Friday, November 30, 2007

More VC interest

Got an email last night from a CBS alum who said that his firm would like to speak with me regarding part time internship opportunities. Now that I have a few potentials for next semester, I have to think (hope?) that at least one will pan out...

Spent the day cleaning out one of our closets, moving the car, and now I'm going to go to the Sprint store and buy the Centro. My old Treo's battery is almost totally useless and the phone is looking pretty beat up as well. The question is - do I want the data plan? Part of me would like the convenience of having mobile email again, but when you don't have it, you don't really miss it that much. And you prevent yourself from getting all Crackberry (which is definitely a tendency of mine - just ask my wife :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Great plug for my startup on Consumerist!

The startup I work at,, got reviewed on! Great news for us - Consumerist is a very well-trafficked website and popular with the consumer protection crowd.

Tonight, I spent some time with a CBS alum who is off starting his second company. He sold his first company (started right out of CBS) to Factset and now him and his partner (CBS guy, too) have started a cool location based messaging service called RadiusIM. It works on all the existing IM networks and lets you see where your friends are.

Looking forward to tommorrow (Friday) - it's the first Friday in a long time that I don't really need to be anywhere. Looking forward to doing some chores around the house as well (I know, lame :)

Tommorrow night one of my pals from Cluster Y is having a birthday party uptown, which I'll probably hit later on. He's a guy who is starting a company (data backup service for laptops) while in school. I swear, not everyone at CBS is an entrepreneur...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Follies Teaser

Follies is next week, here is the teaser that the Follies folks just posted to YouTube.

This looks cool - Social Responsibility PE fund internship

These guys are looking for a CBS intern -- looks like a neat opportunity:

Main Street Resources ( is a niche private equity shop interested in launching a socially responsible private equity fund. The opportunity for one or two CBS interns is to work directly with Dan Levinson, Founder/GP, on the strategic plan for the fund and thereafter fundraising and putting out the fund.

Initial phase will involve research/conception/drafting while latter stage will involve execution. Related topics will be pursued as well - such as presenting findings at CBS, writing a paper on "How a SR CEO can live consistently at home with SR" - and lots more. One goal is to conceive of, raise and put out a cutting edge successful fund - while promoting the concept and project so as to influence thinking in this area. Team will consist of Dan and the intern(s).

In other news, had a great phone interview with a firm today, should have a followup in person next week.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pet Peeve

Question for any of you who have worked in corporate development/corp M&A roles...

Why do many companies insist on one having had i-banking or strategy consulting experience beforehand?

I admit I have not done Excel modeling on a daily basis like those who have come from the aforementioned professions, but I have done a ton since I have been in school, both in and out of class. I certainly think I could hold my own if I was doing it day in and day out, and would certainly be willing to put in any extra effort to make my Excel kung fu as good as the next guy's :)

Is there that much of a learning curve, or is this just the recruiting function at these companies using that criteria to reduce candidate volume?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Guest Blogger Kabir on Student Government

First of all, thanks John for having me on as a guest blogger. I could write about a million things but I’ll focus on one aspect of CBS life that you haven’t already spoken a lot about – student government.

Columbia has an extremely active student government (referred to as the GBA, though technically the GBA includes all students) that actually gets to make significant change at our school. I think a lot of it has to do with the structure of the GBA and a lot has to do with the leeway we are given in making decisions.

The GBA is organized on two levels. The first is that each cluster (CBS is organized into 65 people clusters) has about 10 members who act as functional leaders. In addition, there are 11 members of the executive board, who oversee various departments. (Take a look @

This structure allows for tons of student involvement and has resulted in many concrete changes to the school, including moving start times for classes from 8AM to 9AM, improvements in infrastructure, changes in food service including a new café this year, and more. One initiative I worked on as J-Term president was giving input into the number of J-Term clusters (staying at 3!). The GBA also helps fund the Happy Hours (free beer!) and other events for the student body.

