March 15, 2012

Canary in a Coal Mine

Canary in a Coal Mine From Wiktionary:  An allusion to caged canaries mining workers would carry down into the tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as methane or carbon monoxide leaked into the mine-shaft, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners. Perhaps not the best analogy in the world, but I had an observation recently as we took on a massive new client:  over the years, Return Path has had a handful of “bellwether” clients that I’ve jokingly referred to as the canaries in our proverbial coal mine.  In the really early days of the business, it was eBay.  When we first started working with Email Service Providers, it was the old DoubleClick.  A couple years ago, it was a giant social network.  Now, it’s a social commerce site. These kinds of clients help us break new ground.  They stretch us and get us to do things we had either never done before, or things we didn’t even know we could do.  And they are canaries in the coal mine, not because either they or we die, but because they are the clients who have the most complex and high-volume email programs who run into problems […]


September 12, 2005

Reality Bites

Reality Bites So Oracle is buying the $1.5 billion revenue Siebel for $5.85 billion, and eBay is buying the at most $60 million revenue Skype for $2.4 billion, which could grow to $4.1 billion if Skype hits some performance targets.  Huh.  Must be all those pesky customers, receivables, and assets bogging down Siebel’s books. UPDATE:  Fortune’s David Kirkpatrick, one of the most insightful journalists covering technology, makes some sense of this in this week’s Fast Forward column.


September 9, 2005

It’s Easy to Feel Like a Luddite These Days, Part II

It’s Easy to Feel Like a Luddite These Days, Part II In Part I, I talked about tagging and podcasting and how I felt pretty lame for someone who considers himself to be somewhat of an early adopter for not understanding them.  So now, 10 weeks later, I understand tagging and have a del.icio.us account, although I don’t use it all that often (quite frankly, I don’t have tons of surfing time to discover cool new content).  And I’ve even figured out how to integrate del.icio.us with Feedburner and with Typepad. I’m still out of luck with Podcasting, mainly because […]


June 15, 2005

Counter Cliche: Who’s The Dog in this Scenario?

Counter Cliche:  Who’s The Dog in this Scenario? Fred’s VC cliche of the week is a good one — “If you lie down with dogs, you’ll come up with fleas.” His point is a good and simple one, that VCs shouldn’t take people risks in deals and shouldn’t try to back management teams they have serious concerns about (ethical or otherwise) in the hopes of trying to change the team or change management. The obvious counter cliche is that entrepreneurs run that same risk in accepting capital from less-than-savory venture investors.  An ethically-challenged investor can wreak havoc on a young […]