Startup Camp Starts Up

It started as an idea blogged by two guys and turned into an awesome event at Palo Alto based Vysr, where nearly two dozen aspiring entrepreneurs showed up to share ideas, learn, and teach. Startup folks from as far as Australia unconferenced with bloggers, media folks, and angel investors and angel groups about a variety of topics, such as scaling on a dime, finding angel investors, and pitching a deal. We even had the pleasure of meeting a fifteen year old entrepreneur behind Teens in Tech. The most oft-recurring themes of course were bootstrapping (discussion lead by Mukund Mohan), and angel funding (discussion lead by MR Rangaswami of Sand Hill Partners, Guda of Vysr, and Mark Balabanian of Koders). Between participating in a few sessions, I managed to snap a few photos, which can be found here.

Since the majority of sessions and the preponderance of collective interest were focused around angel funding (post-seed), I put together a 14-point list of learnings for entrepreneurs looking to pitch angel investors:

1. Relationships are a discussion starter. Get to know people with personal relationships to angels, and approach angels through those people. M.R. notes he’s never funded anyone outside his network in 11 years of investing.

2. Mind the basics. M.R. and Mark look for a clear value proposition which stands out.

3. Lose the Hockey Stick. The market size looking big is unimportant, as everyone who pitches investors has a habit of putting up impressive looking “hockey stick” graphs of how the total market is set to explode. Everyone can project a big market – what those kinds of graphs do is make your audience cynical. Savvy pitchmeisters specifically talk about total addressable market rather than total market size, which is received as more realistic.

4. Parallelism. Make sure your personal resume supports what you’re looking to do – investors are investing more in people than in ideas, and they want to know you’re not new at what you want to do.

5. Chemistry. The personality and chemistry is important. An investor’s involvement doesn’t end at funding, and they will be looking for people they can comfortably work with over the next 3-4 years time. Investors will sometimes provide a helpful “kick in the rear” and are keen on people who respond positively and decisively to it.

6. Demonstrate incremental success. They will also look into whether the person makes his commitments over a 3-4 month cycle -about as long as it takes to fund a deal. Even a stray comment can be construed as a milestone. Many a pitch has been blown off by a ballyhooed “we’re about to close a deal with Facebook, etc” pitch which never came to pass. If you’re working on meeting a milestone, alert investors to it only after it’s a sure thing, which make it appear you’re executing effectively.

7. Develop your story slowly. This may sound inscrutable but MR and Mark advise sandbagging to some degree. Giddy entrepreneurs usually make the mistake of showing all their cards as quickly as possible. A more effective strategy is to develop the story during the close process to maintain investor interest in your idea. It’s also important to maintain consistency. If the investor feels like they are being pitched a plan to be followed with a backup plan, then they will get cold feet.

8. Quit your job. Investors will be skittish about funding a startup in which none of the founders are working it full time. Said differently, they are looking for entrepreneurs willing to dive into their ideas without reservations.

9. Teamwork beats heroes. All else being equal, a founding team with well segmented duties will be more attractive to a single founder. While single founders do get funded, an angel will likely inquire why an idea is likely to be fruitful if a founder can’t convince others to join him or her.

10. Keep it real. Investors wade through many pitches and will mentally discount hyperbole with nary a thought. Do not pitch divine inspiration or perfection -be open about weaknesses you’ve identified and have a plan to deal with them.

11. Align interest with involvement. Pitching an angel based solely on the numbers is hubris; there are simply too many unknowns. Make sure to pitch to investors who are interested in your market. For instance, if you’re starting up a social network for soccer fans, then find angels who are soccer fans.

12. Advisory boards. Advisory boards are effective leverage: you pay people in stock and benefit from influencers who will talk about your idea to everyone they know. Adding an adviser is also a great way to mitigate risk of disinterest – advisers who do not want to be involved are usually removed quietly, while board members can not be removed to easily. Mark specifically notes that an adviser who is proficient in marketing wizardry is particularly important, since founding teams are usually weak at promotional savvy.

13. You Have No Secrets. Every angel or VC talks to every single other angel and VC. There’s no secrecy here so you have to pitch the idea intelligently and make sure that you retain value.

