The Abstract Truth

Archive for the ‘My Companies’ Category

Mocana and Symantec Partner to Protect the Internet of Things

Posted by rbpasker on May 27, 2010

Why do malware authors target PCs? Because of the sheer volume of them.

But as we learned today, mobile devices are growing at 5 times the rate of PCs.

And with WiFi or Ethernet chips now appearing in “things” like TVs and disk drives, and arriving soon in every electronic device in the home, the potential for malware instability (AKA SkyNet) is increasing exponentially.

That’s why Symantec announced a strategic partnership and an investment with Mocana. Mocana makes a “device security framework” that secures communications and data on any connected device.

Mocana’s CTO is James Blaisdell, the best emebedded software developer I have ever met (and those of you who know me know that I have met quite a few of them in my time). I have had the pleasure of working in various capacaties with James at four different companies over the last 16 years.

He first worked for me in 1994 as a QA engineer at Tribe Computer Works, and after I left he took over my work on a 56Kb serial driver I had been working on, redesigning it using a unique technique that I had never before seen and making it much faster than my original .

A couple of years later he started RapidLogic along with a few other people from Tribe who also worked for me, and sold that company in 2000 or so for $56MM to Wind River (now part of Intel). I served on RapidLogic’s Board of Directors.

When James decided to leave Wind River, which had acquired RapidLogic, I hired him on the spot at Kenamea, knowing full well that it was a waypoint for him while he decided what his next venture would be. James built the embedded versions our product for Palm, BlackBerry, and Windows mobile simultaneously, from scratch, in just a few months, which is quite a feat since he had never before programmed on any of those unique platforms.

James left a year later to start Mocana (which happens to have been the code name of one of our releases), and not long after that I wrote a check as one of the first investors in this venture. What makes his effort at Mocana so extraordinary is that James knew very little about security before starting Mocana, and over the last 5 or so years he has become one of the world’s foremost experts in a field notorious for being among the most dense and difficult areas of computing.

So, congratulations, James and the rest of the Mocana team. You have come a long way, and I am very proud of you.

Posted in My Companies, tech | 1 Comment »

Nutanix: Storage Management for Virtualized Environments

Posted by rbpasker on May 21, 2010

Virtualization is Big.

Not only does it encompass what we traditionally think of virtualization: running multiple guest OSes on the same piece of hardware, but it also is the enabling technology for other large initiatives, such as server consolidation, data center continuity, virtual desktops, cloud computing, and “infrastructure as a service.”

The dirty little secret is that virtualization places a huge burden on storage systems. VMWare has a suite of products, a team, and a blog all dedicated to storage issues.

And Azure Capital Partners, where I am the CTO-in-Residence, recently co-led the Series A investment in CORAID, a leading storage networking company for virtualized environments. CORAID’s EtherDrive product provides a 5-8X cost reduction over legacy storage systems with its “scale-out SAN architecture that is ideally suited to dynamic virtualization and cloud environments.”

But the virtualization storage problem is multi-faceted and complex, so the breadth of solutions must be equal to the task.

This is why I am pleased to announce my participation, along with Bipul Sinha of Blumberg Capital, in a seed round at Nutanix, an enterprise-class storage management company led by three world-class entrepreneurs Dheeraj Pandey CEO, Ajeet Singh COO, and Mohit Aron CTO.

Nutanix is still in stealth mode, but they do have a hint on their career page:

Nutanix is a stealth-mode startup building a disruptive product that is designed ground-up to leverage trends in virtualization, solid state drives, and cloud computing, each of which plays a very critical role in reducing cost and management complexity, improving performance, and providing revolutionary data management capabilities to the enterprise.

Keep an eye out for Nutanix. Big things are happening.

Posted in My Companies, startups, tech | Leave a Comment »

Advisory Agreements: Exercising Options

Posted by rbpasker on March 5, 2008

When one of my advisory board positions recently ended, I received notice from the CFO of the company that I had to exercise the options within 30 days after the termination date or lose them.

I had been an active advisor to the company, got paid zero in cash, and now I had to lay out a five figure check. Since the company had recently raised money, the valuation of the company had gone up, so the underlying shares were now worth more than they were when the grant was made. According to the IRS, I would have to pay capital gains tax on the difference between the option strike price and the current value of the underlying shares. This would amount to another five-figure check

This did not make me happy. Here I was, paying the company, not the other way around. And if the stock eventually became worthless, I had not only risked my own time (which I was fully prepared to do), but my money, too (which I was not prepared to do). To add insult to injury, I would also have to pay taxes on non-existent capital gains. If I am going to invest cash in a company, I want preferred stock, not common.

After a bit of research and consultation with my lawyer, I realized I had made a few mistakes.

First of all, at the time the options were granted by the board, I should have received a signed copy of the “Plan” under which my options were granted. That Plan lays out all of legalese that specifies what the circumstances are for granting, vesting and exercising the options. Had I been given a copy of the plan and read it, I might have noticed that the plan stated that the options had to be exercised after 30 days.

Second, I should have added a clause in the Advisory Agreement overriding the 30 day exercise-after-termination provision in the Plan. This would have allowed me to hold the options, cash-free and tax-free, until a liquidation event, before I would have to exercise them.

In the end, things worked out, but it required a lot of effort and caused a lot of angst.

In the next couple of days, I will be writing the CFOs of all the companies in which I have options, to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

And in the future, I will lay all this out during negotiations.

Posted in advisor, My Companies | 2 Comments »

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