Category: Things I Like
My NewsGator Keyword Search Feeds picked up a couple of new blogs from employees of two of my portfolio companies. I posted recently about a few new Mobius VC bloggers – it’s fascinating to see the spread of blogging to our portfolio companies.
First up is Sandy Hamilton. I’ve known Sandy for several years – he’s worked at a couple of my portfolio companies. He’s currently the SVP of Sales and Business Development at NewsGator where he’s kicking butt. He just started two blogs – the first on his personal musings on business and life and the second on corporate applications of RSS.
I just watched two Tarantino movies from 1994 that have held up incredibly well.
Friday night’s bloodfest was Natural Born Killers. I had forgotten Tarantino wrote the story – Oliver Stone got all the glory on this one. Woody Harrelson is unbelievable and – a decade later – the movie matches the evening news more than I’d ever care to have imagined.
Tonight, we watched Pulp Fiction. I’ve only seen this movie about 30 times (a few less then Caddyshack) and I was delighted to find the script on the Internet. My favorite scene is the the one when Butch (the boxer played by Bruce Willis) has finally reconciled with Marsellus after blowing away Zed and Maynard and is trying to get Fabian on the chopper to get out of town. Fabian starts to cry and the following dialogue ensues.
BUTCH: I’m sorry, baby-love.
FABIAN: (crying) You were gone so long, I started to think dreadful thoughts.
BUTCH: I’m sorry I worried you, sweetie. Everything’s fine. Hey, how was breakfast?
FABIAN: (waterworks drying a little) It was good —
BUTCH: — did you get the blueberry pancakes?
FABIAN: No, they didn’t have blueberry pancakes, I had to get buttermilk — are you sure you’re okay?
BUTCH: Baby-love, from the moment I left you, this has been without a doubt the single weirdest day of my entire life. Climb on an’ I’ll tell ya about it.
Fabian does climb on. Butch STARTS her up.
FABIAN: Butch, whose motorcycle is this?
BUTCH: It’s a chopper.
FABIAN: Whose chopper is this?
FABIAN: Who’s Zed?
BUTCH: Zed’s dead, baby, Zed’s dead.
And with that, the two lovebirds PEEL AWAY on Grace, as the SONG on the BOOM BOX RISES.
I empathize with Butch.
While I always have thought I wanted to be The Wolf when I grew up, I turned out to be Marsellus when I took the “What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?” survey.
Your name alone strikes fear into others; but maybe, just maybe, there’s a little vulnerability and weakness beneath that stoic, fierce exterior of yours.
Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.
Seth Levine – who works with me in Colorado – launched his blog yesterday. Seth becomes the fifth Mobius Venture Capital blogger – joining me, Ryan McIntyre, Ross Carlson, and Robin Bordoli. It’ll be fun to watch Seth try to string words into sentences (and more importantly, sentences into paragraphs.)
Even though he’s just launched his blog, Seth has been very deep into the blog-stuff. He works closely with me on NewsGator and has had a big role in our investment there. We recently promoted Seth to principal, so he must be doing something right.
Welcome – Seth – to the blogosphere.
I’ve been working with Robin Bordoli at Mobius Venture Capital for several years and have enjoyed watching him be tortured by the version of english that we speak in America. Now that Robin has a blog, I look forward to reading the thoughts of a brit living in Silicon Valley – while the words will occassionally be mangled, I expect the thoughts will be clear.
Welcome – Robin – to the blogosphere.
Amy and I go out together for “life dinner” on the first day of every month. We spend dinner reflecting on the previous month, thinking about the month to come, and grounding ourselves in our relationship in the midst of our active lives.
A friend of ours sent the following list of questions that he and his wife sit down and talk through every year. It’s a great list and will be the subject of at least one dinner next week (ok – the reading question might need its own evening.) I thought it was worth sharing.
- What were the significant events of the year?
- What were my accomplishments?
- What trips did I take?
- Who was I closest to?
- What significant reading did I do?
- What gave me joy?
- In what ways did I grow?
- What personal gifts did I use to serve this year?
- What did I learn this year?
- What in my life is dying (literally or figuratively)?
- What in my life is rising (literally or figuratively)?
- What are my goals for the next year?
Ryan co-founded Excite and saw the Internet first hand through inception to boom and then to bust. In addition to having a real clue about search and other Internet infrastructure (as evidenced by his investments in Postini and Technorati), he spends a lot of time digging into advanced semiconductor applications – which are things I’m mostly clueless about (such as Akustica, Glimmerglass, and Microdisplay) – but I am always entertained by the pictures of really tiny things Ryan shows me.