- Kabir

Writing for Venturebeat

I am an avid reader of VentureBeat, a blog that covers startup companies, VC firms, and the intersection between the two. They posted last week and indicated that they are interested in taking on some part time writers. I wrote to the editor and talked to him on the phone, and now it looks like I will be freelancing for them starting mid-December! This will be a nice way for me to leverage my network and get some exposure for local NYC-based startups, as well as another way to meet more entrepreneurs and VCs. I am looking forward to it, and when I start getting published I will cross-link here so you can read more of my musings, albeit on a different blog. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Wanted to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you enjoy whatever you're doing, wherever you are doing it! I appreciate everyone keeping up with my blog and also interacting through the blog. It has been a fun experience for me and I'm looking forward to continuing it. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No Google Love

This just in...

Hi John,

We want to thank you for taking the time to interview with us on Campus for the
Product Manager - New Grad - North America position. The interview team enjoyed meeting you and were impressed with your background and accomplishments. It was a pleasure getting to know you.

We have carefully reviewed your background and experience, and though
we do not have a position that is a strong match with your qualifications at
this time, Google will be keeping your resume active in our system.

I'm definitely going to this event hosted by the Technology Business Group

This looks like a good event and very relevant to my life at the moment...

Do you have a business idea but unsure about how to build the technology?

Should business people look for a technical co-founder? Or start and then hire engineers?

Outsource the development? How? Where?

Come hear Nicolas Vandenberghe, a successful entrepreneur and founder of 4 startups, discuss his experience managing the technical aspects of a start-up.

Guest Speaker:

Nicolas Vandenberghe
Founder & CEO of
Former Entrepreneur-in-Residence at DFJ Gotham

Bidding results, no word from Google

Round 1 results are in. I got the Venture Capital Seminar taught by two partners from RRE Ventures, Applied Regression Analysis (this is purely because the prof is one of the most (in)famous at the school), Greenwald's Economics of Strategic Behavior (which usually goes for a ton of bid points but by some fluke only went for 1 point this year), and a bunch of other random stuff I bid on. However, I didn't get Security Analysis with Michael Mauboussin, which is a bummer. Such is life when you've got to bid on electives! I still have 8800 points in the bank which means I should be able to pick up something decent next round, if I need to.

Still no firm word from Google. The recruiter has been responding to my emails but it appears they still are making decisions. She thinks they'll get back to me today. :)

Also planning on meeting with an entrepreneur tonight. It's a guy in the EMBA program who is starting a digital media company. Should be interesting.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nothing from Google yet

Still no word from the Googlers on my candidacy. When I emailed the recruiter mid-week I was told decisions would be made by the end of the week. It's now the end of the week (or, the beginning of the week, depending on how you view Sundays :) Hopefully something will come over the fence here soon.

Good article by Malcolm Gladwell about 'The Talent Myth'

Check it out!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Guest Blogger Kabir

I wanted to give a heads up that Kabir, one of my J-term compadres (from Cluster Y, although he is still an OK guy ;) will be doing a guest posting.

Kabir is heavily involved with the student body at CBS and was J-term president as well. A good guy to know and I'm sure he will have a unique slant on CBS and why it is a great place to go to school. His post should be showing up in the next couple days or so...

I figured I would take this opportunity to plug one of the startups I'm working with. I've been helping them out since the summer and been having a great experience so far.

The startup is called and they allow you to record phone calls from any phone, any time, any place, without buying additional hardware or software. You can signup online and start recording calls within minutes.

It's a very useful service and has helped multiple people avoid lawsuits (he-said-she-said stuff is easy to prove when you have a recorded phone conversation backing you up). It's also useful for personal stuff - we had a customer who was trying to memorialize a voicemail message that was about to be deleted from her box. The voicemail was from a loved one who had just passed away, and so she was able to transfer it to her account where she now has permanent access. There are also tons of other uses, which I won't get into here.

Here is some recent press about the service and also something written up about us on

OK, the advertisement is over :) But I would encourage you to check out the service if you have a chance. You can get your 1st 15 minutes of recording free if you register with the code 15FREE.

