Category: Digital/Tech

So. Apple is buying Beats…

I’m confused. Apple is the biggest, smartest, most strategic tech company ever, right?  Apple is, arguably, the most valuable brand on the planet. Why then, I ask, are they  buying a brand (for 3.2 BILLION)? And let’s be honest…that’s what Beats is. A brand…not a tech company, not a proprietary  tech solution of any kind…it’s a brand.

I thought about this for a minute…maybe two…and the more I did the more confused I was. Beats’ headphones, if you ask anyone other than the NBA and/or the teenager on his school bus, are not great. This is confirmed by yours truly. I tried them – all of them. I was intrigued by the brand, the style, the look, the feel…but the performance stunk. Sorry – that’s the truth. Try those cool looking Beats head phones vs. any Bose pair and you’ll see (or should I say hear?) just how inferior those suckers are. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine branded the crap out of Beats, got amazing spokespeople, get FREE advertising from high profile athletes and musicians…they’ve crushed the branding aspect and win the marketing game – They’ve done so well in that area that people don’t seem to care that the product is  just not that awesome. That alone should be a red flag for the best hardware/product company  on the planet, right? Apparently not.

Anyway…Beats also owns a streaming music service! Is that it Apple? Is that what you want? You want to get into the Music game? Oh wait…You have that covered too. There is a little thing call Itunes that, last time I checked, was the biggest music retailer online – in the world. If anyone thinks because Beats Music is a streaming service and that brings something new to the table – they are wrong. Itunes could click a button and stream tomorrow…They’ve actually been working on this for a long time. It was just a matter of time before they released that new product and crushed Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody and the rest of em’. And, just saying, Beats Music has about 12 subscribers and is pretty insignificant when you think about the others in the space. It’s just a shell, a skeleton – it’s not a business or a real product yet.

So Apple – Why? What problem does this massive acquisition solve? How does this add value to your shareholders? What does this do for your users? I’m still stumped…

Maybe Apple and Tim Cook got bored. They were like “we are sitting on 150 BILLION dollars cash…maybe we should spend some of that. So…let’s get crazy!” Perhaps they thought it was time to make some noise? Get out there and have people talk about them (see- me!)? That’s fair – I mean you got to keep things interesting right? Not everything makes sense and Apple sure has earned the right to do what they want.

While I may be confused – What is crystal. freaking. clear. is…Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre and Ian Rogers WIN. Bunch of rich geniuses over there. Well done fellas…. One day – I’d love to hear about how those conversations went w/ Tim Cook and Eddy Cue because how you guys convinced the biggest, most valuable, brand and tech product company ever to shell out 3.2B for a brand is nothing short of incredible.

 

Advertisements

Talkers (Strategy) vs. Doers (Execution)

Adweek

It’s Ad Week here in NYC. You know what that means….lots of panels! Sweet, right!? I love a good panel. I love sitting back and watching really smart executives talk. It’s awesome to see how certain people conduct themselves and interact with other super smart people and answer well thought-out questions provided by an entertaining moderator. It’s great. Get your popcorn people…let’s talk about some industry issues and innovative approaches to solving them!

adweekpanel

I saw some awesome panels with great participants from leading companies. Over the course of listening to these folks…some impressed me and other disappointed me greatly. Specific to those that impressed me, I wondered….Are these folks spewing a bunch of hot air while dressing nicely, speaking intelligently and carrying themselves with an overall sense of supreme confidence and just fooling this entire room full of people? Is it a classic executive smoke and mirror show or do they really have the goods? I’ve learned that, in business and life, there are really 3 types of people….1) Talkers 2) Doers and 3) Talkers who do.

At every job I’ve had over the course of my career I’ve noticed “the talkers”…if they are really good they can almost build a career, and a successful one, by just talking and providing very little executional support at all. For some organizations that’s OK and for others it’s a big problem. These panel talkers were good but I took it all with a grain of salt because I didn’t know what their actions were in the day-to-day business comings and goings. They sure sounded good…but were they just talking or actually making it happen?

I wonder if this issue dates back to the beginning of time. Like do you think back in the Cave Man Era that there was one dude who sat in the village meeting and explained to the group how exactly the food for survival would be found, hunted and gathered? I imagine dude is saying something like this “The need for food is abundantly important for survival. In order to meet our nutritional needs and ensure that our race continues to thrive we need to consume food. Right? In order to solve for the issue at hand, we must make sure that food is our focus and that we can find it. Food is all around us…Over the hill there, I picture a buffalo! This buffalo will eventually provide food and energy for many of our people for a long time…we need this buffalo! Our strategic approach will be to allocate enough man power to surround this buffalo while armed with spears to strike down the large animal. After which…the deceased animal will serve our people and our vision will become an actuality.”

This dude sounds like he knows what he is talking about! He has a plan..a vision…and he can articulate that vision clearly. BUT…what about the dude who is actually picking up his spear, running out to the field and killing the buffalo?! Is the speaker man, the very strategic, big thinker actually out there making it happen? Or is he sitting in his cave, warming by the fire, smoking a tobacco leaf, admiring his mighty strategy to save lives? The vision is important but the doers are the one making it happen and taking words and making them into real actions that provide value in one way or another.

