Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday chuckle: Grilled Cheese Mistakes

A photo essay from Rebecca Orchant in the Huffington Post points out things to avoid when making grilled cheese. For example, too thick cheese that doesn't melt before the bread burns (left).

Photo from cogdogblog via Flickr Creative Commons.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rita Gunther McGrath's "Contract for Intelligent Failure"

Connected with the launch of her book "The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business," Rita Gunther McGrath has published a "Diagnostic Workbook" to identify if your company is ready for the new age of transient competitive advantage. One page in that workbook was a "Contract For Intelligent Failure" - a brief bullet list of criteria to evaluate whether an effort is set up properly to capitalize on failure, if it occurs. There are resonances with the ideas of Sebastian Thrun (in uncertain work, have a very clear objective), and chapter 5 in the book, which covers smart mistakes.

A contract for intelligent failure

  • The effort involves genuine uncertainty
  • The outcome will be decisive because we planned carefully
  • It’s riskier to do nothing - or to conduct further analysis – than to act and fail
  • The cost is small
  • The underlying assumptions are documented in writing
  • There is a plan to test the assumptions
  • The risks of failing are understood and to the extent possible, mitigated
  • The cost is contained
  • Commitments are scaled according to our increasing understanding
  • We’ve defined what success would look like – and the opportunity is significant

(c) 2013 Rita Gunther McGrath. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"The End of Competitive Advantage" - win by skillfully managing the decline of old businesses

"The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business" by Rita Gunther McGrath is the first book I've read that essentially equates strategy and innovation. There are many books on each topic, but only one - this one - that describes what I observe in company after company (especially high-growth startups): strategy is an outgrowth of the ability to sense market need and create, market and manage new offerings. While startups do this instinctively, established companies do not. It's new, therefore, to connect the world of big-company strategy (a la McKinsey) to the innovation process (IDEO), to argue that, rather than being an outlier in the company structure, innovation must be central to current and future success in more and more businesses. Sustainable competitive advantage is disappearing, Rita writes. In its place is a much scarier cousin - transient competitive advantage.

Most pertinent to this site, Rita's striking assertion is that skillfully managing declining businesses is terribly important. In the frame of transient competitive advantage, a declining business isn't a failure or a tragedy; it's a fact of life, and handling decline thoughtfully - resetting expectations, reducing investment, shifting resources to new growth areas, possibly divesting - can in itself create strategic advantage, by enabling more investment and focus on vital new businesses. This is especially important because companies tend to embrace the alternative - investing more to get less, hanging onto old successes too long, isolating and protecting businesses in "strategic business unit" lockboxes.

Metaphorically, a company in the "transient competitive advantage" world is less like an edifice and more like a sports team. We expect buildings to last, unchanged, for decades. We expect sports teams to look different from year to year. A team that's successful for a long time (the New England Patriots or the San Antonio Spurs, for example) will turn over its roster regularly. It will always be looking for new players to plug in and will be wary of relying on too many players past their primes. A less successful team will hold onto its players too long, hoping the poor results from this season are not the signs of a prolonged decline but instead are an aberration.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trial and error is not random; rather, it requires intelligence and planning

I find this Thomas Edison quote fascinating:

Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.

What feels strange about these words is the equating the value of negative results (failures) to positive results (successes). Why would they be equally valuable? Couldn't you spend your whole life producing negative results? How depressing!

Not if you're like Edison. Because what's not stated in the quote is that, to pull this off, Edison had to work in a certain frame that bounded his search for an answer. Within a bounded frame, each negative result is valuable, because it indicates an area of the frame that is not what you're looking for, making it more likely that the next test, within that boundary, is successful. And so on.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb crystallized this in his book "Antifragile," when he described how to approach trial and error "rationally."

Trial and error has one overriding value people fail to understand: it is not really random, rather, thanks to optionality, it requires some rationality. One needs to be intelligent in recognizing the favorable outcome and knowing what to discard.

And one needs to be rational in not making trial and error completely random. If you are looking for your misplaced wallet in your living room, in a trial and error mode, you exercise rationality by not looking in the same place twice. In many pursuits, every trial, every failure provides additional information, each more valuable than the previous one - if you know what does not work, or where the wallet is not located. With every trial one gets closer to something, assuming an environment in which one knows exactly what one is looking for. We can, from the trial that fails to deliver, figure out progressively where to go.

