What a difference a decade makes

In just a few weeks, our little firm will reach our 12th year anniversary. I’ll probably write a post about that work birthday as the day approaches.

At the time, I was an Apple user with my trusted MacBook Pro. And on that computer, I had a number of installed desktop applications like Skype, Photoshop and of course the suite of Microsoft apps in Office. Along with a Blackberry. 

Just two years later, Apple introduced the iPhone and everything changed.

We ended up dropping Microsoft Exchange and switched to Gmail at work. We ditched our trusted Blackberries and went to the iPhone to check out this brave new world. I still kept using the MacBook Pro and subsequent models although I stopped using desktop apps for the most part.

A few weeks ago, my son’s school sent us an email saying he needs a laptop to start the 6th grade in the fall. Instead of buying him a laptop, I’m gave him mine.

And instead of getting myself a new laptop, I picked up a new iPad Pro with the Apple Smart keyboard. I do have an iMac on my desk. But I really don’t find it as enjoyable as iOS. And iOS 11 looks amazing. 

I’m really loving this iPad. The new 10.5″ screen is stunning. Apple’s iOS 11 is going to turbo charge this thing. And I am enjoying the pencil quite a bit. The only funky thing is the keyboard but I suspect in a few weeks I don’t even notice. it. 

For mobile, I’m all iOS. What a difference a decade makes.

Italy, Part I

Earlier this month, after the kids finished up school, we kicked off summer with a family vacation to Europe.

We started the trip with a few days in Florence. Florence is an incredible city filled with incredible art and so much history. You can just walk and walk and walk and never get tired by taking in all the sights.

We picked up a rental car and drove to Southern Tuscany. The drive in Tuscany was absolutely amazing. We kept saying, “is this place for real” as we made our way from one village to the next.

I have a such a soft spot for Italy. My wife is half Italian and I am quite convinced that I was Italian in another life. I love the people, the food, the joy of life and the espresso. Oh, that espresso.

Part II here.

(Cameras: Leica M3 & Hasselblad 503cw, Film: Kodak Portra 400, Developed & Scanned: Richard Photo Lab)

Love Switzerland

The first time i visited Switzerland was two years ago. My wife and I spent a week traveling the country by train for our anniversary. It was a wonderful trip.

Today we are traveling back from Greece to Boston. We had a 5 hour layover in Zurich.

My wife said, “let’s get of the airport and take the kids into Zurich and grab lunch”.


So once we landed, we dropped off our backpacks in a locker in Terminal 3 and jumped on the express train to Zurich HB.

Ten minutes later, we were out strolling along the river and walked into a wonderful spot for lunch.

After lunch we took our time and walked back to the train — and exactly ten minutes later we were back in Terminal 3. We picked up our belongings and now I’m sitting at the gate waiting to board our flight home.

I am not sure how many other cities in the world would allow for such a nice way to spend a 5 hour connection.

I love Switzerland.

(please excuse any typos. Wrote this post on my phone)

The zen feeling of shooting film on vacation

As our kids have gotten older and we have taken more trips together, I’ve been mindful of the amount of stuff we bring along on each trip.

The amount of cables, chargers, computers and phones have grown significantly since each of our kids have joined the connected world.

We try to limit our connected time while we are traveling. A little bit in the morning and then a little in the evening. Nothing crazy.

My photography love affair was starting to become a personal distraction.

I would take a photos during the day and then I would post process them each day on the trip. Mostly to review the shots I made but also to avoid the photos piling up for a bigger “job” at the end of the trip.

Massive time suck.

For the last few years I have been mainly shooting film. I like the process and I like the look of film so much.

A few years ago I made my first vacation shooting filmexclusively except for a few iPhone snaps.

And I’m doing the same thing on this trip.

Shooting film on vacation is so very zen. There is no daily post processing burden. And there are no SD cards, dongles, or back up drives. I didn’t even bring a laptop or iPad either.

I’m just making photos and putting the exposed film in a big ziplock bag. I’ll send it off to Richard Photo Lab in California when I’m back.

So liberating.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the camera gear and processing, just give the analog photography a try. You might just love it.

I know I do.

(please excuse any typos. wrote this post on my iphone)

Consensus driven

Recently I told an entrepreneur that we were not in a position to pursue an investment in his company because our partnership didn’t have consensus on the product he was building.

The entrepreneur wondered why we required consensus and doesn’t that just “dumb down” decisions.

I have heard over the years some venture capitalists at other firms recall that their best investments came out of the most controversial debates inside their partnerships. And that the investment only happened because someone slammed the table and forced the decision.

I suppose that model works for some folks but in my mind it’s not a true partnership. Also what does it tell the team inside the firm? One persons view is more important? Or what does it tell the entrepreneur? That the entire firm isn’t behind the mission?

In either case its not really a partnership. At least not in my mind.

And for what it’s worth the best investments at Spark have been times were our entire team was over the moon about the founder, product & mission.

Father’s Day, 2017.

I woke up earlier than every one else in the family. Just like on most mornings.

Except today we are in Tuscany. I made an espresso and sitting outside enjoying the sun shining..

Today is also Father’s Day.

I always reflect about two things on this day.

I think about my own father. And how lucky I am to have him in my life and will make sure to call him later today when he’s awake.

I also think about my life as the father of our three children. Each one with their own smile, laugh, thoughts and super powers. I am so beyond grateful to be their dad. And I can’t wait to give them a hug and kiss this morning.

I really hope this all isn’t a dream.