Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jim Gray in Wired

In February, I wrote an article about participating in the search for Jim Gray. Wired Magazine has just released a most excellent article about Jim Gray and the search. It's great to see a professional follow-up to this story. I only wish it could have included some more answers (hey, if you're going to wish, you should wish big!).

Be sure to also check out the Timeline for Tenacious Trip to Southeast Farallon Island on January 28, 2007 article.

Good stuff.

Tags: , , , ,

VMware IPO - A Major Success

VMware went public today!

Check out VMW on Google Finance.

Back in October of last year, I wrote an article that noted how VMware, a subsidiary of EMC, was kicking butt as a software company, but the value that they were bringing to EMC shareholders was clearly not being represented in the EMC stock price.

In February of this year, EMC and VMware announced that they would sell about 10% of the company in an IPO to happen this summer. Great minds think alike -- and ours too! I wrote about that here.

VMware pre-sold over $368M of the proposed 10% to Intel Capital and Cisco (see these articles).

For the IPO today, VMware priced at $29.00 and opened at $50.00. Near the closing bell, I took this snapshot:

Up 84.83% is what you call a successful IPO.

No wonder. IDC estimates the virtualization market at $20B by 2011. VMware is currently at $1.2B. Do the math on that. There's definitely plenty of upside for companies in the virtualization space. (Disclosure: I am a founder and shareholder of Cassatt Corporation, a company that sells virtualization management software for large data centers; I am now also a customer and shareholder of VMware).

When I wrote my original article, EMC stock was selling for about $12/share, and had been largely flat for years. Yesterday, EMC stock was selling for about $19/share. That's over a 50% rise in share price in under a year. A key kicker of that rise in share price was, indeed, the VMware IPO. Well done EMC! Your stock has finally moved and you are delivering shareholder value from your most excellent VMware asset.

Finally, Intel Capital and Cisco have more than doubled their Net Asset Value of their VMware investment in just a handful of weeks. Honestly, that was a lot faster than I had predicted. They should expect a little extra something in their holiday bonus this year.


Tags: , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Setting Up My New Apple MacBook Pro

I recently celebrated a birthday.

Some people don't like birthdays. They fear growing older.

I don't have that reaction at all. About a birthday, I always say: "It beats the alternative!" And, I truly believe that.

My fiancée bought me the best gift ever. Something that I will use many hours a day, every day of the week.

A shiny, new Apple MacBook Pro.

OK, so now I have to move everything off my old Apple PowerBook G4 and turn it into a dedicated software test machine.

The easy way is to use the excellent Apple Migration Assistant tool. I didn't want to do that, however, because I wanted a fresh start. You see, as part of what I do, I install a lot of crap on my system. A fresh computer every couple years is always an opportunity to get a fresh start. So, that's what I did.

I downloaded the latest versions of all the software that I use the most. And, I kept track, just for you. Here's the list:

  1. Quicksilver β51

  2. Safari 3 Beta for Mac

  3. VMware Fusion Beta

  4. VoodooPad Lite

  5. Inquisitor 3 for Safari

  6. Set up Mail.app (accounts, rules)

  7. Transfer files from old Mac (using FireWire Target mode)

  8. Backup/Recover Address Book and iCal databases

  9. SpamSieve (export/import the old corpus)

  10. Windows XP (under VMware Fusion)

  11. Windows Live Writer Beta (under Windows XP; took forever for Service Pack 2 and .NET junk). Thank goodness Windows boots incredibly fast under VMware Fusion!

  12. Remote Desktop Connection for Mac (get the new Beta)

  13. Firefox

  14. F-Script Anywhere

  15. Aperture (actually was pre-installed)

    • Move over Aperture and iPhoto Library

  16. Xcode

  17. AppleCare Online Registration

  18. Google Desktop for Mac

  19. Google Earth & Picasa Uploader (easily from Google Updater)

  20. Adium

  21. Copy over login.keychain (since "Export" option doesn't work)

  22. Adobe Reader

  23. Application Enhancer with SDK

  24. Safari Bookmarks (export/import)

  25. FlickrExport Lite for Aperture

  26. KeywordAssistant for iPhoto

  27. Full Tilt Poker

  28. Quinn

  29. Bluetooth Connection and iSync my Nokia E61

    • Customize modem script to access Internet through phone's EDGE connection

  30. DarwinPorts and Subversion

  31. Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac

  32. RsyncX

  33. Chicken of the VNC

  34. Flip4Mac

That's enough to get me going.

Now, off to order that new 24" iMac for the office computer... So glad that I own Apple stock.

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Cisco Joins Intel Capital as Nation’s Smartest Investors

Earlier, Intel Capital announced that the will put in $218.5M to buy a 2.5% stake of the VMware IPO for a mere $23/share. When I wrote about it, I speculated that Intel Capital should expect to get a 3-4x return on that investment over the next 5 years.

That's only an $800M+ gain for their investment. Not bad at all. This investment alone will put them in the "elite" category for venture investors. Well done!

Cisco announced that they will join the party. It appears as though they like to make easy money, too.

Cisco will put in $150M to buy about a 1.6% stake in VMware.

Also brilliant.

Anybody that gets in on the low end of the VMware IPO (currently $23-$25/share) will do very well. Congratulations to Intel Capital and Cisco for knowing how to invest wisely.

I’ve written about the VMware IPO previously here and here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Fill Tilt Time Wasting

A good friend suggested that I try FullTiltPoker.net.

She is no longer a good friend.

Permit me to explain.

