Youtube/MegaUpload: It Is All About Who You Know

It is not what you know, but who you know.

According to DailyFinance in 2006 over 70% of Youtube’s most popular videos were from copyrighted material. From Viacom’s lawsuit against Google you can see quotes from the founders taken directly from their email where they acknowledge all the copyright issues and create different ways to keep the videos despite future legal problems in order to keep page views and users increasing.  It is business and they knew in the early days that high quality television clips drove audience and without them they would loose all momentum and there ability for a quick sale would take a major hit.

Once Youtube reached a massive audience the founders started to get more concerned with at the minimum creating an appearance that they where trying to fight copyrighted material.

On the other hand is infamous Internet legend Kim Dotcom.  Dotcom was recently arrested during a raid on his house for his website MegaUpload.  MegaUpload was a massive video sharing website along the same lines of Youtube with a premium twist along the same lines as Dropbox.  Many of the studio/media heads learned there lesson with Youtube and wanted to make an example of Kim DotCom.

Hundreds of agents backed up by helicopters in full tactical gear swarmed his home in New Zealand and arrested him, took his possessions and froze his accounts. With his website shut down, house arrest in New Zealand, and looming extradition to United States most people would be massively depressed.  Not Kim DotCom.  He is fighting back and winning battle after battle.

Recently an article describes what Kim DotCom portrays as a massive conspiracy against him.  Kim DotCom was able to go through public White House visitor log books where he uncovers a meeting between top studio heads and Joe Biden.  Only 6 months after the meeting, a massive international commando raid was accomplished on Kim DotCom.

The head of the MPAA (lobbying agency for motion pictures) is former Senator Chris Dodd who is known to be good friends with Vice President Joe Biden.

The major investor in Youtube was legendary venture firm Sequoia Capital .  The Sequoia partner was on the board of both Youtube and Google. Erich Schmidt told the Google Board that Youtube was worth 600-700 million dollars. In the end Google paid 1.65 billion for Youtube.

In the end the Youtube founders knew Mike Moritz. Kim Dotcom knew celebrities which got MegaUpload major attention, which led to the MPAA head Chris Dodd looking to make an example by calling his friend Vice President Biden.

It is all about who you know.


For the Love of The Game

There is a place in Mountainview, California called HackerDojo.  HackerDojo as the name suggests is a shared work space for hackers.  There are many such places all around the world.  However, I have never seen anything like HackerDojo.  If you look at all the other shared offices spaces from Dubai to NYC, they are just that shared work spaces where people come in and leave when they are done with a day’s work.

However, at HackerDojo the people are there all the time, they drink and bbq with each other on Fridays, plan events together on Saturdays and the difference is they are not there until 6am working on a startup but also on personal projects that they are curious about.  Rarely have I seen people pulling the all nighter for a startup (once in awhile or a few days for short period), but I have never seen people stay up all night to build for fun. This is not people building in a living room with a lamp on and TV on mute, but this is a large group of people staying up all night just building to build.

This has lead me to reflect on 3 types of people in this world.

1) Those who work to live

2) Those who live to work

3) Those who work for the love of the game

1) Most of Europe with the capital of this group in Barcelona (where I first heard the term) These people do the minimal amount required to earn enough money to enjoy their lives, their family, their vacation, and the beaches. Category 1 makes up vast majority of people.

2) Highly talented ambitous people.  They work hard and get shit done.  These are often the executers who occupy senior leadership positions in most companies or governments.  They do not inspire but they are great at what they do and they usually make sure they are working with other great people as well.  Some tend to be mercenaries and jump at the next opportunity that arises.

3) The best founders, visionaries, hackers, teachers,leaders, athletes and rainmakers.  They are only there every day because they love what they do.  These people can range from a founder of a startup to a teacher in the inner city.  They work the hardest, are the most enthusiastic, and set the tone for the entire company/class/workforce.   They work 24/7 but it is not work for them, it’s fun.  Think Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, and Thomas Edison.  The key to success of most enterprises lives and dies with these people.

Last night I heard the founder of Zaarly speak about one of his biggest worries is that after the age of 50, people his company will begin to loose its unique culture.  I think what he is referring to was at a certain point you have holes in an organization and you begin to fill them with people in the first category, the 9-5′s, and once you loose something most often there is no way to get it back.



