25 Jan 2009
“Efficiency is doing better what is already being done.” – Peter F. Drucker
Is there a green lining in the inevitable mountains of cash being channelled into economic stimulus?
The sequence of September’s ho hum election followed by the almost incongruous state of denial about both environmental issues and the state of our economy by Canada’s Stephen Harper Government, renders the proroguing of Parliament and his rapid policy about face almost exciting to watch. As a result, Tuesday’s budget should prove a lot more interesting than the six months that preceded it.
My post from last year, Finding Negawatts Right on your Doorstep, gave background to show how the EcoEnergy program could significantly reduce our collective residential Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, while simultaneously improving our housing stock and lowering operating costs. As noted, even with the current modest levels of uptake, this is an area where relatively small investments by our Federal and Provincial governments are starting to pay off.
In the context of Canada’s 2009 Federal Budget, there will certainly be significant funds allocated to economic stimulus, almost certainly with the traditional focus …
23 Jan 2009
While I’m hardly a shrinking violet, I generally shy away from newspaper coverage. That being said, after saying no several times to Gordon Pitts at the Globe and Mail, I finally agreed to be quoted. Here’s why.
Yesterday, Jim Balsillie won the Laurier Outstanding Business Leader of the Year Award. With his business, economic and philanthropic contributions to our area and Canada as a whole, I can’t imagine a more deserving recipient. It is truly inspirational to have people like Jim making a real difference to all of us.
In an unfortunate coincidence, on the same day, both Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis were the subject of media coverage regarding a possible (and staggering) $100 million penalty regarding a stock options pricing case dating back to 1996.
In the current financial meltdown, many might believe that ever more zealous regulation is the answer, but this really isn’t the root issue here. And, bearing in mind that I don’t have all the facts that the OSC and SEC possess, I present some key points in questioning the motives of the timing and magnitude of …
17 Jan 2009
“Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.” – Elbert Hubbard
Being an inveterate early adopter, and loving the fusion of new research and web reach coming from the innovation in social media (see Science Fairs, Social Media & Fads – The New Science for the 21st Century), I decided to seek help of the blogosphere to sort out the social media wheat from the chaff.
Mark Evans recent tweet about Tumblr, made me try out yet another social media property. It could be interesting, but only time will tell.
And yet, with so many out there, I never know which are going to have personal value to me and, even more important, have staying power in a very crowded market. One thing is clear, especially in these lean times for tech financing, and that is that there will be long term consolidation. Therefore, I’d like to seek your help in predicting the ultimate winners and losers, and so . . .
PLEASE CAST YOUR VOTE:
13 Jan 2009
“Another one bites the dust.How do you think I’m going to get along,Without you, when you’re gone”Queen
This is a call to action where individual citizens can make a huge difference.
The recent loss of a local cultural gem, namely King Street Theatre:
Curtain Closes on Another Local Local Theatre
and the near death experience of the 87 year old cultural gem the Grand Philharmonic Choir, from cash flow challenges, has shone a spotlight on how the financial meltdown is already impacting the Waterloo area arts and cultural scene. As one who supported King Street Theatre’s original capital campaign, I feel this loss personally. Further, I am optimistic that many in our community share this sense of loss.
Many of the key funders who directly invest in our cultural sector, such as local foundations and individual donors, have seen their financial investments tank along with the rest of us. Given that 2009 contributions will largely be determined by 2008 investment returns, we are probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
The media cites lack of citizen interest or poor …
31 Dec 2008
Who invented the dot (“.”) that precedes the file type extension, as in document.doc or metal.mp3? As we near the end of what has emerged as a most interesting year, we all could use the diversion of examining the history of something so simple and pervasive, that we all take for granted.
A note from my friend Brad Templeton reminded me that being in the right place at the right time can be profound. In fact, as strange as it sounds, Brad Templeton may well have invented the dot in “.com“, as he discusses here. As he says:
“Indeed if it was me, it was simply by virtue of the fact that having been around at the beginning of these things, and taking an interest in these issues. Being in the right place at the right time. But it’s simultaneously mind-boggling, conceit-building and humbling to think that what I said might have sparked something that became so universal.”
