Brad Feld

My investment in Shelfari has been a lot of fun. Josh Hug and his team are monsters – they get stuff done incredibly quickly. Plus I get to play with my books virtually.

In addition to the Shelfari web service, they’ve got widgets up on Facebook and MySpace.  Now they’ve got and OpenSocial implementation as well.

If you are looking for real examples of OpenSocial, here’s another one.  Demo starts at minute 5.  Josh – you look very serious – time for a smile.  Nice belt btw.

I have very smart friends.  They challenge me all the time.  One of them sent me the following email in response to my recent posts about the enterprise such as Get Ready For Selling To The Enterprise To Be A Big Deal Again.

His question / comment was: What are the types of Web2.0 things you see moving into the enterprise?  Or is it more “conceptually” rather than specific-product oriented?  I see update of wikis; I think the EventVue type of nice app will be taken up; but the two biggest things in the last couple of years are the dominance of Google (which is already used in the enterprise), and Facebook, which just does not seem applicable in an enterprise sense (people use it, but kind of the same way they use LinkedIn. 

I responded with: I describe it as “consumer Internet innovations migrating to the enterprise” rather than “Web 2.0 in the Enterprise” (although the second is how the pundits want to coin Enterprise 2.0.)  The componentry is what is interesting.

  • Broad adoption of RSS
  • Content tagging
  • Social computing for filtering / communication / relevance 
  • Embedded search across systems 
  • Broad audio / video interoperability within and across companies (“unified communication” – finally) 
  • Industrial strength web-based apps (there is still a remarkable amount of legacy desktop app infrastructure) 
  • Collaboration (this is wiki) 
  • Integration of collaboration and legacy data (database driving wiki) 

When you think of enterprise, don’t think of < 1000 people. That’s SMB and can easily adopt the consumer facing and SaaS stuff. Think 10,000+ with an IT organization and a ton of legacy shit.  That’s where the fun (and money) is.

He responded with: All these things make sense to me.  It seems like the key is that the way you adapt them to the enterprise may actually be quite different than the way they are used and organized in consumer circles.  The children that develop the consumer app will get hammered in the enterprise unless they bring in some gray.

I’m usually an excruciatingly happy person.  I’m a little cranky this morning because I have a cold and didn’t get a good night sleep the last two nights, but I’ll get over it.  Oh – and even though I’m cranky, I’m still happy.

Ted Leonsis just gave the morning keynote at the New New Internet Conference.  I first met Ted in 1990 at the first Birthing of Giants event that I participated in.  Ironically, five minutes ago, I bumped into Verne Harnish – the creator of Birthing of Giants and the founder of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (that co-sponsors Birthing of Giants.)  Since I’m now way off the rails on the actual content of this post, I thought I’d mention that Verne was the only guy I knew in Boulder when Amy and I moved there in 1995 – and Verne split for the east coast a few months later leaving us completely alone in our new mountain hideaway.

Back to the post.  In Ted’s keynote, he stated that he’s been a 25 year student in the pursuit of happiness.   He asserted that deep scientific research (not cited) has uncovered five key things that generate happiness in humans.

  • Relationships
  • Community
  • Self expression
  • Giving back
  • Pursue a higher calling

Interesting to ponder.  He also mentioned that AOL’s peak market cap was around $200b and Google is now closing in on $160b.  Also interesting to ponder.

While I know a lot of entrepreneurs and folks in small companies read this blog, I also know that there are plenty of folks in big companies that do also.  I ask those of you in a big company two questions:

  1. Does your organizations use packaged applications like Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft, or SAP?
  2. Is managing the implementation, upgrades, and customization of these applications a nightmare, especially in a world of company and vendor consolidation?

In case you are wondering, these are rhetorical questions.  In 2002, Niel Robertson sat down with me and my partner Seth Levine and went through his vision of how the packaged application market was going to evolve.  He had a few key premises, including:

  1. Packaged applications were not going away anytime soon and, in fact, would become the central platform for IT because of their back office nature (as opposed to web sites or Exchange infrastructure).
  2. While customers who bought PeopleSoft, Oracle EBS, SAP, etc.. thought they were moving away from custom development, they were in fact just exchanging traditional custom development for a new kind of customization development on those platforms.
  3. Packaged applications, while different, had all evolved to have the same basic architecture; one based on metadata and the classic MVC design model. As a class they were more similar than they were different.
  4. Managing a packaged application was a change-centric activity while traditional development was a build centric activity.

