Saturday, April 30, 2011

National Debt, Budget Cuts, and Health Care:

Eric forwarded on this great New Yorker article which summarizes the Healthcare cost problem nicely. Here's a great quote:

"Third, and most important, one person’s “waste” is another person’s “income”—the income of doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug companies, medical-technology makers. Discussions of health care in the U.S. usually focus on insurance companies, but, whatever their problems, they’re not the main driver of health-care inflation: providers are. Hospital stays, MRI exams, drugs, and doctor’s visits are simply more expensive here than they are elsewhere, and the fee-for-service structure insures that we use more of them, too. It’s really just math: most of our health-care dollars go, in one way or another, to health-care providers, so if we want to restrain the growth of health-care spending, less money will have to go to them."

2600hz - Cloud Telecom

My buddy, Patrick Sullivan, has launched his Cloud Telecom company, 2600hz. They make cloud phone systems a reality. It's pretty cool stuff and I know how hard Patrick and the team has worked on it. They already have lot's of customers so this is a real business, not a venture funded powerpoint slide. :)

2600hz - The Future of Cloud Telecom from 2600hz on Vimeo.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Chill Music (April 29, 2011)

The Fleet Foxes are out with their new album and it's streaming on NPR. Click through for the tunes. They're one of my favorites and I can't wait to see them in concert next week!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Instapaper Free is taking an extended vacation

Terrific point by Marco on one of the negatives of catering to the Free crowd. 

"Instapaper Free always had worse reviews in iTunes than the paid app. Part of this is that the paid app was better, of course, but a lot of the Free reviews were completely unreasonable.

Only people who buy the paid app — and therefore have no problem paying $5 for an app — can post reviews for it. That filters out a lot of the sorts of customers who will leave unreasonable, incomprehensible, or inflammatory reviews. (It also filters out many people likely to need a lot of support.)

I don't need every customer. I'm primarily in the business of selling a product for money. How much effort do I really want to devote to satisfying people who are unable or extremely unlikely to pay for anything?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alex Bain — Leaving Apple ☹; joining Facebook ☺

Wonderful goodbye post by my buddy Alex Bain on his exit from Apple to go to Facebook. This is how you do it. And it's clear how much he loves Apple. My favorite part was this little story embedded in the broader post about the last time he left Apple.

"When I left Apple the first time, in 2006, I emailed Steve Jobs on my last day, thanking him and telling him I'd pass along the lessons I'd learned to classmates in grad school, to which he replied (16 minutes later):
Well, you could also come back when you're done!

So I did."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dad's Are the Original Hipsters

Loved this site - Dad's Are the Original Hipsters
Your dad wore tube socks before you did. The skinny jeans of summer, your dad’s socks were tight, tall and always on him, just like your mom. He rocked mid leg tan lines like a boss and made fun of the kids who’s socks only reached their ankles. So hipsters, next time you’re pulling on a pair of baseball socks and donning a sweatband before packing up and heading off for a day in Dolores Park, remember this…Your dad was the king of summer and tube socks were his crown.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Great Customer service: DodoCase

This is a pic of my new DodoCase for my iPad. It's new because Dodo sent me a new one to replace my old, broken down one. They didn't have to send a new one, but they did. And I'm a happy camper. Thanks Dodo!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Katie & Greg Yeadon

A wonderful wedding weekend. 

Earth Day : Mystical Photography by Frederic Larson

Earth Day

If you're going to be on Earth, why not in San Francisco? It's out of this world. Every day should be Earth Day, don't you think?

We who live in the Bay Area sometimes need to pinch ourselves and take notice that not everyone wakes up to such beauty.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The realization is now

"Some people insist that if we focus on "business fundamentals" and get "back to basics," all will return. Not so. The promise that you can get paid really well to do precisely what your boss instructs you to do is now a dream, no longer a reality.

It takes a long time for a generation to come around to significant revolutionary change. The newspaper business, the steel business, law firms, the car business, the record business, even computers... one by one, our industries are being turned upside down, and so quickly that it requires us to change faster than we'd like.

It's unpleasant, it's not fair, but it's all we've got. The sooner we realize that the world has changed, the sooner we can accept it and make something of what we've got. Whining isn't a scalable solution."

