Posts from September 2003

The Future of Telecom

I spent some time at the RVC SoftEdge Conference today. The panel on telecomm was pretty depressing.

Dr David Cleevely, of the consulting firm Analysys, says that telecomm revenues worldwide are going to shrink over the next ten years as the business gets increasingly commoditized.

He also says that the mobile market is going to flatten out soon as that market saturates.

Maybe the most controversial comment Cleevely made was his opinoin that the WLAN (802…) market is not going to be very large as 3G and other technologies will be clearly superior.

Ohad Finkelstein gave us his entertaining “five layers” of telecomm

1 – In the ground – the fiber. so much of this investment will go wasted.

2 – The PTTs – they are around to stay, but with a ton of debt. they can’t innovate.

3 – Alternative Carriers – this wil be a very thin layer.

4 – Resurection – WorldCom and others. they will come back with clean balance sheets.

5 – Newco – none of these anywhere in sight.

These guys were really bearish. They may be right. But my take on this is somewhat different.

I think the telecomm market isn’t falling apart, it is just rebuilding itself in horizontal layers ala the technology industry. This deconstruction and reconstruction may take a while to play out and result in a lot of pain, but the net result will be an open network like the data network we have which is the Internet. that will provide a platform for innovation that will eventually take the telecomm industry forward again.

Checking Out Clark

My dad’s a retired US Army officer. He spent over 30 years in the Army, graduated from West Point, served in Vietnam, etc. So I figured if I wanted to check out Clark, he should be the first call.

He pointed me to the attached story in the Los Altos Town Crier

It pains me to know that Rush Limbaugh also linked to this story from his website, but I guess that’s the way it is in an open society using an open platform like the web.

However, my father also said the following about Clark:

1 – It is highly unusual for one general to make comments about another general like those the former Chairman of the JCS is reported to have made in this forum. Shocking, even. That another officer is lacking in character and integrity is absolutely the worst thing one could say.

2 – While he doesn’t know the basis for General Shelton’s opinion, he suspects that it has to do with Clark’s use of the NATO chain of command during the Kosovo fracas to try to get around restrictions put on him by Clinton/Cohen/Shelton. That’s an excellent way to get fired, but he would not call it a character/integrity issue. In fact it could be argued the other way around: Clark had the guts to use all the means at his disposal to try to save lives and accomplish his mission. My dad has a very soft spot for Douglas MacArthur so it’s not surprising to hear him say that.

3 – He doesn’t think that Shelton’s opinion matches Clark’s overall reputation in the military. That reputation can be characterized by two words: brilliant, abrasive.

4 – He likes Clark better than any of the other candidates including our current President. And he’s normally a Republican. He thinks that the “abrasive” part of his personality, to the extent that it’s true, is a serious problem for him. If that comes out clearly in the campaign, he’ll never get elected, and probably not nominated. Less obviously, if abrasive means unwilling to listen to advice from those he considers his intellectual inferiors, that’s a bad mistake that would make him a less effective, even dangerous, president.

All of this is incredibly helpful to me. It gives me some context to work with in my effort to get to know this man.

He’s Back

Well the blogging world is talking about Jason Calcanis this week.

Nick Denton http://www.nickdenton.org/ and Jeff Jarvis http://www.buzzmachine.com/ are both talking about his Weblogs Inc. http://www.weblogsinc.com on their weblogs.

So are Wired and Frank Barnako.

So Jason is back. And thank god I say. Sure he’s a hype-master. He made his share of mistakes at SAR. Didn’t we all in those crazy years of the late 90s. But you know what, he’s scrappy and smart. He’ll fix what’s wrong with his model. And he’ll come up with a few new tricks that will take us all forward.

This is part of a larger story really. The entrepreneurs are back. With scars in their backs and a lot more humility. But they are back and working hard again. It’s about time.

Segway Stumbles

Just in from the Wall Street Journal (which I don’t want to link to because its a paid site) – All those cool Segways you’ve been seeing around town are going back. Why? Because when the battery is low, they toss you off. Not cool.

