Saturday, October 12, 2013

10 Links Every Saturday

My latest 10 Links Every Saturday is up at the usual place, my new blog Orn.io. I continue to experiment with all the blogging platforms out there so I also posted it on Medium which you can find here.

Same article, different places. :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to Recruit - Sugar Paper

Sorry for the lack of posting but I've had the flu. I'm starting to feel better though. Here's a blog post on How to Recruit that I wrote on my more serious blog at www.orn.io. :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

6 Links on Saturday Has Moved to Orn.io

Hey folks, I took a big step and moved my 6 Links on Saturday, and all future links columns, to a new address (www.orn.io). I also moved to a new blogging platform called Svbtle. I wanted to separate my more serious writing from the personal stuff and give you a better reading experience. I'll still be posting here but if you want to read the smart stuff (at least I hope it's smart), then go over to www.orn.io and check it out.

Btw - Svbtle has a really beautiful layout and there are lots of great writers there so once you're done with my stuff, click the homepage and explore. 

If you're a high tech person and use RSS feeds to read blogs, my new feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/scottorn. Pop that baby into your RSS Reader and you are all set.

Finally, thanks for checking me out every weekend! When I first started the links columns I probably had 40 consistent readers and now I range between 150 - 300 people. I love writing the blog and the fact that you like it means the world to me. I'll see you over at www.orn.io!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong: Jonah Keri

I just finished a terrific book called Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game, which looks at the game from a statistical perspective. Jonah Keri, one of my favorite Grantland writers put it together with help from other advanced stats writers like Nate Silver. It's been out since 2006 and I really wish I would have read it then. If you're the kind of person that likes statistics and advanced metrics in sports, this book is for you.

P.S. I included an Amazon link so that if anyone buys the book I will donate the proceeds to Ben's Friends.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Community Spotlight: Ben's Friends, a Network of Support Communties - Cultivating Community

Community Spotlight: Ben's Friends, a Network of Support Communities - Cultivating Community:
"When Scott and Ben came up with the idea of a network of communities, they were on a very tight budget and they needed to be efficient. Instead of creating a lot of unnecessary infrastructure, they used off the shelf and white label products (Ning, Basecamp, and oDesk, primarily) to launch communities quickly, efficiently and effectively at a pretty low cost. We’ve been able to make a huge impact with a small budget and without expensive infrastructure.We’ve also been able to utilize crowd funding through IndieGoGo. Last year we raised $30,000 through them and they’ve created a lot of press for us, which was extremely helpful. Crowd funding has been another efficient and inexpensive way to raise money for our organization."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Super Connectors, Houston's Dropbox Application, and Bottom of the Pyramid Businesses

Welcome back to Sunday's column. If you missed Saturday's 6 Links, take a quick look. There were some really great articles in there. :)

The Surprising Science on How Super Connectors Scale Their Networking - I'm a good connector but I learned a bunch of tips reading this. I'll add my best tip: When people are looking for a job, help them find one. Getting a new job is tough and the process is full of self doubt and frustrations. I know cause I've been there. You can build a bond that lasts when you help someone through this process.

Drew Houston's Dropbox Application to Y Combinator - DropBox is one of the hottest startups of the last 5 years and it all started with this application to Y Combinator, a tech incubator that has spawned a ton of great startups. It's amazing how clear Houston's vision was for what DropBox would become.

Investment Worthy, Bottom of the Pyramid Businesses -  Great post by Ted Rheingold, founder of Dogster, on some fantastic startups that are serving the poorest 2 - 3 billion people in the world. Inspiring ideas that seem like great opportunities to make a return too.

Apple and Android Product Roadmaps - Android is growing insanely fast and Apple's decision this week to not release a "cheap" phone for emerging markets is going to exacerbate this trend. It's worth pointing out that in this chart, all Android devices are lumped together while Apple's three product lines are split apart. So if you combine the Apple charts, they're still close to Android, but Android's rate of growth is what should scare Apple. (note: I own shares in Apple and Google)

The Results of the 24 Hour Business Challenge - Noah Kagan challenged himself to start a business and generate $1k in revenue in 24 hours. Great demonstration that it's easier to start a business than you thought.

Is Music Getting More Energetic Over Time - Fascinating data on the music we listen to from a music analytics startup EchoNest.

Before Buying Shows, Netflix Checks Piracy Stats - When Apple launched iTunes, piracy was a huge issue for artists and music labels. From Napster to Kazaa, piracy was becoming a cultural norm. But most people don't want to steal, they just wanted to easily to listen to the music they loved. Netflix is recreating that simple value prop for TV Shows and Movies. (note: I own shares in Netflix)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - Trader Joe's & Obamacare, How Chris McCandless Died, Peripheral Banks Go in Reverse and Ode to Husky Guys

Hope everyone had a great week. Welcome back to 6 Links on Saturday.

What Trader Joe's Teaches Us About Obamacare - Trader Joe's is cutting healthcare coverage for part time workers and encouraging them to go to the healthcare exchanges to get comparable coverage. TJ's is also giving them $500 to subsidize deductibles and fees. It's a better deal for everyone, except maybe the Federal Government which is going to be holding all the risk.

How Chris McCandless Died - Jon Krakauer presents some compelling new evidence on how the star of Into the Wild died. Turns out it wasn't his fault. See why. Thanks for sending this in Beth Stevens.

The True Size of Africa - Mindblower. 

How to Advertise on a Porn Site - Some not safe for work images, but also one of the best marketing blog posts I've ever read...for the results. :)

Peripheral Banks Go in Reverse - Bond markets across the world are backing up into higher rates and it's going to start causing problems. This is a great explanation of the predicament our monetary policy caused emerging markets. Did you think it was a coincidence that they started booming when we started printing money?

