Friday, December 23, 2011

The Chinese Internet

I've probably rambled about this before, but it wouldn't hurt to share my insight about the Chinese internet again...

Do you know why Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Wordpress and many more silicon valley sites are blocked in China? If you think it had nearly anything to do with censorship, you got it wrong. The journalists of the world make a big fuss over the great firewall of China, how all data on the web is censored by the country, but they don't understand it's the Chinese way of diverting attention to nurture their own industry. It's sneaky!

What China does not want are American silicon valley companies to own the IT industry on its own turf. By blocking websites from abroad, they've created opportunities for Chinese IT companies to grow and evolve (even at the small cost of lagging behind for a good few years). They want to build a similar competitive IT ecosystem in China (well underway!) and they don't want SV companies to own information passing thru the Chinese internet -we're talking high level jobs and services as the country becomes more developed.

The red Qzone area in the map below says it all. I find it hard pressed to acknowledge that the current scenario is by chance and not a well thought out scheme. These choices the country makes today will be significant in the future.

A lot on my mind. I don't really know how to start without revealing more than I ought to.

I saw the Black Keys live at Webster Hall earlier this month, let's just say that totally rocked. My favorite band of 2011.

Been working on a new venture in Beijing lately: payments for mobile & online games. Exciting? Sort of, but maybe more so when we pick up speed next year. I've been getting my hands pretty dirty lately, execution execution execution. Hopefully something interesting to talk about next year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Justice - Audio, Video, Disco

Nothing less from Justice.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I want to say I haven't had time to post lately, but that would just be a lame excuse. Everyone has time for their priorities, and the truth was that my blog wasn't one of them.

It's been a rocky summer and no sight of land in the horizon.

Loving NYC.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Madeon - Pop Culture (live mashup)


Alphabeat - Boyfriend
Alphabeat - Fascination
Bag Raiders - Shooting Stars
Black Eyed Peas - Gotta Feeling
Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time
Capsule - Can I Have A Word
Chromeo - Momma's Boy
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Daft Punk - Aerodynamic
Daft Punk - Around The World
Deadmau5 - Raise Your Weapon (Madeon Remix)
Deadmau5 - Right This Second
Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed
ELO - Mr. Blue Sky
Girls Aloud - Biology
Gorillaz - Dare
Gossip - Heavy Cross (Fred Falke Remix)
Gwen Stefani - What You Waitin For (Jacques Lu Cont Mix)
Housse de Racket - Oh Yeah
Justice - DVNO
Justice - Phantom Part II
Katy Perry - One Of The Boys
Ke$ha - Take It Off
Kylie Minogue - Wow
Lady Gaga - Alejandro
Linkin Park - Crawling
Madonna - Hung Up
Martin Solveig ft. Dragonette - Boys and Girls
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
Nero - Me and You
One Republic - All The Right Moves (Danger Remix)
One-T - Magic Key
Ratatat - Shempi
Solange - I Decided (Freemasons Remix)
Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You
The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star
The Killers - Losing Touch
The Who - Baba O'Riley (SebastiAn Remix)
Yelle - Que Veux Tu (Madeon Remix)

The Weeknd - Wicked Games

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Gameday Tycoon in the deadpool

Top 5 Misses

1. Market Timing. If I had ran at full speed the way I did when the project initiated (12/2008), the ending of the story would be entirely different. But I didn't do that until 6/2010, and the market had already evolved then. More importantly, I didn't have the foresight to see that coming because I was so focused on getting a product developed. Most internet entrepreneurs are ahead of their time, for me I was too late.

2. Didn't fail fast enough. Was it necessary to take a year to call quits? Glad to have the strength to say I'm done, but if this were to happen again, it should happen in 8 months. No excuses.

3. Didn't focus on validating a business model. More or less the same as 2), except this is about validating a business model. REPEAT: validating a MODEL. Not making money, not working on the perfect product, not optimizing conversion rate, but VALIDATING A MODEL. Start ups are supposed to be VALIDATING A MODEL. Cash will come with a validated model.

4. Games = Resources. Games are a resource business. You can't bootstrap them. Games cannot compromise on quality, and quality should not be compromised by resources. Conclusion: Games != Start ups.

Top 5 Hits

1. Customer Development. Feels great to know we talked to customers all the time. It gave us the confidence to spend time working on things that mattered. It gave us the confidence to quit. An incredible business is in the works if I continue to do this.

2. Execution. We were lean. Everything you can ask for from a start up team. Passion, confidence, savvy, ethics (the gray type), we did what we set out to do and we executed really well given our constraints and resources.

3. Mentorship. Severely lacking in my last start up, I made sure I surrounded myself with trusting, successful mentors. These were guys that helped me make this a learning experience even if the project is now in the deadpool. They changed how I would think about an internet business.

4. Analytics. From the get go, I pushed for an analytics driven culture. No maybes, no circular discussions, no personal opinions. Analytics was how discussions were supported and it worked. And we tracked the living hell out of everything. I wouldn't change that if I were to start any new business.

