Archive for the ‘startups’ Category

Election for the next New York Tech Meetup Organizer

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

The New York Tech Meetup is electing a new organizer, given that Scott Heiferman is stepping down.  I have a soft spot for the NYTM, it was about 2 years ago when I went to my first one and met Sanford.  For me it has been the focal point of the New York Tech community.  After the meeting moved to IAC I pretty much stopped going, you had to reserve ahead of time, the event often sold out, and once you got to IAC there was very little time to mingle in the new venue.


Rich Hecker dropped out tonight.  That’s too bad, he would have done a good job.  I could see him leading the event very much in the mold of Scott, short tempered, funny, although much more transparent.  He does a great job with his bootstrapper events, through which I met Scott Kaylie.

Sanford is running to be the next organizer, and I hope he wins.  I sent emails to a bunch of my friends in the tech community up here tonight about Sanford running, and I realized that Sanford had introduced me to most of those people.  Thats what he does, make connections.   He understands and is excited by tech, even tech that won’t necesarrily have an exit strategy but is just cool.

You can vote for the next organizer here.

Hopefully this post was coherent, I’m about ready for bed.

Giving up the ghost, gracefully

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

I recently have read a couple of posts about people gracefully putting their startups to bed.  I want to commend these brave writers.  It is incredibly hard to give up on a business venture, financially and emotionally, I should know I have done so twice.

I think it says so much for these people, Russ, Eran, and JB.  These are the types of people you want running software projects for your company.  I can’t count how many times I have seen managers refuse to put an end to projects that just aren’t going anywhere. Even when killing the project would be the best thing for the company, it is often not done because of pride or political factors.
It is hard to admit defeat, especially when you phrase it like that.  If however you look at it as an opportunity cost calculation, you can take a more optimistic view of the situation.  I believe the oportunity cost calculation is the proper way to look at decisions like these.  Say my startup is profitable, but just inching along, if I have the opportunity to join another more profitable venture, it is costing me the difference.  That difference is the opportunity cost.   I believe that for everyone in the list above, continuing their startup would have had a very high opportunity cost (they are very desirable employees).

The advertising club of New York

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Last night I went to the advertising club of new york meetup at Microsoft’s office, with my girlfriend. The meeting was focussed on advertising on mobile phones. I had been to one of these events before, at google, that event was ok. This event wasn’t, it was horrible.

To start with the audience was full of dead people. Most of the people in the audience were 35+ year olds who worked in traditional media advertising agencies. They were confused by basic internet advertising metrics. I don’t know how to explain it. The room was full of the type of business people that tech guys hate. Full of people who would say “Let’s do a facebook app” and then spend $1m to build it because they chose a slick manager who is incompetent.

One of the presenters, Dean Collins, presented his Amatheon’s mobile analytics software. Early in his presentation he had a slide that said something along the lines of ” Traditional analytics don’t work on mobile phones. You can’t tell which handset visitors are using. You can’t tell where they are coming from. You can’t tell what resolution they are using” he then said “Does anyone disagree?”. I raised my hand and answered “I do. The only browser in the mobile space that matters is the iPhone. And all of the traditional anayltics work on it”. He replied “I don’t care about the iPhone, its only 4% of the market and not what we are aiming for.”

I was embarrassed that I had attacked Dean so viciously. I think it was the way he challenged the audience, saying “does anyone disagree”, it just set me off. It is hard to get attacked when you are presenting to an audience. Given that, I feel that my statement was correct.

Collins went on detailing how his software provides analytics for the mobile space. He went on to describe his software pretty well, it looked impressive. The software also is inexpensive for what it does. The quality of their software aside, I think the working with amatheon would be helpful for a company, because amatheon knows the mobile analytics space.

Meeting Tim O’Reilly

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

After lunch I was a bit down. I was having a hard time meeting people at the conference. I called my girlfriend for a peptalk.  She said “You did this all the time in highschool and college, just act like you belong”. I hung up on her in mid conversation because I saw someone from Dow Jones walking by. I started talking to him and he was nice.

