This is my last blog post of 2015. I’m taking a break from a bunch of things for a while.

#GiveFirst is the title of my next book, which will come out sometime in 2016. I’ve started working on it and realize that I have a finite amount of daily writing energy. Since I no longer wake up every morning at 5am (I don’t use an alarm clock anymore), I have a less predictable morning routine. As a result, my writing times are more random and chaotic, which I like, but means that it’s harder to have big chunks of time on a consistent basis.

For now, #GiveFirst wins over blogging.

But that’s not the only thing driving my blogging hiatus. After over a decade of almost daily public writing, I feel like I need a break. Some is boredom, some is a burdensome feeling around an obligation to an almost daily habit, and some is the lack of freshness I feel in my writing.

I’ve always enjoyed multiple forms of writing – micro (tweets), short (blog posts), medium (magazine articles), and long form (books). I also write a lot of other stuff all day long (mostly emails) and the majority of my communication is written, which I prefer much more than verbal. But I feel like I’ve hit a wall of some kind. And, whenever I hit a wall, my first instinct is to shake some things up.

As I approach turning 50, which happens on December 1st, I’m finding less enjoyment from short bursts of communication and more from just spending time with friends, with Amy, or by myself.  So, through the end of the year, I’m going on a diet. No more blogging. No more twitter. No more commenting on blogs. No more social media of any sort. In addition to stopping generating content (and plenty of online exhaust fumes), I’m going to stop consuming it also.

I have no idea what will happen on January 1st, 2016 – that’s part of the fun of it for me. A ten week reset on this front will be interesting to me. For now, 100% of my public writing will be dedicated to working on #GiveFirst and I’ll explore a new rhythm by subtracting out a lot of other stuff.

See you in 2016.

A Conversation With Jerry Colonna About Life

Of all the podcast interviews I’ve done over the years, I think the one I recently did with Jerry Colonna on his Reboot podcast series is my favorite.

In the podcast show notes, Jerry links to a fun post by Fred Wilson titled Sixteen Years Ago (which is now 19 years ago…) We’ve known each other for a very long time and I treasure Jerry as one of my best friends on this planet.

Enjoy the week. Hopefully this will provide some thoughts as well as some fuel for you. And, if you aren’t a regular listener to the Reboot podcast, I encourage you to subscribe to it as a source of deep insights from Jerry every few weeks. There are 25 episodes so far since Jerry started it with his gang in September 2014 – I’ve listened to and benefited from every one of them.

Foundry Group Urges Boulder To VOTE NO on 300 and 301


This year’s local election in Boulder is a critical one. The city that we love risks shutting its doors. While the business community in Boulder has contributed immeasurably to the vibrancy, charitable contribution base, economic development, and success of our community, there is a faction in Boulder that feels that our city should stop moving forward and instead should live in the past. This faction believes in a less inclusive Boulder and aims to achieve this goal by literally shutting the doors to our city.

This is what is behind propositions 300 and 301 which are proposed amendments to the city’s charter.   

This faction is well organized and well funded and the slogans make it sound reasonable.  But make no mistake:  the goal is to immediately freeze all development of all types around the city by enveloping the city a bundle of political red tape.  

In the coming days, Boulder residents will be asked to vote on the following:

#300 – Neighborhood Right to Vote on Land Use Regulation

#301 – New Development Shall Pay Its Own Way

These initiatives must be voted down.

While innocuous sounding, the names of these initiatives completely misrepresent their intent and the dire consequences that would result if they are enacted. The truth is that neighborhoods already do have a say in projects that affect them, and developers already do pay some of the highest fees and taxes in the country.  

Effectively, these proposals will create 60+ neighborhoods in Boulder.  Can you imagine what would happen if we had that many homeowner associations that had the power to hold special elections and veto land use changes approved by city council? The smallest of those neighborhoods would be comprised of just 19 houses. That’s not “local control” (which already exists), that’s a deliberate attempt to create gridlock.

These initiatives will immediately freeze important infill development, including affordable housing, transit-oriented development, neighborhood serving retail, social service centers, and day care centers. The city manager has stated that the city will stop issuing permits of any kind for at least six months while they figure out what these initiatives mean and how to implement them. Once they do start reissuing permits, these initiatives will force the city to levy such high taxes and fees that development will effectively stop in Boulder. This will stop our city in its tracks and greatly exacerbate an already expensive housing market.

These measures are opposed by six former mayors, all nine City Council members, numerous former city council members, Boulder Housing Partners, The Daily Camera, and numerous civic groups like Open Boulder, the Boulder Chamber, Better Boulder,  and others.  Open Boulder executive director Andy Schultheiss has called them “among the worst pieces of public policy I’ve seen in almost 25 years of observing and participating in local policy-making.”

