Above the Crowd

Archive for 2009

Counter-Point to Calacanis on Yahoo-Microsoft Deal

July 29, 2009:

Jason Calacanis penned an elegant and well reasoned blog post today implying that Yahoo has committed suicide by entering into a 10-year search deal with Microsoft.  I would like to make a few points explaining why I respectfully disagree with Jason.   I believe that board rooms all over America were heavily distracted by Google’s rise. Envious of Google’s success, many companies wanted to remodel themselves as a Google look-alike. This affliction was most prominent with the Internet’s four leading non-Google players: Ebay, Yahoo, Amazon, and Microsoft. For the past 5-10 years, these companies have been distracted from their core mission and focus in life, and more importantly from areas and markets where […]

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I Do Not Believe that Zappos Was “Forced” to Sell

July 27, 2009:

There are quite a few stories circulating in the blogosphere and Twittersphere discussing the recent acquisition of Zappos by Amazon. Some of these articles have a quite sinister and devious tone, imagining some remarkable behind-the-scenes drama that would make Spielberg pay attention. Here are two specific example: PE Hub’s “ Zappos CEO Wanted To Stay Independent, Sequoia Wanted Liquidity—Sources ” and the more strongly titled “ Zappos Deal Shows VCs Hate Entrepreneur “. I should state up front that I have no specific data on this deal.  I haven’t talked to Sequoia nor Tony Hsieh. That said, my view is these articles are little more than sensationalist journalism guaranteed to attract a ton of page views.  The specific charge that I […]

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Bill Gurley on the “Free” Business Model

July 15, 2009:

I have been intrigued by the back and forth between Chris Anderson, Malcolm Gladwell, and Mark Cuban on the topic of “Free” as a strategy and business model. For those that haven’t read the articles and posts, I highly reccomend them all. Here they are in a list: 1) Back in February of 2008, Chris Anderson wrote the original cover story for Wired Magazine, title “ Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business. ” Recently he has expanded this into an  entire book . I have felt for the  past year or so, that Chris’ first article is quintessential reading for the entrepreneurial set.  More on why later. 2) In the July 6, 2009 edition […]

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Amazon’s AWS Strategy Becomes Clearer Every Day

June 8, 2009:

Last fall, I had a unique opportunity to visit Amazon and learn more about their web services (AWS) strategy. From where I sit as a VC, it was obvious they were winning.  You could see it in the number of startups that were building on their platform, and you could see it in the number of startups that were adding to their platform. All that said, at the time it still wasn’t obvious to me what Amazon’s strategy was to differentiate itself from the others certain to rush into the business — folks like IBM, Microsoft, and Google. Amazon suggested that the strategy was two-fold, and that it borrowed heavily from the ethos the company has […]

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A Really Interesting Online Education Company in Korea: Megastudy

June 2, 2009:

Today’s New York Times has half page article on a billion dollar (US$) public Korean company named Megastudy.  My partner Peter Fenton and I had the luxury of meeting with this company a few years back, and I always had hoped to find the U.S. equivalent.  Truth be told, Business Week profiled the company two and a half years ago, but I dont think that U.S. entrepreneurs have created anything qutie like it. Here are some quick notes on the company: Megastudy is at it’s core an online learning web site. The business model is subscription for each course. The “teacher” of the course gets something like 23% […]

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