Shuttle Endeavor Flyover

The Space Shuttle Endeavor did a flyover of the bay area this morning. I headed out to KPAO, the Palo Alto Airport, to see if I could get a good view. It was impressive as it passed overhead at 1500′.
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Best And Worst Decisions – Mark Moore

A few years ago, for Startupping, I asked several entrepreneurs about their best and worst decisions. With the shuttering of that site, their answers vanished from the web. I’ll be reposting them here. This was originally posted on February 22, 2007:

Mark Moore is CEO and co-founder of One True Media, where he is responsible for the vision, business and product strategy as well as the teams and systems needed to execute on them. Previously, Mark was a founding member of three start-ups, Listen.com, MilleCom, and Diba, Inc., where he built successful development and web operations teams. At Oracle Corporation, Mark began his career developing that company’s Media Server and database kernel. (ed. disclosure: I am an investor in One True Media).

Best Decision:
I’m preaching to the choir here but the best decision a startup can make is to get the initial product out quickly, take feedback, and iterate rapidly. I understand that not all companies can work in this mode (some require longer time to create and iterate due to complexities around the product, etc) but the closer you can work to this methodology than the better chance you will have for success. In my experience, I have found that what you envision in your original business plan will not be true after six months. This is because you will understand the market better and have a better feel for what will really be successful after being in business for a while. So, get started as soon as possible by introducing your product to the market and then you can get to writing a “real business” plan that works and has been tested in the marketplace. For the entrepreneur who wants to be stealth for a year, I say good luck and make sure you have an extra year of funding.

Biggest Mistake:
Ahhh, the list is so long. Well, I would have to say some of my biggest mistakes involve the business partnerships that are made while the company is just starting out. Every entrepreneur would love to sign a deal with a large company which gives them access to a large market, or simply creates a solid revenue stream for the company. The problem is that “there is no free lunch”. Large companies will simply not hand a big opportunity to a small company. And if they do, they will make sure they will take the lion’s share of the returns (or will be able to replace the startup quickly with their own). In most cases, these relationships turn sour because they don’t work (they are just an experiment by the large company and little effort is expended causing failure) and at the same time they can cause a very large distraction for a fledging startup. So, my advice is beware of large partners – they know their business very well and are not about to give you a “free lunch”. There are exceptions to this rule but they are far and few between – just make sure you are getting something valuable in return from a partner before you take the leap.

My Startup2Startup Presentation

Here’s my Startup2Startup presentation from Feb 25, titled ‘Try This For Lean Startup’, detailing some of my experiences starting ONElist, Bloglines and now Snap Groups. You can find the video from the talk here.

My cats in the New York Times

Well, not really, but I am quoted in this article on straight, single men who own cats. It’s a silly piece, which the author Abby Ellin fully admitted when we talked. And actually, I think I laughed through the entire interview, which I’m sure didn’t make me a good interview subject. Having never, you know, been interviewed about my cats before, it was an interesting experience.
I can’t say that I necessarily agree that it’s only now becoming socially acceptable for a straight single man to own a cat (or two). But who can argue with the quote that “[t]hey make the best boyfriends…” and that “straight men with cats seem to be really secure and stable.” Hey, if it’s in the New York Times, it’s true!

Prosser, Revisited

A friend, seeing my panorama pictures yesterday, said I could have done a much better job using Photoshop CS3. He offered to redo one of my panoramas to show me how much better Photoshop was at blending the exposures of the individual images. I have to agree, it definitely looks better. The resulting picture doesn’t have any of the banding or abrupt transitions seen in my original panoramas. Time, perhaps, to grab a copy of CS3. The only question is whether it’s worth spending $1000 on.
Prosser, Revisited

Hard Drives Fail, A Reminder

This email greeted me yesterday morning:

Unit  UnitType  Status         %Cmpl  Stripe  Size(GB)  Cache  AVerify  IgnECC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
u0    RAID-1    DEGRADED       -      -       232.82    OFF    OFF      OFF
Port   Status           Unit   Size        Blocks        Serial
---------------------------------------------------------------
p0     DEVICE-ERROR     u0     232.83 GB   488281250     WD-WCANY2307742
p1     OK               u0     232.83 GB   488281250     WD-WCANY2320853

One of the drives in the server that runs Startupping had failed. No data was lost, because the drive was part of a RAID. The hosting company was able to quickly replace it and things are back to normal. But it serves as a reminder that hard drives are not nearly as reliable as most people think they are. You need to always plan for failure because it will happen.

Reaction to Stealth Start-Ups Suck

Greetings from Tokyo. The response to Stealth Start-Ups Suck has been fantastic so far, both pro and con. Thanks to everyone who’s been commenting on it. You can track people talking about it through this link for Bloglines citations.
I didn’t mean to specifically pick on 24 Hour Laundry and I didn’t realize others had already been doing so. I don’t know them and I’m sure they’re nice and smart people. The CNET article about them was just the trigger that got me to write that piece. Actually, a meeting ealier in the week with a friend who has his own stealth start-up really got the ball rolling. I implored them to publically launch their service and I hope they do soon.

Miscellaneous

  • Yesterday I took another step in my flying career. I completed my second supervised solo. This now means that I can go practice without having my instructor around. Of course, I’m subject to many limitations, on weather and other things. But still, I’m very happy.
  • Bloglines continues to gain momentum. I’m getting an amazing amount of great feedback. Everyone who uses it seems to really like the service. I just need to continue to focus on getting the word out, and continue to roll out new features.

Pigs Fly

Today, after two months of flying lessons, and dozens upon dozens of supervised take-offs and landings, I soloed for the first time. I did 3 take-offs and landings on my own at Palo Alto, in Citabria N5054B. Below is a picture of the plane and I after the flight. Right after that picture was taken, as per tradition, the back of my shirt was cut off and marked up to commemorate the event. On the shirt now is a drawing of a pig landing at an airport. It now graces a wall in West Valley’s Palo Alto office.
I’m probably about half-way towards my private pilot’s license. This flying thing is pretty fun.

Miscellaneous

Some bits:

  • The Forbes article that I’m mentioned in appears in print this Friday, so I’m told. There might even be a picture of me in it, so hide the children.
  • I’ve noticed with Bloglines that a sizeable percentage of users use a tagged email address. This is a special purpose email address, usually with the word ‘bloglines’ in it. While tagged addresses are an interesting attempt to thwart spammers, it really shows how badly the war against spam has been going. People should not have to make up special email addresses for every site they register with. That’s insane.
  • Bloglines appeared in a Lockergnome issue last week as a recommended site. Thanks Chris!
  • Speaking of which, Chris Pirillo is a smart guy. He sees the damage being done by spam to email newsletters. I agree with him that RSS syndication is the future for email newsletter distribution.
  • I passed my Pre-Solo Phase Check on Friday. This means that very soon now I’ll be flying around Palo Alto Airport solo. Hide the children! Lock the dogs!