For me…I rather see the visionaries be involved with the execution and really actually be part of the action. Otherwise the talkers will get more and more detached from reality and their visions because unattainable. Talk really is cheap…and while you need strategic visionaries in certain circumstances a really awesome, no joke, value providing executive leader will both set the strategy and be part of making that solution a reality.

Hey SPIKE! – Kickstarter is not for rich people

Spike_Lee_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival

http://www.businessinsider.com/spike-lee-kickstarter-film-details-2013-7

Spike Lee is rich – He is worth an estimated $40 Million dollars. The median net worth for a family in the US is roughly ~$100k. So using those figures let’s estimate that Spike is 400 times more rich than an average Joe. 400 times! So should he be raising money at all? Further…when you think about those figures…$1.25 Million to Spike Lee, which is the amount he is trying to raise for his film, is 3% of his NET worth. That would equate to around $3k for normal people for some perspective. So it’s not a totally insignificant amount of money but point being…he can do it himself. He shouldn’t need to leverage Kickstarter for a pet project that benefits only him at the end of the day. I’m sure SPIKE would feel that hit to his bank account if he plopped down $1.25 mil on something but he is in a different stratosphere. Perhaps he moves his court side season tickets a seat or two off center or…(gasp) even a few rows back to make up for that hit to his funds.

This dude is LOADED and if he is dying to make a film where he has 100% of the creative control then I gotta say spike “Do the right thing” and pony up and get it done! Don’t use crowd funding and ask your “fans”, most of which are not RICH like yourself, to donate money for your creative freedom when you are more than capable to do it yourself. Kickstarter is not a new pool for you to pull more wealth from so to potentially generate even more money for yourself and yourself alone.

Famous/rich people should not use Kickstarter – it’s counter to the original intent of the platform and completely silly when you really think about it.

#socialmediameltdown

social_media

Social Media – So awesome…yet so annoying in so many ways. It’s changed our lives (some might argue if for the better)…and recently I’ve come to a shocking conclusion. They all either stink OR I’m in some weird demographic where no app/experience/platform/technology is doing me much good and annoys me in some significant way. Most likely it’s the latter. Let’s explore…

Facebook-logo-1817834
Too old.
I knew it was over when parents and grand parents, aunts/uncles and long lost family got on this. It was wonderful while it lasted and those first few years of Facebook where magical…but it’s over.

foursquare_logo
Too non-functional
You can check in with Facebook…you can mention where you are in Tweets…people can see where you are with Instagram. When I go to a cool place and/or event I don’t need to be opening every app on my phone to make my friends jealous. Foursquare just never did anything for me.

intagram
Too SLOW
Awesome platform. Great usability, takes cool pictures and really intuitive. But damn it…there are no “new” pictures ever. Aside from those new parents posting daily shots of their kids I really get no action. Because of that I add more people that I don’t care about and they post stupid pictures that I wish I never saw. It’s a deadly cycle.

linkedin
Too uptight
Don’t get me wrong – I love me some linkedIn…but it’s work. It’s not “Social” Media…it’s more “professional” media.

tumblr
Too young
What is it? I don’t know. And that’s rare because I know everything generally. If it’s “for the kids” I don’t fit in the category anymore.

twitter-s-
To Fast
I can’t keep up and it’s frustrating because I miss a lot of witty action. In line with that…I have some straight up GEMs that I’m sure no one sees. Trying to keep up and tweeting often enough for anyone to see it stresses me out.

vine-logo
Too Loud
Damn Vine! Turn the volume down. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve tried to check out the new posts only to be embarrassed by crazy-ass broken up audio of a bunch of drunk people at a party.

google-plus-new-cover-photo
Too messy!
What the hell is this? People, friends, celebrities, news…pictures…hangouts?! I’m confused. Overloaded and I’m OUT. Nice try Google but this aint happening.

I don’t PIN…so no ranting on PINTEREST and I’m hearing a lot about REDDIT but have no clue what it is and frankly don’t care as it is enough work keeping up with my current list. It’s just too much and part of me feels life would be better without all these “tools” keeping us so up to date on all the happenings of every single person we know (or met one time). BUT that begs some very serious questions…….. how would we brag about our awesome lives? How would we make people jealous about our sweet vacations? How could we depict how awesome our babies/puppies/cats are? Where would we share amazing news with just a few short key strokes? and….feel amazingly super awesome on our birthdays?! Ugh, Chris is conflicted. I hate them…but can’t imagine living without them.

Excuse me, I gotta go… I have some work to do. I need to update my status, check-in, take a instagram, tweet it up, pin, “plus”, link up and then take a vine showing the world something that I think is super freaking cool!

What the F?! Uber.

UBER

So the other night I was at a super awesome party thrown by my super awesome company, POPSUGAR. It was our summer partnership party and it was AWESOME. Lots of partners showed up so there was lots of schmoozing…We had a performance, food and of course – open bar.

