My startup, SuperCritical Technologies, featured in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Team SCT

PSBJ: Super power, smaller footprint

SuperCritical Technologies receives some memorable press today…

“It’s hard when you work down the hall from Dr. Myhrvold and you just hear him laugh. He’s got a very jolly laugh. I don’t think he’s a guy who gets up in the morning and says, ‘Who can I crush today?’” said Max Effgen, the chief information officer of a small Seattle startup called SuperCritical Technologies. Effgen and his co-founders worked at IV and some in the group worked at mini-nuclear-reactor firm TerraPower before they formed SuperCritical.

Effgen said his experience at IV helped him understand how intellectual property works, and helped him prepare SuperCritical, which makes a very small, highly efficient energy generation system that the company hopes will compete with the largest energy companies and eventually be licensed by them.

“We’re going into the energy sector, which is dominated by very large corporations,” Effgen said. “We learned a ton (at IV) about protecting ourselves.”

 

Read the full article here: PSBJ Kymeta sheds new light… by Emily Parkhurst

Comment on Dr. Laffer’s recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece on taxing internet sales.

Sales taxes are legally due for in-state transactions. The online retailer (e.g., Amazon, etc.) does not have the obligation to collect these taxes due to the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), enacted in 1998 and extended in 2001, 2004 and 2007 and remains in force until 2014, as well as legal precedence from the 1992 Supreme Court case Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. It should be no surprise that these legally due taxes are not willingly paid when state’s lack enforcement for sales taxes. Generally sales taxes on the Internet are not collected by any online retailer unless a company has a physical presence in the state.

Concurrently, the Great Recession has left many states with balanced budget amendments reeling. Sales taxes make up to one-third of most state budgets. A convergence of government and competitive pressures are being forced against online retailers are being played out in a very public fashion through the media and public referendum.

Amazingly, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot and Target have been actively funding interest groups, such as Alliance for Main Street Fairness, that often target large brick-and-mortar retailers as well as backing state legislative efforts across the country to attack what they say are online retailers (e.g., Amazon’s) unfair competitive advantage. States are looking for additional sources of revenue without the political burden of raising taxes in a down economy.

I agree with Dr. Laffer’s assertion that collection of sales taxes can reduce the need for income taxes. With willing accomplices from major retailers pursuing policy as a competitive pressure, I doubt states’ willingness to make that reality.

With Spring Training starting, thoughts turn to the National Pastime. I recently read Change Up. Generally it is excellent. The format of interviews with key people was quite engaging and through the first 6 changes. It was truly engaging. The last 2, Cal Ripken’s Streak and Ichiro Comes to America, were disappointing. On the Streak, there was too much build up about Cal Sr and Cal Jr’s rise to the big leagues. The Ripken’s are baseball royalty because of the same core values shared by father and son. Each took those to the park every day and gave to the game they loved. The interviews did not fully capture the essence and meaning of the streak well. On Ichiro, and I am an Mariners and Ichiro fan, it overlooks a lot about that amazing season and that Ichiro was the right player at the right time. The Mariners had lost superstars Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez in the previous season respectively. The team was solid but needed a catalyst. 116 wins tied a major league record and they blew away the AL that season. They had 7 All-Stars. There was little mention of the contention around the Rookie of the Year or even the MVP vote in spite of his batting title that season. Personally, I will remember the amazing defense, the 10 seasons of 200+ hits and hordes of Japanese fans filling Safeco in right field’s “Area 51” near my season’s tickets.

Change Up is solid ground rule double, just shy of a home run.

Interesting take on bankruptcy in Europe in this current economic climate. Wonder what the bankruptcy figures are here in the USA?

Tim Harford: Growth or bust

I clipped this article from Forbes in 2001 thinking that someday, I would get a new glove or have to break in a glove for my future kids. The future came to be the other day. I tried this one second hot water dunk on my son’s glove in preparation for the upcoming t-ball season. It worked amazingly. The glove broke-in nicely and he even stands a chance of catching a ball.

Forbes: Breaking in a New Glove

As thoughts turn to the rites of Spring, two excellent baseball reads from the early 20th century.
1) The Unforgettable Season by GH Fleming
The National League Championship Season of 1908 was one of the greatest ever. The Cubs, Giants and Pirates battled down to the wire. This is one of Sports Illustrated’s top 100 sports books of all-time which brought it back into print. Copies are much easier to find today than they were when I first learned of the book about 15 years ago.

2) You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner
My brother gave me a copy of this book about 20 years ago. It is a great and fun read as a hayseed pitcher tires to make it with the White Sox in 1916. Copies on Amazon or on the Internet at the link above.

I do not consider myself a gamer. Then I realized I am an elite player in American’s AAdvantage program. I have never made a mileage run, but know plenty who have. Games are everywhere. One of the hottest areas of the online engagement economy is gamification, a strategy that meshes games and marketing. Games can be tailored to drive engagement, loyalty and virality. Zicherman and Linder’s Game-based marketing is a must-read on the topic.

The experiential nature of games allows users to sense, feel, think, relate and act. When combined with marketing, games drive a desired behavior. As Zicherman points out an engaging experience has to be authentic. It must align with the experience by it a conference, airline travel or McDonald’s. Games are fun and entertaining. They encourage engagement for users to participate and to contribute. Games are educational. They provide something to learn including levels, points and even virtual currency. Games provide an escape. Escapes are themes, stories or quests that take a user from point to point. Games should have an esthetic or loyalty component. A player must want to be there and willing to come back.

The experiential nature of gaming allows users to sense, feel, think, relate and act. If you are concerned with site loyalty, virality and engagement check out this book. It has ideas on campaign and continuous games that can be used to engage the community.

You can also read this book review on Amazon.com. Disclosure, the wife works at Amazon.com but does not read my blog.

Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson’s book Venture Financings: How to Look Smarter than Your Lawyer and VC is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. I am looking forward to it having taking a venture financing class as part of my MBA this year. The more you know about venture financing, the better you off you will be when your startup is ready. Plus the less hand holding your lawyer has to do, the better for everyone.

Entrepreneurship is… from Tyler Mayeno on Vimeo.

Great video featuring Richard Tait on dreams, passions and entrepreneurship. I have been lucky enough to meet Richard a few times. He is nothing short of inspirational. The video will not tell you that he is a huge soccer fan and a recreational player. You can figure out a little bit about what makes Richard tick by reading his favorite book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie. It is an unconventional book full of drawings and color. It just might make you ask, “Where have all the artists gone?” For me, the book is a useful guide to creativity and the creative processes in the real world. Check it out.

There is an old adage that is all too often followed, “Want more sales? Hire salespeople.”

Sales and who you hire to represent your company is critical. The success or failure of CRM, revenue generation and the company in general are dependent on how the organization learns from prospects and customers.

A terrific read on this by Veritas founder, Mark Leslie: The Sales Learning Curve