and it was expensive?

No.

I suppose some of it is just: I don't care what others think of what I'm driving anymore. Yea, I used to. I admit it. I just don't anymore. And, having lived in startup company land the last year or two, I've really g…

Does Apple believe in OpenSource? Really?

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Apple is trying the OpenSource approach, again.


By ScuttleMonkey on on-the-road-again Today Apple announced a few expanded open source efforts. First, beginning with Mac OS X 10.4.7, the Darwin/Mac OS X kernel, known as "xnu", is again available as buildable source for the Intel platform, including EFI utilities. Second, iCal Server, Bonjour, and launchd are moving to Apache 2.0 licensing. And finally, Mac OS Forge has been launched, as the successor to OpenDarwin as a conduit for hosting projects such as WebKit that were formerly hosted by the OpenDarwin project's servers, such as WebKit. Mac OS Forge is sponsored by Apple. DarwinPorts has already moved to its own servers. Update: 08/08 01:43 GMT by J : The official Apple announcement is now out. Other fun news: Leopard will ship with Ruby on Rails.

http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/08/07/2359256&from=rss

Something tells me this isn't going to work. They originally tried this with Darwin and formed Open…

Media Meltdown? Nope.. it's the aggregation of old and new media

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Chris Anderson, of "The Long Tail" fame has some interesting figures on traditional media.

Mainstream Media Meltdown IIIA couple times a year, I take a statistical look at mainstream entertainment and media in decline. All figures are year-on-year comparisons unless otherwise noted. (The last version of this, from November, is here).Down:
TV: netwo rk TV had its lowest ratings week ever in July.Music: weekly album sales set a 10-year low in July. For the year, CD album sales are down 4.2%; although digital single downloads (still less than 10% of the business) are up 77% and are nearly making up the difference in revenue terms. Radio: the music radio listening audience is down 8.5% this year alone, continuing a multi-decade decline. DVDs: shipments are down 4% so far this year, more than 30 million units behind the same period last year.Newspapers: circulation, which peaked in 1987, is declining faster than ever and is down another 2.6% so far this year.Mixed:Magazines: ad r…

Indian Scott?

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What if I'd been born in India and not the US?

THIS is what. heh. Check it out

http://www.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~morph/Transformer/

Web Video and the Cambrian Period

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Hmmm..... read that second sentence
USA Today
Web Video Madness!USA Today columnist Kevin Maney says the Web video craze has gone off the deep end. How long will consumers be content to watch videos of people slathering butter on their heads to combat graying hair? Or teenyboppers bouncing around lip syncing to pop music? "Web video sites are proliferating like bunnies that broke into a vat of Viagra," he says. Noted tech blogger Om Malik simply calls it "the madness." There are now more than 240 online video sites. Venture Capital firms invested upward of $156 million in online video in the first half of 2006. Most of these sites will fail, Maney says, just like all the Web-retailing sites of the mid-to-late Nineties. Remember eToys and pet'scom? Well, now we have Eefoof, Bix, Guba, Stickam, and Frozen Hippo, each wanting to become the next YouTube. "This is classic American capitalistic thinking," Maney says, "believing that if there's one…