This was a set of PowerPoint slides and a bunch of ideas in Niel’s delightful brain that fit nicely in a theme we loving refer to as “IT Management.”  Five years later, his vision is embedded in a rapidly growing company called Newmerix that we are proud to be investors in. 

Newmerix recently launched their Newmerix Automate! for Oracle E-Business Suite and Automate!Test for SAP completing the development of the third generation of their products (for those keeping score at home, remember the Microsoft 3.0 cliche – if you don’t know it, hang around and I’ll tell you about it some day.) 

Congrats Niel and the entire team at Newmerix.  It’s really cool to see a vision like this come together in real products for real customers. 

I’m in Reston, Virginia today at the The New New Internet Conference.  Brian Williams – the CEO of Viget Labs – invited me to speak on a panel after spending some time this summer in Boulder with the TechStars gang. 

A lot of my friends that live in Silicon Valley rarely stray out of Silicon Valley.  “Center of the startup universe” is no longer a cliche – rather, it’s like a scab that has been picked so many times it no longer will heal.  Silicon Valley is a critically important place in the world for creating companies, but it’s not the only place smart people that are doing interesting and important things hang out.

Last night at the pre-conference dinner I found a bunch of this type of person including dudes like Ryan CarsonFrank GruberTim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Rohit BhargavaOm Malik hung out, teased me about my clothing, and had a conversation with James Surowiecki that I snooped on. 

While Silicon Valley is on a fault line (literally and metaphorically), it’s important not to forget all the other interesting stuff going on “not in Silicon Valley.” 

For example, at this conference there is a “Government Track” with topics such as “Web 2.0 at the State Level”, “Current Web 2.0 Initiatives within Government Agencies”, “Virtual Government: Real Life Uses for Second Life”, “Intellipedia”, and “Let my data go! Making the case for transparent Government.” 

Now – before you go “yawn” or “Government 2.0” – remember my premise that the next 36 months will see massive crossover adoption into the enterprise (and government) of the consumer Internet innovations we’ve seen in the past 24 months.  Assuming that is correct, the dollars that will be spent are going to be massive and much of it will happen in Fortune 5000 headquarters and large government agencies that aren’t based in Silicon Valley.

A wise man once told me “go visit your customers.”  Today, he might say something like “son – buy a plane ticket and fly somewhere other than the center of the startup universe just to see what is going on and how people are thinking about this stuff.”

David Cohen – the creator and ringleader of TechStars – has started a blog series of his Top 12 Startup Tips from TechStars.  His latest tip (#2) is titled Find and engage great mentorsI think this series is going to end up being required reading for any first time (and many multi-time) entrepreneurs.  Tip #1 was Be the Best in the World at SomethingGreat stuff David.

If you do a search via any of the rapidly expanding Lijit search wijits, you’ll discover that it is now recommending me as an expert on the search term “wife.” 


I haven’t decided which is more disconcerting – that Lijit thinks I’m an expert on “wife” (I’ll leave that up to Amy to weigh in on) or that I’m slightly ahead of someone named “bitemycookie.” (Thanks David.)

Each day, consumers conduct more than two million online searches for user manuals and self-support information on products ranging from consumer electronics to kitchen appliances. Many of these searches end in frustration, because this information can be difficult to find. In our house, we have a “manual drawer” which quickly turns into a “crap drawer” that – not surprisingly – never has the actual manual that I’m looking for (picture gnomes stealing underwear.)

A new company, OwnerIQ, solves this common and frustrating problem by collecting and organizing user manuals and other self-support information online, making it easy to find.  Jay Habegger, from Colorado now living in Boston, started OwnerIQ (he sold his last company, Bitpipe, to TechTarget in 2004).  Earlier this summer, OwnerIQ closed a $2 million Series A round led by Atlas Venture which included a number of Boston angel investors and some unnamed dude from Colorado. 

