My friend Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, is writing a new book called The Leader’s Guide. He’s crowdfunding the research, writing, and production of this new book on Kickstarter and the campaign was launched today. I’ve already backed this project and you can too. Here’s the video that explains what it is about.
We were at a family event last night and all three of my kids had the battery die on their phone before the event ended. I had over 80% battery on my phone. What I wished I could do was easily give them some of my battery to get them through the night.
I had this image in my mind of holding the backs of two iPhones together and hitting a button and having the one with lots of battery give some of it to the one that was running out.
Even if such a thing required connecting the two phones with a cord, it would be pretty great.
I’m wondering why this isn’t possible, particularly the connecting two phones with a cord and having one give some of its battery power to the other. I’m sure there is someone out there much smarter than I am about battery technology who can answer this question.
Of all the great things that Apple and the Android phone companies have brought to the market over the years, the one thing that still sucks about smartphones is battery life. And with billions of people walking around with these devices in their pockets, it seems that tapping into all of that excess battery power to give a dying phone some extra life would be an incredible feature. It can’t be that they haven’t considered it. It has to be that its not easy to do. But I’m not sure why.
I’ve known Jason Calacanis for twenty years. We met when he was in his early 20s and I was in my early 30s. A lot has happened in those twenty years and Jason and I sat down to talk about that at his Launch Festival last week in San Francisco. It’s a long talk, almost 60mins, with no Q&A from the audience. We cover a lot of territory and I was as candid as can be with Jason. I think this chat reveals a lot about where my head is at right now, which is a credit to Jason and our long friendship.
Brittany has a great post on the travel category and why it’s hard to build a business in it. It made me think that this would be a great topic for fun friday, which we haven’t done in over a month.
So here goes. What travel resources do you use when planning a trip? It can be a business or personal trip. But obviously vacation travel planning will be more fun to talk about.
For me, it’s Foursquare and Indagare. Foursquare gives me the “peer to peer” information I like to have on places. And Indagare gives me the expert advice I like to supplement that with. I’m a triangulator. I like to hear about things, then check them out in a few trusted places. When it all lines up for me, it’s a go.
How about you?
Technology often involves a lot of intense brain work behind a desk or computer. I’ve learned over the years how important it is to move your body to relieve it from all that stress and strain. And so it was interesting to me when my friend Rob said he wanted to do a fundraiser for CSNYC at a CrossFit gym.
The event Rob envisioned is now happening. It’s called “Get Fit or Be Hacking” and is taking place on May 2nd from 2pm – 8pm at CrossFit South Brooklyn in Gowanus. Participants will compete in teams of four to complete various coding and fitness challenges. Each four person team will also raise money for CSNYC via CrowdRise in the weeks leading up to the event. Awards will be given out for the most creative fundraising approach and most money raised as well as in the fitness, coding, and overall categories based on team performance May 2nd.
If you’re a software developer who also likes to work out, this event is for you. More info can be found on the CrowdRise page here; if you’d like to donate to CSNYC by supporting one of the competing teams, that’s also where to go. More information on the event overall is available from CrossFit South Brooklyn.
This should be a great event.
As I was reading Josh Kopelman‘s excellent post on the seed boom and Series A bust, I got thinking of some words of wisdom Mike Arrington once shared with me. He said “numbers always ruin a good story.”
What Mike meant by this is you can raise a seed (or Series A) on a story. But at some point, you will have numbers; users, user growth, revenues, and revenue growth. You will also have a burn rate. And those numbers will become the thing you are judged on and your nice story will be “ruined” by the numbers.
Now this is not always true. You might be one of the few entrepreneurs on a real rocket ship and your numbers will be your friend. If that is true, raise while the numbers are great. Because they might not always be.
But, particularly at the Series A stage which Josh’s post is all about, the numbers aren’t always so great. And your story will conflict with the numbers. And so you’ll have to change the story to reflect the numbers. Because you can’t change the numbers to reflect the story you really want to tell.
It’s a painful experience. But as Josh explains, it’s like skinning your knee as a child. Painful but necessary.
The fascinating thing about the Clinton Email Affair is that it illustrates a central truth of our time; someone is storing and reading your emails. That someone could be your employer, your government, your email provider, or all of the above. A very small percentage of email users choose to run their own email servers and avoid this fate. It turns out that the woman who wants to be our next President is one of those very few.
What does this choice say about her and how she would approach digital privacy? If Edward Snowden is the person who told us what we always suspected but were in denial about, then Hillary Clinton is the person who opted out of the system and lived to tell us how she did it.
The media wants her to tell us why she did it. As if there is any question about that. She did not want the witch hunters in Washington to have access to her emails. That’s it. She has been there and has the scars to show for it and did what any intelligent person with balls would do. She opted out. And she got away with it for four years.
Of course, this affair could get in the way of her desire to get back to the White House. We will see about that. In which case she will have not gotten away with it.
