The Sports Stadium/Arena as a Platform

Since my SXSW trip where I saw a presentation by Populous, the company that works on new stadiums, I’ve been thinking about how the stadium should be a platform. The stadium should have tons of cameras, lights, LEDs on stairways, LEDs everywhere, sensors on field, audio sensors, seats w/vibration ability, and much much more that I can’t possibility think of.
If the stadium is the platform, then startups/companies can build “apps” (in a sense) on-top of the platform, to enrich the fan experience. Those companies would be able to do things on the platform that we couldn’t possibly fathom, to provide the best fan experience in the *world*.
That’s been on my mind for the new Buffalo Bills stadium.
I haven’t seen anyone talk about the stadium as a platform and what I’m talking about doesn’t just affect the in-game fan experience, there’d be startups innovating the at-home experience — sensors in the field, sensors in uniforms, video cameras focused on specific players, 3D stuff, AI, etc.
Buffalo would be the innovator and the rest of the league would be jealous until they got their arenas up to par. Buffalo would be an attraction/destination for those startups innovating the fan experience since they’d be working with the most state-of-the-art stadium in the world.
Talk about a future Super Bowl bid.

Positive National Attention Heats Up In Buffalo

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo (WNY) has been my home since I was 6: 1985. I moved away after highschool graduation in 1997, because that’s what you do as the son of a travel agent whom exposed you to the rest of the world while you grew up. I also have been hyper-entrepreneurial since age 7, when I began selling my drawings to family members from the bedroom wall of my room at my father’s house. At age 8, I was setting up at flea markets to sell sports cards and comic books. Fast forward to my highschool years and this thing called the “world wide web” was opening the doors to vast opportunity. 

Those opportunities were reluctantly available in Buffalo. I lived in 10 cities in about 10 years- Boston, Austin, Denver, and more. At the end of 2006, nearly 10 years after leaving, I decided to come home to plant my flag in the ground and be apart of something big — the revitalization of a city that once was the world’s envy,  a booming center of commerce and innovation, a pioneer in the fields of power, capital and manufacturing.

But Buffalo has long been the underdog. One might say it has been since our run of 4 straight SuperBowl losses, but it’s been since the early 1900s. Though we were boosted by WWII industry, some say we never really recovered from the Great Depression. Our position as a shipping and logistics hub was obliterated with the 1959 opening of the St. Lawrence seaway, the rise of long haul trucking and a decrease of railway usage. A city built for a million people, we peaked to 600,000 residents in the 1950s and have been a 260,000 person shell of our former self.

Until now.

As others like me have had to learn the long way, it took leaving for me to realize – despite past decades of decline – how unequivocally GREAT my city is. But recently I have never seen so much positive national attention to Buffalo in my thirty-five years of living. There are many cogs in this wheel of local and national “Buffalove” at play here, with the largest ones being undeniably Terry & Kim Pegula’s massive financial commitment to this city (owners now of both our pro sports teams; brand new $200mm HarborCenter), our waterfront becoming a year-round attraction for residents, Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” initiative, SolarCity (and the, to date, $750mm movement to make Buffalo the center of the solar-power industry), 43North $5mm business competition (attracting global businesses), Z80 Labs (first capital fund for web/mobile startup entrepreneurs), and a flurry of private investment being spent to update our city’s great historic buildings. (Don’t forget that in the early 1900’s, Buffalo had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States, spending their money on mansions and commercial architecture — these massive historical treasures simply do not exist anywhere else in the world.) Buffalo has shaken off its post-industrial past and, after a slow start, is quickly remaking itself as a leader for the new millennium.

The days of every conversation with Buffalo outsiders starting with their obligatory snow jabs are coming to a close.

Thank you to Anthony Armstrong of Make Communities for input and editing. Image credit: Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo.

Below are a list of national articles and blog posts about Buffalo. Please share others I may have missed in the comments section.

