Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sequoia Companies = 10% of Nasdaq's Market Cap?

Songbird, the browser/music player hybrid, recently took money from Sequoia. Tucked away on their web site is the jaw-dropper:

Sequoia Capital, has been the investor and business partner in companies that make up over 10% of NASDAQ’s value.

Assuming that this is true, it's no wonder that all the entrepreneurs I talk with dream of taking money from Sequoia. Their recent successes have pulled them ahead of long-time rival Kleiner Perkins in the mindshare battle.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Unbelievable Funding of the Day: $28 Million For Bad Drivers Caught On Tape

I'm probably being unfair or missing something, but does this strike anyone else as insane?

San Diego, Calif.
DriveCam Raises $28M To Monetize Risky Driver Data
DriveCam Inc., a company that has captured thousands of risky drivers on video tape, has now captured a $28 million round of venture capital funding to an alyze the predictors of dangerous driving.

Of course, this is still nothing compared to the excesses of the previous boom. Back then, $28 million was a seed round!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

When Did Logic Become A Matter Of Personal Taste?

In case anyone is interested in crimes against logic, feel free to poke around the continuing controversy surrounding my post on Silicon Valley Republicans and entrepreneurship. People continue to write in, trying to refute arguments that I never made with a startling lack of logic.

Here's a great example:

Chris, you are being intellectually dishonest. First you write a column that uses pretzel-style logic. You go from:
1. Outsiders make the best entrepreneurs.
2. In Silicon Valley, Republicans are outsiders.

3. Therefore, Republicans are the best entrepeneurs in Silicon Valley.

Even though you wrote this column at a time when the country is deeply divided over the Iraq War and many other emotional issues, you imply that you expected readers to read it dispassionately. I don’t believe for a second that your intention from the start was to do anything other than needle liberals.

After readers called you on your faulty logic, you claimed that you were not making a political argument.

The funniest part of all this is that you’re trying to make yourself out as the victim of overzealous liberals. Shame on you.

Yeah, Chris, you’re so misunderstood. Your own words from your personal blog at:

“Now of course, the very act of writing a post on Republicans was a calculated attempt on my part to stir up controversy, so I’m actually pretty happy with the results. But it certainly doesn’t bode well for bipartisanship in this neck of the woods. Any closeted Republicans want to speak up?”



I’m glad you feel like you “got me” by exposing a public post from my very own blog (which appears in the “About the Author” section) that links to this one. But don’t be surprised if few think that this qualifies as much of a gotcha.

Hell, if you want to claim that I’m a Republican, you can point to this post in which I freely admit to having voted for Republican politicians (which, incidentally, must be true for most people in California, since Arnold Schwarzenegger easily won re-election):

The bottom line is, everyone who writes in to attack my logic and arguments has to misinterpret my post and claim that I’m arguing something that I’m not.

Joe, you call my classic syllogism “pretzel-style” logic. To paraphrase “The Princess Bride”: “Socrates, Aristotle, Descartes? Morons!” All right then, what is the right argument?

Assuming that one agrees that outsiders make better entrepreneurs, and that in Silicon Valley, Republicans are outsiders, show me what kind of logic allows one to conclude: “But Republicans won’t make better entrepreneurs because they are not the *right kind* of outsiders.”

This kind of insane troll logic should be exposed for what it is, whether its the idiocy of intelligent design, or raising minimum wages. To pick and choose when to apply logic depending on one’s political beliefs is nothing more than hypocrisy, a crime of which both Republicans and Democrats are plenty guilty.

Am I being unfair? Or simply asking for impartial logic and reasoned argument?

3 Questions That Tell You If You Are A Good Parent

Parenting is a perfect example where you need to practice satisficing (being good enough) rather than maximizing (being perfect). (For a lengthier discussion of satisficing versus maximizing, see "The Paradox of Choice")

Some people consider me an "admirable" father because I work sane hours, handle all the transportation for the kids, do most of the cooking, and shun business travel* as if it were a contract with the Devil.

