Brad Feld

Month: March 2008

Thanks to my friend Bruce Wyman (who is rapidly turning into my "discoverer of cool things") I have experienced a major back to the future moment with the Mosaic Communications Corporation web site.  The "Founders" page was fun as was the "What is the Internet?" page.  There are some "scary looking" pictures on the "Homepage Central" and none of the old FTP download mirrors seemed to work (or maybe Firefox is just programmed to reject downloads of Netscape 0.9 beta.)

Best of all, the Search page brings up Architext.  A search (say – on "Feld") then brings up a query.cgi page.  Ryan – do you think you can get that working for me by tomorrow?

Time to get back to getting ready for April Fools Day.

Glue Me Back Together

Mar 30, 2008
Category Education

Loic Le Meur totally nailed why glue matters in his post My social map is totally decentralized but I want it back on my blog.  Following is the defining image from Loic’s notebook.


I’m not sure the answer (I want it back on my blog) is correct, but we are in the middle of yet another massive decentralization of data – this time very personal.  Loic’s identity and content is spread all over the web (as is mine.)  He wants it back in one place – one that belongs to him.

If we only had 10 web services participating in this grand decentralization of Loic, it would be no big deal.  But there are now thousands – all which want to be able to play with all the others.  With each new unit of data, and each new service, it gets a little messier (and a little more fun.)

The New York Times Magazine had an outstanding article on Boulder today.  The photos paint an accurate picture and the article captures the essence of a place that I love.

I moved to Boulder in 1995.  Last year while fundraising, I was regularly asked "how did you end up in Boulder?"  Following is the short version of the story (which will sound familiar to anyone that has heard it – feel free to skip the indented paragraph.)

I moved to Boston from Dallas in 1983 to go to MIT.  I lived in Boston for a little over 12 years – that was 11 years and 364 days too many.  I liked Boston and wouldn’t trade my experience at MIT for anything, but Boston was just never home for me.  I sold my first company in 1993 and told my wife Amy that by the time I turned 30 (12/1/95) we’d have left Boston.  Two months before I turned 30, Amy told me she was moving to Boulder and I was welcome to join her if I wanted.  I figured that my worst case scenario was that we wouldn’t like Boulder and we’d keep heading west to the bay area.  When we got to Boulder we knew one person; he moved away six months later.  So we were really starting from scratch.  Every day was better than the preceding one and after six months we bought a house in the mountains and knew that Boulder would be our home base for the balance of our time on this planet.

I have now lived in Boulder longer than I lived in Boston (and not quite as long as I lived in Dallas.)  Every day when I wake up in Boulder I fall in love with the place all over again.  I have houses in Keystone, Colorado and Homer, Alaska – which are also amazing places that I’m fortunate to spend time living in. Amy and I travel regularly (for work and pleasure) to a bunch of big cities that we love spending chunks of time in (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and even Boston.)  However, coming back to Boulder and our place in Eldorado Springs is always magically grounding.

The article had a few inaccuracies and missed plenty of things.  I’d add a couple of quick ones that jumped out at me:

  • Trustafarian – that’s the local word for the "vestigal hippies and wannabes" that live in their "trophy shacks."  Boulder is a safe place for a trustafarian.
  • Food – I’m bummed that the writer (Florence Williams) didn’t say more about The Kitchen.  My friends Kimbal and Hugo (and their incredible staff) have created a phenomenal local institution that any visitor should have a meal at.
  • Transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires: While dining at L’Atelier, the writer comments on being surrounded by a "mix of atmospheric scientists and transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires."  While Boulder has its share of transplanted Silicon Valley millionaires, I’d bet that the ones at L’Atelier that night were mostly of the home grown variety (there are a lot more of those than the transplants) as well as some trustafarians who felt like a nice high end meal.

While Boulder certainly isn’t for everyone, it’s definitely for me and Amy.

Heathrow Travel Hell

Mar 30, 2008
Category Places

It looks like Chaos Reigns a Second day at HeathrowThe spiffy new Terminal Five has some "glitches."  Who said modernization was easy?

