Archive for the ‘General’ Category

It’s Time To Vote

I recently met Andrew Shoemaker who is running for City Council.  He impressed me in his understanding of the issues related to our startup community, but also his larger vision of the city.  While I don’t normally get involved in local politics, I decided I would vote for him.

Now, how about that Vote?

Oh yeah, it’s an off year election here in Boulder, Colorado and if history is our guide, surprisingly few of you are paying attention to the election and the candidates.

Be honest, how many of the City Council candidates can you name? How many of the ballot items? Have you decided who you support?

Ironically, your vote may be more impactful in off year City Council elections than in large presidential elections.

But life is good here in Boulder and we have busy lives, so why do we care?

We care because City Council influences our local lives outside of the office (like open space access) and makes decisions that impact businesses as well.  We are talking about support for new businesses and jobs, office space and open space, livability and housing – you name it.

Other cities are competing with us for the types of business cultivated here, the types of creative co-workers we want, and the brand that Boulder has built. Candidates like Andrew understand that Boulder should take measures to encourage innovation and entrepreneurial activity in Boulder, support Boulder’s brand and attract continued investment and creative workers to Boulder.  Andrew started his own law firm, leaving the larger firm life and knows what it takes to create jobs, as well.

In general, I feel that Boulder City Council is out of touch with what Boulder has become and Andrew is one of the few people that really understand this.

Now is a good time to recognize that in addition to being an important part of our community, we also have something important to say in support of Boulder’s future.

What should you do?

Look for your ballot in the mail (this is a mail-only ballot election). Educate yourself on the ballot issues and the candidates and vote by returning you mail ballot. These candidates influence Boulder’s future so you should influence which candidates win.

Please vote and consider supporting candidates — like Andrew Shoemaker — who understand our issues and support our innovation culture in Boulder.

This is worth taking time out of your day and making your voice heard.

October 20th, 2013     Categories: Entrepreneurship, General    

Boulder It’s Time to Get Serious About Our Energy Situation – Call City Council

As many of you know,  Ballot Measure 2C, to “explore” municipalization, passed by 1.8% of the vote in November 2011.  The idea is that Boulder would investigate taking over responsibility for our energy needs and terminate the relationship with Xcel.

I can’t claim that I’m an expert on all such energy matters, but it sounded like a bad idea.  The notion that a town with less than 100,000 people would be able to efficiently provide electrical service (especially when service interruptions occur) seemed unlikely.  Of course the issue became more political than analytical quickly.

When the measure passed, City Council promised a publicly-available decision plan with decision “off-ramps” to terminate proceeding with municipalization.  These off ramps would be for things like financial feasibility, electric power rate equivalence, and equivalent reliability to existing Xcel service.

This Thursday, on November 15, 2012 the City Council will vote on these off ramp metrics.  In other words, this is the framework they will rely on to determine whether or not Boulder is going to go-it-alone on power.  And I feel these metrics are very flawed and bias the decision to separate, rather than unbiased to get us to the correct decision.  I’ve spent time with several folks in the community who are experts on these matters and who are spending their own time and money analyzing these metrics.  They are convinced they are flawed and I’m convinced their scientific method is sound.

Make no mistake about it.  If Boulder screws this up, the city probably goes bankrupt in my opinion.

From independent analysis and reference, the “off ramp” decision metrics currently proposed do not represent the financial risks, potential reliability impairments, or increases in electric power rates that would result from a city municipalization of Xcel’s assets.  Alternatives have been provided by knowledgable citizens, a city council member, and the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

We seem to be speeding past the OFF RAMPS in the drive toward municipalization.  Backing up on this busy highway is unlikely.

What should you do?

Write your Boulder City Council an e-mail or letter stating that you do not support a vote for adequacy of the “off-ramp” decision metrics proposed by Heather Bailey (which are the current metrics).  They do not represent our risks of greatly increased electric rates, reduced reliability, and unsupportable bond debt due to creating a Boulder municipal power enterprise. 