Ode to Husky Guys - Funny and true. Although my diet has made me a lot less husky. :) - Thanks Andrea Gouw for the submission.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How to Expand Your Startup Out of Your Home Country - Tech Europe - WSJ

Really terrific article on how Yelp builds communities: How to Expand Your Startup Out of Your Home Country - Tech Europe - WSJ:

It seems really simple, but there are tons of little things you have to do to make it work. And you need a lot of patience. At Ben's Friends, we have a lot of faith in the "slow-build" communities.  Some of our largest and most powerful communities were real slow growers at first. But building that slow base creates tremendous staying power.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Trying Out an App, Early Adopters, Android is for Startups, and How to Present as a Team

Welcome back to Sunday's Links. If you missed Saturday's Links, take a quick looksie.

One request, I'd be grateful for a Facebook or Twitter post about the column. I've been putting a lot of work into these columns and my readership has been growing nicely. I'm up to about 300 people reading each one of these. It would be nice to hit 500. :)

Trying Out a New Social App - Fantastic article by software developer Leah Culver. It's a narrative about a user's experience finding, downloading and using a new App. This stuff seems so simple but it's really hard to get right. It's also the difference between making it and failing in the App economy.

Early Adopters, So Right at First, So Wrong Later - Spot on by the VC who did Twitter and Tumblr. Early adopters are your life blood, but sometimes they don't know what's good for an App in the long run.

Android is for Startups - Forwarded to me by my friend Chris Wilson, a software developer. This is something I'm learning the hard way. When we built the Orbit App, I figured we could ignore Android for the time being. It turns out that pretty much 50% of the people I talk to have Android phones and can't even try Orbit even though they want too. Big bummer. Don't make the same mistake.

How to Present and Answer Questions in a Team Presentation - Important advice. I listen to pitches professionally and you'd be surprised how often Management Teams contradict each other in a meeting. It's a big no no. Creative tension is great, but not when you are asking for money.

The Part They Don't Tell You About Team Building - Letting go of your baby is one of the hardest things Founders have to do. You don't want your kid sleeping on your couch when he is 40, and you don't want your startup stagnating because you can't delegate.

Understanding Natural Monopoly - A instant classic from Seth Godin. And with information moving so quickly these days, natural monopolies happen faster than ever. It's why Google and Twitter are untouchable and why a promising startup like Uber can raise $300M at a $3.5B market cap.

I'll leave you with an article on 10 Things You Can Do to Make Yourself Happier. I've done a few of these and they really work. Cheers to feeling better.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - Burritos, YC Funding Non Profits, Mobile Payments, Iran & Twitter and Wearable Tech

Hope everyone in San Francisco is enjoying the beautiful weather. For everyone else across the country, September is when our Summer starts. I'm writing this in shorts and flip flops, which is pretty special in SF. :)

Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito - Hilarious...but poor burrito craftsmanship is a serious offense. Let this be a warning to all. :)

Y-Combinator Will Now Fund Non Profits - Big step by Y Combinator. As someone who runs a soon-to-be non profit, Ben's Friends, this is really encouraging. The Tech World is a sleeping giant in the non profit world. When you apply the company building techniques that the Valley has developed in the non profit sector, good things are going to happen. Btw - I wrote an essay on this 6 months ago in the Harvard Business Review.

My Son Wears Dresses, Get Over It - An enlightening essay from a father of a child who wears what he wants to wear. This is progress. Hopefully it helps more men rethink their relationship with their gay sons.

Mobile Commerce Isn't Waiting for the Wallet to Arrive - Insightful post from fellow Kellogg Alum Mike Dudas. Mike works at Braintree, a mobile payment processing company, so he has a right to an opinion here. The key insight is that transactions are happening inside of apps, not through a central payment system on the phone. Maybe Apple will announce something that changes things next week, but for right now, Apps rule the mobile payment world.

Iran Opens a Twitter Channel to the West - Despite all the NSA spying and associated b.s., technology is still opening doors across the world. P.S. How annoying is Pelosi's daughter in this article?

Wearing Wearables: Thoughts on Current Wearable Tech - Charles is a VC friend of mine and an early adopter to watch. Wearable tech covers things like Fitbits, Nike FuelBands, etc. It's a big market and has a lot of people excited (including me).He makes a great point here, wearable tech would be much more appealing if it wasn't so so visible. But that's a Catch-22 for device makers, because how else will word of mouth spread if it isn't so noticeable? That's part of the genius behind Google Glass. It's so intrusive to the person you talk to, they can't help but notice it. Annoying - yes; forgettable - no.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Coldest Case Ever Solved, Decline of Serial Killers and Sharing Economy, Puzzling Through a Love Song and the Prisoner's Dilemma

Hopefully you're reading this somewhere in the mountains, at a beach or in a beautiful, half empty city like me. If you are, take a few minutes to check out yesterday's 6 Links on Saturday. :)

1. The Coldest Case Ever Solved - A really interesting "Who Done It?" for a crime that happened 50+ years ago.

2. Puzzling Through (A Love Song) - Andrew Bird is one of my favorite musicians and I love his song writing deconstructions in the New York Times. He even embeds the music threads so you can hear what he is talking about.

3. The Decline of Serial Killers and the Sharing Economy - Such a great observation on how using services like Uber and AirBnb are teaching us to trust each other again.

4. The Apple TV App Store Can't Be Far Away - I've been waiting for this for years. It's going to be such a blockbuster. In followups to this article I've seen writers say it will have low adoption and will be no big deal. The same thing that many of them said when the iPad came out...and we know how that turned out (note: I'm long Apple stock).

