You guys told us you loved our signature blunt analysis of Yuri and Ron's new splash-cashy/spray-and-pray angel fund in L006. We're flattered and delighted. We're not trying to keep up with the "one-laptop-per-story" tech-gossip blog of note (zing!). Nope, we're trying to be slow and soulful like Dave Morin's $100M Path.com.
Instead of writing a 600-word post for 300 vile comments, we thought we would pick a dozen or so stories each week, talk to the insiders who built it (or compete with it) and give you guys the straight dope.
This is simply analysis and highly conflicted insider information that anyone could pick up if they were invited to Sean Parker's townhouse for brandy, David Goldberg's double-secret poker game or Shervin Pishevar's "we'll take the chef's tasting course" excursions.
ONE MORE THING: There are no bylines in LAUNCH. We're taking an Economist-like approach where our team four to five (depending on the hour) owns the words in each newsletter. Sure, our founder's finger prints are all over this, but he's got plausible deniability -- and that might be just enough for him to not be blacklisted (again).
1. Gogo Inflight: Ford Forces Free Facebook Flights--Brilliant Balkanization or Bust?
2. The Daily: News Corp's iPad pub is really a Gen-X/Y New York Times
3. LaunchRock: Doesn't get any more meta than launching a startup for launching startups
4. Speak2Tweet: Google's love of radical democracy continues, helps Egyptians be heard
5. Google Art Project: Street View out of streets, into museums
6. OnCompare: Hunch-like decisions trees for B2B SaaS -- genius
7. SkyGrid Groups: A brutally messy version of MySpace and Twitter -- but they got Lady Gaga
8. PerfectHitch: Making wedding planning less heinous
9. LetsLunch: In-person networking for the Valley
LAUNCHER: VP of Partnerships Dave Bijur
WHAT: Wi-fi on partner airlines -- free access to Facebook on flights in February, supported by Ford.
WHEN/WHERE: Tuesday in Chicago.
WHY: Give people a taste of the service and maybe they'll pay for more.
Dave tells LAUNCH: "Though this is a test for now, we'll find other ways to improve the experience, and deliver on the needs of our advertising partners in the future."
LAUNCH Analysis: Clearly Gogo Inflight is having a hard time getting a large-enough group to pay for inflight Internet access. And who can blame consumers when Hulu, Skype, NetFlix and YouTube are unwatchable through their service (depending on the flight and how many people are using the connection)?
If they can't watch video, it seems customers are more than happy to get three stars on a couple of levels of Angry Birds or enjoy the free DIRECTV. Moving to a sponsored service, as Gogo did with Google the last two holiday seasons
, is clearly easier than getting recession-era Gen X/Yers* to pull out their wallets.
ONE MORE THING: Why doesn't Google just buy Boingo, Gogo and any other remote wi-fi provider with a "go" in its name and just play a full-screen YouTube ad as the cost of admission? Can you imagine the good will created by free global wi-fi when traveling?
AND ONE MORE THING: Isn't it interesting that Google provides free access to the entire Internet during the holidays while the kids at Facebook only let you play in their walled garden? Facebook: putting the evil in "don't be evil."
* BUZZWORD BINGO: Gen X/Y is how we refer to the two most-wired, neurotic and entitled generations in one sweeping generalization.
Walker Corporate Law Group is proud to sponsor LAUNCH
Walker specializes in the representation of entrepreneurs.
LAUNCHERS: Jesse Angelo (editor-in-chief) and Greg Clayman (publisher).
WHAT: First iPad-only newspaper -- free for first two weeks and then $0.99/week or $39.99/year.
WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
WHY: Rupert Murdoch has been obsessed with his iPad since day one, so much so that he considered making his own tablet. The next best thing is to have the most innovative editorial product on the iOS. Jobs also needed the support of a salty-dog publisher in order to dupe the newspaper industry into giving him 30% of their subscription fees.
LAUNCH Analysis: Rupert has long dreamed of crushing The New York Times and becoming the national media voice in America. Sounds ridiculous but remember, Fox News viewers outnumber CNN's two to one. The Wall Street Journal, which Rupe overpaid for, was the first salvo in his battle with the Times. He's one email away from dropping the "Wall Street" in Journal and going head-to-head already. Now he's got another generic national news brand aimed at Gen X/Y.
ONE MORE THING: You can be sure Rupert's deal with Apple is better than the off-the-shelf offering.
AND ONE MORE THING: If you think investing $500K a week ($26M a year) in an App is crazy, keep in mind that News Corp's cable network programming had $1.4B in operating income for the second half of 2010 -- and MySpace loses $100M. If The Daily can reach a couple of million users a day -- 2 to 3 million -- they will break even and Rupe and Jon Miller will be happy.
The other seven are ONLY FOR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS. Yes, this is a transparent ploy to develop a deeper relationship with you. Subscribe now.
L007.2: Cohen, Case & Feld Wake Up the White House + Our Accelerator Survey Results
Somewhere in Washington, at some house that's white, some members of the technology community were recognized by the people running the country.
