96 posts from November 2004
Tom Watson inspired this post with his In Praise of Chuck post.
The Gotham Gal and I have been big fans of our senator, Chuck Schumer, for a long time. He's a nice guy, he "shows up" as Tom says, and he cares about what matters. He's also a master at raising money.
Chuck was thinking about running for Governor here in NY in 2006, pitting him in a primary battle against Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Since we like Eliot a lot too, that would have been a tough one for The Gotham Gal and me.
But Chuck did us a favor on Monday when he announced he was not going to run for Governor in 2006 and instead had joined the new Democratic leadership in the Senate and more importantly, had agreed to become the Chairman of the DSCC, which is the organization that works to elect Democratic Senators around the country.
A lot of people outside of New York probably think Chuck is a "liberal". He has been one of the most ardent proponents of gun regulations in Congress. He has led the Democrat's efforts to stop the appointment of conservative judges. And so he is seen as a liberal.
But the reality is that Chuck is a middle of the road guy. He's from Brooklyn. He understands the people and their everyday problems. He is very well liked in the Republican parts of upstate New York. He's a pragmatic guy who gets things done.
So I agree with Tom when he says that Chuck is the right guy to lead the Democrat's efforts to take back control of the Senate. If he asks us for help, we'll be there for him.
One of my first reads every morning is Jeff Jarvis' Buzzmachine. I don't always agree with Jeff, but I find him provocative, intelligent, and entertaining. That's a winning combo.
So just now, 5:40am, I went to Buzzmachine and got "RX Prescription Meds" instead. I was offered Viagra and Phentermine for $89, Soma for $69, and Ambien for $169.
I go elsewhere on the Internet and the same thing happens to me. Some sites are fine, but many are not.
It turns out its some kind of DNS hack.
This is outrageous. I am adding DNS hacking to my Internet Axis of Evil. This stuff is really bad.
UPDATE: This one's a thorny problem. I didn't think it was spyware because I am using Firefox. I briefly thought it was the Internet itself that had been hacked, and sent about a half dozen emails to friends whose sites were impacted. But Jarvis told me he didn't have an issue connecting. So then I thought it was my machine, but then I realized every machine in my house had the same issue. Macs, PCs, etc. I doubt its a virus infecting every machine in the house. I suspect its my ISP at this point.
Brad's email came in as I was reading Jackson's description of the madness in Union Square today where Stern gave away free Sirius Radios.
So, where do I start?
First with the observation that Mel's first love and possibly only love is radio. And he's going back.
Second, with the memory of meeting Mel for the first time in 1999 with Bob Struble who runs iBiquity, the developer of HD Radio. Mel was on iBiquity's board, representing Infinity. Back then, he was a skeptic about satellite. A big skeptic. Obviously he's not any more.
Third, with the obvious observation that Mel and Howard are a team. A very successful team. And Sirius is now Stern radio. And it should succeed very nicely at that, particularly with Mel at the helm.
Fourth, with the prediction that Sirius is going to sell a lot of ads because that's what Mel does. And Sirius's version of satellite radio won't be much different than Infinity's version of radio but without the FCC telling Howard what he can and cannot say and do.
There will be a lot of people pointing to this as the nail in the coffin of traditional broadcast radio. But as I've said before, I don't think so.
Mel isn't going to reinvent radio. He's going to bring his version of radio to satellite. It's going to be great. But it's not going to be anything we haven't seen or heard before
A number of people have been urging me to blog more about the ins and outs of the VC business. My friend Gordon, in particular, suggested I blog this particular analogy, so here goes.
A lot of people think that venture capital is the most risky form of investing there is. Certainly the failure rates are higher than any other form of investing I know of. But I believe that venture capital is much less risky than people realize. And that's becuase we have the opportunity to scale into our investments, to "dollar cost average".
Poker is an incredible game. It is about risk management and knowing when to go for it and when not to. So is the VC business.