*Side note: I have a lot of friends who are extremely successful in business and are fathers. They feel the strain of trying to balance constant travel with being a dad. One recently commented to me about the subject, "I feel like the proverbial frog in the slowly boiling pot. It didn't seem so bad when I first started, but now I'm definitely getting cooked." I would argue that constant business travel is one of the most stressful thing for dads. For more on this, you can check out my post on being a global business leader:

Yet does that make me a good father? I could do all those things, and still be a lousy father who constantly berated his kids and put them down. (I'm not saying that I am--obviously I try to give them unconditional love--I'm just making a point).

Ultimately, I think you judge parenting by asking yourself three simple yes or no questions:

1) Am I a non-abusive parent? That is, do I avoid verbally or physically abusing my children?

2) Do I give my kids unconditional love in a way that they recognize? That is, if someone asks them if Daddy loves them, do they unhesitatingly and joyfully answer yes?

3) Are all of us (including my wife and kids, not just me) happy with the way our family runs? Because it the end, it doesn't matter if I think I have the perfect life if the other people who share it are miserable.

If you answer "Yes" to all three of those questions, consider yourself a good parent AND STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. The time you spend worrying about your parenting would be better spent playing with your kids.

This post originally appeared as a comment on Penelope Trunk's blog. My thanks to Penelope for starting this discussion.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Finding Your Inner Hedgehog

Devin Reams performed an interesting experiment. He decided to find out his hedgehog concept by asking people he knew to do the following for him:

Please provide me with three examples of how I add value by completing the following statements…

One of the ways you add value and make important contributions is:

For example, I think of that time that:

While I may not be ready to apply this kind of scrutiny to my life, I am willing to apply it to this blog. So I ask you, loyal readers, how does this blog add value and make important contributions? Which posts stand out most in your mind?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More Proof That Racism And Idiocy Knows No Boundaries

Get this--AsianWeek columnist Kenneth Eng, who bills himself as "The Asian Supremacist," came under fire this week for writing a column titled "Why I Hate Blacks."

I read the column, and it's pretty hard to characterize it as humorous and satirical. I come away from it believing that yes, Kenneth Eng hates black people.

I suppose that his defense will be that he previous wrote a column about "Why I Hate Asians."

Now Mr. Eng has a right to free speech, and to express his opinions. But his critics have every right to exercise their right to free speech, and his employers have every right to remind him that he is an at will employee.

I can't imagine what sort of person enjoys making a living by inciting hatred of others. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of them:

Google Results for "Why I Hate White People": 2,520
Google Results for "Why I Hate Blacks": 1,100
Google Results for "Why I Hate Asians": 559
Google Results for "Why I Hate Mexicans": 285

Quote of the Day: Leadership

"One of the hardest tasks of leadership is understanding that you are not what you are, but what you're perceived to be by others."
--Edward L. Flom, CEO of Florida Steel

Monday, February 26, 2007

Damn You, History Channel

Just when I'm ready to hit the sack, I get sucked in by yet another episode of "Dogfights."

It was episode 9, "Long Odds," and I couldn't stop watching the story of Old 666, about a B-17 crew who fought off 25 Japanese fighters during the course of performing a critical recon mission for an upcoming amphibious landing.

Old 666 was a plane that the crew had literally pulled off the scrap heap, which no one else was willing to fly. They patched it up, jammed 50% more machine guns into the turrets and fuselage, and volunteered for every mission that no one else was crazy enough to fly.

The mapping mission they undertook was critical to the success of the upcoming invasion. Halfway through, they were spotted and 8 Japanese fighter planes intercepted them. At that time, the most fighters any lone B-17 had tangled with and survived was 6. Plus, because the mapping mission was still in progress, the plan had to fly straight and level, making it a sitting duck.

Fighting off wave after wave of attacks, the crew downed two of the fighters and damaged several more before they broke off. At that point, an additional 17 Japanese fighters took up the pursuit, and again the crew fought them off before finally making it home.

