Alto News

Alto Clients Develop Democratic National Committee's First Mobile App

June 25, 2010
The Democratic National Committee recently announced the release of its first mobile (iPhone and iPad) apps.  I write this not to attempt to advance a particular political agenda, but because those apps were developed by two alto clients, Small Society and Urban Airship, in collaboration with the DNC.  Small Society has been developing iPhone applications since the release of the SDK in March 2008 and has created a national reputation as a leading iOS strategy and product development firm.  It was the company behind the Obama ’08 for iPhone initiative and has completed other projects for large companies such as Starbucks, Whole Foods and Clif Bar.  Urban Airship provides the new AirMail functionality within the DNC apps, a platform that lets app users receive messages on a special action inbox where they get the most up-to-date ways of getting involved and taking immediate action.  AirMail is the next-generation in push notifications.  These are the types of high-profile, innovative clients that make working at alto so much fun.

NDAs Are Great, But...

May 26, 2010
On average, we are asked to review about 7-10 NDAs a week for our various clients.  Most of these are smaller companies, start-ups and individuals who have either had their form NDA marked-up, been presented with BigCo's form NDA, or been told that the other party will not sign an NDA.  This last situation is typical of VCs, sophisticated investors and large companies who do not want to be hit with a breach of contract claim if it turns out the party across the table from them discloses something that someone else within the large company is working on in a distance office.

Involving Your Board

May 21, 2010
I read a lot of Mark Suster's posts on his blog Both Sides of the Table.  He is a former entrepreneur and CEO who now works for GRP Partners, a prominent VC.  He wrote a great post about how important it is for entrepreneurs to engage with their boards between board meetings.  You can read it here.  This is a great read for young CEOs, in fact it should be read by all CEOs.  Too often the firepower that experienced board members bring is limited to bi-monthly or quarterly meetings.  Especially at the earliest stages, CEOs should be active in utilizing the expertise that resides on their board.  You brought these people to the table for a reason, you gave them equity, why not use them to the fullest extent possible?  It is hard to get great advice from multiple people during a single board meeting.  Having regular meetings with the people who are key to the strategic direction of the company should be a requirement.  If your directors aren't willing to make themselves that available then they just aren't that in to you - find someone who is.

4-Tell Wins Gorge Angel Conference

May 10, 2010
Congratulations to our client, 4-Tell, for winning the 2010 Gorge Angel Conference.  4-Tell provides personalized product recommendation technology for small and medium size e-commerce businesses.  Turns out that those recommendation engines (e.g. “If you like this phone, you may also like this other gadget”) are not only extremely valuable (undisclosed sources claim that up to 40% of’s revenue comes from such sources) but are extremely difficult to implement.  Ken Levy and Neil Lofgren, the two founders of 4-Tell, bring a patented technology and algorithm to the space.  With the unending growth of e-commerce and the staunch competition for consumer dollars it is easy to see how this offering holds a lot of promise.


April 30, 2010
We’ve had a lot of issues come up with non-compete provisions over the past few months.  This includes trying to enforce pre-existing non-competes as well as advising clients as to the value of requiring non-competes moving forward as they hire new employees.