Early stage venture capital is a lot like poker. The first round is the ante. I think keeping the ante as low as possible is a good thing. I like to think of it as an option to play in the next round and to see the cards. Clearly, we don't ante up to just any deal, but it is very useful to think of the first round as the ante.
For the first year or 18 months, however long the first round lasts, you get to "see your cards". You learn a lot about your management team. You learn a lot about the market you've chosen to go after. You learn about the competition and a whole lot more.
Then you have to decide whether to you want to see "the flop", that is the next year to 18 months. The price to see that is usually higher. If you don't like your cards (ie your management team, your market, the competitive dynamic, etc) then you fold. Cut your losses. Preserve your capital. Wait for the next deal.
In poker folding is simple. In the VC business, it's not that simple. Sometimes you can fold by selling the company or the assets. Other times, you need to shut the business down. It's not easy and many inexperienced VCs make the mistake of playing the hand out because they don't want to face the pain of folding. That's a bad move.
If you structure your deals appopriately, you can often get three or four rounds. As your hand strengthens, the cards get better, you increase the betting, putting more money at risk in each subsequent round. That's how smart poker players win and its also how smart VCs win.
The poker analogy only works so far. Bluffing doesn't work in the VC business. If you've got a band hand, you really can't bluff your way out of it. But on the other hand, you can impact the cards you've got. You can work with management, beef it up, switch markets, buy some businesses, etc. You can significantly improve your hand if you work at it, something that's not really possible in poker.
That's why I think VC is mistakenly seen as risky. Sure the ante is very risky. But if you play your hands right, the subseqent rounds are much less so, and the fact that you can put most of your capital to work in the later rounds makes the total portfolio a much less risky proposition than the upfront ante.
I remember when I was younger my dad said that his favorite thing about New York City is the view of the George Washington Bridge in his rearview mirror. I suspect that he may have changed his opinion of New York City over the years, at least slightly.
A view of the George Washington Bridge is also one of my favorite things about New York City. But not in my rearview mirror.
I regularly ride up the west side in the morning and I often get to see a reflection of the sunrise across the span of the George Washington Bridge. It's a beautiful sight.
Here's what it looked like this morning.
One of my readers sent me this cartoon in response to my The Honeymoon's Over post. I liked it so much, I decided to blog it.
We were listening to satellite radio this morning and a song came on that I'd heard a few times in the past week. It was a duet between Mick Jagger and Sheryl Crow. I looked up the song, artist, title info and the song name was Old Habits Die Hard and its on the Alfie sound track.
Jessica told me that Joss Stone sings a song with Mick Jagger on the sound track and I figured that can't be all bad, so I downloaded the record on iTunes and loaded it onto my iPod.
It was a moment of temporary insantity. Because Mick Jagger hasn't done anything good since Some Girls in 1979, 25 years ago, the year I graduated from high school. But old habits die hard.
This record, a collaboration with Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, is particularly bad. Mick is just pathetic, singing bad ballads with insipid lyrics that make me want to puke.
Can this really be the same guy who sang Gimme Shelter, Let It Bleed, Stray Cat Blues, and Salt of the Earth? It must be an imposter. I can't deal with any other explanation.
As for Joss Stone, she's forced to do a sappy rendition of What's It All About Alfie which won't do much for her blossoming career. But there is one highlight on an otherwise miserable record.
Joss Stone and Nadirah "Nadz" do a duet called Wicked Time that reminds me of the Fugees or Lauryn Hill's solo record. And Mick does some backing vocals on this track that are the only redeeming contribution to an otherwise sickening effort on his behalf.
It's been two weeks since Bush won the election. I've tried to have a positive attitute about this. I've been hopeful that he'd use the fact that he doesn't have to run again to do what's right instead of what's politically smart. I've taken the high road.
But it didn't work. He's let me down at every turn.
The selection of Condoleeza Rice as our next Secretary of State is just laughable. She's his lap dog. She won't tell him what he needs to hear. Powell did that with Iraq and he's gone. Replaced by a friggin' lap dog.
God help us.