2012 October 17
Now, on with the continuing adventures of the California Trip. I’m kind of rushed this evening (it’s the last Friday of 2012… and the world didn’t end…) so I’m only covering 2 days.
Mountain View – Mikael Lubansky, PhD
O.k., let’s set the scene a little. It’s about 9pm on Wednesday night in Mountain View. Every bar and restaurant is packed with the young, (wealthy) and trendy folks of this Silicon Valley bedroom community. We’re two miles from NASA Ames Research Center, eight miles from Stanford University and nine miles from the epicenter of Venture Capital – Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park. Get the picture? It’s kind of busy, but busy with a certain kind of technoratti / digital elite / hacker / slacker / retired-young-and-looking-for-a-way-to-stop-being-bored.
In other words, this is not really my typical hang-out.
I’m here to meet a friend of a friend; and I know very little about him. I am unprepared.
He’s a former Soviet Union guy. And at times I can’t tell whether he’s a scientist, military, or secret police… or perhaps all three blur together in this man. I’m not kidding.
He’s fascinating. His bursts of anger and distain for all sorts of political systems is both endearing and a little unnerving. He did not fare well when the USSR collapsed – and he’s very bitter.
We are meeting because my friend tells me that he’s got a nanotechnology for batteries and super-capacitors. He describes it in very very broad terms, so that I cannot possibly copy it (but this also means that I cannot verify whether he is a crackpot or a genius). He claims that with his super-capacitor he could ‘fill-up’ in San Fanscico, drive to New York, and ‘run out of juice’ on the return trip… ‘somewhere around Kansas.’
What I’m left with is this – IF we could get a hazardous materials handling license, and develop a small laboratory for about $20k (he says he has most of the equipment in his garage already), then he guarantees me that he can develop the system…
He pays for dinner / drinks and I leave less enlightened than I was when I showed up… But it was an entertaining meeting.
I’m convinced that he is convinced that he has something real… but that’s not the same thing as me saying that I am convinced he has something real… I’m unconvinced. Needless to say, he did not pry the money from me. But I don’t want to dismiss him. My gut says that there is something here. I’m gonna dig a little more. I might pursue this once I have a little space cash. Right now, while I’m spending the money you have entrusted to me, there is no way I’ll part with that much cash on a hunch. No way.
2012 October 18 Mountain View – Hacker Dojo – Arman Papazian, PhD
I had a very fun event at Hacker Dojo. Hacker Dojo was one of the very early ‘maker spaces’ that have been popping up all over the place. Some of my friends are founding members. It’s a terrific environment for creativity and building. I was impressed.
The event that we held had almost a dozen people – about half were friends and the other half were fans of the project.
It was great because I had never met my friends in person. We’d talked on the phone and worked together on various space projects, one of them is on my Board of Advisors, but we had never met in person… That was great. Arman recently gave a very interesting talk in the Space Show, and years ago he helped create the stock exchange in Dubai (later bought by the NASDAQ).
As for the fans, I’m grateful that they came. It’s especially fun meeting some of the folks that backed this campaign.
We broke the evening up into parts. The first half we held ‘online’. We are testing a technology called StartMeeting that we are considering using for our Group Chats. (I am as-yet-unconvinced that this is the right tool for the job… but don’t yet have a better solution.) So we had another dozen on the ‘net and I gave a short presentation and answered questions.
Honestly, it wasn’t my best performance because I was torn between trying to connect with my face-to-face audience, and with my online community. I personally don’t think I did either very well. That said, folks seemed to like it.
Once the online version was over, it was time to relax and that gave me a chance to get to know the folks in a more personal and direct way. And we had beer… That was much better.
Take care, Mjl Michael Laine President, LiftPort Group
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