I don’t want my Financial TV

Fox Business News is beating the crap out of CNBC.

  • In 2Q 2018, Bartiromo’s Mornings led Squawk Box among total viewers, 109,000 to 104,000
  • FBN grew … beating CNBC by 23% (203,000 total viewers compared with CNBC’s 165,000).
  • Among viewers 25-54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers, CNBC finished ahead of Fox Business in the second quarter, with 31,000 viewers to FBN’s 25,000
  • Lou Dobbs Tonight, which won among total viewers (319,000) and among viewers 25-54 (36,000)

In reality, these numbers are so small and irrelevant that I wonder if anyone wants the so-called financial TV. It is mostly vanity television — only for business leaders to get on tv. From an advertiser perspective, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and other places offer more finely tuned audiences for much lower prices.

In the plus column, these puny sized numbers should be a big boost for (former Buzzfeed President) Jon Steinberg and his Cheddar, Continue reading "I don’t want my Financial TV"

Guest Posts Gone Wild

Buzzfeed is reporting that one single contributor who wrote 700 articles for Forbes and 300 for Entrepreneur magazine, has been charging brands to mention their names in his articles. It is yet another posts-payola scheme.

BuzzFeed News also obtained an email pitch from an AudienceBloom employee to a potential client in which he offered the ability for them to review an article with a brand mention before it was published. The pitch said a mention with a link back in a “premium tier” publication like Mashable would cost between $1,200 and $2,000.

In December 2017, Outline reported that “publications such as Mashable, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Huffington Post and Forbes, wherein freelance writers were taking payments in exchange for favorable coverage.”

It happens with such regularity — especially at Forbes and Entrepreneur — that I usually ignore everything these publications offer. And when someone sends me a link about themselves (or one of their articles), I make it a point to not take them seriously in the future.

Continue reading "Guest Posts Gone Wild"

Past & Future

Politics, business, technology, innovation… past always tries to hold down the future. Every time I read an article about Brexit, dismissal of Tesla, or new ideas, it all boils down to our dogmas and collective memories coming in the way of the future. The past can be a great guide, but it can’t be our social destination.

These days, the world seems dark at times, and as a result, I retreat into books, music, and art. Only art (including writing and blogging) allow you to remix the past and build the future. So much of our modern photography is influenced by those photos from a 100 years ago.

And they were influenced by masters (painters) from before, and they got their inspiration from the giants of the Renaissance. HipHop is a remix. I don’t know whether future is good or bad, but keeping an open mind does make present pretty Continue reading "Past & Future"

Leica, ready to flip?

After five years of using Leica products, I can safely say that Leica does make fantastic products, and expensive as they might be, they are going to last what seems like a lifetime. I bought my Leica SL, about three years ago. It was so advanced and perfectly built that even today, I find it at par with recent competitive products. The lenses — especially the M class of lenses — cost a lot of money, but I am leaving those for my godchildren. In other words, the very qualities that make Leica products expensive, make it hard for the company to monetize their customer base. With overall camera market shrinking, thanks to the rise of computational photography, like all its rivals, Leica must see the writing on the wall.

Continue reading "Leica, ready to flip?"

My only camera rig

I love between analog and digital worlds. My 12.9 inch iPad Pro and Logitech K811 keyboard are my preferred computer combination. For a timepiece, nothing like the artful work from masters at Grand Seiko. And for photography, I now work exclusively with Leica M-A and an f2/50mm Summicron.

All my other film and digital cameras, except for my Leica SL and Fuji x100F are on their way to new homes. It is very freeing to have a handful of lenses — imperfection is my new mantra. My film of choice Kodak Tri-X 400. My camera strap (Dsptch x Stash Special Edition) is a gift from my friend, Dsptch founder Richard Liu.

PS: I accidentally posted this on my photo blog instead of posting here.

Startups, Ideas and Timing

“The two worst things to be as a startup is too early or too late. Too late you can’t recover from, but you can survive too early if you have a great CEO and loyal investors.”

This quote in Dan Primack’s newsletter (via Axios) from Paul Maeder, investor and board member at the recently public Carbon Black, which started its journey 16 years ago reminded me of my conversation with Silicon Valley legend and serial entrepreneur, Andy Bechtolsheim.

The Paywall Quandary: How many subscriptions does one really need?

Bloomberg is the latest to go behind the paywall. And it is going to annually cost about $420. Felix Salmon (over on Slate) argues that Bloomberg is going behind a paywall because it can as this is a season to go behind the paywall. And he points out that we should save our dollars for some other publication, which needs it. Well, that’s not how capitalism works. You pay for things you want.

My response to his commentary on Twitter was: “Bloomberg gives you information edge, and thus it would be one new subscription I will pay for, despite their anti-Apple bias. One of the best tech teams, global coverage. They are premium & are charging premium $$$s.”

And I mean that. Continue reading "The Paywall Quandary: How many subscriptions does one really need?"

True & the VC Firm of the year

National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) named our partnership, True Ventures, as the venture capital firm of the year. It is always an honor to be recognized by our peers, but in the end, the award is a reflection of the people who we serve — the founders, their teams and their families. 10,000 of them. It has taken over a decade to get here — one startup at a time. Some of them are big (Automattic), some define the zeitgeist (Blue Bottle, Peloton, and Ring) and others are writing the script of tomorrow today, companies like Veniam and Zymergen.

Continue reading "True & the VC Firm of the year"

My Top 25 Daily Tech Reporters

I often get asked — who are your favorite technology journalists. I don’t know how to answer that question: they are all good on any given day. Some are great at writing features. Others are just fantastic on a day-to-day basis, displaying a broad sense of understanding. Some are just a great combination of all those characteristics — and here my current top 25 favorite reporters, neatly curated as a  Twitter List of my top 25 reporters who cover technology.

