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Nearly everyone in the music industry won't talk to Pandora, which used scorched-earth tactics to get the "right" to exist. It also has what amounts to a barely viable business model.
4 months, 1 week ago on Spotify vs Uber: A case study on why it’s sometimes better not to be an asshole
Because SuperShuttle (or someone similar), asked them to?
7 months, 1 week ago on California regulator foolishly warns Sidecar and Uber about carpooling services
I'm still waiting for evidence Uber drivers are being summoned with the app and then robbed. Absent that, the mere claim you can see them on a map and "omg smartphones" is no different than stepping outside anywhere in LA.
7 months, 3 weeks ago on With another Uber driver robbed in LA, questions mount about safety of ride-sharing apps
"But if they’re easier to find, that may be enough to turn these drivers into popular targets."
Because, for example, taxi drivers are very hard to find. I mean, it's not like they drive around in vehicles painted a uniform, bright color, with big ads sitting on top... Oh, wait.
Why don't you produce some stats on how many Uber drivers were out the night one was robbed? Or some comparison to taxi drivers being robbed that night?
This, right now, is a meme you've concocted that may or may not be real. And may or may not be anything outside of LA.
You literally pretended it has happened 380,000 times because of reporting on a Google search when the total number of incidents is, exactly, what? 10? 20? I mean I don't know, but this article certainly hasn't edified me one bit.
Unlike say the average Angelo who would never have cash or a smartphone or a watch or tablet. Can we make a real argument?
7 months, 4 weeks ago on Uber drivers in LA report spate of gunpoint assaults, allege taxi industry involvement
You literally just ended this post with data about how taxicab driving is dangerous without mentioning that taxicab drivers are unarmed and carry cash and are in a confined space.
The relevance of this to a story about Uber drivers getting robbed does not exist at all, but thanks for including it to suggest driver for Uber should be similarly dangerous.
8 months ago on Uber drivers in LA report spate of gunpoint assaults, allege taxi industry involvement
UberX and Lyft charge the same (very very nearly) in San Francisco.
Lyft's current promotional pricing has it arguably 10% cheaper, certainly not 30%. Given they are taking 0% of that, it's highly unsustainable for Lyft and something will have to give on rates or driver income or more likely both very soon.
Uber: $3 base, $1.50 mile, $.30 minute, $1 insurance, etc.
Lyft: $2.25 base, $1.35 mile, $.27 minute, $1 insurance, etc.
9 months, 3 weeks ago on Lyft is a black belt in using Uber’s strength against it
I'm just curious... Did you read the S-1 before posting this? Because I've scanned it pretty thoroughly and Boxx doesn't look like a very good business to me. It looks like an OK business that is still growing quickly, but is likely to face pricing pressure and has never come close to making profits...
1 year ago on Will the Box IPO be John the Baptist to Dropbox’s Jesus?
Tim, entertaining and illuminating as always.
1 year, 1 month ago on The gargantuan stupidity of the financial transactions tax
Can you ask Hamish if he might do a guest post?
1 year, 1 month ago on Follow the photos: The real reason Facebook just paid almost 10% of its market cap for WhatsApp
"The question then becomes, what is the official exchange rate one should use for establishing a “cost basis,” or the starting price used for measuring taxable gains or losses?"
Sorry, but that's not a hard question. You paid for it almost certainly in dollars. That's your cost basis. It doesn't matter what the dollar-BTC rate was at the time.
If you paid in Euro, then all you need to know is the dollar: Euro ratio that day (easy to look up). It makes no difference at all whether 14 different bitcoin exchanges has 14 different rates. You only paid one of those. That's your basis. Shenanigans like trying to cherrypick the best of those won't fly, there's a banking trail on what you paid.
1 year, 3 months ago on Bitcoin and the unnecessary ambiguity around taxation
There's a whole lot of inuendo here that comes close to suggesting that the contributor network and the paid-placement stuff are one and the same. They aren't.
There are a lot of contributors. Our quality varies. If we're terrible, no one reads us. If we're good, we have readers. I'm fortunate enough to be in the latter group. I also bend over backwards to maintain a high standard when I'm "doing journalism". But let's be clear, a lot of it is blogging/opinion. That said, so is a lot of Pando. Sarah's piece of Uber wasn't straight up journalism. This piece on Forbes isn't either.
