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Showing posts from June, 2011

When Mayor Bloomberg's Office Calls...

Well, yes, you answer the phone. I've been staying out of the political muck (relatively speaking) in recent years, focusing my attention on things I can influence locally, because I've been so frustrated with national politics. The tone is terrible, but that's not the biggest problem. The lack of substantive relief from what is now direct corporate influence over federal policy, action, and inaction is demoralizing. We've ended up --under any administration-- creating policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many. I'm no anti-capitalist; I consider myself a capitalist and love to build companies that enjoy the benefits of it. But the pendulum has swung too far. Regardless, I was asked last Friday by the Mayor's office to show support for an effort to revamp US immigration p olicy, and today I signed on. It's not perfect, but overall I support the intent of creating a sane immigration policy, especially for innovators. About a half hour

Read Less, Do More

There are so many startup blogs now--founders blogging about founding, investors blogging about startups and investing, companies blogging about products and customers. And there's some great stuff in there. Steve Blank's blog is helpful. Fred Wilson 's is good too, and there's great action in the comments. Chris Dixon 's blog is pretty good. I find myself reading a lot of stuff. From Techcrunch to Om to AVC to SAI. It's enriching. Keeps me up to date. Ahead of the game. Except enrichment doesn't get new users on board. Or product out the door. Or money in the door. We're launching the closed beta this week, slowly. So I've made a mid-year resolution: less reading, more doing. And more blogging, not less. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts. Not all founders are alike, but I know a number who suffer from the same syndrome as I do: doing too much of the wrong stuff. Now, if you're about to invest in Jawaya, don't fear that statemen

Holes & Headlights (repost)

I used to tell a story to I heard on the West Wing (early seasons) to certain friends. This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out.   A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, 'Hey you. Can you help me out?' The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, 'Father, I'm down in this hole can you help me out?' The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.   Then a friend walks by, 'Hey, Joe, it's me can you help me out?' And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, 'Are you stupid? Now we're both down here.' The friend says, 'Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out.' You show up for friends when they need you--that's what real friendship is. And then when you fall into your own hole with steep walls? That's when you find out who's show

Slow Rollout

We'll start rolling out sometime today in the afternoon to existing Jawayans. I officially pronounce it ja-wy-a now because everybody else does for some reason (I really don't see it. Maybe too many pirate movies, folks?). Tomorrow we'll roll out to a number of first-timers, and over the next week we'll roll out to about a thousand people. It's a slow launch of a private beta--not a lot of fanfare, approached with humility because we know what's missing, and expect to hear a lot from people. Betas are great, and tough, and fulfilling, and challenging. The service works pretty well--it does what it's supposed to at its core. But the best is yet to come. We've come a long way with not very much investment, and have learned a lot along the way. But you learn more by studying how people use the service, how they talk about it, what they don't use, how often they use it. You learn what works and what doesn't. What's relevant and useful. Yo

Startup Lancaster: 17 Startup Founders walk into a bar...

Startup ecosystem? What ecosystem? Well, it turns out there is one. And we are it. Or part of it, anyway. Last night, 17 startup founders from in and around Lancaster spent 3 hours together for the first time. We talked about obstacles and challenges we face, gave each other advice, and listened to each other. The main obstacles? Capital and talent. We talked about why Dave and I at ChiliSoft and Jesse and CoTweet left the area (and sold for what, $30 million within a year?). Two young founders talked about moving to San Francisco, though they don't have product yet (I advised them to stick around until they have a basic app and users, at least). I'm one of the people considering leaving the area to build my startup. But you really don't have to leave. The bias toward certain areas has more to do with 1) flight time for board meetings and 2) social capital in the tech centers. But if you have a small team in the tech centers, you can do very well with affordable pro

When Things Go Wrong

Amazon EC2 went down, taking Heroku down with it. That was May. Developer's Mac freaked out. That was Tuesday. Brought in a UI coder for some quick cleanup. Rails config nightmare on Windows, and 6 hours later he was just getting ready to dig in. That was Wednesday. It was a rough week. Things go wrong. So what are you going to do? In the first case, we just toughed it out and developed a backup plan for the future. We haven't fully executed on that, which makes me nervous, but with few resources you do what you can when you can. In the second case, he was going to have to wait up to 3 days to get his notebook back, so I had him buy a new Mac mini and work on that. I couldn't afford to lose him for 3 days or longer, and this got him up and running within hours. Now it cost $700 to do that, but we'll be able to flip it online for maybe $650. That $50 saved lost development time, and getting the app out is more important. In the third case, that was simply a s

Age Bias, Part II

David Lee of SVAngel has a guest post at TechCrunch clarifying SVA's statements on the characteristics of their successful investments. About a week ago, TC interviewed Ron Conway and David and they talked about 'early results' of a study they are doing about entrepreneurs they've invested in. As a youth-deprived 44-year-old repeat and solo founder, my jaw dropped around the e nd of the vide o ...(you can search on the word "suck" to scroll to that). Lee: Age. So it turns out that.  Arrington: Old people suck and start ups.  Lee: Yeah.  Lee: Well, I can say that because I'm 41, so, for the $25 million exits, it 's hard to glean any pattern. It's about, let's say, you know, roughly 50/50. But for the larger exits, it looks like age matters. Just from this data, sort of being younger, sort of helps for some of the bigger exits.  Arrington: You've told me that entrepreneurs sort of look like professional athletes in the ter