Saturday, February 28, 2009

Promotion Request to Jott

I was reading Fred Wilson's presentation on the net today. I'm embedding it below. I clicked play and then I noticed his message, "Here's the deck I used. I didn't record the talk so there's no audio track. Sorry about that."

I read Fred Wilson enough to have a decent idea about what he was talking about but I still feel let down by the medium, and casual readers are really missing out.

The fine folks at Jott should make a standard offer to Fred Wilson and some other high profile bloggers, like Seth Godin, etc, that they will transcribe every speech for them. Bring a tape recorder, record, then send to us. We (Jott) will do the rest. Jott would get mad brand promotion and associate itself with high profile people that its customers can relate to. 

The transcription doesn't need to be perfect, because we'll have the visual aid. But we need more and Jott can give it to us. 


As long as newspapers are running poitical cartoons like this, they're going to keep going out of business. This beauty is from the SF Chronicle today but it ran in the Philadelphi Daily News earlier in the week. Don't they know that we get our news from different filters now? That most of us want to read it online instead of on paper? Why are they letting their businesses get flushed down the toilet because of their unwillingness to move off of paper? Monopolies die hard.

P.S. I took me 15 minutes to find this online, because the search engines on each newspaper site were so bad. I finely found it on an aggregator site.
Signe Wilkinson
Philadelphia Daily News
Feb 24, 2009

Reblog: Working in Hollywood

via Mark Lisanti

In case anyone was wondering what it's like to work in the hypocrisy of Hollywood


12:30pm - I read in the Hollywood Reporter that Warners is remaking THE NEVERENDING STORY.  I think to myself that they should never remake such a classic and how it’s exemplary of everything wrong with movie development today.

1pm - I post the following to my facebook status: “Matthew is calling a cease and desist on the Neverending Story remake. Love you guys… but seriously.”

1:44pm - My agent, clearly not having seen my Facebook status, sends me the following email: “RE: NEVERENDING STORY.  You familiar with it?  Resonate for you at all?”

1:45pm - I respond to my agent: “Yes, hugely, let’s go for it.”

1:49pm - I erase my facebook status.

[via supersecretdownlowhollywoodradar]

Reblog: Blackstone from Kedrosky

Reblogging this from Paul Kedrosky's excellent blog that everyone interested in finance should read.

Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman from today’s earnings conference call for the beleaguered private equity shop:
Our view is the economy will continue to deteriorate sharply this quarter and next quarter and be pretty weak second quarter and maybe sort of see stability fourth quarter, and then I think you will have a pretty, and a weak 2010 although I don’t think it will keep declining…I think 2011 will show some growth but still be well below the levels of 2006 and 2007. My own view is you may not get back to 2006 and 2007 a long time because we have sort of an emotional and psychic shift going on in America which is back to basics don’t live on leverage, live within your means, more humble life styles, less extravagant consumption, savings and all of that sort of stuff.
I believe that a lot of people in America are legitimately scared and have seen their life savings or what they perceived as their net worth largely either wiped out or cut in half. That’s going to forge fundamental behavioral differences and that will retard the growth.”

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Bonus Song

If you are still working, like me, you need a Friday bonus song. I'll give you two,...and a picture to look at (from Fred Larson ).

Death Cab - Cath

Jeff Tweey - Heavy Metal Drummer

For Finance & Hoops Fans

Incredible article by the Sports Guy on the NBA's economic problems. Full of "insider-y" stats about team finances. One of the most enjoyable articles I've read in a long time, but remember, two of my biggest passions are finance and sports.

Found via Alex Bain's Favorites which is rapidly becoming a premium newsource for me. Seriously.

Alex, can you put up a post how you set up your favorites thing-y, and then post the URL in my comments here?

Friday Chill Music

It's Friday again. Wow, that was fast!

First up is the live, acoustic set that M. Ward did for NPR  last week. I listened to it on Thursday at work with my headphones on, and it was magical. Listen to this immediately, preferably with headphones for better sound quality.

Next is Chairlift, a great song called Bruises . It's the ipod song, I know. But it's really good.

I'm back on another Bon Iver kick. I think it's all the rainy weather we've been having. Here is BonIver - Creature Fear Live

The sounds quality on this Tom Petty & Pearl Jam cover of American Girl  isn't great. But it's a fantastic song, sung by two of my favorites.

