Saturday, October 11, 2003

Finicky

When do children become finicky eaters? I was definitely a picky eater as a child. I refused to eat many common food items, including:

  1. Eggs (because my mom used to put raw eggs in my milk)
  2. Strawberries (because I was afraid of the seeds)
  3. Hamburgers (because I didn't like ketchup or mustard)
  4. Fish (except for tuna fish; my aunt once paid me $10 to eat one bite of steamed cod)
  5. Mushrooms (I'm not sure why)

When we went to McDonalds, I refused to eat anything except french fries and Filet-o-Fish buns with tartar sauce. When we went to Chinese restaurants, I'll I'd eat would be the chow mein.

In contrast, in just the past few weeks, Jason has eaten:

  1. Various Indian curries
  2. Chicken Marsala
  3. Fried Calamari (especially the tentacles)

He pretty much eats anything as long as it's meat. Will this adventurous eating continue?

Friday, October 10, 2003

What should you do about warts?

No, no, not that kind of warts. I'm talking about the warts in your product, or the warts in your pitch. You know what I'm talking about. Those inconvenient little facts or nagging problems that you wish weren't there.

Should you hide your warts? Show them off?

Back in 1999, the answer was clear: hide them, and hopefully no one would spot them before you went public and were sipping umbrella drinks on your own private island.

Today, I think the best way to deal with warts is to tell your customer (or VC or significant other) about them, and explain how you've mitigated their risk or minimized their effect.

For example, I'm thinking about switching to T-Mobile. T-Mobile has poor coverage in the Bay Area. However, they have the best cell phone rates. To mitigate their risk, T-Mobile lets you have a two-week free trial of any of their phones--that way, you can figure out for yourself if their coverage is acceptable in your usual haunts.

That to me is a great example of acknowledging your warts and mitigating them in a way that builds, rather than tears down customer trust.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

There's no excuse not to have your own domain.

There really is no excuse not to have your own domain. You can register your domain at GoDaddy for just $8.95 a year, and host it, with POP mailboxes and plenty of bandwidth for just $11.96 a year at DINSOL.

That's just $19.91 a year, or roughly a week's worth of Starbucks lattes. Can you seriously tell me that you can't afford $20 a year?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Will Outsourcing Become The Rule?

I had drinks today with Sameer Bhatia of Octane Technologies, an IT services and software company that helps US companies outsource to India. Sameer and I are both members of the Stanford mafia, and we both ran venture-backed companies during the bubble, so we have a lot in common. He stopped by my office in Palo Alto before running off to the airport to pick up his parents.

After discussing various outsourcing projects, I said to Sameer, "I can understand outsourcing well-defined projects, but I can't imagine developing a complex new product on an outsourced basis." Sameer disagreed.

"All the VCs I talk with these days insist on an outsourcing strategy," he said, "They don't want to see their companies to blow their first $3 million on development costs before they launch."

I'm not sure he's right, but I'm not sure he's wrong.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The Accent Is Always Greener

It is a long-held belief among US business school students that students with English accents get better grades on classroom participation because of the "Masterpiece Theater Effect": To the American ear, anything said with a high-class British accent sounds more intelligent.

I never really considered the opposite. As it turns out, the Brits think that people who speak with American accents are more successful in business. I guess we can call this the "Baywatch Effect."

Monday, October 06, 2003

The First Swallow Returns?

A hearty "Adventures in Capitalism" congratulations to Sam and Theron of Neoteris, who just sold their company to NetScreen for $265 million.

Theron and I met because our wives were friends and roommates at Harvard as undergrads, and Sam and I met when he came to speak at the Founders Forum (Theron was sick that day and had to cancel).

What's interesting is that Sam and Theron founded Neoteris in mid-2000, after the crash. Just 3 years later, they managed to sell the company. Could this be the first sign of the economy's return to vibrancy? Sure, Google and Salesforce.com will produce boffo IPOs, but they were started during the height of the bubble. Neoteris is a creature of the post-bubble era, and its success bodes well for the future.