Brad Feld

George Soros has written an incredible book called The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power. It’s actually two books in one: Part 1 is A Critical View and Part 2 is A Constructive View.

Soros starts of by clearly explaining the Bush Doctrine. “First, the United States will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy and, second, the United States arrogates the right to preemptive action. Taken together, these two pillars support two classes of sovereignty: the sovereignty of the United States, which takes precedence over international treaties and obligations, and the sovereignty of all other states, which is subject to the Bush doctrine. This is reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” (p.11).

Soros links the Bush Doctrine to the 1997 neoconservatives statement of principles of the Project for the New American Century signed by a host of familiar characters including Elliott Abrams, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

The theme is clear and incredibly well-reasoned (this should not be a surprise to anyone that has either followed or read other writings of George Soros). Soros states that “Under the Bush administration, the United States has also become a victim-turned-perpetrator, although the American public would be loath to recognize it. On September 11, America was the victim of a heinous crime and the whole world expressed spontaneous and genuine sympathy. Since then, the war on terrorism has claimed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than have the attacks on the World Trade Center. That comparison is rarely made at home: American lives are valued differently than the lives of foreigners, but the distinction is less obvious to people abroad.” (p.22)

Soros then makes his case in strong, clear, and straightforward detail. While I can imagine that someone could come up with an argument against it, I can’t.

As you would expect from his warm up, he concludes strongly with “All in all, at no other time has America’s position declined as dramatically in as short a period as it has since George W. Bush became president. The swing in our international position matches the swing in our budget deficit. Whatever the flaws in the ideology that has guided the Bush administration, the practical results have been nothing short of disasterous. … The forthcoming elections provide an excellent opportunity to deflate the bubble of American supremacy. But it is not enough to defeat President Bush. America must also adopt a different vision for its role in the world. The rethinking has to be quite profound. It is not only the supremacist ideology of the New American Century that needs to be rejected. There were shortcomings in the policies followed by the United States prior to September 11; otherwise, they could not have ben carried to the extremes that have been reached under the Bush administration. What a more positive vision for America’s role in the world entails will be the subject of the second part of this book.” (p.74-75)

This is what I love about Soros. It’s easy to be critical on a grand stage (and he’s earned the right through his amazing work with the Open Society Institute to get up on his soapbox), but Soros doesn’t stop there. Part 2 (which I’ll comment on later) lays out his view of the constructive action that the United States should take to repair the situation we have created for ourselves.

I had lunch today with Gary Zeff who runs Boulder Open Studios. In addition to talking about Open Studios – which is a very cool thing for the local Boulder art community – we got into a long discussion about why my generation (Generation X – born between 1965 and 1980) is so light on the philanthropic scene.

My wife Amy and I have been very active with our philanthropy for the past five years. At some point, we realized that – at least in our community (Boulder, CO) there was a surprising lack of philanthropic focus. This was even more ironic since Boulder County has a population of 300,000 yet purportedly has over 1,000 individual non-profits (or – one non-profit per 300 people).

We’ve been strong supporters of one of the organized meta-non-profitsThe Community Foundation Serving Boulder County. When we got involved, it surprised me that many of my cohorts both didn’t know about The Community Foundation or – if they had heard about it – weren’t terribly interested. The Community Foundation spawned two organizations – Boulder County Culture of Giving and Social Venture Partners Boulder County – both of these were more accessible to my fellow Gen-Xers. However, it was still hard to get my generation to engage.

At lunch, I said out loud for the first time that I think it’s a result of the values instilled in us from our parents. Many GenX parents are not baby boomers (1945 – 1960)(e.g. my folks were born in 1938 and 1942). They are children of depression era parents. It’s a complicated lineage, but it’s one that missed the 1960s ethos by a few years.

I came across a great article on this called Generation mY: Not Seeing your Xer Garden Grow? The telling paragraph is:

“This generation as a whole can’t see the need in making an annual fund gift while they are paying back a student loan, buying a house, or starting a family. Most development officers have picked up on this to some degree and have written Xers off- because hey, the development officer will probably be on to several more posts before it is a real issue for them. Wrong! Case in point using college and university trends: most schools are graduating larger classes of students, so if the institution hasn’t already realized it- the young alumni crowd is quickly becoming the largest segment of the alumni body and alumni non-participation in giving is eating away at those participation rates we all like to tout so much.”

I had an epiphany today while I was running about blog content. It’s taken me a few weeks of blogging, thinking about why I care, what right I have to consume incremental bits on the Internet, and why anyone else cares (or might / should care). One of the guys that works with me has a great quote – “blogging is like giving everyone a printing press – and NOT everyone deserves a printing press.” I’ve consistently countered that by saying “everyone should have a printing press – you just need tools to decide whether or not to read what they write.”

Over the weekend, I got an outbreak of self-referential blogs. Robert Scoble (the self proclaimed “Microsoft Geek Blogger”) wrote that Mike Padula is doing a study as a student at Cornell about why people blog. Marc Nozell referenced Fresh Air’s interview with Bill Moyers about blogging (among other things). My mother – after commenting in one of my blogs remember to write about your mother – then tried to convince me over the phone that blogging was a bunch of useless chatter – the world didn’t need anymore of it.

As I get deeper into the blog thing, I get more intrigued. It feels to me a lot like email did in 1993 and the web did in 1995 – there are endless directions to go in, lots of businesses to create, huge potential impacts on society, thought, communication, and technology. But – thankfully – it’s early, chaotic, and like most things that evolve – Darwinian.

