Archive for December, 2012

What’s the Harbaugh vs Smith deal?

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

This is all speculation…..

I realize that unless you are a 49ers fan, this post will mean nothing. But I need to write down my thoughts on this because I’m not hearing anyone else say it and I’d like to see how it pans out.

First of all, I believe that for individuals like Alex, there is much more to life than football. He’s got a young family, bought a new house here in Los Gatos last year and I regularly see him about town. In Walgreens buying kids medicine, hanging out at the farmers market on Sunday mornings, eating with his wife and a couple of the offensive linemen at local restaurants, pushing the stroller with his kid near his house.

He’s also a smart guy. He probably has plenty of plans for his post-football life and, as the treatment from the 49ers and their fans have shown over the last number of years, he’s also resilient.

So, this all starts in the off-season with Harbaugh’s failed attempt to woo Peyton Manning to San Francisco. Clearly this was a vote of no-confidence from Harbaugh in Smith which led to Smith interviewing with the Dolphins (much to his surprise I believe). But, after Manning decided that he preferred Elway to Harbaugh, Smith decided to stick around in SF and why not? He’d just bought a new house, had a good relationship with his team mates, knew that SF was a very good team and got I think around $8m a year. But….did he trust Harbaugh anymore? Of course not, Harbaugh showed that his words were empty; actions always speak louder than words.

So into the season and the 9ers are doing great. Had a couple of bad losses (Vikings and Giants), one of which you could say that Smith played badly in (Giants) but apart from that they were cruising. Solidly in the #2 seed position, many independents had them as a lock for the superbowl and Smith’s style worked because of the 9ers incredible defense, strong running game and Smith not turning the ball over.

Then it happened….the concussion happened in the Rams game. Smith reported it (as he is supposed to do) and went through the requisite tests the following week. Now remember, he was taking all the snaps in practice during that week after the Rams game getting ready for the Bears on Monday night football, so everyone was expecting him to play, but he did not get cleared by the doctors and Kaepernick came in.

Kap played a good game and the 9ers won against what we thought was a great Bears team (although Jay Cutler was out having also suffered a concussion and we’ve since learned that the Bears are actually not that good as they are struggling to get into the playoffs).

Then what happened? Well Kap took the snaps in practice the following week getting ready for the Saints game…..but why? Harbaugh must have known that Smith would have been ready for the Saints game so why did he immediately make the decision to switch to Kaepernick based on a single NFL start? But more than that, why was Harbaugh so coy about it with the press and the players (he personally created the QB controversy – the “hot hand”, the “they are both our guys”, “we’ll go with Kap and we’ll go with Alex”).

My belief is that he did this because, even though he had personally already decided, he was struggling to justify it to others (after all, it doesn’t make much sense right?) From what I’ve seen of Harbaugh he is not the indecisive type….so why was he acting this one out?

Since then, the “hot hand” is no longer hot but….is there any discussion of moving back to Alex? No, because there never was from Harbaugh’s perspective. Kap has shown some great stuff, but also shown a ton of rookie mistakes. He was exposed in Seattle, was horrible in the Rams game and yet, because we all love and trust Harbaugh, we make excuses. “Bad play call” instead of horrible pass and interception. Does anyone else remember Alex playing in Seattle a couple of seasons ago and being panned by the media because they couldn’t get him the play calls in time?

Anyhow, this is not about whether Kap can be better over time than Alex. Time will tell and he looks like he’s got tons of potential. But this is about winning now (hence the courting of Manning) so why risk so much with a QB that is inexperienced versus one that was an overtime away from the superbowl. Yes, great wins against Saints, Bears, Patriots for Kap. But have we forgotten the Alex win against Packers at Lambeau? Have we forgotten the clutch Alex win against the Saints in the playoffs last year.

Why, why, why?

My theory starts with….we are all human. Yes, we all would like to think that we make business decisions purely based on winning and losing, but there is also such a thing as personality, trust, chemistry etc. I’ve seen it on plenty of occasions…..hiring and firing is never purely about business impact so why would we expect football coaches to be any different?

My theory/speculation is that there is a personal issue between Smith and Harbaugh. Probably starts from the burnt trust in the off-season but maybe, just maybe, Alex didn’t handle the concussion the way that others would have liked?

I read this interesting piece on the web the other day (yeah right, just more speculation I know) on Why does Richard Sherman hate Harbaugh so much?

Now, my understanding of what happened is that Sherman chose Stanford over USC because of the Stanford education and because Walt Harris recruited him as a WR while Pete was recruiting him as a CB.

