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VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

Welcome to the winter edition of the VentureForth Quarterly!

It’s been a busy year for VentureForth, with things kicking off last October at our annual Entrepreneur Conference. Mike
Lutz, Ray Smilor, and Gary Smaby were featured as keynote speakers while panels on venture capital, high tech spin-offs, and interna-
tional markets entertained and educated all who attended. A mix of students, faculty, and industry mingled at the La Jolla Radisson,
exchanging anecdotes and advice on the latest San Diego startups.

Local biotech can look forward to the second Annual Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Conference, a VentureForth
event that showcases entrepreneurs, investors and attorneys related to the biomedical field. The ABEC will explore the opportunities,
operation mechanisms and the factors needed to succeed in the biotechnology industry.

The conference features many leaders of the local biotech community speaking on various issues and companies in a panel format. This
year’s topics discuss the transition from academia to industry, recent trends in biotech, and legal discussions on startups, tech law, and
intellectual property.

We’re hoping this event will help San Diego industry generate successful startups from UCSD’s research and technology, as well as pro-
vide a venue for local entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and information.

This year’s ABEC takes place at the Institute of Americas, UCSD on May 21st. Keynote speaker Dr. Charles Cantor, CSO of Sequenom,
Inc will kick off the event at 9:30am, and the panels are expected to run until 3:00pm.

Free admission and free lunch!


Students, faculty, and industry are all invited to attend!

To register or for more information, please visit: http://www.ventureforth.org/conferences/biotech

If you’re interested in joining VentureForth or would just like more information, please attend our regular Sunday meeting, 7pm, at
Revelle’s Plaza Café, or visit our website at: http://www.ventureforth.org

The stars of the 2004 ABEC conference


Left: Kevin Jung, Dayu Teng, Murtaza Mogri, John Zacharia, Matt Moore, Ian Lian, David Boadita VentureForth Quarterly Staff:
Editors: John Zacharia,
Alberto Cueto

Contributing Writers:
Matthew Moore, Rex Chen,
Ryan Jolicoeur, Boaz Gurdin
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005 3

From academia to Wall Street


A Profile On Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs
By Rex Chen
For Dr. Irwin Jacobs, is a well-known and respected
Chairman and CEO of Qual- name outside of the wireless
comm, starting the company was industry.
a retirement project created after
realizing that at the age of fifty We can learn a variety of things
one, retirement wasn’t very fun. about starting a business from
Prior to founding Qualcomm, Dr. this remarkable story. First of
Jacobs had successfully started all, having a loyal and dedicated
a company known as Linkabit, team is crucial to your company’s
which give rise to San Diego’s success. Dr. Jacobs emphasized
wireless communications indus- that his employees were a part
try and was sold to M/A-COM in of the his secret to success. It
1985. Linkabit began in 1968 as is crucial to establish a friendly
a consulting business by engi- working environment that values
neering professors Dr. Irwin Ja- new ideas, encourages problem
cobs from UCSD and Dr. Andrew solving, and builds a trustworthy
Viterbi from UCLA. Although group of people around you.
their intentions were not to cre- Despite encountering numerous
ate a large company, starting the highly respected naysayers that
business was so much fun for claimed CDMA was something
them that they decided to make that was only theoretical and
the transition from academia to not applicable, Dr. Jacobs and
industry. his employees at Qualcomm
continued to bite the bullet and
As the story goes, coming up endure their quest to revolu-
with the brilliant idea of applying tionize the wireless industry.
Code Division Multiple Access This lesson teaches us to trust
(CDMA) technology for wireless our instincts and to never give
communications was not some- up in something that we deeply
thing Dr. Jacobs had in mind believe in. A renowned quote by
when Qualcomm begab. There Arthur C. Clarke says, “When a
were no particular products in distinguished but elderly scien-
mind or plans to execute, just tist states that something is pos- tors to incorporate CDMA in the
an intention to offer innovative sible, he is almost certainly right. industry standards and start the
ideas in the area of communica- When he states that something is deployment process for initial
tions systems. Later on, during impossible, he is very probably field trials.
a drive back from Los Angeles wrong.” The statement is cer-
to San Diego on the 5 freeway, tainly very true in this case. In terms of character, Dr. Jacobs
the light bulb went on and Dr. Another useful lesson from the is great visionary and a dedicated
Jacobs made the connection. experience relates with perse- person. His leadership style at-
The rest is history. verance. Dr. Jacobs mentioned tributes to someone who is soft-
that once the journey has begun, spoke, humble person willing
Not only is Dr. Jacobs a great be prepared to be in it for the to listen to his employees and
teacher and innovator of our long haul. With any dynamic customers. Few people outside
times, his contributions to the or emerging idea, it often takes of the wireless industry recog-
community and San Diego is time for the industry to adapt. nize his name.
unparalleled. According to Busi- For CDMA, although the concept
ness Week rankings in 2004, Dr. was initially made public in the As Qualcomm approaches its
Jacobs is among the twenty-five late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the twenty years of anniversary, Dr.
most generous philanthropists in telecommunications industry Irwin Jacobs continues as the
the United States. His donations was already in the process of forefront commander for the
have included gifts to the San standardizing a different tech- company and remains very ac-
Diego Symphony, the San Diego nology known as time division tive and excited in the wireless
Playhouse, and the University multiple access (TDMA) and was industry. Dr. Jacobs is a legend-
of California, San Diego. He not ready to implement CDMA. ary business leader in technology
is a soft-spoken, humble man It took many years to not only and will remain so for years to
who is willing to listen to his prove that concept worked, but become.
employees and customers, and also to convince government
regulators and network opera-
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

