Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rubbish Land

Green RiverImage by Giant Ginkgo via Flickr

Americans and people in relatively well-developed countries take clean water and infrastructure for granted. When I was in Chicago, one of my favorite annual event was the "greenization" of Chicago River. It's actually quite amazing what Chicago has done with its water system, including:

  • Reversal of flow to prevent Lake Michigan drainage
  • Beaches nearby downtown
  • Fish hotels underneath the Michigan Ave. bridge
  • Water Purification

During the early 20th century, the water was too contaminated for consumption, but the city has done a tremendous job at purifying it and making the riverside enjoyable for tourists and citizens. It's gotten to the point where a bit of color contamination on the St. Patrick's Day is acceptable.

In this country where people take clean water for granted, there are still a ton of startup activities geared towards water purification. Making this blessed country even more blessed is........ blissful.

On the other side of planet, more specifically Manila, rivers are covered in trash. Not sure if any technological advances will be able to clean up the river, but this is just too stunning. The picture below, first shown at The World Water Forum, makes me wonder, "What the heck are we doing working on incremental environmental changes when the same resources can be deployed to make a much bigger impact?"

(Source: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2323032.ece)

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Overheard in Silicon Valley

If my previous post was an indication of summarizing my daily lessons learned in the Valley, yes, I slacked off. I was busy learning about many things, and I would like to share some lessons learned with my readers. Mostly just brain dump of various things, but I'll try to bucket them into different categories.


  • It's tough out there (quite frankly, everywhere these days), but productivity is WAY up stemming from low burn rate and increased work hours.
  • Growth is still the king. Monetization can happen when the economy recovers
  • (somewhat of a contradiction to the above) "Product, product, product. Growth later, please"
  • Not that many companies feeling the pains in a tangible way. They just want to stay low until somebody else brave (or dumb) enough makes a big move.

Startup/Company Gossips
  • Silicon Valley needs the next Google (awesome product with real revenue stream [not just a proven revenue model]) real soon
  • Semiconductor industry is about to enter the most difficult times in its history
  • SV always talks about SV, Boston talks about Boston vs. SV
  • "Recycling" high valuation deals is somewhat of a trend
  • Angels are busier than ever
  • Facebook's talent hemorrhage is a big contrast to its predecessors like Google, Yahoo, etc.
  • Entrepreneurs here live on dreams, elsewhere driven by reality
  • Lots of excitement around Palm Pre. Most of the design features actually got "stolen" from another company
  • While operational experience is highly respected, venture business is really about accessibility to deals
  • New York's rise to stardom in entrepreneurship is noticeable from the other side of coast. With top-notch innovations and investors to enable the whole ecosystem
  • Boston's main competitive advantage is largely top academic institutions
  • Google fired some flamingos on the dinosaur sculpture, so that the employees can spend the time more productively

Other Stuff
  • Too many good restaurants contributing to accelerated weight gain. No wonder the weather is so good all year round. I needed to burn some calories all the time
  • Intuition is highly respected. Analytics, less so.

Too much to list all them out, but I'm sure I'll use some of the lessons learned in the future posts.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Silicon Valley Trip - Day 1

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Here in Mountain View, sitting at a quiet cafe, I'm sipping on a delicious cup of latte.

I met a few startups and investors yesterday. Nothing was really new.
  • Due to the economic downturn and surge of available time, Silicon Valley sees more companies and innovations
  • Entrepreneurs are laser-focused on doing what they're supposed to be doing: improving product and engaging more customers. This applies to both well and under-capitalized companies. Many are cautiously hoping for revenue generating opportunities.
  • Weather is scattered shower, sunny, and cool. I was wearing a t-shirt, and people kept asking me, "Aren't you cold?" Nope, my skin thickened quite a bit with lipids and adipose tissues.
  • Building products is cheaper than ever.
I want to say something more explicit about the last bullet. I've been hearing the mass exodus from Google, and how the company turned into a monster like Microsoft praying on innovators in the Silicon Valley. All that aside, entrepreneurs were integrating Google Docs, Calendar, Tasks, Maps, and many other products by using the free API.

Google's main and only revenue source may be from its wildly successful ads operation. At the end of day, the company's turning all that revenue into enabling many other technology innovations among startups.

Without further due, "Google, you the man!"
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