So – while I don’t necessarily have an answer yet, I’m going to focus my blogging more on things that are relevant to me and assume that those that are interested in what I’m interested in will read this blog. Those topics – today – including (self referentially) the blogging ecosystem, venture capital, technology, creating companies, and running marathons.

I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow.

The trailer for the new Pixar movie The Incredibles is out. While we have to wait until Nov 5, 1994 for the movie, you can get a peak of it on the Pixar (and Disney , and other) sites. Check out the teaser also for an overweight (“maybe just a salad and some rice cakes”) and somewhat frustrated Mr. Incredible.

It was such a brilliant move when Steve Jobs bought Pixar from George Lucas for $10 million in 1986. Now that’s guts.

I remember watching Luxo Jr. and Tin Toy in the mid-late 1980’s and thinking how amazing it was.

Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, and Pixar – thanks for all the entertainment!

I’m sitting in a technical advisory board meeting for one of my companies (Rally Software Development). I’m moblonging from my Danger – pretty cool (at least to me).

We’re having a great meeting. I’ve sat in on a bunch of these over the last 10 years since I started investing in (vs. running) software
companies. Often, these meetings are a complete waste of time because of some disconnect between the goal of the meeting, the group of people in the room, the facilitated process – or worse – the complete dominance of one or two people.

We’ve got 15 people in the room – 5 from Rally and 10 advisors. The
chemistry is awesome – Rally is about to go GA with the first version of their product so we’re dealing with tangibles (instead of the abstract of “what should we do, where should we go”). Management is facilitating well – leting people talk, but keeping them on topic. The richness of the discussion is noticeable to everyone involved – which causes the discussion / debate to feed on itself.

This is one of the funnest parts of this job – seeing / being involved with a group of people passionate about trying to create something new and revolutionary where six months ago there was nothing.

Matt Blumberg started a blog yesterday called OnlyOnce. It’s about being a first time CEO – Matt’s one of the best – he’s the CEO of Return Path – one of my companies that I’m an investor with Fred Wilson. Matt is a great first time CEO – his blog is worth reading for any entrepreneur.

Yes – I posted this one offline also, although the href thing (vs. automatic links) is a major drag. I haven’t manually typed HTML in – oh – 8 years – so it’s entertaining to trip over it again.

And I’m now manually fixing this in Typepad (the original said Matt’s one of the best – he’s the CEO of Fred Wilson since I left an “‘” out of my HREF – proving some point (the one that says I shouldn’t be manually typing HTML?)

I woke up this morning thinking that it should be easy to blog offline via email. I already read my blogs offline via Newsgator. Why can’t I simply send an email to my blog on Typepad. I popped up Typepad, hit my Control Panel, and voila – you can through their Edit my mobile settings shortcut. This blog is being posted offline via email. I can now post via my Danger Hiptop or offline email when I’m travelling. This is both simple and synchronistic (I love it when I wake up thinking of something techy and it’s trivial to do). The only drag is Microsoft Word – where rather than generating HTML for me correctly, I end up having to insert the href (HTML codes) automatically. I didn’t do it for italics – if “Edit my mobile settings” is italicized above, then Word (and typepad) did the write thing – if not – then not.

How’s that for a title?

I’ve got two books, a Homer Simpson like “doh!“, and blog spam for you today.

First the books. My wife and I are huge readers (she’s also a writer). So – we read pretty much anything we can get our hands on. I’m always looking for recommendations – so send them to me.

Book one is Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin. Seth is an amazing writer (and fantastic guy). Everything he’s ever written is worth reading – even the stuff that’s crap (since it’s better crap than the other crap out there). I haven’t read Free Prize Inside, but mine is on order and I hope to have it soon. If you have any interest in business – read Seth’s stuff.

Book two is The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein. It’ll have you rolling on the ground laughing while you concurrently shit bricks about how close this teenager came to building a makeshift nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard (ok – it wasn’t really a breeder reactor, but a few more steps and all his neighbors would have been dead). The book started out as an article in Harper’s Magazine and evolved into a well written exploration of what happens when you mix the nuclear energy industry, a teenage mind, and a very dysfunctional family.

I’d just finished reading The Radioactive Boy Scout when I saw the following Market Alert from the WSJ: MARKET ALERT: Stocks Fall Sharply on Rate Fears. Now doh!

Finally, Mitch Kapor got blogspammed and is pissed. Spam, Spim, and now Blam?

I ran the fourth marathon of my life today – the Ft. Collins Old Town Marathon. It wasn’t my fastest marathon (that was at Chicago last fall), but I was very happy with the results. I’ve been on a steady training regimen since the beginning of the year – which – given winter and travel has been challenging to keep up. However, my coach, Jeff Kline of RunFitUSA is both supportive and relentless – which helps.

Now running a marathon in 4:30 isn’t quite the same level of accomplishment as running a sub-4 minute mile – something that was first done 50 years ago. For a fabulous book on this quest – try The Perfect Mile : Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It – both historically detailed and extremely inspiring. However, a marathon and a mile are radically different races.

I’ve heard the cliche “this is a marathon, not a sprint” a bunch of times and decided to poke around on the web looking for it. Apparently even Meg Whitman said it at some point. E-businesses must be like marathoners – at least according to Chris Pickering. Enterprisewide supply chain technology initiatives should be like marathons – according to Ram Reddy as recently as May 1, 2004. I even ran across I guy I hadn’t thought of in about 10 years – Scott Johnson – the founder of Ntergaid who is now the co-founder of Feedster – who has an old blog where he refers to businesses as marathons.

You get the picture – it’s a cliche. But – it’s a good one. Anyone that has run a marathon knows that it’s a long way to run.

Anyone who has created a sustainable and valuable business knows it’s a long way to run.