Adeo Ressi of Founder’s Institute and Rafe Needleman of Evernote join @jason for this Friday News Roundtable episode. You’ll hear and learn about the release of Twitter’s most recent acqui-hire, why Exxon has slipped by Apple as the world’s most valuable company and what the future has in store for Quora. Stick Around!
0:35 Welcome to TWiST our Friday News Roundtable! Stick with us it’s going to be a great show
2:20 Come check out our 3rd Live TWiST in San Francisco with David McClure February 8 at RocketSpace
4:30 We;ve got the LAUNCH Conference coming up March 4-6
5:15 Thanks to New Relic for sponsoring the program. Newrelic.com/this weekin
7:15 Adeo how are you doing my friend?
7:20 How many cities is the Founder’s Institute in now?
7:35 How would you compare yourself to TechStars or YCombinator?
8:20 Did you start with the intention to pivot to this ‘raw start’ model?
10:00 Rafe how is the transition from journalist to evangelist?
12:30 Let’s get to the news, what’s the first story?
14:20 Rafe what do you think on the recent Apple stock disaster?
14:50 Adeo what do you think about Apple currently?
15:10 Why do you have more Samsung products than Apple products?
16:20 When you’ve got 3 or 4 devices what are you reaching for 1st?
18:35 What do you think about Apple expanding their closed ecosystem?
19:20 What do you think about a $99 iPhone?
22:00 What do you guys think about Microsoft in all of this?
26:15 Did you ever think we’d ever get to a point when we’re sitting here talking about battery life?
28:10 Thanks to SnapTerms for supporting the show! Use the coupon code TWiST for a free NDA with any order.
31:00 What do you love/hate about Vine so far?
33:00 Rafe what do you think about Vine?
33:50 Adeo what do you think about Vine?
37:00 Rafe, what do you think about Facebook blocking Vine?
45:00 Will there be any other video sharing on Twitter?
47:00 What do you think about Yahoo’s Aqui-hired of Snip.it?
49:40 Rafe what do you think about automatically personalized content on Yahoo?
51:30 Adeo what do you think about Marissa’s vision about ‘content for you’?
59:00 How will the Quora blogging platform perform?
60:20 Quora what are your thoughts on this?
62:00 What will the business model be for Quora?
62:15 In what ways is Quora still alpha?
63:20 Rafe what do you think the chances are of getting a great answer on Quora?
65:40 What is the monetization of Quora?
67:25 Is Quora not putting a lot of stuff on SEO?
69:30 Why are there so many prisoner questions on Quora?
71:40 Thanks to Rafe and Adeo for being on the program!
Distribution provided by CloudSigma. The cloud that adapts to you. Visit CloudSigma.com/This WeekIn, for a free $200 credit.Today’s episode of ThisWeekIn Startups, is brought to you by, NewRelic. Use promo code: TWIST and get a free month of NewRelic Pro. To redeem: visit NewRelic.com/ThisWeekIn, and see why thousands of developers, world wide, don’t deploy, without it.
And by SnapTerms. Online legal protection made simple. Visit snapterms.com and enter the code TWIST to receive a free NDA with every order.
Jason: Hey, everybody. Hey, everybody. It’s Jason Calacanis. This is ThisWeekIn Startups. It’s a big news week. We had Apple missing their revenue for the quarter. Everybody’s freaking out. The stock is taking quite a haircut. Yahoo has acquired another company, Snip.it. I think that’s the second acquisition for Marissa. It looks like a good one. MicroSoft has the new Surface coming out. Apple pulled the Make Me Asian racist app. Is it racist? Let’s talk about that. MicroSoft’s Q2 earnings were pretty good. Quora now has blogs. I don’t know what that’s about. Sergey Brin takes the subway and wears Google Goggles, when he does. That’s just bizarre. Twitter’s Vine app is out. Which is really kind of cool. I played with it a bunch. There’s a lot of other things going on. Stick with us. Adeo Ressi of the Founder’s Institute, is on the program. Rafe Needleman of Evernote, formerly of CNET, the editorial establishment that will not review products that are in legal limbo with Les Munfez. Stick with us.
TWiST title sequence.
Jason: Hey, everybody. Hey, everybody. It’s a very tired Jason Calacanis, here for ThisWeekIn Startups. It’s going to be an amazing news episode. On the program, Rafe Needleman, of course of Evernote. You know him from Rafe’s Radar and CNET. All those great years doing journalism. Now he’s inside a startup. Adeo Ressi, of the Founder’s Institute, the little accelerator that could. Now, in dozens of cities around the world, graduating hundreds of companies a year. It’s a real success story. We’ll hear about that in a bit. If you want to come to TWIST Live… we’re always trying to level up the show. For whatever reason. I’m sitting here exhausted. This is the stupidity of my life. You’ve been witness to my life. You’re in like 2 of the 8 chapters, so far. I get exhausted and then I resent my life because I’m doing too much. Then, I catch up. Then I’m…
Kirin: You’re bored.
Jason: I get bored. Then I create all these goals to do and what happens?
Kirin: It just repeats.
Jason: It repeats itself. I say, “Oh, my God. We need to do all these things because I’m not sat…” This is the cycle of my life. It’s the cycle of being an entrepreneur. You get bored. You create a bunch of work for yourself. Then, you get resentful because, oh my God, you got to do all that work. Then, you actually do it and it’s glorious. One of those glorious things we’ve done is bring ThisWeekIn Startups to you live. We’ve done two of them. We had Jeff Clavier on the first. Then we had, Phil Libin of Evernote. Boy, those were two sensational events. For me, as an interviewer, you get so much more energy when you have the audience there.
Kirin: That’s why you liked having someone in studio last week, also.
Jason: Yeah. That was great. We had Jeff. Super fan Jeff. If you’re a super fan of the program, by the way, and you ever want to come and sit in on an actual episode, you’re free to do so. Those live episodes are great. Like 100 people came to the first. 200 people came to the second. Now, we like… They fill up so quick.
Kirin: We’ve just about sold out of the Dave McClure event.
Jason: We’re not tweeting that or anything. We’re just telling you about it on the program. So, go to twistlive3.eventbrite.com. There will be 150 people there. RocketSpace is going to put out the expensive italian sodas and the beautiful cheeses and sandwiches, like they always do. Thank you, to my friends at RocketSpace. Our guest is going to be Dave McClure. twistlive3.eventbrite.com and you can get a ticket. By the way, as you guys know, I’m always trying to take advantage of young entrepreneurs and take all of their money. The price is a whopping $2. $2. So if we get all 200 seats sold we’ll have $400.
Adeo: Is that the lowest it could be?
Jason: I think my SouthWest ticket costed 5X that. That’s TWIST Live. The Launch Festival is coming up, March 4th, 5th, and 6th. The Hack-A-Thon is March 2nd and 3rd. It’s booming. It’s going great. Sponsors: Google’s involved, MicroSoft’s involved, Social Capital Partnership, Sequoia. Just everybody is backing me up on this one. Which, I really appreciated it. You’re not really backing me up. You’re backing up the 50 companies that are going to launch on stage and the 200 that will be in the demo pit. It’s been a great week. We just gave a ton of free tables. Like scholarships.
Jason: To really awesome companies. Kickstarter companies. That’s going well.
Kirin: Yeah. Really cool stuff.
Jason: How many of the 50 have we selected? We’re up to 10?
Jason: OK, great. So, we’ll get the rest selected over the next couple of weeks. If we lost your application or any of those kinds of things, if you have any questions, you can email Kirin@Launch.co. Not COM. Dot CO. I got to get Marissa to give me the Dot COM. Hey, New Relic, thank you for sponsoring the program. New Relic is an awesome monitor for real time user experiences, code-level app performance and server resources. Really great software. We use it for the Launch Ticker and ThisWeekIn. Pull up tab number 5. Boom. There you go. Here is our app server trace. We can track what’s going on in the servers. People like SkullCandy, Spotify, Nike, Zillow, Vonage all trust their performance for their mission critical apps to New Relic. I bet you a bunch of Founder’s Institute companies use it. Maybe even Evernote uses it. Who knows? If you want X-ray vision into your web apps and want to know why they’re fast or slow, or somewhere in between, sign up today. You’ll get a free ThisWeekIn Startups shirt. Look. Oh, by the way, I get this email with it. I get these metrics for the Launch Ticker. I look at it. Oh, look we have 100% up time. Good. I don’t have to yell at anybody. Wait a second. It taking 2.2 seconds? That’s too damn slow. It’s too damn slow because I came up with this stupid feature where you have to see the people live. We’ll probably get rid of that.
Jason: Anyway. At least it’s up and running. Two seconds is a little bit of a problem. We’ll fix that. Anyway, that started that discussion. New Relic tipped me off that my stupid idea, that you see the people live…
Kirin: Well, you liked that idea in the beginning.
