Founder of Addroid
And the best writer who ever wrote for Pando moves on the the next adventure.
3 weeks, 2 days ago on What’s it take for a tech journalist to become a successful venture capitalist?
Yahoo! is lagging in mobile ad revenue because they are extremely adamant about shooting themselves in the foot. They abandoned rich media which has left the sales team hobbled and, from the conversations I've had, somewhat despondent. The replacement for rich media is their own home-brew Native ad platform called Gemini. But, Native is great… right? In this case, not so much. The ad server doesn't accept standard ad tags so the ONLY option is a single JPG image and a snippet of copy. One static image just isn't an enticing ad unit that advertisers are interested in purchasing but the team who built the platform appears to be stubbornly sticking to their guns even when Yahoo! ad revenue fell 6%. That follows a 7% drop in the 2nd quarter and declines in 6 of the last 7 quarters.
This is an example of how Native ad units don't actually scale. To format an ad unit to work on a multitude of sites and apps you have to graphically create a lowest common denominator. It all makes sense on paper until you realize that advertisers don't want their brands presented as a lowest common denominator. Brands are trying to stand out, not blend in.
While I don't think going back to giant Flash based full-page takeovers is the answer I do think that they're going to need offer more than a static image if there's going to be any significant growth.
Yahoo! has been around since the beginning so I'm rooting for them.
6 months ago on Saving Yahoo may be a long shot, but it’s still worth trying
In 2011 I raised a Series GTFO.
6 months, 3 weeks ago on What you label your funding round matters a lot less than how much you raise and what you accomplish
@jonathanjaeger Not really disagreeing with you but I can easily imagine Kevin Rose blowing off a pitch for the same photo sharing app that he just built as not being world changing enough. I think when people play both sides of the fence it's fair to call bullshit. I'm not saying this is the way to do it, I'd rather the writer just come out with it, however I think that's where the source of frustration is.
6 months, 3 weeks ago on Startups Anonymous: A Letter to Serial Entrepreneurs
TIL: Only 8% of guys like beautiful things. http://www.pinterest.com/coopshow/
I think we already knew that no matter what they say VCs simply buy on gut. All the blogging and specific criteria they talk about is kinda just marketing bullshit.
7 months, 1 week ago on Jeremy Levine on why so many Silicon Valley investors passed on Pinterest
@DanielSpalinger @neoganda Maybe I can text an ascii version of my s'mores to my friends. It's a start.
9 months, 2 weeks ago on No Service? No Problem: GoTenna enables smartphones to communicate off-grid across up to 50 miles
Finally I can instagram when I go camping to get away from it all!
The only thing that isn't a "no" is a invite to meet the partners or a term sheet. With that said you gotta cut these guys some slack. I'm not sure how I'd tell a thousand people a year that what they're doing isn't interesting to me as an investment.
9 months, 2 weeks ago on Startups Anonymous: 17 Things Investors Say When Really What They Mean is, “No”
Hi. 46 here. I get the whole age thing. I have first hand experience but picking sides isn't productive and in fact is a pointless time suck of negativity. Old people were young once. We all have that opportunity. Right now there are smart women in the middle east who may never have a chance to go outside without wearing a back tent over their body. Your feeling are valid but keep your outrage in perspective.
I not only support young people but I'm rooting for them. I hope more of them start businesses instead of getting themselves trapped in student debt. I hope they all get funded and ultimately create something of value. We need this to happen.
11 months, 1 week ago on Startups Anonymous: “Younger founders can kiss my ass.”
BOOM! Congrats Raad and Frank :)
11 months, 3 weeks ago on Intuit acquires Lettuce Apps for $30 million, plans to integrate the product with Quickbooks online
Nice coverage James :)
1 year ago on The ad game is rigged against online publishers, but sovrn thinks it can be the answer
Look man, I'm as cynical as the next Founder. We've all done the dog and pony and it's not fun but this is too pessimistic to actually be helpful to anyone.
1 year ago on Startups Anonymous: “What I’d Really Like to Say to Investors”
Pufft Daddy is no Chamillionaire so if it's time “talk about some real shit up in this motherfucker” then I think it's fair to say that Ad:tech over the last few years has been a huge disappointment and everyone knows it. The place is awash with affiliate marketers and every single person you bump into has an ad network you've never heard of but they'd like to work with you and by that what they mean is, "Can you bring me media dollars?"
