Brad Feld

Month: June 2008

I haven’t shopped at J.C. Penney – well – ever.  I imagine my mom bought me some clothes from there since I grew up in Dallas (J.C. Penney’s headquarters).  If you’ve missed it, the best J.C. Penney Ad ever is making the rounds on the Internet.

I heard about it this morning on my drive in on NPR (right before, or right after something about Dow Chemical raising all prices 25% this month due to inflation).  I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard that "executives at J.C. Penney are furious about the ad" and are trying to get it removed from the Internet.  Good luck with that.  Oh – by the way – great ad – especially in a family values election year.

I’ve been keeping my eyes out for one of these.  I hope my friends at Microsoft have been also.  Apparently the New South Wales Department of Education and Training (that would be Australia) just dumped Microsoft Outlook/Exchange in favor of Gmail.

Before you say "ho hum – it’s only Australia" or "it’s not enterprise – it’s only academia", let’s look at the numbers.

  • 1.3m seats
  • Previous cost to implement Outlook/Exchange: $33m ($AU) over three years
  • New cost to implement Gmail: $9m ($AU) over three years
  • Outlook/Exchange storage/mailbox: 35MB
  • Gmail storage/mailbox: 6GB
  • Weekly emails sent: over 300k

That’s a non-trivial install.  (via TechCrunch)

Here’s an interesting stat.  The Rocky Mountain News states that Boulder ranks No. 2 among ‘cybercities’ with 230 high-tech works per 1,000This is according to a study by the American Electronics Association.

The top five are:

  • San Jose/Silicon Valley: 286
  • Boulder: 230
  • Huntsville, AL: 188
  • Durham, NC: 156
  • Washington: 132

It’s a strange list, especially since San Jose/Silicon Valley isn’t actually a city!  Just more proof that you can come up with a list for pretty much any measurement you want.  I wonder if this counts all the folks on laptops hanging out all day at Trident.

Having been an entrepreneur and VC for over 20 years, I’ve now seen plenty of economic cycles – both at a macro level and specifically in the areas I invest in.  As a result, I smiled when I received three conflicting pieces of information today from two people I know and like and one person that I don’t know but know is respected.

Matt McCall at DFJ Portage calls the current VC cycle "dead" as of Q2 2008 in Rough Ride Ahead: Buckle Up & Get Your Money Now (if you can).  He says it with conviction, although he does acknowledge that he hopes he is Peter the Wolf.

Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures asks (and answers) the question Am I Bored With “Web 2.0”?  Fred is heading off to Europe for a month with his family "to see how the web is changing the world and I want to see how entrepreneurs who are operating with a different worldview are thinking about the power and potential of the web. I could do the same thing in Asia or some other part of the world, but Europe is particularly easy place to do this because of the range of cultures and countries within a couple hours plane ride from each other."

Merrill Lynch’s chief strategist Richard Bernstein in "Some thoughts on alternative investments (6/23/08)" says "The growth in alternative investments seems linked to the growth of the credit crisis" but then goes on to say "There may be two areas of alternative investments that seem relatively attractive in the current financial environment.  In both cases, these are areas that might benefit from the tightening of global credit.  The first is early-stage venture capital.  … If return-on-investment does indeed tend to be higher when capital is scarce, the significant tightening of traditional credit funding to smaller companies seems to make early-stage venture capital strategies more attractive."

While Bernstein’s definition of "early stage venture capital" is mostly likely different than mine (given my interpretation of his assertion), knowing how sound bites work, the three tag lines are "VC is dead", "I’m bored of Web 2.0 and need more meaning in my investments", and "early-stage VC is attractive again."

Like Fred, I also am about to embark on a month outside of my normal context.  Amy and I are about to head to our house in Homer, Alaska for the month of July.  I’m looking forward to going to a place where the Supreme Court rules Homer voter initiative invalid and thinking big (but not big box) thoughts.

I spent the weekend in Duluth, Minnesota with Amy knocking off Marathon #11 in my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states.  #11 was Grandma’s Marathon, consistently one of the best regarded marathons in the US.