Why Green Products Don’t Sell

Cool post from Calkins at Kellogg about perceptions in marketing, specifically green products. Everyone wants to be green, except when it comes down to needing an effective product. 

Building Strong Brands

The New York Times has an interesting article on the front page this morning: "As Consumers Cut Spending, 'Green' Products Lose Allure." The article notes that sales of a number of environmentally friendly products such as Clorox's Green Works have fallen sharply.

The article presents the results of a study done by Sanford C. Bernstein looking at sales of green products across 22 different product categories. The results are astonishing; green products now have less than a 2% market share and are declining. This includes green niche brands and green versions of traditional brands. Perhaps the most interesting finding: green products have never had more than a 2.5% market share.

This raises an interesting question: how can this be? Isn't everyone concerned about the environment?...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Chill Music (April 22, 2011)

I'm in Boston for Papi's Wedding. I've been looking forward to this trip for a long time so I felt extra inspired so I put together the best of what I've been listening to lately. I hope you like it. Click through if you can't see the embedded widget.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Calling All Bachelors

My buddy Eric Kroll, and partner on Ben's Friends, has a fun new side project called He's developed a cool website for bachelor parties. It's kind of like Daily Candy or Thrillist for bachelors. It recommends the best hotels, restaurants and places to go out. It's early, but Eric is building in a mechanism for bachelor's to provide user generated content. Yours truly submitted a couple tips on Palm Springs, where I went last weekend on a bachelor party.

Reblog: Recovering from Information Overload

Good article forwarded by the Walm from McKinsey on Recovering from Information Overload. The article is a little dry but it does a good job of showing that we all have this problem. Also, there are some useful tips for cutting through the overload, or at least managing it. Here are my tips for managing the problem.

  • I made myself check Twitter only once a day and turned off all Twitter notifications. That was a huge help.
  • I turned off almost every iPhone App Notification. This was huge too.
  • I check Facebook quickly a few times a day. What really helps is that I have an RSS Feed from Facebook with all Posts and Status Updates from my friends. I rarely actually go to the Facebook site, and do it only when I want to leave a comment or look at someone's pictures.
  • Email still get's me. I'm trying to do more of my email in bulk situations where I can crank through a lot more of them.
  • Basecamp, a project management solution, has become a life safer, because we manage all the To Do's through it. Email still piles up from Ben's Friends, but things don't get lost and everything is assignable and actionable.
  • The Treadmill has become my safe haven for playing Words With Friends, Twitter, and Facebook and reading non essential blog posts. I've given myself permission to do whatever I want, as long as I'm exercising at a high enough intensity. It's made exercising at the gym more fun and I enjoy the reading and games a lot more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Amazing Giant's Fan Video!

Reblog: Pocketful of Dough

via Alex Bain Favorites - Pocketful of Dough

It's about the author's attempts to bribe his way into the best NYC restaurants. It's one of the best articles I've read in an long time. Loved it. Here is a small excerpt.

Seconds later the woman departs and the man is left alone. This is my moment, I decide. I reach for the twenty and positively bolt toward the podium. I crane my left arm around the side. “I hope you can fit us in,” I mumble, and slip the bill into his hand. I am sweating; my heart is racing. “Oh. Thank you,” he says. “Don’t worry.”
Two minutes pass—two minutes!—and the woman approaches. “We can seat you now,” she says, and leads us to a corner booth. “This is one of our best tables,” she adds. Suddenly I’m Frank Sinatra. I’m King of the Strip. I exude aftershave and savoir faire. Call it the fedora effect. My girlfriend looks at me in a way she hasn’t since I surprised her by uncharacteristically demolishing a friend on the tennis court.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Onion on Facebook

Thoroughly enjoyed this

CIA's 'Facebook' Program Dramatically Cut Agency's Costs

Cute Article on Entrepeneurship

Forwarded in by Jeremy Steele

How Eddie Vedder Gave Me My Start in Business

"In 1995, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder was inducting Neil Young into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I was a high school girl with every intention of getting to New York City to meet Eddie. But how?

 I asked the Waldorf if one of the writers for my magazine could get in to interview attendees and review the event and they suggested faxing in a request for a press pass. Only problem: I didn’t have a magazine.

