Kevin Warnock

Entrepreneurship, ideas and more

Archive for August, 2011

DreamForce 2011 keynote address by Marc Benioff

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Partial list of DreamForce '11 speakers (image from

Partial list of DreamForce '11 speakers (image from

This morning I received an email reminder to watch the DreamForce ’11 keynote this morning by, Inc. CEO Marc Benioff.

I decided to watch, and I am excited about Salesforce for the first time in years.

I’m so excited that I just applied for a press credential to attend the 2011 DreamForce conference at Moscone, which is happening this week.

I have a solid connection to that I don’t believe I’ve written about on my blog before.

Back in 1999 I was CEO of, Inc., the first online document creation company. LegalZoom and RocketLawyer are now the leaders in that category in the United States.

I sold Hotpaper for USD $10,000,000 in 2000. Since the sale was to a public company, the sale is documented online at the website of the Security Exchange Commission.

At the time of sale, Hotpaper had just one large scale customer —

Purple Communications, Inc. bought Hotpaper. Back then Purple was known as GoAmerica Communications, Inc., when it traded on NASDAQ under the symbol GOAM.

I lost touch with the project after I left Hotpaper shortly after the aquisition papers were finalized, so I never became closely familiar with the work Hotpaper later did for Salesforce. That means I never saw my software in action live on I am sad about that.

I do know that Salesforce was a happy customer for years after 2000, and last I heard stats from then current employees, Hotpaper’s solution was being used frequently by thousands of Salesforce customers. The story I heard as to why Salesforce eventually abandoned Hotpaper was two fold: Hotpaper was shut down by the company that bought it and Salesforce needed a multilingual version for their expanding customer base.

Salesforce approached my current company Silveroffice, Inc., in about 2005. Silveroffice is the maker of, the first true online office suite. gOffice has long ago been surpassed by the capable Google Docs and Zoho products, but is still kicking.

Salesforce wanted to know if I was interested in making an App Exchange version of gOffice. I didn’t want to distract my fledgling company on what I saw then as a side project, so I declined, despite being pestered by their very enthusiastic evangelists for months.

After watching the DreamForce keynote by Benioff this morning, I deeply regret not putting my full energy into the App Exchange version back then.

I am a blogger and journalist now, as evidenced by my hundreds of posts to this blog.

May the powers that be at Salesforce quickly approve my blogger credentials so I can receive a press pass for DreamForce so I can attend this week and blog about the show. This blog received over 7,400 WordPress views last month, and our Alexa ranking has shot from over 12,000,000 in December 2010 to 2,500,458 today (489,476 in the United States).

Hotpaper was funded by BlueRun Ventures. Silveroffice, Inc. ( is an Intel Capital Portfolo Company.

[Author’s note: I recognize that this post sounds like an ad, but I am trying to quickly catch the attention of people at Salesforce who are right now reviewing my application to give me a pass to the DreamForce event that would otherwise cost me USD $1,299. At that price, I will not attend, so this post is my primary vehicle to get into the show. If I am granted a pass, I promise to write at least five lengthy posts over the next week about the show. These posts will have the same quality as the other posts on this site.]

[Additional note: Sadly I wasn’t approved for a full pass, but I attended the expo and Eric Schmidt keynote with a free pass the show offered. I got to talk for about an hour one on one with three Salesforce employees, and I learned remarkable things I’ll write about in a different post. I was able to speak on the phone with DreamForce staff about the press pass. I was told that it was already too late for a pass when I applied, and that the web application was not programmed to stop accepting applications after the deadline.]

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 31st, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Work

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Fortune First, Fame Later – Why You Should Aim for the Enterprise

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Geoff McQueen (photo from

Geoff McQueen (photo from

Fortune First, Fame Later – Why You Should Aim for the Enterprise by Geoff McQueen is worth reading.

I’ve been thinking about the enterprise lately as I try to figure out what to do with gOffice, which currently is not a good product, and needs to be completely reworked.