She plays a lot of Poker. Real poker, against real people, at real tables, for real money. Texas Hold 'Em mostly. She's quite good.

I play a bit of pretend poker. Fake poker, for fake money. I'm OK. But, I'm really not much of a gambler. Yeah, I'm an entrepreneur, and some people think of that profession as "gambling" but it's really not. There is luck involved, to be sure, but that's not quite the same as gambling. I do enjoy poker, however. Very entertaining.

Anyway, my friend mentioned that she'll login to Full Tilt Poker to get a quick poker fix in the morning.

I surveyed some of the available (FREE) online poker playing, but very few had support for the Apple Mac OS X system. However, Full Tilt Poker did! I had no excuse. I had to download the client and give it a try.


The application is really well done. Gameplay is very good (except when you have somebody at the table with a sketchy internet connection). The graphics and animations are nice. Sound is decent. Gameplay is pretty quick (play 70 hands per hour easily). Play with fake money. Re-fill your fake chips every 5 minutes (if you lose it that quickly, which is quite likely when you get started). Makes it very easy to try different playing strategies. It's awesome!

Now, they do have a real money side of the site as well. I watched a heads-up match where the pot was $44,700 for a single hand. Crazy. It can be entertaining to just watch. The real-money online tables play hands much faster than the real-money tables at a casino, so you can win it faster (or lose it faster). I just play the free chips and leave the real-money play to the professionals.

They have every possible poker game you can imagine - Hold 'Em, Omaha High/Low, Omaha High, Stud High/Low, Stud High, Razz, Multi-table Tournaments, and lots of events. All really well done.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily call this "Massive Multiplayer" at this stage. I've only noticed about 60,000 people playing on the site at one time (but, to be fair, I haven't really looked very often).

Bottom line: Full Tilt Poker is tons of fun. And, it's FREE. However, it just ate a week of my life. Yikes. Now, I need to exercise a little self restraint!

Do not download this application unless you, too, would like to say goodbye to a week (or more) of your life.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 23, 2007

GreenDimes Gets 205 Million Dimes

Back in October, 2006, I wrote about a company I really liked called GreenDimes. The article, I Hate Spam: Snail Mail Edition, talked about how the folks at GreenDimes had a great business on their hands, but I questioned whether they could ever be a stand-alone IPO-sized company that the usual VC model likes to fund.

Last week, it was reported in PE Week Wire that GreenDimes has secured $20.5M in Series A funding led by Tudor Investment Corporation. That's a whopping huge Series A. Many congratulations to Pankaj Shah and the entire team at GreenDimes. It's a good company with a worthy cause and a nice business model. The financing should give them ample room to build the business. Excellent news!

Great coverage is at Earth2Tech (and on GigaOm).

Death to Junk Mail!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 9, 2007

Timeshifting Metcalfe-Cuban

One of the first blog articles I ever wrote was Timeshifting The Family. In that article, I described how TiVo has changed the content consumption experience for millions of people.

One of the points I touched on was the fact that TiVo, through timeshifting, was fundamentally changing the "shared experience" of how we viewed content. It's hard to quantify that change, but it is definitely something that I experienced while watching Roots with my family back in the 1970's.

What got me thinking about all of this (again) today was a recent article written by Mark Cuban, Metcalfe's Law and Video, where he applies Metcalfe's Law to video content distribution and forms some hypotheses. The two that relate to timeshifting I found most relevant and well stated:

1. The more people that see content when it is originally "broadcast", regardless of the distribution medium, the more valuable the content.

This is the example of "appointment viewing" or "breaking news". The more people who planned to watch, or did so as soon as they heard about it, the more valuable the content.

Call this the "heat check".


10mm people watching a tv show at the same time creates more value for the content than 10mm people watching the same show on demand over the course of time.

2. The greater the number of people that watch content simultaneously, the greater the emotional attachment of the viewer.

The greater amount of confirmation that a viewer can get from other viewers that there were others, like them that made an appointment to see a video or immediately changed their plans to watch a video, the greater the "we" effect and emotional attachment.


In the case of Roots, it was more like 130mm viewers consuming the content simultaneously. A pretty big "we" effect with definite emotional attachment. A validated data point for Mark's hypotheses.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Intel Capital Makes Fantastic Investment - Buys Into VMware IPO

Intel Capital steps up to an interesting and brilliant investment by buying a 2.5% stake of VMware in their coming IPO. Intel Capital will invest $218.5M into VMware and take a seat on the board. Excellent coverage of the news can be found at Data Center Knowledge and at Intel.



Rich Miller at Data Center Knowledge notes that the VMware IPO is expected to raise $741M, with shares priced between $23 and $25. Simple math says that if Intel Capital pays $218.5M for a 2.5% stake, then they have valued VMware at a cool $8.74B. That is a perfectly reasonable valuation for VMware, given that they are now in the elite few software companies with >$1B annualized revenue run rate.

From my perspective, this is fantastic news for Intel Capital. This one investment will easily return 3-4x for them in the next 5 years. That's a seriously big return on a very large investment. Congratulations to the Intel Capital team for landing this one!

I've written about the VMware IPO previously here and here.

I'd love to get a guaranteed price at the low end of the VMware IPO range. VMware folks: You have my number. Call me!

Tags: brianberliner, Brian Berliner, VMware, IPO, EMC, Intel, Intel Capital

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Power of the Blog

I was out in Colorado last week.

Before departing from San Jose, I wrote a blog entry and invited folks that are reading my blog in Colroado to contact me for a face-2-face meeting.

I admit, it was a bit of a test of my readership. And, the test passed with flying colors.

From that one blog article, I was able to arrange and meet with 16 old/new colleagues/friends. And, a few schedules could not be coordinated (I'll get you next time).

The Power of the Blog. Very cool.

Tags: ,,,

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I’m In Colorado This Week

I'll be in Colorado this week. Mostly in Boulder, but likely down to Colorado Springs for a quick stop.

Drop me a note if you are a reader of my blog and would like to get together for a face-2-face chat!

Tags: ,,,,,

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Zooomr Offers FREE Pro Account to Bloggers

Zooomr is offering 12 months of FREE Zooomr Pro account access to Bloggers. This FREE upgrade includes 4GB of photo uploads each month. Plenty for me. Thanks, Zooomr!

All you have to do is follow these instructions. I like that Zooomr support OpenID authentication and that they are implementing the Flickr API for uploading photographs to their site. And, that they are giving me some FREE photo storage. Very cool.

Here's my first photo (required to get the FREE account):


Best of luck to the Zooomr folks.

Tags: ,,,,

Final Thoughts on EclipseCon 2007

So, EclipseCon 2007 has wrapped up today. Some final thoughts.

  • The conference was well attended and organized. Near as I could tell, everything went off without a hitch. There were some problems accessing wireless from the Hyatt, but I was only out there once. The food and booze was good. And, yes, I packed on a couple more pounds with the ever-present cookies and brownies. Ugh. Conferences. Sheesh.

  • Eclipse used to be just an IDE for developing Java applications. Now, it's so much more. It's now a really, really good IDE for developing Java applications. It's also a platform for applications to run on top of (see Eclipse RCP) used by tools like Azureus and the Actuate BIRT Report Designer. Even more, the Eclipse Foundation brings together all the projects and makes sure that everything is legal and structures. When you say "Eclipse", you really are saying a mouthful.

  • The conference had the expected amount of talk focused on Eclipse and a variety of the extension work being done either directly in Eclipse, or as a plug-in, or on the platform.

  • All 3 of the Keynote talks were very good and entertaining. None of them focused on Eclipse or the Eclipse ecosystem, but they were all very good nonetheless.

  • Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the focus on OSGi at the conference (OSGi was formerly the Open Services Gateway initiative, and is now the OSGi Alliance). There were numerous really good sessions talking about the current progress of the OSGi Alliance and related projects. This stuff is finally maturing. Lots of Open Source technologies available now, like Equinox, Knopflerfish, Apache Felix, and Newton. There is even talk about getting Spring and OSGi working together with the Spring-OSGi project.

  • Looking downstream, however, it may make the most sense to combine OSGi, Spring, and SCA (the Service Component Architecture) to form the best-balanced service fabric. Paremus appears to be leading the charge here, and announced such a product, Infiniflow, at the conference. Very cool.

Tags: ,,,,,

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Scott Adams on Dilbert at EclipseCon 2007

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="160" caption="tricia@cheekyattitude"][/caption]

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, did a great job with the EclipseCon 2007 Keynote talk on Tuesday.

While the talk was certainly entertaining, the thing I liked most about his talk was the focus on things like "failure", "timing","luck", and "persistence".

Scott pointed out that his "list of failures" got to 29 items before he stopped counting. Of those 29 failures, most would have been successes had they been shifted forward or backward in time by as little as 5 years. As I've said before, timing is everything. Startups are often too early to market. Lots of VC-backed startups do not have the patience to wait for the market to catch up to them. Patience.

In addition to his 29 failures, Scott did recognize 3 successes. And, certainly, a bit of luck played a part in the successes.

However, Scott's spin on "lucky" and "unlucky" people was interesting. Lucky people are those that expect success to happen to them and, as a result, they have a broader perspective of the world around them. Unlucky people do not expect success and often miss the signs that would otherwise drive them toward the right opportunity. Interesting. Don't forget to look around.

Finally, don't ever give up. Be persistent. Create a "product". Create lots of products. Something will eventually stick, perhaps with that component of "luck" playing its part when you least expect it.

Nothing in here about Eclipse or EclipseCon 2007. Still, very well done, informative and entertaining.

Be sure to take a look at the Dilbert Blog.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Open Source Business Models at EclipseCon 2007

Brent C. Williams, an independent Equity Research Analyst, gave a quick-paced ride through some Open Source Business Models and key activities from 2006 at EclipseCon 2007.

Some takeaways about a couple of big activities in 2006:

Case 1:

  • Oracle decides to "clone" Red Hat Enterprise Linux in October 2006, and to offer it for half the price of Red Hat. Stats: First 90 days, about 9,000 downloads of the product. Compare that to 1,000,000 people who downloaded Fedora Core 6 from Red Hat in its first 90 days.

  • Red Hat ignored the move by Oracle - no price reduction, no individual deal discounting. Red Hat has a premium brand. Software is not price-competitive at the market level.

  • Oracle announced that they will join the Eclipse board and donate a number of technologies. This is a good, smart move for them, however not big enough to overcome the blowback from the cloning experiment gone bad.

Case 2:

  • Novell - Microsoft licensing deal.

  • Novell recently reported $91M of invoicing for Linux subscriptions, up 650% over the previous year. However, $73M of that was from existing customers. Sounds like small change to me.

  • Novell thinks their problem is trying to catch up to Red Hat. Novell needs to build a brand identity for SuSe that is something other than "We're not Red Hat".

Brent's Prediction: If Microsoft sues anybody for patent infringement in 2007, that there will be an Open Source community response such that each of Microsoft's existing software patents would receive prior-art petitions filed against them with the patent office (and 70% of such petitions are accepted by the Patent office).