I'm not clear how you can argue readers don't like what Forbes is doing when readers are clearly showing up in record numbers.
1 year, 4 months ago on The ouroboros is complete: Forbes outsourced contributor outsources journalism to actual journalists
@nilofer @jason_pontin I'm not sure how the Arrington case and the Ellen Pao case are on remotely the same level. I'm not sure how sexual harassment and (possibly) some physical abuse rises remotely to the level of chopping off the heads of your ex-wife and her boyfriend either.
1 year, 4 months ago on John Doerr’s last stand: Can a dramatic shakeup save Kleiner Perkins?
This is a really well done piece, but I wish you'd drop your obsession with who's-whoism. You pay too much attention to the fame of partners, when realistically it has no correlation to the job of being a VC. "...a little-known former member of the Excite@Home mafia named David Sze" "venture up-and-comer Chi-Hua Chien is a stark example... He didn’t have a huge investing or operational track record " In the recommended content below the piece, I see the following, "A16z names its eighth GP and you’ve likely never heard of him" again with the obsession toward fame.
The first two guys bet on the companies others didn't. It doesn't take fame or a track record to do that. It takes savvy, skill and, of course, a bit of luck. The idea that there is some kind of greater success for new VCs associated with being a big-time name flies in the face of what we see. Maybe Reid Hoffman and Marc Andreessen (and Keith Rabois perhaps) ultimately prove that wrong by being the only "newcomers" to make it big in this era. Of course, both were already well known before doing venture. But until then, maybe we can stop damning everyone else.
The only response that would have remotely gotten considering a future rental: "Of course, Carmel, we'll wave all charges on this rental."
They then should've offered you the 25% off on your next one.
To be completely honest, having used FlightCar twice in San Francisco, the operation feels very Mickey Mouse. Your story isn't a little surprising. And the phone call thing has been an issue from the beginning, since the operation is on both coasts. Why they think it's useful to route calls centrally when they are clearly not equipped to deal with it this far in is mind boggling.
1 year, 4 months ago on Airport carsharing is cheaper than a rental, but a decidedly un-baller experience
One amazing technique for getting around this "problem" is leaving your perfectly working PS3 plugged in. Fixed.
1 year, 5 months ago on Sony’s planned obsolescence: Sour grapes or the bitter taste of change?
"Democrats only gained 5 seats"
A second-term incumbent president gained seats for his party. That was basically unprecedented since the invention of Republicans. I'm not sure how you failed to grasp the historical significance of that.
1 year, 6 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115129/record-gop-unpopularity-party-could-rebound-fast
1) Has zero chance of happening. Facebook couldn't possible this off and it has more robust verification. A tax on just being there? No. A tax to promote, fine.
2) Has zero chance of happening. "Hey, thanks for making us rich, Miley. Now, pay." Miley: "Find me on mileycyrus,com and sign up for my new OpenTalk channel, better than lame-ass Twitter."
3) Everyone always talk about this, but it never happens. You know why? Free services gussied up are something not a lot of people will pay for. In Twitter's case, the user base is smaller than a lot of pundits predicted. Maybe 2-4% of people will pay for SuperTwitter, but even that feels high. At $10/month, divide the potential pay base by 100. More like 100,000 than a million.
4) Near zero percent chance of this happening. The 140-character thing is sacrosanct. Breaking it for money breaks Twitter.
5) Twitter doesn't want third-party apps. Have you not gotten the memo?
6) Seems like "make Twitter better and fun" would be a good thing to just do to get more regular uses. Charging for this is a bad idea.
7) Twitter power users charge for the content that's beyond the tweets, not the tweets themselves. I pay for WSJ, not its Twitter stream.
These are ideas but in the end, not particularly likely money makers. Twitter needs to find ways to push engagement so it can "Facebook" the stream, running an ad every 10-15 tweets that engages users over a huge number of users. That's the size of the opportunity. It's not bigger (save for the data selling).
Premium services of any kind are not happening; the content in Twitter is just not rich enough. Cleverly finding ways to get people to engage with "tab 3", aka Discover, so that can become a hotbed of advertiser instead of the backwater of Twitter is the biggest piece of greenfield. Having Twitter on tablets become "Flipboard-y" based on that is intriguing, but still based on the same ad model, one promoted something every 10-15 pieces of content you've already chosen to have.
