Two of my favorite men on planet Earth have birthdays today.
Happy birthday Dad.
Happy birthday Dave.
I’ve learned an incredible amount from each of you. And, given all the time the three of us have spent together, from both of you.
One of the best things I’ve learned from each of you is a love of wide-open physical spaces. Dad – I’m so glad you and Mom created Woodcreek Ranch.
Dave – thank you for all the 14ers. I hope to climb many more with you.
Even though we’ve spent a lot of time together as a threesome, one, in particular, stands out. We had a Feld Technologies board retreat in the fall of 1987. I remember the date because it was during the Bork confirmation hearing. We spent the time in New Hampshire, drove around looking at leaves, and talking about what Feld Technologies could become now that the summer of 1987, which was full of missteps, was over. We did a huge reset that weekend on what we were doing, which set Feld Technologies on a path where it was profitable every month for the rest of its life. The other path could have been the death of the company, so it remains a potent and formative moment for me.
Happy birthday to you both!
Earlier this evening we celebrated my dad’s 82nd birthday using the appropriate COVID-19 social distancing approach.
St. Patrick’s day has always been a special day for my family because of my dad’s birthday. Ever since I was a little kid I can remember the outrageous green outfits with the green buttons and the green bangles and a bunch of other green things my dad would drag around each year on March 17th.
My mom always makes a super delicious chocolate cake. We usually sneak in chocolate ice cream sometime during the day. If I’m lucky, we pull off a DQ Choco Brownie Extreme Blizzard when my mom isn’t looking.
While we weren’t together in person this year, we had 30 minutes of laughter on video at the end of another intense day.
My parents are healthy, happy, and settled into their own social distancing routine at home in Texas. I have a small family, but deeply love my parents, my brother and his wife, their daughter, and my wife Amy. In times like this, I realize how lucky I am.
Dad, thanks for being you, even on days when The Hulk would be jealous of your outfit. And Mom, thanks for always being there with the cake and the candles.
My dad had his 60-year reunion at Columbia this weekend. He looks great.
This morning, I did a talk with Om Malik at the Startup Iceland 2019 conference. Om was in a hotel room somewhere and I was in my office in Boulder. We used Zoom, took about 30 minutes of our lives, and had fun riffing off each other. I hope it was useful for the audience, as doing talks this way is so much easier for me than flying halfway around the world, which is something I simply don’t want to do anymore in my life now that I’m 53. But, I’ll happily do a video talk anytime.
Bala Kamallakharan, who is the founder of Startup Iceland, asked a question of us at the end about the future. I went on a rant that is an evolution of my “machines have already taken over” rant from a decade ago.
I used to say that the machines have already taken over. My view is that they are extremely clever and very patient. Rather than self-actualizing, they let us enter all of humankind’s information into them. They are collecting the data, letting us improve their software, and allowing us to connect them all together. At some point, they’ll reach their moment in time, which some futurists call the singularity, where they’ll make the collective global presence known.
While this is still going on, I think there’s a shift that occurred a few years ago. Some humans, and some machines, realized that an augmented human might be a better bridge to this future. As a result, some humans and some machines are working on this. At the same time, they are encouraging, in Om’s world, our current reality to catch up with science fiction. One big vector here is expanding away from earth, both physically and computationally. If you’ve read either Seveneves or Permutation City, then you have a good understanding of this. If not, go read them both.
Regardless. I think the next 30 years are going to be the most interesting in human history to date. And, I think they are going to be very different than anything we currently anticipate. There’s no question in my mind that governments, our current laws (and legal infrastructure), and societal norms are not going to be able to constraint, or keep up with, the change that is coming.
I have no idea what things look like, or how they will work in 2050. However, I anticipate they things will look, and work very, very different than today. And, if I’m still around, I’ll have celebrated my 63-year reunion at MIT.
I woke up this morning to another Storyworth history from him, this time titled Birth Of An Entrepreneur: Brad Feld. I read it and loved it, especially since it reflected so significantly on how integral he was to the entrepreneurial path I ended up on.
As a tribute to my dad turning 81, I thought I’d share another experience from my childhood in Dallas when he was 46 and I was 13.
