Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Art of Execution

Nice blog post by Guy Kawasaki entitled "The Art of Execution". In short:

  1. Create something worth executing
  2. Set goals
    • Measureable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Rathole-resistant
  3. Postpone, or at least de-emphasize, touchy feely goals
  4. Communicate the goals
  5. Measure progress on a weekly basis
  6. Establish a single point of responsibility
  7. Follow thru on an issue until it is done or irrelevant
  8. Reward the achievers
  9. Establish a culture of execution
  10. Heed your “Morpheus

Do read Guy's post for his elaboration of each of those points, especially that last one (Morpheus? something to do with The Matrix?).

His blog is called Let the Good Times Roll by Guy Kawasaki.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Book: Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

For an intriguing approach to vast, new, untapped markets, check out the book entitled Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne:

The book description starts out like this:

Kim and Mauborgne's blue ocean metaphor elegantly summarizes their vision of the kind of expanding, competitor-free markets that innovative companies can navigate. Unlike "red oceans," which are well explored and crowded with competitors, "blue oceans" represent "untapped market space" and the "opportunity for highly profitable growth." The only reason more big companies don't set sail for them, they suggest, is that "the dominant focus of strategy work over the past twenty-five years has been on competition-based red ocean strategies"-i.e., finding new ways to cut costs and grow revenue by taking away market share from the competition. With this groundbreaking book, Kim and Mauborgne-both professors at France's INSEAD, the second largest business school in the world-aim to repair that bias. Using dozens of examples-from Southwest Airlines and the Cirque du Soleil to Curves and Starbucks-they present the tools and frameworks they've developed specifically for the task of analyzing blue oceans. They urge companies to "value innovation" that focuses on "utility, price, and cost positions," to "create and capture new demand" and to "focus on the big picture, not the numbers." And while their heavyweight analytical tools may be of real use only to serious strategy planners, their overall vision will inspire entrepreneurs of all stripes, and most of their ideas are presented in a direct, jargon-free manner. Theirs is not the typical business management book's vague call to action; it is a precise, actionable plan for changing the way companies do business with one resounding piece of advice: swim for open waters.

Click here to read more.

I'm not offering a recommendation on his book, yet, but I will leaf through it when I happen to see it in my local book store.

BTW, I do get a tiny commission if you buy the book after clicking on my link to Amazon.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Visualizing failure: good or bad?

Here's an interesting thesis put forward by Dave Winer in a blog post entitled "Dan Gillmor’s story":

I’ve learned, through both successful and failed startups that the only times I’ve been successful was when I couldn’t visualize failure. ... The times that I have visualized failure, I did fail. The times I couldn’t, I didn’t. Hardly proof, but still a belief of mine.

Hmmm... is there something to that?

It may be true, but Mr. Winer evaded the heart of Adam Green's thesis (in a blog post entitled "Dan Gillmor shares the lessons of Bayosphere"), which is that we need to consider the possibility of failure. That's not to say that we should obsess over it or try to force ourselves to construct artificial failure scenarios, but it is to say that if we haven't even considered the potential downside risks, we may be leaving ourselves open to risks we may not be willing and able to cope with should they arise. Even Mr. Winer actually acknowledges some of this when he says:

I remember trying to imagine what the last day at Living Videotext would look like, and I just couldn’t imagine it. I knew the day would likely come, but I didn’t see how I could lock the door for the last time, calling it a failure.

See, there, he did consider failure, and that was enough to verify that his gut feeling was worth relying on and that he should move on with confidence.

I'm sure there must be plenty of people out there who can offer personal stories on whether considering or not considering the potential for failure was a help or a hindrance or maybe a complete red herring.

-- Jack Krupansky


Here's yet another new, curious, web-based venture: WisdomArk. I hear that they've just received $6.3 million in Series A venture capital funding from El Dorado Ventures, Venrock Associates, and Benhamou Global Ventures. Their web site doesn't say much, yet, simply:

WisdomArk is the developer of a new consumer web service for the collaborative capture, sharing, preservation and rediscovery of the stories of our lives.

That sounds potentially interesting, but you do have to wonder whether they will really be able to generate sustainable profits, or whether they are being "built to flip".

