Been There Done That
I saw the TechCrunch blurb about Blockfeed this morning and my immediate reaction was “we tried that.” Almost a decade ago, we invested in Outside.in which was trying to do something very similar to Blockfeed.
Outside.in didn’t work but that doesn’t mean Blockfeed won’t work. The volume of hyperlocal content that is created today is likely an order of magnitude larger than what was available to serve up a decade ago. And geotagging capabilities have improved significantly in the past decade as well. And consuming hyperlocal content in a feed on a geolocated device is way easier and more common today than it was a decade ago.
So I wish Blockfeed well in their attempt to build a hyperlocal aggregated news service. The idea appeals to me as a user as much as it did ten years ago.
But it doesn’t appeal much to me as an investor. Because I’ve “been there done that.” And the emotions of trying something, working really hard on it, and coming up empty can get in the way of an investor’s willingness to try something again.
I know that I should get over this tendency to reject investment ideas that I’ve tried and whiffed on before. You could have tried streaming video in 1999, lost everything on it, and then passed on YouTube when it came around, and that would have been a mistake. You could have tried delivery services in 1999 (we did), lost everything on it (we did), and then passed on the latest batch of delivery services and that might be a mistake.
But even though I understand that rationally, it doesn’t help with the emotional aversion to trying something again that didn’t work last time. And venture capital investing is not a detached cold hyper-rational exercise. It is a deeply emotional and connected experience. And thus the reluctance to go there again.
People learn from their own experiences, not the experiences of others, no matter how documented and taught. That’s why history repeats itself, because there is a new generation to the mistakes over again. The best we can hope for is that some of the teaching sticks… and I think that is generally the case, as there are plenty of mistakes which haven’t been repeated.
“People learn from their own experiences…”To a large degree, I agree.But I think many lessons are learned from our parents, and they stick. I never held a saw by the wrong end. 😉
Our parents certainly make up our own experiences. I’ve learn a lot from my folks, mostly by watching.
Maybe because Plato’s right and we can’t feel the emotions of previous generations and so our context is different from theirs when decisions are made about war, the economy etc.Interestingly, in the UK’s Labor leadership contest, there’s a candidate called Jeremy Corbyn who’s proposing nationalizing the big 6 energy suppliers and the railways. Media commentators were saying that younger voters (18-25) were finding this interesting because…They have no memories of what life was like before Thatcher’s government privatized an entire raft of public services.Meanwhile, in China, they’re saying Maoism is what’s needed instead of the command capitalism of Deng and others over the last twenty or so years.In Neuroscience there are studies on how emotional experiences affect our short and longer term memories.If we don’t FEEL something ourselves because we walked the exact same paths but we only obtain the historical knowledge through reading and other abstractions, the learning’s different.That’s why first-hand experiences (actually driving the car) rather than second-hand learning (passenger / backseat) is so important.
i would say learning doesn’t fully stick without emotions
i feel like all these players are making the same mistake over again: trying to build one feature and scale it horizontally rather than focusing on building a platform first. i’d love to see a company develop a hyperlocal platform that exposes delivery and news services that localities could leverage to build their own hyperlocal economy.
Actually platforms for this already exist in the form of Facebook, Ning etc. There are a lot of people running successful hyperlocal pages in Facebook and then spinning it off into a separate site when they reach a certain scale.Whether this is a VC level business where a single group of people can get motivated people to build / create content/deals/news/services etc. across various locations/cities/countries is something that will be interesting to see
Example pls of anyone running a hyperlocal business in any of the metropolitan areas where the logistics and transaction are handled on Facebook?Want to be proven incorrect in my assumptions as I personally know of none in downtown nyc.
In the place where I stay (another country where nyc is just an abbreviation for nice), http://www.Powai.info was a Facebook Page starting primarily as a source of hyperlocal news which spun off into its own informative site with good traction. The same person created other hyperlocal sites based on this experience. Other few popular ones are related to Mother’s groups, Handymen etc. all hyperlocal to our area. Some of these have graduated to providing cards which can be used to redeem offers in offline shops.Elements of Logistics/ transactions are end-to-end experiences, which might be very important in certain contexts/ places but not necessarily deal-breakers everywhere.At the same time, whether these businesses will scale to be of interest of VCs is probably a function of the motivation, ambition & skills of the founders of these groups
With sensors all over everything, and algorithms to collate, sift and process data-and the ability to merge sensor data to social network and media data we will get there over time.
ning and fb def have the potential to move into this segment, as does amazon. more than just news, though, it needs to have the ability to intermediate commercial transactions. that is the challenging part.
yup – you’d be surprised how many roommate finding solutions thee are for just ny on facebook. Apartments by themselves though….
Check out Whittl.com Going that direction.
I don’t get it. I can book a spa in Chicago with Whittl, I can also do the same thing with Yelp, and much more.
I am not an investor-but not only can you book, you can see the price etc. Can’t do that on Yelp.
True, Whittl shows me $80 where as yelp shows me “$$ Price range Moderate”.I’m afraid being 1.5x better than the competition isn’t going to cut it. Thats generally the case with local platforms. People think they can improve on the Craigslist UX/UI and that all it takes. Never works.
very true. also, people say craigslist UX is a disaster, but really, that they have such minimal login requirements makes it easier to use than all new school systems. i recently had to post some stuff for sale, and because it wasn’t that important to me i wanted to get it done quickly. CL with the network and with the no login requirement was the obvious choice.
Path of least resistance and all. Designers love to over value their clever solutions. I roll my eyes every time I hear someone say they “design experiences”.
> I roll my eyes every time I hear someone say they “design experiences”Ha, good one. Bullcrap, IMO. A lot of startups these days seem to be focusing more on form over substance, or style over substance, as Twain Twain put it to me recently – when, if anything, it should be the other way around, or at least roughly equal importance to both (though I’d still say less of the form). E.g. those multi-megabyte (or close ) images and backgrounds, that have to be downloaded and rendered, just to visit their home page; for God’s sake. gimme a break! … Even to just know what the site is about, you have to take that MB hit – at least for those whose Net connection is metered, as one of mine is. Bah. I just close the page and move on …
Google Plus (and Google in general) is a big culprit in this regard:See the amount of images that get loaded when you go to someone’s G+ page, just because 1) there are many images, and 2) they have it all on one page.In the last century, we had gas guzzlers; in this century, we have bandwidth guzzlers. – You Heard It Here First. (TM).
Well freelance designers often have misaligned incentives. They want something that really looks GREAT in their portfolio. That means big images, autoplaying video, parallax all over the place, etc.
