Monday, September 17, 2007

StartUps Beginning to have More Power

Anytime a fellow USC Trojan is talked about in the context of success, I'm a happy guy. Aaron Levie and his partner, who managed to start, an online storage company with $11,000 in poker winnings, along with Mark Cuban's $350,000 investment (later kicking Cuban to the curb...just like the Warriors did last year) is now quite successful.

Now the two 20 something year olds are leading a successful Web 2.0 company, with lots of funding and a marketing strategy that according to Levie mirrors a "time-tested" technique used by drug dealers. He may be smart but may need a better PR strategy. E-mail me!

One thing is for sure, the lower cost of barrier to entry with open source and cheaper resources has anyone with a decent idea able to test whether it will be successful. Expect many more start-ups and more VCs looking to invest.

Free Access Points Towards Upward Growth

Ever since I've entered the world of journalism and PR, dating back to 2000 when I was an undergraduate at USC, the question has always been how publications can make money while offering content online. I've always believed that newspapers should give subscriptions away for free but instead they turned in the opposite direction and started charging for any content online more than a week old. The New York Times learned its lesson and has decided to offer free access to its online content. Smart move. If you want to expand the subscription base, offering free newspapers will grow the advertiser base and more than make up for any charges a publication collects through subscribers.

If you have to charge for subscriptions, then offer exclusive content that the paid readership can see such as photos, videos or exclusive interviews. However, not only does this limit the readership but it won't be successful because many readers are frustrated with slow connections despite the growing base of (slow) high bandwidth Internet connections. That's a different problem.

Even requiring a login can be a pain in the butt. I forget my login so many times that I end up just not reading the story. And with dynamic Web 2.0 features, now I can't even visit a site without being forced to view an ad before I can look at content. Trust me, frustrating users is not now to grow readership.

I do like the ability to post comments but it only becomes an interactive community forum if the reporter responds to some of the reader comments, not just post the 500 comments that no body will read. Reporters will be surprised by what they learn from its readers.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Win Million Dollar Marin Home for $150

A Bay Area non-profit, Community Action Marin is selling $150 raffle tickets to raise money for programs that support mental health services, early child development, HIV/AIDS patients and the homeless. Cuts in funding include those made by our Terminator governer - Arnold Schwarzenegger, left the organization in need of a way to raise funds. Organizers hope to sell 35,000 tickets in order to net $2.2 million after giving away the $2.1 million house and other cash prizes of up to $25,000. If 35,000 tickets are sold, you have a 1% chance of winning a prize of at least $300. You have until Sept. 21 to enter the early bird drawing.

It's for a good cause and it's a pretty nice house so I'll give it a shot.

To see pictures of the house or find out more details, visit:

Don't Mess With My Yo Yo

The state yo-yo championship is coming to San Francisco. $80 yo-yos? A yo-yo boom every seven years? According to SF Chronicle writer Steve Rubenstein, "TV contracts and corporate sponsors, are one reason yo-yo championships are held in museums instead of coliseums." Get real! It's been downhill since the spelling bee started appearing on ESPN. Shouldn't it appear on KQED? The spelling bee isn't a sport! Plus who wants to see a yo yo from the third deck?

Blogger Suicide Rate Swells

According to Strumpette's Amanda Chapel, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will release a study that indicates a significant spike in the suicide rate of business bloggers. If this is true, this is a strong indication that we spend way too much time on the Internet. Do you really need to check your MySpace six times a day? You know who you are!

Download This!

The first line of this article says it all: “Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it.” Japan installed copper wiring that enables the country to enjoy up to 30 times faster Internet connections than we do in the United States at significantly lower costs. Even South Korea and parts of Europe are enjoying the same benefits. Better cell phone reception, better Internet connections, more submissive women…hmm.

Drink Up! Drink Up!

Researchers at the University of Michigan, yes the same university that was stunned by Appalachian State and fell out of the college football top 25 rankings, have linked alcoholism to disadvantaged neighborhoods. That was a cheap shot but can you blame me?

Researchers surveyed 206 Caucasian men in their early 30s over a period of 12 years. The researchers also believe women face greater challenges as they “have a high tendency to marry alcoholic men,” which they classify as “assortative mating.” Wikipedia defines it as “sexually reproducing organisms tend(ency) to mate with individuals that are like themselves in some respect.” So basically, it took them 12 years to figure out drinking too much makes you lazy, less likely to succeed and more likely to hang out or hook up with other drunks. This reminds me of a song by Afroman titled "Because I Got High." I wonder what they think about 25 year-old Jay Heckman who drank 1,000 beers in three years. Maybe they are right since he graduated from the University of Maryland in 2004 and now lives in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore working as a bartender.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Caution - Bay Bridge Drivers!

