Are we done now?

All day yesterday I had this poem going through my head:

REMEMBER me when I am gone away.

  Gone far away into the silent land;

  When you can no more hold me by the hand, 

Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.  

Remember me when no more day by day,

You tell me of our future that you plann'd: 

  Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while 

  And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

  For if the darkness and corruption leave  

  A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,  

Better by far you should forget and smile  

  Than that you should remember and be sad.

 


Wikileaks Shows Generational Divide (And a Startup Lesson)

The whole Wikileaks event is fascinating on so many levels. There's been ton's of great coverage. I've read lots of it, but there's one thing that hasn't really been said: This seems like essentially a generational issue, yet another sign that the world is changing fast and the Hey-man-let's-change-the-world Boomers are the ones standing in the way of history.

Let me explain.

For all the hand-wringing, the actual upshot of the leaks has been... zilch. No covert operatives have been frogmarched down the streets of Moscow or Beijing. No foreign secretaries have been sacked.

(In the funniest tweet I've seen in a long time, my old Spy Magazine colleague Nell Scovell said: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange thinks Hillary Clinton should resign. Does he know NOTHING about the Clintons???")

Clinton, of course, will not resign and neither will anyone else. If anyone was harmed even a little, all the governments and journalists so outraged about the leaks would point to that harm as an example of why the leaks are so dangerous. They've got nothing.

The only reason they are so upset is that they like keeping their little secrets. It makes them feel important. So far, however, the leaks show that the government of Russia is corrupt (Say it aint so!) and in most cases that diplomats have done a pretty good job. If all this stuff hadn't been leaked information, this "news" would be classified as "not news."

How is all this related to startups? I recently saw a presentation from one of the best startup guys working these days: Eric Ries. Ries is an advocate of taking the absolute minimum product that you can create and putting it on the web so you can see if and how people will use it. Then you learn your lessons, iterate quickly and keep moving. Someone asked him how it was possible to do this without alerting your competition to what it is you are doing.

Reis' answer was spot-on. In essence, he said that your competition is just busy trying to do whatever it is they are doing, and really won't be paying much attention to what a startup is trying to do in the same space. He said that you could actually take all the code you've written and send it to your closest competitor, and the chances are that they really wouldn't know what to do with it. So don't worry about them, Ries said, worry about your biggest challenge, which is to just do a good job of figuring out what your customers want and providing it to them.

So it is with all these "secrets" that are now out. They are only secret because of the legacy of the positions the people hold who are doing the communicating.

That's why I say this is a generational issue. People over 45 or so have this assumption that all communication is private. Gen Xers and younger -- the people who regularly post on the 'net where they are eating lunch -- understand that all communication is essentially public.

The reason there's been so much handwringing among the older parts of the media is that they liked the world back in the day when they, and they alone, would get to see all the private stuff and publicize it when they felt that it was interesting. The gatekeepers are just not that useful any more. What's useful is a search engine that allows anyone interested to find what they are looking for.

For those of you keeping score at home, gatekeepers are the Boomers, and search engines are from Gen X.

The person who allegedly provided all those cables to Wikileaks? A kid. The one calling for that kid to be executed? A presidential candidate, a boomer, who cloaks himself in Christianity. (Hypocrisy infects all generations, but its most friendly host is the Baby Boomer.)

So just remember these two things: First, if you really want something to be private, don't put it on the 'net. Second, ask yourself why you want it to be private. Chances are that if you try to keep it private, it will just make really boring stuff that much more sensational.


Elena Kagan is gay. Or she isn't. Big media is, however, dead for sure.

Members of the Supreme Court are the pinnacle celebrities of the legal geek world. As Kobe Bryant is to sports geeks, Steve Jobs or (but not "and") Bill Gates are to computer geeks, as Justin Bieber is to millions (so I read, anyway), the nine members of the high court are big celebrities.

So it makes sense that lots of people are interested in them.

I remember when John Roberts was nominated to the court, I read a bunch of the stories about him. They all had an "info box" or a "sidebar" that listed the highlights of his work history, his education, and his family, which included information about his wife and his two adopted kids.

I did the same reading about Elena Kagan. The stories were similar, both had lots of details showing how brilliant they are, bla bla bla. The one difference is that there was no "Family" section of the info box for Kagan. New York Times. Washington Post. ABC. Nothing.