1 year, 6 months ago on 7 ways Twitter could make money (beyond cozying up to TV networks)
How is this "more bad news" for LivingSocial?
LivingSocial is selling off stuff that doesn't make money is good news. Small good news given that LivingSocial also doesn't make money, but it's still good news.
It's bad news for LivingSocial when it finally shuts its doors.
1 year, 8 months ago on More bad news for LivingSocial – its big-ticket Korean acquisition is reportedly up for sale
The "no work from home" thing was a modest-sized layoff Sarah. It was a sledgehammer approach where perhaps a scalpel would've done somewhat better, but it was a layoff.
1 year, 8 months ago on Baby steps: Mayer’s acquistion spree doesn’t turn Yahoo around, but it starts to solve core problems
"Skeptics looking for nitpicking metrics to suggest signs of weakness were largely out of luck this quarter."
It's pretty easy to nitpick actually. In the year-over-year, desktop ads are DOWN 4% despite a >20% growth in users and the introduction of News Feed ads vs. none a year go. Not to mention Facebook's insistence that the platform is more popular than ever.
Yes, it's more and more mobile. I get it. But once it "matures", ad revenue goes down even with no ad units and that many more users? It would hardly be nitpicking to point out that's ... not... good.
1 year, 8 months ago on How Facebook bucked the trend of disappointing earnings
I could scarcely agree with you more....
What an odd cycle... Sony's announcement was bad/weird (I posted same at Forbes)... Microsoft's announcement was cool/amazing... Microsoft starts shooting itself in foot... Then other foot... Then Sony come out and says, "Kumbaya"... And it's game over...
Nice piece summarizing it all Nathaniel.
1 year, 10 months ago on From jester to savior: How the Xbox One turned the PlayStation 4 into the white knight of console gaming
The person who views this as a "call option on the next Google" needs their accredited investor card revoked.
1 year, 10 months ago on Why Snapchat’s rumored funding raises the high stakes for LA’s startup ecosystem
Let's agree that California still has some work to do on its budget long term... maybe even a lot of work.
But that said, the idea with Prop 30 -- flawed as it may be -- was a band aid. It's not permanent and voters are not going to re-approve it, nor do I expect they'll be asked. In the meantime, for every anecdote like yours, the startup scene continues to thrive in the Bay Area. And the other place it's doing well is where you are now -- which is the second-highest tax jurisdiction in the nation I believe (thanks to the NYC income tax on top of NYS' fairly substantial tax). So entrepreneurs are flocking to high-tax states / regions.
Maybe tax planning isn't the most important part of deciding where to locate a company?
1 year, 10 months ago on California aspires to mediocrity — It’s almost there
@MichaelWolfe ... almost certainly "will never".
1 year, 11 months ago on Is pretty good really good enough for Facebook?
"That said, university professors who teach Coursera courses told the Wall Street Journal in Februarythat they have no plans to award credit to students who complete MOOCs."
While there may not be true college credit at Coursera. there is something that certainly looks a lot like it -- and someone really ought to tell the folks at Coursera this, because I suspect students are seeing it that way right now. For a fee -- you know, actual money, you get to take many courses in "Signature Track", where they spend a great deal of time (and inconvenience I might add) verifying you are you and aren't cheating. When you finish a Signature Track course (again, for which they took your money), they give you a verified certificate of completion.
I understand that isn't true, transferrable college credit, but it resembles it. A lot.
2 years ago on EXPLAINER: Everything you need to know about MOOCs
How is there tyranny of EPS when Amazon isn't required to show any earnings yet is rewarded with a high valuation?
2 years ago on Amazon and the tyranny of the EPS
"The question is whether or not an approach that failed in clothing can work for computers."
I think what you're missing is that this hasn't failed at JCP. It's barely even rolled out there.
2 years ago on Ron Johnson’s brand-oriented boutiques couldn’t save JC Penney. Is Best Buy any different?
@jessebushkar Good luck with that LivingSocial theory. It's almost certainly worth nothing (not that Groupon is worth legendary amounts, but at least it's in the billions right now).
If anything, it fits the 90-10 theory Andreeseen mentioned.