It sucks when the Bay Bridge is closed for an entire weekend but I'm willing to give up a few days in the city to get longer Fastrak lanes and a safer bridge during an earthquake. But something else scares me. C.C. Myers keeps getting the job done on Bay Area freeway overpasses done in record time. There's a reason they are given ample time to get the job done but when C.C. Myers gets the Bay Bridge project done 11 hours ahead of schedule (for a weekend job) and a month ahead of schedule when they recently fixed the MacArthur Maze, I can't help but wonder if they have some extra parts laying around. For now, everyone is impressed and the company's reputation continues to grow for doing a quality job in record time.

Don't Stand too Close to Your Popcorn

For all you microwave popcorn lovers, buttery popcorn fumes may be bad for your health. According to the Associated Press, a pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center has uncovered the first case of lung disease caused by fumes when microwaving popcorn several times a day for years. My advice, chill out on the popcorn or at least don't stare at it when it's in the microwave. Even my Newports don't have that kind of impact.

Amazon Gets Fresh

After so many failures of online grocery stores including Albertsons, Safeway and others, it amazes me that Amazon (Fresh) is getting into the online grocery business. Others have failed due to small margins and lack of user base. While Amazon does it a little better with a one-hour delivery window, it doesn't seem like a profitable business. Good luck. Even the article by AP technology writer Jennifer Mintz seemed like a joke as she lost focus and started talking about what the delivery guy is wearing rather than focusing on the review of the site and the service.

Forbes Picks Yay Area for Best City for Singles

The Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago round out this year’s top five “Best Cities for Singles” according to Forbes.

I don’t necessarily agree because I live in the Bay Area and…well we don’t need to get into details.

What is amusing about this is the methodology. Factors include coolness, cost of living alone, culture, job growth, online dating, nightlife and singles. While these categories aren’t ridiculous, there is something wacky about the criteria. For example, one factor of cost of living is the cost of a Pizza Hut Pizza. Or the online dating category (led by Houston) is based on the number of active profiles on Yahoo! Personals. Or finally the singles category carried twice the weight of any other category but is defined by anyone above age 15 that has never been married.

Maybe I should conduct my own survey based on my own criterion: coolness (number of persons doing the hyphy dance, ghost riding the whip or wearing stunna shades), cost of living alone (rent, gas, cost of a good Philly cheesesteak and least amount of gold diggers), culture (who’s on the beach, side shows and good concerts), job growth (career growth opportunities, above market value pay and signing bonuses), online dating (active single profiles on MySpace , Facebook or even Craigslist for some of you), nightlife (how many cool places to drink, how late alcohol is served and options for getting home without driving drunk) and singles (number of women of legal drinking age that don’t have kids or dudes not paying child support).

Ultimate Sports News by

Imagine if you could pick out what you want to read, who you want to read about and by the publication who you want to read. What better way to track sports news, especially when baseball is expanding rosters and teams are keeping an eye on the waiver wire, team USA basketball gears up for the most successful run since the original Dream Team (or bitter disappointment), college football is buzzing with Michigan's disapointment and NFL teams are finalizing rosters.

The first step was taken by and they've done many things right. For example, I'm a big fan of A's baseball, Golden State Warriors basketball, 49ers football, San Jose Sharks hockey and a huge fan of the USC Trojans in football and to an extent in basketball. Once I've set up my settings, I am able to view my news all together or use a drop down menu to pick conference (or division in some cases), teams, players and even track past USC alumni. You can also pick out your favorite newspaper or sports news site like ESPN or Sports Illustrated and get all the Peter Gammons you want.

I'd like to see team schedules/tv listings and college football rankings added to the site but otherwise I can't complain. I'm sure since launching last week, they will make necessary adjustments to make the site more comprehensive in time.

Settling In Nicely

Now that I'm starting to settle into my job at Access Communications, I'm ready to start posting again. I've had the urge to write a few times but resisted only because I didn't think I couldn't consistently post. I appreciate all the positive comments while I've been out of action and can't wait to get back into midnight postings with my twisted sense of humor or brutal honesty.