Music: Guitar Solo Series #1

I’d always been a ProTools user for my recording projects, but when I set up my new home studio a couple of years ago, I decided to switch to Apple’s Logic Pro X. To teach myself to use Logic Pro and also Final Cut Pro for video editing, I decided to record a series of my favorite guitar solos. Here is the first one of (hopefully) many more to come.

I present to you my rendition of Jimmy Page’s epic solo in “Whole Lotta Love”.


We have just hours. The FCC is about to vote to end net neutrality—breaking the fundamental principle of the open Internet—and only an avalanche of calls to Congress can stop it. So we decided to help “Break the Internet” on our sites. You can also support on TwitterTumblrYoutube or in whatever wild creative way you can to get your audience to contact Congress. That’s how we win. Are you in?

More info here.


I Voted and I’m With Her

I just turned my ballot in this morning, and #I’mWithHer. I voted for Hillary Clinton.

While I have misgivings about the political family dynasty dynamics at work here, she’s one of the most qualified presidential candidates in our country’s history, and is well-prepared to ably serve our country as President. Today I voted with my conscience.

If you’re reading this and are considering not voting, or voting for a 3rd party candidate, I implore you to reconsider and vote for Hillary. Given how close this election is likely to be, if you do not want Donald Trump to be our president, then please get out and vote for Hillary, as any other action (or inaction) is tantamount to helping elect the most dangerous presidential candidate in our lifetimes.

This post could go on forever, but others have documented how fundamentally unfit Trump is to be our president. My friend and colleague Mark Suster does a fantastic job making the argument against Trump in his post, as does my partner Brad Feld in his. And a Canadian newspaper documents nearly 500 lies told by Trump in just the past seven weeks.

In reflecting on this seemingly endless campaign, I’m mindful of how much stress and sleeplessness Trump’s rise as a candidate has caused me.

Fundamentally, it comes down to the fact that this man is a dangerous demagogue and bully who has built a campaign based on fear, hate, and violence, is temperamentally unfit to lead our country, is a racist, a sexist, a science and climate-change denier, a disaster as a businessman, a serial liar, has no regard for facts, expertise, or the intricacies and subtleties of government, and has no respect for the constitution or the ideals and values upon which our country was founded.

Trump as President opens the doors to the possibility of a negative black swan event with odds far higher than anyone should be willing to accept.

Ultimately, at my core I am an optimist, and I believe in progress and the potential of humanity, and that we can move towards an ever better world and society in the future, which is perhaps a mandatory attribute for someone who does what I do for a living.

I am deeply disconcerted and, frankly, confused and confounded by the authoritarian, nihilistic, fear-driven, backward-looking and deeply cynical worldview embodied by Donald Trump and his campaign, as he pretty much represents the polar opposite of my worldview and my hopes for the future.

I pray this man does not get elected tomorrow, and that we as Americans rise to our better natures as we make this monumental decision. (The fact that I am resorting to prayer as an atheist is also an indicator of just how upset I am about this election.)

While I hope anyone reading this will vote for Hillary, I encourage everyone to get out and fulfil their civic duty and VOTE!

Boulder: VOTE NO on Props 300 and 301!

I seldom feel compelled to weigh in on politics, whether local or national, but there are two terrible pieces of public policy up for vote in Boulder next month in November that I must urge my fellow Boulderites to vote against. Props 300 and 301 are “wolves in sheeps’ clothing” initiatives that sound innocuous (and even desirable) on the surface, but, if passed, will create governmental gridlock and lawsuits in Boulder on a daunting scale.

Boulder’s neighborhoods already have a say in issues that effect them, and developers and business in Boulder already pay their own way. Props 300 and 301 aren’t fixing something that is missing or broken.

Proposition 300 is metaphorically akin to gerrymandering and will create years of gridlock in the city governmental process. If 300 and 301 pass, we could wind up with a fractious and stalled process that might be most reminiscent of “Ungovernable Italy”.

My partners and I have written in more depth on the issues here and here, and here, and I encourage you to take a look. If you agree that these bad pieces of policy need to be defeated, please vote NO on 300 & 301, and please help spread the word. Here are some ready-made tweets or Facebook posts you can use to get the word out:

Click to Tweet: i agree with @foundrygroup. 300 and 301 will have devastating effects on boulder. VOTE NO on both! #keepboulderopen

Click to Tweet: i stand for keeping the doors to boulder open. VOTE NO on 300 and 301. #keepboulderopen

Click to Tweet: in boulder’s upcoming election we’ll decide if we want to live in the past or continue to thrive. #keepboulderopen

Excite: Are You Experienced?

