This is where I lived in Seattle -- 720 Lakeside Ave South, #8.  I rented it from Marla Bahm Scoville.

Leaving soon!



Sunrise is pretty awesome.
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Many of you have been wondering - where's Wayne and what has he been up to for the past 3 months?  Well, I've been spending time at the University of Washington in the department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE).   Earlier this Fall, I took  a Visiting Faculty position at the UW.   I've been teaching  CSE 403  (the senior level software engineering course)  and  doing some research along the way.   I'll be here for about a year.  This has been a great experience thus far.  It's a chance to work with some of the best computer scientists in the world,  teach at a great academic institution, and engage with really awesome students.  It's a road previously traveled - I did a similar stint in 2001-2002, also at the University of Washington.

Why did I do this, you ask?  Well, after a serendipitous conversation with Professor Dan Grossman, the opportunity to teach presented itself last summer.  I jumped at the opportunity.  I was interested in helping the UW Computer Science department - what better way than to teach students in a area where I have a great deal of experience?  And, for me, I was really interested on many fronts:

  • To learn from students and a generation of people that that I don't spend much time with
  • To explore state of  the art "stuff" going on in computer science
  • To think about what I am going to do next

Further, I wanted students to know more about startups and entrepreneurship.  My experience recruiting at the UW was that computer science graduates were exposed to a lot of opportunities at great big companies (the Googles, Facebooks, Amazons, and Microsofts of the world) but  not so much exposure to the world of smaller companies and starting up.  I ran a successful seminar in front the UW Industrial Affiliates meeting in October:  Great companies from both the Bay Area and Seattle presented and I helped widen the "opportunity pipeline" between students and industry.  I'll try to run this program again next year.  BTW, the UW CSE Industrial Affiliates program is a great way to engage with the department, especially if you are a startup.  One of the best benefits is the opportunity to recruit great students from a top computer science program.  Only Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, and CMU rival the UW in my humble opinion.

So how did class go?  What knowledge did I impart on students?  Well, here's my summary of the experience.  And, if you want to see the course curriculum, check out this site.  Overall, my approach was a little different than the past.  My goal to was to bring "real world" knowledge and experience into the classroom - stuff that students don't necessarily get from their typical academic experience.  It was a great quarter working with great students.

Last, it's been great reconnecting with some "old (as in people I've known a long time)" friends -- Ed, Hank, David, Gatano, Simon and meet some really great "new" faculty -- Magda, Steve, Luis.
to_tell_the_truth-300x208.jpgIt's two days before election day.  In actuality, two days until the last day to vote.  Most of my friends, either by choosing to vote via absentee ballot or being required to vote by mail, all ready have.  From those that have not and are still on the fence with regards to the Presidential election, I hear a common refrain:

Who is Mitt Romney?  What does he stand for? What is at the core of his values?  His "flip flopping (e.g. abortion rights, healthcare reform, taxation)" is confusing. I think we collectively have asked:

Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up?

(Apologies to Bill Stewart and Goodman-Todsman of "To Tell the Truth" fame)

Flip Flopper?  Yes.  But Why?

Based on positions taken, it's clear where Mr. Romney stands, today.  However, such positionsromney.jpeg are very different from his positions in the past.  I'm guessing they may be different than those in the future.  Is he just another politician, speaking whatever is currently convenient?  A man who can't make up his mind? Is he irrational?  Or perhaps, a rational flip flopper? I say no to all of the above.

I've looked to his LinkedIn profile for a clue.  A Harvard MBA.  A consultant during the hey day of being a consultant.  A consultant turned CEO.  All great credentials.  I've worked with the best of the best consultants.  I've worked with great CEOs.  I've even worked with consultants turned CEOs.  He's one of them.

After discounting all the other reasons why we know so little about Romney's convictions and values, I've realized there is one explanation -- he's a consultant at his core.  A consultant turned CEO.  And, if elected, I think he'll be a consultant turned President.

See, many consultants rarely have convictions of their own.  And, they lack imagination.  They have a goal or problem to solve.  Employing tactics of gathering smart experts and opinions, diving into the problem, applying methodologies of their firm, consultants "get to to the bottom of the problem and find a solution."  Or, maybe just telling the client what the client wants to hear.  Cynically or real, the joke most often told by a consultant seems to be, "My job is to look at a client's watch and tell him (her) what time it is." Rarely, it seems, that consultants have opinions of their own.  And, even less common, do they formulate imaginative, creative solutions.  Rarely do personal values or convictions enter the equation.

Consultants-turned-CEOs often employ the same strategies.  Such CEO's rely on the success of their past.  They use the consultant's methodology to solving problems.  And, oftentimes they create a complete disaster or fail to turn around a company because of the lack of imagination or personal insight.

