The meme of “Corporate Web Site As A Blog” is going around – and I like it. While this has been popular for individuals for a while (e.g. www.feld.com) – it’s starting to happen with companies. Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham did this recently with their site at Union Square Ventures and Matt Blumberg just launched a new Return Path web site organized around a blog – launched with a post on Matt’s blog about why Return Path did this.
A friend of mine emailed me suggesting that a blog was a lousy basis for a web site – that instead I should be using traditional CMS tools because it’d be easier to control and tune the formatting. I vociferously disagreed with him – I think the brilliance of organizing a corporate web site around a blog is that you can transform what has turned into largely static brochureware into a vibrant and ever changing articulation of a company. As I sit in a hotel room in Boston, all I need to do is type my new content (into Blogjet in my case) and hit post when I’m done – my blog deals with the rest. In addition – if one is bold enough to leave comments on, you can even turn it into a conversation with your constituency. Now, you can configure CMS systems to behave this way, but why bother.
I’ve noticed recently that the only page that regularly changes on a typical corporate web site is the news / press release page (and – btw – where are the RSS feeds for these pages – if I want to know about what is going on at your company, make it easy for me.) As Matt and Fred have artfully said, they want to incorporate the dynamic nature of their businesses and the markets in which they participate into their web site in order to communicate more effectively what they are doing and engage in a conversation with anyone who is interested in them.
While there is a self-referential characteristic to this (USV invests in companies in this ecosystem, Return Path provides services to email marketers), this is a noble experiment that – as far as I’m concerned – has so far been extremely well executed by all involved.
Tom Barrack is a legendary real estate investor that few people know about. The 10/31/05 Fortune has a good profile on him titled “I’m Tom Barrack and I’m Getting Out.” Barrack’s lead quote concerns polo, of which he is an avid player.
“I feel totally safe playing polo on a field full of pros, but when amateurs are all over the field, someone can get killed. They have more guts than brains. They charge after every ball and don’t know when to hold back.”
Of course, this applies broadly. Be careful out there – make sure you know who else is on the field with you.
I love running and I love Rome. My brother Daniel knows this and forwarded me a link to Sight Jogging. The next time I’m in Rome I can go for a run with Carolina and see the sights of Rome. That’s probably a little more fun than running up and down the Hudson River Park Greenway with Matt Blumberg.
Well – it’s about 20 days after the end of the quarter and the Ernst & Young / Venture One survey of venture capital funding is out and the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News feel compelled to comment on it. I really like Roger Fillion who wrote the RMN article (I don’t know Will Shanley who wrote the Denver Post article), but as I said to Ross Wehner from the Denver Post last quarter, “Who Gives A Fuck?”
Whether the data is right or not, the conclusions are misleading. Both articles assert that the market for VC investment in Colorado has “grown” over 2004 and that it – according to local VCs – “has definitely gotten stronger.” But – no one really digs into the data beyond suggesting that through Q3 Colorado firms have raised $469.2m vs. $386.8m in 2004 and that in Q305 Colorado firms raised $131.7m vs. $107.8m in Q304.
As I suggested last quarter, one deal – Webroot – raised $108m – and most of that was to buy out the founders (is this a VC deal or a private equity deal done by VC firms?). This quarter, one deal – Replidyne – raised $62.5m – in a well executed late stage deal. If you leave Replidyne in (it is a VC deal, albeit one that skews the numbers) but take Webroot out, Colorado is actually at $361.2 through Q305, behind 2004! Interestingly, in the quarter, Colorado saw 13 deals in Q305 and 13 deals in Q304 – that seems equivalent to me (although my logic is rusty: 13=13 is true, correct?)
It’s all about how you analyze the numbers and – in the rush to simply publish that “things are good” or “things are bad” – the papers do everyone a disservice by not really digging into the actual data. I’d love to see the full list of fundings in Q305 in the articles on the web compared to Q304 with some thoughtful analysis of what is actually going on in the market. As a local player, it feels “about the same” to me as last year, although I spent two thirds of Q3 in Alaska and the balance of it on the road so I’m a lousy data point also.
On Wednesday, IBM announced that it had acquired DataPower. Bill Burnham (who originally did the investment for us when he was at Mobius) has a nice set of posts on his view of VC lessons from the deal and his view of the implications for software in general.
After Bill left Mobius, Gary Rieschel and Robin Bordoli took over responsibility for the company in our shop. I got actively involved earlier this year (and eventually joined the board) when IBM made its initial overture to the company. In 2004, IBM acquired Cyanea, another deal that Bill sourced that I took over after he left Mobius. I spent a silly (large) amount of time last summer working on that deal and, while we were very happy with the outcome (as was IBM), the process and negotiation was brutal. As a result, when the first overture came this time around it was logical for me to get involved.
The dance – as with many deals – took a while to get to the point where both sides were serious. IBM and DataPower had a good business relationship that was developing nicely and – while IBM was very interested in the company – DataPower was well capitalized and growing like crazy. At some point, IBM made an attractive enough offer and the real dance began.
This time around, it was much easier. The IBM lead negotiator was the same person as on the Cyanea deal – as a result we were jointly able to establish a very effective approach to the negotiation early in the process. We had great M&A support on the DataPower side from both Steve Tonsfeldt at Heller Ehrman who has now done six deals with IBM in the past few years and Steve Cheheyl – previously EVP Operations at Bay Networks and CFO for three companies that went public (Applicon, Alliant, and Wellfleet) – who is now a consultant that helps on things like this (e.g. he was the principle negotiator and ringleader on our side of the deal.) Dave Gammell and his team from Brown Rudnick also carried a huge amount of water on the deal.
Of course, the company wouldn’t exist without the incredible entrepreneurial, technical talent, and energy of Eugene Kuznetsov (the founder, chairman, and CTO), the steady hand and leadership of Jim Ricotta (the CEO), and the balance of their great team. Congrats to all.
No – this isn’t going to be a screed on the crazy shit (at ridiculous prices) some of my early stage compatriots are doing these days. On my run today while listening to Brian Ibbott’s awesome Coverville podcast I heard Authority Zero cover Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo (from the Call of the West album). I was instantly transported back 15 years and sang along as my tempo picked up. There are definitely days that I wish I was in Tiajuana eating barbecued iguana.