I can illustrate it best with the modus operandi of Greg Stemm, who specializes in pulling long-lost shipwrecks from the bottom of the sea.... He does an extensive analysis of the general area where the ship could be. That data is synthesized into a map drawn with squares of probability. A search area is then designed, taking into account that they must have certainty that the shipwreck is not in a specific area before moving on to a lower probability area. It looks random but is not. It is the equivalent of looking for a treasure in your house: every search has an incrementally a higher probability of yielding a result, but only if you can be certain that the area you have searched does not hold the treasure.

Stemm first maps the area where the shipwreck could have been, in the same way you focus on the living room to look for your lost wallet. That's the frame of the problem, and it takes intelligence and thought to figure out the appropriate frame (Edison would agree). Within the frame, trial and error becomes a powerful tool, in which each failure incrementally reduces the size of the frame, and gets you closer to your ultimate success.

Are "negative results just what you want"? If you have defined a proper frame for your search, the answer is yes.

[While I have been digesting "Antifragile," Albert Wenger has posted a fantastic and very thoughtful synopsis of the book and its ideas. Highly recommended.]

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Story from Fred Wilson: "You Can Do Too Much Due Diligence"

This story is from Fred Wilson, partner in Union Square Ventures and someone who's frequently referenced on this site. For more on due diligence, see this article I wrote for 99u last year, and of course check out the book.

You Can Do Too Much Due Diligence

It's Monday, time for another lesson I've learned in the venture capital business. Today I will tell a story that I love telling. It has some of my favorite people in it.
Back in 2004, early in my blogging career, I heard about a service that had just launched called Feedburner. It provided a number of useful services for a blog's RSS feed. So I went and signed up and AVC became one of the first users of the service. I immediately liked the service and the idea. So I contacted the founder/CEO Dick Costolo, who has gone onto bigger and better things. I told Dick that I was interested in making an investment in Feedburner. My friend Brad Feld was also talking to Dick about the same thing so we decided to do the investment together.
As part of our investment process, we do a bunch of fact gathering/checking work that is called Due Diligence in the vernacular of the VC business. So my partner Brad Burnham and I put together a list of leading blogs and online publishers who had popular RSS feeds at the time. I think there were a dozen or so publications on that list. It included Weblogs (Engadget), Gawker (Gawker), NY Times, and a bunch more. We know most everyone who ran those operations so we called them.
What we heard was surprising. Not one of them was willing to hand over their RSS feed to a third party for analytics and monetization. We were very surprised to hear that and thought a bit about it. But, we decided, we could not invest in something that the big publishers would not support. So regrettably, I called Dick and told him we had to pass and why. Brad Feld went ahead with the investment and Feedburner closed their round without USV.
About six months later I ran into Dick at an industry conference. We decided to grab lunch together and during lunch he said to me "you know those dozen publishers you called?" I said "yes, what about them?" He said "every single one of them is on Feedburner now."
I was pissed. How could that be? So I said to Dick, "Would you consider letting us into that last round we walked away from." He said "No, but I will let you invest at a 50% increase in price". We did that and became an investor in Feedburner. And that worked out well when Feedburner was sold to Google a few years later.
So what did I learn from this lesson? First, trust your gut. I was using Feedburner and knew it was a very useful service. I felt that others would see that too. They did, but it took some time. Second, I learned that a service can get traction with the little guys and in time, the big guys will come along. I have seen that happen quite a bit since then. And finally, I learned that you can do too much due diligence. It's important to talk to the market and hear what it is saying. But you have to balance that with other things; the quality of the team, the product, the user experience, etc. You cannot rely alone on due diligence, particularly early on in the development of a company and a market.

I posted the following as a comment to Fred's post:

"Don't overdo due diligence" applies to entrepreneurs as much as investors. If you investigate any idea enough you will find ample reasons it won't work. If you are a strong believer in your idea (or the people behind the idea), better to try some small, cheap steps rather than continue to think about it or back away. The direct evidence you get from those early steps is far more illuminating than any arms-length due diligence you can do.

