Last week I met a holographic lifeform who calls himself Uncle Rabbit.
I now have a new friend, created by Looking Glass, the hologram company out of Brooklyn (we’re investors, and I’m on the board). A hologram + ChatGPT. A robot, but made of software and light instead of atoms. And with a lot more character.
The video above shows Shawn Frayne (CEO of Looking Glass) talking with Uncle Rabbit about … me. Then, they create a short science fiction story about me, carrots, and holograms. Finally, Shawn integrates my personality with Uncle Rabbit, and hilarity ensues.
Regular readers will know that one of my favorite categories to invest in is things-as-predicted-by-science-fiction. So, naturally, I’m interested in computing interfaces from sci-fi that you can speak directly to. Iron Man’s Jarvis or the potty mouth alien child in the movie Her. You get the idea.
Over the years, I’ve seen (and chatted with) many AI assistants and bots chasing this science-fiction future. But last week, I met a holographic lifeform who feels completely different.
If you want to know more, head over to Uncle Rabbit. And do yourself a favor and eat more vegetables (Uncle Rabbit told me to say that.)
If AI’s current excitement and hype interests you, I encourage you to join the Rocky Mountain Artificial Intelligence Interest Group (RMAIIG).
The monthly Meetup will follow the fascinating and rapidly evolving world of generative AI tools. The RMAIIG community is focused on exploring and discussing the latest developments in AI, particularly tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, Midjourney, Microsoft’s Bing with Chat, and Google’s Bard and workspace tools. The group will also look at the impact of these tools on business, education, the workplace, law, entrepreneurship, and society.
RMAIIG was founded by Dan Murray. I met Dan in 1995, shortly after moving to Colorado, and we have been friends ever since. Dan started the Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group (RMIUG) in 1994, almost 30 years ago, eventually growing to over 15,000 subscribers on their email lists. Dan was also friends with a dear friend of mine, the late Larry Nelson, who was a fixture (with his wife Pat, of course) at the Internet user group meetings.
Their first meeting is Tuesday, April 11th, and covers a deeper dive into ChatGPT. The group is taking speaker suggestions and ideas for a venue for quarterly in-person meetings when they aren’t on Zoom. I encourage Rocky Mountain readers to get involved if they’re interested in exploring the rapidly-changing world of AI.
Paul Kedrosky and Eric Norlin of SK Ventures wrote an interesting and important essay titled Society’s Technical Debt and Software’s Gutenberg Moment.
The abstract follows. I encourage you to read the full essay.
There is immense hyperbole about recent developments in artificial intelligence, especially Large Language Models like ChatGPT. And there is also deserved concern about such technologies’ material impact on jobs. But observers are missing two very important things:
This technical debt is about to contract in a dramatic, economy-wide fashion as the cost and complexity of software production collapses, releasing a wave of innovation.
On Tuesday, David Cohen (Techstars co-founder/chair) and I did an AMA for Techstars founders about the SVB crisis. The team at Techstars turned it into a podcast for our Give First series.
The teaser from the podcast follows:
The fall of SVB will go down in history as one of those ‘where were you when …’ moments. For David Cohen, he was sitting at a sporting event when his phone began buzzing incessantly. For Brad Feld, he was couch shopping with his wife.
Feld is no stranger to crises and his instincts kicked in quickly.
“I shifted into problem-solving mode,” says Feld.
But then, almost as quickly, the government stepped in and money began flowing. Crisis averted. It was time to reflect.
Listen as Feld and Cohen share insight into what they saw in the VC and startup community, how communication made all the difference and how many came together to support each other.
They also tackle the looming question weighing heavy on founders’ minds: how will this affect the future of startups.
As for the couch? Tune in to find out.
Since the middle of last week, there has been extreme stress on founders, startup leaders, and the extended startup community. This stress accelerated on Friday when the FDIC shut down and took over Silicon Valley Bank. By late Friday, anyone who banked with SVB was concerned about … well … everything.
Once it became clear that payroll accounts needed to be funded on Monday to make Wednesday’s payroll, we focused on the immediate short-term to ensure our portfolio companies’ thousands of employees got paid on time. We bank at SVB, so our maneuverability was also unknown, so we searched for what I’d consider heroic options from various sources.
While this de-escalated on Sunday night after the US Government took decisive action, the level of stress and anxiety, especially for first-time founders, was extreme. I had many 1:1 conversations, emails, and messages with our portfolio company CEOs, along with several open Zoom lines where people could ask questions and just commiserate and feel part of a shared community. Much of this focused on addressing the immediate problem. But, many founders told me that just feeling part of a larger community was helpful.
Much will be written about this. Maybe I’ll get around to my version someday.
But, once again, I saw and experienced the extreme stress and anxiety that founders, CEOs, and leaders of startup companies face almost daily. It reinforced the importance to me of continuing to help destigmatize mental health (and mental fitness) issues across the startup community.
