Month: May 2006
Dan Rua sent me a link to his new Florida Venture Blog, subtitled No-BS Venture Thoughts for No-BS Entrepreneurs. There’s plenty of good stuff there if you are interested in what’s going on in the Florida VC / entrepreneur scene (or if you just want to read another VC related blog.)
Amy and I had a delicious lunch with Pierre-Denis Autric at Ristorante Gallo Romano near Notre Dame. Pierre-Denis met me through my blog, dropped me an email inviting me out to lunch, and – well – there you have it. At lunch, I discovered that Capgemini just started a CTO blog which has an excellent entry on 24 that evolves into an explanation of user interfaces. It’s delightful to see 24 continuing to be used as a thematic launching point as well as make a new friend over a great lunch.
Senator Barack Obama spoke at the National Center for Women & Information Technology Town Hall last week. If you are an Obama fan, or just want to hear about what he has to say, NCWIT’s friends at Microsoft Research have put both Obama’s speech as well as much of the town hall conference on “IT Innovation and the Role of Diversity” up on the Research Channel web site.
Will Price at Hummer Winblad has a really nice blog post up on a speech he attended by Verne Harnish the other day.
Verne is a long time friend, extremely captivating and insightful speaker, and a guy who has been around entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship forever. I first met Verne in 1990 at the first Inc. Magazine / MIT Entrepreneur Forum / YEO Birthing of Giants Conference. This was a conference that Verne created for founders of companies under the age of 40 with at least $1 million of annual revenue. My company was four years old, we’d just broken the $1m mark, had 12 employees, and I was struggling with all of the normal startup issues. In four days, I met 59 other people, many of whom became close friends, who were either struggling with or had struggled with similar stuff. This was also my introduction to a long standing involvement with YEO. I remember driving home from Endicott House thinking “Holy Shit, I Am Not Alone.”
When Amy and I moved to Boulder in 1995, Verne was the only guy we knew living there. He and his wife Julie moved away shortly after we showed up, leaving us friendless in Boulder, but only for a brief period of time. Over the years, I’ve seen Verne periodically, but every time I see something like what Will wrote up, I remember how amazingly great Verne is at standing in front of a group of people and talking about the issues that entrepreneurs deal with.
If you ever have a chance to hear Verne talk, take it. If not, grab his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm – it’s great roughage for any entrepreneur’s diet.
Today Salesforce.com had a set of major announcements around their AppExchange platform, including the release of the AppExchange OEM Edition. One of my portfolio companies – Rally Software – participated in this with the launch of their Rally Agile Product Manager product as one of the first four AppExchange OEM partners. Rally Agile Product Manager helps enable Agile Software Development via Salesforce.com’s AppExchange. If you are a Salesforce.com customer, it’s live on the Salesforce.com site.
The is the second time this year that a company that I’ve been involved in has worked closely with Salesforce.com. In April, Salesforce.com acquired Sendia, a company I was on the board of, and simultaneously announced their AppExchange Mobile service. While the Sendia deal was only a modest positive outcome for us, it was a perfect fit with Salesforce.com’s business and we decided to sell the company early in its life rather than continue to build the business.
In both cases, Salesforce.com had a clear strategy, articulated it to the companies involved, and then deliberately executed on the strategy. Each time, I was excited by the prospects but cautious because of all of the challenges I’ve historically experienced working with public software companies executing on the strategies they articulate. In both cases, Salesforce.com did an outstanding job of setting expectations and then executing on them – impressing me as a company that both has a clear strategy and the organizational will to follow through with it.
Many of my portfolio companies have been long time Salesforce.com customers – it’s gratifying to see several of them have successful partnerships with Salesforce.com also.
The motto for my first company was “We Suck Less.” Many years later, with the price of oil at some silly high price, it seems all the more appropriate as a slogan.
Thanks Chris for catching this ad, remembering the story of my first company motto, and for forwarding it on. I wonder if Gebhardt will send me a check for the free advertising – I can tell them how many clickthroughs they get.
Today’s Paris Art Tour is brought to you by “Rodin’s Very Own Personal Van Gogh.”
I woke up this morning, had an expresso (my very bad French for “really tiny, really strong coffee”), and started the day off with a meeting at Sofinnova Partners. I then walked back through Place de la Concorde, across the Seine, and connected with Amy and our friend Ed Roberto on Saint Germain near Richart Chocolates (possibly the greatest chocolates in the world.) Everything felt very familiar, which scared me a little bit.
We then walked over to the Musee Rodin and had a sculpturiforous time wandering around both the museum and the sculpture gardens. I’m a big Rodin fan (I always wanted to say that – make sure you say it out loud with a proper french accent) and seeing “The Thinker” up front, live, and personal didn’t disappoint.
By the way, what do you call “The Thinker” from behind?
“The Stinker.” I’ve uploaded a bunch more photographs to Flickr in case you want a longer look.
I did a quick podcast interview with Outside In Innovation a few weeks ago when I was at MIT at Eric von Hippel’s Innovation Lab seminar. There are two segments – How VCs View Users and Usability and Innovation Through Acquisition. I’m not sure it’s appropriate to generalize my comments for all VCs (in fact, I’m sure it’s not), but I thought Jim and Jonathan did a nice job of rapping on these topics. If you are into the 53,651 meme (or the idea that the first 25,000 users are irrelevant) or you just like to listen to me talk (hi Mom), there is some good stuff in here that pre-dates those posts.
I just read Picasso’s War, the story of his creation of the painting by the same name, the history of Spain that inspired the painting, and the subsequent activity around the painting from 1937 to 2002 when the book was published.
Picasso is one of my favorite artists. Guernica is one of his signature paintings. I remember the discussion in my first modern art course about it (modern art – at least in that course at MIT – was defined as post-impressionist art forward, Picasso was the anchor of all modern art, and Guernica was one of the most – if not the most – important piece of his work.)
I was vaguely familiar with the actual story of Guernica (the destruction of the Spanish town as well as the creation of the masterpiece.) The Musee National Picasso Paris has a great exhibit on Guernica, which inspired me to buy this book in their gift shop. Now that I’ve read the book, it’s time to go back and really study the exhibit.
If you like art history, Picasso, Spanish history, World War II history, or just want to read an emotionally (and functionally) complicated story about a very important piece of art, check out Picasso’s War.