January 8, 2010

I Am blogging again, but on a new platform

Posted in management at 10:42 am by scottmaxwell

I started blogging again a few months back.  My new Scott Maxwell Blog is here.  I expect that I will post again on this blog as well, but my new blogging platform is an OpenView Venture Partners firmwide platform and is integrated into the OpenView Website.  As with this blog, my new blog is mostly aimed at ideas, advice, and experience relating to helping emerging growth technology companies through the expansion and growth stage of their product, customer, and company development cycles.

Separately, thanks WordPress for the exceptional service and ongoing improvements to the site over the last few years…I will post here again!

June 16, 2007

Pruning keeps the plant Healthy

Posted in CEO, Product Development at 3:46 pm by scottmaxwell

I wrote a post on how to get things Undone. Matt just undid something with WordPress and I like the metaphor that he used relating to pruning:

“Pruning is an important and necessary step in growing roses. Pruning keeps the plant healthy. It promotes new growth, removes dead, broken or diseased canes and trains roses to a desired shape. Pruning encourages flowering, either more blooms or larger blooms, and is essential to keep modern rose varieties blooming repeatedly all summer long.”

I also thought the comments were pretty interesting, as anything that you do or undo will have mixed reactions. Keep pruning Matt and I look forward to the next blooms!

April 26, 2007

A great Video on some significant shifts in the economy!

Posted in Global Investing, management, predictions at 7:49 am by scottmaxwell

My aunt sent me a link to this video which contains a very powerful set of facts around the shift in economic power over time (nothing new here, but the facts are very powerful). Clearly, the current hot topics are around China and India given the size of their populations and the rate of their economic growth. It reminds me a lot of the late 80’s when all the talk was about Japan and everyone was preparing for its global domination (which turned into years and years of Japan not meeting the expectations). That said, you need to watch this video if you have any interest in the shifting sands of the global and/or virtual economy!It must be an extremely concerning time for anyone who is flatfooted or who fears change, but it an extremely enriching time for anyone who is participating in, encouraging, and contributing to the shift!

see the video here

April 3, 2007

Announcing George Roberts!

Posted in Execution, VC Roles at 9:32 am by scottmaxwell

We announced this morning that George Roberts has joined OpenView Venture Partners. I have been working with George for about 3 years on the Board of Scriptlogic Corporation where George has been a great advisor to both the board and management team. Over time, we have found that we are extremely well aligned with respect to our beliefs around building great technology companies and it became clear that we should be working together more closely. After George spent some time getting to know the rest of the OpenView team over the last few months, we were lucky enough to convince him to become part of our team.

George has a fantastic background in Sales and Marketing (including branding, lead generation, inside sales, channel sales, and field sales), senior management, and managing for both growth and profitability. (George spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation and attaining the position as EVP North American Sales reporting to Larry Ellison…more details on his background are here).

We asked George to join the firm for several reasons:

  1. George truly enjoys helping emerging growth technology companies grow both quickly and profitably
  2. George has a great global network, which should help our portfolio companies tremendously
  3. George has and extremely rich background in all aspects of sales and marketing, a major aspect of both growth and profitability for expansion stage companies
  4. George has participated at the senior management level of a very well managed, high growth, highly profitable company, and he brings many proven process and organizational methodologies to our portfolio.
  5. George has an extremely rare and extremely good ability to help companies evolve with the strategic and operational approach that is optimized for their specific situation.
  6. George is a great guy!

George’s role at OpenView is that of a senior investment professional. In this role, he will be the senior point person on several companies and, at the same time, will offer his functional expertise and network to our entire portfolio.

You can drop George a line at groberts@openviewpartners.com

March 25, 2007

What do you make if you don’t understand your customer needs?

Posted in management at 11:27 am by scottmaxwell

one result is here

March 12, 2007

Startling VC Statistics!

Posted in finance at 11:47 am by scottmaxwell

Don Dodge has done some great analysis in his post Venture Capitalists and Angels invest $40 Billion per year but see only $18B in exits. The bottom line is that it appears that the relationship between investments made by VCs vs. the exits that have been generated suggest pretty significant losses (unless the market cap of VC portfolios is significant!). While it is difficult to match investments made with actual results, Don’s conclusions are difficult to argue with. There is probably a lot of accumulated value in VC portfolios that is not evident in the data yet, but there will have to be some pretty significant increased M&A and/or IPO activity in order to get positive multiples out of the industry (i.e., your average exits over time divided by your average investments needs to be greater than 1!).