I know I have been incredibly fortunate to have the parents that I have. I appreciate and love them both more than words can express. Hopefully this story gives a little flavor of the basis for the depth of that appreciation.
Birth Of An Entrepreneur: Brad Feld
by Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
Brad Feld’s Bar Mitzvah in 1978.
Many boys receive presents of cash when they celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. Gold coins were hot in 1978.
Many Of Brad’s Bar Mitzvah friends exchanged their new found fortune for two gold Krugerands. Gold was being predicted to increase to $1400 an ounce in the coming year.
Not Brad. His cash gifts totaled $1300. He wanted an Apple II Computer. The Apple computer company released the Apple II computer in 1977. I was delighted that he wanted to invest his Bar Mitzvah money in himself and not gold.
At age 13, he was certain that he could learn to program the Apple II computer. I asked him how much an Apple II would cost. He said about $1300.
The following Saturday, after his soccer game, we went to the computer store on Coit Rd and Beltline Rd in Dallas to buy his Apple II computer. Brad convinced me during the preceding week that “we” needed an Apple II.
He spent his $1300. We spent $3100. After spending $3100 for the Apple II computer and all the necessary peripherals, “we” walked out of the store with all the pieces “we” needed to “create the future”.
As we were walking to the car I had an “aha” moment. Brad’s willingness to spend all his Bar Mitzvah money on his future convinced me to spend an additional $1800. I was sure he had all the characteristics of an entrepreneur. He told me the future was in personal computing. He was correct. “We have to spend the money on the future”. This was a pretty profound statement for a 13 year old boy in 1978.
He was right. Not only did he learn how to program the Apple II himself, he started a business. He taught boys and girls in the neighborhood how to program in Basic for a fee.
In 1982 he was tiring of the Apple II. I needed a program to print out laboratory reports generated in my office chemistry laboratory. Brad volunteered to write the program, design the pretty printout and sold the Apple II computer and all the peripherals for $1600. The laboratory program he created was a bargain to me.
Brad monetized his asset for a profit. He added value to my practice while he leveraged his acquired talent.
The moral to this story is many of our children are very perceptive. We should listen to them.
We have to create the environment for them to want to learn and be excited about learning. We have to make them responsible for their actions. They have to then put “skin” in the game.
Our country’s greatness was built on this entrepreneural spirit. It is parents’ responsibility to help promote the tradition of entrepreneurship.
I am convinced that by creating an environment in which my sons can be creative and innovative, I have learned more from them, than I have taught them.
Both Brad and Daniel understood my goal for them. I am very proud of both of them.
My dad turns 81 today. He’s one of my best friends. He loves the color green. And, a few of my other friends have a birthday today (happy birthday Dave.)
Lots of people don’t realize that I grew up in Texas (did you know that 33.3% of the Foundry Group partners are from Texas?) My parents have been living in Dallas since 1969.
I’ve been doing a
Why We Moved To Dallas
by Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE
Cecelia and I lived in Great Neck, N.Y. during my internship and first year of internal medicine residency. We loved Great Neck. It was an upscale suburban town just outside Queens. Its public parks, library and entertainment facilities were excellent.
I had decided that I was going to be a practicing clinical endocrinologist before the completion of my first year of internal medicine residency. The chief of medicine at Long Island Jewish Hospital decided to have me become LIJH’s first chief of endocrinology.
Then the trajectory of our life changed. President Johnson expanded the Viet Nam War. I was drafted into the U.S. Airforce. My Berry Plan deferment meant nothing when America was at war. I was assigned to Blytheville, Arkansas.
Cecelia and I had to go to the library to get a map and find Blytheville, Arkansas. I did not try to pull any strings to avoid going to Blytheville. I was afraid I would be reassigned to Viet Nam. The Viet Nam war was a war I did not understand, nor did I want to be involved in.
Blytheville, Arkansas turned out to be a glorious experience for two kids that had never lived outside of New York City and its environs.
The chief of medicine at LIJH helped me get a clinical endocrinology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston when I completed my two years of Air Force Duty.
At the time a fellowship at MGH was the most highly rated clinical endocrinology fellowship in the country.
The two years at the MGH were great. I not only learned a lot of endocrinology, I became comfortable around famous endocrine physicians.