We all go purely for the simple fact that we've agreed as an industry to meet every 6 months in the same location to network. Lord knows that no one is there for the speakers or booths. I wish they could pull the nose up on that event. I'm not sure what the problem is there.
1 year, 1 month ago on Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs was the keynote speaker at an ad tech conference and the results were more bizarre than imagined
This is certainly unfortunate to the point of being almost humorous but technically a premium placement like the homepage of the NYT was purchased weeks ago and not placed programmatically on the fly like AdWords copy. At first glance it looks like how an dynamic algorithm can backfire but I think you can just chalk this one up to old fashioned bad luck.
1 year, 1 month ago on Oof. New York Times learns the possible risks of programmatic advertising
@OwenGriffiths Well, Google isn't Google Ventures so the fact the the management is older isn't much of a compelling counter point. Dave McClure of 500 startups has talked openly about his reluctance to fund Founders over 40 even though he's funded a handful. It's safe to say the rest of the VC industry shares that sentiment when you examine the culture and business model.
In 2011 I tried to raise for my company. At the time I had 11 people on staff, all off of revenue, and a very disruptive product in a growing market: mobile. After 18 months of exhausting pitching and events I was unable to attract a single dollar of investment—Angel or VC. I was 44 at the time with grey in my beard. If I were 24 I would have been considered some kind of rainmaking prodigy. However, as a middle-aged man I was viewed as someone stuck in his ways or someone who probably has too many life obligations to truly commit. I can't tell you how many times I was talked down to like some kind of sad sack and this was from people who aren't healthy enough to do 10 pushups. You really have to interact with these people to understand what this article is about.
Ultimately not raising was the best thing that could have happened as I now have so much more flexility with my business.
There's a lot in this article for sure and it may not all wash out but from my personal experience this rings true.
1 year, 1 month ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117088/silicons-valleys-brutal-ageism
@The Expert Hooray for you; you've made an anonymous comment on the internet! I admire your bravery.
I started my business in 2005 at exactly the age of 38. I had 2 teenage boys, a wife transitioning careers and a handful of pets: all the stuff that everyone else has at that age. With just $2,500 I set up an LLC and started working my ass off. I have 13 on salary right now—without raising and penny—and a lot of upside.
Don't look for approval because you won't get it. Instead, look for customers.
Get over the age thing. Harrison Ford was 40 in the first Indiana Jones. Did he seem old? Eat right and get your ass the the gym if you're feeling low energy.
You're not dead yet so I'm glad to hear you're going for it.
1 year, 1 month ago on Startups Anonymous: The startup life of an OG
Man you're pretty hard on this building. I think it's quite amazing. Opening things up makes sense but knocking it down seems like a terrible idea for something that so unique and instantly recognizable.
1 year, 1 month ago on A Los Angeles Primer: The Bonaventure Hotel and Macy's Plaza
That Nielsen report is based on time so I'm not sure how damning that is for the web. If I watch a Netflix movie this evening on my iPad, 90 minutes gets credited to the mobile app score card compared to the 5 minutes I might spend browsing a post or two on Pando. In effect I visited only 2 sites but the app side is getting 90 "points" and the web is only getting 5. Time spent is an interesting metric but I'm going to shy away from the concern of the mobile web breaking.
FYI: At my company we track ad impressions and units trafficked in desktop placements are, on average, viewed on mobile devices 15 to 20 percent of the time.
1 year, 1 month ago on How the rise of mobile apps will help Apple, Google and Facebook kill the Internet as we know it
If you're under 30 it's Native. Myself, I have a grey beard and back in my day, you know anytime before 2 years ago, we just called this a cross-promotion. It's probably way more fun to make everything feel new but the reality is that this is just another film targeted at kids that also has toys you can buy and collect.
Here's my Gredo circa 1977. Nothing really changes.
1 year, 1 month ago on The Lego Movie is native advertising on the grandest scale ever attempted
Here's something that's never discussed but I think is the next step. 15 to 20 percent of all Flash adds intended for desktop browsers actually "failover" to a static JPGs because they are actually viewed on a mobile device. Mobile is at 29% of all web traffic now but will reach 50% by 2015 so the problem will get worse. The point being, they are trying to make sure the ads are viewable but the underlying technology—Flash—is fundamentally broken leaving 1 out of 5 ads failing.
