The Village View

Monday, December 29, 2008

Florida, the Next Hotbed of Venture Capital?

My mom is way ahead of the New York Times. For years, she has been sending me any piece (however small) of news about venture capital and Central Florida. Her motives are beyond purely making sure I'm up-to-date on the latest technology investment news; she's on a mission to get me to move back to my home state (for those of you interested I'm a native of Titusville. What you haven't heard of it???) Problem is, I'm a high tech guy (mostly software) and Florida is a hard sell career-wise. There is certainly some activity as well as groups/companies doing interesting things. I had the chance a few years ago to meet with the nice folks from the UCF Technology Incubator. Also, I met with a few folks from an Orlando VC firm when they were in New York.

Mom had actually sent me notice of the launch of the Florida Opportunity Fund a couple of weeks ago. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on venture capital and entrepreneurship in Florida. For selfish reasons, I hope the money helps to further develop local software companies. That way I could someday come home (and stop paying New York income taxes!)

The state of Florida wants to tap into the billions of venture capital dollars invested in young companies each year. It is seeking venture capital funds in which to invest money from the $29.5 million Florida Opportunity Fund, established by the state to funnel more venture capital to Florida start-ups.

The fund will look for regional and national venture capital funds that have done business in Florida and plan to invest in young Florida companies, particularly those developed at Florida universities and research institutions. Then, the fund will invest portions of its $29.5 million in those funds, with the goal of creating and growing Florida businesses.

By the way: how did I miss that BI vendor Pentaho was Orlando based? I spent the last year working in SAP's Business Objects unit so I should have known this. (I could get to their office in 45 minutes from my folks' house).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cloture this!

Ok, so some may think that we Americans had a spirited debate about free trade during our recent election, but we ain't got nuthin' on the S. Koreans. Holy Cow, look at these pics (from the New York Times) of the opposition party guys crawling up the wall, literally.  And I thought the House of Commons backbenchers on CSPAN were roudy. 

 The parliamentary battle over a contentious free trade deal in South Korea led to a confrontation on Thursday in which opposition lawmakers used a sledgehammer to knock down the doors of a blockaded room in which a committee was discussing the agreement.

Kim Ju-seong/Yonhap, via Reuters

Members of the opposition party were sprayed with fire extinguishers from inside as they tried to enter a parliamentary committee room.

Television footage showed fire extinguishers being sprayed at the opposition lawmakers trying to get into the room . At least one person was shown bleeding from the face

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Time to join a startup? - An academic exercise

I know a few folks who have left large(r) firms to join (existing) startups recently. I posed the question of if this is really a good time to join a startup to my fellow Enterprise Irregulars   because of the amount of both startup and large company experience in that group (Note: please don't read anything into this question, it's an academic question only on my part. I should repeat this in German just so there's no misunderstanding at HQ: Ich bin mit meinem Job sehr zufrieden, danke). 

Folks have come down on both sides of the question. Bob Warfield, who has considerable startup experience, comes down on the "pro" side:

This is a great time to join or found a startup.  Why?  Because a bad recession is like a treadmill EKG for companies, and especially for small companies.  It puts everything under so much stress that when you see a consistent source of good news, you know that company is strong.  In good times, the rising tide lifts all ships.  How do you know whether that sock puppet selling dog food on the Internet is really a good idea, or just the product of the Bubble?  There are no sock puppet opportunities that do well in a bad economy. 

Charlie Wood, who runs his own company AND is now a college student again, takes another view:

I would say that doing that [working for an existing start up] would be the worst of both worlds: you still have only one customer for your services, so your livelihood hangs by a thread. And since they're a startup, presumably they have less wherewithal to withstand the financial storm than does an established company. Worse yet, they may have VC's on their board telling them to "do the right thing for the company" and lay people off as a knee-jerk response to any bad news. And the news these days is mostly bad.

The follow-on points made by the group about what to look for in a start-up (if one were to ignore Charlie's advice)  were the salient points that I had neglected to raise.  The idea that came through loudest to me, and not surprising, is the question of funding. Now more than ever it's important to have funding to last you (probably a year or more) as well as to consider the source of that funding. The quality of the team came across to me as the next highest consideration (the funding then team order strikes me as perhaps reversed from more "normal" times). Other considerations raised were if the startup is, or is close, to being cashflow positive and how pasionate you are about the product/idea. 

I have to admit that current times probably make me a bit more risk adverse then normal (maybe that's because I had a "going down in flames" startup experience during the Internet bubble). However,  I'd be curious to hear from you if you have, or are considering joining a startup and understand what the thought process is. It's often interesting to see how different folks react to disruptive times differently. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ingres Database Achieves Certified Integration With SAP NetWeaver Technology Platform

By my count that means SAP NetWeaver supports the following databases: 
Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, IBM DB2, SAP MaxDB, and now Ingress DB.

Ingres Corporation ... today announced that Ingres Database 9.2, a leading open source database for business critical applications, is now certified for integration with the SAP NetWeaver® technology platform.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Just heard about this company today. Must admit it's not a space I know well, but it does seem interesting.  Here's how it gets described:

BaseShield, takes a new look at how to run applications on Windows by running them securely within a virtualization "sandbox". This "sandbox" means that BaseShield gives applications access to only the parts of the computer they need to operate. Text editors can only access text files. Image editors can only access images.

Again, not an area I know well, but it sounds a bit like what I do when I open a virtual machine with Citrix.  Another analogy that comes to mind would be what Chrome does with a browser tab in that if one tab crashes the others don't. I may be way off. 

Today Baseshield announced an app store of sorts (this was why I got the heads-up):

BaseShield's other main innovation is the creation of a true application marketplace that gives users one-stop access to all kinds of software, from word processors to games. Each app can be run with one click. While all of their apps are currently free, BaseShield will be releasing a payment system that will enable developers to charge for using their apps in exchange for a share of the revenue.

Seems similar to AppExchange in that 3rd parties can list their apps and folks can download (and hopefully buy) them. Some of the currently available apps are: Inkscape (open-source version of Adobe Illustrator),
AbiWord (word processor), Celestia ("like Google Earth for the universe"),
Frets On Fire (Guitar Hero clone), Mozilla Sunbird (calendar application), Audacity (audio editing software), PokerTH (poker game)

I wish Baseshield well with the app store; from the limited stories I've heard from those developing for AppExchange, the major benefit has been a marketing effect, not a ton of revenue. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

SAP releases Sustainability report

Steve Mann blogged about this first, so I'm really just copying him. As Steve mentioned, SAP is the No. 1 company in the software industry on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

If you want to tell SAP which issues of sustainability are of most importance to SAP's future success, you can complete a Sustainability Stakeholder Survey here.

Here's some more coverage from ZDnet and some related sustainability articles: