Business Week Zoom

Day 27: Zooming All Over

Zoom is the accidental social network of the coronavirus pandemic

What I’m Thinking About: Zoom

This has been an incredible rise and a little bit of a fall for Zoom.

In the past month, they went from 10 million daily users to 200 million. Wowza. In the past week 90,000 schools across 20 countries have used it to conduct remote classes. Ninety thousand schools.

They also revealed that while they’ve been focused on keeping up with growth, they’ve done some not great things. Specifically, they were sending info to Facebook even if you didn’t log in or ever use Facebook. Second, the videos/calls aren’t really encrypted, which means others can see and hear what went on. Oh, and third, many of the videos and encryption keys were routed through China so they were available for the Chinese state to hear and view. Hmm. 🤔

Personally, I don’t care if my personal or work calls are viewed in China but I suspect a lot of more important people and companies do. This could be real bad for them and for Zoom. I’m curious to see what the fallout is.

I’m also curious to see how Zoom integrates itself more into my life. I’ve been doing double-dates with friends, group family chats, happy hours, school lessons and more. It’s a daily app now.

Finally, I usually really dislike recorded Zoom calls, but here’s one I couldn’t stop watching. It’s ESPN reporters inviting famous people to join them.


What Else: The Flattening?

Nationally, the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. is projected to hit its peak within the next few days. Personally, I’ve been hoping that this is the worst as we had a few days of no growth, but yesterday we had peaks in new cases and deaths in the US and many others charts are saying that we still have some more time to go. 😞


Other Stuff

Great ad:



From my spreadsheet:

Have a great Saturday everyone:

Only 64 more days to go


Cutting the Cord

This is the quarter that I finally got rid of my cable subscription. I figured I’m paying an extra 40 bucks a month for something that i really only use once or at most twice a week. That’s roughly 5 to 10 bucks a show.

So, I called and cancelled. We still want to watch SNL, The Good Place and Diane likes to watch HGTV shows sometimes so we subscribed to Hulu for $10 a month for all of the basic stuff.
I’m now four months in ($160 richer!) and with the exception of CNN streaming, I don’t miss it at all.
With Netflix and NBA League Pass getting better and better, I don’t see where the traditional cable bundle fits in anymore. And, according to all of the charts, i’m not the only one.
On a related note, I finally dove in and got up and running on a Mac Mini. It’s a pretty sweet setup where I can stream all of my videos I’ve collected over the years to my browser or iPhone anywhere at any time. I’m loving it so far.

2014 Sport Video Roundup

The videos and advertisements for sports flowing through the internets these days have been great.  Wanted to capture and share a few for y’all: 


Recently, there was a great new ad lauding Derek Jeter in the final year of his career (although it should be noted that Joe Mauer has posted better stats at age 31 than Jeter did at at 31)

Related to that, there’s a send-up of the above ad by Funny Or Die, not lauding Alex Rodriguez:

For the Timberwolves, I’m all in favor of trading Kevin Love for Wiggins to the Cavaliers.  Speaking of the Cavs, there’s a great mock video of Lebron and his “Coming Home” campaign mashed up with Dumb and Dumber.

Finally, this is over a month old, but the Beats ad for the World Cup was definitely the best one of the summer.  It came out right before the Cup started and got me incredibly pumped for it.  A great ad.

(thanks to Kesner and Matt for sharing these first)

Hunter Report: 1.5 Years In

Well the time is cursing by and Hunter is growing up really fast. I thought i’d take another moment to reflect on how things are going.  Some thoughts:

Hunter’s Development

Man is he growing.  The first year now seemed more about physical development. He was just getting bigger and learning how to use his limbs.  Now he seems more about exercising his brain.  He’s constantly trying to figure stuff out.  How to open jars. How doors work.  Why switching a light switch here changes the brightness over there.  Lots of stuff like this are all the rage at our house right now.  So much so that i have found that if you’re not challenging what he knows, he gets bored quickly and then things spiral out of control.  He’s a high bandwidth kid.  I have no idea if this is unusual or not. 

Because this is now the norm, he’s much more of a little person these days.  He has expressions and words and a personality. He’s definitely a human and, to me, he’s getting cuter and cuter. 