Jason: I like it. Nobody else does. That’s part of running a startup, a company.
Jason: You have to figure out what people actually want. As opposed to what you want. Go to newrelic.com/thisweekin. Look at that beautiful TWiST t-shirt. That was designed by a super fan. I don’t know which one. He’s got the samurai sword there, cutting the ‘i’ in the TWiST. Very good.
Kirin: That’s awesome. I actually got mine this week.
Jason: Oh, did you really?
Kirin: I did.
Jason: I have got none of them. Thanks guys for looking out for…
Kirin: Gotta ask Demant to get you one.
Jason: That’s all right. I don’t expect anybody to be thinking about me around here. I think everybody is thinking about their job. Which is what I want. Be focused on your work. Listen. It’s been a big week. Of course I like to have great guests on the program. We’ve leveled up. We get the best guests now. Especially for the News Round Table. Adeo Ressi is here from, the Founder’s Institute. How are you doing my friend?
Adeo: Very good.
Jason: You got your I Love New York… How many cities… before we get started… is the Founder’s Institute in now? Some incredible number.
Adeo: That’s a very timely question. Earlier today, we hit #40. This morning, at maybe 10:30AM. So, 40 cities worldwide.
Jason: Now, for people who don’t know, the Founder’s Institute, how would you compare it to a Y Combinator or Tech Stars? Or some of the other accelerators that the audience obviously knows, because they are very prominent.
Adeo: A lot of people know The Founder’s Institute. Especially when you leave America. Essentially, a easy comparison is, we mine diamonds. A lot of the other programs make jewelry. We find raw talent that will have just an idea. They don’t have a team. They don’t have a business model. They have nothing. We work with them and turn them into very successful entrepreneurs. Some of those people then go on and join Tech Stars or Y Combinator. I think in the last few Tech Stars programs, about 20% of the people they admitted were Founder’s Institute graduates.
Jason: Was that your intention when you started? When you started I remember it felt like it was going to be like Tech Stars. I think, you sort of pivoted your way to this, right?
Adeo: No. We were always focusing on founders. What we found is that when we get founders in the program, they don’t have infrastructure. They don’t have a company. They don’t have a team. They don’t have a product. By the time they get all that, then they’re ready for those later stage programs. We never felt competitive with Tech Stars, ever.
Jason: It did allow you to scale much quicker. You’re not having to fund the companies, necessarily. You’re training people how to be a founder.
Adeo: Correct. That allows us… We’re much larger as a result. We’re about 10X larger than the next largest entity helping startups, in the world today. We’ll do about 1,000 companies this year. We’ll help founders launch about 1,000 companies. About half of them will get funding.
Jason: True story. Want to hear a true story? I was like, “I don’t know Adeo, if it’s a good idea or not.” Then, I spoke at the first class. I was probably one of the top ten speakers ever. Adeo will tell us if I’m right or if I’m wrong. I’m definitely up there, in the top speakers. I was like, “You know Adeo, I think you got something here. Let me buy half of it off of you. I’ll give you $200K.” I tried to buy half of it and be like, “Hey, I’ll help fund it.” I don’t think he had any funding at that time. This is a true story. Right?
Adeo: It’s true.
Jason: Smartly, he said no.
Kirin: Not the first person to turn you down.
Jason: No. No, of course not. MailChimp turned me down, famously. Hey, Rafe is also here, from Evernote. How’s it going on the transition from journalist to now evangelist?
Rafe: I love it. It’s great. I’ve been covering startups forever. Now, I’m finally seeing what it’s like to be on the inside.
Jason: Are you afraid to say, for the better part of 3 decades? It’s over two decades.
Jason: I’ll say it for you.
Rafe: Yes. I started my journalism career in 1988.
Jason: i was going to say. It’s been 3 decades for you and it’s two decades for me.
Rafe: I’m old. You’d think after all this time, I could have done something with my life.
Jason: No. I mean listen. You were a pioneer. Rafe’s Radar you should start again. I think it should be like a weekly email, Rafe’s Radar. That’s my suggestion to you. For the youngins who don’t know, Rafe had… I always remember. I’m a very loyal guy. If somebody asks you something about me, aside from arrogant or funny or whatever, they will tell you I’m loyal.
Kirin: Like, mafia loyal.
Jason: I’m very loyal. Very, very loyal. Right. The opposite it true. If you cross me then it’s going to be a war forever.
Rafe: I know. I did that once. It was fun.
Jason: It was fun.
Rafe: I crossed you on purpose, just to see what would happen.
Rafe: It was really awesome. I gotta tell this story. I did this world’s most hated people. I put you on the list. Do you remember that?
Jason: I don’t. I’ve been on so many of those lists, I actually can’t remember. No. I think I do. I think I do remember.
Rafe: So, at first you sent me an email like, “Hey, hey. Ho, ho.” Then you sent an email to my boss’ boss’ boss. Saying, “This is irresponsible crap.”
Rafe: It was hilarious. Cheers.
Jason: There you go. Salute. Let me tell you something. Rafe’s Radar was the… for a period of time… For any journalist, being on top for any period of time is great. He was literally the most influential, respected piece of journalism going on, in tech, for a couple of years. I think that’s just tremendous.
Rafe: Thank you.
Jason: Really, I encourage you to start it again. There’s no reason for you not to. Why wouldn’t you start Rafe’s Radar?
Rafe: I’m writing about startups, here at Evernote. Opportunity Notes, oppnotes.com.
Jason: I know, but just start the email list on MailChimp, Rafe’s Radar. People will get it. Nobody owns that name any more. It’s your name.
Rafe: No. I own it.
Jason: Do it again. Every week you tell us what we should be watching. So brilliant.
Kirin: Make it, exactly, 300 words. I think that was the…
Rafe: Oh, gosh. I tried it again with a column I’ve been doing. It’s like I don’t have that muscle to do just 200 words at a time.
Jason: No. No. That’s too hard.
Rafe: It’s so hard.
Jason: Let’s get to the program. What is the top news story?
Kirin: We gotta talk about Apple. Because, Apple is Apple still. Even though it has seemed to have missed it’s expectations for quarterly revenue. It’s also no longer the world’s most valuable company. The Street was expecting closer to around $55B. It was $54.5B in revenue for Q3. That was up 18% from the previous quarter. They sold 47.8 iPhones. That’s up 23% year over year. Mac and iPod sales are down, however. They are planning to return $45B to share holders, through dividends, this year, through buy backs over the next 3 years. The share price dropped about 11%, wednesday. Down to $458. Now, of course you know, David Heinemeier Hansson of 37 Signals did tweet, “Apple has $145 in cash, per share. Subtract from the $452 share price. You get $306. Earnings per share is $44. 306 divided by 44 equals 6.9. With the big eyes next to it. Apple is not done yet.
Jason: The price earnings ratio is absurdly low. It is interesting this came out… This whole thing happened two weeks after I wrote that piece about how the Samsung Note and these things were…
Kirin: That was last week even.
Jason: It was a week before.
Jason: So, you ask yourself, how did I write something so prescient? I knew their earnings were coming. I wrote it right at that time. I knew that this was… I had no idea it was going to be this much of a disaster. The chink was in the armor. You could see it happening. I think that this is the ultimate buying opportunity, to be totally honest. I’m going to load up on some stock on this. Because… I hate to turn this into a stock show… they are going to respond with the large… Remember I said they have to do a Note 2 competitor? They’re going to do that. They’re going to do the cheap iPhone. Now that they are no longer… This is the halo effect that we thought would leave, after Steve Jobs. It just was delayed. But, this is too much. So, always people over react. I think this is too much. What do you think, Rafe?
Rafe: I never comment on stock price, but I don’t think the game is up for Apple. If they can figure out they’re low end strategy to address the rest of the world. They should be able to make it. They have to. You can’t let all these $59 Android phones take over. Apple has to address that. They’ve been going down market for years. They have the capability to do that. I don’t know if they will do it with the phone, but they need to.
Jason: Yeah. Adeo, what are your thoughts on this? I know that you are on the Note. I remember I was making fun of you at Antonio’s Nut House just 18 months ago.
Adeo: I know. I’ve got more Samsung products that I use, than I use Apple products.
Jason: Why is that? Is it because they’re more affordable or because they’re better? What is it?
Adeo: I mean… They’re definitely cheaper. They’re on par, in terms of quality. The Note 2 is a fantastic phone. It lacks certain things with the OS, but it has a pen. Battery life lasts a day and a half.
Adeo: So, I can get a solid day and a half of usage out of a Note 2. I can barely get half a day of usage out of an iPhone. So, it loses in certain things in the OS and gains in certain things in the hardware. the better phone. Similarly with a tablet. This is a pretty awesome tablet. It’s a MicroSoft Windows 8 tablet. It’s got a pen. The pen is really good. I look at this and say, if I go into an Apple store I’m going to buy an iPad mini… By the way, which I also have…
Jason: Right. Which is a fantastic device.
