Monday, January 31, 2011

Football & Concussions from the New Yorker

Another great Football & Concussions article from the New Yorker. Before I get into it, I have to say that I'm a huge fan and have season tickets. I'm really conflicted on this.

The article starts out slow with an irrelevant bit about a football player who didn't even have concussion problems (no idea why) but get's really strong. I found this passage very interesting, because it reminded my of stuff Phillip Morris or Asbestos companies used to pull, but this time it's the NFL.

"Schwarz may not have been out to get football, but he was clearly less emotionally invested in it than most of his predecessors and peers, who had helped build the sport into the de-facto national pastime with romantic coverage of heroic sacrifice. He was not a fan. “I’d been pitching this to reporters for years,” Nowinski told me, of the head-injury problem in general. “People in football told me, point blank, ‘I don’t want to lose my access.’ It literally took a baseball writer who did not care about losing his access, and didn’t want the access, to football.”
Schwarz’s math background came in handy, too, as he batted away the statistical objections about the unknown incidence of C.T.E. from skeptical doctors. And Schwarz had the backing of a news organization that did not see itself as having any symbiotic ties to the game’s economic engine. (ESPN, which drives the national conversation on sports, invests more than a billion dollars a year in football broadcasting.) “There’s certainly been a lot of tension between Alan and the N.F.L., and the N.F.L. and our editors,” Jolly said. “Their communications people made it clear that they were not happy with the reporting. Some of their folks were pretty brusque and not particularly eager to work with Alan."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tosh on stage. His “How could you syndicate The Biggest...

We were at this show and it was awesome. 

All the Alex Bain you can handle!

Tosh on stage. His "How could you syndicate The Biggest Loser in Kenya?" bit killed me. (Taken with instagram)

The decline effect and the scientific method : The New Yorker

Terrific article in the New Yorker about how when trials for things like drugs are replicated they often lose their statistical power. Meaning, a drug (antipyschotics are the example) could look fantastic, life changing in trial patients, but in post approval studies that come later to replicate results, the drug often looks ordinary or ineffective.

The decline effect and the scientific method : The New Yorker:
"Such anomalies demonstrate the slipperiness of empiricism. Although many scientific ideas generate conflicting results and suffer from falling effect sizes, they continue to get cited in the textbooks and drive standard medical practice. Why? Because these ideas seem true. Because they make sense. Because we can’t bear to let them go. And this is why the decline effect is so troubling. Not because it reveals the human fallibility of science, in which data are tweaked and beliefs shape perceptions. (Such shortcomings aren’t surprising, at least for scientists.) And not because it reveals that many of our most exciting theories are fleeting fads and will soon be rejected. (That idea has been around since Thomas Kuhn.) The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything. We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us. But that’s often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Hot Spotters

Fascinating article on healthcare expenditures called The Hot Spotters in the New Yorker. This takes the 80%/20% rule to a whole new level and it makes a lot of sense. One Healthcare org I've always thought was interesting was Kaiser because they are vertically integrated - meaning they sell insurance and provide care - so they care about preventative care. When you read this article, you'll realize how much money can be saved from preventative care. Here's a snippet:

"Besides looking at assault patterns, he began studying patterns in the way patients flowed into and out of Camden’s hospitals. “I’d just sit there and play with the data for hours,” he says, and the more he played the more he found. For instance, he ran the data on the locations where ambulances picked up patients with fall injuries, and discovered that a single building in central Camden sent more people to the hospital with serious falls—fifty-seven elderly in two years—than any other in the city, resulting in almost three million dollars in health-care bills. “It was just this amazing window into the health-care delivery system,” he says.
So he took what he learned from police reform and tried a Compstat approach to the city’s health-care performance—a Healthstat, so to speak. He made block-by-block maps of the city, color-coded by the hospital costs of its residents, and looked for the hot spots. The two most expensive city blocks were in north Camden, one that had a large nursing home called Abigail House and one that had a low-income housing tower called Northgate II. He found that between January of 2002 and June of 2008 some nine hundred people in the two buildings accounted for more than four thousand hospital visits and about two hundred million dollars in health-care bills. One patient had three hundred and twenty-four admissions in five years. The most expensive patient cost insurers $3.5 million."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Chill Music (January 28, 2011)

I typically build my own playlists but I was playing around on 8Tracks and found this playlist I like. There are some really mellow parts so this might be ultra-sensitive this week. I hope you like it.

