Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Difference Between VCs and Finance Guys - Part 1 - The Look

Check out the Intruders.TV interview with Kevin Rose.

One of the cool things about being an entrepreneur or in VC is that you do not need to dress up to go to work -God knows I wish I didn't have to wear a tie and dress shoes everyday. Kevin Rose has made a lot of money for his investors (and for himself) so nobody is going to fault him for wearing a hoodie.

The guy interviewing him, on the other hand, looks like he fell out of a Fall Out Boy video.

A finance guy would never come to the office - would never leave the house looking like that. "Casual" for a finance guy is pressed shirt, no tie; or khakis and a polo shirt if you are getting on the yacht. Part of it is a function of age (important finance guys are often a decade or two older than important VC/entrepreneur guys), but part of it is also a measure of culture:

compare this guy:

or any of interviews

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cut the Cute Crap

So many of these web 2.0 start ups are too cutesy.

For example, as I am setting up my Digg account, I keep getting little messages from Digg "Your email address looks valid - that's a good thing." "This is your password. Remember to Remember it." The Kluster people have their own mini language-Watts, telling me I can give members of my community "props", etc.

Yea, I get that you guys a young. But do you even talk like that in real life? It sounds like a middle aged person trying to sound young.

Even if you are marketing towards 18-35 year olds, the sort of people who would use these apps are sophisticated enough not to be wooed by the slang and MTV graphics. Or are they? is an awesome new search engine. Think of an iphone and Google having a baby. You can flip through web pages like flipping through albums in iphone. No more clicking on a link with a cool description and finding a page scarred with banner ads and other detritus.

Somebody is going to buy this thing soon. It could definetly be an asset to Microsoft and/or Yahoo! and/or - alternatively, they could just wait for Google to come up with something better.

A Tech Education

I am a political science guy, but I love technology. I love the idea of technology. Rousseau said that every human endeavor is damned, because society is corrupt - Voltaire said, "Yea, society is corrupt, but technology/science is general progress." My one friend (sort of a pseudo-anarchist), challenged me once, asking if technology ever solves problems, without creating new ones - whether we're running faster and faster to stay in the same place. I didn't have an answer at the time, but I realize in retrospect there are some precise improvements. For example, epiderals - giving birth has always been painful, but because of technology it is less painful. Women today do not have to suffer as much as their grandmothers or great grandmothers.

As a political science guy, a finance track guy, I figured that tech PE / VC would be my way to contribute to society. And so, while in class I'm learning about Rousseau and Brezhnev, etc., in my spare time - until sailing season starts - I'm getting a tech education.

None of my friends have ever used RSS, nobody knows what twitters it - some of them know about Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins - but they their conception of them is 5 years old - "oh, they paid for Google." Now these are all smart kids - and many of them might end up in VC someday.

But I want to know as much as I can now. So I started with Tech. Review newsletters, discovered RSS, and now I get hourly updates from GigaOM, Venture Beat, etc., etc. I sign up for the Betas and check out the products. There is still a lot to learn, but I think I'm learning fast - and I am motivated as hell.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Internet Advertisement

I do not know anybody who clicks on pop ups or side bar advertisements – they use, go to the Apple store, whatever. This raises 2 possibilities:

1- my friends and family are unsophisticated and low tech

2- internet advertising is a bubble

If 2 is the case, it raises an interesting problem. Many, many websites owe all/most their money to advertising (free news sites, Facebook, Google, etc.). Obviously, then, there is money to be made in advertising, but a very large number of "hot" start ups are designed to make advertising more efficient. These are the guys who will be in harm's way if there is a bubble and it bursts.

More on Facebook

Interesting article that draws on some similar themes to my penultimate post


Phorm (formerly 121 media) has been in the news a lot recently.

1) Got caught running a secret program to track the browsing habits of 18,000 customers in 2006.

2) Unveiled a new advertising model: Mr. X googles “job,” Phorm picks up on this, and then Mr. X gets Weight Watcher ads in spaces that Phorm has bought in popular websites. [this, I think, is basically what they were doing in 1) but now they’re taking extra privacy precautions]

This improves upon the most popular model today, where A Weight Watcher’s ad is on, even though Mr. X doesn’t goes to, instead.

The top 3 british isps have already signed up – account for 70% of broadband users in UK

[* the British have an enlightened attitude towards the security/privacy gradient]


Then an article from The Register

Illumination Software

From now on, I'm hoping to learn and write more about "Anthro-illumination products ," products that enable people to understand the hidden patterns in human relationship, hidden thoughts (how to detect lies), and prediction of future actions.
"Not by strength, by guile."