Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FairSoftware.net

FairSoftware.net
I am fascinated by this company.

Handling money is one of the biggest problems with small businesses of any kind. As an angel investor getting some of that money to flow back to you is like making water run uphill.

People have this notion that legal contracts behave like code since they look like code with lots of conditional statements and obscure jargon. Unfortunately they don't execute like code. Its actually very difficult to get them on the control path at all. It takes going to court and hiring lawyers who sorta execute the code in front of a judge who gives some binary outcome.

But that binary outcome doesn't really hit the control flow either. You have to take that to someone else, likely more lawyers and more judges who will munge on the data and give you more bits. This can go on for a long time to everyone's detriment but the lawyers.

The overhead involved with mangaging collections and distributions of revenue is one of the reasons why there's a certain minimum size for many business endeavors.

FairSoftware.net seems to move in the right direction. Its a web service where the founders, investors and any other stakeholders fill out forms agreeing on revenue distribution percentages. They generate all the legal documents, but more importantly, they set up a payment processing gateway (thru paypal) which automatically distributes all incoming payments made to the group to each of the stakeholders according to the percentages defined.

This could enable a whole ecosystem of micro tech investments. Some additional features that would make it even more useful for tech angels :
- escrow service that could hold ip assets of the collective
- equity mangagement that could handle the concept of an acquisition
- more complex algorithms for defining payout schemes that could account for things like vesting, cliffs, and bonuses tied to revenue objectives

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Chat Culture

Google revolutionized the chat business - or at least the chat social network. With Yahoo and AIM I consciously added everyone to my chat list. Google skipped that step and put everyone I've ever communicated with in there. Generally its a good thing, but it gives people access to me who I haven't spent enough time with to share the same vision of how online communication works.

I find that when people have something important to say, they often start with extra hi.. how are you.. style smalltalk. Unfortunately this is the exact chat signature of people who simply want to pass time chatting.

There's no insult in just walking away from the computer, or not being at a computer at all. The green dot doesn't mean anything other than that it is possible to attempt to chat at this moment. The 'real world' takes precedent. I'm not going to ignore someone in real life.

I don't use chat as a way of getting to know people in the same small talk kind of way I would if I randomly met someone at a conference or a party. Unless we're really close either come to the point quickly in chat or send me email.

There's a certain protocol many people use in chat where there's lots of back and forth pings and acks before any real talking happens. Sometimes it feels like spoofing SMTP for its predictability. For me a simple 'hey' is good enough to determine presence, and then we can immediately talk about whatever.