The California Recall – Part 2

My friends tell me there is no time limit that has to pass before the next governor can be recalled.

They also tell me it cost $1.6mm to fund the drive to get the signatures to recall Gray Davis.

So if the terminator wins, I expect the fundraising will start the next day.

They call this democracy in California.

Joss Stone

If you love 70s soul music, then you absolutely must get the new disc from Joss Stone called Soul Sessions. My friend Steve Greenberg’s S-Curve Records put out this disc and she is sooo great. The first three songs are just amazing. I can’t get her cover of The White Stripes “Fell In Love With A Girl” (Boy in her case) out of my head.

BTW – she’s only 16 years old. Go figure.

Get the disc at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000C0FKA/qid=1064589435/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/102-4800996-8288115?v=glance&s=music&n=507846

Dean vs. Clark

For me it’s that simple.

I like and respect John Kerry. He’s not going to beat Bush though.

It took me a while to warm up to Dean. I fear his “liberal” reputation. But after seeing Gephart go after him for being with Newt Gingrich on Medicare, I know he’s not a liberal. And my daughter likes Dean because his wife is Jewish. That’s a good thing too. I like diversity of all kinds.

I fear that Clark is too much of a rookie and an oportunist. This guy voted for Bush and Reagan. How is that he’s a Democrat now?

But I just read Michael Moore’s post on Clark at http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?messageDate=2003-09-12

To quote from that post:

1. He opposes the Patriot Act and would fight the expansion of its powers.

2. He is firmly pro-choice.

3. He filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan’s affirmative action case.

4. He would get rid of the Bush tax “cut” and make the rich pay their fair share.

5. He respects the views of our allies and want to work with them and with the rest of the international community.

6. And he opposes war. He has said that war should always be the “last resort” and that it is military men such as himself who are the most for peace because it is HIM and his soldiers who have to do the dying. He finds something unsettling about a commander-in-chief who dons a flight suit and pretends to be Top Gun, a stunt that dishonored those who have died in that flight suit in the service of their country.

So I’ve got to give Clark a chance too.

I am going to spend the next couple months meeting these two guys and learning more about them.

Tribe.net

My friend Mark Pincus (his weblog is http://www.markpincus.blogspot.com/) started this company called Tribe.net.

It’s a “social network” which means its a place that people can go to meet other people who have similar interests. I’ve joined the service and even in its early stage, I was able to join “tribes” that are interested in The Ramones, Golf in New York City, and Venture Capital, among other things.

The point of all of this is not only to create a place to “network” with other people like you, which was the original premise of Six Degrees and the other early pioneers in social networking, its about making money. In the case of Tribe, its about creating a mega classifieds business. The idea is simple. You want to find a roomate, buy a used bicycle, sell a Tivo you don’t need anymore, etc. What better place to do that than an online network where people can vet you through others who know you?

It’s a powerful idea. I hope it works. Because as much as I like eBay, I still have a hard time trusting and transacting with people I know nothing about.

I also hope it works because I am an investor. That’s the venture capital way.

Join me at www.tribe.net

Plaxo

Now they tell you at the beginning of the message how many times they’ve spammed you.

I am not sure that’s such a smart move. It’s like an annoyance meter that keps going up

I think I’ve got to add plaxo.com to th blacklist in my spam filter

Microsoft and Teleportation??

My friend David Kirkpatrick writes the best weekly column on technology issues that I’ve ever read. You can read him at http://www.fortune.com/fortune/fastforward

In his most recent issue, he quotes Rick Rashid, who runs Microsoft Research saying, “We have researchers here who have done work in teleportation and things like that,” he says. “Say in 20 or 30 years Microsoft invents the teleporter. Given the reputation we have, the headline would be, ‘Microsoft Copies Again!'”

Well every time anyone asks me what I would love to invest in, I always answer “teleportation”. It’s the ultimate destructive technology. No more planes, trains, buses, cars, phones, hotels……..

So the fact that Microsoft is really spending money on teleportation excites me. I want to learn more.