Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Signature: iPhone Personal Shopping Assistant

My buddies at Signature have launched their iPhone based personal shopping assistant service and it looks terrific. I'm a proud investor (albeit small :)).

John, David and Traun have worked incredibly hard and have already rolled it out to Seven for All Mankind. The application let's high-end sales people keep track of all the things you love and results in terrific service for the customer. If you're in the brand or retail world, pay attention to this company!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reblog: A VC: Search vs Social

A VC: Search vs Social:
"I stopped the conversation and noted that search isn't what it used to be and pointed out that many websites get more traffic from social than search."

I've seen this too. Facebook and Twitter are becoming huge sources of traffic for the Ben's Friends Patient Support Groups. When we first started, we just focused on Google and that was all that mattered. Over the last couple of years, Social has come to account for about 25% of our traffic, but that is growing rapidly. Last year at this time, it was probably 10%.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Brunch - January 29, 2011

The links are back!

Quick new feature, every Sunday Brunch will have a Spotify link to the music that I listened to when I wrote this. This week it what an awesome mix of Ryan Adams music.
  • S*it Silicon Valley Says - this is perfectly accurate and hilarious.
  • Join the Flock - Twitter's awesome, bad recruiting video. When I was at Kellogg, Dick Costollo, now the CEO of Twitter, would speak to some of my classes and even went out to dinner with a bunch of us. At the time, he was CEO of Feedburner, a small but important RSS technology company in Chicago. He was super smart and very funny in a dry way. He was a stand-up comic in his free time, early in his career. Great guy and it's been fun to watch his ascent to CEO of one of the best tech companies in the world.
  • All She Wants is a Ride on a Motorcycle - tearjerker. 
  • Kill Hollywood - Paul Graham is one of my favorite tech writers. He runs the ultra successful Y Combinator Tech Incubator. When he says something like this, tens of thousand of young men and women listen, and try to accomplish it. Sometimes all talent needs is a little direction, and he is providing it here.
  • Teenager Has Never Seen a Record Before - ouch, I'm getting old.
  • Super Amit Update - fantastic story about Super Amit and his quest to find a bone marrow match & donor. This guy lit up the Internet and it was really ispirational. Thankfully all the hard work paid off and he found a match. Now comes the hard part. A friend of mine went through this and I'm happy to report she is doing great two years later!
  • Freaky Friday Management Technique - great lesson from a very successful CEO & Investor.
  • The Rise & Fall of Personal Computing - staggering graph. iPads & Smartphones are taking over. Not good for Microsoft.
  • Flipping the Day - great work advice from 37 Signals. Adding that little extra bit of flexibility to your day can make all the difference.
  • "Those Jobs Aren't Coming Back" - eye opening story about a conversation between Steve Jobs and President Obama.
  • RIP Bobs - goofy but interesting.
  • Zooey Deschanel: Cash is King - good article by my friend Kathryn.
  • Evening Magic - Beautiful shot of San Francisco by Fred Larson

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Chill Music - January 27, 2012

Sorry Friday Chill Music is a little late this week. I'm posting a link to Phantogram's album, NightLife. Ziser turned me onto them and I really like them. Don't Move is my favorite song on the album. :)

Cat Facts

The single greatest forward I have ever received. Thank you Healy Jones!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cool Idea: TimeHop

I came across a neat, new company yesterday called TimeHop. Basically you give them the credentials for them to plug into your social media services like Twitter, Facebook, etc and then send you a note every morning about what you were talking about 1 year ago. It's a neat little reminder of what you have been doing in life. Check it out if you have a minute.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



Sent to you by Scott via Google Reader:


via Daring Fireball by John Gruber on 1/24/12

Farhad Manjoo:

Apple's profits ($13 billion) exceeded Google's entire revenue ($10.6 billion).


Things you can do from here:


A VC: The Green Button

This is pretty neat. Being able to access energy consumption data is the first step towards conservation. Someone can build a Mint.com type of service for consumption and the transparency will make us all conserve more.

A VC: The Green Button:
"The Green Button is an initiative promoted by Aneesh Chopra, the CTO of the United States. In a speech last fall, he challenged the utility industry to come up with a simple way to allow consumers to access their utility data. Last week, three big California utilities announced they had made the Green Button available on their websites.

And by sunday, the green button was in a half a dozen web and mobile apps that had been created over the weekend. This is the kind of innovation that gets me excited. The Green Button is like OAuth for energy data. It is a simple standard that the utlities can implement on one side and web/mobile deveopers can implement on the other side. And the result is a ton of information sharing about energy consumption and in all liklihood energy savings that result from more informed consumers."

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Word to the Resourceful

Wise words from Paul Graham of Y Combinator.

