NZ politicians on their parties’ startup policies

24 06 2014

I organised a Lean Startup Meetup today exploring New Zealand political parties’ policies related to startups.

Jonathan Young (National), Gareth Hughes (Greens), Vikram Kumar (Internet Mana), and Clare Curran (Labour) all presented their parties’ positions.

I made an audio recording of the session, which you can either download (mp3, 21MB) or play right here:

pols

Photo credit: @Builtinwgtn

Main points –

Jonathan Young:

  • Innovation is the catalyst for economic development
  • Important for government to be as nimble and sharp as the startup sector
  • The formation of MBIE was important, as it brought many disparate agencies together for the benefits of companies
  • The main people leading government – John Key and Steven Joyce – are both experienced private sector businessmen [sic]
  • Recent announcements are beneficial to startups, eg entrepreneur work visas, cashout policy, black hole expenditure, crowdfunding.

Gareth Hughes:

  • ICT is a priority for the Greens – it’s the future for NZ
  • The development of the ICT sector must be supported by government leadership, including
  • Having a government CTO
  • A Digital Rights Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission
  • Repealing the GCSB ammendments and TICS acts, as well as closing Wahopai
  • Extension of NZVIF
  • Support for organisations light Lightning Lab and The ICEHOUSE
  • Free wifi and public transport

Clare Curran:

  • Startups are part of something much bigger than anyone realises – they’re a critical part of the economy, and the fastest growing part of the economy
  • The ICT sector is at the heart of Labour’s economic development plans
  • We’re facing long-term skill shortages which can only be filled with immigration
  • We have infrastructure issues that need fixing
  • Government procurement must give local companies a decent chance
  • The soon-to-be-announced policy is comprehensive and joined up

Vikram Kumar:

  • The difference between the Internet Party and the rest is similar to the difference between Xero and MYOB – the Internet party was born in the cloud
  • All Internet party policies are ICT policies
  • There are “table stakes” which the government needs to get right as a basis for everything else: provisioning a second cable into NZ and a policy of no government backdoors
  • How do we get, grow, and sustain startups?
    • Free tertiary education
    • Scaling things we know work well, eg the Kiwi Landing Pad
    • Attracting more VC funding into NZ
    • Allowing startup funds to be efficiently recycled by exiting founders
    • More hubs and people working together



Noodle Kugel

22 06 2014

I love to cook.  After a day of mental exertions and various people- and process-related stress, there’s nothing like combining some ingredients, getting your hands gooey, controlling physical and chemical reactions in the process known as cooking, and then serving a satisfying meal to a group of appreciative people.

Ethnic food is wonderful, and recipes from my eastern European Ashkenazi Jewish roots have a very special place in my heart.

One family recipe that I often get asked for is for noodle kugel, a vegetarian egg-based recipe, suitable as a main course or side dish.  It’s easy to make, lasts a long time warming in the oven, and is good for those evenings when everyone is arriving home at different times, or as a dish to take to a party where it will eventually be re-warmed in a microwave.

Ingredients:

300g pasta (I normally use cut lasagna noodles, medium egg noodles, or penne)
250g cottage cheese
250g sour cream
3 eggs
2 small onion
3 Tbsp dill (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 190° C
Boil pasta as per instructions on packet until al dente
While the past is boiling, lightly beat the eggs in a mixing bowl.  Add the cottage cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, and optionally dill, and lightly mix.  Chop the onions into small pieces, and mix them in the bowl as well.
When the pasta is finished cooking, rinse under cool water in a colander, separating the noodles.  Drain.
Grease a covered baking dish with small amount of butter or oil.
Place the pasta in the baking dish, and then pour in the mix of other ingredients.  Mix well in the dish.
Cover the baking dish, and place in the oven for 45 minutes.  Uncover the dish, and allow to cool and set for a few minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8.




InternetNZ Election Statement

16 06 2014

I’m standing for the InternetNZ Council again.  This is an important job in a great organisation. If you’re a member, I’d appreciate your vote.  If you’re not a member, then I’d urge you to join (note you must have been a member for at least three months prior to the election to vote).  It only costs $21, and is a great way to be involved in shaping the future of the Internet in New Zealand and globally.

Here’s my election statement (officially published on the InternetNZ web site), and I’d be happy to answer any questions here in the comments.