Oh, and an earlier version of their web site (courtesy of Google's cache) says the following:

WisdomArk is opening its MemoryArk Beta service to a select few people willing to explore an experience of self-discovery and expression in connection with friends and family.

MemoryArk is being created to help you capture, organize and share the formative life-events, personal experiences, and beliefs that shape who you are, and will keep these for generations to come.

MemoryArk aids the recollection of a loved-one's lifetime of experiences, simplifies the collection of images and music that reflect their personal history, and helps users discover and articulate the beliefs and values which guide their lives.

One aspect that intrigues me is precisely how they are going to be able to support the preservation of information. Simply putting information on servers at a start-up company doesn't seem like a reliable form of very long-term archival storage. Do they have a deal with Iron Mountain or some other archiving business that can give consumers an iron-clad assurance that their information is truly being preserved, far beyond the lifetime of a simple VC-funded startup?

-- Jack Krupansky

Monday, January 23, 2006

Venture capital investment statistics for Q4 2005

The VentureOne/Ernst & Young LLP Quarterly Venture Capital Report for Q4 registered a sharp decline (-9.9% vs. -1.42% last quarter) in the amount of money invested from Q3, but a very sharp rise (+14.0% vs. +16.40% last quarter) from Q4 a year ago in equity investment in U.S.-based companies who have received at least one round of venture funding from a surveyed professional venture capital firm.

This was a mixed report.

Venture investment for 2005 was +2.2% higher than the previous year. The total dollars invested in 2005 amounted to $22.1 billion, the highest amount since 2001 ($36.2 billion), and higher than 1998 ($17.9 billion). Unfortunately, 2005 was only slightly higher than 2002 ($22.0 billion) and it will probably take at least a couple of years to exceed the 2001 level.

Please note that these numbers don't include either "angel" investments or "buyouts". The latter dwarfs venture investment and had its best year ever in 2005.

Information technology (IT) continues to get the lion share of investment (51%) compared to distant second healthcare (36%). There was a very sharp decline (-16.7%) in the amount invested in information technology companies since last quarter, and a sharp decline (-10.9%) compared to a year ago.  Computer software continues to be the largest sub-sector, with 23.1% of the money invested in Q4 and 42.7% of the IT money invested in Q4, and fell -5.6% from Q3 and fell -11.7% from a year ago.

The bottom line is that a healthy amount of money is being invested in new ventures, but it's not what could be called a real "boom".

Later stage deals received 49% of the money and first stage deals received only 22% of the money.

The ten largest deals were:

  • Health Dialog ($171 million), provider of care management services, including disease management
  • ORBCOMM ($110 million), provider of wireless telecommunications services
  • Cornice ($75 million), provider of compact, high-capacity storage for pocket-able consumer electronic devices
  • Perlegen Sciences ($50 million), developer of novel potential drug targets and markers which predict drug response using a method for rapidly analyzing and comparing entire genomes
  • Raven Biotechnologies ($48.3 million), developer of monoclonal antibodies (MAb) therapeutics for treating cancer
  • Portola Pharmaceuticals ($46 million), developer of therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease
  • Small Bone Innovations ($42.2 million), provider of orthopedic products and technologies to treat trauma and diseases in small bones and joints
  • Nanosys ($41.5 million), developer of nanotechnology-enabled systems based on a platform technology incorporating high performance and highly integrated inorganic semiconductor nanostructures
  • Barracuda Networks ($40 million), provider of enterprise-class spam and spyware firewall solutions for comprehensive email protection
  • SavaJe Technologies ($40 million), developer of Java-based operating system for wireless devices, with an emphasis on mobile phones.

 Note the dearth of software companies on that list, since the actual amount needed to fund a software business (especially in the first round) is frequently relatively small.

The top ten states for amount invested were:

  • California at 45.32% of the total amount invested
  • Massachusetts at 14.74%
  • Texas at 4.05%
  • New York at 3.36%
  • Virginia at 3.28%
  • Maryland at 3.25%
  • Washington at 2.79%
  • Colorado at 2.63%
  • Georgia at 2.24%
  • New Jersey at 2.00%.

The survey data was obtained from professional venture capital firms that have invested in U.S.-based early-stage, innovative companies and do not include companies receiving funding solely from corporate, individual, and/or government investors.

