Former professional in private equity and real estate, who's spent the last few years acquiring product management and development skills. Obsessed with value proposition, and drawn to un-sexy verticals. Love NYC, but always wishing I was in LA.
Pretty poor research and market awareness on this article. As pointed out by @jkarl1985 below, this is essentially a Rocket Internet portfolio company. See this September TC article...
With that said, would love to see more/continued reporting on these below-the-radar companies!
1 month ago on With a $50M Series D, HelloFresh emerges from “accidental stealth” to take on Blue Apron and Plated
No opinion on Rocky Agrawal, but seems unnecessary to mention his boss's gender. While calling his boss a "piece of shit" may not have been stupid, it was not sexist.
Basically, no need to add it in just to get a click-baity sentence.
1 month ago on This is fucking nuts: The Street interviews Rocky Agrawal about how smart, uncrazy he is
@holmesdm I'd love to see more written on the comparable economics of these situations. As it stands, your cat's guess is as good as anyone's. For instance, what is the revenue and profits for a 500k viewer audience on HLN vs. YouTube?
1 month, 2 weeks ago on VICE may take over HLN in a potential $2.2B deal. But can anybody convince millennials to watch cable news?
@rrhoover do you think Product Hunt is more suited to consumer products that have a simple/more easily defined value proposition?
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Well, that’s a first. SV Angel closes seed deal sourced through Product Hunt
@davepaz I think it's pretty clear that Uber is claiiming $90k, but that it excludes the operating expense of the car. For instance, fuel alone changes this number greatly. Say a driver does 50k miles a year in a vehicle getting 25 MPG paying $4 gallon for gas. That's an expense of $8k per year. This is before the special insurance and loan/lease payments for the vehicle. If they were honest and said the average driver makes $68k a year after expenses and before personal taxes, no one would be giving them a hard time. The problem is that they are going so far out of their way to act as the "savior" of drivers everywhere, that they're willing to spit out BS numbers.
I like what Uber's doing, and in general it is a superior experience. However, that should not give them license to syndicate misleading or flat out incorrect data about their company and it's impact on individual drivers and the economy at large.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Fact checking Uber’s claims about driver income. Shockingly, they’re not true
@puck you don't think Uber knows what it costs to operate a car? They partnered with one of the largest private equity companies in the world almost exclusively to provide vehicle purchase and lease financing to the drivers. They can tell you how much is costs per mile/day/week/year to the penny in any zip code they're operating in.
Nice write-up David.
2 months, 1 week ago on How CEOs became so obscenely high-paid (and how one retired tech founder wants to fix that)
I appreciate the coverage of this.
2 months, 2 weeks ago on Sf.citi, Ron Conway, the Mayor, “tech” moguls weigh in for the dispossessed and a bill makes it to state senate floor
While this was clearly bad and unhealthy for the ecosystem, I wonder if startups benefited from the implied cap on salaries?
Again, not good and probably didn't outweigh the the talent poaching from larger companies, but worth asking along with all the other questions raised.
3 months ago on If the Techtopus wage theft suit proves anything, it’s that the philosophy that built the Valley is no more
@KenG the credit card cancellation technique does not always work. I know that for recurring subscriptions made online, they continued to work even after I declared a lost/stolen card with AMEX, and received a replacement with new CC number.
I wonder how Bitcoin and blockchain technology deal with recurring charges?
3 months, 1 week ago on Dark Patterns: The Crimes and Misdemeanors of Design
It would be great to see a follow-up piece discussing the type of endeavors or decisions companies can, or are likely, to make by postponing an IPO, that they might not want to if they were already public. It seems that in addition to how low interest rates are right now (cheap debt), that this is the other primary driver of such a decision.
Main stream corporations flush with cash during the worst of the downturn in 2009-2012 took on large amounts of insanely cheap debt (3-5%). To your point, it's simply now making it's way into the tech arena.
@mcarney this seems like an extension of the changes brought about by the likes of Yuri Milner when he allowed FB to avoid by a premature IPO by providing larger/longer-horizon funding than the current norm. Clearly debt is common for mainstream corporations, but I wonder how often they use it to delay an IPO?
3 months, 2 weeks ago on Late-stage mega-debt is just the latest way of putting off the IPO boogieman
This is certainly great news for the LA ecosystem.
@mcarney I'd be interested in an analysis how many people are positively impacted in the local ecosystem by Makers. I think they are an example of a full-stack startup as recently described by Chris Dixon (http://www.cdixon.org/2014/03/15/full-stack-startups/) and in an epic series of tweets from Balaji Srinivasan at a16z (http://storify.com/nikcub/balajis-on-full-stack-startups). They built proprietary tech on top of youtube, provided physical and human resources for creation/production of content, delivered monetization, etc. I think it's what has set them apart from others such as Machinima.
