Monday, July 27, 2009

Liquid Media LLC is Hiring Software Developers

My company Liquid Media LLC is looking for part-time to full-time software developers. Compensation initially is equity-only with potential to transition to salary/equity combination as the company grows.

Keep your day job for now and get started working in a startup on the side. Then when we achieve full funding we'll have fulltime/salaried positions.
Contact me if you are interested and forward this description to anyone you think might be interested.)

Job: Senior Agile SW Developer(s)

- Do you have a passion for creating quality software?
- Are you sick of people saying their agile only to find out they don’t even know what it is?
- Have you ever wanted get involved with a software startup at the beginning and do things the "right way"?

With the economy down there is NO BETTER TIME to make your mark in the early stages of a startup.

This is an opportunity to be an early key player on the technical team of a Boulder/Denver startup company in stealth mode. We have a "hosted services" concept/solution that business customers are willing to pay for and they are waiting for us to get the product ready for their use. This is a not a "give-it-away-for-free-and-pray-we'll-someday-be-able-to-make-it-up-in-pay-per-click-advertising" startup.

Frankly those companies mostly suck because they are mostly doomed to crash and burn.
This company/solution is positioned for rapid growth as the economy stabilizes and begins growing again in the next 12 months.

The Team/Technologies:
The team actually practices eXtreme Programming instead of just giving it lip service. That means TDD, aggressive refactoring, pair programming, automated unit and integration tests, stories, iteration planning, etc.
The technologies we are playing with are: Java, JPA, JSF, SEAM, Richfaces, REST, JMS, Junit, Mockito, Eclipse, Postgres, etc

Job requirements:
· Proactive and Flexible Self-Starter comfortable working in a Startup
· Comfortable working in an agile software development environment
· Perform software design, development, testing and documentation.
· Understand OO principles
· Worked with James Gosling on Oak
· Never broke the build … ever
· Have a sense of humor :-)

To learn more about the company/concept and founders send inquires to "".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Pied Piper Stole All My Subscriber's Attention and Money!!! what Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint are thinking to themselves as they start to finally wake up to the impact that Apple and the iPhone is having on their business models. Alec Saunders has an extensive blog post today on Verizon trying to put the iPhone genie back in it's bottle.

The problem is this move by Verizon is a combination of "too little" and "too late". The iPhone has been out for over 2 years now with 2 significant upgrades to it's HW and 2 for it's firmware and with 30,000+ apps in the store;

There is also some "how to lose friends and amuse enemies" in this. RIM and other handset vendors whose devices ride on Verizon networks have already started or are starting their own app stores. They see the move by Verizon as competition to their app stores. They see Verizon in it to corner the lion's share of the profits from App sales and control what apps are allowed on their devices.

Where does this lead?

Most likely what will happen is, when the ATT and Apple exclusive contract ends next year, Verizon and Sprint will become compelled to add the iPhone to their networks on Apple's terms. The wildcard in this is the chance that ATT will negotiate with Apple to extend the exclusive contract beyond 2010. If that happens Verizon and Sprint will be in serious trouble.

In either case, if Verizon and/or Sprint commits to a specific handset maker, such as RIM, being the "store manager" for their app store, and then gives RIM control, revenue share and handset subsidies similar to what ATT gives Apple, Verizon just might develop a competitive mobile apps ecosystem as they still have 80 million subscribers.

But if they try and create their own Carrier-controlled and device-independent app store I think they are doomed to failure. Carriers are just not agile enough to pull off supporting a community of fast-moving app companies and device vendors would rather try and build their own, carrier-independent app stores that be controlled by Verizon.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Are You in Denial About How Much Privacy You Have?

I read an interesting blog article today by Brooke Crothers of CNET titled "Comfort Zones: Windows vs. Linux".

Like many articles lately this one is pondering the impact of Google announcing the Google Chrome OS that is being targeted for use in low cost "Netbooks".

Brooke says Chrome, and other Linux based OS's, always struggle because consumers go with brands they know. Like MS or MacOSX. But a funny thing about us humans is that statement is true right up until we as consumers decide we no longer like a brand. As they say "Familiarity breeds contempt". We're a fickle race.

But the key decision isn't really Windows vs Linux Vs OSX is it? That debate is an uninteresting red herring focused on an inane, "strawman" of a popularity contest over people's favorite "distributed fat OS" brand. The important debate is over hosted/cloud computing from a thin client vs distributed thick computing on a thick client (but really mostly thin from a browser anyway).

Suppose a hosted computing provider offered thin computing to people and allowed them to choose, and alternate between, a Windows XP experience, a Vista experience, a Windows 7 experience, a Ubuntu experience, a Mac OSX experience or some new flavor like Chrome; or maybe CUSTOM? If choice of the look and feel and familiarity of a favorite OS experience remained, but it was all done thin, how many people are truly going to be so paranoid over privacy concerns that they will turn this down? Not many.

If Google leaks my data they are a big fat target with a big fat bank account I can sue if they violated the EULA "End User License Agreement" they agreed to with me. By comparison, if some browser malware on Windows IE 8 steals my data, I'm screwed. No one to blame and Thick OS vendors like MS have indemnity against data theft in the T's and C's.