Please vote NO on proceeding with inadequate decision criteria November 15.

council@bouldercolorado.gov

Call council members who have supported proceeding with the current recommendations:

Matt Appelbaum          303-499-8970  appelbaumm@bouldercolorado.gov  

KC Becker                  303-218-8814  beckerk@bouldercolorado.gov   

Macon Cowles            303-638-6884  CowlesM@bouldercolorado.gov   

Suzanne Jones           720-633-7388  joness@bouldercolorado.gov   

Lisa Morzel                 303-815-6723  morzell@bouldercolorado.gov   

Tim Plass                   720-299-4518  plasst@bouldercolorado.gov   

I remain convinced that we can achieve transparent governance and a rational outcome for the municipalization movement – but only if we get concerned citizens and businesses involved in our local democracy. This is worth taking time out of your day and making your voice heard.  

 

 

November 12th, 2012     Categories: Frustrations, General    

Shareholder Rep is Hiring Again – Business Development, Lawyer, etc.

Shareholder Representative Services is hiring a head of Northeast Business Development. Also, a director level corporate M&A lawyer.

Great company, great guys and a great idea. Here are the postings.

March 28th, 2011     Categories: General    

Declaring Victory – VRBO / Home Away Changes Their Review Policies

 

Recently, I posted about how I believed VRBO’s online reviews were worthless in that they allowed landlords to manipulate renter feedback.  My article was picked up and expanded upon in a column by Maureen Farrell in Forbes.

There were literally hundreds and hundreds of link backs, retweets and comments regarding my blog.   What came to light was that I was not alone.  There were many people who shared similar stories about dissatisfaction about the transparency of the reviews.  I found interesting that many landlords commented saying they agreed with my assessment of the problem.  (Reason: Quality landlords want quality reviews).

Today, I was sent an email today from a friend informing me that VRBO / Home Away is changing its review policies.  From a VRBO / Yahoo Group forum:

“After considerable thought, we changed our policy in December 2010.  We no longer offer members the option to “opt out” and there is no longer an “opt out” button on your administration page. New members can no longer choose to opt out of the Reviews system either. We understand that some of our members have their own view as to the value of Reviews. We realize that this decision, which will be announced within the coming weeks, may disappoint some of our members. While we can no longer opt your listing out of the Reviews system, we will do what we can to satisfy you.”

(After this statement, there was a fair amount of chatter from landlords threatening to take down their listings, just proving the point that the ability to hide from transparent feedback was indeed a selling point).

I declare victory.

I tried my best to get VRBO to pay attention to the issue, but the best that I got directly from them was a Twitter mention telling me that if I had issues with their reviews, to check out their FAQ page.  (er… Thanks)

But clearly they heard me and more importantly YOU – the folks who took the time to read, share and comment on the earlier post.  A special thanks go out to Maureen Farrell and Erika Napoletano who helped amplify my original message.

Congrats everyone. Social media works.  Sometimes the little guy can influence policy at a large company.  Thank you.

 

February 15th, 2011     Categories: Frustrations, General    

Loss of a Friend

This post is probably more for me than readers of this blog, but today I lost one of my best friends.  She was my cat Sammie.

We met each other while she was a stray that hung around the neighborhood. One day, she was injured in a fight (presumably a raccoon) and had one door step to choose in order to get emergency medical help.

Imagine my surprise when I left one day for the law firm to find a bleeding cat on my doorstep.  I had been working hellish hours and was only a junior associate, but decided to take the cat to the vet and call in sick.  (Sorry Uncle Cooley, I guess that I still owe you a vacation day).

The vet told me that the cat needed major surgery to survive and that they would put the cat to sleep as they didn’t expect a perfect stranger to spend $2000 on a cat whom he didn’t know.  (In fact, I didn’t even know the sex of the cat, thus the name “Sam” that I called her on the way to the vet figuring I’d be good either way).

Something hit me when the vet told me that a financial issue would likely be the demise of this soul.  At the time, I had no money.  It was before the Gunderson salary wars and I was struggling to pay a mortgage.  But something told me that in the grand scheme of things I’d never remember the money, but always remember my decision.