Next Things Now: Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Buffalo – YouTube

19 Bars In America You Should Drink At Before You Die: Founding Father’s Pub, Buffalo, NY – BuzzFeed

Buffalo Embraces Winter’s Chill – – The New York Times

JOURNEYS – 36 Hours – Buffalo – – The New York Times

Hipster City Travel: Buffalo, New York – Hipstercrite

Once Just a Punch Line, Buffalo Fights Back –
America’s oldest pubs and taverns: Ulrich’s Tavern, Buffalo, NY – Experience – USA Today

10 surprising facts about Buffalo, New York | GlobetrotterGirls

How Facebook is Kicking Your Ass Recruiting The Country’s Top Talent


I went to the University at Buffalo two weeks ago to attend a CodeCon that Bloomberg was putting on. 150 computer science students attended to compete for three top prizes of smart watches. Pizza and swag was provided. After the two-hour competition, the top 30 ranked students were contacted for follow up internship interviews. The event cost Bloomberg under $2,000 without the travel and accommodations they had to also pay for their representatives.

I spoke with some students afterwards. One of them will be interning at Facebook this summer getting paid $45/hour, all meals supplied (via Facebook’s cafeteria), and housing also paid for. That’s what Buffalo is competing with. That’s what the world is competing with. Facebook isn’t just recruiting the top engineers at the University at Buffalo, they’re doing it at every college. I can’t blame these kids for going out West for that. Work at Facebook, gain experience and start paying off student loans? Hell, sign me up.

Companies that have their internship programs fully baked like Facebook does, have an advantage over every other company and get access to the best talent. Kids are influential at that age. They lack choice and opportunity. They’re broke and thirsty for experience. Facebook spends $25,000 per student intern, plus recruiting costs and ensuring a great experience for these kids. Facebook gets a 3-month trial with these students to give them some of the Facebook Kool-Aid and also to determine if the candidate would be a future fit. Facebook offers $30,000+ signing bonuses for engineering interns who convert to full-time employees and the average starting salary is $100,000 – $125,000. If Facebook hires an intern full-time and that individual stays for 4 years, the overall investment was rather cheap to have landed one of the world’s brightest from the vast global talent pool.

VC/Startups Internship: Machine Learning Engineer @Z80Labs


Note: This position is part-time (5-10 hours/week), unpaid, provides academic credits and starts immediately in Buffalo, NY. You must be able to be onsite in our office (located in downtown in the city) at least one half-day a week.

Z80 Labs is hiring a Machine Learning Engineer Intern to build the early, key pieces of an internal tool that will uncover information to find startups we want to invest in. As a Machine Learning Engineer Intern at Z80 Labs, you will build tools to collect new data signals in order to create proprietary insights and data through statistical analysis and machine learning techniques. We want someone who loves finding patterns in past data to then predict the future based on real-time data. To be successful, you need to be great at coming up with creative ways to decipher investment patterns from structured data. As we are a small and agile team you’ll have the opportunity to wear many hats: it’s important that you are both a skilled web developer and experienced with data science and machine learning.


  • Your work will directly impact our investments as we prepare to engage in critical transactions.
  • Work closely with our Managing Director.
  • You think you know about startups now, just wait until you’ve spent one month with us.
  • You will play a critical role in building Z80’s core data consumption, analysis, and creation technologies. We want someone who brings a strong opinion to the table and will be proactively involved with product planning.
  • Dig deep to discover what drives the momentum of private companies and investment. Get creative — whether it’s looking at DNS record changes, crawling the web with phantomjs, or building out a call center that measures mean time for businesses to pick up the phone.
  • Design experiments that can structure insights and data from the vast amounts of information locked away in text on the internet.


  • Extract structured data from AngelList, Twitter, Crunchbase, and LinkedIn.
  • Extract structured data about funding events from the thousands of news articles about companies that are posted every day
  • Detect emerging industries by analyzing the features of newly established companies and determining if they fall into a new, previously unidentified cluster
  • Predict who will become a startup founder based on publicly available data about them
  • Predict who will become a startup founder again based on previous startup experience and fundraising.
  • Build a scalable infrastructure that can be used to experiment on new Machine Learning models and run validated models on massive amounts of streaming data


  • Software development experience
  • Machine Learning experience
  • Skilled at Python, experience with Hadoop/Spark is a plus
  • Experience (or thirst to learn) using Natural Language processing techniques.
  • Can (or have the desire to) talk about Random Forests, Naive Bayes and Support Vector Machines in your sleep
  • Passionate about startups, ideally with a background or at least some interest in finance


  • Fully-stocked fridge of Red Bull and snacks.
  • Work alongside 25 other startups at the Z80 Labs and 43 North incubator.