What do investors care about for 2007?

  • Simple. More revenue. Either "Economies of Scale" revenue (sell copies to more customers in existing markets) or through "Agility" revenue (open source companies are more agile and can branch out into adjacent markets easier).

  • Example: Actuate and their BIRT efforts have helped to boost their stock price.

Miscellaneous points:

  • Software Market is not a Commodity Market.

  • Open Source Software market is even more of a branded market than proprietary software (strong emotional preferences found in the Open Source community).

  • Interface Standards do not affect pricing. Implementation of the "standard" interfaces is what customers are buying.

Tags: ,,,

IP Issues - Mixing Commercial and Open Source Software at EclipseCon 2007

Panel of Palamida, OpenLogic, Black Duck Software, IBM, and BEA Open Source licensing experts at EclipseCon 2007.

Some takeaways:

  • Lots of organizations have no idea how to make the risk/reward analysis of when they should use Open Source Software and when they should not.

  • Some companies go so far as to have policies that forbid the use of Open Source Software within their products, or even block access to sourceforge.net from the office. None of these tactics work to stop the developer from bringing the code in anyway.

  • Most organizations really have no idea how much Open Source Software they are using in their product, or which licenses those products are using.

  • TiVo, Linksys, and Progress Software/MySQL case identified as some big/well-know cases of companies using Open Source with some kind of legal action taken against them with respect to their use of Open Source Software, Check out gplviolations.org for more information (at least within Germany).

  • Companies should have Open Source areas of expertise. An individual or group that understands these IP and licensing issues and can communicate with executive management, engineering,and the legal department effectively. Or, companies should use an Open Source consulting firm, like the Olliance Group.

  • The major Open Source communities have gotten really good at certifying the originality of the work that is contributed. Buyer must still beware, however. There is risk associated with any software that is developed through an open, community process.

Tags: ,,,,,

Monday, March 5, 2007

At EclipseCon 2007 - Look Me Up!

I'm at EclipseCon 2007 this week, in sunny Santa Clara, CA. I'm very much looking forward to the event. Lots of great sessions lined up and this year's conference looks to be bigger than ever.

The ecosystem that has developed around Eclipse is remarkable. Definitely shows the power of Open Source within the developer community (something I was lucky enough to contribute to with CVS).

If you'd like to chat/meet, please drop me an email.

Tags: ,,,,,,,

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

FeedBurner Validates Google Reader Domination

The folks over at FeedBurner released a nice overview of how they see the web-based RSS/Feed reading market. I.e., which web-based clients are reading the most feeds/articles. Great article.

It pretty much confirms what I expected. I previously wrote about my switch to using Google Reader. Apparently, many others have as well.
Burning Questions • FeedBurner's View of the Feed Market


Notes yet again:

  • Given the way Google Reader renders HTML (see here for an explanation on our Publisher Tips blog), the 59% figure is actually conservative. Since Bloglines and other clients render all HTML on a page at one time, rendered item views are likely greater than the actual number of stories "read" by their users.

  • The top 4 aggregators as measured by views - Google Reader, Bloglines, NewsGator and Netvibes - account for 98% of all item views recorded.

There are still many features that I would like to see added to Google Reader. Customized search through my feeds is a big one. As well as "smart tags" which would do such a search and dynamically organize it under a tag. Maybe some day. For now, Google Reader works pretty well. And, I'm not alone in that belief.

Tags: ,,,,,,,,

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

2007 Toyota Prius MPG: Actual Results

I've owned my 2007 Toyota Prius for 5 months now. And, it still (mostly) makes me happy. The GPS NAV system is the biggest disappointment. The car does have more "pep" than I expected, so I guess it all balances out. Everything else is about what I expected.

In 5 months, I have driven about 7,500 miles. The electronic MPG gauge tells me that I get about 46.0 MPG on average. I drive about 80% Highway miles and 20% City miles. I have never seen a whole tank get either of the two EPA stated values for the car (which, I believe, are 51 MPG Highway and 60 MPG City).

What you are seeing reported here are real-world MPG numbers. I drive the car hard, just like I would drive any car. I do end up speeding more often than I would like. And, just FYI, the car was once running smooth for a brief moment at 91 MPH. Performance is excellent for a car with so little horsepower.

Don't get me wrong, though. This is a commuter car first and foremost. It does not handle well in the corners (but, my other car is a Porsche, so there really is no comparison). When you get in it, you should be in fuel-conserving commuter mode.

And, with the HOV car-pool sticker, I am even more pleased with my purchase.

In other reading...

Tags: ,,,,,,

Monday, February 26, 2007

OpenID Enabled

I'm OpenID enabled. Check out the Wikipedia OpenID article for a great overview. The high points include:
When you post on a blog using OpenID, the blogger's site asks your OpenID provider to log you in; when your provider verifies you, you are guaranteed a unique identity without maintaining an account for that blog.

On OpenID-enabled sites, Internet users do not need to register and manage a new account for every site before being granted access.

Sounds pretty good to me! Also, take a look at the Simon Willison Screencast on How to use OpenID.

The other thing I like about OpenID is that I can make my website/blog address be my OpenID. I.e., my OpenID is brianberliner.com. So, what do I get with this:

  • An easy username to remember that works on multiple web sites.

  • Muy OpenID maps to me, my brand.

  • No need to create yet another password to forget (there's only ONE PASSWORD) to manage.

  • My very personal OpenID URI will only authenticate to me.