25 Ideas to Improve Employee Relations


By Matthew Moore
Want to make your business best person behind the scenes. executives available to talk
run more efficiently? Your department? Communication is central to efficiency.
Project team? One of the best ways to 4. Decorate hallways with photos & Make yourself available, even without
accomplish this—and one that many memorabilia appointment!
businesses are simply mediocre at—is Culture is a highly motivational force
by improving employee relations and in a company. Put up letters, articles, 11. Create an internal university
empowering them. Tasks can always advertisements, trinkets, mementos, and Universities are not just for big companies.
be delegated to an employee. But true photos of important company events—and Even small companies can have classes
ownership and responsibility must be include every employee in the pictures! taught by peers, teaching core values,
taken. Only when this transference of This shows company character, and leadership, and serving as a change agent.
ownership and responsibility happens will inspires new and old employees alike.
an employee truly motivate themselves 12. Give personalized greetings and
above and beyond, to get things done and 5. Give employees power, authority, gifts on special occasions
spend time on developing ideas to help trust, and forgive failures Doing so lets employees truly know that
their company, department, and project. Effective employees need all of the above you care about them and not just their
to take the big risks and make important work. Make sure the gifts are personalized
You can turn to Nuts! by Kevin & Jackie decisions. Big failures are also the biggest and not generic!
Freiberg for effective ideas to improve learning experiences, and make for
employee relations, methods employed experienced employees afterwards. 13. Have a trading jobs program
by Southwest Airlines. These ideas taken Employees often do not understand what
from the book are laid out in the order I 6. Celebrate everything employees in other departments do, and
believe to be most beneficial. However, Celebrations should be seen as an often dangerous elitism and hierarchies
they are to be taken with a grain of salt— investment. Humans innately have a need can form. Try creating a program where
not all of these ideas are right for every to celebrate, and are something to look employees in one department work in
company. At the same time, there are forward to with others. Make celebrations a different capacity for a day and give
some that you should find that will directly highly spirited, and have elements incentives to take part in this program.
apply to you now! tailored to each of the five senses. Beware,
however: celebrations can be costly if not 14. Build employee self-confidence
1.Drink beers with employees after done correctly! Only confident employees are willing to
work move up and take risks. Find ways to
The beauty of this is that it is so simple, 7. Hire for attitude develop this!
and yet so commonly overlooked. All types of skills can be taught and
Spending a good deal of time with improved. It is a person’s personality that 15. Be informal, limit layers of
employees after work will show them how is with them for life. Try to hire those with management, paperwork, and
much you care. In return, they will bend outgoing personalities who are other- bureaucracy
over backwards for you. person oriented, and highly spirited. See Formality and bureaucracy have a way of
if they have ever used humor to diffuse keeping bad employees somewhat effective,
2. Internal employee newsletter difficult situations. Hold group interviews and stifling the truly good employees from
A newsletter is discussed in the article to see if they are people oriented. getting a lot of stuff done. Try developing
“The Key Elements of an Effective as wide but short a management hierarchy
Employee Newsletter.” In short, the more 8. Take fun seriously as possible, and encouraging employees to
information employees have, the better Make sure each employee is having fun laugh at themselves. And of course, lead
decisions they can make. while they’re working. It will spread by example. Make sure that everyone who
throughout the company and increase attends a meeting leaves with something
3. Employee awards overall efficiency. to do.
Perhaps we all know that there is
nothing quite like the feeling of being 9. Love each other: treat them as 16. Remind them that the biggest
acknowledged and applauded for our family threat is themselves during
efforts. You can create an employee Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows that successful times
awards ceremony that occurs every couple love and belonging, and acceptance into a Companies that reach ultimate success
of months or once a year for the most community is just above people’s need for often lose this success because in such
important awards. Create a system where shelter, food, water, and sleep. Only after times, complacency, cockiness, greed,
employees can nominate each other for employees feel love and belonging will laziness. Hierarchies often rule. Send
the frequent awards, while the CEO selects they move on to realize their maximum continuous reminders that this can be the
the most important ones by hand. Have potential. Sometimes of course, true love case.
a ceremony with the highest executives can be tough love.
in the company, and give out a gift or two 17. Profit sharing
such as a plaque and photo collage. Two 10. Make all managers and high What better way to make employees
award ideas are: best sense of humor, and
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

motivated than giving rewards when times slide and focus on what is important.
are good and withholding when times are
bad? 25. Tell new hires the downsides
upfront
18. Remind them to question If you do not hide the difficulties of the job
convention and use common sense at first, you will get only the candidates
over rules ready for a challenge. For example, you
Many business processes and conventions could say “you’ll work harder here than
have led to company losses. Many rules anywhere else. You’ll get paid 10% less. But
do not apply in every circumstance. in the long run, with profit sharing, you’ll
Encourage employees to be creative and be way ahead.”
use their minds before acting.

19. Establish a culture committee of


storytellers CALENDAR GOES HERE
When a company becomes large enough
so that upper management cannot have
everyday contact with all the employees,
culture can begin to wane. Try to find
the most spirited, energetic, creative,
and enthusiastic people and get them to
communicate and spread stories about the
company’s culture. Often, a company’s
culture and history is something employees
can take pride in and be inspired by.

20. Create a crusade


People are most motivated when they are
fighting for something that they believe
in, and when their livelihood is at stake.
Create the company’s mission to include a
sense of a fight for survival in terms of job
security and principles.

21. Have ‘pep rallies’


At spirited schools, pep rallies are a chance
for all students to be motivated together.
There is no reason that companies cannot
do the same! Create a big get-together
with socializing and exchanging of ideas.

22. Encourage community charity


acts
Teamwork is built a lot outside of the
company, and charity helps employees feel
good about themselves and each other.
Encourage charity by having the company
and other employees match time and
monetary donations.

23. Customers are sometimes wrong


Many companies have the mentality that
the customer is always right. This may
often be the case, but not every customer
is the right customer. Probably the easiest
way to create a rift with an employee is
by siding with the customer when the
employee is correct.

