Archives for 2010

Open: Good, But Not Easy

In an NYT piece about GoogleTV this week, Ashley Vance illustrates one of the major difficulties of totally open systems – in their raw form, they are horribly unpredictable and therefore very difficult to build a business on.  As Google moves into the device space, they have caused quite a bit of heartburn with their partners: delays in ChromeOS caused laptop manufacturers to miss this holiday season; delays with Android have caused major headaches with phone launch delays, tablet launch delays and phone upgrade issues; and now Google has asked major TV manufacturers to cancel their plans for GoogleTV roll-outs at the Consumer Electronics show in a few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong – open software projects are awesome, but experienced software people are fond of the saying “real engineers ship” for a reason.  In the enterprise space you see hybrid models being adopted for working with open projects – manufacturers will certify, ship and offer support only for certain reference versions.

Google’s ready, fire, aim approach has worked very well and driven very rapid innovation for its cloud-based the software, and an incredibly fast ramp for Android, but as they begin to mate their software more closely with hardware, something’s gotta to give.

Race Point Capital Group and Launchpad Venture Group Announce Merger

 

Big day for my angel group Race Point Capital Group today.  We announced that we will be merging with LaunchPad Venture Group.  Ham Lord and I will be co-Managing Directors.  Very exciting development.  Dividing the workload and scaling up the size of the group will allow us to deliver more value to our members and to the entrepreneurial community at large.  For more detail see some of the press coverage at Mass High TechXconomy and BostInnovation.

Dear Entrepreneur, Are You Happy?

Anthony Tjan summarized an interesting study he did on entrepreneurial happiness in a powerful and very succinct post in the Harvard Business Review. Well worth a read – for anybody, not just entrepreneurs. Some key themes: 1. Take more risks — sooner. 2. Make experience-driven choices. 3. Nurture relationships. 4. Stay curious, stay learning, and stay relevant.

The Perfect Angel Group

Nice shout-out for Race Point Capital Group in the recent blog post by my buddy Ty Danco.  Thanks Ty!  The post is full of great suggestions about the rapidly growing and increasingly professional world of organized angel investing.  Thanks Ty!

Ty Danco, Olympic medalist for the USA Luge Team during the Geezers Masters race last year.  Photo by Laura Murphy.

Rough Start for Google TV

Google TV is off to a really rough start.  David Pogue slammed it in his review.  He probably didn’t set out to slam it, but by the time he is done describing it there is no conclusion you can reach other than v. 1.0 is a bag of hurt.

Then Walt Mossberg of the WSJ has added to the chorus of jeers, pointing out how fragmented and difficult GoogleTV is to use at this point.

For the record, I am not saying that the platform is the next Google Wave and will never morph into something interesting – it might – but it really shows the importance of a seamless experience and in sweating the details to make things feel integrated and easy. But even if they get there on the UI, the jury is still out on the basic premise that underlies GoogleTV: that people want the full internet/web/browser experience in the “lean back” context of the big screen TV environment. Many have argued that the Internet is a lean forward medium (i.e. a close-up, fine-grained, interactive, text-heavy desk or lap experience) that won’t translate well into the lean-back big screen context. When I consider how easy it is to just browse YouTube videos on the $99 AppleTV box, you have to wonder if that isn’t 90% of the value for 0% of the hassle?

Simplicity counts.

Nicaragua Raids Costa Rica, Blames Google Maps

Oooops!

Widespread complaints about slow Gmail, accidental war in Central America, people being directed to the wrong places to vote… Somewhere along the way Google ceased to be a mere provider of cool web toys and found its wish had come true; it has become a critical piece of infrastructure. Is it up to the task?

MacBook Air: Still Lust-Worthy With Core 2 Duo?

Am I the only one stressing about the fact that the new MacBook Airs run the older Intel Core 2 Duo architecture instead of the newer Core i5 or i7 chips?  They arebenchmarking and performing very nicely to rave reviews (engadgettechcrunch,gizmodo) due in large part to the flash based storage, and the battery life is great, but will they become obsoleted that much faster?  Admittedly, they are less expensive and designed for portable productivity not desktop performance, but still, the older chip architecture has to give one pause.  (Never mind: after much soul-searching, I still lust for one, but I’ll hold off until they offer the Core i7.)

Square Is Cool

Received my Square credit card reader recently, downloaded the app, and have been using it for a little while.  Overall, I’d have to say it is a nice tool.  The reader is very poorly made and flimsy, so I worry about its durability in the pocket, but it was essentially free, and is easily replaced, so no biggie.  Payment process is incredibly simple and easy – in fact, it is almost too easy; the first time through it, the screen elements are so spare and elegant as to be confusing; it is not always clear what to do next (for example, the signature capturing screen is very plain.)  A few labels or some guidance would be nice.  But once you get the hang of it, it is very quick and easy and the notifications are fast and convenient.  It is nice to be able to take credit cards.  Too bad the dongle doesn’t have a keychain loop.  Still, I’m a fan.

Apple & Sony? Get Real.

And Jobs is certainly not going to dividend out that cash. He worked very hard to earn it and he’s not going to return it to shareholders whom he doesn’t like and to whom he’s already given an amazing ride.

 

Apple + Sony? Sorry, it ain’t gonna happen. I think Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry of Silicon Alley Insider outlines the reasons better than I could. And the snip above is the frosting – perfectly captures indifference Steve Jobs has for his shareholders – for him it’s not about the trappings of being a public company CEO, it’s about making great products and having a bully pulpit from which to shout about them.

Gruber’s a Genius, But I’d Quibble With This One

Nothing particularly controversial in this John Gruber post, but I think it misses the importance of Apple’s $700 laptop – the 32GB iPad 3G.  For many people this is emerging as the “go-to” portable device, leaving the Air in a tough spot in the line-up.  I had a previous generation MBAir and I basically stopped carrying it because finding or bringing my own wifi was such a pain.  The iPad 3G is light, connects everywhere, and does what I need 98% of the time.  And for those times when I need a laptop, I generally REALLY need a laptop, so an 11 inch MBAir is not going to cut it.  So I think John missed some of the complexity here – for many people it is the iPad 3G + serious laptop like an MacBook Pro that is the killer combination.  That leaves the Air in kind of a sticky spot – not as light or connected as the iPad, but not as powerful and useable as the MBPro.