Posts from June 2006

Brainstorm Bits – Doerr on Going Green

"Leading the world into a green economy should be our generation’s moonshot"

I tend to agree with John on this but I am going to post my friend Steve’s view on this which is 180 degrees away from John’s.

I’ll try to do that today

Scratching My Head

A trend is developing and it’s interesting to me.

Bloggers, A-list bloggers, are rasing VC money.

Om Malik, Rafat Ali, and I know of several more that are going to be announcing deals soon.

As Rick, a loyal reader, said in an email to me today, "It’s supposed to be affordable to launch one of these things – why do they need big investors?".

I suspect its because Om, Rafat, and the others who are raising VC money intend to turn their blogs into media companies, doing conferences, and developing value added services on top of or in compliment to their blogs.

But Nick Denton hasn’t had to raise venture money and he’s got something like 15 blogs now.

We’ve been hearing this "capital efficiency means we don’t need VCs" stuff for the past two years and now we see the most capital efficient businesses of all (writing in your pajamas and having FM sell the ads for you) turn to VCs.

It’s interesting and worth watching.

Amazing, Fascinating, Hopeful and Wonderful

Friends_1
My friend Tom shot me an email about seeing Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda
Gates’ press conference on monday.

It reminded me of my desire to blog
about this.

Gates and Buffet are certainly great men and their commitment
to philanthropy is a wonderful thing to see.

What is even more fascinating
to me is their friendship which has been building for many years and has
culminated in the marriage of the two great fortunes built in the last quarter
of the 20th century.

Warren decided that he wanted to give the vast
majority of his wealth away and picked his friend, who he clearly admires, and
his friend’s wife to do it for him. That is such an amazing thing to
witness.

Much of the talk has been about the vast amount of capital this
represents. And it is vast, so vast as to be beyond comprehension.

But I
would like to focus on the goals: To eradicate disease and suffering and to
improve education.

Simple, powerful, basic.

It makes me more
hopeful about the world we live in.

VC Cliché of the Week

The Gotham Gal gets credit for this one. We were at dinner last night (amazing place called Little Owl – the Gotham Gal blogged it) and she blurts out, "I baked the cake, you can ice it, but don’t screw it up"

It made me think of entrepreneurs who hand over their companies to others to run them.

It’s a handoff fraught with risk and often forced by the VC.

I have two good friends, Gordon and Mark, who did just that with their companies only to watch the hired CEO screw it up.

But there’s a good way to do this and a bad way. The bad way is to do a search, find someone you don’t know, immediately hand over the keys to the car, and step aside.

The good way is to recruit one or more people to the company early on, spend time with them infusing them with your passion and vision, getting them familiar with the technology and culture, and gradually giving them the keys to the car.

The handoff of power should be so incremental that nobody can point to a date at which it happened.

There will always be an official date when someone takes the CEO title, but it should happen when its already a defacto title.

Baking the cake can also refer to the work an early stage VC does. There comes a time for me when I start to get bored with a company. When the discussions in board meetings turn to detailed budget reviews, lots of financial analysis, heavy audit committee work, S1 filings, bankers showing up to talk business, I know my work is done.

That doesn’t mean I will get off the board then, but sometimes I will. It largely depends on the managment’s preference and whether or not I’m comfortable with letting others ice the cake.

Off To Brainstorm

I am off the the brainstorm conference in aspen for three days.

If anything of interest comes up, I’ll blog it.

Going To Ted in Pajamas

I have never been to the TED conference. That’s one part apology, one part tragedy, and one part reality.

But this morning, in my pajamas, I spent about 90 minues "at" the 2006 TED conference watching wonderful presentations by Jamais Cascio, Vinod Khosla, Majora Carter, Tim O’Reilly, and Al Gore along with performances by Thomas Dolby and Jill Sobule.

Now I know what I’ve missed these past 20+ years.

Not everyone can go to TED in person. But now everyone can go to TED in their pajamas because TED has released video of the entire 2006 conference in a series of podcasts that will be released every week up on the TED website. You can also subscribe to these podcasts and get them automatically delivered to you when the next batch are released.

If you have never been to TED (like me), or just want to go back and see that amazing presentation by Majora Carter one more time (you should), then I suggest you go to the TED website and check them out.

Calling All NYC Developers

We are working with a very interesting company here in NYC that is looking to hire skilled developers that have experience with java, ruby, and eclipse. I promise you that you will find what they are doing both novel and very interesting.  If you fit the bill and want to learn more, send an email to [email protected]