10 Jun 2008
Published by Hyperion WorldCat • Read Online • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder
Chris Anderson, a former editor at my favourite magazine, The Economist, and now editor at Wired, presents an in depth analysis of how digital technologies have transformed the means of distribution and hence many business models. Coming from the perspective of an economist and filled with loads of great examples, including some non-web examples like low cost airlines, this book should be read by anyone who hasn’t figured out that the digital age has expunged the scarcity upon which many traditional businesses relied on as a barrier to entry.
5 Jun 2008
“I believe ‘fearless passion’ is a secret sauce of future success.” – Jeff Pulver
This morning, fearless entrepreneur Jeff Pulver, published an truly inspirational blog post that all entrepreneurs (and aspiring entrepreneurs) should read and take to heart. Read “Fearless Passion Knows no Boundaries” and consider, as one comment suggested, printing it out and putting it on the wall of your office or cubicle.
Jeff, a co-investor in our portfolio company iotum, is a prolifically tireless entrepreneur who, among other things, co-founded Vonage and continues to be a visionary innovator in the VoIP community and Internet Video.
Why do we put this as the first item in our Essential Entrepreneurial Toolkit?
In the uncertain world that entrepreneurs must navigate, both in startups and the social sector, Jeff’s advice is right on the money. To outsiders, the sheer bloodymindedness and chutzpah exhibited by many entrepreneurs comes off as arrogance, or even worse, naïveté. In truth, when balanced with other qualities in the toolkit we’ll discuss at a future date, such fearlessness allows them to navigate those inevitable troughs of despair.
And, it’s a good thing. Without …
27 May 2008
Last weekend, I attended Asphalt Jungle Shorts IV, a truly innovative and engaging theatre experience — one that you definitely shouldn’t miss. And, even better, AJS is performed right here in Waterloo Region. Downtown Kitchener, having weathered a down cycle and now in a major resurgence, has evolved an urban, hip, almost Manhattanesque kind of feel.
Multitalented Artistic Director Paddy Gillard-Bentley‘s innovative use of site specific theatre builds on our unique urban environment in bold new ways. In her previous three installments, she allowed us to experience drama in such real world settings as a parking garage, a bar, City Hall, a store window, back alley, small parks and even a book store. Without giving too much away, I can say that Paddy has pulled out all the stops and presented a play in the most unlikely and crazy place I’ve ever seen. I’m sworn to secrecy, so you will have to attend to find out where.
Couple the intrigue of great locations with a globally selected talent pool and you’ll start to see what the AJS magic is all about. Although …
21 May 2008
Yesterday, Chris Sacca (ex Googler extraordinaire, investor in the likes of Twitter and recent Tech Leadership Conference Keynote speaker) shot a provocative salvo across the bow of the Twittosphere. Many times Twitter is a true belwether, capturing the pulse of market dynamics. And, although saying this might not go down well in Waterloo, it struck a chord with me. Here’s Chris’s shot of wisdom:“Surfing the web on a Blackberry is like trying to prepare dinner for four with an Easy-Bake” Oven. In the mobile universe, aren’t we forever doomed to suffer a hopelessly limited and painful browsing experience? And, why is mobile browsing that important anyway? Whizzy gizmos like the accelerometer aside, the key breakthrough of last year’s Apple iPhone launch was to deliver mobile browsing that is every bit as rich as the equivalent desktop experience. The entire universe of websites accessible to the desktop user simply works in the iPhone browser. This is equally true on 2G EDGE networks, and doesn’t depend on the forthcoming release the iPhone 2 with its higher speed 3G HSDPA capabilities. In short, Apple has moved …
20 May 2008
Big “boil the ocean” issues (with apologies for the corny metaphor) like Global Warming overwhelm many people with their scope, long time scale and difficulty to solve. Predictions that human activity, which has of late been increasingly generating Green House Gases (GHGs) which in turn accumulate in the atmosphere and, by changing the heat retention of the whole earth’s ecosystem, cause our average temperatures to warm up, are now almost universally accepted as fact rather than just scientific theory.
In response, socially responsible businesses and individuals have started to buy carbon offsets which seek to provide an alternative reduction elsewhere, equivalent to the actual carbon they the purchaser of the offset produces. While worthwhile, most offsets are, in fact, delivered via the CDM part of the Kyoto Protocol in the absence of more pervasive emissions trading schemes. CDM, short for Clean Development Mechanism, invests in programs in developing countries which reduce GHG emissions.