Nice website really poor name hack. Stupid thing to do unless they have already locked up an option on “whittle.com”. Why in the world would you use a hack like that anyway? Find a cute word that is easy to spell at least even if it doesn’t relate to what you do. I guess it’s like “whittle away the list of things you have to do” or something like that.Other thing with services like this “salons, barbers, spas, dentists” is that these are all examples of services that once you are happy you just go direct. How often does one change who they use? We all aren’t in college or in a new city most of us are in the same city and/or neighborhood. (So this will suffer from the dating service churn problem.)
Is that one of your investments?Edit: I see you answered this below.
I know the team. Good guys.
I totally agree with the platform first approach. Local is so many things, so many different things. Why limit it by trying to take craigslist down one feature-not-a-startup at a time.
The platform idea (in general) is really good and can generate a lot of value – in terms of both money and useful things, for its makers and users. But it can be done wrong. Sun could be an example with Java? Or am I wrong? Kind of thinking aloud here …
Platforms as powerful, powerful things. But you still need a killer app to get acceptance of the whole stack. And once you have that app, it’s so much harder to not just push it to the limit and neglect the platform.
I saw this too and had a similar thought. That was exhausting. Maybe it’s easier now for all the reasons you say, and mobile mobile mobile too. I wish them luck.The “btdt” manifests for me as a short attention span for new challenges. Always looking to solve the next problem. After working for a few years on that one problem, it’s really hard to stay focused on it, especially when there are lots of other really cool problems to solve.
That latter point is a great one Mark. I feel that pull to try something new and different very powerfully
You could say there is a cost/opportunity cost for solving it. If I continue to work on one, and commit resources to it-how long will it take me to get an expected payoff versus solving another problem with its own commitment and expected payoff? The commit resources includes my emotional/mental state. If all opportunities are iid and have the same probability of success/failure, then the decision grid lays down a little easier.
Hey Mark, it’s co-founder Ben Goldman from Blockfeed. We’d love to speak if you’re amenable. I can be reached at ben at blockfeed dot com.
The emotional scars seem to affect otherwise “properly working” filters for investors, then. I’m not an investor, I can’t personally say. All I know is that I’ve failed miserably in my first marriage, dusted myself off and got married a second time, and it’s been the best thing in my life for the last 16 years.I wonder whether there is a parallel.
There is. There are markets in everything. Costs/opportunity costs in everything. Marriage is a huge, and probably the most important investment you will ever make.
.You meet a beautiful woman; you fall in love. You get married.What does it cost?Every penny you make for the rest of your life.But, hey, what the Hell were you going to do with it anyway?Please do not repeat this.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
There is an old saying I first heard on the trading floor. If it flies, floats, or ^%&*( , rent it. Good thing I didn’t pay attention to the last one.
Hmm, sounds like another opportunity for the.. um.. sharing economy.
I know… I know.. (-_-｡)
.Current version:”If it flies, floats, fornicates or votes — rent it.”I get a kick out of The Donald’s utterances on how he “rented” politicians of both parties and how Hillary showed up at his wedding because he gave her donations.You are from the home of “pay for play”, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Donald went through a period of time where he realized that people only cared about him when he was doing well and made money. And after he went bankrupt many if not most people deserted him. He knows how the world works and so do you. What is the saying about getting a dog if you need a friend?When you have something that other people want (could be money, could be influence, could be good looks, could be a nice party friends want to have fun at) it is absolutely effortless to have a large group of “friends”. No arm twisting to get people to come to your beach house. Try to get them to come for the weekend to stay at your row house. Not going to happen.Donalds knows why people want him and/or want to suck up to him.By the way what he said to Megyn was absolutely positively the best thing that could have ever happened to her. She is infinitely more famous now then she was prior to the comment that he made. Which he skillfully handled by the way something like “only a deviant would think I meant her period”. Notice that he also let it dwell on the headlines a bit before responding so as to get even more press.I love that Donald is waging a war on political correctness and trying ( once again even if for his own benefit) to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction.Just like rioting was needed to correct certain social wrongs  Donald is using outlier examples to bring attention to the ridiculous concept that we need to watch each and every word that we say lest we have a backlash from the social media witch hunt. Some people might say, however I personally don’t agree…
Trump is an Independent, disguised as a Republican…which is why he is gaining more and more popularity. And he is smart enough to realize that if he hits a ceiling within the Rep. party, he’ll switch to Independent in a nanosecond, and steal votes from both parties.
.One of the myths of politics is the gradation within parties. If you vote for a candidate because you like one policy, it is still binary. You get the entire package and not just the one feature you liked.So it is with The Donald.People were surprised to find out he is churlish, boorish, mean? Really?That is all “priced in” to his popularity. No revelations last Thursday as to who he is.The Donald will NOT run for President as an independent. He needs to be popular and that would kill his popularity. Ross Perot was a different breed of cat.The phenomenon of The Donald is a real thing. Not necessarily a good thing. But a real thing.He is really The Donald Startup and this audience could learn a lot about startups from him. I was reflecting on just that “startup” thing related to The Donald today.http://themusingsofthebigre…JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Like Trump said “why should I give up that bargaining chip…”Trump is old school so what some people view as nice and honorable he views as stupid and what some people do which might be considered devious or dishonest he views as smart. This is really not as a typical as people might think in the world of small business (of which Trump is essentially a part of in a way). Consequently he is able to do things which others can’t even begin to imagine happening since they don’t think like him. Being raised in that environment I get him 100% and can fully appreciate the game of it all.  And it is a game. He is a master of exploiting what I call “the stick”. The stick in short is an advantage that you have that allows you to get away with what most people would laugh at you ever being able to do and never anticipate the outcome. And god do I have game stories that I could tell from over the years.
I’m starting to like him…as a presidential candidate.
I like him in the race. Not a chance that he will get elected. Which is a good thing btw.
.I am right there with you but then there is a little voice in my head that reminds me — anything can happen. Anything.I thought Hillary would waltz to the nomination in 2008. She tripped, skinned her knee, and was beaten like a red-headed step child.We are several lifetimes from the election.The most recent “scientific” polls have Trump at 21% and Bush at 7%. It is rare to go to the front, slip back into the pack, and get back to the front — in political races or horse races.If the Republican establishment abandons Jeb Bush, it is a free for all and Trump — with his money — will be the best funded candidate.What the Republican kingmakers think is becoming progressively more irrelevant in the age of social media and automated data driven GOTV efforts. The Internet doesn’t care what country club you belong to.Political campaigns are like startups. On that score, he gets very high marks.Read about it here:http://themusingsofthebigre…JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Thank you.One of the reasons I come back to this blog is that I realize that I can be good friends with people I don’t agree with and that indeed my views have broadened.All that and all you have said the thought of Trump in the White House is a scary joke to my personally.
