Dear Uncle Larry, Why Continue to Pussyfoot Around?

Google is one of the most impressive if not the most impressive technology company of the last decade. However, Google has been continually pussyfooting around for at least the last few years.  I have three examples; all of them bold bets that could significantly change the way people interact on a daily basis, yet instead of storming the beach, Google is dipping it’s toes in the water.

1) Google Express: Same day delivery for the majority of daily grocery/necessary items. The successful implementation of the above concept will eliminate one of the few remaining hurdles into the destruction of brick and mortar retail stores. The urgency factor of shopping would be eliminated and now Google would effectively be able to compete with Amazon. I have used the service in San Francisco and it is great. Prices are fair, delivery is often within hours, the delivery is correct and drivers are friendly.

However, I have spoken with somebody who handles logistics for the drivers on Google Express and all employees have signed agreements that if Google does not think they can compete with Amazon on Google Express then the product will immediately be shut down and everybody will be fired. All employees must agree not to sue if this happens.   Google is throwing in the towel from day 0 while only beta testing the product in 2 markets.

2) Google Helpouts. A team of over 40 led by one of the original top Google employees  Udi Manber, have been working on this product for over a year. The premise is bold, that anybody can help out anybody, skills, classes, whatever and whenever all over online video chat.   Imagine the possibilities, you are cooking a dinner for your girlfriend and you pay $5 over hangout for a live as you cook tutorial from a chef on exactly how to prepare the dinner. Neither of you had to leave your homes or travel anywhere.

Over a year of building, dogfooding, and then releasing the product and how many people have used Google Helpouts? How many people have heard of  Helpouts?

3) Google Glass. I ordered a pair and like almost everybody else returned it. They sucked. Even Google employees have stopped wearing them. All the talk about partnerships, improvements, app stores, and yet only marginal differences in a period of over a year. Instead of focusing on creating a great wearable product that would augment our daily lives, Google has been wrapped up in privacy concerns, security features, and is moving at Microsoft like speed. A bold idea most definitely, but it looks like Google is swimming in the shallow section instead of the deep end like these guys: Meta .

As a consumer, and an avid Google user, please Uncle Larry step up your moonshot game.

SEO Tutorial Day 2

According to Rand Fishkin Google is biasing results significantly towards Google + and email contacts (for users who are signed in on chrome). The SEO significance would allows marketers/SEO experts to focus on increasing followers or circle size on Google Plus which would then personalize all your followers/people in your circle to your activity on the web.

For example when you publish an article with a low page rank, few shares and comments, it will still show up significantly higher (according to Rand, high up on first page) of Google search. Normally such an article would not even make it to the 100th result on Google search and now the article could be in the top 4 results.

The same if somebody is not in your circles but you have corresponded with them back and forth via gmail. Key is back and forth so spam tactics will not work here.

Plan of Attack:

1) Focus on Increasing Circles First.

2) Make a specific profile on Google Plus for LegendaryMoves.

3) Goal to get over a 1000 people in the LegendaryMoves circles.

4) See increase on pageview for site: legendarymoves

Will report all results back here in 2 weeks time.

SEO Tutorial day 1

Would like to get back into the SEO world. Will start studying it again, trying out one new method(s) every day and publishing what I did, how I did it, and my thoughts here.

In the past, I have done some SEO practice as a test to drive up organic traffic for specific articles. I took certain keywords and linked them to relevant popular sites across the web. Just by doing something basic like above, I was able to increase traffic to a particular article (chosen at random) from a few people per day to around 100 per day.

Basics first:

Keyword matching. Should have the same keyword in the url, title, and in the first line or two of content.

Title: 2nd most important part of page. Part or all of title should match url and first 2 lines of page. Most search engines and almost all social media sites use the title as the anchor text (description) of the site so it is key to get it right. Should be a maximum of 70 characters which is limit on Google search.

URL: Should be hierarchical which allows Google to understand relevancy. Example on an E-commerce site if you wanted to buy a mattress, correct SEO format would be: nameofsite.com/furniture/home-furniture/bedroom/mattress . Example of incorrect formatting would be nameofsite.com/24124235231.

Image Alt Text: Unique image is always preferred. However, if you can put the right description on the image alt text, your image with a link back to your blog,company, content will start to appear on Google search. Depending on the terms, your image, and content on your blog with relatively little work your image can start showing up as one of the top image searches on Google Images. Not much work done by SEO specialists on optimizing for Google Images.

