Greg Gretsch: The Midas Touch

Sigma Partners' own Greg Gretsch continues to reap well-deserved recognition after the sale of his portfolio company EqualLogic, to Dell (reported by me in Nov 07), which was completed early in 2008.

Greg is #19 on the newly published 2009 Forbes Midas List of top venture capitalists. This is Greg's first time on the list, although Sigma's Bob Davoli has been on the list in prior years. Check out what Greg has to say about this, about venture capital in general, and predictions for 2009, in this short video segment (talking head intro followed by two minutes from Greg himself).

Oh Happy Days

My wife Dorit thought of this juxtaposition on Inauguration Day earlier this week.

First, a picture of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to attend an all-white school in the South, being escorted to school that first day in 1960.

Now look at another young girl, just a couple of days ago.

Oh Happy Days!

How many VCs does it take to change a light bulb

Feeling punchy in the middle of a long week, and taking a break to change a couple of light bulbs in my home office, I was wondering how many VCs it takes to change a light bulb.

  1. VCs don't change light bulbs ... they invest in technology that makes bulbs obsolete.
  2. That's what management is for.
  3. That's what associates are for.
  4. Light bulbs? Let me tell you about my latest solar LED renewable blah blah deal.
Now, to make this a VC:VC post, how many philanthropists does it take to change a light bulb?
  1. Philanthropists don't change light bulbs ... they donate money so others can change light bulbs.
  2. That's what management is for.
  3. That's what interns are for.
  4. Light bulbs? Let me tell you about my latest solar LED renewable blah blah deal. [I guess that philanthropist earns his living as a VC]

You see - venture capitalists and venture cyclists are not that different!

Use the comments to suggest other answers.

Three courses for three causes

Our dear friend, Nigel Savage, founder and Executive Director of Hazon, will be one of the special guests at the JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School, signature fundraising event, Matters of Taste - on Sunday evening March 29.

The invitation from last year (held in the Fall of 2007) shows you the format if you are not familiar with the event, which is nationally recognised and always sold out. Nigel will be speaking in our home about the new Jewish food movement, and you have the opportunity to for priority seating with an advanced sponsorship gift to JCDS. The event raises money towards the JCDS Financial Aid program which this year allocated over $800,000 to over 50% of our students.

There is a week left if you would like to be listed as a sponsor in one of the following categories in our Matters of Taste invitation. If you are interested in being listed by category, please contact Royster Hedgepeth at, or Brian Fox at, or call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 617-972-1733 x213. Sponsors who make commitments after January 16 will be included in the Matters of Taste program and recognized in all subsequent literature.
$54,000 – Principal Sponsor (incl 12 tix & priority seating)
$36,000 – Sustaining Sponsor (incl 10 tix & priority seating)
$18,000 – Restaurateur (incl 8 tix & priority seating)
$10,000 – Executive Chef (incl 6 tix & priority seating)
$5,400 – Sommelier (incl 4 tix & priority seating)

Tickets at a more down-to-earth price will be available in a few weeks.

So now you know about the three courses (a great vegetarian three-course meal), and two of the causes are also obvious (JCDS and Hazon).

The third cause, not to be featured that night, but worth your attention today, is a reprint from a MassBike action alert today aimed at my local readers:

This important bill will improve the safety of bicyclists throughout the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts], but we need your help right now, today. The bill (S. 2573) has been passed by both houses of the Legislature, and is now waiting for Governor Patrick's signature. While we hope the Governor will sign the bill, he could veto it or simply take no action and it will die. So we are taking action to encourage him to sign it!
Rep. Kay Khan is circulating a letter this morning to the entire Legislature, asking every senator and representative to sign the letter urging the Governor to sign the bill. Rep. Khan will deliver this letter to the Governor later today. We need you to call your senator and representative right now and ask them to sign onto the letter.
The key provisions of the bill are: police training on bicycle law; clarification of how to safely pass a bicycle; clarification of how to safely make turns in front of bicycles; “dooring” subject to ticket and fine; riding two abreast permitted when it does not impede cars from passing; improved enforcement of bicycle law for both motorists and bicyclists; and additional legal protections for bicyclists who choose to ride to the right of other traffic. The full text of the bill can be found
here. For more details about the bill, including links to the affected statutes, see our previous Action Alert.
Here is what you should do:
1. Call your State Senator and ask him or her to sign onto Rep. Khan's letter urging the Governor to sign S. 2573, the Bicyclist Safety Bill. You should say that the bill will help get more people bicycling, which will protect the environment, make us healthier, promote more affordable transportation options, and improve our quality of life.
2. Call your State Representative and ask him or her to sign onto Rep. Khan's letter urging the Governor to sign S. 2573, the Bicyclist Safety Bill. You should say that the bill will help get more people bicycling, which will protect the environment, make us healthier, promote more affordable transportation options, and improve our quality of life.
We need as many legislators as possible to sign onto this letter, and it must happen in the next few hours, so please make your calls right now!

