IPOs

I’m a firm believer that IPOs kill start-ups. The reason is simple… mentality. When a start-up is pre-IPO the mentality is, “what’s the coolest, best thing we can do for our users, which will ultimately benefit us in the long run?” Post-IPO, “what can we do to make our numbers this quarter?”

See also: Facebook.

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Nerds & Basketball

I don’t know why… I just thought it was a good title.

I never blog anymore, and by anymore I mean for the past like four years… maybe more. I’m out of touch and out of the loop, but not in the Andy Rooney sort of way where people still watch to see how badly someone can sound out of touch…

I never blog because: I like to spend my time writing with my ever-in-progress novel (there have to be a lot of good jokes about that), I am now a father and home owner (read: less time), I am no longer the face of an aspiring web company (at least until I finish that damn novel) and, well… who reads blogs anymore. It’s a changing world, mine and everyone’s.  But really I think the real difficulty in blogging comes with picking it back up again… like exercising or other habitual activities that are not tied to alcohol.

So this is another attempt, another day, another post. The thing is… I want to blog about anything and everything. So there will be no theme, and in that, hopefully there is hope. I will blog about nerds and I will blog about basketball… and I’ll do it for a week until I quit again… or something like that.

First post…

The diehard Cavs fan in me is actually having trouble rooting for team USA basketball. Because he plays for that team and I swore I’d never root for him again. But there’s another side to it… he grew up not far from where I did, he lives a couple miles from my parent’s house. Buy local, right? Just an Akron kid that didn’t want to stay in northeast Ohio. I can’t fault him for that. It’s a city that everyone leaves. I still listen to the Black Keys (or since Brothers: The New Keys on the Black). They left. I left. So, I’m torn, but at the end of the day… I have to support team USA, even if it means rooting for the enemy… plus, Russia is out and they were my team.

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Why it’s easy to buy an Apple product

Questions:

  1. What is the best iOS phone on the market?
  2. What is the best Android phone on the market?
One of those questions is much easier to answer than the other.
Is Android good? Sure, but you never know if you are getting a good Android phone. Is iOS good? Yep, and you know for sure you are buying the best iOS phone. Make it easier to buy, or choose, and people will. 

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Culture driven

Quick thought… to be a profit driven organization, you must first be a culture driven organization. In our modern knowledge based economy, the only thing that really matters is that you have the right people in place, and the only way that happens is with culture. If you look at the companies that are failing, compared with companies that are surging, the biggest difference seems to be people.

Zynga is an example of a company destined to fail,under this hypothesis. This is a company that revoked stock from some employees before going public. Google is positioned to succeed with its focus on people, but will start to fall if it continues to make statements like this.

It could be said that I have this backwards, that you must first be profitable before you can afford to give back to your people… but I think that’s wrong. I think you can’t afford to not be people driven.

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The mystery of owning e-books

I’ve only purchased two e-books in my life, so I’ll start by saying that this post comes from a somewhat limited perspective and is largely based on assumptions.

So… books. Historically, books sold at vastly different prices… for purposes of this post, let’s say: $25 hardcover, $15 trade paperback, $10 mass market, $7 or less second hand.  The key differences, it would seem, are based on type/quality of the book, and to some extent date of purchase (i.e. hardcover books are released first).

Adding in e-books completely destroys this whole model. You are no longer paying for the quality of the book, and the second hand market is completely eradicated. However, the book world isn’t really acting that way… still relying on antiquated business models. I can’t really think of another medium that offers the exact same content in so many different formats, without gradually phasing out the older formats.  Unless of course you are still buying cassette and VHS tapes… Sure, vinyl is still out there, but it’s filled a niche. Hardcover, the book equivalent of vinyl is still paraded around like it is somehow every consumers first choice. It isn’t. e-books tell us that. People aren’t paying for format, they are paying for content.

Aside from the shift to paying for content over format, there’s another shift happening at the same time: to the end user, books become nearly valueless the minute they are read. Sure, some people re-read books, but that’s likely the smallest value that a book that has been read has in the physical world. In the physical world, books that have been read derive value from: 1) sharing 2) displaying 3) reselling and 4) re-reading.

