August 2008

What makes a good VC?

If a strong financial background validates a VC’s ability to correctly run numbers. What validates a VC’s ability to correctly evaluate new markets?

Great Post:

One thing I was thinking (and I can say this… since I was a finance
guy myself) is that perhaps one reason why there aren’t more NYC VCs is
that a lot of them half Finance roots and that’s not necessarily the
best skills set for doing venture. When you’re evaluating completely
new markets, sometimes the numbers prevent you from leaps of faith.
Risk, in general, isn’t exactly something that’s supported here in the
city, with some exceptions. I think it’s no accident that a lot of the
startups are getting angel funded by random hedge fund guys who are used
to swinging for a few fences every now and then.

You ran a company and James, Jr. is a tech guy… It’s not often that
someone goes from running a big Fortune 500 company and then goes to
start a VC fund… and there aren’t a lot of long term technologists
here in the city either. No offense to bankers, but I think running
something and building something are critical skill sets to
understanding venture.

Stuart gets a free pass on the banker knock because he taught himself to
program. 🙂

Originally posted as a comment by ceonyc on This is going to be BIG! using Disqus.

Shai Agassi

I’d like to say that Thomas Friedman said it best when he said,

“What would happen if you cross-bred Henry Ford and Yitzhak Rabin? You’d get Shai Agassi.”

I think I can improve.

Shai Agassi is a hero.

Bottom line. (Read Thomas’s book, The World is Flat, and you might think he is one as well)

The plain reality is that our civilization is experiencing harsh consequences directly resulting from our own innovations. The most highly debated and discusses innovation being automobiles and oil.

But, when you look at how oil has effected the socioeconomics of almost every culture worldwide, you would immediately understand how it is going to take a lot more then alternative energy to fix the oil problem. Because within the oil problem, there exist an entire set of other connected issue, from technology, to economy, and even religion. Being able to solve a problem, that addresses all connected problems, is extremely difficult. Doing this on an international scale is much harder, and executing the solution is near impossible.

Shai Agassi is on a mission to create

“global energy independence and freedom from oil”

Say that out loud. Think of all the many countless factors at play. He is trying to account for them all, and deliver a solution that could fix the ills brought upon by the industrial revolution.

Most importantly, he is committed, and determined to address, perhaps the hardest issue of our time. And for that he is a hero.

America’s Management Team

When the media covers a presidency, they constantly refer to the phrase “The (insert president’s name here) administration”. A phrase that is reflective of a group of people that form consensus, make decisions, and ultimately run our country. They are America’s Management Team.

When American citizens choose their next President and Vice President, why are they only presented with two teams, of two individuals (although, in reality there are actually more options)? As the world continues down this road of globalization, there are many more factors that come in to play. How can two individuals posses the mental capacity and expertise to address all of the different domestic and global challenges? The short answer is, they cannot, thus appointing others to their cabinet and creating new appointments as needed.

Why can’t the presidential candidate declare the following appointments (or at least a select or two even) pre-election day?

  1. Vice President
  2. Secretary of Agriculture
  3. Secretary of Commerce
  4. Secretary of Defense
  5. Secretary of Education
  6. Secretary of Energy
  7. Secretary of Health and Human Services
  8. Secretary of Homeland Security
  9. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  10. Secretary of Interior
  11. Secretary of Labor
  12. Secretary of State
  13. Secretary of Transportation
  14. Secretary of Treasury
  15. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  16. Attorney General

Granted, disclosing all of the appointments may be a bit much. And maybe their can be a different approach that presents more options or more insight. Even so, in today’s world I would be thoroughly interested to see who would take up the following positions pre-election:

  • Secretary of Commerce
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Secretary of Education
  • Secretary of Energy

After all, aren’t we voting on the people who will run our country for the next four years? America’s Management Team?

Just a thought.

Linking Up the Living Room With The Internet

Intel’s announcement with Yahoo to bring widgets to the living room is not a real shocker.

