Joint Venture Silicon Valley - State of the Valley Conference 2015

Joint Venture Silicon Valley held the annual State of the Valley Conference today and it was, as expected, phenomenal.

I've been a board member at JVSV for the last two years and am always impressed by the excellent Russell Hancock, President/CEO of JVSV. Russ and team work hard all year for this event and it shows.

One of the most interesting parts of the day for me is the data-rich (geek heaven!) presentation that leads off the conference. JVSV issues the "Silicon Valley Index", a study of the local economy, housing, venture capital and other important aspects of Silicon Valley metrics. There is a ton of data, so much so that it doesn't all fit in the report - JVSV has launched a website to allow everyone to dig more into the numbers - you can find it at http://siliconvalleyindicators.org/

Data from the study quickly made its way into various stories in the media and will likely be quoted widely.

Kudos to everyone at JVSV - can't wait until next year

Prague Marathon - Finisher!

On Sunday, January 11, 2014 we ran the Prague Marathon, in the beautiful Czech Republic.

Prior to race day, we made sure to take in a walking tour of Old Town and the surrounding neighborhoods to make sure we had a good understanding of the many historical areas the race travels through. This was a really good idea and I highly recommend it.

Here's the official race video that shows some of the amazing sights

Race day

The race started at 9:00 am just off the Old Town Square. 9:00 is a late start for me as I usually run early so I tried to sleep a bit later than normal and worked on fueling. The latter turned out well but sleeping in on race morning didn't work -- too much adrenaline! Temps were in the low 40s with high humidity and a forecast intermittent rain.

The start was amazing - we ran west through Old Town Square and almost immediately crossed the Vltava river. A quick left turn, headed south and just past Mile 2, across the Charles Bridge. This bridge is usually full of tourists, but today it was all runners, all going the same direction. An amazing sight to see (the video above does a good job capturing it). We then crossed (again) over the Vltava and headed north along the river for the next 5 miles.

The elevation of the course was pretty consistent, a few hills but nothing of significance.

At Mile 8, we crossed the Vltava again and headed south. We ran along the river, had a quick out-and-back loop from miles 16 - 19 and kept going. I had not ventured this far south in Prague and it was neat to see the buildings and various statues along the route. Crowds were out cheering, and continued to do so even during the rain showers. The rain was nice because it would get very humid, then rain, then the temperature would drop and the cycle would start again. Things never got too wet; the lower humidity was nice.

Crossing the river two more times, we ran mostly along the water and took in sights like the colorful buildings below that are amazing to see.

Finally, we took a left turn, ran down the cobblestone Staromestske Namesti, into the Square and through the finish line. Great run!

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course (was worried I'd get lost and don't speak Czech but had no problems). Grade: A

Course - 26.2 miles of an 11th century city, most of it with a view of the river. Grade: A

Aid-stations - Many aid stations, fully stocked. No Gatorade. Fun volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

Bonus - Got to run in Prague


StartX: Vynca.org

The latest class of companies officially joined Stanford's StartX incubator in late 2014. As a Lead Mentor, I am fortunate to mentor two companies, one of whom is Vynca

Mission

Vynca.org was founded on the idea that we could all benefit greatly from making early decisions about our end-of-life care. 

Working with their initial customer, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), Vynca is striving to make end-of-life care discussions part of the doctor/patient relationship. 

Vynca and OHSU are using the POLST framework ("Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment") to enable patients to specify what type of care they would want in various medical situations. Their ePOLST system enables the sharing of POLST data with state registries and other healthcare systems.

While this might not sound like the "normal" mentoring engagement, the mission of the company resonated with me immediately. Also, the team has many of the same challenges that any startup has including technical implementations with large healthcare systems, how to navigate the world of venture capital, hiring and more.

Team

The Vynca team consists of 2 PhDs and 2 MDs, a great combination that understands both the medical and technical aspects of their business. Keep your eye on them as they continue to make progress!

StartX

Quick note - company applications for the next session must be submitted by February 1st, 2015.


StartX Teams

I’ve had more than a few asks recently about the various teams I’ve mentored at StartX (I was a mentor at the first StartX, fka SSE Labs, session in June of 2010 and continue in this role today). After a bit of sleuthing through my mail, I’ve put together what I think is a comprehensive list along with any pointers/info I have about the current status of the team.

Roles

  • Lead Mentor - my primary role at StartX
  • Board of Advisors - I occasionally serve as a Board member for companies. The BoA is comprised of entrepreneurs, VC and StartX alumni
  • Judge - Periodically I participate in the evaluation process which determines the teams that are invited to StartX/StartXMed.

Teams

  • ThinkBulbs - Led by Alvin Tse, ThinkBulbs launched the "Say Cheeze" app for iOS. Alvin is currently at FlipBoard.
  • Fresh Cookies
  • Juntos Finanzas - Led by CEO Ben Knelman, Juntos continues to be recognized for their innovative approach to providing financial products and services to cash-based households.
  • Nutrivise - Led by CEO Laura Borel, Nutrivise was acquired by Jawbone
  • Mind Sumo - A fantastic team of folks, driving hard to help college students succeed in the job market.
  • Medigram - HIPAA compliant group messaging for doctors/hospitals. 
  • Endowr - Team at the formation phase, trying to disrupt student loan lending.
  • Appfluence - Hai and team offer Priority Matrix, an award winning, multi-platform project management app.
  • Bluesora - An early company in the quadrotor space.
  • Pixelapse - GitHub for designers and their teams/customers.
  • Insynctive - Led by CEO Eric Kish, Insynctive offers a SaaS-based solution for HR, benefits and payroll.
  • arc
  • Tangible Play/Osmo - Changing education and iPad gaming with the interaction of tangible objects and software.
  • Roam Insights - Enterprise sales analytics tools.
  • Dynaoptics - True optical zoom for mobile devices
  • Script - Building a great photo/drawing app, PicCandy
  • OMG 


Crystal Springs Marathon - Finisher!

On Saturday January 11, 2014 we ran the Crystal Springs Marathon, my 20th marathon but first trail marathon. Yes, I was a bit nervous about getting lost or wiping out on a tree root.

The race started at 8:30am in Huddart Park. Temps were in the low 40s with a forecast for possible rain after 11am. Distances were 50k, marathon and 22 miles - the majority of runners were doing the 22 miler but there were a decent number of marathon and ultra runners as well.

From the start, we took a flat/downhill 1.5 mile single track to warm up our quads for what was next - 5 miles of some serious uphill! The trail, full of switchbacks, climbed approximately 1600 feet with some steep sections. We crossed the road (Skyline) and had some nice downhill then hard uphill to the aid station. 

What a welcome sight - not only was there an opportunity to refill fluids (it was still cool, but pretty humid so everyone was loading up on fluids) but since this was an ultra we had all the "good stuff" - M&Ms, peanut butter sandwiches, Coke and Reese's. Yum! We then headed to the next aid station, 6 miles away, on a single track trail, high above a canyon that made me a bit dizzy looking down. The trail was technical and required a solid level of concentration to avoid taking a fall. We reached the second aid station and loaded up on fluid and goodies.

Next came a 4 mile add-on for the marathon and ultra - 2 miles of downhill switchbacks and then 2 miles back up to the aid station. 1200 feet of elevation change in total. My quads were starting to scream so I just kept thinking about reaching the top and loading up on electrolytes and a Reese's. At the top, it started to rain intermittently, but we stayed dry under the cover of the trees.

We made it back to the first/last aid station, caught the score of the Seahawks/Saints game (3-0, first quarter) and then headed out for our last 5.7 miles. There was one incline of significance, but the rest was downhill on switchback single track through the woods - beautiful. At the finish, everyone grabbed some hot soup, assorted protein and carbs then hit the road.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course (was worried I'd get lost but had no problems). Grade: A

Course - 26.2 miles of trees, a few views of the Bay . Grade: B

Aid-stations - Four aid-stations with water that wasn't from a garden hose. No Gatorade. Fun volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

Bonus - I won the raffle and got a new pair of trail shoes. Grade A


Trigger.io - Amir and James Head to Square

Amir and James started off 3 years ago as WebMynd making web plugins and pivoting to take on mobile as Trigger.io

They've made some amazing progress during this time, launching their initial product, Trigger Forge and just recently open sourcing their native modules. Along the way they've had great support from a cast of investors.

Today they've announced they are moving to Square and putting the company in the able hands of Antoine

Congrats guys!


NoSQL/Big Data in the Cloud

Great post about NoSQL and Big Data in the cloud - an overview that also discusses a portion of the Bing Social Data Platform (I managed this team and the larger platform effort during my time in Bing).

The numbers are quite interesting for scale geeks like me:

It’s also used by the Bing search engine to provide almost-immediate publicly searchable content from Facebook or Twitter posts or status updates. With around 350TB of data, the scope of Facebook and Twitter data is remarkable. When this data is being ingested, transaction throughput reaches peaks of around 40,000 transactions per second and totals between 2 to 3 billion transactions per day.

To summarize:

  • 40k trans/sec at peak
  • 2 to 3b trans/day
  • 350TB of data. The numbers and scale