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I’m running another LESANZ “Innovators Pitch Night” at IBM on 31st July. This is to showcasing 7 investor-ready entrepreneurs to the investment, startup and commercialisation networks in Perth.

Please help me get the word out.  I am filtering and coaching pitches this week so still open for submissions from investor-ready startups.

With the event oversubscribed last year we will be limiting numbers and there is a cost to cover catering so please register early to ensure a place.

Venue: IBM West Perth, 31st July from 5:15pm – 8:30pm
Judging Panel: Larry Lopez, Ray Hart, Dr Marcus Tan
Moderator: Graeme Speak
Full Details Here: http://bit.ly/162eyQX

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I wanted to post this as a pin-up or reminder for myself of some really high value insights of one of Silicon Valley’s most successful entrepreneurs. This was a summary of a Ryan Mac’s summary from the lecture series he did at Stanford.

http://t.co/mwvy7BLqu5 #ForbesGreatestHits

1. Globalization is not (all there is to) progress.

There is no innovation going from from 1 to n and copying something somebody else has done. To be great, you have to do something new and important. All great companies went from 0 to 1. They solved a problem in a unique way.

2. It is better to be right than to be contrarian.

Value tends to be hidden. The key question is: What important truth do very few people agree with you on? The business version of this is: What valuable company is nobody building? A certain degree of contrarianism is embedded in these questions. Wrestling with them can lead to important truths.

3. Secrets exist.

They are discoverable.

4. Capitalism and competition are antonyms, not synonyms.

Competition in practice it is destructive and should be avoided. Better to think about how to run away from the fighting and build a monopoly business instead.

5. People lie.

We overlook the importance of sales and distribution. Betting distribution right is crucial; most companies fail because of distribution problems, not technology problems. One must understand the theatre of sales.

6. Much of life is a power law.

Things are (not) normally distributed but follow a power-law distribution, which can be counter-intuitive and uncomfortable. Some companies succeed wildly. Most fail and go to zero. Finding the company that falls on the right tail of the distribution is absolutely crucial.

7. A bad plan is better than no plan. A good plan is even better.

Take a meaningful swing at something big. Playing it safe has serious costs and may not be as safe as it is perceived to be. You must have a plan. Without it you are resigning your fate to chance.

8. Foundations matter.

Thiel’s Law: A startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed. Founding mistakes will amplify and destroy companies from within. Think carefully about keeping people’s motivations and incentives aligned.

9. Founders are different.

Founders are at the extremes on both ends: they are extreme insiders and extreme outsiders, disagreeable and charismatic, infamous and famous.

10. Find a frontier and go for it.

Quoting from Ryan Mac
” There is something importantly singular about each new thing. There is a mini singularity whenever you start a company or make a key life decision. In a very real sense, the life of every person is a singularity.

The obvious question is what you should do with your singularity. The obvious answer, unfortunately, has been to follow the well-trodden path. You are constantly encouraged to play it safe and be conventional. The future, we are told, is just probabilities and statistics. You are a statistic.

But the obvious answer is wrong. That is selling yourself short. There are still many large white spaces on the map of human knowledge. You can go discover them. So do it. Get out there and fill in the blank spaces. Every single moment is a possibility to go to these new places and explore them.

There is perhaps no specific time that is necessarily right to start your company or start your life. But some times and some moments seem more auspicious than others. Now is such a moment. If we don’t take charge and usher in the future—if you don’t take charge of your life—there is the sense that no one else will.”

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My team has just completed an 18 month project to upgrade the infrastructure hosting GoPC. The proof of the pudding was this weekend when we executed a major upgrade to the Zimbra email system. We had been expecting an outage of 2-3 days potentially to process the many millions of files in the system. Physical hardware is always the limitation.

The team has built a customised infrastructure based on several new cutting edge technologies. I was introducted to Infiniband through the iVEC supercomputing facility and wondered whether this might work for us. It runs at 40 Gigabit and has much more efficient switching than Ethernet. To put this in perspective each server cable is now equivalent to 40 Ethernet cables in the old system and we have installed two cables into each storage array.

We then starting experimenting with Ceph, a new cutting edge technology which is a distributed object store and file system designed to provide excellent performance, reliability and scalability. It supports petabyte and even exabyte scale. The team introduced banks of ultra-fast Solid State Disks to the storage arrays and put large RAM disks in front of these. There were initially a lot of issues with stability but some weeks later the system was tuned. The new SSD’s are 10x faster than the previous generation we implemented last upgrade.

The system now really flys. On one benchmarket test, not intended to be representative of a real world situation, we clocked 270,000 input/output operations per second sustained over 8 hours. It is ideally tuned for database transaction processing.

The Zimbra upgrade process was the acid test. The first process which took over 12 hours last weekend on the old infrastructure took just 15 minutes, (45x faster). We then processed the remainder of the upgrade across all mailstores and instead of taking 2-3 days it was completed in under 3 hours.

I’m hugely relieved, impressed and energised. My team, led by Chris, is absolutely first class and I rate him as a genius.