5. Letting Employees Make the Most Out of Their Fitness - Such an important trend, and it's in the employers best interests. Employers are shouldering huge healthcare costs with healthcare inflation so out of control. If they can help nudge all of us in the right direction, it's really going to pay off for both groups.

6. Everyone Owns A Piece of the Pie - This is a post from one of the Moderators of Living With Fibromyalgia Support Group on Ben's Friends. It made me so proud because her we have a member explaining to the rest of the community that they must take ownership if this community is going to work. This is how lasting communities are built, by everyone shouldering the burden.

7. I'll leave you with a great video that illustrates the concept of Prisoner's Dilemma. You're probably familiar with this set up from a Law and Order situation. Each detained suspect is given the option of a lighter sentence if they rat out the other detainee. But if they both keep quiet, they go free. If no one cooperates and they are convicted, they get huge sentences. The video is liter fare and very entertaining.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - Four Letter Words, Discovering the Wrist, How Paypal & Reddit Faked Traction and Pickwick

Welcome back to this week's 6 Links on Saturday. Hope you are having a great Labor Day weekend!

1. Mobile Social Networks: The Customer Acquisition Powerhouse - Facebook's monstrous earnings last quarter were driven by Apps advertising on Facebook (especially Mobile) in the hopes of jump starting their user base. It's remarkably effective. It also delivered a very lucrative business model to the major mobile messaging platforms. Introduce paid app acquisition, rinse and repeat, then grow into your huge valuation.

2. Suddenly Everyone Has Discovered the Wrist - Poor Casio...Frommer's analogy to the "PC Guys" is perfect.

3. How Paypal & Reddit Faked Their Way to Traction - Signaling traction is the most important thing a startup can do after building a functional product. People want to dine in crowded restaurants, dance at packed clubs and be on popular social networks.

4. Four Letter Words - I've learned the hard way that "Easy" is a very dangerous word when working with other people. Good trap to avoid.

5. What You Need to Know About the NFL's Concussion Lawsuit Settlement - Great analysis by one of my favorite football writers, Grantland's Bill Barnwell. Personally, I can't believe the players settled for so little.

6. I'll leave you with a great new band called PickWick that I found on I Am Fuel, You Are Friends blog.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Little Bean Sprout - Buy and Sell Used Baby Clothing

My friend Karina has a terrific new web business called Little Bean Sprout for buying and selling used baby clothing. Kudos to Karina for a terrific service and congrats on the nice press with Little Bean Sprout getting featured in Daily Candy last week. If you have little ones, you should check it out!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Andrew, a Lyft Driver Who Happens to be Hearing Impaired

Last week I had the pleasure of catching a Lyft with Andrew. At first it was the usual drill. I used the app to page him and he was there almost immediately. That's when things got awesome.

As I walked over to the car, Andrew waived hello. [sidenote: when was the last time a cab driver waived to you? Never?]

I get in the car and say hello. Andrew smiles and says, "I'm Andrew and I'm deaf." He then points to his phone with Google Now open and says, "Where are you going?"

At this point I'm blown away. I tell the phone, "Take me to Hotel Nikko" and up pops the directions to Hotel Nikko. Andrew gives me a thumbs up, another smile and we drive away. I can already tell Andrew is a special guy so I snap this photo of him.


At the first red light, Andrew reaches over to the passenger seat, grabs a yellow note pad and writes something on it. No big deal I think, he's probably tracking all of his fares today. But then he hands me the notepad and his blue ballpoint pen. Andrew had written, "How is your day going?"

From that point on we begin to trade notes about our day, our career and our life. I find out that Andrew is from New York and moved to San Francisco to pursue a career in the energy industry. It turns out that California just deregulated a chunk of the energy business and Andrew thinks it has huge potential. He's an entrepreneur and drives for Lyft on the side to make a few bucks.


Andrew dropped me off at Hotel Nikko and I was sad to get out of the car. He's such a warm person. I enjoyed every second of our conversation via a yellow note pad. We filled up three pages and shared a lot of laughs and head nods. I got out of the car and knew I had made a new friend.

Cheers to you Andrew, the best damn driver I've ever had. And cheers to San Francisco, where technology, entrepreneurship and incredible people converge to make life so special.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Cheat Sheet for Starting a Business, Honor Your Users, Now it's Ruined, Building a Vibrant Community, and Jeff Tweedy Acoustic

Hope you had a great Saturday. If you missed 6 Links on Saturday, take a quick look. :) - Now on to 7 Links on Sunday.

1. The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Starting Your Business - This is perfect in every way. The serious advice is spot on and he does such a good job of anticipating dumb questions. Plus the funny parts are really funny.

2. How Do You Honor Your Users - So good. Who do you honor? At Ben's Friends we honor the patients who are fighting their diseases and the friends and family who support them.

3. Now It's Ruined - Another great one from Seth Godin. Every time the old school says something is ruined, the new school is building something better.

4. How to Build a Vibrant Community - Terrific "How To" from Eric Kroll, my partner on Ben's Friends. Eric does so much for Ben's Friends. I think we've been working together on it for 4 years. I still remember sitting at the Grove on Chestnut pitching him what we wanted to do. I think we had 4 communities at the time. With Eric's help, we've grown to 35, and a bunch of Eric's insights are captured in this article.

5. Giving Up the PED Guessing Game - Neat guest column on Baseball Prospectus (a very nerdy baseball analysis site) from former major leaguer Gabe Kapler. He talks about the temptation of Performance Enhancing Drugs and how he avoided them. An honest and insightful discussion from an ex-athlete.

