Saturday, July 05, 2003

Chicken Law

During an otherwise tedious faculty meeting today, one of our most popular and entertaining professors, John Kidwell, analogized law to chicken. Every law school serves chicken, he said, but they use different seasonings. (Our preferences at Wisconsin run in the direction of the "law-in-action approach.")

This reminded me of a well-known and oft-cited law review article by my former dean, Jim Huffman, called Chicken Law in an Eggshell: Part III--A Dissenting Note, 16 Envtl. L. 761 (1986). In the article, he is dissenting to a symposium on anadromous fish and notes, "it is important to make it clear that the concern is for anadromous, not androgynous, fish. Although the way fish do it, they might just as well be androgynous. But let's face it--you see one salmon, you've seen them all."

He then offers a few observations about chickens and chicken law:

* "The chicken is neither androgynous nor anadromous. It mates the good old fashioned way and travels neither upstream nor downstream: it just hangs around the farmyard. But don't be deceived by its ordinary habits. You see one chicken; you want to see another."

* "Given the importance of the topic, it may surprise some readers to know that chicken law scholarship is embryonic at best. The reason is regretfully obvious. Who would have the nerve to sign his name to a discourse on chicken law? ... My hope is that future generations will think of me in relation to chicken law, the way scholars today think of Ulisse Aldrovandi in relation to the sociology of the chicken. Aldrovandi, it seems, was the first person since the Romans to write of the chicken without the prophyactic of a pseudonym. "

There's more where that came from.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Happy Birthday, America!

I am an unabashed fan of the United States of America. The world has never seen a startup quite like this one, and several of the founders (particularly Franklin and Jefferson) belong in the Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame. So, Happy Birthday, America! From your favorite entrepreneurship blog ...

I love the '80s

VH1 has a very entertaining show called I Love the 80s. Watching it makes me feel very old. In 1989, I worked as a summer associate in the Wilmington office of Skadden Arps, and the M&A boom was in full swing. It was an amazing experience. It seemed that every day brought a new deal or a new decision from the Delaware courts. I later signed on as a real associate, and that was not so amazing. (We'll leave those stories for another day.)

Business Week is now reporting a renewed interest in M&A for technology companies, spurred by Oracle's hostile bid for PeopleSoft. Our economy could use a measured dose of hostile takeovers, but don't get your hopes up. As stated in the article, "Don't expect an avalanche of deals overnight, though. Any significant rise in volume isn't likely to show up until late this year or early 2004."

Thursday, July 03, 2003

The Biggest Biotech Company You've Never Heard Of

Even casual observers of the biotech industry know about Amgen and Genentech, but how many have heard of Gilead? (As in "balm of Gilead"?) Get to know them. The FDA just approved Gilead's new anti-AIDS drug, Emtriva. That makes three FDA approvals in the past two years, which is lightening speed.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

My dot-com experience

All this talk about dot-coms has put me in the mood to reminisce ...

In the middle of the dot-com bubble, I was approached by the folks at to become one of their academic columnists. (I was recommended by my good friend, Lydia Loren, who also took the leap and became a columnist.) After signing the "consulting agreement" and receiving my grant of stock options, I wrote one column and the company tanked. I don't think there was a correlation between my writing the column and the company running out of money, but that pretty well illustrates my luck as a business person. (Why do you think I became an academic?) Shortly thereafter, the company had a revival, attracting an investment from former-NYC Mayor Ed Koch, and it is still going today.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Dot-com Renaissance?

Just after I made a negative comment about dot-coms (in my last post), The Wall Street Journal reported that some old friends -- Akamai, WebMD, and Monster -- are making a comeback. The fuel powering the comback? All of these dot-coms are attracting more traditional companies as customers. In the case of Monster, those traditional companies are paying for advertising, which should make any success more sustainable. While I will always have a soft spot for dot-coms ("thanks for the memories..."), I doubt we will see a period like the late 1990s for some time.