24. Forgive small eccentricities in


personality
Everybody has their own eccentricities that "El Galleon", VentureForth Catalina Retreat, 2004
can be misinterpreted by others. Let them
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

From Invention to Venture


My personal experiences in a workshop on technology entrepreneurship
By Rex Chen
On Saturday November 6th, and can we do it? Can the world stay the need to have stamina and be proactive.
2004, I had the opportunity to attend a same? Do a lot of people want it? Do we They need to have a mindset that is
technology entrepreneurship workshop have an unfair advantage? In addition, enthusiastic, optimistic, and persistent.
held at the campus of UCSD to give to gain understanding of the market, it is Similar to warfare where the general
students and young entrepreneurs advice important to attend a lot of trade shows never says they’ll lose the battle to their
on various topics of starting businesses to talk with customers and competitors troops even at great odds, strong leaders
in the high-tech and biotechnology to “steal” data appropriately. In many need to posses the mindset to never
industries. The panel speakers were instances, the best way to obtain accurate give up. Leaders lead by example and
very diverse, ranging from academic information is to not go up to the sales set the tone of the company. To foster
UCSD professors, venture capitalists, person, but rather talk with the engineers innovative environments that strive for
and entrepreneurs that have successfully who are not good liars and reveals the problem solving and prevent employees
started their own businesses. From the truth of their products, its qualities and from having the perception of “That’s
workshops and interactions throughout the shortcomings. not my job!”, leaders should not delegate
day, the following are some valuable tips responsibility. They need to focus on
that I have learned. Making the Pitch talents and not the weaknesses of others.
Public speaking is the number one When making tough decisions, they need
Entrepreneurship Starts from Re- fear of people and although it is difficult, to expect that pissing a few people off is
search it is a very important skill to acquire inevitable. True leaders can look forward
Invention starts with doing over time. Entrepreneurs need public to being lonely during the hard times and
research to identify in improving efficiency speaking skills to make presentations to tolerating little mistakes along the way. As
on existing processes or providing new potential regarding their business cases. the saying goes, the customer is first, last,
methods of doing things. University With compliments of technology, many and always.
is a great environment for scientists to presentations today are carried out with
expand on their horizon of knowledge PowerPoint slides. A recurring problem Business Plan
and research findings. However, one of with this is that people often overuse An indispensable portion in
the most challenging aspects in starting slides in their presentation, rather than to the path of entrepreneurship is having a
a business occurs when the scientist supplement. Customers buy from people, business plan. Not only do business plan
meets the businessman, as these people not from slides, and the application should paper a necessity to get funding from
have different perspectives. Although help us make the connection rather than most investors, it serves the purpose to
scientists have the technical talents, they distance us from the audience. Often reiterate to the entrepreneurs themselves
often incur the problem of not having the reiterated is the rule of thumb that “less the approach their businesses will take
appropriate skills to run the business. is more.” Rather than trying to overawe on in answering these key questions.
Similarly, business people are often too the audience with too much information, What is the value proposition and who
optimistic in their ability to get customers the challenge is to appropriately condense are their potential customers? How will
and in many instances do not give enough the number of slides. Several scholars they enter the market and address the
merit for the scientists and allocating have said “I have made this letter longer, issue of competition? What are the risks
adequate funding and realistic timeline for because I have not had the time to make it looking forward and the appropriate
product development. Successful start-up shorter.” strategies to implement? Finally, what is
companies need to find a “middle path,” Summarizing the content their exit strategy? There is no particular
enabling both scientists and businessmen material is not an easy task to do. Some standard format or numbers of pages
to work together closely in order to make of the best practices involve having action for the business plan papers as long it
the right business decisions. Another word titles, readable fonts, and the rule of five (5 answers the questions above. However,
of advice, “inventors want to work on what bullets per slide and 5 slides per bullet). In the plan is a living document that is
they are good at, while companies fail terms of timing, a good ratio to consider is periodically modified and updated. Two
because of what they are bad at.” having one slide every two minutes. Fewer other important criteria to have are the
slides is better, but having more is not as executive summary and the elevator
Finding Good Ideas presenters either run out of time or go pitch. While identifying their weaknesses,
Good ideas are not easy to come too fast on the slides. Furthermore, some entrepreneurs need to know what they
by. In the process of finding a good idea, communications do not even need the use don’t know and how they will address
one will first encounter lots of bad ones. of PowerPoint at all. this issue to get help. Building the right
Essentially, bad ideas are good and one “Any fool can make things management team is just as important if
strives to fail faster to get rid of them so complex, it takes a genius to simplify.” not more than having a viable product for
the good ideas will come up later. There the market. The classical analogy is that a
is nothing wrong with failing with bad Leadership Qualities B product with an A team is better than an
ideas and the key is to recognize that it Leadership qualities are critical A product with B team.
is part of the process before success can in the success of any company, whether
happen. In order to distinguish good it is a new start-up, a mid-level firm, or Final Thoughts
ideas from bad ones, the concept need to a large enterprise corporation. Leaders The most inspiring thought
answer a number of technical and business not only need to take responsibility that I learned over the entire workshop
questions including: Is the idea possible and demonstrate authenticity, but they is one of the panel speakers concept of
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005
Continued from Invention
funding. He says that when starting a
The Future of Ideas
high-tech company, rather than going By Boaz Gurdin
to venture capitalists for seed money or
early-stage funding, one may elect to The concept behind Stanford open platform. Lessig calls it a “commons”
use alternative approaches to bring in professor Lawrence Lessig's latest book and Richard Stallman of the Free Software
the initial cash flow. Although venture is that new Internet platforms and Foundation calls it “free as in speech, not
capital firms are fruitful sources to get intellectual property laws are reclaiming as in beer.” What’s important about such
control of free speech and innovation that an open platform is not that it is free in
money and help for the company, timing
the Internet originally democratized. While price (which it isn’t - you pay your ISP
is important for one to decide when to
it didn’t seem quite as tightly written as because their wire is a limited physical
approach the venture capitalists. For
it could have been, it was an eye opening resource), but that it is free as in speech, as
example, he mentioned that if you’re a
primer to Lessig’s view of intellectual there is no Nick Aguilar controlling what
young entrepreneur with some technology
property, and how technology architecture you can or can’t use Internet Protocol for.
ideas, it might be wise to first start a
combined with law promotes or restricts The “dumb” network is like a freeway - as
business, any kind of business, and get it long as you follow some basic road rules,
free speech and innovation.
to profitability. Once you can accomplish it doesn’t matter for what business you
this step, you will have obtained some are traveling. Lessig is a proponent of this
Point 1: Intellectual property is a limited
skills in how businesses work. From the standardized “end-to-end” architecture
government-backed monopoly, not real
cash flow generated in this business, you where the “smarts” are at the end
property
can use it to fund the original technology terminals and the platform is agnostic to
venture in mind. This way, he says, you The term intellectual property is deceiving how applications use it.
won’t run the fear of the venture capitalists because IP is not really property. We
“taking away your baby” and control of the use property in free markets to divide I think the dumb, end-to-end, open
company. This was countered, however, up limited resources, such as land and platform is a good lesson to take from the
by a venture capitalist panel speaker cars. However, ideas are not limited Internet, as well as to protect. Innovation
who says although this may be a creative like physical goods, and our culture and free speech prosper when you don’t
funding approach, it does not work in all is built up from the natural spread of have to ask permission to publish your
industries. For example, he mentions ideas. Nonetheless, the Framers of the thoughts or distribute your application.
that in the biotechnology industry, the Constitution decided to promote creative And as we’ve seen with the development of
cost of producing a drug and going methods in arts and science by granting the Internet, open platforms can be used
through the trial stages are extraordinary a limited time monopoly to creators in new and unexpected ways. This has
and using alternative funding is simply who contribute their idea to the national two important consequences: protect the
not feasible. Thus, depending on the culture. Balancing the value of arts and Internet as an open platform, and develop
industries you’re in, funding methods may science with the value of free speech, they standards for new open platforms.
be different. Venture capital firms just like also permitted fair use of the idea during
any businesses, have their own pressure this monopoly period. This short-term Protecting the open Internet is not quite as
to accomplish certain annual rates of protected monopoly would allow the paranoid as it seems. Lessig is concerned
return from their investment banks and creator to uniquely profit from the idea, about monopolies at low level Internet
private investors. Typically, the funds and thereafter the work would fall into platforms leveraging their power to control
need to get to profitability within five the public domain for other creators to higher level platforms. For example, AOL
years of the initial investment. As a result, use and build off of in natural cultural Time Warner has the temptation for
entrepreneurs and venture capitalists need development. their ISP to favor content websites within
to compromise in establishing a common their media empire, to the detriment of
ground that is both good for the business The tradeoff to the intuitive “idea is others. Even seemingly benign filtering
property” metaphor is free speech. When or optimizing content on the Internet
and its investors. One final thought for the
UCSD lawyer Nick Aguilar reminds you jeopardizes free speech and innovation of
entrepreneurs is to always be creative and
that you need permission of the Regents of the open platform.
think outside the box in the challenges
presented in front of them. As Anthony the University of California before you can
take a picture of Geisel Library and post The second consequence is that standard
Robbins, the renowned inspirational
it on your website, intellectual property platforms would be beneficial for
speaker and self-motivator, says “There’s other technologies as well. Wireless
is out of control. More disturbing are the
always a way if you’re committed.” communications, ubiquitous computing,
growing domains where your right to speak
and innovate is *in* control, just not yours. data, and of course operating systems
Acknowledgments would all be candidates for open
As a result, the intellectual property laws
I would like to thank the panel platforms. For example, I would bet that
that were intended to stimulate speech
speakers in providing valuable information a dot-com-style innovation boom would
and innovation are now used to stifle it by
as I learned a lot from their advices in intellectual property owners threatened by follow if wireless services adopted an
the workshop. Special thanks to Dr. Paul criticism or competition, and protected by open platform, rather than today where
Kedrosky, Diane West, Dr. Ray Smilor, and ever expanding government intervention. everything up to the ringtones you buy
Robert Corey for their intriguing thoughts. are controlled by the cell phone carrier.
For more information about sponsorship Point 2: Open platforms lead to free I’ll leave more speculation about open
of the workshop visit: speech and innovation platforms for another post, but suffice to
http://www.nciia.org say that I think it’s an important topic to
http://www.invention2venture.org The Internet is so successful at stimulating consider and that The Future of Ideas is
free speech and innovation because it is an worth a read.
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

