Last year, I wrote three different season 2 finale theories on this blog. I got sorta kinda close in one of them, but a commenter nailed the finale (which I brought into the update on the bottom before the finale aired). So that means I was an accessory to predicting it right, right?
Anyways, what started off as a slow season, has now picked up speed with the exciting Episode 11 this past week. I have two theories for the finale this coming Sunday (12/15). If you have not watched last week’s episode- SPOILER’S AHEAD. Please stop here and go watch. Now on to the theories:
Theory #1- Saul and Javadi are in cahoots
Originally this was my only theory. The reason being, it holds up sooooo well. Let’s look at the facts, without any emotion.
1) Saul’s boss was killed by a plan Javadi financed (attack on the CIA). This makes Saul the new boss.
2) Saul was conveniently not present and overseeing Abu Nazir’s burial.
3) Saul put together the plan to “turn” Javadi and take out HIS boss to put him in charge.
4) The mole theories about Saul. He failed that lie detector in Season 1. After people sit down with Saul, they conveniently kill themselves (two people so far).
5) Saul and Javadi worked together way back. They have a history of being close friends. They haven’t explained why Javadi went bad.
6) According to Shaun Toub (Javadi) the season finale “will blow your mind.” This theory would blow a lot of people’s minds.
7) Only thing I can’t put my finger on is the motive and the next steps once they both are leading (the CIA and the IRG respectively).
What do you think about this one?
Theory #2 - Brody AND Carrie End Up Prisoners
Theory 1 and 2 can happen together or not. The main idea here is that Brody and Carrie will be prisoners in Iran at the end of the season. Javadi might want to publicly execute Brody to keep his cover intact. The CIA will probably go along with that and Carrie will flip a shit and try to save him. The baby will probably come into play in the finale, I think we see Brody and Carrie in prison together.
This is a shorter theory but still plausible considering Brody’s current predicament at the end of Episode 11.
Jump in the comments and share your thoughts!
Here is my latest Forbes piece: http://onforb.es/1cZAob2
Let me know your thoughts!
I love this blog. I love writing. But I need to take a break until the end of the year.
I have a lot going on. Some of it I can talk about, some of it I can’t. Right now I need to use my writing time for a few other things. It’s also the holiday season, so many days will be skipped.
I will still be writing my Forbes posts. I also may write a post here and there. I’m just stepping back from writing 4x a week so I can get some things done that need to get done.
Also, I could use some help with more topic ideas for posts. If there is something you want me to write about, don’t hesitate to email me about it.
I will be back to writing regularly after New Year’s.
This past week I caught up with a friend who happens to be a Thiel Fellow. We got to talking about how using your situation (whether it is being a Thiel Fellow, a college student, or something else) to get in front of someone is an important thing for people to learn.
We joked that no one is going to turn down an introduction to a Thiel Fellow. It’s an unbelievable vehicle to leverage.
For me, I’ve always used my “situation,” whatever that may be, to get in front of the people I wanted to. In college, I used the student angle to get meetings or introductions to people I wanted to know or talk to. When I interned at Viacom/MTV Networks, I used that situation to look up executives at CBS, Paramount, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, and other subsidiaries to ask for meetings while I was there, to pick their brains, and make lasting connections.
The same situation at Aviary and Dwolla. Being a venture backed startup gives you the opportunity to have some legitimacy behind who you are and what you are working on. It’s a lot easier asking/getting an introduction when you are person X, from company Y that has $Z in venture funding from big investors- rather than person X, solo, looking to get connected.
So figure out what your situation is and use whatever it is to get in front of people you want to know.
I was at a poker game last week with a lot of people who are in the finance space. It was a day or two after news came out about Snapchat rejecting a $3B offer from Facebook. They could not comprehend why the Snapchat founders rejected this offer. The truth is, most people in the tech space can’t comprehend how they could a) reject that amount b) be worth that much.
Here are few reasons why Snapchat is worth that much and probably more:
1) Facebook is photo central. It is a HUGE piece of its business. This chart may shed some light on the trend of photo uploads: https://twitter.com/Hadley/status/401103084014673920. Facebook is playing whack-a-mole with up and comers and $3B is a steal for a company matching them in photo uploads. Think about how crazy Instagram for $1B sounded in 2012. Now? It looks like a steal.
2) The founders (have already taken or) will likely take a chunk of money off the table in the next round (i.e. sell some of their personal shares). This means they have little to no financial risk and want to/should go for the GOLD. There are very few times when companies get to go big like this. Facebook rejected a billion dollar offer from Yahoo! when it was still a college/young person thing in 2006. We should all admire the Snapchat team for trying to build a long-lasting business on their own.
3) There is no such thing as NOT being able to monetize a massive active user base that loves your product. It is just a myth.
4) Jordan Cooper wrote a great post about why Snapchat is special. One piece in his post that really stuck with me is the fact that a snapchat disappears in a few seconds so it requires a receiver to focus their attention on the content. It says “this is f’ing important.” As opposed to a photo on Instagram or Facebook that you can pay as much or as little attention to as you want.
5) This leads to monetization. If you can keep the flow intact but offer experiences or deals from brands/companies. This could be a gold mine. They haven’t monetized by choice, not because they have difficulty.
These are just a few reasons why Snapchat is exciting and worth a lot in the eyes of FB/others and I, for one, applaud the Snapchat team for thinking big.
There was a lot of buzz in the tech world about Coin on Thursday and Friday last week and I didn’t get a chance to really digest it all until the weekend. I’ve read some great posts (Mike Dudas post and Quora) and would like to share some thoughts below.
1) The team at Coin should be really proud about the launch. It was very well done. The interest shown definitely proves there is demand for this.
2) I don’t think I’m a good use case for Coin. I own two cards, American Express and a MasterCard debit card. Unless Coin could grab my ID, health insurance, business card, Metrocard, gym membership, Dave and Buster’s card, and Prairie Meadows gold card (shout out DSM!) then I unfortunately have no use for Coin.
3) The price point of Coin seems to be at odds with the type of people that would need to consolidate multiple cards (lower-income, multiple credit card needing demo). There was definitely a lot about that rumbling on Twitter.
4) My biggest concern with Coin is merchant acceptance. This was the main reason I didn’t pre-order one. Can you imagine going to a bodega in Manhattan and giving them a Coin to swipe? They will tell you they don’t accept this “card.” Now you need to explain that this IS your MC/Visa/Amex/Discover. The “convenience” of Coin just disappears and now instead of carrying multiple cards you need to explain what it is to every place where you want to pay.
Not-so-bold prediction: People with a Coin will need to carry their Coin + all the cards they consolidate to Coin for most of the early phases.
5) Last thought is about card present vs. card not present. The fees associated with “card not present” are much higher than “card present” and the question is whether using Coin means the card is there or not in the eye of those that matter. The answer to this could also lead to non-acceptance by merchants (because of fees).
All in all: these five things aren’t ones that Coin can’t overcome, but I think people who are pre-ordering may not be fully aware of the situation (a nice launch video can do that). I would recommend anyone considering buying a Coin to take a look at their FAQ’s. It dives in pretty deep.
This week’s article is from Seth Godin. It’s a really important piece about workplace bullying and company culture.
Take 5 minutes out of your day to read it.
You can find it here.
Here is my latest Forbes piece: http://onforb.es/17wl1Jo
Let me know your thoughts!
My father gave me some good advice when I was younger. It went something along the lines of, ‘Never invest money you can’t immediately lose. Even better, if you ever make an investment, you should, in your mind, believe that the money is gone forever.’
This helped shape how I view any type of monetary or non-monetary investment (i.e. time, effort, etc.). I actively try to strike an appropriate balance on what I invest my time and money in. Unless I’m willing to 100% lose the money or time for the action I take, I try not to do it. Or if I do something and regret it, I make sure I never do it again.
Bottom line: choose what you put money and time into very wisely. Maybe you’ll get your money back (and more) and maybe you won’t. But assume it is gone forever, the second you hand it over.
Last week I went to the launch party for a new app called QuizUp. The event was fun, but the app was even more addictive. I’ve been playing for the past week, and I think QuizUp is the new killer gaming app.
The premise is simple: addictive trivia games that you can play against friends or strangers. There are over 300 topics to choose from and 150,000 questions available. Each round there are 6 regular questions and one bonus final question (worth 2x). The amount of points you can receive depends on answering the question correctly and quickly. Every second that goes by, you lose potential points. It’s a lot of fun and as you beat friends and strangers, you go up in the ranking of being knowledgeable in each category.
When the show LOST was on, I was a huge fan. I immediately played a few rounds of LOST trivia. There were some great questions, and after reaching a level 12, I’m still seeing new questions (although here and there I get a question I’ve seen before). I’m ranked Top 5 in NYC (find me and challenge me).
I have always been a fan of Trivial Pursuit and think this is a nice 21st century version. I’d love to see them build specific combo games (i.e. LOST + Fringe + Heroes trivia game). I’m excited about this company and already have my family hooked. If anyone wants to play me, add me as a friend. I don’t reject challenges :)
My favorite type of company is one that empowers their users to make money from them. Think YouTube, eBay, Fiverr, and more. People can make some good side cash or even make it their career.
