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Year: 2013

10/15/13

10/15/13

Good morning, All,

A few months back, Facebook started using users’ names and pictures in their ads, without providing remuneration, and without permission. Of course, there was a lawsuit. Their headache continues. Enter Google, who is doing basically the same thing (calling it ‘Shared Endorsements), but of course, they learned a thing or two from Facebook’s mistakes, and they offer an opt-out (of course, they do make it sound as though you’re missing out on something, should you decide to go that route, Mr. Phelps).

And now that we all know that privacy doesn’t exist, of course, CISPA is making a comeback as well. (Senator 'very close' to reintroducing controversial CISPA. Despite Americans’ widespread, newfound concern for digital privacy, one senator says he’s close to reviving the most notorious Internet privacy bill in recent history. It’s intended to make it easier for private companies under cyberattack to team up with government for assistance, but a pesky consequence of that is the government can get information from those networks—content that users may have intended be kept private.) Read More...

10/8/13

10/8/13

Good morning, All,

Credit where credit is due: a great deal of tech has come out of Silicon Valley that has changed the world. Visionaries, yes, to a point. But then there’s the side to Silicon Valley that doesn’t get a lot of press.

Facebook announced recently that they’re building their own employee housing complex. What the article doesn’t mention is that Facebook is located near a very dangerous area. Google, Facebook, Twitter – all provide their employees with incredible perks, from free lunches to dry cleaning on the premises. Read More...

10/1/13

10/1/13

Good morning, All,

Everyone loves listicles, and we recently came across an article about 50 people in NYC tech whom you need to know. We perused the list and the fact is, we happen to know a good number of them. Some were valid. There were glaring omissions. No criteria were given in terms of list selection. And the facts on some of the people were waaay off.

We attended Entrepreneurs Roundtable Demo Day earlier this week and met someone who recently did some house cleaning and came across an old copy of the Red Herring magazine, which had their list of the top companies to watch, the majority of which are now defunct, as is Red Herring itself: prescience was obviously not their forte. Before we go down that rabbit hole again, time out: let’s be honest and before you go out and start your next undertaking or go online looking for advice, let’s keep in mind some of the things we probably don’t need/would be better off ignoring completely: Read More...

9/24/13

9/24/13

Good morning, All,

We hear a lot about Investor Exhaustion, Investor Fatigue, and let’s face it: in NYC, there’s at least one pitch event a week. How often do you hear about something that’s truly original? Or something that’s more a feature than a company? As to Startup Exhaustion, we all hear about the upside of starting your own company, but the fact that most businesses fail, even when the entrepreneurs did have a great idea and worked hard. Remember: according to New York Angels Chairman Brian Cohen, angels invest in only one out of 40 companies; VCs in one out of 400.

Still, we would never discourage a potential entrepreneur. Although, we do want to throw something out there that we haven’t seen mentioned discussed anywhere and that’s the idea of Startup Consolidation. How many times have you met someone with a company similar to yours – okay, there are a few key differentiators – who is also struggling for traction? Ever thought of working together? Just a suggestion, which occurred to us, after having met with a very successful entrepreneur/investor recently, and pitched one of our startups (bonniefoods). He liked the product, he is interested in pursuing it, and when he asked how we planned on building it out, we answered honestly: we don't want to run the business, but rather, license the recipes/partner with a company/or come on board as the food scientist/subject matter expert (in this case, type 2 diabetes). We don’t know the food business – but we do know a hell of a lot more about food for Type 2 diabetes than even most nutritionists and dietitians. Nothing wrong with symbiosis. Read More...

9/10/13

9/10/13

Good morning, All,

We all know what happened after the TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon. It disrupted, all right. First there was Titstare, an app that lets you stare at tits, then show your reaction. Followed soon on the heels by  Circle(Jerk)Shake, a game app where you see how many times you can shake your phone in 10 seconds, demonstrated by simulated masturbation. Audio/visuals were made for the teams. Someone knew what was being presented, but, let’s face it: a name like TItstare is just sooo open to interpretation.

Disrupt is a world stage, and even though the founders said that their creation was a joke, it wasn’t a funny one, although people did laugh. Ok, there was a hue and cry in the press for a hot minute. Nothing like the backlash Peter Shih suffered when he posted his 10 Things I Hate About You – San Francisco Edition. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in San Francisco, he’s pretty accurate, although he said he wrote it as a joke. A friend in SF informed us that signs were posted on street corners, urging him, in no uncertain terms, to go back to NYC. Just a reminder, SF: you pride yourself on your tolerance. Being able to take criticism, and allowing for difference of opinion – these two concepts fall under ‘tolerance,’ just for the record. Many people took deference to Shih’s comparing the SF weather to a woman who’s always PMSing. We found this response to Shih’s post in ValleyWag (Douchebags Like You Are Ruining San Francisco), and if nothing else, catch the visual. Entrepreneurship as a young woman in bunny ears. Read More...

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...

7/30/13

7/30/13

Good morning, All,

We saw this story this week and thought we’d share: “Back in the 1970s, liquid hand soap was sold by one guy: Robert Taylor, and his small company Minnetonka.  It was his invention, and he knew he was on to something big. Test audiences loved the product and, despite barely having enough resources to do so, Minnetonka decided to go all in and make a push to take the  product nationwide. There was only one problem: Nothing he was selling could be patented.  The concept of liquid soap wasn’t new, and simple pumps had been around since the dawn of civilization. As a result, Taylor knew several huge soap manufacturers were ready to happily steal his idea the very moment it looked like it could succeed on a large scale. Armed with superior resources and the ability to quickly R&D an imitation product, the industry giants were ready to crush tiny Minnetonka.

Taylor, however, was ready for this. Before any other company had the chance, Taylor decided to go shopping one day and bought a few plastic pumps. And by a few we mean FUCKING ALL OF THEM. There were only two companies nationwide manufacturing those little pumps, and Taylor ponied up $12 million — more than the total net worth of his company at the time — and ordered 100 million of them,  effectively buying every single pump these two companies would be able  to manufacture for the next year or two. Read More...

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