I liken working with early stage businesses (as investor or founder) to driving at night on an unfamiliar road. There will be curves up ahead which are beyond the reach of your headlights. All you can do is drive under control till what is up ahead becomes visible. But better to drive than wait. If you wait till daytime, you will be late.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Heidi Grant Halvorson - comparing yourself to others is a mistake; to build resilience, track your own improvement

From the HBR Blog Network, which asked their contributors, "What do graduates really need to know about the world of work?" Halvorson's new book, cowritten with E. Tory Higgins, is "Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence"

There will be obstacles, setbacks, challenges. Many things will be more difficult than you thought they'd be. The key to success (scientifically speaking) is perseverance. You've just got to hang in there — there's no other way to win. But how do you do it? A great way to be more resilient is to stop comparing yourself to other people, and compare yourself to your own past performance — last week, last month, last year. Are you improving? That's the only question that matters.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

To jump back in after failure, you need to have, or build, irrational confidence

Interesting post on HBR Blog Network by Art Papas,co-founder and CEO of Bullhorn, a vendor of recruiting software.

Papas declares in his title that "For Entrepreneurs, Failure Isn't Always a Good Teacher" and goes on to write,

Failure makes many of us less confident and less aggressive. We become gun shy. That's not surprising. Unfortunately, the cold reality is that once you've failed as an entrepreneur, you need to have blind confidence and a healthy sense of aggression to prove to people that you actually can succeed. You need to try again, and brace yourself to be criticized, lectured, doubted, and flat-out ignored by investors and sometimes even your own team. If at first you don't succeed, you're in for the fight of your life.

This is a good point, and he backs it up with an amazing story:

When I first started Bullhorn in 1999, our original concept was the product of some brainstorming between me and my co-founder. His idea was, "Why don't we build a platform for people to display their creative work on the internet?" Then I added, "We could make it a marketplace for those people to get jobs." Nobody had ever told us that this was a problem that needed solving, yet we thought it was a great idea. So did our original investors. In fact, when we took the idea to creative professionals, they really liked it as well. Unfortunately, when we took it to the businesses that were making hiring decisions, it was a total flop.

So our first business model failed. After a few months, as our cash dwindled, we thought up yet another problem that we could solve. Our investors loved that idea too. But, much like our previous efforts, we discovered that no one actually suffered from the problem we were out to solve. Our second business model failed, as well. Then the dot-com bubble collapsed. Our early investors quickly turned from loving their investment in Bullhorn to hating it and they shut us off from any additional capital. We decided to forgo salaries to stretch our cash. I was paying my rent by maxing out my credit cards. Then a business dropped in our laps. We met someone with a problem that needed solving and we were uniquely poised to solve it. We realized we had a game-changing idea on our hands: creating the first software-as-a-service applicant tracking system for recruiters. When our new product started to take off, we needed more money to get to the next level. Unfortunately, our investors looked at me like I was the boy who cried wolf and rejected the idea out of hand. The sales traction and momentum was not compelling to them in any way. They told us it would never be a big business. Fortunately, they were dead wrong, but we didn't feel so confident at the time.

I had identified our winning product, but I was late to the game. So what did I do? Did I pick myself up off the floor, dust myself off, and power ahead? Not really. My team and I still had total faith in our concept, but the reality of having failed before made me nervous to take risks. I didn't have the confidence to push my investors to support the idea and decided to essentially bootstrap the business, which worked, but cost us precious time. The business succeeded and the rest is history 13 years later, but we would be three times the size we are now had I been stronger.

Failure is a great teacher, but it's painful and rattles our confidence big time. Who wouldn't be "gun-shy" after the kind of failure Papas describes, especially one (or two) in which investors' money was lost?

And this is the amazing point. Logically, it doesn't make sense to keep going. It would be easier and safer to go in another direction. But entrepreneurs don't think logically at this point. They have, or have built, an irrational self-confidence that allows them to jump back into the fray, maybe to succeed this time, or maybe to fail again. And thank God for the people who do that. They are kind of heroes, aren't they?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Actress Greta Gerwig reflects on 42 takes of a brief scene in "Frances Ha"

There's a very fun and candid peek into the imperfect world of movie making in the New York Times "Riff" column this week. Actress and screenwriter Greta Gerwig reviewed and commented on the 42 takes she and fellow actor Mickey Sumner made of a scene in the new movie "Frances Ha." A few examples:

Take 5 (2:20 p.m.): Still hunched over. Less angry, more sad. I’m probably just sad for myself, which is a terrible trap for an actor to fall into. I can tell that Noah [Baumbach, the director] is not thrilled with what we’re getting. He hasn’t said anything yet — no “Good take” or “Mark that one” to let me know that I’m on the right track.

