As it isn’t a good tone to have a blog sit stale for a year, I figured this place deserves at least a brief set of links as an update on what’s been happening.
The EIR period at Andreessen Horowitz was not only amazing on personal level, but also fruitful professionally. Even though I wrapped up there only in May, since beginning of this year I’ve been working on my next startup venture: Teleport. We officially founded it with Silver and Balaji in April, closed some seed funding soon after and now have been head down building team and product.
On November 14th, we released the first modest piece of our location search tech in public preview, aimed at helping startup people find the best place to live in the San Francisco Bay Area – give it a try and tell me what you think!
If you’re interested more about what we’re up to, read the coming-out-of-the-closet blog post from April, or a more recent one explaining our focus on startup people. Or just lean back and let me explain it to you in 10 minutes in a speech held at Slush 2014:
It is quite amusing now to see how all of this builds on my Slush 2013 speech and blogpost series on Looking at Europe from Silicon Valley… Some things are just meant to come together, I guess.
As you can guess, life on the early stage startup road is quite busy, the good kind of busy. Hence you can find me quicker at these places than on this personal blog for now:
The fabulous Slush crew has posted a 13 minute video of my speech on how does European tech scene look from Silicon Valley these days:
If you rather prefer long form reading (and to contribute to discussion), this short version later expanded into a series of 3 blog posts :
- On Bridges, Part 1: Realizing how Europe and Silicon Valley are drifting apart
- On Bridges, Part 2: Why Should Europe Care for Silicon Valley
- On Bridges, Part 3: What Can Europe Give to Silicon Valley?
Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 8 (38), Spring quarter
This week kicked off with Maker Faire, the ultimate geek fest of robots, drones, noisy machines, 3D printers, lasers and eco-conscious handicraft. I could picture tiny versions of this kind of events as a science faire in many technical universities around the world, but it is quite something to experience the scale of the creativity and crazyness unleashed once the event covers acres and attracts tens of thousands of tinkerers as it does in Silicon Valley. Just as one illustration, I’ll leave you with the Sashimi Choir someone has spent months of their life building for fun:
As a slightly more professional follow-up, we had a study trip to Flextronics this week to hear their story of how to design, develop and produce $30B worth of electronics a year with 200,000 people, and especially how to stay sane with $25B in materials and components travelling in just in time to make the supply chain miracle happen. We did see a solar panel manufacturing line in action, but were carefully kept away from stealth prototyping labs they run for many of their top name Valley clients.
Back on campus we got some face time with Professor Condoleezza Rice. She is more known for her stint as the Secretary of State, of course, but has had a respectable academic career at Stanford since getting her PhD at the age of 26 – and has many intriguing viewpoints on international politics, change management and diversity to share. See the notes below.
Covered in this issue:
- Social networks in international settings
- Display & search advertising optimization
- Climate change
- More on sales force incentives
- Colorful range of startup cases: from batteries to microbreweries to lifestyle watches for surfers
- Entrepreneur’s compass
- Guests from: Gordon Biersch, Nixon, Carnegie Insitution, Envia
Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 7 (37), Spring quarter
This week was completely overrun with two homework projects that refused to surrender even when groups of Sloans & MBAs spent hours sitting in the room and cranking through logistic regressions and ROI analysis for marketing channels of a pharma company, or trying to calculate the optimal inventory cost of the supply chain of HP injet printer factory. Also, a real dataset of 90,000 users of mobile phone users came in, which will be a basis for one of our final projects on understanding churn – once we chew ourselves through it.
And in the Town Hall with Madhav Rajan, Associate Dean of Academics we learned that the incoming MSx 2014 class will have quite a few improvements to their class schedule, with even more room for electives in Winter & Spring – congrats! Make sure you’ll fill those slots with quant analysis under the California sun this time next year.
Covered in this issue:
- Milgram’s Small world problem and its modern developments
- Recency/Frequency/Monetary Value & Churn analysis
- Measuring sales force performance and forecasting tricks (and a video sampler for a litmus test for if you should be in sales)
- Organizational blueprints for startups
- Guests from: Google, VMWare, Progreso, Ariat
I recently shared some thoughts on how surprisingly hard it has been to adjust to how mundane and bureaucratic everyday activities still can be in otherwise tech-advanced Silicon Valley, compared to back home in Estonia. The video from Stanford GSB YouTube channel:
This is probably the longest-prepared short speech I’ve ever delivered, as a finale of a whole-winter-quarter-long LOWKeynotes program at Stanford GSB in 2013. A text version is below the fold, and if you got anything out of watching this, I’m sure you would enjoy all of the videos from my peers in the program. All of the outcomes were worthy of the effort put in, but if you need help from where to start, try the videos from Lukasz Strozek (on digital hoarding) and Evan Moore (on not believing in God) first.
Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 3 (33), Spring quarter
Head down in two inches of readings for this week and a fresh flow of first written project deadlines, like a two-degrees-deep analysis of your friends and advisors social graph or a set of regressions to be run on profitability data of a bank who has no clue if there is any connection between the demographics and profitability of their customers.
For a little different entertainment in the Sales Orgs class we are running a simulation game where you need to manage yourself through the pipeline as a sales rep of a medical devices company. Four virtual “years” in four weeks. After a miserable first year (I hit merely about a quarter of my quota – should have read the manual before I tried to just figure the game mechanics out for 2 “quarters”) I look forward to the Tuesday class from a much more comfortable position after “year” 2. I guess the hours spent as a teen with Civilization and the likes can sometimes pay off?
GSB hosted a fun networking event this week called “Fewer than 300” – bringing people in from over 30 companies who are about to grow out of their startup phase (but are yet to break 300 employees), but have raised money and shown traction and still are just burning of enthusiasm about what they are doing. Think of the likes of Uber or Nest or Visual.ly. Good people and good conversations.
Covered in this issue:
- Analysing network centrality measures and deriving composite relationships from simple a matrix
- Using Bass diffusion models for new product adoption predictions
- Handling variability in processes (from job shops to continuous flow)
- Economics of selling SaaS subscriptions and merging sales teams after M&A
- More team-first entrepreneurial models
- History of Sloan Program at Stanford
- Data Science learnings from LinkedIn and other Greylock companies
- Guests: Vinod Khosla, Mark Leslie & part of Veritas exec team, Corey Leibow, Eric Botto, George Parker, DJ Patil
Spent half a day today at legendary research hub SRI International, for Xconomy-organized robotics forum (see full agenda here), listening to an impressive lineup of industry pioneers of mass-market appealing robotics talk about their businesses. Some speakers were still physically on stage, others embodied inside telepresence robots, of course. And answering to a recurring moderator question if robots will take away human jobs with a recurring “no”.
As Steve Jurvetson (yes, we keep having these sweet Estonian reunions) put it well in the final venture capital panel: it would be absurd to think that “we should pull Excel out of organisations, because we would create more jobs when people tabulated numbers manually again.” The times they are a-changin’, and for sure not back towards a robot-less world.
See brief notes from all the sessions (and a bunch of videos of cool commercially available robots in action!) below the fold.