Adeo: It is a fantastic device. But, basically they took an iPad and shrank it. It’s the same screen resolution and everything.
Jason: Which do you find yourself… You’re sitting there at your desk and you got 3, 4 device options to look at email or something like that. Do you have one that you’re currently reaching for first? The mini?
Adeo: Oh. In terms of an Apple device, it’s the mini. In terms of devices, I reach for the Samsung.
Jason: Is that just because it’s new?
Adeo: I like the digital… I like being able to use a stylus. You know?
Jason: Yeah. That’s interesting.
Adeo: The stylus is..
Jason: That’s one of the things that I think is the most things we’re seeing is, to Steve’s credit, the reality distortion field was a credit to how much we all… I’m sort of looking back on it. Because I was, at times, annoyed by the reality distortion field. The way I reconciled it, as an individual and as somebody who likes to analyze this stuff is, I think that the reality distortion field was about all of us giving deference, giving honor to Steve. It was almost like, “OK Steve, if you don’t think we should use the stylus or that the iPad mini is the right size… You’re Steve. We’ll give you that.” Now that he’s gone. Tim Cook obviously doesn’t aspire to be a product guy. Jony Ive is MIA. You don’t here from him. Right? I don’t understand why he’s not out there, totally taking that role. The concept of the mini doesn’t work or a cheap iPhone doesn’t work. Even licensing our OS to other people, I think all of those things are now on the table. When you’re stock price gets cut in half like this… I don’t think they’re panicking over there. Nobody with a $140B is panicking about anything. But, it puts all options on the table. Giving Samsung the ability to make iOS devices is a 1% chance that happens. But, that was a negative 100 chance it would ever happen. Somebody could say that at a meeting at Apple today and not be thrown out of the company. They might be thrown out of the room or they might be laughed at, but I think it’s worth discussing. BlackBerry said publicly, they would give their OS to other people.
Adeo: No one wants it.
Rafe: A couple more quarters like this and that will be a very popular option.
Jason: What do you guys think in terms of Apple expanding the product line and thinking… If I may… differently about how they operate their business in terms of closed ecosystem?
Adeo: I think Apple’s greatest competitive advantage is the closed ecosystem. The open ecosystem is really, really hard to do. Rafe, you’re leading an open ecosystem. You’re spawning an open ecosystem over at Evernote. You got all different things that you’ve got to support. There’s no way, with an open ecosystem, that you’re going to have a streamlined experience with Apple products. Period. End of story. I don’t think they’re going to go open anytime soon.
Jason: What do you think about a $99 iPhone. A cheap phone. That’s something that they haven’t done. Do you think they’re going to do that Adeo? Or a Note 2 size phone. More SKU’s if you will. More SKUs.
Adeo: They have to. They have to. They missed the boat on the iPad mini sized device. They elongated the screen by one row of icons. I mean, come on guys. That’s not really… They have to. There’s going to be more than one. Frankly, some of their key products, like the MacBook Air, hasn’t been refreshed in years. They were refreshing the Air every 6 to 12 months. It’s been what? A year and a half, two years, since the last one came out with the backlit keyboard. That’s probably their most popular… Now, everybody’s kicking their butt on the hardware side in the ultra book category. Cause, they haven’t updated their hardware in a year and a half.
Jason: How does Evernote look at all this, Rafe? I know when Phil was on stage he was like, “We’re going to be everywhere.” Are you starting to see Windows 8 users and Android starting to dominate iOS? Do you see iOS users use Evernote more? Is there some internal statistic where you say Android and Windows 8 are the future but, the amount of usage from iOS users is 50% more than the average Android user?
Rafe: I don’t know what data is in my head that I can share. There are some things that are pretty clear. Android is a rocket ship for us. We have a great client in Android. It’s pre-installed on devices in some places. The number of users that we are getting from the growth in Android distribution is huge. Of course we love Apple as well. We build applications native for every platform that matters. That’s the strategy of the business. This is one of the reasons why the product works. It’s everywhere the people are. While some people might want their users to be on homogeneous systems. We know that the reality is that people will have a PC and an iPhone. Or an Android device and a Mac. We just want to make sure they don’t feel like their data is siloed. It’s a heck of a lot of effort to build for all those platforms, but the payoff is that we sit a level above the idea of you must be on our platform.
Jason: How do you guys look at MicroSoft in relation to all of this? I’ve been playing with Windows 8. I have to say I’m impressed. It feels like my Acer laptop is much faster than my MacBook Air. I didn’t take the Acer on the trip. I took the MacBook Air this time. It was a jump ball. I just didn’t do it because I was only away for 48 hours. I didn’t want to have any issues. I think definitely on the next trip I’m going to take the Acer and seeing how that goes.Seriously, all my stuff is in Google Drive, Evernote and DropBox.
Kirin: So it doesn’t matter.
Jason: I can go to go to any computer. I realized this the other day. A computer is almost like a dumb terminal now. It doesn’t matter. All my sugar is in the cloud.
Rafe: A dumb terminal with a lot of local storage. We believe. Obviously we believe in synchronization. It shouldn’t matter what device you’re on. Your brain’s your brain. You don’t have to think about I’m in this room or I’m in that place. It’s like all of your information is always with you. We’re trying to make that easy. To answer question. Obviously, Windows is the platform for productivity. It is still… If you’re in Silicon Valley you might not feel that. But, the reality is that’s the platform that everybody uses. If you’re a serious global software company you have to take Windows incredibly seriously.
Jason: I agree with that. You look at Apple’s software strategy for apps. They have this iMessage. iMessage is wonderful right now.
Kirin: It’s awesome.
Jason: You can put in somebody’s phone number, their email. It just resolves everything right.
Kirin: You can send photos.
Jason: You can send photos, videos, whatever. It just works. But, you can’t put that on an Android phone? iMessage doesn’t exist on Android?
Kirin: Yeah. Why can’t I use it…
Jason: Why can’t I use it on Windows desktop? Why can’t I use it on any desktop? Why isn’t it available as a flash application? Or, what’s the other one where you could download…?
Adeo: Closed ecosystem. That’s why.
Jason: I know. But, it doesn’t work any more, Adeo. Do you think that’s sustainable in today’s day? Is that sustainable to… cause isn’t that what killed BlackBerry? They had BlackBerry Messenger. You remember our friend Nick was addicted to it. Everybody’s addicted to BlackBerry Messenger. People are trading their BlackBerry PIN numbers. It would be like, once you got somebody’s BlackBerry PIN number you’re in a chat room with them. It was like a really great thing. Now… They didn’t open it up. BlackBerry messenger could have been iMessenger. iMessage is going to get clobbered by whatever Google comes up with.
Kirin: You think?
Jason: I think so. Look what Evernote’s doing. Of the top 10 apps on iOS, 6 of them are Google or something crazy like that? Google is absolutely crushing Apple’s own ecosystem.
Kirin: I actually have a question from the chat room. This is for Adeo. Are more of the founders at Founder’s Institute using Apple or non-Apple products?
Adeo: OK. I think most programmers still use Apple almost exclusively, to develop. There are some exceptions to the rule. For the mass majority of programmers, they’re on some sort of MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. In terms of what people are building for, in terms of platforms, I’d say that number one is probably Android, to be sure. There’s a lot of popularity around Windows Phone and Windows 8. For example, there’s this thing called App Campus. Which is a program out of Finland. They’ll give you up to €70,000 for making a Windows 8 app or a Windows Phone app. No questions asked. No equity. They just give you the money.
Jason: Is that MicroSoft?
Adeo: Believe it or not MicroSoft and Nokia got together and pooled some large like $20M, $40M each. Then, they’re parcelling it out at €70,000 a pop.
Jason: Is your Samsung Windows 8? Or is that Android?
Adeo: Yeah. This is Windows 8. This is like… Look at this. It’s like super skinny. Right?
Jason: That thing’s huge. It’s like landscape.
Adeo: It is huge. It’s huge. It’s super skinny.
Jason: You’re a big guy.
Adeo: I am a big guy. The Note 2 is like one of the micro phones. Then, you know it’s got a detachable keyboard and it’s got ten hours of battery life. That’s awesome. It’s a great computer.
Jason: Did you ever think, Rafe, that we would get to the point in time where the number one topic of discussion for hardware in our industry was battery life?
Rafe: I kind of wished it. I wanted ultra books, what are called ultra books- ultra lite laptops- back when the hardware makers were telling me, “Nobody cares about small laptops. This is America. We want the hummers of laptops. We want these giant 14” monsters.
