Tag: ethernet

Startup Grind San Antonio Features Bob Metcalfe

imgres-2Bob Metcalfe is the Professor of Innovation, Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise at the University of Texas at Austin.
He has taught an undergraduate course on entrepreneurship called Longhorn Startup for the past two years along with Joshua Baer and Entrepreneur in Residence Ben Dyer.
Metcalfe was also inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame this past summer for inventing Ethernet, a local area networking technology that lets computers communicate with one another. Metcalfe also co-founded 3Com and served as a publisher and pundit at InfoWorld. He worked as a full time venture capitalist for a decade as a partner at Polaris Ventures. He has also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. His wife runs ultra marathons. His children both just qualified to run the Boston Marathon, which they have run previously. And Metcalfe completed his first triathlon last year.
In this interview, Metcalfe recounts how he tried to license ARCnet, a local area network protocol similar to Ethernet, from San Antonio-based Datapoint, one of the first local area networking computer companies. Datapoint wouldn’t license ARCnet.
For 10 years, everyone told Metcalfe that the IBM Token Ring, a local area network protocol that also competed with Ethernet, would become the standard. He persevered and continued to promote Ethernet, which did ultimately become the standard.
Metcalfe started 3Com with $27,000 from a real estate settlement. He even lent $3,000 to one of his partners so he could invest it in the company and then take a salary and pay Metcalfe back $300 a month for 10 months.

Bob Metcalfe at Startup Grind San Antonio

imgres-4Startup Grind San Antonio features an interview with Bob Metcalfe Tuesday at Geekdom in downtown San Antonio.
Metcalfe has had five careers so far and currently serves as professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin.
The Internet Society also inducted Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, and Robert Taylor, an alumnus of the University of Texas and the first project manager of the ARPAnet, into its Internet Hall of Fame on August 3rd.
The Internet Hall of Fame, established in 2012, recognizes trailblazers who have contributed significantly to the creation and expansion of the Internet.
Other inductees have included Vinton Cerf, Mitchell Baker and Al Gore.
Metcalfe and Taylor were both named Pioneers, for their contributions to the Internet’s early design and development.
“Metcalfe and Taylor also worked together at Xerox PARC from 1972-1975, when Metcalfe created the Ethernet,” according to the University of Texas. “Both have received the National Medal of Technology (Taylor in 1999; Metcalfe in 2003) and have been named museum fellows by the Computer History Museum (Metcalfe in 2008; Taylor in 2013), among many other awards and recognitions.”

Happy 39th Birthday Ethernet

In 1973, there were no personal computers, says Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet.
But 39 years ago today, Metcalfe and David Boggs, Chuck Thacker and Butler Lampson at Xerox set out to build a network for them. The idea for Ethernet first appeared in print in a memo that Metcalfe wrote on May 22, 1973.
They borrowed the word – Ethernet – from physics and the term: luminiferous aether – “meaning light-bearing aether” and describing “a medium for the propagation of light.”
In 1979, Metcalfe co-founded 3Com Corp. to build Ethernet products.
And in 1981, 3Com shipped the first adapter for personal computers when IBM invented its desktop PC at its Boca Raton campus in Florida.
Today, Ethernet has evolved so much that what people refer to as Ethernet has little resemblance to the technology developed 39 years ago, Metcalfe said.
In this video, Metcalfe discusses Ethernet’s past briefly and he focuses on the future of the technology. It’s worth watching.
Today, Metcalfe serves as professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin.

Ethernet inventor wants to network startups to solve the world’s energy crisis

Bob Metcalfe, left, talks with audience members at the Clean Energy Venture Summit 2011 in Austin, following his speech

A network of entrepreneurs will solve the energy crisis.
That’s the belief of Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, founder of 3Com and co-inventor of Ethernet, a networking standard which links computers.
“The biggest lesson of the Internet that applies to energy is it was not built by incumbents but by startups fiercely competing,” Metcalfe told 400 people attending the Clean Energy Venture Summit 2011 Thursday afternoon.
“We have an ecology in which startups live,” Metcalfe said.
He dubs the current environment, the Doriot ecology, after the late George F. Doriot, a Harvard business school professor and one the first American venture capitalists.
The startup Doriot ecology contains six “major species,” including research professors, students, scaling entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, strategic partners and early adopters, Metcalfe said.
This semester, Metcalfe started a new program at the University of Texas called One-Semester Startup with 70 undergraduate students launching 20 companies. He is teaching them “how to use the machinery of free enterprise.” Out of the 20 companies, three of them are energy companies. One is Zilkermotors, which wants to create a 100 mile per gallon automobile.
“We’re not going to change venture capital to suit the requirements of energy,” Metcalfe said. “But we can change energy to meet the requirements of venture capital.”
Startup companies need to play within “this Doriot ecology,” he said.
One of the problems is that the energy startups are at the mercy of the turbulent energy marketplace.
“These poor startups in energy get slaughtered when the price of oil or solar goes down,” Metcalfe said. “In the last five years, the energy market has been disrupted by the discovery of vast amounts of natural gas. It’s cheap. It continues the de-carbonization of energy. So gas could damage startup innovation in energy.”
Also, the collapse and bankruptcy of Solyndra is a catastrophe for the “taxpayers and the government officers and the solar companies that are getting guilt by association,” Metcalfe said. In 2009, Solyndra received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Federal government to build a plant to make its solar photovoltaic panels. The company received millions more from venture capitalists and other investors.
“But it’s an inevitable catastrophe,” Metcalfe said. “I’m afraid we are learning the wrong lessons from Solyndra.”
Some people are saying that it is a really bad idea to manufacture anything in the U.S. in the wake of the Solyndra collapse. But that is “a bad lesson for us to learn from Solyndra,” Metcalfe said. The U.S. should be manufacturing solar panels, he said. Unfortunately, Solyndra’s bankruptcy has led to “the criminalization of entrepreneurial failure,” Metcalfe said. “That is a blow to our innovation system.”

The core lesson from Solyndra is “premature scaling,” Metcalfe said. The company faced enormous pressure to expand quickly and solve the environmental crisis and create jobs, he said. So it expanded its operations too quickly.

“Startups face lots of pressures to scale,” Metcalfe said. “You need to resist those pressures.”
Metcalfe has put his money in several clean tech companies. He has invested in five energy startups including Zigbee, which makes software for smart meters for the home. He also invested in Infinite Power Solutions, which makes the world’s smallest batteries and Sun Catalytix, an energy storage and renewable fuels technology company. Silicon wafer manufacturer, 1366 Technologies, another of his investments, has also received a $150 million loan guarantee from the Federal government. It is building a 10 megawatt plant to make sure the company’s technology can scale properly, Metcalfe said. The company has been damaged by the failure of Solyndra, he said. He also invests in SiOnyx, which makes black silicon used to enhance the response of photovoltaic cells.

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