A Word to the Resourceful:
"Chasing down all the implications of what's said to you can sometimes lead to uncomfortable conclusions. The best word to describe the failure to do so is probably "denial," though that seems a bit too narrow. A better way to describe the situation would be to say that the unsuccessful founders had the sort of conservatism that comes from weakness. They traversed idea space as gingerly as a very old person traverses the physical world. [1]

The unsuccessful founders weren't stupid. Intellectually they were as capable as the successful founders of following all the implications of what one said to them. They just weren't eager to. "

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Big Game Today

Sunday Brunch is being postponed this week so I can concentrate on the football games. :)

Let's hope something magical happens today.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Big Government Sucks Tech Industry Into Their Reality

"Congress is the real winner here. They showed that they can and will pass bills that will cause irreparable harm to the tech industry just because Hollywood is willing to pay them off with huge lobbying dollars. And while SOPA/PIPA may be stalled for now, a big part of the reason is that tech companies got into the lobbying game, too.

From that NY Times article:

Data shows that copyright holders and supporters of the bills outspent opponents substantially in the early stages of the debate. But by many accounts the tech industry has stepped up its lobbying efforts in recent weeks. New spending reports expected shortly indicate whether the balance has shifted.

That's right, slowly but surely, Congress is sucking the tech industry into their world, making us play by their rules. We have to pay them off, literally with cash, or we get slaughtered."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Chill Music January 20, 2012

One of my favorite new bands is Youth Lagoon. Ziser introduced me to them and they are the epitome of Chill Music. Here is a Spotfiy link to Youth Lagoon album.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

When the world changes...

Well said by Seth Godin. He's talking about SOPA today, but the lesson is always true.

"The history of media and technology is an endless series of failed rearguard actions as industry leaders attempt to solidify their positions on a bed of quicksand.

Again and again the winners are individuals and organizations that spot opportunities in the next thing, as opposed to those that would demonize, marginalize or illegalize (is that a word?) it. Breaking systems that benefit your customers is dumb. Taking money from lobbyists to break those systems is dumber still."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Protect IP Act Breaks the Internet

Click thought the link. Great explanation. 

Daring Fireball

Terrific piece by Kirby Ferguson — explains clearly and succinctly why the proposed PIPA legislation will not only fail to achieve its intended purpose, but will outright harm the entire Internet.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Chill Music - January 13, 2012

I'm "borrowing" Kenna's fantastic primer on The National for this week's edition. After seeing them live a couple weeks ago, I've been listening to this playlist constantly. The first song, Secret Meeting, is especially great.

btw - here is a cool pic I took of the concert. I've been playing with this photo app called NoFinder and I really like it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

garychou:Sometimes you need a 6-year window.That is such a...

One of the best charts I've seen in a long time. I think Ben's Friends (http://bensfriends.org/) will be like this (although of course not as big). :)

via James Siminoff on 1/2/12

Sometimes you need a 6-year window.
That is such a awesome chart. I have a theory that too many ideas/startups fail because they do not have the proper structure to let things soak. This is one more example to back that up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Love Charts – SOPA By The Numbers ...

SOPA is deeply destructive to Internet businesses, one of the few industries that is actually creating jobs right now. I've been reading Reddit on the subject and there is a ton of energy coming from the hacker community on the topic. It's going to be interesting to see if hackers band together to try get back at the politicians that support SOPA. As campaign donation trackers like the ones below become more public, I think the odds go up.

Note: I'm not advocating what the hackers might do, I just think it could happen.

I Love Charts – SOPA By The Numbers ...:

Monday, January 9, 2012

35th Birthday Reflection

Today's my 35th birthday. :)

One of the reasons I love writing this blog is that it serves as a journal for what I'm thinking about. I can't wait to go back and read the blog five, ten or fifty years later. Blogging is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I highly recommend it. If you are reading this, you should start your own today, right now.

I was just taking a minute to reflect in the middle of a busy day. I've lived a very fortunate life and I'm incredibly thankful. The best things in my life are:

  • My incredible friends.They had a birthday party for me yesterday. There's a picture of me before they arrived yesterday on my Birthday Beer post.
  • My girlfriend, Vanessa, is a wonderful person. I'm very lucky to be with her!
  • My family is great. They are super supportive and fun to be around. The next generation is growing up around me and they are great kids.
  • I work with terrific people at a job I love at Lighthouse Capital.
  • The work we do on Ben's Friends is incredibly rewarding and has given my life a lot of meaning. I've met thousands of new friends through Ben's Friends, and I think that will increase exponentially in the future.
The last 35 years have been awesome. I hope I get another 35 and leave my mark on the world.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Birthday Beer!

My wonderful girlfriend Vanessa planned a birthday in a biergarden for me.

Sunday Brunch - January 8, 2012

The links!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wilco, Nick Lowe & Mavis Staples rehearse "The Weight" - YouTube

Wilco, Nick Lowe & Mavis Staples rehearse "The Weight" - YouTube: "

Kempt - The Phone Stack

I liked this. Maybe will try tonight. 


