Brad Feld

Month: December 2006

Gone Fishing

Dec 14, 2006

I’m going on a blogging vacation for the rest of the year.  While I’ll be online, I’m going to turn off all the blogging stuff (read and write) until January 1 just to clean out my brain.  While I’d love to tell you about how amazing the new FeedBurner Site Stats are (from the BlogBeat acquisition earlier this year) or the super cool “Personal Network Search” that Lijit has created, it’ll have to wait until 2007.

Enjoy the holidays – I’ll talk to you next year.

Entrepreneurship requires serious determination.  So does life.  My friend Andy’s story of his dad’s fractured back reminded me of my favorite story about my dad’s dad. 

My grandpa Jack was the first entrepreneur I knew.  I met him when I was a few days old.  While I loved him and played with him a lot as a kid, I really got to know him when I was a teenager.  By the time I was running my first company, he referred to me (and my uncle Charlie – who was running his first company at the time also) as “the Typhoons.”  Jack was awesome.  Following is an example.

Jack ran a clothing business.  He didn’t believe in technology (“Do you want a fax of the receipt?  I’ll drive it right over to you.”)  His factory was in the worst part of downtown Miami.  Every morning during the week he got up at 4:30am, drove 45 minutes to his factory, was there by 6am, worked until 3pm, and then drove home.  Every day.  No matter how he felt.  Remember – this factory was in a terrible part of town – imagine a 70 year old jewish guy unlocking the front door every day at 6am.  Now – that’s a target.  Jack never had any trouble.  I’m sure the people hanging around the building waved at him and said good morning to him.

His morning routine included opening his safe, counting the cash and checks from the previous day, getting his deposit ready, and putting it back in the safe until the bank opened (at which point he hand carried the deposit to the bank.)  He had a big safe.  A really big, heavy safe.  On one particular morning, he must have been tired and not really paying attention.  As he put the money back in the safe and went to close it, somehow his hand got caught in the door and the safe closed on his thumb.  And locked.  And chopped off his thumb.

Now – at this point in the story – if it was me – I would have just laid down on the floor and screamed for a while.  And then probably passed out.  Hopefully someone would have found me before I bled to death.  Jack – on the other hand, went and found something to wrap around his finger and stop the bleeding (remember – this is a clothing factory – I’m sure there was plenty of “clothing” lying around.)  He then opened the safe and retrieved his thumb.  Yup – he had the presence of mind to remember the combination.  He wrapped his thumb in something, closed the safe, walked out of the building, locked up (he was the only person there at the time), got in his car, and drove all the way back to North Hollywood (where he lived) and checked himself into the hospital.  When we asked him why he didn’t just go to a hospital in Miami, he mumbled something about “not trusting the doctors in the big city.”

Remarkably, they sewed his thumb back on and it more or less worked fine.  He’d occassionally complain of it being stiff when the weather changed – but proudly wiggled it around whenever we asked him about it.

Now that’s determination.  Jack – we loved ya.

David Cohen – who writes the ColoradoStartups blog among other things – came up with a fun idea for a podcast series last week.  He’s going to do a “Virtual Board of Directors” podcast – starring me, him, and Niel Robertson – to answer questions that you (the entrepreneur) might have for a board of directors.  If you have a question, call (720) 274–0945.  While we won’t be giving any legal (or “official”) advice, hopefully we can have some fun with this while answering some questions.

A few of my portfolio companies are looking for superstar Java developers.  If you think you fit the bill, send me an email with your resume and I’ll forward it on.  Serious Java developers only.

As a kid, one of the comic strips I read every day was Family Circus.  It was almost always simple, yet brilliant.  Thanks to my friend Bruce, I now have The Nietzsche Family Circus whenever I want.

Are you thinking about selling your company?  David Shanberg – who I worked with when I was an investor in PeoplePC and he ran corporate development – has a nice series up about M&A due diligence.  He covers:

David’s now running his own M&A shop and has some interesting clients.

My dad has gotten involved in a Dirty Coal plant issue in Texas.  The environmental issues are directly linked to the health care issues and – as usual – he’s direct, articulate, and deeply engaging about the issue.  Very cool Dad!  I knew you’d eventually become an environmental activist.

Ok – this is superbly cool (at least I think so.)  WebEx just put up an “activity map” showing the real-time location of all the active WebEx conferences.  This uses the Quova GeoPoint technology and is a very visual real-time example of how this works

Several of the bright bulbs at Judy’s Book put together a Holiday Store Guide for online shopping.  They’ve got detailed shipping info by store (do you do your shopping on 12/21 – there are still a bunch of places you can get expedited shipping), return policies (c’mon – you know you are going to get some crap you want to return), and the best holiday deals.  Since I’m jewish, I get to avoid all the nonsense with a big, fat “bah humbug”, but at least I’m funding a company that is helping shoppers around the Internet this holiday season.

My partner Greg Galanos forwarded me a great article from the Philadelphia Inquirer titled The Economy Revealed: Why understanding economics is hardthat builds on the more difficult to digest but equally interesting essay / research by Alan Page Fiske titled The Inherent Sociability of Homo sapiens.”  Fiske’s theory is based on the conclusion that all human relationships are built from four types of interactions: communal sharing, equality matching, authority ranking, and market pricing.  In Fiske’s theory, these four building blocks (which he calls “relationship models”) result in the entire range of the very complex and diverse social life of humans.

While I’m not going to dig another layer into the theory and the research to decide if I believe that it’s true / valid / complete, it’s very provocative and stimulating, especially when you start applying it to a wide range of situations – especially ones that are filled with conflict or behavior between two people that are operating at cross purposes.

Start with the summary article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  If you are interested, read Fiske’s essay.  If you are really ambitious, take it a step further and then use some “communal sharing” and post your discoveries here for all to see.

Oh – and why is economics difficult?  Actually, I never had too much trouble with the IS-LM curves.  It was all that supply side stuff that confused me.