  • Email steve at z80labs dot com with your resume, github link, and a brief cover letter (or email) as to why you.


  • Z80 Labs, launched in summer 2012, is Buffalo’s first Internet­-focused technology incubator, providing entrepreneurs the ability to build new and innovative tech companies in Buffalo, New York. Startups invited to locate in Z80 Labs are given a wide array of services including office space, education programs, mentorship, amenities and infrastructure from local sponsors, as well as expert advice from renowned industry advisors. Total funds under Z80 Labs management are $6.6 million.

Church, the Bitcoin Savior?


Congregations of people donate lots of money to help those in need — including poverty-stricken individuals across the world. A local congregation in my area announced they’ve been able to donate $10 million.

I imagine congregations being able to immediately help the 4 billion globally in poverty by donating Bitcoin. Instant help; instant feedback of their impact; fueling even more donations.

From the pew, one could contribute to a congregation’s campaign, which is immediately dispersed to a specific community across the world that is in need. By the end of their service, there’s likely smiling face “thank you” pictures of those that were just helped and videos and texts of gratitude. People can’t really do that now and get that immediate ROI (response of impact).

Getting mobile phones into the hands of those in poverty is the first step, then donating bitcoin could mean the end of poverty for some.

The church has the ability to lead the Bitcoin revolution.

Bitcoin: The World Doesn’t Give A Sh*t


This was the best presentation at the Bitcoin conference in Miami last weekend — it’s less than 8 minutes long and everyone should see this. Catheryne Nicholson (@Catheryne_N) nails it.

2014-2015 Buffalo Sabres Season +last season, +off-season, +future

I wrote this over the off-season, before the season began. I still have tickets available for upcoming games this season for sale:
Here is some information on your 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres with a look back at last season and a look to the future… which is bright (that’s national media saying that).

