Anonymous Anonymity

There has been a small to-do lately about the morality of so-called anonymous social media apps like Secret and Whisper. The problem, according to critics, is that people can say mean things about others and (theoretically) get away with it by hiding behind the anonymity of not being identified. 

While I don’t fundamentally disagree with this line of thinking (and let’s be honest, bullying is a legitimate problem that these app makers need to manage) in the grand scheme of things this really shouldn’t prevent founders from exploring the benefit that anonymity brings to people’s lives. 

There are numerous benefits to being anonymous online, in an increasing world where anonymity escapes us. I have found myself enjoying Secret lately - more for a source of entertainment - but also for an opportunity to voice things that I probably wouldn’t want to tweet about. Saying these apps should be abolished is silly and is akin to saying eBay or walmart.com should be shut down because they sell guns. 

I think these apps of some value (probably not in the billions) but they certainly give rise to a certain want / need in the social media sphere. But God forbid marketers start asking themselves “What’s our Secret strategy?”

Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere You Look

Lots and lots of talk recently about mythical bubbles in tech. And, why not? When Facebook is buying companies for billions and billions and billions, it’s easy to see why non-technologists (whatever that means) are getting all hot and bothered about whether we’re back in the throws of a 1999-2001 bubble - with the not so subtle (err hopeful) implication that there will be another dot-com crash. Heck, yesterday  CNBC devoted two different segments to the ‘bubble myth’ inside of the hour I was on the treadmill and they even asked my friend Tristan about his thoughts on it. 

While it’s clear that there’s some frothiness in the private and public markets, it’s hard to believe this will in any way end up similar to how 2001 ended. I’ve tried raising money 3 times since 2008 and have failed all three times. I don’t think it’s because I’ve had dumb ideas, or didn’t have the ability to execute, but more rather that investors are still smart enough not to through money at things and people that are unproven. 

Building a real business is still hard - very hard. Not everyone can do it. Yes, there have been some ridiculous valuations on private companies. Yes, the nasdaq dropped 2.5% (after rising ~ 70% + in the last two years - and never mind the fact that we experienced a minor depression only 3 short years ago) on Friday and yes private busses/shuttles taking people to their job is a ‘must-have’ for any serious company in tech. However, getting a venture capitalist to say yes once (let alone do follow-on financing) is still very hard. More importantly, getting millions of customers will barely get you a seed round these days, let alone a Series A or Series B. 

Again, I’m not naive enough to think things aren’t frothy, but comparing the start-ups of today to pets.com and/or webvan is pretty ridiculous. I personally believe tech is in the infancy of a revolution, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the early 1800s. But then again, I’m probably a little biased. I could be wrong. I hope I’m not. 

The Future of TV

One thing I’m continually amazed by is watching my 8 year old and his fascination with his iPad. These days, he spends more time watching content from youtube and other sources than he does changing the channel on the cable box. This obviously points to trouble for content companies and advertisers as baby boomers and gen-x’ers move out of the prime of their lives and younger generations become more in charge of how they spend their money.

One interesting way model that is being tested is that of the WWE and their new ‘Network’ that is available on AppleTV, their website and other non-traditional television platforms. The WWE is essentially taking control and ownership of when their fans will have access to their content and more importantly, completely by-passing traditional distribution outlets in granting their fans access to what they want.

I remember a couple of years ago, the WWE was running promos (hey, I had a 6 year old at the time) for what appeared to be their own cable channel. Luckily for them, it never came to pass and instead, they created their own network that gave access to everyone who has an internet connection. 

What’s surprising to me is the more traditional (legitimate) sports leagues have not taken a similar approach. Sure, I can get NBAtv or MLBtv via the internet, but it’s difficult for me to get the depth of content that I can get via the WWE network, nor, can I watch playoffs/title games (legally) online.

As content creators continue to get smarter and more technologically comfortable about delivering content to consumers, there is going to be increasing pressure on service providers and cable companies to squeeze more dollars from consumers and/or content companies. My guess is there will be no easy solution that makes every body happen. Service providers may even go down the path of choking service of certain content companies unless they or their consumers pay more for the content (i.e., no net neutrality). This will require all three parties working together to find an amicable solution. 

#socialmedia

Really good deck from saarsaar on customer acquisition  

The New Rules on Product Promotion

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a big fan of hip/hop. For about 10 years, I’ve been been very focused on everything JayZ has done in and out of the music studio. This year, both Jay and his wife released new albums. The fascinating thing is how both of them leveraged the media to promote the albums and get them to platinum status. 

First, let’s start with Jay. It all started with this commercial that he debuted during the NBA finals: 

But that was just the beginning. The day before the album was released, Jay spent a few hours on twitter answering questions (even random questions). The result? As of December 15 of this year, the album has sold over 1,083,000 units and was certified 2x platinum. 

Now, let’s take a look at Beyonce. As opposed to Jay, she didn’t do any upfront announcement about her new album, she literally just announced it - it was released through the iTunes store and she posted the album art on her instagram feed. Interestingly, in the days leading up to the album dropping, she and Jay generated some PR (and some backlash) by announcing that they were going vegan for 22 days. Further, she also spent $37k on Holiday gifts at a random Walmart in Boston. The result? Her album sales are already nearing 1 million units - and the album has only been out two weeks! 

So what can we learn from all of this? Advertisers continue to say that, tv, print, radio and web continue to be the main forces in driving distribution. And to a certain extent, that’s true. But marketers should continue to look outside the ‘powerhouse’ channels of distribution and look for other ways to get their message out. Be creative with your marketing (I thought #ubertree from Uber and the home depot was fantastic) and focus in on where your customers are. 

Habits… 

This is a great graphic outlining how bitcoin’s average daily transaction volume stacks up against other payment networks - amazingly, almost more than Discover’s Discover Network and almost more than PayPal. 

Most People Won’t.. I Have (almost)

Earlier this year I set a pretty ambitious goal for myself - dropping 30 pounds. Lots of people set goals for themselves; some people set ambitious goals. Most people don’t achieve those goals. Granted, there are various reasons why they don’t achieve them, but the fact remains. 

I’m happy to report that I’ve dropped 20lbs this year. It hasn’t been easy, and most of it has come within the past two months. What did I do accomplish this? For a stretch of about 4 weeks I worked out twice a day - running 2.5 miles  first thing in the morning, followed by 45 minutes of more cardio at the gym. 

It wasn’t easy for me; I’ve sacrificed a lot of things, changed my diet, and done all the things that you’re ‘supposed’ to do to lose weight. I’m still probably not as athletic as I was in high school, but I can now run farther in shorter period of time than I can ever remember. 

2014 is shaping up to be pretty ambitious year for me. There’s a lot I want to accomplish professionally next year. I’m going to have to take the next two months and break down those goals into individual tasks and come January 1 start executing on those things. 

Bryce wrote a great post the other day that talked about the fact that a lot of people set-out to do things, but generally accomplish nothing (read it here). This post really articulated what I’ve been thinking for a long time. There’s a clear difference between those that talk a big game and those that actually do something. I hope I am evolving from the former to the latter. 

This post was amazing! 

brycedotvc:

From an interview with designer/artist/soul searcher Elle Luna:

So I was using Uber all the time in San Francisco, even though I hated the design. And then I went to the Crunchies awards ceremony and at a post-ceremony event, where I was in a ball gown, I saw the CEO of Uber, Travis…