So, back to my question... For every dollar that goes into a company like makers for the creation/distribution of content, how much do you think gets paid out to entertainment specialists in the broader LA ecosystem (lighting, gaffers, writers, post-production, sound, etc.)? Contract work is the norm, so my guess is it's reasonably high, but love to see some actual ballpark numbers. I'd think it would be a positive story for the Makers and the LA.
For what it's worth I'm not actively in the industry or a Makers fanboy, but think it's worth highlight hybrid tech companies that may create or empower existing professions rather than simply destroy jobs and create a fewer number of elite positions for the well-schooled and technically inclined.
4 months ago on For LA, Maker Studios’ $950M exit couldn’t have come at a better time
@worstall @FrankThagard Here's the thing... They don't have to follow behind a mule any more to get food, but they MUST now have the money to buy. While they have been relieved of a less than enviable job, they may not be equipped to take on the new replacement job. Say you're in your 40's when this happens, the odds are not in your favor that you'll be able to maintain or improve your economic position going forward. And this is all that matter since you must purchase everything now delivered as a service. Your children may benefit and the macro trends over decades and centuries may look great, but it has come at the cost of an individual's quality of life during the remainder of their lifetime.
4 months, 3 weeks ago on Why We Should Thank Bill Gates For Making Himself So Rich
I'm glad this story was still published despite the negative shift in Guide's story that occurred right before publishing.
4 months, 3 weeks ago on “I’ve fucked up things you haven’t even thought of yet”: The entrepreneurial son with everything to prove
The SSL fix didn't even show up in the App Store "Updates" pane. Had to click through on the link for more detailed information on Apple's website and FINALLY you see it as the very last bullet point. And worse they don't use the work "security" in the explanation.
Apple's usability still reigns supreme, but it is unfortunate that rely on this to keep consumers happy while not giving the same attentiveness to substantive issues like security.
I find myself considering alternatives more each day.
4 months, 3 weeks ago on Apple continues to hide its rotten security from consumers
@MelanieTolomeo @mattpointblank I believe he was referring to the acquisition price as well.
5 months ago on The problem with WhatsApp’s privacy boasts: They’re not true
5 months ago on The Anti-Snapchat: WhatsApp’s nosebleed price is a lesson for Silicon Valley’s hype addict brogrammers
The complexity of these relationships and associations boggles the mind, regardless of the malice or surreptitious behavior involved.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on The War Nerd: United Drones of Congo
Good article with plenty of insights, but I take issue with two things. One, seemed unnecessary to bring up the Arrington/Allen suit, and I'm not particularly keen on him to begin with. Two, calling any of this an OJ moment seems beyond dramatic in the most "inside the SV bubble" way possible. One really rich guy has re-organized several other just-rich guys. Two innocent people were not murdered in cold blood with a knife, nor will there be a nationally televised police chase.
Again, tons of meat and solid reporting in this article, which makes those things feel especially out of place not accretive.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on John Doerr’s last stand: Can a dramatic shakeup save Kleiner Perkins?
It's good to hear a technical counter opinion to the 23andMe mission, which is certainly laudable in its intent.
7 months, 4 weeks ago on It is game over for 23andMe, and rightly so
8 months, 1 week ago on Video suggests that Henry Blodget and Louis CK may be the same person
Vineet - Where do companies like Box, Salesforce, Workday and your own company, Egnyte, fall on this spectrum? Are they exposed to a program like Muscular?
8 months, 3 weeks ago on NSA secret programs are actually good for the cloud
One of your best articles in awhile in my not humble opinion. Well articulated.
8 months, 3 weeks ago on Hustle and flow
This is interesting. I met another guy, Adil Wali, who was a co-founder at ModCloth who co-owns a dev shop in Mexico called Crowd Interactive. As I understood the story, Crowd Interactive came about as a way to provide development resources for ModCloth, but reduce some of the overhead by also taking on client contract work. The team in Mexico ended up being highly proficient and has continued on as an independent dev shop. I met several team members in NYC, and was super impressed. About two years ago they generously offered to let me work from their space in Colima and provide mentorship as I was learning to code - for free! They also host the annual Ruby on Rails conference for Mexico.
I have no ongoing relationship with Crowd Interactive, but think the story is relevant to what Andy Kieffer is doing in Guadalajara. Giving him the benefit of the doubt in terms of how he's treating local employees and partners, I think there's enough green grass in places like Mexico to still do well and do good. Best of luck to them.
8 months, 3 weeks ago on Tequila and Tacos: How this former Valley exec is poaching US talent for his Mexican startup lab
Great summary and context Hamish. Thanks.
