January 25, 2010

How to lose a customer

I'm not a difficult customer to please.  In fact, I'm pretty loyal.  I tend to stick with vendors who treat me right.  And, having been on the vendor side of customer relationships multiple times, I have sympathy for companies that deal with challenging issues.  To me, the best support happens when the company gets the right person on the issue, listens well, works hard to solve the problem, owns the issue until it's solved, and communicates very well.

Then, there's Yahoo.  I've been a Yahoo hosting customer since I started The Fein Line back in 2006.  I had no idea what I was doing and just signed up with Yahoo because they had my personal email.  I figured that I could make it work and, at the time, had the time and interest in digging in to the details.

At the time, Yahoo gave you a choice of Movable Type and Word Press.  I don't recall why, but I chose Movable Type.  I got my blog set up and, over time, customized the sidebar.  After a while, I realized that Yahoo's Movable Type implementation was missing some things I wanted, but I was never motivated to move.

Inertia set in.  I just stayed put.  I blogged away and went about my day.  Then, late last year, Yahoo sends me a notice saying that they were discontinuing their support for Movable Type and suggested I switch to Word Press.  I could continue to keep my Movable Type blog, but they wouldn't offer updates, etc.  I got the hint and started the process of moving things to Word Press.

With some design help, I got the new version of The Fein Line set up in a sub-directory of The Fein Line.  I contacted Yahoo and asked them what procedure I should follow to move this to my top-level directory so it would be at  They sent some simple instructions, but I was worried that they were too generic for my specific situation.

Nevertheless, I gave them a try.  And, they didn't work.  My Word Press blog was no longer accessible, including access to the admin interface.  I sent Yahoo a support email and was told that, although they confirmed my problem, they don't support Word Press technical issues.  I was stuck.

Luckily, various friends from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn stepped forward and offered to help.  With help from a few people, we determined that the problem had to do with some configuration problem between Yahoo's hosting software and Word Press.  So, I downloaded my Word Press installation to make sure I had a backup.

Yahoo still refuses to help.  So, I am taking my blog elsewhere.  I've got some suggestions on some good hosters and will start checking them out.  I'll post later with the outcome, but I'm sure I'll be happier than I am right now.

What should Yahoo have done?  Cut out the automated replies and, after their first automated suggestion isn't applicable, have a real human look at my issue.  Send me a reply that is customized to my situation.  If you don't have enough info to do that, then ask for more info.

Next, don't tell me at the end of the process that you won't support the procedure you asked me to do.  Give me that warning up front.  They started the process of getting me to switch blog platforms, but they wouldn't own the resolution.

Lastly, when it was clear I was not happy, escalate the issue to someone who can do something.  Don't just fall back on the last thing you told me and say 'sorry'.

Soon, The Fein Line will have a new home.  And, both my blog and I will be much happer.

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November 13, 2009

New FeinLine under construction

Although it's a big pain, my hoster (Yahoo) is cutting back its support of Movable Type.  Although they'll keep hosting my blog on Movable Type, it's clear that they prefer I move to WordPress.  So, I am undertaking that task.

Importing that posts and comments was easy.  But, I need to work on the layout and other functionality.  I hope to have a NEW FeinLine up next week.  Until then, time I would spend posting is instead gong to be spent porting and tweaking.

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June 16, 2009

TED Talk on Social Media

Here is a great talk from Clay Shirky about social media from a recent TED Conference.  He explains very clearly how media is changing to incorporate social media (blogging, cell phones, Twitter, open communities) and the impact on publishing, advertising, and politics.  Very appropriate with the protests going on in Iran right now, too.


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May 30, 2009

We're #59!

Despite putting no effort into promoting The Fein Line, this blog ended up being #59 on the list compiled by Larry Cheng of the most read VC blogs (ranked by Google Reader subscriptions).

Thanks to all my readers for taking the time to follow this.  And, thanks particularly to those who comment and contribute to interesting discussions.