Sherman got injured his JR year, and decided to have surgery, using an injury redshirt. Harbaugh didn’t like that. The next year, Harbaugh had buried Sherman on the WR depth chart, despite Sherman being Stanford’s leading receiver before the injury (so he got the Alex Smith treatment). Sherman decided to move to CB both for playing time and because Stanford needed more help there anyway.

Anyhow, maybe we will never find out and maybe we will.

But the above is pure speculation and I happen to really enjoy Alex, Kap and Harbaugh, so it’s not about the individuals.
I just wonder why we don’t expect professional athletes and coaches to be human and act like humans; the media never tries to explore the human side of any story.

Or….Kap may rip it up and win the superbowl this season in which case, I will happily be very wrong :)

How many people does it take to spot accounting improprieties?

Friday, December 28th, 2012

I am watching with interest the HP vs Autonomy claims and counter-claims but I can’t help asking myself….where was the due diligence?

When CA bought Nimsoft, from what I remember there were nearly 200 CA users on the data room, which included CA employees, 3rd party accountants, lawyers etc. and that was for a $350m purchase price. I am pretty sure that they knew every dollar on the P&L by the time dd was done.

I am wondering how many people HP had on the due diligence team for a $11bn purchase and how they did not spot the alleged accounting issues.

Now, I remember someone telling me that when you buy a publicly traded company then you don’t have to do as much due diligence around the accounts because they are fully audited and have to conform to public regulations and standards but, even so.

Anyhow, it will all come out over time, will be interesting to understand what happened.

Why does the press focus only on Netflix?

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Tons of media coverage about the Netflix services being down on Christmas eve as a result of what looks to be issues with Amazon’s Cloud.

But, I think I only found one article that mentioned “Other sites, including Heroku’s Platform as a Service, were also affected.” This alone probably means hundreds of customers who had apps running on Heroku…

Anyone else wonder who else was affected?

Boundary graphs clearly showed that the problem was affecting multiple customers and yet the media just chose to focus all the attention on Netflix. Seems a little unfair to me.

2013 – the year that we understand that using public cloud does not absolve us of our responsibility to our customers?

A great example of horrible customer service – my Lytro experience

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

I, more than the vast majority of the population, understand the challenges involved in growing a business AND maintaining excellence in customer service. Bottom line is that we will screw up – it’s inevitable. But, what separates companies that care about their customers from ones that don’t is how they react when the screw up occurs.

Do they go out of their way to make it right or do they add insult to injury. Here is my Lytro experience:

Saturday, December 1st – ordered a camera online for a friend’s birthday
December 2nd – after reading reviews, cancelled my order (using their online service again)
December 3rd – Got email confirmation from them that my order had been cancelled
December 4th – asked me to rate their support
December about 10th – camera arrived December 10th – looked at packaging, no return label or address. Opened packaging – same December 17th – after looking around website, trying to figure out how to return, asked wife to email them to ask where to return item to
December 17th – Standard email response “we’re sorry to see you go” and stating that they needed to “locate the camera in our system – “we need the serial number which you need to unpack the camera and look under the USB cover”
December 18th – after email serial number, they reply and say that the camera is not in my wife’s name (duh) and she needs to send them her name, phone and address
December 18th – frustrated wife throws camera back at me and says “you deal with them”
December 18th – I email them and say – send me the return address or the camera will go into the garbage and I will cancel the credit card. Remember I cancelled this camera BEFORE it shipped
December 18th – finally they send me the return address and tell me:

Please note that your refund will not include shipping and handling fees – thanks, so I pay for my shipping and for your shipping even though I cancelled this order before it shipped

- Package it well – The original packaging will best protect your Lytro during shipping. If you don’t have the original packaging, you are responsible for proper packaging and protection of the Lytro camera and accessories. We are not responsible for damage incurred during shipping. – thanks, because you made me unpack it in the first place

- Use a trackable shipping method – thanks, that will increase my shipping costs

- After we have received your camera, it will take about 2 weeks for the credit to appear on your account – thanks, but you managed to charge me for the purchase on day 1

Absolute garbage customer service.

I have emailed them now and told them to refund ALL my money. Let’s see what they say.

A letter to Mr Dan Dupuis; lifelong Patriots fan who will be seen around New England in a 9ers jersey

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Dear Dan
I knew it was a crazy wager. Who would have thought that the 49ers could go to Gillette Stadium, on a Sunday night, in December and achieve the impossible.