.Trump is a shiny penny and his shine will fade a bit.The subjects he has injected into the debate: immigration, competence, fundraising, the influence of money in politics, M Kelly’s menstrual cycle (OK, that’s a little joke) are all worthy subjects.Having said that, you could not possibly be as scared as I am right now with the current WH occupant.”One man’s poison . . . . ?”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
awaldstein:After refreshing my memory with 199 quotes by Trump on flipboard half which are just SNL and pure shtick how can I take any college graduate who is a contributor on this blog who openly is giddy about Trumps candidacy seriously? All politicians have a common core link they will tell you anything you want to hear to get elected.Emotions replaces rationale much too often when intelligence is commanded.Maureen Dowd article in New YorkTimes covers it.The New York Times: Introducing Donald Trump, Diplomat. http://google.com/newsstand…
“…and was beaten like a red-headed step child”You are a funny son of a gun…
.Could have been a “rented mule.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Thing is, no matter how bad some or all of the candidates might be or are, there will be a winner, for the Republican nomination and for the White House. Count on it.Then, setting aside attacks by rogue comets, eruption of Yellowstone, etc., either Trump gets the White House or someone beats him.So, the question is: Who can beat him, and how?Off topic: A detector near the South Pole just detected a neutrino with energy 6000 trillion electron volts. Question: What the heck could have produced that?
.Doesn’t it have to be either George W Bush or The Donald?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
we shall see
With the discussion veering towards Girlfriends, exes, Trump and more, how can something this relevant be off topic!.Besides with you talking about neutrino detection, @pointsnfigures:disqus talking about sensors and the fact that there was a rerun of Transformers on TV yesterday, I am starting to detect a conspiracy and a pattern….
I can’t like him, he’s a racist. That really just scratches him off the list for me. I was a Trump fan for years, I admire the way he’s built his businesses. I’m OK with moral ambiguity. I love the way he fights when others would rather take the high road.But the way he went after Obama with the whole birth certificate thing and now with Mexican immigrants…I just can’t support that point of view. Even if he’s only doing it for votes or media attention, the time for those views are over and yeah…I could go on and on but you probably get it.
.Keep your beliefs but I want to tell you something about where I live — Texas.There is a war going on at the border.Wholesale crossings. Unstoppable.Dropping off criminals — convicted criminals — on the street corners of El Paso, Corpus Christi, San Antonio. Our gov’t dropping off illegal aliens who are convicted criminals in our cities because ICE cannot comply with a 120 day deadline to process deportations.We love Mexicans in Texas — we love the people, their families, their breakfast tacos, their Tex-Mex, their beer, their sense of joyousness.Not so much the gangs, the drug cartels, the criminals.Trump may be a punk. Think that’s already priced in on him. Nobody discovered last Thursday he was a boor, churl, mean.Still, the guy has other facts that nobody is willing to cover.I am being careful not to be felt of as a proselytizer.Read this: http://themusingsofthebigre…I don’t think he’s my guy. I am no hurry to decide. We have a few lifetimes before the election.I do want everyone to get a fair shake.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Noted. However, a logical person, like yourself, just made that point in a way that’s not at all racist or offensive. Trump could have made the same point, even with his elevated level of bluster, without being racist, yet he didn’t.I’m not a bleeding heart liberal who gets offended over language and political correctness but there is a difference between being political correct and just outright offensive. He’s chosen the latter in every circumstance where he’s discussed race and that is what has lead me to this conclusion.Like I said, I was a fan of his once. It was a bit sad for me to see him go down this path.
Racism is a learned behavior. Many who support those views enjoy packaging the wording to make embracing it more convenient. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck don’t allow the duck to tell you it isn’t a duck. (Comments from an independent that sees both parties for what they are)
Only thing Trump’s candidacy to date has proven is that there are no leaders among the Republican hopefuls.
.Tough crowd, harsh judgment.The Governors all show great evidence of leadership. Good leadership, based on results. Kasich seems to be particularly solid. The Senators don’t have similar track records.It is hard to say something bad about the performance of Gov Kasich, as an example, because of Trump’s inclusion.Trump is a complex subject avoid the tendency to reject him with a superficial judgment.Read this: http://themusingsofthebigre…JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Not rejecting Trump superficially. Rejecting the others.
.Are you being fair?Since WWII, there has been an evolution in the US from WWII age leaders (Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, Nixon) to Senators to Governors (Reagan, Clinton, Bush).The outliers, George HW Bush and Pres Obama, have either been very well prepared or ill-prepared. GHW Bush — military, Congress, Ambassador to China, head of the RNC, Director of Central Intelligence, VP — had, arguably, the best resume of any President.Kasich has done wonders with Ohio — $10B improvement in current account, reversing job trend from losing jobs to creating jobs, functioning Obamacare marketplace.I wonder what yardstick you are holding up to suggest that the Governors amongst the Republicans have not been effective leaders?Their track records and record of re-election seem to indicate otherwise.I respect fully your prerogative to engage in knee jerk utterances. No problem with that.If you are actually grading these men fairly, how can you suggest there are no leaders amongst the Republicans?I am no defender of the Senators and think that being a Senator is a suspect path to being able to run the country. True of both parties.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Hillary should be beaten easily but if you expect your Republican pool of characters to do it that will be considered wishful thinking. Talking points without a detailed plan will not win anything but applause from a audience already won.(Republican caucus and primary voters)
.It is a couple of lifetimes between now and the election.Right now, candidates — as they should be — are concentrating on winning the nomination. Nobody has even come close to rolling out their program(s).Of course, they are playing to the Republican caucus and primary voters — they are the people who are going to pick the nominee — duh?Even so, I have seen plenty of specifics from individual candidates and the Governors have track records. We KNOW what they will do.Once there is a single candidate, it will be time to concentrate on the Dem nominee.Know that the Republican win in 2014 was not a fluke nor a mistake.Everything is going to be fine. I promise you. Would I lie to you?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Emphasis on hopefuls.
He, he, he…
Every penny you make for the rest of your life.Not true. You can bail at anytime and keep roughly 45% (less attorney fees) and move on.
My cousin’s wife left him for his best friend, and she managed to walk away with well over 50%. He didn’t survive the double treachery as he eventually jumped off a bridge in 2008. She even took his golf set! She took everything she could and more. She didn’t get off his case until he finally turned himself into a omelette. They had been together since high school.
There are many guys who are still married today because when they visit a divorce attorney they find out how much they will lose by going through a divorce.So whenever you hear from a man how much he thinks he is worth you can multiply that number by .45 to come up with the real number. (Assuming he has been married for a number of years and/or doesn’t have some kind of an iron clad pre-nup).
Marriage is hard. Many of them are held together for fear of the financial implications of getting divorced. IMO, this can be ok temporarily if the couple can reconcile their differences and eventually end up in a good place — simply the realities of life.However, when the point of no return has been reached, staying together is simply a compromise at that point — tough spot to be in. That’s why I couldn’t stay the course with my first marriage; it was too destructive.Also some people stay together for the sake of the children. My parents did that, and rightly or wrongly, I really appreciated it. And in the end they somehow worked it out and now can’t live without the other. They had they 50th anniversary last year.