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December 08, 2008

In the Globe again

Scott Kirsner was once again kind enough to mention one of my recent posts in his Globe column today

In re-reading my original post, one thing I would add is that you not only have to build a good team, but you have to maintain it.  Team dynamics are organic -- people change and companies change.  As companies grow, they often outgrow some or all of their management team's capabilities.  So, the CEO and Board have to be vigilent about making sure that the team meets what will be required of the company in the future.  And, the CEO has to make sure that the team works well together.  The Board has the tricky problem of assessing whether the CEO is the problem in a team that isn't working well.  This is tough because much of the Board's information about the company comes through the CEO.  That makes it essential for the Board to maintain contact with the entire top management team.  If a CEO is wary of this, that's a red flag, too.

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November 10, 2008

Another Globe pickup

Scott Kirsner was kind enough to include an excerpt from my post from last week on the bank bailout in his column today.

I think that a lot of Americans are hopeful about Obama as our next President because we want him to re-look at how we have been doing things for the past eight years.  Today in the Globe, there is an article about the Pentagon saying that their budget is unsustainable.  Hopefully, Obama will include some Republicans in his administration to take advantage of broader points of view and to lower the divisiveness in Washington.  And, in yesterday's paper, it was speculated that due to Obama's broad grass-roots fundraising, he is much less beholden to special interest groups than recent Presidents.

Similarly, I hope that Obama's economic team looks at the bailout, which I reluctantly support.  If we structure the deals properly, it can make money for the tax payer.  As investors of last resort, we should make money before anyone else.  And, that means that we should get paid before dividends are paid out and deferred compensation is paid to executives.

For a historical perspective on some of the challenges that the Republicans face over the next few years, read this excellent OpEd piece from today's Globe, too.

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October 13, 2008

In the Globe again

In today's Globe, Scott Kirsner was nice enough to quote The Fein Line again, this time on my response to McCain's plan to bail out homeowners and mortgage lenders by repurchasing mortgages that are under water.

The quote in the paper focuses on my criticism of McCain's plan because it really gets the lender off the hook as well as the homeowner.  I also proposed some solutions that would require the lender to write down the mortgage and provide them some incentive to restructure the terms of the loan to make it more affordable for the homeowner.  I think that any resolution to this problem is going to be incredibly complicated due to the varying terms of home mortgages and each person's situation.  Should you treat the homeowner who saved up to buy the nicer house that they couldn't really afford and sacrificed right and left to make the payments the same way you treat the person who mortgaged their house to the hilt in order to buy a fancier car and take a nice vacation?  Both homeowners are in over their head, but I've got more sympathy for the former.  Who is going to decide which ones get help?

Fundamentally, I have a problem helping out companies who knew that they were taking inordinate risks just because the market let them.  And, I have a problem with homeowners who bought a house (or refinanced to the hilt) because they could and not because they could really afford it.  The majority of us live within our means (I hope!) and shouldn't have to bail out those who didn't.  We need to rescue our economy and the credit market, not the risk takers and profligate spenders.  These aren't just Wall Street fat cats.  They could also be your neighbor who spent way beyond their means, fueled by easy mortgage lending.

Over the weekend I learned of a friend of mine who is a small business owner (not high tech) who got in way over his head.  Fundamentally, he had two problems:  1) He expanded too quickly without getting to profitability first and 2) he had raised money from friends and family and could not face telling them that he was struggling.  So, he kept up the appearance of success as long as he could, which only led to him digging a deeper hole.  There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but that shouldn't mean building a bigger house of cards.  Instead, focus on getting the foundation solid and building from there.

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October 10, 2008

All In A Day's Work

My friend Angelo Santinelli has started a new blog called All In A Day's Work.  He's focusing on issues that entrepreneurs and small businesses face in today's challenging business environment.

Angelo has always been someone to focus on the reality of the situation and not on the emotion.  Read some of his recent posts for his thoughts on what entrepreneurs should be doing in light of the current economic crisis.

