Spring Of ’69

February 17, 2011

here is a picture from my kindergarten. spring of 1969 if i am not mistaken

good education system

israel is high on its spirits.

1969 גן יחיאלה, רמת השרון

met gil eshet last night.

first time in about 35 years. he is on the second row from the top, second from right.

it was delightful

what you see are the same eyes, and the same smile on the edge of the lips. gil was always looking for a twist, doing something on the wild side, and with a smile.

it was so beautiful for me.

to be with a person who is so highly rooted in my early memories; a friend from age 3-12, and one class above.

and have a discussion with a deep chronological perspective but only early, fragile  intimacy.

interesting.

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carmel fire

December 12, 2010

a lot can be said about the terrible fire last week

but pictures are louder than words

so, here is an interesting photobook done by

http://www.guyshachar.com

which is an interesting site on its own

אנא בכוח please…

November 26, 2010

what a wonderful performance

for me this song, prayer,  פיוט , is so exact, and “connected”.

it is also a prayer of transition. from “up” to “down” . body and soul. life and death.

and of that special israeli moment, friday afternoon as Shabat is coming. בואי מלכה

from doing to being

learned about this song from my 5 year old daughter as she was humming it and not understanding the words:

אָנָּא בְּכֹחַ גְּדֻלַּת יְמִינֶךָ תַּתִּיר צְרוּרָה
קַבֵּל רִנַּת עַמֶּךָ שַׂגְּבֵנוּ טַהֲרֵנוּ נוֹרָא
נָא גִבּוֹר דּוֹרְשֵׁי יִחוּדֶךָ כְּבָבַת שָׁמְרֵם
בָּרְכֵם טַהֲרֵם רַחֲמֵי צִדְקָתֶךָ תָּמִיד גָּמְלֵם
חֲסִין קָדוֹשׁ בְּרוֹב טוּבְךָ נַהֵל עֲדָתֶךָ
יָחִיד גֵּאֶה לְעַמְּךָ פְּנֵה זוֹכְרֵי קְדֻשָּׁתֶךָ
שַׁוְעָתֵנוּ קַבֵּל וּשְׁמַע צַעֲקָתֵנוּ יוֹדֵעַ תַּעֲלוּמוֹת

to understand the words which i find complicated, here is an explanation

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero

November 1, 2010

Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future

manana

October 26, 2010

manana – an indefinite time in the future.
future, futurity, time to come, hereafter – the time yet to come …

and how do you say it in hebrew? tal, our 5 year old says:
מחר-כך

Q3

October 4, 2010

it is that time of the year

everything that has waited since the end of july is now coming back

it is the end of the holidays

and time to loose some weight

but it is also time to realize how to budget better

i am not talking just about personal budget

talking about startup budgets:

  • q3 is just another quarter.   NOT

back in December when it was time to plan a budget q3 looked very innocent. another quarter with 20% growth above q2. does that work for you?

well, in my portfolio and especially over the last 3 years, q3 has been very weak. and this year it affected almost every single company and in a big way. why?

  • this year, the Jewish holidays were in September and all of them were in September. crucial work was lost during the build up period of the last 4 weeks

more importantly

  • August is now a vacation month in the US, and not just in europe. while it is nice that we are learning from the french to rest and enjoy our families, it is important to realize that q3 may be as weak as q1 if not weaker.

personally i feel a bit ashamed as i tool a lot of vacation time this summer (mondial in south Africa with Gil, a wedding in the Philippines). but for those of you who work harder than me, and there are quite a few out there, please remember to plan for a weak q3, and come October you will be thankful.

i am running אני רץ

August 28, 2010

thanks god for dudu tassa, a real cultural hero

the great thing a about art, is that someone has packaged your emotions in such a great way.

