15 Things You Should Know Before Dating an Entrepreneur

Recently I signed up for Mark Cuban’s Cyberdust. I’m still trying to make sense of it. The nice things is you can talk to Mark, but don’t pitch him.

In any case, recently he sent this gem
heartbreak_by_anupamas15 Things You Should Know Before Dating an Entrepreneur

Here is the summary.
#1: Entrepreneurs are Very, Very Weird
#2: You’ll Either Make it or Bust
#3: They Need Solitude at Times
#4: They Don?t Live by a 9 to 5 Schedule
#5: They Usually Never Clock Out
#6: They Don’t Do Well with Ultimatums
#7: They Will Miss Event
#8: They Are Frequent Travelers
#9: They will Talk to Strangers Quite Regularly
#10: They Ask a Lot of Questions
#11: They Usually Attract the Spotlight
#12: Your Friends & Family Will Either Love them Or Hate Them
#13: They Have Strong Opinions
#14: They Despise Lazy People
#15: They Get Bored Very Quickly


International Fraud a Foul

Lego_Millennium_Falcon_from_FlickerSeveral days ago, CitiGroup settled on penalties (reportedly $7 Billion) for wrong doings. What will come of this is hard to say. Perhaps the business schools will realize that monolithic corporations encounter too much risks to be viable.

As for fraud and how it might affect a startup and entrepreneurs, it is not always obvious. We, of course, know of the random fraud by con-men hawking vaporware; there is even the occasional CXO f’ing friends and family, and the even rarer CXO committing consumer fraud.

A broader fraud internal to the system is worst. Yes Bernie Madoff is the classic example, but a fraud that spans international borders, internal safe guards, buckles regulatory framework, and sends waves throughout the system, that is worse. Such is the fraud within Citicorp.

Banamex ATM in  Barra de Navidad, Jalisco complements of tomzap.com

Banamex ATM in
Barra de Navidad, Jalisco
complements of tomzap.com

In 2001, Banamex was acquired by Citigroup. From 2001 to 2014 Citigroup tried to get the Mexican bank group to modernize so it could place modern safety checks in place. It did not happen. Late in 2013, Citigroup realized a serious issue. Early in 2014, it made it known to the world that $400 million was missing. By May it had no choice but to fire eleven executives without PENSION! This issue will cause Citigroup and the rest of the industry regulatory issues for years.

If that was not enough on June 11, 2014, the New York Times reported suspicions on large stockpiles of copper and aluminum sitting at port. The suspicions are that a Chinese company pledged the same stockpiles as collateral for multiple loans. The division with this issues is Citic Resources, part of the state-controlled conglomerate Citic Group. This is worrisome since China has an estimated total outstanding credit of more than 220 percent of gross domestic product last year — up from 130 percent in 2008. The worry, of course, is how many others have done this.

image complements of flicker Ingot in fort Lauderdale, Fl.

image complements of flicker
Ingot in fort Lauderdale, Fl.

The report said Decheng Mining was suspected by the authorities of having pledged the same stocks of the metals — about 100,000 tons of aluminum and 2,000 to 3,000 tons of copper — as collateral for multiple loans, amassing bank debt exceeding 1 billion renminbi ($160 million). Phone calls and emails to Decheng’s parent company, Dezheng Resources, went unanswered on Wednesday.


Meet Benedict Van, the con man of Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley Hustle: Former Motionloft CEO Accused Of Defrauding Investors
Silicon Valley tech bigwig arrested for fake barcode Lego scam

Banamex Said to Snub Citigroup Oversight as Fraud Mounted – Bloomberg
Citi Fires 11 More in Mexico Over Fraud – NYTimes.com
Banks Fear Missing Collateral in China – NYTimes.com

RIP Springpad

The demise of a startup venture is always disappointing. In the case of SpringPad, it was continously compared with it’s large competitor EverNote. Even today (July 7, 2014) it’s domain no longer responses to pings. ping: unknown host springpad.com

OneTreeFrog_1stPostThe announcement was made on May 23, 2014 (See below). Within hours, there were regrets and rumors. Days later, list of alternativesacquire-hire, and Five (5) Pre-morteum lessons (list below) were in writing. 11 days later, multiple alternatives were available on a public spreadsheet, and Microsoft had tools to port data off of Springpad. On the last day of official operations, June 25, 2014 – warning notices were re-issued by the press.