P.S. I was checking out the Foals and found this free Sub Pop sampler on Amazon. Looks pretty solid.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

TeaSpiller Takes on TurboTax and H&R Block for Your Accounting Needs -

My buddy Amit Vemuri's startup for Tax Accounting - Teaspiller got a nice 1 page writeup in the NYTimes! Great work Amit!

TeaSpiller Takes on TurboTax and H&R Block for Your Accounting Needs -

"Users looking for an accountant, whether for taxes or other services, can visit the site and search by geographic area. Users can choose to contact one of the listed accountants by email or phone.

After both parties agree to work with each other, a payment is processed through the site. The user then has 2 weeks to upload all their needed documents to TeaSpiller for the accountant to access and begin the process."

Cold War Kids

I'm really into this song from the new Cold War Kids album:


Tosh.O is the funniest show on TV these days. I strongly reccomend you start watching this on Comedy Central. I would come over to your house and make you watch it if I could. Really.

Here is one of the funniest Tosh.O web redemptions in a long time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A VC: M&A Case Studies: Feedburner

The single biggest question I get from friends looking for or taking a new job is not "Where should I work?", but "How many options should I ask for?"

It's a fair question and an important one, especially since we're getting a little older and smarter, and starting to have bigger impact positions. Impact = Options; so now's the time to start thinking about them. "How many?" is a question for another day though, mostly because I can't find Fred Wilson's excellent post on stock option allocation guidelines per position. However, when I do find it I'll post it. :)

The second question on options you should be asking is what happens to acceleration in an acquisition. Most people think they accelerate all their options and they are suddenly rich. This rarely happens, unless you are a Founder or CEO. Dick Costollo, former CEO of Feedburner, currently CEO of Twitter, wrote this excellent post below on accleration. It's an excellent read and here's a snippet below.

Btw - the question that people rarely ask - "Where Should I work?" - is probably the most important. :)

A VC: M&A Case Studies: Feedburner:
"There’s another hidden issue with full single trigger acceleration that I mentioned earlier, and we can call this the “acquirer’s not stupid” rule. If your employees all fully vest on acquisition, how do you think the acquirer is feeling about your team’s general motivation level post-acquisition? They are not feeling good about it. No they are not. They are thinking “gee, we are going to have to re-incent all these folks and that’s going to cost a bunch of money, and you know where that money’s going to come from? I think we will just subtract it from the purchase price, that’s what we will do!”….so the shareholders get doubly-whacked…they get fully diluted to the total allocated options pool AND they likely take a hit on total consideration as the acquirer has to allocate value to re-upping the team."

This is Big...

Amazon quietly taking over the world of Internet infrastructure, one announcement at a time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kathryn is Blogging

My friend Kathryn is blogging and I wanted to introduce you to her. She's in the hedge fund sales world so she understands finance and money management really well. She also lives in LA and will no doubt share her dating exploits too. Here's a simple but important example from one of her blog posts on the importance of having a retirement account.

"#2 Reason you need to start saving money in a retirement account NOW: You need to take advantage of the fact that you’re still young and reap the benefits of compounding.
What the &*(*&%$# is compounding? The simplest way to put it is: if you wait until you’re 40 to start a retirement fund vs. starting at 33, you’re giving up almost  $170,000 when you are 59 1/2 years old (the age when you can take your money out of your retirement account without paying a fee).

Say you contribute $5,000 per year (to either a 401(k) that your employer provides you or an IRA that you set up yourself, don’t freak, I’ll talk with you below on how to do this) and that money earns 7% per year from the time you’re 33 until you’re 40. You now have $43,000 when you’re 40.

That $43,000 that you are giving up between when you’re 33 and 40 adds up to giving up $170,00 by the time you’re 60. Guess why? Compounding."

Monday, January 24, 2011

TestFlight for App Development

I've been working on an iphone app side project. It's been a blast and it's almost done. When I got into this development process I had no idea how hard it was to test an App via Apple's process. You have to send out a giant Zip File and people have to drag and drop the correct files into their iTunes. It sounds kind of simple, but it's really a disaster.

