Early adopter, entrepreneur, leader interested in software, the Internet, mobile telephony and computing, and VoIP. Founder or senior management with The Personal Bee, Orb Networks, CallTrex, Borland (BORL), The Dr. Spock Company, Neta4, WhoWhere?, CMP Media, and IT Solutions.

Today's Buzz:

Thursday, March 04, 2004


North American Bandwidth News has some really interesting comments on Skype. If you aren't familiar with Skype you should be. As you'll read in NA Bandwidth News -- "Skype is a large bulldozer for destroying and rebuilding the telecoms industrial complex..."

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The perfect fractalized enterprise

I encountered a terrific example of a fractalized enterprise a few days ago. A friend has started a business that takes professional photos of children's sports events and then sells prints or other items (coffee mugs, mouse pads...) back to the parents. It combines his interest in photography with his daughter's passion for sports and parents seem to love the opportunity to purchase professional quality photos of their children.

What is really amazing to me about this business is how Bob uses technology to create a business that appears significantly bigger than the one person shop he really is. The Internet provides a mechanism for Bob to outsource every part of his business that isn't core. Here is the formula:

Web site hosting company: YahooDomains
E-Commerce Storefront: PhotoReflect (specializes in photography e-commerce)
3-4 photo processors, all available on the web (some are better at posters and prints, some are better at mugs and mouse pads...)
Accounting and CRM: Intuit
Receptionist and personal assistant: CallTrex (my own company)

Add in a few friends who enjoy being weekend photographers and are willing to work for $10 an hour and a local camera shop that rents high-end photography equipment (REALLY big lenses for those close up shots from across the field) and you have a complete business set up for almost nothing.

This is the kind of entreprenuerial engine that the Internet can enable. Bob focuses on his "Core" -- marketing and sales -- and he uses technology to martial a set of organizational fractals that come together to serve his "Context" and present a unified face to the end customer.

An interesting idea -- what about creating a set of "recipes" for people that would like to start their own businesses -- essentially a list of the organizational fractals needed to construct a given type of business?

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Greenspan on Intellectual Property Rights

As usual, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan is eloquent, his position is well thought out, and his timeliness is perfect. But in this instance Greenspan is commenting on Intellectual Property, not interest rates.

At the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy this past Friday, Greenspan delivered an address on the importance of protecting Intellectual Property Rights. The full text of his speech can be found here.

He does not offer a specific remedy (as he did in the case of Social Security earlier in the week) but instead sensibly asks a set of questions:

    If our objective is to maximize economic growth, are we striking the right balance in our protection of intellectual property rights? Are the protections sufficiently broad to encourage innovation but not so broad as to shut down follow-on innovation? Are such protections so vague that they produce uncertainties that raise risk premiums and the cost of capital? How appropriate is our current system--developed for a world in which physical assets predominated--for an economy in which value increasingly is embodied in ideas rather than tangible capital?

One thing that both sides in this debate are likely to agree on (at least privately) -- currently Congress, with the Digital Millenium Act for example, is primarily taking into account the interests of lobbyists, and not thoughtfully addressing the economic issues that Mr. Greenspan articulated. Hopefully his speech will spark a broader debate on these issues.

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