Rafe: Battery life, “Nobody uses these things on airplanes.” Now it’s a thing and I’m very happy. It’s one of those things. Once you have it you cannot imagine the feeling of panic when you’re more than 3 feet away from an electrical outlet, that you used to have.
Jason: I flew out on Delta. Which literally, I was like, “I’m going to come back and kill my assistant Brice.”
Kirin: It was so we could have David on the show and still make it to New York, that night.
Jason: I know. So, it was worth it for the show. But, I felt like I was put on a bus. I don’t want to be politically incorrect.
Kirin: I got on a real bus in L.A. today. You don’t want to do that. Right?
Jason: That was like being… I was like, “Where are the plugs?” “We don’t have plugs on here.” “Do you have plugs in like Business Plus?” She said, “We have cigarette lighters in like half the seats.” I was like…
Kirin: What century are we in?
Jason: … what a shocking moment. Then I just thought to myself. Wait a minute. I have a MacBook Air. I had my iPad with me, I had I had my Note 2 and they had GoGo. So, in the worst case scenario, which did occur, I had my stuff in Evernote and I could go… I used my laptop till it died. I used my Samsung 2, till it died and I’m fine. It was like I had enough battery between 3 devices, to get there. When we get back, I want to talk a little about Yahoo, because they just bought another company. We definitely want to get into what Quora is doing. As well as Twitter’s Vine. Twitter Vine is the big one. When we get back from this very important commercial. Oh, wait. I read the commercials here. I forgot about that. I got you guys. You guys thought we were going to go to commercial. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? We press a button and go to commercial. No.
Kirin: No. You have to work for this.
Jason: Snapterms is a simple, affordable and fast way to protect your site, with the proper for your site. We use SnapTerms. That’s right. We use it here, for ThisWeekIn. Go to ThisWeekIn.com/legal and you will see our funny, clever and comprehensive Terms of Service. If you go to SnapTerms.com and get started, packages are only $149. When you check out, use the promo code TWiST. You get a free NDA with every order. Then, you could customize packages to any type of business. If it’s eCommerce, if it’s social, they have all those different plug and play components so that you can have a comprehensive Terms of Service. They’ll work with you. They’ll pick up the phone and on email or whatever and make sure that it’s all correct. This is something that a lot of startups don’t do. Man, there are these ambulance chasing folks who are suing everybody. Then, you’ll have to do a settlement. Trust me, that settlement and that legal time, when you get that legal letter, is going to cost a lot more than the $149 that SnapTerms charges. I told those guys they should add a zero to their prices. They told me they’re making a good enough living at $149.
Adeo: By the way. If you go to a lawyer and ask them to do that for you, it could be as you said, 10X as expensive, at the minimum.
Jason: Yeah. I think, when I went through it the last time, $3K-$5K was the starting point.
Adeo: Yeah. The law firms get all spooked out. “Whoa. We need to have everyone review it.” You just need a system to get it done correct. I think it’s a good idea, by the way.
Jason: Yeah. SnapTerms is fantastic. Thank you @snapterms. Hey, if you’re already using SnapTerms and you can’t use it again right now, you can thank them on Twitter. Thank you @snapterms. Thank you @snapterms. Thank you @snapterms, for making life simple, easy, elegant and affordable for startups everywhere. Go to SnapTerms.com and use the promo code TWIST. Get a free NDA. Let’s do the Vine story.
Kirin: Oh, you want to do Vine?
Jason: I want to skip ahead and do Vine.
Kirin: You want to skip ahead to Vine, alright.
Jason: I have some questions about this.
Kirin: You have some questions about Vine because you’ve use it?
Jason: I’ve used it. I’ve been using it. I’ve done like 3 vines.
Kirin: Alright. So, you can pull up your first post over there. Vine allows users to take short 3 second videos and stitch them together for a 6 second video. You can show them on Twitter and Facebook. Facebook cut off it’s access to Vine’s ‘Add People’ feature within a few hours of its release. Twitter says it will be available on other platforms soon. Anything you hate or love about the app? Would you say this is the Instagram of video?
Jason: Here’s the video I did in New York. That’s the back of Shawn Gold’s head. You’ll see in a second, there. Boom. That’s Shawn Gold walking. Anyway. The way it works. For people who don’t know, it’s a 6 second looping GIFF. But, it’s not actually, technically a GIFF, I don’t think. It’s kind of lame in that it uses its own file format. I believe. So, when I went here to try to open this up, I couldn’t really download the file or anything like that. I find that kind of weird. Oh, It’s an MP4? Oh, it is. I can download it. I was trying to figure out, what do I do with this video? Why isn’t it a GIFF? That’s one thing that’s confusing me. What is this not a GIFF? But, it’s super clever. What you do is, you take your phone out, you hold your finger on the screen.
Jason: Now, it’s recording. The second you take your finger off of the screen it stops recording. Then you press it again, you take it off. So, I did the fire hydrant there. I did a little spin. I did the bus. I did the person walking in from of me. So, it makes this jittery, video stacked video of somebody. Which has a certain artistic quality to it. I think the elegance and ease of use… I was
Kirin: It was super easy. I made one this morning.
Jason: I made one within… I think like, this has Evan Williams and Jack’s, sort of, like fingerprints on it. Jason Goldberg’s and those guys. They’re very good of getting out of the way of the user. I find it very elegant and I think it’s totally going to take off. I think it signals something about Twitter. That they’ve caught up with their main platform and they doing stuff like independent projects. In a way, it reminds me of what Evernote is doing, with their food application and apps that are just single use case. Whether the single use case apps become huge hits doesn’t matter. They make life more delightful and they get you a couple more slots on the iTunes ranking and lock people in more. I guess I’m going to go right to Rafe on this one. Rafe, when you saw it, did you use it? What do you think?
Rafe: I love it. I absolutely love it. I’ve been covering these similagram type things where you take little… I call them long photographs. They’re not photos but they’re not videos. They’re these little tiny snippets. They’re all kind of cool, but none of them really go anywhere cause they’re weird. But, this one, like you said, it just gets out of the way. You can do a lot with that interaction model. You can do 6 seconds of something. Also, it has audio. None of the other ones do. So it actually has sound. What a difference that makes. So, you can do either a 6 second video of someone saying, “Hi. How are you.” Or, you can do little mini stop-motion animation. Or, you can get 5 people around a table, real fast. It shares really fast. You don’t have to log in, because it reads your Twitter ID. It’s so delightful, I really hope it works. Cause, I just love it. I hardly ever feel that way about a product.
Jason: Yeah. It definitely has that delightful… Adeo what are your thoughts?
Adeo: I mean… OK. This is what I call a graveyard. There are literally hundreds of people who’ve built apps like this. They’re all out of business. In terms of the usability, it may be a little bit better than some of the dead ones, but it’s joining the ranks of the dead. That’a all I can say. If you walk through a town and everyone was dead, you’d probably leave. So, I don’t know why Twitter just walked into a town where everyone is dead. They gotta know that everyone is dead.
Kirin: Maybe they’re bringing it back to life.
Jason: Wait a second…
Rafe: That’s a real negative perspective for a guy who’s encouraging people to disrupt industries.
Adeo: Right. But, I wouldn’t encourage you to walk into a town of dead people unless you had some great innovation on how to make it work. The reality is, touching the screen on and letting it go off is kinda what a bunch of the other apps had, as well.
Jason: Did the other apps have that? Or, did the other apps have like a PLAY, STOP and RECORD. confusion?
Adeo: The ones I saw… I saw about 5 or 6 of these. One of these was at one the parties in Silicon Valley running around. You basically would touch anywhere on the screen to record it. It posted it out to Twitter. It was interesting. I think it was 3 seconds.
Jason: There was one that was 12 seconds, that went out of business. Right? It was called 12 Seconds or something.
Adeo: Right. No. There is like more than one.
Jason: I know there’s a bunch.
Adeo: This is a town dead…
Jason: I think Rafe’s right for calling you out on this. Because I do think that execution matters. What you’ll typically see is, a bunch of people come in and they’ll do B, C, and D level execution. Then somebody comes in a gets it right. Now, I know this because I saw Instagram. Instagram to me, was so cleverly done. I had Hipstomatic before that. Hipstomatic charged me. It was like too complicated. There were like 20 different things. I got to the point, I’m chasing my daughter around trying got get a photo… It was like Hipstomatic was more complicated than using a Digital SLR. I was like, “I’m going to have to change lenses.” I was like, “I don’t want to change a lens. I just want to take the picture then make it look good.” Instagram got that and it was smoother and easier. I feel like this is the future.
Adeo: You’re right, Jason. I’m not trying to say that there’s no hope here. But, when you come into a market that is filled with dead bodies, you should really take a look at why that’s the case. I’m sure Twitter did. So, is it the fact that the videos were too large to download. Probably. So, their shorter format may be better. Is it the fact that… There were a lot of reasons why this idea didn’t take off. To be honest, while I think the implementation of Vine was good, I don’t see something that seems that far ahead of me from other products that were out there.
