Thursday, January 30, 2014

Latest Local Music - Fractal, Beautiful Machines, Cash Pony, Moetar and Atomic Ape... and Mirthkon!

There is a huge amount of good original new music that is looking for an audience. Most of what I listen to is from bands you've probably never heard of, so I'm going to share some updates and some local gigs that are happening over the next few days in the SF Bay Area. I encourage you to go to the gigs and buy a CD, or buy the album online to support local musicians. There is a Facebook group for Bay Area Prog rock that's worth tracking.

Earlier this week Fractal released the first track of a free album of improvisations. They plan to release the tracks on soundcloud around once a month. It's hard to categorize what they sound like other than excellent musicians composing instrumentals in real time. They tend to have interesting sound effects, looped phrases and are known for using odd time signatures. I've been a non-playing member of this band since they started, helping in various ways including naming this album "Fractiles".

I've been meaning to write this for a while, and my deadline is that tonight (Thursday Jan 30th) there is a gig including Beautiful Machines in San Francisco. I can't attend, but I do have their first album and have been listening to it a lot over the last few months. They write songs with influences from 80's synth-pop bands, and remind me of Japan or Duran Duran perhaps. Their bass player Van is one of my favorite local musicians, he used to play in Headshear and has a unique and interesting style on fretless bass. Here's a trailer for a video of Animammal from their album "Disconnect :: Reconnect".

On Saturday I will be in Oakland for a gig with three of my favorite local bands. Please come along!

Moetar are a pop band with a unique sound that blends jazzy female vocals and prog rock instrumentation into some very commercial sounding songs. They don't sound like Muse, but if you like Muse I think you will like Moetar. They have a unique mix, and I've played their first album regularly over the last year or two. Their second album has been recorded and is due for release soon. I've seen them live several times, and try not to miss a gig, they are awesome and deserve to be a big hit. Here's a video they made for Butchers of Baghdad from their first album From These Small Seeds.

Cash Pony have played with Moetar several times, and I bought their CD at a gig, then just kept playing it. It's an interesting mix of instruments, with a bass sax and an electric sitar on some songs. It's interesting uptempo pop songs, and they have a very smooth sound on the CD, but I can't figure out what to compare it to. Take a listen to a live version of 1000 Layer Curry Dawg and get their Carpal Tunnel Vision Quest album.

Years ago, there was an amazing local band called Estradasphere. They released several albums that I still listen to regularly. They have dispersed, and the guitarist Jason Schimmel has a new band called Atomic Ape with a new album, Swarm. I haven't heard them before, but am looking forward to seeing them live for the first time on Saturday. Here's a rather dark video of them playing for a radio show.

Update - I just found out that on Feb 15th MirthKon and Secret Chiefs 3 are playing a gig in San Francisco. Not yet sure if I can make it to attend. Yet another of my favorite local bands, intensely complex virtuoso playing. Matt the bass player in Mirthkon is also the keyboard player in Moetar. If you like Frank Zappa you'll like MirthKon, and you should give the video below a listen.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Starting a new role at Battery Ventures

Careful what you wish for. Take some side interests and activities that aren't central to your real job, have a bit too much fun with them, mention to a friend that it would be cool to do them for real, and have him convince his company to create a completely new position tailored for you that they've never had before, and haven't heard of anyone else doing. In a week.

Over the last few years I've given a lot of talks, and the industry reaction to Netflix's all-in public cloud strategy has evolved from "It won't work" through "It only works for unicorns like Netflix" to "How do we get there?" My answer to that question is the Netflix Open Source Software (NetflixOSS) platform, consisting of around forty distinct projects shared at that provides an on-ramp for applications to move to a cloud native architecture.

I have presented aspects of this work to different audiences at public conferences, private events and directly within companies. For developers, I concentrated on explaining the NetflixOSS components, DevOps and continuous delivery patterns. For managers I concentrated on how an open source and cloud native strategy delivers rapid product evolution, scalability and high availability. As interest from individual companies grew it became clear that there was an opportunity to take what I had learned and apply it directly to a wider audience.

In my new role at Battery Ventures I will be continuing my conversations with large enterprise companies planning a move to cloud native, and SaaS vendors who are re-architecting for scale, to understand the gaps and demands of this market. With that context I will work in the Battery Ventures team that is looking for opportunities to fund companies who are enabling the transformation of enterprise IT, and I will also provide advice and mentoring for portfolio companies.

The role is called Technology Fellow. It's different to the short term Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) position, and is similar to full time investing staff. Battery just raised their tenth fund, and have a total of $900M to invest. My job is to help spend that wisely and get the best return. That also means even more conference presentations, more international coverage, and a broader range of subjects to discuss.

I will no longer explain how Netflix works, so the starting point for my new presentation materials is going to be something like my Flowcon talk with the Netflix specific parts removed. If you still want a Netflix Architecture overview talk, start with @jedberg, he's a very highly rated speaker, and he can also connect you to the many excellent speakers at Netflix that cover their own specific areas.

It¹s going to take me a little while to figure out the new role, but a big part of the job is meeting lots of people. I'm taking bookings for February...

Press Coverage

Press Release by Battery Ventures
The Full Stack blog post by Mike Dauber of Battery Ventures
Business Week story by Ashlee Vance
GigaOm story by Stacy Higginbotham
Reuters story on Yahoo UK
Boston Globe story by Michael Farrell
Wall Street Journal story by Deborah Gage
The Register story by Jack Clark
Venture Beat story by Jordan Novet

About Battery Ventures

Battery invests in cutting-edge, category-defining businesses in markets including software and services, Web infrastructure, e-commerce, digital media and industrial technologies. Founded in 1983, the firm backs companies at stages ranging from seed to buyout and invests globally from offices in Boston, Silicon Valley and Israel. To learn more, visit and follow the firm on Twitter @BatteryVentures.