So the constraints which have been holding us back are now gone. We are running at full speed and readying to release the new GoPC Rainmaker project in the next few weeks. Rainmaker is a total new innovation in the way cloud computing can be done. We will be the first to market with this new approach to cloud computing. More to be said about that next time.

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A quick acknowledgement to everyone who helped run this evening.

It was an amazing success. We told the VC’s to be gentle and I think next time we should just let them be themselves.

It was jammed to the rafters, standing room only and with many people having to watch from outside the doors. Well over 100 attendees plus judges, pitching teams and organisors.

Special thanks to Kris Borgraeve for volunteering to MC the event. To Barry Winwood for helping manage the flow and ensuring everyone’s pitch deck was ready to go. To IBM for agreeing to host the event within their offices.

I’ll look at doing another one of these for LESANZ in 12 months time.


Recently our company Chairman introduced me to His Excellency Jan Mikolaj, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic and Education Minister.  He was was on a trade mission to Silicon Valley and I had 30 minutes to pitch why the GoPC.net Cloud should be rolled out across Slovakia’s schools and universities.

He explained that Slovakia is dominated by Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft and the meeting concluded with his hardest question which was the most satisfying to answer:  “How can GoPC compete against Microsoft’s huge discounts”.

I explained that “Even if Microsoft provide their software completely free it is still far cheaper to use GoPC.net because (i) the cost of deploying is so small compared to a normal PC deployment, (ii) it recycles existing PC hardware and eliminates file servers; (iii) the support costs after implementation are minimal”.  He understood, liked it and next introduced me to his entourage of advisors.

Jan Mikaloj speaks perfect English and his son studies at the University of Sydney.  It was incredible to pitch GoPC.net at a national level for use throughout a small European nation.   This meeting introduced us into Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto with direct involvement from HP’s Director responsible for European government sales.   From our perspective HP is still trying to work out how to be a cloud provider but we established that GoPC is complementary technology for HP.

Graeme Speak
CEO/Founder   GoPC.net

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I have just accepted a new position as Secretary of eGroup.asn.au.   eGroup is a cooperative of Internet entrepreneurs in Western Australia.

The creative energy and ideas flowing from the new committee are really exciting and it is exactly what one hopes for when people talk about finding “synergy”.

We have secured a presentation for this months meeting by Kris Borgraeve, a TV news journalist who now applies his craft to Internet. He is an expert on the production and application of professional multi-media content for the Internet.   I have suggested all eGroup members leverage this opportunity to invite other  Internet entrepreneurs to this event.  I have used Kris to produce a number of articles for my projects and his work is the best in this field.  Nothing has more impact for a website that a professional crafted, short-n-punchy high-definition video with a balanced counterpoint from an independent news journalist.  This is an event not to be missed.

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I was just interviewed by a business journalist for a story on the rapid growth of data centres. In my opinion he was missing the point.

It is not about investment in data centres but about density of compute power and the software running on it. The last batch of servers we purchased for GoPC.net and Central Data Systems are a quantum more powerful than the previous generation only 2 year ago. A typical machine has 256 GB – 512 GB of RAM and 36 – 48 CPU cores within just 2 rack units (9 cm). We shrank 5 racks of servers and filled only part of one of these machines. We also set up 100 TB of storage in 4 rack units.  We will expand to over 1 petabyte of storage and with very high IOPS (input/output operations which are critical to service high performance systems).

Whilst some are investing to build data centres I believe they are missing the mark. It is those who control the compute cloud who really hold the market opportunity. This is all about the technology, both the Intellectual Property and knowhow.  It is not about investing in airconditioned rooms and selling a square metre of floor space any longer.

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I have just ticked off the last and only real entry that has even been on my bucket list. It has been sitting there waiting a long time – since I was 16 years old and the boys who lived over the road sailed their little VJ skiff across 19km of open ocean one morning from our coastline to Rottnest Island.

On 18th December 2011, I did an epic kitesurf race across the same 19km of open ocean from Rottnest Island to Leighton Beach Fremantle.  To add some spice these waters really are shark infested with white pointers, tiger and bull sharks. Three people were tragicaly killed in separate shark attacks on our local coastline at at Rottnest in October so these are not waters I feel particularly comfortable in.  But this was my dream since taking up kitesurfing years ago.  With 100 starters and very light winds, nobody was working harder than I was to keep generating power from the kite and keep my board alfoat.  I had the smallest kite in the fleet, an 8m Airrush Lithium.  I was expecting it to pick up to 25-30 knotts but it barely reached 15, boardline for even keeping a kite in the air.

It was an incredible event and so well organised by WAKSA (Western Australian Kitesurfing Association) with sponsorship by RedBull.   I discovered that those ships we see sitting on horizon half way to Rottnest are in fact only 1/4 of the distance across. It is a very long way!  From Rottnest you can barely see them at all.



100 kitesurfers on Rottnest Island start to race the 19km of open ocean to the mainland


I am very proud that I made the whole distance.  At one stage it looked like I could not avoid one of the large ships who’s wind shadow would have ended my race.  I managed to just generate enough lift to cross over in front of its nose.  At that point 3/4 of the distance done, I knew I could finish the race and in fact the seabreeze picked up a couple of notches on the last 3km from shore.