With all this noise, you’d think users would have gotten the message. No, some in the press did not. Odds are handful of the 5 million users did not.

Announcement: Springpad is Shutting Down on June 25th
Posted on May 23, 2014, by Katin

We are very sorry to let you know that Springpad will be shutting down on June 25th. At that point Springpad.com will no longer be available, all online and sync features of the mobile apps will stop working, and your personal data will no longer be stored on our servers.

Please know that it is our top priority to help you during this transition. Amidst current rumors we wanted to confirm the news and give you all of the information possible at this time. We are putting the final touches on a new export tool that will allow you to take your data with you. This will include an improved backup file that you can save and use to reference your notes in the future in addition to the option to migrate your data.

In the coming days, we will make the export tool available to all users and developers and will communicate more news about our shutdown on our blog, via email and on Springpad.com. You will then have until June 25th to export or migrate your data.


RIP Springpad. We will miss you
May 23, 2014
Springpad, a productivity app similar to Evernote and Pinterest, is planning to throw in the towel as it admits defeat against its cloud-based notes rivals.
Google might be acquiring Springpad in acqui-hire deal | BetaBoston
May 23, 2014

springpad_Postcard61Springpad App Alternatives: Boston Startup Springpad Engineers and CPO to Join Google | BostInno
May 27, 2014
Five Springpad engineers to join Google as Boston-based personal organizer app shuts down – Boston Business Journal
May 27, 2014
Five Lessons for Consumer Tech Startups in Springpad Shutdown
May 28, 2014
  1. East Coast vs. West Coast
  2. Product-market fit
  3. Revenue model
  4. Business issues
  5. Distribution and user acquisition
This Spreadsheet Is a Definitive Guide to Springpad Alternatives
Jun 3, 2014
Microsoft releases OneNote Clipper for Chrome, Springpad-to-OneNote migration tool
Jun 9, 2014
Today’s the last day to download your Springpad data
June 25, 2014
8 unwritten rules of job searching
These people did not get the memo.
springpad2This Startup Had Over 5 Million Users And A Great Product. Then It Folded
The (somewhat) surprising demise of the popular organizing app Springpad–and what happened next.
Published June 29, 2014

politico.com – How to Lose $100 Million (on the web)

How to Lose $100 Million

The undoing of Tina Brown.

Image from Bruce Feiler's blog.  Shoeless in New York Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Image from Bruce Feiler’s blog.
Shoeless in New York
Tuesday, June 12, 2007


May/June 2014


This is a seven (7) page story. It is about the salacious nature of an industry in flux — which includes Newsweek, Newsweek the online version, and the Daily Beast. I don’t expect anyone to read it, unless your alone this Sunday — having coffee — and have about 2 hours to kill.

NOTE: Tina was the last editor-in-chief of the last print issue (Dec. 2012) of Newsweek, before it was revived via a sale (of the magazine) and went back into print in March of 2014

Pops open to wikipedia.

More details on wikipedia.org

Not enough on Tina? Post-Tina via the [NY Magazine] six (6) pages

RIP Turning Out the Lights – blog.wsj.com

turn_off_lightsBeing an entrepreneur means you have to do alot of background work – constantly checking, and re-checking the premise of the business. And as I’ve learned, just because you are making money, don’t sit still – because there may be another opportunity staring you in the face.

With the same force of will, it is always important to look for other lessons. And while it’s good to hear these tales, often finding them seems like a passing theme. This is why I was overjoyed when I found a 2009 series from the Wall Street Journal called Turning Out the Lights.

There is one story in 2014, one in 2012, and the remainder are from 2009. Below is a list of the companies and their product category. The links available lead to the VentureWire column story. The column is now part of the Private Equity & Venture Capital news service – which runs an active website. Lastly a reminder that many of the companies went down because of the Real Estate Bomb of 2008.

Turn Out the Lights. .OR. Turn Off the Lights.

Is it historic or idiomatic?


