“The growth of the Internet will slow drastically [as it] becomes apparent [that] most people have nothing to say to each other,” the economist Paul Krugman wrote in 1998. “By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s…. Ten years from now the phrase information economy will sound silly.”—The New York Review of Books /via Emanuel Derman
An entrepreneur once told me a story of the evolution of Advanced Chess, and it’s been rattling around in my head for awhile now.
Advanced Chess is a form of Chess where each player is allowed to use all possible resources at his/her disposal to make a move. One can use computer AI or ask friends for help. Anything goes.
The Grandmasters use Advanced Chess to help expand their minds in play. It allows them to get a different perspective on their typical Chess instincts. It’s useful in training. There are international Advanced Chess competitions.
In the beginning of Advanced Chess (I believe in the 90s), A single Grandmaster could beat a lesser opponent even if the opponent was leveraging Computer AI as a crutch. A single human could rule.
Post-Deep-Blue, Grandmasters could be beaten in Advanced Chess if their opponent had amazing Computer AI at their disposal. It was the rise of the machines. So the new unbeatable combination became a Grandmaster that leveraged Computer AI well.
But in the middle of the last decade a new winning combination emerged: a combination of Human Computation and Computer AI. The best Advanced Chess algorithms now start with a Computer AI recommended list of moves and then a crowd of expert humans vote on the best move. The combination of a crowd plus excellent AI can best a single Grandmaster plus AI.
I love this story. It’s another example of how Soylant Green (“It’s made of humans”) algorithms are taking over the world. I look for this characteristic in every startup I talk to. I consider it a special subset of a Network Effect.
Algos + humans are the future of consumer web services. Great enterprise software has been this way for years, and it’s finally coming to consumers because we’ve figured out how to get the prices down.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of Le Petit Prince. (via zachklein)
“Imagine you go back 40 years and you were given 25 to 30 per cent of all the future presidents, CEOs and cultural figures in the world. Would you take them and put them in separation for four years in the hills of New Hampshire and tell them to drink and ski and have fun? I don’t think so.”—The FT on the future of higher ed (here)
When we talk about the efficacy of college the only accreditation worth measuring is getting a job. There needs to be a lot of room in college for self-exploration, but thankfully all that work doesn’t appear on students’ transcripts. An op-ed in yesterday’s NYTimes tears into the declining grading standards across higher education, but mostly picks the wrong target. Kevin Carey writes,
The lack of meaningful academic standards in higher education drags down the entire system. Grade inflation, even (or especially) at the most elite institutions, is rampant.
It’s true: colleges self-rank. But that’s not the real issue. Colleges grading themselves is problematic not because there’s some sort of missing regulator of college grades. Rather, it’s because the grades themselves have become less valuable after college. For employers, far more important than grades is who’s issuing them. College life is filled with partying largely because the biggest achievement of a college student is getting accepted in the first place. For the more adventurous and fast-learning students, this realization helps explain (along with cost) why dropping out is becoming fashionable. The one place where grades are still paramount is students who need them for graduate school admissions. In other words, university grades still matter to universities.
Employers of new grads care about three things: which college you went to (pedigree), how much drive you’ll have on the job (grit), and whether you can perform on day one (training). The economics of a shrunken economy aside, employers hire from the best schools they can find, and that’s not really changing.
For degrees that lead students into employment (of which there should be more), there’s really only one measure of a successful education: getting a job.
“When I try to tell them my name over the phone, they can never spell “Komer”. So now I just say my name is “Jordan”, which is where I’m from.”—My old office mate, Komer. Customer Support is the new Ellis Island.
“Fraught and messy though an artistic life may be, is there a drug that can induce the euphoria as energizing as that intensely fragile moment when the muse passes through one and the artist becomes the simultaneously perfect and flawed instrument of expression? No, there is not. Even as the inner voices battle it out, intoning “You suck!” and “Eureka!” in equal measure, creation is – like the loosest of teeth just begging to be toggled by the curious tongue – a joyous torment, in whatever form it takes.”—David Rakoff in Half Empty
Startups have that, too. Plus, there’s money and you build things.
“After completing an apprenticeship to a confectioner in 1873, Milton S. Hershey founded a candy shop in Philadelphia, which failed six years later. After trying unsuccessfully to manufacture candy in New York, Hershey returned to Pennsylvania, where he founded the Lancaster Caramel Company, whose use of fresh milk in caramels proved successful. In 1900, Hershey sold his caramel company for $1,000,000 (equal to $27,936,000 today) and began to concentrate on chocolate manufacturing. In 1903, Hershey began construction of a chocolate plant in his hometown, Derry Church, Pennsylvania, which later came to be known as Hershey, Pennsylvania. The milk chocolate bars manufactured at this plant proved successful, and the company grew rapidly.”—Via Wikipedia. In other words, Hershey was a kickass serial entrepreneur. He started his first company at 16, and when it failed at age 22 he started another one in the same space. After a $28m exit at age 43 he started his third company, which 110 years later now has a market cap of $16b.
After an incredible roller-coaster of three short years, I’m extremely proud to announce that Perpetually has been acquired by Smarsh! The technology as we envisioned it — perfect, interactive archives of any website — is already thriving under its new name: Smarsh Web Archiving.
I’ve also joined Smarsh to grow web archiving across its 15,000 customers.