1 year, 2 months ago on Google shows some leadership, buys the company that’s been pointing out how dubious online ad traffic can be
Dang. Creative Director is an old world bullshit title? If you work at a creative agency where your product is creative and your job is to direct the team of creatives to develop a final delivery which is commonly referred to as a creative what would you propose is a more up to date a less bullshit(y) title.
David, you do realize your title is “Head of Social Media and Experimental Journalism”. Experimental Journalism?
1 year, 2 months ago on “Look at This F**king Tech Worker.” Why snarking on techies’ appearances is unfair and unproductive
“Ninety-eight percent of all display ads are ignored. If someone does see an ad they go straight to the website, but a good half of them don’t come back,”
This sounds like we're conflating efficacy with attribution. If the ad was “ignored” but some how the viewer still knew that there was a sale this week at J.Crew and went to their website after the work day is over instead of clicking on the banner that certainly means the ad 1. was viewed and 2. was effective. If the viewer of the ad then decided that they didn't see anything that they liked at J.Crew, and in fact never visited the site again, that's the not responsibility of the ad unit, that's the responsibility of the product and possibly the marketing department.
1 year, 2 months ago on Formvertise wants to inject transparency into mobile advertising
It appears that the New York Times is struggling with two problems. First they have to transition from paper to digital and second, they need to figure out how to stay alive in what's become a commoditized marketplace. I'm not sure damaging the brand with a flavor-of-the-month ad format like Native where, in your own article, you mention that 85% of readers would have a negative opinion is the best thing to do. That number is overwhelmingly bad so it seems logical that the NYT won't gamble on the hunch that people will adapt.
1 year, 2 months ago on Can old media afford to turn their noses up at native advertising?
So, who's in charge of AdWords and AdSense now? Just wondering who's going to fill that vacuum. Last I checked Google makes $166MM a day from those products.
1 year, 2 months ago on With Google’s top ad exec now running YouTube, LA creators are stuck in wait and see mode
@Ad Man Mobile is far from a bubble: it's a growing and soon to be dominant segment of internet traffic. Because you're not using your real name it's hard to tell where you work but nothing is fading fast in this market. In addition, I'm seeing 3X jump in CTR's on mobile against the exact same creative on desktop. Anyone who can bootstrap to $150MM in revenue is a BAMF. I have a feeling they'll be able to keep it afloat.
1 year, 2 months ago on Quiet giant AirPush adds Google senior exec Matt Shaw as CRO, aims to ramp profitability ahead of likely IPO
A counter-point to a book that came out 9 years ago. Okay.
1 year, 2 months ago on Ray Kurzweil is wrong: The Singularity is not near
Somewhat off topic but this was odd to me: “MovieLaLa, a VC-backed social network and movie marketing platform.”
Is a company really VC backed if they've raised an undisclosed amount of money from a handful of angel investors? That a bit of a stretch to me and it seems a little silly to throw out there even if it was (is?) the case. I can see how you might want to drop in VC backed startup into an ad for position at the company. This is just letting applicant know that they'll be stable in their job for at least a year. However, to drop that in a byline feels insecure. I apologies for bringing up something so pedantic but the pathological attraction, fascination, and validation that the startup community craves from investors is just far too emphasized and I feel out up a need barrier of entry for people who'd like to start a business.
As a guy who builds banner ads for the movies I can tell you that the entertainment industry has been WAY ahead of the rest of the digital advertising landscape in general. As an example, the studios dropped the 40k Flash banner format about 5 years and transitioned to in-banner video. While to studios routinely deploy video the rest of the world appears to be moving backwards and abandoning the 40k banner for... wait for it... static JPGs. The first banner was in 1994 and was of course a JPG so we're going back 20 years now from a technology point of view to try and loop in mobile users. The studios actually score very high in the digital advertising department, it's actually the rest of the world that's far behind.
“Frankly, most movie sites are outdated and stagnant with limited or no interaction with friends.”
The first site I worked on was for Finding Nemo back in 2001. It was Flash based and the average time on site was 20 MINUTES. That was the average but remember this was the era before YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. People don't go to movie websites anymore so the budgets for those sites has dropped. Studios for the most part try and cover that base but executives aren't thinking visitors to the site are going to do anything more than watch a trailer—which they can already do on YouTube a lot quicker.
What studios are focusing on is sharable content along coupled with Display to raise awareness—no one cares about the clicks. A recent example that crushed it was "Devil Baby" by the team at Fox. So when you say, “What’s missing is the interaction and engagement online when it comes to movies.” I think this is actually addressing that.
