Farros Capital Launches

My now "old" business partner/co-founder of MessageCast, Royal Farros has made some big announcements recently.

Last week, he announced that he has become the CEO of IMSI/Design (also forming the investor group that purchased the IMSI TurboCAD technology)

Today comes word that he has formed Farros Capital, which will focus on seed investment for startups. 

Good luck Royal, we'll miss you at the b0rg.

(Back in the day at Nasa)


10 Years Old - Happy Birthday iPrint

Ten years ago today, myself, Royal Farros and Mike Rubin (Letty Swank wouldn't join until August) convened at the inagural iPrint office next to the windtunnel at NASA/Ames in Mt. View. As the company gets older, our memories get foggier. More than a few folks think we started iPrint on a different day in May, but I an convinced it was on 5/1/1996.

The web was an unknown thing to many and leaving my job to head off into the wild was questioned by my friends, family members and soon-to-be in-laws. We had a lot of ideas on how to revolutionize print via the Web, but our first day was all about getting our new Compaq desktops to work on the in-house network. Sitting at our WWII-era metal desks, we didn't have any idea of the wild ride that was in store for us, culminating in a public offering on the NASDAQ in 2000. There were a lot of extreme highs and lows on the journey -- bittersweet no doubt.

Royal and I went on to start MessageCast in 2002 (Mike joined up that summer). Letty is still running iPrint, along with some of the first 20 hires including Igor and Britta (Igor has been at iPrint for 10 years this June!).

Happy birthday iPrint - wishing you continued success. 


Rocketboom announced the winner of their first ad sale (BusinessWeek write-up) One week and $40k later, an ATM and photocopy service will now have their ad on Rocketboom for a week in March. This is interesting on so many levels:

  • Public auction on eBay for ad inventory
  • Advertisers *are* willing to buy ads on bleeding edge video
  • Diminishing value of a broadcasting license

I watch Rocketboom via my Tivo. My experience has been that I hardly miss Rocketboom anymore; previously it was hit and miss, even though the feed was in my aggregator (Bloglines), etc. Tivo should do more of this, perhaps even go crazy and let *me*, the consumer, subscribe to my own video streams.

As I have noted previously, I'd be getting nervous if I were a broadcaster. That FCC license wasn't cheap and as the music labels can attest, once the distribution of content isn't monopolized, the value of the distributor drops. In the case of Rocketboom, the content is retrieved over IP (HTTP?), not through a major network affiliate.

PME: Jason Calcanis Keynote

Jason Calcanis gave the opening keynote at the PME. At least it was billed as a keynote. If I had to categorize it, I'd say it was more of a stand-up routine. He was pretty funny.

During his keynote, Jason analyzed different entreprenurial opportunities in podcasting using sounds from Pacman. He probably upset a few folks in the room as he ticked off the areas in podcasting to avoid including directory services, search and advertising.

His advice was to find the areas that caused the most pain and move forward from there.

TechCrunch BBQ #3

Tonight I attended the third TechCrunch BBQ at Mike Arrington's place in Atherton. There were a number of demos scheduled, enough sponsors to have the event catered (:-)) and a whole lot of people.

I met Mike (and Keith Teare) at Gnomdex earlier in the year and this event had the same kind of "Gnomedex-like" feel (just no Chris Pirillo). The energy and overall vibe were quite strong - strong enough to put me in the "get out the Complete Studio Sessions by Led Zeppelin (all 10 CDs) and code till the sun comes up" kind of mood.

Dave Weiner did a presentation in the back yard and challenged us to work on innovating blogging. He felt like it hasn't changed much since 2002 or so. He also said that he had not seen this kind of energy in the Valley and was very excited by it all.

There were ~15 demos -- I certainly didn't see all of them and had seen a few of them previously at Web 2.0 (Flock, Wink). Seeing Sphere for the first time was interesting.

I met a ton of people including Kevin Burton (FeedParser,TailRank), Josh from Zazzle (a 2.0 version of my old company iPrint) and some of the guys from Bessemer. Thanks to the TechCrunch guys for having us over!

Don Dodge on Microsoft Acquisitions

Don Dodge (on the MS Emerging Business Team) has written an excellent post on entrepreneurship and Microsoft acquisitions. Having been acquired by MS earlier this year, I found that the post closely mirrored our experience at MessageCast. Some interesting quotes:

What is most important to Microsoft when making acquisition decisions? People are the most important factor in any acquisition. Microsoft looks for talented engineering teams with vision and passion and experienced management teams. Second is technology and IP that can add value to an existing Microsoft product.

We heard this from the MS acquisition team on many occasions - it's about the people/team, not just the technology.

Entrepreneurs should remember this. The "barriers to entry" are most often market position, not technical brilliance. I have heard start-ups say "we have a two year lead on our closest competitor". In fact, I have said it myself at previous start-ups. I was wrong. Most technologies can be replicated by a talented engineering group within a year or two.

Said another way - make vs buy is always a consideration.

BarCamp:Friday Night (Day One)

I attended BarCamp Day One (Friday night) -- very cool. Too bad Marc Canter wasn't there as it was about as unconference as it gets; he would have loved it. The interests were quite varied - everything from Web 2.0 to "Old Macs".

I met several entreprenuers who are completely bootstrapping their startups with open source and teams that are remote (i.e. working from their houses). Some people seem a bit squeamish about admitting this, until I tell them that MessageCast (and Bloglines) did the same thing. We didn't move into our office in Redwood City until we had been at it for more than 2 years. The new paradigm - embrace it.

Thanks to Ross Mayfield and SocialText for hosting us in their (very) new digs. Barcamp goes through Sunday so stop in if you are in the area.