Greenplum closes on $27million round of financing

Congratulations to Bill, Scott and team on our new $27mm round of funding led by Meritech and including Sun Microsystems and SAP Ventures.  You guys have been pushing the envelope since I have known you and delivering some spectacular results to boot.  It is nice to see our team and product get validated with a significant round of funding so we can continue our battle to bring our customers a better, faster, and cheaper way to access and analyze massive volumes of data.  When we made our first investment years ago, our fundamental bet was that a new approach was needed to deal with exponential data growth driven by network computing and internet applications.  We certainly had some fits and starts tackling this data problem by utilizing a software-only approach built on top of open source software and delivered on commodity machines, but with this funding and our continued customer momentum, we are certainly on the right track.  For more on this investment, read the following quotes from Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, and Nina Markovic, head of SAP Ventures:

"Alongside Sun’s acquisition of MySQL, our investment in Greenplum is further evidence of our commitment to the open source database community and marketplace," said Jonathan Schwartz, CEO and president, Sun Microsystems. "Postgres has been a critical part of our support offering to customers, and Greenplum’s leverage of Postgres to disrupt the proprietary vendors with breakthrough business intelligence solutions creates opportunity for their investors, and more importantly, our mutual customers."

"We invested in Greenplum because we’re seeing a growing demand for scalable database technologies to support analytical and data-driven applications," said Nino Marakovic, head of SAP Ventures. "From a technology perspective, the Greenplum database is very strong and complementary to our offerings. We share the vision of enterprises harnessing ever-growing data repositories to make optimal business decisions in real time."

Show me the love and I'll show you the money

I got a call before the holidays from a prospective customer that I introduced to one of my portfolio companies.  He said he loved our product, saw it fitting in perfectly into their platform, but that we were not responsive enough to their needs.  I was able to get a second chance for our team but since deals are momentum-based, I knew that it would be an uphill struggle to win.  While our technology was the best, his guys told him that they were quite concerned about our ability to be there when the shit hit the fan.  In other words, they wanted to make sure that no matter what happened that they could rely on us to be there on a moment’s notice to support them and help fix any issues.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, you only get one chance to make a first impression and if you are strapped too thin or chasing too many deals at once, it may come back to haunt you.  You see, many companies that try to partner or sell into enterprises forget that showing the love early in the sales process and stressing the support factor is as big a deal as the technology itself.  I am not saying that if your technology sucks and you are there 24/7 you will win, but what I am saying is that if your technology is on the margin and all things being equal, your ability to support that partner or customer will be a huge deciding factor. So if you want the customer to show you the money, make sure that you show the love pre- and post sale.

Freelance web designer needed!

I am helping a friend who has the most popular books on baby naming bring it all online. Our development on the backend is close to complete, and we are looking for a great web designer who can create a few templates and themes for us. This is a database driven site and the homepage will include some social elements in it as well. If interested please send me a note with some samples of your sites you helped design. Simple sites we like include,,, and

Google giveth…and Google taketh away…

Here is another example of one of my portfolio companies’ mantras: Google giveth and Google taketh away (see my post from April for more on this).  Who knows the real reason why Google shut off Adsense for Incredimail (Nasdaq: MAIL) but look at what happened to the stock in one day—a 40% drop.  I am not saying that startups should not use Adsense but this just reminds that one should always take a hard look at their business and if they are too heavily dependent on any one customer or partner, they should think long and hard about how to diversify their business.  Any good company will ride the gravy train as long as they can while preparing themselves for the day the ride will be over.  As I have said before, there is nothing wrong with free distribution or easy revenue but at some point in time, startups need to figure out how to control their own destiny.

And while we would all love to build our business off the back’s of other brands and distribution, at the end of the day, in order to create a big winner, it is imperative for startups to control their own destiny.  This means that your business has to be able to grow organically and not have its fate FULLY dependent on its partners.

Anyway, Michael Eisenberg also has a nice take on this subject over at Seeking Alpha.

Newsgator – going about enterprise sales the right way

I was catching up on my feed reader this morning and noticed my friend Jeff Nolan’s post (also see Brad Feld) on Newsgator and FeedDemon RSS clients now being free.  I know that Jeff joined Newsgator  because of his belief in the enterprise, and I applaud the company’s new strategy.  As I have written before, enterprise sales is incredibly hard.  If I were going to do anything on the enterprise side, I would look at how to make my sales as frictionless as possible.  Leverage SAAS and downloads and reduce the barriers to usage.  What you have in a free Newsgator and FeedDemon RSS client is the opportunity for the pull-push method of enterprise selling vs. the push-pull method.  Rather than only rely on expensive enterprise sales guys trying to push products into corporations, Newsgator, as Jeff says in his blog post, has the opportunity to expand its client base from 1mm users to 10mm users and have them potentially pull Newsgator into new enterprise sales opportunities.  This is certainly a new way of thinking and considering that the company has an excellent client, this should be a winning strategy.  From Jeff’s post:

So if we are generating zero dollars of revenue from the client applications that we used to sell, well what is our business? Today we generate the bulk of our revenue from enterprise software, which is predominately server products but also includes these client applications (we call them “endpoints”). The fact remains that we actually generate a significant number of enterprise leads from people who are using our client apps and then realize they would benefit from enterprise management products. By that logic, more client applications in use is more enterprise goodness for us.

