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Month: August 2013

8/27/13

8/27/13

Good morning, All,

We have a member on this list whom we’ll call Frank. For the record, he’s not a twenty-something. He’s not in a particularly sexy vertical. He lost a core team member at a critical juncture. He did find a replacement, and it was someone who was an even better fit than his original key man. Still, it cost Frank a spot in a leading accelerator. But as Yogi Berra once said, when you see a fork in the road, take it.

There was a panel discussion Frank attended, because he needed to speak to one of the panelists, but he could barely get near the podium. Poor Frank. It seemed that anything that could go wrong, was going wrong. He’s not Ivy League educated, which seems to be on the VC Check List. It’s his first startup, so he’s not a serial entrepreneur, successful or otherwise. Sadly, he is not friends with/related to/or otherwise associated with Ben Lehrer. It seems that lately, being any one of those things, gives one a definite leg up in this town. Nor is his father a VC. Frank is the Rest of Us: not someone who started from third base. Frank has a few things going for him: he’s got a market and a long-term vision for his product, and he doesn’t give up. We didn't choose an easy row to hoe. Read More...

9/17/13

9/17/13

Good morning, All,

We’ve been seeing pieces on this so-called make money or serve humanity dilemma more and more lately and we’re frankly baffled, if not gobsmacked. Where’s the fire?

In case you missed it, Twitter ‘quietly’ announced their plans for an IPO. It’s twitter, and how long did it take before it was headline news and trending on you-know-what. There’s no doubt that twitter has disrupted the world, 140 characters at a time, since not too long after its inception, although it was hardly an overnight success. Still, soon enough, keeping messages short and to the point, it disrupted the way we share news – and break it. It also helped to change human history, from the global (Arab spring) to the local (US Airways Flight 1549’s emergency landing in the Hudson River was first reported on twitter and emergency rescue was quickly dispatched – no lives lost). Read More...

8/13/13

8/13/13

Good morning, All,

Tech companies always go on buying sprees, but when Jeff Bezos shook out the loose change that fell between his sofa cushions and bought the Washington Post, it literally stopped the presses and came as a surprise to everyone. If there is one thing that Bezos has proven over the years is that he is the consummate disruptor. A Steve Jobs without the sound bites and with a far stranger laugh. For those of us who were there when Tom Brokaw held his televised Town Halls with the tech leaders of the day and Bezos, who was very much the upstart, Bezos would always contend that it would take five years for Amazon to turn a profit (it took six). Amazon were booksellers at the time and not the behemoth online shopping portal it is now, what to speak of the kindle, the studios, Amazon Local, AWS. We can stop there. For now, it seems. He is very much cut from a similar mold as Jobs, but much more diversified; with a preference for staying off the radar; and with a focus on customer service that has never wavered. The company’s purchase of discount shoe e-tailer Zappos surprised many: Amazon already sold shoes – why cannibalize their own business unit? Because Bezos believes in giving the customer what they want, not what you want to sell them. As usual, he took the long view.

Amazon is not the world’s best employer. It has the second highest employee turnover among the Fortune 500 (for the record, despite the free lunches and all of the in-house services, Google is fourth on that list), but Bezos is very clear about who is keeping the lights on at the end of the day, which is a note to self to the tech behemoths who don’t believe that privacy is an issue to their customers. Read More...

8/6/13

8/6/13

Good morning, All,

Of course, that was Google’s original tag line/mission statement, although they seemed to have changed it up a bit. In case you missed it this week, AT&T is out at Starbucks and Google is in; and Google is no longer in favor of net neutrality, now that they’re in the broadband game. .

Anyone who doesn’t think that net neutrality is a big deal does not live in an area where Time Warner Cable blocked CBS programming on Friday, which included the CBS Network – which is not a subscription channel – as well as the company's pay services. The services were blocked over all Time Warner properties, including the ability to be able to watch full episodes online. (We do know that there are alternatives, like Netflix, Aereo, FIOS and in the case of the CBS Television Network, a good old fashioned antenna. Of course, you can find free wi-fi somewhere and watch as well and honestly, how many of us watch a television show in real time, anyway? Read More...

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