Archive for January, 2012

Weekend ahead

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Went to Bourbon and Branch last night, a speakeasy bar downtown SF. They don’t let you in the door unless you know the password (which we did) and then once inside, depending on whether you have a “reservation” or not, depends on which of many secret rooms they show you to. Initially, after saying no reservation, they opened a hidden door behind a bookshelf and put us in a room with lots of people, 5 deep at the bar.

Meanwhile, a homeless lady, obviously high on something, managed to sneak in the same bar and starts randomly throwing punches. Kind of ironic really given how hard they make the folks that are going to spend money with them work to get in – but I guess if you’re going to put a bar right in the Tenderloin then you’ve got to expect it.

Jody speaks to hostess, tells her we have a reservation, hostess cannot find it but agrees to take us into the front bar and give us seats right at the bar. That worked out well. When we left at 9pm, there was a long line of people waiting to give the password, negotiate for a chair and maybe, get a drink.

Fun experience although a little complicated. Next time I will definitely have a reservation :) Branding is a funny thing.

After last weekend’s excitement and disappointment of the 49ers game, this weekend should be much more relaxed. Usual kids activities but not a whole lot more planned – which is good by me. Prob hang out in SF this morning, wander round the shops, coffee, lunch etc.

The firehose

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

I’m in the middle of drinking from it and enjoying every minute of it.

Hopefully I’m not too much of a pain as I drill in to many different parts of our business.

What I do know is….this technology is incredible. The scalability numbers that are being witnessed are a complete game changer.

And, insomnia has returned :) which for me is a good thing because it means that my enthusiasm and commitment have returned.

Not sure whether my co-workers have figured out yet that I spend half the night working….I guess they’ll start to see that when they see timestamps on emails.

More later….too much to do.

Good to know – thanks Harvard!

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Did you see the Harvard report on why some start-ups succeed while others fail?

One thing that I liked:

“All else equal, a venture-capital-backed entrepreneur who succeeds in a venture has a 30% chance of succeeding in his next venture. By contract, first-time entrepreneurs have only an 18% chance of succeeding”.

>>Cool – so we’ve got almost double the chances of success than a company with a first time entrepreneur.

Actually I can relate to this. Many of the things that took a lot of time, effort and mistakes first time around, are going to be much less time consuming this time around. Hiring would be one of those things… raising would be another….industry contacts…..customer contacts…internal systems and processes – so many things that can be done faster.

The other big area for me is to learn by the mistakes. We’d all love to think that, because we built a highly successful company, it was all roses. But….quite the contrary. We (I) made lots of mistakes, lots of things that with hindsight I’d like to have done better and will definitely do so in the future.

Commitment, passion, adaptability to change are constants that everyone at a startup must have.

First time watching Boundary presented to a customer

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Yesterday started and ended with customer interaction.

First thing in the morning, with the CTO of an old customer of mine visiting our offices to hear what Boundary was doing. I mainly watched and listened as our product mgmt and sales leaders talked about the solution. The meeting started not that great actually; the CTO was questioning what we were saying and was clearly underwhelmed. But, about 20 minutes into the meeting things changed and he started to really understand the power of what Boundary is doing….by the end of the meeting he was as excited as we are about the possibilities – felt like we could have continued the meeting all day discussing different ways that the solution could be evolved.

And then at the end of the day, we hosted our beta customers in the office for a roundtable discussion on their feedback from the beta so far, likes/dislikes and where they’d like to see the product evolve to. I was impressed that (a) So many of them took personal time to come to our offices and give us the feedback (b) They were all really engaged in the discussion directly with our product management and engineering team.

Really a great day….really interesting listening to and watching customers talk about Boundary.

Day one is in the books….

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Yesterday was my first day as the CEO of Boundary.

Somehow I managed to join on the day of the company offsite, so we spent all afternoon our of the office having fun – good timing!

What and who are Boundary?

For quite some time now I’ve believed that a new generation of IT Management and monitoring solutions are required to deal with the rapid nature of application change as well as the fact that many apps are hosted in Cloud environments where you cannot get as much access to traditional management metrics. As I started looking into this, I realized that some of the techniques and technologies talked about in reference to Big Data, could and should be applied to IT Mgmt, and that if they were done so successfully, it was a potential game changer.

Remember these blog posts that I made back in July/August….

Systems/Network Mgmt products, scalability and big data

Does Big Data make proactive monitoring of the IT infrastructure a possibility?

Well, Boundary is on exactly this path. Collecting and analyzing ALL the data and doing so in real time as opposed to sampling on 1 minute or 5 minute intervals and post processing that information. The old approaches are simply too slow for many environments and cannot scale to the needs of the modern cloud and web architectures.

My belief is that, if you can collect an incredible Volume of data, at an incredible Velocity and the data can be highly Variable (structured and unstructured) – then the Value that the mgmt solution provides changes dramatically.

There is an awesome team at Boundary and we are actively hiring in many areas….email me if you’d like to be part of something that can be a major game changer.

This is going to be a fun and exciting journey and as before….I will share the ups and downs and the day to day life of a startup CEO on this blog for anyone that is interested.

Off and running…..

