I’m ending the year with another song from Beirut. That’s three in a row at this point. I have fallen for this band pretty hard. Lauren doesn’t like it nearly as much as I do but I can’t stop the beat.
The biggest part of the story is how much of Bon Iver’s success came from blogs.
"Thanks to the buzz his online tracks generated on music blogs and social-networking sites, Mr. Vernon has played at numerous venues and appeared on the "Late Show With David Letterman." He signed a record deal in October 2007, and his first album, "For Emma, Forever Ago," sold about 87,000 copies through mid-December, with about half of those downloaded online."
And if you follow this blog you’ll know that I’m a huge Bon Iver fan. So i’m thrilled that Justin gives so much credit to music blogs.
That’s why I was surprised to get this FB message from his project manager last month.
Including this one, I’ve only received two such “take down” notices since I started posting songs to this site. And both times I took down the material in question immediately.
On the other hand I’ve received tons of supportive emails from various bands thanking me for my support.
The social blogging community is a huge gift to fans and artists alike. I know i would discover less music and buy less music if it wasn’t for the rich community that I’m part of online. Fred called it a song circle awhile back. And I also know that my music posts are getting others to buy more music too.
So we need more artists to believe in blogging and support the new music scene online. It’s gonna happen anyway.
And the most powerful part is that the Twitter didn’t have develop them. They came from 3rd parties using their own creativity + Twitter API.
I’m using a Blackberry Bold these days and I’m not a huge fan of any of the existing twitter clients for the blackberry. Dabr is mobile web interface to Twitter. It’s clean and fast. It’s just what I needed. I use SMS for a subset of the folks I follow on Twitter and for everyone else I’m now tuned easier thanks to Dabr.
There are tons of Twitter apps that you can run on your Mac or PC these days. Tweetree isn’t an app but it’s a new web interface to Twitter. Some folks will like that Tweetree brings in Flickr, YouTube and other rich media into the Twitter timeline.
I really like how they put Twitter Search front and center at the top of the page. I’m not sure that threaded conversations are there just yet in the service.
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The Twitter API is something special. Brad Feld calls Twitter the master of the API. I’m not sure I’m supposed to disclose the actual number of API requests per week but I can tell you that it’s an enormous number.
And that API is a big part of whats happening with Twitter.
“What became clear in the ensuing decade is that humans are not just part of the programming, but also sensors and actuators for computers. Our aggregate behavior is measured, monitored, and becomes feedback that improves the overall intelligence of the system. That is why I’ve said that the defining characteristic of Web 2.0 applications is that they “harness collective intelligence.””—Google, WalMart, and MyBarackObama.com: The Power of the Real Time Enterprise - Tim O’Reilly
I met up with a close friend a couple of weeks ago in Palo Alto.
He has been building a highly sophisticated product. And if it works, it will significantly change a lot of things (for the better)
He’s a big fan of patents. He recognizes the flaws with our patent system today but he doesn’t want to get of them. He wants to make them better.
My friend Brad Feld has been a thought leader with those sharing the opposite view. Brad has been saying for years that we should get rid of software patents. Earlier this year Brad sent me the book "Math You Can’t Use". Somehow I slogged thru it - it was a tad bit dry :)
The book makes a convincing argument. The essential point is that software is a combination of art and math. Art is protected under copyright and you can’t/shouldn’t protect math.
There are a few things I hate about our current patent system. First, the patent office has approved senseless claims. Second, big companies sue small companies over their claims and the little company doesn’t have a chance. And those two things in combination are a nightmare.
But here’s the thing: how do we protect the little guy’s intellectual property?
For example if TiVo didn’t have patents, every MSO and satellite operator would have ripped off the Tivo method for digital video recording. TiVo recently won a lawsuit with Echostar over these patents. I bet those patents are one of the reasons Comcast is working with TiVo.
I don’t have the final answer but I’m looking for a system that rewards the entrepreneur, motivates him/her to keep innovating on really hard problems and prevents large companies from waging bullying legal tactics.
“After the Internet bubble burst in 2001, there were a lot of people in “the established business world” who said something akin to “see – that was just a fad.” Anyone who has clung to the idea that the Internet was a fad is in a world of hurt right now, as the premise, functions, and implications of the Internet revolution of the late 1990’s becomes deeply instantiated across the global economy.”—Innovation and Creative Destruction - Feld Thoughts
“This year, all I really wanted for the holidays was the perfect smartphone. Not too much to ask for, right? You’d think, but all I ended up with was constant swapping between 3 (or more) devices, hoping to find some balance of features that worked for me. Instead of one “go to” phone, I juggled the iPhone 3G, T-Mobile G1, and BlackBerry Bold for the last few months, desperately wishing I could merge them into one perfect device.”—
But Melissa Etheridge’s view offers a different point of view. She met Rick Warrent and offered her thoughts in The Choice Is Now Ours:
"Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world’s attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don’t hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.
Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.
I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.
I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families”
I’m still not happy at all with this choice. But this is a worthy counterpoint. And I’m going to stay positive here.