Finally, here's a neat little song I found on I'm All Ears called More of This by Vetiver 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Love Sports Basement

I grew up working in my mom's home accessories and furniture store, Elegant Clutter. I learned about the importance of culture and loving where you work from her and her employees.

Back in 2001 I started shopping at Sports Basement  and loved it. I felt the same kind of connection with the store and employees that I had felt at Elegant Clutter (that's the highest praise I can give). Over the years I bought tons of clothes and equipment there and a lot of cool people I know do the same.

I started a social network called We Love Sports Basement, partly as an online fan-club for the store and the people who work there, and partly as a way for active people in the Bay Area to meet other active people. If we're all shopping at Sports Basement, and yoga-ing, jogging, biking or playing hoops, we might as well do it together. We have the best sporting goods store in the Bay Area in common, that's a nice little foundation to start building friendships on.

The more the merrier, please invite your friends to join We Love Sports Basement . Employees of Sports Basement  are welcome to join too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

McCall on Starting Companies in a Downturn

Great article form Matt McCall on starting companies in a downturn. It's a great article and should be read. Here's an interesting little snippet.

When everything is going well, few people or companies want to change behavior, process or vendors. They have little incentive to do so and risk upsetting the apple cart. However, when their hair is on fire, customers & business partners are willing to try new or different approaches to address the pain. So, while some would say that sales cycles stretch out significantly during downturns, I would argue that for new technologies that solve real problems, they compress considerably.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Potty Humor

I love potty humor and I loved this twitter post by Maggie Steciuk.

Hollrr About the Products You Love

My buddy David Hegarty has started a new company called Hollrr. The idea is to list products you love, and write a quick review about them. You can then express your support for the product by embedding a widget on your blog or social network. Once you list a product on Hollrr, you make it that much easier for the next person to give a shout out to that very same product, so you're doing a double public service.

It's a great idea and best of all, he's targeting small companies. The Molly Mutt's and Sugar Paper's of the world can always use the attention. Even Sports Basement can use a rooting section.

I've embedded the widget on the sidebar of my blog, check it out when you come to the blog. Please check out Hollrr, it's a great idea built by someone who is taking a real chance, and who can use your support.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Reblog: Hugh Jackman DemonBaby

Reblog from Mark Lisanti - click through.

Dog Lovers: Molly Mutt is Open

My friend Molly is an incredible designer and dog lover, so it made perfect sense when she told me she had designed a line of "Doggy Duvets."
She launched Molly Mutt  on Friday and has an online store accepting orders. It's going to be carried at all the big online retailers, but you can buy it from her website for the same price.

The beds look great, you can use old clothes, sheets, blankets, etc to stuff them and best of all, you'll be supporting someone who had a dream, and actually made it happen. The video below is funny and tells the story way better than I ever could.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

25 Oscar Things

Funny article on the Oscar madness by Mark Lisanti . Don't miss him on Twitter .

5. Kate Winslet, overcome by a long-overdue Oscar win, babbles emotionally about being glad she won for The Reader instead of Revolutionary Road because all the talk about her boundless love for Leonardo DiCaprio was getting weird for everyone. Oh, did she just bring Leo up again? How strange! She didn’t Leo mean to Leoleoleo!

Because... feels so good.

Thx Becker.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Reblog: Funny Story About Shaq & Twitter

ShaqImage via Wikipedia
You must read this! via Mike Walton
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Friday Chill Music (February 20, 2009)

It's been a great couple weeks for me and I'm looking forward to the releases of some great music by M. Ward and Neko Case. Plus, Pearl Jam and Wilco are back in the studio. Combine those bands with Andrew Bird's recent release, and I'm a pretty happy music lover right now.

Starting off is M. Ward's live performance of his new album on Feb 17. It was the release day and he wanted to do something cool for it, so he played live for NPR. Check it out!

Next is a song posted on LuvvBuggBlog from Ida Maria and it's called, "I Like You Better When You are Naked." Great, poppy, recommendation from new Bay Area resident, John Hamilton.

Third is It's Okay by Land of Talk. The wonderful ladies of I'm All Ears tipped me off to this one. Pretty sensitive but a great vibe.

