4 Jan 2015
“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.” – Antonio Banderas
Meeting requests are an amazing invention. Pioneered, and standardized, almost 20 years ago by companies like Microsoft (as part of Outlook/Exchange), Novell (Groupwise) and Lotus (now part of IBM Lotus Notes) this innovation had great promise to automate an essential, yet completely routine, aspect of modern life.
The ascendency of meeting request usage, also rides several trends:In the 1990s, I had an Executive Assistant who scheduled my time, acted as a “gatekeeper” and also worked on many projects. She was a master tactician who managed to keep 3 or more Type A executives productively multi-tasking. In many ways, sadly, such personal assistance is being subsumed by.. Increasing computational power means that automation of routine tasks, personalized to the needs of individuals is much more of a reality, The mobile revolution has made meetings much more multi-modal and virtual, but also means that most executives must be productive even while being mobile nomads, and Calendars have migrated from paper – I switched about 20 years ago – to desktop computers using Outlook and the like, and now to the ubiquitous smartphone and tablet …
9 Nov 2014
A mere 25 years ago, the Fall of the Berlin Wall rent the “Iron Curtain” asunder, a re-ordering of western civilization possibly unparallelled since the fall of the Roman Empire.
25 years and 15 days ago, almost by happenstance, I drove the Berlin Corridor, travelled via Freidrichstraße Station behind the Berlin Wall and witnessed an exhausted and bankrupt regime about to collapse.
Today the world has joined Berlin in celebrating this momentous anniversary. This photo shows balloons lighting the old route of the Berlin Wall.
In 2014, we should be celebrating a distant historical memory. However, the sabre rattling by Vladimir Putin who illegally annexed Crimea, has (not so) covert troops actively de-stabilizing eastern Ukraine and causing existential jitters in the other former East Block countries, leads many commentators to be concerned that the Cold War didn’t end in 1989.
In 2009, for the 20th anniversary of these events, I published the following to describe my own experiences in the surreal world that 1989 Berlin represented:
Die Berliner Mauer – 20 Years After the End of History
3 Oct 2014
At the NACO Summit in Québec City, it was truly humbling to receive the Canadian Angel of the Year Award. I see this partly as a calling to be an ambassador to continue to help raise the Angel bar in Canada in the coming years. I wish to thank all those kind colleagues who, unbeknownst to me, wrote letters of nomination. Also, this is all based on the remarkable people at GTAN and in the Waterloo and Canadian ecosystem generally.
In response to the award, and recognizing the opportunity to build on current success, I shared the following observations and future challenges at the closing Keynote on Friday 3 October, 2014.
“TODAY’S CRITICAL MASS CAN POWER A QUANTUM LEAP”
Closing Keynote NACO Summit, Québec City Friday 2 October, 2014
Bonjours, mesdames et messieurs. Good morning, ladies and Gentlemen.
I hope that Yuri was aware of what he was unleashing by inviting me to share perspectives and future challenges of Angel investing in Canada! Not unlike a startup running on “fumes”, Canada’s angel sector reminds me of the quip from cartoonist Bill Hoest: “I just need enough …
14 Jan 2014
Last year, I signed up for a wonderfully ambitious initiative spearheaded by our Governor General, His Excellency David Johnston. I was invited to join a Group of Seven who will serve as catalysts to rolling out David Johnson’s vision of a Smart and Caring Nation built by a set of Smart and Caring Communities, ultimately aimed to be a major national initiative to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday, or sesquicentennial, in 2017.
I was very much honoured to be asked and, although it is a dauntingly large not to mention a somewhat unspecified, goal, as a proud Canadian who knows first hand David Johnston’s unique ability to lead and motivate, I quickly agreed to this call. I’ll share more about this initiative in order to seek your input. Since no small group can be representative of our huge and diverse nation, it is important the we engage in much dialogue from Canadians of all ages and demographic profile, in order to achieve maximum impact and relevance.
As a way to start that conversation, I’d like to share some of my perspectives on Smart and …
1 Jan 2014
As we enter 2014, well into the 21st Century, one lesson for me from the year just past was that Canada seems to be hobbled with 19th century infrastructure. Let me explain.
During 2013, my home in Ontario was subject to not one, but two, different ice storms – in April and December. Both brought down large chunks of trees and both caused multi-day electrical power outages. In decades, this is the first time I can recall losing power for more than 1 day. To have this occur twice, with a combined 8 days of power outage, in a single year is even more striking.
After the first ice storm in April, I recall discussing this with a European colleague who was surprised by the very notion of a power outage. From a European perspective, he suggested the last power outage, of any length, that he could recall was 30 years ago. This started me thinking about why the difference.