In stepped TestFlight with a very simple remote delivery method for app test builds. Our developer loads the app software into TestFlight, my users authenticate once, and then every build goes to them instantly when completed. It's been terrific and saved me so much time. There are still bugs, for example Hegs can't seem to get authenticated, but overall it's a huge improvement. If you're developing an App, definitely use TestFlight for testing!

P.S. If you'd like to test my new app and have an iphone or ipad, click this link and I'll get you in the cue. Put your name and email in the boxes, TestFlight will send you an authentication email (click that) and you'll get our next Build! Thanks for the support!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


please forgive the test

New Child, New Political Views

Very thoughtful essay from my friend Scott on his changing political views. Wonderful to see how my friends are changing by having children.

"I was trying to figure out why I am becoming more liberal from decades of being rather staunchly conservative.  Data suggests people get more conservative as they grow up and maybe California is just wearing on me but I have a different option: Jake has changed it."

Click through for the whole essay.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How exclusivity distorted the US smartphone market

The iphone is going to be humongous on Verizon.


Here's a wonderful chart from The New York Times:

Will Apple Put the iPhone on Other Carriers? –

"Although the population of Android users is near in size to the population of iPhone users, the concentration in one carrier shows how distribution agreements hamstring platform choice.

The chart also shows how the iPhone had a huge effect on smartphone adoption at AT&T and how it sucked the oxygen out of the segment for competitors."

me: how's your love life?

Hilarious and probably true. Via meaghano blog. 

Life is hard. Here is someone.
me: how's your love life?
ex: that's random. why do you ask?
me: because it's the only thing i can't find out from the internet.
Sent with Reeder

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Chill Music (January 21, 2011)

Friday Chill Music is brought to us by John Hamilton of 33 Forever. This is one of the best web playlists I've found in a long time. Check out John's commentary on each album because this is part of his Best of 2010 list.

Why Eric Schmidt had to go: Google’s innovation dilemma

I'm a huge google fan and I've sunk quite a bit of money, for me, into the stock. The company dominates one of the most important and lucrative tech markets, Search. The stock has performed and I've been a happy camper. However, I thought this was an excellent point by asymco:

"Cracks in strategy are hard to spot. One hint is that most of Google's R&D efforts are defensive. Building browsers and mobile operating systems are methods to ensure they have distribution of search to as many screens as possible. These are expensive means to ensure channels are available for distribution. Expensive not only in terms of engineering costs but also in terms of relationships and opportunity costs."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best Albums of 2010: #12 Angus & Julia Stone: Down the Way

I'm continuing with my favorite albums of 2010 series and now we're really getting into the good stuff. This is Angus & Julia Stone with Down the Way and they are amazing. Lot's of quiet, smouldering music that I just loved. Here are my favorites but this entire album is terrific. On second thought, I probably should have rated this one higher. :)

Santa Monica
 Angus and Julia Stone: Santa Monica Dream by La 3e heure!

Yellow Brick Road
 Angus & Julia Stone - Yellow Brick Road by nettwerkmusicgroup

On the Road
 Angus & Julia Stone -- On the Road by mademoiselle_a

Draw Your Swords
 Angus & Julia Stone - Draw Your Swords by Lost In The Sound

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Corn Fields, Snow

A Walk Through Durham Township, Pennsylvania
Posted on January 18, 2010

Sent with Reeder

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Best Albums of 2010: #13 Yim Yames: Tribute To

Long-time readers know that Jim James of My Morning Jacket is one of my all-time favorites. When George Harrison passed last year he recorded an excellent cover album of his favorite Harrison songs called Tribute To. Only one catch, he did it under the name Yim Yames, so it's a little hard to find and flies under the radar. That's why we have these lists though, to uncover the albums like this. I hope you enjoy the entire album. It's quiet, tender and beautiful.

Long, Long, Time

Love you To
 yim yames ~ love you to by tipotanthropos

Behind That Locked Door

All Things Must Pass

Monday, January 17, 2011

OkCupid on Beauty

OkCupid's blog is the best in the business. The latest entry is on Beauty it's one of their best posts yet. The big picture is:
"We found that the more men disagree about a woman's looks, the more they like her."