6. 10 Things to Love About San Francisco - My favorite is "We boom, we bust." That's SF in a single sentence, but there are so many more things to love about it.

7. I'll leave you with an acoustic set from Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of Wilco. This is just off the charts good.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - Time Tax, ESPN Online, Breaking Bad Wardrobes, Just Listen and a Breakfast Manifesto

We're back with 6 Links on Saturday. Enjoy!

Getting Smart About the Time Tax - So many great ideas in here. The premise is to exchange time spent sitting in line for something productive. So smart.

ESPN in Talks to Stream All Channels Online for a Fee - If this happens it's going to rock the cable world and the sports world. First, ESPN is the most valuable channel on cable systems. It's the main reason most men subscribe. The second most important reason men subscribe is the local sports channel which shows local NBA and MLB games. Most of these local sports channels have signed humongous 20 year deals with teams under the assumption that they are untouchable on cable systems and will be able to jack up their own fees along the way. But what happens when ESPN, the linchpin of the whole cable juggernaut, bails? Will the local channels be enough to keep people subscribed? I think not. This could get crazy with local sports channels going bankrupt because of the huge fees they owe the local sports teams. And the local sports teams that locked up players for 10 years to huge contracts because they could count on that cash flow? They'll be in trouble too. We might see our first MLB team bankruptcy. Holy cow.

An Epic Timeline of Breaking Bad Wardrobes - For those that don't know, the characters reflect their moods and alliances in the color scheme of their wardrobe.

Just Listen - I'm constantly trying to remind myself of this.

Breakfast: A Manifesto - Most important meal of the day. And these people are trying to take it away. Reminds me of Colbert's War on the War on Christmas.

Grantland is running a Top 64 Songs of the Millennium and it's wonderful. Here are the Songs That Could Have Changed Your Life but weren't picked. In addition here are the Lessons Learned From Day 1.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Seth's Blog: All good ideas are terrible

Seth's Blog: All good ideas are terrible: "Until people realize they are obvious.

If you're not willing to live through the terrible stage, you'll never get to the obvious part."


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Her - Trailer (HD) - YouTube

Pretty interesting movie by Spike Jonze called Her. He did Being John Malkovich which I loved. I'm definitely going to see this one. A movie like this says something about where we are culturally.

Her - Trailer (HD) - YouTube:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Working Late? This Song is Always Soothing...

Working Late? This Song is Always Soothing...

40 Days of Dating - "An Internet Reality Show"

I just came across this interesting site called 40 Days of Dating. It's like an Internet Reality Show where two long time friends try dating for 40 days to see if they are meant for each other. Every day a new post is published, each from the perspective of the guy and the girl. It's strangely interesting to me, and people who love reality TV will love it.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

7 Links Every Sunday - Filming Concentration Camp, Internet Makes TV Terrible, Silk Road and the End of Independent Bookstores

Hope you like today's links. If you missed Saturday's link column, take a sec to check them out.

1. How French Prisoners Secretly Filmed a Nazi Concentration Camp - Fantastic story. These people were so resourceful in a moment of darkness.

2. How the Internet Makes Everything Terrible - Interesting observation from the author on how the Internet changes the viewing experience for appointment TV like Breaking Bad's premier. Twitter brings us all together during the show and it's not always a good thing. I think this trend will get even stronger and it's part of what I'm counting on with our Orbit App.

3. The Great HerbaLife Corner of 2013? - Some historical context on what is happening at HerbaLife as two gigantic investors argue (and bet $ Billions) on whether it's a fraud or a legit company.

4. The Man Behind the Black Market Drug Site - Silk Road - I had no idea a site like this existed. Wow.

5. I Was Not a Pretty Child - Thoughtful essay from a former "ugly duckling" on what it's like to grow up as an outsider.

6. The End of the Independent Book Store - Terrific essay by Seth Godin on what is happening with the independent bookstore (and retailers in general). It's a little sad that these businesses are disappearing but it also creates so many new opportunities.

7. If the Made Up Movies in Seinfeld Had Movie Posters - Brilliant.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

6 Links Every Saturday - App Stores & Portals, Stealing from Cops, Empathy and Condiments

Welcome back to the 6 Links Every Saturday. Hope you had a nice week! Now to the links.

1. App Stores, Portals and Discovery - Terrific analogy by Benedict Evans comparing the current state of the App Stores (which is not great for discovery of new apps) to the old school Yahoo portal world. Makes so much sense, and that also means the current app store model is going to have to change.

2. Stealing from the Cops - Tip of the hat to the police here. So smart and proactive.

3. Listen to Wikipedia - Simplistic and beautiful. I've said it before, but I admire Wikipedia so much. It's one of those things that brings the world closer together, and keeps it there.

4. Empathy and Condiments - Everyone should be a waiter for a little while.

5. A List of People Killed in Biking Accidents in San Francisco - This really touched me. I'm not even a big biking rights in SF person. But seeing all these faces and the stupid, preventable way they died makes me think something needs to change.

6. I'll leave you with a great podcast done by Bill Simmons of ESPN (my Oprah), Malcolm Gladwell (New Yorker) and Nate Silver (538). I learned a bunch about the media business listening to this. Fascinating.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Google Ads in Gmail Inbox?

Yikes! Now I'm getting Google Ads in my Gmail inbox. This new tab redesign is not cool.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Dogs and Social Media, Grantland's BB Recap, There's No Speed Limit and That's Just a Hack

Back for Sunday's 7 Links. Vanessa and I had a terrific day in Maui visiting the farm of old tech friend, Tina Fitch.
Tina has gone from very successful tech entrepreneur to sustainable and humane pig farmer. But I'll cover all that tomorrow. Now it's on to the links.