14. Put Everything on Paper. Many an internal founder power struggle has doomed a startup to failure. Since clairvoyance isn ot part of the business plan, preparedness has to be. Investors will feel more comfortable with a founding team defining their core competencies and their ownership stakes on paper, along with vesting schedules to each founder providing incentives towards continuity. That last thing an investor wants to see if half the team bail with full vesting in hand shortly after funding.

Thanks again to everyone who came and made the event a success. I look forward to the next such event; we’re hoping to put another one together sometime after the summer. Please drop me a line or comment below if you’re game!

General and contact info on Startupcamp:

Wiki: http://barcamp.org/StartupLegalandFinanceBootcamp

Twitter stream: www.twitter.com/startupcamp

Email: startupcamppaloalto@gmail.com

Global Weirding

I took a look over at Stowe Boyd’s blog today after chatting it up with him this weekend, and I found a featured post which I missed on the first go around: “Global Weirding“. The term was brought to the mainstream by Thomas Friedman, who gets a whole lot of coverage for writing about globalization, despite the fact this guy knows a lot more about it. But I digress: the the term is certain a far better marketing catch-all than the flaccid euphamism “climate change” or the tropical vacation image-inducing “global warming”. To quote Friedman:

“And sweet-sounding “global warming” doesn’t really capture what’s likely to happen. I prefer the term “global weirding,” coined by Hunter Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, because the rise in average global temperature is going to lead to all sorts of crazy things — from hotter heat spells and droughts in some places, to colder cold spells and more violent storms, more intense flooding, forest firesand species loss in other places.”

Like Stowe, I’m also wondering why there isn’t rioting on the streets at the current administration’s denialist policy stance. He believes milquetoast marketing is to blame, which I agree with. I also think the enormity of the problem is keeping people on the sidelines. There’s a perception (at least in mainstream America) that there is significant pain in switching the way we produce and consume energy, with very little added benefit. What I love about the term climate weirding is the connotation that doing nothing is inherently the riskiest and most painful proposition.

Needless to say, you’ll be seeing this term on this blog a lot from now on, and I hope you’ll use “Global Weirding” in your writings and dialogue as well.

Techset BBQ Weekend

Many of the weberatti converged on the Techset BBQ hosted by Brian Solis, co-author of Now is Gone and principal at Future Works. This was a bit of a SXSWi reboot, where the only agenda item was keeping up on friendships old and new, and getting another taste of Austin’s Salt Lick (which was a real treat for me, since I’m a Longhorn). Below are a few pics, more available here.

Brian and Wendy Solis:

My favorite picture of the whole day:

Lingling and I were able to meet lifehacker Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-hour Work Week

Putting People in Software

Those of you following this blog have probably noticed a dearth of posts about Socialtext. If you’ve followed Ross Mayfield, Techcrunch and Mashable this morning, you now know why – Socialtext is putting people into wikis. I’ve been itching to talk about this, as has my associate Scott Schnaars, who put together a succinct description of both products launched today. ZDnet writer D.A. Howlett put together the most comprehensive view of the Socialtext People strategy I’ve seen in the media thus far.

The products we’re launching today are “Socialtext People” and “Socialtext Dashboards”

Socialtext Dashboards provide a top level summary view of knowledge both external and internal to the organization. The dashboards provides a widget driven, netvibes-like interface providing an easily accessible feed to conversation streams such as blogs, twitter feeds, and other social objects.

Socialtext People is social networking built for enterprise use. Socialtext now provides people pages atop the wiki environment, allowing you to see a person’s entire conversation ecosystem: blogs posts, twitter tweets, wiki posts, and feeds the person reads. Adam Ostrow describes it as “”business-ish Facebook”, but a deeper peruse will reveal far more. Socialtext people allows making connection and following “people feeds” not based n self-selected criteria (“I like snowboarding, etc”) but rather on actual work history.

That’s an evolutionary change worth repeating: connections are made based on actual work done. Not only are you able to see tags identifying subjects of interest to the person, but you’re also able to see who they’ve collaborated with and are able to extend your social ecosystem to match their own. Twitter users should intuitively recognize the ability to extend your social network by following a interesting person, and then follow those persons the interesting person follows

Ultimately an enterprise solution is only as good as the technology + people + strategy of course. There’s a comprehensive and systematic process we’ve adopted for success, which revolves around four potential usage scenarios

Collaborative Intelligence for sales and marketing, as implemented for market leaders including Humana and SAP

Participatory Knowledgebase for service and support, as implemented for market leaders including Symantec and Microstrategy