  • I can change the back-end provider that does the actual authentication at any time, and the OpenID that the rest of the world sees does not change.

So, how did I do it?

1. Check out Simon Willison's article on How to turn your blog into an OpenID.

I chose VeriSign Labs as my OpenID provider, since I trust the VeriSign brand. They are the one's that will do the heavy lifting of securely authenticating me on multiple OpenID-enabled sites using my single sign-on password (yes, ONE PASSWORD!). I'm

2. Configure your website/blog software to include two additional links in the header.

I edited my Wordpress 2.1 theme to add the following two lines to the <head> section:
<link rel="openid.server"
<link rel="openid.delegate"

And, that's it! Do these two steps and you too can be OpenID enabled.

Tags: ,,,

Friday, February 23, 2007

Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios and Next New Networks

I don't listen to many podcasts. Way too time consuming, and not particularly searchable (and, they play back at a constant speed). However, from time to time, I will find one and play it in the background while I work.

And, occasionally, I hit an episode that is brilliant. I really enjoyed this 1.5-hour (yikes!) podcast with Fred Seibert of Channel Frederator.

Quoted from Venture Voice: VV Show #43 - Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios and Next New Networks:

VV Show #43 - Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios and Next New Networks

Download the MP3.
Before the rise of the Internet, cable TV was the new form of distribution remaking the entertainment business. Life-long entrepreneur and former jazz producer Fred Seibert pioneered that field, and is known in the industry for branding MTV (remember their ever-changing animated logo) and Nickelodeon (remember Nick-at-Nite). While he was figuring out what to do next, Ted Turner hired him to be president of the then-struggling Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio. Fred turned the famous studio around and kept his hand in the cable business until some friends dragged him into the Internet business. He now runs Frederator Studios which produces several cable and Internet TV shows. He also just launched a new well-funded startup called Next New Networks to create Internet TV networks.

Good storytelling. Reminds me that things sometimes work, and sometimes they don't. In any case, you're always learning and always moving the ball forward.


Tags: ,,,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NetNewsWire Beta Goes Public

Back in November 2006, I wrote the article, Google Reader: Actually Quite Good.

In that article, I noted how surprised I was that Google Reader was such a good online RSS news reader. I had been using the desktop application, NetNewsWire 2.1.1, on my Mac and was overall pretty satisfied with it (except for some scaling issues)... Then I moved up to the pre-release version of NetNewsWire 3.0 and found that things had not really improved.

I even complained that the developer, Brent Simmons, had not made much progress on NetNewsWire since the acquisition of his company, Ranchero Software, by NewsGator, over a year prior (October 2005).

The result was that I switched my RSS news/feed reading experience over to Google Reader and wrote about the switch. And, the Blogosphere responded.

Brent Simmons wrote a personal email to me to let me know that development was progressing along nicely and that he hoped to entice me back to NetNewsWire with the 3.0 official release. I thought that was awesome! In that note, Brent added:

I'm more excited about the 3.0 release than I have been about any software I've ever worked on.

Very cool. Brent is an excellent programmer and excited programmers can change the world.

Fast-forward. I noticed today that Brent has released a new pre-release version. I downloaded it and kicked the tires. I have to say that the performance of the Combined View and search functions were much nicer now. I may use Google Reader and NetNewsWire in parallel, or may just decide to wait for the official NetNewsWire 3.0 release to give it it's full due.

Bottom line: Many thanks to Brent for engaging the community and continuing to make NetNewsWire great. I look forward to the official 3.0 release!

Tags: ,,,,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Diggnation #85 - We’re There!

Last night, Amy and I attended the live taping of the 85th episode of Diggnation. Diggnation is one of the properties of Revision3, and perhaps their most popular property (shout out to my colleague Mike Maples, an investor in Digg and Revision3). Diggnation is a weekly video podcast, hosted by Kevin Rose (co-founder of Digg) and Alex Albrecht. The hosts sit on a couch, drink beer, talk about some of the top stories submitted to the digg.com site, and generally crack me up. I find it quite entertaining. Thank goodness the FCC does not regulate video podcasts!

This particular show was held at the Beach Chalet Brewery and Restaurant in San Francisco. And, it was packed. Amy and I made a night of it. Ate some tasty seafood, enjoyed the sunset over the beach, drank some stout, and enjoyed the show.

The Laughing Squid folks wrote a blog article and took some great pictures at the event. Here's a sample:

Photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

And, the Discovery Channel was there taping with a nice, big HD camera. Not quite sure what they were planning to do with the footage, but I look forward to seeing it in bright HD on the home theatre.

Finally, here's a shot of my ugly mug (and half of Amy's pretty mug), captured by one of the attendees (licensing does not allow me to show it to you here; you'll have to click through).

We even scored a couple of free Diggnation T-shirts thrown out to the audience. Unfortunately, they were both of the female variety. Amy looks awesome in hers, but I can't quite pull off the chick T-shirt look. Kevin... Alex... Please send along a Large male T-shirt to me so that Amy and I can be a proper Diggnation couple in public!

I don't use digg.com. But, I do enjoy the show. Good times.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The MoneyTree Shook - Q4 2006

Colleague Mark Radcliffe was kind enough to invite me to today's Shaking the MoneyTreeTM event held at the DLA Piper offices in East Palo Alto. PricewaterhouseCoopers and the NVCA put out the report quarterly, based on data provided by Thomson Financial. The report is in its 12th year. The Master of Ceremonies for this event was Steve Bengston of PwC, who did a very nice job talking to the current trends in the Venture Capital industry.

I don't have a pointer to the slides presented, but you can find the Q4 2006 Press Release here.