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September 29, 2008

In the Globe

Scott Kirsner quoted one of my recent posts on the Wall Street meltdown in today's Globe.  There seems to be consensus that there are lessons to be learned from the recent Wall Street excesses, but, in the long run, things should settle back down to more normal business.
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September 05, 2008

The power of blogging...

See how a blogger influenced the choice of McCain's VP.


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August 20, 2008

A123 post in the Boston Globe

The post I wrote last week on the A123 S-1 was picked up by Scott Kirsner in the Boston Globe.  Although I was skeptical about the company's prospects due to their financial performance, a lot of people took my criticism as being stronger than it was.

I guess some VCs can't take any negative criticism of their companies.  Anyone on the Board of A123 has to ask themselves the same questions I did -- is the company ready to go public in today's market?  The company has obvious exciting potential, but the market can be tough on companies that primarily have potential and not results.  We'll see how things work out, but you would think that some VCs would have thicker skins.

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Back online

Yahoo Web Hosting had a major glitch with my blog.  They had to rebuild everything.  Until they did, I couldn't post.  And, with my schedule, today was the first day I could wait on hold for the 45 minutes I did before I could speak to someone.  Unfortunately, they never replied to my email support requests.

So, I can post again, but I am not a happy Yahoo hosting customer.

Update:  I have spoken to soon.  The blog doesn't rebuild and new posts don't show up!

Furhter update: After being down for days and days, the Yahoo support guy seems to have fixed things for me.  I haven't spoken to him today, but things now seem to be working.  At least I can post!

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July 21, 2008

The Fein Line in Scott Kirsner's column

Scott Kirsner from the Boston Globe was nice enough to quote The Fein Line in today's Boston Globe.  In addition to his good taste, Scott is an excellent columnist and a blogger.  I like the fact that Scott isn't afraid to take a position on issues.  If you read through his columns and posts, it's clear that Scott wants us all to do more to foster entrepreneurship in New England.  I think he's right.
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July 11, 2008

Burst of blogging

Sorry about the flurry of posts after more than a week away.  I have been thinking of these things for the past week but haven't had time to write anything down.  I'll try to be more steady in the future, but no guarantees!
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July 01, 2008

Netflix Profiles Are Staying!


Your Account
We Are Keeping Netflix Profiles
Dear Michael,

You spoke, and we listened. We are keeping Profiles. Thank you for all the calls and emails telling us how important Profiles are.

We are sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused. We hope the next time you hear from us we will delight, and not disappoint, you.

-Your friends at Netflix


Netflix had announced previously that it was killing it's Profiles feature.  As a longtime Netflix customer, I loved this feature.  It let you divide your Netflix queue into sub-queues to accomodate family members with different tastes.  It allowed my wife and I to split up our movie queue and keep our (very different) preferences in movies from mucking up the Netflix suggestions.  Each profile had its own suggestion.

Netflix had announced that they were taking this away.  The word was that only 1-2% of their customers took advantage of this, and it was adding complexity to their programming.  But, many, many customers blogged about this being taken away, and Netflix responded.

Making every customer a potential media outlet will really change how companies deal with their customers and their markets.  I think that the bloggers did a better job promoting Profiles than Netflix did!

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March 25, 2008


Finally added one on the right sidebar.  Long overdue.  Conveniently powered by NewsGator.
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March 06, 2008

Got Fooled Again

I listen to a lot of NPR via podcast, including On Point.  Tom Ashbrook is a very good moderator who keeps the discussion moving.  Yesterday's show got me thinking:

WBUR & NPR's On Point : Bogus Memoirs, Book Publishers, and Us

I listened to the show last week with the author of what turned out to be a bogus memoir.  The author was compelling and drew a lot of sympathy.  She was a mixed race woman who had grown up in the projects of LA, caught up in gangs and drug trade.  Or, so she claimed.

It turns out that the whole book and her claims were bogus.  She lied about everything.  Today, On Point addressed the issue of bogus memoirs, and it made me think about journalistic standards in general, including bloggers.

