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February 07, 2006

Fun and Games (With Help from my Friends)

To some extent, life mirrors art in two podcast episodes from my novel, hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble.  The players chose their roles.

The cast in alphabetical order is:  Matt Blumberg, Kelly Evans, Brad Feld, Stephanie Miller, and Fred Wilson.  Location is the Harvard Club in New York City.  This meeting is the negotiation between hackoff.com CEO Larry Lazard and his VCs over who gets to sell how many shares in the hackoff.com secondary – literally a decision in which hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.  The time is early February, 2000.  The bubble is about to burst – but no one knows this yet.  Maybe it’ll go on forever.

Matt Matt Blumberg, the real-life CEO of Return Path, plays fictional CEO Larry Lazard.  I wish I’d been as tough a negotiator during my business career as Matt plays Larry.  It’s everybody against him on the other team’s home field in this scene.  You’ll have to listen to see how it comes out.

Kelly dothHill press publisher Kelly Evans makes a cameo appearance as Larry’s wife, Louise Lazard.

Brad Brad Feld in real life is a managing director of Mobius Venture Capital.  In real-life he sits on numerous corporate boards.  Here he plays VC Joseph Windaw of Windaw and Wallar Venture Capital; Joseph is a hackoff.com Board Member.  The Harvard Club is Joe’s home turf,  Despite being an MIT graduate, Brad pulls the role off fine.

Stephanie Stephanie Miller is Vice President of Strategic Services at Return Path.  She plays Joanne Ankers, hackoff.com Board Member from Big Router Ventures, the venture arm of Big Router which has invested in hackoff.com.  Stephanie describes Joanne as “snarky” and play her that way to a T.

Fred Fred Wilson is the managing partner of Union Square Ventures. At Flatiron Partners, he invested in my former company ITXC and was on the Board there.  For some reason he has identified with fictional VC Franklin Adams of ad Ventures since he read the first episodes of hackoff.com.  Franklin sprays when he talks which Fred doesn’t but they’re both very smart.

I’m grateful to all of them for taking time to record these episodes.  You can hear them in the firstepisode here and the second one here or download all the podcast episodes of hackoff.com from iTunes.

Technical notes:

We didn’t get together in a studio to do this; we used a combination of traditional and VoIP technology to get together virtually.  You’ll be able to tell that it isn’t a studio recording but it’s quite workable and the technology is improving rapidly.

We used a Skype-compatible conferencing service called Vapps to get us all together.  Kelly reports that they were extremely helpful in getting things setup even though they were only in Beta at the time.

Matt used Skype and a headset (Premium 350 USB headset by Logitech) to connect as did Kelly (“cheap Radio Shack model”), Fred (mic in IBM T43 ThinkPad) and I (mVox USB headset) .  Brad reports: “I tried with bluetooth headset via my ibm x41 laptop via skype over evdo.  Bahahahahaha - that sucked.” So Brad used T-Mobile on his SideKick mobile phone.  Stephanie had no mic on her Dell Latutude 510 so she was on a landline phone.

Vapps recorded the session and emailed it to Kelly who edits with Garage Band.  Because I always (well, almost always) have a plan B, I also recorded using Skype and clever software called Virtual Audio Cables.  If you want to do that, read this excellent writeup by Stuart Henshall. We ended up using clips from both recordings.

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» Hackoff! from Life on the road
Have you read (or listened to via podcast) the recent murder-mystery about the fictional company Hackoff.com?  If you have any interest in the world of IPOs, venture capital funding, what its like in a dot-com startup, or just want a good liste... [Read More]


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