The Cognitive Style


of PowerPoint
By Boaz Gurdin
Powerpoint has single handedly dumbed down college
education, paralyzed corporate decision making and crashed
space shuttles. Such is the bleak outlook of The Cognitive Style
of PowerPoint by Edward Tufte. I highly recommend this eye-
opening essay to anyone who interacts with PowerPoint on a
regular basis, which these days is just about everybody.

Tufte’s main argument is that the information density of a


PowerPoint slide is so little that the only thing to compare it to is
the Stalinist newspaper Pravda (Russian for “Truth”). When we
rely on slideware which usually follows the 5x5 rule (limit slides
to five lines, five words per line) we might make good haikus,
but we certainly are missing a lot of the subtle relationships and
important details that are crucial to decision making. For example,
a NASA analysis of the Columbia shuttle crash concluded that
crucial information did not make it up to the decision makers
because the risk of the mission was not conveyed in the slides
which were circulated by email. When we start thinking in sales
pitches and bullet points, we simplify everything to a black-and-
white issue which makes for rigid and uneducated learning,
communicating, and decision-making. The high resolution of print media makes it ideal for conveying
large amounts of information. Whether printing detailed
Tufte also refutes the argument that people are overwhelmed information visualizations, descriptive paragraphs, or other
by too much data and require basic bullet point and charts. For content, a nicely laid out handout conveys a lot of information and
example, the thousands of pieces of data in the stock market table is easy for the audience to annotate.
in a newspaper are exponentially more useful and informative
than the “chart junk” in PowerPoint which often only displays a Equip the audience with note taking tools
few data points such as a handful of percentages in a pie chart. A big problem in engaging students with PowerPoint lectures is
Additionally, bullet points are limited to simple hierarchical that the teachers are equipped with prepared digital slides, but the
relationships and they do not allow us to think or communicate students are left to copy the information by hand. This asynchrony
complex relationships. in speed often leaves students frantically copying slides and not
listening to the lecture. Whether the solution is a print handout or
This is the cognitive style of PowerPoint. This is our bullet point note taking software, I think it is important to fix the imbalance
thought process, where we bore one another in meetings and that occurred when teachers added new presentation technology
lectures with little to say, make it socially acceptable to write without students adjusting their note taking technology.
meaningless slide decks instead of thoughtful reports, and speak
in vacuous platitudes. But like Stalinist propaganda, at least it Particularly, there is a lot of potential for a note taking
looks nice. application to take advantage of the automation, reusability,
and communication advantages of digital technology to improve
After four years of sitting through PowerPoint lectures I student learning inside and outside of class. In class students
can appreciate Tufte’s argument, and might propose a few could develop new ways of interacting with digital slides and
improvements to slideware. handouts, and communicating with the professor (or yes, more
likely with their friends on instant messaging). Notes might also
Use slides as public artifacts be synchronized with the audio recording or transcript of the
Slides are useful in a lecture for gesturing at a point that everyone lecture. Out of class student could reuse their notes in other forms
can see. Therefore, it would be a disservice to completely eliminate such as index cards or practice quizzes, and share their notes in
them from most lectures. They can be treated as a shared online study groups.
cognitive resource for the lecture activity rather than a complete
recording of all the facts. This does not apply to presentations Augmented discussion
such as math lectures where a live demonstration of the problem One might also imagine informal meetings being enhanced by
solving process using a board is more useful. a such improved presentation software. For example, a meeting
member making a point might write up his or her point into a
Use more information visualizations few bullets, a paragraph, or a figure, and post it to a common
There are many more ways to represent data than bullet discussion space where everyone is contributing their thoughts.
point format. Making it easier and more commonplace to use Instead of a single presenter preparing all slides in advance
figures and detailed charts and tables would help convey more or a secretary recording all the opinions after the fact, all the
information. participants engage in creating and documenting the discussion.
Such software would simultaneously improve communication and
Use print handouts for detailed information democratize the presenter-audience relationship.
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

