Good morning, All,
Tech companies always go on buying sprees, but when Jeff Bezos shook out the loose change that fell between his sofa cushions and bought the Washington Post, it literally stopped the presses and came as a surprise to everyone. If there is one thing that Bezos has proven over the years is that he is the consummate disruptor. A Steve Jobs without the sound bites and with a far stranger laugh. For those of us who were there when Tom Brokaw held his televised Town Halls with the tech leaders of the day and Bezos, who was very much the upstart, Bezos would always contend that it would take five years for Amazon to turn a profit (it took six). Amazon were booksellers at the time and not the behemoth online shopping portal it is now, what to speak of the kindle, the studios, Amazon Local, AWS. We can stop there. For now, it seems. He is very much cut from a similar mold as Jobs, but much more diversified; with a preference for staying off the radar; and with a focus on customer service that has never wavered. The company’s purchase of discount shoe e-tailer Zappos surprised many: Amazon already sold shoes – why cannibalize their own business unit? Because Bezos believes in giving the customer what they want, not what you want to sell them. As usual, he took the long view.
Amazon is not the world’s best employer. It has the second highest employee turnover among the Fortune 500 (for the record, despite the free lunches and all of the in-house services, Google is fourth on that list), but Bezos is very clear about who is keeping the lights on at the end of the day, which is a note to self to the tech behemoths who don’t believe that privacy is an issue to their customers.
Speaking of Note to Self, the future of the Washington Post is anyone’s guess at this point, but if you want to know where someone is going, it usually helps to look at where they’ve been. The Washington Post has a very specific point of view, and has been hemorrhaging readership, as has many other publications and draw whatever conclusions you’d like, but do consider all of the variable. Example: most studies conclude that kids prefer texting over calling with their cell phones. Is it that this is a new generation who uses tech differently, or do you think at least part of it might be a function of their having been warned ad nauseam for so long by their parents not to use up their minutes (ok, that’s changed, but training is training), and let’s face it: calls get dropped /reception is unreliable: text messages are far more likely to get through. Just saying. Amazon is the world’s largest store, but you don’t see any Amazon brick and mortars popping up at the mall, and Bezos’s focus is and has always been on the customer. So if you’re pondering the future of the WaPost, do you hear me now? Onward and forward.
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500Startups Fall Accelerator Program, deadline August 16th. Yup, Dave McClure’s Accelerator. The theme on their website is 007, so we guess that this is your license to kill it. And good luck to you!
MTA AppQuest, deadline August 20th. Change the way 8.5 million people commute every day — create the transit app of the future. New/existing mobile apps running on any platform accepted. Over $50k in prizes. Grand prize $20,000 For more information and to apply, go here.
NEW Flights. Camera. Action3. Win 30 Round-Trip Tickets on American Airlines, deadline August 21st. To enter for your chance to win, upload a short video telling us about a trip that changed the course of your business. And just like that, you could be one of three Grand Prize winners who will each win 30 round-trip tickets and exposure to thousands of potential customers.
StartmeupHK Venture Programme, deadline August 25th. InvestHK is aiming to support the growth of high impact ventures on a global scale, by facilitating their access to financial, intellectual and social capital. It also seeks to propel the development of Hong Kong as an entrepreneurship and innovation hub. Twelve successful finalist entrepreneurs from around the world will be invited to attend a four-day programme in Hong Kong from 4-7 December 2013 to:
Pitch to potential investors and business partners
Receive mentorship from business leaders
Network with investment and business communities
Attend leading design, innovation and technology trade shows
NEW Heads up, Israel-based Startups on the list: Israel to NYC, deadline August 25th. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the US Israel Business Council (USI) are partnering to host Israel’s leading early stage tech startups on October 7-9 in New York City. The exclusive three-day “Israel to NYC” program will enable selected Israeli startups to meet investors and business partners and learn how to launch their US expansion in NYC.
NEW StartmeupHK Venture Programme, deadline August 26th. InvestHK is aiming to support the growth of high impact ventures on a global scale, by facilitating their access to financial, intellectual and social capital. It also seeks to propel the development of Hong Kong as an entrepreneurship and innovation hub, contributing to the development of a more prosperous economy and society.
12 successful finalist entrepreneurs from around the world will be invited to attend a four-day program in Hong Kong from December 4-7 to pitch to potential investors and business partners, be mentored by business leaders, and attend leading design, innovation and technology trade shows.
