In a World…

When I took Niki to see Sound City, she reluctantly went along thinking she’d be sitting through some boring Foo Fighters documentary. Of course it has a 100% Tomatometer score and she left the show raving about Sound City to all of our friends. It’s a very powerful movie.

A few weeks ago I took Niki to see In A World… Again, she was indulging me since I’m advising a startup that works with voice actors and, once again, she was blown away. Several times during the movie she told me it was one of the best movies she’s ever seen. It’s really that good.

It’s still playing in a few theaters and you should catch it if you can. It’s a great date movie. And it got a 91% Tomatometer score.

Lake Bell is a genius.

Check out the trailer:

What the fax?

Ceros switched banks and with that move our old credit cards were phased out. I went through every one of the recurring charges that were still being billed to my card and switched them all onto a new corporate card — all except for J2, which I’ve used since they were called Jfax in the ’90s, because I wasn’t able to sign in.

The password I set up for J2 more than a year ago had an exclamation point in it. Let’s say “inept!” was the password, for argument’s sake. When the sign-in for shows me an error, it shows one bullet point less in the field than what I typed: so inept! comes back as •••••. So my guess is that a year ago passwords with ! in them were fine and now they aren’t. No problem, I’ll just get them to reset my password, right?

Continue reading “What the fax?”

SpokenLayer: now hear this

Here’s what happens when I explain SpokenLayer to most people:

“SpokenLayer turns blog posts into audio.”
“You mean they transcribe audio?”
“No. They do the opposite.”
“Why would anybody take perfectly good text that Google can see and turn it into audio? Is this just for blind people?”

Good questions. The best answer I’ve seen is that at some point all of us are effectively blind. Driving a car, jogging, walking a dog. There are so many situations where your ears are free, but your hands and eyes aren’t.

Continue reading “SpokenLayer: now hear this”

First Date on Broadway

pointed out that I’ve got a signed program from the Broadway show First Date on my desk. Niki and I saw First Date for our 15th anniversary back in July and we loved it.

When tightly wound Aaron (Zachary Levi) is set up with serial-dater Casey (Krysta Rodriguez) a quick drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious, high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this date as Casey and Aaron’s inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons and the wait staff get into the act. Dinner is served with sides of Google background checks, fake emergency phone calls, supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. First Date is Broadway’s new hysterical and hopeful new musical about the chances we take to find love.

Critics were mixed. It’s not Phantom or Spamalot or The Producers. As one of them pointed out though, if audiences listened to critics, Wicked wouldn’t be sold out month after month.

When we took our seats I only knew it had Zachary Levi from Chuck and that it would be an interesting show to see to celebrate being married. We soon figured out that we had seen Krysta Rodriguez when she was Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family musical. Even with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth on stage, Krysta was clearly the star of that show.

Continue reading “First Date on Broadway”

The four ways a startup can go

I advise a bunch of companies, mostly startups, and some of them are in the middle of negotiating acquisition offers while they are raising money. At some point they’ll have to choose one over the other.

It always happens that way. If your startup isn’t interesting and you haven’t created any value, investors and acquirers don’t have any attention for you. But when you have built something valuable, both groups want your attention at the same time.

That gives a startup leverage. You can use an acquisition offer to drive up your valuation with investors and vice versa. Jason and I had three investors lined up for our first true investment round the same summer we were negotiating our AOL/Weblogs deal.

Continue reading “The four ways a startup can go”

Kangaroo standing desk

I do a lot of sitting in my home office, so a month ago I decided to get a standing desk. Before I even started researching them, I saw my Magento genius friend Bart Mroz post a picture of his new Kangaroo desk on Facebook.

So I compared a bunch of solutions and ordered a Kangaroo Pro from Ergo Desktop. They are sold out, so it took nearly a month to arrive. It’s a great standing desk. It was mostly assembled, but there was an extra bag of long bolts I had to add to keep my 15-pound 30″ Dell monitor from sagging forward and facing the ground. The process was tricky, but now I’m a Kangaroo expert.

Uncertified, of course.

Also featured in this basement office photo:

  • a picture of my wife in nursing school
  • a signed program from First Date on Broadway
  • a heavy metal Iron Man statue from Ceros CEO Simon Berg
  • one of the two incredible 4×8 whiteboards Jason gave me when he moved to L.A.
  • a Question poster signed by the creative team my ComicMix partners gave me
  • my ever-present Starbucks Trenta green iced tea

Audience engagement

A few weeks ago in Beverly Hills, Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz gave a talk on the viability of YouTube businesses and multichannel networks. It’s a fascinating space right now, with no shortage of strong opinions from people like Jason CalacanisMark Suster and Jason Calacanis.

Maker’s network is on track to pass 5 billion monthly video views by the end of the year and the Makers video audience reach is second only to YouTube’s own. I know a bunch of executives and investors at Makers. It’s an exciting time for them.

Kreiz talked about off-YouTube monetization strategies, branded videos and building out sales and engineering teams. The article pointed out that platforms like these “can only succeed to the extent that they enable creators to more effectively engage with their audiences.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Continue reading “Audience engagement”

Mary-Kate Olsen and Uncle Jesse

A few weeks ago, I saw Willie Nelson at the Capital Theater in Port Chester, NY. It’s a great place to see a show and I’m a huge Willie Nelson fan. It was a great show.

I sat right across the aisle from Mary-Kate Olsen and her boyfriend Olivier Sarkozy. It’s pretty wild because my kids watched a Full House marathon during a vacation earlier this year. Now when it’s time to pick a show for the family to watch, one of them always picks Full House. I never watched it the first time around, but I’ve now seen more than a dozen episodes. It’s a trip.

Continue reading “Mary-Kate Olsen and Uncle Jesse”

If Nick Bradbury can work from home, so can I.

I’m in SF for the LAUNCH Mobile conference and my hotel is just a block away from the Automattic office, the headquarters of WordPress. I visited the old WordPress HQ at The Embarcadero on the waterfront the day after I pitched Crowd Fusion at TechCrunch 50 back in 2009, but they had to give that space up. I’d heard it was being condemned. The new HQ is great.

Everyone at WordPress works from home, just like we did at Weblogs, Inc. and Crowd Fusion. I love running virtual teams, distributed workforces. It lets you hire for talent and passion — not location. This weekend the whole Automattic team was in town for some kind of company meetup — working together for a few days in SF, then taking buses to Santa Cruz for outdoor activities which they said may or may not include typing.

It was great to see Chris Finke, who figured out I was only a block away and invited me to crash their party. Matt Mullenweg and one of his designers showed me some amazing new CMS interfaces that they’re working on and I got to show them a mini demo of Ceros.

And then I saw Nick Bradbury. I don’t think he realizes it, even when I tell him to his face, but he’s one of my tech heroes. We met briefly back in 2004 at SxSW, the same event where I first met Matt.

Continue reading “If Nick Bradbury can work from home, so can I.”