May 27

Here’s a simple proposal: if you’re calling yourself an Angel Investor at an event, you should wear a standard name tag that gives an objective measure of some basic facts about your “nutritional content” as an Angel.

At least in AZ, the term “Angel” seems to have been co-opted by anyone who has ever bought a piece of real estate. After holding a piece of dirt and making money, these people are somehow magically imbued with divine powers to forsee why your technology startup won’t possibly work (and they’re happy to prognosticate about it).

I was at an event last night helping a friend pitch his company and one of the panelists (who shall remain unnamed) made the repeated feedback to the presenters that “you didn’t specify what my return will be.” Sir, frankly if that’s the only feedback you have for these entrepreneurs pitching their early-stage, pre-revenue technology startups, you do not deserve the title Angel.

Go buy a treasury bond and the bankers will happily explain what your return will be.

At this stage in the search for the repeatable scalable business model, companies have no f’ing clue what the return on your $50k is going to be. And it’s a silly tapdance you put them through when you force them to fabricate and justify one. The idea is to make it as big as possible – we all agree on that right?

If you’re a VC adding fuel to a finely tuned business model where the formula has been determined and tested, by all means ask the entrepreneur to calculate and substantiate what the return will be. At that point that exercise makes sense. But at this pre-revenue stage by asking this question you’ve self-identified yourself as being unsophisticated, focused on the wrong motivation of Angel-stage investing and frankly you’re not someone whose money I would want at that point. At the Angel stage the entrepreneur has demonstrated the ability to create a product which appears viable. You’re funding their search for the repeatable scalable business model, not putting gas in the engine of a working model. Think of it as a more interesting/rewarding alternative to throwing your $50k down on a craps table in Vegas. If you’re treating it like a blue chip stock and can’t afford to lose that money you shouldn’t be doing Angel investing.

Note: I’m not proposing regulation on Angel Investing, I’m proposing a standard for Angels self-reporting some basic traits to the folks who are pitching you. This objective label would do two important things: 1) for the budding entrepreneur, it gives him/her the ability to assign a level of credence to the words coming from the person telling them why they’re going to fail. 2) for the Angel, it forces them to admit publicly how many deals he/she actual does at the end of the day. The guy with the “Deals last year = 0” label on his breast pocket will likely think twice next time before he publicly craps on a guy starting a company for the first time.

Feb 19

I don’t usually use my blog for this type of thing but if you’re in Phoenix, AZ and are in the market for computer equipment, musical gear or furniture check out the virtual yard sale below:
Click for prices and full images

I recently moved my office and residence and have a ton of stuff that I’m selling cheap. I’m out on the 1st so as the cheesy sales guys on TV say “Everything must GO!” Some of the more noteworthy stuff that might interest fellow nerds:

  • 300lbs of technical books (that’s right, measured in lbs not qty – O’Reilly and many others)
  • Guitar gear: Line 6 150W amplifier and a Lexicon effects processor
  • A pair of Klipsch computer speakers with sub woofers
  • Brand new pair of Audiotechnica noise canceling headphones
  • Cannon MP500 multi-function printer/fax/scanner and HP Photosmart 7960 printer
  • Wooden slatted futon with cushion
  • Matching maple desk, file cabinet and bokshelves
  • Maple full-sized bed with mattress

There’s also a mountain comprised of every computer and sound cable ever made plus plenty of other house and office items I didn’t have time to photograph. I’ll be camping out there playing car salesman tomorrow so call if you have any questions and make an offer if you see something you like – 602.492.4218.

Jul 24

TempeNerds got its 300th member today. This is a monthly lunch gathering I organize to bring together techies from Phoenix Metro. The thinking is that the better we know each other’s talents and businesses, the more we can make appropriate referrals. This group has been growing steadily since its inception a year ago and saw a significant influx of new members with the last lunch we did at Terralever.

Groups like Nerds, Geek ‘N Eat, Gangplank activities and Reopen Phoenix are badly needed to compensate in metro areas like Phoenix that suffer from massive urban sprawl and fragmented communities. If you’re here and know a fellow techie that hasn’t been to one of these group events, follow the action on Eventification and bring that person out to the next event. Help the nerds prevail.
We. Are. SpartaaAAAAAA!