What a weekend and what a week to come

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Saw one of the most exciting games of football on Saturday at Candlestick. Atmosphere was electric and result was amazing. Why does everyone keep underestimating the 49ers….to me they were always favorite to win this game but….did ESPN mention them once during the week? Statistically the single most important factor for playoff success is Run Defense.

And, the Giants beating the Packers means that I get to go to the NFC Championship game this coming Sunday.

Starting the new job tomorrow; really looking forward to it although I must admit I almost feel like I’ve been working at it for a week already. I believe that we will put out a formal release on Wednesday; so I’ll have to keep it quiet until then.

I have my first customer meeting on Wednesday morning – not that I’m going to be doing much talking as I don’t know enough yet.

Jumping back in….early stage….game changing technology….great people….

What a change

Friday, January 13th, 2012

When you meet with so many start-ups as I have been doing recently, you realize that the technologies and products that they are using and developing are light years away from more traditional companies.

SQL Databases….is any startup using a SQL database in their architecture?

On-premise….what does that mean again? An investor told me this week that if anyone pitches on-premise software, the first question is “why not SaaS?”

Waterfall development….we all know that went out with the ark but now vendors are pushing updates into their platforms daily or more (does anyone remember when there used to be an annual release cycle)

Windows….whoa. Sorry Microsoft but, just about every startup that I’ve visited are 100% Apple internally, and are developing their solutions to run on Linux (what an incredible transformation of the market in a short number of years). Actually if someone pulls out a Windows laptop, I almost want to say “how cute, haven’t seen one of those in a while”

Blackberry….yep, declining rapidly. Android and iPhones everywhere.

Suits….err, those are the things that you wear at weddings.

Ping pong tables….who knew that so many people loved ping pong. Luckily I used to play with my dad so at least I won’t be embarrassed.

Funny how change happens so fast in Silicon Valley

You can’t buy passion – you’ve either got it or you haven’t

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

A friend of mine pointed out Mark Cuban’s 12 rules for start-ups that is published on today. What I took away from the article is that, the reason that you start a company or join an early stage company is NOT because you’re trying to become really rich but it’s primarily because you have passion around what you are doing. Yes, start-ups are also a good way to make personal money and certainly I have benefited from that, but if you are not obsessed and passionate about what you are doing, then you’re in the wrong place.

This sort of hit home to me when, despite me not starting with the new company until next Tuesday, I was swapping emails with someone from that company at 3am this morning. Yes….I said swapping….meaning that not only am I passionate enough to be up at 3am doing emails but so was the other individual. You cannot buy this kind of commitment. I spent about 75% of my day yesterday working on the new company and I have multiple meetings today.

A few other things from Mark’s post that I believe in:

1. Fun….I think everyone would agree that my last company used to be an incredibly fun environment to work at – just ask Richard Branson :)

2. Sales cure all….if you are making money, then you have time to fix the other things

3. Keep the organization flat…..anyone can speak to anyone and should be encouraged to do so. I don’t believe in crappy hierarchies at startups

One thing that he didn’t mention, maybe because he thinks it’s obvious, is honesty. I believe in being honest with yourself, your colleagues, your investors, your customers….don’t bullshit people, don’t give speeches that have been written for you about subjects you know nothing about, don’t put your name to blogs that are written by someone else….speak from the heart, say what you believe.

Even if people don’t like or agree with what you’re saying, you will have instant respect from those around you.

Making the most of it….

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Spent the weekend in the Montecito area.

Decided that, when the kids are all gone and I can no longer build great teams and great companies, that’s where we’re going to retire to; with our summer home in the South of France as well :)  Hence I need to go and work hard for many more years to get some $$$

Mid 70s all weekend, hiking up/down the mountains, could have spent time laying by the pool and only got one speeding ticket on the drive. Sitting in Peets on Saturday afternoon…..bumped into a couple of our friends from the Bay Area…..that was cool.

Start the new job in one week from Tuesday. This week is “tying up loose ends personally” week….dentist, handyman, lawyers….you know, all those personal chores. We are in need of a number of people at the new company…I’ll post the positions on the blog as I get more details but it’s a great team and a great idea in a large market….the rest is just a simple matter of execution right?

Oh and….bring on the Saints. My good buddy has let me have one of his tickets for the 49ers-Saints on Saturday…..that’s going to be super exciting. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a repeat of the Harbaugh Bowl in the Superbowl? Yeah I know it’s a long shot but maybe…..


Thursday, January 5th, 2012

There is so much value in LinkedIn for business folks. It’s incredible how much I use LinkedIn – even when I’m not working – to keep me up to date with what others are doing in their career, keeping in contact, and making things happen between people (contact requests, reference requests etc)

There is also so much more that you can do with the data. Does anyone know of any packages that perform analytics on the LinkedIn data in a simple form and show summary results? For example, it would be interesting to see # joiners and # leavers for any given organization shown as a monthly trend. This is obviously a great sign of a company’s health….high turnover is almost never a good thing.

It would also be interesting to see a simple chart of where people came from/went to, when they joined/left a company. I’d love to be able to see where individual companies are hiring from. I’d love to be able to see if there is a brain-drain from companies and where the hot new companies are.

I guess I’m asking for a LinkedIn analytics page where I can define my own dashboard (think salesforce dashboard) and take a look at the macro data in an easy to read form. Would be incredibly valuable. Anyone know anything that does this?