The way I see it the “stay together for the children” depends on the specifics of the exact problems and reason why someone wants to get divorced. Also assumes that children wouldn’t be better off the other way. (I am divorced, remarried (happily) and have dated many divorced women in between.)When I was dating I can’t tell you the number of women who went down the road of the “my kids come first they are most important to me and you (the new man in my life) will always be pretty far down on the list of priorities of mine”. Many of those women are still single now. Unfortunately your own happiness is also important and for your children’s happiness as well. Stop having the entire universe revolve around your children. The women I re-married didn’t play that game and still doesn’t. I get a big vote on how things happen with her kids which is one of the reasons we got married. We both think the same way.
Interesting point, thanks. Joanne Wilson often says (albeit in a different context) that if you’re happy your children will also be happy. That’s why it’s important to not be quick to judge others’ life choices…
Oh sorry to hear about what happened to him btw.
It’s a tragedy — I liked him too. But the interesting phenomenon is that there is an emotional undercurrent in the family whereby beyond sadness, a level of anger is felt towards him, as he took the easy way out and left two beautiful children to be raised by their mother whose moral compass leaves much to be desired.
as he took the easy way out and left two beautiful children to be raised by their motherDo you mean the suicide or that he got divorced?
Suicide means there is typically a mental condition. Consequently someone must be hurting pretty bad to take that step and actually carry it out. It’s a rare occurrence.
I agree, that’s why I don’t judge him. I suspect it’s hard for the family to appreciate as many have reached out to help him, and often, but however he felt is how he obviously felt.
I’m not judging my cousin. I’m saying that, surprisingly, that’s the feeling it invoked. Even his mother feels that way, as she’s told my father.
It was not an easy way out for him. I started a charity for Veteran’s and Servicepeople. Officer’s suicide rate is off the charts compared to what it used to be. One of my close friends and beloved fraternity brother took his life after seven tours in the Middle East during the first and second Gulf Wars. My only regret, sadness, and anger is that I did not see it coming. http://www.oneillfuneralhom…
Well, he did leave his children behind. In that situation, nothing is easy anyway.
I’ve never understood that, why would I kill myself when I can kill the object of my misery?**I don’t condone murder or suicide in any way but I’d kill the person tormenting me before I killed myself.
Got it, but it’s better when nobody dies, right?
A chapter in Girls 101 for Dummies — Boys needs to cover this:Kinds of love include compassionate (e.g., care about each other), committed (in love for a long time), affectionate, romantic, intimate, passionate, faithful. That’s seven.Lesson 1: Some people like and really want all seven, and some people don’t and will even get married and have children maybe liking as few as just one, e.g., passionate. On something like this, don’t expect a person to change. That’s just the way it is.Lesson 2: More generally, for committed love, (A) some people want to take the problem of loneliness (and the problem of having a good life more generally) and solve it, get just one rock solid solution, never have to look for another solution, and want that one solid solution to last “’till death do we part”. For such a person, to be married to their high school sweetheart looks good, that is, like a rock solid solution for life. And (B) some people don’t; instead, for them, they want the excitement of a new love, maybe each three years or so. Just the way it is, even when some people don’t know if they are in case (A) or case (B).Really, only people in case (A) should have children. A case (A) person shouldn’t marry a case (B) person.At least in Western Civilization, traditional marriage vows are for case (A). When a person in case (B) exchanges such vows, they are likely lying in one of the most serious ways possible — but it happens, e.g., if a person in case (B) believes that they are in case (A).Case (B) is so common that one has to suspect that, really, Mother Nature has her views based on that old standard — reproductive advantage. So, some women can look like they need a new baby or a new love at least each three years or be ready to leave, to nearly anything; they can be disillusioned, discontented, disappointed, bored, unhappy, frustrated, angry, hostile, …, gone, divorced, and with another man.In summary, while there’s much more that’s important to understand, at least boys/men need to understand that for some women, really too many, exchanging the traditional marriage vows with a man does not really mean that she wants to “live happily ever after” with that man. Maybe all the woman wants is exciting sex, a new luxury SUV, and a country club membership.For an explanation, it looks like the man you mentioned after many years basically discovered that he had believed and bet most of his life on what was really, essentially from the first, a lie. That was discouraging.
.How about that “until you are parted by death” part?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Good point: how many stay in a marriage bound by honor?
.Primarily the honorable ones?More importantly, how many young folk actually take their vows seriously?I was at a great wedding this weekend and I wondered just that.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
The problem with that “vows shit” is that it assumes that both parties stay the same over time and keep to the contract in terms of the way they present themselves prior to marriage. In marriage people change. Sometimes one party sometimes both parties.My ex wife married an orthodox jew. She wanted to break up with him at one point. Sensing that this would be bad for me I encouraged her to stay in the relationship for both my benefit and my kids benefit. But I told her (he really dug her to no end) “now is the time to cut a deal with him before you agree to marry him…not after” And I really stressed that point. Negotiate prior to signing the deal. Afterwords you have little leverage.The good student that she is (she used stuff that I taught her against me in the divorce) she listened and did exactly that. She was able to get him to give up some of that religious shit and in one case actually got him to, get this, to time shift a religious holiday! When she wanted to be able to leave for a trip she said “why can’t we just have the holiday start 5 hours later so we can catch the airplane”? And she actually got him to agree to that! Anyway by the time she said “ok I will marry you” she has already whittled down that religious crap (which still existed) to tolerable levels. God I pat myself on the fucking back for that advice that I gave her and being smart enough to convince her to follow that path!! If I must say so myself.
That’s a sign of the times we live in. Sadly, I think it would take a near apocalypse for society to shake off the superficiality bullshit and value one’s word and honor as their primary soft assets; as in “I’ll take a fucking bullet before I break that promise”.
