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June 29, 2007

Celtics get older, and hopefully better

I like the Celtics deal for Ray Allen.  I don't think I could handle another season with all young players and Paul Pierce.  I'd rather trade that youth for some veteran talent.  Ray Allen may not be a perfect fit, but it gives us hope.  You can't win without veterans in the NBA.

Now maybe the Celtics can find a way to trade for Andrei Kirilenko without giving up Al Jefferson.  Peter May of the Globe thinks that this is a good fit, too.  His article was written before the draft, but the idea still makes sense to me.  Pierce, Ray Allen, Kirilenko, and Jefferson would be a formidable foursome, with Rondo as point guard and a bunch of young guys coming off the bench (whoever is left after a potentila Kirilenko trade).  Not bad.

By the way, I love the fact that the Celtics have Al (presumably Alan) Jefferson, Tony Allen, Ray Allen, and Allan Ray.  They just need Malik Allen and Allen Iverson to have the all-Alle/an NBA team!

Immigration bill dead for now

I wrote recently about my hope for the compromise immigration bill to go through.  Unfortunately, it died.

No compromise could be reached that could avoid the 'amnesty' label.  And, forgiveness is bad in some people's mind.  Let's hope those people don't need our forgiveness in the future.

Partnering

Most start-ups have to form some sort of partnerships in order to be successful.  It's common that you have to work with partners for distribution, whether that is selling physical products or getting access to high volumes of web traffic.  It's ideal of these partnerships are viewed as being mutually beneficial, but it's difficult for an early-stage start-up to deliver lots of value for a big company (or to be perceived as delivering value at the start).

I advise most start-ups to be cautious with big partners, particularly those that are likely competitors.  Big company competitors can easily co-opt (a nice way of saying steal) your ideas and eliminate the value of your start-up.  Instead, look for partnerships in adjacent parts of the value-chain where you can go after some mutual competitor. 

Before you do anything with a big company, make sure you read Marc Andreessen's take.  You don't want to be solely dependent on a big partnership.  No one partnership should be essential for success.  You want to have multiple options as competition is a healthy dynamic for everyone.  And, you need to have some way forward with no partnerships in case you are too early in the market to get anyone's attention.

As Marc says, Be Extremely Patient.

Dun Dun Good

I happened to be in Central Square, Cambridge, MA today around lunch time with a little bit of time between meetings.  I decided to go to Mary Chung's for some Dun Dun Noodles with Shredded Chicken. 

dun dun

I hadn't had this spicy, peanutty dish in about 20 years, since I worked at a Cambridge start-up.  Just tasting it brought back memories of my first job at GCC.  Mary Chung's has moved across the street from the original location, but it still seems just as popular.

Yummy!

June 27, 2007

Governing from a compromising position

I've written about the immigration issue in this country a few times previously (here, here, and here).  Today, it looks like there may be some progress on getting some sort of immigration bill passed.

This issue has been really affected by polarizing politics in this country.  There are factors of declining real wages of the lower and middle classes, large influx of illegal immigrants who are willing to perform lower wage jobs, employers willing to violate the law in order to hire lower wage workers, concerns about cultural fragmentation due to an influx of people who don't speak English or follow other American traditions, entangled thoughts about national security from open borders, and much more.  Any solution short of deporting all 12 million illegal immigrants runs the risk of being branded as amnesty (which, I guess, is a bad word to some).  At the least, most people would agree that people who came here illegally shouldn't get an advantage in becoming a citizen over someone who tried to follow a legal process.

And, we have at least 12 million mostly-hard working people who have settled here and become part of our communities.  Do we really want countless raids going on in this country, separating illegal immigrants from their US-born (and US-citizen) children, as we try to send them all somewhere else?

I'm glad to see that there seems to be some spirit of compromise, starting with President Bush (whom I almost never agree with).  He convinced some Republican Senators to re-start this issue.  I agree with Bush that the status quo is unacceptable.  We need to reconcile ourselves to some solution that addresses this issue.  It's way too complicated for everyone to be satisfied with the ultimate legislation.  In fact, I am sure that no one will be satisfied with the result.  But, it's going to be better than the status quo.

There hasn't been enough compromise in today's political climate.  This has led to either bad policy or stalemates.  In the end, we all lose.  We can gain much more if we have spirited debate and all try to form a workable solution.  There's always the next legislative session to try to make it better.  The status quo, on so many issues, is unacceptable.

Here's a quote from Ronald Regan on compromise.  He seems very practical in today's context:

"When I began entering into the give and take of legislative bargaining in Sacramento, a lot of the most radical conservatives who had supported me during the election didn't like it.

"Compromise" was a dirty word to them and they wouldn't face the fact that we couldn't get all of what we wanted today. They wanted all or nothing and they wanted it all at once. If you don't get it all, some said, don't take anything.

"I'd learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for. And I agreed with FDR, who said in 1933: 'I have no expectations of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average.'

"If you got seventy-five or eighty percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later, and that's what I told these radical conservatives who never got used to it.

June 26, 2007

More from Good2gether

I wrote briefly about Good2gether before.  I've been working with this company for some time now, and it's been exciting to see them make progress with both external partners and their development team.

Today they put up a web site, but it is still pretty much a stub.  Stay tuned for more good stuff to come.

June 25, 2007

Do it, Danny

According to ESPN (more details on TV than in the story), there is a chance that the Celtics will be part of a 4 team deal involving the Lakers, Timberwolves, and Pacers.  The headline part of the deal would be Kevin Garnett going to the Lakers (to team up with Kobe Bryant, who might now believe that the Lakers are trying to win), Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum going to the Pacers, Jermaine O'Neal going from the Pacers to the Celtics, and the Timberwolves getting the Celtics #5 pick and perhaps Gerald Green or Sebastian Telfair.

If this deal works out this way, the Celtics should do it.  Trading the #5 pick and perhaps one young player who is unproven for a legitimate all-star like Jermaine O'Neal would be a no-brainer.  O'Neal is almost 29 and averages almost 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.  He'd be the legitmate center that the Celtics need and would allow Al Jefferson to be a true power forward a la Kevin McHale.

Some reports say that the trade is breaking down because the Celtics are balking about including other players, such as Theo Ratliff, Green, and Telfair in the deal.  The Celtics have enough young players.  They need a veteran big man.

Do it, Danny!

First LinkedIn, now Facebook

A while back, I wrote about my re-engagement with LinkedIn.  It's become a key aspect of how I work, leveraging my contact network to make new contacts and keeping tabs on my network of business contacts.  LinkedIn is designed for business contacts and is a great way to map how your network of contacts are linked.  You can use it for evil (or spam), but I have been careful not to.  Now, whenever I get someone's contact info, I put it into Outlook and check to see if they are on LinkedIn.  I'm not pushing LinkedIn on those who don't use it, but I want to leverage it to the max for those who do.

In the last month or so, I have seen a huge increase in activity on Facebook among my business contacts.  Facebook started off as a social network to help college students keep track of their old friends from high school while they meet more people on their campus.  As a college alum, I was able to get onto Facebook early on, but I didn't use it much.  Most of my use was in my role as an alumni advisor to my college fraternity at MIT.  It reinforced how much social dynamics have changed in the 25 years since I graduated college.

Now, Facebook is open to all, and more business contacts are using it to keep in touch on what they do every day.  And, Facebook has opened up an API to allow developers to add applications.  These applications are growing rapidly, making Facebook a huge force on the Internet going forward.

I decided to dive in to Facebook head (or face?) first and see how it goes.  The content of who is doing what when is not as useful to me as LinkedIn, but it is fun to see what people post about themselves each day, who has met whom, what events they go to, etc.  It's interesting, but I am not sure how useful it is.  If business users are a target for Facebook, they probably need to reorganize it and restructure it to capture business relationships (which are different than social relationships).  There are many ways to describe how you met a social contact, but 'worked with' is about the only way to describe a business contact.  And 'worked with' is really meant to describe when you worked at the same company.

[One humorous note -- I connected with one of my neighbors on Facebook.  There is no way to describe this relationship.  'Lived with' isn't right (and would definitely concern my wife).  The next most applicable is 'met randomly' which I guess describes how much control you have over your neighbors.]

Some companies, like Geezeo, use Facebook to market to college students.  That's a different kind of business relationship than the relationship between me and an LP from one of my former funds.  What do I want the LP to know about my weekend activities?  I'd better be careful...Of course, I wouldn't hesitate to connect to them on LinkedIn where we share contact information and work experience.

Business readers, let me know what you find useful (and not just interesting) about using Facebook for your business contacts.  Maybe I'm just tool old...But, I'm trying to think young!

The Taxman Cometh for VCs?

The tax structure that applies to VCs is under great review right now.  Fred Wilson is one of the few VCs that has come out in favor of taxing a VC's carried interest at ordinary income rates rather than capital gain rates.  Fred's never been afraid of controversy.

I think that capital gains treatment should apply when the investor risks their capital (time or money) in order to try to create a gain.  A VC's carried interest has no downside risk -- if they lose money on the fund, they don't have to repay investors out of their own pocket (nor should they).  They get a share of the profits, and not losses.  The limited partners in these VC funds have clearly risked their capital as they may not get their money back.  There isn't risk in the VCs carried interest, which is part of Fred's argument to tax it at ordinary income.  Note that this clearly should not apply to a VC's personal investment as a limited partner in the fund.  That investment clearly risks capital, and has to maintain capital gains tax treatment.

Don't assume that the tax code is consistent, however.  There are thousands of inconsistencies, exceptions and incentives in the tax code which encourage and discourage certain types of behavior.  Ask anyone subject to the creeping AMT if the tax code is fair.  So, although I think that consistency should be a goal, it obviously isn't a tax rule.

Also, VCs in smaller funds that don't draw big fees are risking their time to try to build companies in order to create gains for their investors and themselves.  If a VC earned zero salary and only made money if their investors made money, there might be more sympathy to keeping capital gains treatment for their carried interest.  Or, is this similar to a commission-only sales rep who pays ordinary income tax rates?  With huge private equity funds making tens of millions of dollars in risk-free fees for their partners, it's hard to see the risk that those general partners are taking in any case.

In addition, I don't like changing the rules on an investment vehicle once it's in place.  That deal was done with a certain set of tax structures, and it isn't fair to change the rules.  So, any tax changes should only apply to new fund vehicles put in place after the changes take effect.  Existing funds should be grandfathered, but care should be taken that these funds can't be extended in order to preserve the grandfathering.

So, what to do?  I think it is hard to make a blanket change.  Risk needs to be rewarded, whether it is time or money risked.  And, the system shouldn't be changed without ensuring that the venture capital and private equity models are preserved.  They add a lot of value to the economy and have created wealthy investors, VCs and entrepreneurs.  So, I hope Congress proceeds with caution.  Let's hope something comes up to take the heat off this issue in the public eye so change can be more deliberate.

June 22, 2007

Summertime Blues?

A lot of entrepreneurs think that venture capitalists take the summer off.  That's not exactly true.  But, there is no question that things slow down.  With summer starting yesterday, I thought I would explain some of these dynamics.

First of all, VCs do tend to take some amount of vacation during the summer.  Those of us with kids tend to take big trips with our families, sometimes to exotic places.  And, to maintain sanity, you need to unplug, at least somewhat, when you take time off.  So, communication with entrepreneurs that you are working with can get interrupted (but excitement about a deal tends to override the need to unplug!).

But, it's rare to take more than 2-3 weeks off.  So, where does the impression that VCs take the whole summer off come from?  One thing to remember is that VCs work as individuals most of the time, but investment decisions are made by the team.  Depending on the partnership, there may need to be a complete consensus on a new investment.  Or, perhaps one or two key partners have to see a deal before it can go forward.  In a bigger partnership, there may never be a time during the whole summer when all the key players are available at once for a final presentation or a full discussion.

So, the individual VC partner is working, but the partnership may be very slow, or stalled, during the summer until all the key players are back at work.  A smaller firm will have much less of a problem here.  Although at a small firm an investment decision is likely to require unanimous approval, there are likely to be many more weeks when all the partners are in the office simultaneously.

If your company's progress or financial situation dictates that you are going to try to raise money during the summer, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to deal with these timing issues.  Ask the Partner that you are working with exactly what the summer schedule is likely to be.  Make sure you understand who will have to see your deal in person during the diligence process and get these meetings scheduled in advance and around people's vacations.  And, there is nothing like competition with another firm to get someone to move faster and bend the rules.

The Who plays Summertime Blues

June 21, 2007

New widget - OpenCoffee

I've tried to keep my blog template relatively clean.  Too many blogs get cluttered with widgets which take a while to load and generally are ignored.

I did add a widget today from going.com to promote the Boston OpenCoffee meetings.  These are held every Thursday at 10 AM at the Andala Coffee House in Central Square in Cambridge.

Hope to see you there next Thursday.  We have a good time talking about start-up ideas, new start-up projects that people are working on, and industry trends.

Comments Delayed

My apologies to chirpy and jayfallon who posted comments on my blog in late May.  These comments were magically categorized as Junk by Movable Type, and I never saw them.  I've had inconsistent performance with the commenting feature on Movable Type.  I should get notified of every comment, but noticed that a comment was posted a couple of days ago without me being notified.  And, I didn't even think of looking in the Junk pile until today.

So, I'll be more vigilent in looking at the Junk comments.  This won't happen again.  Keep those comments coming.   I love the feedback.

June 20, 2007

It's all in the letter

An angel investor friend of mine told me recently that he has heard of several angel deals in Boston where a VC coming into the deal after the angel rounds had been done had required that the VC round be labeled Series A, the typical designation for the first investment in a company, and that the angel rounds be re-labeled starting with Series B.  No other economic changes happened.  It was purely a name change.

Why would a VC worry about this?  It has to be because they are worried about marketing to their investors, to other entrepreneurs, or perhaps to themselves.  Many firms that have built their reputation on being 'Series A' investors (the first money into a company) have now moved to being later stage investors so they can put more money to work faster.  With larger funds to invest, it has become more difficult for some firms to justify doing early stage deals.  But, they still want to position themselves as such with their investors and other entrepreneurs.  Being a 'Series A' investor is a point of pride.  So, I guess that VCs are now writing some revisionist history so they can still claim to have invested in Series A.

I think that this is kind of crazy.  LPs won't be fooled because in the end all they care about is how much money goes into an investment and how much more comes out.  If someone else invested first and lowered the risk, fine.  Maybe it is marketing to other entrepreneurs that is what these VCs are worried about.  If word gets out that they don't do real Series A deals, entrepreneurs will go elsewhere with their deals.  That hurts VCs in the long term.  But, just changing the letters around won't solve this problem.  They are only fooling themselves.

June 19, 2007

The Daily Show explains Bush's Middle East Strategy

Couldn't resist this one.

 

From Marc: Why NOT to do a start-up

Marc Andreessen is writing fantastic posts on entrepreneurships.  I should resist the urge to link to him, but the stuff is too good.

Today's post is on why NOT to do a start-up.  He details why start-ups are not for the feint of heart.  The only way to overcome these obstacles and long odds is to have extreme passion for your idea.  Entrepreneurs always think Why Not?  It's easy for naysayers to just ask Why?  The entrepreneur is not always right, but you need that passion and optimism if you are going to have a chance.

June 18, 2007

The Experimental Method

Entrepreneurs have to be ready to innovate, not just with technology but also with business models.  I meet with a lot of start-ups that have boot-strapped their way to their first revenues.  As they start to look for venture capital, they commonly ask how they can avoid looking like a modest growth business to VCs.  Boot-strapped companies often grow relatively slowly due to capital constraints.  The entrepreneurs believe that the infusion of some significant capital will fuel much more rapid growth.  How do they show this to VCs?

For many entrepreneurs, they may have to run some sort of experiment to show how effective new capital will be.  For example, if the venture capital is to be used to fund the development of a direct sales force, perhaps one person can be dedicated to this sales model today.  Although this person may have to be diverted from other activities, having some data to show what sales lead times will be, what typical objections are, and how productive the sales person can be will be very helpful in getting VCs comfortable that their investment in a direct sales force will be worthwhile.  If you can't prioritize someone to do direct sales over some other activity, why should the VC invest there?