Not painful. I'm optimistic.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Beer Labelsss

Helene took me beer brewing :)

We brewed 5 gallons of Trappist Triple Ale over memorial weekend. Chimay style -golden with mild sweet orange citrus aroma and flavor.

It will be 3 more weeks of fermentation before we bottle our beers, but I've already designed our beer bottle label.

I love the idea of giving them out as gifts.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peggy2 Project 1.3

Here it is finally, after bug after bug after bug.

The video below is my Peggy2 (a matrix of 625 white LEDs) visualizing audio. Same as my previous post, this is serial data running from my Mac to an Arduino and then to my Peggy via I2C. The audio equalizer code was written in processing.

I also sped up framerate issues with the webcam feed and made a new video.

I really want to call it a wrap on this project and start on something new. But a bluetooth extension would allow this thing to detach from my computer. That would be kind of nice.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Black Keys - Brothers

I want to see the Black Keys live.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gorillaz iElectribe

Gorillaz teamed up with Korg to take on the iElectribe. The result is an awesome iPad app to mix and remix their new album 'The Fall'.

This is a collaboration worth digging about.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Just give him a minute

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Creating histograms on Excel is a pain. Doing that on a Mac is even worse.

Each year 50,000+ searches on made on Google from people looking to figure out how to make histograms on Excel.

If I can convert 1% of those searches into paying customers. Each of which would pay $9.90 for a copy of my template. That would be $4950 in revenue.

Okay, so let's first see if I can even make a dollar for the half day spent putting this website together.

UPDATE: 30 hits later I've already sold one copy :)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Strokes - Angles

Been waiting for this one for a while...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lupe Fiasco

Not quite Kanye, but Lupe's a great distraction.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gameday Tycoon: Lean Startup Challenge

At my social sports game startup, Gameday Tycoon, we make damn sure no time is wasted "spinning our wheels."

The truth is that initial customer development is difficult in games. You can perform full blown studies to identify a market that loves your game idea, but the end product can still be a total flop. The reason? Games are more than just ideas, they’re experiences.

So can a game startup be lean? Is it possible? Yes and yes. A game startup can start off by identifying the core experience, building a minimum desirable product (see Andrew Chen's ebook), testing it with users, etc... Lean is just way of thinking and a set of tools to help you act lean.

When friends and family ask what I've been doing since Gameday Tycoon released a few months ago, my answer is always "making it better." Usually I need to further explain what this means,
let me give you an example from last week and show you how we're "lean":

At this stage of Gameday Tycoon, we only care about one thing -
engagement. Engagement is why users pay, invite friends, revisit your app, send nasty emails about bugs-to-be-fixed, and many more.

But let’s step back a little bit first. Before a user becomes engaged, he/she first needs to be initiated. The reason initiation is important is because users need to be setup for engagement. A good initiation experience converts a first timer into an engaged user (a repeat user).

In Gameday Tycoon, we consider ‘initiation’ choosing an assistant and completing step 1 & 2 of our mini-tutorial. It takes around 5-10 minutes to complete and is essentially a guide thru the core game experience:

    1. Choose an Assistant
    2. Mini-tutorial 1
        - Pick on a live game
        - Collect Cash
    3. Mini-tutorial 2
        - Purchase a team
        - Send front row tickets to friends

Let's track our users to see whether they convert thru our 'initiation' funnel in Mixpanel:

WOWZA! 2 of 117 people ‘initiated’ on March 8th! Now that is simply horrendous conversion… simply unacceptable!

So what should I do?
I can inspect the first-time game experience myself and pick out all the things “I think” users are getting stuck at, OR go out and talk to real users to find out how I wasted 5 minutes from each of those 115 user's life. I hope you can guess what I chose to do :)

I went out and got 50+ students on MIT campus to demo my app. Want proof?


Okay, so lots of things went wrong. Here are the major problems (and what we did to fix them):
  • Users didn’t feel obligated to finish the tutorial (award them with bonus incentives)
  • Users didn’t know where to click (guide them with big green arrows)
  • Users were shown sports leagues they didn’t care about (ask for their favorite league up front and personalize the experience from there)
  • Users said the screen was cluttered (stage new features as they make progress)
  • Users not interested in sports (ignore them, I can’t make everyone happy)

Was it a lot of work? Absolutely. Would it have been more time and energy wasted guessing what the problems were? You bet.

Now let’s check out my ‘initiation’ funnel on March 15th…

Not too shabby huh? Mini-tutorial 1 conversion increased from 29.06% to 57.14%. Mini-tutorial 2 conversion increased from 1.71% to 33.33%.

Geckoboard shot:

Moral of today’s story:
  • Set goals for your users
  • Create a funnel with these goals
  • Track the funnel with numbers
  • Improve numbers by talking to users
  • Rinse and repeat until you achieve success

Was the story exaggerated? A little bit.
Is it real? As real as the startup.
Are we making money? Yup.
Are we looking for mentors? Yes.

P.S Thank you Noah @Appsumo for this opportunity. Check out his site for great deals on web apps.