One of my favorite themes is the slowness and profoundness of structural change. I was reminded of this in looking at my tax bill. We pay a lot of county taxes and it makes me wonder what counties are good for. They are sort of like middle management in the government hierarchy sitting between states and local communities. Now middle management has been under most pressure from the use of IT in...
Disagreeing in a Pitch Meeting
As an entrepreneur when you bring you members of your team with you (whether they are part of your management team or advisors), there is always a possibility that someone will say something that you disagree with. As far as I am concerned it’s perfectly fine to have some level of disagreement with a couple of provisos. First, how you handle the disagreement is important. If you try to...
How to Beat the iPhone
Beating the iPhone is a tall order and it’s unclear that anyone is even close. Yes folks have good looking phones and are matching some of the other features of the iPhone, but as a completely packaged easy to use consumer product there does not seem to be a real contender. Yet the iPhone has one potential Achilles heel. For the time being anyhow, Apple has decided to expose some of the...
Seeking Technology Connector
We are seeking a Technology Connector. If that describes you please make sure to write to email@example.com!
The Mystery of Air Conditioning
Is there a technical reason for why the air conditioning in most buildings seems to be set to “FREEZING”? I mean what is wrong with say 78 degrees? Does it really have to be 65 or below inside when it is 85 or 90+ outside? In our home I always try to run the AC to remove humidity and provide an acceptable temperature level but not to turn the place into a meatlocker. I wonder how...
More on LHC Security
A while ago I called the Large Hadron Collider a “Sucker’s Bet.” It’s time for an update because the LHC Safety Assessment Group (or LSAG) has published its long awaited report on the safety of the collider. I am clearly completely unqualified to argue any of this on the substance, but the process is broken. This is yet another paper by a bunch of scientists (in this...
Wordprocessing is Stuck in 20th Century
My first word processor experience was on an Apple II - I have forgotten which program I liked best, but they were all fairly capable. This was over 25 years ago. When I look at how I use Microsoft Word today, not much has changed. Sure I will occasionally make use of some nice features like revision tracking, but there is nothing fundamentally different about the experience. In particular...
I am certain that I am not the most productive at using email, but I am pretty happy with the simple system that I have come up with. It has two key components. The first is to answer the bulk of emails when I first open them. This is possible because most emails require only a very short response and often only a minimal action (confirming a meeting, making an introduction, etc). There is a...
Covestor Opening Up
Covestor is taking a big step today by opening up the service more broadly. A linked investment account is now no longer a requirement for participating. This will make the great investment talent that is already present at Covestor more widely accessible. Congrats to the team, which has worked incredibly hard on this. We are excited to see the next phase in the development of Covestor and...
Call for Topics (Web 2.0 Expo Workshop) →
Looking for topics and issues to discuss at a workshop that I am doing with Charlie O’Donnell at Web 2.0 Expo.
Fail Early or Iterate Early?
One mantra that is often brought up for entrepreneurs is to “fail early” (and some add “and often”). The theory is that if your business is not working it’s better to fold before you have spent a lot of money and try something else instead from scratch. There is not just the money - if you go too long in one direction you build an organization that has inertia in...
Recently I have heard some people say that they would have voted for Hillary Clinton, but are now planning to vote for John McCain. Anyone even contemplating this should make sure to look past their perception of John McCain and inspect his voting record. My firm believe is that actions speak louder than words and whatever McCain has been telling voters and the press, what should matter more in...
Automatic Software Updates (Microsoft Edition)
A while ago, I was critical of Apple for including Safari by default in their software update. Given the widespread protest, Apple subsequently changed the update pretty much along the lines I and many others had suggested. Today it’s Microsoft’s turn for a ribbing. I have a 4+ year old Panasonic laptop that works great. Runs Windows XP and is usually snappy and super stable. ...
Bubbles, Recessions and Series A Valuations
With the most recent unemployment report we have officially entered into a recession. I believe this also marks the end of the Web 2.0 mini bubble. During the days of inflated valuations we had some - most notably Marc Andreesen - saying that it was not a bubble. I think that was at least in part so as to not make their own investors feel like they were getting a bad deal (ditto for Peter Thiel...
The iPhone 2.0 Revolution
I am excited about the 3G version of the iPhone. With faster speed and enterprise integration it has almost everything I want. My remaining issues can probably be overcome by some software upgrades. In particular I would like to see copy and paste and would prefer a horizontal keyboard with larger keys for typing emails. Given the new pricepoint I expect we will see a further uptake of the phone,...
What's Like Happening to Like Culture?
A couple of days ago I was riding on a Metro North commuter train behind a group of teenagers who were loudly discussing something. I say something because I could not make out their topic as it was drowned out by the word “like” appearing three or more times in every sentence. Now I am generally not language obsessed and English is my second language, but the complete lack of...
More Identity Thoughts
I wrote yesterday about why I believe there is a brawl brewing over identity. In that post I suggested that convenience will be the main driver for the adoption of a “unified identity” model in which the large players (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, etc) will become the identity providers for their users across the Net. But I don’t think it’s the only...
Impending Identity Brawl
One of the really big brawls brewing on the Internet is over identity. At the risk of grossly simplifying there appear to be two fundamentally different notions of identity on the net. One camp views identity as a “series of personalities” across different sites and services with their owners controlling to which degree they link these personalities up into a single identity. In...
Black Swan Philanthropy
I have a long standing interest in probability and am fascinated by how fantastical a role it plays in our lives. Recently, I wrote about my concern regarding the Large Hadron Collider based on the “infinite” downside of some long tail events. This weekend I read the Atlantic Monthly’s “The Sky is Falling” which provided a great summary of the recent changes in the...