Hello VentureBlog readers. Are there still any of you out there? My hat is off to folks like Fred Wilson who blog religiously on a daily basis. While I post a thing or two daily to my personal Vox blog, that's usually a picture, a quote, a video. Fully formed sentences are a bonus on my Vox blog. But what it lacks in structure and depth, it makes up in cute pictures and video of my kids. Sure, my mom is willing to read VentureBlog and pretend she gives a crap about liquidation preference because I'm her son, but when it comes to cute pictures of her grandchildren, she'll check that blog with OCD consistency. My mom's desire for more info on her grandchildren, however, is no excuse for neglecting VentureBlog. And so I return to the hallowed pages of VentureBlog (I hope it is more hallowed than hollow).
Do you ever read a newspaper column and get annoyed when it is just a bunch of little snippets without any overriding theme or structure. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Well, for the sake of easing back into VentureBlog, this post is going to smack of those lazy columns. Sorry about that. I'll try to do better next time.
First things first, welcome to the New and Improved VentureBlog. Do not be confused by its near identical appearance to the old and not yet improved VentureBlog (particularly if you are reading this via my RSS feed :)). VentureBlog is now running on MT4. There's been a ton said out there about MT4 -- lots and lots of praise for its depth, simplicity and beautiful new UI. I second all of that (and not just because I'm an investor). It is a pleasure to use and the MT team deserves a pile of credit for continuing to raise the bar for blogging software.
Not surprising to most of you, I'm sure, I spent the beginning part of this week at the TechCrunch40 conference. While folks like Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher, Chris Anderson, John Battelle, make it look easy, the conference business is anything but. It takes a pile of planning, a huge amount of leg work, some real personality and a fair bit of luck to make a new conference work. But Mike, Jason and Heather pulled it off in a big way. The TechCrunch40 had the necessary mix of startup energy, investors trolling the halls, journalists chasing down stories, and ice cream bars. So congratulations to them for a great conference. If you couldn't make it to the TechCrunch40 and want to get a feel for the energy in the halls, Craig and I recorded a VentureCast show there that I am sure Craig will be posting shortly.
While I was at the TC40 event, I bumped into Michael Copeland. Michael is a great guy and an equally great journalist. It saddened me to see "Fortune" on his name tag. I don't have any problem with Fortune. I like the magazine and I'm thrilled that Michael is writing for them now. But it was just a reminder of the terrible decision by Time Inc. to shut down Business 2.0. The crew at Business 2.0 worked hard to understand and articulate the underlying trends that continue to power this round of Internet innovation. They weren't content to simply write about the fads after they had been outed by the blogosphere. They dug in. I was lucky enough to attend a couple of the Business 2.0 gatherings of their "Next Net" companies. They were lively debates orchestrated by Erick Schonfeld and the rest of the Business 2.0 editorial team. It is a shame that there won't be any more of those gatherings. Maybe Michael can carry the tradition over to Fortune. [I wrote this post on a plane this morning and then read this evening that Erick Schonfeld has joined TechCrunch as Co-Editor with Arrington. That is fantastic news for TechCrunch -- Congratulations to Erick, Mike and Heather.]
As is par for the course, I didn't actually spend much time in the conference hall during the TechCrunch40. But during one interesting session in which Marc Andreessen and Dave Filo were explaining to Chad Hurley how they invented the Internet, I peaked in and saw Eric Savitz in the front row blogging away madly. Have I ever mentioned on VentureBlog how incredibly great Eric Savitz is? He really is. Unfortunately, because he writes for Barrons he blogs mostly about the public markets. Somehow he managed to even make posts about earnings calls entertaining. And when he is blogging at things like TechCrunch40, his stuff is just awesome. If you haven't read Eric's blog, go check it out now. It has been really impressive how quickly his blog has become one of the standard bearing tech blogs.
As a bookend to Shameless Self Promotion Month, I should mention that over the summer I funded a great company called Jaxtr. Jaxtr is what I like to think of as "social telephony." You can put a Jaxtr widget on your blog, social network, eBay listing, etc. and enable click to call. Jaxtr then establishes a virtual phone number for you that is local for the person calling -- if someone is calling you from India, they get a local India number, same in Europe or China or Iowa. And because the number is virtual and lives on top of a voip platform, you can then control the destination of those incoming calls. It can come to your cell phone, your home phone, Jaxtr voicemail, whatever you prefer. Better yet, you can determine the path of the call by individual. These features are just the beginning for Jaxtr, which will increasingly take advantage of voip and the social graph (oh crap, I swore I wouldn't use that term) to create more control, leverage, cost efficiency and fun for users. I'm thrilled to be involved with the company (along side many of the earliest Skype investors). Incidentally, I did get a fair number of comments and emails telling me that Shameless Self Promotion Month sucked and that I should cut it out. Fair enough. We now return to our ordinarily scheduled program of pontification and sarcasm.
I guess that's enough for now. Sorry for the rambling. It is good to be back.