.Yes and no. We can start with you and me.Let me tell you a secret — when I was in the big commercial real estate business, I dined out on my word. Not hard to do because I had gone to VMI and been an Army officer.But, I made it a conscious effort and used to preach to my execs that when we screwed up, we ate the problem.I used to say, “We eat all the broken pies we drop.”I used to be able to get sellers to do business with me because my word was good. The Trammel Crow partner once got mad at me because a seller had said to him, “I’d take JLM’s handshake before I’d take an earnest money contract with a check attached from Trammel Crow. That guy always closes.”We can make a difference. You and me and the people who are watching. When you do things the right way, you never have to try to remember what bullshit lie you told.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
>Primarily the honorable ones?Sharp as always! LOL
Not everyone has vows. I’ve actually never attended a wedding ceremony where someone recited a vow: For whatever the reasons, my college classmates are just starting to get married, and none of my close friends are. The people I went to high school with/know from orthodox Jewish land with are already married, some for almost a decade now. Since all of those people are orthodox Jewish, and orthodox Jewish wedding ceremonies, no matter what subdivision of orthodoxy your talking about, there is exactly one set of vows you may hear, and they have nothing to do with death doing parts of anything:The groom may swear in front of two kosher witnesses that he is in full ownership of the ring he is about to give the bride, and that it is definitely gold. (In other cases the witnesses will examine the ring itself: there are variations on how the witnesses must know for certain that the groom is in full ownership of the ring and that it is made of gold)There is however, the reading of the marriage contract about what happens in the event of a death or a divorce to marriage property, including the rights for daughters to inherit,and for the wife to have a certain amount of support and/or alimony, as well as guaranteed rights in the marriage itself as the marriage is in part seen as an important economic unit. ( http://ketubahworks.com/201… ….the rights are embedded in what happens when the contract is dissolved, there are whole books on the subject)As far as I’ concerned, maybe the vow thing is something that happens on TV, but real life may be different.I have no idea what happens in an Islamic ceremony, or a hindu ceremony, or a nondenominational ceremony, or buddhist ceremony (i’ve heard things about sharing tea?…). Regular Christian or catholic ceremonies are beyond me.I’m just going to assume that there are a wide variety of perspectives of what a marriage is from a variety of traditional perspective, as well as many wedding traditions the world over that could reflect what these perspectives can be.Maybe the vow thing and not ok with divorce thing is not a standard idea worldwide? (I actually don’t know)
A friend of mine used to say, “My wife made me a millionaire. When I married her I was a multimillionaire.”
If it’s any consolation, they had been married many years and he was very much in love.
Hormones are perhaps one of the greatest drugs ever invented.
Indeed, they are the underlying reason for the expression: “Can’t live with them, can’t live without them”, ha ha!
Well that’s a relief to hear (having had same experience on the first go)
Ah really? That’s yet another thing we have in common then.
This isn’t just about investing but from the entrepreneurs point of view you should realize you will pay for the sins of the past bad boyfriend/girlfriendIt is human nature and how we survive.Ever eat something and get sick? You will not be able to eat it for a long time. For me that was uni. Sea urchin. Took forever to eat againIt’s pattern matching. It’s why you have to be very aware of it and ask the person if they can get over itEven with Fred being very self aware he cannot get over that hump of the bad taste left in your mouthConversely it can also cause a confirmation bias. What worked in the past might not in the future
That is a solid perspective you are offering here, thanks.Btw, for me it was peanut butter. Got sick and vomited from overeating it at six years old — took 10 years to get over it, but then again I eat it daily to this day 🙂
These wounds, scars if you leave them, merely need time – for you to reflect and understand – to allow yourself to grow.This leads to a better understanding of how something works and then you will position yourself differently then before.If you allow post-traumatic stress to dictate your future behaviours then you’re limiting your quality of life and relationships.It’s the laws of attraction. You won’t be attracted to someone or something with too similar of qualities of what you were previously hurt; it could be you that needed to learn something or the other person or both.Not investing in a category because you were hurt in it before would be the same as not dating women again because you associate pain with a woman; might sound and feel like a good coping mechanism, however if we’re naturally wanting to find a partner, or you’re naturally wanting to invest, then you’re limiting the breadth of life you can have; what you’re not aware of doesn’t necessarily cause any problems.
I am assuming he has said something similar?
Sorry for the delayed reply.Yes, you said something that reminded me of something he said in one of his books. I think it was this paragraph from your comment above that reminded me:>It’s the laws of attraction. You won’t be attracted to someone or something with too similar of qualities of what you were previously hurt; it could be you that needed to learn something or the other person or both.
Have there been any companies in this “Been There Done That” category that, despite your reluctance, you ended up investing in? What did this company do to positively signal their ability to execute?
The takeaway is to overcome the gag reflex and examine the viability of an idea in light of today’s technology. A similar example to YouTube would be teleconferencing … after the late 90’s, networks finally became fast enough that Webex and competitors became viable. (Webex since acquired by Cisco, GoToMeeting by Citrix, etc.)
I’m not sure why, but this feeling is tough to overcome. A friend of mine went through the dotcom burst and 15 years later, he still can’t help looking at more recent companies thinking “Sooner or later, they’re going to go bust!” – even though some of these companies are hugely successful and deliver real value to their customers.This reminds me of a Marc Andreessen interview from last year http://nymag.com/daily/inte… :”My presumptive tendency, when I’m presented with a new idea, is not to ask, “Is it going to work?” It’s, “Well, what if it does work?” That stance is something I work very hard to maintain, because it’s very easy to slip into the other mode.”
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bill, is all ok?
It’s a big challenge at the moment.
I think there is a difference between a thematic investors whos willing to try new things in a theme, and literally trying the same exact failure a second time. Blockfeed looks like Outside.in on iOS. Drive down the same road, sure, but no one wants to hit the same pothole twice.
Yup, the myth of the rational investor. Same thing happens in equity trading, or futures trading.
I tried 4x with MSFT over 5 years. The last one an upper deck shot
Swung for the fences a few times……there’s a reason Babe Ruth had a lot of K’s.
What about the opposite? You passed on something before and now you get a second at bat with something similar. Does the outcome of the original company affect the second at bat (perhaps market/sector dependent)?
Great post. We are all human and emotions are a huge prt of what we do. It is easy to say set your emotions aside, much harder to actually do it.
The flip-side of the inability to ignore sunk cost.
It’s hard to get over a “Deja vu” syndrome.But with an open mind, I would ask how different is the monetization and success potential now? What has really changed from before?Twitter could have the hyperlocal news angle covered if they wanted, no?That said, I’m more attracted to the potential of hyper-local services than hyper-local content.
I don’t think twitter could do hyper local news well at all. They are already operating well beyond their platforms natural scope, with little success. You can’t just pull in a fence of geotagged tweets and pretend there is any local relevancy there.
In this one I’m going to have to agree with @jessbachman:disqusI’m not seeing how Twitter as I understand it could accomplish services on a local level, meaning hundreds of locals for NY alone.
Hey William, Twitter could do a lot of things if it really wanted to, like hyper-local services/news. But Twitter is drowning in things to do these days and isn’t getting many of them right. I feel the hyper-local services market opportunity is best serviced through a review strategy (yelp, foursquare etc) who could then leverage Twitter. That is providing Twitter had the dashboard filtering to deliver this kind of depth for services or content (or much else for that matter).
Local, with any quality, needs to come from the bottom up, not filtered down. Techies often think that with enough ‘data’ and the right algorithm, all the worlds secrets can be revealed. Sometimes there are no shortcuts.