It's as if everyone in the big media is all saying at the same time, "Move along. Move along. Nothing to see here. Move along."

To learn more, I turned away from the big media to a gay man, a Brit, and a thoughtful commentator, Andrew Sullivan. He has a number of posts on the topic, one of the most interesting, I thought, showed that a relatively new technological tool from (who else?) Google makes it clear that lots of people are interested, and are making their interest known by searching.

Here's my screen grab from this morning:

Google-kagan-gay
Clearly I'm not the only one who wants to know.

If Big Media had done it's job of just reporting, rather than trying to keep information out of stories and hope that we don't notice, I'm sure those Google suggested searches would look much different.

Look, it's not that I hope she is gay or isn't gay. The reality is that I don't care that much, except that I care about the people on the high court; I want to know what sort of people they are. I can find out all kinds of details about what kind of music she likes (opera), what her nickname was when she was a clerk (shorty), how she dressed for her high school yearbook photo (in judicial robes with a gavel), etc., but I'm not allowed to know if she's gay or straight?

This post isn't about her, it's about Big Media, what my old professor Jay Rosen calls the "Church of the Savvy."

Indeed just this morning he pointed me to the best long story I've read in a while by the always excellent James Fallows. It's about the future of news as being shaped by Google

The quote that fits this best is here:

“Usually, you see essentially the same approach taken by a thousand publications at the same time. Once something has been observed, nearly everyone says approximately the same thing.”

That's from a guy who's been watching Google News since the start, and he is absolutely right. I used to be part of that church. I did well, but I always bristled about the idea of knowing something and not being able to get it into the paper, and so I had some mighty fights with editors, and eventually left journalism and started my own business where I could put everything I knew out there.

(By the way, continuing my ongoing series on how rotten Gibbs is as press secretary, he has completely flubbed the White House response. He screwed this up, as he has with so many other issues, because he sees himself as one of the new high priests of the Church of the Savvy, and can't quite figure out how to recognize that the world is changing. His boss does, but in this case I think both President Obama and Kagan herself have erred in trying to keep it all in the closet, so that does put Gibbs in a tricky spot, but one that he could have worked out of more gracefully than he did here.)

The story will only grow and grow, not because it's fueled by haters on the right -- which is whom Gibbs blames -- or anyone else with an agenda. It will be fueled by people bristling at information being kept from them. Those Google suggested words are generated by a computer analyzing millions of searches. There's no conspiracy, vast or otherwise, driving what people all over the world type in their search engine windows.

Luckily for me and for all readers the walls are tumbling down, and it is possible to find other sources of news that are not in the Church of the Savvy.


Welcome to the tt neighborhood, Twee.tt!

The unusual domain (sco.tt) of this blog gets as much attention as any of the content. When I first got it more than four years ago, I was wandering in the wilderness to some degree.

Then when Matt Mullenweg (the Wordpress guy) signed up for ma.tt, it made the neighborhood feel a bit more inhabited.

The domain had another great day when the incomparable Adeo Ressi praised it. (I wonder if that's a part of why he decided to open a version of the Founder Institute in Denver? Probably not, but a guy can dream.)

Anyway, now the couple of modest dwellings here in the land of .tt learned today that we are getting a new high-rise: Twitter is going to use twee.tt.

The story has only speculation, and the whole notion of URL shorteners is a weird one that I think we will look back on like we look back on "baud rate" now. Somehow I think the internet will figure out a way to eliminate the need for those soon enough.

But for now, it's a new bit of fun attention being paid to our little corner of the internet. 

Should I bring them a fruit basket?


Obama, health care, parents, and Field of Dreams

I'm a big fan of politics, and of movies, and I often think about politics in terms of what makes for a good plot.

The health care bill makes for a great plot. (Lots and lots of others will argue about if it's good policy, I won't do that here.)

First you have the whole political back story, the failure of Hillarycare. Now HRC is nowhere to be seen near HCR. Even a trip that she planned for the President had to be scrubbed so that he could push health care reform to home base.

But that's a minor backstory compared to the personal one: I really get the feeling that this fight was deeply personal for the president.

