Posts from July 2004

Whoa!

Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirkey are piling on Seth Godin’s Change This before Seth and his team of talented interns can even get started.

This feels to me like convicting the criminal before he even committed the crime.

I say let’s see what Change This creates, and then we can criticize it. Maybe it will evolve into something great. Maybe it will fail.

Blogging is not the big new thing. People centric media, or citizen’s media as Jeff calls it, is the new big thing. I do not believe that PDFs vs blogging is an interesting distinction. Yes, Change This will have to figure out how to let people link to their manifestos. I think what really matters is if Change This can create a new way for important dialog to happen. I think its got a chance.

Those who close the door to people trying new things are doing so at a disservice to everyone. I say “Bring it on Seth.”

#VC & Technology

Camp Visiting Day

jo_and_girlsThe common wisdom about camp visiting day, as expressed by my friend Fred who’s about fifteen years ahead of me in raising kids experience, is that its the worst day of a parents life.

I know why he says that. Its an emotional roller coaster. You haven’t seen your kids in a month, you are dying to see them, they are dying to see you, the first 20 minutes are amazing. Then you spend six hours walking around, talking, catching up, but the thought of leaving hangs over the whole day, and then the leaving is awful. At least it is for many parents. I’ve seen kids flip out (and parents too) when its time for the parents to leave.

fred_and_josh_at_visiting_dayIt’s never been like that for us. For some reason, each of our kids have loved camp from the minute they got there and they never want to leave. Jessica, our oldest, is in mourning for close to a week when she gets back. She’d stay there year round if she could.

So visiting day for us is a lot better than the common wisdom. The emotional highs are all there, but we don’t get the lows for the most part.

Josh, who is at camp for the first time, did say to me, “I wish you could stay.” I guess he wasn’t thinking about leaving so his wish was for me to hang around for the next four weeks. That’s an appealing thought, although his bunk of 10 eight year old kids stunk pretty bad. It wasn’t that appealing.

bearWe did take the kids down to Phoenicia, home of Sweet Sues, for some ice cream after lunch. While we were in town, we saw a baby bear running around, probably looking for his mom. We got a picture of the baby and then hightailed it out of town before the mom showed up.

The best part of camp is the friendships the kids make. They spend 2 months living with each other day and night and build incredibly tight bonds. The last activity before we left was a performance by the kids of songs they make up to popular tunes. Each age group of kids makes up a different song and performs it. alma_materThey hang on each other and sing the songs as loud as they can. Here’s a picture of Jessica and her friends, who she’s been going to camp with for 6 years now, performing their song.

That’s what camp is all about in a nutshell. It was a fitting closing scene.

#Blogging On The Road

Sweet Sues

HPIM0095The best pancakes I’ve ever eaten are at Sweet Sues in Phoenicia, New York. It’s near Woodstock, New York.

We go once a year, on our way to visit our kids at camp visiting day.

They make breakfasts of all kinds, but the pancakes are the best I’ve ever eaten.

My favorite is the buttermilk with blueberries and bananas.

HPIM0097My friend Steven says you have to order the short stack because the regular order of three pancakes is so big nobody can finish it.

He’s right. And I forgot his advice yesterday. And this was what was left after I’d eaten all I could.

#Blogging On The Road

The Shake Shack

shake_shackMy friend Dave tells me that there’s a famous place in California called The Shake Shack. I guess this is that place although I’ve never been.

I’ll be in Orange County in a couple weeks and if I have time, I’ll try to visit the place.

But in the meantime, we’ve got our own Shake Shack now in New York City.

Right smack in the middle of Madison Square Park, they’ve built a great buger/hot dog/fries/milkshake joint. The lines can be long, but the wait is worth it.

In the spirit of blogging, I won’t review it. I’ll link to NYC Eats and my man Jackson with whom I visited the place this week.

Looks like we blew it by not getting the frozen custard. I won’t make that mistake again.

I also was really thrilled to find out that the place is staffed by seven kids from nearby Washington Irving High School. They need the work and by my measure, they are doing a great job.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend stopping by for a burger, dog, and/or shake.

#Random Posts

Mark Twain and Email

I’ve been an avid email user for over 10 years maybe as long as 15. I honestly can’t remember when I got my first AOL account.

I send and recieve over 200 messages a day and have been doing email at that rate for at least 8 of those 15 years. And my usage is probably still going up, although more slowly thank god.

So I must agree with Matt and his friend Mark Twain when they say that rumors of email’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

#VC & Technology

Wine

When I was thinking about what my blog was going to be about, I laid out five categories; venture capital and technology, politics, music, travel, and random posts. Those are my five categories on the nav bar on the left and every post I do gets put into one or more of them. I almost did a sixth category which was going to be wine.