1. Grantland's Breaking Bad Precap - Read this just for Lisanti's scene in heaven between Tony Soprano and Walter White. Brilliant.

2. What My Dog Taught Me About Social Media - Insightful for three reasons, 1) Reminder that pets are huge on social media, bringing people joy online too, 2) Illuminates what works in Facebook Ads and 3) Shows the type of person that works at Facebook - highly analytical, tries a lot of stuff, and a power user of Facebook the service.

3. There's No Speed Limit - Excellent post by Derek Sivers. Speed limits are for suckers (except the driving kind). :)

4. Goodbye, Splash Bar New York - Thoughtful essay from Dave Holmes on taking the road less traveled.

5. AOL Hanging in There With 2.6M Dial-up Subscribers - Dan Frommer covers AOL's remaining dial-up customer base. These metrics are investor porn, and Dan knows it. But indulge us. AOL Dial-up is the ultimate example of how some online services are incredibly sticky. After all the hype wears off, they're beautiful cash cows.

6. Oh That's a Hack That Someone Put Together - "Just about all the big decisions, innovations and perfect solutions around you, didn't start that way." Absolutely true. For Ben's Friends, it started with us answering emails in the middle of the night from people who were joining the communities and from each other. It's that easy (and hard) to get started.

7. I'll leave you with a book recommendation. I spent the first couple days of my vacation reading Matthew Berry's Fantasy Life. He's the Fantasy expert at ESPN and the book weaves together his path to success in the fantasy sports world with tons of funny anecdotes from fans who wrote in. A nice easy read that will put a smile on your face if you play fantasy sports.

P.S. Don't forget Saturday's Fun and Exciting 6 Links from yesterday!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - Moritz on Bezos, Slow Ideas, The BestCoolest Players and Placebo Buttons

Aloha! I'm writing from Maui on my Summer Vacation. I relax by reading and I've done a lot of relaxing, so there were a ton of good links to choose from this week.  :)

1. Stop the Presses: A New Media Baron Appears - By now everyone knows Jeff Bezos (Amazon's Founder) bought the Washington Post. So instead of linking to a news story, I'll link to Mike Moritz's editorial on Bezos and Amazon. Moritz, Chairman of Sequoia Capital, is one of the best venture capitalists of all time, having been involved in Yahoo, Google, Paypal and LinkedIn, to name a few. He's kind of a big deal and so is Jeff Bezos, so this is a can't miss editorial. Also, you have to love New Yorker that claiming Bezos bought the Post on accident.

2. Slow Ideas - Why do some new ideas spread fast, while other that are just as important lag? Since I'm in the business of investing in new ideas, I find this stuff fascinating.

3. Grantland's Jonah Keri Lists The BestCoolest Players - Keri and I are about the same age so these are my guys too. My only addition would be Will the Thrill (bonus footage here).

4. Yahoo Has a New Killer App - The author imagines a future where companies choose to compete on privacy. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but why aren't companies doing this? Maybe it's because the Feds and NSA are really freaking scary. At least that's what the founder of Lavabit, a secure email provider that supposedly was used by Snowden is saying. This just keeps getting scarier.

5. Placebo Buttons Do Absolutely Nothing - We've been using plenty of elevators, so of course I've been hitting the "Doors Close" button every time we're stuck waiting in one. Guess what? That's a placebo button. It doesn't actually do anything. And I know it, but I still hit the stupid button. Why?

6. I'll leave you with a Songza playlist from our vacation, called Hawaiian Folk. It's as about as chill as you can get. Enjoy it even if you're on the mainland.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Final Season of 'Breaking Bad' - Grantland

Breaking Bad is back on Sunday night and I can't wait. Here's a Grantland introduction to the final season. 

"If that is indeed the case, then Sunday's episode, of which I'll spoil not a whit other than to say it is absolutely terrific, feels less like merging onto an exit ramp and more like the later stages of a rocket launch. The direction, by Bryan Cranston himself, is stirring and precise. The tone alternates between hilarious and bleak, and the tension is excruciating. The way an impatient Gilligan leaps fearlessly to tackle story points that other Emmy winners would let linger for half a season makes me think he's the sort of hedonist who would never deign to sit through a salad course when there's steak on the menu. He just can't help himself, and goddamn does it taste good!"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Toyota Donates Efficiency, OpenTable Payments, Hulu at TCA and Himmelsbach's MediaBrands

Back again for Sunday's 7 Links. Hope you enjoyed Saturday's articles.

In Lieu of Money, Toyota Donates Efficiency to NYC Charity - My favorite article of the week. Toyota is a great company because they developed incredible process improvements in manufacturing, It turns out those improvements are just as applicable in soup kitchens as they are on the car line. It's really neat to see a big corporation donate skill and time vs. money.

OpenTable Begins Testing Mobile Payments - No more waiting for that waiter to remember you exist so you can pay your check and go to the show. Soon you'll be able to do it from your phone.

Hulu's Arrival at TCA: Another Reminder That Times Are Changing - Tim Goodman covers Hulu's presentation at the TV critics gathering in LA. Goodman lives in the Bay Area so he's influenced by the Tech World much more than other TV critics. It's obvious to him (and me) that Hulu is going to be a big player in the future of TV. Loved the bit about how the room was only half full for Hulu's presentation.

The Most Important Managerial Skill
 - "Picking your battles." It's so true.

New Unit to Turn Brands Into Publishers - My good friend, Mark Himmelsbach, has just announced he's starting a new advertising agency called MediaBrands. It's centered around turning brands into publishers, or "Content Marketing." Media and Advertising continue to become intertwined, and soon we may not be able to tell which is which. But it's going to be big and I'm happy for Mark that he's getting in on the ground floor.