Panel attendees (who also did a very nice job and kept the discussion lively) included:

Some highlights that I found particularly interesting include:

  • 2006 VC investments of $25.5B ranked it as fourth largest year ever (beat out only by 1999, 2000, and 2001).

  • 1980 total VC was just $600M - compare that to 2006, where a single investor, Intel, made an investment of more than that amount in a single deal!

  • Called this the "Decade of Life Science and SoCal".

  • My previous home state of Colorado had a tough Q4 in terms of deals, withh only 16 deals, down 70.8% from the previous quarter (on the year they were down 4.9% from 2005).

  • Current VC investment levels "feel" like what it was like in 1996-1998, depending on the metric you dig into (e.g., Q4 2006 Series A dollars invested were higher than the Q1 1999 Series A numbers for Silicon Valley, but comparing # of deals feels more like 1997).

  • The money is slowly moving to Biotechnology and Medical Devices. While Software investments continue to lead, Biotechnology is right behind, and if you combine Biotech and Medical Devices, they exceed Software by some 50% margin.

  • "About one-third of the money is going into Life Science". Good thing I'm invested in 5AM Ventures!

  • First investments, or "Series A", used to be exclusively the domain of Seed-Stage or Early-Stage companies. Today, we find about 30% of Series A dollars going into Expansion-Stage companies. This is a notable change from the VC investments in days gone past.

  • Early-Stage companies are getting roughly $7-9M Pre-Money valuations, which seems about the right number to me.

  • However, what's interesting about the valuations is that the Later-Stage companies are seeing Pre-Money valuations of $80-90M. That's hard to reconcile with the fact that the average M&A exit valuation for VC-backed companies is just north of those numbers. I.e., lots of Later-Stage VC investors are making poor deals/not making much money on each deal. This is also a more recent development in the industry.

  • Most VCs are "Early-Stage" because that's where the money is, historically. Early-Stage still leads the 20-year return numbers over pretty much everybody else (Later-Stage, Buyouts, Mezzanine, etc). However, returns of late for Earl-Stage have been pretty crappy. Personally, I'm an Early-Stage guy and an Early-Stage investor. I agree that it is the best place to get the best returns (and the best investors will prove that out way beyond what the "averages" in these reports show).

  • "Overhang continues to grow" - i.e., there's plenty of money out there for the best companies. Raising money should not be a problem. If it is, you've probably got a fundamental problem with your business.

  • Advertising dollars to Internet/Mobile is currently about 5%. However, we spend about 20% of our time online and mobile. I.e., massive amounts of ad money will be flowing into these spaces, enough to support 4 more Google's in the next 10 years, perhaps. Lots of opportunity.

  • Interestingly, 13% of US marriages in 2005 were from couples that met online! That's an amazing amount of growth. I met my fiancée online as well!

  • Average life of an S&P 500 Company in 1938: 100 years. Today: Just 20 years.

  • 50% of VC General Partners will be gone in the next 5 years. If you are a VC and are reading this, I hope you are working on your next gig as we speak. That's a lot of turnover.

  • Lots of discussion about VC in China & India, and the need for startup companies to go global much sooner than they used to (for both outsourcing as well as to get access to humongous new markets). India has 300M product-consuming middle-class families, for example. Asia gets mobile phones and being continuously connected through their devices (PC at home is less important than mobile access everywhere).

  • Conversation even strayed to cover VC vs PE/Buyout guys vs Hedge folks.

All in all, a very good use of a couple hours. Many thanks to PwC and the panel for their thoughts.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 8, 2007

As Predicted, VMware will IPO in 2007

In October, 2006, I wrote the article, "VMware as LBO Opportunity for EMC?" The article examined the impact that the VMware acquisition has had on the EMC bottom line and speculated on some ways that EMC could benefit its shareholders by spinning out the EMC asset with an IPO in 2007.

Looks like I was pretty close to right on this call.

Yesterday, EMC announced that they will sell approximately 10% of VMware in an IPO to happen sometime in the summer of 2007.

Just as it was a smart move for EMC to acquire VMware back in early 2004, this is also a smart move on their part. And I'm not just saying that because I thought it was a smart move last year. Well, OK, I am saying that (a bit). Briefly, it's smart because:

  • EMC shareholders will see increased shareholder value. The positive uptick has started already, as EMC gained 6.62% in the first day of trading after the announcement. Witness:

  • VMware, as a separate and public entity, will be better positioned to offer transparency to their shareholders.

  • VMware will be much better able to attract, reward, and retain the key talent they will need to ride the Virtualization market as it blossoms over the next 10 years.

  • EMC retains 90% ownership of the public entity. So, if the Market Cap of VMware hits $20B in 5 years, then EMC is sitting on an $18B gold mine. Of course, we'll know much more when we see the S1. The high-level breakdown of the cap-table will tell us what's left for recruiting and acquisitions.

So, let's do some more speculation. I reported on VMware's Q42006 numbers earlier. They did $232M in revenue in Q42006, total revenues for 2006 of $709M, and EMC is projecting $1.2B total revenues for 2007. Since their CAGR numbers are astronomical, I'd be comfortable pricing them right now at 4x forward revenues, or about a $5B Market Cap (give or take $1B). If EMC sells 10% of the company, we're looking at a $500M IPO. This move could very well jump-start the IPO market for high-tech companies back into existence.

The only downside to this that I can find is that the company will not truly be held by the public. We just get to join along for 10% of the ride. I would much prefer that Joe Q. Public had a larger stake in any public entity.

