The level of histrionics yesterday about the weather on the front range that is coming has been epic. I’ve lived here since 1995 and the amount of fear, anxiety, discussion, preparation, and public commentary is higher than I can ever recall (and yes – I’m now contributing to it.)
As I sit here at my computer looking out my window in Longmont, it’s cloudy and raising episodically (hard a few minutes ago, but it has now stopped.) The clouds are dark and heavy to the east, low and snowy to the west, and light to the south. It’s just weird and made me think of what the eye of a hurricane must feel like.
Everything in Boulder is closing in advance of the storm. I had two meetings in person today – one canceled and I went ahead and canceled the other one just for flexibility. I expect DIA is going to be a total mess although the status is pretty normal right now.
I wonder what this would have been like 30 years ago, pre-commercial Internet and World Wide Web. How much of this is excitement amplified by immediate transmittal of information of an extremely wide variety of accuracy?
Or maybe a snowpocalypse is really coming. I guess we’ll know in a couple of hours (it’s now predicted to start around noon.)
I’ve been in San Diego with Amy for a while but we are returning to Boulder in a week. San Diego has been great, but I miss my dogs, my friends, and the Colorado vibe.
When people ask me about the Colorado vibe, I often talk about GiveFirst. Soon there will be a book (by me) on this, but for now there’s an increasing amount of content on the web building up to explain it. This article in the Colorado Sun – How Techstars’ “GiveFirst” mantra became a road map for the startup community in Colorado and beyond – was excellent and had numerous short examples of how GiveFirst works and influences a startup community.
Next up is a fun article by my co-author of Startup Communities Way (my new Startup Communities book – coming up mid-year 2019) Ian Hathaway. A few days ago he cranked out a post titled Colorado is for Founders. I love that phrase and he led off the post with this great tweet from Phil Weiser.
— Phil Weiser (@pweiser) December 5, 2018
He goes on to explain Jared and Phil’s huge accomplishments and impacts around startups and the startup community. The punch line in the post is:
“By many measures, Colorado is the most entrepreneurial state in the country, a fact that I discovered in 2013 when studying high-technology business formation around the United States. I was struck by just how many places across the state had a high proportion of startup activity occurring—a finding that has been extended to looking across other types of high-growth entrepreneurship as well. Something special is happening there, and it has been for many years.”
I’ll end with the Holiday Gift Guide from Techstars. If you want to give someone you know the gift of something from a Techstars company this holiday season, here are the choices all in one place.
Happy Friday Colorado. See you in a week.
Google Boulder recently did a phenomenal thing. They recently gave a gift of over $2 million to CU Boulder, which included free office space for NCWIT for the next six years (valued at $1.3 million.) As of a few weeks ago, NCWIT now has a great long-term home in an older Google office on 26th Street in Boulder off of the CU Campus.
The head of Google Boulder (I think his official title in Googlespeak is “Engineering Site Director”) is Scott Green. I’ve known Scott since shortly after I moved to Boulder in 1995. He was an early employee at Email Publishing (which became MessageMedia), my very first Boulder-based angel investment. After MessageMedia, he spent some time working at Return Path (where I’ve been an investors since 2000) early in its life before moving to @Last (which we were not investors in, but were fans of since some of our friends, including Brian Makare (the co-founder of Email Publishing) and Mark Solon (then of Highway 12, now at Techstars) were investors.) While Scott and I don’t spend a lot of time together, we’ve both been part of the evolution of the Boulder startup community going back to the late 1990s.
In 2006, Google bought @Last (makers of SketchUp). That was the beginning of Google’s presence in Boulder, which is now around 1,000 people on a new, very nice, and well-integrated campus in the middle of town. Scott and the Google team have always been great corporate citizens of the startup community, offering up their larger event space on a regular basis, participating in, and sponsoring, many of the local startup events over the years, and generally just being a constructive and healthy part of the mix. Google’s continued expanded presence in Boulder is a positive reflection on the overall startup community and their new campus is a really nice addition to our little city in the mountains.
NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) has long been a hidden gem of Boulder. I got involved shortly after it was founded in 2004 and became the board chair in 2005 (which I served as until I resigned all my non-profit board positions at the end of last year.) I’m still deeply involved and it is a major initiative of the Anchor Point Foundation (the foundation that Amy and I run.)
Physical office space at CU Boulder has always been a struggle for NCWIT. When the organization was small, it fit nicely in a corner of the CU Roser ATLAS Center on the second floor. Amy and I were appreciative of this and sponsored the bathrooms on this floor of ATLAS. As NCWIT grew, they crammed into a small space, then overflowed it, expanded a little, but then lost it in a mysterious space shuffle that I’ve never really understood. Eventually, NCWIT moved over to some old space in the engineering building, but the space was poorly configured, had no cell signal, and wasn’t secure.
At the beginning of 2017, Lucy Sanders (NCWIT CEO) and I started looking for other space in Boulder. We tried to get different space on CU’s campus but were unsuccessful. We had a few near misses with commercial space, but either the economics didn’t work out or the space wasn’t right. Last summer, Google Boulder engaged as their new campus was opening up. A few weeks ago, NCWIT moved into their new, long-term home.
