Today, I was on Pandora listening to some music, to find yet another LivingSocial ad.
Yet Another Livingsocial Ad

This really got me to reflect on last 5-10 years…

Google, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter never advertised early in the growth of their success.

They won peoples heart by offering such a unique offering that they didn’t need consumer advertising. I put my 2005 hat on, and I remember at the conferences when advertising for consumer services was frowned upon as you should be able to capture users based on the quality of your product alone. Also, “the right type of people” (early adopters) signup when you are not advertising and feel more committed to the product.

It’s not only LivingSocial, new growth consumer companies have demonstrated more aggressive paid marketing levels including scvngr, Zynga, and GroupOn.

You can’t watch the superbowl or navigate an iPhone app without seeing an ad for these companies.

Is the cool “don’t need to advertise” attitude gone?
If so, what was the tipping point?
Did GroupOn 6B valuation change peoples psyche on this?
Have we reached hypercompetitive level for time to mass market that this is now required?
Is this acceleration a long-term trend or a short-term fad?

Not sure I have the answer but one thing has changed… Advertising is more accepted for consumer growth internet companies then it was a year or two ago.

 

Watch out Eminem.. BillyD is coming for you. As you know Billy is responsible for our video marketing and never ceases to amaze me. At our recent holiday party, Bryan (an awesome Viddler support wizard) caught some footage of Billy freestyling:

 

Dear President Obama –

Just watched 60 minutes, and have a quick comment:

As an Entrepreneur running a 20+ person, profitable, tech company: the logic around increasing $250k+ households from 33% to 36% hurting entrepreneurship and small business makes no sense to me as an entrepreneur in the process of growing a business.

Am personally no where near a $250k salary but if you told me that the government would take over 80% of my yearly revenue at $250k+, I would still do what I do because entrepreneurship isn’t about money, it’s about having the liberty to pursue something you’re passionate about. The government has provided a framework for me to do that and am appreciative for this. If it only means I have to pay 3% more at a much later date, so be it.

What has affected my startup, Viddler, that comes from the government has been the state ran organization: Ben Franklin Technology Partners, as they were one of our first investors. Viddler wouldn’t have existed without them.

Also, after reading much on different posts about the tax cuts, I know the upper-middle class has a different and valid opinion in expensive areas (NYC, Bay Area). Maybe you could figure a way to have it be more fair for households in expensive to live locations.

Best,

Rob

 

Thursday 9pm
So it’s Thursday night, my friend Pat tells me about his NYC halloween party at his new appartment.

For the last 10 years, the most frustrating part of halloween for me has been the manilla costumes that go with it. Vampire/Zombie/Elvis/Gladiator/anything from costume store only open for 3 weeks a year. I just can’t show up in an ordinary halloween outfit this year. After googling around for some ideas, I bump into Angry Birds halloween blog which immediately appeals to my geekier side. I emailed the editor and they even sent instructions to help share how they did it.

Friday 11am
After sifting many sites find the only way to make this costume is by having it custom done. I have no sewing skills nor do I intend to pick up a new trade. I can barely take my clothing to the dry-cleaners consistently and I got Viddler to focus on.

Continue reading »

 

I write about this, as I reflect on the challenge of personal time vs. startup time as Viddler turns into a 5 year+ activity.

Going from a sprint and then switching into marathon mode mid race has had it’s challenges and changes in mindset.. Here’s some of it..

2006. Fresh out of Lehigh, 22 years old, pushing on Viddler as a startup in the first year, it was 100% Viddler and everything else is including family and friends went on hold. I even stopped drinking a sip of alcohol for a year straight during this period. We raise minimal funds. With less than a $100k budget we launch Viddler.

2007. Second year, still 100%, yet I might have returned phone calls to parents back home in California and went out every month or so. Investors like growth but only commit to 3 months of runway at a time. Very stressful, but push hard and more committed then ever. I remember going to sleep at 2am and waking up at 8am during this time.

2008. Third year, like shingles falling from a space shuttle, it starts to wear down. Still very committed to Viddler in Bethlehem, PA but it’s hard to maintain a nice balance with family in California and no significant salary to take many trips back home to see them.  The 6 hour sleep schedule begins to take it’s tole as I drink 3 coffee’s and 2 Monster drinks per day… I have heart flutters. I see a doctor who tells me to sleep more and take less caffeine. Also during this period, I am starting to realize I have aged faster then any other point in my life.

2009. Fourth year, the hardest. It seems like a second ago I was in college and had many friends in arms reach. That all seems distant. Viddler needs the more focus then ever to get cashflow positive, yet family life needs attention too. True tension at it’s highest. I think many times to when I tore my ACL/MCL/PCL and came back for fourth year against doctors recommendation to play football. I can do this. Still not profitable. Investors are pushing for profitability and it’s been 3 years, of building 3 months at a time. It’s starting to take it’s tole.

2010. Fifth year, break profitability. It’s a relief. No longer beholden to the next round of investors. Still no expendable income for personal activities and employees around me deserve salary bumps more then I do due to shared sacrifice over last 4 years. I tell myself “if this becomes a big exit I can spend much more time with family/friends then ever before later in life”. Sleep schedule is nice though. I start to wake up when I want to and leave work when I feel I need to. I start running 5 miles a day, and get in control of my health.

2011. TBD

I don’t write this to vent at all. I feel very fortunate in so many ways to be where I am at today…..

To be honest, have been inspired by Zappos audiobook lately and the amount of self awareness and transparency Tony Hsieh provides. I write this to provide insight into what life has been like last 5 years so others may get a glimpse into the shifts in mindset as a startup scrappishly matures.

 

Chalk another one up to how much I <3 BillyD:

The new Learn More:

 

The Social Network brought me back 4 years ago to when the facebook, launch the next facebook hype was at it’s peak…

The go big feeling every entrepreneur was obsessed with.
The hype around launching facebook apps.

Times have changed. With all the big ideas/home runs taken, base hits are becoming more popular. 37signals attitude has taken over especially for companies that are outside the valley.

Regardless though, watching this movie was good.

It was energizing and inspirational.
It brought the coolness back to blogging (hence this blog post).
It also brought the sexiness of staying focused.
It also showed the challenge of scaling as a CEO.

All-in-all a must watch for a digital entrepreneur.

 

Am a huge fan of Failblog and Backblaze.

Brian Brushwood from Scamschool would be proud of this….

Was able to prank Backblaze on Failblog yesterday by submitting a screenshot generated by a modified URL on Backblaze.

Allow me to share how I did this:

I realized when I checked my download status with backblaze they left the variables in the URL to come up with a length

https://secure.backblaze.com/online-backup-speed.htm?os=mac&mb=63264&throttle=50&kbitspersec=4264

For 63GB still have 24  days to complete the backup and it’s all visible in the URL:

Backblaze Backup Hack Step 1

So all I did was change the total space to something very high (630 TB) in the URL:

Backblaze Hack Step 2

Submitted to failblog, and bam.

It would be cool if Backblaze said something more graceful, like. “WOAH,  you have a ton of stuff.. it’ll be a few years before this is complete.”

 

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