Is Republishing To Medium Worth It?

If you are reading this on Medium and have seen other posts of mine in the past month, tell me if you think it’s been worth it for me to republish what is on Feld Thoughts to my Brad Feld channel on Medium.

I’ve been using the Medium WordPress plugin to republish my posts automatically. It’s generally not much effort, although there are a few bugs. The most annoying is that when I publish something on WordPress, update it, and then publish it again, it doesn’t update on Medium.

Yesterday my WordPress database automatically updated and published a pile of posts from 2006 and 2007 to Medium. It also filled up my drafts on Medium, which eventually caused Medium to rate limit me (it seems like that happened around 100 posts). I didn’t want the old posts up on Medium so I went through and deleted them. That was a pain in the ass as Medium doesn’t have a bulk delete feature and I had to do it one by one. That prompted me to ask the question as to whether this has been a useful experiment.

While Medium says I have 51,000 followers, it looks like I get about 1,000 views per post and between 10 and 50 likes. So – that’s a little incremental exposure, but a very low percentage of the people who follow me, which is interesting.

I’ve had a lot of trouble engaging in comments and feedback on Medium. Some of it is the UI, some of it is time, and some is modality. I do almost all my responses to comments on WordPress via email, which Disqus handles extremely well. Medium, on the other hand, doesn’t have a reply by email feature.

Any thoughts, especially from the Medium side? Feedback welcome.

Interviews in Adelaide, Sydney, and Minneapolis

I’ve done a number of video interviews lately. This seems to be the norm for a live event today. I start with a short one from when I was in Adelaide, then a longer one from Sydney, and wrap it up with what is one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done – this time in Minneapolis with my partner Seth.

Enjoy!



Beta.MN Talks: Brad Feld & Seth Levine pt.1 from TECHdotMN on Vimeo.

Beta.MN Talks: Brad Feld & Seth Levine pt.2 from TECHdotMN on Vimeo.

Beta.MN Talks: Brad Feld & Seth Levine pt.3 from TECHdotMN on Vimeo.

Facebook Helps Me Be Proud of My Dad In The Morning

Facebook can be a magical thing. I’m often frustrated about how to engage with it (I’m more of a Twitter person) but every now and then something happens that reminds me how awesome Facebook can be.

For a variety of silly reasons, I had lost touch with my best friend in high school (Kent Ellington) about 30 years ago. Last year, when I was in Austin with my college fraternity gang – about 20 of us that span three years who go someone every few years (whenever someone gets their shit together and organizes it) – Kent reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get together.

Kent and I had friended each other on Facebook a few years ago after another high school friend had died suddenly. I knew a little about what was going on in his life and expect he knew a little about what was going on in my life. But neither of us connected.

We squeezed in an hour of hanging out, which included meeting his pre-teen daughter after her ballet class. We caught up, in the way friends from long ago occasionally do, without a lot of ego and mostly just enthusiasm and empathy for the ups and downs of each others’ journey over 30 years. Not surprisingly, questions how parents and siblings were doing took up about half the discussion.

We’ve gone back and forth about a few things over the past year. I woke up this morning to a Facebook message from Kent that said “Brad – Got these photos from my endocrinologists office. His diploma is from when your Dad was President of the College of Endocrinology.” The photo follows.

Stan Feld - ACE President

I remember when my dad was president of the American College of Endocrinology. I remember the 1998 Orlando meeting and talking to him about it. I remember being extremely proud of him then. And, this morning, as I roll into my day, I’m going to carry around with me how proud I am of him for all the things he’s done, including for me, in his life.

I love you dad. Thanks Facebook. And – Kent – thank you!

FullContact Continues Its Journey To Solve The Contact Management Problem

When we invested in FullContact in 2012, they were a small team with a big vision to create One Address Book To Rule Them All. Over the past four years, they’ve systematically executed on their vision, building a contact management platform that touches all aspects of the problem. Along the way they built a sizable business.

Two weeks ago FullContact raised a $25 million round. They followed this up with two acquisitions – first Conspire and then Profoundis.

