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.