2 years ago on In Silicon Valley, it’s good to be king
I find this more than a little befuddling. I'm a Starbucks regular and I have Square installed on my phone, too. I can't imagine any scenario where I'd forgo my Starbucks rewards to use Square. In fact, outside of Silicon Valley types who worship at the altar of Square (as opposed to those of us who "merely" think it's a great company going far), I don't understand why anyone was excited to begin with.
Starbucks has a smartphone-enabled payment and loyalty card already. Square promised... a smartphone-enabled payment card without any loyalty program benefits. Who was going to be excited about this?
The FastCompany article, in fact, seems to agree: "The problem, ironically, might be that not enough consumers are using Square Wallet. Though Starbucks declined to share Square usage data, at least one study has indicated adoption is low." Most Square Wallet early adopters aren't chumps and yet using Square Wallet instead of a Starbucks card currently makes you a chump. Why would I give up a free drink every 12 just to use Square, which currently offers me absolutely no benefits to speak of. Well, other than potentially an even slower checkout.
2 years ago on Barista problems: Why Starbucks isn’t the energy shot Square needed
"If you can’t find 10 people to use your product, you can’t find 100."
Great insight, although tricky to tell with social products. I suspect Pinterest seemed really useless to a lot of people for a long while then suddenly seemed very useful. Even if that assumption isn't quite correct, it's certainly true that the flat part of the growth curve was very flat for a long while before the "hockey stick" phase took off.
You probably kept believing the same would be true of your equipment sharing idea.
2 years, 1 month ago on What can be learned when sharing leads to failing
LivingSocial has been far closer to liquidation than IPO for more than a year. It was when they took the money and it still is.
What I suppose is unfortunate for them is that merging the company with Groupon to recover some investor value looks less likely than ever. The only hope for a no-shutdown scenario remains a buyout by Amazon or Google. But keep in mind, that will be at a price close to the Series G's funding amount not this fantastical $1 billion valuation.
2 years, 1 month ago on Last night LivingSocial’s pneumonia took a turn for the worse
I tried to make sense of the re-filed COI and it's a huge, huge mess. The reality is that the company was borderline bankrupt. This funding is a lifeline, but it hands the company to the people who provided the lifeline.
Someone with 3 hours to kill could probably parse out exactly what valuations would leave people whole beyond the "Series G" folks who did this funding, but it's hard to imagine why anyone would.
Honestly, if you know merchants who are considering running with LivingSocial and you care about them, you should tell them not to. I don't wish the consequences of that on LS employees, but the jig is up here.
2 years, 1 month ago on PrivCo may be wrong, but LivingSocial’s CEO is still sugarcoating this round
"Add to the “emergency” aspect that there are uniquenesses to the daily deals business. If merchants have no confidence that there’s enough incoming money from new deals to pay them what they’re owed, there can effectively be a run on the bank situation"
This is the most important point. Why would any merchant who is paying attention run a deal with LivingSocial even after this round? They are clearly in a situation where bankruptcy remains a very real possibility in the near term. And you can run your deal on Groupon. So why bother with LivingSocial?
As for the CEO's claim about it not being a 4x liquidation preference, he then adds that at $1 billion, they clear it easily. That sounds like, uh, at least 4x? Maybe more... So I don't know what to make of that, but it sure sounds like a gigantic liquidation preference.
You must be the only person who missed the fact the Galaxy Nexus was never banned in the U.S. That case showed, in fact, that a ban is perfectly not possible. It's always appealed immediately and always set aside on appeal. There is simply not any chance at all that Amazon -- a huge multi-billion-dollar company that isn't infringing on anyone's patents -- will be forced to stop selling Kindles because the e-Ink folks might have done so.The remedy here would be for e-Ink to pay a license or disgorge profits, not for the Kindle to leave the market.So, no, the case you cited doesn't prove a ban is possible, In fact, it's one of dozens of examples of even when a ban is "granted" it never goes into effect.
2 years, 2 months ago on Could a patent dispute take the Kindle off the market?
Could a patent dispute take the Kindle off the market? No. It doesn't ever work that way.
Scalable is an interesting word here. By all accounts, all these sites hit a wall after a similar revenue spot on the curve. That's almost the antithesis of scalable.