So I launched one in less than a day. My cousin was the publicist for a major metal band in the '80s and agreed to help with content. In a matter of hours, after massively struggling through the software on our Apple IIC, we had come up with Zip Magazine -- it sounded snappy -- and picked really cool font for the header that was underlined with … wait for it … a zipper.
Lo-and-behold, Zip Magazine's editor landed a press pass to the event. I still haven't come down."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Chill Music (April 15, 2011) - Family of the Year

Here's one of my favorite new bands, Family of the Year. I hope you like them.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Seth's Blog

Terrific Post by Seth Godin

Seth's Blog: "If every chicken coop has a video camera in it, quality will obviously go up. Confidence in the product will go up. Employee behavior will improve as well, because it's hard to torture a chicken if you know you're going to get caught.

But wait, you might argue... if we have to take better care of the chickens, our costs will go up as well.

Here's the thing: when consumers get used to transparency, they're also more interested in the quality of what you sell, and are more likely to willingly pay extra. They'll certainly cross the street to buy from an ethical provider. And once people start moving in that direction, the cost of being an unethical provider gets so high that you either change your ways or fade away.

Chicken farms don't need a law prohibiting possession of images. They need a producer who will make a ton of great (true) chicken movies. Inundate us with images of cleanliness and quality instead of blacking us out. Don't race to the bottom (you might win). Instead, force your competition to race you to the top instead."

New My Morning Jacket - Circuital

I'm digging the new MMJ. Check it out. or listen to it on YouTube here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wakemate - tracking your sleep quality

Big night at Casa Orn last night. I scored my first +80 night on my wakemate ( It's a device that tracks the length and quality of your sleep.

Usually I'm in the 50's (not good) but something clicked last night. Can't wait to go to bed tonight!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Last Living Rose

I've been listening to this PJ Harvey non stop since Matt Ziser recommended it on Facebook. A guy filmed a neat little movie with it as the soundtrack. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Chill Music (April 8, 2011)

I'm posting an oldey but goodey mix from last year for this week's Friday Chill Music. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Investing Tip: Pay Attention to Where Your Friends Work

Professor Calkins of Kellogg did an interesting analysis of P&G's sale of the Pringles brand to Diamond Nuts this morning. Calkins was my Marketing Strategy Professor and one of the best at Kellogg overall so I pay attention to what he writes about. But this post caught my attention for another reason. I had just been out to dinner with the Hamilton's last week and Joanna works for Diamond Nuts. We talked about how well the company has done in the 2+ years she has been there and that it is poised for big things, and this is before the Pringles deal.

One of the most valuable assets we all have is our time, and by working at a given company, you are investing your most precious asset in that company. Sure you get paid, but you could get paid anywhere. Taking that job means you are a true believer, and we should all pay attention to that.

I should have seen the Diamond Nut Performance below coming two years ago when Joanna told me about her new job. I bought the stock today, but I left 150% of performance on the table by not acting when Joanna told me how great her new company was. I'm going to start paying more attention to where my friends work.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Sound of Young America - The Big Payback

Terrific interview about the history of Hip Hop on the Sound of Young America with the author of the Big Payback. I really enjoyed this and I don't even listen to Hip Hop. Cool oral history.

The Sound of Young America

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Farming vs. Mining Your Business

"You can either see founding a company as something you’re doing because you want to produce good software, or you can see it as something you do so you can sell your stock and make a killing and move on."

Well said by Will Shipley in a post worth reading on entrepreneurship. I found it via Marco of Instapaper

I see both sides of this via my day job in venture capital at Lighthouse Capital and my side project, Ben's Friends patient support sites. A lot of startups are trying to "hit the hole" so to speak, and make something worthwhile and then cash out. It turns out that the best companies I work with at work though are the ones that are run to build something lasting and are not quick flips. Perhaps I have a biased sample because I gravitate to those people and can connect with them better because I grew up in a family business for 25 years. Farmers usually beat the miners. Something to think about if you are starting something. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And the Sky Came Tumbling Down

Photographer: aravis121
Source: Flickr

Photographer's Caption:

Sent with Reeder

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Chill Music (April 1, 2011)

We're going with a terrific mix that Matt Ziser put together via 8Tracks. It's cool, has a little bit of dreaminess and has lot's of artists I've never heard of, which is a big plus. Hope you enjoy it. Leave Ziser a comment or two so he knows you like it.