Any other worthy local tech groups I failed to mention?

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Jan 20

Okay, half marathon, but it makes a better title ;-) I completed the PF Chang’s Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon two days ago and wanted to post some random thoughts. Having participated in this event from two angles now (twice as a band playing on the sidelines and once as a runner) I have a few observations:

  • Holy clockwork! The level of coordination to pull this event off is nothing short of miraculous.

    Holding any event involving more than fifty people is difficult enough – they had something like 30k participants. And that’s not to mention the volunteers who staffed it, the bands that played along the route, the fire and police coordination, the road closure crews, the medics in the celebration area, the snacks and drink servers, the t-shirts and medals and schwag hander-out’ers… the list goes on. For all that took place there were only a few traffic jams and no significant mistakes that I saw. I’m blown away by the Elite Racing folks and everyone that collaborated to make this happen. Thank you thank you to the volunteers that donated their time.

  • Pace is key I now wholeheartedly grok that “slow and steady wins the race” adage. Only a few weeks ago I was sucking wind after a 6mi run with a partner and ended up walking a good portion wondering how I was going to somehow double that distance. On Sunday I was able to complete the 13.1 mi race in 2h19m without being winded (sore but not winded). I’m convinced the key to that breakthrough was in consciously slowing my pace. My goal was to finish without walking any part of it and I was fortunate to make it the whole way with the only slowdown being the trot for the occasional handoff with a water cup volunteer. It’s amazing to me what a difference in endurance it made to back off the pace slightly. If you’re struggling with endurance on a run, try reducing speed by 10% and I bet you’ll see a 2x return in both time and distance.
  • A good use of RFID When I think RFID I typically think of chipping passports and animals and big brotherish-type stuff. This was an awesome use of that technology though- the packets they distributed to runners beforehand included this orange plastic band that you attached to your laces. When you passed over the start and finish lines it clocked your times and sent the results to a central system. By the time we got back home (and probably earlier) our results were already online – that my friends is at least Web 5.0.
  • Ahem, sunscreen You can and will get burned by direct sun in the wintertime in AZ. For some reason I was thinking the sun would be low enough that I wouldn’t need sunscreen. Bad assumption.
  • Gu is good I had purchased some of those gel instant energy packs in advance and then promptly forgot them in the car in the early morning scramble to the starting line. Luckily the volunteers at mile eight were handing them out (and even the good flavor, vanilla). While this is probably frowned upon by race purists and akin to using supplemental oxygen when climbing a big mountain, I have to say it gives you a noticeable boost of energy replenishment when you need it. And to me the vanilla flavored one tastes completely fine and a lot like cake frosting.
  • Rolling storage lockers UPS provided a clever and useful service for runners. They had tons of trucks backed up at the starting line and made it so any runner could check a barcoded bag with them to store belongings. The trucks then drove to the finish line and reassembled in the parking lot like a strand of storage lockers on wheels. What a great idea and a simple yet memorable sponsorship service.
  • GPS fail I’ve been using the RunKeeper Free iPhone app to track my runs. It’s 90% awesome and 100% free so I can’t complain. But on raceday perhaps the cell network in that area was overloaded or something because it never got the GPS lock. I would recommend to anyone who plans to track a run on a raceday to acquire the GPS lock well in advance and then simply reset the clock when crossing the starting line. Trying in vain to fire it up once the race begins is a bummer and a distraction.
  • The rah-rah’s do make a difference The cheers of a complete stranger yelling “you can do it” have a surprisingly real effect. This is something that’s puzzled me about sports- I’ve gotten the camaraderie aspect amongst fans but I’ve never truly understood the adrenaline/supportive aspect from the perspective of the athlete until this race. It’s very real and I will appreciate that relationship in sporting events from now on.
  • Run like an amoeba Not quite sure how to verbalize this one but being in this river of bodies with the same goal all running with similar pace but in constant flux as people slowed or sped up- it just felt being an appendage of a larger organism. I was just one set of legs on this distributed human caterpillar that snaked through the streets of Phoenix. I can’t help but think if there were a way to organize one of these races with warring cultures somehow it would resolve a lot. Or maybe it’s the endorphins from the exertion and the high-fives with random strangers that’s the magic secret sauce. Either way, we need to bottle and share this stuff. I recommend participating in a marathon if you ever get the chance – it was an awesome experience I will remember for a long time.
  • marathon.png

