October 08, 2005

Beer and Loathing at Web 2.0

I was somewhere around Fillmore on the edge of Haight-Ashbury when the bugs began to take hold. I'd just finished my pilgrimage to the Amoeba, the only record store in the world I buy records from anymore, and after driving for blocks with one hand on the wheel and one hand desperately trying to open Stereolab's Oscillons from the Anti-Sun -- imagine, undiscovered vintage Stereolab, three discs worth, plus a DVD! if I could only open the blasted box! -- I'd managed to pop Disc One into my rental car's CD player without running over any pedestrians.

Stereolab plants musical bugs in my ear like no other band. I'll listen to a song one day and three days later it's still playing in my head. The Groop, as they sometimes call themselves, have this strange ability with much of their music to target that certain portion of the brain where neurons, having taken in and processed an auditory signal and discerned from it a kind of groovy riff and chord progression, broadcast neural announcements of "keep listening to that over and over!" to the rest of the brain. Some musical artists have an intimate understanding of these riff neurons, or perhaps are controlled by them themselves, as their music tends to drone on, and on, in long noisy jams of attitude and groove.

I had an appointment with a venture capital firm across town, and Stereolab was the perfect soundtrack for crossing it by car. The VC firm had recently moved to new offices at the end of Lombard Street, so I decided to go north, towards the Marina. A spectacular day: warm, blue skies, sunny. The bay and Alcatraz and Marin County glistened in the distance. When I got down near the Marina I decided to take Lombard as far east as I could go, up a steep hill, then down the famous brick zig-zag, replete with fascinated tourists, their video cameras rolling -- yes, I really did just drive down the hill!, yes, it really can be done! yes, this is actually is an automobile, no, I am not from Mars, no I don't have time to stop and chat -- and up, up again and around Telegraph Hill, stealing glances out to the view of the whole Bay, then snaking through some narrow side streets, one eye on the road and one eye on the sky and the trees, looking out for the famous wild parrots. None appeared.

Soon I was back down to the short stretch of street that makes up the resumption of Lombard, at the very end of which I managed to grab a parking spot right next to the building. The parking meter here took quarters, I noticed, lots of them. I came prepared, and fed in eight dollars' worth. Then, thinking I was early for the appointment, I got back in the car and listened to Disc Two. At some point, I decided to see if there was any free wi-fi in the area, so I pulled out and fired up the PowerBook to check. Lots of open wi-fi, including a proverbial unprotected "Linksys" router. I was in. There was an email waiting for me, from the VC's admin: "I don't have your cell number so haven't been able to call, but I was wondering if you were still planning to make your 1pm appointment?" It was 1:16pm. I had in my calendar that the appointment was for 1:30pm. Or was that the Stereolab playing tricks on me? I slammed the PowerBook shut, hopped out of the car, and raced into the building and up the stairs.

Like so many San Francisco buildings, it was old, and brick, and recently converted into brand-spanking-new office space. High ceilings and exposed beams and ductwork everywhere. An old black dog lifted its head off the floor next to the reception desk as I entered the roomy VC suite. He barked and grumbled. The receptionist was embarrassed and surprised the dog didn't like me. I instantly liked the dog, but the feeling was not mutual. I kept my distance.

So I met with the VC. He just came on board at the firm; this was his second day. I already pitched to this firm 18 months earlier, at their old offices. He didn't know that. Now he did. In those 18 months I'd raised an angel round and an "A" round from other VCs. While Jenny Ondioline played over and over in my head, we talked for a good while about my company and our plans. At the conclusion of the meeting we agreed to follow up in a month or so.

I wonder if the dog is their "invest" / "don't invest" signal? If the dog excitedly wags his tail with the arrival of a visitor, give 'em money. If the dog barks and growls, don't. In a few months maybe I'll know.

End of Part One. To be continued...

Posted by brian at October 8, 2005 07:16 AM

Anybody know where I can ping for RSS feeds?

Posted by: spanking new at November 12, 2005 01:29 AM

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