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 27th, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Posted in Work

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One of my chickens is gone!

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I am heartbroken.

Just a couple of days ago I started to let my chickens out of their large 4 x 10 foot covered home so they could roam and peck in my big backyard. That was a bad decision.

Today, around noon, in full sun, one of my chickens disappeared. I was in earshot the whole time, working on the computer. I didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary.

I suspect that a hawk soared in and grabbed my smallest chicken. I think this chicken was a rooster, so he would have had to leave soon anyway. This is not the way I wanted him to leave!

The remaining hens were subdued and all of them even let me pet them. Normally only my Hudan hen allows me to pet her or hold her with just one hand. The other ones scurry away when you try to pet them. I can still catch them. But today, after this sad event, all three let me hold and pet them without objection. They really seemed shaken.

These chickens spent every second together since birth, so this must be so traumatic for them. I don’t see how they didn’t witness their friend being carried away.

I feel so foolish because I saw a hawk just a few days ago flying toward the coop. I didn’t know what a hawk looked like. I thought what I saw was an owl, and that it would not bother my chickens. I described what I saw to my father, and he said I had seen a red tailed hawk. He said he has them by his house, which is just minutes by car from my house. My father grew up on a farm, so he knows a lot more about this kind of thing than I do.

I don’t even have a recent picture of the lost chicken, and I’m a photographer!

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 22nd, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Posted in Work

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Naked Suits in Style

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Today a company I’m friends with got some great publicity on the cover of the Style section in the San Francisco Chronicle, the primary paper and online newspaper for San Francisco, California USA.

I’ve written about Naked Suits before, soon after I attended their unveiling party on June 25, 2011.

I first met the founders Albert Shyy and Ming Chang in June 2011 when I was a final round judge for the Made for China Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition and Startup Fair at University of California at Berkeley.

I don’t buy newspapers anymore, but I made an exception today because I wanted to have a copy for my library. I snapped two pictures of the article so you can see exactly how great the coverage was. Yes, an underwater Shyy and Chang fill up nearly the entire front page of the Style section.

Congratulations to the outstanding and friendly team behind Naked Suits. I’ve been friends on Facebook with some of the team members, and they are living fascinating lives from what I can glean from their status updates.

It must really be exciting to work at Naked Suits with all that’s happening so quickly.

I encourage you to read the story at the Chronicle website, but if you find that link no longer works, you can click on the photos here to enlarge them, and you may find you can read the tiny text successfully.

Naked Suits in August 21, 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Style section, page 1

Naked Suits in August 21, 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Style section, page 1

Naked Suits in August 21, 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Style section, pages 6 & 7

Naked Suits in August 21, 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Style section, pages 6 & 7

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 21st, 2011 at 4:51 pm

My backyard chickens are producing two eggs a day

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Green egg (photo by Flickr user Editor B, commercial use permitted)

Green egg (photo by Flickr user Editor B, commercial use permitted)

My San Francisco hens are producing two small eggs per day, both of them white in color. One of my chickens is supposed to produce green or blue eggs. I am looking forward to making green eggs and ham!

Until my grandmother Elsie Battaglia showed me actual green eggs a few years ago, I didn’t know they existed. I thought the famous book by Theodor Seuss Geisel just had a funny title.

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 19th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

My bus conversion electrical systems are now solar powered

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Solar panel detail (photo by Flickr user Wichita Renewable Energy Group)

Over the weekend I installed and connected my second solar panel system on my RTS bus conversion. Now the starting batteries will be kept fully charged even if I don’t start the vehicle frequently, which is currently the case since I’m working on it on weekends and never taking trips.

Since I only drive it a block or two at a time, to move it to the other side of the street for street cleaning, the batteries have discharged several times this year. Since buses have 24 volt starting systems, I can’t get a jump start from my car or a regular tow truck.