Take 24 (3:15 p.m.): I overarticulate some of the words. I emphasize the “me” too much in the way I say “Don’t treat me like a three-hour-brunch friend.” It makes it sound as if there is someone we’ve just been interacting with who is the three-hour-brunch friend.

Take 32. (3:34 p.m.): We start, and it’s going fairly well, but the camera “rolls out,” and they have to change the memory card.

Gerwig's piece makes it clear what we know but teach ourselves to forget: a movie isn't something organic, but something crafted out of hundreds of individual pieces, like a mosaic. It's a miracle that a director can sort out these little fragments and create something that feels like an integral work. Moreover, it gives you respect for an actor's performance - the ability to create a person that comes through despite hundreds of line misreadings and camera "rollouts."

See what contemplating mistakes can do?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"The Mistake Bank" in paperback now available

The paper copies of "The Mistake Bank" are here and they look great! If you would like a copy (or copies :), email me at mistakebank (at) caddellinsightgroup (dot) com and I'll let you know how to get one.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mistake neologism: "Nearling"

At the 99u conference earlier this month, I met Cyriel Kortleven and Ramon Vullings of the 21 Lobsterstreet consultancy in Belgium. In their innovation consulting work, they have found it helpful to coin a new term, nearling, to describe "something new that was done with the right intentions, which has not – yet – led to the right result." This recognizes that the connotation of terms like "mistake" and "failure" may be irreversibly negative - or at least an obstacle to using them productively in our work lives.

It's fun to encounter fellow travelers and I'm happy to have spent some time comparing notes with Cyriel and Ramon. I'm sure we'll continue to share learnings and, who knows, maybe work together in the future. If you are in Europe and looking for some help with creative thinking, look them up.

Read more about it:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Commencement Speech from Steve Blank: "Playing it safe will get you nowhere"

Steve Blank, frequently mentioned on this site, gave a great commencement address at the University of Minnesota last week. The whole speech is on Steve's blog, and here's a tidbit.


The downside of starting something new is that’s it’s tough, because unlike the movies – you fail a lot. For every Facebook and Google, thousands never make it.

Like Rocket Science Games, which was my biggest failure. 90 days after showing up on the cover of Wired Magazine I knew the game company where I raised 35 million dollars was headed for disaster.

We’d believed our own press, inhaled our own fumes and built lousy games. Customers voted with their wallets and didn’t buy our products. The company went out of business. Given the press we had garnered, it was a very public failure.

We let our customers, our investors, and our employees down. I thought my career and my life were over. But I learned that in Silicon Valley, honest failure is a badge of experience.

All of you will fail at some time in your career…or in love, or in life.

No one ever sets out to fail.

But being afraid to fail means you’ll be afraid to try. Playing it safe will get you nowhere.

As it turned out, rather than run me out of town, the two venture capital firms that had lost $12 million in my failed startup actually asked me to work with them again.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Mistake Bank" book tidbit - Chapter 4, "Creating the Culture"

This is from the opening to Chapter 4 of "The Mistake Bank":

In a company, school, government entity, or charitable group, learning from mistakes is more than a personal matter; it’s crucial for the success of the organization itself.

The effect of mistakes is multiplied in an organizational setting, where many people collaborate to achieve an outcome such
as a healthy patient, a completed product, or a resolved complaint. A chain of mistakes can result in disasters, and the communication that is essential for recognizing and interrupting such a chain is more difficult the larger the workgroup is.

So the leader has a crucial responsibility: creating and nurturing a culture where mistakes are acknowledged, shared, and learned from. This means creating a safe environment, encouraging reporting, holding review sessions, and putting learning into practice. It sounds simple but is infrequently done. Leaders make the difference.

