Profession. Professionally, I start technology companies, launch lots of Web sites, and I purchase companies. I am also an essayist.
Juris Informatica. I publish legal Web sites, sites that cover legal topics for the laymen. Going forward, we expect to launch 4 of 5 sites a month, for a total of over 500 legal sites in the next five years. Currently we have one chief technology officer, four manager/editors, about 40 writers, four WordPress Web designers, one PHP programmer, and three search engine optimization experts. We also have three attorneys and paralegals that screen cases and make referrals.
Computers and Information Technology. I spent part of my career in the computer industry, having been a Research Associate at Harvard Business School (“HBS”) and a Software Specialist at Digital Equipment Corporation, which was the leading minicomputer company in its day. At HBS, I did research in computers and information systems and was a teaching assistant for second-year MBA classes. At Digital, I supported major New England customers of Digital on Digital commercial operating systems. I was also a management consultant in information systems to many of the large commercial banks in Boston and several high technology companies in Massachusetts. I’ve been active in high technology entrepreneurship, as an entrepreneur, venture advisor and as a consultant to Venture Founders Corporation, a venture capital fund.
In terms of hands-on technical usage, most of my software/Web development utilizes Microsoft technologies — .Net, Visual Studio, Windows Server, SQL Server, SQL CLR, SQL Database Mail. All of my computers are networked using Direct Access, a successor to Microsoft’s virtual private network technology. Although I have extensive programming experience, having programmed in about a dozen programming languages, I rarely program any more, but I do extensive code reviews. All of my projects use Visual Basic.Net, because I know VB and because there is a very good standards book for VB. For the complex information systems I develop and manage, I typically write the system specification, do the database design, do code reviews, and serve as technical lead and systems architect. My typical approach is to store all data at the server level (SQL Server, Exchange Server, Windows Server) and write as much of the application at the database level (e.g., SQL CLR, stored procedures) as possible, usually with a Microsoft Access front end for internal usage and Web pages for external users.
I am an exceptionally advanced user (literally one of the best in the world) in most Microsoft Office applications: Word, Excel, Outlook, Access, basically every Office package other than PowerPoint. (It’s unlikely I will be converting to Google Docs soon.) Many of my applications and templates have been used by Microsoft to debug future versions of Office during their extensive testing process. (Don’t blame me for any of the numerous bugs in Office — Microsoft often doesn’t listen to me.) My advanced Office projects typically use Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications and I was the first person to break the Excel recalculation engine. (These are the algorithms that resolve circular references in Excel.) Assuming Microsoft would give me carte blanche (which they will do for anyone, since Office generates about half of their profits), I would love to manage future development of Office, to make it into a really great office productivity tool.
For most of my Web sites, I have adopted WordPress wholeheartedly, using Thesis as my WordPress theme, although I sometimes use HomeSite for HTML coding and page design. Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies are of particular interest, as are search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social networking, Web analytics, and techniques to monetize Web sites. I am a frequent participant in the monthly Cambridge Search Engine Optimization and the WordPress meetups. In 2010, I will be launching a legal wiki, using MediaWiki.
I am also interested in numerous higher level IT and computer issues: computer architecture, operating system language design, programming languages, artificial intelligence (primarily natural language recognition, neural nets and expert systems), distributed computing, virtualization, virtual offices, project management, scalability, management of data centers, business intelligence, social networks, and frankly most other IT/computer issues, as well as the economics of the software industry. I find cloud computing (which started as time sharing, then ASP, then SaaS, and now cloud computing) particularly fascinating, even though I have taken a different approach in that I purchase and manage my own servers.
I particularly find the open source software movement interesting and I am concerned about how intellectual property laws hamper innovation in the software industry. I spend a fair amount of time thinking of how to abolish all software patents, retroactively to the first patent issued. Philosophically, I am sympathetic to the Free Software Foundation. At the same time, other than my Web sites and my use of MediaWiki, I mostly use Microsoft’s closed, proprietary software packages simply because Microsoft’s software development tools (.Net, Visual Studio, SQL Server) are so vastly superior to the open source tools, which are often a usability disaster.
