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Archive for March 2009

Why am I smiling?

It seems that everywhere we look these days (the stock market, housing, the economy at large), things are rapidly spinning out of control and careening toward chaos. Why, then, am I sitting here on a Friday early morning smiling? Because I know that we'll come out the other side of this, and we'll do so innovating. Howard Lindzon's "too small to fail" phrase rings in my head (like some demented entrepreneurial battle-cry), and my gut just tells me -- in the midst of all of this macro-chaos, there are engineers with their heads down, building something really amazing. We're gathering a bunch of those folks together in May. So, while CNBC, CNN and every other news outlet drowns you in the constant din of "apocalypticism", some of us are quietly going back to work. We won't ask permission. We won't wait for government funds. We certainly don't depend on "the major players" in the tech ecosystem. And we could really care less about 2.0 anything. We do what humans do. We build. We create. We band together and separate apart and get back together in different re-combinations -- all because we're building something. We're acting, not sitting. Moving, not standing still. There's a calm quiet and a sense of joy and playfulness to it all. A little smirk on our faces. A swiftness to our step. You'll know us by our optimism. And in a few years, we'll probably having something really amazing to show you. I hope you'll choose to join us.

Turning the Titanic

I spent a few minutes this morning reading Reid Hoffman's piece in the Washington Post. It's kind of what you would expect from a startup/VC editorial - I mean, we're "all" (fred wilson, brad feld, reid hoffman) telling the administration essentially the same thing -- "let's get nimble, remove roadblocks and use incentives" --but Reid's piece also got me thinking. The internet (in the largest sense) really started this giant tsunami of networking together everything; of tying every little piece to every other little piece in some way (weak tie or not). That piece may be data, devices, applications, knowledge, insight, anything -- it doesn't matter -- everything is getting networked. I think in some way that has to account for the "unprecedented" nature of what's happening in our markets.  Things are so "networked" (where things are not only data, but financial instruments) that ripple effects now move across the entire swath of the global economy at a *pace* that has never before been seen. The results are public markets that are unable to process the resulting data (ie, that stop being "predictive" and become almost solely "reactive"), and the near paralysis of private credit and equity mechanisms. All of which begs the question: Is the answer to "un-network" things? To build more "firewalls" into the networking (ie, regulations)? The wisest thing my father ever said to me was: "the only way out is through." And that, I think is the case here as well. We cannot put the networking back in the box. The weird thing is that our networking isn't done yet. In other words, things are networked enough to effect every other thing, but not networked enough to get some of the larger nodes to the place of agility that the smaller nodes live in. Think of it this way: Huge sections of our economy and infrastructure are like the titanic. Even though they can see the iceberg, turning the ship can take a mile. What all of the smart VC-types that I know want to do is turn the economy into a fleet of jet skis that are "loosely coupled" together. Jet skis can resemble a flock of birds in their movement -- that is, they can move as one, in some concerted effort, but they can also adapt far more rapidly than any Titanic could. That idea is what is being advocated for everything form the Big 3 automakers, to banks, to wall street, to spurring innovation and the economy (my favorite phrase is Howard Lindzon's now famous "too small to fail"). And in many ways, that *sense* is what Glue is really about (from a technology/architecture standpoint). Now, to be sure, the ideas of agile programming and iterative models have been around for years. But the reality of moving all applications to the web and achieving the agility of purpose that can bring is still a pipe dream. Glue is focused on that. Forget arguing about whether or not "the cloud will come to pass" -- let the mainstream waste time with that already tired old argument. The real heat of the discussion is about ASSUMING all of that has occurred and moving quickly to talk about interoperability, integration, pervasive context, federated security models, etc. In other words, GET PAST the titanic topics (will cloud succeed?), stop being YACCE (yet another cloud computing event), and start thinking in terms of "loosely coupled jet skis" (yes, I know I've stretched that imagery as far as I can). Am I seeing everything through my own colored glasses? Maybe. But I don't think I'm wrong about the effect of networking everything (on our economy, information, infrastructure), and I don't think I'm wrong about the self-evident nature of the solution (Glue-ish stuff). I hope you'll join us in the discussion.

The Detroit Tidbit

For some reason, a link caught my eye this morning that highlighted all of the homes you can buy in Detroit for $1,000.00 (or under). Yep, you read that correctly - a grand for a house. At first I thought, "they must be shacks." I was wrong. They're brick houses. For a grand. WHAT?!?! Set aside what neighborhood they're in, or the fact that, well, Detroit probably isn't on most people's "must live there" list. My brain immediately jumped to - "one house! why don't I buy 10 houses!?!" And then, "wait, do you think I can buy 10 houses right next to each other and own a whole block?" Pretty soon, I had a little twitter conversation going, and ideas were flying around about getting a group of 10-15 people together and purchasing a huge portion of Detroit (like a 12 square block area). Next, I was thinking that if I was the CEO of Tesla Motors, I'd move my whole operation to Detroit, and give every Sr. manager a "10-home" bonus. I mean, seriously, could you "innovate" a whole city just by buying insanely cheap real estate, bringing people with you and starting something cool? If you and 10 other people owned 12 square blocks, what kind of weird wifi networking experiments could you set up? Could you automate your 12 blocks via twitter? Think of the possibilities! Think of the sheer potential! You're probably wondering what this has to do with Glue. I'm glad you asked. Often, in the midst of times like these, we stumble upon what looks like some interesting tidbit. And sometimes, that "tidbit" turns out to be a diamond in the rough. And every now and then, you wake up 5 years from now wondering how you stumbled into such amazing innovation -- and it turns out it came from that tidbit. The point is that while the world is going through it's current collective convulsions, there is still plenty of room for innovation and moving the "glue space" forward. We're going to do just that. Some ideas will be radical. Some crazy. Some brilliant. But there are going to be plenty of them. Make sure you don't miss out on that little tidbit that could end up changing your entire life. Register today.
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