is Bought by Yahoo

One of the great things about working for eBay has been all of the great people that you meet and work with. Leonard Speiser was one of the great product managers I had a chance to learn from at eBay, and now his company,, has been acquired by Yahoo.

Here is the note on the Bix website from Michael Speiser, who I think does a nice job explaining why they are excited about the deal.

If you haven’t tried, it’s a fun site where anyone can set up contests that people vote on. It makes it fairly easy for people to create profiles, and then upload video or pictures related to the contest. It’s like American Idol for everyone. A relatively simple idea, but executed well, and no doubt a very addictive application to add to the Yahoo family. Contests are a great excitement driver, and there is no doubt that Yahoo will try to leverage Bix with large clients who are looking to generate buzz.

One of the most interesting things about working in Silicon Valley is how quickly people can move around and do new and wonderful things. It’s part of the culture – the assumption that everything and everyone will keep moving and changing.

It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I joined eBay, and that I stopped by for some advice and help from Leonard, one of the Senior Product Managers. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that after five years, Leonard decided to go off an pursue a startup.

As a funny anecdote, we had a roast for Leonard at his going away party.  Everyone had these masks made of Leonard’s face, propped up on rulers.  I actually auctioned one off on, got it to be the “Most Watched” item on all of eBay, and ended up making $400 from Golden Palace Casino to fund a going away present for Leonard (an engraved iPod).

It’s also a great feeling to see friends go off and be successful like this. There is no better way to start the day than to open the newspaper and see good news like this.

So, congratulations to Leonard and the team.

The Death of Economist Milton Friedman

This is very strange and sad.

On November 5th, I wrote my initial post about Milton Friedman, based on a San Jose Mercury News interview I read that weekend. In it, Friedman discusses his thoughts on education, health care, and Iraq.

Milton Friedman has now passed away today, eleven days later. There is really nice coverage of his death on the Business Week website. A sample:

More than anyone else, Milton Friedman was responsible for challenging the worldview of British economist John Maynard Keynes, who believed in the power of government to guide and stimulate economic growth. As an alternative to Keynesianism, he put forth a more laissez-faire philosophy known as monetarism—the doctrine that the best thing the government can do is supply the economy with the money it needs and stand aside.

Friedman blamed inflation on tinkering by governments and central banks. Along with Edmund Phelps of Columbia University, who won the 2006 Nobel prize, Friedman showed that central banks can’t buy permanently lower unemployment with slightly higher inflation. Wrote Friedman: “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon, in the sense that it cannot occur without a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.”

One of the things I learned from responses to my original post is that far more people disagreed with Milton Friedman than who had actually read or understood his work. I think I’m going to re-read some of the material I have on my shelf from him this weekend.

Paul Kedrosky’s comments on his blog sum up my feelings as well:

Whatever your views on Friedman’s economics and/or politics, he was a giant of an intellectual figure, a provocative, thoughtful, and maddening figure, about whom the least you can say is that his influence and reputation will outlive all of us.

I want to take this opportunity to just say thank you to Mr. Friedman for his contributions to my understanding of economics.

Intel Launches Quad Core Xeon & I Want an 8-Core Mac Pro

Announcement from Intel yesterday on the availability of the new Quad Core Xeon chips:

Intel Launches Quad Core Xeon

On October 26, Apple Insider ran a piece convinced that Apple would move the Mac Pro to the 4-core Xeon “Clovertown” chips almost immediately.  I have to admit, believe it or not, while I have a dual-2.5 Ghz PowerMac G5, as I play with the new Intel-based Macs, I’m starting to get a lot of processor envy.  My photo library is now approximately 50GB and 30,000 shots.  With an average image size of 3-8MB, I can really feel the increased speed of the current Mac Pro when I play with them at the Apple Store.

I found this article on AnandTech where they actually replaced the current dual-core Xeon’s in a Mac Pro with the new chip, giving them 8 cores in their Mac Pro.

I have to admit – when Apple announced the Intel transition, I thought it had a lot more to do with marketing than strategy.  What better way to neutralize negative comparisons with PC hardware than to coopt the platform and let software be the differentiator.  However, I definitely underestimated how Apple would leverage the Intel pipeline to produce some really dazzling machines, at dazzling price points.  I know several people who have finally decided to get a Mac, and it was the price point of the Mac Pro vs. Dell that pushed them over the edge… I guess people forgot how much the PC manufacturers still like to squeeze margins out of the high end.

So, in case you are wondering, this makes another great holiday gift idea for me… I’d love an 8-core Mac Pro, if you could.  Thanks.