Why? Because they keep me informed on all aspects of the technology industry on a daily basis. They create a comprehensive, 360-degree view of the industry. I have not included subscription-only services such as The Information — I don’t subscribe. I did at one point but wasn’t reading it that much. I also excluded people who didn’t share work of other writers. These 25 people do a good job of Continue reading "My Top 25 Daily Tech Reporters"

The Sunglass Mafia 

Silicon Valley insiders often talk about the PayPal mafia — a motley crew that came together at PayPal and then went on to build great companies, big venture firms and continues to wield outsized influence in the technology industry. From much-beloved icons such as Elon Musk to the controversial (and brilliant) Peter Thiel, the list is pretty long. PayPal, however, isn’t unique as a petri dish of innovation and launch pad for future businesses. Let me tell you about one such company that helped create the Sunglass Mafia. Continue reading "The Sunglass Mafia "

Why 16GB Memory Cards Are Better

It is not hard to find a memory card that can pack as much as 128 gigabytes (GB) storage capacity into an SD memory card, a boon when shooting videos or when embarking on  a weekend trip with a nice point and shoot like the FujiFilm x100F or Leica Q. Personally, however, I like the 16GB SD cards and here are my reasons:

  • When on a trip, I tend to use one card per day — and use that as a limiting factor to how many photo frames I might capture in a single day. Even with the increasing file sizes (nearly 50 megabytes), it is enough for my style of photography as my maximum frames a day is about a 100. Throw in some video, and even then I don’t run out of capacity.
  • One card a day adds a layer of protection in terms of data storage, and Continue reading "Why 16GB Memory Cards Are Better"

What the Grammy Awards viewership decline tells about future

According to the Wall Street Journal, television viewership for the 60th Grammy Awards was down 24 percent from 2017 and the small­est tele­vi­sion au­di­ence for the awards pro­gram since 2009. About 19.8 million tuned in this year vs. 26 million. Usually, an awards show has a lead-in program that shows celebrities on the red carpet, offering mundane chatter. CBS, instead, decided that it will show golf, which in turn could be a reason why the viewership decline.

To give some historical context, In 2001, there were 26.6 million viewers of Grammys. In 2017 there were 26.1 million viewers. In this century, the ratings have seesawed and had fallen drastically to 17 million viewers in 2006 and inched back up after a few years. In other words, this could be just another one of those cyclical downcycles and not so permanent. However, when you look at the decline in 2018 from the context of broader trends in media and consumption, things don’t bode well for Grammys and another live programming, including sports.

Continue reading "What the Grammy Awards viewership decline tells about future"

(Social) share, but with care

About two years ago, I wrote about Amplification and the changing role of media and argued that “think picking things to amplify is also important. Back in the day, news people made choice by deciding which stories to write. Today, we have to adopt a similar rigor about what we choose to share and amplify.”

Fast forward to today — the social web is much bigger: more than 300million people on Twitter. Two billion people on Facebook and over a billion people on Instagram. Every time you share a link, or a piece of news, you are actually telling people to look at it. You are asking them to spend their biggest resource — attention (and time) — on what you are sharing.

By sharing stuff which is subpar, you are essentially wasting someone’s time. That in the long run isn’t a good idea, especially if you want people Continue reading "(Social) share, but with care"

Dean Allen, R.I.P.

Dean Cameron Allen, a 50-ish writer, designer, web-guy, and an all-around rascal, died this weekend in London, U.K. He leaves behind his parents, a former girlfriend and a lot of friends. If the universe feels a little hollow this week, now you know why. Continue reading "Dean Allen, R.I.P."

Books I Love: 2017 edition

These are my picks for the year, which admittedly was light on reading on my part. I spent way too much time wandering around with my camera and didn’t pick up the books often enough. I bought about 27 books and I finished sixteen. Rest were pretty average and some were plain rubbish. I was fooled into buying them because of internet recommendations and magazine reviews. The top five, however were amazing and are worth re-reading sometime in the future. They were all a recommendation from a friend or a friend of a friend.

Top Five

  1. American Kingpin by Nick Bilton
  2. IQ by Joe Ide
  3. The Fate of Rome by Kyle Harper
  4. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda
  5. Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee

Honorable Mentions:

These are fun reads as well, it is just that they Continue reading "Books I Love: 2017 edition"

Some thoughts on the Blog Post Bribe Scandal

The Outline, an often forgotten but exciting web publication, exposed a widespread practice at publications such as Mashable, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Huffington Post and Forbes, wherein freelance writers were taking payments in exchange for favorable coverage. It doesn’t surprise me — when publications pay as little as $25 per post; the freelancers are going to be wide open for exploitation by marketers. But the problem is much larger and insidious and goes beyond these payola like tricks. The whole ecosystem of information is highly compromised, thanks to a need for cheap page views, fast.

The sad part is that tomorrow or the week after, we will move on. It will soon be forgotten, and the digital marketers will be back in the swing of things. We will never ask the question — why is this happening. So, to understand the why, let me share a story from recent history. Continue reading "Some thoughts on the Blog Post Bribe Scandal"

Towers in the Mist

TowerintheMist

Fog is my weakness, and every time there is low fog, I am out and about with my camera. I like the muted sounds, the shroud of grey and the silence that comes with fog. I loved this image of how SalesForce tower is emerging out of the mist as a defining feature of San Francisco’s landscape and the Pyramid building is fading into the background. Both these buildings have been polarising in their impact on San Francisco’s skyline.

San Francisco, November 25, 2016. 

Photo 02/30: Leica SL with Canon 50mm lens f8, 1/500th of a second, ISO 100.