Stipple Shuts Down; VC Backers Included Floodgate, Kleiner Perkins

  • Image-tagging advertising startup Stipple Inc. has called it quits, shutting its doors less than 18 months after raising capital at a valuation just south of $25 million.
  • Stipple announced it was ceasing operations on its Twitter account.
  • At the time the company said it had tagged more than 80 million images and had more than 140 brand partners (…)


No Playing: Signs Of Upheaval At Rivet Games

  • Backed with $15 million in venture funding and led by a former Playdom executive, social gaming company Rivet Games has abruptly shuttered one of its games amid signs of upheaval at the start-up.
  • The San Francisco-based company posted a message on its Pet Tales page on Facebook, stating: “Pet Tales has moved on. We are truly sorry that we are no longer able to keep Pet Tales going. We hope to be able to bring it back in the future. Thank you all so much for playing!”
  • Shortly after, the community forum on Rivet Games’ site lit up with posts from users who play the virtual pet game, wondering why the company had shut it down, why they weren’t given any warning and whether they would get refunds for money spent to buy virtual goods.
  • (No word on any success in this story.)


The last story post in 2009 lists all the companies it made note of in 2009. To access the stories you can search the website for the company name, or browse through the category listings for the column Turning Out the Lights. I’ll add a few selected story links as well.

Turning Out The Lights: Transoma Medical, Onetime IPO Hopeful

  • Transoma Medical Inc., which raised more than $40 million in venture capital and had filed to go public in late 2007, has shut down after running out of money.
  • (No word on how the announcement was made.)
  • The St. Paul, Minn., company couldn’t attract new investors or acquirers even though its newest cardiac monitor, which received 510(k) clearance in February, had won some fans among physicians who treat heart-rhythm conditions.

Medical, Health & Drugs

  • Allux Medical Inc., Menlo Park, Calif. – devices for treating upper airway and dermatological inflammatory diseases.
  • Archus Orthopedics Inc., Redmond, Wash. – a device for an alternative to spinal fusion surgery for the treatment of leg and back pain caused by moderate-to-severe degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Argolyn Bioscience Inc., Durham, N.C. – a peptide drug developer
  • Aspen Medtech Inc., Bellevue, Wash. – a medical device field to be determined.
  • Cogentus Pharmaceuticals Inc., Menlo Park, Calif. – a pill designed to provide protective cardiovascular benefits while reducing gastrointestinal side effects associated with anti-platelet therapy.
  • DiObex Inc., San Francisco – diabetes drug
  • Dynogen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Waltham, Mass. – a drug
  • Innovative Spinal Technologies Inc., Mansfield, Mass. – spinal-surgery device
  • OmniSonics Medical Technologies Inc., Wilmington, Mass. – an ultrasound technology that breaks up blood clots
  • Pegasus Biologics Inc., St. Paul, Minn. – (summary unclear about business)
  • Therative Inc., Livermore, Calif. – aesthetics device for acne treatment

Computers, Networks, Communications & Robotics

  • Autonomic Networks Inc. (Formerly known as Vernier Networks), Mountain View, Calif. – network access control products
  • BrightScale Inc. (Formerly known as Connex Technology), Sunnyvale, Calif. – The maker of chips used for video processing.
  • Cswitch Inc., Santa Clara, Calif. – communications semiconductors
  • Hammerhead Systems Inc., Mountain View, Calif. – a data-switching company
  • LucidEra Inc., San Mateo, Calif. – on-demand business intelligence
  • LV Sensors Inc., Emeryville, Calif. – maker of semiconductors, micro-electromechanical devices that were to be used as wireless sensors in automobiles.
  • MetaRAM Inc., San Jose – semiconductor designed to reduce the costs of servers and workstations by up to 90%
  • Nanochip Inc., Fremont, Calif. – memory circuits maker
  • Nevis Networks Inc., Mountain View, Calif. – protect local-area networks (LANs) from unauthorized users
  • nTag Interactive Corp., Boston – digital name tags that can communicate with each other wirelessly
  • OQO Inc., San Francisco – sophisticated pocket-sized PCsOQO
  • PulseWave RF Inc. – power amplifier chips for cellular base stations
  • Recordant Inc., Alpharetta, Ga. – sales analytics technology
  • SiCortex Inc., Maynard, Mass. – A high-performance computing
  • Silicon Navigator Corp., Cupertino, Calif. – electronic design automation software for chipmakers
  • TallyGenicom LP, Chantilly, Va. – Printing products
  • Woven Systems Inc., Santa Clara, Calif. – maker of a 10-gigabit Ethernet switch
  • Yoomba Inc., Menlo Park, Calif. – VoIP technology maker