“So I buy all of this big, heavy, expensive stuff to take technically good but compositionally mediocre pictures of boring things. But I do it for me, because I’m slowly developing a skill that I’ve always wanted to have, and the process is producing results that I value highly. Any enjoyment or praise of my photos by others is a welcome bonus, but not the goal at all.”—
"If some entrepreneur introduced the bicycle today, no one would fund him. You have to actuallylearn how to use it! …I saw a controller for Guitar Hero that costs a couple of hundred dollars. You can get a decent electric guitar for that price. But you’d have to actually learn something to play it!”
Greatest guitarists of all time? How about Duane Allman. Not only did he practice while watching television, he even brought his guitar to the bathroom! Sure, you’ve got to have talent, but you’ve got to PRACTICE! How much practicing have today’s musicians done?
First, Cambridge-based TipJoy has developed a super easy, lightweight to send mobile payments on Twitter. Simply enter the following into Twitter:
"pay $x @twitterusername"
And that’s it. You will have sent the other Twitter user a payment.
I can see a lot of ways people can use TipJoy and Twitter together. So far I’ve received a few dollars from my friends John Borthwick and Andy Weissmen as a kind gesture. That’s great.
I’ve started doing a few Twitter polls and trivia. Maybe I’ll start using TipJoy for the various winners of my fun trivia tweets. Classifieds on Twitter also seem like a natural.
Another way people are using Tipjoy is for a good cause. That’s the second thing going with my above tweet. @wellwishes was started by Laura Fitton. She is asking fellow Twitter users to contribute for a very good cause - clean water for children. Read the full post here.
So far over $1,300 has been raised. Sign up for Tipjoy and make a donation today!
Revealing interview with Xbox head at MSFT. Because they heavily subsidize the Xbox to generating game revenue, they are struggling with the idea of opening up Xbox to a wide variety of 3rd party services.
“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things. As the world, which to the naked eye exhibits the greatest variety of objects, appears very simple in its internal constitution when surveyed by a philosophical understanding, and so much the simpler by how much the better it is understood.”—Isaac Newton
Since then the collective voice for innovation and open competition has increased quite a bit. There have been a number of a panels discussing this topic openly. We’ve talked to members of Governor Patrick’s staff. Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are speaking up. And so are local tech leaders.
Earlier this week, I received an email from Caroline Huang. Caroline is someone I met shortly after writing my post on the subject and she has been a firm supporter in the effort to get rid of employee non-compete agreements. She told me that she has been working with her local elected officials to get a bill introduced to the state legislature.
I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff as this year comes to a close.
One thing is clear. I’ve been traveling like crazy. Those of you that follow me on twitter probably know how much I’m in NYC and SF.
I love my work so I don’t see my travel schedule changing anytime soon.
I’ve got 3 little kids. And I love them more than anything. I try to leave them notes around the house when I’m traveling. And naturally I call them every day from the road.
I wish my phone had video calling capability. That would incredible. Its wonderful when my wife sends me photos of the kids in real time from her iphone to my phone during the day. Especially when I’m traveling.
That brings a smile to my face.
I know many people travel a lot these days and I’m hardly the only one. So feel free to leave me a comment or email me with any tips on things you do from the road for your kiddies.
“We’ve had one of these before, when the dot-com bubble burst. What I told our company was that we were just going to invest our way through the downturn, that we weren’t going to lay off people, that we’d taken a tremendous amount of effort to get them into Apple in the first place — the last thing we were going to do is lay them off. And we were going to keep funding. In fact we were going to up our R&D budget so that we would be ahead of our competitors when the downturn was over. And that’s exactly what we did. And it worked. And that’s exactly what we’ll do this time.”—Steve Jobs (via marco via mikehudack via danw)
I typically announce on this blog when we make an initial investment in a new company. I’ll also write about new product stuff from our portfolio from time to time.
But I don’t think I’ve ever written about a follow on financing before.
Given the economic climate we are in, I thought I’d share a few things about Tumblr and why were were so excited to invest in David’s company again.
Capital efficient from the start.
When I met David he had just launched Tumblr and started getting some initial traction. He had a web development company called Davidville that had been doing great work for Fred Seibert and the gang that would later form Next New Networks. David bootstrapped Tumblr to start. We then spent months getting to know each other and brainstorming whether it was the right time to leave Davidville behind and start a new company. Many months later in August or so, we invested $350k in the company and so did USV.
With less than $750k, David and Marco focused all of their attention on Tumblr. And they kept expenses to a minimum. They’ve added lots of new things to the service while keeping it dead simple. When we intially invested in the company last year, there were about 50k-ish users. Today Tumblr has well over 500k registered users and growing faster than ever. The audience reading Tumblr-powered sites is at 15 million uniques/month worldwide.
The Tumblr community is doing tons of creative stuff. They are building great sites, artists/photographers, musicians are also coming to Tumblr. And I’m loving all of the incredible 3rd party developer applications using the Tumblr api (e.g. Tumblrette).
The best part is that Tumblr users are hyper-active & engaged. Every day you can see the number of new posts/day across Tumblr. As of right now the number of new posts today is over 180k posts. I think that is incredible.
With plenty of funding for at least 2 years with a growing team, I’m very excited about all of the new stuff in the Tumblr pipeline. This is still a very early stage company with a lot of work ahead of them. But we really like what’s going on here and we believe in them.