Flexible Client Collaboration for professional services, as implemented for market leaders including MWW Group and CoActive Marketing Group

Business Social Networks for partners and customers, as implemented for market leaders including United Business Media and Epitaph Records

In short, there is a strategy and a method based approach for optimal adoption and knowledge diffusion which is driven by however clients define success. For example, success as defined by Humana means providing revenue-driven personnel with the information they need to acquire new clients. Socialtext wikis and Socialtext people provide the infrastructure for synthesis of twitter feeds, rss feeds, and blog posts providing a holistic picture of a prospect for sales personnel, while Socialtext Dashboards provide sales management with a meaningful view of activity which drives higher conversion rates.

If you’re going to be at the Web 2.0 Expo, drop by and say hello. I’ll be happy to show you what the buzz is all about.

What’s Really At Stake: Hubbert, China, and the Dollar

Every once in a while, I read a blog post ties together a number of memes I’ve been thinking about. I’ve recently met Elliot Ng at a dinner in San Francisco, and found him to be an incredibly sharp guy whose recent posting me pause to tie together many of the themes I’ve spoken about here.

The World Says We Suck

But let me start at the beginning here. The BBC recently reported on the results of a regular survey of 17,000 respondents around the world, who were asked to rate the influence of countries around the world as positive or negative. Here’s a breakdown of the average:

Elliott compared the results of the U.S. and China responses, and compared the two. The results are sobering:

Which country has a more positive influence in the world, U.S. or China?

  • Overall: China. 47% for China vs. 35% for U.S. (excluding subject country)
  • Latin America: China. 45% for China vs 32% for U.S.
  • Europe: China. 39% for China vs 31% for U.S.
  • Middle East: China. 63% for China vs. 34% for U.S.
  • Africa: United States. 66% for China, 70% for U.S.
  • Asia (ex-China): China again. 40% for China vs 39% for U.S.

In fact, only 9 of 23 countries rated the U.S. higher than China: Portugal, Italy, Israel (just barely), Kenya, Ghana, Phillipines, South Korea, Indonesia, and Japan.

Caveat: Data was collected in December 2007 before the recent March Tibet events and the torch run. Things may have changed.

Neither country garnered a majority positive opinion, but folks in the U.S. may be surprised to note that the bastion of freedom is viewed as a more negative influence on the world than an authoritarian governed nation. How did we get into this mess? It’s misleading to dismiss this as baiting and resentment ala Faux news. The easy answer is Iraq, but more specifically Iraq has become a symbol for the perception that the US has and will in the future act capriciously. Fair warning: here’s where I turn up the ecogeek rant..

The Intersection of Peak oil, Iraq, and the Value of the Dollar.

Geoscientist M. King Hubbert saw this coming. He noted in 1956 that there’s a simple fact to oil production – the amount of hydrocarbons under the ground in any region is finite, therefore the rate of discovery which initially increases quickly must reach a maximum and decline (this is called “Peak Oil“). The U.S. stopped finding places to drill in the 1950s, and domestic oil production peaked in 1970, dropping mercilessly after that. The British were able to float our hydrocarbon dependence for a while from the North Sea oil fields while domestic supplies dried up, but eventually the North Sea production fell precipitously. Enter the complex and inscrutable U.S.-Saudi relationship of convenience. Of course it’s only a matter of time before Saudis’ own production starts falling out. Stuart Staniford believes it’s already happening.

The blue line represents drilling activity and the other graphs are oil production averages. The punchline here is that the Saudis are drilling for new holes as fast as they can, but total oil production isn’t rising. This isn’t OPEC shenanigans here – there’s nothing the Saudis can do about output drops, despite their reassurances.

There’s a double hit to the United States however, as hydrocarbon commodities are traded commonly in world markets in U.S. Dollars. Hence the continued reliance on an unsustainable fossil fuels infrastructure is reinforced by a political need to maintain a system on which the value of the U.S Dollar is predicated – the value of the U.S. Dollar partly relies on demand from countries who need Dollars to meet energy needs.

