Showing posts from 2012

Bickel Business Review 2012

To try to keep my streak alive (2011, 2010, 2009), here is the latest installment on what I was up to during 2012.  And as foretold in those earlier posts, the focus continues to be in the Cloud!

While there were a number of important steps forward in all of the businesses I am involved in, there was one major change worth talking about up front.  I sold my half of the Moorestown Running Company to my partner, Dave Welsh, in November.  As I said earlier, this is a very good thing for Dave, the store, the employees and our customers.  I'm really happy that the store has accomplished all of the goals we set out for it nearly 6 years ago listed on the right.  And Joe, Ralph, Ed, Colleen and Dave will ensure it keeps going strong into the future!

One of the reasons for selling the store was that I was not spending the amount of time and effort on it as I thought I would 6 years ago.  In 2012, a big reason for my distraction was RunSignUp.  We started this Cloud Service up in 2010 and …

Good Changes at Moorestown Running Company

Six years ago I approached Dave Welsh, the owner of the Haddonfield Running Company, about the idea of creating a Running Store in Moorestown.  He was willing to take a big risk - he didn't know me, he didn't know if having a store in Moorestown would negatively impact sales at Haddonfield, and he was a fairly new owner himself.  But we took the plunge, and signed a lease at 115 West Main Street in January, 2007.  Joe Halin joined us as the store manager.  Ed Scioli waundered into the store and was part of the opening team.  We opened in May, 2007.  Ralph Harris joined us soon after opening.

This core team grew the business over the next 5 years by delivering what runners want - great products, a good price and simply outstanding, caring service.

After 6 years of partnership, we have agreed that it makes sense to move all of the stores to the next level.  Instead of the Moorestown Running Company operating separately as a franchise, we are going to combine everything into a …

Why I Voted for Obama

I thought I would share how I came to the decision to vote for Obama.  I know it violates one of those basic social and business etiquette rules: Not talking about politics.  I respect everyone's opinions, and love the messy democratic process where people get to express their opinions and vote and majority rules.  
This is not going to be one of those nasty types of posts about how bad the other guy is.  That fits my general optimistic attitude!
I will break this into four sections – Social Issues, International Relations, the Economy, and the Candidate. Social Issues Here are some of my basic beliefs: Universal Healthcare is a good and necessary thing.  The first sentence of the Constitution says "promote the general Welfare" as a fundamental part of forming this country.  The government is the only way to do things like provide for defense, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility and provide these fundamentals to our citizens.Social Safety nets.  Yes, I believe …

JBoss Recollections Part 4 - VC Funding

While this may be a more interesting part than the others because it involves money and behind the scenes stuff, you still may want to take a look at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  As usual, these are just my recollections and others may chime in to clarify or disagree...

This section is about the decision to raise money and how the process went.  One of the interesting things is that our growth (these are booking shown on the right) was actually faster than what we pitched to the VC's in the fall of 2003.  I wonder how often that happens...

Sept, 2003 Press Tour In September, 2003 Marc and I did a Press tour.  The slides are below.  It is interesting to note how far things had come over the previous year and how JBoss had executed on a number of the topics discussed in Part 2.

During that press tour Marc and I got to spend a lot of time talking.  In addition, the press tour was going very well.  People were loving the story ("I did not start this in a garage, I started in my I…

JBoss Recollections Part 3 - The Tech Team

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this, or you may get lost and confused.  Part 3 involves my memories of the Technical Team, which was the heart and soul of JBoss.  The foundation that made everything possible.  BTW, in this article, it is worth clicking on the links - there are some historical and hysterical ones...

The chart at the right is from June, 2004.  As mentioned earlier, I did not start working with JBoss until September, 2002.  I won't go into all the folks on the right, and I'll add a few.

The one important person involved with the JBoss technology that I never met was Rickard Oberg.  Many give him credit for the Microkernel architecture and building much of the early versions of JBoss.  He left before I got there.  I was never clear on what happened, but my impression is that both he and Marc had strong opinions and that finally led to his departure.  I do know that Marc always talked well about him.  Marc offered him some of the Economic Interest Unit…

JBoss Recollections - Part 2

This is Part 2 of my personal recollections of JBoss.  Please read Part 1 first, unless you are one of those people who eat desert first.

In Part 1, I had left that first meeting in New York being very impressed with JBoss and Marc.  We agreed to meet on October 7, 2002 in Atlanta.  We actually met in my hotel room with Marc, Ben and Marc's father, Daniel.