President Obama speaks about his health care victory. Image from Reuters

Consider these words from his book:

My thoughts turned to my mother and her final days, after cancer had spread through her body and it was clear that there was no coming back. She had admitted to me during the course of her illness that she was not ready to die; the suddenness of it all had taken her by surprise, as if the physical world she loved so much had turned on her, betrayed her. And although she fought valiantly, endured the pain and chemotherapy with grace and good humor to the very end, more than once I saw fear flash across her eyes. More than fear of pain or fear of the unknown, it was the sheer loneliness of death that frightened her, I think.

Clearly this was emotionally charged stuff, and while it's possible to get angry at cancer, cancer itself doesn't make a very good bad guy. Insurance companies make excellent bad guys. Here's what he said during the campaign in Dayton, Ohio, October 9, 2008:

This issue is personal for me. My mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53, and I'll never forget how she spent the final months of her life lying in a hospital bed, fighting with her insurance company because they claimed that her cancer was a pre-existing condition and didn't want to pay for treatment. If I am president, I will make sure those insurance companies can never do that again.

Think about that as you look at that picture above. To whom is his gaze rising?

He hasn't mentioned his mother in the speeches from recent days that I've seen, but I can see her looking at him in everything that he is doing, using the tools that movies have to pull off such things. And him looking back.

Consider this passage taken from his remarks the day before the final vote: "Every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself." Sure, we all have good hopes for ourselves, but nobody has higher hopes for us than our mothers. I think President Obama swore to fight back against those who dashed the hopes of his mother and made her suffer with such indignity. And he did.

Look, I'm not saying this was a giant Oedipal play, or that President Obama has an unhealthy grudge. Remember, the best movies become great when the hero does something that saves the world AND rescues the girl or saves his family at the same time.

There are dozens of examples, but Field of Dreams comes to mind for me. Remember watching that for the first time? You had no idea that Ray Kinsella was saving his relationship with his dad until it suddenly became clear that of course he was saving his relationship with his dad, and saving the reputation of Shoeless Joe and, by the way, Following Your Dreams, Farming and America's Love Affair With Baseball to boot. 

Remember? Remember near the end when Shoeless Joe tells Ray, "If you build it, he..." nodding toward the catcher "...will come." Ray stands up, and says, "Oh, my God" and tells his wife that it is his father. You can see the lump rising in his throat. (I felt it rising in my own throat, I still do just writing about it.)

Ray then says a line that baseball fans can all appreciate for its profundity, even though he is so choked up he can barely whisper it: "Say it ain't so, Joe."

Joe responds, "I'm afraid it is, kid." Ray then quotes one of the lines from the corn that moved him to build the field, "Ease his pain" and begins to understand that it wasn't Joe's pain, but his father's pain. Joe then says, sounding a lot like The Voice in the final command from the field, "Go the distance."

Then the clip below picks up, but the part that's most related to President Obama is above. 

He went the distance, and eased her pain.

What a movie!


What to Call This Decade? My vote: The Naughties

I've been saying for more than ten years now that we need to all agree on what to call this decade that is so rapidly coming to a close.

When I say that, I've been getting a response, most recently from the esteemed Jesse Sheidlower, that we've gotten through the last 10 years without a name, and so there's no need to coin one now.

I disagree! Starting next month is when we will need it most! 

I don't think we need it when we are in it, because we can just say, for example, "I don't really like the most recent music from Hootie and the Blowfish, I like what they released in the 90s." 

Now let's say that band releases a much better set of songs in the next decade. (It could happen.)

How will we say, "I liked the recent songs, and the stuff from the '90s, but not the songs from the ____s."?

My vote is to take the word used commonly by Brits, the "noughties" and give it a proper American spelling, and call it the "Naughties."

This will give a little hint about so much of the naughtiness that went on. (Insert your own scandal here.)


The naughties are (almost) dead! Long live the naughties!


Best Length for a YouTube video

I'm not sure why, but I'm crazy busy these days, so when someone sends me a link to a video, I very rarely even open it, and if I do close it if the length on the video is longer than about two minutes.

Here are two that broke that rule, however. I just got hooked on them, and could not stop watching them until the end. Both of them, I think, are just marvelous, and keep me optimistic.


and

So, the best length for a video? The length needed to tell the story properly.