Interactive Marketing
By Boaz Gurdin
At his talk at UCSD, Sony Pictures’ Vice President of
Interactive Marketing asked: “Has an Internet ad ever made
you cry?” How can Hollywood, the world’s best storytellers, use
technology to tell stories and create experiences in new ways?
More specifically, how can they use new media to produce short
compelling marketing pieces? I think that interactive worlds,
social interaction and contextual personalization are three good
uses of Web media.

Interactive worlds are the concept behind Sony Playstation’s


slogan “Live in your world, play in ours.” Video games have
successfully established a genre of interactive media where players
become fictional characters in fictional worlds. The same principle
can be applied to marketing websites. For example, The Grudge
Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos takes a moment to enjoy life
website let users explore the house where the movie is set and

Everything Connected
go on missions. It resembled Myst, except The Grudge inevitably
killed your character at the end. This online experience apparently
drew many moviegoers to the theater to watch the full story. The
lesson from this example is use film to tell a story, use digital By Boaz Gurdin
media to create an interactive world.
Dot-com CEOs such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos are known for
saying that we are still just getting started with the Internet. The
Social interaction applies Internet connectivity to entertainment.
audience is known for thinking that is BS. And for a while after the
Why should the interactive world have a population of one? One
dot-com bust, the innovation slowed down and seemed like maybe
of my favorite socially interactive ads is a Method soap website
the Internet could now be considered “mature”. It occurred to me
where you could communally “wash away your guilt.” The
today why it’s not mature and what it will take for it to reach that
homepage was a bird’s eye view video of hands washing in a sink.
mark.
As visitors wrote in things they felt guilty about, one of the hands
would show its palm to the camera with a random person’s guilt
The Internet will be mature when everything is connected.
written on it. Then the hand would pump some Method soap,
rinse with water, and upon return the palm would be clean and
That’s not to say that I don’t think innovation will progress after
by implication the visitor would be clean of their guilt. Another
everything is connected over the next decade or two, but I think
favorite of mine is a Fanta Shokata website from Denmark where
that the way it fundamentally changes our lives is that it connects
visitors could create video clips by subtitling Bollywood movies
the world together in new ways. The car industry still has growth
(each of with ended with a Fanta tagline), and then share their
to come in alternative energy and emerging markets, but it is a
wit (or lack thereof) in an online gallery. The Grudge website
mature industry because we haven’t fundamentally changed the
even had a basic form of social interaction by displaying the
way we use cars in the last 50 years (since the growth of suburbia
first names of other visitors who “had a grudge against them” to
and the interstate highway system connected the world in new
make their interactive world seem popular. Whether it is group
ways I would argue). The Internet industry has not reached
communication, sharing your work, or showing usernames, social
such a maturity level and therefore I believe there are exciting
interaction enhances the experience of the interactive world.
innovations ahead that will change the way we live over course of
the next generation.
Contextual advertising and personalization is the marketing trend
that Google AdSense and Yahoo Overture successfully promote
The next wave of connectivity looks like it’s going to be
as the revival of online advertising. Instead of untargeted banners
entertainment. I’m looking forward to search entering the living
generally posted on sites with approximate demographics,
room, and will also be following how Xbox 2 and its XNA platform
technology can match ads to the right person at the right time
will create new connected forms of entertainment. RFID tags will
based on their usage history and keywords on the current page.
surely bring interesting applications (and huge privacy concerns)
This cuts out the wastefulness of the carpet bombing advertising
when they hit the store shelves, labeling every item we buy with
technique of running your advertisements everywhere to make
an electronic tag and thus making it available to the digitally
sure that your target audience will eventually find it. It means
enhanced world. I’m looking forward to Amazon’s and Google’s
more relevant ads for users, more money for owners of the website
book projects as well as their expansion into content databases
where the ad runs, and less wasted money for the advertiser. In
such as newspaper archives. If wireless telecom companies would
addition to contextual and personalized targeting, the content
open their networks it would be exciting to see cameras and other
of the ad itself can be personalized. The Grudge cleverly stored
devices go online. Creating standards for data and ubiquitous
a cookie so a few months after playing the game, a banner ad
devices to interoperate needs to be addressed sooner than later.
running on the Yahoo homepage would tell you personally:
Eventually I would be happy when people even view paper as a
“___[your name]___, the grudge never forgets.” Spiderman II,
member of this thoroughly connected world. These are some of
another Sony movie, produced a special trailer for women which
the exciting challenges of developing the connected world.
told the love story of the movie. Along with interactive social
worlds, the content personalization and market targeting are
As Jeff Bezos says: “work hard, have fun, make history.”
powerful tools for creating compelling new media experiences.
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