The KISS Method and innovation

I had a great conversation wtih a friend of mine yesterday about the latest release of his product. He had mentioned that one of my clips from the Economist (see below) on Evan Williams from Blogger and Twitter fame spurred some lively debate at his company. The key thought from Evan is rather than worry about adding another feature or function, ask yourself what can be taken away to create something new.” This is a central idea and one that reminds of me the KISS method of writing that my high school english teacher taught me. When in doubt about your work revert to the KISS method – KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Too often we drink our own Kool-Aid and don’t ask ourselves the tough questions about ourselves or our product. We also believe that having another bell or whistle on our product will be the next big thing rather than asking ourself the opposite question-will it really be the next big thing if we have less to offer than more? As you know from my other posts, if you are developing any product or service keeping it incredibly easy to use is a surefire way to success.

Keep reading this clip and article for more on Evan’s thoughts – focusing on simplicity and radical constraints

clipped from

The irony of trying to plan accidents, and orchestrate their frequent occurrence, is not lost on Mr Williams. So he tries mental tricks. One is to ask “what can we take away to create something new?” A decade ago, you could have started with Yahoo! and taken away all the clutter around the search box to get Google. When he took Blogger and took away everything except one 140-character line, he had Twitter. Radical constraints, he believes, can lead to breakthroughs in simplicity and entirely new things.

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Openness and social networking

As you know, I am a huge believer in open standards and that open standards (over time) will usually prevail over proprietary, closed networks.  And my one wish from a social networking perspective was to really be able to manage all of my relationships from various networks and my interests from one meta-application.  In June this year I wrote about Linkedin and Facebook on a possible collision course.  And in November I wrote about the promise and potential shortcomings of OpenSocial:

OpenSocial is like Java for social networking apps-the promise of write once, run anywhere.  It goes back to my point I made in an earlier blog post – I am completely inundated now from requests from Facebook, LinkedIn, and now PlaxoPulse.  I am having a hard time keeping track of all of my contacts, messages, and the like.  It would be great if I could have a service that sat on top of these apps and allowed me to manage all of my relationships from one place.  Sure, some contacts may only be a Linked in contact, some may be a Facebook and LinkedIn, etc.  Check here if you want your music to be shared on this network and not the other one, etc.  You get the idea.

Of course, I thought that I was dreaming and that it wouldn’t happen anytime soon until I read the announcement today that Facebook, Google, and Plaxo joined the Data Portability Group (see Read/Write/Web).

The DataPortability Workgroup announced this morning that representatives from both Google and Facebook are joining its ranks. The group is working on a variety of projects to foster an era of Data Portability – where users can take their data from the websites they use to reuse elsewhere and where vendors can leverage safe cross-site data exchange for a whole new level of innovation. Good bye customer lock-in, hello to new privacy challenges. If things go right, today could be a very important day in the history of the internet.

The proof will be in the pudding and in the implemenation as it is with Google’s OpenSocial. That being said, this is a great move by Facebook, stemming the negative tide that was building about who owned their data and also, in my mind, locking them in as a defacto leader for years to come.  Facebook is the current gorilla in the space and gorillas do what they want.  However, rather than take on every other player who campaigned on the "open" platform, Facebook has thrown its hat into the ring, and I am sure will play a major role in helping make the standards as well.  Let’s just hope our data is really portable and only when users can run their social networks and share their data from one or any platform easily will we truly be in an open market.  That being said I agree with Marshall that this could be an important day for the Internet, one where the consumer’s voice truly carries weight and one where openness will prevail.

Changing leadership is never easy

I have been a Ravens fan for quite awhile, and I am glad they finally made this move.  Being an avid sports fan and former DI lacrosse player, I have always tried to take lessons from the sports world into the business world.  This is yet another example that reminds me of working with startups.  At the end, Coach Billick lost control of his team as they lost faith in his strategy and execution.  Sounds like you could replace the name of Coach Billick with startup CEO.

it is never easy whether it be in business or sports but the comment that stands out most for me is that bringing in an Offensive Coordinator for Coach Billick would have been a band-aid.  Companies and teams don’t need band-aids-they need to make the tough decisions.  So if you think your company needs a COO, think deeply about whether or not that is what you need or if you really need a new CEO

Billick’s personality and message had gotten stale, and his lack of discipline contributed to the problems this season.

Before yesterday, the Ravens and Billick had agreed to bring in a new offensive coordinator for the 2008 season, but that would have been a Band-Aid.

It’s hard to justify having two highly paid coordinators running your team. That would have been another indictment of Billick. What was Billick supposed to do? Go to the first 20 minutes of practice and then take a nap?

Billick was on his way to becoming a figurehead, a once-powerful coach who kept losing more control every year since 2005, when Bisciotti publicly reprimanded him.

Billick was working in reverse. Over extended periods of time, great coaches such as Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells gain more power and become general managers and presidents as well as coaches. But Billick’s power base was eroding.
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