EBA - That's me!

I've been having a lot of lunches and coffees lately, trying to figure out the next adventure in my professional life. Typically at some point the person on the other side of the coffee cup will say, "So, what is it that you do?"

I hate that question, and generally mumble something about having started as a writer/reporter/editor and that morphed into an entrepreneur/consultant/strategist and then the person looks for a waiter and begs for more coffee. Who can blame them?

Well today I'm sitting there over a bowl of cereal and I read in black and white what it is that I do!

"But the most active opponents of (Colorado Amendment) 50 may be Denver lawyer Jon Anderson and entrepreneur-blogger-activist Scott Yates."


Even though I used to write for the papers, seeing myself described in that way was a little jarring, but it grew on me pretty quickly.

Maybe I'll have business cards made up: Scott Yates, EBA.

Maybe I'll start an EBA club on a social network. I mean, there's one of those for everything else, right?

Or maybe I'll just clip Blake's column and send it to a certain third-grade teacher who once told me that my unchecked narcissism and smug self-righteousness would never get me anywhere. IN YOUR FACE, SISTER MARGARET!

Anyway, thanks to Peter Blake I now know who I am. All the people I'm having coffee with will appreciate this very much.


There's traffic. And then there's traffic. And then there's TRAFFIC.

My first startup -- the late, great MyTrafficNews, (now part of the NavTeq/Nokia/Traffic.com empire) -- had to do with, you guessed it, traffic. 


I fancied myself an expert on traffic even before I started that company, and then quickly learned how little I knew. I thought it would be somewhat predictable, and some aspects of it are, but many are not. The main thing I learned, however, is that it is a very emotional issue. People really will add 20 minutes or more to a drive to avoid the chance of a slowdown that may add at most 10 minutes of slow driving.

Traffic is in the news some in these Dog Days because of what looks like a great new book, and of course a slew of interesting blog posts about the book, including this great one from the incomparable Ben Casnocha.

Left Turn

I won't go into my traffic theories, but I do want to tie in a couple of other memes: Traffic and the Google. I wrote recently about Google's new thing called Knol, reporting on the prediction that the big money in Knols would be for those who write about popular topics, say Obama and McCain. I predicted it would actually be in more stuff where there were quick bucks to be made.

I said I'd check back in six months, but it didn't take that long to prove my point. 

If you do a Knol search for traffic, the results, as of August 12, are all about Internet Traffic, and how to get more people to visit a site. Most people, I think, asking about traffic are looking for information about the road-clogging stuff, not getting a bunch of clicks. But the Knol results don't have that because they have so many people clamoring to be an expert on getting "eyeballs on pages" (yewwww) that they are trying to be the Knol expert. In other words, they are trying to game the system for some easy money. 

My new prediction: Google will figure this out soon enough, and you'll see the results improve, or the project will be killed.

One last thing: When I first wrote about Knol, I compared Google to the National Enquirer. I even put up a picture of some outrageous claims from last year about John Edwards. Then a candidate, Edwards denied it, but it sure seemed likely to me, which is why I posted it. Turns out the Enquirer did have the story right. 

Does this prove that Google's Knol is a good idea? In a funny way, yes it does. It proves that sometimes it does actually make sense to pay for something rather than try to get it all for free. Checkbook journalism has it's drawbacks, but it got that story nine months before any of the more ethical journalists. 

I'm not spending any of my money at the Supermarket to pay for it, though. No Dilbert.

Do you know knols?

Knol-logo

I wrote about the new effort by Google to create a Wikipedia killer when I first heard about it late last year.

At the time I compared the effort to the National Enquirer. Most major media refuse to pay for actual news, but the Enquirer does. 

The difference between Google's new thing "Knol" and Wikipedia is that it pays for content. As I wrote then, I don't see anything wrong with that. If someone wants to write something and get paid for writing it, then I know why they are writing it. If they spend a bunch of time on a Wiki article, well, are they just doing it for their 15 minutes of fame, or what?

Well, Google has been working on this for at least six months, and it just came out.

First impressions? It's amazing how few articles they have, and how much they pay attention to health. Is the doctor business really so bad that they can write articles to go on the Internet in hopes of making 10 bucks for some clickthrus?