Investment 101 - Exchange Traded Funds


Mutual fund diversity, common stock flexibility
By Ryan Jolicoeur
With the beginning of
the new year and the promise
that it brings, what is going
to be your plan for success?
What are you going to put your
trust in to secure your financial
future? I want to talk a little bit
about the best bet to securing
your finances this year. As I
mentioned in my last article,
college students don’t have a
lot of dispensable income, so
unless you had the pleasure
of winning the lottery, let’s
discuss what will put you ahead
of the curve for the this New
Year.
When it comes
to investing there are a lot
of options: stocks, bonds,
mutual funds, and alternative
investments. The latest
financial device to hit the Street
are Exchange Traded Funds.
Exchange Traded Funds (or
ETS’s) are index funds or
trusts that are listed on the
American Stock Exchange and
can be traded on the stock
market, similar to a common
stock. This is different from
professionally managed mutual
funds which cannot be traded
intra-daily on the exchange. of the ETF can simply do so ETF’s are the XLE=Energy
The American Stock Exchange at their discretion. Exchange Index, the XLF=Financial
lists ETF’s on more than 100 Traded Funds also have lower Index and the SPDR=S&P 500
broad stock market, stock costs since they do not incur index. I have owned the XLE
industry sector, international the high management fees and have experienced a 12.12%
stock and U.S. treasury and that accompany mutual funds, return on investment in four
corporate bond indexes. Thus, choosing only to mirror a months! That is substantial
ETF’s allow an investor to cover particular index. Like common gain in these uncertain market
a wide array of areas in the stock they can be bought on conditions and has significantly
stock market while providing margin (buying more stock beaten the current return rate.
portfolio diversification than you technically could with With the ambiguous state of
without large upfront costs. available capital) and can be the market, diversification
There are several dealt with through limit orders, is imperative and having an
other advantages that ETF’s which set a specified price at affordable way to do that
provide for the individual which to buy or sell the ETF. is key. ETF’s give you the
as well as the institutional So how does one get benefits of mutual funds
investor. Primarily, there are started with ETF’s? What type plus tax efficiency, low cost
lower capital gains taxes due would suit your investment and purchasing leverage you
to decreased turnover of the strategy the best? The need. Thus they give you the
assets comprising the ETF. The available sectors range through diversification of a mutual fund
ETF is usually representative Financial, Energy, Healthcare, with the flexibility of a stock.
of a specified index and the Technology, and more. Find
assets only change when the one that covers a broad market,
index the ETF comprises This is the next big thing!
like the SPDR 500, which holds
varies. Investors that want to a portion of every listed stock
liquidate and redeem shares in the S&P 500. My favorites
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

An Introduction to Google's PageRank


By Rex Chen
We have all heard our peers say “just
Google it”. With these tools known as search
engines, hunting for information on the Internet
has never been easier. In its simplest form,
search engines are special sites on the Internet
that help people find a particular piece of
information hidden on the internet. Based on
a specific string of key words, information is
filtered, ranked, and displayed accordingly. With
over 150 million hits a day on Google’s main
page, it is by far the most popular and successful
search engine in the world. From its humble
beginnings as a database research project by
Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and
Larry Page, Google has since grown to Wall Street
prominance, raising over two and a half billion
dollars with it's 2004 IPO.
What makes Google so special is that
its powerful search engine technology that is
capable of finding uniquely accurate information.
Behind the scenes, the technique used by Google
to determine the importance of a web page is one
based on votes from other pages in the Internet
known as PageRank. Although much is talked
about Google and its unique company culture,
when searching for the PageRank keyword, only
a handful of relevant web page appear. Using a
mathematical algorithm, each page is assigned
a score by using both incoming and outgoing
links for computation. Intuitively, if a web page
is referenced more frequently by other web
pages, its score would be raised to give it more
importance.
Leaving the actual mathematical formula
for future discussion, let’s look at how the scores
are calculated given a sample of five web pages
with the word widgets.com appearing on all give again until all the scores stop changing. Hence
web pages. we’ve reached the final score that will go into
ranking system. In this scenario, “Home” page
Step 1: Initially, assign all five pages the same will appear on the top if we had search for the
score (a non-zero number, in this case 100). keyword widgets.com.
Step 2: Now, each pages score is determined by From the example above, it may seem
the sum of a number - lets call “x” - from each of that calculating the scores are not difficult. But
the other pages that have incoming links to the once the number of pages increases rapidly,
particular page. This variable “x” is calculated many different combinations of links are
by the score of the linking page(s) divided by the possible, thus making the calculations very
number of outgoing link(s). For example, the complex. Other variables are introduced to
“About us” page has one incoming link coming prevent scores from increasing indefinitely
from “Home” page. Initially, “Home” page has along with handling validity of web pages
a score of 100 and contains two outgoing links. and preventing certain pages (excluding their
Hence, the new score for “About us” page is 50 calculations) from purposely trying to fool the
calculated by 100 (score of “Home” page) divided system to compute inaccurate scores that do
by two (number of outgoing links by “Home” not reflect importance of the page. In Part
page). Similarly, the other four pages get their 2 of Google’s PageRank article (to appear in
scores calculated as well. Calculation for the VentureForth Quarterly in Spring 2005), we’ll
more complicated “Home” page is: 100/1 + 100/2 explore the actual mathematical formula used
+ 100/2 + 100/3 = 233 by PageRank.
Step 3: When scores for all five pages are
recalculated, the process is repeated using the
new scores assigned (in this case: 50, 233, 33,
33, 150). The process is repeated over and over
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

The Key Elements of an Effective Employee


Newsletter
By Matthew Moore
The best employees a company can have are the ones
who: one, make the best decisions; and two, actually carry
them through. Enabling employees to accomplish both of
these is a daunting task for companies, and requires a culture
of responsibility and communication with processes to support
it. One such process is an employee newsletter, which many
companies have – however, all too often it seems that employees
do not take the time to read it. And that is not totally the
responsibility of the employee, but also the responsibility of the
people who make it!

