Posts from January 2006

Singing for Dinner

Dave Winer gave Yahoo! execs three ideas at a Yahoo! offsite and then blogged them.

1 – Open up Yahoo! search

2 – embrace BitTorrent

3 – P2P Webcasting

Go read the whole thing here.

I have been reading Dave’s stuff since the early 90s and have been greatly enriched by his mind over the years.  Thanks Dave.

Anyway, I’d like to riff a bit on #3.  Earlier this week Matt Blumberg, Stephanie Miller (who works at Return Path), Tom Evslin, Kelly Evans (Tom’s publisher and daughter) and I all Skyped into a bridge and read a couple chapters of the Hackoff.com story.  Tom recorded the whole thing.  Instant podcast (it will be up shortly).

That was really eye opening. It was brain dead simple to do a conference call, record it, and post it on the Internet. With stuff like iSight, video iChat, video Skype, etc, the same thing is possible with videoconferences as we used to call them.

Dave’s right.  This is going to be big.

#VC & Technology

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic_monkeys_1
I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about the Arctic Monkeys on the Internet lately.  This band from Shefield in the UK has been releasing its music on its website in free mp3s and touring a lot.  Then they released two hit singles, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and When The Sun Goes Down. 

That seems to be the formula these days because when they finally released their debut record, Whatever People Say I Am Thats What I Am Not, it quickly went to number one and became the fastest selling rock album ever in the UK, taking the crown from Oasis.

I didn’t want to wait for the US release which is due in mid February but can be pre-ordered on Amazon so I went out and got the UK record.

You can also find tons of their mp3s on the Internet or you can visit their MySpace page if you want to sample the music first.

So how’s the music?  It’s great.  Very much in the vein of other young UK bands I love like Bloc Party, Hard-Fi, The Libertines, and Franz Ferdinand.  If you like these bands, you’ll really like Arctic Monkeys.

One thing I really like is the diversity of sound on the record.  There’s the in your face, loud driving beat of I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, the mellow sounds of Riot Van, the reggae beat of A Certain Romance, or the funky groove of Fake Tales of San Francisco.  All of it is great.

They’ll do a short tour of the US in March and are coming to Webster Hall in NYC on March 25th. The show is apparently sold out.  I won’t be in NYC at that time so I’ll miss it, but I bet it will be a great show.

#My Music

Don't Be An ATM

Fraser Kelton has an excellent post on the challenges facing the venture business up on his Disruptive Thoughts blog.  I don’t know Fraser and have no idea how he’s related to the venture business, but he makes a number of excellent observations, starting with this one:

A market is ready to be disrupted when the performance of the
product overshoots the requirements of the user. Does this apply to the
venture capital industry? Yes. Traditional VC’s have overshot the
“needs” of start-ups. It’s interesting that this gap widened, suddenly
and significantly, because of large movements in both directions.
During the late 90’s venture funds raised too much money and, after the
bubble popped, there was too much capital chasing too little
opportunity. The performance of the product – available venture capital
– snapped upwards and away from the “customers” requirement. The
Economist had an interesting article on this in March of 2005 and there was an paper examining this trend released last week.

While
this fund raising frenzy was occurring, the “needs” of the customer
(start-up companies) fell. The cost of starting a business has
collapsed. Advances in technology have had a substantial impact on the cost of starting up. Outsourcing has also had an impact on the cost. Start-ups now outsource work
to highly skilled individuals, all over the world, at lower costs. The
decrease in the cost of starting a business has caused the needs of
start-ups to snap downwards and away from the required performance of
the “product”.

These two movements happened suddenly and at
approximately the same time, resulting in the equilibrium between VC
needs and start-up requirements becoming unbalanced. It’s this
unbalance in the market that opens the venture capital industry up to
disruption.

I don’t know about this "disruption" theme, I honestly don’t see the venture business headed for the same kind of hurt as the telecom business or the newspaper business.  But it is true that the supply of capital has increased signficantly and the demand is on the decline.  Those VCs who recognize that and adjust accordingly will be better off in the long run than those who don’t.