Mitt Fits the Suit

Is this the real Mitt Romney?  A consultant-turned-Presidential candidate?  His resume certainly points to this.  Sure, proponents point to his business leadership as qualifications for the Presidency.  If you want a consultant in the White House, maybe this makes sense.  If you want a President with convictions and ideas of his own, maybe not.  And, if you are searching for core values, I'm guessing you won't find them.  That's by design.

(Caveat:  I await the comments of "Not *ALL* consultants or consultants-turned-CEO are this way." True enough.  Lou Gerstner was a great consultant turned CEO.  I only speak in generalities.  YMMV.)

Flip Flopping on Flip Flopping

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flip flops.jpgThroughout the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has been accused of being a "flip flopper."  He seems to have changed his position on many key issues: health care, abortion rights, immigration.  Many, supporters and detractors alike, have come to question what he stands for.  Does he stand for anything? (My analysis of the root source of his convictions is coming in a future blog post.  Stay tuned.)  People, especially politicians, who changes positions (in fact positions that seem to be 180 degrees apart), are often labeled, pejoratively, as "Flip Floppers."  "Flip Floppers" seemingly holds contradictory positions or, in a temporal context, currently believe and support ideas that they opposed in the past.  George H. W. Bush, George Bush, John McCain, Sarah Palin (remember the "Bridge to Nowhere?"), and of course Mitt Romney come to mind.  To be fair, Barack Obama (on gay marriage) does not escape the scourge of being a Flip Flopper.

Flip Floppers
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Flip Floppers have a bad name.  After all, how can you trust someone whose position is often changing?  I myself have looked critically and pejoratively at Flip Floppers.  I'm a  believer in logic, math and  science. Consistency is an important value and artifact of this believe system.  Illogical and inconsistent argumentation are easily discounted.

It's easy to rationalize such inconsistencies in the "Real World," however.  Premises are often times unclearly stated.  The language (say English) to build an argument is probably inherently ambiguous and fails to express precise meaning.  Hence, formal logic is often too brittle to express how we must reason about the real world.

While still clinging to the value of logic, science, and math, I must concede -- the rigidity of such systems must account for the possibility of Flip Flopping. 

I'm flip flopping on flip flopping!

Temporal Context

"Times Change."

Time really doesn't change.  This is a strange saying.  A misnomer.  However, it's easy to see the circumstances in which ideas are formulated, conclusions based, and actions taken  change.  Whether it be social values, Constitutional amendments, demographic shifts, economic climate, the circumstances of a decision are important predicates of those decisions.

Therefore, I understand why a person -- a candidate -- may support a position, legislation, or an ideology that is different from that of the past.  The premises for one's views are different.  So, it's logically consistent to have a different position because of the changing hypotheses.   Hence, there's a logical explanation for a flip flop.  So, I found my rigid values against flip flopping now suspect. I've flipped flopped!

Note however, this is not the only reason for a flip flop.  I suspect that Romney's flip flopping might not be based on this logical conclusion.  (Again, more coming.)
 
In Technology

Technology changes at a remarkable pace.  Some say exponentially fast.  Hence, the premises we make with regards to technology are constantly changing.  Consequently, the conclusions we draw and the opinions we have should also be changing with changing technology.  Even so, sometimes we "dig in" and stick to our guns on ideology.  I think this is wrong.  We must adapt.  The "pendulum of technology" swings wide, but not necessarily fast.

Examples are rampant.  Thin clients vs fat clients.  Cloud computing/storage vs. customer premise ownership Waterfall SW development vs. Agile.  Consumer applications vs. enterrprise solutions.  Out-of-the-box software vs. custom configured solutions.  Lots of processors vs. more memory. Fast networks vs. big processors.  My favorite:  Compile time typing vs. runtime typing.

Language Typing

For years I've clung to the value of strong typing.  At compile time.  It's not hard to see why -- in my formative years at the University of Washington going to Xerox, Bell Labs, Sun Microsystems, and BroadVision, strong typing, early typing, compile time object hierarchies ruled my thinking.  From Pascal, Eden, and Emerald to Mesa and C++ to CORBA/IDL and then Java, strong compile time typing provided the basis for sane system design.  Creating "contracts" through interfaces that hid implementation  seemed to be the path to software safety and scalable systems.  It's certainly served me well.