In Canada, we have always prided ourselves on being one of the world’s richest countries, with modern infrastructure. However, …
22 Nov 2012
Almost four and a half years ago, I penned what some called the obituary of Blackberry (see “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm”). My intentions in writing that missive were, in fact, quite the opposite. Back in 2008, a year after the first iPhone, Blackberry didn’t appear to be heeding the threat of major market disruption, let alone making a response. I thought that writing such a post might incite some action. Sadly, while I got loads of reaction from all over the world, the one missing piece was that this was singularly not registering inside the “Faraday Cage” of RIM headquarters at Philip and Columbia in Waterloo.
For many years, to continuously hone my expertise as an investor and participant in the next generation mobile ecosystem at VERDEXUS, I have maintained a “production” device and a “testing” device which allows me to sample the greatest number of new applications and platforms in my daily business and personal life. At the time of the 2008 blog, I switched from Blackberry as production device and iPhone as testing device. At that …
29 Oct 2012
In the world of wine, the concept of terroir describes a centuries long process in which the climate, soil, grape varieties and dedicated vintners, symbiotically develop a unique “sense of place” for a wine region. A favourite of mine, the garrulous and quintessential Californian vintner, Randall Grahm, while trying to establish the old World notion of terroir in California postulates that it is a long term proposition and can take centuries to develop.
As both a wine lover and serial tech entrepreneur, I firmly believe that building a tech cluster is similarly a very long term process. Ironically, the epicentre of tech clusters is in California. The Silicon Valley, which got its start in the 1950s remains the major cluster worldwide as “… no other place as yet has the Valley’s scale and resilience.”
Although I started my tech startup career in the US, it was in the Canada’s leading tech cluster of Waterloo where I built major companies and was one person who got that cluster started. Like Silicon Valley’s origins in Stanford University, the Waterloo cluster was initially fuelled by University of Waterloo. Over …
2 Sep 2012
Published by HarperBusiness WorldCat • Read Online • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
This summer I took time to re-read an oft-overlooked volume that I believe to be the essential to anyone working in marketing and innovation. In this review, I’ll provide a few examples of why this book needs more attention, particularly here in Canada where we definitely need to up our game in marketing of innovation and technology.
Clayton Christensen, as Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, is a leading academic researcher on innovation. Yet, he still manages to provide practical and pragmatic strategies that real companies can use. And, most importantly, his theoretical groundwork is based on extensive, data intensive research over longer period of time with real companies and markets going through disruptive innovation.
The latter term is often thrown around lightly in technology company circles. A Disruptive technology (or innovation) typically has worse product performance in mainstream markets while having key features that interest fringe and merging markets. By contrast, sustaining technologies provide improved product performance (and often price) in mainstream …
17 Aug 2012
After welcoming people to the 050th Reunion of the ‘Bun and other 1970’s computing at University of Waterloo in mid-August 2012, I’ve gathered together a photo album, the brief presentation from the Gala and the many comments received outside of the earlier blog post.
Before the Gala, almost 100 photos were gathered which have grown to almost 250 contributed by various attendees. Enjoy browsing the memories.Dave conroy Sytem controller Card Reader Line Printer Removable Disc Driver Randall Howard Dave Buckingham Charles Forsyth @ Math/Unix Eric Manning Dave Martindale Robert Biddle Mark Niemiec Jim Gardner Vic DiCiccio Dave Martindale Peter & Sylvia Raynham Wendy Nabert Williams Rohan Jayasekera Hide Tokuda & San-Qui Li Dave + Randall @ Mark Williams Alex White Randall @ MKS The Hacks @ Randall&Judy Wedding Math Building Morven Gentleman Morven Gentleman Eric Manning Eric Manning Ciaran O'Donnell Michael Dillon Peter & Flaurie Stevens Rick Beach Rick Beach Brad Templeton Brad Templeton Brad Templeton Ian Chaprin Ron & Amy Hansen Jon Livesey Johan George Kelly Booth Mike Malcolm Ian! Allen Linda Carson Linda Carson Dan Dodge Dave Huron R Anne …
4 Aug 2012
Building larger technology companies is critical for our future economic well being, yet somehow we seem to pay more attention to the seed and startup phase. This post and a subsequent missive, Wisdom from Recent Waterloo Technology Acquisitions, aim to analyze some recipes for building technology businesses to scale first from the perspective of recent companies and then specifically through the lens of local acquisitions. This pair of posts will be based on extensive data, but the findings are intended to start discussion rather than be the last word.