What I have to do is take out the 4 batteries and take them home, where I charge them individually on a 12 volt charger. This takes about a full day to accomplish, including charging through the night. I have to wake up once to switch the charger to the next battery. This has happened enough times that I finally climbed up on the bus conversion roof and bolted my set of two 12 volt Uni-Solar 20 watt panels and wired them in series to get 24 volts.

I then ran the wires through the roof and down to a 24 volt Xantrex C35 solar charge controller, which was connected through a fuse to the starting battery cut off switch in the dedicated battery bay in front of the rear wheels.

Everything worked perfectly the first time I switched on the batteries.

It’s hard on batteries to let them discharge to the point they won’t start the vehicle. Keeping the batteries fully charged will certainly make the batteries last longer. I don’t understand why all vehicles don’t incorporate small solar panels to keep the battery charged during periods of non use. You can get small battery maintainer systems for around USD $25.00, and if they were built in, I can see the price dropping by half.

Would you pay USD $12.50 more for a car that would not be stranded if you don’t drive it for a few months? The tow truck operators might not like it, but I think it’s a good idea. Excess solar power could be used to drive a tiny fan to keep the passenger compartment cooler. This would result in less petroleum fuel being used to run the air conditioner on high to cool down an interior that might reach 140 degrees F sitting in the hot sun in the summer. Fewer batteries being discarded prematurely plus lower air conditioning costs? Seems like that would be well worth an extra USD $12.50 per vehicle.

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 18th, 2011 at 5:00 am

I will be at the 2011 Intel Developer Forum

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I am attending the 2011 Intel Developer Forum on Tuesday, September 13, 2011.

Intel Capital graciously gave me a third free pass, since my company Silveroffice, Inc. is an Intel Capital Portfolio Company. It’s a great perk, since the super saver least cost ticket is USD $595 per day. The full three day least cost ticket is USD $1,395, but even if that were also complimentary I wouldn’t attend for three days. Intel puts on great events, but my company is not involved with computer hardware, so it’s frankly of limited value for me to even attend for one day. But I always learn something, even if a lot of the presentations are over my head.

I get a free laptop backpack each year, and I use the latest one all the time, as it’s actually padded and of high quality.

I like the networking and the keynotes.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini speaks at the keynote, and I enjoy his presentations. Intel is really working hard on impressive projects, and I don’t think people appreciate how big and important a company Intel has become. To my knowledge, their Intel Capital venture arm remains the biggest venture capital firm in the world.

In 2009 I saw 3D television before it hit the market, thanks to outstanding presentations at the 2009 Intel Capital CEO Summit.

Thanks to Intel, I’ve had dinner with musician and entrepreneur MC Hammer and lunch with the original Java product manager Kim Polese.

Thank you Intel!

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 17th, 2011 at 5:00 am

No more Bank of America deposit accounts

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SF Fire Credit Union logo

I first got a Bank of America checking account in 1989 when they offered a one day promotion of a no cost checking account for three years. Back then, free checking was not common, so I marked the date in my calendar and visited the 9th Avenue and Irving Street branch on the special day. I still have that calendar, which I recently reviewed since I’m typing my 1976 diary to post to this blog.

My wise filmmaker girlfriend I wrote about last week warned me that Bank of America was not a company I should be doing business with. Sadly, I ignored her advice and went on to endure over 20 years of mediocre and often frustrating interactions.

Today I closed the last of my deposit accounts with Bank of America. I moved my corporate checking account to San Francisco Fire Credit Union, which is the best financial institution I’ve ever dealt with.

As an example of how extraordinary this credit union is, consider that when I sent a message to Darren Herrmann, President and CEO, via a box on the front page of their website, Herrmann called me on the phone 15 minutes later to thank me for my message. Even though this is a small credit union, not a big bank, I was and remain impressed.

I am not and have never been a fire fighter. Anyone who works or lives in San Francisco is eligible to join.

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 16th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Cooking chicken eggs from my urban homestead for the first time

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My first chicken eggs from my backyard flock. The large egg is from a grocery store.

My first chicken eggs from my backyard flock. The large egg is from a grocery store.

