I was walking around Palo Alto yesterday afternoon, visiting startups to see what the mood is. One scene stuck out for me. I was walking to my car with Tapulous CEO Bart Decrem and a friend of his ran into us in the street and said “nice job getting funding last month.” They make apps for iPhone, including my favorite Twitter iPhone client, Twinkle.
It was said in the same tone someone along the Texas coast might have been met after getting nice new storm windows right before a big hurricane rolled into town.
Over at Zuora in Redwood City I talked with Tien Tzuo, CEO. They are shipping a new system that enables subscription-based businesses to easily be built. He used to be head of strategy at Salesforce and talked to me about how Salesforce weathered the previous storm back in 2001. That’s a common theme I’ve heard as I walked around the valley last night. Most of these leaders have been through a pretty brutal downturn in 2000-2003. He said it was pretty lucky that Salesforce only had to lay off about 10%. They had plans sitting around to expand a lot right before 9/11 hit and Tzuo said that if they had put those plans into place things would have been a lot worse.
It’s learnings like these that are serving entrepreneurs well as they batten down the hatches and prepare for the financial storm of the century (even though they are all hoping it just turns out to be a mild little storm, off camera you can see in their eyes that they are expecting the worst).
Over at SocialText’s offices (which is where the first BarCamp was held, so the offices hold some significance to many geeks around the world) founder Ross Mayfield is holding a brave face. He’s preparing for a launch tomorrow morning of a major new suite of services aimed at enterprises as he shifts his company away from just doing wikis to doing something a lot broader. More on that in the morning after the embargo ends (although on their Web site they are already talking about SocialText 3.0, so you can get a sneak peak now).
All of the companies I visited, in fact, are shipping new products/services that they hope will help them get through the storm. One thing I felt after visiting with these companies and the leaders who run them is how optimistic I felt. They all know a big challenge is heading toward them, but they are entrepreneurs. As Bob Ackerman, famous VC, told me, entrepreneurs are a little crazy and love a good challenge.
Over at techVenture, a well-known Silicon Valley recruiting firm, CEO Fadi Bishara said he had tons of clients who were hiring and wants to hear from anyone who is a developer or an executive in web software.
One last datapoint: I’ve been listening to KGO Radio (San Francisco’s top rated talk radio station) a lot lately and I’ve heard a couple of business owners say on radio that their credit has already been shut down. I can’t verify that, so if you have stories of how your business is being affected by the credit crunch, please let me know here, or offline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck preparing your business for the storm of the century, we’ll be watching and reporting from the front lines on University Ave. in Palo Alto, CA.