Jason: You know what? I just had a realization. I do think that this is 20% better than what came before it. But, there was something else that happened in that time period. From like a year or two ago until today. That is greatly different. Can anybody guess what that is that makes this actually viable?
Adeo: Twitter’s larger?
Jason: No. That certainly helps, but that’s not the transformative thing that’s happened.
Rafe: 4G LTE?
Jason: LTE. Exactly. I just realized it. The reason this is going to blow up and explode is because LTE exists. This couldn’t work with 3G.
Kirin: Take too long to upload.
Rafe: Or Wi-fi.
Jason: Wi-fi maybe. But, you’re not on Wi-fi now.
Rafe: It works, but you can’t count on your being on a Wi-fi network. Normally, when you’re taking a cool video, you’re on top of a mountain somewhere and there is no Wi-fi.
Jason: Right. With LTE… I just realized, why did this work so easy for me? Then I just realized it. Oh. I have Verizon LTE. I hated Verizon my whole life. Verizon’s my favorite company, right now. To me it might as well be Yogurt Land.
Kirin: You’d let them sponsor the show.
Jason: Verizon, you can sponsor the show. I will sit here and talk about LTE till the cows come home. I love that sugar. It is the greatest. That’s actually the thing that’s changed. That is a big lesson for entrepreneurs.
Adeo: That might be the case. Jason, you’re right. There could be a seminal change in the market.
Jason: And the processor speed.
Adeo: It may be LTE and it may be the fact that more devices have the ability to record video than before. But, I’m willing to bet this will wind up on the ding heap of humanity within a year.
Jason: Alright. What’s going on, right now, with Facebook blocking everybody? Is that story in the rundown here?
Kirin: It’s not.
Jason: OK. Can you look that up, while we do the next story?
Jason: This is… There were two apps this week that got blocked, right? You mentioned Vine got blocked.
Kirin: No. It was the Make Me Asian, which got pulled out of the Google App Store.
Jason: No. That’s different. There were two Facebook… Facebook blocked access to, I think it was Yandex. The Russian search engine was trying and Vine in the same week. Let’s talk about that for a second. Rafe, if Facebook blocks the usage of their social graph and all these competing apps, is that feel like maybe the FaceBook jumping the shark moment?
Rafe: Uh. I don’t…
Jason: Don’t be politically correct, now Rafe?
Rafe: Don’t what?
Jason: Please, don’t start being politically correct because you work for Evernote. You gotta be honest.
Rafe: I gotta keep my… Yeah.
Jason: People understand. More honesty is better.
Rafe: I think, in many ways Facebook has been really cashing in on it’s utility and the necessity as part of people’s lives for a long time now. I just think that blocking a service, here or there is part and parcel of what they do to maintain control of how their networks work. But, the experience of using Facebook right now, with the ad content that you’re getting in there, it’s not what it used to be.
Rafe: I think they’ve gone way to far in over controlling what they do with the feed. Not related to the Yandex, at all. It’s a danger for Facebook. I think they’re going too far.
Adeo: But, Rafe, it’s a lot better when all the gaming companies are coming out. I was getting like, “So and so unlocked a bush.” It’s like, “I don’t care.” The timeline became a spamline. I stopped using Facebook completely for probably a year and a half.
Jason: When you open up your mobile app, the first thing you see is like Quicken. It seems like every time…
Adeo: “Jason Calacanis likes this Cancun resort.” I’m like, “No, he doesn’t.”
Adeo: In fact, it was admitted, Jason didn’t actually hit the ‘like’. Robert Scoble likes…
Jason: That, to me, I think that the thing is… I know we’ve been saying this a while, but I think this level of bad behavior like, “We’re just going to block everybody from participating in our ecosystem now. We all predicted it would happen. They would have their MicroSoft moment. Now, that it’s arrived…
Adeo: Jason, they are far more open than Twitter is, to be fair. If anything, probably this is a retaliation of the Vine thing. Twitter is like Dr. Evil of open ecosystems. Right? It’s like, “Hey, I spent my whole last year working on this client for Twitter.” They’re like, “Shut down.” “Wow. That was a giant waste of time.” By the way, this is the same company that went out and said, ‘Build these things for Twitter.” Then, shut them down.
Jason: It just feels like the users are coming last now in these ecosystems.
Kirin: Right. I can’t see an Instagram photo on Twitter anymore. I gotta click through.
Jason: It’s so annoying. Like seriously.
Kirin: So, tit for tat.
Jason: This is a message to Dick Costolo and Mark Zuckerberg. Work it out. You’re screwing users. The users are getting screwed now, because of this petty, stupid feud between Zuckerberg and Dick Costolo. Does any user want to have to click through to Instagram? I want to know which of my Facebook friends are using Vine.
Adeo: Google and are in the same boat. They’re all closing up their ecosystems.
Jason: I don’t think Google is.
Adeo: Frankly, MicroSoft is too. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say here. I know that behind the scenes at Facebook, you can search for things and see it on one search engine and not another. There’s are giant seven figure deals behind that ability.
Jason: Wait. You’re saying like Google will show some results and Bing will show others? Certain people are blocked because there’s huge ad buys on Google?
Adeo: No. There’s a lot of money. So, if I were a search engine and I wanted to I could do a deal with Facebook. Guess who’s a big owner in Facebook? You can do some math on who’s getting the search results in their search engine. The long and short of it is, behind the scenes right now there is a lot of dealing being done and a lot of money being spent. These ecosystems are closed for monetization purposes. This has nothing to do with users. They don’t care.
Jason: Rafe, is your perception that Google is closed their ecosystem? It feels like they’re very open.
Rafe: Of the companies we’re talking about they’re more open. Thanks to Android and all the pressure they get from various governments on how do they treat search results. So Google has reached the point where they’re regulated. They’re regulated into openness. Facebook will get there. Maybe Twitter will, some day, as well.
Adeo: So, Rafe. Just the one thing. You can’t license the Android operating system with the Play Store, unless you pay for Android. So, you don’t get the most valuable asset of Android, which is the app market place.
Jason: Is that right? You have to pay a fee?
Jason: What’s the fee?
Adeo: It’s like per unit.
Jason: Oh. I wasn’t aware of that.
Adeo: Yeah. It’s not all that open. You can get the source code. But what’s the source source code without the any of the Coby Android devices? Most of them don’t so they don’t have an ‘app store’. They have like a ‘Coby App Store’. Anyway. Even Android, which I do agree is the epitome of an open system, isn’t’ 100% open. So…
Jason: Next story.
Kirin: I just want to point out. Somebody wanted to say, “Does this mean any other video sharing on Twitter, because of Vine?”
Jason: Yeah. It’s starting to feel like Twitter is using embeds as they’re way to block other people. Does that mean they’re going to make a FourSquare competitor and you’re not going to get…? They spent all of this time making those enhancements. So that Foursquare would be there. News stories are now there. I guess they do little…
Kirin: To keep you longer on Twitter.
Jason: To keep you longer on Twitter. Now, they’re reversing that? I think actually blocking Instagram hurts Twitter more than it helps Twitter.
Kirin: Cause, you’re going away.
Jason: Yeah. It’s like I’m leaving to go to Instagram. If Instagram were to build a full social network over there, then I might hang out over there. Instagram doesn’t have, on the web, a full social experience.
Jason: So, once Instagram does that, now they’re going to be shipping people out. If they wanted to be smart, they would just put the Instagram photo on there. Oh, wait. Is it there decision to block it?
Kirin: It was Twitter’s decision.
Jason: To block it?
Jason: That makes no sense to me. Cause it makes people click through the website. At that website they have to download the app.
Kirin: Or, they could just look at it on a web page.
Jason: That’s nonsense. Let’s go to the next story.
Kirin: Alright. Yahoo, we found out this week, thanks to Kara Swisher’s reporting, Yahoo wants to be the Google of content. Interestingly enough, the first acquisition that Yahoo made since Marissa took over is Snip.it. Which is a service for clipping, sharing and organizing articles. It’s called a Pinterest for articles, in fact. Founded in 2011, the founder Ramy Adeeb, built this service to inform his friends on his perspective of the egyptian revolution. He was in San Francisco and he is egyptian. Yahoo reportedly paid in the sum of mid teens of millions for Snip.it. Now, the site has been shut down. The users have until February 21 to download their data.
Kirin: Do you think is a move towards Yahoo’s shift to become a destination for content? Is it a good acquisition?
Rafe: They shut it down?
Jason: They shut it down.