But I loved this advice even more. Being yourself actually works.
"Well, fundamentally, it’s hard to change your overall attractiveness (the big single number we were talking about at the beginning). However, the variance you create is under your control, and it’s simple to maximize:

As you’ve probably already noticed, women with tattoos and piercings seem to have an intuitive grasp of this principle. They show off what makes them different, and who cares if some people don’t like it. And they get lots of attention from men."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Twittering the Panda

I tried to tell the Panda that he's looking stronger. :)

scottorn (@scottorn)
1/16/11 11:10 AM
@pandoval48 Hola Panda! Hablo poco espanol, pero Ud ve mas fuerte!

Hathaway 2010 Shareholder Letter

John Hathaway of Tocqueville Gold Fund writes one of my favorite annual investor letters. Here's a snippet from his latest shareholder letter.

While many observers feel that the gold rally has been over done, is too crowded, resembles a bubble or whatever, the simple fact remains that central banks of the Western democracies appear on course to debase paper currencies. On the one hand, currency debasement is the path of least resistance to grapple with the seemingly intractable fiscal issues of record deficits and unchecked growth in entitlements. On the other hand, persistent economic weakness translates into political pressure for central banks to pursue extremely lax monetary policies. Under these circumstances, it is hard to argue against the notion that some exposure to gold offers protection against monetary damage still to come.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wendy:1, Tumor:0

I posted this on the Ben's Friends blog, but thought the Kellogg crew that reads this blog would like it too.

Our friend Wendy just received this shirt from a friend to commemorate her victory.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Chill Music (January 14, 2011)

Bryan Kenna at TwoNiner put together an awesome Best of 2010 playlist that I had to steal for Friday Chill Music. Hope you enjoy the first FCM of 2011!

better late than never — Top 10 Lessons for Later-Stage Investing (Part I)

My buddy Jules Maltz at IVP just started blogging. I'd like to think I had a little to do with this because I bumped into Jules at a Kellogg reunion and told him all about Kenny K. Turns out Jules had been playing around with a blog but had kept it low profile. Sure enough on Tuesday he published this piece on late stage investing. Good advice here.

better late than never — Top 10 Lessons for Later-Stage Investing (Part I):
"5) Clean and Simple: VCs are experts in the “bells and whistles” of term sheets. We love words like participating preferred, cumulative dividends, accreting liquidation preferences, full-ratchet anti-dilution, etc.). While many of these terms do help you “juice” returns, they make the eyes of entrepreneurs glaze over…and in a competitive process, this can be the difference between winning and losing. The smart entrepreneurs at Franchise companies know that they have lots of options and very little time. I’ve seen Fred Wilson talk many times about how he likes to tell an entrepreneur how much he wants to invest and at what valuation, and keeps everything else clean. Investing with clean terms is more fair to entrepreneurs and will help you stand out from the other VCs who like writing long term sheets."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Birthday Wishes

I'm stealing a page out of Alex Bain's bag of blog tricks. Every year Alex posts a graph on on how many times and through which medium he was wished Happy Birthday (note: Alex's chart is way better than mine). This is really dorky, but it's always one of my favorite posts of the year because it tells me a lot about communication trends. Anyhow, here is my graph. 

Note, there was a little double counting as friends wished me happy birthday multiple ways. Also, I didn't count things like seeing my dad and brother's family in person on my birthday.

One thing that jumped out at me was the difference between Facebook (76 times) & Twitter (1). I didn't even include Twitter on the chart because I was limited to six columns and only 1 person (@LatteKelli) used it. Twitter's poor showing is probably because Twitter has no birthday reminder service. Seems like that would be really easy for Twitter to do and it would drastically up engagement.

Second, texting is far more popular than calling. I probably influenced that through years of trying to minimize phone conversations with friends. What can I say, I'm not crazy about talking on the phone. :)

Third, three people actually sent me cards in the mail! Of course, all three of those people work at Tiny Prints, a wonderful card company. The cards were all hilarious in their own way and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Thanks Ashish, Richard & Ed! (Note: I'm not including cards attached to presents in this)

My favorite part of the chart is the 10 people that wished me Happy Birthday on the Ben's Friends Patient Support Networks. It's wonderful that these relatively new friends took the time. Furthermore, it gave me the idea of developing a "Happy Birthday from Ben's Friends" service/message for the Members of the Network.