But, what about reducing our emissions here in Canada and the United States? I’d like to share a best kept secret, namely the Elora Centre for …
13 May 2008
In today’s knowledge-based economy, much discussion centres around the importance of clustering. For example, in financial services, cities like New York, London and Toronto have all benefited at the expense of smaller rivals (eg. Philadelphia, Paris and Montreal or Vancouver). Likewise, as entrepreneurial technology startups have spread around the world, the Silicon Valley remains a magnet and model for that magic blend of people, ideas and capital aspiring to create the next Microsoft or Google. Furthermore, in spite of the world-flattening ascendency of information technology over the last decade, in some ways, the forces of such clustering seems to have increased.
Being domiciled in Canada, and having built transatlantic technology companies over the years, led me to ponder Chris Anderson‘s recent endorsement of distributed workface in which he “builds companies that are distributed because that’s where the best people are.”
So, what’s the stronger force: clustering or distributed teams? First, let’s dig a bit into history so we can follow this trend.The 1980’s: Selling Software in a Pre-web World
In the late 1980’s, an otherwise bright, young MBA student advised MKS to conquer …
6 May 2008
I finally found some time to record thoughts on a great conference – last Thursday’s Tech Leadership Conference (TLC) by Communitech.CEO ROUNDTABLE:
Verdexus once again gathered a few tech CEOs from Waterloo and Toronto, the night before at Charbries, to have an informal and open-ended discussion of key issues in financing, growing, valuing and finding exits for technology startups.
As in past years, we assembled an accomplished group who have built primarily software-based businesses during the last decade and are now executing newer models, whether SaaS or the more esoteric Venture 2.0 Playbook necessary for “so-called” Web 2.0 and Mobile businesses. In an earlier blog, I covered a past TLC speaker and Verdexus advisor Grover RIghter’s Venture 2.0 Playbook.
Numerous war stories about increased complexities of dealing with founders, VCs, groups of angel investors, not to mention simply making enterprise sales highlighted common success factors of perseverence to overcome obstacles, failure and experimentation before ultimate success and just plain good luck around timing. The drying up of VC money and other funding challenges remain a constant theme.
Experience in building great businesses over the …
4 May 2008
Ever since I attended AlwaysOn OnMedia NYC conference in January 2007, where I witnessed the unfolding of a parallel conference on large side-mounted LCD panels, I’ve been intrigued by the power of social media to enhance the traditional conference experience. That conference pioneered a new delivery approach, which attempts to exploit peer-to-peer discussions and even involve those outside the conference in the event itself. I’m convinced that, in the context of conferences at least, much of the power of the social media lies in creating a whole new back channel of discussion. In that way, conference attendees can network, take notes and make the conference as personal to their needs as they desire.
The same thing was happening at the recent Communitech Tech Leadership Conference (TLC) in Waterloo on May 1st. In fact, when I made the suggestion to Iain Klugman (Communitech President) to consider installing those monitors for the next event, he was most enthusiastic. Nonetheless, while reflecting on the important, high level lessons from this conference, (which I plan to cover in a later blog posting), I did a …
28 Apr 2008
“believe me, you have to get up early if you want to get out of bed”
it’s not entirely clear that Groucho Marx was referring the much-vaunted early adopter of a previous post. Therein, I illuminated how important early adopters are and the hazards of miscuing when serving them in newly minted markets. Because of this, I thought I’d share a few personal experiences of what motivates me to adopt early. Of course, I’m a technophile, yet I’m hardly indiscriminate in my acquisition of new technologies.
How do I decide where to focus my energies? Let’s start by looking at a few of the new technologies I didn’t adopt and why not, and discern some lessons from that.
As an audiophile in the 1970’s, I spent lots of time researching and purchasing hi-fi audio systems with a primarily primarily British lineage, including: high end turntable (Linn Sondek or Rega), cartridge (Supex), pre-pre-amp, pre-amp (Meridian, Naim or Tangent), amplifier, speakers (Harbeth), etc. I read the quirky “Hi Fi Answers”, patronized audiophile shrines like Ring Audio and CC Audio and even had …
19 Apr 2008
The Office Goes Home
Over a short span of years, I’ve witnessed work migrate from a highly structured office setting, to home offices via telecommuting and now into the “Third Place”, a term coined by Ray Oldenberg in his 1989 book The Great Good Place.
Back in the early 1980’s, I was a pioneer of telecommuting, between Waterloo and Chicago via a state of the art 1200 baud modem, pictured above, no less. There was intense interest in this at the time, because as an extremely early adopter (too early some might say) of the telecommuting paradigm, I felt a bit like a guinea pig. In retrospect this workstyle enabled extreme concentration and productivity. At the same time, the primitiveness of the communications technologies, from network speed to the software then available, necessitated a lot of travel for in-person meetings. And, tellingly, the home office can ultimately be a lonely workplace, leading to a decrease in social interaction and overall motivation.
In that early revolution over the last 25 years, telecommuting saw work slowly migrate, or more typically intermingle, between the second place …