Read more about it:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Golf veteran teaches tour player: embrace random bounces

From a New York Times story profiling the Champions Tour player and PGA Champion Mark Brooks, who has spent this week caddying for tour player J.J. Henry:

Brooks said that he has tried to impress upon Henry that the game’s vagaries — mud balls, tricky winds, bad bounces and the like — are as integral a part of the sport as dimples are to a ball. They are challenges to embrace, not excuses to evoke if the execution proves faulty. 
“One thing I try to get him to do is take responsibility for his shots, really do it, deep down, whatever happens,” Brooks said. “And the second thing is to work on his deficiencies. People want to work on what they’re proficient at. As painful as it is, recognize what your deficiencies are and work on them until they are no longer deficiencies.”

Good lessons here: bad breaks are part of any game. As are good breaks. Embrace them, enjoy them, laugh at them. And work on your weaknesses!

Read more about it:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cracking open Nassim Taleb's "Antifragile"

A friend recently recommended "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder." Already, I can see there will be many resonances between the Mistake Bank project and Taleb's book. First off, a definition. Taleb coins the term antifragility to mean something that's the opposite of fragility - beyond robustness or resilience. He writes, "The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.... The antifragile loves randomness and uncertainty, which also means - crucially - a love of errors a certain class of errors." I couldn't have written it better myself.

Here are a few delicious tidbits I've found already. Just in these brief snippets, you can already see that "Antifragile," is a book of philosophy as much as anything else:

In short, the fragilista (medical, economic, social planning) is one who makes you engage in policies and actions, all artificial, in which the benefits are small and visible and the side effects potentially severe and invisible.

Just reading the above passage brought to mind the AIG credit default swap scheme - in which one of the world's largest insurers sold, for nickels and dimes, insurance against a very unlikely event - the mass default of mortgage loans. Of course, when that event occurred, the nickels and dimes were long spent, and the tens of billions of liabilities to be paid would have brought the company toppling down (and perhaps our economy), except for unprecedented financial intervention by the federal government.

Taleb and I also have had similar experiences when writing about a subject that we have found interesting for many years:

I write about probability with my entire soul and my entire experiences in the risk-taking business; I write with my scars, hence my thought is inseparable from autobiography.

Taleb also lays out a table comparing examples of "fragile," "robust," and "antifragile" institutions in politics, business, academics, etc. He describes it thus:

On the left, in the fragile category, the mistakes are rare and large when they occur, hence irreversible; to the right the mistakes are small and benign, even reversible and quickly overcome. They are also rich in information. So a certain system of tinkering and trial and error would have the attributes of antifragility. If you want to become antifragile, put yourself in the situation "loves mistakes" - to the right of "hates mistakes" - by making them numerous and small in harm.

Taleb and I are coming from two different starting points, but ending up in a similar place. Smart mistakes are cheap and informative. Dumb mistakes are costly and keep us in ignorance. I can't wait to keep reading "Antifragile."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

In uncertain ventures, the value of a crystal-clear goal

I had the opportunity to attend the 99u Conference in New York last week. It was a blast. The most noteworthy presentation for me was from Sebastian Thrun, the driving force behind Google's self-driving car and Google Glass, and now the founder of online learning provider Udacity. Thrum was awarded the Alva Award, a lifetime-achievement prize for invention.

Many of Thrun's remarks were relevant to our work here. One that really struck me was this: When planning a new, uncertain endeavor, a crisp, clear objective is necessary. Planning the path is unimportant - the path emerges as you work. But a very clear objective allows for a clear assessment of success or failure, and an understanding of how far away you are from your goal.

Here's an example from the Self-Driving Car project. After Thrun's Stanford team had completed the 2007 Darpa Urban Challenge (a very clear objective in itself), Thrun and his team needed a new goal. He had moved to Google, and in collaboration with Google's executives eventually decided on a 1000-mile course all around the Bay Area, covering streets, highways, etc. It was an audacious leap from winning a contest on a closed course to confronting the chaos of real city and suburban driving.