Anyhoo, I had a great birthday and it was wonderful to get so many Happy Birthdays. I'll redo this analysis next year and we'll see what has changed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bill Draper Takes Stock Of A Venture Industry He Helped Create - Venture Capital Dispatch - WSJ

Below is some of the best advice I've ever read. It's true for pretty much every kind of relationship.

Bill Draper Takes Stock Of A Venture Industry He Helped Create - Venture Capital Dispatch - WSJ: "On relations with entrepreneurs:

“When an entrepreneur has a first board meeting, we called that the ‘Oh sh—meeting.’ That’s when the VC finds out the bad news he didn’t know when he made the investment. How the VC reacts to that defines the relationship – it either becomes more brittle or closer.”"

AppBistro's 10 Predictions for 2011

My friend Ryan Merket put together a terrific set of tech predictions for 2011. Below is my favorite. I don't think people realize what a big change a competitor to AdSense would have on Google and the Internet ecosystem. Currently, Google doesn't really tell the Publisher what % of the revenue split you get on AdSense. That means Facebook can use transparency and a much lower rev share to get a foothold, or at least to damage Google. Currently, Google is trying this on Apple in the Mobile App developer market and it's at least helping Android App Development activity. Stay tuned because I think this will be a bigger story. 

Facebook Will Release a “Social Adsense” Product to Compete with Google Adsense

Running ads on your own domain is cool. But you know what’s cooler? Running ads on other people’s domains. It actually surprises me that more people don’t see this coming. How was Google able to make the revenues it did before it went public? How does Google continue to make their astronomical revenue numbers? Adsense. Go ahead and keep putting that “Like” button on your site, along with the FaceMash plugin – you’re slowly helping Facebook open the door for “Social Adsense”. Facebook could build this today; heck, they’ve already hired the Google engineers who are credited for Google Adsense. As end users become more comfortable with seeing their faces and friends’ faces show up on third party sites, Faceook is minimizing the privacy backlash that is inevitable when they roll this product out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gentrification, Old Paper, and Dancing Teenagers

My friend Ariel is blogging again and she's pretty funny. Here's what she said about a Whole Foods entering the Haight.

Gentrification, Old Paper, and Dancing Teenagers

"I’m reading a lot of blogs and articles about this impending opening, many of which criticize its potentially gentrifying effects. I have two responses to such critics. 1) The Haight has already been gentrified. It’s called Cole Valley. And it’s glorious. If I look out my window right now, I am guaranteed to see a lot of strollers and a lot of North Face. 2) Gentrification is exactly what this neighborhood needs. I mean, I want to collect all of the weed-smoking, dog collar wearing 16-year-olds and Jerry Garcia mourning, dog-owning crazies sitting on Haight Street, with their cardboard signs that say “Need $$ for Weed,” shove them into Whole Foods, and tell the former to go back to their parents in Marin, and the latter that the sixties are over. Call me unsympathetic, but this is what happens after living in this neighborhood for almost five years."

Monday, January 10, 2011

I have been trying to tell this story for months—I’ve been writing it in the shower,...

Awesome story about how meaghano got her job at Tumblr. 

Hint: She got it by doing, not talking about doing. 

"I got that job, I think, because everyone on Staff read my blog, a few of them knew me, and I seemed smart and friendly. I "got" the platform. I didn't write Mashable articles about how to best leverage the platform. I used it. They needed someone to talk to people for them. They needed someone to help people learn how to use Tumblr. I had a popular blog, I was nice and seemed insightful, a few of them knew me, followed me, had met me at Tumblr Meetups. John called me one day on the phone. He asked me what I was doing, professionally. I said I was an assistant part time, but that I spent most of my time on Tumblr. He said well, we should talk. "

Friday, January 7, 2011

OMD - VCR Original by The XX. I love this cover.  -

Apologies, no Friday Chill Music today (sadly too busy), but in it's place, one of the best covers I've heard in a long time.

OMD - VCR Original by The XX. I love this cover. -

Daring Fireball Linked List: Verizon Sends Invitations to Press Event in New York Next Week

The part about Gizmodo (who leaked the iphone 4 and made Apple mad) had me laughing out loud.