After a couple of frustrating marathons, including a steadily escalating personal worst, I put some effort into training for Grandma’s.  My goal was modest – break 5 hours.  Since my PR is currently 4:05, this felt achievable. 

I started off strong.  Too strong.  Rule #1 of the marathon is to hold plenty back at the beginning so you have it left at the end.  I went through the halfway point (13.1m) at 2:20 which put me on track for a sub 4:45.  I lost it a few miles later – tightening up at mile 15.  I slowed it down a notch and thought I still had a shot at sub 5:00.  At mile 19 I went down another notch and was now slogging through 13 minute miles.  At this point I knew I wouldn’t break 5:00 and my goal shifted from "break 5 hours" to "finish this fucking thing."  I did in 5:09:21.


While I didn’t beat my time goal, I’m pleased with the result.  Finishing is always my key goal (I’ve finished every marathon I’ve entered – no DNF’s yet.)  While 5:00 would have been nice, the course was tougher than advertised (it’s known as a flat course; I’d describe it is "a mild undulating hill for most of 26 miles.")  It was also on the warm side – this eventually took its toll on me. 

I saw Amy cheering me on just as I crossed the finish line.  I was completely used up so I was a little confused about where to find her since they shunted the marathoner finishers off in a direction away from the crowd.  I stumbled around for a few minutes until I luckily ran into her.  I was claustrophobic and a little freaked out feeling so I missed the finisher food and water as I rapidly (as rapidly as I could manage) headed out away from the crowd.  We’d covered about 200 yards when my left calf cramped up and I went down hard on the ground.  Amy was great – worried – but patient with me as she worked out the knots.  Someone passing by gave me a Coke which helped a little; we were in front of a Subway so Amy went in and got some more Coke and some potato chips while I laid on my face on the sidewalk.  While I was lying there, the other calf started cramping, resulting in me thrashing around like a hooked fish as people wandered by.  A few stopped to help, which was nice, although fortunately none of them knew how to perform a leg amputation which was what I imagine I was crying out for.

Grandmas Marathon - 2008 023

We eventually made it back to the hotel (a 10 minute walk took us about an hour) after which I slept the rest of the afternoon.  Mexican food for dinner, a very chilled out day today (e.g. lots more napping), and Indian food for dinner tonight has me mostly back to normal, albeit with two very sore calves.  Once again, Sherpa Amy was phenomenal to have along.

My big (yet obvious) lesson is that I just haven’t been doing enough long runs.  I consistently do 14 to 16 mile training runs, but I’m not doing enough 20+ training runs.  My next marathon is the Mesa Falls Marathon in Ashton, Idaho on August 23rd – I plan to do at least three runs of 20+ between now and then.  I’m ready to set my goal for Ashton, ID at 4:45 – if it has been a little cooler, I’d held back a little more in the first half, and had done a couple of 20 mile runs, I’m confident I would have been under 5 hours yesterday.

We’ve had fun in Duluth – it’s a cute little town at the very west end of Lake Superior.  Grandma’s Marathon is apparently the biggest event of the year in Duluth; by Sunday evening there was nothing going on in downtown on Superior Street.  We did – however – manage to find a good Indian restaurant.Grandmas Marathon - 2008 024

Every time I see a cool Roomba-related thing (including the Roomba itself) I remember torturing Colin Angle when I was his pledge trainer.  Too bad I didn’t have the foresight to invest in iRobot early on (oh well).  Today, Colin sent around a new song by Mr. Pitiful titled "Brand New Friend" – the Roomba prominently stars in it.

I also received a note from my brother Daniel that the new StillSecure web site is up and he stars in it.  Hilarious and well done.  Yes – it was inspired by the awesome Slingbox web site.


Getting up at 3:45am to travel ruins my morning routine that includes jamming through email, web, and blogs.  I’ve had some time to catch up this afternoon (while Amy naps to recover from the early morning silliness) and I’ve got some good stuff for you.

