An Entrepreneur Brain Flip

Rick Segal writes about the ultimate VC nightmare:

An EBF happens when a founder wakes up one day and ‘flips’ into employee mode. To me, nothing is scarier then a founder saying “It’s just a job.”

This can happen for a number of reasons but the signs are pretty clear.

When you are closing a deal and the entrepreneur negotiates for his/her pay like it’s a job, that’s trouble.

If you don’t feel like you are the owner, jezz, don’t take the money; don’t close the deal. If you feel the need to fight over severance in your employment agreement and it runs 30 pages, bad start to the game. If you worry about ‘ getting fired ‘ and aren’t thinking about the business, who is right for the business, etc, etc, don’t close the deal.

The Coming Flash Desktop

Fred Wilson writes:

I have become a huge fan of Flash. I never liked websites that were built in Flash. They took too long to load. I never understood what was wrong with html. It’s still true that a website that is entirely built in Flash is not attractive to me. But delivering certain services in Flash, the way Etsy does with the shop by color or shop by geography, is a smart approach.

But to me what is happening with Flash players and widgets is even more interesting. Flash players/widgets are becoming a new paradigm for content distribution and consumption. I can imagine a time when my desktop is covered with Flash applications that look like Apple’s dashboard.

Software Estimation

Tom Hume writes:

To my mind, estimation underpins the whole software development process: it’s where we, as a service agency, decide on how to cost out our work, and it leads directly to the time commitments we make to clients. It’s also well-understood to be difficult to estimate tasks you’ve never done before; for us this is particularly problematic because we often find ourselves doing things for the first time which we (or occasionally no-one) has any relevant experience of; we often target devices which may not be on the market yet; and we often have to adapt existing applications for entirely new platforms.

So I’ve started estimating all our projects using a custom spreadsheet and a process which has us laying down worst, most likely and best case estimates for individual function points, and calculating an “expected case” from these. I record these in a spreadsheet and re-estimate over time, recording all estimation.

Microsoft’s Challenge

WSJ writes: “The fundamental question Microsoft faces is whether the PC will continue to play a central role in tasks people now use it for, from storing music to watching videos and writing documents. In recent years, the spread of high-speed broadband Internet access and a host of new technologies have made it easier than in the past for people to use the Internet for such tasks. Consumers tap services like Flickr, an online photo site, and YouTube, the huge online video-sharing site, to store pictures and videos online — not on their PCs. Increasingly, applications such as email and word-processing are offered as Internet services that don’t require much, if any, software running on a PC. They also don’t require the companies to release whole new versions of software as Microsoft does in its Windows and its Office line of programs. Google regularly updates its search and email services with little fanfare.”

TECH TALK: 15 Years as an Entrepreneur: 2004-6

As ideas started forming in my mind, I started to make some decisions about what to do in the future. I realised that the ideas that I had were too many for a single company to execute. Also, these ideas would take time and given the nature of ideas, many were bound to fail. I then decided that I would follow a twin track approach. In Netcore, I’d focus on a specific set of ideas around mobiles and their potential going ahead. This would be my one and only direct entrepreneurial venture. I would also make investments in a select set of companies which help bring to life the future that I was envisioning. For this, there were three companies that I helped co-found, and seven other investments that I have done so far. I guess the two phrases that helped define what I am doing are the parallel entrepreneur (from a New York Times article on Bill Gross) and thesis-based investing (from a blog post via Bill Burnham).

In Netcore, this time around, I am trying to do things differently. The breadth and scope of our ideas means that this cannot be done by 15-20 people. We needed to build an organisation and scale up operations over time. On both counts, I had limited experience. To counter that, I have tried to build a team in Netcore of talented and experienced people who can serve as the foundation for the organisation going ahead. This also meant, that I had to learn to work with others in a structured way. It was very different from IndiaWorld. But that is perhaps the only way we will build something which will last. Because it is not my intention to sell the company ever.

We have, over the past 12-15 months, built a deep set of ideas around the mobile future. This is what we are now seeking to implement with services which we will start rolling out soon. Not being too involved in day-to-day operations, which is not my strength anyway, gives me the time to read and think deeply about what tomorrow’s world is going to be. The only thing I regret is that we do not have a user base this is something we will have to build from scratch. There are such moments when I wish I had the platform that IndiaWorld was but that’s the past now. The flip side is also that we have no legacy and no existing business to protect. So, we can think completely from scratch about how things should be done.

Mine has always been a build-it-and-they-will-come approach. I know no other way. I go by my instinct and belief in the evolution of technology and what will be possible in the future. In the past, I have been mostly wrong. But that doesn’t deter me. The failures help in refining the view of tomorrow’s world. Only time will tell whether I am right or wrong.

Tomorrow: Beyond

Continue reading