I love using a targeted acquisition approach in conjunction with a business that has a clear strategy and strong organic growth. My first company (Feld Technologies) was acquired by a company doing a rollup (AmeriData – acquired 40 companies between 1992 and 1996 when it was then acquired by GE Capital.) I learned a lot from that experience and then proceeded to try to use the rollup strategy with several other companies, including Interliant, my biggest failure of all time.

By 2002 I realized that what was classically called a rollup strategy was not generally effective, at least not for me. But by reflecting on which particular acquisitions worked, why they worked, and when they worked, along with understanding the opposite (what failed, why, and when they failed) I started to develop a clear view around a targeted acquisition strategy.

Today, I’ve got a clear view of how this can work. I’ve learned a lot from my partner Seth and his own experiences around M&A. While a few acquisitions don’t work out, with the right strategy, approach, and clarity on what success is, it can be a very powerful approach.

At the essence of the approach is a focus on two things – acquiring people and product. The classically rollup strategy was much more focused on acquiring revenue. In my world, historical revenue is the least interesting thing to consider in an acquisition strategy. The goal is to acquire technology that is on your product roadmap or people that fit culturally within your organization and help you execute on your roadmap faster. The phrase acquihire emerged from this, but many acquihire’s, especially by large companies, are not particularly well thought out or integrated into an existing roadmap.

Ultimately, the goal is to use acquisitions to compress time on product development and get people on the team, especially in senior roles, who can help build out areas of the company they have experience in. Interestingly, many technology assets don’t need a lot of people. At the same time, many people are interested in working on things other than the technology they’ve been focused on.

In FullContact’s case, the team, led by Bart Lorang, has figured out their own strategy around this and is executing well on it. In the absence of any of the acquisitions they’ve done, FullContact has a strong business. But our acquisitions of Cobook, nGame, Brewster, and now Conspire and Profoundis has accelerated our business in powerful ways.

Ants and the Superintelligence

I’ll start with my bias – I’m very optimistic about the superintelligence.

Yesterday I gave two talks in Minneapolis. One was to an internal group of Target employees around innovation. In the other, I was interviewed by my partner Seth (for the first time), which was fun since he’s known me for 16 years and could ask unique questions given our shared experiences.

I can’t remember in which talk the superintelligence came up, but I rambled on an analogy to try to simply describe the superintelligence which I’ve come up with recently that I first saw in The AI Revolution: Our Immortality or ExtinctionI woke up this morning thinking about it along with one of the questions Seth asked me where my answer left me unsatisfied.

I’ve been reading most of what I could get my hands on about current thoughts and opinions about the superintelligence and the evolution of what a lot of people simply refer to as AI. I’ve also read, and am rereading, some classical texts on this such as Minsky’s Society of the Mind. It’s a challenging subject as it functions at the intersection of computer science and philosophy combined with humans efforts to define and describe the unknown.

My ants and the superintelligence rant is a way for me to simply explain how humans will related to the superintelligence, and how the superintelligence will relate to humans.

If I’m a human, I am curious about and study ants. They have many interesting attributes that are similar to other species, but many that are unique. If you want to learn more in an efficient way, read anything written about them by E. O. Wilson. While I may think I know a lot about ants, I fundamentally can’t identify with them, nor can I integrate them into my society. But I can observe and interact with them, in good and bad ways, both deliberately as well as accidentally. Ponder an ant farm or going for a bike ride and driving over an ant hill. Or being annoyed with them when they are making a food line across your kitchen and calling the exterminator. Or peacefully co-existing with them on your 40 acres.

If I’m an ant, there are giant exogenous forces in my world. I can’t really visualize them. I can’t communicate with them. I spent a lot of time doing things in their shadow but never interacting with them, until there is a periodic overlap that often is tragic, chaotic, or energizing. I get benefit from the existence of them, until they accidentally, or deliberately, do something to modify my world.

In my metaphor, the superintelligence == humans and humans == ants.

Ponder it. For now, it’s working for me. But tell me why it does work so I can learn and modify my thinking.