Brad Feld

Month: April 2008

In February, I took my dad away for our annual father – son weekend.  This last weekend, he and my brother Daniel did their annual weekend together in Chicago.  My dad has written a beautiful post titled Chicago, Chicago, It’s a Wonderful Town

A friend of mine lost his father earlier this week.  I feel so lucky that I’ve always had a great relationship with my dad and that I figured out early enough that one of the special things in life was to spend a little time with just him every year.

As a special bonus, you should read his post if you are looking for fun things to do and eat when in Chicago. 

Love ya dad!

In my I Love Email post, I got a wonderful comment from my friend Fred Wilson that said:

to each his/her own these days. my kids use facebook and text messaging for the most part but now that they have email on their phones (bberry and iphone) they use that as well, but it’s not their primary messaging system. i still use email as my primary method, but as someone else said, it’s the new snail mail. i hate doing it and its a chore. i called it "homework" on twitter today. that’s how i feel about it. i find text messaging and twitter are best for me, but they will only be better for a while. they will get more noisy and i’ll have to move to something else. i don’t use facebook messaging at all. when people send me facebook messages, they are talking to a black hole

To that I say "Correct!"  When I say "email", I’m really saying "messaging", although I hate the phrases "messaging" and "collaboration".

Deva Hazarika, the CEO of ClearContext, has an excellent followup post titled Three next steps for email.  In it he identifies three areas where email clients haven’t kept up with the pace of change (volume, integration, and context.)  I’ll add a fourth – social graph – I only want one of them!

I Love Email

Apr 28, 2008

Email.  Email.  Email.

My partner Chris Wand just put up a post titled Did Darwin Skip Over Email?  Every now and then the "Email is dead" meme makes the rounds and lights up TechMeme.  The right answer isn’t that "email is dead"; it’s that new and exciting stuff is happening around the use of "messaging" and it’s time for some new innovation.

For those of you who suggest that I switch all my email over to Facebook, I say to you "Laugh-a-while you can, Monkey Boy."

If I had to do all my "messaging" in Facebook, that’s what would happen to me. And since Lithium is no longer on credit, I doubt I’d be very pleasant to deal with.  Rather than facing this reality, help us help out by bringing us your new email (ahem – or messaging if you want to be politically correct) innovations.

I was in a meeting with one of our new portfolio companies today.  In response to a non-obvious question, the CEO said "I don’t know is the answer to your question."  I fell in love with this CEO all over again and was reminded of Josh Kopelman’s magnificent post in March titled I Don’t Know …

Another great line from the meeting was "The only useful things to come out of marketing budgets in early stage companies are stickers and t-shirts."  That was – of course – from me.

I am newly addicted to Skype. 

Several weeks ago when I was in Keystone, I had total IP phone failure.  We use a Cisco IP phone system in our office.  My house in Eldorado Springs has a T1 line connected to the office with a Cisco IP phone set up.  My house in Keystone has Comcast business Internet connected via a VPN (running on a Linux box) to our office network with a Cisco IP phone set up.  All the phones are configured exactly the same (one number, the 24 ring tone, similar presets.)

There was one problem.  Brad and Comcast apparently weren’t having a happy karma time – some of the time when I called someone I could hear them but they couldn’t hear me.  Reset, reboot, unplug.  Random but inconsistent success.

After two days of this I fired up Skype and tried it.  I hadn’t used it in Keystone and spent a few minutes setting it up with my wireless headset (that was connected to my Cisco IP phone.)  No big deal – press a button on the headset and I am on Skype; press a different button and I am in sometimes you can hear me sometimes you can’t hear me land.

24 hours after trying Skype again it was all I was using.

I’m now on a new quest to find all the happy useful important Skype plugins for people like me that run on Outlook / Exchange / Firefox as well as additional indispensable Skype software / features.  Suggestions?

Rejection isn’t failure.  I’ve been back from vacation for five days (including the weekend) and I’ve send out around 100 50 (if felt like 100, but I went back and counted and it was slightly more than 50) rejection emails to deals that came into my inbox while I was on vacation.  It’s part of my job – and I try to always at least give a little context as to why something isn’t interesting to me.  But 50 in five days (really 10 days including the vacation) starts to be a little discouraging. 

I remembered a great email from a close friend recently in response to one of my previous posts on rejecting plans.  My friend is a writer and has completed several as yet unpublished books.  Following is her riff on rejection.

