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A bi-weekly column with timely, relevant and possibly irreverent insight into the BC technology industry.

Something Ventured:
July 1st, 2006

By Brent Holliday
Greenstone Venture Partners

BC’s Fertile Ground

"It's not hard, not far to reach,
We can hitch a ride,
To Rockaway Beach” – Ramones, Rockaway Beach

In Douglas Adams “Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy”, one of the more interesting (and many) tangents that the authour takes us on is the description of the Babel fish. This amazing creature is simply inserted into your ear (alive and wiggling of course… kind of an extra-terrestrial Fear Factor) where it attaches to your eardrum instantly translating any of the galaxies thousands of alien dialects into your own.  This is very useful for communicating with various forms of life like the Vogons, which can be deadly if they read poetry to you.  I had thought of a good Babel fish column where I would take text from press releases of companies and government communication to the tech industry and do an effective translation.  Since Vogons are loosely based on bureaucrats, the possibilities are endless.  Maybe sometime soon.

In some ways, I have tried to make Something Ventured your early stage technology Babel fish.  I have tried to translate trends in technology and tips from the process of building a business into moderately entertaining plain English.  Of course the thought of me in your ear is entirely inappropriate and the metaphor really does land with a thud there. 

My day job includes constantly scouring the various sources of on-line information as well as having many conversations and experiences in the course of working with start-ups.  The job of scouring the Internet for information that is relevant has become a lot easier over the past few years.  I’m not talking about search, but the RSS news feeds and the subject matter bloggers in the new Internet.  Many of you are using news readers and blog search tools to find good information on your industries or other companies you compete against.

Lately I have tagged a few interesting feeds, web sites and stories that I want to pass on to you.  Most are interesting, lots are entertaining and, hopefully, these will be useful for you.  After all, this is the season for reading trashy novels on the beach as you relax and unwind from the daily grind. 

My summer treat for you is to eliminate the Babel fish middleman routine here and link you to a treasure trove of fun summer reading.  Enjoy!

Don Dodge put Ajit Nazare’s 7 Rules for Start-Ups on his blog recently.  Because Ajit works for Kleiner Perkins, the rules are more interesting to look at.  These are clearly the 7 rules for the new Web 2.0 world.  Interestingly, they don’t differ too much from the rules that Rocket Builders’ Geoff Hansen presented at the VEF Web 2.0 forum held last fall. 

In a different vein, here’s another list… Seth Godin’s Ten Things Programmers Might Want To Know About Marketers. Personally, I love #7.  The classic struggle between engineering and marketing is not unlike the struggle between male and female in a relationship.  One is bent on solving everything with perfunctory logic.  The other wants to talk about feelings and perceptions and just wants everyone to listen.  Could we develop market analytics tools for women to help them better predict male behaviour?

As we always seek the next big thing in venture capital, I keep my eyes on blogs like Alpha Doggs who are constantly scouring university research for interesting applications.  Just scan down his last few months of posts and you will see lots of interesting tech that is on the leading edge or the bleeding edge.  This is only IT related of course and there are many other forms of innovation happening.  The Innovation Weblog contains lots of thought-provoking links on the business of innovation as opposed to the innovations themselves.  Lots of good ideas and concepts there.  Look back through the last six months…

In a very provocative follow-up to a Business 2.0 list of 50 people who do matter in technology now, was the more interesting 10 people who don’t matter anymore. Where is Mark Cuban on that list?Interesting choice in Linus Torvalds…

For those that don’t like a good Carl Hiassen yarn or a re-read of a Tom Clancy classic on the beach, try Andy Kessler’s list of best Biz books.  Andy himself is a good writer, having been a hedge fund manager himself.  I liked this list because he gives his raves and pans for a few books.  Let Amazon.ca know that I sent you over and I’ll split the commission with Andy…

Finally, some cool new gadgets for you when you are enjoying your reading:

For high end digital audiophiles (those if us with >3G of music files), get the squeezebox and ReadyNAS from Slim Devices (http://www.slimdevices.com/) and free your hard drive bound music to every stereo in the house. It plays all your iTunes playlists through a remote.   

When you are at the beach, in your car, etc. take your XM satellite radio with you and, in a move that has upset the music companies, record up to 50 hours of radio as MP3 files.  The new device is called the Inno by Pioneer. This is a powerful combination of services and may impinge on the iPod market.

If you aren’t reading because you are hooked to Rock Star Supernova, then let your own schedule rule and stop being a slave to 9pm network start times.  Get a Tivo, or better still a Freevo (http://www.byopvr.com/). 

Enjoy your summer reading and I’ll see you in a month or so…

What Do You Think? Talk Back To Brent Holliday


Something Ventured
is a bi-weekly column designed to supplement the T-Net British Columbia web site with some timely, relevant and possibly irreverent insight into the industry. I hope to share some of the perspective and trends that I see in my role as a VC. The column is always followed by feedback (if its positive or constructive. I'll keep the flames to myself, thanks).

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