Saw Inglorious Basterds last night and it really is an amazing movie. Utterly fantastic performance by all actors (most notably Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent, Brad Pitt and August Diehl). This is the track playing when Shosanna Dreyfuss (Mélanie Laurant) prepares for her vengeance, putting on make-up, Rambo-style. She’s a true revelation and the track is a perfect fit for this scene.
Yesterday, we arrived at my parents in Long Island. Last night after the kids went to bed, my dad told us some amazing things about his childhood that I had never heard before.
My brother and I have learned a lot about my parents lives over the years but I know there are gaps missing from the stories. And there are certainly photos missing. The old photos we have aren’t tagged or organized at all and we don’t have any videos naturally.
I told my parents that they should write down their life story. Start at the beginning. They have led fascinating lives. One little tidbit: They both came from different countries to the United States in the 60’s. My mom is from Korea. My dad is from Iran. They met after medical school during their residency in New York. My mom was supposed to be arranged but she met my dad. There is so much more to their story….
These days many of us are sharing our lives on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, blogs and flickr. It’s an attempt to write down and share our life story. From the seemingly mundane to the other end of the spectrum.
I hope my kids can one day check out my shared life to get another window into my life story.
And hopefully they will do the same for the next generation.
I’ve recently seen a number of complicated deals and thought it was worth sharing the issues that come along with them.
One of our companies is looking for an independent board member. We have a few candidates in mind. One of them in particular seems like a great given his track record. But that person wants a complicated arrangement. I haven’t seen anything quite like it in any of our other portfolio companies. I’ve encouraged the CEO to offer this person a simple standard offer (for this type of position) or just move on. I am a big fan of this individual but not the deal being proposed.
I’ve also seen a number of startups lately where the employees have different deals, terms, incentives, employment contracts etc. I’m all for a meritocracy where some employees deserve more compensation. However, I would highly recommend keeping the terms standard and just dial up (or down) the cash and stock. Everyone should have the same terms when it comes to vesting, acceleration, severance, bonus schedule, etc (except the founders in some cases). It’s easier to keep track, minimizes resentment (or regrets) and makes future hires easier.
The last one I’ll share today is equity financing terms. The first problem with complicated terms in financing documents is the chance that honest mistakes are made along the way. It happens.
The second problem is that you have to live with those complicated terms and most likely will have to give those same rights to future investors as well. Those complicated terms live on forever and might even compound. That’s not good for the founders/employees and it’s not good for the early investors.
Just a list of random thoughts. (Hope you don’t mind)
0 - My brand new MacBook Pro has a 500 gig drive. I always knew the day would come where I would be carring around a half a terabyte - but it’s amazing nonetheless.
1 - This past week on vacation I saw my wife and my oldest daughter tear through a ridiculous amount of books. We had to make a trip to the local bookstore mid week to re-stock. I asked my wife why she doesn’t own a Kindle at this point. Two answers: a) don’t want to ever deal with troubleshooting a book and b) can’t share books with a kindle. She loves giving away books to friends and family. It’s her thing.
I didn’t ask my daughter if she wants a kindle because i already could guess the answer. I haven’t convinced myself that a 10 year old should get a Kindle. Maybe I’m old fashioned about some things.
Yes, it's easy to go after Apple but let's not forget a few things
These days it’s very easy to go after Apple’s business practices with iTunes & iPhone.
Unlike the Macintosh operating system where any developer can build an app, the iTunes App Store and iPhone has a specific limitation. Apple must approve your app.
The most high profile app drama is Google Voice. Apple has not given Google permission to run that app on the iPhone. This is on top of the other issues with the app store such as phoney reviews, odd or delayed approval process and other rules that don’t make sense to users or developers.
The reality is that the app store is only about a year old. Before Apple’s app store, the iPhone existed for about a year without any reasonable way to install 3rd party apps (yes, jailbreak showed us the way but most users didn’t do that).
And for the most part, I agree with all of the App Store critics. I wish the Apple App Store was open for all developers. It should work just like anyone can build a website that works with any standard browser and just like building apps for MacOS.
But as long as we are shining a light on Apple, let’s keep a few things in mind:
0 - Life before the App Store.
Before the iPhone and App Store there wasnt any reasonable way to install apps for mobile phones. Just spend 10 minutes with an experienced BREW developer for Verizon handsets. Ask them what that’s like. Before the App store, every mobile 1.0 entrepreneur I know didn’t want to touch client software. They wanted to either build mobile web services, cloud services and/or SMS related services. Some of them told me they were done building mobile software altogether.
You could argue that the carriers didn’t allow it but how did Apple convince AT&T while other titans of the industry (e.g. Motorola, Nokia, Microsoft etc) failed to make that case.
Apple changed all of that and raised the bar. In the past year or so, they have gotten it wrong with a number of things but they are mostly doing it right (ease of use, ease of payment, ease of discovery, etc).
1 - How about other devices? Consider games consoles.
Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox are selling in huge volumes every year. And those hardware platforms are extremely powerful. They bring crazy computing horsepower and internet connectivity to millions of televisions around the planet. Sounds like an amazing platform for innovation.