2 years, 2 months ago on Flash sales are (still) the most scalable e-commerce business model
The future -- and present really -- of vision correction is lasik. This is a non-problem for non-Luddites, although a few admittedly are shut out as they are non-candidates.
2 years, 3 months ago on The future of displays has a problem: Our eyes
You get that Zipcar doesn't really make money and has terrible utilization of fixed assets right?
Sure, Avis could wreck some of what's good about Zipcar. They also can make more cars available in more places, charge lower rates (over time) than Zipcar could muster, offer long-term rentals competitively (Zipcar couldn't), offer one-ways, etc.
This is dangerous territory -- like going out over a frozen lake when you aren't sure how thick the ice is -- but it's an attempt to cross said lake, which Zipcar wasn't going to be able to do on its own. The structure was fundamentally flawed (in a way that, say, Airbnb isn't since most people can live with low utilization of a spare room).
You've been in a snit lately on companies you hate. I wonder if it's getting in the way of seeing that businesses need to make money or else they can't do much "disrupting" of anything.
2 years, 3 months ago on There are just so many reasons to hate the Zipcar/Avis deal
2 years, 4 months ago on The eerie silence about carried interest amid the fiscal cliff hysteria
The first great venture boom occurred in the 1990s when the capital gains tax was -- for a time -- joined at the hip to ordinary income by the 1986 tax reform. When the great firms of Sand Hill Road became great, they did on funds raids when this was true. They did not need a tax advantage to get into the game. They don't need one now.
The very fact you you are sitting here defending the indefensible makes me sad.
"So the NVCA and VCs can argue that an investor is more aligned with the entrepreneur — the two of them both forgo any real return until there’s a big exit and an entrepreneurs’ proceeds are most definitely taxed as capital gains. Why should a VCs’ return on the same effort, risk, and timescale be different?"
Because it's different.
The entrepreneur has no portfolio. He or she is typically all in or nearly all in. The investor isn't. There are dozens of companies (or in the case of someone like Dave McClure hundreds) in the portfolio. The risk profiles of the two resemble one another in no way. Furthermore, the venture capitalist isn't even using his or her own money. The "carried interest" is a vigorish, a take of the profits of the deal, typically 20-30% of the returns generated from the investors' money, above and beyond the management fee.
This resembles the entrepreneur's risk in no way, except that we are talking about the same company.
I'm an entrepreneur. I'm friends with investors. I actually believe we should slash marginal rates down and remove all differential taxation as we did in 1986. It was the closest we came to an intelligent tax code since the U.S. instituted an income tax.
But we're not there. Instead we load the code with preferences. Few of them make much sense. The only ones we "need" to preserve are those without which we'd literally have dislocation affects. For example, an overnight removal of the mortgage break would likely hurt high-priced real-estate markets in devastating ways so removing it overnight is a terrible idea even if dealing with it over time is almost certainly a good one.
The idea that the carried interest break needs to exist for any purpose at all or that venture capital in the long run might dry up without it is patently silly. Venture capital ebbs and flows with fund returns, not whether partners get somewhat rich or really rich. It just doesn't work that way. It never has and it never will.
@jholyhead I love Sarah's writing -- and from what I can tell, her personality -- but these things of "I'm experiencing this therefore a lot of people are..." tend to go too far. Most of us travelling on Virgin don't have kids with us (whether or not we have them at all). The idea that a group of people Sarah's age are really the customers of an entire airline, all are suddenly having kids, and all are suddenly being alienated isn't really correct.
I get her frustration. But as someone who doesn't usually travel with kids, well, as I said elsewhere, I'm not especially upset that the short security line has become kid unfriendly. Oh, and I'm the guy who will entertain your kid on the plane for half an hour. It's not like I hate your kids; I just guess I resent them getting my earned privileges.
2 years, 4 months ago on Virgin America’s business flounders as it doubles down on party planes
@wjackson Right, and as I said in my comments, their frequent-flyer earning methods ensure that you pretty much don't earn anything. It's very weird.
Virgin America has an incomprehensibly bad frequent-flyer program. It takes about twice as long to earn a free ticket as on legacy airlines. They aren't really rewarding loyalty; they are selling a better product and telling you to like it or leave. Honestly, mathing out free tickets on Virgin, I long ago concluded that the reason to fly them is not to ever expect to fly them for free. I have more freebies left on American -- which I haven't flown on in years -- than I will likely ever earn on Virgin, which is my preferred carrier.