The $4 Million Teacher - South Korea spends a lot of money on their teachers, and it works.

I'll leave you with a couple Songza Playlists, 1) A Relaxing Evening & 2) Barefoot Beach Chill that we've enjoyed over the weekend while relaxing and catching crawdads at Donner Lake.



Saturday, August 3, 2013

6 Links Every Saturday - Failures of Kindness, Pork in NYC, Scalping Genius Bar Appointments and Tim Goodman on TV Exec Life

Welcome back to 6 Links Every Saturday! Here we go.

George Saunders: Failures of Kindness - Wonderful convocation speech to the graduates of Syracuse University by George Saunders. It's funny and touching, and he couldn't be more right. The moments I regret in my life are the times when I could have stepped up and helped others out.

The Benefits of Diversification by Wealthfront - This post answers the investing question I get most from friends and family, "Where should I put my money?" Wealthfront's chart shows that the asset class that led one year, is a laggard the next. It's important to diversify and rebalance.

How to Meet a Man in New Pork City - Cute observation from a single lady trying to meet guys in New York.

Chinese Scalpers Booking all the Genius Bar Time Slots - Last week it was bots and scalpers booking up all the nice restaurant reservations, this week they are doing it in China at all the Apple stores. Everything online is becoming an arbitrage situation.

The Life of a TV Network Exec by Tim Goodman - Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter is on his "Death March with Cocktails" in LA where network execs present next years shows during the day, and at night the networks butter up the TV critics over drinks. Goodman is the best TV writer (imho) and he's written some great behind the scenes columns lately.

I'll leave you with a cute story about a Fox who stole a phone and texted the owner. :)
(note: the noise in the video is a rabbit call)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Treme on HBO

It's been the Summer of Treme at our house. We've plowed through 3 seasons of the HBO series which was created by David Simon, who did the Wire.

Treme is set in post-Katrina New Orleans and it slowly makes you fall in love with the city. New Orleans has its problems, like crooked cops and politicians, but the heart of the show is the people who live in the Treme, a neighborhood in New Orleans known for it's musical roots. I especially love all the club scenes where New Orleans gets to show off its live music.

Treme requires a little time so be patient with it. Think of the show as a great novel instead of a cop procedural. I hope you give it a shot.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Breaking Bad Trailer

Loved the new Breaking Bad trailer. The poem that Cranston is reading is called Ozymandias. It's a good one, I still remember it from high school English class. :)


Monday, July 29, 2013

Top of the Lake on Netflix

We just finished watching this show, Top of the Lake, and it's incredible. It's beautifully shot, the acting is fantastic and there are a bunch of twist and turns in the plot. I highly recommend it. You can stream it on your Netflix account. (note: I own Netflix stock.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - The Dating Game, AngelList's Syndicate,

Welcome back for Sunday's version of the links. Take a minute to check out Saturday's 6 Links if you missed them.

1. Google Reveals Chromecast - Google has produced a super cheap "dongle" that plugs into your dumb TV and allows you to stream Internet videos and Netflix to your tube. It's priced to move at $35 and will cause problems for Apple TV. For the longest time, Apple TV has been the main way people on-board Internet entertainment to their TV. And for their effort, Apple has tens of millions of us buying movies and music on our TV through iTunes. The stakes are really high in the smart TV market and now Google has a credible play. (note: I own Google and Apple stock.)

2. The Dating Game - My friend Annie reporting on a curious dating custom in Shanghai.

3. Bot Wars: The Arms Race to Make Restaurant Reservations - First it was high frequency trading in the stock market, now it's high frequency trading of restaurant reservations.

4. Difficult Women - Terrific essay on Sex in the City's role in the development of great television.

5. Software Just Ate VC - AngelList just came out with software that let's angel investors syndicate investments in start-ups between each other. And the angel investor that sources the deal, and runs the syndicate, gets 20% of the profits that his/her syndicate makes, just like VC funds do today. This service creates a ton of perverse incentives (over promise as the lead Angel, and under deliver capital the startup desperately needs), but I think it's really smart and another big step on the road to democratizing investment in startups.

6. Shipping Beats Perfection - Great advice to "share your work." I'm proudly telling everyone I know about our new Orbit App for Audience Approval Ratings. Maybe you can help us out a little and spread the word. :)

7. I'll leave you with the Trailer for Gravity. This movie looks pretty intense...and awesome.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

6 Links Every Saturday - The Postal Service at the Greek, PetziConnect, Buzzfeed's Strategy and Barnwell's NFL Trade Value

Welcome back to Saturday's 6 Links. We're flying high this morning as we had a really great week. Last night's Postal Service concert was amazing, Six Links got a shout out from tech dude Dave Schappell last week, and of course my new app, Orbit for audience approval ratings, had its first conference beta on Thursday night and did great! Hope you had a great week too. Now off to the links!

1. PetziConnect: A Wireless Camera and Treat Dispenser for Dogs - After watching this video, I wanted to roll over and play dead to get some treats. Can we get one of these installed in my house and fill it with peanut butter cups?

2. Barnwell's NFL Trade Value on Grantland - Most stock market investors are either 1) Growth Investors, paying any price for a stock like Amazon.com that is growing quickly but doesn't have real profits, or 2) Value Investors, conservatively projecting the future cash flows of a company like Caterpillar, discounting those cash flows back to today's value, and paying not a penny more for the stock. Moneyball opened up professional sports to the concept of "Value Investing" and no one writes a better column from this perspective than Bill Barnwell at Grantland. If you're a sports fan who likes he business side just as much as the games, this column is for you.