In October 1967 Boston had a tremendous snowstorm. Large snowstorms were called nor’easters. The drive home during the storm took 8 hours. The trip usually took 20 minutes. Cars were left stranded on Storrow Drive. I had my 1963 Dodge Dart 170. It had a great air conditioner, but the heater was broken. It was fifteen degrees outside with no heater. I had a thin winter coat on and was freezing the entire time.
I could not get on any of the bridges crossing the Charles River to get to the other side of the river. Finally, I made it across the Watertown Bridge.
A driver in front of me skidded and made a 360 degree turn. He just missed me. Thankfully it did not end in an accident. When I got home and got out of the car I kissed the ground.
When I got into the house, I asked Cecelia if she would go to the library after the storm and figure out where we should go to settle. I did not want to have anything to do with cold, snowy weather.
She picked a few cities that had the right demographics for a clinical endocrinologist in 1969. Dallas was one of the cities.
In the summer of 1968, I was selected to give a paper on acromegaly in Mexico City. My preceptor, Bernie Kleiman, knew Cecelia and I were considering Dallas, Texas as a place to settle. He said he would to happy to introduce me to some of his friends at Southwestern Medical School.
Bernie set up a lovely dinner in a restaurant in a park in Mexico City. Dan Foster, Norman Kaplan, Jean Wilson and Marvin Siperstein were there. We had a great time. We liked each other.
I decided to stop in Dallas on the way home to Boston. It looked like a great town. It was easy to get around. The hospitals were modern. The medical school had excellent teachers led by Donald Seldin.
Norman Kaplan set me up with some hospital job interviews. They were all very encouraging, but nothing came of them.
I called Cecelia the first night I was in Dallas and told her Dallas was the place. The only thing missing were hills and trees. After fifty years there are plenty of trees. There aren’t any hills yet.
We made the decision to come to Dallas on very little information except Norman Kaplan saying the town needed a clinical endocrinologist.
We have never doubted our decision or looked back. Cecelia and I have had a fabulous life in Dallas, Texas.
Pro Tip: If you are at CES today and want to connect, I’ll be hanging out at Eureka Park from 11am this morning (Friday) when I’m on a panel about diversity until I leave the premises at 2:30.
My dad and I left the Venetian yesterday at 8:30am to head over to the Las Vegas Convention Center. When I arrived back at the room at 10pm, I was done / baked / toasted / wiped.
For a number of years (somewhere between 5 and 9, according to the little badge they gave me), my dad and I went to CES together every year. In 2013, when I got depressed, I decided not to travel for a year. I punted CES that year and for the next few years, so this is the first time in four years we’ve done the drill.
We had a blast together yesterday. I think my dad was delirious by about 9pm when he left our party and went up to the room. And hour later when I checked in on him before going to sleep, he was flat on his back in bed pretending to be awake but was clearly out for the count.
We started at the LVCC. I saw a tweet from Dan Primack saying the North Hall was basically indistinguishable from the Detroit Auto Show. He nailed it – it was basically a takeover by the worldwide auto industry with a few startups sprinkled here and there. It felt like six months ago every CEO of a major auto company sent an email to the CMO that said
“We are going to be at CES. We need to show up three things: (1) Our EV prototype, (2) A completely new in-car electronics package that looks better than Tesla’s, and (3) something about autonomous driving. Your budget is $10 million. Don’t fuck it up.”
If any of this shit comes together, we are going to have completely different cars by 2020. If you are a VC and you haven’t placed your bets on this sector yet, good luck. And if you have, make sure you are spending lots of time with big auto corp dev / M&A people.
If you’ve been following any news about CES, you know that it’s been a huge Alexa takeover. Amazon’s move in the home is brilliant. I love Alexa and I’m amazed at how far ahead Amazon suddenly is. When I think of all the money, time, and energy Microsoft, Apple, Google, Nintendo, Sony, Samsung, and LG have spent in the home, I have one word for them. “Wasted.” As far as I can tell, I’ll be talking to Alexa in the future a lot more than I’ll be saying “Ok Google”, especially when I’m talking to a Samsung TV.
Several times an hour I bump into someone that I like. That’s one of the fun parts of CES – you are surrounded by 180,000 of your fellow nerds and you bump into Dick Costolo on the way to dinner. I ended up in a fifteen minute conversation with Josh Ellman. I could list another 20 serendipitous connections in random places but you get the idea.
