Fred Wilson, Joanne Wilson, Amy, and I are doing our second Monthly Match. This one is in support of the National Immigration Law Center. We will be matching $20,000 of contributions that our respective communities make to NILC.
Any level of contribution is super helpful. Since we are matching 1:1, each dollar you contribute gets NILC another dollar.
The four of us did this on an impulse last month after the Executive Order on Immigration hit. We were all extremely upset about the executive order and decided to do something about it. We ended up raising over $120,000 for the ACLU over the weekend during a period where the ACLU got a lot of visibility for making the first major move against the executive order and ended up raising over $24m.
As a result, we’ve decided to do a Monthly Match fundraiser (where the four of us match $20,000 in donations) for a different organization that supports the rights of minorities who we feel are at risk under our current administration. We’ve committed to do this for a year and expect this will evolve as things unfold over the course of the year.
The National Immigration Law Center was established in 1978 and is dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants. Their mission is clear.
At NILC, we believe that all people who live in the U.S.—regardless of their race, gender, immigration and/or economic status—should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Over the years, we’ve been at the forefront of many of the country’s greatest challenges when it comes to immigration issues, and play a major leadership role in addressing the real-life impact of polices that affect the ability of low-income immigrants to prosper and thrive.
If this is important to you, please join in on our Monthly Match and make a contribution to NILC. To make sure we see it, follow the directions below:
For those of you who are part of our community and support this effort, feel good that you are taking a specific action today to support the rights of all immigrants in America.
Dave Jilk, my partner in Feld Technologies, recently dug up a bunch of old stuff. I blogged one of the documents recently – The Simple Formal Beginnings Of Feld Technologies – and have a few other fun ones coming.
Today, let’s look at another example of a contract that we signed in the context of “keeping it simple.” Over the seven years we were in business, we used a very simple form we referred to as a “Professional Services Agreement.” This was the document that we signed with almost all of our clients. Every now and then we had to deal with something more complicated, but even large companies typically were willing to sign this agreement in 1990.
Over the life of Feld Technologies, we were never sued. We had our share of difficult client situations and were fired a few times, but were always direct and straightforward in how we dealt with stuff. We tried to always keep it at a business level and have a personal relationship with our clients so that when projects got into a difficult place, we could get together and work them out directly. And even when the answer was to part ways, we were always graceful about it.
The PSA shown above is our standard, but listing us as the client and MaK Technologies as the vendor. I believe it’s the first piece of business for MaK Technologies, a company co-founded by my long time and close friend Warren Katz. Dave and I met Warren through his wife Ilana, who was the employee #7 at Feld Technologies.
One of our clients was Monitor Company, at the time a young but very rapidly growing consulting firm in Cambridge. They used a bunch of Sun Workstations for all of their presentations (this was in the time of Harvard Graphics – well before the ubiquity of PowerPoint – which was completely inadequate for what they did). Instead, they used the Sun’s and Interleaf running on Unix. While we had a lot of hardware and networking expertise, we didn’t do anything with Unix (we were all about DOS and Novell Netware) so we subcontracted Warren’s company to help us with the Unix stuff at Monitor.
Warren and I have done many things together – some that have worked and some that haven’t. Twenty-two years later we still do business with a handshake. Warren has a great chapter about this in Do More Faster. Remember – keep it simple.
I have 2,143 lawyer jokes queued up. Here’s a good one:
The devil visited a lawyer’s office and made him an offer. "I can arrange some things for you, " the devil said. "I’ll increase your income five-fold. Your partners will love you; your clients will respect you; you’ll have four months of vacation each year and live to be a hundred. All I require in return is that your wife’s soul, your children’s souls, and their children’s souls rot in hell for eternity." The lawyer thought for a moment. "What’s the catch?" he asked.
Now some of my good friends are lawyers and several of my very best friends are ex-lawyers. You probably know one of them – my partner at Foundry Group – Jason Mendelson. When Jason started his blog, he made the wise choice of starting a series titled Law Firm 2.0. His first post – Why Start-up Lawyers Frustrate Me – pissed off all of his lawyer friends, generated 54 comments, and was reprinted all over the place. Not a bad start for a blog.
He continued posting about Law Firm 2.0. One day he was approached by some interesting folks at a company called FirstDocs who shared a lot of similar ideas. You can read about it more in Jason’s post Our Investment in Law Firm 2.0. The outcome, as you might expect, is that we closed an investment in FirstDocs at the end of last year.
Now, we usually do not invest in companies aimed at vertical markets. However, we make exceptions when we have extremely deep domain knowledge and expertise. In addition, we view having past success as a bonus, such as our previous experience in the legal vertical market with Stratify (which Iron Mountain acquired in 2007.)
A lawyer died and arrived at the pearly gates. To his dismay, there were thousands of people ahead of him in line to see St. Peter. But, to his surprise, St. Peter left his desk at the gate and came down the long line to where the lawyer was standing. St. Peter greeted him warmly. Then St. Peter and one of his assistants took the lawyer by the hands and guided him up to the front of the line into a comfortable chair by his desk. The lawyer said, "I don’t mind all this attention, but what makes me so special?" St. Peter replied, "Well, I’ve added up all the hours for which you billed your clients, and by my calculation you must be about 193 years old!" (ahajokes)
I look forward to seeing Jason, Dan Gaffney, and the team at FirstDocs increase the efficiency of lawyers.