October 29th, 2008
Posted in Culture & Trash, Geek
Riges Younan recently Twittered about an interesting article by Eric Ries entitled What does a startup CTO actually do? Having been the CTO at a handful of startups – and it’s what I’m doing now – I can say the list is pretty much spot on, with just one exception: etc. Et cetera is all the other stuff that needs to be done, but no one’s been hired to do it yet.
Usually a startup has one or two people (including the “CTO”) in the technical department. As tasks get too big or too complicated for the CTO to do by themselves, they need go and find someone to do them. Hopefully, this search is planned for, and there’s budget for it. Having a CTO that does too much “etc”, makes for an unhappy and unproductive CTO, and the company as a whole suffers because of it.
October 28th, 2008
Posted in Uncategorized
Fifty-six slides, packed with a huge amount of information about the economy – mostly negative. The message is, essentially, “batten down the hatches”. Spend less, keep as much money in the bank as possible. Basically, if you’re not cashflow positive yet, you’re VC-funded, and you have less than a year’s worth of cash in the bank, you’re screwed.
This is not a good time to go to investors for money, no matter how good your financials are, no matter how many companies are lining up to buy your product. If I was an investor with a few million dollars in my pocket, I wouldn’t be putting too much money in speculative investments right now – they would have to be very very sure things. That means real customers; real cashflow and real products.
I’ve seen this happen before, on a smaller scale. The last time around, it was just pretend Internet money, and the damage was mostly contained to the technology sector (and AOL bought Time-Warner. That still makes me laugh). This time around, it’s pretend mortgage money, and the damage is much more widespread.
The thing about Sequoia is they were on the front lines of the last bust – arguably, they helped create it. One would hope they’ve learnt from it, and this advice they’re giving this time around is sound advice, based on what they learnt last time around.
October 27th, 2008
Posted in Culture & Trash
I farted, and it got me thinking about names.
Names used to have meaning, over and above the person to whom they were given. Several North American native tribes had a concept called “spirit name”, which is given to a tribe member later on in life. You might have one name growing up, but at a coming of age ceremony, you’d get another name, carefully selected by tribal elders. It might reflect your nascent personality, or perhaps give you an ideal to work towards – hopefully both. If your name was “flying eagle”, you’d better set your sights high – you need to live up to your name.
In European traditions, one was often given the name of someone in the family. The original idea here was twofold: one was to honour the ancestor for some reason, and the other, I believe, was to give the young child someone to look up to, someone of quality character to aspire to be. This really only worked well if the family was close, and the kid with the name got to know and respect the ancestor like the parents obviously did.
With society getting more and more self-centered over the past few generations, those ideas are getting lost. Names are pleasant-sounding, fashionable labels – a way to differentiate yourself in a group of other humans. Names used to serve as a connection to something outside of yourself, something bigger, something to aspire to.
I farted, and it got me thinking about names. Mine would be “Farts Pungently”.