Month: October 2007

Oct 20 2007

What Is The Best Name For It?

John Markoff suggests there is a looming battle of semantics between Web 3.0 and semantic web.  Markoff summarizes by saying:

“There is no easy consensus about how to define what is meant by Web 3.0, but it is generally seen as a reference to the semantic Web. While it is not that much more precise a phrase, the semantic Web refers to technology to make using the Internet better by understanding the meaning of what people are doing, not just the way pages link to each other.”

I’ll take it up a notch.  Let’s toss “implicit web” into the mix and expand it beyond just “what people are doing” and “the way pages link to each other.”  It’s not only about people and pages – it’s about getting the computer to figure out a lot of stuff for you based on what you – and people that you “trust” or “find relevant” do.  You could be cynical and just assert that this is the way our friend the “social graph” finds its way into the mix of Web 2.0.  Or – you could keep playing – the way we are planning to at Defrag – and say something all encompassing like:

“Defrag is the first conference focused solely on the internet-based tools that transform loads of information into layers of knowledge, and accelerate the “aha” moment. Defrag is about the space that lives in between knowledge management, “social” networking, collaboration and business intelligence. Defrag is not a version number. Rather it’s a gathering place for the growing community of implementers, users, builders and thinkers that are working on the next wave of software innovation.”

It doesn’t really matter what you call it – a wave of startups tackling “the next problem” are starting to appear.  Look for a panoply of new and exciting buzzwords – and look past them to the meat.

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Oct 19 2007

It’s Conference Time

Yeah – well – it’s always conference season in the tech business.  I’ve been enjoying Web 2.0 from a distance while getting reports from the field.  However, I will pop my head up above the surface at a few conferences in November.

We start with New New Internet conference on Nov 1 in DC followed by a quick trip to Chicago to judge the Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards.  Next up is Defrag on Nov 5 and 6 in Denver, which I’ve helped organize.  I then head to Las Vegas to play with Amy for a long weekend while doing a quick flyby of Blogworld on Nov 7.  Then on to NY for the week of Nov 12th for a bunch of stuff.

While not quite as fun as “Business Time”, I look forward to getting out and about again after spending October chilling in Colorado and catching my breath after a very intense year.

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Oct 19 2007

Know When You Are Clueless

I get loads of questions throughout every day.  I try to be responsive to all of them – it’s just the way I am.  I have a saying which is “you can’t send me too much email” – for whatever reason I’ve figured out how to process it all quickly each day (zero inbox strategy.)

One of my capabilities is to know when I’m clueless.  Most VCs (and many entrepreneurs) have a hard time admitting they are clueless about something.  It’s a natural reaction of a smart, hard driving person who is constantly analyzing data and making decisions to have an opinion about everything, especially when asked politely by someone for advice.

I got an email from a friend with a set of specific questions in it this morning.  I read it, sat for a minute, and then read it again.  I thought for another few seconds and then sent the following note to him.

Ok – now you’ve entered into the “Brad is completely clueless zone.”  I don’t even have any opinion here – whatever I would say would be wrong.

Know when you are clueless.  It will save you – and your friends – a lot of time.

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Oct 19 2007

WYWIWYG vs. WYSIWYG

John Markoff has a fun little story about the origin of the phrase What-You-See-Is-What–You-Get in his article titled The Real History of WYSIWYG.  WYSIWYG appeared on the scene 30+ years ago – it seems like the wikipedia page on it needs a little updating.

Now that WYSIWYG is part of our collective consciousness (and a deep expectation of most computer users, even though there are many apps that don’t quite cut the mustard), I’m less concerned with WYSIWYG these days. I’m more intrigued with WYWIWYG – “What-You-Want-Is-What-You-Get.” 

Come to Defrag on Nov 5 and 6 in Denver and talk to me (and a bunch of other smart people including folks like David Weinberger, Clay Shirky, JP Rangaswami, Jerry Michalski, Ester Dyson, Doc Searls, Bradley Horowitz, Paul Kedrosky, Chris Shipley) and a long list of others about WYWIWYG.