1 year, 3 months ago on Getting ‘Gen Z’ into movie theaters
AdKeeper was the classic case of a Founder and VCs getting high on their own supply. As a creative shop I was asked to drop that AdKeeper icon on a handful of campaigns. Everyone knew it was pointless but the client didn't want to be the one having to explain to her boss why she missed the trend. Of course it failed and it's not missed.
Sometimes I wonder what happens inside the brain of an investor. What problem did AdKeeper solve? "I want to save all these banner ads so I can look at them later but it's just not possible.", said no one ever. Are VCs so motivated by the actions of other VCs that they don't ask themselves the most basic question: is this useful?
Snapchat is pulling the, "We don't know what this is yet. We're just trying reach scale." That's fine but remember you can't pay your rent with users. You're not truly at scale until you have revenue. Ads will certainly ad a component to Snapchat and it might actually ruin the experience but at some point they're going to have to drum up the courage and find out. Selling $20 dollar bills for $5 bucks is a great way to attract a crowd and make new friends but it's not a long term strategy.
1 year, 3 months ago on We definitely don’t want to keep ads. So why not make them disappear?
1 year, 3 months ago on Celebrities, virality, and VC hype: A Viddy postmortem
The endorphin rush of the new industry buzz word is wearing off as publishers realize that they've lost the frictionless ubiquity of banner ads that the industry has developed over the last 18 years. Native ads are flat out difficult for publishers to sell as by definition they are so unique. Media planners—the people in control of the advertisers budgets—have no idea or understanding of the intricate value proposition or positioning of each and every site and app thus those placements don't end up on plans. Instead the publishers are now left to sell each and every one-off campaign on their own and then assist with the creation of the creative. It's profoundly more difficult than simply accepting an IAB approved ad tag and charging a CPM.
If a publisher is able to make it through the gauntlet and they create a single case study as described above, they find they are immediately rewarded with the potential of pissing off their audience.
1 year, 3 months ago on Innovative vs. insidious: Will Tinder users put up with native advertising?
Fun Fact: The proposed criteria or standard for viewability, recommended by the
industry leaders who participated in Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS), is at least 50% of
pixels in view for a minimum of one second. Seriously, that's all it takes to be defined as viewable.
1 year, 3 months ago on Integral Ad Science raises $30 million for ad policing
Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states: "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."
1 year, 4 months ago on Should our startup join an accelerator?
Image problem? I was thinking it's complete lack of utility problem.
1 year, 4 months ago on With $35M more and some clever engineering, can Foursquare overcome its image problem?
Thanks for covering self-reliant business, too :)
1 year, 4 months ago on This bootstrapped startup is helping style bloggers drive $150 million in sales
We should A/B test this post for brand lift.
1 year, 4 months ago on Jargon run amok: A whimsical mashup of techspeak
Has anyone here actually used oDesk? I found it to be terribly depressing to have some very desperate people constantly hitting me up on skype begging for work. After I tried a few people I found the quality of work to be unusable. I'm not saying that I looked at the work and subjectively I wasn't feeling it. I'm saying that the code generated simply didn't work or hit the deliverables. My last moment on oDesk was a week of threats from an overseas developer. I guess it works for others but for me it was a disaster.
1 year, 4 months ago on The “gig economy” is growing up. Elance and oDesk just merged to dominate it
Surge pricing also a great way to make money after an earthquake because you can sell flashlights and bottles of water for $100 bucks! Yay America!
1 year, 4 months ago on Even Josh Groban has an issue with Uber’s surge pricing
This is nice to see as people don't buy business models, they buy products.
1 year, 4 months ago on After the reset at Kleiner Perkins, a new mentorship program: ProductWorks
@Stockman I don't follow stocks but happy to hear how that relates to the story and my comment.
1 year, 4 months ago on Adaptive Medias acquires tiny RTB platform Ember, hopes it’s enough to start an ad-tech blaze
I think it's interesting to consider the recent exit of GradientX. The number was not made public but I feel pretty safe in thinking that it was in the $10MM to $20MM range considering they raised a healthy $3.75MM round pre product. I really wonder how much farther along GradientX was than Ember. Exits and funding rounds always seem so random. Both had very little traction before they pushed the eject button. GradientX had a veteran team and a huge round of VC while Ember seemed to have the opposite. The internals are different but the product and traction seem identical. Crazy right?