Hi, I’m Dave Moskovitz and I spend most of my life in startups at the busy intersection of technology, commerce, and making the world a better place. I’m a programmer by trade, but most of my work at present is in governance, investment, and education. You can find out more about me on my blog or my LinkedIn profile.

I have worked hard as a Councillor since my election in 2010. I currently serve on the Grants Committee and the Investment Committee, as well as being the Council-appointed director on the Domain Name Commission board. I have also volunteered to work on the NetHui programme planning group and will do whatever I can to make this year’s NetHui the best yet. I have also served on the Business Development Committee and the CEO review special committee. If you’re in doubt as to my contribution to any of these groups, just ask anyone who’s been involved.

During my tenure I have done my best to be available to members. I’ve participated on the members and Policy Advisory Group (PAG) email lists, trying to keep the signal-to-noise ratio as high as possible, also taking time to be present at member meetings and fora. I’m easy to find online if you’re trying to get in touch with me.

I am particularly pleased that during my time on council, our membership has nearly doubled. Our membership is becoming ever more diverse which is fitting as our stakeholders are really everyone in New Zealand. I strongly believe that InternetNZ is the kaitiaki, or guardian of this critical resource, for the benefit of everyone, and want to ensure that we act in the best interests of wider society, keeping the Internet open and uncaptureable, and promoting a better world through a better Internet. This affects everyone, and as the designated manager of the dot-NZ domain space under RFC1591, we have a sacrosanct responsibility to serve the community. We do this well, but we could be even better.

InternetNZ does a lot of good work, in the areas of promoting better rights and freedoms with respect to online security and surveillance, sensible protection of the fair use of copyrighted material, ensuring that citizens’ rights online are equivalent to their rights offline and more. We’ve worked hard to become the “go-to people” for information and policy advice about the Internet. We enable other organisations such as the 2020 Trust, Creative Commons Aotearoa/NZ, the World Internet Project, and Netsafe to improve access to the Internet, encourage free sharing of information, measure Internet usage, and provide public education about online safety. We also partnered with a number of organisations in Canterbury following the earthquake to do our bit to assist with the Christchurch rebuild. And we help connect our members and stakeholders with each other and wider society through events like NetHui.

I would like to see InternetNZ do even more by using a greater proportion of our resources to enable other organisations to make the Internet in New Zealand a better place, fulfilling our Constitutional object “to maintain and extend the availability of the Internet and its associated technologies and applications in New Zealand, both as an end in itself and as means of enabling organisations, professionals and individuals to more effectively collaborate, cooperate, communicate and innovate in their respective fields of interest.” That is our primary purpose, and that is where we should be focussing our attention.

If re-elected, I will continue to work hard, and strive to work better as a networked organisation, leveraging our resources to enable other aligned organisations to participate in and advance our mission.




How to score angel investment for startups in New Zealand

12 06 2014

I was in Christchurch last night presenting to a group of investors and entrepreneurs hoping to get an angel club off the ground in Canterbury, organised by Ben Reid.  I had been asked to present on the angel investment process from a startup entrepreneur’s point of view.  Here are my slides:

I’m very excited by the possibilities for Christchurch, and dearly hope that they can get an angel club together to boost their local startup scene, support Cantabrian entrepreneurs, and lay a piece of new, critical infrastructure that will support the post-quake rebuild.




Wellington, New Zealand’s Startup Capital

8 05 2014

I was invited to Auckland last week to The Project: Digital Disruption to discuss what’s happening in the Wellington startup scene.

Here are my slides:

Key points:

  • Wellington’s key advantage is its scale.  Everything is accessible within a 20 minute walk – but you need to plan for 30 minutes because you will bump into so many people on your way that are doing cool stuff.
  • We have a high density of tech startups, and a great culture to back it up
  • The weather is conducive to getting sh!t done
  • We have a rich startup ecosystem, which is becoming increasingly antifragile
  • Accelerators, incubators, investors, tertiary education providers, “big” tech, events, and support organisations all play their part
  • Promising trends:
    • Government “gets” it
    • Talent, capital, ideas and expertise are being continually recycled and refined to help us level-up
    • We’re attracting amazing people, and achieving critical mass
    • Things just keep getting better in a cambrian explosion of startups
  • The future is awesome, thanks to the hard work put in by many over a long time – we’re really starting to reap the rewards, and this seems certain to continue.
  • It’s all about the people



Government Surveillance

30 04 2014

Do you have strong feelings about government surveillance?  Ever since the release of information about government surveillance by Edward Snowden, I feel that the nature of the relationship of trust between governments and their citizens has changed.

