VSP goes from ugly to whatever is worse than ugly

Matt is right about this case illustrating what can happen when limited partnerships go bad, although outside of criminal fraud I can’t imagine a set of circumstances more extreme than what has been going on at VSP for the last year. The other important lesson for startups is that the problems of your venture investor can affect your company so it always makes good strategy to learn about the personal relationships behind the firm that is investing in you. Venture firms are made up of people and people don’t always get along… especially when money and egos are involved.

Private Equity Week:

The suit also alleges that Rees-Gallanter and Hamm “engaged in a scheme to retaliate against the limited partners of VSPIII for voting to liquidate the fund by conducting a sham auction of the assets, including the fund’s interest in Truveo Inc., so that Rees-Gallanter and Hamm could acquire Truveo for themselves.”

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The Missing Sync for Sony PSP – Synchronize Mac OS X and Sony PSP

Cool, turn your PSP into a portable backup device for your Mac or offline (online for that matter) reader. Lot’s of features, like converting audio/video, synching bookmarks, sync iphoto libraries, and ical/address book data.

The Missing Sync for Sony PSP – Synchronize Mac OS X and Sony PSP:

The Missing Sync for Sony PSP turns your PSP into a killer mobile media and information center by downloading web sites, bookmarks, videos, and important life information, such as your contacts, notes, tasks and calendar events, from your Mac. Easily. Automatically

When Organic isn’t Kosher

This is a great op-ed piece about how the organic food industry is being taken over by big business (which actually happened quite sometime ago). Of course, Wal-Mart is at the center of this storm as well, it seems like that company just can’t do anything to please their critics. What I like about this piece is that it articulately differentiates between the culture of the organic food business and the content of organic foods. Personally, I think the best thing to happen to consumers is to have organic foods embraced by Wal-Mart.

OpinionJournal – Taste:

When organics hit the big time, a few movement purists realized factory farms weren’t the only enemy. They began to shun industrial organic and its big-store purveyors, instead favoring farmers markets. As a result, these small growers who were initially afraid that Whole Foods would steal their customers are doing a booming business–the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has more than doubled in the last decade.

You Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak

The title of this post is a catch phrase my good friend Glenn Perry always uses… it definitely applies to Google. Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows I’m down on Google for everything from their China policy to the perpetual beta existence they seem to reside in. I do think that a large part of the influencer market is turning on Google for the simple reason that their services are largely me-too or simply uninspiring in their execution, and worse is that they don’t stitch them together to be a true suite, like what Microsoft did a decade ago. For that matter, it doesn’t seem like Google values service integration at all considering that very few of them actually connect together. In other words, there’s lot’s of sizzle but the steak itself is a dry and tough.

The other irony about Google is that their bread-and-butter (sorry for all the food analogies in this post) search is so popular that they are forced to spend all the bulk of their resources engineering it for scale and counter-attacking against the pagerank gamers. Where is the relevance capability, or better visualization options?

In the interests of being fair, Google does get credit for coming up with some really cool services like Maps and Gmail (which even though it isn’t that different from other email services, works really well), and Google Scholar. They also have acquired some companies and turned the products loose for free, like Sketchup.

Technology Review: Emerging Technologies and their Impact:

Can there be too much of a good thing? Some Google watchers are beginning to think so. Leading technology bloggers’ reactions to Google Spreadsheets, which allows users to build and share simple Excel-like spreadsheets on line, have ranged from lukewarm to hostile.

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Regression to the Mean

I certainly don’t want to suggest that there is anything afoot here other than what has been written, but at the same time I sense a brewing conflict between the old school traditional marketing crowd and the more recent community based initiatives that many companies have bootstrapped with. I want to be careful to avoid the notion that this conflict is somehow unexpected, disruptive, or even overt but rather focus on the inevitable growing pains that companies go through when they begin to scale and are less about “3 engineers, a dog, and a dream” and more about health benefits, “infrastructure”, and an exit plan. For venture backed companies this must be more prominent given that most VCs will opt for the known over the unknown and quite frankly don’t have much experience with intense community strategies as a primary marketing vehicle. I suppose there really is no new new here other than than the buzzwords, companies in the Valley have always struggled to find a balance between growing into mass market while retaining the cultural identity of being a startup.

::HorsePigCow:: life uncommon: Announcement #2 – Rogue on the loose:

Although Riya recognizes the importance of community-focused marketing and how far they’ve come because of it, they are planning to hire some MarCom people to champion a more traditional and mass appeal strategy. Or something like that (I don’t know the person they are going to hire, so I can’t assume anything).

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Scoble: “I broke a few rules”

This is something that anyone blogging “in the clear” needs to be aware of, the sad fact is that most companies don’t trust their employees to and have employee guidelines that explicitly prohibit the kind of blogging that many people engage in, including myself. SAP has restrictions but like Microsoft has chosen to extend a lot of latitude to employee bloggers, and I also know that we are working on revising the guidelines to be officially accomodating. I received an email today about a Proofpoint survey of “294 decision-makers at large U.S. companies” that underscores this point by determining that “nearly 1 in 5 companies (17.3%) has disciplined an employee for disobeying blog or message board policies.”

Scoble The Exit Interview:
“Actually, I broke a few rules. I wasn’t supposed to talk to reporters and I always did anyway. But I was scared about that in the first year.”

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Cingular’s Big Business Mistake in 2006

This is awesome, a blog devoted to a single post about a specific company. I propose that companies create a new position that reports directly the CEO and has the power to override all other executives when an issue of common sense like this becomes apparent… it could be like an ombudsman position for common sense or Chief Stupidity Officer. Via Thomas Hawk.

Cingular’s Big Business Mistake in 2006:

That’s right, you’re paying $5.15, every month, to send me my bill: a 231 page manifesto of stupidity. That’s over 7% of what I pay you, and you’re giving it away to the post office so they can clog my postbox with even more useless shit.

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