Brad Feld

Tom Evslin has launched his newest project –  It’s a blook (an online book distributed as a blog).  I’ve been watching this evolve and occassionally helping with some of the tech ideas from the sidelines.  In addition to being awesome content (this is the book that every entrepreneur from 1997 – 2001 wanted to write), Tom is using (as well as inventing) lots of blog / Web 2.0 publishing technology into the experience.

24 – you’ve now got competition for my brain.

One of my all time favorite New Yorker cartoons is the one with two dogs sitting in front of a computer where one says to the other “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”  Seth just posted a new one that’s right up there – “I had my own blog for while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking.”

I’m often wrong (but never in doubt) and – after spending the day at PDC and an evening with a number of the project leads for various Vista technologies – it feels like 2006 is going to be Microsoft’s year.

Microsoft has been kicked around plenty the last few years by the likes of Google, Yahoo, the press, and many participants in the software industry.  However, during this time, the Microsoft money machine has continued to generate cash at a prodigious rate.  The home of “build it cheap and stack it high” is about to have two major project releases (Vista and Office 12) that will be relevant to over 500 million computers during the next few years.  Vista, Office 12, and all the supporting technology, dev tools, platform layers, and web services equate to a massive force of change which – if history is a guide – will result in a huge amount of money flowing to Microsoft and many of the members of the Microsoft ecosystem.

I arrived late to my dinner at The Palm tonight and was roundly applauded for being the last one to show up by the cast of VCs including Ann Winblad, Allen Morgan, Rick Segal, Chris Pacitti, and Scott Maxwell with someone suggesting I was late because I was blogging (well – ok – yeah – that was part of it.)  After listening to the Microsoft folks and the questions being bandied about, it is clear that Microsoft has an incredible wave of innovation building that is going to be released in 2006.  When I compare this to the energy at PDC – which was a high as I’ve ever experienced at a developers conference – it’s easy to get excited.

Now – if we can only get them to say “Open Source” instead of “Shared Software Services” life would be a little easier.

I’m gearing up for the New York Marathon at the beginning of November (yes – I have a number – thanks Jack).  I’m running it with Matt Blumberg (unless he decides to run for time and try to break four hours – then he’s on his own) so I’ve been logging some serious miles.

This was my first week on the road since I got back from Alaska.  My travel rhythm is completely bunged up and – as a result, I’ve been unable to get out of bed early enough the last two days to get my runs in before the day starts (yes – it’s dark at 5am in Atherton these days).   I ended up in LA this afternoon at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference and – after sitting through the one session I was really interested in (Windows Vista: Building RSS Enabled Applications) decided to squeeze in a run before dinner.

The hotel I’m at has a nice little laminated card with a “Runner’s World Magazine Recommended” 6 mile run – so I hit the road and did that.  The first mile on Figueroa Street was nice enough, but then I turned left on Sunset to head up to Elysian Park.  Suddenly, I went from a nice downtown to lower pitsville – trash everywhere, broken down buildings, graffiti, tar scars all over the sidewalk, and the smell of yuckola everywhere.  Eventually I got to Douglas and did a sharp uphill to Elysian Park where I went from pitsville to a scene from 24 Season One.  I’m Kim, on a dusty, isolated fire road, up above the street by a half a mile, tromping along looking for some sign of a normal human being.  I kept waiting for one of Marwan’s honchos to step out from the trees at the side of the path (yes – I know I’m mixing up seasons).  Eventually I got to Stadium Way (where it turned pretty again) – at which point I turned around and retraced my steps.  This time I had the extra bonus of rush hour traffic and – as I noticed that virtually every car only had one person in it – I soldiered on back to the hotel. 

My standard line for Alaska is that the place needs a paint job and a vacuuming.  This place needed a power wash.  At one point, the unambiguous smell of shit overwhelmed me.  I wrote it off initially (every runner I know farts with enthusiasm) but then realized that it both wasn’t my brand and was just lasting too long.  Somewhere on Sunset between Figueroa and Douglas is a shit-smell factory that must operate 24 hours a day to generate the haze that lingered.

My eyes are still burning, I’m coughing a little, and I’m ready for a nice dinner at The Palm with a bunch of Microsoft folks.  At least I got my six miles in.

Letter of Intent

Sep 12, 2005
Category Term Sheet

Coming off the high of a manic Monday in the tech business, Jason and I have decided to follow our Term Sheet series with a new series scintillatingly called “Letter of Intent.”  Deals like eBay / Skype (wow – what a deal – congrats to DFJ, Bessemer, Index, and especially the Skype guys) have to start somewhere, and often the first real “document” that gets negotiated after the foreplay turns serious is the infamous “letter of intent.”

Now – our friend Jack Bauer doesn’t bother with these – he rarely has time to call the lawyers or review documents.  However, most deals – especially those involving private companies – involve a letter of intent.  This sometimes delightful and usually non-binding document (except for things like a no shop agreement) is also known as an LOI, indication of interest (IOI), memorandum of understanding (MOU), and even occassionally a term sheet.

As with the Term Sheet, there are some terms that matter a lot and others that don’t.  There are plenty of mystery words that an experienced deal maker always knows how and where to sprinkle so that he can later say “but “X” implies “Y”, often resulting in much arguing between lawyers.  We’ve had LOIs get done in a couple of hours and had others stretch into periods of several weeks – experience, knowledge, and understanding matter and the LOI negotiation is usually a first taste of the actually negotiating style you will experience from the other party.

We look forward to walking you through this and hopefully concluding before Jack comes back.

Don Dodge – one of the guys at Microsoft on the Emerging Business Development Team – has a nice post up on why he loves NewsGator and how it fits into the Microsoft ecosystem.

RSS and Security

Sep 11, 2005
Category Technology

As RSS becomes more popular, it’s inevitable that people will begin talking about security and companies will release “secure RSS related products.”  Before the feeding frenzy on RSS and security begins, it’s useful to step back and think about what is already in place and available.  Greg Reinacker – the founder / CTO of NewsGator – takes a crack at this in his recent post titled “RSS ‘security’”.

I’ve written in the past about the importance of APIs in today’s “web application” world.  Chris Law – an early employee of Tribe – has just created a Wiki that is a directory of the publicly available API / web services.  There is a corresponding blog to help report updates and changes.  Many of the expected APIs are already listed, but there are some good ones that are off the beaten path such as the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Pathway (cPath) Database and NOAA’s National Weather Service

If you’ve got an API, or know of one, contribute to the Wiki.

As I get caught up on various blogs I subscribe to, I’ve seen many suggestions, actions, and wonderful stories of help for Katrina victims this week.  Most of the companies I’m involved in did something – ranging from contributing a percentage of September revenue to sending folks down to volunteer.

Rick Segal wrote about what one of his portfolio companies – which makes kits that enable light steel buildings – is doing.  Money helps, but active deployment of new technologies to help is great leverage – both for this situation and in advance of the next inevitable disaster.  My understanding is that Rick’s company GenesisTP is offering up the use of their facility at their cost to help enable the rapid creation of new buildings.  Rick / GenesisTP aren’t looking to make money on this disaster – rather they are taking a longer term view around the value of the IP they are creating while getting real experience and exposure to disaster scenarios which they can then use to proactively sell their technology / IP in advance of the next catastrophe like this.