Nuts! By Kevin & Jackie Freiberg presents a very effective


employee newsletter that is generated by Southwest Airlines. It
combines the knowledge that employees need to know relating
directly to decisions they make, as well as being creative, funny,
and overall entertaining enough to make employees want to read
it. Here are the key topics that each Southwest Airlines newsletter
covers, and yours probably should too!

Industry News

Containing information about nearly every major event in the


industry, as well as information about the competition, this
section helps employees understand the trends that are going on
around them. It also taps into employees’ competitive spirit and
motivates them.

How We Rate

This section covers the current financial status of the company


(such as stock price), and presents other performance stats. Good
news and bad news should be reported, the latter presented as a
challenge. When employees know what is going well and what
is not, they can make informed decisions on where to focus their
energy!
The rift between the executives and other employees in a company
Learning Corner often is quite large and can create resentment. This section can
let employees know how each member of upper management
Everyone needs consistent reminders on what the core values is spending their time—where they have spoken, or even what
of the company are, as well as how to improve soft skills like charitable causes they are donating to. The more the employee
teamwork & leadership. This is best done through anecdotes or gets to know about the management, the more they will be willing
analogies. to take charge of their own projects.

Profits Customer & Employee Letters

It is often easy to forget how an individual’s job directly affects the There are few things that create more pride, motivation, and
bottom line for the company: in profits. Present in this section momentum than letters from real customers praising the
various ways that each type of employee directly correspond to company. There are also times when the easiest way to get over
getting higher profits, and they’ll work more efficiently. You can grievances (like a lost friend, employee, etc) than to share the pain
use both qualitative and quantitative descriptions. with others who care. This can be such an interest to employees
that they will read the newsletter just for this section itself.
Milestones
Spoofs & Entertaining Stories
If you revisit the previous month’s, or previous year’s
achievements, employees will feel the momentum created by In small doses, sprinkle in some doses of humor to keep people
other parts of the company and build upon them. It can be a reading – and to make it more fun to make the newsletter, as well.
big product launch, stellar financial results, a successful event; If this is absent, there is a good chance no employee will take the
anything that an employee can be proud of. time to read any of the newsletter at all.

What the Execs are Doing


VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

The Fail-Proof Enterprise


By Matthew Moore
I recently read The Fail-Proof Enterprise by Bob
Thomas, a story of one man’s success as opposed to a simple
outline or how-to. I wouldn’t suggest it as a good read, and
in my mind there is no such thing as a "fail-proof" enterprise.
Nevertheless, the book has some solid ideas to keep in mind when
starting your own venture:

All owners should identify their attributes and


limitations

Each of us have our own strengths and weaknesses--and for


many of us, it is difficult to admit what those weaknesses are. It
is imperative, however, that you figure out where the team excels
and where it lacks so that you can actively staff your weaknesses.
This is very similar to venture capitalist Vinod Khosla’s idea of
"engineering the gene pool". You can watch a 6 minute talk at
http://edcorner.stanford.edu/SearchServe?mid=30

Issue stock in lieu of salaries

While every business has different financial requirements, if it is


possible, it is recommended to start the company on no interest
loans. Instead of paying salaries, use the initial revenues to pay
off the loans and build up a sizable cash reserve. Only after the
company can survive without further financing (probably 18
months), do you start paying salaries. During these 18 months,
pay those involved with stock. This ensures total commitment
from partners, and keeps them totally in touch with the company’s
finances.

Give majority ownership collectively to partners


Open your office space into lively bullpens
After all the partners or owners that are needed have been found,
give them at least 51% ownership, collectively. This will keep you Cubicles and offices drastically reduce communication. Instead,
from making any bone-headed decisions, and give them enough place desks far enough apart so that people don’t bother one
power needed if you are incapacitated. another, but still keep everyone on sight. This removes the office
caste system, and learning by observation is in full force. You can
Limit your organizational levels have a conference room, and private meeting rooms close to each
desk.
Simply, mid-management is a waste of resources. Resist
bureaucracy, and try keeping the organization to 3 levels. The top
are the owners, the midlevel are the department managers, and
all others remain at the low tier. Grow horizontally, instead of
vertically. Keep titles out of it as much as possible. The goal is to
keep people doing anything it takes to achieve a goal, instead of
focusing only on what their perceived role is in the company.

Set salary levels that increase, and no time clocks

Give employees constant incentives to achieve more and more.


What worked well is set salary levels with incremental raises of
$50-$75 per week based on goals achieved.

Shut down between christmas and new years with pay

There is very little that gets done during the days between
Christmas and New Years. So, why not just shut down, and give
some cash bonuses during this emotionally satisfying time of
year. Your employees will love you for it. Of course, do not make
this formal, because you never want to be locked in to such a plan. Dr. Michael Lutz shares his wisdom at the 2004 ABEC
Especially in the case that unions form.
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

The Role of Leadership


A perspective on the lessons of John C. Maxwell
By Matthew Moore

I recently had the lucky privilege of


haphazardly reading “The 21 Irrefutable
Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell.
I believe that leadership is one of the most
important skills there is that a person in
any field can learn. Having good, positive
leadership skills determines success in all
aspects of life, including academics, open
source, science, business, charity, and
even, in my opinion, parenting. Success
is measured simply by what you leave
behind, and leadership determines the
quality and livelihood of your efforts far
after you leave them (including children!).
And it is a way we can ensure that we
have helped improve the world long after
we have any corporal existence in it. It
is because of this that I think everyone
should be taught such skills when they are
very young, very old, and everywhere in
between.

However, this comes with a catch as well.