Don’s analysis raises a some issues:

  • Strange that every VC I talk with has great results yet the totals look so poor…how can this be?
  • Is it possible that the market value of VC portfolios is multiples of past years?
  • If the conclusion from this analysis is correct, how does the industry get back to equilibrium? Fewer VC firms? Fewer VCs at the firms? Less capital at the firms? More firms moving into private equity?
  • Are the large companies seeing such low ROI from their investments in new technologies? If so, should they be doing less R&D and acquiring more, thereby allowing the VCs to fund their R&D?
  • Do current VC portfolios (not taken into account in the analysis) represent such a large value that there will be a flood of exits in the next few years?

It should be an interesting next few years in the industry…

March 2, 2007

Is your UI intuitive enough?

Posted in Product Development at 3:42 pm by scottmaxwell

This Video is a pretty funny reminder of the difficult time that users have as they try to learn how to use your product! It brings up some very good questions:

  • Is your UI intuitive enough?
  • Do you have “help” built into the product to reduce the need for manual support?
  • Do you have easy approaches for helping users get back to the “state” of the system that they understand how to use?

Thanks to Brian Styles for e-mailing it to me!

Employment 2.0

Posted in management at 10:15 am by scottmaxwell

WebWorker Daily has two recent posts about how the internet is leading to many new ways of making money (a living?) through your browser. I can’t help but believe that they will have an endless stream of new pockets of opportunity to write about for years to come as the corporate value chain continues to offer APIs at different points in the chain for third parties to offer professional services through their browsers. The posts:

From a business perspective, how can you open up your value chain to third parties (via browsers) so that skilled individuals can contribute to your business on a full or part time basis? There are many great opportunities to extend and enhance your workforce!

February 27, 2007

The best video content delivery network on the planet!

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:17 pm by scottmaxwell

With all of the new companies surrounding video these days, I felt compelled to point to a company that I haven’t seen reviewed on TechCrunch (and ti is not in the product/company index). It is simply the best content delivery network on the planet! It is pretty amazing, and I can download songs, movies and other video content, store them, and and even download them and save them locally to watch later.

I can even connect it to my TV and watch High Definition videos or listen to songs through the TV. The downloads start very quickly and the resolution is amazing, with no jitter, flicker, or any other issues. I ordered an apple TV (which has apparently been delayed) to test out how it works, but I suspect that this is already better! I understand that the Google engineers also have done some research and determined that this technology has a significant lead on their approach and even Google may not be able to catch up (perhaps Google will buy them?)

My only complaint is that the UI for choosing the content is not great…they appear to be working on it, although they could probably use some better approaches for indexing and search for the content (perhaps the combination with Google does make some sense?)

The company has a sophisticated business model that allows video advertising on some of the content, allows subscription for other content, and even has some content that is paid for per file. They are even experimenting with video classifieds and are adding a significant amount of new content daily!

Here is the link to the company!

How to get things UNdone!

Posted in management at 4:47 pm by scottmaxwell

We all have goals for thinks that we need to get done. When was the last time that you had a goal to undue something? If you are not careful (and even if you are) activities build up, particularly as your company grows and time moves on, which raises your level of complexity and lowers your level of productivity.

Think about it. If you have ever tried to stop eating, stop smoking, or stop drinking, you understand how difficult it is to UNdo your personal habits. Businesses habits are similar, as most activities get started and then have a particular inertia to them. Most businesses don’t keep track of all their cumulative activities…much, much more often they focus on what they should do in addition to what they are currently doing.

It is much harder to stop doing something than to start doing something when it comes to business process, as employees get a “this is how we do things” mindset and they have a need to feel that the things that they are doing are valuable to the business (which leads them to have a high perceived value of the lower value activities)….net, net it is extremely difficult to UNdo things!

The only management systems that most companies have that help to manage the UNdoing of things is cost budgeting systems, but most emerging growth companies are not very sophisticated with this type of management AND very very few management teams budget from a zero-base (their starting point is past activities).

So, how do you manage to get things Undone? There are only two management approaches that I have seen work:

  • The best approach is when you can zero-base activities relatively frequently and be absolutely clear on what your people are working on and what the short-term priorities are (generally easier in development, sales, and customer services groups than in Marketing, Finance, IT, and Admin functions). This will allow you to explicitly stop certain activities and allow more time for the high value activities (this works particularly well in agile development environments for development, well managed sales groups, and well defined customer service processes).
  • If you can’t for some reason do the above, then put enough goals on everyone’s plate so that they have too much to do…this approach generally leads to a prioritization conversation (or more resources if you are not careful!), which leads to activities being dropped off the plate (the lower value activities if you do this right). Not perfect, but it works! (a related approach is to keep your hiring extremely lean vs. demand as you grow…it will keep the focus on the high value activities).

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