Self-Deprecating Venture Capitalists

From my buddy Scott Foehner: Check out Bessemer Venture Partnersanti-portfolio. Excerpts of some funny (and painful) missed opportunities:    (GFB)

eBay: “Stamps? Coins? Comic books? You’ve GOT to be kidding,” thought Cowan. “No-brainer pass.”    (GFC)

Federal Express: Incredibly, BVP passed on Federal Express seven times.    (GFD)

Google: Cowan’s college friend rented her garage to Sergey and Larry for their first year. In 1999 and 2000 she tried to introduce Cowan to “these two really smart Stanford students writing a search engine”. Students? A new search engine? In the most important moment ever for Bessemer’s anti-portfolio, Cowan asked her, “How can I get out of this house without going anywhere near your garage?”    (GFE)

Gotta appreciate VCs with a sense of humor.    (GFF)

New Year’s Wish: An Auto-Updating Address Book

An observation from my annual holiday card ritual: I didn’t have to scramble around as much this year to track down people’s mailing addresses. My friends have either settled down en masse or have gotten much better at sending out their latest contact info as soon as they’ve moved. Nevertheless, it reminded me of what I think is one of the most compelling applications that Identity Commons will enable: an auto-updating address book.    (GF8)

Many of you might claim that these already exist, pointing to sites like Plaxo (which received $8.5 million in second round investment in July 2003). I’m not talking about centralized services that spam you at least once a year. I’m talking about a service that is fully distributed and that is owned and controlled by you, not by some third-party.    (GF9)

The Identity Commons technology will make services like these possible, and assuming all goes well, the enabling technologies will be available by mid-2005. Not only is it an interesting enterprise opportunity, it’s a great service for regular schmoes like me who just want to keep their address books updated.    (GFA)

Kolabora Interview about Identity Commons

Robin Good interviewed me yesterday for his Kolabora Internet Radio program. We discuss online collaboration — of course! — and the latter half of the conversation is about Identity Commons.    (BGV)

Robin also interviewed me last May, after my manifesto came out. What’s really interesting about doing these interviews — besides the fact that I enjoy talking to Robin — is that Robin is always on top of the latest and greatest Internet conferencing tools. Last May’s conversation was videocast. This interview was recorded over the Internet using a tool called iVocalize. It’s like an online walkie talkie over the Internet — you hold down the control key when it’s your turn to talk. It also removes the pauses that occur when a different person starts talking, which makes the end recording sound very fluid. If you listen to the recording, it sounds like Robin and I are having a very natural conversation, when in reality, it was a bit choppy because of the limitations of the tool.    (BGW)

In any case, I never tire of the fact that I can talk to someone in Italy in real-time for free using my Web browser.    (BGX)

Blue Oxen Turns 2

Today is Blue Oxen Associates‘ second anniversary. Doug Engelbart is graciously hosting a party for our friends and colleagues tonight in Atherton, California.    (8TA)

This year has been a fruitful one, and next year’s will be even more exciting. Many of the conversations I’ve had over the past two years are resulting in real projects in 2005. Thanks to all who have been a part of the ride so far. I’m looking forward to continued progress and learning and to meeting many more great people in the upcoming year.    (8TB)

i-names Not Centralized

The Identity Commons i-name fundraiser got Slashdotted today. I haven’t been all that impressed by the comments on Slashdot in the past, but they were useful this time in revealing a fundamental misunderstanding about the Identity Commons infrastructure (and a problem with its messaging). Identity Commons is not centralized. This is not a non-profit version of Microsoft Passport. It was designed from the ground up to be fully distributed. See Fen Labalme‘s post for a deeper explanation and some additional comments on the Slashdot responses.    (7VR)