 

 

 

On the Ropes

I had a plan last night of listening to the debate in the background while working.  I accomplished this for close to 30 minutes when I put down work and paid full attention (as much as I could) to the debate.  Wow, Romney killed it.  Detailed, factual, on point, spoke great, made President Obama uncomfortable.  If Romney is able to seize the momentum from this debate, he might now have a shot at the Presidency.

Over the course of the last month, Obama has obliterated Romney (Romney has also obliterated himself).  Romney knew that this debate was his last shot at salvaging the campaign.  He knew he could not do well, or win, he had to trounce Obama.  Romney was on the ropes and on the biggest night of his political career he was able to sting like a bee and float like a butterfly.

Romney stepping up to the plate got me thinking of other great men who have stepped up to the plate.  FedEx as we know it today, almost did not exist.  In the early years of the company while undergoing difficult times and not able to meet payroll, FedEx founder Fred Smith took what left of the company’s savings and went to Vegas.  His company was on the ropes, Smith went to Vegas and won a large amount in blackjack and promptly wired the money back to his company.

Another notable example is when Steve Jobs returned to Apple.  His company was on the ropes with only a few months left before going bankrupt. Not only did he cut workforce and streamline the product, but he turned to one of his biggest competitors for a lifesaving investment.  Jobs turned to Gates and Microsoft for 150 million dollar investment in order to buy him the necessary time to turn around the company.

During the financial crisis for a time it looked like the country was going to be plunged into a period of crisis worse than the Great Depression.   The largest savings and loan in the country, Washington Mutual went out of business.  Bear Stearns was bought for peanuts, Lehman Brothers went out of business.  New Meryl Lynch CEO John Thain, saw that his company was on the ropes.  Thain saw the writing on the wall.  Thain made his move and sold the storied bank to Bank of America.  Although not as bold as Smith or Jobs, Thain also saved his company.  Both employees and customers did well.  In hindsight, Thain’s move was genius: without question Meryl Lynch would have gone out of business; Meryl’s balance sheet forced BOA to go to the government for an extra 25 billion in TARP money.

Everybody goes through difficult times.  The ability to persevere is essential.  However, perhaps an even more important ability is to step up to the plate during uncertain times.  Great men from Drew Brees as a future free agent with no contact taking his team to win the Superbowl or woman such as Meg Whitman who chose top step up to the plate in order to save HP.

However, life is not a movie.  In one of the most iconic examples of stepping up to the plate Curt Schilling single handedly shut down the Yankees offense in the World Series.  Under extreme pain and with a bloody ankle, Schilling was the main reason why Boston won the first World Series in franchise history.  The “bloody sock” will go to the Hall of Fame.  Schilling recently got into the startup game.  With his company on the ropes Schilling stepped up with a 12 million dollar personal loan guarantee.  The company went bankrupt, now famed pitches Curt Schilling is going bankrupt, and is forced to sell the famed “bloody sock”.

Perhaps Teddy Roosevelt puts it best:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

2 Years Ago Tomorrow

2 years ago tomorrow I arrived in the Middle East.  To be technical, I should have arrived 2 years ago today, but I missed my original flight (by only 5 minutes).  It was a wild ride.  Had some crazy ups: we won top 10 Internet Middle East and some definite downs (once got chased out of a major bank in Bahrain).

Close to 6 months ago, I have moved to Silicon Valley to start my own company.  Did not know a single person.  Crashed on a couch (for 1.5 months) of a dude I met while looking for an apartment via Craigslist, later we became good friends.  The last 6 months have been difficult.  I had no idea, not a huge amount of money, and could not code for shit.

I made a vow before my 24th birthday, I would learn how to code.  So with alot of help from others, I stepped my game up and learned how to become an extremely poor coder with decent design skills.

30 days ago on Aug 5th, I turned 24. Built a few prototypes and got some paying customers.  As opposed to the standard wild party or last year’s birthday trip to Barcelona, on my 24th birthday I coded. Coding enabled me to build quickly which allowed me to evaluate a valid idea from a pipe dream.

2 years after the last company to the day, I begin the next one.  Going to start testing in the Midwest.

#YALLA.

Eliminating Distractions: A fast focus hack

Everybody has distractions from personal life to business life.  I am going to focus on business life and a way to eliminate distractions that I will test out and report back if it works or not.   I came across an article about an extremely efficient person who literally blocks out every waking hour of his calendar.  Everything has a set time, even breaks and meals.  The person religiously follows the schedule which has enabled him to do the work of 4 people.

A few years back Paul Graham spoke about the different between managers and makers efficiency. In the article he speaks about how creative people often need large blocks of hours in order to complete taks, while a manager or business person usually has hour long block of time for meetings/tasks.

distractions

Often in a startup you need to combine both a business schedule: speaking on the phone/meeting with people/routine tasks and a maker schedule of coming up with new ideas and building them out.  It is difficult to flow between the necessary and creative spheres.  Often in transition massive time gets wasted on email/business reading/hundreds of other items.