Then in the late nineties, a disturbing reality reared its (ugly) head -- it was clear the web was not going to be build on these principles.  Statically typed languages were failing us.  We couldn't build scalable web systems.  We couldn't move fast enough and we couldn't adapt to change quickly enough.  Dynamically typed, interpreted languages would rule the naughties.  Perl, php, Python, Ruby, JavaScript were destined to be languages of choice for the Internet.  Languages that deferred (or ignored) typing until very late.  How could such systems be safe or scalable?

But, it is clear what would happen; programmer productivity, the safety resulting from interpretation, and garbage collection would rule supreme.  Compile time typing was dead.  Long live dynamic typing and interpreted languages.  Indeed, the web was built this way. Flip flopping, I've since deployed systems in Python, joining the bandwagon.

The Pendulum Swings

The pendulum has swung far right.  We're all on the Python/Ruby/php bandwagons.  However, I sense a change back to the left afoot.  Strong typing, compile time typing, type safe languages will have their day in the sun again.  And we'll all flip flop again.

As for Romney

Does my technology example shed any light on Romney and his values?  Maybe.  However, I suspect his flip flopping is rooted in something different -- the formulation of positions based on the process of a consultant.  More coming...And, expect even more flip flopping in the future.
ssu.pngLast night, I hosted "Seattle...Startups...You?"  A gathering to help students at the University of Washington (especially those in the Computer Science & Engineering Department) understand why they might want to join a startup or start one on their own.  As previously noted, while students have great exposure to great big tech companies, we wanted to introduce them to why a startup (in Seattle) might be a fun, exciting, and rewarding alternative.  We did this in conjunction with the department career fair and Industrial Affiliates meeting.

While I had hoped this would be a good, informal gathering, we were well "oversubscribed" -- we were counting on 50 students showing up -- over 100 packed the room, from the CSE department as well as others. I'm sure the great food sponsored by Flipboard and door prizes sponsored by Topix (Thanks to both!) helped, but initial feedback from students show that we've provided great information that students want.

I've received a few requests for the presentations, so here they are:

Introduction (Wayne Yamamoto)
Big Companies vs. Startups (Anthony Wu)
Brave New World: Technology, VC, Seattle (Chris DeVore)
What's up with Silicon Valley (And Why Should I Care?) (Chris Tolles)
5 Habits of Successful Startup Engineers (David Creemer)
Internships at Startups (Robert Chu)
From the trenches (Jason Tan)

Thanks to all presenters and attendees.  It was a great event.  I hope this week is a fruitful career fair and Industrial Affiliates Meeting!

BTW, if you are a company that wants to know more about the UW Computer Science & Engineering department or want to recruit out this department, consider becoming a University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering Industrial Affiliate.  It's a great program and the UW CSE is a great department!

Startups...Seattle...You?

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uwcse.pngThe Computer Science & Engineering Department at the University of Washington is one of the best in the world.  Led by Hank Levy, David Notkin, and Ed Lazowska, this department competes with the best of the best -- Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, and CMURecent hires reflect the awesomeness of CSE and project where this department is going.  Of course, I'm biased; I've spent time here as an undergraduate, grad student, Visiting Scholar and now Visiting Faculty.  I'm proud to be able to stand near such talent.

Over the years, I've recruited out of this department.  In addition to great researchers, great engineers have also emerged from the ranks of its students.  Jeff Dean, Greg Badros, and Christophe Biscalia are only a few great people that recently did time here.  So, it's fertile ground for finding talent. 

However, when working at a startup, I've often found it difficult to recruit at the UW.  Why?  Because it's been tough to compete with the Microsofts, Amazons, Googles, and Facebooks.  A small company gets lost in the noise and the sheer mass of big companies. Thankfully, the department is recognizing the value of startups in the tech ecosystem and it now is actively promoting startups to students with a special career day.  (This Tuesday, October 23). 

Getting startups in front of students is a great first step.  However, there's still a gap -- there seems to lack information about why startups are fun, exciting and rewarding.  Students just don't have enough exposure to startups.  Why are they are different than big companies?  Why might they be better? Why is Seattle a great place to do a startup? I want to help fix this knowledge gap. So, in conjunction with the career day, I'm hosting an event on campus at the University of Washington to promote the startups - why it's a great experience, why it might be for you.  It's on Monday, October 21, 2012 at 6:00.  All students are welcome.  (If you are not a student and want to attend, drop me an email or a DM on twitter at @kazabyte and we'll figure something out.)

Everything you wanted to know about startups but were afraid to ask.

Here's the flyer:
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[Alternative Title: Belated Father's Day Tribute to My Father]

I'm sure many of you, including me, have pondered grand questions such as "What is the origin of the universe?," "What is the meaning of life?," "Why is there something rather than nothing?," and "What happened before the Big Bang?" But, in all likelihood, you only managed to scratch the surface of the surface of such questions.  Perhaps you have come to some satisfying nonsecular conclusion along the lines of "God."  Or, you were left unsatisfied that you'll never know.

