Last night’s ferry trip featured a mid-course stop for a vessel in distress

Vessel In DistressThis was a first for us. 15 minutes out of Anacortes and the captain announces we are taking a detour to help a vessel in distress. We change course and the search lights go out, and in about ten minutes we come across a small sailboat with sails ripped. It was a pretty windy night, probably too much weather for this boat. The ferry crew verified that the small boat was not taking on water, and so we just tracked him with our light for 15 minutes, awaiting the arrival of the Coast Guard 35 minutes away in Bellingham. Had the sailboat started to take on water, the ferry crew was ready to do an emergency rescue, but that would have been at some risk to the ferry crew and a lot of risk to the small sailboat, it certainly seems like the ferry would have crushed the boat.

Eventually another ferry arrived, and also kept their lights on the boat. The ferry captains decided for whatever reason that the 2nd ferry was the better one to track the boat, and so we moved on. Rescuing Ferry The well-lit ferry boats had to be a welcome site to the small sailboat, it was a dark and windy night, had to be a little scary out there.

Nice afternoon at Firwood Farms — alpacas are very engaging animals

alpacas 1

alpacas 2

We had a very nice visit at Firwood Farms today, this place is an unassuming little gem. Way off the beaten path, and not very commercial, but a hugely nice and good couple who own the place and make a home for rescue alpacas (as well as some of their own). And the alpacas are so engaging, very interested in meeting us (we did have food in our hands), and not shy a bit, tho a little cautious. Their eyes are stunning. This place is about 1000x more meaningful and touching than any zoo. Worth a side trip.

Inside the light rail tunnel — highlight of my week!

Looking down the tunnel from the UW campus — thanks so much to folks at UW College of Engineering for arranging, and for “Traylor”: for hosting. If Traylor hadn’t been so darn good at their job, completing this link early, we would have actually seen the borer in operation. But fascinating to see all the infrastructure to support the boring operation — the trains, material delivery systems, etc etc.

Made my first contribution to a Kickstarter project, the Zooka

Seems like a nice speaker — “the Zooka”: — (though they probably have a trademark issue to resolve) and I’m glad to support a Northwest project. It is also exciting to see the diversity of projects up on Kickstarter, and nice to see that people are willing to pay for value and creativity. After 15 years of people demanding more and more free content and service on the Internet, any shift back towards sustainable business models seems good. Personally I feel way better about paying for something, rather than getting “free” content and having my attention sold to the highest bidder without my involvement and consent.

Feels like the Seattle economy is on the cusp of an expansion

I had a great week last week that left me feeling incredibly optimistic about the Seattle economy.

First, Techstars Seattle Demo Day. What a super event, “lots of coverage of it”: Great young companies, enthusiasm, great pitches, good progress in fundraising. Big audience with great energy. Super job by @andysack and everyone involved, a model for everyone else in the Seattle community who wants to nurture startups. We need more of these events, not just in cloud/web. I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurship events at UW and they are constrained by mentoring, hiring, seed financing — exactly what the techstars guys are providing. One of the companies, “Romotive”:, has also done a great job leveraging Kickstarter and have generated a lot of early revenue — the rise of crowd-sourced pre-sales/funding is a fascinating and positive evolution.

Everyone was hiring at the event. As an indicator of how desperate people are to hire, I had two guys try to hire me. If you think I am the answer to your problem, you are pretty desperate.

Then I spent the better part of a day in a meeting with the “UW College of Engineering Visiting Committee”: Some great data on the College of Engineering — most programs are massively oversubscribed, turning away students in bunches, doing a great job placing students. Great evolution in programs, great facilities, great staffing. The College could probably push out many more engineers and is constrained by state economic policies; with tweaks to tuition and governance, it seems like the pipeline could open much more broadly. And we also had a chance to listen to President Young speak who seems to have a very open attitude about IP licensing, he seems to recognize that getting IP out of the university and to work is important.

I left the two days feeling like a lot of piece parts are coming together fast. Seed funding. Crowd sourcing. Mentoring. Training/Education. And with iteration and tweaking, we could see an explosion of economic growth in the Seattle area. Exciting times.

Love/Hate Otters

Otters are so dang cute. It is hard not to fall in love with them. The picture doesn’t do justice to the constant motion as they wrestle and cavort and untangle and retangle themselves. Who wouldn’t love these little guys? Such a treat to see them in nature.

And then they crawl under the canvas on your boat and leave fish guts everywhere and crap all over everything.

Hey some seattle VCs blog!

Why Seattle VCs don’t blog – TechFlash: Seattle’s Technology News Source — John Cook wonders why we don’t blog. Obviously some of us do — myself, Rich. We do it for personal reasons, not motivated by our business — we’d be blogging if we were still at MSFT, if we were running a vinyard, etc. As such, our blogs reflect 85% our personal interests and a little bit of business interest.

John asserts that “…there’s opportunity for a VC in town to explain what is really going on in the venture industry in clear and concise terms with no BS…” However, this is not our business. Our business is investing, and to motivate a VC-focused blog, you’d have to be convinced that such a blog would a) improve your deal flow, or b) improve your exits. Not obvious to me at all.

Additionally you’d have to be certain you could sustain the blog — the examples of abandoned blogs that John mentions seems to be a bad outcome.


OK it was all cute and everything the first day and we got some nice pictures. But now I’ve had enough. A frozen pipe. A tree that failed under the weight of all the snow. An epic driving trip to the airport last night. Time to move on.

Oh and huge thanks to all those who didn’t take snow days and kept on keeping the world running. Our paper arrived every day. The mailman was always here. Our lights, heat, water, phone, TV, internet service all worked like champs. The roads were plowed. UPS showed up. Grocery always open. Starbucks usually open. And many many more — hats off to everyone.