But even so, I would hope that this affair, along with the Snowden revelations, clarifies things for people. Your emails are not private messages. They aren’t much different than posting on Twitter and Facebook. If you do anything that a lot of people care about, your emails will be read and shared. Unless you run your own email server and encrypt your messages.
Sadly this email affair is playing out like all other Washington scandals when it could be anchoring a much larger national discussion about the privacy of personal communications and what are our rights are in that regard. Maybe if this email affair blows over and Hillary ends up in the White House, she can lead that discussion. She will be well suited to do so.
My partner Albert wrote this a few weeks ago. Since then I have met with a number of founders who are most certainly headed for this problem. As valuations are extended and it feels very late in this cycle, I feel that the risk of this happening to entrepreneurs is quite high now.
In the current valuation environment many entrepreneurs seem to believe that only two numbers matter in a financing: the amount of the raise and the dilution. This leads them to buy into the idea that more money for the same dilution is always strictly better. Combined with a lot of money being available from investors this is resulting in Series A rounds of $10 million and more.
What could possibly go wrong? The number everyone seems to be forgetting about is the post-money valuation. It is a crucial number though as long as a company is not yet financed to profitability. It determines how far the company needs to come to be able to raise money again. It needs to build enough value so that the next round of fundraising can be at or ideally above the current post money valuation.
If you do a Series A with a $50 million post-money, it means you have to build something that people will consider to be worth $50 million when you next raise money. Now if your company hits a great growth trajectory and the financing environment stays as it is then great. But if either of those two conditions are not met you will find yourself in the post money trap.
Again, you can get caught in this trap in two different scenarios. The first one is that you hit a bump in the road. Users or revenues or whatever the most relevant metric for your business wind up not growing as fast as you think or worse yet hitting a temporary plateau, possibly even a small setback just as you need to raise more money. The second one is that the external financing environment adjusts for instance because the stock market drops 20%. Then even if you hit all your milestones, suddenly that may no longer let you clear the hurdle you set for yourself.
Some founders seem to ignore this logic entirely. Others come back and say “but we will have that much more money to and hence time to clear the hurdle.” That too, however, is faulty logic. It reminds me a lot of the problem of getting rockets into space. The simplistic answer would seem to be: just add more fuel. The problem though is that fuel too weighs something which now needs to be lifted into space. Your burn rate is pretty much the same thing. Unless you are super disciplined on how you spend the money you will have a higher burn rate the more you raise which makes subsequent funding harder (instead of easier).
Another, less common, founder objection is: well, if necessary we will just do a down round. This ignores that down rounds are incredibly hard to do. For reasons of founder, employee and investor psychology they rarely happen. And if they do they are often damaging to the company. So when you are in the post-money trap you have largely made your company non-financeable entirely.
Finally, this situation is highly asymmetric from the point of view of funds versus companies. First, funds have portfolios, so some deals with dangerously high post money valuations can be offset — if one is disciplined — with others that are more attractive. Second, when investing in preferred there is a lot of downside protection built in that’s not available to the common shares. Hence a simple test to see just how far you are stretching into is to ask investors (and better yet yourself) how much common they (you) would buy right now and at what price.
When we got back from our sabbatical in Europe last fall, I got an iPhone. I’ve been using it for roughly six months. I have enjoyed wrapping my head around the iPhone and the iPhone ecosystem. I’ve learned a bunch. And now I’m heading back to Android.
I bought a Nexus6 from the Google Play Store yesterday and plan to start using it when I get back to NYC at the end of the month. I plan to go back to iOS when the next iPhone ships, and then back to Android six months after that. In this way, I can stay current on both operating systems and ecosystems which I think is useful in my business.
There are some apps that are available on the iPhone and not on Android. I enjoyed being able to use them. I like TouchID for unlocking my phone and certain high security apps on my phone. And that’s about it in terms of things I am going to miss when I go back to Android.
I am jazzed about getting notifications back in my life the way I want them, I am jazzed about getting google apps like gmail and calendar and drive that work the way they are supposed to work, I am jazzed about having only one map application and the best one on my phone, and I am jazzed about getting back to an operating system that works the way I want to work.
The iPhone is a great phone. But its not any better than a top of the line Android phone. They are more or less the same. And I prefer Android. Which makes me a minority in the US, particularly in the mid and high end of the market.
Speaking of Android, here’s a great post from Benedict Evans on why Xiaomi matters when you are thinking about Android.
I posted an interview that Kara Swisher did with President Obama a few weeks ago. Shortly after that interview, Kara interviewed Hillary Clinton. Kara is on a roll. I hope she interviews Jeb Bush next.
In any case, it is great to see a tech journalist interviewing the major national political figures. There are a host of important national tech issues and it is great to be able to hear these politicians address them.
Sadly the email scandal broke about a week after this interview so Kara was not able to ask about that. But otherwise, this is a great discussion and, as I said, I hope she does more of this.