Month: January 2006
Ah – the sound of a fresh binding cracking open. Tom Evslin just signed 25 books for me. These are apparently the first copies of hackoff.com to be signed by the soon to be famous author. I thought I’d memorialize the experience.
These are the publisher proof versions and – with Tom’s signature – are certain to become collectors editions. If you are a CEO of one of my portfolio companies, look for a special treat in the mail shortly.
Today, FeedBurner announced that USA Today is now using FeedBurner for managing over 100 feeds. I sure do love clicking on that orange XML button and seeing “syndicate content powered by FeedBurner.”
At the same time, FeedBurner announced its new FeedFoundry product for publishers with multiple feeds. FeedFoundry lets you use all the FeedBurner features that you have come to know and love, including FeedFlare, while enabling you to use an new interface that understands the concept of “multiple feeds for a publisher.” If you are a multi-feed publisher, you can get more information (and sign up for a test drive) here.
Pascal Levensohn just released his latest white paper titled “Rites of Passage: Managing CEO Transition in Venture-Backed Technology Companies.” Last fall I posted my partner Heidi Roizen’s responses to a set of questions Pascal posed as he was doing research for this paper.
“Rites of Passage” is an excellent addition to every entrepreneur and VC’s bookshelf. It’s a great compliment to Pascal’s previous white paper “After the Term Sheet: How Venture Boards Influence the Success or Failure of Technology Companies.”
I have a rule about what I can eat the week before a marathon. It’s a simple rule – I can eat anything I want, and as much of it as I feel like, as long as it is primarily carbohydrates and protein. Today’s lunch (and yesterday’s lunch) was at Jerry’s Deli in South Beach.
Matzo Brie and Kasha Varniska. That feels somehow fitting for a high carbo/protein meal in South Beach.
At a board meeting last week we were discussing the dynamics of keeping VC’s informed that expressed interest in “being kept up to date” on the company for the purpose of being somewhat up to speed when the next financing came around. We ended up talking through a list of about 10 different VC’s and at one point one of the other board members muttered “this sounds like the shits.” I gave him a perplexed look and he said “you know – “Signal High Interest Then Stall.” Yeah – well – we’ve all experienced the shits at one time or another.
Jonathan Schwartz – the president and COO of Sun – just posted on his great trip to Sun Mexico and raved about their recent performance. He posted a picture of “the winning team” – my first reaction was “where are the women?” I know Sun is a member of the National Center for Women & Information Technology Workforce Alliance so I was a little surprised. I decided to dig a little more and discovered that two of twenty three senior execs are women and two of nine directors are women. Unfortunately I had no easy way to go any deeper in the organization – it’s certainly conceivable that there is a higher ratio of female engineers at Sun than female executives – although if history is a guide this probably isn’t the case.
I’ve been involved in NCWIT not because of an innate desire on my part for gender parity, but because I’m a strong believe that if the U.S. wants to continue to be competitive in IT and computer science 20 years from now, the dramatic gender split that currently exists needs to be gone – for multiple reasons, not the least of which are the fundamental issues of design (if 50 percent of your users are women, don’t you want 50 percent of your designers to be women?) and supply and demand (there simply aren’t enough men to satisfy the growth of the industry.) I recognize the irony of this statement in the context of a photo of the Sun Mexico “winning team”, and while I think of Sun as an international company, it’s clearly headquartered in the U.S.
To continue to be relevant in the long term, Sun has to out-innovate a number of fierce competitors and they should be using all of the weapons at their disposal. While I can imagine a typical response of “Brad – get off your soapbox – quit being a feminist – no room for that here”, I hope someone high up at Sun is actively thinking about the long term gender dynamics in the IT industry and how this can positively impact innovation. It’s an interesting challenge and I can assure Sun that some of their most aggressive competitors are not just thinking about it but taking aggressive steps to take advantage of the idea.
Confronting Reality was awful. The celebrated authors of this book – Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan – should consider confronting the reality that the world does not need yet another tepid, uninspired business book that tries to create a “simple” construct (in this case, the notion of – tada – a “business model”) to “confront reality” and improve you business. The construct is lame. The examples, while somewhat interesting (EMC, Cisco, Sun, Home Depot, 3M, and Thompson) and by far the best part of the book, are still incredibly light weight stories of the transformation these companies went through recently.
I don’t know why I keep buying and reading business books like this. They are usually such a profound disappointment. I got suckered into this one because my favorite quote from Atlas Shrugged is “Nobody stays here by faking reality in any manner whatever.” Unfortunately, this time Bossidy and Charan faked me out.