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Showing posts from 2013

Options

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Alex McCaw wrote an excellent blog explaining stock options - http://blog.alexmaccaw.com/an-engineers-guide-to-stock-options.  Everyone getting options (an engineer or not) should read this - especially the tax implications of converting your options.

I thought there were several common issues that could use some further explanation using an example.

For our example, lets say a VC investment made of $10 M at a valuation of $50M.

Pre Money and Post Money Valuation.  Since people like big numbers, so this is usually expressed as post-money. So the company was valued at $40M before the investment, but now that they have another $10M in the bank, they are now worth $50M.

Dilution.  Before the investment there were 4,000 shares/options, each worth $10, and each representing 1/4,000th of the company.  For the investment another 1,000 shares were created and sold to the investors at $10 each.  Each share/option each employee had was worth $10 before and $10 after - so there was no economic di…

JBoss Recollections - Part 5 - The Business Team

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I have covered other JBoss Recollections previously: 1. Early Years, 2. Forming the Strategy, 3. Tech Team, and 4. VC Funding.

Of course any real business needs business people to drive success and growth. Here were the key hires by date and some stories behind each. Looking back, I still think we made the right decisions on each of these great people as well as the timing and order of their hiring. That was one of the many lucky things that happened to make JBoss successful.

Ben Sabrin - 2001 - Ben was at JBoss before I got there. I've talked about Ben in the earlier recollections, but I would be remiss to not mention his significant contributions to JBoss. He figured out that customers wanted to buy from JBoss before almost anyone.

Tom Leonard - 12/03 - I knew that the key thing about making JBoss successful as a business was credibility. And there were two major ways to earn that credibility from a business perspective - Significant Partnerships and Significant Deals. And I ha…

KK, Jenkins and the Triumph of Technology

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Kohsuke Kawaguchi is the most brilliant developer and creator I have gotten the chance to work with (we work together at CloudBees). I just got back from the Jenkins Users Conference, where 450 people from around the world (literally) attended and another 500+ watched via live video stream.
In his keynote, KK reviewed his concerns with having created Jenkins.  (It is the defacto "Continuous Integration Server".  Many, many companies use it to "build, test and deploy" their software - meaning it winds up being the glue that glues the pieces together of many of the applications people use today like Yahoo, Netflix, EBay, Amazon Kindle, cell phones, etc. Not to mention big companies like Cisco, AMEX, Macy's, Nordstrom and literally tens of thousands of others.)
To "build, test and deploy" all of these applications, he estimates it takes 3 Facebook sized data centers running pretty much full time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. He was conc…

Venture Funded vs. "Lifestyle" Startups

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I get pinged a couple of times per week by people about starting up a business.  Almost always the question is "How do I get funded". My common answer is take money when you don't need it, because that is the only time when people will want to give it to you. And don't take money when you need it, because people won't want to give it to you then.

Why I was a Fan of VC Funding
Here is an example story. In 1994 Bluestone had created a tool that made it easy to develop applications for the web that were driven from a database.  Today this is how all websites work, but it was the early days.  We were funding the development ourselves out of cash flow, and investors approached us - Bessemer actually gave us a term sheet. The founder declined.  Our competitors (Spider Technology, which became NetDynamics) got funding and we were forced to respond to match their higher levels of spending and go look for venture funds.  Of course when we did, our final term sheet with Pa…

Zip Code API

We are developing some really great technology at RunSignUp.  So we are starting a separate company to bring some of the technology to market.  I'll be posting more about this later, but this is worth talking about now as it is in production and we have a number of people who have stumbled upon it and are using it. One of the things we developed was aZip Code API (some people spell it Zipcode API).  We developed this API to provide a list of Zip Codes within a certain Radius.  We use this for the Running Club/Store widget for providing a list of races within a certain distance of a store or club.  We are also going to be updating our UI so runners can enter their zip code and we will fill in the City and State automatically. The Zip Code API provides the following functions: Distance Between Zip Code API - The API allows you to quickly and easily figure out the distance between zip codes.Zip Codes in Radius API - You can use this API to find all zip codes within a given radius from …

European Startup Thoughts

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I'm in Paris and Luxembourg for board meetings with eXo and Codenvy.  Also, Adobe just bought Neolane for $600M.  They are based in Paris and were funded by Auriga and Xange - the same VC's who are backing eXo and also have some ownership in Codenvy. (In fact the eXo board meeting had to end early so Phillippe and Nicolas could go finalize the closing of that deal). Several thoughts on this while I have a bit of time:

Cloud is Big and Global.  Well, that is obvious these days.  But I find it interesting that Neolane will become "Adobe Marketing Cloud" and be headquartered in Paris. The distributed mode of operating a company is becoming more accepted. We've also seen at eXo, Codenvy and CloudBees that Europe is a strong early adopter of Cloud technology. Having a presence in Europe is becoming a strategic advantage and a good place for selling Cloud solutions.

