If I had a lot of money, I would offer the top five preps $200,000 each to sit out the year and do nothing but train for the NBA, giving them access to the best trainers possible.
All the players would have to do is promise to tithe 1% of their first NBA contract extension — probably somewhere around $400,000, but hopefully higher directly because of their experience in my one-year program — which would allow me to fund the next player down the line, along with operating costs, which would also be supported by a shoe deal and other marketing deals, which would be revenue-shared with the players.
The Hood Internet - Ignition (1901 Remix) (R. Kelly x Phoenix)
Apparently Disney reuses illustrations across movies. Not quite sure how I feel about this. It’s fascinating to watch and makes total sense, but when it comes to artwork (which is what these Masterpieces are), something about it feels like… cheating. Hmph.
Marketing attribution is hard. And while new tools are constantly being developed to help with the problem, there’s one low-tech strategy that nearly all online businesses use to some degree: discount codes. By offering a unique discount code as part of a marketing campaign, a business can not only grease the wheels of the transaction, but also incentivize the user to report what campaign was responsible for them becoming a customer.
Discount codes, however, are not bulletproof. They’re commonly posted on sites that either flood your business with low quality customers or are available 24/7 for anyone that Googles “company name promo code”. This creates an incredible amount of noise around the acquisition source of your customers. Was your offline marketing campaign really a success, or did all those customers find your discount code in a forum?
Recently, Squarespace has been sponsoring what seems like every podcast I listen to, and I was curious how they might be managing the ugly side of online discount codes. I was quite surprised when I searched “squarespace discount code” to find that the first result is a page on squarespace.com that offers a full discount and clearly states that “You won’t find a better deal on any third-party site”. This is a fascinating tactic that I’d imagine prevents quite a bit of the headache associated offering discount codes.
Of course, Squarespace is fortunate to have a product/business that lends itself well to offering nearly every customer a discount. But by cleaning up the main attribution pitfall of discount code advertising, they can optimize and exploit marketing channels, like podcast sponsorship, that are traditionally too messy for most companies to commit serious advertising budget to.
Have you seen this “first search result” discount strategy used by any other companies?
Just watched the first of the Steve Jobs appearances at the AllThingsD conference. For context, this was 2003, just a few weeks after Apple launched the iTunes Music Store, so music was the focus of his discussion with Walt Mossberg. No insightful analysis here; just things I found interesting:
- Talk of areas that Apple would eventually get into
- Explaining that internet-connected iPod wouldn’t be able to have a music store because of the need for PC-sized screen real estate
- Flippant dismissal Bill Gates talk of launching a tablet
- Saying that speech-cognition as a meaningful input device has always been “five years away” since he got into the computer industry 30 years prior
- It was almost funny watching how his presence changed when he went from the sitting discussion with Mossberg to standing demo of the iTunes store.
- He constantly referred to the music player as the “jukebox”. It seems like I haven’t heard that term since… well, maybe 2003.
- Part of his pitch was that you could get “three songs for the price of a Starbucks latte”. Earlier this week, I read an insightful post encouraging people to Stop Using the Cup of Coffee vs. 99¢ App Analogy, which (among other things) pointed out that an app’s value and craftsmanship is hidden until the purchase is made (unlike the familiar and trustable experience of a Starbucks coffee). This makes app purchasing a relative gamble.
- Building on that, Steve Jobs emphasized in his Music Store demo how important the 30 second song previews are to the buying process. I know the apps/music comparison isn’t perfect, but it’s still interesting that Apple has mostly ignored support for users previewing apps.
Fascinating notes from the class Peter Thiel is teaching at Stanford (CS 183: Startup) this quarter:
The path from 0 to 1 might start with asking and answering three questions. First, what is valuable? Second, what can I do? And third, what is nobody else doing?
The questions themselves are straightforward. Question one illustrates the difference between business and academia; in academia, the number one sin is plagiarism, not triviality. So much of the innovation is esoteric and not at all useful. No one cares about a firm’s eccentric, non-valuable output. The second question ensures that you can actually execute on a problem; if not, talk is just that. Finally, and often overlooked, is the importance of being novel. Forget that and we’re just copying.
The intellectual rephrasing of these questions is: What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
The business version is: What valuable company is nobody building?
These are tough questions. But you can test your answers; if, as so many people do, one says something like “our educational system is broken and urgently requires repair,” you know that that answer is wrong (it may be a truth, but lots of people agree with it). This may explain why we see so many education non-profits and startups. But query whether most of those are operating in technology mode or globalization mode. You know you’re on the right track when your answer takes the following form:
“Most people believe in X. But the truth is !X.”
Make no mistake; it’s a hard question. Knowing what 0 to 1 endeavor is worth pursuing is incredibly rare, unique, and tricky. But the process, if not the result, can also be richly rewarding.
I hope Blake keeps taking notes.
What is the future for personal analytics? There is so much that can be done. Some of it will focus on large-scale trends, some of it on identifying specific events or anomalies, and some of it on extracting “stories” from personal data.
As personal analytics develops, it’s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives. At first it all may seem quite nerdy (and certainly as I glance back at this blog post there’s a risk of that). But it won’t be long before it’s clear how incredibly useful it all is—and everyone will be doing it, and wondering how they could have ever gotten by before. And wishing they had started sooner, and hadn’t “lost” their earlier years.
Thiel and Levchin also wanted workaholics who were not MBAs, consultants, frat boys, or, God forbid, jocks. “This guy came in, and I asked what he liked to do for fun,” Levchin recalls. “He said, ‘I really enjoy playing hoops.’ I said, ‘We can’t hire the guy. Everyone I knew in college who liked to play hoops was an idiot.’”
This particular sentiment has stuck with me since first reading this article in 2007. Five years later, this tweet comes across the wire:
So what is it, PayPal guys?
On my fifth birthday, my dad took me on his flight to Sacramento to visit his brothers. I got to walk around the plane to do the pre-flight checklist with him, kicking the tires and doing other things kids might do to try to look like their dad.
The plane we flew that day is known between us simply as “474”. It’s one of American Airlines’ hundreds of McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, and every once in a while I get a text from my dad to let me know he spotted our friend on the tarmac.
Today was one of those days. Twenty years later, it’s still just as good to see good ole 474.