You know you’ve been thinking about registering, but your computer won’t do it for you (at least not yet.)  You still have to click here and type some stuff in.  Maybe someday WYWIWYG.

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Oct 18 2007

Popfly is Neat

I’m not at Web 2.0 (nor do I want to be, although I have field agents there), but I am intrigued with Microsoft Popfly.  I got a preview of it recently via Christopher Griffin at Microsoft and have been messing around with it a little (once we got past the badly formed email in the spam folder problem.)  I especially like the way David Utter reports on how the name came to be:

Q Why did you call it Popfly?

A Well, left to our own devices we would have called it “Microsoft Visual Mashup Creator Express, October 2007 Community Tech Preview Internets Edition,” but instead we asked some folks for help and they suggested some cool names and we all liked Popfly.

I assume this is either something Ballmer said during his presentation or it’s merely sarcasm.  Either way, it’s cute.  Microsoft is showing its range on the heals of their unified communications announcements.

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Oct 18 2007

Boulder 2007 Esprit Entrepreneur Awards

Last night I attended the Boulder 2007 Esprit Entrepreneur Awards where I was honored to receive the Rob Planchard Award.  I shared the stage with two good friends – Tim Miller and Ryan Martens from Rally Software who won the Entrepreneur of the Year award.  To highlight the evening – Bill Perry of Softbridge Advisors won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

When I moved to Boulder in 1995, Amy and I only knew one person and he moved away six months later.  I had no expectations of doing any meaningful amount of business in Boulder – I moved here to live in a beautiful place that was between the two coasts (Boston and the Bay Area) that I was traveling between on a weekly basis.

In addition to being an amazing place to live, Boulder has been home to a superb entrepreneurial community in the area that I invest – namely software and Internet companies.  I won the Esprit Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1999 with Brian Makare and Andrew Currie for a company we co-founded called Email Publishing (which was acquired by and morphed into MessageMedia.)  By that point I realized (and was deeply involved) in some of the special stuff that was happening on the Colorado Front Range and knew that I’d call this place home for the rest of my life.

It’s very gratifying (and humbling) to be recognized again for my contribution to the entrepreneurial community in Boulder.  I don’t do it for awards or recognition, but it always feels good.  It was especially satisfying to look at the list of companies and entrepreneurs that have been recognized over the past 12 years since I moved here and see a number of companies that I’ve been involved with.  Rally is the latest, and I’m immensely proud of what Tim, Ryan, and their team are creating.

The line of the night goes to Bill Perry.  During his closing speech, Bill talked about his experiences since coming to Boulder 25 years ago (ironically, we are both MIT grads – there’s something about this place that attracts people from MIT.)  Bill reflected on several times when the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Boulder hit low points, and referred to companies around during those periods of times as “Slinky Companies.”  In his words, these are companies that “aren’t very useful but they are fun to watch as they tumble down the stairs.”  Brilliant – and I’ve had my share of slinkies.

Thanks to everyone that participated in the event last night – it’s a powerful thing to see so many local entrepreneurs in one place.  And a special thanks to everyone that organized and worked on the event.  Often I find events like this to be tedious but last night’s was extremely well done, funny, and paced nicely.

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Oct 17 2007

SharePoint, NewsGator and the Enterprise

I’ve declared my SharePoint fanboy status in the past – most recently in my post titled SharePoint MagicGone are the years where I’d tease my friends at Microsoft about giving away SharePoint by including it in EA contracts – the thing has evolved into a critical piece of software for me and my organization (oh – and a really big piece of business for Microsoft.)

Today, NewsGator and Microsoft announced a partnership around SharePoint.   As part of this, NewsGator announced general availability of the new NewsGator Social Sites product.  NewsGator Social Sites is tightly integrated with both SharePoint and NewsGator Enterprise Server (which you can also buy as a hosted product – ala NewsGator Enterprise On-Demand.)