The Tradeoff

I recently heard Shondra Rhimes’ Dartmouth commencement address where she talks about how she’s both a working woman and a mother and how she juggles it all.  Her answer: she doesn’t.  I know how she feels.  Prior to Hunter, I would work pretty late almost every night.  Now I like to see Hunter before he goes to sleep.  There’s a struggle between being doing well at work and seeing my family, and I don’t think there’s a good answer.  Ultimately, I’ll always be failing at one of them.  I’m having to get used to that fact.  It’s quite a change. 

Shondra says it much better than I:

If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I’m probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I am probably blowing off a script I was supposed to rewrite. If I’m accepting a prestigious award, I’m missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy.

If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade off. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel one hundred percent okay, you never get your sea legs, you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost.

Old People

I’m constantly amazed how similar babies are to old people.  The drooling, the babbling, the lack of coordination.  Just very very similar. Circle of life. 

Default State of Happiness

When Hunter wakes up in the morning, he’s smiling. By default, he’s happy.  He’s giggling and smiling unless something happens to make him upset. It makes me think that this is the default state for most humans.  I often think about this.  I wonder that if we have to have something negative happen to us to be in a permanent bad mood.  I see people yelling at traffic or walking the street with a frown on their face.  They weren’t born that way.  Something has happened.  When i’m feeling upset or sad, I try to remember that.  It’s the world interacting with me that got me there.  It’s not how I am by default.  I like that thought. 


Games and Generation G

Here’s a fact for you. The average IQ of the human race is increasing and the rate of increase is increasing since the 1990’s.  It’s called the Flynn Effect.

I just learned that because i watched this good TED talk about video games and gamification.

He talks about what actually makes people smarter and then argues that all the items that do can be found in games.  Items such as:

He also talks about a guy in White Bear Lake MN who was a successful businessman.  When his kids went to school, he was appalled at the education they were getting so he quit his job, got a masters in education, and took over an elementary school class.  He then replaced the entire curriculum with a video game-based curriculum.

Did it work?  Well, in 18 weeks his kids went from a below 3rd grade level to an above 4th grade level.  In only 18 weeks. It was because games for them were fun and multiplayer.

This speaker, Gabe Zichermann, talks about this generation of millenials, 126 million of them, and how they use games as their primary means of entertainment.  This has a profound effect on society, and you can see it in the dashboard of electric cars, in Nike’s website, and all over the place.

He tells the story of a guy in Sweden, Kevin, who made a traffic camera lottery system.  Before Kevin, Sweden had a system where it takes a picture of your car if it’s going over the limit, then determines how much money the drivers make, and then issues tickets at higher prices to those who make more money and lower prices for those who make less money.  Kevin re-engineered the system so it also takes a picture of those people who are driving under the speed limit and it enters them into a lottery – a lottery to win all the proceeds from the other tickets from people speeding.  This is game-thinking where you take a negative reinforcement loop and turn it into a positive. It works. The average speed is now 20% less than it was before.

Corporations will also be doing it:

The speech is great.  Thanks to Patrick for sending it my way. All of these facts point to a future that’s pretty different than it is today.  Things are faster.  There are rewards everywhere. There is a lot of collaboration. I’m actually looking forward to it.






YouTube is Huge and Sketchy

I wrote a few weeks ago a post about just how massive the site is.  I listened to a good interview with Jason Calcanis recently where he shared his experiences working with them as a potential partner.  

The short of it is that YouTube has not been at all interested in accommodating any partners because of their size and scale.  One thing that i found interesting in this talk was just how powerful the future of YouTube is. Some interesting points:

  1. Cash. They have an amazing amount of cash at $50 billion  (Forbes)
  2. Nobody’s in charge. Google is great at this in general.  It is very hard to identify who is setting the direction and strategy for each group and the company as a whole.  Because of this, they can’t be critiqued for lack of execution or for being evil. 
  3. Avoiding Anti-Trust. They can’t buy any large players due to the fear that the government would block it for anti-competition reasons.  
  4. They are copying competitor’s strategies.  These competitors are getting lots of video channels around a niche and selling ads around it.  YouTube is now doing just that and will probably do more. 

