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.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Scott Orn shared an Instagram video with you

Hi there,

Scott Orn just shared an Instagram video with you:


play video

"View from Russian Hill"
(taken at Scott's Apartment)

Thanks,
The Instagram Team

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Rock ’n’ Roll Casualty Who Became a War Hero

A fantastic story about a rock star who was kicked out of Nirvana and Soundgarden and then enlisted in the US Special Forces. Incredible guy, incredible story.

The Rock ’n’ Roll Casualty Who Became a War Hero - NYTimes.com:


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

From Start-Up to Scale - Scaling Social Impact by Bridgespan and Harvard Business Review

I woke up to a wonderful email from Bridgespan Consulting letting me know that my Harvard Business Review Editorial - Big Impact on a Small Budget - has been selected to be a part of a Compendium titled, From Start-Up to Scale - Conversations About Scaling Social Impact. My editorial talks about how we built Ben's Friends on the cheap by enlisting volunteers who were passionate about helping patients and by using new techniques like "cloud computing" and "crowdfunding." It's really an honor to be a part of this book. You'll find my entry on page 45.

I'd like to thank The Omidyar Network, a major foundation in the non profit and social impact world for sponsoring the book, Chris Addy (Bridgespan and a Kellogg Classmate) for making the original intro to HBR and to Kate Smith Milway for choosing my editorial and for making all this possible. Thanks.