A slightly child-unfriendly policy sounds about right to me. Most travelers with children are a nightmare and I don't get why they should get privileged screening over me. I'm not unsympathetic to the challenges of travelling with kids; I get that it's hard. But the perks of frequent travelling are the short line. Once the short line is filled with every family with kids, it's not the short line. It's the really long, slow line.
What's strange about your story, however, is that SFO doesn't use the TSA -- it's one of a small handful of U.S. airports with private contractors. You've concluded Virgin is lying to you and that they are ordering these contractors to do their bidding. Isn't it possible that this non-TSA group -- which is probably about the only time you ever encounter non-TSA screeners -- has decided of its own volition to do what Virgin wants? In other words, that fits your passive aggressive theory, but it also is kind of the market working. Virgin suggests, the private company surveys the situation and follows what it thinks >most< travelers would like.
Here's the entire list of non-TSA airports:
Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS); Dawson Community Airport (GDV); Frank Wiley Field (MLS); Greater Rochester International (ROC); Havre City County Airport (HVR); Jackson Hole (JAC); Joe Foss Field (FSD); Kansas City International (MCI); Key West International Airport (EYW); L.M. Clayton Airport (OLF); Lewistown Municipal Airport (LWT); Roswell International Air Center (ROW); San Francisco International (SFO); Sidney Richland Regional (SDY); Tupelo Regional (TUP); Wokal Field (GGW)
@DaveMcClure It's as if you could have seen this coming when you named your fund "500 Startups". :)
2 years, 4 months ago on The Series A crunch is hitting now. Have we even noticed?
People travel 0-3 times a year. The number of those trips that require inspiration is 0-1 for most people.
The tech investor set confused their own business-travel behavior with reality and presumed you could build a habit around services like these. You can't. And if you can't build a habit around it, you don't have a winner. The only reason TripAdvisor works is massive scale/brand. (And good for them, by the way; I'm a fan.)
2 years, 4 months ago on The travel startup fallout is here. Will anyone survive?
I just don't buy this argument; it's quite honestly facile.
People >have< in fact paid for the content for years. Who cares if they were paying for the paper, the delivery trucks and the vehicles? That's not what they think they paid for. They think they paid for "The Washington Post" or "The New York Times." In fact, to the extent that the NYT paywall is "working", it's because people are willing to give the NYT money for what it offers.
Now, we can have a good discussion of whether the Post can replicate the NYT's success and a really good conversation about how screwed up the NYT's digital strategy is. NYT is so busy getting its digital subs to spend money on the web, and the phone, and the tablet when they should be giving you all three for one price -- and encouraging everyone onto the tablet. Why? Because there they can sell ads that will deliver advertisers value that most approximates what the physical paper version offers. Obviously, the digital versions can also be better in some way. The web page versions are typically terrible web ads and sadly that seems hopeless at this point. The tablet's formatting control offers a chance to re-invent that experience.
But the bottom line is that CPMs onscreen are a tiny fraction of what print offers -- unless you're Google's search-engine pages --- and so the idea that ignoring people's willingness to pay is automatically a bad idea seems odd.
It's also absurd to say that because ATD sometimes scoops WSJ that you can compare the news operations in any way. Maybe the WaPo can fire 100 reporters and not suck. But can it fire 400 and be the WaPo? Of course not. And yet it can't make money in the model you propose without doing so.
2 years, 4 months ago on Old media’s problems are the costs not the lack of paywalls
My goodness, this is good.
2 years, 4 months ago on HP, Autonomy, and the perils of spinning facts
"First, they’re based on the assumption that 30 percent of Best Buy’s customers take them up on the price matching offer"
Yeah, that's off by a factor of 5-10. Nothing to see here, let's move along.
2 years, 5 months ago on Best Buy’s Amazon price match is a $400M all-in bet it can’t win
@Thomas Krafft from Netflix, it's too much to ask, yes. They refuse to offer you movies to buy -- or for that matter to rent from more current release windows.
2 years, 5 months ago on Netflix must ponder its endgame strategy