Brad Feld

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Wikipedia and Board Meeting Fun

Oct 29, 2005

Well – I gave Fred 36 hours to put up a post about the fun we had at dinner with Wikipedia and – since he hasn’t yet – you’ll get it from me.

Once a year, Return Path has a board / management retreat (from Thursday noon to Friday 2pm) that serves as our October board meeting and annual planning session.  It’s one of – if not the best – board meeting I have each year.  Matt and his team do a superb job – very effectively using this meeting to pull together their proposed annual plan, present it in a setting where we can tear it apart (constructively) and give real time feedback, which then gives them a few more months to lock down the plan, budgets, and comp structure for the next year. 

In addition, we spend plenty of social time as a team, including dinner and some event (last year bowling at Chelsea Piers, this year pool somewhere that I punted on because I was wiped out and wanted to go back to the hotel room and lay in bed with Amy).  Dinner is always a lot of fun – this year we did it at the Turkish Kitchen.

After about an hour, someone suggested that VCs were shylocks.  Someone else suggested that – no – they were shysters.  There was some debate about the difference, resulting in my whipping out my Sidekick and going to Wikipedia.  Fred – bless his intellectual heart – actually remembered that the word shylock meant moneylender and came from a Shakespeare play (thankfully he didn’t remember which play).  I regaled my friends – via Wikipedia – with the story of Shylock from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” while only being moderately defensively when asserting that VCs were neither con artists nor were they the NATO reporting name for the R-5 theater ballistic missile.  Of course, when I returned to the hotel room and asked Amy the difference between shylock and shyster, she simply started reciting Merchant of Venice to me.

We couldn’t stop there.  I can’t remember who suggested it (it couldn’t have been me – probably Greg Sands from Sutter Hill) but like all overaged peurile boys (oh – and several of the women at the table joined in) we started looking up swear words on Wikipedia.  Remarkably, their definitions are rich, detailed, and include a wild amount of historical context, including one that we fondly referred to throughout the next day as the “violation of the taboo of incest.”

Who says board meetings can’t be fun?