Another benefit of trying an experiement is that you may find that your assumptions aren't quite right.  If the direct sales approach above doesn't work, you may have to tinker with your sales and business models in order to succeed.  It's better to find this out before your potential investors figure it out on their own.  This will make your proposition much stronger as you approach investors.

I think that Marketing is an art that can be reduced to a science once there are proof points.  So, don't hesitate to run experiments with sales and marketing strategy.  Once you have a model that is shown to work, it should be easier to raise money to scale that model to build a bigger business.  This culture of experimentation is a great one to have throughout the company, helping to keep it innovative and sharp.

TED Talk on the Military

I enjoy listening to the talks from the TED conference.  Here's one from Thomas Barnett on national security and the military.  The summary is:

Strategic planner Thomas P.M. Barnett has advised US leaders on national security since the end of the Cold War. In this bracingly honest -- and very funny -- talk, Barnett outlines a solution for the foundering US military: Break it in two. One half makes war, and the other half builds the peace that follows.

 

June 15, 2007

The Daily Show Strikes Again

I love The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  These shows give great insight into the news while being very humorous.  And, they often point out the weaknesses in 'real' news coverage.  There's nothing like 'fake news', and I watch every morning during the week when I work out.

Here's a video from yesterday's Daily Show that captures the spirit of what they do.  Why don't other media outlets hold politicians responsible when they contradict their previous claims?  Note that this video will only work unitl July 15, according to Comedy Central.  After that, you'll have to trust me that it was pretty funny as well as being a sad commentary on the integrity of Tony Snow.

 

The video is also available here.

 

June 14, 2007

Geezeo in the WSJ

Geezeo is in the Wall Street Journal today.  You may need a subscription to read this.  I'll post an update later with excerpts.  Nice coverage, guys!

UPDATE: The Geezeo blog did a great job summarizing this article.  Read that here.  I think that it's great to see some early validation that this is an emerging market category.  That is great in that it will increase interest and exposure in Geezeo.  But, this is also a competitive space.  The guys at Geezeo have to continue to move quickly to capitalize on their early market presence.  I like that Geezeo has several innovative features (the mobile application, the seamless account aggregation through their partnership with CashEdge).  This should help them continue to stay ahead.  Also, they have built a great team of Ambassadors to evangelize Geezeo on college campuses.

June 13, 2007

Massachusetts Billion$?

Jeff Bussgang has an excellent post on what it takes to build a billion dollar company in Massachusetts.  I've written and spoken for a while on the lack of 'anchor tenants', or successful big companies that act as a hub of activity, in Massachusetts.  EMC is certainly a big player in the storage market, and they have been very active in expanding their company through acquisition.  But, there are very few others.

In earlier times, companies like Wang, Digital, Apollo, Wellfleet, Cascade, Shiva, and many others either sold out or collapsed.  They weren't willing or able to lead for the long-term.  There are also a host of successful but smaller companies, like Analog Devices and Avid, that haven't expanded their business more broadly to truly become an anchor tenant.  This analysis is focused on IT companies.  I think that the Life Sciences sector in the Boston area is stronger and more vibrant in this respect.

We need these types of big companies, as Jeff notes.  Perhaps the clean energy sector will be a source of a new wave of companies that can anchor this segment for Massachusetts.  I hope that some of these companies have the fortitude and good fortune to become the new pillars of industry in our region.

June 12, 2007

One more from Marc

Marc Andreessen wrote a bonus 3rd post on venture capital.  I recently posted on his first two excellent writings.

This post from Marc does a great job explaining why there will perpetually be too much money in venture capital.  With a fixed asset allocation for venture capital, institutional investors will continue to allocate money to VC even as returns continue to be sub-par.  At some point, there will be a good year, and there will always be some number of funds who do well (or get lucky, depending on your point of view).  Investors are willing to do poorly for a while in order to capture these outsized returns.

I think that this trend is exacerbated in the Boston market where there have been proportionally many fewer very large VC returns since the telecom bust.  Boston will need to be strong in a new sector (perhaps clean energy?) in order to be a hub for outsized returns.  Without some of these, a disproportionate share of the disproportionately large VC allocation will continue to go to the West Coast.  That might make investment sense, but it isn't great for the future of Boston.

