Are There Tech Startups in Arizona? Yes

by Francine on December 3, 2014

Some time last week, VentureBeat published a post with the title “How Arizona (yes) Arizona is Becoming a Hotbed for Technology Startups.” It was founded by Don Pierson, who has been an entrepreneur in Arizona for more than two decades. In theory, he’d be an authority. While I’m certainly no naive cheerleader for Arizona, I posted the article to my Facebook page, tagging three close tech industry friends in Silicon Valley, all three of whom had volunteered their time to come to Arizona and headline the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference to see for themselves.

I guess what I was trying to say to them, and to everyone else,was simply “you see, the work I have dedicated myself to for the past fifteen years, since co-founding Stealthmode Partners with Ed Nusbaum, may have begun to pay off.” The vision of Stealthmode was always that if we grew the ecosystem, we would make out okay financially ourselves.

Well, we have, but you would have thought I’d posted something about Ferguson and police. My wall lit up with rants, mostly against Phoenix, from people who absolutely can’t stand the place and can’t believe it can ever be like Silicon Valley. And some of them live here. Or did live here, and were launched during their stay.

Well, that wasn’t the point. We don’t NEED another Silicon Valley. What we need, as was finally pointed out by venture capitalist Bill Reichert, is a stronger ecosystem for innovation and startups in general. It’s not a zero sum game in which some place either is, or is not, Silicon Valley; it is a growing worldwide ecosystem that encourages innovation even in companies like Syria and Iran, where we don’t expect to find it.

Several years of traveling with Dave McClure on Geeks on a Plane have taken me to Asia, the Middle East, and South America, in addition to my own trips to India, Costa Rica, Mexico and Viet Nam. As a result of those visits, where I met entrepreneurs, judged business plans, and attended investor pitches, I came to the conclusion that entrepreneurship is everywhere and nowhere — it is a transnational phenomenon, a state of mind. The capital to scale it may be confined to some large urban centers like the Bay Area, London, New York, Singapore and DC, but the entrepreneurs are everywhere.

And at the appropriate time, the money follows. While investors used to think they didn’t have to travel, even in the good old days Arthur Rock funded a company in Santa Clara called Intel from the height of a New York office building, and when he wanted to see his investment, he had to board a plane. All the investors I know do that every day.

So there’s now a great deal of credence given to starting a company where the cost of living is cheaper than in the financial centers, and the talent is more plentiful. Many companies started up outside Silicon Valley, and many more will continue to do so. The worthy entrepreneurs get found, and the less worthy either fail or succeed at creating lifestyle businesses that don’t require venture capital.

Oh, and by the way, the truth about venture capital is that it is appropriate only for a very small number of businesses; the rest are overlooked no matter where they are. And no startup receives venture capital in a seed round. In Arizona, where there is no homegrown venture capital to speak of (although there’s lots of outside money and a growing number of local angels), we still manage to create businesses that create jobs and support people.

My own children left Arizona when they graduated from college, but when my daughter read my Facebook wall and the tone of the criticism on it, even she was moved to say “even I, who defected from Arizona yrs ago and fled to Silicon Valley, feel a need to defend the poor state from this thread of haters.”

What good is hating Arizona for what it lacks? If you don’t like it, leave, but if you stay, try to work to make it better. Oh, and if you’ve left, you’re no longer entitled to castigate us verbally. Move along, nothing to see here.



What Does Your Home Screen Reveal About You?

by Francine on November 19, 2014

IMG_3614It’s time for the latest round of speculations on whether the web is dying (because of apps), or whether apps are dying because of  new interfaces. I’ll just add my uneducated view: apps are just beginning to come to the everyday world. Although everyone’s fond of saying “there’s an app for that,” the number of people using apps is relatively few compared to the number of apps developed. And they won’t die until they cease to be the main interface between the phone and the world of atoms. Or a good way for marketers to collect data.

Many people I know — let’s call them “normal” people — have no apps on their phones, or very few. If they do have apps, likely they have Facebook and a few free things for the kids to distract them. They don’t have their credit cards on file with the Apple store, and they don’t subscribe to podcasts that tell them about new apps, nor do they have friends who develop apps. But every phone comes with a bunch of built-in apps, like the crapware that used to come bundled with your new PC, and those apps are the defaults. So you have to distinguish between third-party apps and the ones that come with the phone.

I have dozens of third-party apps, and I’d be embarrassed to admit how much I’ve spent on them, especially the ones I don’t use anymore, like Diagnosaurus. I clear out the ones I don’t use rather regularly, so I can fit them all on my home screen. But that requires folders. Until I discovered folders, I had five screens of apps. All I’ve done is aggregate them. Here’s what the folders on my home screen look like:

Bottom tray: Inbox, Phone, Camera, Messages

Loose apps I use all the time: Audible, Stitcher, Facetime, Starbucks, Skype, WhatsApp, Safari, Messenger and…photocopies of my dogs’ Canine Good Citizen certification in case we are stopped. These can’t be in folders, because I’d never find them.