Rafe: It’s an acqui-hire. If you by a company that has users and a good product and then you shut it down, it’s not saying that we love this product so much we’re going to incorporate it. It’s an acqui-hire.
Adeo: They’re going to roll the functionality. It is an acqui-hire, as well. But, they’re going to roll the functionality into their overall products and services. I think, first of all, this is great. Yahoo buying is like… The time is long overdo. These companies are sitting on tens of millions of dollars. Cash in some cases. They’re not acquiring companies. Hat’s off to you, Marissa. Acquire more. You need to acquire more. In terms of, though, the company closing their technology. I don’t think Yahoo needs 80 more brands. Like, that was already a problem. Delicious, Flickr, all this crap. They should get rid of the brand. Roll it into Yahoo. Keep making Yahoo better and better. How many things did Google buy and keep the branding around? Tons of stuff.
Adeo: How many of those brands still exist? Not many.
Adeo: If anything, it like Google blah, blah, blah. Right?
Jason: YouTube is the biggest one that obviously comes to mind. That was so big, you couldn’t sort of deny it it’s own URL.
Adeo: But, that’s about it.
Jason: That’s about it. Yeah. In this case, Flickr still has it’s own URL. But, I this is savvy. You know, it’s interesting. Everybody knew that content was the right direction for Yahoo. So, when they got rid of Ross and Marissa, everybody was like, “Wait a second. If content is the right direction, then why Marissa over Ross?” Right? Cause they’re both equally qualified to do the job, I believe. They’re both excellent executives. But, she’s the software one, because of her software background. He comes from a media background so, it felt like he had the advantage, in a way. She came, she was like this dark horse that came out of nowhere. Like, Oh, Marissa’s taking over. Now, this actually feels like a good middle ground. Which is, we’re going to make Yahoo a destination for content. Which is what it is already. We’re going to make the content more customized and more Pinterest like.
Kirin: Making less original content, possibly.
Jason: Yeah. They really… They’re motto has been to sprinkle original content on the top of the page, then have it be syndicated content. When you were clicking off the home page or clicking off finance, they might have their breakout thing that they shoot. Then, it was all other videos from CNBC or articles from Business Insider or licensing deals. She’s been pretty clear in this interview, that I saw, that it’s going to be… She did a pretty good job of explaining that it is going to be the content you want, personalized to you. Which is sort of what Ross’s vision was too. What do you think of that vision, Rafe? Personalized content. Automatically personalized content.
Rafe: Well, that’s another potential graveyard. Businesses have found that trap.
Rafe: You need to have something to draw people in. You need the original content as well as the curation factor to get to give people a reason to go there to see original content. If I’m at Yahoo, I’m like, “Wait a minute. We’ve been down this road before.” The pendulum at Yahoo is always swinging back and forth. It’s original content, aggregation. Original content, aggregation. This one seems like an aggregation play. Which is a more engineering thing to do. Because there’s more content for you to choose from. It’s more of a search engine need type play. So, it’s probably the right direction for Yahoo overall. I never really understood Yahoo as an original content company, honestly.
Jason: But, so many people go to Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Movies, Yahoo Entertainment. All these Yahoo destinations. Probably because people are going for their email. Previously, they were going for search. They just drive so many people to content. When you talk to people, like average americans, they’re going to be like, “Yeah, I go to Yahoo Finance or Yahoo Sports to catch up on stuff.” That’s like they’re way of saying…
Rafe: I confess I have a bit of a bubble blind spot for Yahoo. For their mainstream content.
Jason: Yeah. Exactly. Adeo, what do you think of Marissa’s vision of this automatically curated internet for you? Content for you?
Adeo: I mean, it’s going to get there. Yahoo is pretty close already. She’s just refining the assets that they already have. As Rafe said, this is the pendulum has swung for Yahoo. This is another graveyard for large media companies. However, back to your argument about execution, to date nobody’s executed on it.
Jason: Jason: Yeah.
Adeo: The closest thing, I think I’ve seen, that’s actually pretty good is FlipBoard.
Adeo: FlipBoard’s pretty good. I use FlipBoard for all my media consumption. So, if Yahoo can get something right there, again borrowing some modern UI concepts and some customization concepts, it could be very good for them. But, again, in a graveyard.
Jason: Well, yeah. There’s Netvibes and Pageflakes. There was MyYahoo, the original Page Flakes and Netvibes. A lot of people have gone down that road. I think the spin she’s putting on it is, “We’re just going to automatically figure out what you like.” Based on how you click the home page, it is going to automatically adapt and show you more of what you like. So, if you’re clicking on LIndsay Lohan, you’re going to get some Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan and Beyoncé. If you’re clicking on the Nicks, you’re going to get some Lakers, Celtics and more NBA. If you’re clicking on tech, you’re going to get more Engadget, whatever. I think it’s actually a good CEO market fit. I think she’s a great person to build this vision. I think it’s a great vision. It’s not particularly…
Kirin: It’s not innovative.
Jason: I don’t think she’s so good at executing and so methodical. That with that huge platform and her methodical nature, she’s the one who could actually make it work. The difference between Yahoo being an average company and a great company and a bad company, is really like the 10% that they either grow or they lose traffic. Right?
Adeo: Actually, right now, the difference between Yahoo being a good company and a great company is going to be about acquiring talent through M&A. They’re not going to win.
Jason: Right. I’m talking about on a financial basis. You know there in a kill zone, on a financial basis. On an audience size basis. If they were 10% better right now, it would be dramatic. I agree with you Adeo, you buy a dozen startups, with ten people in each who are awesome, and you have this dream team of 120 people coming in. Then, you’ll see a thousand people will be let go at some point. But, they start bringing in people through acqui-hires and they start executing on this vision, it’s like they’re going to just… It’s almost like building a whole new…
Adeo: That’s why Yahoo achieved the greatness in the heyday. They’ve gone of this acquisition spree. They kept more people than they let go in those acquisitions. Those people were really excellent, like Caterina Fake or whoever. They built a great Yahoo and they need to do it again. They’re not going to win the talent war by giving out purple pillows or whatever. They’re going to win the talent war by buying companies for a reasonable amount of money. By the way, there’s a lot of great companies out there that they can afford.
Jason: They should be spending money licensing content or their own original content. I think that going to be key. I don’t think you could just aggregate your way to success in the space. I think you do have to have some original voices. So, taking a Huffington Post like approach where they just selectively hire three voices in each vertical. That are awesome and over pay them. You know, just win. Actually I wrote that in an article at some point.
Rafe: They did that before. They’ve done it a couple of times. That’s what I’m saying.
Jason: Did they buy the most elite people?
Rafe: They tried to.
Jason: Even when they did, they had like Yahoo Sports. There were some really good people in Yahoo Sports, that I used to wind up there.
Kirin: Yeah. They poached.
Jason: I used to wind up there. I would wind up at those stories. Now, with social media, if they just went and hire 25 of the top journalists out there, 2, 3 for each of the top ten categories, people will start tweeting that stuff.
Rafe: That’s particular business model is totally doable because of what’s happening in mainstream journalism and blogs. If they can monetize that.
Jason: It’s sort of like what the Atlantic is doing? The Atlantic is doing a good job of that. Henry Blodget has 150 journalists. A lot of the journalists he has are up and coming journalists but but he does have a couple of voices of people who recognizable. I think it’s a good strategy for her. I think this is going to work actually.
Kirin: So, should Yahoo… question from the chat room… do it’s own brand? Or, should it focus on having other brands that are powered by Yahoo. Sort of like a PNG consumer package goods, kind of thing, where you don’t necessarily know who’s behind it?
Adeo: I think their current strategy is perfect. The domain, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Autos and Yahoo blah, blah, blah. That’s perfect. Yahoo is the brand.
Jason: Yeah. That’s right.
Adeo: In fact, that’s the lesson in this acquisition that Marissa has learned, don’t keep Flickr around. Make it Yahoo Photos. Right? Don’t keep…
Jason: They did this whole Yahoo Shine thing. They tried to make Shine from Yahoo. I don’t think that particularly worked.
Jason: They should have just done Yahoo Women or you know Yahoo Moms or Yahoo Yahoo Parents. Yahoo for Men or Yahoo Men’s. Whatever it is. Yahoo Home. You know? Yahoo Whatever. It’s sort of like going back to the directory days, except actually making rich content. The directory was links to content. You’re sort of saying do a Pinterest thing here. Have videos, content aggregated. Then thy should do some top level stuff.
Rafe: When you have a really strong top level brand like Yahoo and you’re also trying to build out the brand of the contributors, individual super star reporters or videographers or whatever. Having an intermediate brand just makes things massively confusing. Cause, people will know Yahoo. If they find a writer they like, they will follow that writer. Then, they don’t care that they’re on the Shine. Or the whatever it is.