3. Buzzfeed's Strategy - It's one of the hottest startups on the web, so reading the behind the scenes strategy from the CEO is both entertaining and educational, kind of like Buzzfeed.

4. What's Killing the Bees is Worse Than You Thought - Scientists figured out what has been killing the bees. This a huge problem that is going to be tough to reverse. Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker has written some great articles on the bee issue too.

5. Air Force Soldier Dunks in Combat Boots - He did it in front of USA Basketball and in fatigues and combat boots. I hope this guy never has to buy another beer at the officers club.

6. I'll leave you with another Postal Service song, titled Sleeping In, which is what my girlfriend is doing right now. :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Orbit Does First Conference - Verge Indianapolis

Big night last night for Orbit, my new iPhone app that measures the audience's approval rating. The Verge Indianapolis Conference used Orbit allow the audience to voice their approval (or disapproval) on start-up pitches and Google Glass. Big day for us here, we're so excited. :)


Update: the Verge Conference Organizer posted this tweet with the Orbit Chart!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Wet, Frustrating, Ultimately Awesome Night With Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field - Hollywood Prospectus Blog - Grantland

A great review to the Pearl Jam show at Wrigley that we just missed thanks a horrible day of travel on Friday. We were outside of Wrigley having a few beers though and listening to the band and really enjoying ourselves.

It was pretty awesome. Then the lightning came. We bailed because we weren't inside, but it sounds like the band rocked it late night. Sorry to miss this one. Grantland had a great review: A Wet, Frustrating, Ultimately Awesome Night With Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field - Hollywood Prospectus Blog - Grantland:

This isn't the best video but the sound is good. We could hear Release perfectly while walking behind the Wrigley bleachers.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

7 Links Every Sunday - July 21, 2013

Thanks for stopping by again for Sunday's 7 Links. If you missed Saturday's 6 Links, take a second to check them out.

Alan Turing to be Given Posthumous Pardon - The most important man in the history of computing was discriminated against and eventually destroyed because he was gay. This Radiolab podcast has the entire story and it's a heartbreaker. He's finally going to be pardoned by the British Government and it's about time.

$25 Gadget Let's Hackers Seize Control of Cars - Scary but not surprising. How are the car companies going to figure out how to patch the security holes in cars 5+ years old? It's going to be tough.

Do Things That Don't Scale - Terrific post by Paul Graham of YCombinator on how to build a startup. It's some of the best advice I've ever read for startups. One thing we did early on at Ben's Friends was we started greeting every new member. We still do that today. Each member get's greetings from at least 3 real people right when they join. That doesn't really scale, but that's precisely why the new members like it so much. It's the strongest signal we can send to them that this is a real place of support and friendship. :)

The Pixar Theory - An extensive blog post that seeks to prove one thing: That all Pixar movies exist in the same universe. Fantastic analysis.

New eCommerce Strategies Threaten UPS & Fedex - I've always thought that UPS and Fedex were two of the most unassailable companies in the world. After all, who would have the guts and capital to invest enough to compete with them? Well it looks like Amazon, Wal-Mart and some little guys are finally coming after them. Businesses with heavy fixed costs can be surprisingly vulnerable to competitors once their utilization levels drop. The marginal package is very important and that is where the new guys are starting.

A Man Acquitted in Romantic Bear Spray Squabble - You can't make this stuff up.

I'll leave you with two playlists that Rembert from Grantland put together on his cross country drive. There's something magical about a road-trip playlist. I still associate some songs with my drives back and forth from San Francisco to Chicago while at Kellogg. Good times.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - July 20, 2013

Welcome back for another 6 Links on Saturday. I'm writing from wonderful Chicago where we are visiting for a weekend of ribs, jazz, comedy and hopefully Pearl Jam at Wrigley if the scalpers cooperate!

1. Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain't Shit - Beautiful, honest piece written by Questlove of the Roots in the wake of the Zimmerman Acquittal. Plus this from President Obama.

2. The Tyranny of Traditional TV - Cable systems are trying to preserve their monopoly (and high prices) but the tech companies are starting to go direct to the content providers. Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft have some big checkbooks and they want content. Soon we'll have a really great box or connected TV and then things will really get interesting.

3. The Short, Happy Life of Serengeti Lions - Really great article. I had no idea lions partnered up to govern prides and to invade them. Fascinating social structure.

4. Johnny Manziel is the NCAA's Worst Nightmare - Johnny "Football" is a star quarterback at Texas A&M, and he also has family money. This makes him different from almost every other college football player who can't afford to rock the boat. The NCAA needs him more than he needs them.

5. Capital Market Climate Change - Ben Horowitz, a prominent VC, walks through the cooling fundraising climate for Consumer Internet companies, and what you should do about it if you're a startup CEO.

6. I'll leave you with the cutest 1 minute video you'll ever see.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

C&O Podcast #1 - A podcast about MakinSense Babe and Orbit App

C&O Podcast #1

Kathryn of MakinSense Babe and I did a podcast over the weekend. She asked me about my new Orbit Ratings App. She gave me some great tips on taglines and how she would use it, which I thought was pretty interesting.

I asked her about the SEC's Decision to allow marketing of funds and startups to the general public. Kathryn worked in the Hedge Fund industry for 10+ years so she really knows her stuff.

We had a great time and are going to try to do this once a week. Enjoy the podcast!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Leftover Cuties - One Heart

I really like this band. They're actually a fantastic lounge band. I caught them in Vegas last month. Looking forward to the album release.

