On numerous occasions I have been asked why I started VentureBlog. There's certainly no one answer to that question. In part it is because I wanted to share thoughts about the venture capital industry which had been a pretty closed industry up until that point. In part it was because I wanted to have a conversation with the entrepreneurial community. In part it was because I liked writing and it was nice to have a forum in which to do so. In part it was because Andrew told me that I had to. But at least as important as all of that was the opportunity to learn hands on about a technology that I felt was going to be increasingly meaningful.
The other two VCs who I think are the poster children for learning through using are Fred Wilson and Brad Feld. Those guys have been playing with and investing in various social software tools and services for a couple of years now. As a result of using the tools, we have all gotten a strong sense of the massive value being delivered through blogging, RSS, tagging, prospective search, etc. And we have each invested accordingly. I am hopeful that the process of using the tools has helped make us more informed investors (and I by no means intend to slight the many other venture capitalists who are blogging, using social networks, tracking their investments through RSS feeds, etc. -- each of those folks deserves credit for learning about the technology first hand)
As a result of being in the mix as technology evolves, you have the opportunity to adopt those technologies that help make your job easier before they become mainstream. I have no doubt that Fred and Brad, as I, have RSS feeds that inform them of what is being written about themselves, their venture firms and their portfolio companies in near real time, courtesy of Technorati or Bloglines or Pubsub or the like. It is an invaluable tool that I suspect most Venture Capitalists have not yet adopted. But they absolutely should.
Among the technologies that I find interesting and have been spending a fair amount of time looking at is, not surprisingly, podcasting. Much has been written about the power of podcasting to potentially disintermediate the radio conglomerates. Others have written about the impact podcasting may have on something like local news, for example. Whatever the particular use of podcasting, the technology seems poised to have an increasing impact on the media landscape. Yet, despite finding podcasting quite interesting, I have not yet podcast myself, nor have I adopted any of the podcasting tools in particular.
Fred, on the other hand, has not only started a family podcast (that was recently picked up by a San Francisco radio station). He also has created a specific del.icio.us tag ("fred'spodcast") that allows you to tag MP3s you think Fred will like and those MP3s will automatically download to his iPod courtesy of a del.icio.us RSS feed. That's a pretty cool use of a bunch of these technologies put together -- podcasting, RSS, social tagging. And because Fred has been using these various technologies to hear new music, he also put himself smack in the front of a fantastic new use of podcasting -- the podcast elevator pitch.
As Fred blogged this weekend, when he listened to the MP3s that had been downloaded from his fred'spodcast feed, there was the voice of entrepreneur extraordinaire Eric Lunt, CTO of FeedBurner. Eric's MP3 was essentially an elevator pitch for the idea of podcast elevator pitches. As Eric pointed out, it would be possible for entrepreneurs to record their own elevator pitches and then tag them with "fred'spodcast" in de.licio.us and those pitches would go straight to Fred's iPod, as had Eric's. Very clever. Not one to miss a good idea, Fred grabbed hold of it and created the tag "fred'selevatorpitch" for anyone who cares to push a podcast elevator pitch his way.
I certainly can't lay claim to having come up with the idea. Eric gets all the credit for that. Nor can I lay claim to having put the infrastructure in place to enable the podcast elevator pitch. Fred gets all the credit for that. But I certainly can borrow a good idea when I see one. So if there are entrepreneurs out there who would like to give me their elevator pitch (please, keep it to a few minutes), feel free to tag the MP3 with "ventureblogpitch" (or "hornikpitch" or "augustpitch") and I'll be happy to give it a listen. Of course you can still email me your executive summary if you want. But I just love the idea of listening to the pitch on my iPod. What a great idea. Thanks Eric and Fred.