Thing is there are so many social destinations one can have time for. If I were to add a new one, it would have a to be a big improvement on something I already have, even if it’s not perfect.If the local news is important enough, it will find its way to me. And if I want something badly enough that is local, I will search for it.
Well said! and so very true for most of us.
Yup. If something is truly truly important…it finds its way to me. I don’t bother reading any media or watch television for news…it’s mostly irrelevant to my own life.
Research shows the average human is 2.5x more concerned about downside risk than not hitting their potential for upside. It applies to every kind of investing!
The problem with this model is that there is little to no local content in most of this country. The local papers have all been rolled up into private equity-sponsored conglomerates, and the sponsors then ran them for cashflow for decades, consolidating and depleting the assets. Even in the NYC burbs where I live, you would have to cast a broad geographical net to find any amount of “local” news. It’s basically all websites of network affiliates, and one local paper that covers the entire Hudson Valley, plus an assortment of coupon clippers — seriously. I would be more excited if this startup were using the aggregation strategy to bootstrap a platform where they could fund real local journalism. I would guess that some big $ investment in local content is necessary to feed any kind of real local model, otherwise “hyper” local is only possible in a few special geographies like Manhattan / Brooklyn.
I also think this is a function of a few things. May I?F(new investment) = (interest in new problems) * (previous success in analogous problems) * (your limited time)
I came extremely close to passing on approaching my current wife because I had dated someone of the same profession previously for 5 years (was a terrible relationship) and I was certain that I would never be able to get along with that type of person again.  That would have been a huge mistake in retrospect.The lesson to be learned is that while it’s important to take certain past experiences into consideration, it’s also important to consider what might be different, what facts have changed and not to just make blanket denials because you’ve been down a particular road and it didn’t work out. Details matter in other words. Obviously what is different and what has changed?Relying on past experiences is a great time saver and quite frankly it usually does make sense more than it doesn’t. In my case it worked out however I can point to many more cases where I avoided trouble by simply going for the lower hanging fruit and not tilting at windmills. After all with dating (especially online dating) there are many fish in the sea (like investing) so why go where you have gone before that didn’t work out when your gut tells you “danger will robinson”.
You could have tried streaming video in 1999, lost everything on it, and then passed on YouTube when it came around, and that would have been a mistake.Youtube worked because it was purchased by Google who had the money and the infrastructure to keep it alive until it became profitable. Had Google not come along who knows what would have happened with youtube and where it would be today and who would have replaced it or what would have happened.Ditto for how many things currently in vogue and considered stars simply because Apple introduced the iphone in 2007.  Had Apple not come along impossible for me to believe that another manufacturer would have filled that void.The “thing that leads to the thing” is exactly what you can’t predict and makes the entire investing game a crapshoot and gambling. No reason to beat yourself up here. No iphone, no Uber as only one example.
I just don’t see a business model for them… at least one that pays more than they spend out. As a social service i am sure people would want to read some of these articles, but there is a certain volume they need (no clue what it is, maybe its 300 page views a month for a veiwer, and they are likely to get to mayber 1/10 or 1/5 of that). The exact figures could be off, but that is how i feel about this idea. Interesting, but the unit economics almost certainly don’t work
Agreed. The only way I see to monetize is to funnel traffic off to jobs / real estate. Or sell data b2b (but need massive, massive scale for that).
The jobs and real estate is a great point. Have read a few interesting articles in the past at how those too (combined with classifieds) were the main reasons newpapers were money machines. Basically they were “local googles” for 100 years. They have a monopoly over a small area and the highest value extraction technique were ads for jobs, real estate and some forms of classifieds. Now that those can be “unbundled”, the news business has not and will never recover (financially at least)
Yup. News has never paid the bills for anyone. The real estate industry would be wise to look into this opportunity: http://geekestateblog.com/b…
yup. plus local smbs can’t figure out how to make CPM work
Do you mean local smbs that are BUYING cpm? That is how i took it, but curiuos of your thought / point. It feels like they are getting outbid by companies with “scale”. Would you agree on the local smbs not making it work just because there isn’t sufficient scale right? Basically a fortune 1,000 may be literally 2,000 the size of a sbm, but the transactions costs are nowhere near 2000x so more efficient models can be done on the larger scale? (ie you can have a marketing analyst do almost the same work for both, but then spread over 2000x the number of ads run etc?)
Actually, no. If you go to an actual local Smb to sell space, you tell them how long/how many weeks it will run, and how much of the page they will get. You also offer graphic design services for a paper.They never get a cpm quote because it apparently confuses people.For a local blog, oftentimes similar ads are hard coded to appear on every page because the concept of cpm/cpa/third party ad serving is confusing.
In 1999, a partner at Mohr Davidow told me (on the phone as I was working on setting up a meeting): ‘ I am either the worst guy or the best guy for you to talk to……. ‘.He had invested in a version of our idea……twice.
It’s a strong aversion that discounts all the domain knowledge that was acquired the previous time. Yes, some things will have changed, but a lot will remain similar.
I wonder if we give up too easily. I guess it is all about how badly you want a problem solved . When things get tough , you can reframe the way you look at the problem in ligjht of what you’ve learned to that point . That mentall shift can be the thing that resets it in your mind – giving you space to try again, from a different angle . All those mini pivots help you go forward , but boy is it tough . walking away is too easy, making it work is tough but that’s where the rewards are . The Lean movement underestimates the value of persistence, grit and also reframing in solving a problem. Just when you can’t do it anymore , when the going gets tough , a few degrees more may just be the answer . When you get to that place , you look around and there ain’t that many people competing with you – you’ve may have the market all to yourself . If you get there by riding a wave , luck is on your side . Luck is powerful , as powerful as sticking with the grind. And as a frustratingly wise friend would say to me -” business is not meant to be fun, if you want to have fun , go get a hobby .” Not sure if I completely agree with her, but her point is well made . Nobody likes to lose , but winning has a price tag all of its own . If you want to win, either catch a wave or ask yourself – how badly do I want this. When you’re an investor and you see this behavior , back it , back that team. These are the winners . Back the winners.
