I don't use a laptop in meetings but what about iPad?
I know plenty of folks that bring a laptop to meetings. I’m not talking about people that use a laptop to present materials or need specific data in the actual meeting.
I’m talking about people that bring a laptop to take notes or whatever.
I’ve seen entrepreneurs do it and I’ve seen some VCs do it.
I’m not a huge fan of this idea which is why I don’t bring a laptop to meetings. Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I don’t like the idea of someone presenting or an important topic is being discussed and someone else in the room is banging away on the keyboard.
I prefer to take notes on my moleskine notebook. Paper and a pen. No distractions. Focused.
However, I confess the iPad that I have on pre-order has me thinking. The iPad seems perfect to bring to a meeting. Small/thin form factor, instant on, big onscreen keyboard and quiet. And unlike a laptop, you can’t hide behind the iPad screen.
Whaddya think? Bring an iPad to meetings or leave it in the bag?
For the past 5 years, I’ve been using a DSLR as my “real camera”. It started when I bought the Canon Rebel and then a few years back I bought the 40d. It’s an amazing camera that is fast & flexible. I have three very different lenses for almost every situation. It takes beautiful pictures.
But there is a problem with the 40d. It’s big & heavy and I end up leaving it home a lot. It’s not easy to carry that thing when I’m running around with three kids.
So the iPhone ends up taking a ton of photos which isn’t great. Sure, it’s excellent for the casual snapshot but I love photography, getting the right light and making pictures.
I absolutely love this camera. It’s light and the 20mm lens that comes with the camera is sweet. Autofocus is fast. It takes HD video.
Right now the only thing I miss about the 40d for everyday shots is the view finder. The view finder comes in handy on sunny days and some old habits die hard I guess. I’ll probably only use the 40d when I need my telephoto lens - otherwise I’m all about the GF1.
I highly recommend this camera if you are looking for an amazing camera but don’t want to lug around a DSLR, You won’t be disappointed.
Big companies often like to acquire great startups. Sometimes for good reasons or bad reasons. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t.
An overly simple way to think about selling out is comparing the desire to remain independent vs the acquisition price. There are many other factors but let’s just leave it as a simple choice for now.
But the truth is its never that simple.
Recently I heard about a startup that turned down a higher offer from one company in favor of a lower offer from a different buyer. And i know some startups that would rather remain independent than selling out to a specific larger company that will remain nameless.
It’s simply more than the money.
This is a healthy wake up call that big companies need to consider. It’s not enough to wave a huge checkbook around. That isn’t sufficient for the best startups. Big companies need to show startups how they will fit into the bigger picture, give the startup employees challenging & important positions, demonstrate why the combination will be in everyone’s interest.
And of course make pre & post acquisition process clean and smooth.
Senator Dodd is proposing a bill that introduces a review period on angel investments and reduces the number of angel investors.
That section would require, for the first time, companies seeking angel investment to make a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which would have 120 days to review it. This would both raise the cost of seeking angels and delay the ability of companies to benefit from their funding.
The negative impact of the SEC filing requirement would be aggravated by the proposed doubling of the net worth or income thresholds required for investors to be “accredited.”
I’m not sure why Senator Dodd feels compelled to go after startups and angel investors but this is simply nuts. Angel investors play a critical role in the startup ecosystem.
I encourage you to contact your elected officials and let them know how you feel. That’s what I’m going to do.
A studio version of this unreleased track debuted on BBC Radio this morning. Naturally, the radio rip was on every blog on my radar before I got out of bed. Great to hear the official version of this live cut that made the rounds last year. From the forthcoming High Violet, out May 11 on 4AD.
It’s easy for a VC to give feedback on presentation and demo styles. We see zillions week in and week out.
The great ones stand out.
But it’s easier said than done which is one of the reasons why I regularly give presentations. Whether it’s at a conference, or our annual shareholder meeting or a meetup or panel or whatever. It’s important to practice what you preach.
This afternoon I was at the YC Demo Day in Mountain View and sat through 26 startup presentations, back to back with just one brief break in the middle.
My head is spinning but I have to say, they all did a mighty fine job presenting their companies.
Things that stood out from a presentation point of view:
1 - You could see the passion in their eyes. These folks were pumped and it showed. And keep in mind this was Day 2, so they did this whole program the day before. Tireless passion. You can’t teach this.
2 - Each presentation was roughly 5 minutes long. It sounds awfully quick but they made the most of it.
3 - I loved the rhythm of these presentation. Quick intro of the founders, problem description, product description and then demo. Bam, bam, bam. Perfect.
4 - A number of entrepreneurs used humor in their presentations in just the right amounts. Too little and the presentation can by dry. Too much and it’s just, well, a joke. But the right amount is a wonderful way to engage your audience.
