about this episode
The first episode of This Week in Startups with guest Brian Alvey, CEO of Crowd Fusion.
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Jason talks with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Little Bird and Peter Rojas of GDGT to discuss the new iPad mini, Microsoft Surface, Udacity’s new degree program and more. Tyler enthusiastically reads the news!
0:30 Welcome Peter Rojas of GDGT and Marshall Kirkpatrick of Little Bird
6:00 Thanks so much to SnapTerms
8:00 Let’s welcome Peter Rojas of GDGT
8:40 How’s Get Little Bird doing Marshall?
9:00 What does the product do?
9:30 An Cuba is an investor?
10:45 How about the iPod mini price point?
11:00 What do you think about that Peter?
12:45 So Apple is constrained by the number of iPads they can manufacture?
13:50 What do you think Marshall? Did you order one?
14:45 So you think as the profile shrinks, the web-browsing becomes less desirable?
15:05 Peter do you think that will be a big issue?
17:00 What impact is LTE having in all of this Peter?
18:50 Marshall what are your thoughts on LTE?
20:00 Tyler’s thoughts about LTE.
21:45 Why do people care about a 1 cent miss on Wall Street?
22:40 Are Mac sales up only 1 percent because people are opting for other devices?
24:30 What do you think about next quarter projections Peter?
26:30 Could Apple just enter the TV market by buying Dish?
27:10 Thanks to MailChimp!
31:00 Peter what do you think about the Microsoft Surface?
33:30 How do you think it compares in size and feel to the iPad?
33:50 Is this great for businesses who do not want to use iPads?
34:30 So do you think this will take business from Dell or HP, not the iPad?
37:00 Marshall is this a sign that Microsoft can still be innovative?
38:00 Do you think there is an opportunity for the Air and the iPad to become one?
41:30 Do you think Apple should allow 3rd parties to develop keyboards?
43:00 Marshall what do you think about the locked down iOS system?
47:00 What do you think about the MTA allowing the train arrival to be released to developers?
48:50 What do you think about this transit app Marshall?
54:40 Peter/Marshall any good airport security questions?
57:50 Marshall what do you think about Udacity?
61:00 Would you think someone with a Udacity degree is different from a conventional degree?
61:50 Peter would you through Udactiy or go back to Harvard?
62:20 What about the graduate degree?
63:00 Same questions to Marshall.
63:40 How could it change continuing education though?
69:00 Peter what do you think about this startup ServiceStars?
70:15 So who does this actually help, the restaurant, customer, or patron?
71:00 Clip from Bravo’s startup show.
72:20 You guys gonna watch this?
72:35 Is McClure really disrespectful in person?
74:35 Thanks to Peter Rojas and Marshall Kirkpatrick
75:00 Thanks to SnapTerms and MailChimp
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Jason: Hey, everybody. Hey, everybody. Welcome, to ThisWeekIn Startups. It’s friday. It’s time for our News RoundTable. We’ve got an amazing round table. Tyler, is going to read the news. Peter Rojas, of GDGT, is with us. Marshall Kirkpatrick, is with us, of LittleBird. It’s going to be a great program. Apple mini, is out. MicroSoft Surface, is out. Yahoo!, Marissa, made her first purchase. There’s, a lot, going on. We’ve got, a lot to discuss. Stick, with us. It’s going to be an amazing episode.
TWiST title sequence.
Jason: Hey, everybody. Hey, everybody. I’m just using my, Buffer app, to let everybody know that, we are live. Across, 10 different services. I love that Buffer app. We had them on the show. Really, smart guys. Hi, Tyler. How are you doing?
Tyler: I’m doing good.
Jason: Where have you been?
Tyler: Where have I been? I’m leaving Tuesday, again, for Sweden.
Jason: Oh, God. It’s getting, serious. Is there an announcement?
Tyler: No. Not yet.
Jason: A special announcement? I have a feeling, this might be it. Sorry, ladies. It’s over. It’s been an incredible run, on ThisWeekIn Startups. If you’ve never watched the program, before. Where the hell have you been? This is the 300th episode. Can you believe, we’re 300 episodes in?
Tyler: If you’re not involved, by now, there’s, really, little chance, for you.
Jason: The show is blowing up. We’re in the “Top 200 Shows”, on Stitcher. We were featured, on the top levels, of iTunes. The show, is sold-out, through January. The show is making, over half million dollars, a year.
Tyler: I saw, there was a new sponsor, this week.
Jason: A new sponsor, this week. The show is sold-out. I think, through, February or March, now. We’re selling-out, 4 or 5 months, in advance. I’m hiring, a full-time producer, in San Francisco. We’ve got a big announcement, about San Francisco. That’s going to be coming up, very shortly. Jason Demant, is crushing it. Working, with us. We’re, really, happy with the show and how it’s progressing. Featured on the top level of iTunes was, very, nice, too.
Tyler: At this point. I haven’t heard any criticisms, in quite a while.
Jason: Aside from, me being the host, no. Aside from, the Jaters.
Tyler: New criticisms.
Jason: I know. People are, really, getting into the show. Naval, Shervin.
Tyler: Here’s an interesting point.
Jason: Naval, Shervin, Sacca. That, sort of, ramp up, has plateaued the show. It’s interesting as an entrepreneur, you get this one or two moments, where, you’re a startup… This is a startup. Like everybody else’s listening. The startup just levels up. We, sort of, leveled up, I think, with the Chris Sacca interview. Now, the number of pitches, coming in. Every VC firm, wants to be on the show. What’s funny, one of the top…
Tyler: You’re a damn good interviewer.
Jason: I, kind of, sucked in the first year. I went back and looked at the first year. Then, I realized, when I interview, I talk, too much. Then, after studying, I made a deliberate thing: I gotta be a better interviewer. I trying to be better at everything, I do. I said, “I gotta be a better interviewer.” I watched, Howard Stern. I watched Charlie Rose. I watched, Oprah. You know what they do, really, well?
Tyler: They pull it out of the guest.
Jason: They can pull it out of the guest, but, I used to talk, too much. I used to ask, too long, of a question. You’ve got to be able to look that person, in the eye, and get that trust, going. Ask short questions. They’re going to give you the goods.
Tyler: Getting them to forget that, they’re on camera.
Jason: Being in the moment. Being present. It really matters. I’m, really, happy about the show. Thank you, for the support. Really, thanks, to my whole team. Thank you, Tyler, for being with me from the beginning.
Tyler: I’ve got to say: The coolest thing about it is: When people come up, in the urinal, at the airports, you know, whenever, these things happen.
Jason: You know, Tyler. That was, probably, an over-share, there. I’m gonna have to put #overshare.
Tyler: You know these things happen.
Jason: In the urinals, yes. Somebody screamed, across the street, “I love the Sacca interview!” When, I was up at, Founder’s Lab, when, I was doing an interview, with Jonathan Abrams, formerly of Friendster. That episode, hasn’t come out, yet. It’ll be out, in November.
Tyler: That’ll be good.
Jason: The guy yelled at me, “I loved the Sacca interview!” That’s,very, nice of you to say. Who are you? “I’m building this company.” That’s a great idea. All of a sudden, we’re talking. He’s going to be on the program.
Tyler: Oh. Nice.
Jason: It’s become a little community.
Tyler: It is. The coolest thing that people don’t say.
Jason: Is it a urinal moment?
Tyler: No. What people don’t say, when you interact with folks, off camera, sometimes at urinals, they don’t say, “I like the show.” They say, “Thank you, for doing the show.”
Jason: It is, kind of, gratifying.
That’s a different thing to say, “Thank you, for doing the show.”, than, “I like the show.”
Jason: Yeah. It’s a higher order compliment. We’re all learning, from the show. I think, I figured out, whatever, my fourth or fifth act, I’m going to have, is. I think, I just want to have, like, me, you, and Lon… I threatened this, before… do a morning show. I don’t know if I can do the morning. Because, we’re all such late birds.
Tyler: I know.
Jason: Maybe, do an afternoon drive time.
Jason: If, somebody, is out there, who listens to the program, who is a super fan, if you have an uncle or a cousin, who works for Sirius, tell them, “This guy, Jason, and his team, are good.” Let’s do a, one week test, of doing drive time. When, somebody’s on vacation, how funny would that be, to do a drive time show, where, we talk about, anything. What was on TV, last night, or, the debate. Totally, off-topic stuff.