Daniel was an elegant man.  I know that may sound strange - but between his French accent, his strong experience of the world (He had been an executive for P&G in Europe), his sharp questions and easy manner - I really liked him.  Marc credits him with a lot of the inspiration and confidence to do JBoss.  You can see a dedication and picture of Marc and Daniel on the right in Marc's "White" paper.

We had a number of discussions between our initial meeting and reviewing this set of slides that I have sprinkled on the side of the page here.  In this meeting we kind of laid out the basic roadmap for the company f…

JBoss Recollections - Part 1

I just read Matt Asay's article - Unstoppable JBoss 'mafia' has big tech biz in its crosshairs.  It really got me thinking about the old days and all the great people at JBoss.  I have no idea if my motivation (and available time) will enable me to finish, but I thought I would share my recollections and some of the stories I saw unfold at JBoss.  While I actually never really did anything at JBoss, I was in a position to see a lot of things happen across all aspects of the company.  Hopefully I won't mis-represent anything, and encourage others to correct me, or add to the story lines, or create their own recollections.  It was an interesting ride...

Meeting JBoss
My first interaction with JBoss was shortly after Bluestone had been acquired by HP.  We had become interested in the idea of open source for our app server, but were precluded from it by our licenses with Sun for J2EE.  Rich Friedman was then the CTO for us and he tried to make contact with JBoss to see if …

Money vs. Culture

I am a Greg Smith, late of Goldman Sachs, fan.  Bloomberg gave their counter argument today 
"Apparently, when Greg Smith arrived at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) almost 12 years ago, the legendary investment firm was something like the Make-A-Wish Foundation -- existing only to bring light and peace and happiness to the world."Sure, everyone needs to make money.  But I think there were two important points Smith was trying to get across:

1. To make money you must have happy customers who keep coming back.  This is a cultural choice that companies make.  I wrote a blog a while back when IBM turned 100.  The killer quote was:
"I believe that if an organization is to meet the challenges of a changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself, except its beliefs." - Thomas Watson, Jr.His point to the Goldman Board was that the culture needed to be redirected back to the basics that had made them successful for 143 years.

2.  He personally was not comfor…

Massive Open Online Courses

Really interesting article on a new wave of teaching/learning - Massive Open Online Courses.

"160,000 students in 190 countries enrolled in an Artificial Intelligence ... An additional 200 registered for the course on campus."  Three things jump to mind.

1. This works only when students are motivated.  So it might not work for the average high school student.  On the other hand it rewards those with the motivation to learn something new.

2.  This flattens the world.  No longer does someone need to live in a good school district or go to the best college.  Anyone with an Internet connection can take advantage of the best educational opportunities.

3.  Economics - for both the student and the teacher/institution.  For students this is obviously a way to get access to great material without paying $50k per year from Stanford.  For educational institutions there are several business models that can generate more revenue from a course.  And there will be a new wave of competitio…

AnyCloud - The New Generation for Middleware

In 1994 a couple of companies all started working on a new architecture for developing and deploying applications on the Web.  I was lucky to be at one of the pioneers of the Application Server market, Bluestone.  It was a compelling vision, especially when Sun stepped up and generated a set of standard around Enterprise Java.  Write your code once and then deploy it to any compatible App Server.  Your operations team would be able to configure many servers to distribute the load and handle massive volumes of traffic.

In 2002 I joined the next generation to move things forward with Professional Open Source at JBoss.  This was great because it put power back in developers hands, and lots more people could afford to develop apps, and those apps and JBoss grew up to be core parts of infrastructure around the world, taking on traditional enterprise vendors like IBM, BEA and Oracle.

In 2010, Sacha Labourey started CloudBees with the vision to bring a Cloud and Service-based architecture t…

VMWare Exec makes my day

It was a really good day yesterday.  Very productive on lots of fronts, and a ton of good news for CloudBees.  We got in the Jolt Awards - "Cloudbees was included for special distinction because we strongly feel it indicates an important new direction in coding. The product is still in its infancy, but we think its importance to the market warrants inclusion for a special award." And we got named one of the 9 Hot Startups by NetworkWorld.

Then as I was getting ready for bed James Watters of VMWare posted this:

James Watters

@  who in their right mind would take that troll blog by seriously? It doesn't even have its facts right around price
Well, a little tweet storm erupted that I will copy here for posterity purposes and ease of reading.  There are two blog posts in question: How Will PaaS be Priced, and Why VMWare Loves and Hates the Cloud.