Other interesting blog coverage includes:

All told, however, this is certainly an IPO that anyone would want to be a part of...

Tags: , , , , ,

VMware Q42006 Results Exceed Expectations

Last October, I wrote an article titled "VMware as LBO Opportunity for EMC?"

In that article, I projected Q4 revenues for VMware to be about $200M, with the resulting FY2006 total VMware revenues of about $677M. Needless to say, I was a bit on the low side.

Last month, EMC announced their Q42006 results. VMware grew total revenues 101% year-over-year to $232M. They also grew total revenues 83% year-over-year to $709M for 2006.

On the conference call, EMC projected revenues of $1.2B for VMware in 2007. That's another 69% year-over-year growth rate. I don't doubt it. In fact, sources on the street tell me that internally VMware believes they can do $1.5B in 2007. That's a bit harder to grok, but, as witnessed above, I have underestimated VMware before. Many congratulations to VMware and their hard-working employees. I look forward to adding them to the elite list of $1B+ revenue software companies in 2007.

Looks like the Virtualization market is finally maturing. Hallelujah!

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

In Search of Jim Gray

I know Jim Gray.

Well, I don't know him personally, but I have watched his presentations at numerous conferences, and thank him often for his ground-breaking work in transactional database design. Business works today, in part, because of that core work.

Jim Gray went Missing At Sea on January 28, 2007, after setting out on a solo voyage from San Francisco Bay for the Farallon Islands, some 25 miles out. It's February 6 as I write this. Jim and his 40-foot sailboat have not been found.

With the Coast Guard giving up on the search, the high tech community has stepped up to do what they can to assist. In particular, Amazon.com has uploaded recent satellite images of the 3,500 square mile search area and has set up a Mechanical Turk activity to harness the power of Internet users to identify a small boat in a large sea. Each user is asked to review an image and try to spot Jim's boat within that patch of sea.

Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com, asks for our help and covers the Amazon Mechanical Turk effort well.

I spent the day today helping to complete the effort. Today, we reviewed the remaining few thousand satellite images. While I did find a few images that may have had a small sailboat on them, the best I could find was the following:

Pretty tough to spot a 40-foot sailboat from outer space! That white blip is likely a cloud. But who knows. I forwarded this one, and a few others, on to the experts for further review.

When the final images had been reviewed, I received the following message from Amazon:

Thank You for Helping Search for Jim Gray.

On behalf of everyone involved in the ongoing search for Jim Gray, thank you.

The efforts of the Mechanical Turk community during the last several days have been remarkable. Your work has contributed to one of the largest volunteer search efforts ever.

During the last 5 days, Mechanical Turk workers looked at more than 560,000 images from 3 satellites, covering nearly 3,500 square miles of ocean. A group of experts is currently reviewing the images that workers identified, and sending their results to the appropriate authorities.

More information about the search is available at: http://helpfindjim.com

This is an amazing example of the power of the people. When technology is put to a very good and noble use.

Many thanks to Amazon.com and all the volunteers that have been helping to find Jim. I am certainly praying for a miracle ending to this story.

As you may know, I spent 7 years doing mountain Search and Rescue in Colorado. This is the strangest search that I have ever contributed to. I was very happy to do so.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 7, 2007

5AM Ventures Closes $150M Fund II - I’m In!

I am thrilled to report the recent closing of 5AM Ventures Fund II.

Thrilled, in part, because I am lucky enough to be a Limited Partner in the fund!

Fund II is a $150M fund focused on early-stage biotechnology and medical device companies. VentureWire Professional reports it here (subscription required). In particular:
5AM Ventures has closed its second health care venture fund at $150 million and has funded three early-stage companies from the new vehicle, Managing Partner Andrew J. Schwab told VentureWire.

The Menlo Park, Calif., firm held a final closing on Dec. 19 for the fund, which had a $150 million target. The fund more than doubles the $65 million debut partnership the firm raised in 2003.

So, why did I invest in 5AM Ventures (and, indirectly, in their Portfolio companies)? Simple:

  1. I always invest in the people. John Diekman, Andy Schwab, and Scott Rocklage are guys with the proper moral compass. I've spent a lot of time with these guys, and their entire team, and consider myself lucky to know them all. In addition to being very good and knowledgeable investors, they are very good people. In my most recent interaction with John, as an example, it was natural for me to end my time with him with the following: "John, you are a consummate gentleman, generous, and gracious." If you know John, you will know what I'm talking about. 5AM Ventures has also assembled an extremely impressive Scientific Advisory Board which brings them some clear advantages.

  2. I always invest in the market. The biotechnology and medical devices markets are focused on bringing life-changing advances to mankind. These are big-money markets today, and the next 10 years will see some amazing breakthroughs (pay no attention to my review of Next). Early-stage investors, like 5AM Ventures, are investing at the right time to see some seriously big returns. At $150M, it's a relatively small fund for biotech (which, I think is to their advantage), but the likes of John, Andy, and Scott have the knowledge and contacts to find and win the right to invest and grow the best companies. In essence, a smaller fund focused on early-stage investments with a well-connected team in a booming and liquid sector means, to me, that their chance for one or two very big wins are higher than most.

  3. I always invest in firms that can execute. 5AM Ventures is young, to be sure. Founded in 2003 with a $65M Fund I means that there has not been much time to measure their success as a firm. However, their portfolio speaks for itself. That's great progress for a $65M fund over a 3-year investment period. VentureWire reports that Fund II already has 3 investments in Fund II (which are not yet on the Portfolio page).