I am going to combine both the maker schedule and manager schedule while attempting to block out most waking hours.  During all blocked out times, I will hide everything else from phone calls/alerts/email/articles/time.  I am going to write a javascript code that will take the time and automatically either email or alert me when it is time to switch tasks and what the new task is.

Going to aim for Wednesday as the first day to try this out.  Organize.Alerts .  I will post all the code here and screenshot of calendar.

Atomic Unit

Legendary Venture Capitalist, Fred Wilson had a brilliant blog post on the Atomic Unit.     For those of you that have not read the post, the atomic unit is “the most fundamental object of all in your service”.  What is the bottom line in what you are offering.  Not what separates you from your competitors or cool features or long term vision.  Exactly the very core of your idea now.

Example:

Google – Algorithmic rankings based search

Airbnb- Transforms homes to hotels.

Yahoo! (original atomic idea)- Online city guide for the web

Instagram-Instant high quality photosharing

Facebook-social utility service.

If you look at almost every major startup over the last decade they had an easy to undertand atomic unit.  Wilson goes on to state that for MVP purposes it is vital to have only 1 great (not 3 or 4) atomic units.

What is your atomic unit?

 

Idea of the Week: Gamechanger

I will do this idea one day, far down the road unless somebody beats me to it.  The emergence of the web has transformed the workplace enabling anybody to work for themselves.  Companies see this shift and are starting to preempt it with telecommuting letting employees work from home.  In the past it took $100,000 plus to start a business. Now it takes a few thousand.  The reason why more people do not start companies is because of fear.  You have no paycheck, nowhere to turn, no structured routine, it can be compared to staring into the abyss or as legendary entrepreneur Elon Musk puts it “staring into the face of death”.

I want to create an actual University that is either 6 months or 1 year long with 6 days a week of tailored content focused on everything you need to start up.  Topics would range from using the latest technology to start-up accounting.  Everybody would required to learn how to program but also learn business accounting.  Focus would be on doing instead of thinking and all course would be taught by entrepreneurs.  When I say “doing” I mean learning and building sites, learning accounting than managing a startups books, researching an idea and then starting the concept.  By the end of the program each student would need a validated concept in order to graduate.

Upon successful completion of the program instead of receiving a diploma, you receive a guaranteed bank loan.  All the money you need to start-up.  Your interest rate is tied to your average GPA which is decided by your teachers who are all former successful entrepreneurs.  An institution that enables you to buy Greece instead of spending $ 50,000 a year discussing Plato.

A basic breakdown of numbers under the assumptions that you can eventually scale this program to 5,000 people a session, with 2 yearly programs lasting 6 months each.

10,000 people a year graduate with 50% creating lasting companies.

5,000 companies that employ an average of 10 people (standard for SMB).

50,000 new yearly jobs with a jobs multiplier of 2 (2 community jobs for every employee job).

Total new  jobs from this program: 100,000 yearly.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

 

Startup: Ramen Noodles

Anybody who is founding a startup will be familiar with Ramen Noodles.  Fast, cheap, and sort of tasty.  Newly minted early stage startup godfather Paul Graham mentioned Ramen Noodles in an article he wrote: Ramen Profitable.

Lets go into some of the math of what makes Ramen Noodles great.  Maximum 2 minutes to make with the only necessary ingredient of hot water.  Comes in handy if you often do not eat until 11 at night.  At a cost of around .30 cents a box it costs it means you can eat 5 meals for less than the cost of a pack of gum. Kicker is that it actually tastes good.

Last night for first time I looked at ingredients.  WOW.  14grams of saturated fat per box and if you eat 2 boxes (enough for a dinner) you are looking at 28 grams of saturated fat.  According to National Cholesterol Education Program a normal person is only supposed to eat 16 grams of saturated fat per day.  Bottom line: in one meal alone you are eating more than double suggested saturated fat intake for the day.  This includes nothing else but one single meal of Ramen.  Looking at saturated fat alone one meal of Ramen is equal to:

1) 3 Big Macs

startup mac

2) 2 Mcdonalds Sausage Eggs and Cheese

3) 2 Medium sized Dairy Queen Malts

4) 3 T-bone steaks

5) 1 Cheese Pie from Dominoes

Congratulations you are well on your way to becoming obese.  We can extrapolate the Ramen Profitable concept to low income areas and begin to understand why America is  transforming from the land of the free to the land of the obese.