Brad Feld

Month: May 2008

Good Morning, Vietnam

May 07, 2008
Category Books

Yeah – that was one of my favorite movies of my youth – I’ve always loved Mork.  I guess that’s part of the reason I moved to Boulder.  The title of this post is nonsensical – I just wrote what came to mind because this is going to be another of my "here’s what I found interesting on the web this morning" posts.  I’ve got six for you today instead of five.  Going forward, these will be categorized as "Daily Reading" although of course you can search for magic words that you remember via my Lijit Search Wijit on the sidebar.

Starting a High-Technology Startup: While it’s not a terribly exciting title, it’s a great article by Ben Casnocha for eJournal USA about starting a company.  I adore Ben and think he’s an extraordinary young man.  It’s an article.

Angel Financing: Todd Vernon, the CEO of Lijit, nails how an angel financing works.  I get asked questions about angel financings all the time.  Todd’s post is going to now be one of my standard "go read this" things.  If you are raising an angel financing, thinking about it, or just want one entrepreneurs very thorough view about it, here it is.

Doing Business with the Semi-Permeable Corporation: Greg Cohn of Yahoo has a comprehensive post on his view of the challenges "of doing external relationship development in the current tech environment from inside the walls of a public company."  I’ve known Greg for a while, have great respect for him, and think he accomplishes this really well.  It’s also a good counter article to all the snark going around the system about Yahoo right now.

The Art Market’s Stealth Correction: If you collect art like Amy and I do, you know that there has been massive value appreciation (inflation?) in a wide range of art, especially post-impressionism stuff.  Well – what goes up can go down and the Art Market might be more tightly linked to the Housing Market – just more quietly.  Pop?

Publisher Spotlight: Go2Web2.0: I am a shameless pimp promoter of my portfolio companies.  Lijit is one of my favorites (although I love all my children equally).  Lijit regularly profiles some of its publishers (taking a page from FeedBurner’s playbook).  Orli Yakuel – who writes Go2Web2.0 has a good overview of why she likes (and uses) Lijit.  Yeah – I know – I snuck this one in – but hey – if you have a blog and don’t yet use Lijit you can’t get one of their cool stickers yet.  Try it.

WallStrip: 5-7-08 Yahoo and Microsoft… the Postmortem: Apparently when you wander around the streets of NY, everyone you run into is an expert on tech M&A.  I like Julie Alexandria, but I sure miss Lindsey and Howard’s walks around NY.

Good morning.

Yahoo! 404

May 06, 2008
Category Random

Some great images are coming in already in response to my Request For Images For A Presentation post.  I couldn’t resist putting this one up on the heals of the Microsoft / Yahoo! drama.

Yahoo 404

If you don’t get it – well – I can’t help you.  (Thanks Ray)

I’m giving a presentation at my MIT Sloan 20th Reunion on June 7th.  I’m part of the "Back to the Classroom" series and am giving a presentation titled Software Innovation – Do You Think The Last 20 Years Were Exciting?  The Next 20 Years Will Blow Your Mind.

The rest of the program includes several great MIT professors talking about the following:

  • Prof. Roberto Rigobon The United States and the World’s Recession
  • Prof. Anjali Sastry Projects for change: Bringing management tools and ideas, collaboration, and learning-by-doing to the challenge of global health delivery for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, and other diseases in resource-poor settings
  • Prof. JoAnne Yates, CrackBerrys: Exploring the Social Implications of Wireless Email Devices
  • Prof. Drazen Prelec, Neuroeconomics

It should be a stimulating day.  As a result, I’ve started working on my presentation, a full month before I have to give it. 

For the opening, I’m going to do a rapid fire year by year walk through of software from 1988 to 2008.  I’m then going to roll forward to 2028. 

I’m looking for help on imagery.  If you have great jpg’s / gif’s of "software images" (I’m not defining this yet – just casting the net widely) please email them to me.  If you know of interesting images or videos on the web, post the URL in the comments.  If you have any other suggestions for interesting places to look for stuff, post a comment.

I’m mostly interested in imagery that I can tie to a specific year between 1988 and 2008.  For example, 1993 is a screen shot of Mosaic Version 1.0.

Thanks in advance for any help y’all can provide.  I’ll put the presentation up on the web after I’ve given it.

Today we announced that Foundry Group has joined the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado.  We’ve contributed 1% of our carried interest (the functional equivalent of 1% of our equity) to the Community Trust Endowed Fund of the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.

When I co-founded the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO), we explained what we were trying to accomplish in the post titled Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado Encourages Early Stage GivingFifteen months later, with the addition of Foundry Group, we now have 19 member companies.