OwnerIQ aggregates user manuals around specific product types and gives you the ability to store – in a personal online filing cabinet – all of your manuals.  Voila – time to clean out the “manual / crap drawer” and repurpose it for something useful, like the thousands of different napkins Amy buys that we never use.

To monetize this idea, OwnerIQ is pioneering the concept of Ownership Targeting, providing brand advertisers with highly customized programs to precisely target consumers based on products they already own.  Ownership Targeting takes the guesswork out of identifying likely purchasers and enables advertisers to influence consumers throughout a product’s ownership lifecycle.

I’ve gotten to know Jay over the past year through our work together at the National Center for Women & Information Technology and several of the companies I’ve been an investor in were very satisfied partners of Bitpipe.  I’m looking forward to watching Jay “do it again.”

Today’s guest blogger is my partner, Jason Mendelson.  I’m immensely proud of Jason, my partner Chris Wand, Stratify’s CEO Ramana Venkata, his excellent management team, and all the great folks at Stratify for their fantastic work in creating the market leading eDiscovery company.

Today, Stratify and Iron Mountain announced they have entered into an agreement for Stratify to be acquired by Iron Mountain for approximately $158m in cash.  Stratify is a Mobius Venture Capital portfolio company that Chris Wand and I have had the pleasure of serving on the board for the past several years.  We’ve really enjoyed the journey that we’ve shared with Ramana Venkata, the CEO and the rest of his capable management team. 

Stratify has revolutionized the way that attorneys deal with the eDiscovery process.  For those of you fortunate enough to not know what “eDiscovery” is, think about all the millions of pages of paper, and hundreds of GB of email and files that lawyers comb through when one party sues another.  What used to be a completely manual process that resulted in spiraling costs and sometimes marginal quality, has now been partially automated by technology.  This process has been dubbed “eDiscovery.” 

Stratify’s best-of-breed patented technology uses statistical algorithms to “read” documents – in any form, in any language and automatically group like items together, discarding duplicates, segregating out irrelevant data and creating computer-generated named folders where similar-subject matter documents are stored.  Also included in their platform are analytics to study relationships between documents, emails trails and a host of other capabilities that make anyone who sees them wish for a more stringent document retention policy. 

Iron Mountain Digital and Stratify have had a burgeoning partnership, whereby Stratify eDiscovery solutions were offered in combination with those from Iron Mountain, the trusted name in information management.  It’s a natural partnership that the company holding and protecting  information assets for enterprises is acquiring the technology and expertise to make them actionable – giving  their customers the ability to analyze and leverage information in valuable ways. 

We were the only institutional investors in Stratify and therefore we played an even larger and more active role in supporting the company’s efforts than normal.  Whether it was sitting around drawing on a white board developing mock ups of screen shots, or tagging along on early sales calls trying to sell to lawyers who had never heard of the term “eDiscovery” it was a great experience.  In fact, it was fun.  It’s even more rewarding that the company became such a huge success.

Today marks a great step in Stratify’s ambitions to make enterprises’ unstructured information actionable, one vertical at a time.  I look forward to saying that “I knew them when,” as they join the Iron Mountain platform to create even a larger and more dominant footprint.  Congratulations to Stratify and Ramana with special mentions to Meena, George, Sanjeev, Steve, David, Joy, Parveen, Allyson, Rob and Wendy.  Also we wouldn’t be where we are today with the incredible assistance of Peter Falvey and Michael Barker at Revolution Partners and Jon Gavenman of Heller Ehrman / VLG.  You were all a true pleasure to work with.  Congratulations too, to Iron Mountain for their brilliant decision to join forces!

For the guy (or gal) that has an extensive collection of black t-shirts with all kinds of logos and band pictures on them comes – the Wi-Fi Detector Shirt.  In addition to taking your wardrobe to a new nerdy level, you can perform a public service by helping everyone near you know whether or not Wi-Fi is available  (Thanks Mark.)