But the goal was clear. Failure was easy to assess - if the car did not complete the entire 1000 miles, that was a failure. This enabled Thrun and his team to use a Build-Fail-Fix-Test-Fail-Fix-etc. approach. This rapid failure-iteration cycle allowed them to very quickly advance in capability for the self-driving car - from finishing a 60-mile course, to the 1000 mile test, to the current state where Google's fleet of self-driving cars tours the Bay Area on a regular basis, covering more than 300,000 miles so far without incident.

Having a clear objective allowed Thrun to focus on planning and executing the next steps, instead of wondering, arguing about, and/or redefining what success meant. This is crucial in an uncertain environment. The objective is reached by taking individual steps, every day, toward the goal, and using failures to help adjust the course toward the objective.

We can use this in our everyday work. When we embark on an uncertain venture - a new job, perhaps, or a new business venture, or a sales campaign - we should aim for a clear, timed measure of success, and share that with people who are helping us. A clear objective will allow the next steps you plan to be headed in the right direction, it will allow you to clearly establish whether you've succeeded or failed, and enable you to intelligently change course when required.

[Photo from GlacierNPS via Flickr Creative Commons]

Monday, May 6, 2013

"Let's get this nightmare over with" - giving, accepting and acting on feedback

One of the interesting mistakes we make is when we presume that other people see the world as we do. This happens all the time, especially when we meet someone new. It's a challenge to listen carefully to them, read their signals, and try to see things, at least a little, as they do. This brief story from Chris McCormick, CEO of LL Bean, via the New York Times, is a perfect example of this situation:

When I met my wife, Beth, in 2007, I invited her to join me in some outdoor activities. We kayaked one day and went on a 30-mile bike trip the next. On a break while biking, I asked if she wanted to return to the house or head in a different direction. I thought that she was enjoying herself, but she said, rather sternly, “Let’s get this nightmare over with.” Now when we bike together, we keep it short — around 15 miles.

As I read this story, I thought: what a great scenario for us to learn from. McCormick asked for feedback. Beth gave it - forthrightly (an understatement), and McCormick took it to heart. All three of these acts are difficult on their own; putting them together is like magic. See what can happen?

Inviting and using feedback is discussed in Chapter 3 of "The Mistake Bank" - and I wish I had seen this story before writing that section!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"The Mistake Bank" errata

Here's where we will keep errata from the book. If you find something incorrect, email me at mistakebank (at) caddellinsightgroup (dot) com and I'll post it here.

Conclusion, first paragraph. Italics error - should say "From Lemons to Lemonade," not "from Lemons to Lemonade."

Friday, May 3, 2013

"The Mistake Bank" is here!

Look to the right side of the page. Yes, after a gestation longer than a blue whale's, "The Mistake Bank: How To Succeed By Forgiving Your Mistakes And Embracing Your Failures
" is here. Available on in Kindle format. We'll announce more formats later, and the hardcopy book is coming as well. Please tell your friends!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fred Wilson reflects on what could've been

In his blog A VC, venture capitalist Fred Wilson regularly shares interesting stories as a way of teaching his audience through his experiences and, I believe, learning and embedding the lessons in his own mind. Recently, Fred posted on a dinner he had with Jim Cramer, now a crazed CNBC television host, but at the time a crazed blogging hedge fund manager:

I sat next to Jim Cramer last night at a dinner put on by some mutual friends. I hadn't seen Jim in a while so it was a great opportunity to take a trip down memory lane. In 1996 or early 1997, my prior firm Flatiron Partners led the first round of outside financing for I joined the board and eventually became Chairman before stepping down a decade ago. 
When I first met Jim, he was running a hedge fund and blasting posts from his trading desk. This was 1996 and what he was doing was unprecedented. He was publishing in real time his thoughts on what was going on in the markets. On some days, Jim would post three or four dozen times. 
As Jim and I reminisced about those days last night, I said to him "you were tweeting and blogging a decade before anyone else was doing that." He nodded, "yeah, that is what I was doing". 
But we didn't know that. The money our firm invested went to hiring a team of journalists and we saw ourselves as the Wall Street Journal of the web. That was a mistake. The Wall Street Journal is the Wall Street Journal of the web. What Jim was doing was something way more native, way more powerful, and way more important. But we missed it. has gone on to build a niche financial publishing business that is a solid and profitable company. But it could have been the Twitter and Blogger of Wall Street. That's what it was at the start. But we didn't know what we had.