We're confused. Isn't it the job of government to ignore the doers and spend their time with the sluts -- ummm lobbyists -- who set the agenda?
It's like we all work up in some alternative universe where our president uses a Blackberry, has a Twitter account, sends emails to everyone every two weeks and actually starts listening to people that matter.
Is this a Darren Aronofsky film or our lives? Pinch us!
Hot on the heels of our plan to "Build 500 Accelerators" [see L005
] -- which had a number of you calling it visionary (47%) or at least doable (38%) while just 3% of you found it crazy -- we got a call from Dave Cohen saying, "Wait until you see what we launch at the White House next week!"
And drop a bomb
Dave Cohen did: TechStars has created a TEDx-like, loosely affiliated program that allows qualified folks to start their own accelerators in the TechStars model. Oh yeah -- TechStars gets exactly zero point zero percent of the take.
While Y Combinator basks in its glorious "you have funding for life" announcements and becomes more and more insular, TechStars is going all Founder Institute and saying "let a thousand flowers bloom (or bust.)"
We love it--and apparently so do you. One person said our plan for 500 accelerators was "necessary" and another said, "Good if they get enough exposure to entrepreneurs. +1 for the launch newsletter featuring them."
More stats from our survey: As for first-hand experience, over a third had considered applying to an accelerator, while 12% applied and were rejected and 9% were waiting for an answer. Just 6% said they wouldn't even consider one.
Almost three-quarters of LAUNCH readers surveyed (71%) believe accelerators are not for everyone, but that they have a role in the ecosystem, with 29% calling them critical to a first-time entrepreneur's success. [[ Note: no one said accelerators were a rip-off (and we agree). ]]
LAUNCH readers also said we definitely need more accelerators in the United States and abroad (81%), but that they believe only Y Combinator (93%) and TechStars (87%) were most likely to be around in 10 years.
And just over half of those surveyed reported having some type of formal education in entrepreneurship. Most of you think universities have a role: 39% said they should have their own accelerator and 36% said they should require students to take an entrepreneurship class or start a business while in school.
By the way, two of our startup heroes, Steve Case and Brad Feld, are running the show at this Startup America
thingy. That's good enough for us, especially since Brad Feld is OCDing on the startup visa issue and Steve Case has something to prove after being demonized for the "worst merger in history."
Note: Steve Case may have consummated the "deal of the century" for his Aol shareholders, but remember it was Gerald Levin -- last seen doing yoga in Marina Del Ray -- who absolutely bungled the Aol/TW merger by minimizing the role of two of the greatest entrepreneurs in history: Case and Ted Turner. You don't send a politician in to do a samurai's work. We bet 20% founders shares in our next three startups that, had Turner or Case been in charge, Aol/TW would have succeeded -- hands down. And that's alternative fiction we would like to see Aronofsky take on.
L007.3: Resources: Every Angel in the World's Twitter and Facebook Links (well almost)
We want to make it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to find the right angel in their area, so check out our listing of every angel we could find
by city, state and country, as well as some of their investment's social media accounts.
Entrepreneurs, go forth and stalk, for stalking the angels is critical to getting their money and attention.
L007.4: LAUNCH Conference Updates: Press, Success Stories
Members of the press know they can't find out who's launching at LAUNCH unless they come to the San Francisco Design Center February 23rd and 24th. CNN, Dow Jones, Fortune, the San Jose Mercury News, Thomson Reuters, Wired and more will be there. Check out the complete list
SUCCESS STORIES: Simply put, the LAUNCH formula works for entrepreneurs better than anything in the world for launching a new product. Look no further than Mint, Yammer, PowerSet, FitBit, TripIt and RedBeacon. Read our list of success stories
from our previous conferences.
LAUNCH Media covers and celebrates new products, services and technology in two ways: an email newsletter and an in-person conference. LAUNCH was founded by serial entrepreneur, former journalist and now angel investor Jason
About the LAUNCH Newsletter
Our newsletter is compiled in a collaborative fashion by a half-dozen writers, researchers and industry pundits we invite to our Google Docs from time-to-time. Our conflicts are many (i.e., Jason's angel investments: [http://www.crunchbase.com/person/jason-calacanis ] ), but our insights are always well-researched, honest and to the point. You can probably assume that if we're writing about a company in a glowing fashion (i.e. Path.com) that Jason might be lobbying the founder to invest in it (Dave Morin has turned him down to date). If he has already invested in a company, we will note that in the text.
About the LAUNCH Conference
The LAUNCH conference brings together more than a thousand startups, venture capitalists, angel investors, media, bloggers, pundits, recruiters, lawyers and fanboys to celebrate and commune around the launching of 40 new companies and/or products. The conference is designed to be the most accessible to startups, at only $400 ($360 if you use the code ilivetolaunch). There are two competitions at the conference: 1.0 for new companies and 2.0 for existing companies launching new versions and/or pivoting into new markets.
#31: Build things that you desperately need, not what you think other people might want.
[Be the among the first to tweet the coda -- and you could win a ticket to LAUNCH]