Brad Feld

Month: April 2013

With the immigration debate in Washington heating up, Americans across the country recognize that we need smart and practical solutions to help reform our country’s broken immigration system.

Our immigration laws haven’t been significantly updated in almost 50 years, while other countries are implementing immigration programs to lure entrepreneurs, innovators, skilled workers, and other valuable potential employees.  Meanwhile, our system still works to support a Cold War economy in the 21st century. It’s an outdated and outmoded system that is as frustrating as it is ineffective.

That’s why this past February I joined with the Partnership for a New American Economy to join the March for Innovation, one of the largest virtual marches on Washington to promote smart immigration reform that will keep us competitive and help our economy grow. Run by the Partnership – a coalition of more than 500 mayors and CEOs led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – the March will unite these same leaders and the greater public in pushing for economically-smart, pro-tech, pro-entrepreneur immigration reform, including:

  • Visas for entrepreneurs
  • Access to high-skilled workers when and where they are needed through H-1B visas and green cards
  • Green cards for the advanced degree graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) we are training in our universities

And we need your help!  As we saw last year, virtual marches like the online protest against SOPA and PIPA can make a real difference in Washington. However, SOPA and PIPA worked because the campaign went viral. With your support, we can make the March for Innovation even more effective.

This call to action starts today and will culminate with a Thunderclap when legislation is introduced in May. We invite you to join us:

Start by sharing a tweet or Facebook post at marchforinnovation.com

  • If you have a story to tell, share it with the March for Innovation team at the same site
  • Join the Thunderclap (which will flood Twitter on the day of the March for Innovation) and follow the March on Facebook and Twitter
  • Use your company homepage to drive traffic to marchforinnovation.com with their widget atmarchforinnovation.com/get_widget
  • Email the March at info@marchforinnovation.com and tell them how you think you can help the effort.

I encourage you to get involved and get active on this issue. Our competitiveness on the world stage may depend on it.


I’m going to the NVCA annual meeting May 14 and 15 and if you are a VC, you should also.  I haven’t been to one in many years, but this year is different.  First, my partner Jason is running it.  That being said, if the meeting was going to suck I still wouldn’t go.

I’m excited about the agenda.  Not only is my good friend Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter speaking, but so are General Colin Powell, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and CEO of 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.  And for the first time, “fun” is part of the meeting in the form of NVCA Live! featuring Pat Monahan from Train and Legitimate Front, headed up by Jason and our other partner Ryan.

If you are a VC, I hope to see you there.  If you are an entrepreneur, ask your VC funders for tickets to NVCA Live!, as that is open to everyone, although tickets are only purchasable by NVCA members.


I’m at the The Athenaeum at Caltech which is the alumni club / hotel on Caltech’s campus. I’m on Caltech Guest WiFi and am getting speeds of between 2 and 10 Kbps (e.g. miserably slow). My Verizon phone has one bar and is flickering between 3G and LTE, but is mostly 3G.

I have no expectation that I get a certain level of infrastructure and connectivity in my life, so this isn’t a rant about that. In fact, I’m amazed on a regular basis that any of this shit actually works. Rather, I’m intrigued by the disparity between the top and bottom speed of connectivity I experience on a daily basis with my laptop and  my iPhone.

Last week in Kansas City I experience the 1gig internet speed that is provided by Google Fiber. I was in a house next door to mine – my Google Fiber was being installed yesterday.

Google Fiber is Fast

The gap isn’t a little – it’s orders of magnitude. And it’s fascinating to think about the impact of this unevenness. In my house slightly outside of Boulder we have an old T1 line that gets 1Mbps to it via a CenturyLink connection – this is the fastest connectivity I can get where I live. In my condo in Boulder, we are on 50Mbps Comcast connection (although I rarely see more than 20Mbps). I get no cell service at my house outside of Boulder; I get strong cell service and LTE in my condo in town.

I realize that the typical speed I first got when using a computer was 2400 baud (actually – my first modem was 110 baud) – that was only 35 years ago. It’s remarkable the difference between 110 baud and 811.02 Mbps over 35 years, but it’s even more dramatic that within a week I’ve used the same devices and applications at 1Mbps, 20Mbps, 800Mbps, and then get stuck in a place where you are happy when things spike to 20 Kbps.