I attended at fantastic event in Palo Alto a few weeks ago: Excite’s reunion, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of (Fun inverse exponential tidbit: at launch, Excite’s index contained a whopping 1.5 million pages.)

It was great to reconnect with the incredible set of folks I was fortunate to be on a mission with two decades ago. Twenty years is a generation in human time, and eons in the tech industry.

One of the most interesting themes of conversation was how much has shifted in the tech landscape since then, yet how many of things we were working on at the turn of the millennium we all “knew” would be important became foundational elements of today’s ecosystem, though we couldn’t foresee the precise forms they would ultimately take.

A couple examples: Excite bought a company called Throw that was an early groups/social networking product, and we were even working on Excite Mobile back then (offered via WAP)!

Excite also had a fantastic television commercial for our launch, using Jimi’s music. No one could tell what the hell Excite was from this commercial, but it was a damn cool ad nonetheless.

Pitch Your Company, Don’t Present About Your Company’s Pitch

At Foundry Group, we often have our portfolio companies come in to present to the four of us to work out the kinks in their pitch prior to heading out on the road to raise money. It can be very powerful to have the four of us in the room at the same time offering our perspectives, which overlap somewhat, but it also can provide unexpected insights when each of us respond from our unique point of view.

For this to provide maximum benefit to the company, it is optimal that the presenter comes in with their “game face on” and treats the presentation exactly like one they’d be giving to an investor they’ve met for the first time. Otherwise the conversation can devolve into “remedial mode”, which is better done with just one or two of us as we hone the pitch leading up to presentation day. It just isn’t a great use of our time to have four of us in the room when the pitch isn’t close to ready for prime time.

We recently had a company in to pitch to my partners whose presentation needed a few more iterations before it was ready to be shared with the broader group. Afterwards, one of my partners rightly chided me for not coaching the founders to treat their presentation to us as a “real” pitch, and counseled that I should have worked with them to improve their presentation before they came in. Mea Culpa. I did a disservice to my partners and to the founders by not insisting upon a tighter deck and story prior to the meeting.

There were numerous ways (see herehere, and here) the pitch could have been improved prior to unveiling it, but the overarching problem was the founders came in expecting to have a conversation with us rather than give a formal pitch, which was admittedly my fault. The result was that instead of being in pitch mode, they fell into the “meta trap” – they gave a presentation about the pitch they would be giving to prospective investors, instead of simply giving us the pitch.

This leads to unnecessarily awkward and cumbersome language like “and here I would say X about Y”, which levies a cognitive tax on everyone in the room. It brings to mind the quip that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” One modality of expression does not necessarily translate to another.

You can’t improve your pitch by talking about how you will give your pitch – you have to actually give your pitch.

The formality of having to actually deliver your pitch (even to friendly existing investors and advisors) forces clarity of thinking and clarity of language. You have to commit yourself to a specific narrative and flow, and you have to have to make concrete choices about what you will say. You can’t say things like “at this point in the presentation, we will talk about our market and why our product is great, and we’ve considered a couple ways to do this.”  You actually have to convince the listener that the market is huge and the product is great and differentiated.

While it certainly requires more work up front, to maximize the value of the feedback you get from “friendlies” before going to the road to raise money, give them a formal presentation. While it may seem slightly artificial to be in “pitch mode” in front of investors who know the company well and are fully up to speed, it is far more beneficial and far less awkward than presenting about your presentation.

As the wise shoe-salesmen in Beaverton say: Just do it.

Decappuccino – Crowdsourcing a Comic

Decappuccino Version 1, by Andrew Thomas.
Decappuccino Version 2, by Mustafa Kandaz.

Last month, in the weeks before Christmas, my son Quinn coined a term for a new kind of espresso drink while I was making my morning brew – the decappuccino. We chuckled about it, and imagined what the (potentially deadly) effects might be of consuming such a drink.

As the day wore on, I found myself continuing to think about the decappuccino, and an image of a New Yorker style cartoon depicting a cafe scene with headless patrons popped into my head. Lacking the artistic skills to produce this on my own, I decided to ask the interwebs for help via Twitter.

I got a handful of responses, and two artists engaged with me, both of whom did a fantastic job making my imaginary comic a reality. Within a few days (and for less than $100), I had two high quality versions of my comic ready in time to give them to my son as a Christmas gift. He really enjoyed the present, since it was both something he had a hand in creating, and because it was completely unexpected.