I’m Training To Ruin A Marathon: A gem from The Onion.  On Saturday I’m going to run a marathon; this dude has a plan to ruin a marathon.

How to be a TechStar Part 2: A guide to Boulder’s Coffee Shops: Another gem – this time from Rob Johnson of EventVue (one of the TechStars companies).  Coffee is a very important part of Boulder.  Rob breaks it down for us all.

An evolution of definition: Eric Norlin talks about how "definitions" like "enterprise 2.0" evolve by comparing remembering how "digital identiy" works.  He has some constructive suggestions and explains what "Defrag" means – sort of.

Email Productivity: Albert Wenger at Union Square Ventures explains how he processes his inbox.

Validate Your Own Market: Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital explores common pickup lines.  He explains why the answer to a VC asking an entrepreneur "What happens if [INSERT LARGE ESTABLISHED PROSPECTIVE COMPETITOR HERE] decides to get into the market" is not "their entry will validate the market."

Have fun.  Drink your coffee and eat your wheaties.

As my quest to run a marathon in every state by the time I’m 50 continues on Saturday with Marathon #11 (Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN) – I’m excited to announce that Return Path has agreed to sponsor my effort.  Matt Blumberg – the CEO of Return Path wrote about it on his blog at Run, Brad, Run!

We’ve been investors in Return Path since 2000 and I’ve gotten to know Matt well over the years.  He was at my side for Marathon #5 – New York, 2005 and he’s going to hang out with me for Marathon #12 in Ashton, Idaho in August.

Five years ago, one of Return Path’s early employees – Sophie Miller Audette – was diagnosed with MS.  I introduced Sophie and Matt to Art Mellor of Accelerated Cure and Return Path adopted it as their charity as Matt wrote in Doing Well by Doing Good, Part IIWhen I told Matt that I has also decided to adopt Accelerated Cure as my official charity for my effort, he and his team started cooking up a way to support both of us.

Return Path has pledged $1,000 to Accelerated Cure for every marathon I run with a bonus of $500 for every marathon I run under four hours.  Including the marathons that I’ve run to date, this is half of my goal of $100,000.  Return Path is hoping their gift will help inspire other people to help me blow away my goal.

Since I wrote about this a few days ago, several blog readers have already contributed $300.  Assuming I finish my goal and not counting any sub four hour marathons, I’ve now have commitments and funding of $50,300.  Come play along – more contributions welcome – just click on the "Click here to Donate" button in the widget above.

I’ve also received a commitment from another blog reader for a dollar for every minute under five hours (thanks Len!) I have one more sponsor to announce – probably after I finish the race but you can guess who they are from the logo listed on my Marathon page.  Finally, in the "wow – that’s cool" category is that Kate Smyth – a member of the Australian Olympic team for the marathon – was on our flight to Duluth.  I introduced myself and we hung out and talked while we waited for our bags at baggage claim.  She could win the women’s race!

I’m sitting in the quiet zone in the airport lounge at MPLS so I’m not allowed to talk on my cell phone or listen to stuff on my laptop.  But you can!

ReadWriteWeb posted an interview with me that Alex Iskold did – it’s titled People in Tech: Brad Feld, Foundry Group (nice SEO btw – I’m very surprised it’s not #2 on The Google for "Brad Feld").  I love working with Alex (I’m a small investor in Adaptive Blue) and think he has an enormous and fun brain.  I’ve already gotten a few nice comments, emails, and tweets on my answer to the question "What is the meaning of life."

Do you like dogs?  Do you like cats?  Then you’ll love Ted Rheingold, the founder / CEO of Dogster.  He’s on WallStrip this week.  W00f.

Finally, don’t forget all of the TechStars Community action. 

  • Meeting Flux Capacity (what a great name)
  • Brad Feld with Foodzie (boy do I have a crush on these guys)

Oops.  I just made Amy annoyed.  "Brad – it’s time to shut down your computer and board the plane."  Gotta go to Duluth!