@GregM1234 @neoganda Thanks Greg, I'm not a farmer but I don't find aquaponics really interesting. What I don't understand is the claim, "they produce the equivalent of an acre’s worth of traditionally farmed crops."
An acre is 43,560 SQFT while a shipping container is 450 SQFT or 900 if you stack—minus a little room walk. You might be able to crop leafy greens every 30 to 45 days with no seasons to concern yourself with but with the cost of power and nutrients I have to think that it's still gonna be pretty difficult to do 50x over a one acre dirt farm cropping a few times a year.
I wonder who the customer base is so far? Who needs to grow food under lock and key with a considerable power and nutrient bill?
1 year, 4 months ago on Freight Farms raises $1.2 million for greenhouses built in old shipping containers
I wonder what the ROI is for a $75,000 grow box that isn't growing marijuana. As an example, how much bib lettuce would you yield per year and could the price compete with industrial sized farms? What's the eco system like for wholesalers who don't want to sell their crops one by one at a farmers market? It looks like they are using LEDs but I wonder what the energy costs are. I have so many questions!
I think therefore I inflate.
1 year, 4 months ago on Neuroscience may help us understand financial bubbles
Jason has been grinding away on this for years. It's not the most exciting category—certainly not trendy but he built value anyway. He created what looks like 35 jobs and just pulled what I'm sure is millions off the table all while helping people in the local startup community. Seems pretty good. I'm happy for him. Salâmati!
1 year, 4 months ago on Intuit acquires Docstoc to broaden its offering to the smallest of small businesses
@PatrickSF Geez, you're giving writing tips on a guest post? If you're running a company it's really hard to find the time to craft 900 words on your topic of expertise without throwing your competition or competing technologies under the bus. It's also takes a lot of thought and consideration to not have your post sound like a giant plug for your company. I think it was a solid read and an important message.
1 year, 5 months ago on The worst practice in advertising is far too common (and expensive)
What drives me crazy about the Native hype machine that's propagated across the adtech landscape over the last year, is that it's stolen the conversation away from the real problem of the mobile cliff. 29 percent of web traffic comes from mobile devices yet the workhorse of digital advertising—and lets just cut the shit here—is the 40k Flash banner. The industry has wasted a year waiting for Native to replace those "ineffective banners" however the tonnage will never be in one-off executions because there's simple no way to attain scale.
If you have a HUGE site like Facebook, Twitter, or even BuzzFeed you can make up any ad format you want because you have enough reach to make it worth while for advertisers. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn't meet that criteria yet somehow that fact of life has been drowned out in relentless waves of PR campaigns and blog posts insisting that this shiny new object will change everything we've ever known about advertising.
Native certainly has it's utility but I'm glad to hear that were starting to sober up.
For anyone interested in a nostalgia blast from 10 months ago here's my guest post on the topic: http://pandodaily.com/2013/01/30/will-the-real-native-advertising-please-stand-up/
1 year, 5 months ago on Native advertising is trolling us all
So lets say you raise an average $1.5MM round of VC but as things move forward you realize the business model or market hypothesis isn't right. Is it too challenging to reserve $50k to $100k to pay back you loyal early adopters? As a founder it should be pretty clear you're headed for an iceberg and the ship is going down. Why burn through that very last scrap of money, that belongs to the customers (deposits) not the investors, when you know the fate is sealed? That's something I never understood as I've watched this happen a handful of times. Is that last $50k of money, that was not the founders to begin with, really going to help pull the nose up after burning through $1.xMM or more in some cases?
I also don't think that the average person buying a item online has any idea of startup dynamics and the risk is certainly not called out when making a purchase. "Buy this item but don't come crying if we go out of business because we're just a startup!" These are businesses not Kickstarter projects.
I can understand the righteous indignation and frustration that I've seen in the comments. They paid for something and didn't receive it and couldn't even get their own deposit back in some cases. I don't feel comfortable telling people who got ripped off, "Get over it."
1 year, 5 months ago on This just in: Startups will stumble with customer service. Get over it
Merger + Pivot = Mervot! It's like a Reese's peanut butter cup of startup goodness.
1 year, 5 months ago on Pose and Little Black Bag merge, promise a match made in “content plus commerce” heaven
Is a middle-aged founder considered a minority?
1 year, 5 months ago on Eric Ries: “All the best stories are not necessarily told by white men”