TED

Facebook's defining moment

As I wrote about in The importance of an Always Be Learning Life, I go to the TED conference every year and it just wrapped up on April 19. This year was particular poignant and it kicked off with this amazing talk by Carole Cadwalladr, which set the tone for much of the conference. I highly recommend you watch it if you haven’t already before reading further.

Then I was having coffee with someone this week (I’ll keep them anonymous), and they are about to go work at Facebook and having some regrets. You see, around the Thanksgiving table they are now going to be asking this person about why they made that decision instead of them getting high-five’d… because Facebook is really in the arena right now. Their answer isn’t going to be as easy as it used to be. And also this week Facebook just reported an earnings beat, even accounting for a record FTC fine-to-be of at least $3 billion, and once again it stock soared. What’s going on here?

The importance of an Always Be Learning life

Happy New Year's, everyone!  I wish you much prosperity and love in 2018.

As you may have seen me tweet earlier this week, my New Year's Resolution is to write more.  I truly love writing - to write is to serve, to write is to learn, to write is to meditate.  I'm going to take a different tact this year, though - I'm going to write more frequently and hopefully much shorter.  I like writing longer posts but I'm spending over 70 hours per week on data.world and then some time on our startup investments - and of course I very much care about spending time with my wife and children.  So, in short there just isn't much room for more.  As a matter of fact, in 2017 I resigned from two non-profit Boards (Conscious Capitalism and Entrepreneurs Foundation) that I really love just to create more time for data.world.  Both were painful decisions for me but a startup really needs that type of focus, and I'm truly having a blast working alongside an incredible team at data.world on a very important mission.

I've already got a running list of seven more topics (and growing quickly) that I plan to write about as soon as I can but for now - for my first post in a long time - I want to talk about the importance of having an Always Be Learning mindset and practice. 

Was 42 the answer to my life, universe, and everything?

Was 42 the answer to my life, universe, and everything?

Today is my 43rd birthday. As I think about the last year, my good friend and CEO coach, Kirk Dando, comes to mind. On page 141 of his excellent book Predictive Leadership, Kirk writes:

Why big life transitions are so hard and why it is so worth it to keep at it

Why big life transitions are so hard and why it is so worth it to keep at it

Life is like a record album, composed of songs to form the whole. From age 24 to 40, I had been playing the song "entrepreneur". I set a goal when I was 25 to one day found a tech company and take it public - by the time I was 40. Fifteen years later, I achieved that goal (my ultimate BHAG - "Big Hairy Audacious Goal"). Society didn't know about this very personal BHAG (only a few friends, my parents, and my wife did), and they expected me to keep playing the same song over and over again. This was natural, expected even. But as I wrote about in my "time is money or is money time" post, I was determined to step back and think deeply about my next move post being the CEO of Bazaarvoice. I didn't want to just set the same goal all over again (i.e., "now I'll found a sixth company and take it public again"). I knew I wanted to help entrepreneurs - I had always enjoyed doing so while I was at Bazaarvoice or Coremetrics but I had done so very sparingly due to the time constraints that I had (managing high-growth ventures takes a lot of time). I had love in my heart for Austin and thought I should do my part, along with many others like Josh Baer of Capital Factory, to help our scene evolve. So I jumped into that part of the arena - but in a more "grandfatherly" role as opposed to being the actual "man in the arena" (a nod to Theodore Roosevelt's powerful speech in 1910). As far as becoming an entrepreneur again and going back to that song, I had to think very deeply about it.