The outlook for the future of the Buffalo Sabres is HIGH, according to NATIONAL media — not just local media. 
Here’s what national media has been saying:
Holy cow are the #Sabres loaded with brilliant prospects (not to mention the three 1st rounders coming in 2015): -Jonathan Willis, Edmonton Journal
The NHL’s top 5 farm systems – Buffalo Sabres: #1 -Sports Illustrated
Why the Buffalo Sabres will be Stanley Cup champions in 2020: -Ken Campbell, The Hockey News
2014 NHL Draft Grades – Buffalo Sabres: A -Corey Pronman, ESPN
Organizational Assessment – Buffalo Sabres: A+ -ESPN
Remembering Last Season
Remember last year — we had Darcy and Ron Rolston still! Then Pat Lafontaine came in, hired back Ted Nolan and brought in Tim Murray as our GM. Tim Murray is the opposite of Darcy in many ways — he speaks his mind no matter what, something we’re not accustomed to here. Then Pat Lafontaine mysteriously left without saying a word — rumor was he wanted to rebuild around Ryan Miller at the core, but his new GM didn’t feel that way.
Last year we had Vanek, Miller, Ott, Moulson, McCormick, Ehrhoff, Tropp, John Scott, Matt D’Agostini, Jamie McBain, Cory Conacher (Canisius College grad!), Ville Leino, Tallinder, Sulzer, Konopka, Linus Omark, and the Sabres broke NHL records by dressing 9 goaltenders over the course of one season.
Off-Season (and In-Season) Roster Moves
Well — only two of those players listed above you’ll see again in Sabres jerseys. We put Tropp to waivers to move him down to the Amerks — that didn’t work, as the Blue Jackets scooped that beast of a kid up. We used one of our two compliance buy-outs on Leino, as expected — the other was used up on Ehrhoff, which was a bit of a shock. Leino was a flop, but Ehrhoff is still a great defender. The reason Ehrhoff was let go was due to his contract — with the new CBA, the Sabres were at risk of huge cap penalties if Ehrhoff were to retire before the end of his career; it wasn’t a risk Tim Murray was going to take on as it’d effect our team around 2020 when we’re making cup runs. Also we couldn’t trade him, because if he had retired still, the Sabres would be penalized — not any future teams of his from this contract. So we bought Ehrhoff out and he immediately signed a 1-year deal with the Penguins.
Miller and Ott were traded to the St Louis Blues at the deadline — Ott re-signed with them, and Miller signed a 3-year deal with the Canucks (closer to his wife in LA; fun fact: the new GM in Vancouver originally scouted Miller when he worked for the Buffalo Sabres).
Contracts were up for a bunch of our players and we didn’t offer new ones:
Sulzer (he signed 5 yr deal for a team in his home country of Germany), McBain (still a free agent), Konopka (him and his bunny are free agents and spending the first 20 games of next season suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs), D’Agostini signed a 1-year deal in Switzerland, John Scott signed with the SJ Sharks, Linus Omark abandoned the Sabres and fled to the KHL, Cory Conacher was signed by the NY Islanders, Tallinder remains a free agent, and Vanek signed a deal with the Minnesota Sabres — er, the Minnesota Wild — joining former Sabres captain Jason Pominville. Leino remains a free agent.
Chris Stewart came to Buffalo in the trade with the St Louis Blues. This guy is a huge power forward that can put up 20-30 goals a season — that’s Stafford-like numbers, but this guy is big.
Torrey Mitchell came to Buffalo in the trade with the Wild for Matt Moulson & Cody McCormick. You’ll see him on the Sabres this year. He’s 29 and plays wing.
2014-15 New Player Signings
Which brings us to the two players we traded at the trade deadline to the Minnesota Wild — Matt Moulson (who came to the Sabres as part of that deal that Darcy pulled over earlier in the season with the NY Islanders that included NY Islanders’ 2015 1st Round pick and also gave us Matty) and Cody McCormick. The Buffalo Sabres were able to re-sign both of these players — Cody and Matt. Matt Moulson signed a 5-year deal in Buffalo, Cody signed a 3-year deal.
The Buffalo Sabres also signed center Brian Gionta to a 3-year deal. Gionta is from Rochester NY and was the Captain of the Montreal Canadians last year — he’s the real deal. He’s at the end of his career and he’s being brought in to lead and show these kids how to win. If you thought Danny Briere was short (5′ 9″), Gionta has him beat by a couple inches (5′ 7″). Dude is short, but look for him to be the Captain of the Buffalo Sabres in 2014-15. Canadians made a deep playoff-run last season.
Buffalo Sabres also signed defender Andrej Mezaros to a 1-year deal — he’s spent time in Boston, Philadelphia and Ottawa — Tim Murray believes in him and says he told Andrej, “Come here and get back to being the great defender you can be”. Tim Murray says maybe we’ll resign him come the following year, or worst-case we trade him at the deadline during this season. Can you believe a GM says that out loud?! Fantastic Tim!
Sabres made a trade with the Canadians giving up basically nothing to acquire Josh Gorges, whom was an assistant captain in Montreal — with Gionta. Funny thing — Gorges had a limited no-trade clause, so he was able to specify teams he wouldn’t accept trades to. Montreal had a deal in place with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he wouldn’t go there and blocked the trade. He eventually adds the Sabres to his list and we get him — he then says, “I’ve grown to hate the Leafs after Habs rivalry”. Hello spark to the Sabres / Maple Leafs rivalry again. I love this move to get Gorges — I had him fantasy hockey this past year a few times — he’s a “stay at home” defender and he blocks shots like a mofo — he was tied for 4th in the league with most blocked shots. He was paired with PK Subban the majority of his time — he’d stay back and defend, and let offensive-minded defender PK Subban go roam the ice. PK Subban and Tyler Myers are similar defenders — Myers needs someone to stay back and protect, so he can go do his offensive-thing. This is a stretch as anyone in hockey would say, but I don’t see why — I truly believe Gorges is going to help Myers get back to what Myers was in his Calder Trophy-winning rookie season. Turns out Myers and Gorges are also from the same town — they’re just like 6 years apart in age; they already knew each other. Fantastic, go Tim Murray!
Buffalo Sabres signed another defender Andre Benoit that just played last season with the Colorado Avalanche on that young, stocked team that made a playoff run. He’s 31 and I don’t know much more, but Tim Murray has some history with him from his Ottawa days.
Buffalo Sabres signed Tyler Ennis to a 5-year deal, so he’s staying put. Tim Murray has often said how much he likes Tyler’s game.
Random note about a former Sabres prospect: David Leggio of WNY was signed by NY Islanders. Oh, and Danny Briere was traded from the Canadians to the Colorado Avalanche. And Darcy Regier became Assistant GM in Phoenix.