Some journalists have complained that bloggers aren't held to the same standards as more conventional journalists.  To be sure, you don't know how accurate anything is that you read.  These bogus memoirs drive home the point that this isn't only an Internet phenomenon.  Liars and frauds have been with us for a long time.

The only solution is for people to build up and defend their reputations and for frauds to be exposed for all to see.  In this case, Tom Ashbrook clearly felt horrible about being fooled.  Kudos to him for coming forward immediately and apologizing.  He's defending his reputation.  Maybe publishers of non-fiction should do more diligence on their authors.  But, of course, they can't fact check an entire book.  This memoir may have been exposed, but what if the author had just exaggerated and embellished her otherwise true story?  There's no way you can expect a publisher to catch that.  It would be too expensive.

Democratizing media has its risks, but it's still better to have all the new voices.  We all just have to be vigilent about who we believe.

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February 25, 2008

Do you subscribe to your own RSS feed?

If you are reading this, you probably read other blogs, too.  If not, I'm very honored.  But, you probably also read these blogs via RSS feeds and a feed reader.  I use Newsgator.  It's how I read the 100+ blogs I keep an eye on.  And, it is available for free on the Web, on your mobile phone, and in Outlook.

One of the blogs I read has had its RSS feed go haywire more than once.  There are re-postings of old entries.  The latest problem is the worst -- every post on the blog gets re-fed every few hours.  I finally dropped the author an email to let him know.  But, he shouldn't have had to hear from me before he knew about this.

I subscribe to my own RSS feed.  Not so I can read my own pearls of wisdom (which are very few).  But, so I can make sure that my reader experience is good.  I get a sense of how the graphics come through on the feed.  I see that embedded videos do not (so I always provide a plain link to anything I embed).  And, if it goes berzerk, I'll be one of the first to know.  By the way, my RSS feed is hosted by Feedburner (now owned by Google).  I've been very happy with them, too.

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Has it really been a week?

Facts are facts.  I haven't posted in six days.  I've been very busy, and traveling as well.  Will rectify this today!

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January 14, 2008

Peyton Manning's Commercials Have Gone Too Far


If you haven't seen it yet, here is your chance to win an opportunity to have a lick race against Peyton and Eli Manning.  Yuchh!

Web-based marketing is the trend, and getting celebrities to participate is also big.  This campaign isn't so innovative, but the fact that the Mannings are being shown licking the stuffing out of Oreos is pretty bizarre.  I like the pseudo-realistic video interviews, but I think that they should have more self-esteem than this.  We may be too prim and proper, but we taught our kids better manners than this!

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December 31, 2007


I purposely took time off from blogging (and just about everything else) from just before Christmas until now.  Sorry for the lack of posting.  I'll do a few today.
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November 14, 2007

Globe Santa

As I have in the past, I am supporting and raising money for Globe Santa.  This is one of my favorite charities.  What is Globe Santa?

Since 1956, Globe Santa has been The Boston Globe's annual appeal for needy children in Greater Boston. The Globe Santa Fund collects donations from readers and advertisers to purchase holiday gifts for underprivileged children. The Globe pays administrative costs and provides space in the newspaper during the holiday season to publish stories about family needs and list the names of people who give. In recent years, Globe Santa has received more than $1 million dollars in contributions annually. The program helps brighten the holiday season for more than 28,000 families and 55,000 children in 167 communities every year.

*Families request toys by writing to Globe Santa, stating their family size and need. This need must be verified and countersigned by a social service or religious agency that has previously registered with Globe Santa Fund. The agency must have documented records of the particular family's situation. The deadline for family letters this year is December 7, 2007.
*Agencies that can verify requests include welfare offices, hospitals, churches and clergy, halfway houses, AFDC office and similar social service organizations.
*Agencies must register with Globe Santa each year. The registration procedure is announced in the Boston Globe and by mail to agencies that registered in the previous year. The deadline for agency registration this year is October 31.
*Families apply for assistance during October and November. The application procedure is published in detail in ads in the Globe that run from October 1 through December 7, 2007.
*Toys are delivered to family households beginning the first week in December right up to two days before Christmas.