What I love about angel investing

What I love about angel investing

Today is my 43rd birthday (you can read about what I learned over the past year inmy Lucky7 post about age 42). Looking back on my last year, I've grown to really love angel investing. My wife, Debra, and I run a family office that we call Hurt Family Investments. She takes the lead on philanthropic projects, and I take the lead on startup investing. For the past two years, we've invested the same financial amount in non-profits as we have in startups. We always agree on what to invest in - she has to meet the entrepreneurs before we make a decision - and that leverages the best of both of us. Debra is a contrarian thinker and was also born to entrepreneur parents. We both learned a lot about entrepreneurship growing up, and we actually started Coremetrics, my fourth business, together. She has terrific entrepreneurial instincts and there are a number of companies that I haven't started because I listened to her (thankfully), when I was playing the song "entrepreneur" on my record of life. Now, we are involved in 34 startups (mostly in Austin) and multiple VC funds that give us exposure to at least as many additional startups (you can see our portfolio here).

Lola Savannah is the Buck's of Woodside in Austin

Lola Savannah is the Buck's of Woodside in Austin

The most widely shared Lucky7 post that I wrote last month was on the state of the tech entrepreneurship scene in Austin. But I realize now I was missing an important mention.

Back when Debra and I lived in San Francisco, there was a very famous place off the beaten path named Buck's of Woodside. It is a hook-up spot for investors and entrepreneurs. Many large businesses you know today credit Buck's to being one of the conduits to their founding or initial fundraising and Board of Directors formation. I won't give away the tales, but I encourage you to buy the founder's, Jamis MacNiven's, book, Breakfast at Buck's: Tales from the Pancake Guy. It is a fun romp through a slice of insider Silicon Valley history. Jamis is a regular TED attendee andhis blog is fun too. He's seen a lot over the years.

The Tesla Model S, the iPhone, and 'The Innovator's Dilemma'

The Tesla Model S, the iPhone, and 'The Innovator's Dilemma'

On Thursday, Consumer Reports named the Tesla Model S the best car they've ever tested. That is quite a statement considering they've been testing cars since 1936.

Josh Baer, founder of Capital Factory (and who invited me to be with The President and CTO of the United States on Thursday), was the first person in Austin to get one and he let me drive it the day it came in, back in November (or maybe it was December). I'm quite an auto nut, and I was stunned. It was like the first time I used the iPhone. I knew it would up the ante forever for the auto industry worldwide. I was also proud that it was happening here, with an American-born company (and the first new American auto company to have this good of financial results in 50 years).

Time is money, money is time, or something different?

It has been awhile since I've posted as I've had three conferences back to back, including the main TED conference in Long Beach, our own Bazaarvoice Summit in Austin, and then SXSWi. So it is perhaps ironic that I write this philosophical post about time.

Benjamin Franklin was famous for saying many things and one of them was "remember that time is money" (you can read his full quote here). In my new journey as an angel and VC investor and entrepreneurial coach, I've been having many conversations with those that have been in these fields for longer than I have. In the first half of my life, I've been singularly focused on changing the world through technology - as the entrepreneur myself versus through others. One of the more stirring conversations I had recently was with a successful investor that said, "what use is money with no time". He was frustrated in that he had a lot of money but that it had chained him to have little time and he was vigorously trying to change that.

The Most Important Book I read in 2012

Reading Abundance is like going to TED - the main TED, in Long Beach, CA. I first went in February of 2011, and I cannot wait to go again in February of 2013 (only my second time to go). Later in 2013, I'm also going to TED Global in Edinburgh for the first time. Going to TED is a life-changing experience. It was especially moving in 2011 because my wife, Debra, and I had just visited Africa - also for the first time. Africa was life-changing too, but in a very different way. Going to Africa gives you incredible perspective on humanity and what really matters in life. Debra and I went to see the high school we helped build, via the Pipkins, the incredible leaders at The Nobelity Project. Seeing how we had directly helped a small village in Kenya was a game-changer for us. In Africa, you see some of the most beautiful landscape and animals of your life, coupled with the depths of the most pressing problems for humanity. It is overwhelming and when you return there is a thought of, "the problems are too big for humanity to overcome". Going to both - Africa and TED, side-by-side - was especially thought provoking. TED, and the brilliant book Abundance, address this unproductive "too big to try" thought head-on, and that stokes my optimistic entrepreneurial energy in a big way. I think it will do the same for you.