It’s thrown into sharp relief the uneasy balance between citizens’ right to privacy, and governments’ obligations to provide security to their citizens.

InternetNZ is drafting a paper formulating a position on this as the kaitiaki or guardians of the Internet in New Zealand, and have issued a background paper which I would encourage you to read. If you’re a member of InternetNZ you can comment on the members-discuss email list.  If you’re not a member, I would encourage you to join InternetNZ.  And if you don’t want to join or comment yourself, please contact me directly either in the comments below or on the contact form so I can ensure that your voice is heard.




The Startup Ecosystem in New Zealand (video)

22 01 2014

An introduction to the startup ecosystem in New Zealand and particularly Wellington.

I was invited recently to attend a workshop organised by Brian Monahan, Matthew Monahan, and Yoseph Ayele who have recently decided to come to New Zealand and help turbo-charge our local startup scene. The purpose of the workshop was to help strengthen ties between California and New Zealand, with a number of people from the tech and investment scenes present from both regions.

Linc Gasking and I ran a session introducing people to the local startup scene, mainly by way of an informal conversation. Here is the result:

Some of the topics we cover:

  • Strengths and weaknesses of the local scene
  • Why the “number 8 wire mentality” is holding us back
  • How we need to learn how to distribute and scale better
  • Kiwis care a lot, and why that’s important
  • The “brain drain” is really a brain gain
  • And lots more.  Enjoy.



Parenthood, business, and investment

10 11 2013

I was recently interviewed by Sarah Spear at The Parentalist, a new blog featuring parents who are “making an impact on the world, in business and in their local communities”.

You listen to (or download) the audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Or watch the video:

On a related note, today I added the job “Parent at My Family” to my LinkedIn profile.  Why is that?  Parenthood teaches you:

  • Putting the needs of others ahead of your own
  • Functioning with next to no sleep
  • Dealing with life-and-death unexpected emergencies
  • Motivating others
  • Communicating with people with a wide range of skills
  • Managing conflicting priorities
  • Building community
  • Financial management in uncertain conditions
  • … and the list goes on …

All of these are critical skills for business success in general, and startup success in particular.

Enjoy.




Unlimited Influencer 2013

11 09 2013

 

Unlimited Magazine has named me one of “The 2013 Influencers” for my role as a “startup guru” helping companies get going right from the idea stage.  It’s a nice little article, and I’m grateful to those who thought highly enough of my advice to recommend me to Unlimited.

I’ve also snagged a PDF for archival purposes for when Stuff rearrange their links.




Brothers – Judaism and Islam

26 08 2013

Speech to Islam Awareness Week Launch, 26 August 2013 at Whare Waka, Wellington

Shalom aleikhem, Salaam aleikum, Kia ora tatau.

On the tenth anniversary of Islam Awareness Week, we can say that we have spent significant time together.  Not only are we more aware of each other, we are friends that know, like, trust, and respect each other.  This is the perfect time to roll up are sleeves and start doing some hard work together.

Judaism and Islam are like brothers, as embodied in the relationship between Isaac and Ishmael.  Our common father Abraham is a towering figure in our sacred texts, and his teachings and ethical guidance are central to both our religions.

Isaac and Ishmael never knew each other properly as brothers, as according to the Torah, Ishmael and his mother Hagar were banished shortly after Isaac was weaned (Genesis 21:14); they did not see each other again until Abraham was buried (Genesis 25:9).

Not only are we brothers in the spiritual sense, we are actually brothers in the biological sense.  I recently subscribed to a service called 23andme, where you spit into a small vial, send it off to the lab, they sequence your genome and tell you all sorts of interesting things about yourself.  In my case, they correctly predicted that I have type O+ blood (which has a significantly lower prevalence in Ashkenazim than in the general population), and blue eyes.  They also said that I am likely to have straight hair, so they’re not perfect.  They say I’m 93.9% Ashekenazi Jewish.  But if you look more closely at my maternal haplotype, T, the top listed example population is: Palestinans.

2013-08-26 17_31_11-My Ancestors - Maternal Line - 23andMe

Through the millennia and centuries our ancestors have lived as brothers; much of the time the relationship has been good, but at other times, and particularly modern times, there has been lots of room for improvement.

The story of our difficult times owes more to politics than to our religious differences – but there is a definite religious angle to these political issues which is ignored or denied at our own peril.