Last week I caught up with Walker Williams, the founder of Teespring. I had previously written about Teespring when they were still at Brown, before getting into YC. YC came and went, Teespring kept growing and were even highlighted in the New York Times Magazine in a feature piece on the YCombinator program. Things are going well over at Teespring.
Anyways, one of the things Walker mentioned was that a bunch of people have been making some crazy money on Teespring by putting together campaigns (t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.) that include funny or topical things. He mentioned paying out tens of thousands of dollars in profit to various individuals.
Being the curious person that I am, I am experimenting to see if I can make some of that magic happen by putting out a funny/topical sweatshirt.
The sweatshirt has the words ”Unicorn Investor” and a nice unicorn under it. This is homage to Aileen Lee’s article in TechCrunch about Unicorn Investors. You can buy it here (Thanks to Adam Waxman for sending over an awesome png of a unicorn).
If you are looking to make some extra side cash, I would go check out Teespring, come up with a catchy or funny shirt/sweatshirt/other item and see if you can move some units.
While this series is called Article Of The Week, it actually counts Saturday to Friday posts, considering I do Article Of The Week on Friday’s. You should have already read this week’s piece, Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups, by Aileen Lee - on TechCrunch.
It is quite the read and has been talked about constantly since its publishing. This is required reading for startup people.
Part of unspoken agreements at startup companies is that employees will be taking on multiple roles in the organization as the company grows. With limited financing and resources employees are expected to do their job, plus other functions that they might not know anything about.
If you don’t pick up the slack when needed, you may not be around for long. Startups aren’t easy and this is one of the more daunting concepts around working at a startup. You’ll definitely be pushed in uncomfortable directions and might not know how to respond.
Here are a few tips on how to tackle that new role that is being thrown at you on top of your existing responsibilities:
1) Read + Learn about the new responsibilities. If you do BD and need to learn marketing best practices pick up a book or head over to the countless marketing expert blogs (ask around to find out who is good and who is all noise) and dig in.
2) Bring in an expert. Whatever the skill set is, ask management or your investors to help conquer the beast that is the new thing you are needing to tackle. If it is paid advertising and you have no idea what is left and what is right it’s your responsibility to ask for help.
3) Know yourself and at a certain point if you have so much to do that you can’t even do your own job talk to your boss and put it all out there. You may need to hire someone to fill that role.
4) Go work at a different (bigger) company. Less potential reward, but more stability and hey if you are good, you can move up in the ranks and make a good salary/career out if it. Some people realize they are not right for the startup life at this point. It’s a hard lifestyle to maintain.
Hope this is helpful!
Internships are important. I think the most important thing internships help with is figuring out what you don’t want to do with your life. At least that’s the experience I’ve had. Startup internships, something I haven’t done, are especially helpful as you get to do many things and can figure out fairly quickly if you like this lifestyle or not.
Here are a few tips when looking for internships at startups:
1) Use Twitter and other online networks to connect with people. I see people tweeting out job opportunities daily and being on Twitter and other social entities helps you put yourself in a good position to get lucky and find an opportunity. For example: How About We is looking for a BD intern. Here is the job posting.
2) Find a company you want to work for and start doing the job before you get the job. Talk to as many people as you can find at the company or who know the current strategy of the company and figure out what you can do to add value to the team before even interviewing/getting fully in front of them. That’s one good way to impress a team and have them want to bring you on as an intern.
3) Ask every friend, family member, acquaintance, stranger, for leads. This obviously needs to be done in a strategic way, but you need to use everything and I mean everything at your disposal to land an internship. Having zero internships on your resume will bring up major red flags when you are looking for a full-time job.
It’s okay to try and get an internship by asking your network for help. It’s actually not just okay, it’s expected. It’s only people that never get anything accomplished are the ones looking at people with a “connection” to someone or something and say, “well they only got that because they knew the person.” Well of course they did. How does anyone get anything? Most people don’t hire strangers, there are too many question marks. You need to know people to get things. It’s just common sense.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t meet the people you need to know by a) reaching out to them (now you aren’t a stranger anymore), b) getting front of them by any means necessary. Early on in my career I did some crazy stuff to get in front of people I wanted to know or be connected with (stuff you don’t share or post on your blog). But all of the stuff has paid off and I have a solid network of great people who I can depend on and who depend on me. Everyone has to start somewhere. Getting an internship and doing whatever it takes is a good place to start.
Funding Announcements and New Product Launches.
What do these two things have in common?
With each the work really starts after you put the news out there.
When you announce funding that’s when expectations are really put into place. You need to live up to whatever valuation you are getting.
Same with new product launches. Now you finally see how people use your product or service and adjust/add/subtract accordingly.
That’s the funny thing about working at startups or on products. While outsiders may think the end game is getting that article about your new funding or product release, the truth of the matter is that it is only the first inning.