Oh yeah, and look for Patrick Kaleta to be back as a Sabre this year. Last year he tore his ACL.
Tim Murray’s other moves over the season and off-season included trading some draft picks and prospect defender McNabb to the LA Kings for a stud prospect named Hudson Fasching (plays college hockey for the Minnesota Gophers where he just won the rookie-of-the-year award given out by the team — prior recipients include Thomas Vanek, Jordan Leopold, Kyle Okposo, Phil Kessel, etc), as well as Nicolas Deslauriers (whom is a gritty young guy that should start on the Amerks this year, unless he breaks out and makes Sabres roster). An article about Hudson Fasching and his two siblings whom can’t talk and have a very rare disease — Hudson cuddles with them
2014 NHL Draft: Sam Reinhart and more
Despite finishing last overall in the entire NHL, the Buffalo Sabres selected 2nd overall at the draft. The Sabres haven’t drafted this high since 1987 when they drafted Pierre Turgeon 1st overall. Since then, the only other top 5 pick they’ve had was Thomas Vanek in 2003. Drafting 2nd overall this year — this is a huge deal.
As you may or may not know, the NHL doesn’t operate like the NFL. If you’re the 30th place team in the NHL, you don’t automatically get the 1st overall pick in the upcoming draft — as witnessed by the Buffalo Sabres this past draft.
We were the last team in the league, but at the draft lotto — the Florida Panthers “won” and selected 1st overall, while we fell to 2nd place overall. Basically all teams that don’t make the playoffs are eligible to ‘win’ the 1st overall selection, with all other teams only moving down 1 position. The Buffalo Sabres had the highest odds with 25% chance of winning the draft lotto, and the 2nd-last place Florida Panthers had the 2nd highest odds (18.8% chance) and the remaining teams’ chances dwindle from there.
It didn’t matter for the Buffalo Sabres, as the Sabres are stocked with young defencemen and the #1 overall pick was stud defender Aaron Ekblad, whom will be a superstar in this league, but the Sabres were able to select the top-rated offensive player in the draft with Sam Reinhart, er rather, Samson Reinhart. He prefers Samson.
Reinhart’s father (Paul) was a hockey player for many many years in the league, and Samson’s two brothers are prospects with the NY Islanders (Griffin, 4th overall 2012 draft) and Calgary Flames (Max, 64th overall 2010 draft).
Kevin Devine, Chief of Amateur Scouting for the Buffalo Sabres, months prior to this year’s draft said that Samson Reinhart was “the best playmaker I’ve seen in 10-15 years”. Hell of a statement. Craig Button of ESPN made a couple comparisons over the year leading up to the draft of Reinhart using Quebec/Colorado great, Hall of Famer, Joe Sakic as a comparable: “Reinhart might not have the same physical edge as Bennett (another prospect from the draft),” said Button, “but he beats up opponents with his mind. If you look at players like Joe Sakic over the years, Sakic didn’t have an edge. All he did was, he had a surgeon’s scalpel. He’d cut your heart out.”
“Star-wise I hear people say David Krejci, I guess I can see some of the similarities. But the guy he reminds me of is Hall of Famer, former Montreal great Jacques Lemaire. Jacques Lemaire didn’t have a lot of flash to him. [He] won eight Stanley Cups. [He] understood where everybody was on the ice. He understood what a player needed, understood when a player needed the puck. He understood how to get the most out of his linemates. He understood what plays needed to be made–offensively, defensively. [There were] so many different things that made Jacques Lemaire an exceptional player. Those are the same things that Sam Reinhart possesses.”
There are a lot of hockey fans here who weren’t born, or were too young to remember just what Lemaire brought to the table (although they’re familiar with Krejci.) Button certainly did, as did those who were around the game back then like legendary hockey writer, Red Fisher.
Here’s an excerpt from a piece by Fisher, posted in The Gazette, October 9, 2009. He was doing the top-20 players he had covered during a long, distinguished career that began in 1954. 
Lemaire came in at #12.
“[Lemaire] was the complete package,” wrote Fisher. “always in control of his game, scoring the big goals, making the big pass, always doing the right thing, killing penalties. No player I have known studied the game harder.”
With the Sabres next pick, which was the first pick of the second-round of the draft, they selected Brendan Lemieux. This kid is the son of former NHL’r Claude Lemieux — and he’s just as nasty. Opponents are going to hate this kid — and Sabres fans will be flocking to buy his jersey.
I don’t want to bore you with the rest of the draft, but we’ll know in years to come how many of these other picks turn into NHL players.
Will Samson being playing for the Buffalo Sabres this season? Originally I had high hopes of yes. Tim Murray feels he’s done all he can do in the junior league. And we all know there’s room for a kid on this team. However, I’d love to see us do what the Chicago Blackhawks did with their rebuild — they drafted Jonathan Toews 3rd overall, sent him back to juniors, then the following year drafted Patrick Kane and then brought them both into the NHL that year. Together they came into the league.
Next year we’re going to get a very high draft pick — the hope is we get the 1st overall. Regardless, I’d love to bring Reinhart and our 2015 pick into the league at the same time.
Obviously we’ll see what Tim Murray’s plans are soon enough. Sabres fans do need some players to want to watch on this team, as most fans won’t have a clue of anyone on this team — except for Stafford.
This Coming 2014-15 Season: Connor McDavid watch
So this season coming up has a big focus on the forthcoming draft, which will happen June 26-27, 2015 in Florida. Two “generational” players will be drafted first and second overall in that draft — the canadian Connor McDavid and the american Jack Eichel. Scouts have been watching McDavid since he was like 10 years old and awaiting his arrival to the ‘big show’. Connor McDavid is talked about by national media along the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, and Mario Lemieux. A bit unfair to be saying that already, but that’s what we’re talking about here to give you some perspective.
So how does one get Connor McDavid? You have to “win” the draft lottery.
The Sabres are going to be competing hard this year — you could see it at the end of last season. Ted Nolan has really connected with the players and is making them all earn their roster spots. We’re not going to be great this year, but we’re on a great path for the coming years.
Let’s Go Sabres!
Here are my tickets for sale:

2014 Summer Family Friendly Poppy Indie Rock Mix


Enjoy and let me know any other goodies you’ve heard!

Here’s another mix that’s a good one:

Draw Something Historical Timeline: February 6, 2012 launch to March 21, 2012 $183M sale



February 6, 2012 —


February 21, 2012 —…

  • 85% iOS installs

  • 90% revenue from iOS

  • 10M drawings/day


February 22, 2012 —


February 24, 2012 —


February 26, 2012 —


March 1, 2012 —

  • #1 overall paid app and #1 free app in the iOS app store in the United States and in another 25 countries. #1 paid and free app in Google Play.

  • 6M+ users

  • 12 million downloads, 7.1M DAU told by Dan Porter

  • 500,000 tweets per hour

  • “The top 3 feature requests from users are the options to chat, create profiles, and follow friends so you can play and share drawings with them.”

March 7, 2012 —…

  • 1,660 pictures per second


March 8, 2012 —…

  • Miley Cyrus tweets that she is addicted to Draw Something.

  • Retain 60-70% of new users after 7 days.

  • 50% of revenues come from $0.99 upgrades

  • 25% of revenues come from virtual currency

  • 25% of revenues come from ads

  • 200M ad impressions per day

  • ~$50,000+/day in ad revenue (hinted at by CRO; thus ~$200,000+/day in overall revenue)

  • eCPM = ($50,000/200,000,000)*1000 = $0.25 (note: estimated from CRO quote)


March 12, 2012 —…

  • 20 million downloads

  • 12 million active users

  • $100,000+/day

  • #1 app in 79 countries

  • 1 billion+ drawings

  • 3,000 pictures per second

  • Release infographic highlighting stats


March 14, 2012 —…

  • 25 million registered users

  • 10 million DAU

  • 28 million installs (per OMGPOP employee in comments of this post)

  • 1 billion ad impressions per day (at $0.25 eCPM, that’s $250,000/day)

  • Writer told that a “game like Draw Something” would be eCPM $0.20 – $0.30 ~= $200,000/day

  • Android now 1/3 of new downloads


March 18, 2012 —…

March 21, 2012 —


April 4, 2012 —…

  • 50 million downloads in 50 days.