Jeff Nolan – who recently joined NewsGator to run corporate development – has a concise post about the NewsGator Social Site Launch along with a handful of screenshots.  When I have some time, I’ll put up a more comprehensive explanation of how I use this stuff to manage the mass of stuff that flows through my computer.

If your company uses SharePoint, you have to take a look at this stuff.  And I’m not just saying that because I’m a NewsGator investor.

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Oct 17 2007

Ah – The Joys of Upgrades

I’m just testing all the little pieces of Feld Thoughts to make sure that our upgrade to Movable Type 4.0 worked properly.  So far I’m very pleased with the upgrade – the UI of MT is 31,415x better.

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Oct 17 2007

Happy Anniversary to My Friends at Wallstrip

Wallstrip turned one yesterday.  Howard Lindzon – the founder – celebrated by playing with guns.  I’ve found Howard (and Lindsey) to be consistently hysterically funny and a good excuse to use words that end in the letter y.  As part of the official press release, Howard suggested in his forecast for the next year:

“Over time, guns, booze, gambling, Internet and sex will continue their out performance. It may not be fair and may not seem right, but those that invest in these themes will be continually rewarded.”

Even though I don’t play the public markets, these dudes brighten up my day a little bit every time they end up in my FeedDemon newsreader.

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Oct 16 2007

Colorado Innovation Council

Last Thursday, I shared the stage at the CSIA DEMOgala 2007 with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.  During his speech, Governor Ritter announced the formation of the Colorado Innovation Council.  I’m one of three co-chairs, along with Juan Rodriguez (co-founder of StorageTek and Exabyte) and Phil Weiser (professor of law at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a national telecommunications policy expert.)

Phil and I have been working with Governor Ritter and his staff to form this since the beginning of the year.  One of our goals was to create an organization that could have real impact, rather than just a collection of people who’s names would go on a web site and letterhead somewhere.  We spent plenty of time talking to various folks both in and out of government who have been involved in things like this in the past and, as a result of our research, are hopeful that we’ve created an organization of “doers” vs. either “figureheads” or “pontificators.”

Now, before you say – “but wait, didn’t we go through this in 2000 when then Governor Owens declared that “Colorado is now an undisputed leader of the world technology revolution” – let’s hit pause (or reset) and try again.  Ritter’s goal, of being “bold, ambitious and innovative when it comes to maximizing the use of technology” is much more interesting to me and one I’m behind.  I have no desire to see Colorado become “the next Silicon Valley” (if I wanted to be in Silicon Valley, I’d move to Silicon Valley.)  However, I’m a deep believer that a state like Colorado can continually improve and I’m proud to be part of an effort to work with the public sector to make an already great state even better.

The Colorado Innovation has three initiatives:

  1. State IT: Assist the state as it reforms and improve its use of information technology
  2. Ubiquitous Broadband: Develop a strategy for spurring broadband deployment throughout the state
  3. IT Entrepreneurship: Support state government’s economic development efforts for the technology sector

Each of the three co-chairs have taken a leadership role with one of these initiatives and is working with a subcommittee of about 10 high tech leaders.  I’m leading State IT, Phil is handling Ubiquitous Broadband, and Juan is leading IT Entrepreneurship.  There will be plenty of crossover between committees (e.g. many of the folks on State IT are also Colorado-based IT Entrepreneurs and vice versa.)

I’m working with the State CIO – Mike Locatis – on the State IT initiative.  Our goal is a simple one – support Mike in his efforts to drive a multi-year IT consolidation throughout the state that ultimately results in appropriate centralizations of the state’s IT infrastructure.  Currently, Colorado is operating under a massively decentralized IT model, which is horribly inefficient and very ineffective.  As a first step of acknowledging the importance of the IT infrastructure to the functioning of state government, Governor Ritter elevated the CIO to a cabinet-level post.

I’ve been really impressed with all of my interactions with Mike around this.  Governor Ritter’s commitment to getting some real stuff done here is exciting and the idea that the private sector can work with the public sector to move these three initiatives forward is attractive to me.

Overall, there are about 30 Colorado superstars involved in this initiative – look for me to write more about it as we start getting stuff done.

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