Emboldened, I decided that I was going to buy a pack of cigarettes and stand outside the hotel smoking (I quit smoking 3 months ago). Smoking was always a great way of meeting people. When I had a cigarette with someone, I was normally good for a 3-5 minute conversation, much better than an elevator pitch. While I was walking towards a convenience store I saw Tim O’Reilly walking with another O’Reilly employee.
Me: Tim, Hi I’m Paddy I’m a big fan of yours. Thanks for putting on this conference.
Tim: Thanks. What do you do?

Me:I’m the founder of chartWidget we build licensable interactive charts.

Tim: We might need some charting work you should talk to [...] at the conference, Brady can introduce you. Thanks for coming to the conference.

Me: Well, I didn’t exactly come to the conference. I’m hanging out in the lobby. I don’t have tickets.

Tim: We can take care of that. Brady can you get him registered?

Me: Wow, thanks.

That made my day.

I spent the next day and a half at the conference and met many many people.

Thank you Tim.

Lobby Conning at O’Reilly Money:Tech

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

On Wednesday I went to the Waldorf Astoria to hang out in the lobby and meet people going to the money:tech conference. This was a $3000 conference, and being the founder of a growing start-up, I couldn’t afford the $3000 ticket, nor could any of my friends get me in for free. So, my idea was to hang out in the lobby – otherwise known as “lobby coning” – in hopes of finding people heading to offsite meetings (read: bars) where real business happens. I also wanted meet other people running finTech startups.

As soon as I walked in, I saw someone with a Money:Tech name tag. I walked up to him to introduce myself, when he asked: “Are you Jonah?” To which, I replied: “No, I’m not.” I proceeded to give him my pitch and explained that I’m not actually in the conference. He said, “Oh, you really should come.” I thought to myself “Dick, does it look like I’m in a position to spend $3k on this conference?” He was smug.

So I plopped myself down in what I thought was the lobby of the WA, and after looking around a bit, I realized that there were about 4 entrances to the hotel. Thus I would only have a 1/4 chance of meeting people. I chose a spot with access to WIFI, and out of boredom and curiosity, looked up ‘conference crashing.’ That’s when I discovered that the term for what I am doing is ‘lobby conning.’

Then I see Jim Cramer walk through the lobby – he’s a true celebrity to me. I got up and introduced myself to him. He was very nice, and actually soft spoken. He said he will check out chartWidget.

That was quite a high for me. The rest of the morning was uneventful, there weren’t large groups of people hanging out in the lobby. I also realized that since most of the finance people at the conference live in New York, they won’t be going out to bars after the conference, they would be going home. I was getting a bit down by lunch, because I hadn’t really met anyone else. I went out to grab food.

Blinksale highly recommended

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

As a freelance worker I of course have to generate invoices for my clients. I don’t enjoy this process, I always worry that I’m not submitting a professional looking invoice. I discovered this company, Blinksale, that makes it easy. They are apparently big fans of 37signals. I am impressed with their product. It does one thing and does it efficiently

Publicly available subversion host

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Subversion is crucial for my development efforts, without I spend a lot of time getting frustrated with things that should be easy.  Subversion is very useful even when I’m the only coder on a project, it is a necessity for collaborative development.   I wanted to get a subversion server that I could access anywhere in the world and that clients could access, they can’t get to my linux box sitting behind my cable modem.

I looked at getting a virtual private server, you get a good amount of space with them, but you have to setup subversion yourself.  Dreamhost now offers subversion hosting too, but I have heard mixed reviews about them.  Version control isn’t something I wanted to skimp on.  I ended up going with CVSdude hosted subversion.

I’m really glad I did, I pay less than a VPS for something that is up right now.  For $30/month I get unlimitted repositories (each client will get their own repository), and 5 Gigs of total space.  I also get web-svn, bugzilla, VC, and Trac project management.  Each repository gets its own trac setup.  All of this is managed with a decent web interface (it’s table based :( ), and it just works.   I probably saved at least 2 or 3 days of sysadmin work by going with CVS dude.  Comparative advantage is a great thing to remember.
The CVS Dude service has been good.  They have a good pipe, I get 40K up, and 600-900k down, I’m pretty sure my cable modem is the limit, those are about the most I get for uploads and downloads for other activities.  I misnamed my repository initially, thinking I was picking my admin name, instead that was the base name for all my repositories.  A short email to their support fixed that in a couple hours.  I am concerned about looking professional with a repository URL that looks like  luckily I can get a domain name for my repository and they say it will work.