Tag: dave jilk

Jan 29 2020

Distilled Moments: Poems By Dave Jilk

Dave Jilk was my first business partner (we co-founded Feld Technologies). The photo above is from Dave’s office at 155 Federal Street around 1991. We worked closely together for seven years before selling the company in 1993 to a public company called Sage Alerting Systems, which renamed itself Sage Technologies and then finally AmeriData Technologies. Well, at least the “Technologies” survived that naming transition …

Dave recently published a book of poetry titled Distilled Moments. I read it Sunday night and it’s delicious. If you are into poetry, a friend of Dave’s, or just want a taste of something different from your normal reading stuff, grab a copy.

If, when I met Dave in 1983, you had told me that he would become a poet later in his life, I would have spit out whatever food or drink was in my mouth at the time and rolled around on the ground laughing for a while. I think the only time I ever associated poetry and Dave in my mind is when he would use a phrase like “Physics for Poets” to describe a class at MIT I was considering taking.

Dave and I met on my second day in Cambridge in 1983. I spent my first day alone, feeling very confused and lonely as I wandered around MIT trying to figure out where I was. I crossed the Mass Ave bridge into Boston, had dinner by myself, and went to back to my assigned room in Baker House with three other guys, two of whom immediately got stoned and smoked pot for the rest of the evening (not my thing.)

The next afternoon was the MIT Freshman picnic. On a beautiful fall Cambridge day, Paul Gray (then president of MIT) gave a welcoming speech where, in typical MIT fashion, he said something like:

Look around. Your fellow freshmen are the best and brightest from around the world. Never forget that it is simple math that 50% of you will be in the bottom half of your class.

After talking for a few minutes, he ended by shouting “Let the Rush begin!”

Suddenly, hundreds of people descended on us with signs for their fraternities and living groups (there were no sororities at MIT in 1983.) Two guys I didn’t know – Mark Dodson and Ramanujam Manikkalingam – grabbed me and said, “Come with us.” I jumped in a van, was driven to ADP at 351 Mass Ave, and never left.

I met Dave that first night and we have been best friends ever since. He was a senior when I was a freshman, so we didn’t live together for that long, but we spent a lot of weekend time together. I became close with his first boss, Will Herman, and with Warren Katz (who we met through our seventh employee, Ilana Katz), continue to be extremely close friends.

Now that you’ve got the backstory, I’ll finish this post off with a few teasers from Distilled Moments that I loved.

Following is Twenty-Three, a poem about the morning after a night out together.

This one is my favorite business-related one, titled The Elephant in the Room.

I’ll end the teasers with the beginning of Take the Gloves Off, which is awesomely creative and full of business cliches.

There are many more. Support a friend, a Boulder-based poet, someone who I never expected would be a poet, or just a dear, dear friend by buying a copy of Distilled Moments.

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Feb 16 2017

Ode to Keystone

Dave Jilk, my first business partner and one of my closest friends, wrote the following Ode to our Keystone house. For the poetry nerds out there, Dave informed me that this is a villanelle.

Recently, Amy and I decided to sell our Keystone House. We bought it a decade ago and have had a wonderful time with it. But, we’ve decided to spend the next 20 years in a different mountain town. Dave and his wife Maureen were frequent visitors and I recall many delightful Saturday mornings where I’d slowly wake up in the bedroom while listening to Amy and Dave discussing something from downstairs.

Dave – thanks for the Ode. It’s beautiful. And thanks for all the great times together in Keystone.

A structure, nothing more, where once we played:
Will memories we made there long endure?
The spirit of that house will never fade.

Four golden beasts, their role through years relayed,
Here welcomed family, friend, entrepreneur —
A structure, nothing more, where once we played.

Upstairs were puzzles solved and books displayed;
Below buzzed films or sports or Rock Band tour.
The spirit of that house will never fade.

Great field of snow, or sage, with hill and glade
Beside, two rocky peaks beyond, contour
A structure, nothing more, where once we played.

Each day we skied or hiked, or napped and stayed
Near fireplace communing themes obscure;
The spirit of that house will never fade.

O house at Keystone Ranch, be not dismayed
To cede this post, your history secure!
A structure, nothing more, where once we played,
The spirit of that house will never fade.

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Jul 2 2012

The Simple Formal Beginnings Of Feld Technologies

My first business partner, Dave Jilk, emailed me our original partnership agreement for Feld Technologies. It’s one page.

We incorporated a month later as an S-Corp. It cost us $99 to do this – I remember using an organization called The Company Corporation – we called an 800 number, gave them some information, and the documents were automatically generated and filed. A short letter agreement specifying the equity splits and the boilerplate legal docs were the only legal docs we had until we sold the company in 1993.

As my partner Jason Mendelson told me after I sent him this the other day, “If things go well, it’s fine. If they don’t, it’s a fucking disaster.”  And he’s completely correct – in this case things went well so there were no issues.

I continue to try to do deals this way. I lay out the terms, will negotiate a little, but am clear about what I want. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, I move on. Once the simple terms are agreed to, I let the lawyers generate hundreds of pages of documentation to support the deal. I used to read every word on every page myself (I learned that from Len Fassler, who bought Feld Technologies). I still look through the documents, but I only work with lawyers who I deeply trust to do it right (like Mike Platt at Cooley) so I focus on the stuff that matters for the specific deal.

Trust matters more than anything else to me in a deal. Sure, I occasionally get screwed in a deal, but never more than once by the same person. And, for people like Dave Jilk and my dad, I’ll work with them over and over and over again because I trust them with my life.

Keep it simple. It’s much better.

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