Monthly Archives: February 2013

Rest in Peace, Bobby Arnold

Rest in Peace, Bobby Arnold

I was saddened to hear about fellow PONCHO Past President and all around wonderful person, Bob Arnold’s passing yesterday in the desert.  I dug out the remarks I made seven years ago when I was asked to honor him at a special PONCHO Tribute luncheon to share with you.  

Bob is modest and doesn’t want to be thought of as “Mr. Big”, but I told him that he was going to have to let us make him “Mr. Big” for at least today!
As many of you may know, Bobby grew up as part of the Seattle establishment.  His father was the Chairman of Seafirst Bank and the most successful local fundraising guild for Fred Hutch is named after his mother, Grace Heffernan Arnold.  Bob is a 5th generation banker.  His brother frequently said that Bob went into banking because he couldn’t get a job anywhere else.  But actually, I have a couple of stories about two other jobs that Bob did hold.
  1. When Bobby was 15 years old, he took a job at a cannery in Alaska.  During more racially intolerant times than today, he accepted an invitation by a young native Innuit girl to attend a party one night.  There was literally a caste or class system in Alaska at that time and Native Americans were at the bottom of the social totem pole.  It was reported back to his supervisor that he was seen at the party with a girl with a different skin color than his so he was unceremoniously fired the next day.  Bob had to sell his watch to get enough money to buy his ticket to get home.  So in his first job, he was canned by the cannery.
  1. Some of you may have noticed that Bob always wears a small gold St. Christopher medal around his neck that his parents gave him when he was a young man.  Five years later in 1949, Bob and his family were able to have a private audience with the Pope and the Pope held Bob’s medal and blessed it.  Bob’s next job was in the Navy for four years and he flew as a fighter pilot during the Korean War.  One day on the carrier, Bob was passed out in his bunk after flying four missions in a row when he was rousted out and told he needed to fly another mission.  When he checked for his St. Christopher medal, he realized that it was missing and said he had to find it before he could fly another mission.  Bob subsequently did find his medal later that afternoon in his bunk, but in the meantime, his bunk mate offered to take his place in the plane and was shot down and died that day.  Bob has served his fellow man in so many ways since that day over 50 years ago when he didn’t go on that fateful mission. 
Let’s talk about Bob and PONCHO.  PONCHO was originally formed in Bob’s home following a field trip to see ZOOMZI, an auction supporting the Portland Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. Bob was part of the original cabal of six that formed PONCHO along with Kayla Skinner, Ned Skinner, Bobbie Fowler, Paul Friedlander and Hagen ________.
One of the things Bob told me he valued about PONCHO was that it gave him the opportunity to associate with people that he didn’t know well, who were not part of the “establishment” that he grew up within, but instead were many of the people he described as “doers” who became very dear friends to him.
Bob was the 12th President of PONCHO in 1976 and the theme for the Gala Auction, that year was “Happy Birthday America”!  The evening’s décor was totally underwritten and executed by the Bon Marche and installed with volunteer help.  The event was held in the Exhibition Hall at the Seattle Center.  There was a whole section reserved for showcasing the many live animals that were included in the auction; several horses, dogs, etc.  There was a system for bidding on live auction items that involved a bid signal light with two 4-foot cords located on each table next to the centerpiece.  Attendees were instructed to press a switch and hold it to activate the light until the auctioneer recognized their bid before releasing the switch.  They were also reminded in the program in capital letters to PRESS THE SWITCH ONLY WHEN BIDDING!  It is somewhat comforting to realize that PONCHO patrons didn’t mind then much better than they do now. 
In looking at the auction program for 1976, they had 151 live auction and 551 silent auction items.  The first item up for bid was a new kitchen appliance that was revolutionizing American cooking, an Amana microwave.  To give you a taste of some of the other offerings, there was a Welsh pony valued at $500 and a race horse valued at $6,000, a 33 foot Bayliner boat valued at $48,000, a large painting by Ned Behnke and tickets for 45 fans to attend a baseball game at the Kingdome with the brand-new “Seattle Baseball Club” during their inaugural season.  The catalog must have gone to print prior to selection of the name, the Seattle Mariners.  In addition, Bob convinced Georgia Pacific to build a PONCHO dream home that Bob ruefully admitted didn’t sell during his presidential year, so he earned the distinction of being the first PONCHO president who brought in less net revenue than his predecessor the previous year.  Of course the house sold shortly after he passed the gavel, so the next year looked really good.
Though Bob has heard himself pronounced dead several times already, we are all very glad that the pronouncements were wrong and that he is here with all of us today.  Few people are as full of life as Bobby Arnold!  Here are just a few of his passions:
  1. PASSION #1:  Philanthropy – Bob loves to do things for his community and is very proud of the many institutions he and his family have supported over the years.  It is not too hard for us to find lots of examples of his legendary generosity . . . the Arnold Building at the Hutch, the new entry sculpture in the Seattle Art Museum.  He told me he can’t wait for the new SAM to open so we can all see the sculpture of nine cars crashing into one another and flying!  Bob says that PONCHO really gets the credit for educating him to appreciate the arts.
  1. PASSION #2:  Travel – Bob loves to travel.  He and his very special friend, Geri Lucks, travel all over the world together.  It really helps that Geri is a trained travel agent!  So far, Bob has traveled to 153 countries and wants to bet that you haven’t traveled to as many as he.  This year, he and Geri look forward to adding to his list with a visit to Timbukto and Malle.  By the way, you can ask Bob to repeat the “Timbukto” joke privately later.
  1. PASSION #3:  Fine Wine – When Bob was in his forties, he and four other Seattleites bought a French winery, Chateau Bouscaut.  For 15 years, he and his friends, as profitable French vintners, had a wonderful time entertaining their friends and important guests with their Chateau located on 50 acres of park land in Bordeaux.   There was a tradition amongst the French Bordeaux winery owners, to trade a case of wine at Christmastime so he began an amazing wine collection.  And of course, many of you have been in Bob’s home and have seen his impressive collection of wines in his wine cellar.
  1. PASSION #4:  Investing in people – Bob is an active angel investor.  He likes to help people succeed in building their dreams.  Amazingly, he has invested in 92 start-up companies.  In fact, Bob was one of Howard Schultz’ first investors and underwrote Howard’s 6 month education in Italy and Europe to learn the coffee business right before Howard acquired the Starbuck’s concept and began to build Starbucks to be a household word.
I have one final funny story about Bob.  Many years ago, here at the Sunset Club, there  was pressure that the club would lose it liquor license if it did not admit men.  Betty McCurdy, who was president of the Sunset Club at that time, asked Bob if he would agree to run for prospective membership.  He agreed and when it came time to vote, his application was promptly declined by the rest of the membership.  What he thought was a favor turned out to be a personal embarrassment.  Well, Bob, don’t you think it is ironic that your PONCHO Founders Award honor is being presented today in the club that turned you down all those years ago?