I would have hoped that the big Internet and Telecom busts would have scared away enough capital to make venture investing seem more rational, but that hasn't been the case.  There is so much money around to be invested that these losses are still mostly noise to institutional investors.  So, smart investors have to find segments that are underserved.  Perhaps early-stage VC in Boston is one area that is underserved.  Most existing VC funds are hesitant to invest so early nowadays.  A few new firms are trying to capitalize on this opportunity, including .406 Ventures and Kepha Partners, both good friends of mine.

June 11, 2007

Comps

I've reviewed a lot of early stage business plans over the past few months.  All of them are for companies that are looking for their first capital, many times from friends, families, and angel investors.  Some of them are also targeting early-stage VCs.  One thing missing from most of them are suitable comps (or comparisons) to help a potential investor compare the prospective investment with past successful investments.

Comps are helpful in several areas.  First of all, it's important to show how the business model of the prospective investment mirrors a successful business model from some other company.  Maybe that company is in the same segment and the new company will be a direct competitor.  More likely, the new company is trying to displace existing competition with a more efficient business model.  In that case, look for other market segments where a similar shift has occurred.  Also, show why the stakeholders in the new company's market are likely to be receptive to this business model shift.  Who wins?  Who loses?  Those 'losers' are the new company's competitors, even if they don't make the same type of product or service.

Another important comp is one that shows that a company with this type of model and in this type of market can scale rapidly.  Generally, markets that are growing rapidly are ones that are ripe for new entrants to take some significant market share.  Sometimes, a new company with a disruptive technology can drive the growth in a new market.  Occasionally, markets are efficient enough that a new competitor with a strong proposition can steal market share in a commoditized market.  With a new company, you need to figure out which of these dynamics apply to your situation.  Provide some evidence and provide a comparable growth situation as an example of rapid growth.

The most common type of comp that entrepreneurs focus on is the exit comp.  When you look at what the exit can be worth, make sure that you are comparing apples to apples.  Compare public companies to other public companies, or discount the earnings or revenue multiple when comparing a public company to a private company.  When looking at M&A exit multiples, you need to make sure that your comps are ones from recent times in a similar environment.  Make sure that the companies are at similar stages (profitability, revenue growth, etc.).  The more different a comp is from your new company, the more you have to discount the comp to cover the level of risk in the comparison.

One of an entrepreneur's most common complaints is that the investor or VC doesn't 'get' their opportunity and doesn't see the  big potential.  Effective use of comps can make your exciting story easier to understand.

June 10, 2007

Marc Andreessen on VC

Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, has a couple of interesting posts on his blog about venture capital.  I agree with just about everything he says.  Of course, he has the perspective of someone who has delivered great successes to top-tier investors.  I am sure that someone else could be more jaded.

Part 1

Part 2

June 06, 2007

Why?

I met with an entrepreneur recently who wanted to get my feedback on his business plan.  I meet a few new entrepreneurs every week, so this wasn't unusual for me.  We didn't know each other well beforehand, so we spent a few minutes getting to know each other.

He asked me Why?  Why do I take time voluntarily to hear about plans from entrepreneurs.  I don't have a fund to invest, and I can only do so many advisory boards.  I am not looking to charge entrepreneurs for my advice, but I do end up taking some formal advisory board positions which include modest stock option grants.  I don't really need a job in order to live the lifestyle I want.  Why don't I spend my time playing tennis or hanging around with my kids?

My answer was that I want to stay involved in the high-tech community.  I might become a VC again.  I might go back to being an entrepreneur or start-up executive.  No matter what I do, I need to stay fresh in this market.  The technology space is moving so fast that if you don't stay current, you quickly become a dinosaur.

I learn something from every meeting I have, even if I don't end up being that interested in the company or don't continue working with them.  So, I want to keep meeting with interesting people who have interesting ideas.  I get 'freshness' out of these meetings, so I think that that's a fair bargain for my advice (hopefully good advice).

By the way, here are the lyrics to a song by the old musical comedian, Allan Sherman.  This song, Good Advice, gives the appropriate caution to someone who listens to free advice.  I wish I could have found an MP3 of this to link to.