    Jan 15

    Submit your blog to Erica Lucci’s “Read Phoenix” site if you haven’t already. And then add this badge to the side bar of your blog:


    Simply copy that image and host it yourself or paste this code on your site:

    <a href=""><img id="ReadPhx" src="" alt="Read stories from other Phoenix bloggers" /></a>

    It links to a single feed that aggregates the posts of all the authors listed on Read Phoenix. Adding the badge exposes your readers to current posts from other authors in AZ. We’re always doing things to help knit the tech community better. This is a way to boost the visibility of other Phoenix authors and create a “web ring” that introduces your readers to them, and theirs to you. Here’s a post that explains how that feed is generated dynamically.

    And if you’re in the Phoenix area and have no lunch plans tomorrow (Friday), come out to TempeNerds and talk shop with other local nerds.

    Dec 10

    In the next six minutes $1k in revenue will be generated from photo radar cameras in AZ. And another $1k six minutes after that. Now picture the for-profit entity that just snapped your photo reaching into your wallet, extracting $165 and giving a chunk of it to the State of Arizona. I haven’t verified these facts independently but I’ve read five different articles this evening that indicate there are over 200 Redflex photo radar cameras in operation in Phoenix Metro now. Governor Napolitano signed a law into effect this summer enabling the state-wide use of photo radar enforcement and if you drive in Phoenix you know that the situation is out of hand. Here’s why:

    A. A for-profit Australian company (Redflex – RDF) has been essentially granted the ability to levy a tax against Arizonans and split the profits with the State. Last time I heard you needed to be a government entity to have the right tax a population.

    B. You paid for the installation of these cameras with your tax dollars. Doesn’t it stand to reason that the penalties exacted on you from these “safety” devices would flow back into your municipality? They don’t (at least not the majority) – they’re flowing to a publicly-traded Australian corporation.

    C. The most insidious thing about this whole sham is that the people who are collecting the tax get to do so under the guise of enforcing a safety measure. I call B.S. Camp out by a photo radar van or a fixed camera and watch as the flashes as they occur every few seconds. You’ll see an inevitable cascade of brake lights for half the cars on the road- 1/2 of the traffic instinctively slams the brakes for fear of getting flashed and the other half continues at their existing speed. That is a recipe for one thing, and it’s not safety.

    What you can do right this minute

    1. Sign up on Camera Fraud Meetup and get involved.
    2. Print out the signature pages for the initiative and referendum and await instructions.
    3. Tell 10 friends who are as pissed off about this situation as you are about 1 & 2.

    I pulled a stunt with my license plate a year ago because I was so disgusted by photo radar. They should just make the highways toll roads and be straight up about the motivation here. It’s projected that they’ll cover $90MM of a $165MM budget shortfall this year via the new highway photo radar “scameras.” How many accidents will occur during that time from the erratic braking of surprised motorists- and who will pay for those accidents? At the very least if we must live with photo radar, the for-profit entity that implements the cameras should not share in the recurring revenue generated by the cameras. As it stands now Redflex is incentivized to maximize the frequency and amounts of fines and lobby for measures that bolster the use of photo radar.

    Are you aware Redflex and its competitor American Traffic Solutions are both beginning to employ active OCR technology to track the movement of your vehicle about the city? Again, it’s done under the guise of “homeland security” and “amber alert response effectiveness” but a byproduct is that they conveniently get to interpolate your speed between cameras and issue tickets based on that calculation. Oh and your movements over time are logged and kept indefinitely (“limited only by available hard drive space and the types of cameras installed”). How long until they successfully pass a bill that gives them the right to have an ACH draw on your bank account to extract the speeding fine immediately?

    This is out of hand folks. Photo radar is not something you need to quietly accept. Get angry. Get dangerous. Let’s stop this nonsense.

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