The Lewhouses in 2016

Some things I’ll remember about 2016…

Time disappearing
I thought we were time constrained when Hunter came along. Well, with two little ones this year, aged 1 and 3, time really got sucked away from me. Less sleep, fewer workouts, fewer books read. All the things I like to do just for me basically went out the door this year. But, they were replaced with more time with my family, which was just fantastic.

Hunter
He really became a full fledged person this year. He’s now funny and clever. He has a bit of trickery and deviousness in him, but he’s shaping up to be a very kind person. His teachers at school regularly remark about how genuine and kind he is. Also, his super power this year is his drawing. He’s very creative and can draw ridiculously well. Continue reading “The Lewhouses in 2016”

Achieving Massive Growth (Qloud story 11 of 14)

This is post #11 about the Qloud experience.  The previous post was about about the launch of Qloud.  You can read that here

Once we launched, we grew extremely fast. I have to say that being part of a company that is blowing up is really really fun. Everyone is constantly happy. As a product person, this is what you work for and when it happens, it feels great.

We did some things that were shady and other things were legit and very smart. Some things we did:

  1. We wouldn’t let you use the application unless you invited 25 friends. We had a nice UI that let you quickly select 25 faces and then it would open. While extremely annoying, it worked really well.
  2. We integrated deeply into the new feed. We knew all of our users play history, including from iTunes and we’d launch really interesting news feed items to friends that read, “Of all the songs played last week by your friends, here are the 3 not in your library. Click here to play.” This is great music discovery, right in your news feed.
  3. We started understanding and using the link sharing networks. Lots of other apps were selling the ability to recommend users download other apps. You could buy space there and buy installs. We experimented a lot with all of them.  Some were pretty cheap and effective.  Interestingly, Steve Case really dug into this too. For someone with his success, we was not afraid to get into the weeds. I also give a lot of credit to our lawyer and BD guy here, Jim Delorenzo (now head of Sports at Amazon), for this success as he really figured it out.

I give Noah R-S (now Chief Product Officer at DailyMail) a lot of credit for hacking Facebook. He understood it at a level that probably only a few dozen in the world did.

We also started exploring a business model

Our growth was so fast that we’d get lots of calls from record labels and lawyers asking to shut us down. They saw the streams happening on Qloud and wanted it to stop. It took them a while to realize that we had co-opted YouTube for the streams.

Qloud Fundraising: Striking out in Silicon Valley (Part 2 of 14)

This is post #2 about the Qloud experience.  The previous post was about jumping ship and starting the company

Once we started Qloud, we started building the product and also started fundraising.  From day one, looking at our finances, we knew that we had 6 months to get the company to a place where we could raise outside capital.  Not only did we need to get the product built and working but we needed to hone our pitch.  We came up with what we thought was a compelling vision and set out to talk to investors.

Our pitch was that what we learned at Ruckus was that music discovery was a huge problem.  Talking to students it was clear that all discovery was word-of-mouth.  Qloud was going to be a way to allow people to find new music without having to ask your friend down the hall.  We were going to do that in 2 ways:

  1. we would offer a music search engine where you could search by tags and by demographic.  For instance, i want all the music tagged “happy” that is being listened to the most by men age 18-20 who live in Los Angeles.  This would return a list of songs that you could then sample.
  2. we would allow people to tag music inside their iTunes.  By creating a tag cloud, we would enable on-demand playlists for “happy” or “summer” or “breakup” inside the player.  This tagging and information from the iTunes would power the search capability provided in step 1.

Continue reading “Qloud Fundraising: Striking out in Silicon Valley (Part 2 of 14)”

Thoughts on Rubio

The season starts tonight for the Timberwolves.  As part of that, this will be a defining year for Ricky Rubio.  

 

His contract is up at the end of the year and he has already rejected a 4 year $48m offer.  For the other positions they have:

  • Center: Pekovic and Deng – both above average centers in the league
  • PF: Thad Young – an above average PF in the league
  • SF: Andrew Wiggins – predicted to be the next Tracy McGrady
  • SG: Kevin Martin – pretty good 

Ricky is supposedly the leader of that group.  Looking at that lineup, if they don’t do well, it’s probably his fault and his inability to impact games.  If they do well, it’s likely because he has a great season.  As Rubio goes, so do the Wolves. 

They way I figure this goes is one of two directions: 

Direction ONE: the Wolves do well, i.e. approach 35 wins and compete for a playoff spot.  In this scenario, I think they pony up and pay Rubio more money

Direction TWO: the Wolves are a lottery team.  In this scenario, they don’t resign Ricky and draft a point guard in the lottery. 

