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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Dispute the Patent, then Short the Stock

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I was combing through WikiLeaks when I came across this article, shared in the e-mail archives of the Italian surveillance malware vendor, Hacking Team.

The Hacking Team CEO, David Vincenzetti, shared a Wall St Journal article called "New Hedge Fund Strategy: Dispute the Patent, Short the Stock" in the e-mail.

David's comment at the top of the e-mail was:
"Very Interesting. Undoubtedly, I find these hedge funds’ aggressive strategies utterly fascinating :-)"
Mr Kyle Bass's challenges are facilitated by a proprietary software which analyzes weak patents.

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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Why you need a vesting agreement from day 1

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There was a CTO who worked for free at his friend's startup.

His name was Julian Ee. He was working "freelance" for a Singapore company. Then his friend asked him to join their startup as CTO, and become a shareholder.

He didn't really "work for free", because he expected that he would be come a shareholder. The founders told him that he could join them as a shareholder.

The startup had been founded late 2015. Six months later, they only had a simple website. They had a contact form and a data dump. The "matching algorithm" was an intern who called the numbers from the contact form. That was when the original CTO (chief technology officer) left and Julian joined.

During hyperinflation, in the Weimar Republic (modern day Germany), children used to play with money like this. The little kid on the right has been left out. He's thinking, "Where's my share?" (He was told that he would get get a piece of the pie.)

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Four lessons that lousy clients can teach us.

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We all have them: Lousy clients.

The guys who want to ask for a reduction in your quotation, and then they want another quotation. And then your quotation is still too expensive for them.

The guys who compare your quotation with the quotation of a similar professional from their country and complain that you've overcharged them. In fact, you've given them a fair rate.

The guys who want you to start work immediately, keep asking you for updates, and expect their work to be completed ASAP. All before they even pay you a single sen.

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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

How to make money from Open Source.

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Open source rules the tech startup world.

Many tech startups today are built on open source software. PHP, Ruby on Rails, Python: open source web software. Accessible to all, and free to use in any way you like. Open source software evolves like magic, online, through the wisdom of the crowds.

Many programmers contribute hours and hours of poring through the source code. Its proponents say that open source software is safer than proprietary software, because any bug can be spotted and corrected.

Occasionally, programmers "fork" software by starting their own version based on an existing version. They can do this. WordPress was built on top of an abandoned open source CMS called "b2 cafelog". Today WordPress is a multi-million dollar thing, with a huge marketplace for customization and add-ons. You may be interested to read about the license for modified GPL code.

I think that people who promote and support open source are wonderful. They are doing whatever they can do support it. 

Linux is Open Source.

I'm a big fan of Linux. You'll know that if you read my other blog about how to be stingy (i.e. save money). Read my blog posts here, here, here, here, here, and here. But why Linux?

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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Why Acquire IP from Someone Else?

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Why not build it yourself?

Here's a bunch of reasons why you might be a fool to pass on the opportunity to acquire someone's precious intellectual property. A wise man once said, opportunity knocks, but does not wait forever. So why should you consider acquiring IP? Why shouldn't you build it yourself?

You might be a clever fellow, but....

Brainy people are a self-confident bunch. By and large, they know that they are brainy, and they base their self-confidence in that: Their intellect. Unfortunately, that might result in them looking at others who do ground-breaking research and thinking: "I could do that, too. If only I put my mind to it. And I might do it better than he does."

And so it's easy to pass off a golden opportunity, out of arrogance. Later, the brainy-but-arrogant guys kick themselves when they see it blossom into something that is too big to acquire. Think of when Yahoo could have bought Google for $1 million, and didn't take the offer.

Frank Sinatra had some good advice. Don't be afraid to acquire IP. Become knowledgeable about it, then make your decision. And if you need some advice, I'm offering.
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Sunday, 7 August 2016

How to acquire a bunch of IP from a dying company

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Why should you acquire IP?

People acquire IP to do what they like with it. The important part is that you think it's worth it and that you can get benefit out of owning the IP. If it's just an exercise in vanity, then forget about acquiring IP. But if you think you can turn the IP into money, then you can consider going all out to get IP.

Why a dying company?

Because a dying company is in dire straits, and its owners will want to raise funds as soon as possible. And because the directors may be worried shitless about getting sued for their business debts. And also because when the company is wound up, and the assets of the company are sold to raise funds, the IP may be sold at a price much, much lower than what you could offer to the company owners.

They are dying. So help them die less painfully. 

This is a great quote. But for the purposes of this article, let me say that I am only concerned with carrying away the IP from a dying company. You could make a tidy profit out of IP, if you know how.
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