We usually take a pretty hard line against phones at dinner, but a new trick just popped up that gives us hope for the future.

It's called a phone stack, and it's a buzzing, flashing reminder of every phone-etiquette rule the world seems to have forgotten.

It works like this: as you arrive, each person places their phone facedown in the center of the table. (If you're feeling theatrical, you can go for a stack like this one, but it's not required.) As the meal goes on, you'll hear various texts and emails arriving… and you'll do absolutely nothing. You'll face temptation—maybe even a few involuntary reaches toward the middle of the table—but you'll be bound by the single, all-important rule of the phone stack.

Whoever picks up their phone is footing the bill.

It's a brilliant piece of social engineering, masquerading as a bar game. It takes the phone out of the pocket—where you can sneak a glance and hope nobody notices—and places it in the center of attention at all times. Suddenly, picking up your phone is the big deal you always secretly knew it was. And more importantly, it comes with consequences.

But if, after the third ring, you decide your call is more important than your lunch tab, we're sure your friends won't object.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

PIMCO | Investment Outlook - Towards the Paranormal

Bill Gross is never shy about what he sees ahead in the economic world. He runs the largest bond shop in the world and his opinion matters.

PIMCO | Investment Outlook - Towards the Paranormal:
"The New Normal as PIMCO and other economists would describe it was a world of muted western growth, high unemployment and relatively orderly delevering. Now we appear to be morphing into a world with much fatter tails, bordering on bimodal. It’s as if the Earth now has two moons instead of one and both are growing in size like a cancerous tumor that may threaten the financial tides, oceans and economic life as we have known it for the past half century. Welcome to 2012."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jay Caspian Kang on Kwame Brown the NBA player and Kwame Brown the symbol - Grantland

The writing on Grantland.com is really exceptional. I enjoyed this article a lot.

Jay Caspian Kang on Kwame Brown the NBA player and Kwame Brown the symbol - Grantland:
"There is a moment in the life of every sports fan when you must come to terms with the mathematically irrefutable, yet somehow still surreal fact that the athletes on the court or field or ice are younger than you.1 It's a particularly brutal landmark — youth shifts out from under your feet and the future doesn't seem as limitless as it once did. Some kid is doing something you'll never do and making money you'll never make."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Nobody Understands Debt - NYTimes.com

This article actually made me laugh out loud. It's a classic example of how tortured logic can get when someone wants to justify a direction that goes against fundamentals.

There are so many holes in the article, it's impossible to debunk them all, but the main thing to remember is that Debt needs to be paid back. It's not a free lunch, and even though much of this money is owed to U.S. based retirees, pension funds, endowments, etc, we will still have to pay it back. They will not accept a magical haircut to their balance when paying them back get's tough.

Also, the marginal lender (to the U.S.) is really what matters. I believe China and other emerging countries are the marginal lenders right now. They buy our new treasuries and the proceeds go to deficit spending or rolling over (refinancing existing debt). The day these countries stop buying our debt, is the day that rates start climbing and get us in trouble.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wikimedia Foundation Raises $20 Million From 1 Million+ Donors

Wikipedia is one of the triumphs of our times. I'm a proud donor and supporter. Wonderful to see they raised so much money. 


Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and other sites, this morning announced that they've raised $20 million from more than a million donors, shattering a record once again. The organization says donations have risen every year since its global fundraising campaigns began in 2003.

Wikimedia Foundation claims its sites now serve more than 470 million people every month. Wikipedia, which will celebrate its 11th anniversary in about two weeks, now boasts over 20 million articles in 282 languages.

The organization says more than 100,000 volunteers work on Wikipedia and sister projects.

The foundation employs approximately 80 people full-time.

From the press release:

The annual fundraiser is how the Wikimedia Foundation pays its bills. Funds raised in this campaign will be used to buy and install servers and other hardware, to develop new site functionality, expand mobile services, provide legal defense for the projects, and support the large global community of Wikimedia volunteers.

The Wikimedia Foundation's total 2011-12 planned spending is 28.3 million USD. The bulk of that is raised during the annual campaign, and the remainder comes throughout the year in the form of grants from institutions such as the Sloan Foundation, and many other small donations year round.

If you'd like to learn more about the organization's annual plan for 2011-2012, start here.

Also read:

A Personal Appeal TO Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia Programmer: We Do The Funny Portrait Placement Thing Because It Works

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve 2011


Update on Ben's Friends Fundraiser

The Ben's Friends Fundraiser has been going great! We've had 102 Donors contribute $13,645 and we are so grateful! Thanks so much! We've almost reached our $15k goal. Now's a great time for a donation if you haven't done so yet. 
btw - If we reach the goal, every extra $ will go to starting a new communities. :)