Reselling is the most obvious and quantitative dollar value that a read book has.  e-books have made this impossible. Sharing books that you’ve read offers social value, by allowing you to connect with someone based on shared interests in reading and common knowledge gained from a shared book. There’s also just an intrinsic benefit of giving / exchanging that helps tighten bonds. That benefit is gone from e-books. Displaying provides an aesthetic and often egotistical benefit. Books on a shelf are a nice decoration, and also say something about the person displaying the books. The more leather bound books you have, the less it’s a message that I would want to send, but that’s just me. This value, again, gone. So, now the remaining value is, re-reading. This one is still possible! I’m sure for some people that’s great… but, if you’re like me, that’s irrelevant. I really don’t re-read many books, and I have to assume that many are in the same boat.

What this all means, is that once an e-book is read, its value nearly 0. Maybe that’s why they are priced somewhat cheaper than other formats, but I have a question: Why do we have to own e-books?

Think of DVDs… is anyone still buying them? Sure, some people are. But not as many as were pre-Netflix. What about services like Pandora and Spotify… think those have helped sales of songs and CDs?  Probably not.  So, why, when the format is irrelevant and the content loses its value upon consumption, does anyone own an e-book?  What I really want, is to be able to subscribe to e-books. I want to pay a flat monthly fee and have all e-books (or at least some tiered set) at my disposal, without actually owning any of them.  I’d gladly pay $10-$15 a month for that, or whatever the right pricing model works out to. Whatever it is, it probably ends up as more than many people spend on books…

This isn’t what Barnes & Noble or Amazon could do… it’s what they should do, especially Barnes & Noble. It’s seems that BN and Amazon have lost their way. They went from selling e-readers, which made sense, to trying to compete with Apple by selling tablets… yeah, that’s what I think of when I think Barnes & Noble.  So, stop. Stop trying to compete in an unfamiliar business and rewrite the rules of your business: selling books.

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The end.

I’ve finished my novel length work of fiction… sort of. I’ve said this before. I’ve been here before. So, now, I add the caveat of sort of.

This is the fourth time I’ve rewritten this story… sort of. There was a first draft, then two rewrites in the original format, though neither was a full rewrite, and now there’s the new version – switched from first person to third. So, the first full rewrite, which is technically roughly the fourth iteration, is finished. Now, it’s time to edit. I’m fairly certain that this is the last time I’m going to completely rewrite.

This version, which took nearly a year to write, is much different than the previous – which obviously means nothing to anyone other than my wife (the only other reader thus far) – and I’m pleased with how it has turned out. Hopefully, I’m getting closer to the end. Not because I want to be done writing, but because I’m looking forward to starting the publishing/rejection process, and I’m looking forward to starting whatever comes next.

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What if there were no Wall Street?

Occupy Walk Street has me wondering that question. I don’t think it’s the point of OWS and I don’t think that question is necessarily being asked by OWS. However, the group, by calling itself Occupy Wall Street, has made Wall Street a primary target, and I think that when you get to the heart of it, Wall Street is more aligned with OWS goals than might be immediately apparent.

OWS is a mixed bag, so i’m really only looking at how it, as a movement, relates to Wall Street. The pitch is essentially that Wall Street is made of the 1% of the country’s wealthiest, and the rest of us are getting hosed.  But what if there were no wall street? No stock markets? No public ownership?

Wall Street, however flawed it may be, is a vehicle for breaking up concentrations of wealth. If we didn’t have public ownership, things would probably be a lot less equal than they are today. The only ownership would be private, in a system more like venture capital – a world far more exclusive than Wall Street. Wall Street actually gives the 99%, or at least some percent above 1, an actual chance at ownership.

So, I look at OWS and ask why would the group attack Wall Street? And it’s really about what was promised – the chance for wealth to be less concentrated – and what was actually delivered – still a pretty big disparity in wealth. But it really has very little to do with what Wall Street should, and to some extent does, represent – a way for more people to invest.

The narrative is changing a bit, but when OWS was first discussed, I feel like all that I read was that this was a group of semi-radicals with no organization and no clear message. The message is getting refined, it’s about reform. It’s about rules catching up with the changes in society. It’s about the fact that the internet has given a voice to everyone, but our government wants to pretend that we still need the same representative system… when our representatives look less and less like the people they represent. How a name like Occupy Wall Street makes sense in that context, I really have no idea.

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