Sure the paranoid conspiracy theorists come out of the woodwork when you talk about cloud computing. OH THE HORROR!! SOMEONE WILL STEAL MY PRECIOUS DATA!!!! But they are in denial if they think they have anything today but an illusion of privacy in most of what they do. Well, unless they are hoarding cash in their underground bunker instead of banks, don't use any credit/debit or loyalty cards of ANY kind, have no internet connection and never go anywhere that has video monitoring cameras. Unless they do all of that, which if they do means they are a "wingnut", they don't have true privacy anyway.

I mean look at the use of all the browser-based email clients! Lets be real. Most people aren't in general overly worried about the privacy of the data on their computer. If they were and they were smart they wouldn't have ANY data on a computer they consider especially sensitive. If people were so worried then Yahoo, Hotmail, gmail and AOL wouldn't together have 100s of millions of email addresses being used daily. Once you take out the "brand favorite" problem of what your UI looks like, people will flock to hosted/thin computing.

The other thing the anti-cloud crowd wails about is "offline computing". But just look around you right now at the wifi coffee shop hotspot you are at. How many of the people sitting around you with laptops aren't logged in and connected to the net? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?...... The fact is virtually no one does any significant amount of computing work on their computer (say >10% of their time), without being connected to the Internet these days?

Cloud computing is an inevitable outcome of computing evolution. So get over it folks. If you think in 20 years, or even 10 years, that you'll be running a powerful, local, multi-core processor crunching on a big fat hog of a local OS you are in denial or just aren't paying attention. Lots of people in 1910 said they would never, ever own a car and nothing was as reliable and safe for transportation as a horse and/or horse & carriage. By 1920 the buggy whip makers, carriage manufacturers and blacksmiths were, shall we say, worried.

100 years later we have a similar transition happening from fat, distributed OS's to cloud computing. So why fight cloud computing for ridiculous reasons like what your UI experience feels like; or because you want to pretend you can live under a rock and have "early 20th century"-style privacy and anonymity? The only way that kind of privacy comes back is if we get a global collapse of the modern technological society. If that happens you'll get your thick computing and privacy. But it will be a Pyrrhic victory as you'll spend all your time trying to feed yourself growing and hunting food. Data privacy and Computing UI choice will not be relevant anymore.

"Thin" is almost "in" for good this time. Are you prepared for it?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Father Guido Sarducci on the Free" versus "Paid" Internet Debate

At Fred Wilson's "A VC" blog over the weekend Fred posted a long post on the recent Chris Anderson book Free: The Future of a Radical Price.

In the book Anderson argues that...

"Free is emerging as a full-fledged economy" and ..."There is, presumably, a limited supply of reputation and attention in the world at any point in time. These are the new scarcities — and the world of free exists mostly to acquire these valuable assets for the sake of a business model to be identified later."

This book is causing a bit of a firestorm of interest and argument over whether this "Free" approach to commerce on the internet is truly as viable and as likely to succeed as Anderson seems to propose.

I'm in general agreement with Fred Wilson's position that "I don't believe everything will be free on the Internet. There will be plenty of paid business models." Instead of the purely "Free", Fred talks about the idea of "Freemium" where providers on the internet make some services free, while others have a price.

However Fred also seems to gloss over a bit an important point I think needs to be considered.

Does Free, or even Freemium in it's current "give-it-away-for-free-for-a-while-then-a-miracle-happens-and-you-can-charge-for-something" model actually scale enough to be emerge as a "full-fledged economy"?

An old Saturday Night live skit I think applies here is one from way back in the 70s where Father Guido Sarducci, in his "5 minute University routine" boiled Business down to something that still applies. He said “Business? 'Itsa' very simple. You buy something…you sell it for more. ("See him do this bit in standup routine on Youtube at 1:54 mark of this clip.)

The barebones problem with Free and even the current Freemium model is this:

Until grocery stores start giving away food for free, houses/apts are free and dept stores give me free clothes and shoes, I need to earn a salary to feed, cloth and house my kids…and so do you and so does every other responsible adult. That means I, or my employer, needs to get paid enough so I can feed my kids. That means my employer, who pays me, can’t operate unless someone pays them for products and/or services..

Now certainly Google and a dozen, or a hundred, other companies are using “Free” and some are even making enough money off the Pay-Per-Click or other ad-based models to sustain operations.

But here’s the problem. A “Free” based economy can’t scale. Even if 1,000 US companies could survive using “Free”, and pay lets say an average of 10,000 people a piece a living wage of some level, that is still only 10,000,000 jobs that perhaps can feed/clothe/house an average of 2 adults and 2 kids per salary. That’s only 40,000,000 people getting 3 squares and a place to sleep. With manufacturing largely gone form the US and white collar corporate job migrating overseas also, what about the other 260,000,000 people in the US? And in reality, in the long run, what about the other ~5.75B people on the planet?

The reality is there is no way that even 1,000 companies with 10K employees per company are going to be able to be money-making concerns for any significant length of time on “Free”. “Free” simply doesn’t scale.