I like Globe Santa because it is a simple concept, the Globe picks up all the administrative costs, and there is something special about giving a kid a happy holiday season when they otherwise would get nothing.  We all have so much (relatively), and even small donations add up.  If you read the Globe when they start publishing their donations, you'll see that they take all donations, large and small. 

I set up a Cause in Facebook to capture donations.  You can also donate directly at the Globe Santa web site.  I plan to match all the donations from my audience, up to a maximum of $5000.  If you go through Facebook, I can track this directly.  If you give directly on the Globe Santa site, forward me your email receipt so I can keep track.  I'll post periodic updates on my progress.

Some people enjoy having me write a big check when I match this.  So, please, Make Mike Pay!

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October 24, 2007

Tech Blog event follow-up

As I wrote yesterday, I attended the TechBlogs event last night in Cambridge.   This was a great event, with good networking and an excellent discussion.  The panel members led the discussion, but there was a lot of audience participation which made it interactive.  Kudos to Scott Kirsner for moderating the discussion and keeping it moving.

Some of the more interesting subjects discussed: 

Objectivity of bloggers vs. typical journalistic standards

Journalists (at least good ones) have professional ethics around avoiding conflicts of interest that may color their reporting.  Bloggers usually disclose their conflicts in notes at the end of their posts, but often write about things with inherent conflicts of interest -- investments they have made, companies where they work, etc.  This difference seemed to wrankle Jimmy Guterman, but I think that perspective is what is valuable about blogging.  My rule of thumb is that I want to write my blog as if I was talking to someone at a cocktail party after having one (and only one) beer.  I should be open and relaxed, but still conscious of my professional and personal image.  I write mostly off the top of my head and don't pretend to be objective, thorough, or conflict free.  I try to point out conflicts, but can't represent myself as a journalist.  Unfortunately, journalist bloggers have to represent their professional side, which is as a journalist.  Scott Kirsner, who writes for the Globe, says that he tries to write his blog posts to the same standard as he writes his Globe column.  I think he does that well.  Best line:  Don Dodge, quoting Mike Moritz of Sequoia -- "No conflict, no interest."  (Perhaps it's really a quote from John Doerr -- just trying to be thorough!).

Sanitizing corporate blog entries vs. showing your personality

There was a general discussion of corporate blogs and CEO blogs.  How sanitized should they be to toe the corporate PR line?  Or, should the CEOs or employees be free to state their own views?  And, should CEOs write their own blogs posts, or can someone else write them on their behalf?  I think that blogs have to show a personal perspective.  That's what the readers expect.  Something sanitized will be boring.  Of course, anything representing the company has to be professional, meet legal requirements, etc.  An old boss of mine once pointed out to me that although some people in the company work in the Marketing Department (big 'M' marketing), everyone at the company works in "little 'm' marketing."  So, if you blog about your job or company, you have to be professional.  But, still be yourself.

Blogs, Podcasts, and Video Blogs

There was a discussion of different forms of media that people can use to reach an audience.  Blogs (written), podcasts (audio), and video blogs all have their place.  It was pointed out that blogs have the biggest audience and that it falls of dramatically when you go to audio or video.  I think that this is because our tools are more text oriented (search, indexing, etc.) and because our senses are also more text oriented (you can read faster than most podcasts or videos move, you can scan a written document more effectively than a podcast or video, etc.).  Someone commented that CEOs used to be primarily communicators verbally, in front of groups.  Blogging requires writing skills, which not everyone has.  So, brush up on those writing skills so you can be a good blogger and executive.  I know from my kids' schools that writing is emphasized a lot more formally than when I was in school.  Even at MIT there is more writing now than when I was an undergraduate.