It’s critically important that we defeat these measures. To do that we need to get the word out to those in our community who want Boulder to continue to be a vibrant city. The sad irony is that those promoting these measures have the time and organization to put towards pressing their backward and closed agenda while many who oppose it are busy helping keep Boulder prosperous by creating jobs and economic growth.

This is a battle we can’t afford to lose. Please take a minute to help us get the word out. Send it to your friends via email and social media. Urge your neighbors to vote and make sure you vote yourself. With ballots mailed out this week many in our community will be voting in the next seven days (over 50% of ballots are returned within a week of their being sent out).


Seth, Jason, Brad, Ryan


Below are some suggested tweets or Facebook posts should you chose to share them:

Click to Tweet: I agree with @foundrygroup. 300 and 301 will have devastating effects on boulder. VOTE NO on both! #keepboulderopen http://bit.ly/1ReQamJ

Click to Tweet: I stand for keeping the doors to boulder open. VOTE NO on 300 and 301. #keepboulderopen http://bit.ly/1ReQamJ

Click to Tweet: In boulder’s upcoming election we’ll decide if we want to live in the past or continue to thrive. #keepboulderopen http://bit.ly/1ReQamJ

What Is The “Third Wave” Of This Generation?

When I was 14, my dad gave me a copy of Alvin Toffler’s book The Third Wave

It blew my fucking mind.

I then read the prequel – Future Shock – which was good – but since my mind was already blown, it was anticlimactic.

If you don’t know the arc of Toffler’s waves, they go as follows:

  • The First Wave: agricultural society
  • The Second Wave: industrial society
  • The Third Wave: post-industrial society

Future Shock was written in 1970 and The Third Wave was written in 1980. While the idea of post-industrial society seems obvious in hindsight, in 1980 it was a completely new idea.

Ever since then I’ve been wondering what the next wave would be. While Kurweil’s The Singularity Is Near is probably the closed book I’ve read that stimulated me the way The Third Wave did when I was 14, at some point I just felt hollow and disappointed when I read the latest futurist manifesto. Instead, I ventured further into the future with the science fiction that I have always read on a regular basis and used it as my stimuli.

Recently, a bunch of smart and famous tech entrepreneurs have been talking about AI and the impact of AI on civilization. I’ve read a few of the books that get tossed around, like Bostrom’s Superintelligence, and a bunch of the articles that people have written. But none have spoken to me, or blown my mind the way Toffler did 35 years ago.

I’m on a search for the “Third Wave” of this generation. Any ideas for me?

When Greed Turns To Fear

There is a cliche in the financial world that has been around forever.

“Two things drive decisions: Greed and Fear”

For the past few years, we’ve been a zone where greed has been dominating. Every now and then a little fear creeps in and then gets squished into the corner by chants of “things are different this time” and “that’s just PTSD from the Internet bubble.”

Recently, the fear seems to be sticking around. There are plenty of people trying to kick it away, shake it off, or ignore it. But it lingers. And the smell of it gets stronger.

I had an exchange with a CEO the other day who was at an event in the bay area and commented on the attendees at the event. The telling line was:

They’ve never read the RIP Good Times deck, they don’t remember the Bin 38 fiasco, they think it’s the first go round.

I once again rolled out my favorite BSG line.

All this has happened before and all of it will happen again.

I’m a strong believer that you can build great companies in time of both greed and fear. But you have to be paying attention and operating under the right assumptions. You don’t have to believe history repeats itself, but you should accept that history rhymes. And one big rhyme is that the shift from greed to fear happens much faster than the shift from fear to greed.

If you are a founder running a high growth, VC backed company, here are a few questions to ask your investors today.

  1. What is the maximum amount of monthly net burn you are comfortable with for us right now?
  2. Based on our current course and speed, we run out of money in X months. If we can’t find a new lead investor, will you write us a check? How much and on what terms?
  3. If companies start failing left and right, do you think it will impact us in a meaningful way (either good or bad)? If yes, how?

There are no correct answers to these questions but they’ll give you a sense of how your investors are thinking along the greed – fear spectrum. You get bonus points if you ask the investor to walk you through what they were doing the last time things shifted from greed to fear and to tell you stories about things that went well for them, went poorly, and what they learned.

Don’t be afraid to explore what could happen well before it does. Our history rhymes with the famous John Galt quote “Nobody stays here by faking reality in any manner whatever.”