Brightstorm Raises $6 Million

Techcrunch is reporting today that Brightstorm raised $6 million dollars in an A round.  It’s a bit of a crowded space but I like the general direction of the idea.  If they can continue to get top notch teachers and are able to convey their teaching style, that’s sure to help differentiate their value proposition.

Plus, I know they have good teachers because I know one of them.  She’s a rock star (below).

Inversion of Control and New Architectures

Here is nice, compact article by Martin Fowler on the Inversion of Control pattern.  I’m revisiting the Spring Framework after stepping away from it for a while.

It’s always important when building a new products to learn from the “pains” of previous projects.  Reminds me of those poor suckers that implemented the full J2EE 1.0 stack back in the day.  Wait, I was one of them. *doh*

Anyway, what’s interesting is it seems that most new architectures are straying away from the Java stack.  According to the case studies at, most of the new architectures are LAMP, Ruby on Rails or Django based.  I don’t have practical experience on these platforms so I can’t tell you why but folks seem to tell me its a ton easier and quicker to develop.  My biggest fears are …

  • Long Term Manageability.   Well, this is a problem for any architecture but its seems that Java keeps things together cleaner.
  • Performance.  Java has a big head start in this area.

For a startup, these would seem like secondary concerns.  It’s probably a good thing when you start having these problems and by then you can throw tons of VC money at it.

Java verses LAMP verses Ruby on Rails Django

I’m still torn.

Good Quote for Founders and Start-ups

Below is an except from a speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967, on the subject of ending the Vietnam war, delivered at Riverside Church in New York City:

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood-it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967

Passionate speeches can resonate differently depending on context and person listening.  In this case, the quote resonated with how I build my teams, run my products, drive start ups and push towards positive outcomes.

How many times have you had drinks with friends and he said “I had that idea years ago, I just never did anything with it”.  Some would say that start ups are 10% ingenuity and 90% execution.  Founders need to understand the “fierce ugency of now” or else never gain traction, never gather momentum and flat out fail.

I need to get this quote framed and put up in my office.

Corporate verses Startup Experience

It’s been over five months since leaving HP and re-joining the ranks of the startups and it has been quite the shift in experiences. The startup experience is something that better fits my speed and style. They are such a great way to learn how to run a business. Also, get ready to get your hands dirty. My current position spans so many different responsibilities:

  • Director of Engineering — that’s what I was hired for
  • Senior Product Manager — actually not too much of a stretch from what I was hired for
  • Director of Support — added to my responsibilities after 6 weeks
  • Director of Operations — added to responsibilities after 8 weeks
  • Infrastructure Architect — What kind of production environment do I need to support the predicted growth?
  • Application Architect
  • Software Engineer — “I would rather be coding”
  • Support Engineer
  • QA Engineer
  • Webmaster — someone has to it and I would rather my engineers working on features
  • Technical Writer
  • Manager
  • And more …

There are folks that are more suited towards corporate environments and those that are more suited towards startup environments. For example, the leadership team at Mercury Interactive were all well suited towards startups and thats probably why many of those folk have since joined startups or started their own.

And then I think of my old boss at HP, that guy was built to work at HP and he’ll probably work there for the next 20 years. Nothing wrong with that.

I highly recommend startups to anyone that wants to make his mark on the world. And, is willing to incur some risk and comments like “You’re starting what? That will never work.”

Simplicity, integration and value

This week’s top Digg item is a story called Google Drive Killer Coming From MIT features a start up out of MIT called Dropbox. Basically, it provides a way to store and share files online. I have say that their offering is pretty compelling, or at least the video of the demo is compelling. Why do I like it?

  • Clear value proposition — read the comments from the digg post and you’ll see the instant appeal
  • Killer integration — the integration between the web, windows and mac files systems is done really well based on the video. That clearly differentiates it from all the other online storage companies.
  • Simplicity — very cool basic sharing capabilities are very powerful without some stupid grand vision of being the next Facebook

The interesting question is how they plan to monetize their creation. I’m not sure I would pay for it. And, will advertising revenue be enough for a business that can be infrastructure intensive? I would love to see what their business model looks like …

Where am I working now?

Did you know that 95% of email sent out in 2007 was SPAM?

For some reason, a number of folks think that I left HP for Google which is not the case. Google would be a great place to work but I needed something smaller. Something that would allow me to get the experience and connections needed for me to start my own business down the line. Plus, find a leadership team that can take my experience to the next level.

I’ve taken the Director of Engineering position at Abaca Technology Corp. based out of San Jose. Abaca was founded by Steve Kirsch, one really famous and successful guy in the valley. You can read more about him on his website or his Wikipedia page. His accomplishments speak for themselves.

Abaca Technology Corporation is an innovator in email protection and messaging security. Abaca’s patent-pending technology, ReceiverNet™, offers an advanced approach in the fight against spam — providing unprecedented levels of accuracy and guaranteeing 99 percent spam filtration. Abaca has created a portfolio of innovative products and services based upon this core technology, thereby assuring users unparalleled messaging protection from spam, as well as viruses and phishing attacks.

The question becomes, why did I join an anti-spam company? Well, this was my reasoning …

  • It’s time to get back to a real startup environment
  • An opportunity to work with Steve Kirsch
  • An opportunity to build another engineering team from scratch
  • An opportunity to be part of a company being built from the bottom up
  • An opportunity to bring real value to a space that doesn’t quite solve the problem.

The way I see it, the leadership team kicks butt, the product is truly “innovative” and I’m build one kick ass execution engine. Only time will tell, but I’m pretty bullish.

More details to come …