NEW The Great Tech Awards, deadline September 5th. Five startups will be flown to London on Virgin October 14-19 and meet with UK investors and a senior representative at #10 Downing Street and attended the Wired UK conference. Looking to expand into the UK market? Huzzah!
The Booksmash Challenge, deadline September 6th. HarperCollins is issuing a call to developers to create excellent, functioning software and proof of concept apps utilizing the HarperCollins OpenBook API, and in doing so turn opportunities into reality. Use imagination and technology to build software that goes beyond the traditional ways we read and discover books. Grand prize: $15,000
Clinical Trial Visualization Redesign, deadline October 2nd. Eli Lilly, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, invites designers and developers to re-imagine clinical trial information in a patient-centric way. As part of Lilly’s Clinical Open Innovation initiative, which calls on open innovation to help transform clinical research and development, challenge participants are now being asked to focus on the ideas and possibilities for envisioning clinical trial protocols from a patient’s point of view. Clinical trial information can often be dense and difficult to digest from a patient’s perspective. Patients may have questions surrounding the risks and benefits of their participation in the trial, logistics, the role of their personal doctor, and much more. The goal for this challenge is to redesign that information in a way that highlights key aspects in a visually appealing and user-friendly way. $75,000 in prizes in all. Grand Prize: $35k.
The New York Expo and Conference is back – the real one! Free Early Bird registration now available.
The largest business show on the East Coast is now open for FREE early bird registration. 40+ Seminars. 250+ Exhibitors. Unlimited networking. And yes, that is Brian Solis on the home page. He’ll be keynoting and that’s always worth the price of admission. Register here.
Date: October 17th
Venue: Javits Center, NYC
For you edification this week:
With a nod to the WaPost, Of course, the big news this week was Elon Musk and Hyperloop, his concept for a transportation system that could deliver passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes — if it is ever built.
Silicon Valley Legend Paul Graham Reveals 5 Things He Looks For Before Investing In A Startup. Graham, a longtime Silicon Valley investor who has backed startups like Dropbox and Airbnb, says the first step is to understand why your startup is worth investing in. Then you just need to explain that to investors.
5 Steps to Get From Idea to Startup. Step 1: Punch yourself in the face. We kid you not.
Entrepreneurs Need New Growth Models To Scale Up. Organic growth will get you just so far.
Five Things Entrepreneurs Should Never Do. According to James Altucher, all you can hope to do is get close enough to what the customer wants so that they then notice you. If you look good and they ask you to dance, then you better be light on your toes or you will fall. Oh, he includes the steps.
Why Most Startups Shouldn¹t Seek Investment Investor funding may be the right option for some startups, but these instances are by far the minority of cases. As Steve Messer once said, you’ll get better terms from the Mafia…
Controversial Torrent Site The Pirate Bay Releases Its Own Web Browser. It gives countries with censorship full access to the web and while it doesn’t make browsing anonymous, it is bundled with Tor, which will.
Lavabit’s Ladar Levison: ‘If You Knew What I Know About Email, You Might Not Use It. Lavabit, of course, is the privacy-oriented email service that Edward Snowden used.
Speaking of kids texting, in case you missed the Werner Herzog documentary, ‘From One Second to the Next,’ it’s haunting.
Cory Booker’s video start-up put CNN president Jeff Zucker’s 15-year-old son on the company’s advisory board and gave him stock options. The New York Times reports that the company already had to go through a round of layoffs, but two staffers that are still around are Andrew Zucker and an unidentified son of one of a Booker supporter who is now employed by Booker’s Senate campaign.
Elevator Pitch/Member News
Hint, hint: Feel free to tell us what you’re working on, or if you’ve been featured in the press…Share, and we will, too!
Congrats this week goes to SOS member Rob Caucci, co-founder and CEO of Pijon, a subscription service for college care packages, who was just written up in TechCrunch. Some of the comments were a bit harsh – careful what you share on FB.
Here’s a little something for you, from HealthyOut. A Healthy Meal Program Made Just for You :Healthy restaurant meals delivered fresh to your home and office when you want them. Order as many or as few meals as you need. NOW IN NYC! Three week free trial with promo code HEALTHYTHREE.
Don’t forget that our next networking event will be next week: Tuesday, August 20th. SOS End of Summer Networking and Happy Hour. We’ll even have an open bar for the first hour. Worth the price of admission and you know we’ll be there to make introductions for you, so even if you’re shy, you don’t want to miss this one. Hope to see you there!
That’s it from us this week, and yes, we are also planning a long-overdue find-a-cofounder event, too. It’ll be in mid-September. And now, as always, help is on the way…