The Dataclysm (Facebook) Relationship Test

I finally got around to trying out the Dataclysm “Relationship Test”. The theory is that your spouse or partner should be one of your closest connections (more on this later).  What’s interesting to me is how my Facebook network reflects the key networks in my life. The biggest cluster of connections is what I call … Continue reading The Dataclysm (Facebook) Relationship Test

More Lessons from WhatsApp

Forbes has been doing a great job of covering the story behind WhatsApp.  If you’re too lazy to read their entire stories, here are a few more lessons that I took away from the saga: http://onforb.es/1fH2ai1 1. Do something that people easily understand. WhatsApp had a simple vision: SMS, but free.  Hard to argue with … Continue reading More Lessons from WhatsApp

What Entrepreneurs Should Learn From WhatsApp

Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion has dominated all news in Silicon Valley for the past 48 hours.  Yesterday, I was at a urinal, and a group of people asked me what I thought.  Most of the discussion seems to be around whether Mark Zuckerberg was crazy to pay so much for a relatively … Continue reading What Entrepreneurs Should Learn From WhatsApp

Do You Have A Relationship With Your Users?

I was fascinated by a recent report that Upworthy, Elite Daily, and Distractify–buzz-based content repurposers whose “viral” headlines have plagued my Facebook feed–had seen their traffic drop by 50% after Facebook changed its news feed algorithm: http://read.bi/1gmjx5u The rapid decline of these previous “hot” startups illustrates a basic principle of business.  You have to ask … Continue reading Do You Have A Relationship With Your Users?

Lives Well Lived

This afternoon, I left the office early to attend the memorial service for my old professor, Ron Rebholz. When I was at Stanford in the early 1990s, Ron was already a legendary teacher, with his Shakespeare course considered one of the top “bucket list” courses at Stanford (along with other legendary classes like ME101 and … Continue reading Lives Well Lived

The Secret to Facebook is Content

I have never been an avid Facebook user.  Quick posts and personal notes have never been my metier; my Twitter feed essentially acts as an RSS feed of my posts and a commenting system.  But recently, I’ve come to realize that the secret to Facebook is content. Specifically, Facebook is the first medium that provides … Continue reading The Secret to Facebook is Content

Consumer loyalty comes from listening, not lock-in

Here in Silicon Valley, we love to focus on “sustainable competitive advantage.”  We talk of moats, barriers to entry, and lock-in.  If a product is “addictive,” that’s considered a good thing.  The highest praise is to be compared with crack cocaine. It’s not a pretty picture. I would argue that loyalty comes from listening, not … Continue reading Consumer loyalty comes from listening, not lock-in

The content continuum and why I’m worried about the direction of the online world

At the risk of sounding (even more) like a crotchety old man, I feel like the online world is moving in exactly the wrong direction. I would argue that there is a direct correlation between the amount of effort a creator expends and the quality and value of that creation. For example, I listen to … Continue reading The content continuum and why I’m worried about the direction of the online world

Facebook, Part Deux

Nearly two years ago, I asked the question, “Did Peter Thiel Make The Single Best Investment In History?“ Today, now that Thiel has sold most of his remaining stake in Facebook, it’s a good time to re-examine the math surrounding his investment. Two years ago, I wrote: In 2005, Peter Thiel paid $500,000 for a … Continue reading Facebook, Part Deux

Did Peter Thiel Make The Single Best Investment In History?

In 2005, Peter Thiel paid $500,000 for a 10% stake in Facebook. Today, with Facebook’s estimated value topping $33 billion, his stake is worth between $2-3 billion. That’s a 6,000x return on his capital in 5 years. I’ll put it this way–if you made a $250 IRA contribution in 2005, it would have to be … Continue reading Did Peter Thiel Make The Single Best Investment In History?