8 months, 3 weeks ago on Yep, games are going to be a giant cash cow for WeChat
@mcdruid this doesn't strike me as something that needs to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. @Penenberg what might the ballpark cost of this be if dealing with black hat service providers?
8 months, 4 weeks ago on I challenged hackers to investigate me and what they found out is chilling
@wtpayne Well for one, he stated that they had the ability to transfer/steal all of his money. These funds are not insured for such theft. I'd consider that a pretty significant impact. Additionally, imagine if the information had been collected, but not used until they went on a vacation, say out of the country. Having to access to communications (address books, email accounts, twitter, etc.) or money could leave you and your children stranded. Lastly, since they had already compromised one of the family day-to-day machines they could just sit there and eavesdrop, gathering more useful and damaging information over time.
Interesting that we never heard about Karsten going after Apple and their iTunes Ping endeavor...
9 months, 2 weeks ago on Ping vs. Ping: How an email app received a cease-and-desist from a golf company
They've been delivering value, but have also been dancing around a clear message describing when or why a potential customer/SMB would come to them. I've found myself fumbling for words on occasion when I'd point someone to Docstoc if they asked what they did. The acquisition of BestVendor following their creation of License123 really closed the circle on the value proposition.
It's not mentioned in the article, but a big revenue opportunity for them might be as a plug-n-play distribution platform for other things an SMB might need/want. For instance, SaaS solutions (one-off or bundled), professional services (bookkeeping, HR), etc. AMEX and Intuit could compete with them, or just save the money and use it to be affiliate fees for profit sharing to Docstoc. Not hard to imagine someone coming to Docstoc setup their store or restaurant and simply selecting additional bundled services at discount ( Google Apps for 6 employees, an Intuit POS system, etc.). It might have some parallels to Heroku's Add-on marketplace.
9 months, 2 weeks ago on DocStoc’s got a brand new bag: Redesigned small business portal offers personalized content and resources
I'm always looking for ways to communicate things in a more visual way. Love the interface. Hope their paid product gets some traction.
9 months, 2 weeks ago on Data for dummies: Silk takes its simple visualizations tool to the enterprise
Love stories like this. 37signals is always heralded as the crowned prince of bootstrapping and autonomy, but they their attitude can be aloof at times and rigid. It's great to see examples of companies thriving under the constraints of bootstrapping and then leveraging VC money for what it's best at, growth and scaling of a product or service that has traction.
Keep up the great work Wrike!
9 months, 3 weeks ago on Wrike raises $10M to expand beyond its bootstraps
@eringriffith good conversation and interview.
One thing though, your side of the audio kept cutting in and out. Naval's was fine.
10 months ago on Listen to PandoWeekly with Naval Ravikant of AngelList
@dbennahum I was just thinking the same thing. Aside from the brief mention of online relationships and fb, it doesn't seem a relevant topic in the manner it was written up.
11 months, 1 week ago on Sex, love, and the hook-up generation
While your previously articles were thoughtfully written, I didn't find them particularly valuable or actionable. This one is universally helpful. There's no scenario where this wouldn't help improve the feedback cycle.
11 months, 1 week ago on The best way to take feedback: Keep quiet
Good on him!
11 months, 1 week ago on StackSocial: We’re profitable and haven’t touched our Seed capital
@Francisco Dao Many people live in a physical environment that have all of those things. In fact, isn't that high school for many people? Perhaps it's just that it's nearly impossible to wall yourself off on the Internet. In the physical world you can move into exclusive and/or gated communities, work in well-secured office buildings and vacation away from the rif raf.
11 months, 2 weeks ago on I’ve come to hate so much of the internet
@Hil_Davis excellent question. I agree with @mcarney 's discretion on the matter though. There are plenty of variable that could weigh on the overall success of the transaction.
Separately, I question many people's expectations around multiples for these type of companies. Because e-commerce stores leverage the internet there seems to be an assumption that they should trade at multiples similar to more pure play technology companies that sell software or deliver SaaS solutions. While these e-commerce platforms obviously leverage technology, they have more in common with the old-guard brick 'n mortar retailers than they do with Microsoft.
For starters software vendors and SaaS providers have relatively high costs related to upfront product development and then ongoing sales. However, the costs to deliver the software or SaaS solution to each additional customer is close to zero, which can lead to increasingly high margins over time for a successful product or service. While intelligent beauty certainly makes heavy use of technology, they're mainly repackaging existing software and libraries to serve a specific use-case (there are exceptions I'm sure where they are creating something new from scratch). This technology and the Internet allow them to avoid the overhead costs of brick 'n mortar retail, but they're margins still have long-term constraints. The cost of manufacturing the end product is out of their control, and likely won't decrease much considering they mostly sell high-volume mass produced goods.