After wandering through the Sphero secret rooms in their booth, I told my dad I thought it was the best booth experience I’ve ever had. Way more awesome than yet another random shag carpet open space with marketing displays.
Interviewing James Park at Eureka Park about the Fitbit story was fun. My experience with James, his partner Eric, and Fitbit continues to be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable – at all levels – professional experience I’ve ever had.
And then dad and I wandered around the Sands. It completely blew away the LVCC and was so much more interesting to me that I’m just going to spend the day at the Sands, wandering around startups, smaller companies, 3D printers, robots, and all kinds of stuff I like. There are zillions of CE startups in Sands. While 90% of them will fail, it’s pretty awesome to see what entrepreneurs are working on.
The only thing more baffling to me than the auto stuff were home robots. I think the 2017 crop of home robots at CES will be like the 2013 crop of 3D TVs. Kind of cool, but not commercially viable. We’ll get there, but it’s not this.
And – well – lots of chocolate ice cream. That’s one of the best things about Las Vegas. Chocolate ice cream is less than 0.25 miles away, no matter where you are.
Facebook can be a magical thing. I’m often frustrated about how to engage with it (I’m more of a Twitter person) but every now and then something happens that reminds me how awesome Facebook can be.
For a variety of silly reasons, I had lost touch with my best friend in high school (Kent Ellington) about 30 years ago. Last year, when I was in Austin with my college fraternity gang – about 20 of us that span three years who go someone every few years (whenever someone gets their shit together and organizes it) – Kent reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get together.
Kent and I had friended each other on Facebook a few years ago after another high school friend had died suddenly. I knew a little about what was going on in his life and expect he knew a little about what was going on in my life. But neither of us connected.
We squeezed in an hour of hanging out, which included meeting his pre-teen daughter after her ballet class. We caught up, in the way friends from long ago occasionally do, without a lot of ego and mostly just enthusiasm and empathy for the ups and downs of each others’ journey over 30 years. Not surprisingly, questions how parents and siblings were doing took up about half the discussion.
We’ve gone back and forth about a few things over the past year. I woke up this morning to a Facebook message from Kent that said “Brad – Got these photos from my endocrinologists office. His diploma is from when your Dad was President of the College of Endocrinology.” The photo follows.
I remember when my dad was president of the American College of Endocrinology. I remember the 1998 Orlando meeting and talking to him about it. I remember being extremely proud of him then. And, this morning, as I roll into my day, I’m going to carry around with me how proud I am of him for all the things he’s done, including for me, in his life.
I love you dad. Thanks Facebook. And – Kent – thank you!
Every year, my dad and I go on a father son trip somewhere for the weekend. We go wherever he wants to go. This year we are going to Chicago – I’m heading out in about an hour. In the past, we’ve gone to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, Miami Beach, Las Vegas again, and a few other places.
I think Chicago will be perfect for us. Our goal is just to hang out. This afternoon we are doing the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, having a drink with my long time friend Jeff Hyman (my very first VC investment was in his company Career Central, which ended up changing it’s name to Cruel World, which was fitting for its ultimate demise), and then dinner at Swift & Sons.
Tomorrow morning I’m going for a long run, we are going to the Cubs game, getting a tour of Wrigley Field, and then having dinner at Coco Pazzo with Troy Henikoff (who runs Techstars Chicago) and his wife Kristin. We are heading home Sunday morning.
There will be a lot of chocolate ice cream. It’s our favorite food and we will have it at least twice each day.
Maybe we’ll have it three times on Saturday if they sell it at Wrigley Field.
My only regret about my father son trip with my dad is that we’ve only been doing it for a decade. I wish we had started 40 years ago. If you are a father and your son is at least ten years old, I strongly encourage you to consider this tradition. If you are a son and you are at least 20 years old, I encourage you to take the initiative and just start doing this with your dad.
My dad – Stan Feld – turned 78 years old today. He’s one of my closest friends and a life-long buddy. He always rocks a wild green outfit on his birthday.
In honor of him turning 78, following are 7 things I’ve learned from him:
and 8 things I love about him.
Dad – I love you.