Yes, they were playing against the #1 ranked offense in the county. Yes, the Patriots had not lost at home in December forever. Yes, the Patriots were coming off of a 42-14 beat down of the #1 seeded Texans. Yes, the 9ers had a virtual rookie quarterback starting his 5th NFL game ever. Yes the 9ers had lost to the mediocre Rams just 2 weeks earlier. Yes, the 9ers had to travel from one side of the US to the other. Yes, everyone favored the Patriots, Vegas made them 7.5 point favorites and you couldn’t find a pundit anywhere to give the W to SF and yes, the Patriots had the league leading turnover differential going into the game.

And yet, I took the wager anyhow. I did so because I have faith in the 49ers defense against anyone. Even against Saint Tommy of San Mateo.

But, did my faith wobble? Yes it did. Honestly, going in to the game I did not think that Kaepernick could pull it off in a shoot-out. I was at the Dolphins game last weekend and it was not impressive. I thought that either the 9ers D would need to hold the Pats to less than 20 or so points, get lots of turnovers or we may lose.

But, the outcome was the outcome. The team fought, survived Tommy’s little pretend attempt at a come-back and still won. I know that you were at the game and I applaud you for staying to the end but, as Dixie would say, it only “kicked the can down the road”. Your tears were still to be shed, just an hour later than it originally looked like.

So now….to the winner the spoils and the loser the penance. A 49ers player jersey of my choice to be purchased by you, worn for an entire weekend by you and lots of photos taken and published. Then…mail the jersey to me for my collection.

The only thing left to decide now is which of the warrior 49ers jerseys I should ask you to wear. I will take advice on this one but my top choices for now are:

LaMichael James – for the kick-return that must have put fear into your heart
Michael Crabtree – for the TD that made that fear become your nightmare
David Akers – the somewhat wobbly (this season) 49ers kicker that put the game beyond reach
Aldon Smith – for the interception and getting Brady looking like a frightened rabbit all through the first half
Dashon Goldson – for that hit on Aaron Hernandez that was still in his head and therefore allowed Aldon’s interception
Ted Ginn – for not touching that punt
Randy Moss – for that opening touchdown and oh….the irony of coming back to the Pats and scoring
Carlos Rogers – for an amazing performance and yes….the interception that only Brady stopped him running back for a TD
Alex Smith – because that jersey will be out of date as soon as the season is over but also because he’s a consummate professional

or, my personal favorite for now would be

Colin Kaepernick – for (a) me doubting him (b) fumbling the ball 4 times and still winning (c) coming into Brady’s house and beating him

I will take advice today….either through comments on the blog or talking to people. I realize your pain is already high, but the worst is yet to come my friend.

Have a great day and I hope to see you in New Orleans on February 3rd (in fact, maybe that would be a good day to wear your shiny new 9ers jersey)

Lots going on – big new customer win yesterday

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Last few weeks have been super busy (seems as though I am always saying that).

We closed out our November, scrambled to get ready for Board meeting and I had to do a quick 4 day trip to Orlando with my daughter for her national cheer championships (they came third – beyond their wildest dreams).

At Boundary, we’ve welcomed a VP Engineering and a VP Products to our team in this time as well. We’ve now got a great CTO, VP Sales, VP Eng, VP Product. We’re missing the VP Marketing for now, but, not actively looking for this position instead we’re looking for a senior individual focused on demand generation.

Our November results were very positive with a good amount of ARR added and 12 new logos coming on board. I’m pretty sure this was a record month for new logos; we’re just getting permission to use the names.

Half way through December and the holidays are fast approaching. Fortunately we’ve already welcome a number of new customers already this month and yesterday we had a big new customer win. It is true that not everyone understands our solution yet, but the customers that do understand it, think that it is nothing short of amazing. A CTO told us this week that “we think you have the next big thing in software”.

What am I doing? In the middle of building our FY13 plan; hope to have a draft to show to our investors this coming week. Dealing with a lot of “partner” discussions (we seem to have caught the attention of the big boys), helping the sales team, contributing to marketing, collaborating with product and engineering leadership to define/prioritize product plan and all the while focusing on excellence in customer service.

Oh, and we moved into our new SF office this week….finally we’re out of that rat-infested, broken toilet, no working phones prior space. Yes it was cool but it was not a great place for a growing company; new space is night and day.

Dinner party tonight for my fiancee’s birthday (got to get her present today), going to a friends tomorrow for the 49ers vs Patriots game (not too confident), Nutcracker with my daughter on Tuesday.

Work wise we’ve got a lot going on this week; interviewing, customer calls, investor meetings, 4 different partner discussions, product discussions….and that FY13 plan of course.

Yesterday’s news from CT was sickening. Not going to say any more about it, just sick.