  • At peak generates 3,000 drawings per second.

  • 6 billion total drawings


April 26, 2012 —


May 3, 2012 —


October 4, 2012 —

  • Zynga admits they overpaid. Writeoff of $85M-$95M.


October 27, 2012 — launch on Windows Mobile.

11 Thoughts For A Thursday: Density, Bitcoin, Female VCs, Raising Money, Google Dependence

11 Thoughts for a Thursday

About 11 Thoughts For A Thursday: With an endless firehose of opinions, comments, blog posts, articles, tweets, etc., I felt there was a lot of great insight being drowned out. I plan to surface insight that interests me, both new and old. I’ll also be working to extract perspective from some great minds that aren’t very vocal in public print. I am always looking for great insight, so hit me up on Twitter @popo if you spot any.

1. Jessica Livingston (Y Combinator) says this could be the tipping point year for female founders. Y Combinator is already at 25% female founders in the current batch of startups. That led me to wonder what percentage of VCs were female: 14% (I compiled data from the top 10 most active venture capital firms in 2013). This seems correlated to founders — the more successful female entrepreneurs there are in coming years, the more female VCs there will be in years to come. Another profound stat from Y Combinator: 1/3 of all startups with female co-founders were started with their significant other.

2. I met a local startup called Density (from digital agency Rounded out of Syracuse, NY). They recently won the ‘best enterprise hardware’ award at Launch. They have a customized Raspberry Pi device that plugs into a wall and will tell you how many people are in the room. That seems an amazing feat. How it works is that if you’re a restaurant owner (or any venue), you plug it in, and use their app to tell it which of the wifi networks is yours — that’s it, setup is done. Then, you know how all our mobile phones are always looking to see what available wifi networks there are? The Density device is a wifi router itself and thus is signaling it’s own network, which your mobile phone sees and essentially pings. The Density device registers your mobile phone’s unique device ID (like a MAC address) and anonymously keeps track of how many people there are, which is reported in real-time and in trending charts to the restaurant owner via their app.

The Density team said they plugged the device into a venue of 20k people and saw 14k people, thus 71% of people had a mobile device that was looking for wifi networks. It’s not 100% accurate obviously, but wow, this is pretty amazing. Foursquare is able to see where people go, but that’s only on their 25(?) million users. I see Density as a prime Foursquare (or Yelp) acquisition. I’d then send a device to every restaurant (or any venue) that requested one for free, provide basic stats and maybe charge monthly for better stats — or maybe not. Imagine anonymously tracking users as they go from venue to venue around the world, via their device’s MAC address. Again, Foursquare has this data, but on a very self-selecting audience.

3. Related to #2: a study out of the University of Cambridge used location data from Foursquare users to see if they could build a recommendation algorithm to predict what sporting events, concerts and conferences you would want to attend in the future based on what you have attended in the past. This study takes some mental stamina to read through, but being an avid concert-goer, I’d love to know what shows I should be attending that I don’t even know I should be attending (because likely I’m not familiar with the band/artist performing).

I love the future.

4. Yesterday, Google Ventures teamed up with Uber to do UberPITCH. Basically, you requested an UberPITCH vehicle and an investor from Google Ventures would show up in an Uber and you’d get 7 minutes to pitch them, then 7 minutes for Q&A. Essentially, mobile office hours. I think this is a great marketing idea for Uber and Google Ventures, but could also be a TV show — Cash Cab is awesome entertainment. This isn’t the first time someone has pitched a VC in a car ride — Dave McClure (500 Startups) asked via Twitter if someone would give him a ride and they could pitch, which Alex Moore did and Dave joined the seed round of Baydin for $100K in that 40min car ride.

5. Great gem from Goldman Sach’s report on Bitcoin mentioned in the 15-minute podcast from Andreessen Horowitz’s about the state of Bitcoin Ecosystem with Chris Dixon and Balaji Srinivasan: $210 billion in fee savings for payments going through bitcoin in the space of e-commerce and retail. That’s disruption.