Thanks for listening and back to your regularly scheduled business school related programming. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Global Social Venture Competition

Against my better judgement, and against my vow to myself not to overload next semester, I am planning on entering the Global Social Venture Competition. I have a pretty good idea that I don't think anyone has executed on yet, so I figure, what the hell, let's give it a shot. I am trying to get my clustermate who I worked with on the Outrageous Business Plan competition to work on it with me. If not I think I am going to ask some of my peeps in Launching New Ventures if they'd like to team up. I need to get an exec summary in sometime in January and then the full plan in February.

I skipped Happy Hour tonight...I have been skipping it a fair amount this semester. It's funny, I would hardly be caught dead last year missing a Happy Hour, and now I don't bat an eye when I skip. This weekend, however, there are two J-term b-day parties, so I am going to get my dose of CBS socialization regardless :)

Oh yeah, I have a ton of work to do this weekend, too (shocker)...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

MBA Poker Championship in Vegas

This sounds kind of cool. Maybe some of the J-term poker players (including me) will give this a shot...

The 2008 MBA Poker Championship in Las Vegas will be held from January 18th to the 20th at Caesar's Palace.

Hundreds of MBA students from the country's top schools compete annually in the event for over $150,000 in cash and prizes. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Alzheimer's Association.

The tournament organizers use the event both to market to the MBA demographic and to recruit MBA students. Submission of a resume is required during the registration process.

Beyond interested poker players, students interested in career opportunities with Harrah's and other leaders in the hospitality industry should consider joining us as well. Recruiters will be on hand during the weekend.

A growing number of us are planning on going. Please let me know if you're interested in joining us. For one, we can see about negotiating a group discount with a hotel.

For more information on the 2008 event and to register, click here:

Here's a rundown of the 2006 event:

GOOG update

So tonight I received an email from Google asking me to send in various transcripts, an NDA, and my GMAT score. But the email didn't say 'congrats, you've made it to 2nd round interviews'. I don't know what to make of it but it's probably a good thing, no? :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Don't worry (or, J-term jobs)

Over the past couple of weeks the job search results of my classmates have been trickling in, and by and large they are quite positive. The guys who wanted i-Banking jobs have got them. And no, they didn't work in i-banking before, and they didn't have internships. They did have to work a bit harder since they didn't have a summer internship with a bank to help get their foot in the door, but they all figured out how to make it work. Now that I am seeing our J-term in action, I am confident in saying that folks should not have problems getting into banking if they really want to do it and put in the time on networking, informationals, and interviewing. Haven't heard as much about consulting but I will keep everyone posted (although one guy picked up a McKinsey offer - he was in consulting before school, but not w/McKinsey).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Google Interview Debrief

Just finished my Google interview. I have to say, I was impressed. I spoke with two folks - one was a product manager who focuses on social networking and the other was a product management lead.

In the first interview, I brainstormed about features I'd like to incorporate into Blogger, and also what I'd do to improve Twittr. I also spent some time walking through a couple of experiences in my resume. And I got to pontificate on my idea about Google starting a content distribution service to compete with Akamai and Limelight.

In the second interview, we started by talking about an algorithm that would analyze email and be able to tell the strength and type of social connection between the sender and receipients. I also got to flex a bit of my VMware muscle and talk about the threats and opportunities that VMware presented to a handful of companies, namely Microsoft, Google, and Apple.

All in all, I think it went well and I felt like there was definitely a good rapport with the people I spoke with. They say they'll tell me in the next couple of weeks if I get the invite to the Googleplex in Mountain View.

This is neat and says alot about our community and administration

This just came through on email...

Once again, Dean Hubbard and his family are opening their home to a group of students for a meal on Friday, November 23rd, the day after Thanksgiving, from 1:30 – 3:30 pm. We are especially interested in hosting students who are unable to travel home for the holiday, although the invitation is open to all students. There are a limited number of seats for this event; each student who registers may register for her/himself and one guest.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Health Care Electives for 2008

This was emailed to CBS students recently.