Schmooze, eat, drink – repeat. For a few hours. Party came to an end and I realized “I got to get home”…So I called trusty Dial 7 to get me back to Jersey “sir…there is a 2 hour wait for a car”. That won’t do…OK, “Let’s see what you got UBER!” I said as I whipped out my phone and opened up the app. Next thing I remember…I am in BLACK SUV comfortably chatting it up with the driver about just how AWESOME UBER is.

Let me paint the picture…it was late, raining and we were down town at the Bowery Hotel. Not the most ideal situation for getting cabs/cars. There was an insane wait by the entrance and everyone was fighting for cabs. NOT ME…I remember walking right out front, seeing the UBER sign and peacing out as I made fun of everyone getting rained on. The entire ride back to Jersey I spoke to the driver about how great UBER is…”wow, that was incredible. I’m going to use you guys ALL THE TIME”. Everything was roses until…..I got the receipt emailed to me and I checked it the next morning. $258!! Ouch…yes, Two hundred and fifty eight bucks for a 30 minute/20 mile trip home. “WTF!!??” I thought. “Has to be a mistake…”

I emailed UBER angrily the next morning after sharing the story with co-workers over a sausage egg and cheese. “That’s NUTS!” everyone agreed because the normal fare would be half that price. “You should get a refund!” I agreed…So I emailed. I was really happy to see such a quick reply and figured I would get some kind of refund thanks to my angry tone and my potential consumer loyalty….NOPE. Turns out, as the friendly customer service guy explained, there was a “High Demand/SURGE charge” because of that rain and the time of night. AND…(it gets better) apparently I agreed to this. WHAT? No I didn’t…wait, yes I did.

I definitely remember agreeing to a “higher than normal price” – but TWO TIMES the cost. I would have never done that. Oh wait…apparently I did. Not only did I agree but I pressed…literally 2.0 on the app so to get the ride. WHOOPS. My anger was misplaced…looks like that open bar got the best of me. Sorry UBER…you really are awesome but – you might want to enforce an open bar policy with extra checks and balances for those like myself to ensure no further confusion around price hikes and high demand times. Just a suggestion.

22 year old me is so mad at me right now

I’ll never forget it…I was 22 years old, interning/kinda working at Island Def Jam records, really diving into digital music (Itunes had just launched and Napster was a household name) and I had the best idea ever. It was really simple…but brilliant.

I was really in to A R – the department where a bunch of music snobs and trendsetters decide who gets a deal and who doesn’t – I was totally plugged into new/up and coming bands. Not only did I now what we were signing I knew what other labels were signing and would occasionally make some fantastic predictions. I was say “this band is going to be huge…” “they stink but someone will sign them”…”They ROCK, but i think everyone will stay away” etc…

A few of the bands/artists that I saw/heard that I 100% knew would blow up…did. I remember early My Chemical romance, All American reject demos, seeing Fallout Boy play their first NJ show at Skate and Surf , The Used first songs recorded before they even played live, the killers as they were just signed, The White Stripes, The Strokes and more. Other people got SUPER excited about stuff that I knew would fizzle out and never do anything. Oh, and they did too.

“Wow, this is cool – they pay people for this? I can do this all day.” I thought. But you see…I didn’t think I was that special – I thought…”A lot of kids like me could do this – they should”. Hence…my brilliant idea came in to shape.

I envisioned a music service – like itunes – where people could download (and or stream music) and “invest” points in artists they were digging. There would be different levels of success and for each level achieved there would be rewards that came in the form of real stuff (tickets, merch etc) and or more points. Points could be earned based on overal usage/engagement on the site and redeemed for more music and even real money (and the time I didn’t know this was impossible but it was not crucial to the model). I thought…”This makes ever kid their own A R person…everyone will get to “get in early” on bands they love, be encouraged to consume more music and get rewarded for when good stuff happens”.

On the other end of the equation…bands would sign up for the service (for a small fee) so that their points that were invested could be turned into real money to be used for production/touring/tacos/anything else they wanted. People would pay to have the ability to invest and be rewarded and artists would pay to be a part of the fund raising. I didn’t know it…but I invented crowd sourcing!!!! Not only that…I was “gamifying” Music before “Gamification” was a thing!

Now – I considered diving in full force…I made some inquiries about legal stuff/patents and seeing if anyone had thought of this before. But…that’s pretty much where is ended. I was finishing school…looking forward to a full job and moving to NYC. Then life took over and I never launched my idea. I talked about it with some folks and everyone agreed…brilliant. BUT…I didn’t do anything with it.

Now – there is a little (not so little if you know the space) company, ran by really smart people in NYC, called Kickstarter. These guys are doing exactly what I didn’t do (i.e. – only thought of)…and… they are worth several hundred million dollars (conservatively). WHAMMY! You win Kickstarter – well done. They are raising money, via crowd sourcing, for artists, bands, movies, individuals and anything else you can think. Really amazing stuff, very well designed, marketed and executed… and I’m glad I thought of it. http://www.kickstarter.com/
The-pitfalls-and-perils-of-Kickstarter

It’s Ok guys dont fret…I did ok. I love my job and my career path has been wonderfully exciting thus far and I don’t really have any regrets. However a little piece of me wishes that I took the plunge and started that company. Let it be a lesson…don’t sit around on greatness because someone else will do it if you don’t!