Fraser goes on to recommend five steps to take advantage of these trends:

1 – Customer Service
2 – Partial Founder Buyout
3 – Focus on a Niche
4 – Don’t Be An ATM
5 – Raise Less. Invest Less

I am not a fan of the Partial Founder Buyout.  How is it in the interest of the entrepreneur to buy out his/her stock for a fraction of what the VC is going to sell it for in 3 to 5 years?  I understand all the arguments about risk mitigation and alignment of interests.  But the killer entrepreneurs I have met over the years would never go for that.  And I love them for it.  Solution number 2 is not for me.

On the other hand, I love number 4.  I never want to be an ATM for an entrepreneur.  That is a recipe for disaster.

I would suggest one rule and only one. Be the entrepreneur’s partner. Help him or her. Be there for them. Support them. Counsel them. Share the risk with them. Have fun with them. Laugh and cry with them. And make boatloads of money with them. It’s a time tested formula and it will work forever.

#VC & Technology

bye.yahoo.com?

I have used my.yahoo.com for the past ten years as my start page.

Honestly, I love it as much today as ever.  The addition of RSS has allowed me to customize my yahoo and I have my top ten RSS feeds at the top of the page along wtih stock prices, weather, and top news.

So it was disturbing to me to see Brad Feld’s post titled The Coming Irrelevance Of My.Yahoo For Me.

Brad makes the case for replacing my yahoo with an exclusively RSS-driven experience via a high volume feed reader like Feed Demon.

I don’t think I am as ready to do that as Brad is.  I find the filtering I do manually (by selecting my top 10 feeds for my start page) helps me avoid drowning in information.

When I told this to Brad in an email, he replied that he needed to teach me how to use a feed reader.  I replied that maybe he needs to teach me how to read at 10mbps!

#VC & Technology

Spamming (continued)

I realized yesterday that some readers would take my post on spamming as a request to stop sending me email.  One reader wrote:

I saw your blog post today about 1:1 spamming — I really hope that wasn’t directed at me, because that wasn’t what I intended.

Let me just say this.  It wasn’t directed at anyone and I don’t want anyone to stop sending me relevant email.  I love hearing from readers and getting information via email.

My only point was that there is a fine line in this.  And sometimes people cross it.  Spam is like porn.  Hard to define but I know it when I see it.

#VC & Technology

Nuggets

Loaded
Raj Bala ended his great Loudspeakers #13 podcast which I blogged about earlier this week with The Velvet Underground’s I Found A Reason.

That prompted me to dust off The VU’s Loaded album and give it some airtime this week.

That was a good thing because Loaded is a great album.  All four of the VU records are great and the first, VU and Nico, is on my top 50 list.

But Loaded is special, maybe because John Cale was gone and Lou got to shape the sound of the record.  This is a pop music record, VU style, with Lou’s stellar songwriting in full form.

My favorite track is I Found A Reason, but this record also has Sweet Jane and Rock and Roll on it.

I am sort of torn on the subject of which version of this record to recommend. We own both of them, one in vinyl and the other in CD. 

Loaded, with just the ten original songs, is a great listen start to finish.

But the reissued and remastered double CD (the Fully Loaded edition) is the one to get if you are a serious VU fan.  The demo version of I Found A Reason is my preferred version of this incredible song.  That version was the inspiration to start posting music on this blog almost two years ago.  Click on that link to hear the demo version of I Found A Reason.

#My Music

No Duh

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has come up with another study.

They have found that people who are social on the Internet (email, blogs, etc) extend those relationships to the offline world.  This is from MediaPost’s blurb on the study.


The report’s major conclusion is that the heaviest e-mail users are
more likely to also meet with friends and acquaintances in person–or
talk to them on the telephone–than are those who don’t use e-mail as
often. Horrigan said that this finding held true for all age groups,
not just the young adults who increasingly turn to specific social
networking sites such as MySpace.

That’s not surprising to me at all.  The Internet is the most amazing social networking tool ever invented and of course its additive to our daily lives.

#VC & Technology