Jason: That’s was a CNET problem. I mean, you had CNET, you had News.com, you had Rafe’s Radar. You had 50 different brands to try to find somebody on CNET became… Then they also had Download.com. Then they had this and this gadgets. Just… It’s very hard to navigate CNET after a certain period of time. Cause so much stuff has ben bought and bolted on. That you need to sometimes have a clean domain name. It’s one of the reasons why I bought Inside.com. To have one clean domain name to do things on that can grow bigger than any of the individual pieces.
Kirin: You just had to work that in there, didn’t you?
Jason: No. It’s more evidence of a single domain… You can do brands. Engadget and Auto Blog are separate brands. You can also do single domain. But, you can’t do both concurrently. I think you have to pick. You know.
Jason: It’s kind of hard to do both, at the same time, is what Rafe’s saying. Let’s do a final story here.
Kirin: Alright. Do you want to talk about the Quora blogging? Do you want to talk about Surface, BlackBerry, Sergey on the subway with Google Glass?
Adeo: We kind of already talked about the Surface.
Jason: Let’s talk about the Surface.
Kirin: The blogging service?
Jason: The Surface.
Kirin: Oh, The Surface, sorry.
Jason: Adeo, you said Surface?
Adeo: I said we already talked about hardware. Maybe something else. Yeah.
Jason: Quora. Let’s do Quora.
Kirin: OK. Let’s do Quora. So, Quora has launched it’s own blogging platform. It will automatically distribute posts to its Q&A sites for users who follow related topics come with a built in audience for nobodies as well as for somebodies. The more upvotes comments and shares, the more people who will see it. The plan is to allow a larger portion of the world to share their knowledge without years getting readership, like they currently have to do. Also debuting a mobile rich text editor. So, you have full control formatting and photos. Already 25% of the site’s traffic comes from mobile. Do you think this will turn off existing users? Will Quora be able to retain its users to its platform with a blogging service?
Jason: That’s interesting. Go ahead.
Adeo: I was just going to say, what’s truly sad about this is this is an example of a company with so much money and resources, it doesn’t know what to do. Right? It’s like, “Well, what do we do next? We have all this money and talent. What you should do next is more of the same, better. I don’t think Quora is at this point where they’re so big that they have to think about what to do next.
Adeo: What they should be thinking about is how to make Quora more and more profitable. Quora is a fantastic product that I think is probably alpha in far too many ways. It’s whole buying of post or answer is kind of sleazy.
Jason: The credit system.
Adeo: Yeah. The credit system makes no sense. I’m always like, “How many credits do I have?” Do I want to pay somebody. It’s too complicated. There’s something there. Instead of fixing their core business, when you have lots of engineers and lots of money, you’re like, “Let’s launch a blogging service. Let’s launch a photo sharing service.” Like, huh? I think this is a huge distraction.
Jason: What do you think, Rafe?
Rafe: In this case I really agree. Quora has a lot to do on its Q&A system. Moving into blogging, blogging is a really crowded and difficult space. First of all to do well and secondly to make money from. It doesn’t feel like a good mesh for me. It seems like a distraction. If you’re winning in one space, why go into another space where you’re a baby. Where there are already really, really big good companies? It seems like a dangerous move. I really hope, cause I love Quora, I really hope that they’re not putting too many resources into this system. Which means… And, if they’re not putting too many resources into the blogging system, it’s not going to be great.
Jason: Yeah. It’s hard to disagree with Adeo on this one. I agree. I said to myself when I saw this, Quora has done a better job than anybody at getting Q&A to a place of quality answers. Right? I tried it with Mahalo Answers. Other people tried it with Q&A sites. It’s always been like… Stack Overflow actually has done it really good in a vertical. Right? So, Stack Overflow is probably the best execution ever in a vertical and Quora is the best execution for general. When you do a vertical like technology, Stack Overflow is making money hand over fist. Cause, they could put jobs up there. They have a job board. A job board for tech, you could charge whatever you want. Because these idiots are paying recruiters $50K a year for a developer. So, if you charge $5K or $500 or $1,500 for an ad and you get them one person. They have the ads up every week. You only have to beat $50K in recruiting fees for it to make sense. They were crushing it. What is the business model going to be for Quora? I don’t think they’ve achieved scale. I do think they’ve achieved greatness. It truly is product greatness. I think. I can really appreciate how hard it is to do it and how beautiful the product is.
Adeo: But it’s still alpha in a lot of ways, Jason.
Jason: What ways do you feel it’s alpha, specifically? What’s the number one alpha issue?
Adeo: I think their credit system is the most pronounced alpha thing.
Adeo: I think the way they, sort of, determine how they hide certain things is also a little like, huh? Like, people who write real garbage and aren’t below the fold. They literally hide answers. People with really well and articulate answers that are hidden. It almost makes no sense to me. How did you… What logic did you use to hide someone who put a lot effort, below the fold, if you will, and show an answer that’s clearly from a hater?
Jason: Yeah. That get’s to how voting works. How voting doesn’t always work. I have to say, when I put a question up there, t think… My expectation today is, when I put a question on there, I’ve got a 50/50 shot of getting a valuable answer. Which, I can tell you…
Rafe: From Robert Scoble.
Jason: You don’t think it’s 50/50? What do you think it is, Rafe?
Rafe: No. I was kidding. I was making a joke. I agree. When you put a question up there, you get a 50/50 chance of getting Scoble to answer you.
Jason: Yes. No, I think it’s like a 98% chance that Scoble and some other people who just live on there…
Rafe: I’ve used it. I love it. They’ve achieved greatness. But, that’s where yo start from and that’s what you focus on.
Rafe: Not diversions.
Jason: I kind of agree. It’s scary to agree with Adeo so much. Go ahead Adeo.
Adeo: When you have 500M users then launch a blogging platform. Do Instagram of…
Jason: I think all of that is fair. Cause, if I feel like I have a 50/50 chance, why not try to get that to 51% or 60%. There’s some tipping point where if I think the majority case I’m going to get a quality answer, I’m going to get addicted to it. What I find about Quora is I forget about it. Six weeks I stumble upon it again.
Kirin: It’s not part of your daily…
Jason: I have like a marketing need or something and I go back. This is why I sort of fell out of love with Q&A. It’s like, people don’t want to do this on a regular basis.
Kirin: It’s work.
Jason: Yeah. The people who do want to use it on a regular basis and to post questions or whatever… it’s almost like the odd people want to use it. The lawyer who’s trying to get clients or somebody who’s like overly social like Scoble. It just becomes like, not the people not who you want to actual answer from or the question from.
Adeo: Or prisoners. I don’t know. Do you guys get the prisoner question on you post? On my mobile device, every third one is like, “What’s it like to be in prison?” “How’s it feel to get out of prison?”
Jason: They have done a fantastic job with this email. They have a 2 or 3 person team on this email. They do a really cool curation of questions that are quixotic and interesting and lifelong questions. I have to agree that they have this issue. I do appreciate what they’re doing with the currency. I tried that as well. The currency became very interesting. There are people out there like Currency Exchange. People will pay $50 to talk to somebody for a half an hour about something. There’s a need there. It’s not a daily need. Quora’s not a daily need. So, Quora becomes this thing you use every 6 weeks. Is that enough to build a large scale business or not? What is the monetization of this? If they start putting Google AdSense in here, how terrible is that going to be? I did that. Oh, my God. The second you put ads inside these Q&A systems, it just kills the vibe. I don’t know what the… They’re really smart obviously and can execute amazingly. The design is amazing. The technology is amazing. But, what’s up with monetization? What is your best guess as to monetization? Will they eventually ask people to pay for these credits? Or, will they do an exchange? Will you pay people for questions? Will they have advertising? What do you think the business model is here, Rafe?
Rafe: It’s a long tail business. If you go back every 6 weeks that’s OK if you’re getting there through Google and you have a question that can only be answered through Quora. “How do I replace the window switch on my ’72 Corvette? You go to Quora and Boom, there it is. Awesome. Now, you’ve got an advertising platform because it’s highly specialized. I agree, it does junk it up. The other alternative is to go into verticals. Technology is kind of taken up. There are a lot of other verticals, where there are jobs and materials and contract work. Maybe that can work. It’s not easy. Content is never easy. Long tail content is very difficult to monetize. But, if you could get a really good base, of a lot of content, so a lot of questions are being answered when people are looking for them. Maybe.
Kirin: Or, should they just go there to be entertained?
Jason: I have to say… What do you think, Adeo?
Adeo: There’s a weird thing going on. You can’t see Quora questions, very often, on Google. I mean, I don’t. I will Google it and I won’t see it. To Jason’s point, later I like maybe it’s on Quora.
Jason: Why is that? Their SEO is not… Are they not putting stuff on SEO?
Adeo: You have to be logged in to see all the stuff on Quora. You can’t see everything without being logged in. I don’t know exactly why. It could be also that they don’t have a deal, whatever, with Google.
Jason: I think they don’t want to have drive-by answers. Like, everybody else wants to do SEO. I don’t think they feel confident enough, in their ability to handle spam and the garbage of Yahoo Answers maybe.
Adeo: Maybe. Ill tell you this. I agree with Rafe. Once they lay the ground work, they lay the tapestry, of answers, they’re going to have tons of SEO. They’ll be making money like Google. They’ll have, you search for a camera on Google, you get camera ads. You search for parts for your camera, you’re going to get camera advertisers on Quora. So, they have a great monetization platform as long as they keep building this steady stream of content. I see them as like the Wikipedia of the future. Right? Cause, Wikipedia is really good for static knowledge. The type of things you read about on Quora is, “What’s the best blah, blah, blah in the city?” You’ll get answers and they’ll get updated.
Jason: Here’s something amazing. I just figured out the prison connection. Cause when you said that Adeo, I said, “Yeah. There’s a disproportionate amount of prison discussion going on.” I wonder if that’s because of whatever. Scary for people. So, I see this amazing answer. It says, “Jorge, inmate in San Quentin Prison.” Pull up my screen, please. I’ll make it a little bigger there. I’m like, “Wait a second. How is Jorge, the inmate from San Quentin posting to Quora?” So, I get to the bottom and it says here, “All communications between inmates and external channels are facilitated by approved volunteers since inmates do not have access to the internet. This program with Quora is part of The Last Mile San Quentin.” This Last Mile thing is a program run by a venture capitalist. I forgot his name. Somebody could look it up in the chat room. But, The Last Mile San Quentin, this person is trying to help prisoners in San Quentin for post prison life. That’s why there’s so many questions here. This is a question about, the number one question about prison. Pedophilia. People in there for…
Jason: Thank you. I’m tired. How are pedophiles treated in prison. Then that… there’s a bunch here. How do you maintain your marriage in prison? What is the most beautiful prison buildings ever built?
Kirin: Well, at least you know you’re getting quality answers.
Jason: I feel like that is a perfect example of like… Yeah, what’s the most beautiful prison ever made? Really? Wow. Can you imagine you’re in prison… There’s some guy in San Quentin and they’re like, “Hey, here’s Quora. We want you to answer questions. Oh, here’s a question for you to answer, “What are the most beautiful prisons?” He must want to… He’s going to punch the warden and get an another 10 years. I would have… If somebody showed me that question and I was in prison, I would kill them.
Kirin: But, the other ones are legit. “How do you maintain marriage…”
Jason: Taunting people. I mean, this Fort in France is actually like in the middle of the ocean. It is quite striking. Beautiful might not be the word that comes to mind. It’s terrorizing.
Rafe: From the outside or the inside?
Jason: That’s I think, what they’re getting at. Actually this is kind of beautiful too. Look at the Tower of London. That’s a beautiful prison. Istanbul has a beautiful prison. If you’re going to commit a crime, the lesson is France, Istanbul or London.
Kirin: You don’t go there for the architecture. It’s about how you get treated on the inside.
Adeo: You don’t get to the Tower of London anymore, Jason. I hate to break it to you.
Jason: That’s my huge fear in life is going to prison. I would not last with my big mouth.
Kirin: You would not last.
Jason: Oh, God. I would be in a fight everyday. I’d be like, “What are you cutting in front of me? I’m trying to get my food here. You’re cutting in front of me?” It’d be like the Aryan Nation would be like, “What did you just say?”
Kirin: I see much, much worse things happening to you.
Adeo: I was fixing to say, you wouldn’t be in a “fight”.
Adeo: Maybe a “sword fight”.
Jason: Oh, God.
Kirin: I can’t believe we just went there.
Jason: Yeah. That just happened. So, Adeo’s first and last appearance on ThisWeekIn Startups. No. He’s been on before and he’ll be on again. Hey, listen. This has been an amazing episode. Really it has. But, when somebody pulls a sword fight out, it’s the end of the episode. Hey, Rafe Needleman, thanks for being on the program again. You’re amazing as always. Great feedback.
Jason: Everybody follow @rafe. Anything to plug in the Evernote camp?
Rafe: As usual, I’d like more people to read the Opportunity Notes, oppnotes.com, where I cover startups. If you have one, email me at email@example.com. I’d love to cover you too.
Jason: Everybody check out oppnotes.com. It’s actually really great. Everybody check out oppnotes.com. Adeo Ressi, from the Founder’s Institute. Everybody go to fi.com. You really have fi.com?
Adeo: That’s CO.
Jason: That’s CO. Why does it say .COM in my notes? Brice. FI.co. His Twitter handle is adeoressi@adeoressi. Adeo Ressi , what is the story with deadlines to join programs. Is there a program coming up? You have 40 programs. You can’t go through them all.
Adeo: We’re enrolling in, I think, 19 cities.
Jason: OK. So, you got a 50/50 shot. What do you think the secret is to like getting in? If you give people just one piece of advice to getting into the Founder’s Institute what would it be?
Adeo: We were just doing analysis on something and we found that if you actually take the time to fill out a fairly thoughtful application, you’re probability of getting in and graduating is exponentially higher than someone who just comes in and speeds, pops out a couple of sentences.
Jason: So, thoroughness in the application process equals not only getting in, but being successful coming out.
Jason: So, we don’t know if there’s a cause or correlation there, but generally, as far as you’re concerned, if you see a well thought out application, that speaks volumes?
Adeo: It does. It speaks volumes not only as you said about getting in but also how you do later on. I guess if you pay attention to details you’re likely to be more successful.
Jason: There you go. There you have it. Thank you so much to our friends at New Relic. Everybody follow @newrelic on their Twitter handles. Thank them. Go ahead and thank them. They would love to hear your thank you’s. Go to New Relic.com/ThisWeekIn and you get that free t-shirt. No credit card required. A lot of my sponsors… a lot of the sponsors who we wouldn’t take are like requiring a credit card. They want to try to loop you in, get you on that hard to cancel stuff. Not my people. Of course, thank you @snapterms. Go to ThisWeekInStartups.com/legal and you will see ours. Launch Festival is March 4th, 5th, and 6th. It’s going to be amazing at the San Francisco Design Center. If you would like a free… not a free ticket, a scholarship to the event, go to the site and…
Jason: Or, if you go to Launch.co you will see the festival logo and you could just click on it. Just go to Launch.co and click on the festival logo and you’ll get right there. But, the Festival is giving another 500 tickets. I announced today, as scholarships to builders. What does that mean? If you’re at a company that’s venture backed, go buy one of the $400 tickets, please. But, if you’re a broke founder, designer, programmer or whatever, apply for a ticket and we’ll probably let you in. We have so many great sponsors at the event that the event is going to hit break even this year, that’s what we were trying to do and put on a bigger and better show. There is a Hack-A-Thon on the 2nd and 3rd and going into the 4th. Starting saturday afternoon and ending monday evening. It’s going to be a 48 hour Hack-A-Thon. The top 5 of the 50 projects, they’re going to get on stage. You got a 10% chance of getting on stage.
Kirin: And money.
Jason: And there will be $50K in investment or two $10K prizes. There’s two $25K investments, one from Dharmesh and one from me. Then two $10K, if you don’t take the investment of $25K, you can take $10K as a prize. $10K in prize money equals like $5K after you pay your taxes. $25K in investments equals $25K that yo can put to the business. You’re probably going to want to take the investment. Plus, you’ll get myself and Dharmesh on your board of advisors and investors who will help yo grow the business. Also, those 5 people who are in the Hack-A-Thon, automatically get their team, with that project or another project they come up with, on stage next year. So, your automatically getting into 2014. It’s really awesome. Anything else we need to tell people about the Launch Festival?
Kirin: The deadlines to apply, next friday, February 1.
Jason: Is the deadline?
Kirin: For the front door applications.
Jason: Front door applications. Now, if you know somebody and you’re a VIP, you probably know somebody who knows me or knows you, you can get in through that. So, if you know somebody who knows me or knows you that’s always good to say, “Look out for our application.” We have 500 applications we have to get through. We have a lot of work to do. Which means we’re going to end this program. Thank you Adeo. Thank you Rafe. Rafe, thanks for having that great studio. That’s awesome there. I love it. You put up the soundboard. I love the professionalism. As opposed to Adeo, who’s using a goddamned earpiece. I think this is going to be our new standard, if you want to be on the program, this program, you got to get a studio set up with a beautiful… What microphone is that? That’s the…
Rafe: That’s a Rode. It’s a Rode NT1. It’s not bad. We’ve got 4 of them here. We do our own podcasts as well. Yeah.
Jason: We’ll see everybody next time, on ThisWeekIn Startups. Bye-bye.