That said, where most journalists, even really good ones, are predicting that the best way to make money in Knol is to write articles about popular topics, say Obama and McCain. That's what TechCrunch wrote. But I would actually predict that the field that will get flooded first is the articles about health, especially those conditions that can either be treated with a fancy pharmaceutical or that some lawyer can sue someone for. I read once that "mesothelioma" is the highest possible Cost-per-click word you could use because people type that looking for lawyers to sue in the junk science cases against asbestos manufacturers.

In spite of the people out there willing to sell their vote on ebay, I don't think a lot of people are following a lot of text ads for candidates. They do follow links for stuff they think will make them healthy or rich without having to work. I'll try to check back in another six months and see if my prediction comes true.

Hyper-Bowl!

I shouldn't pick on this poor guy. Lord knows that there have been plenty of times that I've only seen a word, never heard it pronounced, and didn't know how to pronounce it.

Nah, I should make fun of him. When that happens to me if I don't know is I ask someone the correct pronunciation, or look it up. I did this recently with "inchoate." I did that just so I'd use it properly in conversation; I think if I was going to speak on a video available on the World Wide Web I'd really check out any word I wasn't sure of.

So, you don't have to watch all this video, which is otherwise essentially information-free infotainment, but do watch up to the pretty boy try to use the word "hyperbole" at about 1:01 in.

Maybe this guy needs to turn this into a thing -- the day after the Superbowl host a HyperBowl giving out awards for those able to generate the most hype out of a campaign with some obvious exaggerations.


Little Goebbels?

So, someone from Team Clinton said Obama's use of a picture of a middle class family was just as outrageous as the image of Nazis in Skokie, Ill.

Ummm. Middle class families - Nazis. Nice work. A key advisor on the all-important health care issue becomes as irrelevant as some lurker in the message boards of a site. He becomes the essence of Godwin's Law.

It brought to mind for me Colorado's own Ward Churchill, who managed to get himself fired from a tenured job because he called the 9/11 victims "Little Eichmanns."

Here comes a theory you won't read about anywhere else...

I think the reason that Ward Churchill created such a fuss, and got fired, is that he called those victims "Little Eichmanns" and not just Nazis. If he had done that, he would have fallen into Godwin's Law and been ignored.

What's the difference? Specificity.

In the excellent book Made to Stick, the authors point out that specificity is important to making ideas that "stick."

Calling someone a Nazi, as Godwin's Law illustrates, has become so generic as to become nearly meaningless. "Little Eichmanns" was sticky.


Of Course McCain is telling the truth

Am I the only one to notice this? I think McCain is lying about a few things. Hell, it's hard to believe much from any of these candidates. But I think McCain has a small verbal tic to let us know when he's doing it. He prefaces the lie with "Of course."

"I have never, ever supported a specific timetable" for withdrawing troops, Romney said. McCain's accusation on the eve of Tuesday's primary, he said, "sort of falls into the dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible." ... McCain stuck to his guns, saying, "of course he said he wanted a timetable" for a withdrawal.

Here's another:

But, look, I voted -- I voted on the tax cuts because I knew that unless we had spending control, we were going to face a disaster. We let spending get completely out of control. Of course, those tax cuts have to remain permanent.

Here's one that the Freudians out there will love, especially because he said this after his mother besmirched all those in his party:

I want to thank my wife, Cindy, the best campaigner in the family, and my daughters Meghan and Sidney, who are with us tonight, as well as my son, Doug, and our children who could not be here, and of course, my dear mother, Roberta McCain.

I suppose this is helpful. If you like all the stuff McCain says that is NOT prefaced by "of course" then you might be comfortable voting for him.


Sinkers

I have a category called "floaters" for stuff that just hangs around, but doesn't really apply to anything else.

I did not create that category to handle stories like this:

It's a fat world, after all

Disneyland announces plans to close the "It's a Small World" attraction to deepen its water channel after the ride's boats start getting stuck under loads of heavy passengers. Employees ask larger passengers to disembark - and compensate them with coupons for free food.

Mmmm. Free food at Disneyland! I'm so there.


Literally Freezing to Death

I literally yelp for joy when I discover a great blog.