אני רץ

אני חייב להספיק כל מה שהעולם מציע

כל זמן שהאויר מגיע

וזה לא מפריע

ומלטף אותי

ויש אצלך אור למה לי לעצור

_______

אני רץ

אני חייב להספיק כל עוד שאני מגיע

כל זמן שאני מזיע

וזה לא מפריע

וממסטל אותי

ויש אצלך אור אני בטח עוד אחזור

_______

אני יודע

אני זז וזה פוגע

בלב שלי יש חור

שאי אפשר לסגור

_______

ואני רץ אני רץ

אני חייב להספיק כל מה שהעולם מציע

כל זמן שהאויר מגיע

וזה לא מפריע

ומלטף אותי

ויש אצלך אותי את בטח תחכי

_______

אני רץ

אני חייב להספיק כל מה שפורק ת’זעם

כל מה שחלמנו פעם

כל דבר שיש בו טעם

ומפנק אותי

_______

אני יודע אני זז וזה פוגע

together, beginning to end

August 22, 2010

Orna, my mentor, friend and colleague got me this book

Home, or in hebrew habyta by assaf inbari.

the story of kibbutz, a dream created in Israel 100 years ago.

a dream of community, socialism, values, sufficing with little and even less.

i was swept away by the book and recommend it to anyone who:

  • can read hebrew,
  • has a kibbutz in their background,
  • cares about creating communities

or

  • willing to give up convenience for values

the book is great because:

  • it blurs the lines between fiction and facts in a new and breathtaking way
  • it tells the story of the great kibbutz initiative that helped create israel in a way that was never told
  • it makes you think about what it takes to be a pioneer and entrepreneur. what you are willing to give up, how long it will last, and what does partnership really mean

some of my takeaways:

  • i think i understand my grandfather yeshayahou, who started a kibbutz and bestowed me with many values, much better now. sorry, grandpa, that i ended up a capitalist and not a socialist, but i hope i still have some time to fix that
  • any partnership, or common shared pool which is absolute, can exist, and beautifully so, but only for a relatively short time. years, a decade, not much more. the concept of ‘contribute what you can and take what you need’ can not last far beyond when the founders  themselves change. definitely not beyond a generation, which i consider to be 15 years these days, unless the next generation also has a common set of values and needs, and can change from the original vision while staying together
  • kids paid for their parents dreams, values and actions. paid dearly.

a good friend recently told me he wants to be my partner. ‘do you know what partnership means?’ he asked and answered:

you do all the work, we split the profits 50/50

zimmer in the north

August 21, 2010

it’s summer. hot. boy it’s hot.

time to be together. ‘vacances’;  not high-end.

mid-end, mid-east, mid-life,  vacances . the whole family bar one. and friends. 6 adults and 10 kids. a few quiet days. and cool if possible.

air condition and shade.

together. north. zimmer.

___________________

its morning. i wake up last.

breakfast is wonderful. omelet. salad. fresh bread and jam.

the pressure is building up; make sure the salad juices do not touch the omelet.

am i still not grown-up? by now i better realize there are some things i got to have a certain way:

coffee. fresh coffee.  my day has not started with out a cup of good coffee.

___________________

most of the kids are ready for the pool. in  swimsuits.

mothers are starting the ritual of sun tan lotion. sentences are shorter. patience is smaller. a kid is crying.

the pressure is building up;  ‘נו כבר’  to the pool

___________________

we made it to the pool

noise. i do not like israeli public spaces full of noise. but the noise here is good noise.

everyone stuffed together. trying to draw imaginary territories. where to lay down the towels?

is there room for the ‘מחצלת’ ? (what is the word for them in english? much more than ‘mat’.  i think there is a reason why they are so popular here these days. they grab a lot of land.  real quickly and clearly, and the family and all strangers know that the territory is marked. even if the kids in the mat-next-grass  will step over the edge of our own mat. they are educated and know not to step on their own mat.  they are considerate and step on our own mat in a de-militarized zone; the ceremonial 20 cm close to the edge)

we israelis are good at it. making rooms for mats.

a country with no borders. a country with no limits. looking for markers, looking for territory to call our own. with no challenges.

the lady who took my chair is claiming i did not use it. ‘שלך מהבית?’,

i give up. unhappy about the lost chair, but happy she is not able to piss me off

___________________

it is time for fun.

and we are having fun

water. jumping. no-jumping. megaphone.

the lifeguard proves his authority; important in a country with no limits

sun. sun. sun. water.

in the water. out of water.