Finally, I'm really digging the new Dark Was the Night disk put together by the guys from The National. It's a compilation disc with 20+ songs. Here is the Bon Iver contribution that is pretty sweet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I have CAL Hoops season tickets, along with my old pal Scotty Fausel. We go to a lot of games and have a great time. This is one of the best seasons in a long time, and a big reason for that is Jerome Randle, our junior point guard. He is ridiculously clutch and he's a little guy, so it's really impressive what he manages to pull off. The SFGate wrote a nice profile of him today, worth a read even if you aren't a CAL fan.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ladies & Gentleman, Mike McCready

Just in case you thought Pearl Jam was all Eddie Vedder, check out Mike McCready's guitar playing here, on a Voodoo Child cover.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cool Ted Talk

Found this talk by Juan Enriquez on Paul Kedrosky's site.

Great Analysis at Bronte Capital

Wonderful piece over at Bronte Capital on what's really going on in the banking system. I've been getting a lot of email from readers with questions, as well as folks asking me in daily life what's going on. It seems like a lot of people are making a real effort to get themselves educated on what's going on with the banking system and bailouts. That's fantastic.

If you are one of those people, this is a must read article. If you are not, then this quote should get the point across.

"The banks are thus under-reserved on an “held to maturity” basis. Heavily under-reserved. If you were to take correct provisions – many banks – not all but many – would have negative net worth. Few banks would meet capital adequacy standards. Given the penalty for even appearing as if there was a chance that you would not meet capital adequacy standards is death (see WaMu and Wachovia) and this is a self-assessed exam, banks can be expected not to tell the truth.*"

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Paper Business

I woke up Sunday morning and saw a message on Twitter from my buddy, Greg Yeadon, about how he was settling down the with the Sunday Times (and some bacon). :)
I love reading the paper too, but my "paper" is becoming Google Reader. I subscribe to a lot of blogs that have very focused coverage in different areas. I feel like I get an All-Star paper every day. I still check SFGate (the SF Chronicle's online edition) because of the sports coverage, but rarely read the physical paper. I think this difference will be even more pronounced in a couple weeks when I get my Kindle 2.

Shortly after I fired up Google Reader and some coffee (no bacon until later), I saw this great post from my friend Charles Hudson, "Why Didn't the NY Times Sell Me My Kindle 2?" Charles lays out the playbook for the Times or Journal to bring about mass adoption of the Kindle, make itself some money, and most importantly, get themselves off the printing press.

It is completely baffling to me why these companies insist on staying on such an outdated standard (the printing press). Content players must support new delivery standards. How silly would Electronic Arts look if they only made Madden Football for old school Nintendo? What if Warner Bros only published their movies on VHS? Ridiculous right? This is what the news business is doing. It's time for the papers to stop fighting the new standards, and become advocates for the new ones. Advocacy is what makes you money. They better hurry, they'll only have my attention for a little while longer, before I completely switch to the All Stars like Charles Hudson in Google Reader.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Chill Music (February 13, 2009) back to Friday Chill Music. It's a Valentine's Day and we're linking to Molly Mutt's excellent Valentines Day Propaganda mix. The mix is powered by FavTape in case you want to check that service out.

If you aren't into Valentine's Day this year, maybe you'll enjoy Molly's second Valentine's Day mix, V Day Sucks.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the big day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Well Said Sir

Please read Ray Dalio's interview in this week's Baron's here. It's probably the best interview on what is unfolding in the financial crisis that I've read...maybe ever. Of course, one of the reasons I like it so much is that I agree with him and hold a lot of gold. If you disagree, then at least read it for the devil's advocacy points. Money quote (of many):

Basically what happens is that after a period of time, economies go through a long-term debt cycle -- a dynamic that is self-reinforcing, in which people finance their spending by borrowing and debts rise relative to incomes and, more accurately, debt-service payments rise relative to incomes. At cycle peaks, assets are bought on leverage at high-enough prices that the cash flows they produce aren't adequate to service the debt. The incomes aren't adequate to service the debt. Then begins the reversal process, and that becomes self-reinforcing, too. In the simplest sense, the country reaches the point when it needs a debt restructuring. General Motors is a metaphor for the United States.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Raising Money the Right Way

Raising money for charities is something near and dear to my heart. It does a world of good both financially for the charity, and also spreads the word about all the great work the charity is doing. Often times, other people decide to get involved and even more good is created. Every time one of my friends is running a race, doing a triathlon or just feels strongly about something, and asks for my support, I try to give a little.