So... they can increase volume, but margins improvement is difficult and ultimately limited. With that in mind, what multiples do you (@Hil_Davis / @mcarney ) think are appropriate? What are more comparable sectors?
11 months, 2 weeks ago on Target buys DermStore and Sensa is on the block. Intelligent Beauty focuses on JustFab’s $1B potential
@eringriffith It would be good to have a sense of proportionality with some of these numbers and stats. For instance, what is the total employment number to put the +2,200 tech jobs in 2Q13 against. While I think tech is important, I'm curious whether it actually makes a dent in employment in relation to entire ecosystem. I feel like the financial services industry adds and throws away this many jobs in an almost cyclical manner. Since I don't have any numbers at hand this is purely my own pondering...
Do you have any insights on this?
11 months, 3 weeks ago on NYC tech hiring bounces back in first half of 2013
Good interview Hamish. Love Luis von Ahn. The stuff he's built and researched has turned out to be so useful to the world. It's also almost poetic watching how the concepts that began around 2000 with Captcha keep evolving and being re-applied each step along the way for a new purpose and with different effect each time. The art of refinement.
Definitely find more doers like him for the interviews!
1 year ago on Listen to our PandoWeekly interview with Duolingo’s Luis von Ahn
That's very well put by Poole. The expectation gap is why people are upset. However, as he points out, Americans have become sedentary with regard to many of the fundamental values issues of our time. Poole is also likely correct in expecting that most people will simply adopt the new expectations and then do little to change what they don't like.
1 year ago on Chris “moot” Poole updates drawing app, says things about the NSA
@mcarney I'm a huge fan of Braintree, and selected them to replace Authorize.net at my last gig. The article rings true, but I'm surprised you left Dwolla out of the conversation. While their primary service is comparable to PayPal - cuts out bank and credit card fees - it is a far more seamless experience (excellent on mobile) and easier to integrate given that it has been API driven from the beginning. Additionally, the whisper-sync (right name?) technology they're developing is bank to bank, but faster than credit cards (it bypasses the ACH clearing house system). While still relatively small in scale, I think Dwolla deserves to be part of the conversation as well.
Keep up the good work.
1 year ago on Braintree-owned Venmo Touch invites banks and card issuers to its mobile wallet party
@timrpeterson They are in position to do that to their reach and ubiquity as a platform. This should not be confused with whether or not they are actually doing so (they are not). He makes that clear in, literally, the very next sentence.
1 year, 3 months ago on Declining trust in the web of deceit
I think the markdown and writer specific workflows are the major features here. I couldn't help but notice that many of these features exist in something like Box.com. The drawback there is the need to signup for their service with storage amount as the major driver of price. It does allow workflow, comments, to-do's and the file lockout.
Editorially has definitely built something that seems native to the writing process though. Considering the pedigree of the team it's not surprising that they've successfully wrapped the real needs of writers in a solid technology experience.
1 year, 3 months ago on Editorially is the collaborative writing tool we’ve been waiting for
1 year, 4 months ago on I was wrong on my SXSW predictions. My winner is a company that isn’t even here
I'm really excited by anyone making in impact in this space. Especially, if they've managed to make any inroads with the school systems themselves. I grew up 45 minutes from Gainesville, math competency at most schools was dismal (it may have improved since). I actually wanted to help a magnent school their setup a programming class, but couldn't get them to open up the firewalls for anything.
If Study Edge can get inside their walls it will be great for them, as well as the ecosystem at large. Good luck to them!
1 year, 4 months ago on Y Combinator alum Study Edge changes the way Florida students learn Algebra
Love the aesthetic and that they've already got some revenue.
1 year, 4 months ago on Gojee launches home vertical, prepares designer marketplace
Great to see advocacy and exposure for these companies. @eringriffith this site has been existence for quite awhile at http://mappedinny.com. It just seems they're doing some re-branding.
1 year, 5 months ago on Bloomberg’s parting gift to NYC tech: an online hub to make building companies easier
@KenG @JVenator You may be right. No argument from me, or intended offense. He could very well be the devil incarnate. But in terms of how it relates to this startup, what matters most is his wealth and network. I'd guess that both of those are substantial.
1 year, 6 months ago on Odds defying hardware startup Mobiplex goes back to the well, comes up with another $1.3M
It's funny that this idea wasn't obvious to me until reading this article. It's relatively to spend time in a simulator, and even then the end data isn't necessarily easily used and shared. I played golf competitively through college, and would definitely buy this if I were playing more often. I'm starting a job hunt in LA, so maybe this will soon be a reality.
Love hearing about a startup playing in a less-trampled space. Where are they based out of?
@KenG Wrong place for this comment.