Five stages of Zoom


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

With over 300 million daily participants, Zoom is clearly having a moment. And as the pandemic rolls on, our relationship with Zoom has changed quite a bit . Even my dear friend Brad “Zen” Feld is having to re-evaluate Zoom. And it actually made me wonder if we are following the Kübler-Ross model — you know, that whole classic five stages of grief malarkey.  Here’s how I see our Zoom experience mapping onto these stages:

  1. Zoom Zoom Zoom: We can get through this self-isolation with Zoom. Parties, dinners, meetings, dates. Let’s add Zoom backgrounds. Denial seems like the best way to deal with the harsh reality of the pandemic. (Read: Zoom, Zelfied, and Physical Distancing )
  2. Zoom Crashers: Who are these people who crashing my Zooms. Where is the security? All these security problems make you angry.
  3. Make Zoom Great Again. Passwords and security are what we need, and that is what we will get. Problems are solved, and we still Zoom for everything albeit more carefully. We will bargain our way to a tolerable Zoom-based reality.
  4. Zoom Fatigue: You feel depressed because you find yourself constantly Zooming. You complain of Zoom burnout. Some scientific papers try to explain it, and the media lets you know that you aren’t alone! (Read:# 47 )
  5. Zooooooooom: You finally accept that Zoom is great if you use it for the right reasons. You learn to Zoom with the video turned off. (Read: 50 )

As the Italians say: “Andra tutto bene.” It will be all right.

Present From The Head Of The Table

I’ve noticed a degradation in presentation styles when displaying slides on a screen. This is starting to become a pet peeve of mine, so feel free to ignore me or tell me to get over myself if you disagree with this advice.

Assume a conference room with a large screen TV (or two) on the wall at the “front” of the room. The conference table – often a long rectangle – has chairs along the side perpendicular to the TV. The classical “head of the table” is at the far end facing the TV.

Why in the world would the presenter sit anywhere other than in one of the chairs at the end of the table closest to the TV?

Assume the TV is just showing slides. Don’t you want everyone in the room looking at you and the slides?

Assume there is video conferencing. In most cases, the slides

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Building the Helium Mesh Network in the Mid-Atlantic

As you might have seen in an earlier post, Foundry Group is helping to bring the Helium Network to Boulder. Another Helium fan – James Fayal – reached out to me about his effort to do the same in his hometown of Baltimore, as well as DC and Philly.

I’m hopeful that some of the readers of this blog live in Baltimore, DC, or Philadelphia and are interested in participating in the Helium rollout. If you fit this description, fill out the Mid-Atlantic Application.

James wrote me a little more about his background and motivation for doing this, which follows.

While I’m a consumer product founder by trade, I’ve been involved in various crypto projects since 2013. I’m excited about Helium because it is one of the first projects with significant real-world use-cases and the community has grown exponentially since they started selling hotspots earlier this year. 

In short,

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Frog in a Blender

The phrase “frog in a blender” was in my head all afternoon. Earlier in the day, one of my partners described a situation as the cliche-ish “boil a frog slowly” and I responded with “We’d all be better off if we just put the frog in a blender.”

That generated grimaces.

I couldn’t find any “Will it Blend” for frogs, but I found the next best thing – Pickled Pigs Feet.

It doesn’t have quite the same rhythm, but you get the idea. As I hummed the song I made up to the phrase “Frog in a Blender“, I figured there must be a real song named this. There is, it’s awful, and the lyrics are horrifying, but whatever. My song is much better.

As I was driving home, working on the second verse, I flashed to a conversation with a friend I had a

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All Startups Should Consider Expanding In Multiple Geographies

My post The Future Of Work Is Distributed received some good comments. More interesting was the number of direct emails I received back with detailed information about “remote-first” companies and how they did things.

There was a distinction in some of these emails between “remote-first” and “multiple geographies.” It’s an important nuance, as there is a big difference between a fully distributed workforce (which the blockchain kids refer to as a “decentralized workforce”) and a multi-location workforce.

Almost every company in our portfolio with more than 50 employees either has or is looking at a second (or third, or fourth) location. This is especially true for companies headquartered in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and New York.

While I’ve observed (and experienced) mixed success with second locations being implemented too early, I’ve concluded that this is mostly a function of the company not having a handle on how to deal with

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The Future Of Work Is Distributed

I’ve been a remote worker for 24 years. While I have an office in Boulder, I’m physically in my office for a small amount of time.

For many years, this was a function of travel. My investments have always been geographically distributed across the US and I spent the majority of my time between Monday and Friday on the road.

I learned how to work in hotel rooms, in other people’s offices, in conference rooms, at coffee shops, and in houses (mine and friends.) In 1995, at the dawn of the age of the commercial Internet, this involved landlines, answering machines, pagers, and fax machines. Today, my bet is that most 25-year-olds have never used one of these things.

In the past few years, there have been several high profile examples of scaled companies that have a completely distributed workforce. Automattic (WordPress) is my favorite, as it’s been organized

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Starmazon or Amabucks

Why doesn’t Amazon acquire Starbucks?