There’s a number of hydrocarbon reserves adjacent to Saudi Arabia of course, specifically northward. Saddam Hussein virtually sealed his fate in September 2000 when he announced Iraq would no longer accept dollars for oil being sold under the UN’s Oil-for-Food program, and decided to switch to the euro as Iraq’s oil export currency. The Financial Times reported that “Saddam Hussein in 2000 insisted Iraq’s oil be sold for euros, a political move, but one that improved Iraq’s recent earnings thanks to the rise in the value of the euro against the dollar”. He was playing the foreign exchange game as an insider, hoping to reap the windfall. The Bush-meister implemented the currency transition despite the adverse impact on profits from Iraqi’s export oil sales (In mid-2003 the euro was valued approx. 13% higher than the dollar, and thus significantly impacted the ability of future oil proceeds to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure). Funny enough, none of the five U.S. major media conglomerates who control 90% of information flow in the U.S. touched this.

So the perception the U.S. is acting in a unilateral and capricious manner stems from the last few years’ activity, but there’s more to the story. The next chapter is more ominous.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions have taken center stage in the media, but there are again unspoken macroeconomic drivers underlying the second stage of petrodollar warfare. I’m talking about Iran’s upcoming oil bourse. In essence, Iran is about to commit a far greater “offense” than Saddam Hussein’s conversion to the euro for Iraq’s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Beginning in March 2006, the Tehran government has plans to begin competing with New York’s NYMEX and London’s IPE with respect to international oil trades – using a euro-based international oil-trading mechanism. Without some sort of U.S. intervention, the establishment of the Iranian trading center firmly establishes a euro based international energy trading system. That means the U.S. will no longer have the ability to effortlessly expand its debt-financing via issuance of U.S. Treasury bills, and the dollar’s international demand/liquidity value will fall.

Circling Back to China

Will Clark notes that “China’s announcement in July 2005 that it was re-valuing the yuan/RNB was not nearly as important as its decision to divorce itself from a U.S. dollar peg by moving towards a “basket of currencies” – likely to include the yen, euro, and dollar.” Interestingly, the Chinese re-valuation immediately lowered their monthly imported “oil bill” by 2%, over Dollar-denominated oil trade, but it is unclear how much longer this monopoly arrangement will last. Note that 2% is the inflation tax we’ve been passing along to them.

So the negative opinions are grounded in a rational fear of the U.S. intervention as China seeks to diversify its foreign currency reserves and has Sinopec signs a sourcing deal with Iran, which will ostensibly revolve aroudn the Iranian exchange. China’s voracious hydrocarbon appetite would allow an expanding credit-fueled Dollar valuation to continue unabated, effectively passing our inflation abroad. In short, we can float the value of the Dollar by increasing the amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt around the world about our motivations.

Add yet another reason to move the U.S. beyond a hydrocarbon-based economy. I hope you’ll keep this in mind during our 2008 election season and vote for change.

Will the Real Venture Capitalists Please Stand Up?

One of the big inflection points (out of many) in any startup’s trajectory is of course series A funding. In speaking to a friend of late who is looking to get into the wacky world of startups, I’ve discovered there’s a perception gap regarding the role of VCs. The perception is that they seed-fund great ideas which someday become the next Google and so on. Some do, but in general this is about as grounded in reality as Santa Claus or the tooth fairy..

It’s worth looking at the heavy lifting in funding, and Don Dodge has done a lovely job of summarizing the data:

“The Center for Venture Research at UNH today released their annual Angel Capital report for 2007. Angels invested $26 Billion in 57,120 companies, up slightly from last year. The report says there are 258,200 active angel investors in the USA. By comparison, Venture Capitalists invested to $29.4B in 3,813 companies in 2007.”

So let’s see, deal ratio is near 20 to 1 with about 50-50 on total cash. So Angel Investors are the ones doing the biggest risk taking (as most people in silli valley know intuititvely). Said another way, VCs are outsourcing early stage investing to Angels. This is of course beyond the tactical scope of the barcamp style conference in Palo Alto on April 26th, 2008 called StartupLegalandFinancecamp (or “StartupCamp” for short). Still, any meaningful discussion of getting funded in 2008 will have a backdrop of credit crunch and real estate bubble burst. As individual investors, angels are invested in land and other credit- fueled investments (heck, everything in our economy seems to be credit-fueled). Many of them may have gotten pummeled on those investments – any angel who was invested in Bear Sterns may recoil at funding anything with those fresh wounds.

