Posts from Google Docs

Dropbox to Google Drive Sync

A number of companies send me documents in Dropbox. I am happy to get them that way. Most of these documents are .doc, .xls, and .ppt files. Since I don't use word, excel, and powerpoint anymore as part of my committment to move my entire computing experience to the cloud, I end up doing a hack which involves downloading the files to my desktop, then emailing them to myself in gmail, then opening them as google docs in google drive.

This convoluted process has the added benefit of then being able to share these documents freely with the USV team in our shared google drive. Many of the documents that are shared with me on Dropbox are shared in folders that I don't control and the rest of the USV team doesn't have access to.

What I am currently looking for and doing a fair bit of research on is the available services out there that sync Dropbox to Google Drive. I want to find one that works easily and reliably, and that allows me to automate the syncing of various dropbox folders to my google drive and then be able to open the file as a converted google doc.

I'd be grateful for advice on services that all of you are using to accomplish this task. If you are an entrepreneur who has built such a service, feel free to advocate for your service in the comments. We won't accuse you of spamming us with your marketing pitch.

Once I select a service to use, I will post about it here.

#Web/Tech

The Free Internet Act

The Reddit community has posted a proposed piece of legislation they call The Free Internet Act on Google Docs. I've just taken a look at it and will need to think about all of these provisions a bit before I have an opinion about whether this is a sensible proposal or not.

But regardless of whether anything comes of this, I want to make a larger point about transparency in government.

A number of NY tech community people met with a US Senator in the USV event space a few weeks ago to give our views on tech issues coming down the pike. At one point in that meeting, the Senator's staff talked to us about the cybersecurity bill, which at that time had not been released. We asked how long it had been in the works. The answer was quite a while. We asked how long would be available for comment once it came out. The answer was about a month. None of this was this Senator's doing. We were just being informed about what was going on and how we should engage in the process. We were encouraged to read the bill and give our elected officials our opinions on it. And we are doing that. You should do the same. The bill is linked to earlier on in this paragraph.

But as we were having this conversation, my partner Albert asked why bills aren't drafted in public. He suggested an approach that is almost identical to the one that the Reddit community has taken with the Free Internet Act. And the Senator's staff said that such radical transparency wasn't likely to develop in Washington any time soon. 

When an important piece of legislation is drafted in secrecy, such that Senators and their staff members don't even know what is going to be in it, and then is put out for voting on a very fast track, people are going to be suspicious. And suspicious citizens don't make for a healthy democracy.

If nothing else comes of this Reddit process, I'd at least hope that we show Washington the power of an open debate, commenting, and editing process. For that reason alone, I'm going to put some real energy into The Free Internet Act. I hope you do too.

#Politics#Web/Tech

MBA Mondays: Cap Tables

Cap Tables (short for capitalization tables) are spreadsheets that show how much everyone owns of the company. You can get a stockholder ledger from your lawyer that will list all the stockholders and show how many shares or options they have, but I don't consider that a cap table.

For the past 25 years, I've used a simple form, mostly given to me by the partners I worked for when I first entered the venture capital business in the mid-80s, but with a few modifications by me over the years. It looks like this (click on the image to enlarge):

Cap table

Last night I put together a public read-only google spreadsheet that shows you a basic cap table in the format I like to use. You can check it out here.

The basic outlines of this cap table are:

1) it shows all the major stockholders of the company listed down the left side. it also shows the major option holders and buckets of option holders

2) it shows all of the classes of stock and how much was paid for them across the top of the columns

3) for each investor, you show how much of each class was bought and how many shares of that class they own as a result

4) you total up the cost and shares and then calculate ownerships on a fully-diluted basis (which means you include the options, whether issued or non-issued or vested or non-vested).

I like this presentation for its simplicity and because it shows the progression of financing activity. It also has the benefit of showing how much each investor has put in on a cost basis, which many cap tables leave out.

If you want to make a cap table for your company, feel free to replicate this format. If you have angel investors, put them in the angel section. I would include the largest ones and bucket all the rest into "other angels."

If you've got any questions about this cap table, or cap tables in general, feel free to ask them in the comments. I will answer them (maybe not until late today or tomorrow -I've got a crazy day today). And I bet the community will answer them too (probably well before me).

#MBA Mondays

In Situ Content

I've been working on a prezi for a talk I'm giving next monday at OMMA Global (here's the high level outline of the talk). It's a work in progress. I started it last weekend. I do a bit more each morning. I hope to have it done before I walk on stage monday at 9:10am.

I like to use visuals when I give a talk. I use them as eye candy for the audience. And they are the cues for me to move through the concepts I want to cover. It's like a visual outline. I don't use notes. I just hit next and I'm reminded about the flow I want to use.

For many years, I used Powerpoint to create the visuals for these talks. Then I'd post the slides to Slideshare and share the visuals on this blog and elsewhere to get feedback. It was a fine system.