Dan Bricklin captured the audio of the event and wrote a blog post about it, too.  If you are interested in these topics, you may want to give it a listen.

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October 23, 2007

Techblogs Event

I am attending an interesting event this evening:  Tech Blogs: A Conversation at Cambridge Innovation Center.  It has a good mix of speakers covering all aspects of technology marketing and blogging.  I won't be posting live from the event (man, do I find it distracting when I hear keyboards being tapped when I am trying to listen to a speaker), but I will post my thoughts afterwards.

I definitely think that companies have to change how they market to consumers, particularly younger ones.  Blogging is just one aspect.  Customers like to hear directly from the source.  But, companies also need to take advantage of social networking dynamics, making it easy for users to invite their friends, connect with other users, comment, tag, and rate products and services.  This participatory marketing really changes the established marketing model and is impacting everything from TV advertising to collapsing a whole industry (the music business).

More thoughts to follow.

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September 23, 2007

Scott Krisner Column on VC Blogging

Scott Kirsner of the Globe has a great column today on VC blogging.  He also has a blog post and video.  The video includes interviews with VCs and entrepreneurs, including me.

Scott's column does a good job capturing all sides of this discussion -- the views of VCs who blog, those who don't, and the view of the entrepreneur.  In the end, I think that a VC has to do what fits with their personal style.  Blogging doesn't necessarily give you an advantage over those who don't.  But, if you don't blog, you need to figure out what other means you will use to stay connected to the Web community.  One thing is for sure -- the market is changing and historical methods for marketing a venture firm and connecting with entrepreneurs won't continue to work in the future.

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September 19, 2007

The Power of Citizen Journalism

F Minus

F Minus usually gets it right.  Sorry to steal the graphic, but they have no option to embed.

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September 14, 2007

Why Don't More Boston VC's Blog?

As entrepreneurs give me feedback on my blog, they often ask me why more Boston VCs don't blog.  Of course, there are quite a few who do (these are the ones I read most often and is not a complete list):

Jeff Bussgang

David Aronoff

Mike Hirschland

David Beisel

Bijan Sabet

I wish there were more.  There are some firms that have no one who blogs, but they still claim to invest in the Web 2.0 market.  I don't get it.  I don't see how you can do that without being part of the community.  Without that, you just won't be able to understand these deals.

Some possible reasons why many VCs (particularly more of the 'older' ones, like me) don't blog:

1) They are very busy.  Hey, who isn't.  That's not a good excuse.  If you thought it was important, you'd find the time to do it.  This reasons is really 'I don't think that it's important.'

2) They don't want to be wrong.  I think it is risky putting opinions out there.  You may be wrong, or someone important may disagree with you.  So what.  As long as you are not confrontational, it's just a discussion.

3) They don't want their LPs to find anything that isn't totally buttoned up when they do their diligence.  Smart LPs will know that you can't invest in this space if you don't participate.  Just keep your sick hobbies out of your work blog...

4) They don't want to share their opinions with the rest of the world and lose their competitive advantage.  Come on.  Most VCs are pretty smart, but there are very few unique thoughts in this world.  By participating in the conversation, you'll have better opinions.  Of course, you have to be careful in talking about new spaces and companies you are looking at, but I think that blogging helps your deal flow so that you'll see more new things anyway.  And, we need to collaborate more in the Boston market anyway.

5) They have nothing to say.  I don't think that this is true, but if they really don't understand the space, then maybe they'd learn by trying.  See #2.

It took me a while to commit to doing a regular blog.  And, it's hard to carve out the time to write something sometimes.  But, I get so much great feedback from people who read The Fein Line that it's addictive.  I'd like to not be Boston's oldest VC blogger much longer...If there is someone else out there who deserves that title, let me know.