Daring Fireball Linked List: Verizon Sends Invitations to Press Event in New York Next Week

It doesn’t say anything about the iPhone, but trust me, this is the iPhone-on-Verizon announcement. One tell: Gizmodo didn’t get an invitation.

Brown Alumni Magazine - Get On With It

Ben's Friends & John Stamler featured in Brown's Alumni Magazine. Pretty awesome.

Brown Alumni Magazine - Get On With It: "Among the 45,000 registered runners at the New York City marathon in November, there is no shortage of compelling stories. Few of the runners, however, had behind them the odd medical history of the man who wore bib number 7844: John Stamler '98. "

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epic Pearl Jam Acoustic

via Captain's Dead

I found this awesome Pearl Jam acoustic set list. A lot of it is from the Unplugged set they played many years back. It has all the big ones and some rare favorites like Footsteps, Bee Girl and Last Kiss.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This is Cool

St. Vincent & Beck

Record Club: INXS "Need You Tonight" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Virtual Fantasy Sports Trophies

My buddy Jonathan Murray is a successful serial entrepreneur and his latest venture is something I've been dying for...Fantasy Football Virtual Trophies! If you're a Fantasy Football stud, like me this year, you want to commemorate the championship with a trophy. Right now there is no way to brag to your friends in perpetuity about your year of greatness. I love this idea so much, check it out.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Musically Oblivious 8th Grader

via the himmelsblog

the full post is here and it's beyond amazing.

OfficeDrop is like Industrial Strength Instapaper

OfficeDrop released their "Cloud Dashboard" for managing scanned in documents and it immediately reminded me of Instapaper, one of my favorite online document management tools. Instapaper is amazing but what OfficeDrop is doing, turning physical documents into scanned, searchable documents is even more amazing. 

Big tip of the cap to my buddy Healy Jones who helps run OfficeDrop. You've built a great product Healy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Nephew Jensen and I at the Niners Game

OregonLive : With high hopes for test scores, Canby School District invests in iPod touches and iPads

When I was a kid, I had to walk over to the neighbors house to access an Encyclopedia. I bet access like this would have had me operating at a grade or two above what I was at in Elementary school.

OregonLive : With high hopes for test scores, Canby School District invests in iPod touches and iPads:

"In presentations, Morelock has shown that several classrooms using the iPod touches generated better test scores than the district average. He looks at iPod touches and iPads as unparalleled tools that can be used in nearly every class.

'Every kid now has their own dictionary, calculator, graphing calculator, connection to the Internet.'"
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Saturday, January 1, 2011


[daily dose of imagery]

2011 || Canon5D2/EF17-40L | 8s | f4 | ISO50
Happy New Year! Wish you all a great and happy year in 2011.
This shot is a long exposure while I'm desperately trying to write 2011 with my phone! The application is Color Flashlight on Android which lets you cycle through colours automatically. My air handwriting is horrible, sorry about that!

Sent with Reeder

Oliver’s instructional pamphlet on how to roll from...

Really creative comic strip update on my friend's baby. 


via Anne Hubert

Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works | Magazine

A fantastic article that examines AA. I had no idea about the origins and how the 12 principles were put in place. I also really loved the quote below because that's kind of how the Ben's Friends network of patient support sites work. We're a little bit like controlled chaos, but it seems to work and inevitably, a bunch of good ideas come out of the chaos and we incorporate them across all the networks.

Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works | Magazine:

"The growing pains spurred Wilson to write AA’s governing principles, known as the 12 traditions. At a time when fraternal orders and churches with strict hierarchies dominated American social life, Wilson opted for something revolutionary: deliberate organizational chaos. He permitted each group to set its own rules, as long as they didn’t conflict with the traditions or the steps. Charging a fee was forbidden, as was the use of the AA brand to endorse anything that might generate revenue. “If you look at this on paper, it seems like it could never work,” White says. “It’s basically anarchy.” But this loose structure actually helped AA flourish. Not only could anyone start an AA group at any time, but they could tailor each meeting to suit regional or local tastes. And by condemning itself to poverty, AA maintained a posture of moral legitimacy."