Now it is time to present the award.  Bob, please come join me at the podium.          

ZINOpreneur of the Week:  Tom Arnold of PetHub

ZINOpreneur of the Week: Tom Arnold of PetHub

Tom Arnold and Ullr

Our ZINO Society featured ZINOpreneur Member this week is Tom Arnold, Founder and CEO of PetHub.

Following due diligence, Tom Arnold and PetHub were recently announced and recognized this week as the ZINO Annual Angel Investment Fund-2012 fund allocation winner for the ZINO Marketplace Investment Forum which occurred a couple of months ago.

We asked him to share the answers to a few questions about himself and his company, PetHub.

  • What is your one-sentence elevator pitch? . . .
One-liner: We get four-legged family members home faster and safer through digital ID tags that link to a free online profile with options for GPS location services,  “Amber Alerts,” and emergency medical insurance.
Longer elevator ride includes:Success stories can be found at
Tom Arnold with ZAAIF-2012 check.
Longest elevator ride includes: Fan videos can be found at
  • How did you come up with the idea for your company? . . .
I was managing a software project for Microsoft in India for 3 months and felt out of touch with my pets. I wanted very simple updates and photos letting me know how they were doing and notifications if anything went wrong.  This grew into a much bigger vision for a central information store for all my pets’ information coupled with a state of the art retrieval service.
  • The word that best describes your company culture is . . .
Passionate.  We’re all pet owners at PetHub and we’re focused on creating solutions that we ourselves want for the animals we watch over.
  • How are you different from your competition? . . . 
First and foremost, we were the first out with a QR code ID tag and first with GPS notifications and email alerts.  We helped create this category of service and we’re ahead of our competitors when it comes to continual innovation.  Second, we’re software experts so we know how to build robust, reliable and scalable software platforms.  That means we can scale quickly and have planned for a global presence.  Candidly, our competitors copy our surface-level solution of a tag and a free profile (which I suppose is a compliment) but we’ve focused on building a platform / SaaS approach that empowers large pet industry players to have a turn-key solution.  We are essentially the software behind a variety of industry players whose solution is “Powered by PetHub.”
  • What is the biggest challenge you face? . . .
I see two equally-sized challenges:
1)   We need to build our sales & marketing team which is what our Series A raise is all about.  We have advisors in the tech and pet industries who are keeping us moving forward, but we need a dedicated pet industry executive to own our sales & marketing initiatives, who understands the industry and can help us forge partnerships.
2)   There is so much opportunity, it’s a constant challenge to pick the top-3 initiatives and filter the rest. The industry is $56B in the U.S. alone with so many sectors that we can work with: pet food, insurance, veterinarians, shelters, and many more potential channels.  “Discipline” is the keyword we live by followed closely by our favorite phrase, “Keep It Super Simple.”
  • How much money have you raised to date? . . . 
We were lucky to have family and friends who seeded us with $1.3M that’s been used for R&D over the past 3 years to get us to a scalable and proven product.
  • If someone gave your company $3 million tomorrow, how would you use the money? . . . 
We would use that to scale faster, broaden our focus on partnerships, and bring in talent sooner than our current timeline allows.

·         Why will your company be successful? . . .

A few reasons:
1)   Experience: I’ve personally been through 3 bootstrap start-ups so I feel like I know what the road ahead looks like.
2)   Team: We are a group that is not only passionate about what we’re working on, we’ve brought the right talent to the team.  Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” compares a business to a bus. You get the right people with the right attitude and passion on the bus and you get them into the right seats.  If you realize you have someone that doesn’t fit either into one of the seats or have the correct attitude, you help them off of the bus.  After 3 years of building and refining this team, we have an incredible group of people and we plan to continue to raise the bar as we invite more people onto the PetHub bus.
3)   Customer Focused: We love talking to and interacting with our customers.  It comes through loud and clear as we are at nearly 28,000 fans on our Facebook fan page having jumped nearly 14,000 fans within the past two months.  We are quickly nearing a critical mass.
Year of the Snake Party

Year of the Snake Party

Theresa Dowell, Cathi Hatch, Betty Tong, Debi Giannola

Courtney Womack, Patti Payne, Steve Kutz

Ken and I had a wonderful time at the Chinese New Year’s Party hosted by Betty Tong and Joe Miner recently.  It was fun to catch up with friends Debi & Len Giannola, Theresa Dowell, Steve Kutz, Courtney Womack, Patti Payne, Stewart Phelps, Natalie Phelps and a host of others as we celebrated the Year of the Snake.

As always, Betty had a huge selection of interesting food choices overflowing her kitchen island.  One of my favorites was called Dragon’s Meatballs.