And I did remember my decision.  Every day.  Until today, she greeted me at the door every time I came home.  She went to sleep in one of my arm pits most nights and certainly every weekend nap.  She made herself the host of the house and welcomed in pets and people where she could entertain (and get some rubs in as well).  She converted many a cat-hater to cat admirer.  She managed to find that perfect spot of sunlight to lie in no matter how many homes we’ve had since.

Through all the good and bad days, she was always concerned more about me than herself.  I have never seen an animal behave so selfless that way.  In fact, I think she secretly liked when I had surgeries so that she would have me to tend to.  She took care of me much more than I did of her.

And even today, after she had a clot that paralyzed her back legs and caused her tremendous pain, she waited for me to wake up until she meowed for me to help.  Once again, she was thinking of me.

I’ll miss you dear Sammie.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of her.

NewImage.jpg

NewImage1.jpg

 

NewImage3.jpg

NewImage.jpg

 

December 20th, 2010     Categories: General, Observations    

Keep Things Simple

Today, I was called for jury duty.  Upon arrival, we sat for 30 minutes, then we watched a 12 minute video for juror orientation. The voiceover kept cracking me up, however, as they were unable to pronounce “voir dire” correctly.  (Think “vor dire” as in Dire Straits).  If you don’t believe me, watch the video.

Anyways,we kept moving rooms, filling out forms, being segregated into different piles of humanity and I thought “couldn’t this be simpler?” and made some snide comment under my breath about the efficiency of government.

While I was sitting there being frustrated, I realized that over complicated things, maybe more than anything, really ruin my day.  Then I realized that I was an arrogant ass, because I’m not sure my ecosystem is all that more simple or efficient most of the time, either. 

I could write tomes on all of the efficiencies that I see every day – the same ones that I’m sure you don’t like either.  I think all this artificial complexity probably plays back into our lives in that we start to overcomplicate things that don’t need the added brain damage.  This includes both professional and personal contexts and the sad thing is that we have so little control on most of these situations.

But we should rethink about how we do things when we do have control. 

Thinking back over my career – and specifically even if I just think deeply about the last few  weeks of meetings that I’ve had -I think the number one piece of advice that I’ve given is “keep it simple.” Whether it’s a business model, financing plan, product user interface, or a plan to deal with human conflict, simple is best the vast majority of the time. 

And likewise, when I think back to those seminal moments of mentorship that I’ve been fortunate to receive, there has usually been a component to simply what I was trying to accomplish.

So, there’s my fortune cookie advice for the day: “keep it simple.”  Likely you and those around you will be happier for it. 

August 16th, 2010     Categories: Company Running, General, Law, Venture Capital    

Great CIO Opportunity in Boulder! – Webroot Software

One of our friendly neighbors – Webroot – is hiring a CIO.  Description is below.  If you are interested, the email contact is below.  And if you move to Boulder and take this job, you might owe me a beer. 

Chief Information Officer and SVP, IT – Boulder

The CIO / SVP of IT will be responsible for defining, implementing and maintaining the vision and strategic direction of Webroot’s business-critical enterprise-wide IT infrastructure and applications. Working collaboratively across the organization, the CIO will partner with R&D, Data Center Operations, Sales, Professional Services, and other teams to support the IT needs of these respective business groups. The successful candidate will have proven expertise with Enterprise Applications, including selection, implementation, and integration. We seek a seasoned technology leader who has a proven track record of delivering highly visible, customer-facing projects on time and within budget.

Responsibilities

· Provide executive-level guidance and counsel to senior management on Information Technology matters.

· Provide the technology roadmap for future growth.

· Analyze the Corporation’s needs with regard to information access, storage & control, and the appropriate-to-the-business use of the latest computer and telecommunications technologies.

· Develop, communicate, and implement an overall integrated IT strategy, framework and philosophy that includes a uniform Systems Development Methodology that is responsive to the needs of the company’s growth and evolving objectives.