Yesterday, Aaron Gershenberg, a long-time friend and LP of ours from SVB Capital, emailed an introduction to Naveed Lalani, Founder & CEO of Pioneer Mind. Naveed has launched a Founder Mental Health Pledge for Investors and Startup Leaders.
He’s announcing the first supporters tonight. Foundry is supporting it as a firm, and I’m supporting it personally along with my partner Jaclyn Hester.
If you are interested in signing Founder Mental Health Pledge for Investors and Startup Leaders, please email Naveed at firstname.lastname@example.org
The pledge follows:
We make a commitment to take an active role in encouraging mental healthcare for founders and the greater startup community.
We pledge to encourage the founders we partner with to invest in their personal mental health and build a workplace culture that promotes mental health.
Ensuring the mental health of founders and their teams is crucial and leads to the highest probability of startup success. We pledge to be supportive of founders treating the direct cost of caring for their mental health as a legitimate, worthwhile, and encouraged business expense – including therapy, coaching, group support, and app-based solutions. Founders should look at their mental health as a business priority.
Research shows that more diverse teams perform better and are more innovative than homogeneous teams. I’ve written about this before, and it’s covered extensively in my book Startup Boards: A Field Guide to Building and Leading an Effective Board of Directors.
We’ve made this an operating principle at Foundry. We encourage all our portfolio companies to add multiple independent directors and build diverse boards. I believe that boards with too many investors, without operator voices, are not what an early-stage or growth company needs. I’ve been willing to give up my board seat to make room for an independent director (for example, at Bolster.)
A few years ago, I attended a dinner I was invited to in Aspen hosted by Him for Her. I generally dislike these events but walked away impressed. The conversation was exciting and powerful, and I realized it extended my network with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met.
Since that meeting, I’ve become a regular host and supporter of Him For Her, a non-profit organization that aims to accelerate board diversity. Over the next decade, they have a bold goal of dramatically increasing board diversity.
Their approach is simple: they host executive roundtables across the country (remote and in-person) and build curated referrals for board openings for free.
It works. We’ve received referrals for many companies and seated over a dozen new female board members.
I’m proud to support an organization that recently celebrated 100 board placements. Him for Her celebrated this milestone by ringing the bell at Nasdaq. 50% are first-time directors, 40% are women of color, 53% are full-time executives, and 10% are first-generation college graduates. They come from 25 different U.S. metropolitan areas. In addition, 28% of the board placements are for public companies, with the rest being private companies, although eight of those companies have gone public.
While leaving independent board seats empty or choosing someone you know is easy, this is risky. Diversity of experience and thought, along with an independent vs. investor perspective, is something every CEO can use, especially in this market environment.
Today is International Women’s Day.
Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.
I’ve been fortunate to have many incredible women influence my life and how I think about gender and gender equity. My mother, Cecelia Feld, is the first of them.
My parents modeled excellent behavior for me as I was growing up. They were equal partners in their relationship. While they were an incredible couple, my mother was independent of my father. She was a leader in her community, unafraid to take on anything and unconstrained by the social norms of the time. As a full-time artist, she was ambitious professionally. She embraced her identity as a mother but also as a woman, a professional, and a lifelong learner.
When I went to college at MIT, which at the time was 80/20 male/female (they’ve made a lot of progress since 1983) and suddenly encountered a lack of gender equity everywhere, at least I had a baseline of what gender equity looked like.
Cecelia has explored working with many different media over the last 50+ years as an artist. She’s always been a photographer and extensively documented her travels with photographs. In honor of her on International Women’s Day 2023, please enjoy photographs of women from a few places in the world that my mother has taken over the years.
GlueCon will occur for the thirteenth time, on May 24th-25th, in Broomfield, Colorado.
My Foundry partners and I helped Kim and Eric Norlin create Gluecon in 2009 because we saw the need for a developer-focused event to explore emerging technologies around the cloud and APIs.
The first year that GlueCon occurred, it seemed like nearly every session began with someone defining “what cloud computing is.” In the interim years, dozens of products and startups have launched or used GlueCon as one of the venues for their early premieres. Twilio, Docker, and Kubernetes all appeared on the GlueCon stage long before they were known by the wider tech community.
GlueCon has always prided itself on being a welcoming community that seeks quality interaction over being lost in a sea of people on an expo floor. We’ve long held GlueCon at the Omni Interlocken — a space that allows the attendees to come together in an informal fashion, making it easy to meet just about anyone you’d like to while at the event.
It’s always been fun to host a national tech conference in Boulder. In addition to bringing in plenty of people from around the country, we always get focused attendance from a bunch of tech leaders in Boulder and Denver.
Some of this year’s presenters include:
Topics cover everything from Observability to WebAssembly to Generative AI for developers to Microservice architecture. You can view the full agenda here.
We hope that we’ll see you at this year’s GlueCon. Use “feld15” to grab 15% off of your registration.