But they are closed. Yes, there are loads of titles for those game consoles. But can anyone build any app and distribute on the PS3 or Wii or Xbox? Or does the game console manufacturer have final approval. You know the answer to that one.
2 - Set top box.
It’s beyond closed. Why can’t I connect an external hard drive to the DVR that Verizon or Comcast. It has a USB port. It wouldn’t be hard and that platform has been around forever. Certainly longer than the App Store. Why can’t third parties plug into the MSO’s video on demand system and provide new services and content. Why can’t I replace the guide with a better one? How about downloadable apps to the set top?
3 - Propriety codecs (Sony videocams, etc)
These are simply a few obvious examples. There are many others.
Yes, I agree with the Apple App Store critics. Apple needs to open that up and create a level playing field for all developers.
But let’s not let everyone else off the hook either. They should at the very least become as open as Apple.
(p.s. - small prediction: I believe the Apple App Store will open up completely within a year)
“Recently California’s Governor announced a free digital textbook competition. The results of that competition were announced today. Many traditional publishers submitted textbooks in this digital textbook competition in CA as well as open publishers. An upstart nonprofit organization named CK-12 contributed a number of textbooks (all free and open source material). ‘Of the 16 free digital textbooks for high school math and science reviewed, ten meet at least 90 percent of California’s standards. Four meet 100 percent of standards.’ Three of those recognized as 100% aligned to California standards were from CK-12 and one from H. Jerome Keisler. None of the publisher’s submissions were so recognized. CK-12 has a very small staff, so this is a great proof of the power of open textbooks and open educational resources.”—Slashdot News Story | Open Textbooks Win Over Publishers In CA
The reality is that no one knows but it’s fun to think about.
So in that spirit, here’s what I want in my future Apple television
1 - Make it beautiful. I have no doubt it would look great. Right now we have a Pioneer Elite plasma in our family room. Yes, it’s a fine tv. But Apple could make a much beter looking physical device. The iPhone and MacBook Pros are a work of art. I’m thinking a future apple television set would be super thin and built beautifully. How about a 50 or 60” OLED? It’s not possible with the current manufacturing processing technology/limitations but a boy can dream right? .
2 - iSight camera. We have a Mac Mini connected to our Pioneer HDTV. But we don’t have iSight camera hooked up. It would be awesome if it was integrated in the monitor itself.
3 - Less is more. I don’t want anything I don’t need or want. Please don’t include tuners, speakers, cablecards, blue ray or any of those legacy video input sources. Just give me a few HDMI inputs and that’s it. Maybe an SD memory slot. I just want the perfect compliment to the MacMini in our family room. That’s it.
4 - Open. It should be open like my Mac Mini is today. I would never buy it if it’s closed. Support for multiple media players and codecs is a must.
5 - Networking. It’s gotta have ethernet and wifi.
I’m sure I’m missing some cool stuff. Feel free of course to add away !
“We’re gearing up to launch a new feature which makes Twitter truly location-aware. A new API will allow developers to add latitude and longitude to any tweet. Folks will need to activate this new feature by choice because it will be off by default and the exact location data won’t be stored for an extended period of time. However, if people do opt-in to sharing location on a tweet-by-tweet basis, compelling context will be added to each burst of information.”—
i wanna meet a professional web programmer! im talkin’ hardcore back-end e-commerce, user login, databasing shit. not just css/html. hit me!
It’s exciting to see more artists take control and move to Tumblr.
When I first switched to Tumblr in 2007 it was prior to our original investment in the company. Initially I was drawn to the simplicity and power of the platform.
But very quickly the music scene became one of my favorite things about the service. Tumblr users are passionate about music.
Tumblr has a built in constraint when it comes to music sharing. One song per day. That’s it. I think that simple constraint actually provides a terrific filter. We get one shot a day. Let’s make it a good one. I know I try to do that.
Check out these Tumblr powered sites when you get a moment. They share some amazing music.
Lindsay Campbell (Lindsay gets an honorable mention here. She doesn’t share music as often as the other folks on this list but when she does it’s always great. maybe this post will even encourage her to share more tunes :).
Update: I forgot to include Dave Hyndman in this list. My bad.
Last night we went to see David Wilcox play in Harvard Square.
I’ve been into David’s music since my early days of college. Up until then the only folk musician I really liked was Dylan and Billy Bragg.
But there was something about the lyrics in those songs at the time. Many of them spoke right to me. At the time I was 19 and had no idea what the world was about. No idea what I wanted to do. I questioned everything and got only a few answers. By then I had a couple of relationships that weren’t positive either.
David’s early songs were pensive, wandering, sad, hopeful but there were signs of a broken heart and a guy that didn’t feel comfortable in his own skin.
A few more years and a couple of albums later and it was clear we were both making some progress :)
So last night we went to see his show. David now has a 16yr old and a marriage that shines out of him. His new songs are much more positive and optimistic. But there is still a hint of a guy that is searching but at the same time thankful for the moment