Right now, today, these differences centre on events in Israel and Palestine.  At its core, the central problem is that both Jews and Palestinians believe that the land is theirs.  In Māori terms, both iwi believe that they have tangatawhenuatanga over the holy land.  Problem is, both are right.  When my Māori friends start talking about the Jews as colonisers and Palestinians as colonised, it’s time for a history lesson, as things are not quite so simple.

Here’s a concrete example from my own family.  My niece grew up in Los Angeles and “made aliyah” (ie immigrated) to Israel about ten years ago, and married a lovely young man, a statistician from the Gilo neighbourhood in Jerusalem.  I attended the wedding will never forget her soon-to-be Father-in-law Yossi asking me about New Zealand.  “Who does it border?” he asked.  “It’s a series of islands surrounded by thousands of kilometres of water,” I answered, “the nearest neighbour is Australia, 3-1/2 hours away by plane”.  “Is there much water there?”  “It generally rains every week.  Where I live, we get about 1300mm of rain every year.  It’s very green”.  He paused, and looked at me and said, “it sounds like Paradise”.

Gilo sits in that part of the West Bank that was annexed by the Israeli government after it was recaptured in the 1967 war, and is now part of the Jerusalem Municipality.  The land on which Gilo was built was legally purchased by Jews before the second world war, before the land was captured by the Egyptian army in the 1948 war and became part of Jordan.  In biblical times Gilo was an important town.  The land was largely vacant until modern Gilo was built in 1971.

My point is that it’s very messy.  Occupied territory, or Jerusalem neighbourhood?  There is some truth to both statements, and the contradictory truths seem blindingly obvious to people on both sides.  And it is exactly these perplexing problems involving the lives of real people and contradictory narratives which we must navigate in order to make progress.

I will tell you this though – a sustainable peace will not be black and white, involving the complete victory of one side over the other.  Neither side is about to quit the land, and we had better do what we can to encourage the feuding brothers to reconcile lest the situation result in mutual annihilation.

Here, in Yossi’s Paradise, we have an opportunity to overcome our differences far away from the source of the problems.  Perhaps we can exhibit more generous and mature brotherly behaviour when we’re removed from the fighting and conflict over resources.

I have close personal experience of reconciling brothers.  I am the father of three sons, currently age 21, 17 and 10.  When they were younger, the eldest and middle boys used to squabble and fight continually. When the eldest went away to university, they both realised what they had been missing.  Ever since, they’ve been best mates and whenever the eldest is in town they spend a lot of time together.

We can make progress by exploring the relationship with our brothers with an open heart.  But we must look at things warts and all, and not seek a kumbaya moment by ignoring the bad stuff from the past.  It won’t last, and we need to build a sustainable future.

Part of this process of reconciliation relies on good faith, and liberal application of the Golden Rule.  In the Talmud, this is stated as “what is hateful to you, do not to to another person”, and derives directly from the biblical commandment to “love your neighbour as yourself”.

This rule also appears in many places in the Hadith, for example Sahih Muslim, Book 1, 72:

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother or his neighbor what he loves for himself.” 

These same principles form the foundation of Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion, an excellent blueprint for how we can get along with each other.

This week, in the leadup to our Days of Awe and the Jewish New Year (similar in many ways to Ramadan) we are reading the Torah portion Nitzavim, in which Moses (pbuh) is delivering his final lecture to the Jewish people.  He tells us that we have the choice between a blessing and a curse; the blessing should we act according to God’s will, and the curse if we do not.

It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?: Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?” Rather, [this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it. [Deuteronomy 30:12-14]

Ultimately we are commanded to “choose life”.

It is in our capacity to learn about each other and treat each other with the compassion that is in both of our religious traditions, and work to respect even the things within each other that we do not like.  For that is at the heart of love – the ability to empathise, and to work together even though you may not like everything about each other.  We’ll never like everything about each other, but we shouldn’t let that get in the way of working together for a better New Zealand, and a better world.

To make this happen at a personal and organisational level, speaking as the Jewish Co-Chair of the Wellington Council of Christians and Jews, in the next year it is our stated intention to extend our hands to our Muslim brothers and sisters, and transform that organisation into an Abrahamic Council.  In that way we will be able to continue our dialogue, or rather trialogue as mature equals.

So let us get to know each other, and transform our childhood squabbles into mature, adult brotherly love.  We can only do that with a complete, unreserved understanding of each other and our historical narratives.

Thank you.







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