Internet & Web

  • Coghead Inc., Redwood City, Calif. – a Web application company
  • Kadoink Inc., San Francisco – mobile content delivery and advertising platform
  • ManiaTV Inc., Los Angeles – produce Internet TV shows
  • NebuAd Inc., Redwood City, Calif. – online behavorial tracking
  • Ortega InfoSystems Inc., Fremont, Calif. – remote viewing of security facilities through a Web browser
  • ProQuo Inc., San Diego – filter out people’s junk mail, while continuing to receive the offers they want.
  • SafePage Corp., Menlo Park, Calif. – “secure personal portal” using online “widgets.”
  • SkyWi Inc., Fort Worth, Texas – Originally VOIP, but to dial-up and DSL Internet service
  • SplashCast Corp., Portland, Ore. – lets people watch television shows within social networking sites
  • Sotto Wireless Inc., Bellevue, Wash. – stealthy wireless service provider
  • TeeBeeDee Inc., San Francisco – social networking Web site for people over age 40
  • Tipjoy Inc., Cambridge, Mass. – Internet tip jar for digital content
  • Trusera Inc., Seattle – health Web site


  • Advanced Power Projects Inc., Fremont, Calif. – make power plants more efficient.
  • Elephant Pharmacy Inc., Berkeley, Calif. – the operator of health and wellness stores
  • Expresso Fitness Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif. – interactive stationary bicycle
  • GreenFuel Technologies Corp., Cambridge, Mass. – an algae greenhouse designed to use carbon dioxide emissions from a cement plant to create biofuel
  • TeachFirst Inc., Seattle – educational training company
  • Ugobe Inc., Eagle, Idaho – The maker of the Pleo robotic dinosaur – a lifelike, interactive toy (youtube)


    The interactive Pleo, robotic & life-like.

  • Ultreo Inc., Redmond, Wash. – battery-powered toothbrush that used ultrasound waveguide and sonic bristles
  • Verified Pass Identity Inc., New York – provider of faster airport security lines for approved travelers, which did business as Clear


How a bent penis is critical to a business plan

This a great article. It’s worth the 10 minutes read.

Car_crash_15 Things Startups Do Before They Crash

Wayra, the startup incubator of Spain’s telecom giant Telefónica SA, has a very low failure rate: of the 315 startups it has worked with, only 41 have failed. (…)


      1. Hire the Wrong People
      2. Completely ignore the Market
      3. Become secretive with their Backers
      4. Ignore the need for revenue
      5. Be audaciously boring



Green, green-washing, and communication?

NPR_RecyclingPlant1Green is mainstream or so I’m reminded by UL (Underwriters Laboratories). At one time they were producing regular reports about green-washing, but it appears the money is elsewhere. None the less, the industry is moving forward with real initiatives demanded by customers and their advocates. The story below points out that there has been a production rise of “16 percent in the last five years” for cups made from paper. That’s a rise of 3% per year, almost the same as organic food.

People vote with their wallets.


 Your coffee cup probably isn’t recyclable… yet


In the computer industry, we have a term  similar familiar to green-washing it is known as buzz-word compliant. (Not the same – of course.)

Image source Oregon Sports News

Image source Oregon Sports News

Back to the subject, in 1992 – during his run for president – Ross Perot reminded us that one of the growth areas in business was Garbage. Even so, if you go into most Internet businesses in Silicon Valley you’ll see the obligatory three garbage cans – blue, green and grey. But here’s the test of company communications. Ask someone in the office, which garbage goes in which can. Chances are *someone* in the office can give you a good answer, but look in the cans and more often that not you’ll see a different answer than what you’ve just heard.

In case you are caught short, here is a bit about The Seven Sins of Green Washing.

But if you don’t want follow the link, here are the sins:

  1. Sin of Hidden Trade-off – such as bleaching paper white
  2. Sin of No Proof – claiming as such with no third party verification
  3. Sin of Vagueness – such as, All-natural (my favorite, see below)
  4. Sin of Worshing False Labels – like using the word “green”, when it’s not
  5. Sin of Irrelevance – example: CFC-free, but it’s been banned for years
  6. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils – Organic cigarettes?
  7. Sin of Fibbing – Just a lie

As you can read below, the term “NATURAL” has regulatory issues. As such, it has little meaning we you see a product using that word — with sole exception of meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Regardless of what you see, if regulation is involved, money will move the regulation.


From the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)usda_gov_logo

Natural. As required by USDA, meat, poultry, and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.

From the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) fda_gov_logo

What is the meaning of ‘natural’ on the label of food?

From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.