Richard Florida talks about the power of the world being spiky. It’s interesting to ponder in the context of Internet connectivity.


I had Digital Sabbath #3 yesterday. I turned off my phone and computer Friday at sundown and didn’t turn them back on until Sunday morning. I’m starting to enjoy the pattern and had a lot of relief yesterday from the complete disconnect. We had dinner at our house with friends Friday night, Amy and I did some stuff in the morning together, I went for a 9 mile run, took a nap in the afternoon, and we had dinner last night with friends and then watched some comedy on tv afterwards. My brain was less chaotic yesterday and I was able to settle into a calmer state over the course of the day than I had been the previous two weekends.

Last weekend a read a book by Wayne Muller called Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives. I was a little apprehensive about the book, but it was recommended by a few people including Amy. It was extraordinary and just what I needed to begin to understand the need for a real day of rest out of every seven days.

While I’m not religious, I’ve got a strong jewish identity. I’ve also lived in Boulder for 17.5 years so it’s hard not to be spiritual. I found as I read the book that I was able to abstract away all the religious references, especially since Muller provides a nice mix of jewish, christian, and buddhist quotes and thoughts. He isn’t bashful about tying the idea of a day of rest back to religion, but he isn’t dogmatic about it, nor is it the dominant thought. Instead, it’s just additional support for the idea from many different cultures and times.

Muller broke the book up into six sections – rest, rhythm, time, happiness, wisdom, and consecration. He then ends with a chapter on the actual sabbath day. Each section has examples and exercises – it’s an easy book to read in one sitting as the tempo of the book is consistent, and the rhythm of each section is enjoyable.

The bonus so far from starting on Friday night is that when I wake up on Sunday I feel rested and in a totally different mode for the “rest of the weekend” than I normally do. And I have no real “I need a weekend” feeling on Sunday as it’s still a relatively chill day, although one that has some work and all the other stimuli of my world woven into it.

I’m going to keep doing digital sabbath for a while and see how it goes. Muller’s Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives helped me understand it a little better.


I got an interesting email from a friend who has historically been a huge Apple fanboy. I asked him if I could repost it verbatim and he said yes. It follows – I’m curious what your response is to this.

While I’m still very involved with the art world here in Colorado and still working on conservation issues we’ve actually just returned from almost a year away, the last 6 months in India.  I realize that a lot of what I see is colored with the lens of India, but maybe that’s helping to make things more clear.

Anyway, in preparation for re-entry after India (we were in rural, south east India, without much electricity so I figured home might be a shock), I started to try and catch up on things.  Your blog was one of my tools for this.  I read the post on creating the best product, agreed, and moved on.  One of the first things I planned on doing once home was to buy a shiny new macbook to replace my 4 year old white macbook.  Maybe going to the mall, rather than just buying it online was my first mistake, but the cult of apple and the temple that is that store made me gag the second I walked in there.  And while my macbook may be old, my use of apple products is right where they want it to be… had the iPhone5 the 2nd day it was out, mcgyvered the Airtel sim cards to work as nano-sims card in india, have a small film production crew all working on the latest macbook pros and iMacs, iPads and iPods at home… on and on.  But in the store, what I noticed was a culture of elitism and insincerity.  I had a 4 year old laptop with me, and was treated like a Luddite because I didn’t look up to speed.  Insulted, I kept the $4,500 in my pocket, thinking I’d keep the laptop running, which I did.  Small thing I know, but my thought was “if apple doesn’t care about me, who do they care about?”  Today an even smaller issue illuminated this even more.  I went in again, this time to replace the defective “top case/keyboard” from these old white plastic macs, and was told that the machine was now “vintage” (that’s the official apple label), and that they couldn’t replace the “defective part” (also their official language) as they had done in the past, because it is more than 4 years old.  I thought that maybe I should just get a new machine and quit belly aching, but I pushed a little just to see what apple thought about a customer like me…  and called apple to ask if there was anything more they could do.  After a lot of insincere apologies, I asked if there was really nothing they could do.  The support supervisor insisted that there was no more senior person to address this issue but that I might try craigslist.  I was pretty surprised that apple’s official support process ended with telling the customer to check out craigslist for an old mac to scrap for parts.  I’m such a pushover that if he’d offered me $100 credit towards a new macbook, I’d have smiled and bought another apple product.

