Thursday, August 26, 2010

A week in Provence

As most of you know by now, I am French and I have to admit, it feels good especially when I am coming back from a week of vacation in my beloved Provence having spent my time talking about what we are going to do for dinner, cooking dinner and then eating dinner with the extended Family. The great piece of news was my Dad with whom I was demonstrating Spoke’s new product decided to install it.

I have taken the liberty to attach a picture of my parent’s place and you could have seen me playing with my IPad in one of those armchairs close the swimming pool if I had not taken the picture.

During this vacation, I got visited by a friend who asked me a very peculiar but also very French question: what do you think the American Entrepreneurs could learn from us European Entrepreneurs? I was a bit taken aback as I spent my time over the years explaining to European Entrepreneurs the best practices we had in the Silicon Valley and was tempted to say that we know it all having witnessed during my tenure in Silicon Valley the emergence of Google, EBay, Facebook and Yahoo… but I also felt it was a very fair question that needed some thinking before moving to something else.

One first thought is that Entrepreneurs in Europe are winning against all odds. The regulatory environment is not conducive and companies have little access to funds at each step of the way from early investment such as Angel Investing and Venture Capital to strong and healthy Financial Markets for technology companies.

A second thought is that for a technology company to be successful in Europe, it has to think international right from the beginning. Companies like Talend, MySQL, TrollTech have been successful because they were international at heart and Entrepreneurs such as Bertrand Diard or Bernard Liautaud were not worried to travel extensively and then even made the decision to move to the US.

One last thought is that Entrepreneurs in Europe recognize how important government and local authorities are for the initial success of their companies and have learned how to leverage them successfully. The initial strategic choice of Clean Technology by Germany and Denmark created innovation and successful ventures in the Wind and Solar Industry. Government, local authorities encourage innovation and enable job creation by providing funding to companies. From Grants and loans to equity investment, Local governments use the entire palette of funding possibilities, an example being OpenBravo, a leader in the Open Source ERP space, which was originally seeded by the Government of Navarre in Spain with significant amount of funding before getting funded by more traditional Venture Capitalists.

Random Spoke profile: Dana TraBue

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm a Girl Geek

I don't often think about the fact that I am the sole women in our development group. As a girl geek, I'm just accustomed to spending my days whiteboarding about Hadoop and Elastic Search with a team of guys. Over my entire career, that has pretty much been the case. It wasn't until I attended the Yahoo! Girl Geek Dinner that I recognized how isolating it is to be a woman in engineering and development. Prior to this dinner, I could not have named one other woman I knew who can jam out CSS and HTML or install Wordpress. Shocking.

The GGD was such a refreshing but also strangely odd event. I was so impressed to see demonstrations of YUI and YQL and many more of the rockin' developer tools from Yahoo!. Even Hadoop which is a central point of development here at Spoke right now was the focus in the "Innovation at Scale" presentation by SVP of Global Service Engineering for Yahoo!, Cheryl Ainoa. Every single presentation and demonstration was done by seasoned female technologists. Wow. Awe-struck is an understatement for how I reacted to this group of over 400 women who are all geeks like me.

So, the strangely odd feelings came when I started talking and asking questions of these women. It was an intangible feeling and one that I hadn't fully realized until I sat down to write this. It was odd to be talking to women. It was odd to have another woman explain a new technology to me. It was odd to NOT be the smarty-pants girl geek in the room. I was so accustomed to being the odd-woman out in these discussions that I had a strange feeling of not being so special anymore...

...whatever. That feeling wasn't as special as the girl-power feeling I had wearing my "Code Like a Girl" t-shirt into work the next day. Thanks to those impressive women, I was able to rap with much more knowledge on our latest undertaking with Hadoop.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Every Thursday myself, or another member of the engineering team, head over to the Curry Up Now truck to pick up some food for the office. (Maybe not every Thursday, we'll be there as long as Gazillion isn't having a company BBQ forcing us to go without our weekly tradition).

What is Curry Up Now, do you ask? It is food truck that travels around the San Francisco Bay Area serving up incredibly delicious, spicy, and creative Indian-fusion and Indian cuisine. They regularly serve both a deconstructed samosa (think a regular samosa turned inside out) and a tikka masala burrito with either chicken or paneer. Other items on the menu rotate on a regular basis. For instance, today I'm having the aloo parantha quesadilla, a potato stuffed flatbread filled with beef (or paneer or chicken), onions, cheese, and hot sauce.

Speaking of hot sauce, there is no hot sauce hotter than theirs. When we first starting going to Curry Up Now in April of this year, everybody wanted their chicken tikka masala burritos spicy. We were in for a surprise, it was en fuego! Slowly but surely the number of requests for spicy dwindled to just two of us, myself included. I really enjoy very spicy food when it is balanced well with other flavors and I think that Curry Up Now does a great job of this.

Enough of this blogging, time to eat!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pest Control + UI (Who Knew?)

Ok, we've finally updated our homepage. Sorry to Christine and the other bald guy who were always featured there, but it was time for you to go. Oh, and it's also time to say goodbye to the cityscape and the 4-fingered muppet-like characters littered throughout the site. It's not that we don't like you or appreciate your time on our site. It was just finally time for us to focus on what our product is really about - helping you manage your direct connections...

PS: Oh, and beware as we are still eradicating the 4-fingered muppet-ish guys from the nooks and crannies of our site. Shoot me a comment if you have a sighting.