Archive for October, 2007

Low Tech Solutions

Oct 31 2007 Published by under Startup Strategy

Don’t ever discount the simplest solution. From Dave, “I remember having drinks with them 2 years ago and thinking his solution to billing sounded complex.”

Read about their solution and how they topped the 2007 Profit Hot 50 ranking of Canada’s Emerging Growth Companies. Don’t overlook simple, elegant, low tech solutions simply because they’re simple.

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Four Observations After Four Weeks At An Internet Start-up

Oct 23 2007 Published by under Startup Strategy

Slightly more than a month ago I did something crazy and left a challenging but incredibly rewarding job at a seed-stage investment firm to join an internet start-up.

In a different country.

That’s pre-revenue.

All signs pointed to “crazy”, but when you’re chasing your dream you don’t always allow rational thought to enter into the decision process.

Here’s four observations after four weeks at an internet start-up:

1) Every day a large grin has slowly spread across my face as I realize that… this. is. real. Being involved with something during the week that used to consume my free brain cycles is simply great. If this doesn’t explain you’re situation consider a life move. Do your free thoughts drift to daydreams of beaches and mixed drinks? Go be the best cabana boy in the world. Honestly.

2) Despite having NYC, NJ, Canadian, and Parisian offices the way we’re working is very modern and special. As Alex wrote, it’s “strange and wonderful at the same time.” Having a 20 second commute (thinking of installing a fire pole to cut it in half), discussing strategy while in pajamas, and blasting music throughout the work day are only the simplest benefits of this new way to organize a team (as Lance says, it makes a lot of sense to hire the best people regardless of where they’re located).

3) Things move quickly in this world. Quicker than you can imagine until you’re immersed in it. Seriously. With so many smart teams working tirelessly for enormous stakes (read: changing the world) it makes sense. In less than a month we’ve revised the website, launched a new product, prepped another for beta, wrote popular articles, and have started to move chess pieces for the future. It’s worth pointing out that there’s only six of us on the team.

4) It’s still all about the people.

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5 Quick Things

Oct 18 2007 Published by under General

1) I participated in a fantasy baseball league that recently wrapped up. In the end the commish, Adam Kane, ended up winning with Bill Rice taking second. Despite competition from Ian, Adam, Jake, Eric, Brendan, Frank, and others I was able to capture a surprise third place finish.


In a cool move we agreed to give half of our prize money to Kiva. I tagged along with Adam and Bill into two investments (I’m the mysterious “Dundas, Ontario” silhouette).

2) My commute is a 20 second walk down to my living room.

3) Yep, earlier today I entered the following in my Basecamp todo list. Yep, I laughed.

4) I haven’t been in my car in 3 days (love this).

5) Chartreuse is blogging again. And I couldn’t be happier. He’s a rock star.

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The Changing Landscape of Early-Stage Investing

Oct 04 2007 Published by under Startup Strategy

Fred’s quality post this morning on the Fiction of the 20% further differentiates USV as an innovative venture firm and is another data point for anyone who’s trying to understand how they’re making so many quality investments and successful exits.

When the world breaks, spoils are rewarded to those who figure out the emerging trends first. I think it’s safe to say that Fred and Brad have shown one way to successfully play in early-stage investing.

Alex sums up the state of the venture world nicely in a post today at Read/Write Web on The New Rules of Technology VC. From how the old model worked to why new is different, Alex summarizes the changes that occurred and touches on the future that lays ahead.

The larger venture firms are going to have to turn to later rounds of tech, bio and alternative energy. It’s a function of their structure and returns necessary to flourish.

The impact on early-stage tech investing is profound: the traditional model doesn’t make it attractive (/ feasible?) for larger firms to play there, creating a gap.

It’s the opportunity that this gap has created, and the various strategies to address it, that is most interesting to me.

Innovative VC firms like USV are breaking ‘traditional’ (read: inane) rules and reaping the reward. Firms that invest along early-stage processes are emerging to bridge the equity gap (think: Invention Capitalists, Commercialization Capitalists, and the like). Angel syndicates are developing that can also fill the need.

“The winner of all this turmoil”, says Alex, “is going to be the consumer.” Agree. But let’s not forget: entrepreneurs, those investors who anticipated the trend and are positioned well to benefit, and larger firms who move to later stages and enjoy great returns with minimized risk.

Disclosure: I work for AdaptiveBlue, a start-up founded by Alex, that has taken investment from USV. And you know what? We rock. Long Alex. Long USV. Long rocking.

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Sunset Rubdown

Oct 02 2007 Published by under Media

Sunset Rubdown (no, not a massage parlor in Mississauga) is my newest addiction. First discovered on the wonderfully rich AjiSignal – a place blogging site for indie music – I’ve fallen in love with the album and have recommended it to everyone I can.

There’s a line in the Pitchfork review that is so true and explains how Random Spirit Lover almost forces me to break one of my rules of new music:

Random Spirit Lover’s songs have verses, choruses, and bridges like most other pop/rock songs, but they’re so architecturally complex and harmoniously joined that the boundaries between them become erased. In a song-driven era, Sunset Rubdown is making a strong case for the album.

Check out the album, if you like indie rock you’ll like the album (there’s a reason it’s at the top of my Music of the Moment widget).

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