But for various reasons, including the fact that I am not totally comfortable with broadcasting my love of wine, I chose to limit it to five.

I’ve been tempted to add wine at least four or five times since then and blog about a great bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco, Gewurztraminer, Priorat, or some other unusual, but great, varietal. I love wine and love exploring and finding new and different wines, and even collecting them a bit.

I am not a wine snob. I am not even a wine connoisseur. But I love to drink wine and explore and learn.

So, it was with great pleasure that I found that Matt‘s wife Mariquita (who picked some great Greek wines for us about a month ago) and her friend Sharon have launched the Wine Blog.

I have added it my RSS feeds and the list of blogs I read. I am looking forward to blogging it and maybe even adding wine as a category on this blog.

#Random Posts

Clear Channel Goes High Def

Big news out of Clear Channel this morning.

They are going to convert 1000 stations to HD Radio.

That’s big news for Clear Channel, big news for the Radio industry, and very big news for my portfolio company iBiquity, who is the developer of HD Radio.

The Radio business needs HD Radio. They need the additional programming that HD will bring. They need the data broadcasting capabilities that HD will bring. They need the better sound quality (surround sound in the FM band and near stereo in the AM band) that HD will bring.

It’s about time. Now we’ll see if the rest of the industry hops on the HD bandwagon. I’m hoping they will.

#VC & Technology

A $32bn Dividend (Cont)

Mark Cuban has a nice post on Microsoft’s dividend and stock buyback.

He loves the dividend and hates the stock buyback.

I don’t totally agree with Mark. I agree that the dividend is preferable, but if you are a shareholder and want to continue to own the stock long term, then the buyback is going to result in more ownership over time.

If Microsoft stock doesn’t go up over the four years of the buyback (as a shareholder I’d like it to), then they’ll buy back a bit more than 1bn shares over the next four years. Since Microsoft has a bit more than 10bn shares outstanding, that means they could buy back 10% of their stock.

That means every shareholder who holds on through the buyback could end up owning 10% more of the Company. I think that is a good reward for the long term shareholders.

We did this at TheStreet.com when I was Chairman of the Board. The stock was at $1/share and headed lower. I don’t recall the exact specifics, but I think we did a $10mm stock buyback and repurchased almost 1/3 of the company. The stock went to $5/share and has settled in between $3 and $4/share. That was a good move for the Company and the shareholders.

Jeff Jarvis also posted on this subject. In addition to linking to me and Mark (thanks Jeff), he says “I actually find it depressing that Microsoft could not find aggressive ways to invest and grow that money. It says to me that the era of tech hypergrowth is over. Microsoft is now officially the next IBM. And Google is no Microsoft.”

Wrong Jeff. The era of hypergrowth in core tech is over. Operating systems, databases, applications are a slow growth business. Applied tech like Google and Microsoft’s own MSN business remain very exciting areas of investment. As I said in my first post on this subject, Microsoft has places that they want to invest, but they couldn’t find $60bn of places. Who can? There isn’t enough growth opportunity inside any major corporation to satisfy that kind of demand these days. So they did the right thing. They gave it back.

And I like the way they did it.

#Uncategorized

Going Over the Handlebars

If you bike a lot, you’ve probably done it. The Gotham Gal did it last weekend. Once I did it at Sixth Avenue and 19th Street in order to avoid getting hit by a van.

You slam on the brakes and its like slow motion. You know you are going over but you can’t stop it. And then thud! You’ve gone over the handle bars.

It’s never fun to go over the handle bars, but its even worse when you are clipped in as I normally am on the mountain bike I use to navigate the potholes and cobblestones here in NYC.

Today I was riding up the west side to the George Washington Bridge. It’s a route I’ve done at least a 100 times. The stretch along Riverside Park between 80th and 90th street is particularly beautiful. It’s a promenade that was probably built 50 years ago. It’s wide with two walkways and a grass divider in between. It’s a lovely stretch of the ride but I hate it because there’s a dog run there and the dog owners always leave their dogs off of their leashes on the way to and from the park.

I hadn’t done this ride in several weeks and had forgotten about the particular risks of that stretch today. I was in the zone and had just come up a big hill and was cruising. All of a sudden a little shetland sheepdog came running right in front of me headed over to make friends with some other dog.

I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting the dog. And there I went. Slow motion. Headed over the handlebars. But somehow I managed to clip out of my right pedal and I leaned back hard and was able to put my right leg down. I didn’t go over.

My heart had been racing from the hill I just went up, but it was racing twice as fast from the fear I had just experienced.

I clipped back in and started going north again. I felt like I had cheated fate.

#Random Posts