Lukman Faily, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S.

The Hon. Luman Faily, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., spoke at a lunch about the challenges Iraq faces in uniting its disparate tribal communities. Thousands of years of tradition, conflict and shifting alliances make for a very different country than the history that created the U.S. A businessman who was formerly Iraq’s ambassador to Japan, Ambassador Faily has a personality refreshingly candid for a diplomat.

Band of Angels

Heard last night at the Band of Angels dinner about a startup that can detect and identify sounds. Similar to GE’s technology that detects and alerts police to gunshots this technology can detect truck, automobile and other sounds. Interesting way to surveil a secured location … both inside and out.

FBI San Francisco Cyber Branch Agent Palmore Speaks

Recently heard Malcolm “MK” Palmore, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Cyber Branch of the San Francisco Division speak on the various cyber threats facing the US and how the FBI is identifying, investigating and helping defend against them. Interesting how the federal government can offer companies a sophisticated forensic analysis of cyber intrusions. Yet so many companies decline the government’s help. A Naval Academy graduate with almost 20 years with the FBI, you can tell from his demeanor he is patiently taking on a frustratingly daunting job.

Patent Law Institute

Spoke on a technology licensing panel with Meredith McKenzie, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Juniper Networks.  Always fun to hear the large enterprise side of licensing when I spend so much time on the startup side.  The jousting which inevitably occurs in negotiations between small and large companies is often due to the startups often inability to perform financially onerous obligations. Often because they don’t have the money!

Silicon Valley LES Chapter Annual Meeting

Moderated two panels at the Annual Meeting of the Silicon Valley Chapter of LES (Licensing Executives Society).

The first was with Sarah Guichard, Vice President, Acquisitions at RPX and Murray Vince, Senior Director, Strategic Business Development at Intellectual Ventures. Responding to the question whether patents mattered to investors, they discussed the state of technology valuations and how patents can favorably affect the value of startups and mature companies.

The second was with the top angel investor groups in Silicon Valley:

Steve Millard, Co-Founder, Pathfinder Partners
Manthi Nguyen, Vice President, Sand Hill Angels
Carol Sands of Angels Forum
Ron Weissman, Band of Angels
Randy Williams, Founder & CEO, Keiretsu Forum

Posing the question if patents matter to startups, the answers were mixed. Spend money on patents which may be better used to acquire customers? What happens if you gain traction and millions of paying customers? Will a larger company swoop in and steel them by offering the same service at possibly a lower price or worse … free?

Quoted in Reuters Today

Was quoted today in a Reuters article written by Andrew Longstreth entitled “Ruling on licensing agreements may be bad news for cloud start-ups.

“The ruling did not surprise many legal experts, who are familiar with the advantages enjoyed by the patent holders in disputes with smaller rivals. Mark Holmes, CEO of PatentBridge LLC, a patent broker in Silicon Valley, California, said the decision illustrates the “Beauty and the beast of patent law.”

“It’s a beauty for Microsoft and a beast for this poor little Israeli company trying to crack the market,” he said.

Holmes said the same dynamics apply to the cloud computing market: “You got all these small companies that are always trying to do something in this new terrain and the big companies are trying to corner the market.”

ACG (Association for Corporate Growth) Silicon Valley Dinner

Attended a thought-provoking evening at NetApp with my friend and fellow Band of Angels member Dr. Jacques F. Vallée sponsored by ACG (Association for Corporate Growth) Silicon Valley.  Jacques is also a venture capitalist, computer scientist, author, former astronomer, and General Partner at Euro-America. At dinner I had the pleasure of sitting next to his lovely wife and torturing her with my anemic French.

Jacques’ talk entitled Think About TOMORROW Today “When Strategy Fails: Managing Impossible Futures” demonstrated his keen insights as to why certain events occur and how we in Silicon Valley are affected by them. Jacques should know. Since 1984, he has served as an early-stage investor and director of over 60 high-technology companies, a third of which went public through acquisitions or IPOs.

Of course in his free time Jacques has had a deep and involved interest in astronomy, in writing, and in the frontiers of research, notably unidentified aerial phenomena. He was awarded the Jules Verne Prize for a science fiction novel in French.

Ah, the underachieves of Silicon Valley.

The Intersection at Google

Attended The Intersection at Google.

The Intersection bills itself as a one-day gathering of innovative thinkers, designed to stir your creative imagination, vision and action-planning strategies.  It brings leading innovators from a number of fields to share their thoughts about up-and-coming trends in personal, team and organizational creativity, as well as social impact.  It certainly does.  Among the speakers:

Randy Haykin Founding Partner, Gratitude Network
Evan Williams Co-Founder of Twitter and CEO of The Obvious Corporation
Barry Zito All-Star & Cy Young Recipient Pitcher, San Francisco Giants
Steve Jurvetson Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Frans Johansson Author, The Medici Effect and The Click Moment
Bill Draper Managing Partner, Draper Richards
Nathan Myhrvold, Former CTO of Microsoft and Founder of Intellectual Ventures

It promised to — and did — uncover new ideas, tools and “intersections” that can be applied to one’s personal or professional life and help inspire social change.

Joel Klein CEO Amplify

Wall Street Journal Viewpoints West

Attended today’s Wall Street Journal Viewpoints West breakfast with Amplify CEO Joel Klein.

Klein, the former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, where he oversaw a system of 1.1 million students, explained how America was allowing the American Dream to become the American Memory.

That while China pumps up its education system into a global powerhouse with unparallelled investment, the U.S. is falling behind leaving young Americans without the knowledge and skills to compete globally.

And it’s not just about money. With spending at $20,000 per student in New York City it isn’t a question of spending.  Rather it is the seemingly unbroken trend in American school districts to stifle any innovation in learning.  He hopes that with the new generation of teachers — weened on iPhones and Androids — will carry the stubborn school districts into the 21 Century.

National CLE Aspen

Spoke at the National CLE in Aspen on What’s Hot in Patent Licensing.

What a fantastic program. CLE in the mornings and evenings with skiing in between.

Was interesting to hear Ninth Circuit Judge McKeown discuss the challenges judges have in deciding cases involving technology and software. With all they have on their plates keeping up with the law … they also are expected to be quickly tutored on the latest technology.

Scott M. Alter of Faegre Baker Daniels had interesting comments on the changing landscape for induced and willful infringement.

Kate Spelman briefed us on copyright litigation which is always important to software and the cloud.