Bottom line: I don't know how to invest in biotech. I believe in the market and the timing for the market, but I couldn't pick the winners. No chance. I'll stick to what I know (Enterprise/IT, Virtualization, Open Source, Mobile, Internet Services) and leave the biotech space to these folks, thank you. I'll invest in the investors and, wherever I can, help them be successful.

Best of luck to the entire 5AM Ventures team!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 4, 2007

AppleScript Shell for Mac OS X

This is truly cool, if uber-geeky.

I've been coding of late. Working on a prototype for a new application that would, at least initially, integrate tightly into the Mac OS X operating system.

As such, I've been up to my ears in Objective C and AppleScript.

Thankfully, this discovery came at the perfect time.

It's a program, written in PERL, that provides for a command-line shell for AppleScript applications under Mac OS X. It's called "ash", for AppleScript Shell, and is available here.

It's just like the good old days. Programming in the '80s. Caveman style. Just the way I like it!

Many thanks to Hayne of Tintagel for this nice piece of work.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Daylife: A Beta That Rocks

Marc Hedlund over at the O'Reilly Radar announced the launch of Daylife today.

A quick peek at Daylife really impressed me. Take a look at the Daylife Tour.

Looks like they are indexing both news web sites as well as blogs. I expect they will compete with folks like TechMeme, TailRank, and Newsvine, and Buzzfeed (in the Social News category) for your attention.

The visuals on the site are stunning.

Very nicely done for a Day-1 launch of a Beta product.

Congratulations to the team... I wish them the best of luck!

Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Crichton: Next Review

I'm a big fan of Michael Crichton, so I was thrilled to receive his current book, Next, as a Christmas gift.

The book was pretty classic for a Crichton novel. Lots of technology, speculation on how that technology may be used (or abused) in the future, lots of characters, a few chase scenes, industry espionage, political soapboxing, legal and moral issues, the role of the venture capitalists, a hint of sex, and a story line that tries to tie it all together.

For this book, though, I didn't think that the "novel" parts of the book were particularly interesting. I liked that there were multiple story lines happening all over the world and they (mostly) all came together at the end, but the "coming together" parts seemed pretty forced to me.

The technology side of the book is quite good, as usual. Crichton provides some great discussion on the Biotech industry, gene therapy, transgenic species, gene patenting, the use and ownership of human tissues in research and development, legal issues galore, and the commercialization of the University research programs. All great stuff. Crichton is no dummy.

Bottom line: This is way better than Airframe, but not as good as Jurassic Park. In about the same league as Disclosure. Worth a read if you are interested in the technology, but don't buy it for the story.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

2007: The Year of Enterprise M&A


First week of the new year, and we have a nice-sized ($830M) acquisition of IronPort Systems by Cisco. Here's a link to the press release.

All Hail The Return Of The Enterprise M&A Market!

OK. So, maybe I'm a bit premature with my celebration... But, I don't think so.

IronPort got started in 2000 and toughed it out through some slow years for the enterprise market. They persisted and grew. Their products are not sexy, but certainly are needed. The uptick in IT spending in 2006 likely brought them a nice valuation kicker to support the lovely acquisition price of $830M.

There are many Enterprise/IT startups that are in a similar position right now. Increasing sales traction, no real IPO market available, but the big boys still need them to grow their product/technology portfolio, customer base,  and market share. And, where else will they get to an exit?

My 2007 prediction is for a marked increase in M&A transactions for Enterprise/IT focused startup companies. Bigger valuations, combined with the need for VC firms to wind down some of their 1999 and 2000 vintage funds will add fuel to the fire.

So, was the IronPort deal a good deal? Some data:

Not much else out there for Joe Public. My sense from these numbers and some other digging was that IronPort was likely looking at 2007 forward revenues of $160M+. Many congratulations to the IronPort founders, CEO Scott Weiss and VP Corporate Strategy Scott Banister for building a great company.

Om Malik covers the story here. And, VentureBeat covers the story here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

New Year’s Resolutions from Alexis Lakes

My good friend Alexis Lakes, CFO of RWI Ventures, kicks off the new year right with some New Year's Resolutions over at peHUB.

Alexis is a new VC blogger, and this is a great post.

Topics included:

    Resolve to never lose sight of ownership percentage and expected terminal value of your investment.

    Resolve to be bigger than your ego and do the right thing by your investors with respect to under-performing companies.

    Small Fry: Resolve not to be star struck by big firms wielding crappy deals in hopes of getting on their holiday party invite list.
    Player: Um. Gee. If you can find a sucker to delay a fire sale of your company - possibly buy it a lottery ticket chance of success, what can I say? More power to you, as your actions benefit the company and your investors. Of course, I couldn’t do your job, that is for sure. I need my sleep.

    Resolve to trust your partners and to be worthy of their trust.

Thanks Alexis! And... Happy New Year!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 1, 2007

You Are Spider-Man

Spotted this on TechCrunch.

As a Superhero, looks like I am Spider-Man (or, Iron Man, as the mood suits):

Your results:

You are Spider-Man

Iron Man
The Flash
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman

You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...
As a Super Villain, looks like I am Dr. Doom:

Your results:

You are Dr. Doom

Dr. Doom
Lex Luthor
Poison Ivy
Dark Phoenix
Mr. Freeze
The Joker
Green Goblin

Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.

Click here to take the "Which Super Villain are you?" quiz...
As a kid, The Flash was my favorite. I'm off by just 5%. I'll take it.

I grew up reading and collecting comic books. Still have an old box in the garage with some nice ones saved away for a rainy day.

Tags: , , , , ,