This one just tracks abuse of the word "literally" and has a handful of great links to other single-issue grammar blogs.

The item above was about the misuse of the word by a formerly leading candidate for president, though I don't think many voters turned away from her because of that. On the other hand, she did sound a bit like an unpleasant sixth-grade teacher.

Though her campaign has worked assiduously to make her appear warmer and more likable, she sounded a bit scolding at times.

"What is most important now," she said, "is that as we go on with this contest that we keep focused on the two big issues; that we answer -- correctly -- the questions that each of us has posed: How will we win in November 2008 by nominating a candidate who will be able to go the distance, and who will be the best president on Day One? I am ready for that contest."

Anyway, I hope that whomever you support for president you will join me in hoping that none of the candidates' acolytes actually does freeze to death, literally or otherwise.


The Company Store stinks, and so does BackToBasicToys

Ken Jennings writes about his horrible experience with BackToBasicToys. I won't be shopping there!

Here's another: The Company Store. Never shop with them, unless you are the gambling type who likes to order stuff and then just sort of hope it comes up.

Csj07_rg89_ver3_3

Here's what The Company Store did to us: My wife thought it would be a nice gift for our family and another family we will be visiting to have matching pajamas. She ordered them, but with no notification at all The Company Store sent just one of the PJs to each of the two families. When Kathy called they told her the all the others had been cancelled. No, they won't refund the money, no they won't send a different style.

So, now Kathy has to decide how she's going to explain to her longtime friend why she's sending PJs to her friend's husband, and nothing for her or their child.

Do not shop The Company Store!


Rest of the story on LifeLock

I linked to the story of the guy who stole his own father's credit cards to start a business, something that violates the nature of Credit Card VC.

There was one bit of the story that bothered me, however, and it was that the story originally broke in the Phoenix New Times, parent company of a newspaper I once toiled at. In the years since I've left I've seen that the New Times company has gutted investigative reporting in Denver, and all over the country including at the Village Voice in New York City.

So the thing that didn't quite make sense for me about the story was that the original investigative reporting came from the New Times.

Now, thanks to Mike Arrington, we know the rest of the story. The only way the New Times was able to do an "investigative" story was by pasting together an anonymous email, probably from the credit reporting agencies who might lose business if this company does well.

I'm not saying Maynard is a saint, but if that company takes away a bit of business from the big three credit agencies, I have no beef with that; and Maynard is gone.
My other takeaway? Thanks goodness for the Interweb, and especially guys like Arrington who are willing to pull back the curtain a bit on the way the media works.


Ooopsie

Look, I love TechCrunch. It always seems to have the news I'm interested in first. I should have written posts about all the things that I saw TC do properly.

But this was too sweet to resist.

Here's TechCrunch yesterday, wirting about how Google is going to be announcing a replacement for Power Point:

They acquired Writely, and (mostly) built their spreadsheet application. The smart money is saying this is a build, not a buy.

Then today I read on the unofficial Google blog that Google has bought a company for its Power Point replacement.

The main guy at TechCrunch, being a stand-up guy, immediately posted an update to his post, and even teased himself a bit in the process. Because he's a class guy, he didn't write, "From now on I won't believe anything from the source who told me that Google will build this in house."

But I bet he's thinking that!


Thanks for nothin’

If you are building a company, and you are hoping that company has a healthy exit some day, the way to do that is to focus on what it is you are doing, and do it so well that some larger exit opportunity comes along.

It's kind of Zen, but you really can't focus on the exit, you have to focus first on the task at hand. Sure you have to be smart, be well positioned for an exit, etc., but most of getting well positioned for a good exit is the same stuff you have to do to run a smart and solid business in the first place.

There's a flip side to all this, however. If you do have an exit; If your company does get bought by some larger company, the way the rules of this country work, and the way the rules of human nature work and even the way manners dictate is that after the exit, it's no longer your thing. It belongs to the ones that wrote the check. You have to just let go.

Here's an example of two otherwise fine young men screwing that up. If you don't want to click, it's the story of two guys quitting Google because -- grab your Web 2.0 Kleenx -- they weren't getting enough attention from their bosses.

So.... Alex and I quit Google on Friday.