The Lean movement underestimates the value of persistence, grit and also reframing in solving a problem.Not really.Lean movement just another way of identifying “the low hanging fruit of opportunity” as I like to say. Nothing wrong with that and it makes sense. Why waste 7 years of your life on something that may work (if you can stay alive and the right luck happens) when you can work on 3 ideas in the same time that at least appear to be able to click because you have achieved, as Fred likes to say, “product market fit”.Anything that I have done that has worked has been an immediate product market fit. Money and customers seemed to flow almost immediately (which is not to say that profits were there immediately). I closed one business that I was working on (and sold all of the equipment) because another one seemed to click right from the start. It was a service that people wanted to a much larger extent than the other business (which had potential just not as much). Nothing wrong with the other business either. For that matter the first business that I started out of college (which I sold many years ago to do something else) is still operating today (and that was a long long time ago) because it was a meat and potatoes business that had immediate appeal. I opened that business after I stopped working on another idea where I could see it would take to long to get to where I wanted to go. All of these were lean if you want to call it that. No such term existed back then but of course the concept has been around forever.Grind it out as Ray Kroc used to say comes when you know you are heading in the right direction as does overcoming obstacles.  I didn’t surface for perhaps 6 years of working 7 days of untold hours. Ditto for other businesses. But that effort was for something definite in my mind not a “maybe”. I think at least to me that is the difference.
Thanks for sharing , Going after the low hanging fruit is sensible and sound .
Ok here is the thing about local news. It’s 95% infotainment. It’s typically not info that you really need at least not to the degree that you are going to take the the time to follow it consistently. To many other places to get your info and daily reading.For my infotainment I read both the NY Post and the NY Daily News even though I am not in NYC. Why? It’s world class infotainment. In Philly there is 1/10th the gore and fun that is happening in NYC. So once I am satiated with that world class garbage and debauchery why do I need my local area? How do I even have time? For that matter since I live outside the city my local community has nothing of interest going on. Who cares? Literally. Consequently it’s not must see TV although I do check in from time to time.See what is happening here? Local news isn’t that important in the sense that a juggernaut can be created in the way that people think it can. Of course for aggregation of “world class gore” and perhaps sex stories I can see value to the information gathering. Also keep in mind that in NYC people are into an entire bunch of pastimes that people aren’t into in the rest of the US. Where I live there would be no reason for an EATER or a CURBED. (They are in Philly and have appeal to people in the city but that isn’t the case out here where I am.) Simply not enough going on in either real estate or dining locally . No re porn no dining porn and so on. Example attached from NYDNhttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…
Gut + Heart > Mind
In 2012 Amit Singhal, Google’s SVP of Search, gave a talk in which he shared Google’s vision to build the ‘Star Trek computer’ and explained why he chose to join Google instead of staying at Bell Labs. Back then, Google was only about 10 people with no revenues and far from the giant it is today.He shared it was, “Because my heart told me to.” This indicated his emotions helped inform his decision-making / mind.During Q&A, I asked the first question: “Will the Star Trek computer have a heart?”You could hear a pin drop in the room, haha.He answered, “That’s a really deep question. Journalists only ask those types of questions after a lot of drinks. No, Star Trek computer doesn’t have a heart. We’re focusing on connecting facts.”Fast forward to 2015 and Qualcomm presented “Robots Must Care” at Tribeca ‘Imagination’ festival in April.So even in the design of the most cutting-edge of technologies…We have to factor in the HUMAN HEART and its influence on intelligence and decision-making in ways we haven’t done before (and certainly Turing didn’t).I followed my heart and decided not to follow Google’s approach, by the way.
On the other hand, the wisdom of hindsight from those failed attempts could really be useful for those who come afterwards.
Investors use different filters that assist them in minimizing the investment failures that leave emotional baggage that interferes with assessing future investments that can benefit overall investment strategies. The benefit of failing is knowing what not to repeat. That asset (experience, failure) has become an emotional investment impediment. Put on the big boy pants and continue swinging or rest on your laurels and talk about the war stories of success.(Lost my Mom to natural causes- (78) on Friday 7pm est 7 Aug 2015). She was a fighter all her life and died the same way unrelenting and unapologetic, she always did things her way. She said I made her proud and glad she was happy with end product or work in progress as I would respond, everyone grieves differently, it hasn’t set in not being able to call the night owl at 3am est. 12am mst. but I’m sure it will.) People say pronouncements of death occur in threes, Frank Gifford the NY Giant also passed this weekend)PS: Fred didn’t intend getting off topic but she was the only mom I had, a good stern one)
.Condolences on the loss of your mom. When you lose your mom, you lose your champion. Then, you have to become an adult.Grieve well. Grieve hard. This too shall pass.You will never fill that hole but you will bridge it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Good words. I hope I never become an adult.
.Adulthood and behaving are a conspiracy which was started soon after the blowup at the Garden of Eden.It is an attempt to control the masses — one of those “opiate of the masses” things.By age eighteen, you will have likely have discovered all the fun things to do in the world and for the rest of your life, the world is trying to tell you what you have discovered is not correct.There are very few four year old racists, misogynists, haters or Democrats/Republicans.Don’t let them take you. Resist.I have successfully resisted for a long time but I feel “them” closing in on me. They are coming for me. I must go now.Decaf.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
They can have my childhood when they pry it from my cold dead heads.
Thank you for your condolences. This space is helping me beyond what anyone can imagine.
I’m sorry for you loss – get off here and go to your family/loved ones
Shane: We are multi-tasking. Everyone deals with grief differently. It continues to be a denial factor for us (me) regarding the lost of my best friend, confidant, etc. and it has not really hit us. (me) yet. I am currently in the airport as we type. Completed the arrangements via Hangtime and she would never want us to do it any other way. When a person lived a fullfilling life it should be celebrated and not agonizing grief and weilling. (A males take) Just one perspective of many. Again thank you for the extending your condolences.
I’m not an investor, but I would imagine that if you were willing to jump back in with similar ideas, that then the really hard problem would be letting go in the first place.You always learn something from failure, so it would be all too easy to say “well, that didn’t work out, but now I think I know enough to make it work moving forward”. Obviously there there’s a magic middle ground between putting the blinders on and becoming disillusioned, but investors are probably better off having a bias towards disillusionment rather than zealotry.
I’ve seen rolefeed.com, 2 years ago, attempt something similar, creating channels with posts from “verified” accounts across multiple platforms. It didn’t work. I guess at the end of the day everyone just wants to get the news from friends or those who they want to follow. Not location, not interest, not team
Techcrunch quotes founder “I can cover all of nyc with a single curator” (and no technology to make up for it$ Fred, wouldn’t you pass on this fact alone?
I know lots of entrepreneurs in the local news space in Connecticut. The sad truth is that the economics simply do not work. I think part of it is that the group of people that are interested in reading local news and group of people that are interested in reading news online does not have a big intersection. Even then I’m not really certain that the CPM x page view math would work out to properly support salaries.As someone in politics who does ad buying for campaigns it used to be that buying an ad in a local publication was the most targeted spend I could make (other than direct mail). Today I can programmatically reach voters via ad servers that do address level targeting and Facebook and YouTube that geo-target.Maybe people never were buying the local newspaper for the local news and we should just let that go.