This led me to ask myself, who orginated the ubiquitous dot that separates the extension, denoting file type, from the base file name. …
26 Dec 2008
Fold or raise? Full house or three of a kind? Eager to jump start an economy that has seen almost unprecedented meltdown, governments around the world are racing to place gargantuan bets with taxpayer and treasury money. Only time will separate the profound from the boondoggle among these bets. Meanwhile, poised on the dawn of a new year, I’ll present my analysis and opinion, recognizing that the complexity of the current situation dictates that no one has the real answer.
Last year’s credit crunch and the ensuing illiquidity has generated a financial crisis whose effect that might have, only a few months ago, seemed totally inconceivable:massive government ownership of banks (HBOS, Northern Rock) and insurance companies (AIG) bankruptcies of some pillars of the financial system (Lehman Brothers) a North American auto industry (GM, Ford, Chrysler) that stared down death, and even with bailouts, may not survive in any recognizable form an estimated $30 trillion of value wiped out of global stock markets in a matter of months, according to Alan Greenspan not to mention a US recession that has already lasted a surprising one year, …
19 Dec 2008
Today at precisely 11:18 PST saw the fulfillment of a long held and ambitious dream. At that time, my nephew Jonathan Howard, having set out on March 25th of this year, persevered in his epic run and completed it by dipping his toe into the Pacific Ocean at Mile 0 of the Trans Canada Highway in Victoria BC. I’m still awaiting the photo, but at the bottom of this post you can see Jonathan dipping his toe into the Atlantic to kick of this run.
Our March posting first described his ambitious venture, Run The Dream, in which Jonathan and his team of volunteers sought to raise both awareness and a targeted $2.5 million for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Today, he completed that quest.
Congratulations to Jonathan on this remarkable accomplishment. His passion and commitment are remarkable and this is truly an examplar of the new generation of social entrepreneurism.
Please consider supporting his dream by donating at the Run The Dream website or perhaps attending a Gala fundraiser to be held on 25 March, 2009 in Toronto.
Below I’ve included a YouTube re-broadcast of …
14 Dec 2008
I wanted to share a great presentation by Ray Simonson who spoke on December 3rd, giving a “Lived It” talk as part of the Mars Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.
I’ve known Ray for a long time and, not only is he a great guy, but he’s an amazing storyteller. Certainly Ray’s stories can serve to inspire and educate any budding entrepreneur. Ray is forthright, having seen his share of challenges along the way, ones that might make a less determined person pack it in.
Since 2004, Ray and I partnered through Verdexus to acquire then build the company now known as Coreworx (formerly Software Innovation). Since its August 2008 acquisition by Acorn Energy, Ray continues as CEO of a growing business.
This recent lecture, focusing on Ray’s first exit at BlueGill Technologies, was taped and the video located here:
Lived It Video by Ray Simonson
is well worth the time to view. The site requires you to provide your name and email to access the video.
It’s part of a great, non-credit course to encourage and educate new …
29 Nov 2008
Have you invented a killer application that people will use in business or their personal lives on a regular basis? Are you ready to implement a great web/mobile experience in the context of building a web startup business?
Now what? You’ll want to evolve a business model that helps viral adoption, yet still allows for effective monetization of your great new application. Below are the three main web-based models you may wish to consider:
1. Subscription: This model involves a per monthly charge for a service and generally uses traditional and web approaches to customer acquisition. A conservative approach, this is simply a Web 1.0 conversion of traditional selling models to the online world. That being said, many great businesses have thrived using this model, because in principle, cash flows can commence very quickly.
2. Free: Since the early days of the web, sites like Yahoo!, and more recently Google and Skype, based on web economics and culture offer a high level of service and utility for the amazingly low price of free. Free continues to be the pricing model of choice for …
23 Nov 2008
Is this a good time for startups? In the midst of the greatest financial turmoil in most people’s living memory and with several posts about the challenges of startup finance, it’s time to counter with an optimistic message about startups.
Perhaps I’m sanguine, having almost always raised capital against some of the worst macroeconomic cycles, such as the Asian Financial crisis in October 1995, the Quebec Referendum of 1997, not to mention the technology meltdown of 2000. In the end, although closed at less favourable valuations, the financings got done, proving to me that businesses can get built in the midst of even the toughest economic and market conditions.
These experiences taught me that perhaps the best time to launch a startup may well be in an economic downturn. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, it worked for well known companies like Skype, Google, Expedia and Apple’s iPod. Here’s why.
First of all, innovations which involve disruption to existing pricing models, are likely to be most successful during economic downturns. Businesses and consumers, looking for ways to reduce cash burn, are way more …