Productivity (a euphemism) -Dropbox, Evernote, Talkio, VoiceMemos, Humin, SignNow, Reminders

Finance: Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, Mint, Amex, Schwab, Stocks

Utilities: Settings, Find iPhone, Clock, SwiftKey, Calculator, Fuse (goes with a car sensor), Reliance (phone service to india), Compass

Travel: Maps, Weather, HopStop, Uber, Lyft, Waze, Tripit, Southwest, Yelp, Southwest, USAir/American, BA

Social: Facebook,, Twitter, NextDoor, Foursquare, Swarm, Rooms, Groups, Secret, Buffer,

Buy: Passbook, Fandango, Amazon, Eventbrite, Apple Store, Target, Macy’s

Google: G+, Google, Google Maps, Drive, Chrome, Calendar, Gmail

Music: iTunes, Sonos, Spotify, Music

Photos: Flickr, Instagram

Video: UStream, TWIT, YouTube, TuneinRadio, Videos

News: Podcasts, CSpan, YahooNewsDigest, Digg, GoogleNews, Circa, NoAgendaStream

Health: Health, Misfit, Walgreens, ZenFriend, MyFitnessPal, Pebble, Yummly, ForksOverKnives

Apple: All the stuff I never use but cannot delete from the phone, such as GarageBand, Contacts, iMovie, Keynote, Newsstand, iBooks, Contacts

As you can see, my filing system is totally proprietary, follows no rigorous logic, and sometimes I can’t remember which folder an app belongs in. Tune-In Radio, for example. I’ve got that in TV, but that’s because I don’t have any other radio apps. Maybe it should be in music?

If you are a geek, these questions can occupy most of your days. If you’re not, you probably had no idea what most of these were, and lost your curiosity long ago. If you are a marketer, you probably have an incredibly good fix on what ads you should serve me.



{ 1 comment }

Mindful Mothering

November 16, 2014

Mindfulness. It’s easy to be mindful when you’re sitting on a yoga mat focusing on the breath, But how do you bring this to every day life? I can meditate up a storm in the right circumstances, but it has always been extremely difficult for me to take it off the mat. One morning last […]

Read the full article →

Ad Week Was Scary for Agencies

October 6, 2014

Last week was Advertising Week in New York, the historic home of advertising and media. But while always a cause for parties and drinking,  the annual citywide meeting of agencies, publishers and brands has  evolved into a cause for hand-wringing as well. Some of the event titles gave away the uncertainty that afflicts the ecosystem […]

Read the full article →

Startup STEM School Learns Founders’ Lessons

October 1, 2014

SySTEM Schools, the non-profit charter STEM school in downtown Phoenix whose board I am on, has been open for a little over a month, and it is behaving as all startups do; the co-founders are riding the roller coaster of ups and downs that always accompanies running a startup. My purpose seems to be to […]

Read the full article →

Needs v. Wants

September 1, 2014

Have we come to a point in society where we are focussed on filling our wants rather than merely our needs? And does this place us higher on Maslow’s hierarchy than people who are only meeting their needs?  Will the iWatch and the IPhone 6 lead us closer to the self-actualization Maslow says is at […]

Read the full article →

Surgery Monday: A Sister’s Tale

August 19, 2014

“Surgery Monday” said the caption on the selfie my brother sent.  There he was, laying in a hospital bed, my younger (69) brother who hadn’t even retired yet. The selfie came as a text message addressed to me and a bunch of other phone numbers I didn’t recognize. What??? What happened? My heart jumped and […]

Read the full article →

The Knick: Has Health Care Gotten Better or Worse?

August 10, 2014

Sometimes it is necessary to revisit the past in order to see whether mankind has actually progressed. Lost in the day-to-day struggles, we lose sight of the long view. Especially with regard to American health care, which I view with more than a modicum of cynicism these days because as a Medicare patient I am the […]

Read the full article →

Is “Right” Always the Letter of the Law?

July 25, 2014

On paper, I am an elderly person in danger of deteriorating mentally and dying early because I live alone. In actuality, I live with three dogs, and have, until recently, enjoyed the company of other people every morning. But my community is gradually being taken away from me. The off-leash law for dogs is the […]

Read the full article →

Sonru Explores Africa, Finds Enormous Opportunity

July 3, 2014

Africa will be the next big land of opportunity. I have heard this more than once, especially from my friend J’Lein Liese of the Foundation for Global Leadership, and this year have been told by some Brits to take a look at Nigeria, a country of enormous energy that has become the continent’s new technology hub. In […]

Read the full article →