This morning I fried 3 of the 7 eggs my backyard chickens have produced since August 12, 2011 for my urban homesteading household.

I live right in the center of bustling San Francisco, California USA, so this is particularly exciting. A couple of years ago I had no idea I would be farming! My cousin Cindy Christensen owns a farm, and I’ve marveled at her wide array of award winning show chickens she raises. But even when I was visiting her farm, I never considered that I would one day soon be feeding chickens and collecting eggs each morning.

The eggs my chickens have produced so far are smaller than the smallest eggs for sale at any grocery store I’ve visited.

I shot the video of me cracking these first eggs into a stainless steel pan so the background would be a light color. Normally I wouldn’t fry eggs in this pan.

Maybe it was the excitement of raising these chickens from when they were just 3 days old, but these fried eggs were the best I’ve had.

Have a look at how orange the yoke in the upper left is. I was expecting all the eggs to have yokes that color. Food writer extraordinaire Michael Pollan educated me through his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma that good eggs should have orange yokes, not yellow yokes. I am now a believer and I am certain I can taste the difference.

I shot the video above in full 1920 x 780 high definition video on my Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera.

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 15th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Important fish overused to make pet food, paint and cosmetics

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Menhaden fish (photo from
Menhaden fish (photo from

Until I read The Most Important Fish in the Sea, I had never heard of Menhaden.

Apparently Menhaden are the most important fish in the sea.

As you might predict, Menhaden are in trouble from overfishing.

Humans don’t generally currently eat menhaden, but other fish do.

The oceans need Menhaden to clean the water. According to the article:

Some scientists believe that menhaden could be a partial solution to pollution and the oxygen-depleted areas of water called, bluntly, “dead zones.” In these zones, pollution-related algae blooms use up the oxygen in the water, making it difficult for other species to live; it’s a particular problem in estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay and the Long Island Sound, where menhaden were once plentiful. Menhaden are filter feeders, swimming with their mouths open and straining phytoplankton (algae) and other particles with their gills. While the exact content of what menhaden filter varies by location and season, it is clear that menhaden have been removing damaging particles from our waters since time immemorial.

“Menhaden are the main herbivore in the ocean that eat phytoplankton, and without them, we have a problem,” says Bill Goldsborough, senior scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Menhaden are oily, so commercial enterprises use their extracted oil to manufacture fish oil, paint and cosmetics.

According to the article I cite, Omega Protein is the sole company that fishes for Menhaden on the East coast of the United States. Its projected 2011 sales of USD $218 million is enough for them to be a powerful influence on legislatures in the state of Virginia. Virginia is the only East coast state that allows the vast commercial harvesting of Menhaden practiced by Omega Protein.

I know next to nothing about the fishing industry, but it strikes me as lunacy to possible seriously damage the sea for a paltry $218 million dollars of revenue a year. While I’m sure it seems like a lot of money to Omega Protein, it’s a tiny and trivial amount of money in the overall scheme of things. If the article I linked to is telling the full and correct story, the owners at Omega Protein should switch gears and find something else to do to make money.

On the front page of the Omega Protein website I found the following text:

More than ingredients. Ingenuity.

One small fish improves the health of animals, humans and plants. One small fish meets the nutritional needs of an industry. Who could have imagined it? Omega Protein did. For the last century, we have processed every usable aspect of that small fish to provide the industry with powerful nutritional ingredients. And while we didn’t set out to become the world’s largest producer of omega-3 fish oil and North America’s largest manufacturer of protein-rich fishmeal and organic fish solubles, we ended up doing just that. Fish by fish.

By their own admission Omega Protein didn’t set out to do what they’re doing. Now would be a great time to pursue whatever else it was they set out to do, so that they can allow the Menhaden to recover and get back to work feeding other marine life and cleaning up the water for all.

This article also appears on Grist, a website I like because they have linked to this blog from their front page.

Written by Kevin Warnock

August 13th, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Food,Opinion

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