Tyler: I’m in.
Jason: It would be funny. Hey, I’m speaking about, how great the show is doing. We, just, did our terms of service, over. You guys, may not know this, but, if your terms of service, on your site, is not tight and right, you are going to get sued. It’s happening, over and over, again. You forget. The terms of service then you hire a lawyer to do your terms of service. It costs 5 dimes, 10 dimes. It wastes, all your time. There is a great service, called, SnapTerms, that we found, to do our terms of service. We spoke with these folks. They’re brilliant. Go to: thisweekin.com/legal. You’ll see our terms of service. This was done with SnapTerms. It’s, very, simple. It’s affordable. It’s, really, fast. It’s, only, $149, to do this. A little bit more, if you do a bigger site. When you go there, you put in, what you do, then, they make your terms of service. Then, they do things to make it funny and interesting. So, people, actually, read it, and, understand it. In plain english. Instead of, spending 3, 4, 5 thousand dollars, to do your terms of service, You can, just, spend $149, or something like that. If you go and use the coupon code: TWIST, you’ll get a free NDA. Everybody needs an NDA to have, to give out to people. If you have to ask your lawyer, for an NDA, he says, “Sure. I’ll give you an NDA, for $4,000. $2,000” The second you call, your going to be on the hook for thousands of dollars. I told, all my startups, in my portfolio, of 25 companies, including GDGT, is one of them, Peter’s company, “You gotta get SnapTerms, going. If you don’t, already, have a terms of service. If you do have a terms of service, and you have to update it, try SnapTerms. The service is brilliant.” That’s all they do. You know how, you can go, like, steal somebody’s? Not a good idea. You could get sued, for doing that. It might have their stuff in it. SnapTerms. This is all they do. You go to their site, you order SnapTerms. Look, at the easy pricing. They price it, based upon, if you want mobile, and coupons, and all this other kind of stuff. Here’s all the different turn around. You can do it in a couple of days. You get to do revisions, as well. Which is, kind of cool. They’ve been featured on, a bunch of, different services. Their testimonials are, just, great. Everybody loves the service, who uses it. Everybody check out SnapTerms. You should welcome them, to the program, for supporting it. Everybody, on your Twitter account, it’s your giri to say, “Welcome, @snapterms.” Great job, guys. Let me introduce our guests. Peter Rojas, my partner, on Engadget. Creator, of Engadget. Which, I get, a lot of, credit for. The fact is, Peter, did all the work. Also, the creator of, Gizmodo. Which, Mark Dentin, takes, a lot of, credit for. But, Peter actually, created it. Peter, welcome, to the program. Now, with Gadget, GDGT.
Peter: Thanks, for having me back. It’s, always, great to be on.
Jason: Yeah. We’ve got, a lot, to talk about, this week. Obviously, with Surface, and, the iPad mini. I know your tracking this stuff. That’s your expertise.
Peter: It’s been a difficult week, for me.
Jason: It’s been a difficult week? Not, a lot of, sleep, huh?
Peter: Not in the last week.
Jason: Also, with us. Marshall Kirkpatrick, is with us, from Portland, on the GoTo Meeting. He is with Little Bird. How is getlittlebird.com, doing, Marshall?
Marshall: It’s doing great. We’ve been working in secrecy, for a long time. Till, just, a couple of weeks, ago. Now, we’ve unveiled the product, having people, come in and test it out. We’re getting great feedback.
Jason: What does the product do? In a sentence or two.
Marshall: We discover the top experts and influencers, on any topic, online. Have you engage with them and their content.
Jason: So, in a way, it’s like, Klout, but a little bit, more sophisticated. From what I understand, from limited beta testers.
Marshall: That’s the first example, that a lot of, people bring up. We think, of Klout, as more complimentary, than, competitive. We do, more, discovery and tools. They do, more, rankings of the absolute popularity.
Jason: You got, Mark Cuban, to invest in your company.
Marshall: Yeah. We just announced it on the 5th, that, we closed a million dollar round of funding, led by Mark Cuban. Which, was just fantastic. We’ve got, a bunch of, other really cool investors, as well. Howard Lindzon, is another big investor. Derma Shaw. Quite a few, awesome, awesome people. Mark, really, gave us a big boost of confidence, and, has really been wonderful, to work with.
Jason: I would love to get into the beta. I might be interested, as an angel investor. Let’s go to the first story. Tyler, you’re going to read the news.
Tyler: I am. First story, this week. Apple had a big press event. At which, they launched, amongst other things, the new 13″ MacBook Pro Retina. The new super-thin iMac. The new Mac mini. But most noticeably, the iPad mini, which, 7.2mm thick, .68lb, 7.9″ display, and, the same resolution as an iPad 2. It was priced at $329. The big question is, should Apple had gone to a lower price point, like, $249 or $299?
Jason: I expected a different price. It feels like a huge mistake. But, maybe, they’re going to drop the price, post Christmas. They’re just going to price gouge people, for the next 90 days. Peter, what’s going on, here? Why are they launching a competitor to the $199 Kindle and the $199 Nexus 7, for, almost, double the price?
Peter: Because, they’re still going to sell as many as they can make. The iPad, is now, a huge franchise, for them. A lot of people want to buy them. They’re, basically, selling as many as they can make, of the 9.7″ one. I think, anything that makes it easier and more affordable to buy an iPad, is going to do, very, well. I’d be surprised, if they don’t sell out the initial run, pretty quickly. Even, at that price, it is more, but people do perceive a difference, in quality. It is Apple. A lot of people, are invested in that ecosystem. So, they’re going to find it, really, attractive alternative.
Jason: The truth is, Google and Amazon, are losing a little bit of money, or basically, breaking even, on those two devices. Apple, makes their money… correct me if, I’m wrong… on the profit margin of the device, not, on the services on the device. They, really, don’t make that much.
Peter: Yeah. For the most part. They, obviously, do make some money, from selling apps and content and things like that. For the most part, their profit comes from the devices. Amazon and Google, have a different strategy, there. They’re pricing their hardware, differently. I think, Apple, they’re a pretty smart company. I think, they ran the numbers and realized that they could price it at $329 and sell as many. It’s not like they would sell more at $299. Or, sell more at $249. They’re limited to how many they can produce, initially.
Jason: Apple, is essentially, constrained by, not the price of their products, but, how many they can make, at this point?
Peter: I think so. There was, definitely, a point where, Apple products were a, really, significant premium, over everything else, in the space. If you, remember, what a MacBook Air cost, when it first came out? You, basically, had to drop, close to $2,000, if you wanted to buy one. Now, the cheapest one is $999, or, $1,099, or something like that. It’s the same thing, with tablets. If the iPad had started at $699, it wouldn’t necessarily have surprised people. Given, that historically Apple products have gone for a premium. Apple’s gotten, so, good at their supply chain, so much cash to throw at their suppliers, to bring component cost down, and things like that, they’ve become so much more efficient. That they are able to price things, really, competitively. Compared with, where they were a few years, ago. If you think about, the iPod, when it came out, was more expensive than everything, out there.
Jason: In fact, the iPod was the price of the iPhone. Basically, you’re getting an iPhone, thrown in with your iPod. When you buy it, today. Marshall, what do you think of this price brouhaha. Did you order the mini? Is it, something you want? Do you think the 7″ is going to be more successful, than, the 11″?
Marshall: I haven’t ordered one. I’ve used a smaller tablet, the Galaxy Tab. It was fun, as a novelty. But, I’m concerned that, for me, one of my big interests is the well-being of the web. There’s, a lot of, people concerned that apps are going to smoosh the web. Where a lot of people can publish, more, easily. Mobile analysts say, “The smaller the tablet get, the less web browsing happens, on them.” In favor of using apps, instead. I’m not sure that the smaller iPads, necessarily, are going to be as exciting to consumers, or, great for the web, in the long run.
Jason: That’s a fascinating point. As the profiles shrink, the web, just, looks super ugly on it. Actually, I think, that Phil Schiller, said that in that email, that came out in the Samsung discovery. That it worked, really, well for email. It worked, really, well for reading books. Maybe, the web surfing is, a little bit, ganky. People haven’t really optimized their site, for that. Peter, is this really going to be an issue, going forward, that the ascent of the iOS operating system, is going to cause the demise of free publishing on the web. Is that, actually, happening, right now? It feels like it, to me.
Peter: I think, that there is a shift, towards apps. Absolutely. There’s always the hope that HTML5 is going to get good, enough, on mobile browsers that, you can side-step, some of the app store stuff. Some restrictions of the app store. We have seen that, in certain cases. When, Amazon, had some issues with the Kindle app in iOS, they introduced their web-based reader. Which, created a pretty good experience. Then, they brought the Kindle app back. Solved some of those issues. Something about the complaints that Apple had about how they were selling books through the Kindle app. There’s, always, going to be that tension. Marshall has a good point, that, apps are starting to consume a lot of those experiences. My general sense is that, what’s going on, is that the pie is still growing, in terms of, people’s device usage, overall. I think, mobile web usage is growing, in absolute terms. It’s just in relative terms, people are doing more things on their devices, than just web browsing. A lot of those things are happening, within apps. That’s just going to happen.
Marshall: In this case, though. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to interrupt, but, if I could. There are absolute numbers. Blueski, a mobile UX, industry leader, published a collection of studies, recently, that said, in absolute terms, the number of web pages visited in the browser by a user of a 7″ tablet, is substantially, fewer than the number of pages visited, on a 9″ or 10″ tablet.
Peter: I, certainly, think that makes sense. I’m, just, saying, mobile web usage, is probably growing, overall.
Jason: What impact is the LTE, having on all of this, Peter? I was shocked. Even, you were telling me about the LTE, cause, you had an Android phone and I was on iOS, last year and how transformative, that was. I didn’t, really, get it, until my iPhone 5 came. I’m on Verizon LTE. I was getting 20mb down and 30mb up, when I was on the 405, doing 70mph. I will tell you, I was a passenger, in an Uber, not driving, at the time. How big is LTE?
Peter: LTE is going to be, pretty, significant. If you think about, that these are just connected computers, at this point. Anything that makes that experience better and more seamless is going to increase usage, across the board. I think, it’s the same, as when we saw, the deployment of broadband in people’s homes, they used their computers, a lot, more. Using the web was a much more pleasurable experience, than on a dial up.
Jason: Are the LTE networks, going to get as fubarred, as the 3G networks did? Is this temporary speed enhancement, or is this going to be a permanent speed enhancement?
Peter: LTE is much more efficient at using those networks. It’s a much more efficient working technology than, 3G. Generally, speaking. Actually, the carriers are, very, interested in getting people off of 3G, and, on to LTE. Because, it does make it easier for them to handle, all that capacity. The thing is, they’re not going to tell you that, because, they want to charge you more, for something that is more efficient.
Jason: It’s saving them money and it’s lowering their costs, but, they’re charging more, for it. Marshall, what do you think about, LTE? Is your device LTE, now? Do you think, that’s going to be transformative for a company like, YouTube. Which, the inside information I’m having is, that YouTube is seeing a magnitude jump in consumption of videos, now that LTE, is hitting on the iPhone.
Marshall: That makes sense. I don’t have any specific knowledge on that. Other than, I know, video is one of the most compelling experiences, on mobile. I’m sure it will happen more, as more and more, people produce quality content. Like, your own network. Look out networks. Here comes, lots of data.
Jason: I think, what we’re going to see, Tyler, is the concept of watching NetFlix, or streaming Hulu, or watching shows, on YouTube, is going to catch up to what we saw, when, we were in Japan and Korea. Every taxi driver was watching a soap opera or sports, while we were driving, in their car, over the phone. In some cases, it was over-the-air data services, in other cases, over IP. They have the networks, there. People walking around or in the subway, they were, either playing a game on GREE or on Docomo, in Japan or they were watching TV or a movie. This is going to be the video revolution, I think.
Tyler: To Marshall’s point, Phil, in the keynote, did break out a special section, to talk about the browsing experience, on the iPad mini. Versus, the other tablet devices. Saying, it had twice as much browser visibility.
Jason: I don’t know, if I buy that. Just take the browser paradigm, the layout of webpages, is such that, you have the top bar, for your banner. You have the right-hand side, for your marquee. The body of the text is, so poorly laid out, for a mobile experience. When, You start getting a narrow device, like this, it’s screwed. You’re going to have to think about a one column layout, for this. Everybody has a three column layout. Right? The left hand, is navigation. The right hand is promotion and navigation. Then, the middle is the content. There’s, very, few sites that have, one straight column of content. Even, Twitter, now, is two columns. It is a major issue, for these. Let’s hear the next story.
Tyler: The former day trader, in me, loves, this next one. Apple’s Q4 earnings, missed the mark, on Wall Street. They came in, with $36 billion, in revenue, for Q4. Although, expected, $35.8 billion. They’re slightly ahead, there. The earnings, per shares, came in at $8.67, when, Wall Street, expected, $8.75. Which is a considerable miss.
Jason: Is that a considerable miss, 1%?
Tyler: Yeah. That’s a considerable miss. Ten cents on $8, is a considerable miss. One cent, is considered a miss.
Jason: Why is that? Why do people care, so much? Who cares? What if, they just bought a data center?
Tyler: Yeah. I know. But, as far as, the Wall Street types, are concerned, Ideally, you want to come in above.
Jason: Who sets the estimates, though? It’s Wall Street’s estimate.
Tyler: Yeah. It is. The sentiment of the street. Yes. What happens is, you want to come in ten cents above, what the street is expecting. That’s what you’re aiming for, as C.E.O. of the company.
Jason: So, when, you come in under, it’s a really big deal?
Tyler: Yes. It’s not normal.
Jason: I never got that. O.K. So, what’s the bottom line?
Tyler: The bottom line is… Let’s dive into it. iPhone sales are up 58%, year-over-year.
Jason: That’s unbelievable. iPhone sales are up 58%, year-over-year?
Tyler: iPad sales are up 26%, year-over-year.
Jason: That seems low to me. Should be more.
Tyler: Mac sales are up, only, 1%, year-over-year.
Jason: That’s anemic. Is it, only, up 1%, Peter, because, everybody is buying iPhones and iPads? And, they don’t see the point in upgrading their desktop?
Peter: Yeah. I think, that, a big part of it is, people are opting for iPads, instead of, laptops, right now. I think, that what we’re seeing is that we’ve gotten into a phase, where, the middle of last decade, households were saying, “It’s affordable, for us to have 2 or 3 PCs, in the house.” Now, a lot of people, when that oldest PC died, or needed to be replaced. They bought an iPad, instead. It’s not that they’re not going to buy a laptop, ever, again. They’re just not feeling the urgency to buy another laptop, any time, soon. They’re going to wait. Those cycles are extending.
Jason: I agree, with that. I did buy the new, iMac. Anytime they come out with the new iMac, I get it. Because, I’m an idiot. I bought the iPad mini. I bought the iPad 4, or, whatever, they’re calling it, and, I bought the new iMac. It’s been years. Two years, maybe, since I upgraded my iMac. I don’t care about my desktop computer, anymore. If I can surf the web and get a browser going in it, that’s all I care about. I don’t play anymore. I play games on my iPad. I don’t, really, do anything that’s computer-intensive. I think, people are going to upgrade their computers, every 6 or 7 years. Which, I think spells doom for, Dell and other people, who makes those things. It’s over. Keep going.
Tyler: The question is, will the new devices that are released, before Christmas, be enough to cover the lift, in revenue?
Jason: Oh, yeah. I gotta think, 100%. What do you think, Marshall?
Marshall: I think, I’ve got something to say to just about every topic, today. But, this one, I have to divert to, Peter, in particular, on.
Jason: Peter, what do you think? They’re going to make up for it, obviously in Q4, this whole new line of devices.
Peter: It’s hard not to see sales improving, when, you basically, completely refresh your product line, and your company, like Apple. I don’t worry about Apple, that much. They seem to be doing, just, fine. If they missed their earnings, I don’t think, it was by that much. If you think about the sheer volume of earning and profit, they’re generating, you look at other companies, like, Amazon, which, are just scraping by. And, Google. Which, are all doing well, when, you think about it. Apple is still, a powerhouse.
Jason: Apple is a magnitude more profitable.
Peter: They’re at a different scale, than, everybody else.
Jason: It’s a other-worldly scale. Looking at it, they, now, have $110 $120 billion, in cash. They’ve the largest hedge fund, in the world. Somebody tweeted, “They can buy a space station, now.” One of the blogs, obviously, wrote that, made that comparison. If you, just, look at the prices of companies, like, Yahoo!, Pandora. They could go buy Yahoo!, Pandora. They could buy ten, meaningful companies. I’m not talking about buying $50 million, or, $100 million, pre-IPO companies. They can buy Groupon. They can buy Zynga. They can buy Yahoo!. They could buy everything on the market. They are not doing any M&A. Which, is fascinating, to me. Very small M&A. What’s that?
Peter: Except for Color, right?
Jason: They paid $5 million, to get a bunch of engineers, who make apps.
Peter: I’m just making a joke. What’s funny to me is, when, talking about the issues and challenges, they’re facing, around TVs. About getting into the television market. They can buy Dish. That’s a sub-$20 billion buy, for them. Then, suddenly, they’d have a satellite television business.
Jason: They could have Direct TV or Dish, or something. That would be transformative, if, when you turned on Direct TV or Dish, and, your talking about people with, tens of millions of subscribers, in The United States. If they owned, one of those, and, you turned on your Dish Network, and, an Apple logo came up, and your iTunes was there, your season passes were there, Oh, my God. If Angry Birds, were there. It doesn’t seem like they like to do that. They have that syndrome, don’t they? That of, “Not made here.”
Marshall: Another way to look at it is, as, Steve Jobs, used to say, “Innovation means, saying, “No.”, to a thousand things.”
Jason: That is fair. He was, pretty, disciplined about that. Let me take a moment, here. To tell you about another great product. That’s MailChimp. Oh. My God. EeeeeEEE!. I was telling, somebody, today. They said, they wanted to be an, influencer. “How should I be an influencer?” I said, it’s very, simple to be an influencer. He works with the publishing business. He works with the top 100 publishers. I said, “Get the top 50 or 100 magazine publishers. Put them on a MailChimp list. Email them, this weekend, the three most interesting things, you’ve seen in, whatever topic, people are buzzing about. They’re talking about interactive ad campaigns. Where doing the Federated Media, conversational media stuff. I said, “O.K. Just, write about those three things. Email it to those, 50 or 100 people. In a plain text email. Then, at the end, say, “If anybody knows any other great examples, let me know. I’ll share it with the group. If you don’t want to get my infrequent, passionate updates, click here, to unsubscribe.” Just start a 25 person mailing list. He said, “Oh, God. That’s so genius. How do I do it?” I said, “It’s, very, simple. Go to MailChimp.” He said, “Oh. Right. MailChimp.” EEEEeeeEEee. That’s it. I told him, “The free plan, is always free. 2,000 subscribers, 12,000 emails, a month. Free, free, free, free, free, free. Why free? For that many emails, and such a great service? Because, they know you’re going to grow, using their service. Email is a secret weapon. Peter, has at GDGT, what, 250,000 emails on the list?
Peter: We’ve got a big email list, at this point. Yeah.
Jason: It’s hundreds of thousands, of people. I get your email, and, it pulls me back in. All of a sudden, I’m like, “I haven’t been to GDGT, in a couple of days.” There’s an interesting discussion, that, Ryan wrote about. Or Peter’s writing about something. It pulls me, right back in. People respond. I don’t know, Peter. How do people respond when you write one of those emails?
Peter: The open rate is, really, high and the click-through rate is, way above industry averages, according to what MailChimp’s analytics, tell us.
Jason: The analytics is the best part. You can start to understand. If, you write a stinker, of an email, you can look back on your last 10 emails. When I wrote, this thing, nobody opened it and people unsubscribed. When, I wrote this, people forwarded it to a friend or they opened it multiple times. All this great stuff is available. Building these kinds of things, yourself, is ridiculous. MailChimp is constantly releasing new, awesome features. Like, the mobile-friendly email templates, which, we use in the Launch Ticker. MailChimp, makes it very easy with drag and drop file uploads. There is no contract. There is no trial. The free plan is, always free. They’re confident that you love the product, that you pay as you go. You don’t need to sign a two-year contract. Like, those other… those bastards, make you sign. MailChimp didn’t put bastards, here. That’s me. I hate those bastards, who make you sign… When somebody says that to me, i cross it out, in the contract. Like, absolutely not. What decade are you living in? Is it 1987? That you gotta lock me down, to a 5-year deal? If your products good, I use it. If, your products, not good, I stop using it. That’s software as a service, at the pinnacle. That’s the way the professionals do it. MailChimp is the leader, in their category. Thank you, MailChimp, for making a great product, that makes my life, very, very, easy. Next story. Enough,with the Facebook, nonsense. The Wall Street nonsense. Let’s talk about the Surface.
Tyler: MicroSoft, releases the Surface. 10.6″ Clear-type display. Micro SD slot, behind the kickstand. USB port, and, whatnot. XBox Music Service, comes with the Surface. It can push video to an XBox. Very, similar to Apple’s AirPlay. Starting at $499, for the 32GB, without a keyboard. Another hundred, for the keyboard. That’s kind of the innovation, there. A tablet, with a keyboard cover, thing. How will the Surface do, in this grey area, between, laptop and tablet? How will it compare to iPad and other tablets? Will people cash out the extra $100, for the keyboard?
Jason: What do you think, Peter? Is this thing, D.O.A.? Oh. There, it is. Whoa! What do you think, so far?
Peter: I’ve been writing down, my thoughts, today, actually. There are a few things, that are really great, about it. This touch cover thing. Look how thin, this is.
Jason: It looks like, it’s a legal pad, if you use up, all the yellow paper.
Peter: It’s not much thicker than, the smart cover, on the iPad.
Tyler: It looks like the cover, on the iPad.
Jason: So, it’s smart cover aside. You get a keyboard.
Peter: I was really skeptical. This is going to be, really, terrible to type on. I’ve found, I can type, really, well, right away. I’m sure, with practice, I’ll get, pretty, fast on it. Much better experience than I’d expect. The touch cover’s, probably, the best innovation, of the whole thing. It’s actually, pretty, sturdy. You can hold it, upside down.
Jason: It doesn’t, just, release, like the Apple cover. It’s locked on.
Peter: It’s pretty tight. I think, one of the things that’s complicated, about the story of the surface, is that, there’s the version that’s running Windows RT, that just came out. Then, there’s the version, the Pro, which is going to come out with the full version of windows 8, in a few months. The relationship, between, Windows RT and, full-blown Windows 8, is actually, complicated to understand, unless you are following this. Which is, Windows RT, is just the mobile interface. It runs on ARM processors, which, is a mobile processor. It only runs apps, designed, specifically for Windows RT, for the mobile interface. Regular Windows’ apps, won’t install. It’s a more limited experience. Frankly, for what they’re trying to do, with the Surface, which, is position it like a laptop or a PC, with all this great tablet stuff, baked into it. I think your better off, waiting for the Pro. Which, could actually, legitimately, replace a laptop and your tablet. Where, this feels, a little bit, too far in between. I think, it leans a little too heavy, on the PC side, actually. I wanted MicroSoft, to go all the way, and, jettison a lot of the legacy PC stuff. Also, I don’t want to say that it’s heavy, actually, given what it’s weight is, it feels a little heavier in your hands than it should.
Jason: It looks a little thick. Like half of a Think Pad. It looks like it’s a third bigger than an iPad.
Peter: Yeah. It’s slightly thicker. It’s longer and it’s difficult to hold in your hand, in portrait orientation. It’s a 16 X 9 screen. It’s not as comfortable or easy to use it, as an iPad. There are things I like about it. I find it’s interface to be, very nice. I’ve always liked the Windows Phone interface. It’s very similar to that. There’s not a lot of apps, for it. But, the apps I have used, like the NetFlix app, is amazing. It’s really great.
Jason: Is this an app for enterprises, that don’t want to deploy iPads, but have a bunch of VPs and directors, saying, “We need a tablet solution, that syncs with Office, and, these other directory services.”
Peter: I wouldn’t buy this one, I would buy the Pro. Which, is a little thicker. It’s going to have a higher resolution screen. This has the 1366 X 760 screen, which, just doesn’t look, as good as, the iPad screen. But the Surface Pro, has a higher resolution screen. It’s going to be, more expensive, the Pro. If you want something that can replace your laptop, I would wait for that one.
Jason: This isn’t going to take any meaningful market share, from Apple? Or, is it going to take meaningful market share, from laptop providers, like, Dell?
Peter: I think, this is the big question. I think, MicroSoft wants to shift into being a devices and services business. They realize that their two big franchises, Windows and Office, their best days are behind them. There’s still going to be a lot of growth. They’re still throwing off huge amounts of profit. But, the growth phase is, really, over. They’re trying to figure out, how to transition. In some ways, like Apple. I’m sure MicroSoft is going to do a phone.
Jason: Since, they have such an amazing foothold, in XBox. I think Ryan pointed this out. Why don’t they, just, call it the XBox tablet, or, the XBox Phone? Take that franchise and extend it on a consumer basis. They came out with, the Zune. If it was, the XBox music player, wouldn’t that have done better and been easier for people to understand?
Peter: That might have been, something that works, better. Now, they do have XBox music as a service, which, is built into all this. I think, they want to preserve the XBox as, an entertainment brand. They felt like they want to build off the Windows legacy, with what they’re doing, here. In some ways, I respect MicroSoft for taking a, really, big bet. Being willing to make a bold move, with the new user interface. I think, baking it into Windows, even though, there’s this one weird desktop version and then it’s this new tablet interface. It’s a little confusing and a little kludgy, but, I think, in the balance, they had to do something, like that. It’s just that the Windows RT thing, feels, a little weird, to me. I would have rather that they had scaled up Windows Phone OS, into a tablet, and, just said, “We’re not going to license this, to anybody. We’re only going to license it to a small number of OEMs, who make, really, great hardware, for it. If you think about it, the iPad is successful, because, it’s the iPhone, scaled up, into a tablet. It’s not a MacBook, scaled down, into a tablet.
Jason: You have to build up from, what’s working, on mobile, into the tablet. That’s a, really, good point. Marshall, MicroSoft, best days behind them, or is this a sign that they can innovate, and, that they can, actually, build something that is really beautiful? That people, like Peter, actually, respect and is intrigued by. This is the first time, I think, I’ve heard serious hardware people, really, love a MicroSoft product, in a long time. Maybe, XBox and Connect were two things, they loved. Now, we got a tablet, that they, actually, seem to love.
Marshall: That’s great. They’re, surely, nobody to take lightly. It’s a, really, high bar to catch up to the user experience and the compelling design of Apple products. This tablet sounds intriguing, but, I don’t know why I would want something, bigger than my iPad, but, smaller than my Air. Other than, to experiment with.
Jason: Do you think, there’s an opportunity, though, to have those two devices become one, Marshall?
Marshall: No. Not necessarily. I feel like, I use them for different purposes and at different times. I’m, pretty, comfortable, with that. The iPad is, really, handy to hold, in all kinds of different ways. The Air feels heavy duty, enough, and yet, light enough, I feel fine, having both. Plus a phone.
Jason: I’m getting, a little, annoyed carrying both. I find, some trips I never take my MacBook Air out. On other trips, when, I don’t bring my MacBook Air, or I wanted to write something, and I don’t have a great keyboard, I bought the Logitech keyboard. I, literally, bought three of these keyboards, that connect over BlueTooth. There is something about BlueTooth, and, connecting over that, that just sucks.
Peter: It’s a little laggy. Those keyboards. The BlueTooth keyboards, on the iPad, can be, a little, laggy, I find.
Jason: The lag is disgusting. The whole purpose of using a keyboard is to go fast. To get back to 80, 90, 100 words per minute. Which, is what I type. It’s like, why did I buy this device. This is a terrible experience. I think, we’ve lost the concept of typing. I was on the phone with the BlackBerry folks, the other day. Talking about some business development stuff. I’m not going to talk about what that was. I was telling them, I think the industry, I mean this sincerely, because, people don’t have a keyboard, anymore, nobody will make a keyboard, Android phone, or a keyboard, iOS device, People are not writing long, intelligent, clear, concise emails, anymore. Everybody’s writing misspelled, auto-corrected one-liners. You get some board member, right, Peter, sending some message off of their iPad or iPhone, and it makes no fricking sense. In the BlackBerry days, people would write a four bullet response. You couldn’t tell, if they’re on their desktop or they’re on their BlackBerry. That’s why I still keep a BlackBerry, with me. When you see anybody who’s a serious CEO or venture capitalist, they take out two phones. Dave Goldberg, from SurveyMonkey, boom. Two phones, on the table. He has the BlackBerry, for typing serious stuff. He’s got the iPhone for doing apps and surfing the web. Every serious person, I know, has both of those. You have to have a keyboard. These onscreen keyboards, don’t work. I don’t know, Peter. Am I right or wrong?
Peter: You know what it is? Swift Key, on Android, is awesome. I can type, really, quickly, with it now.
Jason: How close to your Treo 650 or?
Peter: Actually, I think, it’s better, at this point, because of prediction. It does predictions and learns your typing style. You can link it to your Twitter account, your Gmail account, and stuff, like that. Have it pull in your patterns.
Jason: What app is that?
Peter: Swift Key. It’s for Android, only. The way it does predictive text, is so good. It’s not like iOS, where it’s just generic predictions, based on one dictionary. It does predictions, based on, what you write. If you write, Jason, it’ll do Calacanis, as your next word, as the prediction. You just hit the spacebar and it comes in. It’s really increased my typing speed, a lot. I find that I can type about as fast, with it, as I can, with a keyboard. It’s something that iPhone owners, are not experiencing. Typing on the iPhone, is a nightmare.
Jason: This is the iOS dilemma. When you lock a piece of software down, the way Apple tends to do, you have no innovation occurring. To make keyboard software, they don’t allow that, correct?
Peter: They do not allow that.
Jason: That’s so stupid.
Peter: You have to jail break it, basically.
Jason: This is where Apple gets me so infuriated, sometimes. I have friends, over there. They have to let go of this control-freak nature, with certain things. It’s almost like the market has to beat them into submission, on it. They finally allowed other people to have a browser. Finally. Then, they kicked one of those picture apps out, for using the volume control, as a snap, for a photo. I don’t know, which, app that was. Then, they put that in the very next version, of how you take pictures on the iPhone 4S. You remember that, Peter?
Peter: Yeah. I do. I can’t remember who that was, but I remember it happened.
Jason: It’s so lame. Dragon, which, has the best dictation, it crushes Siri. It came out with an assistant for Android, that allows you to launch other apps, and do things in other apps. So, you could say, “Launch Path. Check in Mahalo.” And, it does it. Right? Holy Cow. All you can do with Siri is, launch another app. You can’t do the first command. How great it would be to launch Waze, navigate home. But, Apple won’t let you do that. Siri’s got to be locked down. Apple won’t let you put a Siri competitor on there, because nobody else is allowed to listen… you know? Marshall, what do you think about the locked down iOS system, cramping innovation?
Marshall: I would love to see innovation in dialers and keypads. I can’t help but have this lingering doubt, in the back of my mind. When, I think about the weekend that I jailbroke my iPad. There’s not much out there, that people have taken the trouble to build, that’s really very interesting. The swift key replacement, which, would be wonderful to have on an iPad, is so broken, that it’s, just, unusable. Why haven’t people built that, I wonder.
Jason: What’s the percentage of people who want to jail break their phone?
Peter: The market’s too small. That’s the problem.
Marshall: Sure. But, just, for utility. Some, really, simple version of it. The one that’s on there, if you’ve seen it, is 90% of the way there, already.
Jason: If you’re a developer and Apple keeps taking the jailbreaking, making it harder and harder, and all your resources are, in how to route around the big fence, they’re putting up, instead of, how to make the software, better. You’re spending all your time, 99% figuring out how to get on the device. 1% building the product. That’s disheartening. Really, what Apple should do is, when you have an unauthorized app loading, it should say, “This is an unauthorized, or, experimental app, if you’re sure, you want to do it, go to your settings, and allow unauthorized apps.” Which, by the way, they started doing on their desktop. When, I tried to download, one of these third party utilities, “this is something, not from the Apple store. Are you sure, you want to load it?” You had to go to your settings, and, say, “I’m O.K. with loading Google Canary.” They’re tightening up the desktop, to be more like iOS. Right, Peter?
Peter: That’s exactly, what they’re doing. I’m not sure this is something that’s going to happen, anytime soon. It’s a legitimate concern that they might lock down the Mac OS, completely and say “No”. You can only install apps, from the Apple store. I don’t think that’s going to happen. There’s certainly a possibility, now that they’ve baked it into the OS. So that, they could do that. One of the nice things, about Android is, you can’t install an app with unsigned code, without going into your settings and marking that, as one of your preferences. I think, in theory, Apple could do the same thing. Just make it a little bit of a hurdle. Not something the average person is going to mess with. Don’t set it by default. Make it something you have to do. Take all these risks, voiding your warranty, or whatever. They could do that. Actually, Ryan Block, asked that of Steve Jobs, at an Apple press conference, a few years, ago. There wasn’t, a lot of, interest in that, obviously. You know when, Steve Jobs says, that famous statement, how they wanted to keep porn, from kids.
Jason: Yeah. It’s like, really? The iPad is built for porn. That is the porn device. Your in bed, here’s your iPad, for browsing porn. That’s kind of strange. Next story.
Tyler: New York City Metro Authority releasing train arrival data, to developers. Never before have riders been able to see live train information, without, having to go into the station. To be like a subway countdown clock, in your pocket. By the end of the year, numbered line riders, will be able to get next train arrival times, by downloading the MTA app. MTA will also be looking to private sector, to help riders get the best apps, with up to the minute train information. The question is, how well can the government do this, versus private sector developers?
Jason: What do you think, Peter? You’re a New Yorker. How great is this?
Peter: This is great. One of the things that I understand, that the MTA is recognizing is that, I believe they, actually, charged someone for releasing this data, and, letting it out there, via API. Realizing, rather than them building all these apps, that it’d be better to take the data. It’s not like the MTA, makes more money by hoarding the data. It doesn’t increase ridership, for them to not put the data out there. I think, philosophically, they want to do this. They’ve a decent job, considering that’s an underfunded government agency, getting that stuff out there, in a way that people can use it.
Jason: It gotta be cheaper, too, to provide the API, than update an app, constantly. When, you think about it, they do need to increase ridership. Their budget’s based on that. It’s a fixed cost business. I tell you, being a New Yorker, I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve sat on that goddamned Lincoln Center B train and waited 20, 40 minutes, for a train, sometimes. At 10 o’clock at night, coming home from Fordham, and, froze my cojones off. If I knew the train was coming, in 19 minutes, I would’ve just stayed in study hall, for fifteen, then, walked to the train. This is massive. People used to wait on the Union Square station or 34th Street, for the green lines, because it was so hot, down there in the summer. It would go to 110 degrees. People would be passing out. Your shirt would be drenched, by the time you got where you were going. Then, you’d go into air conditioning, or, you’d get into the subway car, itself. 110 on the platform and 60 degrees, in the car. You be getting pneumonia, in August. If you could wait and know that it’s coming, in 8 minutes, O.K. I’m going to stay, above ground for 7, then, I’m going to run downstairs, slide my Metro Card, and, get in. That’s a big game changer, for people. It would, absolutely, wind up in things like Google maps, Apple maps. Genius. Marshall, what do you think, government releasing data, like this?
Marshall: You know what city, in America, has the best transit app market, is Portland. Right here. Our local transit authority, puts out loads of data, for free. They’ve got they’re own app store, listing 50 different mobile transit apps. It’s awesome. They’re really good. In a lot of other places, it can get kind of sticky. There’s a story, in a transit publication, last week, about a San Francisco app developer, who was told that he couldn’t build a next bus stop app, because, that data was owned by a third party private corporation, he had to go through. He needed to apply a key and license from, and, pay for. In Chicago, they’ve got a private company, that also owns the data, but the city issues API keys. So, it really differs, city to city. You might note, Google maps, on the old iPhone, had transit directions, as an option. Now, the Apple maps, doesn’t. They’re gone. There’s another independent group called, Open Plans.org, that funded, itself, this summer, on Kickstarter, to build a universal, open data platform, for mobile transit apps. Lots and lots of stuff going on, in that space.
Jason: I gotta tell you. Just five years, ago, in New York City, discussing this. The dialogue would have been, and, certainly, ten years ago, this would have been, the dialogue. “Oh, my God. We can’t release this data. The terrorists are going to blow up trains.” Peter, am I right or am I wrong?
Peter: I think there would have been a little more concern, about that. I think, there’s a recognition, that ultimately, it’s the public’s data. It’s a public service. Having it out there, is going to create, a lot, more value. I think, people are more calmed down, about some of that stuff. More, realistic, about where the real dangers are.
Jason: Exactly. If someone’s going to blow something up, as we saw, over and over, again. They just caught, some scumbag. I love it. This guy was talking to federal agents, for like 3 or 6 months. They, basically, sent him to get the fertilizer. Had him set up the bomb. Had him drive the van. Of course, no one was ever in danger. It was, like, fake bomb material. The bomb wasn’t, actually, set up. This schmuck, piece of garbage, went to the Fed building, put the truck, there, and, lit the detonator. Of, course, the detonator’s not connected to anything. Now, he’s gonna go to Guantanamo, or, jail. Hopefully, execution for life. They’ll just kill the guy, I hope. I’m not pro-death penalty, but, I am for terrorists. If it can, really, be proven, in a court of law. It really is nice that we’re getting past the tragedy of 9/11. Hopefully, this goes to data, as well. we’re thinking about, due process for terrorists. Actually, put them to trial, if we can. In some cases, I know it’s not, Also, do we need to be spying on people, all of the time? Can we pull back on some of the freedoms, that we’ve given up? They got rid of the metal detectors, at the airport. I wouldn’t go through the metal detectors, after, reading a survey of doctors. Remember, we read that? In this survey of doctors, 8.7 out of 10 doctors, said, they would never go through the metal detectors, at the airport. They know that if it gets calibrated, incorrectly, which means, somebody bumped into it, or, knocked it…
Tyler: The people who run it, are very highly skilled, intelligent people. I trust my life to those TSA people.
Jason: Here’s what happens. I talked to a doctor, about it. He said, the x-ray technicians and doctors, who, are involved in x-rays, have to wear a meter. It shows, how much radiation, they’ve been exposed to, so, that if it gets to a certain level, they know something’s going on. The TSA wouldn’t let the TSA agents, wear them.
Jason: Which, I guess, means, they know, it’s going to be, too much exposure. getting pat down. I was getting smacked in the nuts. It felt like every month, these guys wanted to hit my junk, more and more. I swear, to God, I’ve been smacked in the nuts, so many times, it’s almost comical. I literally brace myself, at LAX. I take a deep breath. I know, when, they’re coming up my leg, it’s going to be the whack. Right in your balls. Then, they do the other side. Bang. Then, they’re like, I’m going to pat the back of your junk, with my hand. Really? Then, they go just like this, down your brajol.
Tyler: You know what the hack, for that is? There’s a way to get out of that.
Jason: Put golf balls in my underwear?
Tyler: No, no. When, he says, “Sir, I’m going to use the back of my hands.” You just say, knock yourself out.
Jason: It’s crazy. Now, they have realized, the metal detectors don’t do anything. They can be hacked. Finally. They had them shut down, at LAX. They putting people through the one that’s not radiation. You go like this. It doesn’t show your body, your junk to folks and your boobs, it basically, just, shows where it is, on your body. It shows you, there might be something, here. It just says, there’s something in his pocket. That thing is so sensitive. I went through it. I had my boarding pass, in my back pocket. The person’s like, “What’s in your back pocket?” I’m like “nothing.” “Sir, could you please check your back pocket.” It was my boarding pass, folded in half. That came up. Next story. Hey, Peter, Marshall, overhead your nuts smacked, in the last couple of months, going through security?
Tyler: No. I always opt out.
Jason: You, opt out, Peter. Every time?
Peter: Yeah. You know what’s funny? I was coming back from Boston and I flew. You know, actually, the metal detector is fine. It’s the full scan one, that’s dangerous. I always opt out. When, I went to security, last week, the TSA agent was like, “These are the new ones. It’s a different thing. They’re much safer.” I was like, whatever. I’m not listening to you. I get home and I’m reading, yeah, Logan Airport, were the first one to put these new machines in, that don’t, actually, have that same radiation risk, as the other ones. The problem is, they look, exactly, the same, as far as, I can tell. It’s really hard to know, which places have them, which places don’t. I’m not a conspiracy theory, type of person. I do think, the TSA, internally assessed the risks and started rolling out the other machines. I think, they decided, whatever risk is there, is slightly too high and it’s not worth it.
Jason: The risk of, the danger of the radiation?
Peter: The danger of the radiation and the fact that people do opt out and it slows down the security lines. I don’t know what kind of internal calculations, they made, but, they wouldn’t switch those machines, for just any kind of reason. At least, I hope.
Jason: Yeah. They just gotta profile people. They gotta get that woman, from Homeland.
Marshall: The way that the Israeli airports work is, really, interesting. I’ve read, at least, they don’t make extensive use of metal detectors, or, real formal security, like we do, here. Instead, it’s a whole lot of psychological profiling, looking deep into people’s eyes. As soon as, you walk through the door.
Jason: I think it’s Masad guys. Like army guys and Masad guys. If you’re brown, if you’re arab, you’re going to get 20 questions. Racial profiling? Exactly. That’s exactly the point. We are, unabashedly. Yes. “Are you muslim?” They ask, “Are you muslim?” “Are you a practicing muslim?” Looking into your eyes. Like poker players. “Why are you, here?” “What hotel? You stayed at that hotel, before? Why’d you pick that hotel? How much are you paying, per room?” It’s serious and it works. They have no choice, but to do that kind of stuff. Let’s do the last story.
Tyler: Udacity, raised $15 million, from Andreessen Horowitz, CRV, and Steve Blank. Total funding, now a just over $21 million. short videos, tasks, and, quizzes, really, involving the students. Google VP and Stanford professor.
Jason: TWiST #271, for Sebastian. A great interview.
Tyler: He hopes to level the playing field, between the first world and the third world, by bringing Stanford-level courses, to anyone with an internet connection, for free. Question is, will people continue to pay for conventional education, to gain the prestige of Stanford and Harvard, if this becomes successful?
Jason: Marshall, what’s your take. There’s, Sebastian, who was on TWiST episode #271. It was a great interview. He’s the guy who made Google Goggles. Look how much weight I’ve lost. I just want to point that out, by the way. I was 211, in that. I’m 188, right now. Marshall, what do you think of my weightless and what do you think about, Udacity?
Marshall: I think, that, your weightless is an inspiration. I commend you on it. I think, your 300th show is a great time to celebrate it. Sebastian Thrun. I didn’t know he worked on the Google Goggles, I thought the development of the Google self-driving car.
Marshall: Which, is nuts. It’s notable that this company and a number of others are getting support for offline credits, at universities. Colorado State University, as well as, some universities in Austria and Germany, accept Udacity credits, now, towards graduation. Apparently, they’ve got a deal in place, with Pearson, to do in-person test proctoring.
Jason: That’s the big one.
Marshall: I don’t think that this on-line education, would ever substitute for offline education. It’s where the on-line, really, augments and disrupts, what used to be, an entirely off-line industry. Be that AirBnB, Yelp, Uber, or, FourSquare. It’s that mixed reality stuff, that packs the biggest punch.
Jason: Also, EdEx got funded $100 million, for a joint venture, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, and the University of Texas system. They’re going to go after Udacity. Of course the third one is, Corsaira. Really, as Marshall points out, paying for paper, is the concept you’re going to hear. What it means is, you can take a Udacity course, for free. Thousands of people are signing up, for these courses. Machine learning, is the same, exact, course at Stanford. It’s, actually, better, because, you get more motivated students, as it turns out. As opposed to people, who have to be at Stanford, till they get their degree. From what I understand. He told me, on the show, that, he had 200 or 300 people graduate the course online, with higher scores, than, the highest 3 or 4 people, at Stanford, in person. So, 100X of the people with the highest rating. Because, of this, they are going to be able to go to a specific training center, where, an exam will be given, to them. You say, “I’ll be there, at 1 o’clock.” You go. There’s a proctor, in there. He hands you the paper. They don’t even know what’s in it. They just watch, to make sure, you’re not cheating. You take the test. You hand it in. I think, he says, you pay $100 or $200. Holy cow. How much of a game changer, is this, Peter? If you had someone, from Udacity, who took machine learning, took artificial intelligence, and, had the certificate, would you think it was, any different than going in person? Would you hire the person, or, not? Based upon, they took it on Udacity, or, in person.
Peter: I don’t think, we look at resumés, to be honest. where you went to school, at Engadget. We don’t care, a lot, about that.
Jason: What do you think about?
Peter: I think about skill set. I think about motivations. I think about where they can fit in, and contribute to the culture, of the organization. Whether, they can do the job. Frankly, can do the job, without being micro-managed. Which, is like a key thing, for me. I don’t believe in micro-managing people, at all. That’s, actually, something I learned from you.
Jason: Hire great people, you don’t have to manage them.
Marshall: Peter, if I could phrase it, a little bit, differently, if you had the choice of going to Udacity or Harvard, again, which would you do?
Peter: I would, probably, go back to Harvard, to be honest. For what I got out of it, it wasn’t just about the things that I learned. It was about the time to be able to be creative, to grow, and, to meet people. To, frankly, figure out, what I want to do, with my life. I know that’s, sort of, a trite thing, but, that’s what’s great about liberal arts education.
Jason: What about the graduate degree, then?
Peter: I have a degree, in english.
Jason: O.K. What about your next graduate degree?
Peter: I don’t intend to, ever, go back to school.
Jason: If you did? If you wanted to get your master’s.
Peter: If I wanted to learn how to program, or, something like that, I would definitely take an online course, like that. I think, it’s something where the job you do is, very credentials based. Very, technical, in nature. I think the online learning would be, just as good, or better. For other things, it’s not about the nuts and bolts of what you’ve learned. The way, in which, you learn it and the relationships you develop. The interaction you have with other people.
Jason: Marshall, you answer the question. Both, on hiring and what you would prefer.
Marshall: I’m concerned, that there are a lot of the soft skills, the networking, the human connection, the self-awareness, the maturation and growth, that happens, through offline education, that could be supplemented, really, nicely through digital stuff. But, show me somebody’s that’s replaced, all of that, with a purely online education and I would worry that they would be good at nothing, but following orders.
Jason: You do have a concern. You do need people, in terms of replacing college. What about continuing education? I’m in the workforce. I’m a 32 year-old person at X startup, but, I don’t know anything about machine learning. I take 5 courses in machine learning, artificial intelligence, whatever. You see they’ve got them from Udacity. They’ve been certified. I might hire a person, based on that.
Marshall: For sure. There’s such a shortage of, to speak in the crassest of terms, human capital in this industry, that anything that will help people get another leg up would be of interest to me, as an employer.
Jason: I have to say, for me, I think, this is going to be massively transformative. The next phase of this, is going to be that people are going to create study groups, locally. The same way, TedX, became the local version of Ted conferences. “I can’t afford the $17 million to attend Ted, in person.” Whatever the frack they charge, now. “I’m going to do my own little event.” I think, that’s what’s going to happen, here. 25 people could, basically, create their own little school. Let’s say 25 inner-city kids, graduated high school, or, they’re just over achievers. They say, “We’re graduating high school. What are we going to do? We can’t afford college. Let’s get a room, somewhere, and take these online courses, and challenge each other, and discuss them. Let’s just go faster, than, everybody else.” It’s almost like creating your own unconference. It would be an “uncollege”. I’m just thinking out loud, here. Imagine having an uncollege.
Marshall: Jason, I just graduated, well LittleBird, just graduated from an incubator, with a program, a lot like that, called, CodeScouts.org. That has an emphasis on helping women form offline study groups, that work together. Through online curricula.
Jason: How was that program? Good program?
Marshall: It was awesome. The pie incubator experiment that we, both, LittleBird and CodeScouts, graduated from, worked out, really, really, well for us.
Jason: Let me ask you about, Portland. I’ve been watching Portlandia. It’s pretty funny. Is it, actually, as smug and absurd as the show? Portland.
Marshall: It’s hard to estimate, what percentage, it’s dialed up on that show. The jokes strike, pretty, close to home. Yeah. A lot of people own chicken, and know where their chicken came from. Actually, if you’ve seen the Portlandia episode, where people are getting lost in that building, in the creative agency, and, everybody’s being absurd. Then, they sit in this weird nest, that takes off out through the roof.
Marshall: That’s where LittleBird and CodeScouts graduated from.
Jason: I just love… Have you seen, Portlandia?
Marshall: I haven’t.
Jason: Peter, have you seen, Portlandia?
Peter: Yeah. I’ve watched it.
Jason: Oh, God. It’s so genius. We were at Lake Tahoe. We may have had a couple of beverages. We were watching it, literally, on somebody’s NetFlix account. We were up till 3, in the morning. We watched it for 3 hours, straight. Just, laughing our asses off. It’s absolutely hysterical. If you open a bottle of wine. Let’s do one last story. We’ll let Peter go. I know he has a hard stop.
Peter: I have to make one token hipster comment, related to Portlandia.
Jason: Yes. Token hipster comment.
Peter: You know Carrie. I saw Carrie’s band, in 1994. She was 17.
Jason: Wow. Awesome.
Peter: Pre-Sleater Kinney
Jason: That’s pretty legit. Do this one with the startup, RateYourWaiter. What’s that about?
Tyler: A startup named, ServiceStars, creates a Yelp, for servers. There’s a promo clip. You going to play that?
Jason: Yeah. Let me find it. Keep going.
Tyler: Allows you to identify best service staff. Other users can rate your reviews and you earn perks. The servers profile goes with them, if they change restaurants. Like, a digital resumé. Server profiles promote, themselves, and the employing establishment. Question. Would this work? Would people take the time? Or, is this too, niche of a product?
Jason: Interesting. So, I basically, rate my waiter?
Tyler: Correct. It’s a waiter rater.
Jason: It’s a waiter rater. O.K. If I was evaluating this, like, I was angel investing, my first thing would be…
Tyler: You been pitched on this, before.
Jason: I have been pitched on something like this. This is what I’ll say. In my most manic times. Being a foodie. I would, absolutely, love to rate a waiter. Mostly, for good. However, this taking niche and value proposition, a thin layer. I don’t even see Yelp or Zagat, being able to pull this off. If Zagat did a yearly roundup of the 50 best servers, in New York, in Los Angeles. You know, the recognition thing, might be interesting. I also thought Food Spotting and some of these other places, it just got a little ridiculous. It was too narrow of a service, to be big. What do you think, Peter? You want to rate your waiter?
Peter: Do waiters, even, stick around for it to be meaningful data, for the average person?
Jason: Great point.
Peter: Honestly, if you want to do something nice, for your waiter, just, tip them, more.
Jason: Fair point. Marshall, is this a real company, I’m showing you, or, did we make this up to fool you?
Marshall: Funny. That would be fun. Give me a mobile app, where I can, just, read the worst Yelp reviews, in town, for fun. I’d get more value, out of that, probably.
Jason: What do you think, Tyler? This is kind of related to what you do at Skweal.
Tyler: It’s actually related to Tello.
Jason: Tello, Joe Beninato, was on the program. on it.
Tyler: He pitched you the idea, initially. From what I understand, they’ve shifted.
Jason: It didn’t work. It does work, to ask for customer service, like you do on Skweal.
Tyler: He had quite a bit of money
Jason: Why don’t you take Tello, off his hands? Merge it with Skweal.
Tyler: Because, when you ask restaurant owner, how they feel about it, they’re not crazy about it.
Jason: Oh. I see. Your service allows you to give feedback to the managers.
Jason: This is the question. Who’s this, really, intended for? Is it intended to help the restaurant, or, is this intended to help the customer?
Jason: Or, the waiter. I kink of feel like the waiter is the one who wants to get a lot of stars.
Tyler: Right. Those are two, very, different products.
Jason: Whoever the entrepreneur is, I wish them incredibly well. But, go a little bigger. We were going to show a clip of Bravo’s Silicon Valley. Here it is. A terrible show, on Bravo. Well, I’m assuming it’s terrible. They felt Dave McClure was inappropriate. Which, I don’t think any of us disagree. Dave McClure, is highly inappropriate. That’s why we love him.
Tyler: I don’t think that he would disagree.
Jason: I don’t think he disagrees. It’s a pretty funny clip. I have to give the show credit, for catching a good Dave McClure moment. I don’t know who these kids are that are pitching him. They felt it was disrespectful that he wanted to run through their pitch deck, at his own pace. Which, I understand. I’ve had people go through their pitch deck, the entrepreneur will say, “Do you want me to go through the pitch deck?” I say, “No. Just tell me what your idea is. Tell me how it’s going. How is it going to be a billion dollar business.” Just tell me that. This is the video of Hermione Way and Ben. I guess, they’re brother and sister. I think I’ve met these folks, before. He’s like, I am…
If we’re going to get this investment. You’ve got to know what you’re good at. I’m good at pitching.
Do you mind if I take a look through this, really, quickly?
Not at all.
I’ll come back and let you know. Got it.
Dave, going through our pitch deck, like that, was, really, annoying. The whole point of having a pitch deck, is you go through and you talk about points. Discuss the idea. I found it, slightly, disrespectful. Him going through the whole thing and making his own judgement.
Jason: Anyway. Whatever. What do you guys think? You going to watch this garbage?
Peter: I don’t have cable.
Peter: Precisely, for this reason. To make sure, I don’t accidentally watch this.
Jason: Marshall. Exactly, how disrespectful was, Dave McClure, when you pitched him and unsuccessfully, tried to get his money?
Marshall: Yeah. That’s the truth. He was not disrespectful. He was minimally, interested. But, made a lot of great introductions, to mentors. Which, was great.
Jason: There you go. I think, this is why, with the reality TV stuff, I haven’t gotten involved. 9 offers. You’ve been with me through a lot of them. I said I wouldn’t do it, unless, I had control. I just signed a deal, with, a famous reality company. I’ve announced it on the show. I think, that there is a 2%-5% chance that the show is going to get made. It would be with a cable network, like Bravo. It’s, obviously, centered around me, as an angel investor. Let’s, just, say, Gordon Ramsay, SharkTankish. I think they have 3 or 4 people, who are interested in signing me. I signed. I told them, I’ll do it and that I have final say on the editorial. They finally agreed. Oh, they agreed. Fine. Let’s go. I got final edit. I would never let them make me into a monkey, like these poor people. Look like such dopes. These aren’t the best entrepreneurs, anyway. These are just dopey people.
Tyler: Dave is just being Dave.
Marshall: They’re correspondents. Hermione Way and Sarah Austin. They’ve done a lot of intriguing work outside of this, that they deserve respect for, too.
Jason: I like, Sarah. I know her work. But, they make them look, so, dopey. Don’t they?
Tyler: I don’t think, Dave, comes across disrespectful, at all. That’s just, Dave.
Jason: Of course. Dave’s a no B.S. kind of guy. He uses 7 curse words, per sentence. He’s going to tell you the straight dope.
Tyler: He sees things and ideas, so fast, you’re far better off, just, letting him read your deck.
Jason: Of course, of course. Who is this, Ben Way? Who is that guy. I don’t even know who he is. He’s a good looking guy. I’ll give him credit, for that. Handsome guy. Thank you, Peter Rojas. Everybody follow @peterrojas, on his Twitter account, and, check out GDGT.com. Before you purchase an item figure out what you should buy. Figure out the score and after you buy it, figure out how to use it, and, if you have any questions, you’ll get them answered, instantly. Everybody, follow, @marshallk on Twitter. Checkout, getlittlebird and sign up. So, Marshall, please get me a beta account. Please. NDA. FrienDA. I actually signed up yesterday of two days, ago.
Marshall: Awesome. We’ll get you one tomorrow.
Jason: Thank you, pal. Thank you @snapterms. Welcome, to the family. Everybody check out SnapTerms and thank @snapterms on your Twitter account. If you made it to one hour and fifteen minutes, into the program, it is your giri, it is your duty, it is your humble honor to support the program, by thanking the sponsors, on your social media accounts. Of course, use the promo code: TWIST, on SnapTerms. MailChimp, you know I love you guys. You know, you can do no wrong, in my eyes. You make a beautiful product, that, is designed with emotion and consistency, and awesome features. The free plan’s always free. I love you guys at MailChimp, for making a great product that makes my life so easy. Hey. 300 episodes. Thank, to everybody who worked on the program, over the years. Mark Jeffrey, Carolyn, Lon Harris, of course.
Tyler: On and on.
Jason: Alex Miller, back in the day. So, many people have done work on here. Thank you, Tyler. Thanks for bringing the cake, for the… I told him, “No cake. We’re just going to have a plain show.” Thanks, Tyler.
Tyler: Of course.
Jason: One of the best parts of doing this, has been hanging out with you, over the years, and having fun, doing the program. We’ll see you all, next time, on ThisWeekIn Startups.
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