Essays. I regularly write essays on a variety of topics — politics, economics, political economy, international relations, business, computers, time management and personal organization, and dating and romance. I keep saying I will be writing some serious law articles but so far I have not found the right topic. If you sign up for my parties, you will receive these essays automatically. (You also have the option of not receiving them.) Otherwise, I will soon have an RSS feed on my site and you can sign up to receive them. I’ve also written a 500 page memo (“Statement of Mission”) on various topics. I would like to spend more time writing essays, to change the way people think, the way Paul Graham, Nicholas Carr, Jeff Atwood and Joel Sporsky have influenced the computer industry. I am looking to collaborate with gifted writers and serious and originals thinkers who want to write deep and thoughtful essays.
Law. I’m also keenly interested in law. My father was a prominent attorney (both corporate and litigation) in Los Angeles, as was my grandfather, and my great uncle, Donald Wright, was Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. But what really got me interested in law was what happened in the first company I bought. My lawyer did not do a good job, so document A contradicted document B which said something different than document C. After the deal closed, the seller’s lawyer tried to renegotiate the deal, based on the discrepancies among the various documents. (I told him to go pound sand.) This caused me to learn a lot about law, particularly corporate law, and to this day I remain paranoid about lawyers. I spend a fair amount of time reading appellate court (particularly the U.S. Supreme Court) decisions. The legal school of thought that I am most sympathetic to is the law and economics school. I admire The Federalist Society because of its commitment to civility and honest intellectual debate, but I do not agree with many of their fundamental principles. Even though I disagree with him about half the time, I greatly admire Justice Antonin Scalia, and I am also a big fan of Judge Alex Kozinski.
Business. I’ve been interested in business since elementary school, and I’m probably the only person you’ll ever meet who began reading The Wall Street Journal at age 13. (Some would say it’s written for 13-year olds, but that’s a different story.) My business interests include general management, management of professional service firms and knowledge workers, corporate strategy, competitive analysis, business process reengineering, project and team management, virtual teams, knowledge management, intellectual capital, profession training and development, information technology and systems, commercial applications of the Internet, entrepreneurship, technology startups, venture capital, and business and corporate law. I remain keenly interested in politics, international relations and microeconomics. One area I am not interested in is theoretical corporate finance (as opposed to institutional corporate finance), which reminds me of the B.S. I endured when I studied economics so intensely. I know remarkably little about advanced financial techniques, rarely using anything more than IRR and WACC combined with basic statistical analysis. In general, other than investing in startups, investing does not interest me, and I find it far more preferable to use professional investment managers who specialize in various investment sectors.
David Allen. I’m a devout follower of David Allen and one of my primary goals in life to have my mind completely free of worry, to be totally in the moment (what Allen calls “mind like water”).
Sports. When the weather permits, I love to bike along the Charles River. I joined Sports Club LA and try to go there every day; I’ve become an addict, particularly resistance training. Other than the Super Bowl, I have no interest in watching sports; I would rather watch grass grow.
Education. I graduated from the Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood, California, receiving an education vastly superior that what was offered at Harvard University. I totally love that school. I studied political philosophy and economics at Pitzer College (the Claremont Colleges), international relations (specifically, defense policy and arms control, which some call “bombs ‘n bullets”) at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and management at MIT and the Wharton School of Finance. At Harvard, I was a Graduate Student Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and was a member of two working groups in national security issues at the Belfor Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, studying under Michael Nacht and Albert Carnesale. I was also a research assistant in statistics for Gary Orren in the Government department; working with Gary is how I learned to do sophisticated statistical analysis. At Pitzer, my mentor was Harvey Botwin, one of the best economics professors in the country. After Harvard, I studied classical music (specifically piano) and theory and composition with Suzanne Sobol at the Longy School of Music and Louise Vosgerchain at Harvard, respectively. Music is my greatest passion in life, and I’m also interested in movies, theatre, opera, ballet and dance.
Contact Information. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to call me, I can be reached at (310) 433-4520 seven days a week, between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Boston time.