The cool part of this is that YouTube could have bought Netflix or something similar.  Thus, they are just going to buy lots and lots of content and put it out for free.  My prediction is that You’ll see NFL and other sports content available there along with full tv shows – and it’ll be SWEET for all of us.  

Happy Holidays: My Holiday Reading

I did a lot of couch reading this holiday and as a result found some good stuff on the interwebs and thought I’d share…

1. The Paul Rudd & Conan video

Paul Rudd has been going on Conan O’Brien’s show for 20 years.  Each year he brings a clip to promote a new film. Apparently, every time he brings the same video clip every time. Here’s a video showing all of them. This is pretty hysterical. 

2. Bill Gates’s Good News of 2013

Here’s a post from Bill Gates about the good things that happened this year. Gates is out there solving real problems and he has such a unique perspective of how things are improving on a global level. This is worth reading.  For instance, he lets us know:

Half as many children died in 2012 as in 1990. That’s the biggest decline ever recorded. And hardly anyone knows about it! 

3. Billy Joel at MSG

Billy (now age 64) hasn’t released a record since 1993 and hasn’t toured since he wrapped up his last gig in 2010, but he’s still changing the music business. He recently signed a deal with Madison Square Garden to play a concert there every month. A good article in businessweek.

4. Maria Bello’s Modern Family

I’ve always loved Maria Bello as an actress.  She has an interesting personal life too. She’s penned a good essay in the NYTimes about her children and romantic situation.  It’s good and worth a read.


5. NYTimes and New Yorker vs. Buzzfeed and Gawker

The online advertising world is changing.  Sites like Gawker and Buzzfeed are grabbing lots of traffic and some good ad dollars.  This article looks at how publications that try to be more exclusive (and thus have less traffic) are trying to compete.  Hint: it’s not going to work out well for them. 

6. Be Nice to Cats

We have two cats and love them (most of the time) and I loved this video of a mean old woman getting karma right in the face.

7. Pregnant Virgins

Here’s an Interesting study here of 8000 women about how they got pregnant.  Almost 1% of them said they got pregnant with no men involved (and no in vitro or other reproductive technology).  Here’s to immaculate conception.

Happy Holidays everyone.  (note: if you want to regularly get my links, follow me as @MikePLewis on twitter)

Siri and the Digital Natives

I wrote a post a few years ago about cognitive surplus and how we’re all doing more and more stuff on the web.  One of the stories in that post was: 

I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, “What you doing?” And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, “Looking for the mouse.”

Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because four year olds, the people who are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won’t have to go through the trauma that I have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching Gilligan’s Island, they just assume that media includes consuming, producing and sharing.

This was 5 years ago.  Since then we’ve had some new technology advancements – such as Siri and voice search.  I’m seeing the impacts of this on my 1-year old (Hunter) every day.  

Both my wife and i have iPhones and we  regularly use Siri to compose text messages as we frequently have our son in our arms and no hands free.  As a result, he thinks this is just the way you interact with phones.  Check these videos out: 


These kids are definitely going to have a different experience with technology than the rest of us.  It’ll be fascinating to see.  

YouTube and Walmart

I recently read a post about advertising on online video.  It’s a good post but probably too detailed for most people.  One thing in the post that stuck out is how big Walmart is and also how big YouTube is.  It got me thinking.  Pretty interesting stuff about two behemoths of our time.  Here are some details: 

Walmart is ginormous: 

  • 8% of every dollar spent in America is spent at Walmart  
  • They have more than 4,000 locations and sell more than $34 billion / month.
  • If Walmart were a country it would be the 19th largest in the world.

YouTube is also huge:

  • 1 billion monthly uniques hit the site
  • 40% of the online population uses YouTube every month
  • 6 billion hours of watched video a month. That’s enough for every human on earth to watch 150 videos a year. 
  • 63% of all videos watched in the US are on YouTube


The point of the article is that if you’re in the online video business, it’s foolish to try to do anything without thinking about YouTube. Similarly, it’d be foolish for a retailer to not want to sell their product through Walmart.