But in my effort to move everything I do to the cloud, I've ditched Powerpoint for Prezi and started creating the visuals right on the web. So I can link out to a work in progress without any need to upload anything. And when I walk onto the stage, I pull up a browser, go to a URL, and I'm good to go.

I really like content systems where everything happens "in situ". The more I use systems like this, the more I think they are the future. I alluded to this in my "there will be no files in the cloud" post, but I think this goes beyond files vs no files.

So much of what I do, what I think about, what I am learning is informed by the daily act of writing this blog. I write in a browser. I bring all these web services I'm using right into the post via links, images, embeds, etc. And then I hit publish. You load up a browser, go to AVC.com, and start reading. Using Disqus, we talk about what I've written. I learn, you learn, and then it's tomorrow and a new post. This is all happening in one system (or two connected systems – typepad and disqus). It is all happening in a browser. And we are all connected to each other via the web.

So when I look at doing visual presentations, I want a similar system. Prezi is in situ. Powerpoint isn't.

When I look at creating and publishing audio, SoundCloud is in situ. iTunes insn't.

When I look at creating and publishing novels, Wattpad is in situ. Kindle isn't.

When I look at creating and publishing documents, Google Docs is in situ. Word is not.

When I look at remixing images, Canv.as is in situ. Photoshop is not.

I'll stop there. You get the point by now. There is so much to be gained when content is published and consumed in the same service where engagement is encouraged, measured, and leveraged to improve the experience for everyone. These are the content systems of the future.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Disqus, SoundCloud, Wattpad, and Canv.as are USV portfolio companies. What is the point of learning if you don't leverage what you learn?

#Web/Tech

There Will Be No Files In The Cloud

I've spent a bunch of time talking to entrepreneurs who are building companies in and around the cloud storage space. It's not a space I like very much because I don't think we'll be using files in the cloud. Now Dropbox is a brilliant company and an amazing service and they are doing very well, but will we need a service like Dropbox when everything is in the cloud? I don't think so.

I was in DJ Woooo's Dance/Electro Turntable room last week. I heard a remix track that was super fun. I hit the button to send the track to Rdio. I went to Rdio and listened to it a few times. Then I went to SoundCloud, found the track and then reblogged it into Tumblr. Not once in that experience did I have to touch a file. If Turntable and Rdio had good links into SoundCloud (I'm sure they will in time), I would not even have had to do any searching. It would have been click this, click that, click this and I would have been done. That's how I think things are going to work when everything is in the cloud.

This is why I love Google Docs so much. I just create a document and email a link. Nobody downloads anything. There are no attachments in the email. Just a link. Just like the web, following links, getting shit done. I love it.

That's the future. I'm pretty sure of it. Mobile is a bit of a complicating factor because we are still stuck with downloadable software and unreliable and slow internet connections. But I think we'll fix all of that in good time.

So if you are working in the cloud storage space, I think you've got a bit of a conundrum. The reality of the market today is that people use files. You need to support that use case, enhance it, and make people's lives easier. But over time, that use case will go away. And what people will want is a service that doesn't have files as the atomic unit. And how do you elegantly morph from a file centric model to a document centric model? It won't be easy, I'm sure of that.

#Web/Tech

Paperless Financing Docs

I've been on a mission to dramatically reduce the legal costs of a venture financing. Our firm is doing our part. On many of our recent transactions, we've gone without counsel and have signed documents without negotiation. That takes out the investor counsel costs. And we've been pushing company counsel to reduce their costs. But we are still seeing company counsel costs of $15k or more on venture financings even with our "no negotiation" approach. I'd like to see venture financing legal fees get to $5k or less. I don't know why raising a venture round can't be like signing a lease on an apartment with standardized docs and a one page rider for any changes.

As we dig into the costs on the company counsel side, there are areas we feel can be improved and areas that cannot. The entrepreneur still needs an experienced counsel to explain the deal to them. That time and money is valuable to everyone involved. I'm hopeful that Brad and Jason's upcoming book will help reduce the time and money spent educating entrpreneurs on venture financings, but realisitcally the company counsel is still going to have to do some hand holding.

But there are many areas where the company counsel is spending time and money doing things that can and should be automated. Tops on that list is document creation, distribution, change management, and ultimately signing.

We've noticed that some of the new online funding platforms, like Profounder, have managed to totally automate this process online. We wonder why the law firms we work with have not. One of the best hacks of the Disrupt Hackathon last weekend was Docracy. I am going to find out if we can use Docracy on our next venture financing to make things more efficient.

And Bijan posted recently that he is using an iPhone app called EasySign to sign legal documents when he is out and about. After going through torture this weekend at our beach house to sign docs that absolutely had to be signed by yesterday, I'm searching for something similar on my Android. Please EasySign team get me an Android version. I promise I will blog about it when you do.

And in the meantime, if anyone knows of any good mobile signing apps on Android, let me know about them in the comments.

This whole area is so ripe for change. We are documenting financings for cutting edge web startups using technology from the middle ages. That must change and it must change now.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech