Friday, June 23, 2006

If at first you don't succeed....

...raise another round and try again., the seemingly cursed etailer, is now on to its 7th incarnation. Due to dilution, rachets, and God knows what else, it now has 45,000,000,000 shares outstanding.


I can't think of a better illustration of the danger of sunk costs. If you wanted to start a fresh wine retailer today, you could probably do it on a shoestring budget of less than a million. Yet, which has a cursed history and nothing but losses, can still raise millions upon millions to try, try, again.

Even my friend George Garrick, who had been very successful in the past, couldn't turn it around. Best of luck to the new CEO!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Life Extraordinary

In another sign that I'm getting old, I recently learned of the death of my old physics professor, Walter Meyerhof.

Professor Meyerhof had been around so long that one of my parent's friends remembered taking physics from Meyerhof. He was a great teacher then too.

Meyerhof was a great teacher, and I was lucky enough to take one of his final courses. He explained concepts with clarity and grace, and always showed the greatest care for his students.

It was only upon reading his obituary that I learned all the other remarkable things he had done in his life.

He was born in 1922, the year that his father won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

In World War 2, he and his family were rescued by Varian Fry, a journalist who became known as "the American Schindler" for his heroism in saving over 2,000 people from the Nazis.

During his time at Stanford, he oversaw the rise of atomic physics, including the construction of the Stanford Linear Accelerator, and guided the careers of numerous future Nobel laureates.

In the 1960s, as the president of the local PTA, he created a training film called "All My Teachers" to sensitize teachers to the concerns of African-American students.

Finally, after retiring, he created a foundation to honor Varian Fry, and created a movie about him (narrated by Meryl Streep) called "Assignment: Rescue" which was distributed to 35,000 schools.

I wish I had known him better before he died, but I salute him and his extraordinary life. We can only hope to do a fraction as much with our own.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Download Audio From My HBS Tech Events

Among other things, I am the founder and chairman of HBS Tech (the Harvard Business School Technology Alumni Association). As a big believer in nepotism and abuse of power, I sometimes share the wealth by providing HBS Tech goodies to readers of this blog.

Thanks to the miracle of cheap bandwidth, you can now listen to the audio from some of HBS Tech's recent sold-out events:

The two events featured are two of our best: A discussion of the future of the wireless industry, with folks from NTT DoCoMo, Sprint, TI, and Broadcom, and an all-star panel on online video, with Google, Yahoo, AOL, Photobucket, Azeureus, Photobucket, and Mike Arrington.