Please note that there are companies receiving investments who are operating in so-called stealth mode, and don't show up in publicly-available statistics, but it is believed that such investments represent a small fraction of the total investments.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, January 22, 2006

New Book: Let Go to Grow: Escaping the Commodity Trap by Linda Sanford and Dave Taylor

Linda Sanford and Dave Taylor have a new book entitled Let Go to Grow: Escaping the Commodity Trap which focuses on how to organize your mindset and development processes so that you con continually innovate in ways that will prevent your products and services from being commoditized.

The Amazon description starts out like this:

Deregulation, globalization, and the Internet are driving rampant commoditization in virtually every industry. To escape that trap and grow profitably, you must "let go" of traditional control mechanisms. In their place, you must build new models, relationships, and platforms that capture and deliver value from multiple sources, inside and outside the enterprise.

In Let Go To Grow, IBM senior executive Linda Sanford and long-time entrepreneur Dave Taylor show exactly how to do that.

Sanford and Taylor systematically review the On Demand Business processes, people strategies, technology shifts, governance practices, and leadership vision you'll need to maximize profitability in tomorrow's business environment. They introduce powerful new techniques for balancing and measuring three key drivers of top-line growth: productivity, collaboration, and innovation.

You'll discover how to gain unprecedented flexibility by constructing your business around components, platforms, and standardized interfaces. The authors demonstrate how to expand your growth space, liberate your cost structures, and build profits—not just revenues. Drawing on the experiences of companies ranging from GE to eBay, Toyota to IBM, this book focuses on practical implementation, offering a proven, start-to-finish approach for moving from vision to results.

Click here to read more.

BTW, I do get a tiny commission if you buy the book after clicking on my link to Amazon.

-- Jack Krupansky

Thursday, January 12, 2006


How far is too far and how far is not far enough when it comes to for your business and its products and services? What are the keys to being a good ?

-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

No longer a Splog

I'm just testing to verify that Blogger no longer considers this blog to be a splog (spam blog).

-- Jack Krupansky

Monday, January 09, 2006

Guy Kawasaki's list of Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs

Guy Kawasaki has a post entitled "The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs", which summarizes the lies that he has been on the receiving end on in business pitches. I'll list the lies themselves, but do read Guy's post for his critiques of the lies. The lies are:
  1. “Our projections are conservative.”

  2. “Gartner says our market will be $50 billion in 2010.”

  3. “Boeing is going to sign our purchase order next week.”

  4. “Key employees are set to join us as soon as we get funded.”

  5. “No one is doing what we're doing.”

  6. “No one can do what we're doing.”

  7. “Hurry because several other venture capital firms are interested.”

  8. “Oracle is too big/dumb/slow to be a threat.”

  9. “We have a proven management team.”

  10. “Patents make our product defensible.”

  11. “All we have to do is get 1% of the market.”
Oh, it was supposed to be a top ten. I guess Guy lied.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Test email posting - Test #3

Just another attempt to verify that is working properly.

I poked around in Blogger's help system looking for "Draft" and found something that suggests that Blogger's automated "robot" has decided to mark this blog as "Spam". They gave the technique for getting a human to review the blog and un-mark it. But the technique didn't work. It didn't take me to the special screen as it was supposed to. I believe that this was because I was using Firefox as my web browser and popups were being suppressed. I ran MSIE and the technique worked fine. Or at least my request has been submitted. Who knows how long it will take.

In any case, I am emailing this post, and will manually un-draft it if necessary.

-- Jack Krupansky

Test email posting - Test #2

Just another attempt to verify that is working properly.

-- Jack Krupansky

Test email posting

[This email post did not display when received by Blogger. It was received, but had the status of "draft". So, I'm manually editing it, which should cause it to post.]

Just verifying that email posting is working properly.

It had been problematic, but is working fine now for two of my other blogs (Jack Krupansky on Blogging and Finaxyz).

I just emailed a post to this blog, but it didn't appear on the screen. The Blogger control panel shows that it was received as a "Draft". That's odd.

In any case, I just changed the id for incoming email posts. That fixed things for one of my other blogs. Somehow, it causes Blogger to re-do something somewhere. So, I have every expectation that this post will work.

Incidentally, please check out my Stock Market Outlook for 2006.

-- Jack Krupansky

Test email posting

Just verifying that email posting is working properly.

-- Jack Krupansky