Well, today, we presumably know more.  Unless you've been living under a rock without Internet access, you know that scientists at the CERN research center have announced they have evidence of the Higgs boson.  Confirmation of the existence of this particle fits in nicely with some current theories on the order of the universe.

As an armchair scientist, this is quite exciting. However, on  personal level, I've had mixed emotions.  I knew this day was coming.  Well, at least I was pretty sure. But, for my entire lifetime, I've been taught differently.  That, even with the discovery of the Higgs boson, something was missing -- an accounting for gravity.

During the last months of his life, my Dad sent me a few emails.  Including the following:

From: yamamotog@xxxxxx.com
Date: June 25, 2010 1:46:56 PM PDT
To: wayne....oto@yyyyy.com

Subject: Re: Public Lecture by Bernard Schutz of AEI, Potsdam, Germany

Way back, I was interested in gravity waves.  I thought I could generate gravity waves and detect them using some sensor to detect them to prove gravity waves exist.  I was going to generate gravity waves by rotating a massive cylinder.  I thought this will generate gravity waves but I hadn't figured out what I could use for the sensor and therefore I didn't know how strong a wave I needed to generate so that I could detect it and therefore I didn't know how big a cylinder I needed nor how fast I had to spin it.  

I would have been very disappointed if the universe is filled with something like Higgs Boson.  Then I think "mass" could be made from gathering Boson particles, not from what I thought is more elegant mechanisms like "Geon" which is a trapped photon within its own gravity field.  If "Higgs Boson" or something like it is responsible, all one has to do is find them like all other elemental particles physicists were looking for in accelerators and still are.  I personally would have found no fun in that.   When I wrote this, I thought about my adviser. (Couldn't remember his name. He had only one ear lobe.)  Fun days.

Dad


My dad died later that year, never knowing for sure whether  the Higgs boson existed or not. 

The Theory of Everything

Though I didn't know it growing up, I've realized that my dad was in search of the Theory of Everything.  Yes.  Everything.  That's a pretty big audacious goal.  Sure, maybe it's something you think about occasionally.  But my Dad "went deep," based on science and math.  For a long time, I thought he was only in search of a Grand Unified Theory. Big in its own right but clearly smaller than a Theory  of Everything.

In the late 1950's/early 1960's, he was about to take an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study, when he realized that the University of Washington wasn't quite the right place to study theoretical physics.  But alas, he and my mom got married, had a child on the way, and decided that such intellectual pursuits didn't quite fit in. So, he settled on fighting and winning the cold war.  But that's another story.

What If?

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I find it quite tantalizing to think what if my father had gone to IAS to find a Theory of Everything.  Would he have figured out how gravity fits in with electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions? Sure, Albert Einstein was all ready dead and he couldn't help.  But Kurt Godel was still there.  Would he have worked with him to unravel the mysteries of the universe? Or prove that we really can't understand the mysteries of the universe?  After all, in 2002, after considering Godel's Theorem on Incompleteness, Stephen Hawking declared a Theory of Everything impossible.  I find this all deliciously satisfying because of my personal intrigue with Godel (as many of you know).

Or maybe I'm just a boy proud of his dad.

Disappointment?  Not.

Would my dad really be disappointed today if were alive to hear the CERN Large Hadron Collider results?  I've been pondering this for more than a few months.  Would his beliefs for understanding the universe be invalidated?

I think not.  In many of the announcements and commentary on the discovery of the Higgs boson, there seems to be an acknowledgement that gravity is "outside of the model."  I  take that acknowledgement as a "hat tip" to those in search of an explanation of gravity, including my dad.

And despite his potential disappointment that the universe might be less "elegant" with the Higgs boson, I believe he "moved the needle" in our understanding of the universe.  That makes me proud.

Rest in Peace, Dad.  I know that this is a usually a non-secular wish for those that have passed.  And, in the name of science, it doesn't quite make sense. However, ironically, I think I can say this, both figuratively and literally. 

Happy Belated Father's Day, Dad.


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United States Bill of Rights

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It's Flag Day. What better day than to remember and reflect on the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and its Amendments.  Especially the Bill of Rights.

I. Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

II. Right to keep and bear arms

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

III. Conditions for quarters of soldiers

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

IV. Right of search and seizure regulated

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

V. Provisons concerning prosecution

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense t
o be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

VI. Right to a speedy trial, witnesses, etc.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be
 confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

VII. Right to a trial by jury

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

VIII. Excessive bail, cruel punishment

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

IX. Rule of construction of Constitution

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

X. Rights of the States under Constitution

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

jingjing(1)

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Jing Jing has been a favorite Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto for nearly forever.  Well, at least since the closing of Louie's.  It's sort of a famous nerd hang out from yesteryear. We'd go there all most every Friday for lunch. Years have passed and the gatherings have waned.  I'm trying to resurrect the weekly gathering.  Unix to the rescue?

JJ(1)                                                                                                                                     JJ(1)

NAME
                       jj -- request a dining event at Jing Jing. Jing Jing is located at 443 Emerson, Palo Alto, CA, 94301.  Tel: (650)-328-6885.  Web:  http://www.jingjinggourmet.com/2005/default.asp

SYNOPSIS
                       jj [ -d date ] [ -t time ] [ -s ] [ -r list ] [ -h ] [ -o ] [ -a id ] [ user .... ]

DESCRIPTION
                        The jj utility is an invitation for a sharing a meal at Jing Jing.  It takes each user and records them as the proposed attendees.  If no users are specified, it is an open invitation for anyone.

OPTIONS
                        -d          The date of the event, specified as DD-MM-YYYY.  If no -d argument is  given, today is the default date.

                        -t           The time of the event, as specified as HH:MM, in 24 hour time.  If no -t argument is specified, 11:55 is the default time.

                        -s            Use the Wayne standard meal specification.  The standard specification is parameterized by the number of users specified.

                        -r           list is a quoted string specifying requests for dishes in addition menu items that might be included in the -s specification.  Commas separate dish items.  Note that the -r list is a heuristic only.

                        -h           Hiptard mode.  If -h is specified, utility is applied to Mission Chinese, not Jing Jing.

                        -a            An identifier for this request.  If there is a previous identifier on the given date and time, users are appended to the jj request all ready identified.  

                        -o           Old codger mode.  Print a random famous Palo Alto restaurant story to stdout.  Example:  A Digital Equipment salesman dining at Louie's is loudly arguing with an engineering manager about the cache architecture of the KL 10. The waiter, after taking their order, says beneath his breathe, "It's a 32K two way set associative not direct mapped cache" and scurries away.  The salesman is left with mouth hanging open -- what could the waiter know?  Turns out the waiter was Jeff Rubin, a systems programmer at the Stanford AI Lab, working as a waiter in exchange for Chinese lessons.

BUGS
                         Since id in the -a argument is user generated, ids are not guaranteed to be unique.

                          Users specified are only people that have been requested to attend not those actually attending.  The -s calculation may compute an undesired result because of the difference between those invited and those that actually attend.


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Serial entrepreneur, Wayne Yamamoto, is quietly embarking on a new parallel "hobby."  Investing.  While merely a side show to his day job as CEO/Executive Director at Charity Blossom, he, like many successful entrepreneurs, dabbles in early stage investing.  Today, given the availability of some Facebook (FB) shares, he astutely went "all in." But, he quickly "got out" within a few hours.  We can't confirm the exact execution of the trades, but we speculate that he was in at $38/share (the IPO price) and out at $41/share.  While this is only a 7.89% gain, on an  IRR basis, it's been noted that this is over a "GOOGLE (sic) percent a year."

To put this perspective, returns of 50%/year on a IRR basis would easily qualify a VC or Private Equity fund as a top 1% fund.  Unless you are a limited partner or insider you will probably never know the actual returns on a VC or PE fund.  But it's pretty safe to say that even "rock star" investors such as Ron Conway, Jim Breyer, or Alex Lloyd will not see this kind of return in aggregate.  While many note that FB may still have some upside, this kind of IRR will probably never be seen again.

(Aside: Given the values of transparency and quantitative measurement that VCs "sell" to their portfolio companies, why is this data about VC's themselves so carefully guarded?)

We may never know the exact numbers of the gains made by Mr. Yamamoto.  Perhaps subsequent filings such as the Facebook 10K may reveal such information.  However. he was reportedly seen filing a Form 911 at the local Porsche dealer.  We'll try to extrapolate from this to understand the magnitude of this deal.  Stay tuned.

In a short statement, Mr. Yamamoto said, "I'm not a professional investor.  My job is to build successful companies and organizations. But, some investments are just no brainers."  Indeed, Wayne is noted for being an early engineer and VP of Engineering at Broadvision (which he helped grow to a publicly traded company with a $20B+ market cap) and is the co-founder of MerchantCircle, which was sold to Reply! for $60 million last year.

Disclosure:  The author is still long on FB.



[ For the humor impaired: :-)  Or, alternatively, maybe I'm humor impaired. ]