I have seen this image 2 years ago, while I was in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show. (The widgets appeared on a 42″ LCD, hanging behind a 1 way reflective piece of glass. This was hanging in the bathroom, allowing people to check stocks and weather while brushing their teeth. It was also a prototype by Yahoo).

The idea is simple: make the Internet available in and on more mediums.

Television is clearly the most logical place to start.

But does it require hardware modifications on a television? Couldn’t the same be accomplished with a console or set box top provider like Microsoft or Scientific Atlanta?

Either way, its nice to see that companies are taking real strides to get Internet in the living room. Or is it?

A New Age of Online Media – The Build Up

“Here’s what’s important. We’ve allowed the way transitions look from the outside to drive our perception of what they must feel like to those going through them on the inside. From the outside, they look dramatic, almost revolutionary breakthroughs. But from the inside, they feel completely different, more like an organic development process.“-Jim Collins, Good to Great

Lotame Grabs $13 Million in Funding for New Advertising Idea

August 19, 2008 — 05:31 AM PDT — by Don Reisinger — — 13 Comments

Online advertising is the key to the future for companies that want to be successful, but a small firm called Lotame has just raised $13 million in Series B funding to take aim at advertisers and provide a unique way of getting in front of the target audience….(continue reading @ or at:

“Clearly, the good-to-great companies did get incredible commitment and alignment – they artfully managed change – but they never really spent much time thinking about it. It was utterly transparent to them. We learned that under the right conditions, the problems of commitment, alignment, motivation, and change just melt away. They largely take care of themselves.”-Jim Collins, Good to Great

*And if I couldn’t make it any more obvious, anyone in business or plans on entering the business world, should most certainly go out and buy Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great

Are You In College And Thinking About Your Career?

Fred Wilson recently wrote a post about one of his portfolio companies and its search for interns in the NYC area.

In the Post…

Greg Yardley, founder/CEO of our portfolio company Pinch Media tells the following story about graduating from college and facing the career question:

When I finished school, I had a MA in Russian history and absolutely no idea what to do with myself – I started working as a customer support rep at an Internet startup because they were the first ones to offer me a job.  (If the startup was a week later with the job offer, I’d probably be a 911 emergency operator today.  Sometimes life can lead you to unexpected places.)  I was surprised to stumble across a field that I loved – soon I became a product manager, and now I’m the co-founder of a company. You never know – maybe there’s a career here for you that you’ve never considered.

Greg’s words could not be more appropriate to the current state of my career/life. Having recently graduated from college, I was faced with a choice:

  1. Enter the working world (with a conservative approach) – Get a job with will respected, high profiled employer. Good resume builder.
  2. Enter the working world (with a less conservative approach) – Join a startup, work on my own startup or company.
  3. Go back for more school – Law School, Masters, 5th, 6th year, etc.
  4. Travel and relax for a year or so

My original intent was to go back to school, however a unique opportunity presented itself, and now I am in the working world taking a less conservative approach then most of my peers.

As Greg said, “Sometimes life can lead you to unexpected places.  I was surprised to stumble across a field that I loved.”

This could not be more true.

Are You In College And Thinking About Your Career? Which decision would you make and why?

New Perspective

My mouth has been wired shut for 3 weeks now due to genetics and orthognathic surgery. As a result, I have not been able to speak, effectively engage in verbal conversation, or eat any food. Within this 3 week period, I have also lost a close friend adding significant layers or pain, discomfort, and tension to an already difficult time.

But through this extremely unpleasant experience, I can undoubtedly say that I have gained some new perspective on many things. I’m sure I’ll be better for it in the end.

What does it take to gain a new appreciation, a new outlook, or a new understanding?

* My friend Ceci is traveling abroad, alone, for one year. I’m sure she will be better for it in the end as well.

“I heard people speaking everything from English, to French, to Arabic to Spanish to African dialects, and I had never felt like I had stuck out as so different in my entire life. I suppose this is why I’m here; to occupy my observational post as an outsider…”

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