Lately though, I've been a little bummed out by the way people have been asking for donations. Folks have been using new tools like Facebook and Twitter and mass email to broadcast their fundraising needs. Bravo for using technology to reach more people, but it feels impersonal. I love hearing stories, it's what I respond to, and that is especially true when donating. In the past, friends raised money via social events like Bake Sales or Bar Nights.

In almost every case, there is a compelling story as to why people are raising the money for a specific charity, but the story is lost in 144 character Facebook and Twitter updates that just point to a URL. Even emails with 2 pages of text are tough to make it through. Technology has made it easier to reach people, but extra effort is needed to tell a story through that channel. If we don't get better at engagement and storytelling, people will start viewing these mass emails and status update solicitations as a "friend tax," something you must do to stay in good standing, but not something you enjoy or believe in.

This brings me to Brian Mullen's charity, Team AntarctiKate, because Brian is raising money, and awareness in a more interactive way. He emailed me about his charity, then started a Tumblr Blog, and started the conversation. When you go to his blog, you find pictures, stories about his wife Kate who has MS and my personal favorite, the graphic below which will appear on Team AntarctiKate's t-shirt. It's a play on my favorite show, Mad Men, and couldn't be more tastefully done.

Brian is investing time and effort to build a story with a bunch of different tools. He's creating engagement, maybe not exactly like a Bake Sale or Bar Night, but it's heading that direction. It feels good to give to Brian's charity because I can see how important it is and he has constructed the story so well. When you get a chance, invest a little time in Brian's blog and see if it's worth an investment in dollars to be a part of the AntarctiKate story.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ashes of American Flags DVD

Stop what you are doing right now and head on over to Wilco World and check out the new Wilco DVD trailer. They're one of the best bands around (#2 for me) and they're incredible live. This will be a treat.

If you like Wilco's studio stuff, but haven't heard them live, go over to their Roadcase to listen to a couple live streaming concerts. The Tanglewood one is especially brilliant.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A-Rod Comes Clean

Say what you want about the guy and his motivations for doing it, I give A-Rod a lot of credit for coming clean.

The Magic of the Web

"One of the reasons it grew, is because it's in this weird list format. The list doesn't close...It's an open ended list, not only could people relate to what was on the list, but they could talk about what was missing."

A very insightful comment from the writer of Things Like White People Like, Christian Lander. In it, he captures the magic of the web. Thanks for posting the video, Alex Bain.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Even Better Than Distressed Debt

Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramírez battin...Image via Wikipedia

You can't wear a blazer, eat over-priced breakfasts and network in the investment community without talking Distressed Debt these days. Everyone loves distressed debt. The thinking is that bank debt, junk debt, mezz debt, etc is all trading at huge discounts. If you buy it now, instead of the 5% to 8% rate of return you would have gotten a few years ago, you can make a cool 15% or more. But that's if the economy comes back before the company whose debt you own goes under. Remember, this debt is distressed because the companies who need to pay it back, could go bankrupt. It's a classic example of those with liquidity being able to pick and choose which assets they want, and the weak being forced into selling.

This phenomen isn't limited to the debt world though, and Henry Schulman's blog covers something I've been thinking about, distressed baseball players.  

"We're evaluating the teams right now that might be distressed going into this, what those players look like, the free-agents to be or arbitration-eligible players to be, how much money it is and what positions (they play). Early on we'll have a list. There'll be a hit list we'll be able to form. But we won't be the only team doing that. Any team with flexibility will be able to do that."
There are going to be some amazing bargains out there and I can't wait to see what the Giants do later in the season. They play in one of the biggest markets in the country and have some cash to play with.
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Me vs. We

Great little piece of advice on Twitter via VCtips the other day. Way broader than just venture capital & startups.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Bonus Song: I'm Into Something Good

Courtesy of LuvvBugg, one of my favorite Wilco covers, "I'm Into Something Good."

Friday Chill Music (2/6/09): American Aquarium Drinker

We're taking a little chance this week with Friday Chill Music. I'm linking to American Aquarium Drinker's Best of 2008. Here's the catch, you have to download the music via a Zip File. I realize this may difficult, but it's definitely worth it. I really liked Dave Holmes' (the author of AAD) year-end mix.