Leftover Cuties - One Heart


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How To Become a Better Writer: Stephen King's On Writing

A few years back, I was talking to Stephen Elliott, founder of The Rumpus, an online literary site, and author of Happy Baby and The Adderall Diaries. I've always wanted to be a better writer so I asked him to recommend one book that could help someone improve their writing. His choice was Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft.

I had always thought of Stephen King as prolific but not as a great craftsman. But after reading this book, I'm impressed with Stephen King as a person and by his process. He's a really interesting guy and realizes it's a miracle that he has become so successful. His writing tips and advice are really great too. I highly recommend this book.


P.S. I put some Amazon affiliate links in the post. If anyone buys something then I will donate the proceeds to Ben's Friends.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Kellogg Alumni Magazine Article on Ben's Friends

I'm incredibly honored and grateful that Kellogg ran a 4 page feature article on Ben's Friends in this Summer's Kellogg Alumni Magazine. We share a little bit of the print space with another social impact company but most of it is about Ben's Friends. In the print version, there is a whole timeline which starts when Ben entered Kellogg in 05' and shows all of our progress annually.

It feels so wonderful to be recognized by my alma mater! The article also means a lot because so many of our donors have been Kellogg alums. I love seeing them get paid back emotionally for all the help and resources they give us so we can keep going.

Thanks to all our Donors! This one is for you!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - Zimmerman, @SummberBreak, Orbit App, In Defense of Techies and Desert Bus

Welcome back to Sunday's 7 Links. If you missed Saturday's column, take a second to check it out.

Also, a gentle reminder that my Orbit App for real-time approval ratings launched yesterday. Last night people were down voting Zimmerman after the acquittal and boosting up Tim Lincecum after his no-hitter for the Giants. It's really encouraging to see so much activity on it in the first day. My friends and I worked really hard on the app so please take a few minutes to try it and spread the word. :)

1. George Zimmerman, Not Guilty, Blood on the Leaves - The New Yorker's excellent take on the trial and acquittal.

2. @SummerBreak - If you're a Reality TV fan, and I know most of you are, you'll like the latest incarnation: Reality TV on Social Media. It's called @SummerBreak and my buddy Mark Himmelsbach is one of the guys behind it. The show lives entirely on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram. This is where we are going folks. :)

3. Byron Wien 20 Rules of Life and Investing - He's a very famous investor and this advice is super solid.

4. Desert Bus: The Worst Game Ever - I had to find out more about this Desert Bus game. I guess it's kind of like Sharknado, it's so bad it's good.

5. In Defense of San Francisco Techies - There's an emerging backlash in SF against people in the tech industry. I can understand the frustration with rising home prices, but come on people. The cafe's, boutiques, restaurants, etc are doing way better because the Techies are spending money here. And all those techies, including me, pay taxes to keep Muni solvent and the police on the street. Cut us a break.

6. The Bridge of Tears - Good TV alert, this show looks incredible.

7. I'll leave you with a video of Tim Lincecum's No Hitter last night. For about 5 years, Lincecum was the San Francisco Giants. In the post-Bonds era, he defined Bay Area sports. I'd be put him on the same level as Joe Montana. He's struggled a lot in the last two years, which makes this no hitter really special for his fans like me.

P.S. Don't forget to download Orbit App! :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

6 Links on Saturday - Orbit App is Live, ESPN's Why I Stayed, and When Things Go Wrong

Back again for 6 Links on Saturday. Hope you had a great week. I'm loving the Vampire Weekend Friday Chill Music I posted yesterday. Check it out too. On to the links!

1. Glass, Home and Solipsism - Terrific essay reminding business people that while they think about their customers all the time, there's a pretty good chance their customers almost never think about the business.

2. Mobile Traction is Getting Harder - it's getting harder and harder to launch a successful app. Hopefully my Orbit App which creates visual approval ratings is an exception. It's went live today! I'd be grateful if you tried it and gave it a good review. :)

3. Carry On: Why I Stayed - Fantastic personal interest story from ESPN. There are so many amazing people out there.

4. Antonymous Person Posts $500k Bail to Free Teen - Kudos to a good Samaritan out there.

5. When Things go Wrong - This is how you handle it.

6. I'll leave you with a funny picture from my friend Cameron.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Chill Music - Vampire Weekend

A little sample of Vampire Weekend's new album for your Friday Chill Music listening pleasure.

Vampire Weekend - Step (Official Lyrics Video) - YouTube:




Book Recommendation - Beta China eBook: Hamish McKenzie

If you're an Internet professional or someone like me who invests in the sector, you probably wonder what's going on across the world in the Chinese Internet market. Hamish McKenzie's ebook, Beta China, is a terrific primer on Chinese Internet companies. It's a quick but insightful read and goes into the history of the industry in China, highlights the big players and provides a scouting report on the up and coming companies. I highly recommend it.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Good advice

Paul Kedrosky (@pkedrosky)
Wise words from a friend recently: Life changes when you learn that trading your time for dollars isn't reversible.

Download the official Twitter app here

Sunday, July 7, 2013

7 Links on Sunday - July 7, 2013

I took Saturday off in honor of the long holiday weekend, but I'm back at it with 7 great links for you this fine Sunday.

1. Disruptions: Social Media Images Form a New Language Online - The Internet continues to change, and it always seems to be for the better.

2. The Opportunity Cost of Streets - I never thought about it like this. A real eye-opener.

3. Things That Would be Interesting to Read/Watch/Listen to - Thought provoking.

4. Thinking About Money - Lot's of great advice in here.

5. How Aziz Ansari Tests Jokes With Analytics - Smart move by one of my favorite comedians.

6. The Woman on the Other End of the Line - Cool little story about a female engineer.

7. I'll leave you with a photo of beautiful San Francisco.