· Proactively work with the Webroot user communities to ensure timely identification and correction of application system deficiencies

· Oversee the design, development, and implementation of new enterprise applications as well as changes to existing computer systems and software packages.

· Develop and establish relevant IT-specific operating policies, programs and procedures.

· Ensure that all projects are implemented on time and within budget and that they provide the appropriate solution to the user’s needs.

· Identify and assess emerging information technologies to be assimilated, integrated, and introduced determining their potential value for the company.

Requirements

· An innovative, results-driven technologist with 15+years of leadership experience in a senior- level IT executive role with a demonstrated track record of implementing and managing information technologies in a growth business.

· Proven ability to motivate teams with experience providing quality deliverables within tight timelines, simultaneously managing multiple projects.

· Experience in strategic planning, contracting, negotiating and change management.

· Knowledge of information technology life cycle, including budget and resource allocation; experience with implementation of information technology application integrations in a large division/company.

· Must be analytical with strong business acumen and problem solving skills.

· Demonstrated ability to identify, establish and track key performance metrics and key indicators providing reports and analysis for executive management review and action. .

· Prior experience in a fast-paced, growth environment highly desirable.

· An undergraduate degree in a technical or business-oriented discipline with an MBA from a top tier business school highly desired.

If you would like an opportunity to work with this widely recognized worldwide leader in technology security, send your resume to rcirulli@webroot.com for consideration.

August 4th, 2010     Categories: General, Technology    

American Film Company

I wouldn’t consider myself a movie expert, but I’m excited about a new movie company – The American Film Company.  They have a really unique philosophy:  to create engaging, commercial, historically accurate feature films culled from America’s storied past.

When I first heard the idea, I thought “neat” but can Hollywood make a movie that is both exciting and historically accurate?  Then I thought of Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon (some historical liberties).  I think there is a market here. 

The American Film Company will take this further using prominent historians, to assure that each production remains true to the history from which it is drawn.

Their first movie, The Conspirator, is directed by Robert Redford and stars James McAvoy, Robin Wright Penn and Kevin Kline.  The film tells the story of Mary Surratt (Penn), the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Against the ominous backdrop of post-Civil War Washington, inexperienced lawyer Frederick Aiken (McAvoy) reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal hastily arranged by War Secretary Edwin Stanton (Kline).

Sounds great and I’m really excited to see this and their upcoming films.  They also just launched a site based on the theme of “Hollywood-History Showdown,” where experts and members debate the “10 Best American History Movies” and the “The Best American History Movies NEVER Made”, as well as the accuracy of films like “Seabiscuit” and “Black Hawk Down”

HHS 3-1-2010 from The American Film Company on Vimeo.

March 23rd, 2010     Categories: General, Just For Fun    

Welcome to the New Mendelson’s Musings

I’m happy to report that Slice of Lime’s redesign of my blog is complete.  I’m very pleased with their efforts and invite y’all to comment.  Let me know what you think.

While the site has been redesigned, I am sorry to report that the writer’s brain (mine) has not.  So this is all style over substance, but if it works for Hollywood….

(Thanks for your continued support)

March 15th, 2010     Categories: General    

Layoff Trackers

I find numbers fascinating and even better when they are put into context with digestible displays.  Data visualization is key and people with these skills will be in demand for my lifetime and well beyond.

Two recent experiences with large data sets has been satisfying to me.  Unfortunately, both are showing the continual deterioration of the U.S. economy, but from a consumption standpoint, they are very interesting.

1.  Heatmap over time of U.S. Unemployment.  This is outstanding work, if not completely depressing;

2. If you are interested in the major law firm layoffs, which measure an incredible 14,457 people since January 2008 (5,677 lawyers, 8,780 staff), then Law Shucks is the place to go.  Their layoff trackers are great for digesting exactly what is going on and I’ve been told that even better displays are on their way.

Enjoy.  Or at least respect the work behind the bad news.

February 28th, 2010     Categories: General, Law, Law Firm 2.0, Wind Downs