If you can't hack it technically, no judgement here. Just mosey on over to Matt Ziser's Pandora station for an excellent compilation of tunes hand picked by one of the best mix artists in the business.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Zemanta Moves into Gmail

I've been keeping my eye on Zemanta because they make a handy plug in that reccomends images and articles for bloggers. So when I'm composing this post, there is a widget on the right side that has applicable pictures and other articles I can link to. It makes writing this much easier because I don't have to Google a bunch of images and track one down.

Anyways, neat company with a neat service. But today I fired up my Gmail and found this.

They are now powering content suggestions inside of Gmail. This is going to be really handy for spicing up emails but the big picture is this company is laying the groundwork to disintermediate Google on a small percent of content searches.

Zemanta pushes, you go to Google to pull.

Sir Links-A-Lot (February 5, 2009)

KnightsImage by Dunechaser via Flickr
Lot's of good stuff lately so I thought a Sir Links-A-Lot column would be a good idea.

Great story from Colby Buzzell called "For Soldiers Like Me..." from his time in the military. Colby writes so casually with a strong undercurrent of emotion. It's funny and thought provoking at the same time.

"One soldier in my platoon who’d already been in the military for a couple of years brought two cartons of cigarettes to JRTC, and the guy didn’t even smoke. Claimed he’d never smoked a cigarette in his life. But he knew that after a few days out in the field, once soldiers started running out of smokes, they’d pay anything for them, and when that happened, he’d open up shop (his rucksack) and sell them to his nic-fitting colleagues for $40 a pack."

Seth Godin has a thought provoking article on Marketing's role in the product development process. It's a good article, and I think everyone should read him everyday, I'm that big of a fan. However, my big reason for linking to it is the Mad Men clip he highlighted. One of the single best Mad Men moment in its two seasons. Behold, The Carousel.

Great article on the economy's impact on the Healthcare sector titled the "Long View: How the Financial..." Greg Krantz passed it along. It's dense, but very good.

Finally, interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on mortgage modifications. The gist of the article is that restructuring mortgages is actually bad for the borrower. Let the banks foreclose and the borrower can declare bankruptcy, move on with their life and start saving money again. It's a provocative argument.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


BANGKOK, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 22:  A backpacke...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Sometimes I wonder what I'm going to write about. I'm a blank slate that day and have nothing interesting to say. I mean nothing.

And then something like this appears in my email inbox (thanks Fausel), "#120 Taking A Year Off" - from Stuff White People Like.

"It is most common for the person taking the year off to use this time to travel (see Post #19 for reasons why).   Generally, they will start off with a set amount of money that will use to travel for as long as possible.  This explains why a white person with an $800 backpack will haggle with a poverty-stricken  street vendor about a $2 dollar plate of food."

Problem solved.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Why Is This Happening to Me?"

Amazing, heartwarming stuff from Dave Holmes blog.

Grantham's 4Q Letter

Jeremy Grantham is one of the best living investors and his 4Q 2008 investor letter is a must read. I still remember in 2006 & 2007 when the market was flying up and he said, "This is largest Bear Market rally of all time," and that people should avoid it. Well, he looked crazy at the time but he has been proven correct. In last month's letter, he has this doozy:

"It was often said that the Japanese should have bitten the bullet as the U.S. did in its S&L crisis, taking a quick hit rather than dragging out the pain. How superficial and self-congratulatory those comments seem now. Faced with our own credit crisis, we discover there is no easy cure – the bullet turns out to be a grenade, which doesn’t fi t as easily into the mouth."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Buying Used Cars with Carsala

My buddy Raif's new company, Carsala, has come out of stealth mode. Carsala is a fantastic way to buy a used car because it pulls together used cars for sale from a bunch of different data sources, so it has the most complete and up to date available inventory. Once you figure out what you are looking for, the screen shot below, you engage Carsala and their agents go out and negotiate a great deal for you. The coolest thing is they save you a ton of money, somewhere between 20% to 30% off the blue book price. You can see below the projected discount on a Black 2007 Prius is 23%, and its the exact car you want. Pretty cool stuff.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Celebrity Bashing

The Internet, and actually Twitter, is a beautiful thing for putting things in perspective. I loved this public message from Ashton Kucher to Perez Hilton:

"@perezhilton when you have kids you will understand the pain you have unnecessarily inflicted on my step kids life. You can bash me all day." - aplusk
A celebrity can publicly embarass a high profile blogger, and make everyone who reads that blogger think a little harder about what they are reading.
found the discussion through Alex Bain's excellent Favorite's page.
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