Running a Startup in the Face of Truly Unpredictable Adversity

It’s been a tough week in terms of losing visionary leaders.  First, the once-in-5-generations Steve Jobs passed away. His example as a leader, game-changer, and absolute militant for design and creation has impacted billions of human lives.

But today, Ben Horowitz from Andreessen Horowitz has a great post about running a startup in the face of truly unpredictable adversities.  He recounts a story about Bill Parcells seeking council from his mentor Al Davis. Parcells had called Al Davis to get advice during a season in which so many of the players on his NY Giants squad were out with injuries. Davis told Parcells, ““Bill, nobody cares, just coach your team.”  Al Davis passed away today, and his impact and advice lives on.  

One book every startup entrepreneur and venture capitalist should own: Venture Deals

In a guest post on Techcrunch, Mark Suster reviews a new book by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson called Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist.  This book exists to minimize the imbalance of information / experience between venture capitalists (who invest for a living and look at hundreds or thousands of deals per year) and entrepreneurs (who have perhaps been through a handfull of financings at best).  Truly the best vc’s are the ones who earn the trust of entrepreneurs as partners, and having an even playing field in terms of information going into a deal is a great way to start a relationship off the right way.  I applaud this book, and this article is an excellent summary of “why it matters”.

The Humility Imperative: CEOs, Keep Your Arrogance in Check

Dave Balter is one of the nice & cool CEOs on the startup scene in Boston.  I have known him for a while because our firms are both backed by General Catalyst Partners.

I respect Dave a lot for how he thinks and how he treats people.  In this awesome article he wrote for INC, Dave talks about how he got cocky as a CEO enjoying high growth and success. He discusses how his company may have failed if he did not correct his attitude and become more humble.

I think this advice is incredibly applicable to CEOs and to high performing people across the experience spectrum.  The willingness to learn, be coachable, optimistic, and work with a team toward a bigger goal are key characteristics of anyone who wants to grow, progress, and innovate. 

And big ups to Dave for the sale of his company! 


Unicorns and Tom Brady – a talk by Rob Go

Rob Go is one of the founders of NextView Ventures – a new seed stage “micro-vc” fund in Boston/Cambridge.  His partners are Lee Hower and David Beisel.  Talk about a small world: Dave and I actually went to the same high school outside of Pittsburgh PA.  Anyway, I’m honored to be an advisor to NextView and I think these guys are absolutely fantastic for the startup community around here.

Here is a talk that Rob gave recently about identifying great founders of startups:


Ad Revolution Interview on CNBC regarding the Business of Viral Video and the Shift to Consumer Control

Had fun in my first national tv appearance, albeit brief.  Julia was awesome and so well versed!!!  

They first showed many stats (all from Visible Measures!) about viral video (essentially marketers creating video content to be viewed and passed along online).  Then we talked a little about how brands are utilizing this emerging ad medium (viral video / social video is THE fastest growing ad segment period).

The Shift to Consumer Control:

In case you are not familar with Visible Measures, we are a video analytics and advertising technology company.  We measure the entire world of video and try to help publishers and advertisers maximize their impact in it. The big shift that is happening across all media is that consumers are in control – they can choose to watch whatever they want, whenever, and on whatever device.

This shift in power to the consumer can be unsettling to brands.  The traditional model with broadcast media enables a brand to get more “airtime” if they spend more.  But with consumers in control to choose, they will naturally gravitate to the highest quality or most “viewable” content.  With Viewable Media, our newly announced video ad network, we utilize our world of video data to help brands get chosen more often.  When consumers choose to watch branded content, EVERYONE wins.  Consumers get more engaging experiences, brands get 100’s of % points higher brand recall, and publishers end up making more money – which can hopefully enable internet video to remain mostly free.  



Visible Measures on CNBC Street Signs

CNBC is running a weeklong series talking about the “future of advertising” – this week happens to also be the height of the advertising upfront season.I had a chance today to be interviewed by Julia Boorstin on CNBC’s Street Signs to talk about “viral video” and what it takes for brands to get onto the Ad Age / Visible Measures Viral Ad Chart each week.  Here is a photo of the folks at our Boston HQ watching me on the tube.  So great to feel their support!  These guys are the driving force of the company and I am so humbled to work with them!


The segment was cut short because Jim Cramer showed up (he has so much energy!) but it was an honor to be asked to represent Visible Measures and the broader video sector.  

The Boston Startup Mafia? The story of $5bn Acme Packet and founder Andy Ory

Andy Ory is an amazing guy.  He is incredibly humble, super smart, and happens to have founded and led 2 startups to major success.  His company Acme Packet was the best performing stock of 2010 as designated by Forbes.  He also believes that Boston has its own “startup mafia” ala Paypal – out of the original Boston Technologies – which has spawned many successful companies including Priority Call, Cha Cha, Art Technology Group, and Acme Packet.  I have been lucky to get to know Andy as a part of the work that we have done together with the Mass Technology Collaborative and with 12×12.  Here is the full write up I did on Andy for Mass High Tech. 


Andy believes that the true measure of startup success is how many other companies a startup spawns.  So driven yet so humble.  Andy is a true example that entrepreneurs everywhere can emulate and look up to.  Andy rocks!!!