BusinessWeek on America's CTO gets to top of TechMeme

Hah, at the top of TechMeme right now is a BusinessWeek article about who America’s CTO should be if Barack Obama gets to be President.

Um, Google “America’s CTO?” and you’ll find my article on the topic where I ask Larry Lessig about this (the video of Lessig is a must-watch on this topic).

TechCrunch gets into this too. I guess I’m not the only tech blogger doing politics lately.

"All he talks about is politics!"

In yesterday’s post several commenters said they were unsubscribing because all I do is talk about politics.

Oh, really?

To those who say that I only write about politics or think about politics, you are absolutely wrong.

You must read my FriendFeed comments, for instance. Overwhelmingly tech.

Or see the things I’ve “Liked” (er, shared) with you. Overwhelmingly tech.

Or see all the things I share or blog about. Overwhelmingly tech.

Or see all the videos we do at FastCompany.tv. Overwhelmingly tech.

Or see all my Google Shared items. Overwhelmingly tech.

Or see my event calendar. Overwhelmingly tech.

Only a very small percentage of my work has anything to do with politics.

Which makes me very happy at the unsubscribes. I’m hoping for a smart audience here, not one that throws insults based on bad data.

But if you think you’re ONLY going to get tech here, you’ll be very unhappy. You should unsubscribe now. Last time I checked this is still my +personal blog+ where I get to write about whatever I am interested in. Overwhelmingly that’ll be tech, but sometimes I’m interested in other things.

Have a good day!

VCs putting the brakes on, survey says

DLA Piper (a large law firm that serves the tech industry) just released a survey they did of VCs and found some nasty trends:

• 66% of technology companies indicated they are reducing revenue forecasts
• Nearly 50% of VC firm respondents believe the current financial crisis is worse than the tech bubble crash of 2000
• More than half of respondents (55%) believe the stagnant IPO market will not begin to rebound until 2010 or later

There’s a lot of other interesting findings in the survey, I’ll try to get more. This afternoon I’m visiting Foundation Capital (they are funding cleantech companies, which DLA says is one of the bright spots) and will get their take on the economy.

Why do these surveys matter? They are human beings and if they think this financial crisis is worse than the tech bubble crash of 2000 they will be changing their behavior (IE, making it tougher for entrepreneurs to get funded).

In other news the market is up and leading indicators are positive for the first time in months.

North Carolina startup to take on Quickbooks

A couple of geeks who live in North Carolina hated using Quickbooks to do their invoices. For one it only worked on IE 6. But they found it much more difficult to use than it needed to be. So, what did they do? Built their own called Merchant’s Mirror (it’s in alpha testing right now, should be released in beta in December).

That’s the entrepreneurial spirit, alive and well. I spent 25 minutes with CEO John Brown learning and head geek Ben Hwang about the market and what their accounting service will do differently (it’s totally web based, for one).

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I am not an American

Dave Winer wrote a post about not being a liberal.

I’m going further than Dave. I’m not an American.

I believe that those who have a different idea than I do are not only American but have a right to have a different idea than I do because of our Constitution. But what do I know, I’m not an American.
I believe that SOME wealth should be redistributed from rich people to other places to improve our society. Like paying for schools, building roads, or even helping all people get access to health care. To me that seems fair because it’s our system that enabled people to build wealth. I’m not an American.
I believe that science, technology, and education should win over religion. I’m not an American.
I believe that government should treat everyone the same, no matter who we sleep with or what our gender is or what the color of our skin. Or even what religion we are. I’m not an American.
I believe that informed citizens should vote for candidates not whether they are pro or anti-Abortion, but whether they actually are smart and whether they have enough life experiences to do the job well. I’m not an American.
When I married I married a Muslim woman. I’m not an American.
Even worse, I converted to Islam so that we could be married in an Islamic ceremony. I’m not an American.
My mom was born in Germany. We all know how much terror THEY brought on the world over the past 100 years. I’m not an American.
I believe that we should use our weapons of war far more carefully than we’ve used them in the past eight years. I’m not an American.
I believe that community organizers are cool. I’m not an American.
I believe that government should regulate industry to keep it from getting overheated, er, greedy and rapacious. I’m not an American.
I believe that anyone who watches, and worse, believes ONLY Rush Limbaugh or FOX on one side OR ONLY super-liberal media (DailyKos) on the other side isn’t an informed citizen. I’m not an American.
I believe that our borders should be more open to new immigrants because most of the people who I know had parents or grandparents who came from somewhere else and we’ve done just fine. I’m not an American.
I believe in stem cell research because those jobs will build more value than Joe the Plumber will bring to all of our lives. I’m not an American.
I believe that one R&D worker creates more jobs than one plumber does (and I note that a lot of the best researchers aren’t from the USA, even those I’ve met in Redmond or Silicon Valley). I’m not an American.
I believe that nuclear power is better than coal power. I’m not an American.
I believe that “socialist” is not an epithet (after all, President Bush nationalized our banking system) but is an economic system. When I visit Europe they seem to be doing pretty well. Speaking of which, those “socialists” have better public transportation, are now paying German homeowners to put solar panels on their houses, and have health care for every citizen. Yes, they have problems too, but hey, seems we could learn a bit from socialists. But what do I know, I’m not an American.
I believe that drilling for more oil is not a good answer to our energy problems. I’m not an American.
I believe in strong government action to keep our economy from crashing and burning. I’m not an American.