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For several years I’ve read the marketing spin put out by company’s  about their cloud offering being the worlds first Online PC, Virtual PC or such.

The fact is that many company’s have been doing this for almost 2 decades.  We’ve certainly been doing it since 1995 and we were not the first.   Online Microsoft PC desktops became core Microsoft in 1997 when they purchased the rights to Citrix technology and re-branded it as Microsoft Terminal Server.  It’s definitely not new.

The emerging cloud platform industry is actually leapfrogging this model now.

I’m well aware of the market adoption of virtualization technologies like VMWare, Xen, KVM, et al, but the future is definitely not highly scalable if you’re going to virtualize a full PC desktop or server environment for every individual user.  That only perpetuates the old paradigm that a user must have a normal full PC operating system virtualized in a data centre.  At least 95% of the code will never be used and there is no shared resources such as memory or CPU.   It becomes impractical to run even 20 concurrent active users on a single CPU server.

The future of cloud platforms hosting Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) is that they have to split up individual user processes and deliver these as services, not fully virtualized Microsoft operating systems.   The reward for splitting these into individual service components is that it can then scale perhaps 100x more than if just using standard virtualization.  That becomes very exciting.   This models in part the old mainframe style of sharing an individual program and memory space with multiple users.   It is in fact the only way that things can truly be scaled significantly.   It is not only possible to do this, the mainframe world and supercomputing world have developed exactly this over many decades.

We refer to is as a Para-Virtualized environments being that a Users total environment and individual running programs may be distributed across an array of servers and then delivered as one combined solution.

So if a vendor claims to have created the Worlds First Online PC then it is just sales talk.    Virtualizing the PC operating system that you already use is really not going to change the world and instead just perpetuates an out-of-date model.

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There has been an exponential explosion in the term “cloud computing”.  Today it is so overused that its really just representative of the entire IT industry.   But where did it suddenly get traction?

On 28th Feb 2008 a team of 7 journalists took to the stage at the Westin St Francis Hotel in San Francisco.  They hated the term SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and challenged the 500 industry delegates at the conference to brainstorm for a better alternative.  “Cloud Computing” was just one of a dozen terms voted on but there was no consensus.

It was however a term we had used for several years internally and I decided to adopt it for our owncompany.  During the next 4 months I put 2x of our staff on dominating this name space across the Internet.  It wasn’t hard to do as nobody was using the term.   I’m not sure we did a great job of it but by June 2008, my Co-Director Aidan Montague thought I had made a mistake and had wasted precious time.  Hardly anybody was  searching on the term “cloud computing”.  He thought I had made a wrong call.

But there had been some mild adoption of the term in some circles.  In June 2008 we saw the first “cloud computing” conference hosted by VLAB at Stanford University.  As I was driving down 101 on the way to Stanford  I had a call from a journalist from the West Australian Newspaper asking me what was cloud computing.   Then over the next 2 months the growth in the term became exponential.  I returned to Australia briefly and heard the News Radio do a 50 minute special on Cloud Computing.  By September every major in the IT industry had commented or stated they also had a Cloud Strategy.  Yet speak to most industry people and they really had little understanding of what the term meant.

I could see we were well ahead of the curve because we had used virtualization extensively in various forms for 8 years, virtualizing the desktop, virtualizing the server, and virtualizing the corporate network within the cloud.  Our issue had always been that nobody understood what we were talking about or it simply had no credibility.  Suddenly this all turning 180 degrees overnight.    I could see the rate in uptake of the term was growing so rapidly that within a few months it would become overused and meaningless.  And this is exactly what happened.  We were early in our decision to differentiate ourselves quickly and so morphed our language into representing GoPC.net as a Cloud Platform.

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit in Oct 2008.   General Electric announced they were moving to a cloud solution.  Analysts observed the GFC would probably drive adoption of Cloud as businesses looked for cheaper solutions.  The Cloud, it was said, would be the big winner.

By Christmas 2008, every significant IT organization in the world had a Cloud Computing strategy, and this now included Microsoft.

It was truly amazing to watch.   It was like being in a land grab during a gold rush.  I felt like we had been the first ones to peg our claim but talking about cloud computing then had very few listeners.  Within months, what we had been creating for years, had suddenly become mainstream and very credible.  It had become the main thrust of the entire IT industry.

Today, May 2010, it is coming up to 2 years since the Clouds “Big Bang” explosion began.   It is still creating a new universe and this is changing everything within our $1 trillion industry.   Analysts like Gartner predict the new industry will be $167 billion by 2012.  Hosted Virtual Desktops will be a $65.7 billion industry by 2013.  The numbers are staggering.  It’s a total disruption to the existing supply chains and support channels that make up the bulk of our industry.   I’m comfortable saying that GoPC.net will be part of this.  We’re on a rising tide and we have built an incredibly resilient technology platform that will keep evolving at the front edge of cloud innovation.  We simply have to keep adopting the best of the best technology coming available.   The Big Bang sweeping change throughout the IT  industry will be difficult because people resist change, but there are new opportunities opening everywhere as well.

More about those opportunities in my following posts.

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