Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Thoughts on Seattle 2.0 Awards

May 8, 2009

Wow, what a great event put on by Marcelo and team!! Truly a top class event.

SeattleAwards_speech

For those of you who didn’t attend the event (in-person or live) – you should not make the same mistake next year! Marcelo and team put together a welcoming environment where the focus was on the event, the speakers, and the community. Definitely kudos to him and the team – pulling off this kind of an event is difficult and the team’s ability to execute well definitely shines through! John has a great write-up on the results.

The family and I had a great time. Quentin was embarrassed that people knew who he was. Gabriel was his usual self and was handing out Seattle Lunch 2.0 stickers to everyone. Robin was of course her usual proud supportive self. There were quite a few people there I didn’t know, so it was great to meet new people and chat about their startups. The boys were hilarious, after meeting Jonathan Sposato in the restroom, they were proud that they met the guy who kept winning awards. They kept saying, “oh – we met that guy!”

Luckily, their Dad finally won an award so he could compete with all these cool CEOs who were winning awards and giving talks to the audience. The boys wanted to brag to everyone so it was a great chance to teach some humility and let them know how important awards from the community are. It was also good because the kids got the explanation about how there are so many other great seattle tech groups and events that just being a part of the category is a great thing (all the event organizers deserve an award).

If you haven’t attended a Lunch or Happy Hour – get registered for an upcoming event before the seats are filled!! If you’re unsure of what to expect, check out The Experience of Attending or Hosting a Seattle Lunch 2.0.

There will be a Seattle Lunch 2.0 @ Pelago on May 15th.

There will also be a Seattle Lunch 2.0 Happy Hour @ Sortuv on May 29th.

If you can’t attend either of those, Seattle 2.0 Live will be streaming the events (so you can at least attend remotely). There are plenty more in the works – contact me if you want to host/sponsor. If you don’t have the resources to host/sponsor and still want to contribute – make a donation – I am currently sending Seattle Lunch 2.0 stickers to all those that donate.

For those of you who voted for Seattle Lunch 2.0 – Thank you (I literally could not have done it without you)! It truly takes a community and if Seattle Lunch 2.0 wins an award like this, it means that all of you in the community contributed to the events enough to make it happen!

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Seattle 2.0 Awards – today 5/7/9

May 7, 2009

A few thoughts to keep in mind regarding today’s big awards ceremony…

First,  I want to say thanks to Marcelo and the team for putting on the Seattle 2.0 Awards, Seattle definitely needs this kind of event!

Second, I want to thank the community for nominating Seattle Lunch 2.0in the Best Social Event for Startups category. It’s a real honor to be a nominee in this category and I’m glad to share the nomination spot with so many other great events and organizers.

Third, I want to let all of my readers, twitter followers, facebook friends, etc that the family and I will be attending the awards ceremony tonight. I will be tweeting a lot throughout the day regarding the event and especially during the event (this means twitter and facebook status updates). I will be using the hashtag #seattleawardsfor those of you that want to filter out those due to the amount of traffic to your facebook status (fine – I should have less seattleawards updates tomorrow). Although I would assume you all have either a vested interest in the health and vitality of the young Seattle companies being celebrated tonight as our economy truly does depend in large part to the innovative companies, investors, thinkers, service providers, and event holders that make up this community or you are seriously curious to learn if Seattle Lunch 2.0 wins…

Fourth, It is Quentin’s birthday today (11yrs old ), and we are going to spend his birthday as a family cheering on the Seattle Startup community. If you are a founder, CEO, investor, or entrepreneur – please stop by and encourage both of my young sons (Quentin – 11 and Gabriel – 7). They both look up to people who start stuff and well, I know a lot of you don’t think of yourselves as role models. It will be a great way to get an ego booster and help encourage my sons to pursue their dreams.

Fifth, Did I mention how important this kind of event is for Seattle and the economy as a whole? It is kind of our duty to pass along the details of this event to anyone and everyone we know. The goal is to ensure the live streaming attendance is higher than the in-person attendance and the press coverage at a national level is just as high as it is at local level.

On another note – if you didn’t vote for Seattle Lunch 2.0, it is too late to vote but it’s not too late to donate to the running of these events or to attend the Lunch @ Pelago or the Happy Hour @ Sortuv.

Reducing Payroll Costs Closer to Home

April 25, 2009

I have been slowly following a series of cost reductions that seem to touch a lot of people I know (yes myself included). We have all heard the stories on the news about automotive workers, home builders, and financial industry types losing jobs and not having anywhere to go. These seem so distant though (despite my brother-in-law being laid off from GM and my sister-in-law, his wife, being laid off from Expedia). Yeah there are some home builders here putting people out of work, there was WaMu, there is Russell. We don’t have much in the way of auto workers around here though. We’ve got a fair amount of airplane and boat makers instead that seem to be less impacted. We clearly aren’t as bad off as other areas hit harder by the declines in these sectors.  Michigan has the highest unemployment rate at 12.6%, which is drastically different than Seattle’s unemployment rate of 8.7% (ranking it 191st on the list of major metropolitan areas). So what are the entities around here doing to reduce their costs if they aren’t closing up shop or laying off people? Surely the value of goods here in Seattle can’t be higher than the value of the goods elsewhere.