5 - Practice, practice, practice. It’s obvious that Paul Graham, the founder of YC, plays a huge role in helping these (mostly) first time entrepreneurs find their way and put together their presentations. And it’s also obvious that these founders practice their pitch over and over again so they can nail it in a room full of strangers.
I really enjoyed todays YC demo day. Very cool companies and founders showing how much is possible with a small amount of capital.
“The U.S. Congress seems to have taken the first steps toward offering government protections to American citizens in regard to their health care. This is being accomplished via an extremely imperfect set of inconsistent regulations, cobbled together as a result of courage, compromise, and cowardice, in ways that will infuriate many, but which will help millions. I’m not much of a praying man, but I say Hallelujah and Amen.”—Evan Handler: The Best Bad Thing to Happen in a Very Long Time
I use eBay from time to time. I buy things that I can’t purchase easily from Amazon or locally, like out of stock items. The perfect use case for me these days is buying vinyl records on eBay. It’s worked like a charm for me every time and I’m buying records across the globe.
Selling on eBay is awful in my experience. I have a lot of gadgets. So recently I decided to list some of them on eBay.
The process to list an item is painful in my opinion but that’s not the bad part.
The bad part is what comes next. Endless requests from people asking if you will end the auction early, or go around ebay, or people bidding & winning an auction and then flaking out. I’m now 0 for 3. I think I’m done.
There has to be a better way. What do you think? Is my experience likes yours or is it much better for everyone else?
Mumford & Sons - Cousins (Vampire Weekend cover live on BBC Radio 1)
Guess what. I’ve posted this song one before. On Monday to be exact. So why again? Simple, it’s cover Friday and this track has been on replay this entire week during my bike rides to the office and back home.
Love this version. Here’s the original for those that care.
“There are only two priorities for a start-up: Winning the market and not running out of cash. Running lean is not an end. For that matter, neither is running fat. Both are tactics that you use to win the market and not run out of cash before you do so. By making “running lean” an end, you may lose your opportunity to win the market, either because you fail to fund the R&D necessary to find product/market fit or you let a competitor out-execute you in taking the market. Sometimes running fat is the right thing to do.”—The Case for the Fat Start-Up | Ben Horowitz
How I experience music these days hasn’t changed much over the past few years.
It’s still mostly a combination of folks I follow on Tumblr and Twitter. I also find out about new bands from the Hype Machine. And I get my social radio fix from last.fm.
The new thing in the mix for me is Extension.fm which I’ve written about before.
And I love all of these services. They are simply amazing.
However, I’m wondering if this mix of tools is the right approach or does a more focused service need to exist to be laser focused on providing the best social network experience for music.
Right now, last.fm does a great job keeping track of my music playback history with their scrobbler. It works across multiple third party services and that data is pure gold.
But there isn’t a timeline. The logged in home page doesn’t look social even though there is a lot of social stuff built into the guts of the service like friends and neighborhood radio..
Here’s what the last.fm home page looks like:
That’s not the timeline or dashboard interface I’ve come to love from my favorite social nets.
There are also a variety of other tools out there that keep track of stuff my friends buy or consume (think Blippy). When a friend of mine buys a new record, shouldn’t that stuff show up in a music social net timeline? Or when they heart their favorite track on hypem or tumblr. Or when they see a live show?
I think there is a lot of opportunity to create a lightweight, simple & focused music social network that does a few things right and supports other services too.
The danger is that it becomes a dysfunctional swiss army knife which would be a missed opportunity.
I was reading Fred’s post today, The Ideal Phone System, and what stands out is how many older technologies didn’t stand the test of time because they were designed with a different set of assumptions about the evolution of voice.
In some ways, Fred’s post reminds me of my longtime desire to find the ideal home entertainment system.
As we’ve moved a number of times, I’ve created and changed our home a/v system several times over. In a nutshell (with many iterations along the way) my home entertainment system has evolved from:
-designed my own PC based server streaming media to PCs/Macs connected to our av system (optimized for local media)
-then I went to a closed, complicated, proprietary, expensive system (also optimized for local media)
-now I use low cost, easy to use products that mostly stream online media (some are open and others are closed but getting better)
The key thing is that the systems I had in the past assumed I had large amounts of home storage requirements. I can’t find it at the moment but I wrote a blog post a number of years ago about the challenges of backing up & organizing my media.
You would think as time went on that this problem would have compounded in complexity and demand. After all I regularly create and consumer more content photos, videos, music, text, etc).
But these days my home entertainment system is actually simple and fairly easy to maintain.
So what’s different now?
The vast majority of my content is streamed from the web. It’s not on my local network. Its a stream that I request and not a file that I manage. That’s a fundamental change thanks to our wonderful FIOS 20/20Mbps network. And as far as I’m concerned any devices that I add to my entertainment system has to be built for the internet stream and not the local file.
* * *
It’s intersting to watch TiVo make this change. The original TiVo was designed in a world where the best video content came from your cable operator. These days online video is extremely compelling and getting better all the time. So TiVo is changing. It’s less about bigger and bigger disks in the DVR and more about web content. That’s smart.
Maybe it’s because I was a boy scout growing up or a brown belt in taekwondo or maybe it was growing up on Long Island or maybe it’s because I’m short….I’m really not sure. But I’ve always had an allergic reaction to the tough guy, to the bully.
To me, it’s an attitude problem that I don’t care for. It’s where someone thinks that by acting like a tough guy they can push people around or force people to agree with them.
The worst offender are those that think it’s weak to treat people with respect.
Well, I didn’t like it then and I definately don’t like it now.
That is one of the best parts of my job. I don’t have to work with bullies.
It’s a powerful idea. You can essentially add digital content (comments, links, photos, etc) to any physical object.
Here’s how it works. First, download unique barcodes from Stickybits and attach them to an object. I have one on the back window of my car. If you have the Stickybits app on your iPhone or Android phone, you scan that barcode and leave a comment if you see my car.
That’s just one example. There are many more. Essentially, every physical object can now have a URL attached to it. The service also notifies you if someone adds content to a particular item if you choose.
You can also order Stickybits stickers which look a lot cooler (and more functional) than the printed codes. I bought a pack and already have plans of where I’m going to put them.
Here’s an easy way to check out how simple this all is. Download the app on your iPhone or Android. Then scan this barcode below from the app and leave me a message, photo or video. It’s really fun.
They have evolved from a pure publishing one to many model into a two way system where follow/follower, comments, reblogs, and “likes” provide a whole new experience.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that a blog post may receive a fair amount of interaction on the first day, little if any interaction on day 2 and it drops off big time after that. Even though Google directs a nice chunk of traffic to older posts, the interaction is still low.
Compare that with an message board. Head over to a forum like dpreview and you’ll see a conversation going about a particular camera or lens that started a month ago and is still on fire.
And those message board tools haven’t changed significantly in years. The don’t have threading or email replies that modern platforms like Disqus offers. Nor do they easily allow sharing of images, videos, links etc. There isn’t a follow/follower model.
I’d love to hear any thoughts on why blog posts don’t “live long” from an interaction standpoint or maybe my perception is wrong. I don’t think it’s the content. The quality of the content I read on blogs is quite high (and certainly better than message board posts).
So here’s the thing I get asked all the time: should all VCs blog?
Clearly, there are many successful VCs that are active bloggers.
But there are plenty of great venture capitalists that don’t blog at all.
I believe it really comes down to personal comfort. I believe VCs should blog if they truly enjoy it and not because they feel it’s about marketing or a way to show entrepreneurs how thoughtful they are (or think they are <g>). I suppose its like everything else in life - do what you love.
As someone that started in the venture business less than 5 years ago, I can’t imagine not blogging, participating, and showing up every day. It’s too much fun, too much learning and too much I want to share to ever give this up.
Here’s my first apartment I rented in SF back in the summer of 1992 (I was 22). It was on Waller Street, one block off the Haight.
That’s Lauren and my brother Amin in the pic. Lauren lived around the corner on Frederick and Cole St. Amin and I drove out together from Boston to SF in just four days. I taught him how to drive stick along the way.
My apartment was a studio - 600sq feet. The rent was $700 a month. The bathroom was so small that you had to walk in sideways to get passed the shower.
I preordered the re-release of “One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels” and I received an email today with the mp3 code. I can’t wait to download it when I get home. There are four new tracks. This is one of them.
With every (venture backed) consumer web startup there is always the question of when to start thinking about monetization.
If the monthly burn is modest, I usually suggest that startups focus on reaching scale first.
It’s not because I don’t care about revenue or because I embrace “hope as a strategy” (which never works).
Rather it’s because:
1 - when your user base is small it really doesn’t matter if you can get advertising, digital goods, subscription revenue going. The base is so small the conversion will be even smaller.
2 - startups need to focus, especially in the the early stage. With limited resources, the company needs to focus on the product and the users. If you start tinkering revenue too early then you suddenly find yourself having to borrow precious team resources to deal with various revenue projects. They always look small and innocent at first but they can snowball and can distract the team.
3. the ultimate revenue model may surprise you. as the product develops and evolves and your community grows, the revenue model is likely to reveal itself in an entirely new way. I’ve seen this happen several times and it’s a powerful reminder each time.
So when I meet a founder and he/she tells me that they are confident that they can monetize their future service with ads or subscription or whatever, I blow by that slide. I want to know about the product and how they are planning on growing the service to reach scale. That’s a leap of faith we both need to take at some level but that’s what I want to talk about vs a 2015 revenue forecast.
p.s.: Congrats to our portfolio company Tumblr for focusing on growth. Last year I remember David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, came to a board mtg. and said he was going to delay his monetization experiments and focus on growth. He had a game plan and told us about it. I’m so glad he did just that.