Thursday, June 12, 2008

Craig Newmark "Fireside Chat," from TieCon East

Last month, I had the chance to interview Craigslist founder Craig Newmark in front of a great big audience at the annual TieCon East entrepreneurship conference.

Craig was hugely entertaining -- he's a witty, code-writin' blend of Woody Allen, Oscar Wilde, and Groucho Marx.

Here's a podcast (in mp3 form) of the event, just posted to

We talk about:

    - Craig's pre-Craigslist career
    - How any why he started Craigslist
    - His shortcomings as a manager, and hiring Jim Buckmaster to be CEO of Craigslist
    - Whether he posts things on Craigslist
    - How Craigslist's unique culture spread around the globe
    - Why the company doesn't try to make more money from the site
    - What he does as a "customer service rep"
    - Craigslist's tempestuous relationship with eBay, which owns 28 percent of the company
    - Craig's views on the future of journalism
    - Whether he gets a newspaper at home
    - How he answers his e-mail so quickly
    - Politics (he's an Obama man)
    - His future

(Update #1: TIE has just put up a short video clip from the conversation.)

(Update #2: Here's my Sunday Globe column on Newmark and the growth of Craigslist.)

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Interviewing Craig Newmark at TieCon East

The nice folks at TIE have invited me to conduct an on-stage interview next Friday with Craig Newmark of Craigslist, at their big annual conclave.

I hope you can make it...and if you want to post some questions here for Craig, I'll consider them for inclusion in our chat.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Audio: TIE's VC Outlook Panel from Jan. 31st

TIE's annual "VC Outlook" dinner was packed to the rafters late last month.... Mike Gaiss from Highland Capital was kind enough to post an audio recording of the discussion.

I moderated, and my panelists included Paul Maeder from Highland; Ajay Agarwal from Bain Capital Ventures; Hemant Taneja from General Catalyst Partners; and Bob Hower from ATV.

We started by talking about the climate for VC investing (2007 was the best year since 2001 for VC firms raising money, and start-ups raking in investments)... the economic outlook... some new areas the panelists are learning about (and perhaps investing in)... some businesses they feel are over-hyped and over-invested (mobile advertising was mentioned)... the globalization of VC... and the impact that sovereign wealth funds may have on tech companies and VC firms.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cruise on Over to See Hull's Wind Turbine

Not a lot of tech networking events take place in the dog days of August ... but this one put on by TiE (the Indus Entrepreneurs association) looks like a winner: a cruise to Hull's wind turbine from Quincy, followed by a tour and seminar on the science of wind power.

Interestingly, the tour takes you to Hull's smaller turbine (660 kilowatts), out on the tip of the peninsula, rather than their newer, more powerful 1.8 megawatt turbine, which was put into service last June. That one sits on a decommissioned landfill. I haven't been to the site of the newer turbine -- but it sounds less-picturesque (and possibly smellier).

Here's the Hull Wind site; they have some cool video clips from the dedication of Hull Wind 2, the newer turbine.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

How iRobot is Like Intel

TIE-Boston put on a really interesting event last night at the MIT Museum: "Mobile and Sociable Robots: At the Leading Edge of Computing."

Cory Kidd from the Media Lab was there, demoing his robotic weight loss coach, which he's hoping to commercialize once he leaves the Lab. I talked with the CTO of Bluefin Robotics, Christopher Wallsmith, about some of their new underwater 'bots that can glide for long periods of time, or hover in place. (Hiawatha wrote a great piece in the Globe earlier this month that included Bluefin.)

But the thing that struck me as most interesting was Helen Greiner's opening talk. (Helen is the co-founder and chairman of iRobot.) Two things struck me, actually.

First was how authentically iRobot has been living up to its mission statement: Build cool stuff, Deliver great product, Make money, and Have fun. They've shipped 2.5 million of their Roomba robotic vaccuum cleaners thus far.

The second thing was that iRobot is the closest thing Boston has to a Google, an Apple, or an Intel: a company that is so clearly the leader in its field that all the best people want to work there (aside from those who're happier in academia). Helen said iRobot now employs about 200 engineers and researchers. These kinds of "magnet" companies not only attract great people, they also make it clear that the region is a center of gravity for their particular industry -- and they start spinning off start-up companies. Q Robotics, one of the other companies on last night's panel, is just such a spin-off. Q CTO Joe Jones was one of the developers of iRobot's Roomba.

That's pretty cool.

(Photo by Jason Grow / Business Week. Chris Brady took some great photos at tonight's event.)

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