Bombardier Joe Sarnoski was killed by enemy fire, but not before downing two fighters, the second after being mortally wounded. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Pilot Jay Zeamer brought his plane home safely despite being hit with over 100 pieces of shrapnel and losing over 50% of the blood in his body. Against all odds, he recovered after spending 15 months in hospitals, and also received the Medal of Honor. He later married and raised five daughters.

The other seven crew members, four of whom were also wounded, received the Navy Cross, making Old 666 the most decorated crew of World War 2.

War *is* hell, but the heroism it spotlights can still be inspiring.

Post of the Day: EU Faux Pas

This post by freelance journalist Daniel Harrison, couched as a guide for Europeans to avoid committing social gaffes in the United States, may very well be the best piece I've ever read explicating the differences between Americans and Europeans.

Here's a great one:

5. [Don't] Hold back on sharing fairly intimate/personal stories on a first meeting. This will make you seem as if you have something to hide and will not endear you to people quickly. It is perfectly acceptable to talk about your qualities and faults with loquacious and detailed stories as if you had known the person for years. In Europe, this is somewhat inappropriate behavior, and in certain parts of Europe especially, it is guaranteed to send people running away quicker than you can order the next round of drinks. In America, however, it shows you are confident and happy with the person that you are, you have nothing to hide, and that you are genuinely interested in getting to know your colleagues.

And here's another one:

12. [Don't] Be afraid to ask for a pay rise. Bargaining and negotiating is at the heart of American culture, and is a major factor in what has driven this highly commercial and competitive country to number one economic status. In some cases, if you don't, you will just get left behind. In fact, as an example of this, an American friend of mine told me the other day that she "figured I should stay in the job a month before negotiating for more money." To most Europeans, you would be lucky after a year if you were able to negotiate a pay increase. Not so in the U.S.A. It's a deal-driven environment, and you should similarly have fun rainmaking and driving deals, wherever you are on the economic plateau.

Well worth a complete read.

As a side note, I really love articles that explain familiar things from an outsider's perspective. We often forget just how much of our lives are completely unintuitive and crazy. After all, does a fish realize that it's surrounded by water?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Silicon Valley Hates Republicans

Over the weekend, my post on how being Republicans may have shaped the outsider mindset of the PayPal team was published on VentureBeat.

I'm saddened to report that the comments on the post seem to reflect a reflexive hatred of Republicans that seems to blind people to what I was actually saying.

Here is my key argument:

No one seems to have pointed out is the obvious fact that being a Silicon Valley Republican may very well be as strong a predictor of entrepreneurial success as being a Stanford CS grad student.

The reasons behind this surprisingly overlooked fact may be even more astonishing. A rock-ribbed belief in free enterprise can’t hurt, but I’m going to argue that the success of PayPal’s GOP mafia is simply the logical extension of one of the eternal truths of Silicon Valley: Outsiders make the best entrepreneurs.

And in our neck of the woods, Republicans are the ultimate outsiders.

Nowhere did I suggest that their support for particular policies or politicians was important; rather I wrote that being outcasts improved their chances at entrepreneurial success, just as in earlier eras, counterculture icons like Steve Jobs and Mitch Kapor rode their outsider status to success.

Yet the sight of anything positive being written about Republicans seems to have people in a tizzy. Here is a quick sample of comments:

"Chris Yeh what is the point of your post because you know next to nothing about politics or the mindset and mentality of this country."

"Dude try finding another occupation in life…writing a blog doesn’t cut it for you…this was such a waste of time on your part."

"Your attempt at becoming the Limbaugh for the tech set by manipulating sociolinguistics failed. The words “Outcasts” and “Republicans” are an oxymoron – your propagandizing."

Now of course, the very act of writing a post on Republicans was a calculated attempt on my part to stir up controversy, so I'm actually pretty happy with the results. But it certainly doesn't bode well for bipartisanship in this neck of the woods. Any closeted Republicans want to speak up?