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September 11, 2007

TypeKey now fixed

Great support response from TypeKey.  For some reason, my configuration had always worked but shouldn't have.  Minor configuration changed fixed everything.  Comments now must be authenticated again.
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TypeKey trouble

Christoph pointed out to me that TypeKey was no longer working on my blog to authenticate commenters.  Until I get this figured it out, I have turned off authentication.  This means that I have to approve all comments in order to avoid comment spam, so please be patient if it takes a bit before your comment appears.
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July 27, 2007


I'm going away for the weekend, visiting some friends at their cottage in New Hampshire.  And, there is no TV, no broadband, and barely cell coverage.  So, I am unplugging for the next couple of days.  I don't do this very often, even when I go away.  So, we'll see if I get the shakes before I come back.

I'm told that you can survive such bouts of unplugging, but we'll see.

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July 16, 2007

Back and Catching Up

Dear Reader (as Stephen King says when addressing his audience):

I apologize for not posting for more than a week.  I've got a flurry of posts coming this morning, including some information on what I've been doing.  I've fallen behind in all aspects of my life and am just now coming up for air.  But, it has been a great week.

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July 05, 2007

On the road

I am on the road in Oxford, OH (home of Beta Theta Pi) helping to facilitate a leadership seminar for college undergraduates.  I'll be mostly offline for the coming week, but will try to post from time to time.
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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 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.

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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.

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April 13, 2007

J'ai pêcher allé

According to Google, the title of this post is the French translation of "I have gone fishing".  Blame them if it's wrong.  Off to France for vacation.  Posting will be very light to none at all...

Au revoir!

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April 10, 2007

Be careful what you blog

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article about how blogging can help you get a job.  The article also mentions how your blog can be used against you in the interview process.  The article is here (subscription required, but may be available for free).

Russ Glass of Zoominfo is mentioned several times in the article.  Russ writes about how he made an unsolicited job offer to a Product Manager because he was impressed with the candidate's blog.  He also says that he cut short the candidacy of a potential sales person because he found that person's blog offensive.

We are all leaving digital trails in this world.  Hopefully, it reflects well on us and can lead to new opportunities.  But, if you aren't careful, your ranting can cost you a job.  I think that many people would pay for a service that would erase our wild, young digital identity from the Web before we hit the job market.  And, disparaging your interviewer in your blog on the night after the interview is a really, really bad idea.

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April 05, 2007

What's In a Name?

As I've gotten more involved with several companies, I've tried to figure out what to call myself.  Companies are listing me as an Advisor on their presentations, and they have to put down something.  As a title, I've called myself "Investor and Entrepreneur".  That certainly is what I've done, and will likely be some sort description of what I will do.  But, I don't plan to do any angel investing at this time, so I wouldn't want my lack of investment in any of these companies to reflect badly on them.  In reality, I'm a venture capital investor and will be making these types of investments in the future.

As for a Company name, that's been trickier.  I don't have a company.  I've just been working as an individual.  Some people have listed The Fein Line as my company, but it's not.  I like the name as a blog name, but it definitely isn't a company name.  I've always felt that company names need to be more clever (but not cute) and need to be easy to spell correctly.  I like the name of the blog and don't plan to change it.  But, I'll probably have to come up with some company name to better describe what I do.

One new firm name I really like is .406 Ventures.  They should give the derivation of the name on their Web site.  But, the founders told me that, although they aren't necessarily big baseball fans, they like the idea of emulating Ted Williams's hitting approach.  Ted was the last baseball hitter to hit over .400, hitting .406 in 1941.  Ted was selective and focused as a hitter, and was also an American Hero with a distinguished war record in World War II and the Korean War.  Also, as a Boston focused firm, .406 Ventures has a name with a real Boston flavor.

So, it's time to come up with a name that I can use now and in the future to give some personality to what I do.

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March 25, 2007

Updated Bio

I finally updated my bio to include some of the companies I have been working with lately.  I'll write about some of them in the coming days, except for those still in stealth mode.
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February 19, 2007

Venture Capital Network

I'm happy to say that The Fein Line is now part of the Venture Capital Network of blogs.  This network is a service of Feedburner and is run by Brad Feld.