Amy and I went to see 21: The Movie today.  It’s based on the phenomenal book Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich.  I met Ben and had sushi with him a few months ago – he was really psyched about the upcoming movie and the relaunch of the book as 21.  Ben – congrats!

Amy and I had a blast.  One of Amy’s ex-boyfriends had been part of the MIT Blackjack Team (1989-1990) so I’ve heard plenty of stories about it over the years (and vaguely remember it when it was going down.)  MIT is a remarkable place and a fantastic backdrop for a "smart people" morality tale (similar to another one of my favorite movies – Good Will Hunting.)

There were a lot of "MIT inaccuracies" during the movie that resulted in nudges and whispers between me and Amy.  Following are the ones I can remember.

  • Ben’s "4.0" average.  MIT is on a 5 point scale – so his 4.0 average is a solid B rather than "perfect."
  • The 2.09 competition.  This is really the 2.70 competition.
  • Building 4 Hallway.  The door frames are black, not blue (i.e. this isn’t building 4.)
  • Pre-Med.  There is no "pre-med" at MIT.
  • "A’s".  In the movie, people talked about getting A’s. MIT-ers don’t talk about letter grades – they focus on getting "above class average" which would translate into an A or B.
  • MIT Scenes.  With the exception of a few scenes outside the great dome, all of the MIT scenes were somewhere other than MIT (apparently MIT didn’t allow filming on campus.)

One of the treats was seeing Colin Angle (a frat brother and co-founder / CEO of iRobot) in a cameo role give the award at the 2.09 contest near the end of the movie (presumably modeled after Professor Woodie Flowers.)

I’d love to hear any other MIT inaccuracies that anyone notices in the movie.  MIT grads – comment freely.

You’ve got three more days – the application deadline closes on 3/31 at midnight!  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at or some of the past posts I’ve written about TechStars.  TechStars 2007 produced some cool companies, including several that have been making plenty of noise lately such as SocialThing, Intense Debate, and Filtrbox.  Apply now to be a part of TechStars 2008.

From Adam Smith at Square 1 Bank on how NOT to pitch your company to a VC.

The full segment is below.

There is a philosophy that "all you need to do is get tons of underpants traffic and good things will happen.  When that works, it’s a beautiful thing.  The key word – of course – is "when."  Phase 2 is a dangerous place.

I haven’t written much in the Failure series lately, but I’ve got a doozy or two coming soon.  In the mean time, Chip Griffin has a good post up titled Don’t Fear Failure, Learn from ItDefinitely worth a click through to hear about his three different kinds of failure (Spectacular Collapse, Death of a Thousand Cuts, and The Land of Lost Opportunity) as well as some lessons from his failures.

Marc Andreesen has a scathing but brilliant post up today titled Congratulations, you’re paying Jimmy Cayne’s marijuana bills!  I love Marc’s analysis of what Bear Stearns would have been worth if the Federal Government hadn’t backstopped the deal with a $29 billion loan.

The US taxpayer is loaning Bear Stearns and JP Morgan Chase, Bear Stearns’ acquirer, $29 billion — just revised from $30 billion, simultaneous with JP Morgan Chase raising its acquisition price for Bear Stearns to $10/share from $2.

Without that $29 billion of taxpayer money, Jimmy Cayne’s stock would be worth $0/share, and if you multiply that by 5.66 million shares, the total would be $0.

The $29 billion taxpayer loan is almost certain to lose money as it is being used to backstop stinky assets on the Bear Stearns balance sheet — the same assets whose plummeting fall in value catalyzed Bear Stearns’ effective bankruptcy.

It is virtually certain that taxpayers are going to take some loss on that $29 billion loan.

When we do, we will have the immense satisfaction of knowing that the first $61.3 million of those losses represent a direct cash transfer from US taxpayers to Jimmy Cayne.

It will be interesting if Cayne comes to this same conclusion and gives the $61m back to the government after some of the $29 billion (say – the first $61m) gets vaporized.