Posts from March 2005

Overreaching

Back in January, around the time of the inauguration, I wrote a post where I talked about how all political movements have their peaks and valleys and they ultimately end with a big overreach.

I wondered in that post whether this current wave of republican conservatism that started with Nixon and is reaching its peak with Bush II, would end in an overreach on Social Security.  While Bush looks like he’s going to come up empty on that one, I don’t think the general public is upset with Bush’s Social Security plan. They just don’t think Social Security needs to be changed (they are wrong – it is broken).

After talking to a bunch of people who are more sophisticated about politics than I am, it now seems to me that the overreach is more likely to come in the area of separation of church and state (or in this case the lack thereof).  The religious right is the source of most of the republican conservative movement’s base and strength and they are exercising their power more and more every day. This will ultimately backfire and cause their downfall.

I don’t think the Schiavo matter is going to be the thing that does it.  But its certainly getting people’s attention. Jeff Jarvis has a great Easter morning post on this subject.  And this comes from a religious man on his way to church.

One of my mentors in business used to say "beware too pious a man".  Religion has its purpose in the world. It’s a source of great comfort to many. It forms the foundations of many communities. It does enormous good in the world.  But religion taken too far is also the source of most of the worst things in the world (terrorism, bigotry, hatred, strife).

So I say beware too pious a political party. We’ve got one and I am wary.  And I believe many Americans are becoming wary of it too.

#Politics

Pedigree

I got this email tonite from a recruiter.  I won’t divulge the source.

The recruiter was looking to place a General Partner in a VC firm.

The client wanted someone with 3-5 years of VC experience.  No track record was specified.  No board experience was specified.  No deal experience was specified.

But it was required that the candidate have the following pedigree:

An advanced MBA degree from a prominent business school such as Harvard,
Stanford, Wharton, etc. is required for this role.

I have an MBA from Wharton and when I read stuff like this I just cringe.  Like an MBA from a prominent business school is some kind of quality filter.  Right.

I never place any value on the schools people went to and the degrees they have.  It’s bullshit for the most part.

My partner from Flatiron Jerry Colonna has a liberal arts degree from Queens College and he was one the best VCs I’ve ever worked with.

My partner Brad Burnham doesn’t have an MBA either and he knows more about startups, technology, and markets than almost anyone I’ve ever met.

I don’t have anything against MBAs.  Going back to school and getting an MBA can be a great break from the career path that allows someone to find out what they really want to do.  And you can learn some things along the way. 

But you can’t learn real life business in school.  That requires doing it, not studying it.

So I’ll take a candidate who’s got the track record over the pedigree any day.

#VC & Technology

Ourmedia

Last year, Jeff Jarvis called out for "a place for his stuff" in a series of posts.

Well, JD Lasica and Marc Canter have given it to him.

It’s called Ourmedia.org.

In Jeff’s posts, he says that this will be a big business for someone.

But Ourmedia is free.  So it will be interesting to see if Ourmedia remains a non-profit endeavor or like Craigs List, it finds a way to be free for most things and generates revenues with others.

I’ve played around with Ourmedia and to be honest, I am struggling to make it work for me.

Part of the problem is that there are two accounts you need to make Ourmedia work.  You need an Ourmedia account and an Internet Archive account.  The integration isn’t seamless and it has created problems for me.  I am sure they’ll get it fixed, but right now I am having a hard time with Ourmedia.

Others are having different problems with Ourmedia.

Regardless, this is a service that is worth paying attention to.

#VC & Technology

Spring Break

Hpim2174The kids are out of school and so we are on spring break. 

Those two words have always meant fun times for me.

These days we celebrate spring break with a little skiing to put the wrap on winter and then head somewhere warm to get in the mood for summer.

This year we are skiing in Colorado and then headed to southern california for some fun in the sun.

I’ll blog as much of it as I can muster.

#Random Posts

Exile on Main Street

ExileWhat a great title!  Exile on Main Street. The irony of it.

I think Main Street means America and american music.

And I think Exile means living in France to escape the taxes, the fans, and the expectations.

But to me, Exile on Main Street means the greatest rock and roll record ever made.  It is in the Top 50 and has been from day one.

Since 1982, in every home that the Gotham Gal and I have lived in, after setting up the music system this record is the first one played. Exile on Main Street is it when it comes to rock in roll in our house.

What prompted this outburst of love for this record?

Exile_bookI just finished Bill Janowitz’ 33 1/3 book on Exile.

Bill loves this record as much as I do.  If you are in the same camp, get the book.

He does a great job of explaining the way the Stones weaved rock and roll, country, blues, gospel, and soul into a Route 66-like tour across the heart of America.

And did it all in the basement of Keith’s mansion on the southern coast of France.

But most of all, he explains how this record is about the evolving relationship between the Glimmer Twins.

Best of all, this book caused me to listen to Exile five times in the past couple days.  What could be better than that?

#VC & Technology

My 50 Favorite Albums (continued)

Jojo_1If there’s one musician who I’d love to be friends with, its Jonathan Richman.

He started out as a punk rocker following in the footsteps of Lou Reed and the Velvets.  He then merged into a singer songwriter  singing cute ditties about Ice Cream Men and Vincent Van Gogh.

And his most recent 15 minutes of fame came as himself in There’s Something About Mary.

And he hasn’t really put out anything interesting in years.

None of this matters to me.  Every time I listen to Jonathan’s music, I get a big smile on my face. His music is happy music.

Jonathan’s music has to be in my Top 50, no question about it.  But what record to include?  That’s not any easy choice.

There are three distinct phases of Jonathan’s music:

The punk phase where he played with a band called The Modern Lovers.  The seminal record from this period is the The Modern Lovers.

The next period is where he went solo and became a singer songwriter.  The seminal record from this period is Rock N Roll With.  That said, all the records from this period are fantastic.

The final interesting period for me is the early/mid 80s where he went even more cutsie and his material became more uneven.  There is one absolutely classic record from this period that The Gotham Gal and I love and that is Rockin and Romance.   This record is out of print, but the link is to Twin Tone’s web site where you can buy a CD with the 1985 production master.  If you like Jonathan’s music and don’t have this record, go get the master.

Another problem is so much of Jonathan’s music has been released in different compilations both here in the US and in Europe.  So there are great compilations, bootlegs, and live records that could easily make the Top 50.

Modern_loversBut when its all said and done, I have to go with the original Modern Lovers record. 

With songs like Roadrunner, Girlfren, Pablo Picasso, Astral Plane, and lots more, this is a classic record by a one of kind master of modern music.

Welcome to the top 50 Jojo!

#My Music

We Suck Less

I read an essay by Paul Graham this morning called A Unified Theory of VC Suckage.

I thought most of Paul’s points were spot on and I made a note to myself to blog it.

Then I was flying through my RSS feeds and came across Brad Feld’s link to Paul’s essay.

So Brad beat me to it.  It’s not the first time he’s done that with a blog post or a deal and I should just get used to it.

But the funny thing is that Brad also turned me on to a phrase that I really like – We Suck Less

Back in the day when Brad was an entrepreneur, his mantra was that all companies sucked in servicing their customers at some level and the goal for his company was to suck less.

Entrepreneurs are always going to think that VCs suck at some level. But clearly some VCs suck more than others.  If you must fund your company with VC money, it pays to do your homework and find the ones that are the exception to Paul’s unified theory rule.

#VC & Technology