"Your post made me smile a little because it could so easily have been a post by a literary agent. One big parallel is that literary agents are inundated with people wanting their services (probably a lot more than you are – believe it or not!). A good agent, and there are a lot of them, receive an average of 1,000 unsolicited query letters a month. Surely, some get much more. These queries are equivalent to the pitches or emails you get. Like you, agents often won’t take on more than 6-8 new clients a year – if that. So, there are a lot of people (like me!) ๐Ÿ™‚ who receive a lot of rejections. It doesn’t necessarily mean the product is "bad", but as you say… if it doesn’t fit with the agent is working on, interested in, thinks the industry/market can carry at this particular time, it’s a "ding" a.k.a. "rejection." I’ve received hundreds of rejections that are postcards or sometimes, literally, a thin two inch strip of paper that has clearly been copied until it’s almost unreadable saying something like: "Thank you for your submission. Due to the number of submissions, we cannot reply specifically to everyone, but your writing is not right for us. The publishing industry is a very subjective one, and you should not take this to mean that it might not be right for someone else. Best of luck." -"blah blah agent name here" Sometimes, not too infrequently, if an agent allows electronic submissions, their website indicates: "we’ll only reply if we’re interested." That always seemed a little rude to me, that they couldn’t even find the time to send a form email. But, it is what it is… sometimes you’ve just gotta let these things go.

You’ve known me through this entire writing/publishing quest/process, and I have grown through it. After years and years of these rejections and hearing agents say that "it’s not personal," I actually "get" it. (This only happened a couple of years ago.) It really isn’t personal. Just as I am looking for an agent and publisher, these folks are truly looking, searching, and hoping for the next successful writer. They *want* to find something they love. They *want* to make that call to tell a writer that they’ve sold their book at auction… Unless I am incorrect, you are looking for "the next big thing" within your world, too. Something that will be successful for everyone, on many levels.

I know you asked "entrepreneurs" how they’ve felt, being passed on, I thought I’d chime in anyway, since I am quite familiar with this type of rejection, I believe. I think the perception varies depending on where the person is in life. Are they confident? Do they understand that it is, in fact, NOT personal? It took me years and years and years to understand that it’s not personal. ๐Ÿ™‚ I tried to understand before, but didn’t. I’d cry sometimes, for sure, and feel sad and gloomy under the sheer weight of these rejections. Then, I started not allowing the "weight" of these rejections to be so big. Remember that I am still unagented and unpublished and still trying to get successfully over those hurdles. But, my reaction to these rejections now is "oh well. I’ll just keep going."

I have also learned to listen when I get feedback…or when someone likes my writing, but doesn’t think they can sell a particular book….they are telling me something. Sometimes I get explicit invitations to "please send us a query of anything else you write" and sometimes it is more subtle, but I am reminded that there are things for me to learn from these "rejections." I’m sure the same is true – sometimes at least – from people you decide not to go with.

Maybe you like the people, think they’re great, but if they had a different idea, you’d love to work with them. There are always possibilities to create something new."

My title is tongue in check.  As Marc Andreessen said in his outstanding analysis of the situation in If Microsoft goes fully hostile on Yahoo"So this may yet come to remind you of the Democratic presidential primary season — it may last a while."

You aren’t a real trail runner until you’ve taken a spill that draws blood.  I had a doozy today at mile 4.

I was on a stretch of trail that I’ve run hundreds of times.  I was humming Across the Universe (Amy and I watched the movie last night – five stars) and thinking about whether Google AppEngine is the reinvention of the 4GL.  I was jolted back to the present moment when I realized I had caught my toe and was now flying through the air.

I’ve gotten pretty good at falling on trails (an important skill if you are me) and usually manage not to hurt myself.  My method is to fall on my side leading with my shoulder.  It’s inevitable that I am going to land on some sharp rocks – I want as much surface area to absorb the fall but stay off my front and my knees (too many dangerous things to hurt there).  Shoulder hits, hands hit, then knee hits, then everything else hits.  I then roll on my back and look up at the sky for a minute while my heart rate comes down from 195 back to something manageable.

I picked myself and finished my run.  I decided to cut it from 14 to 10 since I knew my knee would get stiff at some point.  The picture above is after six more miles (yes – the cut is deep enough that it is still bleeding.)  Other than being a little sore, my knee is fine.  I’ve got an equally nasty cut on the palm of my right hand which is going to slow down my tennis game for a couple of days – fortunately I didn’t have any tennis plans this week.