Click here to find your State Representative (called “Rep in General Court”) and your State Senator (called "Senate in General Court"), then click on their names to get phone numbers.

A Profusion of (Jewish) Greenery

JTA has just announced its first annual Green Beanie competition competition
to find the most innovative or impactful green initiatives at Jewish organizations and synagogues around the globe. Submissions can be made online until Friday, January 23rd. All you need to provide is a few paragraphs on your initiative, and you can also inlcude links to photos or video.
Entries will be evaluated by Nigel Savage and Barbara Lerman-Golomb from Hazon, Nina Beth Cardin from the Coaltion for the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), and Adam Berman from the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.
Go on ... enter your local synagogue bike rack, CFL bulb program, or the like!

Registration for the Hazon Heschel hike closes soon.
  • Enjoy a 4-day walk through along the Shvil Yisrael (Israel's national hiking trail)
  • Visit Mount Tabor, Nazareth, Atlit, and end at the Mediterranean Sea
  • En-route education about Israel's history, geography, and environment
  • Read a report on the Hike from 2008 Hiker Mirele Goldsmith

Registration Closes January 15. Flights to Israel are now under $900. Check out the new fee structure here. Interested in coming on the Hike? Talk to Hike Chair Mirele Goldsmith - Join us for a conference call on January 12th or 14th at 8 pm (EST) Dial 1-517-417-5000 and use the Access Code 716549

The Jew & The Carrot: Hazon's Blog on Food, Jews & Contemporary Life is moving to an all-volunteer model. If you are interested in being an editor or writer, then please volunteer for JCarrot - deadline extended to Jan 16.

Prices rise on January 16th... Register Today for this year's New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride, Labor Day Weekend, September 4-7, 2009. Watch the 3-minute highlight video from 2008 NY Ride (and watch out for me, riding my recumbent, in a couple of the shots).

Earn college credits studying the environment in Israel this summer. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is offering a four credit, interdisciplinary summer course entitled Israel and the Environment: Development Challenges in a Desert Environment. The Summer Course 2009 will be held from June 28 to July 24, 2009 at the Arava Institute, which is located on Kibbutz Ketura in the quiet Arava Valley of Israel. More details here.

Fun in VC land

Two of InfoWorld's Top 10 iPhone apps are from Sigma portfolio companies: Vlingo and Sharpcast.

I bet Viximo's TrueFlirt iPhone app would probably have made the cut if it had been announced earlier ... instead it was launched at MacWorld just this week, to great acclaim.

Finally, here are a couple of videos to enjoy. The first is about that all-important first meeting with a VC, and the second about the importance of finding good legal advice.

Hazon hits the headlines

Right now the front page of the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency - a news service for the Jewish world), has two top-of-page stories from Hazon's 2008 Food Conference which was held on the last weekend of 2008 in Northern California. The two stories (for when more pressing news pushes onto the front page) are The Jewish Food Movement Comes of Age, and What Kind of Meat do Jewish Activists Eat?

I am very proud of my association with Hazon, as regular readers know, and see from the press and the twitterverse, that Hazon continues to bring light and energy to important issues. As one of our previous board members said, Hazon puts the Jewish community on the right side of a big issue. What a great way to end 2008, despite the many other awful news stories in the Jewish world right now. And what better way to think about what we can do in 2009. Let's try to be on the right side of other big issues, too.