I could keep going on why I’m not an American, but you get the idea. It’s enough to make me want to move to Australia. Maybe they have the right idea! :-)

Oh, and who is this Colin Powell dude? He doesn’t sound like an American either.

Just my thoughts after hanging out with lots of non-Americans this past week in Greensboro, North Carolina. You can tell them, can’t you? They wear Obama buttons and have Obama stickers on their cars.

I really am tired of all this stuff, aren’t you?

Front lines in the political Ground War

Front-yard campaigning in Greensboro

This morning I hung out with Congressman Brad Miller (D-NC) and State Representative Pricey Harrison. They were walking a neighborhood getting voters out in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is one of those few states that are in play in the election for President.

I write about it here to tell other bloggers that if you get this chance in the future it’s a lot better way to get to know someone and their views than if you go to Washington DC and get a 15-minute interview.

It also showed me the hard work of campaigning. Pricey won her last race (she’s running unopposed this time) she told me because she hit almost every house in her district and people hadn’t seen her opponent in years because he had such a strongly-Republican district.

As we walked through a quiet neighborhood people stopped in the street to talk with them (the neighbors recognized them from TV ads).

We talked about policies, what Congress will be like next year (his legislative aide was along for the walk too and she said that Congress is backed up and a ton of legislation will get written next year), and the effect of the Internet on campaigns. Of course we talked about the economy and about the bailout bill. He said that was a tough vote (he voted for it) but it wasn’t popular with people calling and emailing his office. Says that sometimes he needs to not listen to his constituency and do what he thinks is the right thing to do. Says that’s a key to our form of representative democracy.

On how technology affects politics, Miller told me that when he started running for office back in the early 1990s that was before the Web. He told me when the Web first came along he derided it as a toy. Said that was a mistake and now uses the Web and other technologies to get the word out (he was watching polling information coming in on blogs like Daily Kos on his Blackberry as we walked around).

We visited a few dozen houses. When people were home they said hi, handed out literature, urged them to get to the polls (which are already open in North Carolina), and answered questions.

This seemed to be the least likely thing a technology blogger like me would be doing on a Saturday morning, but even here you could see the effect of technology. We had maps printed out from a database and Pricey had information on each home. Whether they were Democratic or Republican. Of course a lot of the houses had yard signs for either McCain or Obama, so it was pretty easy to figure out who was a strong supporter already.

The mood among Democrats is confident, but nervous. Piercy and Miller talked with each other about some of their experiences with racism on this campaign cycle. Miller told me he’s encountered lots of independent voters who tell him they are “uneasy” with Barack Obama. He says that if you get to know them they’ll cop to not being sure about voting for a black man. He told me about talking with Union organizers who notice that if they have someone with a noticeably African American voice that they’ll get different results than if someone who sounds white will call.

That talk depresses me, but he noted that North Carolina will probably go to Barack Obama, which is surprising everyone because it is a state that’s been solidly Republican in the past. Greensboro is famous for the student sit-ins during the civil rights struggles. On Thursday, I got a tour of the town and stood in the separate “white” and “colored” waiting room in the train station. Just a little reminder of how far we’ve come in this country in just a generation, but this talk reminded me we still have a ways to go.

Anyway, thanks to Sue Polinsky, the founder of Converge South, who introduced me to the campaign and set this up. I have a new respect for politicians. I sure wouldn’t want to do this.

Layoffs and, um, funding?

TechCrunch started a page to keep track of layoffs in the startup world.

Me? I’m seeing tons of depressing news hitting our economy. That’s what I get for watching CNBC and reading TechMeme.

But, there were a group of companies funded this week too and there are plenty of jobs open. It sure is an interesting time to watch the startup community right now.

How would you report this ongoing story? Several over on FriendFeed want bloggers to avoid overcovering the bad news and, instead, focus on the positive news. What do you think?

Who is doing the best at covering the economic times hitting startups? My top vote is for VentureBeat.