the pressure is building up; i need to urinate.

in the pool? no-way. i would rather do it מהמקפצה . and even i try to be more proper than that.

it it time to march to the public toilet. we have come a long way in the last few decades with public toilets. you would not consider using them in the past. but today, i am not afraid.  about 10m away from the toilets it is noticeable. not the smell, that comes later, but the mud on the tiles. i am barefoot. damn. should have brought the flippers. what’s next? how to proceed? a real dilemma. i am able to make it within 2 meters from the toilet on my toes. but i give up.

i find a tree and water it. saving our dry country some water. hey, and making it more green.

still our ‘public space’ is not social. not minded to ‘together’. not enough respect for the other. not enough respect for the ‘next’. i am afraid that includes me.

sun-tan lotion.boy it’s hot.

some water polo with the kids.

total pleasure.

kids climbing all over me.

laughter, fighting for the ball.

even the little ones get to score goals.

and more laughter.

people giggle and smile like they have not for a long time.

priceless

___________________

its night time.

little kids are a sleep. the teenagers are out at night. it is time to teach them poker

it is fun to teach and see how quickly they learn. smart

a few turns to try it out and then its time for the chips, the bluffs, the strategy

each kids displays in a different way a side of their personality that was not evident previously

their eyes move in different directions. a hidden smile. a stern attempt at poker face.

in a few years they will all be soldiers.

serving with others for others.

SaaS and usage, a key success factor

August 19, 2010

Do you know who is using your software?

as a provider of SaaS software, you should be concerned with who uses your software.

And how much

first, a step back

there are many advantages to the SaaS model:

  • it scales
  • it can be inexpensive in the early stages, which are very risky, to understand if there is demand for your service
  • more importantly, you can find out predictable customer acquisition costs with a reasonable investment

therefore, many VC software investments are going into SaaS and cloud oriented business models

consequently, a lot of money is spent on getting customers

digital marketing, buying keywords, diverting traffic and numerous other efforts (some in the physical world)  focusing on creating leads and converting them to customers.

but then, what is next?

as the SaaS oriented companies mature, their key challenge becomes not just cost-per-lead and optimizing conversion ratios in the funnel.

what we have given up with the SaaS model, is direct contact with end users.

so, are we all to become like 3M, a great company, without intimate knowledge of its end-users?

one of the key challenges today in SaaS companies is what is driving usage.

i always like things that get high usage. e.g. a pen that runs out of ink (where do all that other pens go?)

are your customers getting high usage out of your system?

as an investor in several SaaS companies (i think i have the largest portfolio in Israel, including CloudShare, SaasPulse, TaKaDu and Panaya) i would like to point out several key issues that i see companies run into:

who are power users?

why are some users using less of the system and its features?

which of my customers is getting best bang for the buck?

getting insights into these issues is not simple if you did not plan for it in advance.

between managing growth, operations (we need to be up 24×7), and leads, i find that usage is often neglected

yet, understanding usage has important benefits:

  • it can become a competitive advantage. the process of building a ‘usage dashboard’ also creates barriers to entry.
  • it can impact your digital lead machine: segmenting your customers and understanding where to find more happy ones through the usage model can potentially reduce marketing costs considerably
  • if you sold 10 seats, but only 3 are highly used, the likelihood of growing within an account is not high. as many SaaS models penetrate enterprises at a departmental level, or low in the organization, they are highly dependent on growth within existing accounts. increasing the ratio of power users against seats sold can increase cross-sale and up-sale ratios. this is very attractive to a SaaS based start-up
  • it affects churn. detecting unhappy customers, or ones that are not using the system to their advantage may reduce variable costs for a while. However,  company valuation is highly correlated not just to operating margins, but also to low churn rates. to get the most out of the SaaS subscription-based model, the lifetime of a customer is crucial. if a customer is a user for 18 month or 48 month, has immense impact on profitability, cash-flows, and therefore, valuation.

i therefore claim that understanding usages is crucial. it can lower marketing costs, increase revenues from existing accounts, lower churn, and increase your company’s impact on its space.

However, it is not yet mastered in many SaaS start-ups.