US Tax Avoidance.  It has been well publicized that US firms have a lot of cash overseas that they can no…

Forecasting the Future of Global Warming

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There was a recent article in the New York Times about the record levels of carbon in the atmosphere.  This raises lots of thoughts in my mind and I wanted to get them down in writing.

Unstoppable Growth in Carbon
My first thought is this is unstoppable.  Carbon in the air will continue to increase.  The reason is not just powerful oil and coal lobbies.  It is the Rest of the World.  Even if the US gets as aggressive as progressive countries like Germany, it will not make a dent in the global carbon generation.  The US only uses 18% of global energy and the growth is coming from elsewhere.

Economy Tops Morality
The growth is bound to continue since economic growth is the key to power (pun intended) structures in the world.  Failing economies elect new leaders (or overthrow old ones).  So asking a country to cut back on cheap energy is a tough one.  And of course private industry is of course simply interested in the least expensive alternative, which is carbon fuels.

What is Moral?
Do …

Carrot or Stick?

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We were so lucky to have Peter, Kesuma and Saingiore visit us from Tanzania last night.  Peter founded the Orkeeswa School in a rural Maasai village.  My daughter, Allison, taught at the school last year.  It is an incredible place, filled with smart, enthusiastic students.

The big discussion topic last night was people's rights in primary school (Orkeeswa is a Secondary School - only 7% of Tanzanians get to go to secondary school).  Kesuma holds the belief that it is OK for the teachers to cane students.  This is a very common practice in Tanzania, and reminded me of stories of my Catholic School friends.  It sounds a bit harsher and more frequent in Tanzania.  Kesuma believed that it was the right of the teacher, and it made the students do better.

Saingiore held deep reservations about this practice.  He has started to help as a teacher in a primary school, and he does not use the stick.  He did say there was some peer pressure from his colleagues to use the stick and so he pu…

Crossing Cloud and Open Source Business Models

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I am working with two other people on launching a new company in a couple of months.  I've been thinking a lot over the past several years on taking some of the lessons learned in open source and implementing them with a cloud based model.  We are going to try something that is a bit new...

The Old Open Source Business Model.  Red Hat spawned the basic idea that most open source companies have used.  Come out with a great open source project that gets used by a lot of people.  Then develop some proprietary value-add, wrap a service layer with that and sell it as a subscription.  A percentage of the free users will find the value-add useful and pay you for it.  
Freemium Model.  This is a slight deviation on the open source model.  Don't share the code, but offer up a free version with a for pay version with higher value and a service offering of support.
Enter the Cloud.  So far the Cloud has been viewed as a simple extension of the computing environment that Open Source and Fre…

Clouds introduce a new era of Openness

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I've long been a big proponent of open source - supporting it at companies like Bluestone, HP, JBoss, Hyperic, and Spring.  I still am as witnessed by some of the open source RunSignUp is contributing like our mobile timing app and our Open API.

However, there is an important shift happening with the emergence of cloud services.  The new idea has two parts when it comes to cloud middleware, or PaaS:

Wiring together services to develop appsPortability across PaaS so you don't get locked in I wrote about this choice in 2011 and how CloudBees was going to approach it.  The graphic at the right is from that blog.
CloudBees has been following this methodology, and had an important announcement with Cloud Foundry today.  As GigaOm put it: So you want to build your software in CloudBees but want to run it elsewhere? With new integration, you can put that application on Cloud Foundry (as well as Google App Engine.) This is the basic mantra of the open movement.  If there is openness, t…

23andme - My genomic health predictions

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I signed up for the $99 23andme genetic test a couple of months ago and got my health results last night!  Genetics is very interesting to me, and if I were younger it would be my career path.  As research progresses, understanding genetics and applying it will have a huge impact on society over the next 100 years.  For a quick tutorial on genetics, watch https://www.23andme.com/gen101/genes/.

For the rest of this write-up I am going to focus on the genetics part of things.  Of course environment plays a huge role, we all know that eating healthy can reduce my risk of stomach cancer, etc.  So I will leave that caveat off the rest of this...

My Health Results
The good news is that I have good health genes.  As the video shows, I have my family to thank for that.  I have several family members that have lived past 100 years old and all of my grandparents were healthy people.

The results are pretty interesting.  They are broken into the following areas:

Disease Risk - This is a long list …

Codenvy

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Codenvy formally announced their spin-off from eXo and new financing of $9M today.

Codenvy does for developers what Google Docs did for Word users - open things up to the Cloud.  That means better collaboration, closer integration with Cloud Services like Github and the PaaS vendors like CloudBees, CloudFoundry, Amazon Beanstalk, etc.  It means faster set-up and team enablement.  It means editing on a Tablet NOW instead of waiting to get back to my desktop and Eclipse.  It means more freedom and more control.

The background on this started several years ago Benjamin Mestrallet, the founder of eXo Platform, saw the need to easily create the new wave of applications - easily tying widgets and back end data sources.  He had a crackjack team of developers working on this, and the idea kept expanding.  Last year he realized that this technology was too important to keep bottled up inside eXo.  About the same time, Tyler Jewell joined the company.  One thing led to another, and pretty soon …