Facebook Redux: Users, Customers and Consumers Redefined

Facebook Redux: Users, Customers and Consumers Redefined

Facebook is still on the Apology Tour. COO Sheryl Sandberg finally leaned in to the controversy, insisting to the media that ‘We Do Not Sell Your Data’. According to Mark Zuckerberg back in 2009,  users own all of their data.

Says Vanity Fair, Zuckerberg Hits Users with the Hard Truth: You Agreed to This. Read More...

Mark Zuckerberg and the Apology Algorithm

Mark Zuckerberg and the Apology Algorithm

It took Mark Zuckerberg a few days before issuing an apology over the Cambridge Analytica hack. Odd, considering how much practice he has had over the years:

2007: Zuckerberg Saves Face, Apologizes For Beacon. To refresh your memory, Beacon was an intrusive, controversial ad system that compromised consumer privacy. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.” Oops, sorry. And nothing more to see here. As TechCrunch noted, (Zuckerberg) “also announced a new privacy control that lets Facebook members opt out of Beacon completely. Before, you had to opt out on a case-by-case and site-by-site basis… Maybe Zuckerberg is finally beginning to realize that he does not have permission to track his customers indiscriminately across the Web. Nobody does anymore.” Read More...

The Theranos Effect: The Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered Edition

The Theranos Effect: The Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered Edition

This past week, Theranos founder and Steve Jobs wannabe Elizabeth Holmes was charged with “massive fraud” by the Securities and Exchange Commission. She agreed to pay a $500,000 penalty, be barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years, and returned 18.9 million shares she amassed during the alleged fraud.

The company, which raised more than $700M in funding, was “deceiving investors by making it appear as if Theranos had successfully developed a commercially-ready portable blood analyzer” that could perform a full range of laboratory tests from a small sample of blood…But in reality, we allege that after years of development, Theranos was able to process just a small number of blood tests upon its proprietary analyzer, and instead conducted the vast majority of its patients’ tests on modified commercial analyzers that were manufactured by others,” Steven Peikin, the SEC’s co-director of enforcement, told reporters, according to USA Today. Read More...

No is an Acronym

No is an Acronym

Investors hate to say no. They like to hedge their bets and keep their options open. But they will sometimes give you a hard and fast No. Still, that said, things change, so one never knows if it truly is a hard No.

For example, take Avner Ronan, founder of Boxee, a cross-platform freeware media center with social networking features that eventually spun out the Boxee Box. Et al, but more on that later. When he was going for funding, Ronen decided that Fred Wilson would be the perfect investor for Boxee, so he targeted Fred and did get the meeting, but Wilson said No. Undeterred, Ronen continued to send Wilson monthly update on their pivots and progress. The answer continued to come back as No. This went on for 18 months, until there came that one update that changed everything. Finally, Fred said ‘Yes!’ Read More...

Beware the Tech Cartel and People Who Speak in Code

Beware the Tech Cartel and People Who Speak in Code

We follow Max Levchin on Twitter. Last week, he posted an interesting series of tweets, based on an Edelman Trust Barometer Report that was released at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

For the record, Levchin was co-founder and CTO of Paypal; former Chairman of Yelp; founder/CEO of Slide (acquired by Google and shut down); currently, founder of Affirm, and a long-time WEF attendee. Read More...

The Prep Sheet for SXSW (Including Advice for All Investor Meetings)

The Prep Sheet for SXSW (Including Advice for All Investor Meetings)

SXSW is coming up once again, and those of you know us know that we more or less consider it Spring Break for the Tech Set.

With investors and a speaker series (that no one really bothers with) thrown into the mix. Read More...

The South By SouthWest (and Any Other Alcohol-Laden Tech Fests) Edition

The South By SouthWest (and Any Other Alcohol-Laden Tech Fests) Edition

It’s that time again! When thousands of techies will descend on Austin for SXSW, aka, Spring Break for Geeks and time for us to remind you that are some general rules of thumb for navigating South By – or any other huge conference that also happens to be an excuse for a drinkfest.

First, a few SXSW-specific points: For the uninitiated and we have no firm statistics to confirm this, Austin may well be the Stomach Pumping Capital of the World. Seriously. You’ll even notice ambulances posted at certain street corners at night, ready to service those who’ve over-imbibed, and that’s not SXSW: that’s just another night in Austin. Read More...

The Demise of the Age of Social/Move Fast and Solve Entitled People’s Problems: Notes from the Blockchain

The Demise of the Age of Social/Move Fast and Solve Entitled People’s Problems: Notes from the Blockchain

 

We all know the mantras. Fake it till you make it. Move fast and break things. Ask forgiveness, not permission. The check is in the mail.

Oops, wrong list, but not really. Truth be told, they’re all lies with a Silicon Valley spin, with the exception of the last point, which is a classic. Read More...

Advice to Founders with Short Memories: The Heads Up Edition

Advice to Founders with Short Memories: The Heads Up Edition

As every investor knows, founders tend to exaggerate. We suppose that falls under the ‘marketing’ rubric, at least in the minds of founders which, truth be told, can be a dangerous and scary place, so every now and then, we like to send out a reminder of subtleties you might have missed, which may help to explain why you’re not getting the results you had hoped for. In no particular order:

  Read More...

That Other Memo and the Glass House that Google Built

That Other Memo and the Glass House that Google Built

Since memos seem to be top of mind these days, why fight it? Of course, we refer to the one that former Google employee James Damore wrote a while back, that led to his being terminated from the company, and the impending lawsuit that threatens to out a lot of practices and perhaps unwritten policies that Google would prefer not be aired in public.

It seems that memos will do that, once they’re out in the wild, and certain memos are harbingers of a deeper and more far reaching issues. Read More...

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