I’m incredibly appreciative for what Google Boulder has done here for NCWIT. It makes me extremely happy to see a #GiveFirst approach from Google in our startup community, along with the extensive support for NCWIT. It’s always nice to be part of an organization that is on the receiving end of this kind of generosity, especially one as deserving as NCWIT.
Scott, Google, and the rest of your team at Google Boulder – THANK YOU!
I’m not doing my usual crazy schedule of running around to panels and events as I’ll be out of town for most of the week but wanted to highlight a few events I’m especially excited about.
Amy and I supported the Pledge 1% Colorado Nonprofit Pitch contest last year with a $10,000 grant through our Anchor Point Foundation and are happily doing it again this year. This and other Social Impact Track events are working to engage the broader startup community and expand Startup Week beyond just high-tech startups.
If you are around Boulder next week or want to see the Boulder community at it’s finest, check out the BSW schedule and join in on the fun.
JumpCloud, one of the fastest growing companies in Colorado, is looking for awesome Developers, QA engineers, DevOps admins, and Customer Success Engineers. Over the next year, they are planning to hire 50 people for the engineering team and about 70 across the entire company.
JumpCloud is focused on delivering cloud-based directory services via a SaaS model. They are trying to solve some very difficult problems around identity, authentication, security, and cloud scaling.
JumpCloud’s mission deeply resonates with me because they are disrupting a two decade old monopoly in directory services and giving IT organizations freedom of choice with their IT solutions. It’s an exciting space and we (Foundry Group, OpenView, and Techstars Ventures) are betting that the JumpCloud team has the winning approach.
Since 1994, I’ve worked with the CEO, Rajat Bhargava, on eight companies and I’m psyched about the company and culture that the team is building there.
If you are up for a new challenge leveraging modern technology platforms at a well-funded startup in Boulder, drop the JumpCloud team a note or feel free to email me and I’ll connect you up with them.
Bobby Schnabel has returned to CU Boulder as the College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty director for entrepreneurial leadership, external chair of computer science, and campus thought-leader on computing.
I first met and worked with Bobby in the mid-2000s at the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), where he was a co-founder and on the board with me. Bobby is awesome and I’m really psyched he’s back in Boulder at CU.
While you may not know Bobby, this is a huge add for CU Boulder and the Boulder Startup Community. Bobby has a long history with CU Boulder. He was on the computer science faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder from 1977-2007, and Vice Provost for Academic and Campus Technology and Chief Information Officer from 1998-2007, and founding director of the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) 1997-2007.
In 2007 when he left CU Boulder to become the Dean of the School of Informatics and Computer at Indiana University I was bummed for CU Boulder (but happy for Bobby and Indiana University.) When he joined the Association for Computer Machinery as CEO in 2015, I had the sense in the back of my mind that he might make his way back to Boulder at some point.
Bobby is returning to CU Boulder to strengthen the partnership between the incredible tech business and startup community we have in the Boulder area and in Colorado, and the tech-programs at CU Boulder.
Welcome back, Bobby! And, if you are in the Boulder Startup Community and want to connect with Bobby at some point, just give me a shout.
On October 19th, Engage Boulder is hosting a breakfast with me from 7:30am to 9:30am to discuss the past, present, and future of Boulder. I’ve lived and worked here since 1995 so I’ve seen, and be involved in, a lot of the evolution of our city over this period of time. I’m hoping to have a thoughtful and open conversation about a lot of the issues that are coming up around our local election. If you are interested, please join us.
Recently, the Daily Camera did an excellent series of profiles on the fourteen candidates running for the five open Boulder City Council positions. I recently endorsed five specific people: Jan Burton, Eric Budd, Jill Grano, Mark McIntyre, and Bill Rigler. Following are excellent profiles from interviews with each of them that I encourage you to read to get to know them, and their viewpoints, better.
Our local election, like our recent national election, has had some extreme animus creep into it. It’s not my nature to engage with what I view as irrational and ad-hominem hostility, especially when I view it as disingenuous. So, I was happy to see the Editorial by Dave Krieger, for the Daily Camera editorial board, call some of this out in a measured way. It’s worth a read, but listed are a few of the key statements.
“We came away convinced that Boulder will be in capable hands no matter which five of the 14 are elected. We think some of the fear-mongering that has already appeared in the campaign verges on the ridiculous.”
“We think today’s Boulder is a vibrant, bustling small city known nationally for the cutting-edge research of its university, federal labs and high-tech sector, but struggling to maintain its historically funky feel due to soaring property values and creeping gentrification. So we endorse forward-looking candidates seeking innovative ways to keep Boulder from becoming a gated community of wealthy white folks. We think this is what “progressive” means in the 21st century.”
“We do not share the view that Boulder is going to hell in a handbasket. There is no question it has undergone a growth spurt since the last recession, in part based on pent-up demand from that slowdown. It could have done a better job encouraging creative design of new buildings that better fit their surroundings. We have high hopes that a new planning director, in concert with a new council, may improve this process.”
