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Month: August 2015

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

Good morning, All,

Amazon has certainly come under fire lately, thanks in no small part to the New York Times piece describing the brutal workplace and environment the company seems to have fostered (Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.) Stories have come out on both sides of the issue (An Amazonian's response to "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace"; Dear Jeff Bezos: My husband needed therapy after working for Amazon).

What we find interesting is the timing of the Times piece, in light of the infusions of cash that other media outlets have enjoyed of late, (Comcast’s NBCUniversal Agrees to Invest $200 Million in BuzzFeed), what to speak of Bezos’s own investments in both the Washington Post and Business Insider, neither of whom covered or responded to the NYT’s piece, which seemingly everyone commented on, including Mark Suster in his blog: What to Make of Amazon’s Work Practices? The New York Times received no outside investment. Then again, things are not always so black and white with the Grey Lady. Read More...

Remarks to the Commonwealth Club

Remarks to the Commonwealth Club

Good morning, All,

Apologies if your’e receiving this twice this week. Mailchimp seems to have had a glitch and we’ve heard from a number of you that you hadn’t received the newsletter today.

Said Michael Crichton back in September of 2005 in his remarks to the Commonwealth Club, “I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.” Read More...

Funding To Food Tech Startups Reaches New Peak

Funding To Food Tech Startups Reaches New Peak

Good morning, All,

We took a food handling safety class – as is required by law in New York, in order to work in the food business, and we are preparing to launch Sweet Freedom (coming soon). While the class was both informative and enlightening, in light of the bigger picture – what’s happening with our food supply/food itself, and various companies’ attempts to disrupt food – that was two plus days of our life that we’ll never get back again.

California, that part of the world that has attempted to reinvent or disrupt everything from ride-hailing (Uber and Here Are the Internal Documents that Prove Uber Is a Money Loser) to house cleaning (Homejoy) has spent quite a bit of time and money of late taking aim at food itself (Funding To Food Tech Startups Reaches New Peak – someone please fund another food delivery service soon!). Between Soylent, described in Crunchbase as having been developed “from a need for a simpler food source. Creator Robert Rhinehart and team developed Soylent after recognizing the disproportionate amount of time and money they spent creating nutritionally complete meals.” Just add water and voila: $22.3 Million from investors, mostly to disrupt programmers from having to take time away from their work to forage for food/feed themselves. As Soylent investor Chris Dixon also pointed out, it only costs about $10/day for the regimen. Part of the reason for having developed Soylent was to help feed the Third World, where food is sparser and note to self and Silicon Valley investors who might not be aware of how the lower 99% lives: $10/day per person for food is First World pricing. Read More...

500 Startups

500 Startups

Good morning, All,

Ok, it’s not, but anyone who knows Dave McClure (500 Startups) and/or has heard him speak, knows that he will invoke the ‘f’’ word at least a dozen times into any given three minutes of conversation. His TV show, Bazillion Dollar Club, (with Brady Forrest, who runs the Highway 1 hardware accelerator) premieres on Scyfy next month, and here’s a preview. Dave is nothing if not strongly opinionated, and he recently posted a series of tweets aimed at startup investors. While we rarely do this, they were too good for us not to share, and founders, there are takeaways here for you, too:

1/ Dear Startup Investors: STOP PARTICIPATING IN BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITIONS. You are propping up a HORRIBLE practice in the industry. Read More...

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