Organizations around here do seem to be reducing their costs. My friend Nathan has some great advice on reducing costs of running your business and the importance of cash flow. Other organizations out there (companies, nonprofits, government agencies) are all showing an interest in preserving cash too. Besides the great ideas for reducing operating costs that Nathan has, there are the payroll costs that usually take up a bulk of the costs. Obviously the fastest method to reduce the cost on people was to get rid of the dead weight these organizations were  carrying around for unnessessary projects or simply in an inneffective workforce. These are the numbers that we track on a grand scale. This is also what we hear the most of… “My friend lost their job”. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the agency that tracks these numbers. Their report for Washington State has things like, construction jobs being down 12.4%, Education and Health Services, Other Services, and Government as having an increase in jobs (1.3%, .3%, & 1.2% respectively), and a total of only a 4% drop in the last twelve months…

What do all these rises and drops in wages mean to the value of the goods we are buying and selling? Looking further at the data, the rise in the average hourly wage at a national level is roughly $5 over the last 10 years, that’s $.50/year. With an average hourly wage of $13.27 in January of 1999 and $18.43 in January of 2009. This doesn’t even include the rest of the real cost of hiring employees. Clearly we as employees cost more money these days (even if the output we are making is worth less due to decreased demand). The result? A paycut…. Of course!

The average paycut seems to be 5-10% (reflecting that on the hourly wages, 5% of $18.43, puts us back at the hourly wages of August 2007 – 10% puts back to the hourly wages of March 2006). With these kinds of cuts should we be looking to value our assets at these levels? The stock Market is much lower than the ’06 levels, the current value of the Dow is at 1998 levels. Should we be looking at wages from these levels? I sure hope not, that’s more of a 25% paycut…

So if we aren’t going to lay off a bunch of people, but we need to make our companies operate at the levels of 2006 and 2007, and perhaps even 1998. There needs to be methods for doing so, paycuts, benefit reductions, and furloughs seem to be popular choices. A few that I have heard about recently are summarized below. What about you? Are you an employee or a business owner? Are you part of a cost reduction? If you are an entrepreneur – are you paying yourself less?

Some non-layoff measures I’ve heard of lately (local and not so local):

Paycuts:

EMC Corporation – 5% accross the board for 2009, perhaps re-instated in 2010, then again maybe not. Executive staff took a previous paycut.

Siemens Business Services – Managers & directors took a paycut

Denali Advanced Integration – 5-20% paycut depending on level and margin contribution. Raises and bonuses frozen.

Microsoft – lowering the amount they are paying vendors by 10%, removing cost of living adjustments this year.

401(k) reductions:

EMC Corporation – no 401k matching

Chase (wamu) – no 401k matching

Furloughs:

Siemens Business Services – 5 days mandatory

USBank – US Bank’s furloughs were voluntary.

King County – 10 mandatory days (everyone takes them at the same time), Cost of Living Adjustments still happening (so more base pay, plus a few days off w/o pay)

Planned Parenthood – 5  mandatory days (take them at your convenience)

Add more in the comments or email and I’ll add them to the list…

Congratulations to Opsware

July 23, 2007

Seems like ages ago, but I worked with the guys over at iConclude during their early days. The product was early but the vision and design was clear. Since then iConclude was bought by Opsware which was a great success for the team at iConclude. Now Opsware has been sold to HP!! They are getting tons of press and the stock is up ~36% after the $1.6b deal was announced ($14.25 per share – Thanks Marc, I made money too) . It will be interesting to see where the Opsware suite of products go in the datacenter space. It seems system automation is huge in both enterprise IT and in managed offerings (e.g. EMC’s hosted storage or MS’s hosted email). The key for these automation systems will be to penetrate both sides of the fence. With Google and MS going after the fat middle market with their hosted offerings the potential market is opening up in two directions….

Somewhere between onsite storage and Amazon’s S3

May 9, 2007

Karen over at eWeek has the the story about EMC & Unisys partnering up to offer hosted storage services for customers. This is an interesting strategy change that is barely explored by Karen. With the rise of Amazon’s S3 which allows storage at $0.15GB, more customers and startups have questioned their onsite storage solutions and moved to alternative methods of data storage. One thing that is missing in the cloud solution is the integrated data management that comes with an onsite storage solution. For those customers who need a little bit of management and a lot cheaper storage, they have still been stuck purchasing substandard storage or good storage with no one to manage it…..

……Enter hosted storage by EMC|Unisys…..now customers can get both integrated storage management from the start and a completely hands off approach to the whole thing….or the integrated storage with a little bit of hands on. This is a great concept, although it is odd that EMC isn’t hosting it themselves and I don’t see any pricing anywhere. It will be interesting if the pricing is aggressive enough to draw the web 2.0 crowd to use the EMC|Unisys offering vs. Amazon’s S3 offering. There are pros and cons to both storage outsourcing models and there is enough data in the world to support both of these offerings (and probably a couple more)….