It's no real secret that Google wasn't supporting dodgeball the way we expected. The whole experience was incredibly frustrating for us - especially as we couldn't convince them that dodgeball was worth engineering resources, leaving us to watch as other startups got to innovate in the mobile + social space. And while it was a tough decision (and really disappointing) to walk away from dodgeball, I'm actually looking forward to getting to work on other projects again.


Whhaaaaaaaaa!

Look, if these guys want to quit, I have no issue with that. Fine. It's the whining about not getting enough attention that rankles me. If they wanted to complain privately, I'm sure they could and some other sources could make their case in probably a much more effective way, as in this post from A VC pointing out how Google really is just a big company now. He easily could have written that post without having to link to that whiny missive.

I speak from direct experience here, as my first company was bought by bigger guys. I suppose I could have complained about something or another (though probably not as it was a great transaction.) And now that I'm out looking for investors in my next thing a connection from California through New York actually made it back to Traffic.com in Pennsylvania. The key guy there had great things to say about the whole transaction. If I had complained publicly, would I have gotten that positive back-channel feedback? I don't think so.

And worse, I'm now running a great business, one that won't be as big as YouTube or DoubleClick, but still could be a great acquisition for Google or some other big name. Knowing the bad taste left in the collective mouth of Google about this Dodgeball thing, aren't they going to be just thismuch more shy about all the deals that are less than $1.5 billion?
Look, if you didn't get the support you needed from within the acquiring company, that says more about your inability to work within the structure of a big company. If you can't succeed at that, don't blame the big company for acting like a big company, blame yourself for not being better at playing by those rules. If you just don't want to be good at it, that's fine, but don't burn those bridges... other people may still want to use them.

So, thanks for nothin', Dodgeball.


Just grok it

Every once in a while I notice when someone writes something that makes me think they grok the ethos of Credit Card VC. I'm not saying they are foolish enough to actually use credit cards to finance a business, but they are simpatico with the notion.

This morning, in comment No. 7 to this post about an acquisition of a Sacramento company made me laugh so hard I almost spilled by grapefruit juice.

Shhhh…you're not supposed to mention Sacramento. Don't make us send our catering crew over there…..

1st rule of building a startup in Sacramento is you're not supposed to mention Sacramento

2nd rule of building a startup in Sacramento, is you're NOT supposed to mention Sacramento.

3rd rule of bootstrapping in Sacramento, is that if we are mentioned frequently on TC or elsewhere our talent and engineers get recruited to SV/SF, only to return when the bubble goes limp, taps out or bursts.

4th rule of bootstrapping in Sacramento is try and talk to local Angels and VCs before you have to drive to Menlo Park

5th rule of building a startup in Sacramento is it costs even less here.

6th Rule of building a startup in Sacramento is build something with a product and value, you can't sell a burn rate, man.

7th Rule of Sacramento start ups is you can bootstrap as long as you have to.

8th Rule of Sacramento startups is, if this is your first start up here, you will probably be doing another…

Grats to the MaxPreps team, they’ve been at it awhile. Always good to see other local teams making good.

PS: There is no Sacramento Startup Club, and if there were we deny its existence.


Very nice. I don't know what Allen Sligar's company does, but I wish him luck.

On the other end of the spectrum, and I hesitate about doing this but just can't resist, is YouniversityVentures .com. This is a VC outfit that only funds companies that are alums of the schools the founders attended. Heh.

Remember in college the guys who talked about high school a bit too much?


Mark does it again

I haven't been posting much lately -- frankly I've gone a little soft on the concept. Should I really be telling people to load up on credit card debt just before Christmas? Seems like a way to drive financial ruin.

If you are thinking about it, just be sure to follow the rules in the Manifesto.

Also, be sure to follow the advice in this post from Mark Cuban about not losing focus.


Catholic Guilt

Look, I'm a Catholic, and so I tend to feel guilty about a lot of stuff. I'm starting to feel a bit guilty about being the only one on the public square in favor of credit card debt. Every expert is against it, you can see columns like this one nearly every day somewhere.

Of course, the credit card companies also want you to use credit cards, which makes me the equivalent of Milton Friedman,  the economist who favors drug legalization. Credit cards are legal, but they are addictive and it can be difficult to break free of them.

That's why I really only advocate using them if you have a specific plan for using them, and then getting out.