We’ve all been sprinting to make today’s announcement possible. Our success today is as much due to the passion of the Smarsh team as it was the Perpetually team and our investors’ risk appetite over the years — all of which paid off nicely.
But there’s one group whose impact cannot be overstated: The NYC tech community.
The Perpetually story proves how beneficial it is to be a tech startup in NYC right now. After many coffees, dinners, drinks, calls and emails in December, it became clear just how much of a support system we now have here. The people who helped make this deal work were VCs, entrepreneurs, family, salespeople, engineers, students and even an ex-Goldman banker. Most had no financial incentive to do so. Many other friends from SF helped for sure, but NYC offered a diversity of talent unavailable anywhere else.
The last three years have been a wild ride, and perseverance has paid off. Next time at 1000x!
This sentiment from Mixpanel is spot on. Done right, “internships” are really much more like a productive, paid apprenticeship:
In 2008, I interned at Slide, Inc. and it was one of the most valuable summers of my life. I went from being a college hacker interested in starting a company to learning the intricacies of product design and working with a team.
At Slide, Inc. we stayed up late hacking (because we wanted to), I learned about product from an awesome product manager named Adora, and Max Levchin worked closely on a product that didn’t necessarily have immense amount of business value for Slide.
After my internship, I had huge takeways:
I wanted to start a company.
I knew grad school didn’t matter out in California
I grew a huge network at Slide who became some of my closest friends.
I learned smaller things like: git, python, vim, etc.
I could have never built Mixpanel without having been at Slide first.
Max Levchin ended up investing in our company during the recession - a time when it was hard to raise money.
If you’re looking for similar experience, please apply for an internship by emailing: email@example.com with the subject “Internship”
Founder @ Mixpanel, Inc.
Far too many startups don’t have the resources for an internship program. Mostly, the missing link is a little creativity on what a 20 or 22-year old student can contribute over the course of a single summer. This is a solvable problem. :)
As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families.
Win them over with markets – an awesome approach, IMO. While HRC and others are doing their best to push state-by-state adoption of marriage equality, Microsoft may have just found the magic ticket. Can you imagine voting against your state’s largest employers when they tell you how to create more local, high-tech jobs?
“Every really good, really experienced CEO that I know shares one important characteristic: they tend to opt for the hard answer to organizational issues. If faced with giving everyone the same bonus to make things easy or sharply rewarding performance and ruffling many feathers, they’ll ruffle the feathers. If given the choice of cutting a popular project today, because it’s not in the long-term plans or you’re keeping it around for morale purposes and to appear consistent, they’ll cut it today. Why? Because they’ve paid the price of management debt and they would rather not do that again.”—
“Art history majors are so rare they’re lost in the noise. They account for less than 0.2 percent of working adults with college degrees, a number that is probably about right for recent graduates, too. Yet somehow art history has become the go-to example for people bemoaning the state of higher education.”—How Art History Majors Power the U.S. Economy: Virginia Postrel - Bloomberg I’m an art history major, and proud of it.
Tony, Peter and some of New York’s most dedicated freelancers, startups and small teams are building a thriving community, and it’s time to expand. Literally. New Work City started 18 months ago as a shared office for entrepreneurs, and has grown alongside New York’s tech scene ever since. Today they’re announcing an upgrade and new home in Tribeca. Personally, I’m ecstatic because I’ve been given the opportunity to personally contribute and help Perpetually at the same time.
New Work City 2.0 is already looking great. It’s a 5,000 square foot office space at 412 Broadway designed from the ground up for co-working. The lease has been signed and construction has begun. I’ve seen the raw space, I’ve seen the brick walls, I’ve seen the bay windows, I’ve seen the conference rooms. It’s awesome. Tony and Co. are putting their years of experience and connections to good use.
From Perpetually’s perspective, the deal is a great way to help the community that’s helped us grow, while also saving money. In exchange for a large percentage of the cash necessary to open the new space, I’ll own a few memberships until NWC has enough paying members to buy them back. Basically, Team Perpetually will pay $0 for rent — in Manhattan — for about a year.
New York City needs New Work City. While its success and growth prove the demand, NWC has only become a reality because of the vision and persistence of Tony, Peter and a castofcharacters I love calling friends.
Seth Godin’s Flipping The Funnel argues that your company shouldn’t be spending vast sums on advertising, but instead should “Turn your customers into salespeople.” Yeah, well — tell me more, obviously!
Here’s a quick example. The chart at right compares Web traffic at Ford.com (which is supported by more than a hundred million dollars’ worth of advertising every year) with Squidoo.com, a brand new community-driven site. Squidoo is in blue.
It took a bit of research, but I found another way to look at this example. Squidoo is in blue:
I love talking with Kevin Prentiss — He spends as much time thinking about sales as I do thinking about software. I basically want to steal his brain and graft it onto my own.
ANYWAY, we both want to grow ourcompanies more quickly, and we both sometimes think we haven’t achieved most anything just yet. But Kevin pointed out how myopic that perspective can be. While I grabbed a pen he quickly rattled off some startup milestones I’m all too quick to forget:
Had an Idea
Someone is Interested in Product
Someone is Using Your Product
Someone has Paid For Your Product
Team Can Sell Your Product
Multiple People Have Paid For Your Product
Oh, man, it’s been six months and boy do we have a long way to go (we’re nowhere near having predictable sales). I’m afraid to list out steps we have yet to reach: I’d never get back to work!