There’s another side to this. Sramana Mitra obviously feels this may reign in bloated valuations and gut check-writing. I’m inclined to agree (economics 101 here: misallocation of resources = FAIL). The concern of course is an over-correction. I figure most of what’s going on is a mixed blessing of sorts. According to Valley-watcher Tom Foremski, Jeff Nolan (a former venture capitalist now at Newsgator) says money moved away from VC funds and into hedge funds, but that’s reversing with the large institutional investors will be rebalancing their portfolios and pouring more money will come into VC funds. This might lead to the odd effect of increasing series-A funding while decreasing the amount of seed money spread around. Ever drive down a street with stoplights where the timing is of greens and reds is off, forcing you to stop at every intersection?

A few things seem certain. I’ll bet a significant amount of startup capital is going overseas, since the Euro, Yen, and Reminbi provide capital preservation over the free-falling Dollar. I’ll also bet that we’ll see a number of hot ventures jump out of this recession, just like the last. Recessions seem to do that.

The basics never change too. Investors will keep looking for a sustainable revenue model and a smart exit strategy, and entrepreneurs need to partner with investors for more than just their money. As Paul Kedrosky writes, “Today I had lunch with a smart, seasoned entrepreneur who told me about a 4-inch deal binder he had been forced to create for angel diligence. As I said to him: Run. Hide. Any angel who wants that much security in an early-stage deal is to be avoided like a banker.” Exactly Paul.

Update: Jeff Nolan of Newsgator has an editorial up on incrementalism he’s seeing in the funding market where he discusses how startups’ seed capital now is far below the minimal economically feasible VC threshold.

What You Haven’t Heard About China

I’ve been hearing alot of “So.. um, what do you think of China?” lately, for obvious reasons. I don’t mind at all, but what strikes me is how much misinformation and emotional baggage there is out there. There’s the panda huggers, many of which are ethnic Chinese who understandably feel like they are being chastised for who they are when they hear critical analysis of Beijing’s policies. Then there’s the panda haters who understanably are concerned about suppression of freedom of speech and human rights and become frustrated with what they perceive to be an apathetic world. It’s virtually impossible to have a logical discussion about their place in the world and their relationship to the U.S.

Screw it, I’m going to try anyway.

One guy who gets the big picture is Thomas P.M. Barnett, a smart fellow who wrote The Pentagon’s New Map and Blueprint for Action. Having been both inside the Pentagon and leap years outside it in terms of his thinking, he has a rather rare perspective. He’s put together a list of 10 why China matters which should help readers dispel the misinformation out there. But having experienced “the panda” firsthand (and having it become part of my family), I think I’ve begun to understand their motivations. In short, China is NOT a mortal enemy. China is likewise NOT a cuddly friend nor America’s buddy.

China is an Economic Competitor.

This is actually a good thing, folks. If they’re competing to build economic wealth, why to burn up their windfall into a prolonged military conflict with the west? That means these war game scenarios the Pentagon is dreaming up against an unnamed large asian nation with an unhealthy interest in a small pacific island are overplayed. It also means the old timers in the PLA who want to build up a stockpile to hedge American influence are also way off. That doesn’t mean we should take our eye off the ball (as in, say, Africa). What this means is we need to be aware that China’s goal is to expand its influence and economic power, and that means competing with the existing U.S. Hegemony. Let me put it another way – they don’t despise us any more than the other 27 NFL Teams despite the Superbowl champions. We’ve been the economic, political, and military rock star of the 20th century, so we’re the guys to beat.

The New Cold War?

They don’t have any choice in the matter. They’re tasted the good life and want to continue doing so, despite rapidly aging as a nation-state. When the United States median age began creeping up, business and government policy shifted to scaling global economic systems and outsourcing some labor to compensate. It’s the same with the Chinese. To keep living standards afloat, they will have to scale the global production production chain faster than any country has in the past. Fortunately they have a legion of educated, entrepreneurially minded people scouring the globe for growth opportunities. We’re seeing the result dynamic expansion in the news as China trades industrial goods and infrastructure builds with Sudan for oil, signs a deal with Zimbabwe, receiving chrome in exchange for food and transport infrastructure, and trades debt relief and other diplomatic pleasantries in exchange for Eritrean granted gold exploration licences. Panic ensues as the news stories of China’s expanding activities provoke some folks call this another cold war. What follows next is obvious enough. The Pentagon starts funding AFRICOM in response out of an inscrutable sense that America might be missing out on an opportunity yet to be uncovered.

