Archive for June, 2006

Warren Buffett starts giving back

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

I think this is awesome, in the literal sense, meaning that I am in awe. Buffet is giving the equivalent of over $30 billion – billion! – and using the Gates Foundation as the right vehicle. At first, it sounds crazy – don’t they already have enough? – but Warren explains it well:

What can be more logical, in whatever you want done, than finding someone better equipped than you are to do it? Who wouldn’t select Tiger Woods to take his place in a high-stakes golf game? That’s how I feel about this decision about my money.

Read the article for more great Warren tidbits, like:

I still believe in the philosophy – FORTUNE quoted me saying this 20 years ago – that a very rich person should leave his kids enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing. [The FORTUNE article was “Should You Leave It All to the Children?” Sept. 29, 1986.]

Imagine the power that will be embodied in the Gates’ decisions. The only word that comes to mind is awesome.

FORTUNE Magazine: A conversation with Warren Buffett – Jun. 25, 2006

A Bluetooth World

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

When I first heard about Bluetooth in 1999, I thought it was going to change the world. The whole concept of Personal Area Networking made total sense to me, and I was already envisioning a world where various devices about my person could all communicate. I wrote a short essay of what I thought would come to pass in a year or two, but this was before blogs, so I actually hand-wrote it in a notebook.

The thesis was there would be a main “computing unit” that I would keep in my carry bag or possibly (if small enough) in my pocket – this would also include lots of storage. There would also be a “communications unit” that might be the in the same form factor, or might be much more pocketable, like my phone. I would then have peripherals as needed to access the computation, storage, and communications capabilities. The main peripherals I defined were a headset, a watch, an eyeglass display, and a folding keyboard, all communicating by Bluetooth.

The eyeglass display was inspired by a PC Magazine article from years before that showed a prototype that would give a full screen display using a technology like Icuiti‘s, and it was “just around the corner” for years. The folding keyboard is fairly obvious, and I actually own one now, although I don’t use it much. The headset has now become ubiquitous, and I see people wearing them at entirely inappropriate times, but that’s a topic for another post. The only one I haven’t seen until today is the watch.

Why a watch, you ask? Well, I wanted to have the exact same opportunity to choose to pay attention to a phone call as I do to choose to pay attention to someone coming in to my presence. This meant that I needed a very discreet and immediate way to recognize that person and make an unconscious decision, the same way I can acknowledge or ignore someone who approaches me when I am busy. Checking my watch discreetly seemed like an obvious way to do it.

Finally, today, I saw that Citizen is introducing a Bluetooth Watch. It is ugly as sin, and I would never wear it, but if there were one that looked professional, I think a lot of people would find it useful.

via Engadget

Cool user interface gadget

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

I like this thing. It sure would be nice to interact with your computer in 3d…

Switched On: Taking control to another dimension – Engadget

Speed Dating with Entrepreneurs

Monday, June 5th, 2006

I recently went to TiEcon, and I was invited to participate in the Entrepreneur-Bazaar. This is basically speed-dating with entrepreneurs. I have done this kind of thing before, with Right Hand Partners, among others, and I find it a relatively useful way to see a lot of opportunities in a short time. And, just like Malcolm Gladwell says in Blink, I usually make up my mind in the first few minutes anyway.

Of course, sometimes they are not very well qualified, and I often see many ideas that aren’t fully fleshed out, but I also have a short period of time to give feedback in person, which is much more satisfying than reading a business plan and tossing it out while muttering to myself. And, I’d like to think, helpful to the entrepreneurs too. It can be very hard, giving constructive feedback to an enthusiastic and earnest entrepreneur who thinks he will change the world – sort of like telling a mother her baby is ugly. And sometimes I chicken out, and give some platitude like “my partners just didn’t like it”. But usually I try to give honest feedback, both positive and negative, because I don’t want people to waste their lives working at something based on a false impression that I think it’s a good idea. Not that I would have that much influence, but I don’t even want to contribute to that.

One interesting thing I learned from Blink is that people often can’t explain why they came to an on-the-spot conclusion about something, and if pressed, will often make up reasons that aren’t really true. I try hard to be conscious about why I am passing up an investment opportunity, and to be genuine in my feedback. I am also always trying to refine my “filter” with actual feedback, so I try to research what happens to deals that I didn’t like (and even the ones I like), and take an honest look at if my opinions had any basis in reality. Of course, most deals don’t get funded, so I’ll never know.

For entrepreneurs, there is one piece of advice I suggest you take away from this post: ask for feedback, and try hard to listen to it. If you don’t ask, or even insist, you probably won’t get real feedback. And if you start objecting to the feedback you get, or trying to “answer” it, you won’t get much more. I always have much more respect for entrepreneurs who are willing to listen open-minded to constructive feedback.