.Cat. Hot stove.Pattern recognition, confirmation bias, blistered fingers. Timing — the big one.All things that influence how we do things.The development of instinct is like the development of wisdom.Wisdom, the application of good judgment over a protracted period of time based on experience.Experience, the product of a lot of bad judgment.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
VCs are human. Who wants to be burned twice?It’s similar to entrepreneurs who have visionary ideas, but they are ahead of the times. You have to ask yourself yes this idea will exist some day, but do I want commit after spending a few years on the last idea. Thinking like a VC and taking the emotions out of the decisions is invaluable.
Wondering if the big techco’s also get cold feet after “once bitten, twice shy” experiences, e.g. Google with social (Orkut, Wave, Buzz, Google+).On a more personal level, I like to go in search of new challenges where I apply the experiences I learnt in different ways.Once I “have the T-shirt” and it’s the best I’m likely to get, I’m on the adventures for how I can get the skirt, the jacket, the shoes rather than another T-shirt.
Thank you so much for writing about us, Fred. It’s truly humbling. Though we know this was meant as a commentary on the role of human emotions in the act of investing, we wanted to respond with why we’re different. We’ve done so here: http://news.blockfeed.com/i…
thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation Ben. i’ll read your post
Am I missing something? It doesn’t seem radically different to Everyblock which I think ended as an API and widget after MSNBC had it for a few years.These aggregators never seem to get the same sort of traction as the neighborhood busybody with a wordpress installation.Love the honesty of your post, btw.
Fred, it’s interesting to hear this from you. As one of the best investors out there, I would guess you guys do a postmortem on deals that don’t work. If the reasons were team or timing (too early), I would think you would back the same thesis with a new team and better timing.
.The problem may be that it takes a lot of time to understand that timing was the real problem. In the meantime, that voice in your head is whispering something else.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I really appreciate you sharing this pain and being vulnerable as you are here @fredwilson:disqus .
“Been There Done That”. – You forgot the second part of that:”Got the T-shirt. And the scars.” – Used that version sometimes …
Yup, a friend of mine and I also tried a project too early: In our case we tried computer based, interactive romantic matchmaking. The need was there — no joke. And we saw approaches to the computing that could have worked, but they were, in a word, clumsy.Really, net, the Internet needed to grow in various ways — number of users, data rates, server side capabilities, client side capabilities, digital photography, etc.The surprise to me was just how big, fast, and important was the growth of the commercial Internet and nearly everything associated with it. Amazing.The rise of the Internet has to compete with many of the other biggies inJ. Bronowski, The Ascent of Man.or steps up in civilization, e.g., steel, steam, railroads, energy from crude oil, electric power, radio, etc.Maybe some still bigger steps up were domestication of animals, agriculture, writing, arithmetic, the wheel, working in stone, metals, open ocean sailing, chemistry, mathematical physics, modern medicine.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Blockfeed: Hmm ….First cut, sounds interesting.Looking again, some more details, ideas, and examples might change my mind, but for now:(1) Neighborhoods.Google claims that as of 2014 population of the US was 318.9 million.If a neighborhood has 500 people, then there would be318.9 * 10**6 / 500 = 637,800neighborhoods.If for the market large enough to be successful want 10% of those neighborhoods, then want 63,780 neighborhoods.Point: That’s a lot of neighborhoods to consider, serve, manage, etc.(2) In One Neighborhood.So, broadly the idea in one neighborhood is to have an Internet and mobile news service.So, roughly we’re talking an Internet/mobile version of a neighborhood newspaper.Assuming something like a newspaper, it will need at least a reporter and maybe an editor.Point: Reporting particular to an audience of only 500 people is a lot of work for just 500 people.(3) User Contributed Content.Sure, one of the main themes of Internet social media is user contributed content. Examples include Hacker News, Facebook, Reddit, Yahoo, Instagram, PInterest, many fora using Disqus, etc.Point: Maybe Blockfeed could address the point in (2) and reduce cost by being based on user contributed content. But moderation will still be required.(4) Barrier to Entry.Of course, neighborhood news is necessarily local. So, a good solution in a neighborhood in Iowa is largely irrelevant to solution in North Carolina.Points:(A) Blockfeed does not have a geographical barrier to entry so could be attacked in each of its 63,780 neighborhoods.(B) For “a large network of engaged users”, Blockfeed stands to have 63,780 small networks of engaged users; not so good.(C) Network effect — on 63,780 small networks.(D) Technological or proprietary intellectual property barriers? Likely none.(5) Competition.The Internet has long worked hard on various cases of on-line groups of users. There is still Yahoo Groups. Google tried with Google+. Maybe some groups use Facebook.Point: If some case of neighborhood news starts to become popular, then no doubt Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others could provide competition.(6) Ad Revenue.Part of the approach to good ad revenue is good ad targeting, and there are many approaches, especially depending on the data available.Point: Well, a neighborhood news site would likely be using, say, neighborhood demographics as its ad targeting, and that approach is not very promising to be a competitive approach to ad targeting.So far I don’t see why Blockfeed is a promising project.
Certain times it is legit, other times it isn’t. So far the best in this business is DNAInfoIt is exceptionally hard to create local news, then aggregate it, and then support it well. Your local life is kind of boring. To the point – even DNAInfo does not cover every neighborhood in NY, and combines neighborhoods that were historically broken up into smaller chunks (when ws the last time you saw an Ocean Hill blog that wasn’t folded into Bedford Stuvestant…there is a good reason for that)Furthermore, the ad sales model for these sorts of places is extremely tough. Local advertisers don’t get CPM – paper local news never actually sold CPM to local businesses, and their ad space for national campaigns may actually have been sold through parent companies.There are real exceptions to this rule – I grew up in the five towns, and it supports 3 local(ish) papers, plus more than one blog over the course of blogging history thanks to the dynamics of its community and the dynamics of that area. It is extremely rare, however, to have an area with crazy dynamics.
Fred, I agree with you that there’s a certain kind of nostalgic appeal to a hyperlocal news feed. In reality however, I would imagine the outcome mirroring what your average local newspaper already does: present a collection of non-news items whose only merit is their connection to the locality you’re in. Sure, Blockfeed presents it in a novel way, but I don’t know whether that’s enough.Given how much the notion of community has eroded in most localities (people barely speak to their neighbours, much less know them), I don’t know if hyperlocal news is as relevant today as it was long before the web. I’d argue that in the digital age, common interests or sharing a field of endeavour trumps locality.We’ve built a news reader (newsworthy.io), where feeds are curated by global thought leaders (segmented into several topics, such as venture capital, technology, fashion etc). That, I’ve always personally found much more intriguing: to be able to cut through the noise by knowing what must-read articles are trending among industry thought leaders.In fact, this is how I’ve discovered many of your posts, as they regularly trend among leading VCs.Would love to hear your thoughts on the above approach.