Starbucks has one thing Amazon doesn’t have – over 30,000 physical locations. Sure, Amazon owns Whole Foods, which has about 350 physical locations, but they are large food distribution facilities (e.g. grocery stores) rather than community meeting spaces (e.g. coffee shops).

Amazon’s market cap is $930b. Starbucks’ market cap is $104b. That’s roughly a 90% / 10% merger assuming no premium for Starbucks. Even with a huge premium, it’s still less than an 85% / 15% split.

Oh, and they are both headquartered in Seattle.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the primary retail point of presence in the US suddenly became Amabucks?

I’m sure there’s a massive analysis of this somewhere in a corp dev department at Amazon or at investment banks pitching Amazon on the deal.

I’m trying to decide if I like the name Starmazon better.

The post Starmazon or Amabucks

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Simply Begin Again

Public Service Announcement: According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the American Astronomical Society, and the US Naval Observatory, today is not the beginning of a new decade. Rather, that would be 1/1/21. If you write software, you’ll recognize that it’s a classic fencepost error. If you are a philosophy major like Amy, you’ll tell me that a decade is “any ten year period of time, starting whenever you want it to.”

Regardless, happy Julien New Year.

My motto for v54 is Simply Begin Again.

Today is a perfect day to try it.

If your business had a crummy December, Q4, or even 2019, simply begin again.

If you had a fight with a close friend, call her up and apologize. And simply begin again.

If you are mad at someone, let your anger go. Call him up and simply begin again.

If you have fallen out of your exercise, meditation,

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Book: Lost and Wanted

I stayed up late last night finishing Lost and Wanted. If you are a reader, get this book in physical form. It’s worth savoring.

Amy bought this book for me last week. When I asked her why, she belted out a stream of words: “MIT, female professor, the afterlife, sexual harassment, physics, racism, women.”

She then said, “Fiction is a good way to access complicated topics.” This is a recurring dynamic in our relationship, as we often use shared fiction to discuss complex topics. Amy hasn’t read the book yet, so it’s now on the top of her infinite pile of books to read.

Whenever we overlap reading books, even if they are separated by time, I have to be careful about what I say. The other day, as Amy was grinding through the first 100 pages of The Three-Body Problem, she said, “I’m not sure I’m

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Book: One Base at a Time

29 years of nightmares. Over 10,000 nights in a row. That’s hard to fathom.

David R. Mellor, the Senior Director of Grounds for the Boston Red Sox Baseball team, experienced this. His eloquent memoir, One Base at a Time: How I Survived PTSD and Found My Field of Dreams, takes the reader on a very complicated journey, with extremely obvious physical pain intermingled with less apparent emotional pain.

David describes it amazingly well in the summary on his website.

For 29 years, every night I had one to five night terrors/nightmares and was scared to go to sleep. During that time in my life I was also having flashbacks often triggered if I heard a revving car engine, squealing tires, the smell of car exhaust, or the aroma McDonald’s french fries. At the time, I didn’t understand what my symptoms were or how best to treat them. I was too

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Two Hours and Fourteen Minutes of Intense Anxiety

Amy and I went to see Uncut Gems last night. It was a gem of a movie.

Adam Sandler was magnificent. My inner 14 year old loves his puerile movies and when I read the New York Times Magazine article Adam Sandler’s Everlasting Shtick around Thanksgiving I knew I had to see this movie.

Amy and I had a calm sushi dinner at our favorite place in Longmont, went to Staples and bought some office supplies, and then settled into the theater for 30 minutes of previews. We sort of knew what we were getting into, so we thought we were ready.

About an hour into the movie I realized I was holding my breath. I looked over at Amy and she was gripping the chair. I looked around the theater and saw what appeared to be a bunch of people in various stages of rictus.

About fifteen minutes later

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Books: The Bright Hour and The Migration

My dreams were vibrant and bizarre last night. It’s no surprise since I finished two books yesterday – The Bright Hour and The Migration. These followed a three-day binge of The Expanse Season 4, which had echoes of BSG Season 3.

I have a recurring nightmare about accounting. I’m running a business, but I can’t get the monthly financials produced. We are many months behind and my partner (sometimes Dave, sometimes my Dad) keeps coming up with reasons we can’t close the books. I continue to hear “we have cash in the bank so don’t worry.” I wander down the endless hallways of my office trying to find the CFO (sometimes Stephanie, sometimes Amy, sometimes someone I don’t know) but I can never find her (it’s always a woman.) There is no resolution to this dream, just a feeling of fear, emptiness, and impending loss.

Yeah, it’s an

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The Day Before Christmas

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

This is a confusing time of year for me. Hanna Ingber described it well this morning in her article My Jewish Sons Have a Christmas Tree, and I Need to Deal.

Fortunately, I don’t have children, my wife isn’t divorcing me, and she’s remarkably mellow about my Christmas confusion. But, when I read through Hanna’s article, I kept nodding my head up and down.