Got It!

I left the previous startup on October 15th.  Since that time, I went from traveling all over the world, running a team, building new products, testing out new ideas, bringing “money in the bank” to sitting in an office researching.  I hate sitting and even more I hate researching.

For 3 months and 12 days I have been researching and thinking, working harder than I have ever done in the past with almost 0 results to show for it.  I met with entrepreneurs, angels, VC’s, “experts”, to get feedback on different ideas I had.  The feedback I got was mostly positive, but nobody loved it and I did not ask 1 person to put in a dollar nor did I start building.  Why?

My gut never told me this is it.  I thought the different ideas had potential, but I never had the Got It! moment.  In College with every previous business I saw a market need and had the Got It! moment, chartered coach buses and party buses for college sports (Muckfichigan), online gambling (Madtownsports) , and online alcohol delivery (Campusdrank) .

I did not want to take 1 dollar of somebody else’s money, and I did not want to begin until I knew.  I did not feel comfortble taking somebody else’s money if I did not know without question that I would kill it for them. Now I know.  I was in Dubai recently to meet investors/experts as well as others and I got some feedback on a previous idea which led me to make some changes.  However, I was trying to do much in order to hit a goal of mine which is creating the next revolutionary idea.

Yesterday, last Friday night I came up with a new idea.  Within 5 minutes of the idea, I had the Got It! moment.  I have been waiting and looking for the last 3 months for this moment and last night BOOM.

Just booked a flight to New York for this coming Saturday.  Just booked a flight to Silicon Valley February 15th.  And so it BEGINS……..


Early Influencers: The New Power Players of the 21st Century

For a new product, company, charity, or anything else new to the market, the power of “early adopters” and “influencers” is huge.  One startup in particular, klout has capitalized on the concept of identifying the early influencers through a social or influencer score and then making these influencers available to large scale brands.

People are like sheep, they follow.  The first few follow the leaders or “influencers,” then people follow their friends, and finally once the movement is big enough they follow the crowd.  There was a great TedX video that demonstrates this whole concept.

Twitter has morphed into a news consumption service where celebrities and other influencers spread information to the entire world.  Spread information varies from Kanye West recents outbursts to protests times and locations for the ongoing revolution in Syria.

As a startup you win the early influencers, and for the most part you win the crowd.  Once you have the crowd you win the game (sale to large size company).  In order to “kill it” you have to do more than just win the crowd, but create a service that continually increases audience share, with a potential to monetize and an ability to revolutionize an industry. GroupOn, Pandora, LinkedIn, are all examples that recently have gone public. Another example is the SOPA protest.  First the early adopters started speaking about it months ago, then the friends of the early adopters in the last month have brought it up, and with todays websites shut down now the mainstream press has got involved and everybody (the crowd) now knows about this impending legislation.



#LookingForLegend #Dubai

I do not nor have I ever called myself a Legend.  I have met Legends and I would not put myself in the same category, or even same ballpark as them (not yet anyways).  I have not done 1 1/100 of what they have done.  However, I am in pursuit.  Fast pursuit.

This Friday I go to Dubai to Look for Legend.

Wish me luck.


Hitting Deadlines.  The difference between a corporate deadline and a tight deadline.

A deadline pushes a person or a team to a goal.  A deadline holds people accountable which should be the number 1 objective for anybody in any field.  I once read a post on somebody who stated that they “wake up early every day and never seems to get anything accomplished”.  James Altucher told the person to make a list each morning of items that you want to get done for the day, then review the list at night and see how you rank.  Deadlines are targets, miss a target, and you loose your job, miss a big target and your stock price will decrease or your startup will close.

When you work in a corporation or in public government different teams have different dates to accomplish their project.  These dates usually offer plenty of time for thinking, feedback and doing.   The team feels no sense of urgency because the deadline gives them to much time.  Without urgency a deadline is useless.

Successful startups do not set realistic dates, for a project.  They set impossible deadlines.  Steve Jobs used to set targets nobody thought would be possible and then he used his reality distortion field to make people believe they could hit these targets. His tactic often worked well, except for the Mac which he promised in a year but it took his team almost two years.  However, without his deadline of a year, the project could have taken 4 or 5.  Unlike large corporations the idea is tested right away by the users, not the company; feedback is continuous, and an intelligent company will make necessary changes continuously as the feedback comes in.

Quality vs Speed.  With the concept of minimum viable product, MVP baby, it is better to set a deadline and launch at deadline.  If you cannot meet a deadline and are close to a complete product, then launch.  Who decides what is close? You along with some impartial users decide.  When in doubt: launch. Launch!

The Pyramid to Eternal Greatness: 3 essential traits

Eternal Greatness is not tremendous success or creating the next big thing.  Nor is it building the next great company.  Eternal Greatness is different from becoming a legend, because when you leave a company or a field the legend dies down, when you achieve eternal greatness your memory is immortalized in movies, textbooks, books, and through the masses of people you have effected.  Think Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, George Washington, Winston Chruchill, Henry Ford, FDR.

Here are 3 essential traits that all these people have in common:

1) Drive- Incredible drive where you can fit more into a day than most people can fit in a year. Nelson Mandela’s own bodyguards could not keep up with him even though Mandela was 70 plus years old.

2) Vision- Certain people can see one step ahead, others 3 steps ahead.   You can see 10 steps ahead.  Others think you are foolish because they see a few steps ahead, but instead of looking next week or next month you look 5 or 10 years from now. Steve Jobs dreamed of the Ipad in the early 1980s.

3) Leadership-The ability to not only drive but inspire thousands in order to carry out and execute your vision.

Top 7 Items In Order to be Killing It in 2012

In 2012 I want to be on the road to legend.  I do not think it is possible for somebody to go from 0 to legend in 1 year.  However, it is possible for somebody to be killing it and that is exactly what I am looking to do.  Here is a list of items that I will need to accomplish in order to be killing it.

1) Offer a service that truly changes the game, that is disruptive and that has not been accomplished before

2) Execute. Execute. Execute.

3) Build a team of A level people in every area of the company.

4) Have these people become a family where they not only buy into the company but also to each other, which will enable them to enjoy working nights, weekends, etc.

5) Raise a series A to take the concept to the world.

6) TechCrunch.  You have not made it as a startup until you are on  Techcrunch.

7) Never Settle.


A Phone Call or a Meeting

People travel all over the world for meetings.  However, with modern technology now you can accomplish almost everything remotely.  Companies now encourage employees to work from home, and have them collaborate with coworkers via skype, email, instant messaging, etc.  However, people still spend many hours on a weekly basis traveling for meetings.  When is a face to face meeting necessary and when will a phone call suffice?

When is a in person meeting necessary .  When you do not have a product built yet, but just an idea.  When you are selling something that is not clear cut and straightforward.  If you are looking to build a lasting bond between the two different teams.  Business development deals that have never been done before, or could have a major impact on one of the companies future.  Example Google has now agreed to pay 300 million a year to Mozilla to power the Firefox search engine.  Finally if you are taking investment, you can be sure that an investor will want to meet you before they hand you over even a dollar.

If you are going to spend a significant time traveling for a meeting.  Make more than one, even if you do not see any short term advantages.


Small Ideas

The tech market is now saturated.  They day of the legend is over (for now).  I recently wrote a post how companies build an idea in order to position themselves in order to be sold to Google.  When I was out in San Francisco, I visited a startup incubator called Rocketspace.  The vast majority of companies where working on real time apps this, Groupon Innovation that, or location based bullshit synthesis of even more useless ideas.  The pricing of the Rocketspace office space is even worse than the startups: $ 650 a desk.  Although the price of desks gets cheaper as you buy more, as an estimate you are looking at a standard early startup with only 4 desks paying a minimum of $ 2,000 a month in rent.  $ 2,000 for desks (and Internet).   Whatever happened to Lean Startup.

I was reading TechCrunch yesterday when I came across this headline: “Backed by Tandem Upout launches a ‘realtime Yelp’ for local event discovery”.  Can somebody tell me what the fuck these guys are doing?  I have been involved in startups for awhile, reading Techcrunch for years, and this is the first time I have looked at an article and go WTF.

Is the social media revolution over? Fred Wilson had a great video on his post from the LeWeb, where Forrester CEO George Colony spoke and says: social media is now saturated companies like Foursquare will soon die out and “the next wave of social are companies that are more efficient, faster, and have a higher value per time equation“.