That’s my guess.  Any thoughts?

 

Andrew Wiggins Era Begins & NBA Season Bet

I’m excited for the NBA season to start. On Monday night the Twolves had their first pre-season game and it looks like Andrew Wiggins could be the real deal.  A summary of his performance from the blog post

Andrew Wiggins. There is obviously a player here. He led the team in minutes (32) and points (18). He took some poor 20 footers and wound up shooting 4-11 overall, but got to the line 10 times and made both of his threes. He also blocked 3 shots and grabbed 3 offensive boards. There is obviously stuff to work on, including getting stronger around the rim and ball handling, but there was a lot to like.

There’s also a good YouTube video of his action here: 

As we do every year, we place a friendly bet in the office for the season.  This year it’s between Niraj and Ian.  Here is how our teams are projected to do: 

  • Timberwolves: Projected 26.5 games won
  • Nuggets: Projected 35.5 games won
  • Pistons: Projected 35.5 games won

The bet we’re making with each other is whichever teams performs the worst relative to their projected win count, the loser buys the winners a lunch of their choice at Rio Grande.   Now, let’s get it started!

 

My Minnesota Vikings vs. Lions Bet

Niraj and I just made a bet.  The Lions are projected to win 9 games this season and the Vikings are projected to win 6.  We have a bet to see who wins more and he is spotting me 3 wins.  The loser buys the winner some football paraphernalia (max price $30)

Bring it on!

On a related note, I really want a website to exist that allows you to enter in a bet, a prize for the winner and a date for it to be resolved and then this app notifies you when that date comes.  I have so many little bets placed but I need something to keep track of them.  Somebody please build this.

Also related: the new Vikings stadium looks amazing.

Why I’m Excited About the Super Bowl

Here’s something I think is cool.

Broncos-Seahawks-Superbowl

The Denver Broncos shattered records this year as the most dominant offensive team in NFL history. They scored 38 points per game this year, an NFL record.  Their QB, Peyton Manning,  also set records for most passing yards and touchdowns by a QB in a season.  They play Seattle whose defense was the best in the league and is the fifth-best overall statistical performance of any team since 1989.

So, it will be an epic showdown of a historical great offense against a historically great defense.

If that hasn’t blown you mind enough, check this out…. the difference between the Broncos’ average-points-scored and the Seahawks average-points-allowed this season is the widest in the history of the Super Bown. It is what one website found to be “the greatest offense/defense showdown in Super Bowl history.”

So there’s that.  Let’s go Broncos!

 

 

PandoMonthly’s Fred Wilson Talk

One of my new favorite things to do is watch the PandoMonthly videos.  They are really long – usually over 90 minutes – but it is a super in-depth interview with one of the internet’s big dogs.  My favorite one so far is a 2-hour video with John Doerr who worked early on at Intel and sits on the board of Google and Amazon. 

Last night i watched Fred Wilson’s interview.  Some highlights:

  • He talked about how it was a huge loss for Twitter to not buy Instagram.  He thought that with the trifecta of tweets, images and video, Twitter could challenge and possibly unseat Facebook.  But Twitter didn’t have the assets that FB had of pre-IPO shares or valuation to be able to offer them the amount they needed, thus they lost the sale.  He remarked on how it was just genius for Zuckerberg to recognize that possibility. 
  • He talked about CEO’s of his portfolios such as the Twitter trifecta, Etsy and Tumblr.  How Twitter is like the Beatles in that it had multiple creators who were all vital at different stages: Jack at stage 1 in building the product, Ev at stage 2 in building the company and Dick at stage 3 in building the business.  He also points to this terrific post about how Tumblr is all about David Karp and is really a one-person product. 
  • On that he told a story about how at Etsy, they were promoting the #2 guy to the CEO position and he went to the board and said, “hey, you’re promoting the wrong guy. That guy down the hall is beloved by the company, runs the biggest business unit and bleeds Etsy.  You should promote him.”  Pretty cool story of something putting the company’s interest above theirs. 
  • Hating Saas: he talked about why he hates investing in Saas companies (1:18 mark) because they get commoditized too easily. 
  • About bitcoin: he talked about how it is the closest thing he’s seen to a replacement for cash money and that’s why he’s investing.  He’s also investing there because he’s burnt out on social. 
  • About SnapChat: It’s not a replacement of instagram, but rather the text message (or WhatApp).  It’s not a photo service but rather a messaging service.  (see my thoughts on Snapchat here)
  • About blogging every day:  He hates how media distorts his message so he’s taken it on himself to create his own media so he can control it. 

All in all, some good stuff.  The full video is here: