A few notes about our nyc vacation

We spent Thursday-Saturday in NYC as a family. It was supposed to start on Wednesday but one of our kids was sick Tuesday night but fortunately got better by Thursday morning. (thanks to joanne & fred for having me over Wed night dinner. it was fun hanging out).

First, of all, people in nyc are incredibly nice. people went out of their way to chat with us, or the kids. We got tons of awesome recommendations. We followed many things on joanne’s list and hit a few other things too. 

Few highlights from the trip:

Food. We ate at some great places. Breakfast at Cafe Cluny’s in the west village was great. Loved their egg & avocado sandwich. I need to get there more. We also hit Pastis which is across the street from the hotel we stayed at. Love that place. Dinners at Momofuku (east village) & Blue Ribbon (soho) were awesome.

Scene. My daughters loved the scene around the meat market district. there was a photo shoot one day and the kids were digging the photographers and models. 

Parks. We walked everywhere in the city. We stayed exclusively in the meat market district, west village, chelsea & east village. And we hit many playgrounds along the way. Favorites were the Hudson River Park and Tompkins Square Park. The last time I went to Tompkins Square park was probably 20 years ago before or after seeing a show at CBGBs. Nothing like taking your kids to an old stomping ground.

Family. My parents came from long island to have dinner with us Friday night. I’m not sure my folks love the city that much but I’m glad they came in. I know we all loved grabbing gelato at Grom’s ;)

Mobile. I took a bunch of pix with iphone. Wish I took more. Twittered my way around the city and searched for a bunch of things with Tweetie which came in handy. Unfortunately Yelp on my iPhone didn’t work. That app broke after I installed iPhone OS 3.0 beta. The only casualty after my upgrade. but a big one. 

Heat. The weather was terrific and wonderful for our long walks. Saturday was really hot but we cooled off at the pool. The roof deck pool scene was funny. It was all 20-somethings and then us and our 3 kids. They seemed to get a kick out of our kids or at least I’m telling myself that :)

It was so great hanging in the city just for fun. Even though I get to nyc almost every week these days, it’s usually short and packed with work stuff. 

A fine (but short) family vacation. I needed it.

Thanks New York. See you soon.

Fortune has a photo gallery of various boards including FedEx, Costco, The Federal Reserve Board and McDonalds. 

They also took a photo of the Twitter board of directors from the playground in South Park SF. This one is a bit embarrassing (but its better than the McDonalds board pic). Anyway, here’s the photo of me, fred, ted, ev, biz, jack and peter.

Hello, iPhone OS 3.0 beta.

With a good friends help, I now have the latest beta of iPhone OS 3.0 running on my 3g iphone.

I’ve been using it for less than a full day but I’m blown away with this release (and it’s only in beta!).

My favorite things so far:

1 – Email in landscape mode. The iPhone keyboard is tough for me. I can’t type on it the way that I can on a blackberry. After all, I am the reigning Blackberry Dork-athon champion :) But the new 3.0 release lets you type in landscape mode which is a game changer for me.

2 – Copy and paste. The UI for copy and paste on the iphone is a breeze. Double tap on a word and then you get a beautiful interface to select the text you want and then cut, copy & paste. Crazy simple. They nailed it.

3 – Spotlight. For those of you that don’t use Macs, Spotlight is a Apple’s search app for MacOS. With iPhone OS 3.0, Spotlight is now on the iphone. It’s fast too.

4 – Shake = Undo. If you shake the iPhone it brings up an undo typing command. Brilliant.

I’ll report more as I find stuff.


Victoria – The Kooks

Been listening to War Child – Heroes Vol.1 which is a compilation record. Great tunes and proceeds go to help kids affected by war around the world. This song is a fun Kinks cover.

Is venture capital a team or individual sport?

Lately I’ve been talking and listening to a number of friends, business colleagues, investors, entrepreneurs about how VCs are judged. Should they be judged as a team or as an individual?

Few thoughts come to mind as I mull over those various discussions:

0 – The reality is that a vc firm is judged by their fund performance which is based on the team’s behavior, actions, decisions (probably why there is a fair amount of turnover in this business but I’ll leave that topic out of this post). But there are other points to consider as well.

1- As an entrepreneur you should pick a partner at the firm that is compatible with your vision, that you get along with and can work with your co-investors. You can’t fire your board member is one way to look at it. Fred has a well written post on the subject.

2 – As an entrepreneur you should also consider the firm as well. I know of a few deals that didn’t get to the finish line because the entpreneur didn’t like the firm they were talking to (even though they liked the specific partner they were working with). The feeling goes that if that partner “gets hit by a bus” (or leaves the firm) they will be stuck with a VC firm that doesn’t get it.

3 – Success has many fathers. I’ve heard from some VCs that deal credit can be quite confusing. Sometimes a VC will leave a firm and there is confusion with LPs on what that investor did or didn’t do. I guess where this comes into play is when a partner leaves a firm and joins or starts a new firm. The LPs want to know their track record. That leads to point #4.

4 – Here’s another example that happens all the time: People ask me often how “my” investments are doing in this economy. When I start talking about a particular company in our portfolio at Spark they will often interupt and say, “no, I meant your company” (they mean for the boards I’m on). I often respond, “they are all mine because they are all ours”.

5 – Similarly, blame has many targets. A few weeks ago I was in the bay area and met with a friend of mine that is at a great company now. I’ll call him Joe. Joe used to work at a high profile sand hill venture firm. We were talking about another partner that left a firm. Joe said that guy would have been one of the best VCs on the planet but his partnership wouldn’t let him do x,y, z investments. Had he done those deals he would have had the best track record in recent memory. It’s hard to say how real this account is in retrospect but it’s a good point nonetheless. If your partners don’t like the deal then it’s going to be hard/impossible to make the investment. And that may or may not be a bad thing. So in this case the individuals track record was radically impaired because of his partners judgement. Morale of the story: a) individual IRR can be misleading and b) make sure you pick your partners well! :)

So when I hear people ask, “Is venture capital a team or individual sport?” – my answer is always team. A well functioning team is key. I know that at our firm, we are better because of the team.  We help each other make better choices, get each other out of potential land mines, help our companies with hiring, compare life experiences in certain areas, etc. Even if its’ just to brainstorm – or vent.

I couldn’t imagine working in a firm that didn’t have that attitude.

Flash coming to your big screen? Don’t wait – get it now.

The number one story on Techmeme right now is Adobe’s upcoming plans to come out with an optimized version of Flash for set top boxes and televisions.

It’s a great idea and has tremendous opportunity and possibilities for consumers, advertisers, content owners and developers.

Maybe I missed it but I dont’ think any of the posts on Techmeme mention that Adobe has been talking and working on this for at least 10 years.

So why hasn’t it happened yet?

First, not too many folks wanted a stripped down version of Flash. We want the real thing. Second, the current crop of set tops from your cable and telco have crappy processors and memory. And the life cycle for televisions is too long.

The reality is that you can get Flash on your television right now. Just find an old Mac or PC (or buy a new Dell for $350) and install Boxee.

That’s what I did. Now in addition to Flash support, I have the best TV browser that I can use with any remote control (including the $20 apple remote). Plus its open source and can support a large number of formats beyond Flash.

I love Flash. But your don’t have to wait.

(disclosure: we are investors in Boxee and I’m on their board).