My Interview at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit

MobileBeatI was delighted to Chair the Executive Session featuring CEOs and CTOs of innovating mobile companies at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit held at beautiful Cavallo Point Resort in San Francisco.  My co-chair was Scott Davis, CTO of End User Computing at VMWare.  Noted journalist Dylan Tweney interviewed me at the conclusion of the day (see video interview below).

The key questions covered in my sessions included:

  • Enterprise mobile trends are moving quickly. What problems have been settled and what remain open questions, and what are the tools that will help address them?
  • Will mobile enterprise devices have dual personalities or will we continue to have one device for personal use and one for work? If the former, what is the best way to do this, i.e, on the app level, or network level?  What technologies are interesting here? What needs to be developed? Where’s the opportunity for collaboration?
  • In Silicon Valley, we often talk about Mobile Device Management (MDM) as a settled subject, and we are now looking for what comes next, but where do we actually stand in MDM adoption? And what is needed in MDM to spur progress? What are enterprise customers and CIOs looking for at this moment?
  • What other apps and services (often driven by consumers?) will empower mobile workforces?
  • Will IT’s moves to protect enterprise from BYOD trends be enough in itself to spur growth?
  • How secure can we really make mobile devices? How do enterprises balance the demand for mobility and the need to protect their data and networks?

Continue reading

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IEEE Big Data VC – Certificate of Appreciation

This week I’d like to thank my friends at the IEEE Computer Society for recognizing me as a “Big Data VC” and presenting me with the IEEE Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Service at the IEEE Cloud/BigData 2013 Plenary Session in Silicon Valley, CA.

IEEE , pronounced “Eye-triple-E,” stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. IEEE and its members inspire a global community through IEEE’s highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities.  Thank you, IEEE, for this honor!

IEEE

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Speaking at Red Herring Top 100 Conference

logo_red_herring_winnerI was very pleased to have been invited to participate as a panelist at the renowned Red Herring North America Top-100 Conference held in beautiful Monterey, California on May 21-22, 2013.  My panel’s theme was around “knowing your sources.”  At every funding stage entrepreneurs find themselves at a crossroad.  They will need to make the right decision and dance with the right partner.  It’s not just about the money. It’s about the right money. How do you best vet your sources of capital?

I spoke alongside a distinguished panel that included General Partners from Blumberg Capital, Doll Capital Management, Lightspeed Venture partners, and Scale Venture PartnersAlex Vieux, head of Red Herring, as always did a wonderful job steering the discussion.

I firmly believe that the most compelling entrepreneurs and companies have the luxury of picking from a variety of prospective investors.  Much like dating, the entrepreneur-investor mating game is fraught with the dangers of incomplete information, coupled with the added complexity of a more attenuated timing and process urgency.  As a starting point entrepreneurs need to spend time, time and more time with a prospective investor. Entrepreneurs and CEOs would be well served to look for the right characteristics in a potential new Board member – look for investors who are hungry, motivated, accessible, and from a lifestyle and mindset perspective will “hustle” for the company.

Second, the importance of personality and cultural fit cannot be overstated. As an entrepreneur you will interface often and closely with your new investor(s). It is imperative that there be shared values and an ability to understand each other and communicate well. This does not mean always agreeing – far from it, some level of disagreement is healthy. Continue reading

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Judging the Plug & Play Tech Center Spring Expo

pnp-logo

I was pleased to participate as a VIP Judge at the Plug and Play TechCenter’s Spring Expo. Other judges included folks from LightSpeed, Menlo Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Doll Capital Management, Norwest Venture Partners, and NEA.  I was impressed with the turnout (over 500 attendees, standing room only) as well as the geographical diversity of the startups that pitched.  As always the enthusiasm and unbridled optimism of these startups is infectious and this was an energizing, uplifting experience. Over the past year, it has been interesting to see the pendulum shift within Silicon Valley’s leading incubators away from mostly Consumer Internet to increasingly, I am seeing startups that are embracing big new themes including:

  1. Next generation Enterprise technologies: ranging from infrastructure, including networking and storage, all the way up the stack to the application layer, including new paradigms for collaboration and communication within the enterprise
  2. Transformative disruption in Human Computer Interaction: moving beyond the point and click keyboard and mouse to touch, gesture recognition, and speech interfaces. From Graphical UX to Intuitive UX.
  3. Leveraging the latent powers of Smartphones: we are all carrying these very powerful computers in our pockets and startups are figuring out how these devices and their significant capabilities can be used to disrupt large markets. For example: sensing vital signs for health monitoring to mapping / geolocation for navigation to leveraging location-awareness and smartphone cameras to enrich productivity, commerce, and entertainment applications.

By way of background, Plug and Play Tech Center is a global accelerator that specializes in growing tech startups. Headquartered in Sunnyvale California, Plug and Play’s network includes over 300 tech startups, that have collectively raised over $750 million, as well as 180 investors and a community of leading Universities and Corporate partners. The Spring Expo was held on March 28 2013 in Sunnyvale, where 31 startups told their stories to a crowd of potential investors and journalists.  The three winning startups, which aligned closely with my top picks, included: Continue reading

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Healthcare Technologies: Trends and Opportunities

VC TaskforceOn February 28, 2013 I was honored to be a Panelist at an event organized by VC Taskforce on the Trends and Opportunities in Healthcare Technologies.

VC Taskforce is a leading organization that seeks to foster greater connectivity and networking within the innovation ecosystem of Silicon Valley.  The event was moderated by Matt Sarrel, renowned technology analyst (CNN, GigaOm, etc).  My esteemed co-panelists included: Leonard Goldschmidt, Medical Director of Telehealth and Medical Informatics at the VA Palo Alto Health System; Markus Formherz, Chief Innovation Officer (Healthcare) at Xerox PARC; and Nandini Tandon, Board Member at El Camino Hospital, which bills itself as “The Hospital of Silicon Valley.”

I spoke about several topics including the following: Continue reading

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Panel at Venture Summit West

VentureSummitWestOn February 13, 2013 I spoke at the “Fundable Deals: Making VCs Sit Up and Take Notice” panel at Venture Summit West at the venerable Computer History Museum in Mountain View.  Venture Summit West is a premier industry gathering connecting venture capitalists, angel investors, senior executives of operating companies, and over 500 early and mid-stage technology startups. My fellow panelists included leading VCs: Mark Gorenberg (Hummer Winblad), Dan Ahn (Voyager Capital), Norm Fogelsong (IVP), Stephanie Palmeri (Softech VC) and others.

I spoke on a variety of topics relevant to entrepreneurs seeking to grab the attention of VCs. Continue reading

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In Ecommerce – Revenues are Ego, Profit is Intellect

Ecomm2When it comes to ecommerce or retail, Revenues are Ego, Margin is Intellect.  I owe this key insight to my former partner Tom Stemberg, who founded Staples and built it from scratch to a $17B company.  Ecommerce businesses, by and large, are relatively easy to start but difficult to scale.  Its relatively easy for aspiring ecommerce entrepreneurs to come up with a flashy, snazzy website – with outsourced web development and customer service and drop-shipped orders, getting started has become easier and easier.

The best ecommerce businesses start with a nifty front end but always have a robust strategy towards building a back end for scale.  These businesses realize that ‘Front End is Revenue, Back End is Profit.’  Continue reading

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