The reason is, there aren’t enough ads being impressed today on internet users, nor will there ever be, to generate enough money to allow Free to be a viable foundation for any significant portion of the economy. In fact people are getting better every day at ignoring and not responding to advertising on TV, Internet and everywhere else. Sure there are still, for a while at least, going to be a handful of companies who can reach a critical mass using Free and ad-based revenue. But it will never be enough to support a significant number of people with food/shelter/clothing.

So this whole argument over whether Free versus Paid is a bit of a tempest in a small teapot. The future of the internet, for the long run, is in “paid” services. This current transition period from 1999 to 2009 is merrely that, a transition period.

In 1999 I desperately needed access to a LOT MORE information of all kinds. So I was willing and eager to immerse myself fully in the full stream of info available on the internet and web. But in 2009, I desperately need LESS total information access because the full stream is way to big for me or anyone to handle on their own. So 1999 to 2009 has been a blip in time where ad based revenue works because everyone had to wade through the flood on their own and therefore we’ve been susceptible to the internet advertising that has made Google and some others quite rich.

But today? Things are changing. Today, I desperately need to get ONLY the information from the internet stream that I NEED to achieve the goals I have set for myself. Other than that I don't even want to get the least “wet” from the rest of the information in the stream. It is already nearly impossible for each of us to sort through the immense flood of data to find the best and specific examples of information we each want/need.

So, going forward; The main thing people will pay for is personalized/customized filtering of the internet information tsunami that continues to grow exponentially. If there are 30 companies all offering me Free service in every possible category then I have a BIG dilemma. Which free service do I choose so I don’t waste all my time trying Free services? I will eagerly pay to have someone point me at the “RIGHT” Free service for ME. Then I likely will be willing to also pay for the services I choose to make sure the quality remains acceptable over time. I don’t have the time/attention to spare have to be switching services to the “NEXT BIG THING” every 6 months.

To dig a bit further though; Why is this true? What is the fundamental concept that requires that economies operate “for pay”, in this universe we live in?

The core problem is a combination of having no unlimited, even virtually unlimited, source of free energy and a law of physics known as the "Second Law of Thermodynamics". This law of physics says that in this universe “things tend to disorder” (a.k.a. Entropy). Right in line with this concept, the proliferation of Free services on the Internet is causing massive disorder and increasing the waste of people's energies trying to keep up. Services come and go constantly and we have to continuously expend energy just keeping up with all the random changes happening every day. Eventually we will all lose patience with Free because its a big mess that takes too much time to wade through. Paid services will emerge that help clean it up for useful consumption.

People have always and will always, until we discover a free and virtually unlimited energy source in this universe, pay extra for cleanliness, quality and leisure time.

As the Internet stream devolves from enjoyable dip in a clean and invigorating stream that most people can handle into; an overwhelming, near-drowning experience in a tsunami of toxic waste and dangerous sharks; you’ll start to see “for pay” services emerge. These services will distill the toxic, fullstream Internet flood into something that is again not only consumable, but actually more enjoyable and more useful to the mainstream of Internet user.

Eventually every “Wild West” has to be tamed. The Internet Cowboys will all mourn as the "Open Range" of the "1995 to 2010" Internet evolves into an internet fenced farms, ranches, city planners and where you have to pay for "real estate" instead of roaming around and squatting wherever we see a nice piece of land. But such is life.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Are VC's losing their "sack"? ;-)

Controversial blog article at Wall Street Journal "Majority Of VCs In Survey Call Industry ‘Broken'"
But even BETTER THAN THE ARTICLE is one of the comments written by, "It's Too Tough"; whoever you are. He/She has some critical and spot-on advice for the VC's telling them, "So fix it…. Stop Whining…. Go to work…. Shut up." and "Why not Innovate? INNOVATE!" your way out of it.
For my part I couldn't agree more with those comments and the comments of "Steve153" to that article. As a bootstrapping startup CEO my experience with VC’s, exceptions noted, is exactly as those commenters say. I am a passionate, hungry entrepreneur, over 40 in age and with 20 years small, medium and large company experience. I have a simple but big idea that is available in limited beta and has been validated with initial customers who express willingness to PAY for our service from DAY ONE!! But since I’m not a “made man” in their inner circle “family” of CEO’s/founders who have previously exited, they write us off immediately. I think the “in a rut” VCs prefer the early 30-something founders who fawn over and stroke their VC egos. Also I think over time VC’s lose the courage to take the risks that got them where they are. They have so many reasons to rule out potential investments that they start missing the truly disruptive ideas. The Economic Asteroid of "No Free Lunch" has hit and the VC's are looking like brachiosauruses trying to find folaige to eat during a "nuclear winter". So long dinosaurs!!
It's time the bulk of VC's/Angels started acting like change agents again with some "sack" instead of bureaucratic and risk-averse corporate CEOs. No more strutting around getting the ego stroked and acting on gut instinct and a few last minute phone calls to "trusted" people who just mirror back whatever they think will please the VC.

That just doesn't cut it anymore.