The words of my partner Greg Galanos – who someday will have a blog even though he claims he doesn’t want one – “Hey Ryan, welcome to the Blogosphere.”
I met Terry several months after I moved to Boulder in 1995. As part of starting up the Colorado chapter of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, I had an initial meet and greet event for at The Boulderado for about a dozen local entrepreneurs that were referred to me by a handful of lawyers and bankers that I’d met shortly after I’d moved. Terry – along with Paul Berberian – were part of the group that night.
A few weeks later, Terry and his partner Jim Fudge came out to my house in Eldorado Springs. We went for a long walk (three miles round trip) in my backyard and I listened to them talk about the struggles they were having with their 15 person consulting firm. They were both on edge and in a not-so-good place I’d been many times when running my first company (Feld Technologies). I can’t remember the exact advice that I gave Terry and Jim, but shortly thereafter I joined the Gold Systems board and helped Terry assemble a true outside board of directors.
It’s amazing to me to look back and realize that I’ve been working with Terry for over eight years. While his company has grown nicely over this time, it’s been even more rewarding to experience Terry’s personal growth – both as an entrepreneur and a friend. I’ve always been a huge fan on Terry’s, but it’s remarkably easy for me to publicly say that I’d “go to the ends of the earth for him.”
Terry – welcome to the blogosphere.
Ed Roberto – CEO of Newmerix – has started a blog. He joins Matt Blumberg (Return Path), Jim Lejeal (Oxlo), and JB Holston (NewsGator) as CEO bloggers in my current portfolio. I’ve added Ed to the CEOBlogList – which is a fun evolving list of CEO bloggers.
I’ve known and worked with Ed since 1998. I fondly recall the first time we met – at Dot’s Diner on the Hill in Boulder. We got together to talk about starting a company to buy up ISPs throughout Asia. Ed ended up co-founding this company – called Asia Online – which we funded with a host of other VCs. Ed was the M&A guy – we bought about 25 companies in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, and India – putting together a $50m (going to $100m) south Asia-based ISP (we were the biggest ISP in Australia for a while.) CSFB was in the process of taking the company public in the summer of 2000 when the bottom finally completely fell out of the IPO market.
The failure of the IPO was the first of what became a series of body blows to the company. While we still had plenty of cash at the time the company was trying to go public, like many other telecom companies, we were burning a prodigious amount of it each month. After an emergency board meeting in Hong Kong (it’s never too much fun to fly from Colorado to Hong Kong and back in three days, but hey, it was 2000) we decided to replace the existing CEO with Ed and aggressively move to stop doing acquisitions, integrate the business, and get cash flow positive as quickly as we could.
Ed did an amazing job of working with the hand he was dealt. Remember the time frame – 2000 to 2001. Within six months, Ed cut the burn rate from $6m / month to slightly over $1m / month, reduced headcount by 50%, but kept gross margin contribution steady. He consolidated his senior management team, cutting out half the folks and adding a few new key people – who dove in aggressively to try to turn around a business that was clearly spiraling toward disaster.
In the summer of 2001, I spent a week with Ed going to all the company locations to formulate a plan as to what to do (put additional money into the company, or sell it for whatever we could get.) The entire telecom sector was in the process of disintigrating and it was clear to us that it was unlikely that we would be able to get much for the company if we sold it, especially given all the contingent liabilities we had taken on as a growing telecom company. To Ed’s credit – he called the ball. At dinner in New Zealand at the end of the week, he looked at me and said “let’s sell this for whatever we can get – I can’t in good conscious ask the investors for more money because I don’t think we can get a return on the new dollars invested.” So – he started a process of selling and liquidating the company – which was incredibly complex due to the disparate geographies we had offices in. Ed has been able to return some of the invested capital – albeit a modest amount – to the last round investors – which is a huge achievement given that many of the telecom companies that blew up in the 2000 – 2001 time frame simply went splat.
As a result of how Ed handled this experience, he earned my lifelong trust and respect. While we’ve created a strong “business intimacy” (my true measure of a deep relationship in a business context), I also adore Ed as a human. There are a few folks on this planet – besides my wife Amy, my parents, and my brother – that I would do anything for – Ed is one of them.
Today, Ed’s doing a spectacular job of leading Newmerix. Not surprisingly, he’s incorporated many lessons from the Asia Online failure and he’s building a company methodically and systematically. Cash is precious this time around and he and his partner Niel are obsessed with building a real company, rather than just slapping a bunch of pieces together and hoping it all works out.
Ed’s a deep thinker, strong personality, feerless human, and loyal friend. I expect his insights and thoughts to be stimulating and worthwhile. Have fun!