I believe that having negative leadership
skills is more dangerous than having
learned none whatsoever. I am sure many
of us see that in others, especially those
that are scientists and engineers. In order
to become a truly good leader, a person
must possess all the skills revealed by
Maxwell. So as I lay the laws of leadership
out, I ask that you remind yourself that
2. Influencing People is Primary to 4. The Leader is The Navigator
while you may only be able to learn and
Being a Leader
practice several at a time, there is no such
Anyone can steer a ship. However, it is up
thing as a superior leader who lacks any of
In order to be a leader, you must be able to to the leader to carefully plan out exactly
these traits.
influence them to work with you towards where it is everyone goes. This navigation
a common goal. In many companies, relies on seeing the trip, drawing on
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of
influence is established by positions, but experience, listening carefully to others,
Leadership
this is not the healthiest influence alone. making only careful commitments, and
Re-explained, originally from John C.
In the best case, it is the leader who coming up with a reasonable conclusion.
Maxwell
makes the position (not vice versa) by Having the courage to take calculated risks
virtue of hard work and respect, in turn and set big goals is also a necessity.
1. The Lid on Success is determined
gaining influence. This is especially true in
by Leadership Skills
volunteer organizations where influence 5. When The Leader Speaks,
is not determined by pay. The leader is Everyone Listens
An individual’s success in anything can
the one who everyone waits to follow to
only be as great as his or her leadership
as opposed to who they wait for to finish There are many positional “leaders” that
skills. To use an example close to my heart,
bossing them around. speak to those under them, but rarely do
Apple would not have become a successful
those people under them really—I mean
company if led by a person like Steve
3. The Leadership Development really—listen. You can tell who is a leader
Wozniak as he was back then. It takes a lot
Process Happens Daily by observing whom everyone waits to hear.
of influence and positive leadership over
a group of people to turn something into
Leadership is learned. Some people know 6. Leadership is based on Good
a continuing success. This is of course the
more about it than others. Wherever you Character
basis for learning the rest of the rules of
fit in, figure out what you don’t know, and
leadership.
learn it. Perception of character is fundamental
to leadership. Followers will often forgive
VentureForth Quarterly | Winter 2005

admitted poor judgment and mistakes, but for any accomplishments no matter how therefore good leaders constantly
never lapses in character and principles. small. Leaders also take the blame upon reevaluate what they are doing.
Leaders must have high personal regard themselves for what is not done well. Individuals who aren’t leaders can stay
for the people they work with and those In this way they continuously foster the that way because they spend their time on
who follow them. Leaders also must make people under them. Trust others to do unimportant things.
sound decisions but quickly reveal when things, even if not perfect the first time.
they make mistakes and how they will fix People always live up to your expectations 18. A Leader Makes Big Sacrifices
them. of them, my grandfather has said. Give
them high expectations, and challenge The leader is always the one who steps up
7. People Follow Individuals them to go beyond. Do not ever undermine and takes the sacrifice to make the team
Stronger Than Themselves this empowerment -- especially as a win; at the very least, in order to set an
result of being afraid of maintaining example. This may be a total pay cut or
Leaders must be strong and standup for your own power. Some of the successful what have you, but the obvious lasting
their goals and their people. In the words organizations (such as G.E. and our benefits outweigh the temporary pain.
of my grandfather, you must have the country) even have very healthy (time)
“unbending endurance to stand pressures.” limits on maintaining power. 19. Timing of Leadership is
Important
8. A Skilled Leader Has a Biased 13. It Takes a Leader to Raise a
Read on Situations and Follows Leader It is at least important to realize that this
Intuition issue exists. Our leader President Jimmy
Leaders can naturally only learn from Carter was the right leader only at a very
A good leader reads a situation other leaders. In order to make a legacy specific time.
completely, but does not fail to take action live beyond your years, you must aim to
immediately based on intuition gained foster leadership around you and under 20. Leading Leaders, Not Followers,
from experience. you. Means Explosive Growth

9. Who You are is Who You Attract; 14. Individuals Buy in to a Person Many leaders choose only to lead followers.
Staff Your Weaknesses Before a Vision This is additive growth in terms of
efficiency and success. However, leading
People gravitate towards others who are It is wrong to assume that if you have a and fostering leaders, means that you have
like them. If you are entrepreneurial, you great vision that people will buy in to it multiplicative growth in terms of efficiency
will find other entrepreneurs will join you. for that reason. Instead, people go along and success because they in turn, will lead
If you have very strong leadership abilities, with leaders they like personally and get other leaders and followers.
strong leaders will be around you. Even if along with even during bad ideas. These
you are musically talented, you will attract followers simply wait for that person 21. Succession Means True Success
others who are similarly inclined. This is to come up with a good one. Make sure
a double-edged sword, of course, and you people trust you and believe in you. This Every leader eventually leaves. This
must never forget to seek out those who is the reason a lot of people with good goes for bosses, presidents, scientists,
are strong in your weaknesses. companies don’t get any venture capital, engineers, and parents. The best way to
and other companies do. Usually, that help your family, organization, and world,
10. Leaders Touch a Heart Before a person others buy into paint a compelling is by ensuring that you create an effective
Hand and passionate version of the future of way for all your sweat, blood, and hard
its organization and people, not just a work to continue on through another
The common saying is “People will not practical one. leader. We don’t think much of companies
care how much you know until they know and organizations that once made great
how much you care.” Leaders are careful to 15. Leaders Find a Way to Make the products but no longer exist.
form close relationships and care about all Team Win
of the people who work under them. They All of these laws, when mastered, make a
make everyone feel important and needed. Leaders will not accept defeat, and instead great leader, and the beginnings of a great
find creative ways to achieve victory at all engineer, scientist, parent, and human
11. Surround Yourself with Good cost. Perseverance is extremely powerful, being. I hope, like John C. Maxwell’s “The
People and when there is a will, there is a way. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, that
you will revisit this list and build upon
We all have an inner circle of colleagues 16. Only a Leader Can Create Positive your leadership skills throughout your life.
that we rely on for advice and resources. Momentum Our world is in need of great people, and
The stronger leaders that the people in we’re the ones who make the difference.
the circle are, the stronger the leader with Momentum is a leader’s best friend. Wherever you end up, you will be able to
the circle becomes. We’re only as good as Recognize the opportunities for use these skills.
who we know, and thus should seek out to momentum around you and seize them.
surround ourselves with strong people.
17. Always Prioritize... Everything
12. Empower Others
There is always too much to do, and
The best leaders always give others credit