We’ve seen this game play out before. This is exactly what Europe did to America 300 years ago, and in turn is what America did to the asian tigers last century. Europe kept the bespoke tailors and farmed out the cotton production to the U.S. The U.S. spent the better part of two decades outsourcing low margin production to China while trying to keep technology and high margin services within our own borders. Now China is predictably outsourcing their low margin production activity and resource mining to Africa while building their own knowledge economy. This is history repeating itself, but hardly feels like a replay of Kennedy versus Khrushchev.

A New Operating Environment

The shared interest in a stable economic environment means we won’t see any military escalations with the PLA anytime soon, but will see trade wars from time to time. It means the U.S. will have the Chinese subsidize and support peacekeeping missions, because as much as three-fourths of China’s natural resources will have to come from politically unstable areas, funneling money towards security services. The overtures have already begun. It also means that the days of China only providing “white boxed” labor are gone, where China is now a source of local labor as well as local competitors of formidable caliber.

I also figure we’ll see bigger rise in nationalism in both China and the United States. Some of the nationalism will be unfocused and frankly ignorant, and as such it’ll be a source of friction. But looking at it on a different level, there’s likely some unease about the advance of globalization steamrolling local and national cultures. Intelligent (s opposed to brainwashed or ignorant) nationalistic feelings will probably stem from a rational fear of the loss of cultural identity. As a result, new product offerings need to be more, not less differentiated between different cultural markets. That’s not to say that entrants into their markets should be copycats – msn messenger I’m finding is considered far more “hip” by teens than the local instant messenger QQ. But cultural differentiation will almost surely become more important.

Hopefully this sparks discussion and thought around their motivations. The good news is despite human right issues and environmental concerns (which are important), there is a shared interest in making the world safe for economic growth. If we fail to manage the new operating environment to everyone’s benefit, China’s strategy will likely become to bog us down diplomatic debate while pursuing their own agenda. On the other hand, if we manage to create strategies which co-opt their own moves to support our own strategies, we’ll cooperate diplomatically and compete economically. The latter is what the British did with America, and it worked out pretty well for us both.

Monetizing Ubiquity: A Twitter Case Study

How do you monetize something that was built to accommodate universal free sign ups to gain market share ? There’s a number of excellent blog post lists of monetization mechanisms. Rather than just beat a dead horse and come up wit my own list, I’d rather drill down into what is shaping up to be an interesting case study in leveraging the ubiquity of your community. Monetizing the community via monetizing ubiquity by the way is one of the three models I find most promising (the other two are membership versioning and micro transactions, which I’ll cover at a later point in time on this blog).

The case study in the making is an announcement the time and expense web application Harvest will now be “powered by Twitter”. Peel away the marketing ballyhoo and you’ll find a synergistic gem here. What this means is users tracking time and expenses in Harvest will now be able to enter in expenses by sending direct messages, or punch in and out while on the road by sending direct messages to Twitter. In other words, Harvest is eschewing development of a mobile app and simply piggybacking on Twitter to provide that connectivity. The monetization in practice is simple: Harvest collects a membership fee, gives Twitter a residual. Instant revenue for Twitter, and Harvest not only saves on development costs, but more importantly increases exposure without having to resort to direct advertising.

Here’s the punchline: So how much is the value of selling your ubiquity? Ask Harvest what their cost of sales would have been had they not partnered.

It’s pretty obvious Twitter is promoting the visibility of third party add ons to develop future revenue streams, and Harvest is just the beachhead. That’s why they are promoting Twitterholics on their blog and CEO Ev is promoting apps like Tweet what you eat. This is of course the launching pad for other similar monetization partnerships. Congrats to Ev and the team. It’ll be fun to see where they take “Powered by Twitter“.

Want to talk monetization strategy? Add me on Twitter here!

The Vulcan Project

There are many reasons for transitioning out from a fossil fuels based economy (a conviction in climate change, foreign energy independence, etc) but nothing will happen until we’re able to identify what we can change.

Enter the The Vulcan Project. This joint NASA-Department of Energy project aims to provide detailed analysis of carbon emissions per each kilometer in the United States. According to Wired, the project has already drawn some controversy, since the northeast U.S. seems to be emitting less carbon than previously thought, while the coal-driven southeast produces more than previously thought. It would be pretty cool to map this to congressional districts, although we’d have to constantly adjust for gerrymandering, I’m sure.