June 05, 2007

Christina as Finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year

Congratulations to Christina Lampe-Onnerud, CEO of Boston-Power, on being named a Finalist for the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the New England region!  Good luck on June 14th.  The list of finalists is pretty impressive.

The Stress of Baseball

I know I promised no more baseball posts in my infamous Surrender post, but this one is fun.

You've probably seen or heard about the Atlanta Braves minor league manager who lost it after disagreeing with a 'ball and strike' call.  But, this tirade goes on and on.  I love when he pretends to be soldier, crawling on the ground and using the pitcher's rosin bag as a faux grenade.  Don't bother with your speakers, there is virtually no sound on this clip.

 

Good2gether

Good2gether is a stealth-mode start-up that I am very excited about.  Follow Greg McHale's exploits as he gets the company off the ground on his blog.  I'll write more about Good2gether once they are unveiled.

REBN Networking event

I mentioned the recent Renewable Energy Business Network event a little while ago.  Their next networking event is set for July 19th at 6:30 PM at Flat Top Johnny's in Kendall Square.  See you there!

Iraq ain't Korea

The Bush administrations latest attempt at finding positive spin on Iraq is to compare it to Korea.  Great, that means we'll be there for 50 years and counting...

I agree with TIME magazine that this analogy doesn't hold.  The biggest differences are that 1) Our forces in Korea are enforcing a peace that has been in place since the cease fire at the end of the Korean War, 2) The South Koreans want us there and manage domestic security in their country just fine, 3) our regional allies (like Japan) also want us there and 4) our presence in Korea is relatively small and safe.

Will Iraq turn into Korea?  If it is going to do that, we'd have to sign a peach treaty with someone.  Who will sign with us?  We'd have to engage deeply with regional powers, including Iran, to lower the tensions.  That's just starting to happen.  And, we'd have to be welcome by the Iraqis and Iraq's neighbors.  Not likely.  And, time won't change that.

Let's be honest with ourselves -- we broke it, and we own it.  Now, we have to be proactive to fix it.  That will take a combination of a military presence which ramps down over time and strong diplomacy with the Iraqi government and all the countries in the region.

June 04, 2007

Steely Dan Day

I saw Steely Dan recently in Boston.  They are great in concert.  It's hard to believe that they didn't tour after 1974 despite their popularity.  With the lousy weather in Boston today, their music fits the scene.  Great music for getting caught up on some work.

Pretzel Logic: With A Gun

June 01, 2007

Cleantech networking event

I wrote recently about local networking events.  There was a new one last night that I wanted to attend but couldn't.

The Renewable Energy Business Network - East had their first event last night in Cambridge.  Looks like it was a big success.

See you at their next event!

Oh, so that's NBA basketball

As a beleaguered Celtics fan, I thought I would try to figure out what real NBA basketball is.  I started watching the NBA playoffs during the conference finals.  I watched some of the Cleveland - Detroit game last nightLeBron James took over the game, scoring the last 25 and 29 of the last 30 of Cleveland's points.  That included all 18 points that Cleveland scored in the two overtimes.  Cleveland took a 3-2 series lead with this exciting road win.  But, this series has gone exactly the same way that last year's did, when Detroit came back to win the last two games to take the series.

In the West, San Antonio dismantled Utah so quickly that I almost missed it.  Both San Antonio and Detroit are such balanced teams that it is no wonder that they have been the most consistent teams in basketball over the past few years.  They would probably have a very close series if they played each other, although having LeBron James in the finals would be exciting.  He's been banging on the door since last year.

Where does all this leave the Celtics?  Way, way behind.  They have no one with the talent level of a LaBron James or Tim Duncan.  And, they won't be drafting a strong enough player this year to narrow that gap with the number 5 pick.  And, in looking at Detroit and San Antonio, they are packed with smart veteran players.  It will be years before the Celtics kiddie corps gets that level of basketball maturity.

If the Celtics had gotten one of the top two picks, you could imagine them being like Cleveland in a couple of years.  But, on their current course, they seem like they are still several moves away from being a contender over the next few years.


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