Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

wonkavatorEccentric reclusive founder that lives in his factory?  Makes sense.  Other factories sending in spies to steal his secret recipes?  Of course they would.  Long before Steve Jobs ever stood on a stage talking about the magic of his new products, there was that legendary magician Mister Willy Wonka.  More founders than will admit have likely been influenced by this movie.  Now is as good a time as any to reflect on Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Continue reading

Triumph of the Nerds: The Personal Computer

triumphofthenerdsTriumph of the Nerds is a three-part documentary about the history of the personal computer industry.  The documentary begins with the PC’s origin with hobbyists, continues through the era of IBM compatibility, and concludes with the emergence of graphical user interfaces and start of the Internet Age.  The media continues to release new documentaries and movies to cash in on mainstream interest in the high-tech industry.  Here is a good documentary from 1996 about the history of the personal computer industry told through interviews with the real people that lived through it: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison, Ed Roberts, Steve Wozniak, and more. Continue reading

Y Combinator Trademark Rejected As Generic

justiceThe venture capital firm named Y Combinator can’t get a trademark on its company name.  In public filings at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the venture capital firm sought in November of last year a trademark on the phrase “Y COMBINATOR”.  The trademark office subsequently rejected the application as generic.  The company then apparently fired its attorney and hired another lawyer to try and get the trademark anyway.  Regardless of the ultimate outcome, this trademark dispute is just another embarrassment for a firm that continues to look less like the “Harvard of venture capital” and more like an elaborate and mismanaged funnel for acqui-hires. Continue reading

Startup CEO Is A Field Guide To Scaling Up

startup_ceoStartup CEO is a book about scaling a startup from inception through revenue and growth.  The book is organized into five parts: storytelling, building human capital, execution, organizing a board of directors, and managing yourself and others.  Startup CEO is written by Return Path co-founder Matt Blumberg.  Return Path is a global data solutions provider recently named by Fortune as one of the best medium-sized companies to work for.  Like Venture Deals, this book is part of the Startup Revolution series. Continue reading

Trip to the Moon

trip-to-the-moonMoonshots, in a technology context, are ambitious, exploratory, and ground-breaking projects pursued without any expectation of benefit or near-term profitability.  Such projects are usually launched without a full understanding of the potential risks.  Trip to the Moon, directed by cinemagician Georges Méliès, is a short silent film from 1902 about such endeavors, with a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon, explore the surface, escape, and return with a splash. Continue reading

Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

justiceEllen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers recently concluded its jury trial.  Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins was a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by a former junior partner of a venture capital firm against her former employer.  Ms. Pao alleged Kleiner Perkins denied her a promotion and fired her as retaliation for complaints of sexual harassment.  After two years of litigation culminating in a month-long trial, the jury returned a verdict that Kleiner Perkins did not discriminate or retaliate against Ms. Pao.  I think the publicity of the trial caused the public to made the case into way more than it was. Continue reading

Five Years of Y Combinator Universe

ycuniverseFive years ago, I started Y Combinator Universe to provide information and analysis about the many startups emerging during the new Silicon Valley bubble of 2010.  My original concept for ycuniverse was a micro-blogging platform, along with corresponding consulting services, for research and analytics data about companies, markets, and investors.  WordPress wasn’t added here until two years later in 2012.  One of my initial goals was that would-be entrepreneurs would use the data I provided to develop original products and unique business strategies rather than copy existing startups.  Silicon Valley has certainly changed since 2010.  I have big plans for the Y Combinator Universe brand going forward. Continue reading

Pebble Is Still My Favorite Smartwatch

pebble_steel_product_lineApple Watch looks interesting and many people will certainly buy one.  The smartwatch market is big enough for more than one manufacturer, though.  Pebble smartwatches are inexpensive, waterproof, and work with both iPhone and Android.  The new Pebble Time smartwatch has a color screen and up to 7 days of battery life.  Pebble the company impresses me most because its a hardware startup with a real product on store shelves.  The company recently announced it had shipped its one millionth smartwatch.  Few hardware startups ever reach mass production.  Even fewer succeed at getting inventory in retail stores.  Eric Migicovsky, Pebble’s chief executive, might consider writing a book for hardware startups about manufacturing and distribution.  Pebble Technology Corp. has a lot of innovation for just one startup.  I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the company’s hardware, software, and business. Continue reading

Box and Dropbox

boxBox and Dropbox are different companies serving distinctly separate markets.  Dropbox provides cloud storage and value-added features mostly for consumers.  Box is secure content sharing, management, and collaboration primarily for businesses and enterprises.  Both companies have services for the other’s customers: Dropbox has Dropbox for Business, Box has Box Personal.  Box had its initial public offering a month ago.  Dropbox recently replaced its chief financial offer and has been rumored for years to eventually have its own IPO.  Here’s my thoughts about both companies. Continue reading