Last year, the Health Care and Pharmaceutical Management Program was created to provide Columbia MBA students with a "real world" understanding of the health care industry through innovative course offerings and learning/networking opportunities with industry leaders. In 2007-08 five health care electives are being offered, comprising an integrated "matrix" of functional disciplines (strategy/management, economics, finance, marketing, and operations) within multiple health care sectors (pharmaceuticals/ biotechnology, medical devices, health care services), studied from the perspectives of industry executives and investors (PE/ VC firms). Each course uses seasoned industry practitioners as guest speakers (15-20 in the aggregate).

These complementary courses will be useful for students not only interested in careers in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, devices, and health services, but also management consulting, investment banking, equity research, venture capital, private equity, and investment management given the large and growing healthcare practices of such firms.

In spring 2008, there will be four half-term healthcare electives. As shown below, dates and times of these courses have been aligned to facilitate student scheduling:

A-Term (M-W 12:30-2pm):

Prof. Cramer, director of the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program, will teach Strategy and Competition in Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, which was first offered this past spring. It provides a critical and timely analysis of the key strategic, organizational, and competitive opportunities and challenges confronting the pharma/ biotech sector.

B-Term (M-W 12:30-2pm):

Prof. Wosinska (visiting from the Harvard Business School) will teach Health Care Marketing. This course (which is complementary to Prof. Cramer's pharma/ biotech strategy course) focuses on strategies pertaining to the marketing of pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices including such areas as new product introduction and adoption, branding, value pricing, customer segmentation strategies, market research, advertising and promotion, and sales force role and design.

A-Term (M-W 10:45am-12:15pm):

Prof. Lichtenberg will teach Economics of Health Care and Pharmaceuticals, which is a restructured course from prior years focused on pricing and reimbursement of drugs, vaccines, devices, and hospital services, economics of biomedical research, and cost-benefit analyses employed by health care payers and consumers.

B-Term (M-W 10:45am–12:15pm):

Prof. Cramer will teach Health Care Investment and Dealmaking which analyzes the health care industry from the perspectives of venture capital and private equity firms investing in life sciences, devices, and health services, and health care entrepreneurs, including strategies to grow business franchises through partnering, licensing and mergers & acquisitions.

Attached please find more detailed descriptions of the health care course electives for spring 2008. If you have any questions on the health care curriculum, please contact Prof. Cramer, Director of the Health Care and Pharmaceutical Management Program at or 212.854.2327.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Peer Advising

Peer advisors are the current students who spend the entire orientation period with the 1st year incoming class and help them get acclimated to the school. I have not been a peer advisor, but everyone I have spoken to who has done it says it was an awesome experience. In case you are curious, here is a link to the peer advising application. No, you can't apply until you're actually enrolled at CBS, so please don't try :)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I-banking offers rolling in, Fall Ball

I-banking offers are rolling in for J-termers! One of my classmates had 3 offers to choose from, and ultimately decided to go to UBS. The other classmate has two offers and is trying to figure out which one to take. Not bad, eh?! I was very excited for them when I heard.

Last night was Fall Ball. Think of it like a prom, only for b-schoolers. There are two of these events per year (Fall Ball and Spring Fling) and apparently Fall Ball is the most heavily attended. My guess is that about 500 people were there. The event was held at this great venue Capitale, which is downtown on Bowery. I gotta say, I wasn't mad at the organizers for throwing the party a $6 cab ride from my apartment in the East Village :) The event was really well done, food was decent, open bar of top shelf liquor, and DJ was quite good too. And you know I am picky about DJs...

We had a big J-term turnout and our cluster actually had the highest number of tickets presold out of all the 2nd year clusters. Now that is cluster love! Lots of people there who don't hit Happy Hours as much so it was a good way to get caught up with people I haven't seen in a while.

Also, I have to give a big shout-out to one of my fellow Cluster Xers who told me she reads me blog. Big ups Meha!!!!