When I take a vacation, I generally go off the grid completely. But the last two weeks of the year never feel like a vacation to me. Many people in my world check out, go on vacation, and stop working. The pace of everything radically changes.

That’s ok.

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Changing How You Think About Budgets

I received plenty of useful feedback on my rant Budgets – There Has To Be A Better Way.

Two of the links that I found particularly helpful were:

Robert Howell points to a longer term view than one year with his suggestion around rolling plans. He also emphasizes a focus on economic value – specifically future cash flows – rather than accounting earnings. Simply – focus on cash, rather than non-cash calculations. He ends with a great paragraph on eliminating the word “budget” and reorienting it around your specific goal (e.g. “profit plan”, or “break-even plan”, or “maximum monthly investment of $500k plan.”)

Ben Horowitz describes how his budgeting process almost bankrupted his company LoudCloud, and how he now suggests a different approach based on constraints. It’s

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2020 Vision

“This budget will let us have 2020 vision.”

I heard that quote at the end of a board meeting yesterday and laughed out loud. As someone with terrible eyesight (I’ve worn glasses since age 3 and had eye surgery at age 8), my “vision” has always been suspect …

I’m in Seattle for a few days doing the end of year board meeting/budget drill at a number of our Seattle-based companies and thought this was a priceless pun.

The person who said it also had complete awareness that the budget isn’t a prediction of what is actually going to happen in 2020, which made the statement even more clever.

I made sure to wipe off the lenses of my glasses before my next meeting to try to see a little better. By the time I got back to the hotel room at the end of the day, they were

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Budgets – There Has To Be A Better Way

We are in the middle of the budget planning process at many companies. This is a recurring Q4 event that spills over into Q1. Budgets for the next year (2020) get finalized between December 2019 and February 2020.

As I was daydreaming the other day during a budget discussion, I thought to myself “there has to be a better way.”

Since I started investing in private companies 25 years ago, I’ve been experiencing the same cycle over and over again.

The normal situation is end of year budget planning. Q1 performance on plan. Q2 performance slightly different from plan. Q3 and Q4 performance divergent from plan.

Occasionally companies completely miss their Q1 plan. I’ve always viewed the Q1 plan as a competency test – if you can’t make your Q1 plan, something fundamental is wrong with the business. Of course, when you blow your Q1 budget, the plan goes

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Bringing The Helium Network to Boulder

My partners at Foundry Group have decided to bring the Helium Network to Boulder. We’ve ordered 50 hotspots and, with your help, will set up a LongFi network throughout Boulder.

If you are asking, “What’s Helium?” here’s a fun video to get you started along with a deeper explanation of the technology.

As an LP in USV, we are small indirect investors. But, as a way to engage with a particular blockchain-based application/technology that we think has meaningful real-world potential, we thought we’d help enable a network in Boulder and see how it works.

We are looking for about 40 locations throughout Boulder (not just downtown) to set up hotspots. All you have to do is connect the Helium hotspot to the Internet. We’ll handle the rest.

If this is interesting to you, please fill out the Boulder Helium Hotspot Application. We are only choosing 40 locations, and we

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Foundry Group Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Edition

It’s that time of year again where we like to shop at our portfolio companies.

We thought it would be fun to highlight some of our direct investments and partner funds’ portfolio companies this holiday season.

You can check out the full Foundry Group Gift Guide here.

If you want even more gift options, Techstars also has an awesome gift guide.

The post Foundry Group Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Edition appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Help a Denver Food Bank Stay in their Home

If you have an office in Denver, just five miles away from you is a food bank operating out of a warehouse month to month just so it can help anyone who comes through their doors.

Community Ministry of Southwest Denver has provided food, children’s clothing, school supplies, energy assistance, food boxes, and holiday gifts for young children for over fifty years. Nice.

But, the building and land that Community Ministry has leased for decades is up for sale.

To avoid losing their location, they are raising $800,000 which would cover the cost of the building, parking lot, closing costs, and some much-needed renovations.

They are a little over $600,000 on their way to $800,000 of their fundraising campaign. Every bit helps, so instead of buying a coffee at Starbucks (or your favorite coffee shop) today, consider making a donation to them. Any amount helps.

The post Help a Denver

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Midlife and the Great Unknown

I don’t know whether it was Jerry Colonna or my therapist who recommended this to me, but I listened to David Whyte’s Midlife and the Great Unknown yesterday on my evening run.

As part of my acceptance of midlife, which I define as the transition into the stage where you know you have fewer days to live than the number of days you have already lived, I’ve been exploring a bunch of different things. One of them is poetry, which has always been extremely difficult for me to read.

So, I decided to try a combination of poetry, memoir, and reflections by David Whyte on Audible. I usually run without headphones, but I’m trying to reacclimate to the roads around my house in Boulder after spending the summer on the trails in Aspen, so I thought I’d listen to a book on tape. I’d downloaded Midlife a few months ago

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