To everyone that has supported and/or participated in EFCO, thank you!  If you are a founder or an employee of a Colorado-based company (or venture capital firm) that is interested in participating in EFCO, just drop me an email.

When I read the NY Times Article In One Flaw, Questions on Validity of 46 Judges my immediate response was to break out laughing.  Then I said – out loud – "no fucking way."  Then I laughed some more.

John Duffy, a law professor at George Washington University Law School just might be my new hero.  According to the NY Times:

He has discovered a constitutional flaw in the appointment process over the last eight years for judges who decide patent appeals and disputes, and his short paper documenting the problem seems poised to undo thousands of patent decisions concerning claims worth billions of dollars.

His basic point does not appear to be in dispute. Since 2000, patent judges have been appointed by a government official without the constitutional power to do so.

The Justice Department appears not to be disputing this claim.  They passed on the opportunity to dispute it in December and said they "were at work on a legislative solution."

Here’s the best part:

"They did warn that the impact of Professor Duffy’s discovery could be cataclysmic for the patent world, casting “a cloud over many thousands of board decisions” and “unsettling the expectations of patent holders and licensees across the nation.” But they did not say Professor Duffy was wrong.

If it was a legislative mistake, it may turn out to be a big one. The patent court hears appeals from people and companies whose patent applications were turned down by patent examiners, and it decides disputes over who invented something first. There is often a lot of money involved.

The problem Professor Duffy identified at least arguably invalidates every decision of the patent court decided by a three-judge panel that included at least one judge appointed after March 2000."

Dear USPTO – we knew all of those software patents were bogus.  However, we forgot to tell you that some of the judges were appointed illegally.  Therefore, all the decisions about those bogus patents are now – well – bogus.

You can’t make this shit up.

I’m attending and speaking at TECH Cocktail in Chicago on May 29th.  Since I’m not a conference guy, it’ll be entertaining to see if I can sit still the whole day since my panel isn’t until 3pm. 

If you are in the Chicago area, I encourage you to come to this event put on my Frank Gruber and Eric Olson.  There are going to be some dynamite speakers that I expect will deliver something different than the typical Silicon Valley conference thing.  Plus it’s at Loyola University, a place I’ve never been before which is always fun for me.

Registration is easy and painless.  I’ll be there all day – come out and play.

While Soul Patch’s new album Sooner or Later is not yet on the Billboard Top 10, I believe it is #1 on the VC Rock Album Chart so far this year.  My partner Ryan McIntyre explains the history of the band.  Learn more by joining the Soul Patch Facebook group and look for scandalous photos of Ryan and Jason Mendelson in the upcoming issues of Variety and People Magazine.

Even VC’s need groupies.  Please help.

In my quest to abolish software patents, I’ve been pondering "short term approaches" since I doubt the Supreme Court is going to wave a magic wand and make my fantasies come true anytime soon.

I’ve been hearing about something lately that bothers me a lot.  More and more companies are paying engineers a bonus to file patents.  Not "get patents" – simply generate patent applications.  The intended consequence is an obvious one – companies get to file more patents.  The unintended consequence is a particularly nasty one – lots of shitty patents get filed and the PTO has to wade through that much more garbage.

A friend of mine – who recently was "paid to file a patent" said he considered requesting that – if granted – the patent only be used defensively.  I asked him why.  He responded that he felt conflicted and thinks a lot of his peers feel the same way.  He didn’t think the patent was particularly valuable, useful, or valid.  However, he was reluctant to turn down the bonus that he was getting for simply filing the patent.  He didn’t view it as a good use of his time (or of his company’s time or money), but he realized that the patent system is motivating his company to file as many patents as they can.  He has little expectation that the patent will be granted, but he was happy to get paid the bonus.

I asked him what would make him feel better.  He surprised me when he said "My company should agree to only use the patent defensively if it is granted."  I asked him if he thought this was a unique perspective and he said no – he thinks many experienced software engineers are skeptical of software patents.  While they are skeptical, they understand the battle going on right now and realize the value of ever increasingly large number of patents for defensive purposes.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was a grass roots movement of experienced software engineers around software patents for defensive purposes only.

I love a good rant.  Especially about software.  Joel is one of the best ranters out there – when he gets going there is no stopping him.  Last week’s rant was titled Architecture astronauts take overHe takes Microsoft Live Mesh to task and reminds us of the legacy of Hailstorm, Groove, Lotus Notes, and – well – the past.  And he explains why synchronization is not the killer app.  Well – it sort of it – as long as we don’t realize it’s happening.  But then again, the real problem is that there just aren’t enough programmers in the US anymore.

Joel – nice rant.