As I right this, it sounds too much like a rant.  But I couldn’t help writing, first to say hello after a long while (I did hear about the 3D printed tooth in Croatia…amazing!) and second to just try an make sense of what apple could possibly be thinking… the “cool factor” is clearly waning, they’re products are overpriced, and now they’re indifferent, even hostile, to customer who regularly spend tens of thousands of dollars on their products.  Can they really be thinking that the best product is the one that you replace really quickly with something “cooler” and more expensive?  I think this time, I might really go get the chromebook.  I can’t be alone, and that can’t be good for them.


TechStars Seattle applications for year four of the program are now open! The startup community in Seattle is expanding rapidly and TechStars Seattle is right in the middle of it all, located in South Lake Union surrounded by Amazon, Microsoft and tons of other amazing startups. We’ve been investing a lot in Seattle lately beyond TechStars, including BigDoor, SEOmoz, Cheezburger, and most recently Rover. We love Seattle as a startup community!

TechStars Seattle teams will be working out of  Founders Co-op which is also home to The Microsoft Accelerator (powered by TechStars) and CodeFellows programs. There’s a lot of startup talent as well as investors and other members of the tech community around to help out.

Think you might be a good fit for TechStars Seattle? Apply now!

Know someone who might be a good fit? Send any team referrals to TechStars Seattle Program Manager, Linsey Battan, at linsey.battan@techstars.com.


As we enter the 5th year of Gluecon, I’m very excited to see it come together. Eric Norlin has been saying year after year that his goal is to make Gluecon “the most technical, developer-focused conference” out there and I love watching him try.

You can check out the most recent agenda here, but some of the sessions that are indicative of what Eric’s talking about include:

  • Building a distributed data platform with Node.js, Storm, Kafka, and ZeroMQ
  • An Enterprise Mobile Reference Architecture
  • Building using Netflix’s Open Source Architecture (a 4 hour workshop)
  • Using Swagger to Build a Great API Interface
  • The Pros and Cons of Choosing Go
  • Availability During Cloud Outages: Multi-Regional, Self-Healing MySQL
  • Node.js is for APIs

Beyond the content, I can personally testify that you’ll find an amazing group of people to hang out with, a truly welcoming atmosphere, and the best conference wifi you’ll find anywhere. Plus, it’s in Boulder at the beginning of summer!

Be sure to grab the early bird price (which ends April 7th) while you can — and use “brad12” to take an additional 10% off.


Do you like your Sphero? How about getting one that is 2500x larger than the current Sphero? That’s the new Sphero product – Peacekeeper.

Order it today on Indiegogo. Along with some other cool Sphero stuff.


My close friend Jerry Colonna is giving an extraordinary seminar in Boulder on 4/19 with Parker Palmer called Surviving the Startup Life: The Toll of Merging Identity and Work. Jerry is the best CEO coach I know, a dear friend, and one of the best investors I ever have gotten to work with (we did a lot together in the 1990s when Jerry was partners with Fred Wilson at Flatiron Partners.)

Context on the event comes from Jerry’s blog post titled The Hand of A Friend:

“A distraught client emailed me the day after Jody [Sherman] died. So many people were hurt by the news–whether or not they knew him. I tweeted, emailed, reached out to friends. I wrote to Parker [Palmer].

My request was simple: Help me help them. We decided the best way to respond was to embody what we believe: that speaking about the existential difficulties, being authentic even in our collective guilt, pain, and fear, is–as Parker coined it in Let Your Life Speak–Leading from Within.  We would have a conversation about the ways in which this merger of self and work exacerbates the pain as well as Parker’s notion of the Tragic Gap. We’d invite others to join us.

The conversation is sponsored by Cojourneo and the Center for Courage and Renewal and will be in person on April 19 at 2 p.m. at Naropa University in Boulder.

It’s free. Register here.