“Colorado’s growth appears to be slowing, which may allow everyone to take a breath and lower the civic temperature. Boulder has too much going for it to engage in a divisive war choosing among a strong slate of City Council candidates.”
If you are game to have a calm and constructive conversation around this, please join me for breakfast on 10/19.
Amy and I have always believed in this value and importance of voting. If there was any doubt about how this can impact our society, that doubt was obliterated in the 2016 election.
Boulder has an odd-year election cycle so our local elections are happening between October 16, 2017 (ballots get mailed) and November 7, 2017 (the last day to vote). Historically, less than half of the registered voters in town have voted in our local elections. A group of us, led by Engage Boulder hope that meaningfully increases (both the registered voters and the ones who choose to vote) this year.
Having lived and worked here for almost 22 years (longer than I’ve lived anywhere else by a wide margin), I now feel like I understand the strengths and weaknesses of Boulder. I get the difference of opinions about the long-term view of the city. I think we are living in an amazing place, but we have a lot of work to do to both keep it amazing and have it continue to evolve in a healthy, productive, and successful way.
As a result, I believe that our city council election is critically important. In the past, I’ve voted but I have not been public about my endorsements, nor have I put much energy into helping the candidates I endorse get elected. This election feels different for me, partly because I’m now thinking a lot about the long-term health of Boulder, but also because I feel like the low voter turnout in past elections shows that the broader population is not necessarily being represented.
We have chosen to endorse these five candidates because of their commitments to bring visionary and practical strategies to:
- Create more housing and transportation for all Boulder residents;
- Make our streets and paths safer;
- Meet Boulder’s carbon reduction goals;
- Keep Boulder open for entrepreneurs and the ecosystem that encourages them;
- Make Boulder attractive for creative people, in the arts, research, and elsewhere;
- Maintain a balance of conservation and recreation access on our open space.
While I don’t necessarily agree with every position of each of these candidates, I strongly believe they are all smart, thoughtful, willing to engage, and capable of thinking long-term about what is good for our city and community.
Voting in Boulder is easy. If you haven’t registered to vote, please register now. And, Engage Boulder is having voter-oriented events several times a week between now and the election – get involved!
Boulder has local elections every odd year. That means we are having a local election this year, with mail-in balloting starting on 10/16/17 and ending on 11/7/17.
Because it’s on an odd-year cycle, turnout has historically been relatively low (under 50%). As a result, a very small number of votes can have a big impact on the election results. This is especially important for the city council election.
A number of Boulder residents, including me, have organized a new group called Engage Boulder to help get out the vote in this election cycle. Between now and 11/7/17, you’ll see a number of suggestions, events, and encouragement.
Yesterday, Engage Boulder put out a short overview on why you should vote in the local election. It also had easy links to register for the mail-in voting. The overview follows – and, if you are interested – there’s a Get Out the Vote Event 9/27 at Oskar Blues in Boulder. To learn more about the upcoming Boulder election and related events, sign up to join the Engage Boulder newsletter.
Participating in your local election is critical. It’s up to all of the citizens of Boulder to elect a slate of candidates committed to practical, analytical decision-making and a vision for the city that is open, progressive, and forward-looking. With your help, this can happen.
Why Vote in Local Elections
(And Why You Should Encourage All Your Friends To Vote Too)
Because your vote matters: We know that a few voters can drastically shift the outcome of an election. In the 2015 city council election, Jan Burton was only elected by 125 votes. Your vote can literally sway the election.
Because what local government does affect you: It decides:
The safety and upkeep of our public areas.
The quantity and type of local housing.
The quality of trails for riding, hiking, and running.
The level of support for the art, music, and entrepreneurial scene.
How easy it is to get from home to work to play … and back.
How easy it is to start and grow a business, or a family.
And much, much more.
Because it gives you the power to create change: We become the city we imagine, and how we govern ourselves has a lot to say about it. So vote on behalf of the next generation of Boulderites trying to live affordably, work hard for a worthwhile company, and enjoy a high quality of life.
Because it’s easy: A few years ago Boulder started voting entirely by mail. You get the ballot around October 16. Why not take 15 minutes to fill it out? If you aren’t registered here, spend less than five minutes on the Secretary of State’s website to change that.
Because you try hard to be practical and forward-looking: We want our local government to also be practical and forward-looking.
Because you don’t need to spend hours researching the issues and candidates (unless you want to!): Open Boulder, Better Boulder, and Engage Boulder have specific recommendations of who and what to vote for in the upcoming election. If you agree with their general philosophy you may wish to leverage their research to vote their recommendations.
Mail-in ballots will be sent out on October 16th, register or check your registration online here. In 2013 and 2015 voter turnout was about 46% in Boulder. In 2016 it was 92%. We know you have it in you! Please share this email with at least five friends!
Hope to see you at our Get Out the Vote Event 9/27 at Oskar Blues in Boulder.
I spent the last month in Arizona. I missed Boulder and thought I might need a refresher on what it’s like.