Posts from January 2007

Picking A Candidate

The emails are coming fast and furious now.

A small group of tech execs are meeting with Obama. Bring $2100

Get on the Hillary bus while its still taking passengers.

Bill Richardson wants to meet with you.

John Edwards is coming to town and we are putting together a lunch.

I find the whole thing so distasteful. Raising money and giving money to political candidates is something the Gotham Gal and I have done for about ten years. We’ve never been bigshots. But when we get behind someone like we did with Claire and Sherrod last spring, we can help and we enjoy it.

But this 2008 election cycle is sick and getting sicker. I read somewhere that Hillary will raise and spend $500mm running for president this cycle (that is if she’s the nominee, it would be less if she loses in the primaries). That’s $750,000 per day to be raised and spent over the next 22 months.

Does anyone else think that is nuts? How exactly does someone raise $750,000 per day?

We talked it over this week as we were getting inundated with the invites. The Gotham Gal says we should sit this one out unless Bloomberg runs (he’s already got the $500mm in his bank account). I’d love it if Mike did run. He’s been the best Mayor New York City has had since I moved here in the early 80s. But what’s the chance that happens?

I see that Steven Speilberg is doing fundraisers for Edwards, Obama, and Clinton. Hedging his bets I guess. That’s smart politically but not something we want to do. We want to find someone to get behind.

We want to find someone who will shake the national scene up the way Spitzer is shaking up the NY scene. A reformer. A blogger would be great. A person whose name isn’t Bush or Clinton.

Haven’t found it yet. Probably won’t.

UPDATE: Frank Rich has an excellent discussion of Hillary’s struggle with the Iraq issue in today’s New York Times (subscription required – ugh).

Three Second Pre-Rolls On YouTube?

I went through a period where I wrote about YouTube a lot. It was fascinating to me to watch web video take off and the lessons we all learned from YouTube’s success were important. After YouTube was purchased by Google, I kind of lost interest. I felt like that story had played out to its logical conclusion and it was time to look elsewhere for lessons to learn.

But I am taken back to YouTube after watching this video of Chad Hurley that Jeff Jarvis took at Davos and posted on YouTube (of course).

What Chad it talking about it a monetization system for YouTube, which apparently will include three second pre-rolls. More on that later. Chad first talks about digital fingerprinting which is similar to the technology that Snocap uses and how it can be used to let content owners to "claim" their content. And when that content is used in a mashup, they can share in the revenue. That’s exactly how this emerging model of content creation/consumption should work.

But of course, there needs to be revenue to share with the content owners and the content creators (the people creating stuff on YouTube). And that’s where the monetization system comes in. To date, YouTube has relied on banners to provide revenue.

But it appears that they are going to offer video ads directly in the player. That’s what most traditional media companies have been doing, mostly via pre-rolls. Pre-rolls are a questionable monetization system for YouTube like web video. But keeping them to three seconds is certainly an interesting idea. It’s hard to object to three seconds. But the question is how much is an advertiser going to pay for a three second insertion?

Anyway, I like the way that YouTube waited for the community and service to develop before locking into a monetization and compensation system. To date, they’ve showed a good feel for what will work in this emerging medium. We will soon see if they have a similar feel for how to monetize and compensate everyone in the ecosystem. As always, I am rooting for them.

New Blog Photo

I used to change my blog photo (upper left sidebar) regularly. I’ve gotten out of that habit and I had the photo of my and my family and the umbrella up there for six months.

I saw a great photo of me and my kids and our gelatos outside of Giolitti in Rome on the Gotham Gal’s screensaver this morning. And decided to make it my new blog photo. So there it is.

Smoking Manhole Cover


  Smoking Manhole Cover 
  Originally uploaded by fredwilson.

It’s about 15 degrees (F) in NYC today.

The streets were smoking on the way to work.

When it gets cold in the city, the heat that exists underground can be seen rising up out of the ground.

It’s a cool effect.

Here are some more photos I took on my way to work in the bone chilling cold today.

Subscription vs Download


  New TV and Mac Mini 
  Originally uploaded by tylerhall.

Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am a big fan of subscriptions for digital media services.

While I certainly understand the value of owning music, I generally only buy about a third off all the music I listen to. I get the rest of my music through Rhapsody and personalized radio services like last.fm and hypemachine. I pay $9.99 per month for Rhapsody and get access to pretty much all the music I would want to listen to. I don’t even use Rhapsody to play the music anymore as I access it on Sonos around my house and Yottamusic on my computer.

We feel the same way about DVDs. Except that we only buy about 5% of all the movies we watch. We’ve been subscribers to Netflix since the beginning. And we love Netflix. We vary our plan by time of year. In the winter when we are stuck inside, we have a five DVD plan at $29.99 per month. In the summer, we cut that back to three DVD plan for $17.99. When we go on vacations, we up it to eight and spend $47.99 for that month. It’s a fantastic service.

And Netflix just got better as David Pogue explains in this review of Netflix by Internet in today’s New York Times. Netflix is starting to offer streaming access to its catalog of movies and the best part is you don’t have to pay more. You get one hour of streaming for every dollar of your monthly subscription. If we are paying $30/month, then we get 30 hours of streaming. Awesome.

The only problem is that Netflix by Internet doesn’t support Mac yet. So the Mac Mini that I just connected to our display in the family room won’t be able to stream movies. Yet. But it’s going to happen pretty soon.

iTunes’ download model may work for some. But subscription is the way I want to get my media. Rhapsody and Netflix are my kinds of services.

Neat Linking Trick

UPDATE: After posting this, I realized the link is not to the publisher’s page but to a cached page. That’s not right for a bunch of reasons.So while I am not taking this post down, I am going to uninstall the extension from my browser.
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My friend Steve sent me a link to this service called Cite Bite. If you want to link to the exact phrase in a post instead of the post itself, you can use Cite Bite.

There’s a bookmarklet and a Firefox extension that make Cite Bite an option when you copy a chunk of text. Very cool.

Here’s a link to Terry Semel’s quote about Panama in the NY Times story about Yahoo!’s earnings call.

iSight No More?


  Transatlanichat. 
  Originally uploaded by *nathan.

Josh’s friends are all doing video chat on their macintosh computers. But he’s got the older iMac and doesn’t have a camera built into his screen.

So he asked us to get him a videocam for his iMac.

No problem, I thought. I’ll get him one of those iSight cameras from Apple.

Not so quick. They don’t seem to offer that product anymore.

So what should I get him instead that works seamlessly with iChat video?

Saying No

Growing up, my mom would always tell me the hardest thing for her was saying no.

I’ve got a bit of that in me too. But being in the venture capital business, I say no at least ten times a day and often more. I’ve gotten used to bumming people out. It’s the nature of the business.

I was at a board meeting yesterday and after the meeting ended we had sandwiches with the entire senior team. It was great. I wish we’d do stuff like that more often (we meaning all the boards I am on).

We talked about a wide range of things, but one thing stuck in my mind. Apparently one of the senior team members is known for saying "the best answer to most questions is no".

I liked that. Startups can go in many directions. There’s always the desire to please the customers. But knowing what you are going to do and focusing on it is so critical. Saying yes might seem like no big deal. It’s only a few lines of code, right? Wrong. It’s never just a few lines of code. So say no as often as you can. It’s counter intuitive to the entrepreneur mindset, but it’s critical.