Thoughts on a Sunday – 1/22/12

It’s a football Sunday here in San Francisco.

Thought #1 – High Speed Rail
A High Speed Railroad system in California. I cannot believe that we are having to fight for this one here in California. I lived in Baltimore, MD for about one year in the ’99/’00 timeframe. I loved the MetroLiner railroad system they have on the East Coast. My family and I could jump on the train and get to NYC in 2.5 hours. We would never have done so many trips if we had been required to take a plane. I really don’t care what the cost is for the system. It will be expensive, it will cost more than what we are told/want and it is still worth it. The downstream benefits of that system running in California is huge.

Thought #2 – Taxes
The talk of taxes is in the air. The ‘Romney Effect’ is in full view, especially after his discussion about how he probably is closer to 15% for his tax rate. I’ll leave aside the carried interest discussion for a later day. I think a more interesting line of discussion is around 1) Why do we tax capital gains differently than wages/salary?; 2) Why do we tax short term capital gains differently than long term capital gains at the federal level? As an aside, California state taxes are the same for both; and 3) Since when is 12 months considered long term? I remember when long term cap gains was 3 years then it became 2 years and then we got to 12 months.

Follow my logic here: we tax long term capital gains at a lower rate than wages b/c it it promotes an economic ‘good’ i.e. Investment. We wish to promote long term thinking so we discriminate b/t long term and short term gains. Long Term = ‘Good’ and Short Term = ‘Not As Good’. In a completely arbitrary assessment, Congress has decided that 12 months is the demarcating line b/t short term and long term capital rates.

It seems to me that increasing the time required to hold securities before qualifying for long term rates would go a long way in reorienting the discussion around what matters most. Long term capital that creates new businesses is an absolute ‘Good’, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that 12 months is enough time for that societal good to be realized and warrant a much lower tax rate.

Christopher Dean – Taking Flight With Urban Airship

One of the real joys of being in the early stage venture business is that I deal with numerous companies that are rapidly growing AND hiring. As such, I love helping people that I know find the right company and position within our portfolio.

The most recent example for me is the announcement last week by our portfolio company, Urban Airship, that Christopher Dean has joined as Chief Revenue Officer. The company’s blog post is here:

Christopher (aka “CD”) and I have kids that attend school together and so we have known each other casually for years. When I heard about CD being allowed to “pursue opportunities outside of Skype”, I was early in calling him about what he wanted to do next. I was thrilled that he was on the market.

I literally had 5 companies that I thought would be interesting to him and I arranged for him to meet the founders. Some were a fit and some were not, but in the end he joined Urban Airship as CRO. Here is my favorite line from him during this process (I’ll paraphrase): I really like revenue. I like big revenues.

Well CD, I like big revenues too! You have joined a ‘True’ Rocket Ship and the sky is the limit. Good luck to you!!

Thoughts on a Sunday – 1/8/12

First of the new year.

Thought #1
Service Economy = Service Government? Everyone talks about how the US economy is dominated by services. Why is it then that the first thing anyone says about government stimulus involves some type of “shovel ready” project? Let’s invest in our Service Government. What would that look like? Well, how about your local Post Office (it’s getting gutted and we will lose a day of service soon)? Your local national park (trails and entire parks are being closed)? Your local DMV (state versus federal, I realize)? How about the national equivalent of the 311 service that some major cities have rolled out? How about Americorps with an expanded vision? The great thing about stimulus for service jobs is that almost all the money is taxable wages. The last time I checked, a hunk of concrete didn’t pay taxes. So, let’s invest in our service economy, versus just thinking we can build enough bridges or roads to fix a troubled economy.

Thought #2
I recently bought a bike and I looked high and low for a frame that was manufactured here in the United States. I could not find one and I wanted a list of companies that built their bikes here in the US. The answer may in fact be zero for bike frames, but then, I got to thinking that I would love to have a database of companies and the major products that are made here in the States. I may be in the minority here, but I will gladly pay a premium for USA products of equivalent or better value if they are manufactured in the states versus China. Get consumers the information about the provenance of products and then we can decide where and what we will buy.

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s 2012 – The New Year Has Begun

Let’s start off the year with a quote that I have come across from a blog post that I found via (As an aside and to be fully transparent, I recently clicked on one of the highlighted blogs––and then eventually clicked on which got me to the quote that I really liked).

I am told that I have a 1/32nd or 1/16th portion of my lineage from the Cherokee tribe so I presume that I might be slightly biased :).

Here it is:

There is a story of an old Cherokee who told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside of every person – it is a battle between two wolves. One wolf is life-taking: it is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, guilt, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other wolf is life-giving: it is joy, peace, love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather which wolf won. The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed’. I am working on only feeding the wolf who gives life.

Let us all think about the wolf we choose to feed as we start our new year.
Happy New Year folks.