Some features of this network are that you can easily find and search other VC feeds and you can advertise on network feeds (but not mine as I do not currently run any ads).  I am overdue in using some of Feedburner's features on my blog, so you'll start to see them appearing here, including FeedFlares on my site and in the feeds.

I hope you enjoy easy access to the extra content.  It's good stuff!

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February 15, 2007

On the road

No posting for the next few days and perhaps only very light posting over the next week as I have an out of town meeting to attend followed by school vacation.
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January 30, 2007

Betting and Blogging for Charity

Thanks to Fred, here is a wiki where you can bet on the Super Bowl score, with the winnings going to your favorite charity.  Cool idea.
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November 29, 2006

Work in progress

By the way, if anyone happens to stumble onto this blog, please don't think I am as boring as the plain template would indicate.  As my time allows, I am going to spruce up the look and add some more features.  I am brushing up on my Web authoring skills and learning Movable Type.  So, keep your eyes peeled for some improvements in the coming days and weeks...
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November 20, 2006

Staring at the Blank Screen

Well, I'm finally doing it.  I've been considering starting a blog for a long, long time.  I've always been hesitant because it seemed like a big commitment to keep it fresh and current.  My friend, Fred Wilson, is my blogging idol.  Fred does such a great job that I didn't want to get started unless I could be as committed as he is.

I did get a chance to do some blogging on our summer vacation.  It was as addictive as you read about.  And, it was a great way to avoid mailing postcards to our friends and family while traveling.  However, our daily, non-vacation lives are packed.  Where would the time come from to do a regular blog?

Well, time won't be an issue for now.  I've got some time on my hands as I think abut what's next for me.  And, learning Movable Type will keep me busy.  I think back to 1996 when I left Shiva to join New Oak.  At that time, I experimented with my first HTML web page, hand-coded.  A lot has changed in 10 years.

Blank Screen

So, as I started up this new blog, I have been playing around with Movable Type and trying to figure out how to format my standard template.  Things should change a lot as I read some books and experiment.  And, I spent some time staring at the blank screen trying to decide what to type.  And, I just dove in and wrote this.

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November 01, 2006

About Me and The Fein Line

This blog is a place where I can think out loud about the things that are important to me (outside of my family).  I'll focus on venture capital, start-ups and entrepreneurship, sports, politics, and the world in general.  I look forward to your comments and feedback.  You can reach me at

My formal bio:

Michael Feinstein is VP of Sales and Marketing at Digital Lumens, a developer of energy-efficient industrial lighting.  Prior to that, he was Managing Director at Sempre Management, an innovative investment firm.

Michael is an experienced investor and entrepreneur.  Prior to co-founding Sempre Management, Michael focused his efforts on new ideas in information technology, semiconductors, and clean energy.  Michael advised several start-ups, including Geezeo, GateRocket, and Good2gether.  He also served as a mentor for the Ignite Clean Energy Business Plan Competition and a Catalyst with the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT.

Previously, Michael was a General Partner at Venrock Associates in Cambridge, MA.  While at Venrock, Michael was a Director of Kenet, Ciclon Semiconductor, CircleLending, and Boston-Power.

Prior to joining Venrock, Michael was a General Partner at Atlas Venture and led their US Communications investment team. In this capacity, he is a past member of the Board of Directors of WaveSmith Networks (acquired by CIENA Corp. in 2003), Quantum Bridge Communications (acquired by Motorola in 2004), Sandbridge Technology, and Ellacoya Networks. Previously, Michael was Vice President of Market Development for Nortel Networks. He joined Nortel as part of New Oak Communications, where he was Vice President of Product Marketing. Michael previously served as Vice President of Product Management for Shiva, where he also held several engineering and sales executive positions. Prior to Shiva, he held marketing, sales, and engineering executive positions at Cayman Systems and GCC Technologies.

Michael received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.


View Michael Feinstein's profile on LinkedIn
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