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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Keynote Panel at AlwaysOn Venture Summit Silicon Valley

alwayson_logoI recently participated in the opening keynote panel of AlwaysOn’s signature event, Venture Summit Silicon Valley (VSSV).  My highly distinguished fellow panelists included Norm Fogelsong from Institutional Venture Partners and Neil Dempsey from Bay Partners.  It was really quite an honor to participate alongside immensely successful 30+ year veterans of the Silicon Valley venture scene.  Neil and Norm have played a pivotal role in evolution of Silicon Valley over the past several decades and have founded their respective firms.

Speaking in front of an audience of over 200 entrepreneurs, CEOs, corporate executives, and investors, I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on the ‘VC and Investor Outlook for the Global Silicon Valley.’   There was immediate coverage of the panel in Forbes, as the panel set an upbeat and optimistic tone for the remainder of the conference and I reinforced my personal beliefs on the evolution and trajectory of disruptive innovation in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Congratulations again to my friend Tony Perkins and the entire AlwaysOn team for organizing a very successful conference, which left attendees buzzing with excitement over the holiday season.  You can watch the full video of the panel below.

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10 Quotes to Live by


  • “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”
  • “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
  • “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”
  • “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”
  • “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”
  • “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”
  • “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”
  • “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
  • “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
  • “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
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Viva Los Cabos

This gallery contains 9 photos.

After a recent visit to Los Cabos, I think I can relate to Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth”. Enjoy:    

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MIT Ranked as the #1 University in the World

As a student I had, like most students, a love-hate relationship with MIT.  You love the environment, the rich academic ambiance, the incredible breadth of talent, the access to world-class resources, the proximity to Boston but hate the fact that it can be incredibly intense and why do those problem sets have to be so hard and why does it have to rain so much?!  As a sophomore, I spent 15 consecutive hours trying to solve a 18.03 (Differential Equations) problem only to be told subsequently by the Professor that the theorem had no known solution and he wanted to see how his students approached it!  Love it or hate it. MIT is now officially the #1 university in the world.   MIT received an overall score of 100, beating out the University of Cambridge, who came in at 99.8, and Harvard at 99.2. If MIT were a country, it would have the 11th largest economy in the world. As of 2006, 25,800 companies had been founded by still-living MIT alumni, employing 3.3 million people, according to the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

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Judging the G-Startup Competition at the Global Mobile Internet Conference

I was honored to be a lead judge at the G-Startup competition of the Silicon Valley Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) held at the San Jose Convention Center. Other speakers and judges included Yuri Milner, Tim Draper, Vaughan Smith (VP, Facebook), Phil Libin (CEO, Evernote) and Chinese billionaire Lei Jun. GMIC is the largest mobile Internet conference in Silicon Valley drawing 5,200+ mobile leaders from 45 countries.  My top pick from the slate of companies I evaluated, Disherence, also happened to win the overall G-Startup award. Congratulations to the Disherance team who came to Silicon Valley all the way from Moscow and did a great job presenting their solution.  I look forward to using your product. Watch out, Yelp and Urban Spoon!

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Sweet and Sour of Investing – Part 2

I was pleased to be a featured speaker on Part 2 of the Voice of  America Radio segment relating to the “sweet and sour of investing.”  You can listen to the entire segment here.

You’re a game-changer! You’ve created the new product or service of the millennium, but have no money to take it to market. Your best options: beg your FFF (family, friends, fools) circle, tap an angel for seed money, or convince a venture capitalist to invest millions. Our experts have a lot to say. Chris O’Connor / Taptera : “You’ve got to have a pretty face (user experience) to get attention; the old ‘desktop’ solution isn’t very sexy with VCs.” Sanjay Parthawarathy / Investor: “When the VC’s ego is valued higher than the funding, it’s better to look elsewhere.” MR Rangaswami / Sand Hill Group: “In these frothy financial times, how many entrepreneurs want to use the strategy of a company that is ‘Built to Last’ versus ‘Built to Flip’?” Gaurav Tewari / SAP Ventures: “Picking the right investor is one of the most crucial decisions for an entrepreneur. If you thought getting married is a commitment, try raising money.” Join us for more on the Sweet and Sour of Investing – Part 2.


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