6. Seth Goldstein ( and Fred Wilson’s first EIR) has an e-book he co-authored with Michael Simpson out called ‘The Secrets of Raising Money‘, which there are different tiered packages of the ebook — the highest tier includes 8 video interviews with the likes of Fred Wilson. Here’s a few 4-minute previews (including the Fred Wilson interview). They tease me enough to likely buy.

7. Josh Constine (TechCrunch) wrote a great post a couple months ago called ‘A Facebook Life‘. At the beginning I almost stopped reading, but I’m glad I didn’t. The post is ready for a movie studio to option. Hypothetically if it were optioned, I wonder if he owns the rights or if it’s AOL/TechCrunch. Presumably AOL/TechCrunch, but I’d be curious. Well done for summing up the digital life today, Josh.

8. Chris Dixon (Andreessen Horowitz) blogs about the data coming out of Flurry last week showing that the mobile web is losing vs apps, and how this is bad for innovation. Highlight quote from his post, which is scary:

Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues.

Most worrisome: they reject entire classes of apps without stated reasons or allowing for recourse (e.g. Apple has rejected all apps related to Bitcoin). The open architecture of the web led to an incredible era of experimentation. Many startups were controversial when they were first founded.  What if AOL or some other central gatekeeper had controlled the web, and developers had to ask permission to create Google, Youtube, eBay, Paypal, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Sadly, this is where we’re headed on mobile.

But, I truly believe this is a temporary state of mobile as it evolves (which I somewhat allude to in my post last week). Commenter Zach Weinberg states it well,

Reminds me of how the internet evolved on the desktop. Seems temporary. Fully integrated won first (i.e. AOL) which ultimately got replaced by open web (Browser) as the web caught up in terms of technology (just as fast, easier to browse, find content etc.). Same will happen on mobile. Fully integrated / native apps will win first until the mobile browser technology catches up to be just as fast and fully featured as the native apps.

9. Love this mission from Charlie O’Donnell (Brooklyn Bridge Investments) writes in a blog post this week about how he often invests pre-product and pre-deck:

Personally, I’d rather write that check than wait for tons of traction.  It’s fun for me and particularly rewarding if you can help a company get off the ground at the way too early stage.  Does it scale?  Not at all.  Who cares?  I’m not playing that firm building game and don’t care to.

Incubators and accelerators have become the pre-product money rounds these days, but Charlie is holding down the fort of being a seed capital fund as another option for entrepreneurs. Keep up the enthusiasm Charlie, entrepreneurs need as many options as possible. The timing, location, (etc) of incubators and accelerators doesn’t always align with entrepreneurs.

10. Naval Ravikant (AngelList) sums up the “Series A Crunch” well in a video interview (preview) with Seth Goldstein, saying that these days there is seed capital and growth capital.  Naval says:

If you’re in between — you’ve already raised your money on hope and you haven’t yet clearly reached a break-out inflection point — it’s actually extremely difficult to raise money.

Adam Besvick (Lowercase Capital) blogged this week about how he believes “it’ll be a trend that consumer apps will take longer to “officially” launch as they seek to mitigate as much risk as possible before showing up in the App Store.”

If you are trying to build a VC-backed startup (aka a grand slam, because that’s what VC firms want in terms of financial returns), you need to nail product/market fit in your first raise. If you don’t and your numbers flatline, you’re SOL.

11. Good post outlining the coupon codes industry online and how much $1.8b public company RetailMeNot ($SALE) relies on Google (63% of their traffic). It’s amazing the number of public companies that rely on Google — Demand Media ($DMD) and Synacor ($SYNC) are a couple off the top of my head. Demand Media knows first-hand the consequences when Google changes their algorithms and traffic drops — 40% instant drop in traffic back in 2011. With the big shift of consumers from desktop to mobile, from websites to apps, Google’s dominance as the middle man to consumer intent isn’t going to last and there’s going to be a ripple effect of consequence to those companies that continue to depend on Google. The bright side is that this disruption opens new opportunities for entrepreneurs.    (h/t @ericnagel)

About the Author: Steve Poland is working to bring asynchronous charades to mobile with Act Away (currently fundraising). Follow him on Twitter @popo or reach-out steve@vestedventures.comIf you’d like to receive this weekly column via email, input your email address here (I promise to only send this column weekly and you can unsubscribe at anytime):