To Protect Legitimate Interests, Seattle Should Cap All Forms of Innovation Immediately

To Protect Legitimate Interests, Seattle Should Cap All Forms of Innovation Immediately
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In a 9-0 decision Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to cap the number of UberX, Sidecar and Lyft drivers on our streets — to protect the legitimate interests of taxi companies and the revenue they create for our city.

So, I thought we should come up with 10 other important limits that we as a city can and should place on new technology-based business models. Here they are:

To protect the legitimate interests of the U.S. Postal Service and keep the price of stamps reasonable for our citizens, the City should … Continue reading

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Part Two

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Sequels are rarely better than the original. But there are exceptions. Being a sucker for happy endings, I liked Rocky II more than the Oscar-winning original. Speaking of great sequels, I was back at West Mercer Elementary this morning for Career Day, meeting with third, fourth and fifth graders and listening to their startup ideas.

My session was entitled “Your Billion-Dollar Idea.” Like last year, I explained what a venture capitalist does, laid out the criteria we use to make investments (team, product, market, business model and timing) and gave each student the opportunity to pitch

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A “Breaking Bad” Guide to Entrepreneurship

A “Breaking Bad” Guide to Entrepreneurship
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I just binge-watched all six seasons of Breaking Bad. If you haven’t downloaded the AMC show (but plan to soon), prepare yourself for experiencing someone else’s mid-life crisis, with healthy doses of terminal illness, murder, infidelity and drug-dealing thrown in to keep it interesting. Spending time with chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin Walter White, his family and the surrounding characters is exhausting and engrossing at the same time. The characters (and Walt especially) are more complex than any you have spent time with on the TV screen.

Instead of reviewing the show, as others have done far better than I could, I

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Pole Dancing and Self-Censorship

Pole Dancing and Self-Censorship
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“You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.” –Ice Cube, “Check Yo Self”

I was snooping through my son’s middle school yearbook recently when I came across a disturbing inscription from a fellow classmate.  This preteen had taken up an entire page to draw a schematic of a strip club, replete with a stick figure woman doing a pole dance and another stick figure woman giving a lap dance to a stick figure man.  How do I know that he intended it to be a lap dance?  Mercifully, he handwrote “lap dance” with an arrow pointing to the stick

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Walk With Me

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“Sitting is the smoking of our generation.” –Nilofer Merchant, Harvard Business Review

Can you help me with an experiment?  I want to have more walking meetings.

I have two reasons for this goal. First, I think meetings where we talk while walking are more effective. Steve Jobs (and now Mark Zuckerberg) are famous for taking long walks to interview employees or discuss key strategic initiatives.  For some reason, moving stimulates more creativity and easier dialogue.  My best recent meetings with entrepreneurs have been on walks around the Pioneer Square area.

Second, sitting in meetings all day is killing

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My February Resolution

My February Resolution
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“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.” –Jack Handey, Saturday Night Live

I was scheduled to have foot surgery last Friday morning.  As I was both reading my emails on my iPhone and helping my wife Shannon with the kids’ school lunches that morning, I popped a bite of cheese and salami into my mouth.  A minute later I realized I had broken the cardinal rule of no food or drink eight hours before surgery.  My surgery had to be rescheduled, and

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Calling All Engineers: Why So Serious?

Calling All Engineers: Why So Serious?
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“Why so serious?” –The Joker in Batman Returns

If you are fortunate enough to be building software for a living, do us this small favor: Put a little more personality into your products.

The best products pay deference to their creators. They’re functional, but they also can be fun at times, whimsical, punchy, interesting, sexy and surprising. Done well, they mimic the best parts of the personality of the teams that created them.

The classic example of adding personality to a product is Google’s homepage. Is there a more

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Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

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I spent this morning at the Career Day of my youngest kids’ elementary school (West Mercer) with about 30 third, fourth, and fifth graders.  My session was entitled “Your $100,000,000 Idea.”  My goal was to explain what a venture capitalist does, lay out the criteria we use to make investments (team, product, market, business model and timing), and give each student the opportunity to pitch a new business concept. I told the students that each group would pick a winning idea, and I would publish the winners here.

To my surprise, the ideas the students came up with were incredibly

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My Holiday Gift to You: The Funniest VC Video Ever

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We may not know each other, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give you a meaningful holiday gift.  I recently got an email from a high-ranking official in Nigeria offering to reward me with a huge amount of money if I just sent a few dollars to help someone wrongly accused get out of jail.  I then got a similar email from a Ugandan prince.  People are so giving this time of year.

So from my family to yours and without further ado, here’s Gary the Snoman!

http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/7ki

My favorite line (although there are a lot to

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Do Diligence on Us

Do Diligence on Us
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“Think of him as chewing gum. By the end of the game, I want you to know what flavor he is.” – Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), Hoosiers

Entrepreneurs don’t do enough diligence on their investors.

As venture investors, we do a lot of diligence on you. We call references, both on and off your reference sheet. In our partnership discussion, we talk about your strengths and weaknesses, your character, your ability to grow the business, your idiosyncrasies, whether you will want to sell too early, your willingness to take feedback, and everything else under the sun. We are making a bet on you just

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