(clickbait) Founders, don’t trust your venture capitalists… or…

trustJosh Felser, formerly of Spinner (an internet radio and entertainment website bought by AOL), shares some stories about his startup and funding. To be sure, he mentions the terrorist tactics used by some investors.

If you don’t know what a “term sheet” is, you should learn.

If you don’t know what a “corporate structure” is, learn.



entrepreneur.com – Top 100 Crowdfunded things

Lately, crowdfunding platforms like kickstarter, indiegogo, & others have been taking up headlines in the tech industry. They have become a source of democratization of our economy. However, someday people will contend the illuminati are behind it all. In either case, the links below work as pointers to its previous success.

How The Top 100 Crowdfunded Companies Raised Major Money


Top 100 Crowdfunded Companies

published November 2013

4 Famous Crowdfunding Fails

posted October 24, 2013

  1. New York City Opera – Kickstarter – $1M/$303K
  2. Ubuntu Edge Phone – Indiegogo – $32M/12.8M
  3. Melissa Joan Hart’s Romantic Comedy – Kickstarter – $2M/$51K
  4. Zosia Mamet’s Music Video – Kickstarter – $32K/$2.7K

Topic: Top 100 Crowdfunded Companies


International Fraud a Foul

Lego_Millennium_Falcon_from_FlickerSeveral days ago, CitiGroup settled on penalties (reportedly $7 Billion) for wrong doings. What will come of this is hard to say. Perhaps the business schools will realize that monolithic corporations encounter too much risks to be viable.

As for fraud and how it might affect a startup and entrepreneurs, it is not always obvious. We, of course, know of the random fraud by con-men hawking vaporware; there is even the occasional CXO f’ing friends and family, and the even rarer CXO committing consumer fraud.

A broader fraud internal to the system is worst. Yes Bernie Madoff is the classic example, but a fraud that spans international borders, internal safe guards, buckles regulatory framework, and sends waves throughout the system, that is worse. Such is the fraud within Citicorp.

Banamex ATM in  Barra de Navidad, Jalisco complements of tomzap.com

Banamex ATM in
Barra de Navidad, Jalisco
complements of tomzap.com

In 2001, Banamex was acquired by Citigroup. From 2001 to 2014 Citigroup tried to get the Mexican bank group to modernize so it could place modern safety checks in place. It did not happen. Late in 2013, Citigroup realized a serious issue. Early in 2014, it made it known to the world that $400 million was missing. By May it had no choice but to fire eleven executives without PENSION! This issue will cause Citigroup and the rest of the industry regulatory issues for years.

If that was not enough on June 11, 2014, the New York Times reported suspicions on large stockpiles of copper and aluminum sitting at port. The suspicions are that a Chinese company pledged the same stockpiles as collateral for multiple loans. The division with this issues is Citic Resources, part of the state-controlled conglomerate Citic Group. This is worrisome since China has an estimated total outstanding credit of more than 220 percent of gross domestic product last year — up from 130 percent in 2008. The worry, of course, is how many others have done this.

image complements of flicker Ingot in fort Lauderdale, Fl.

image complements of flicker
Ingot in fort Lauderdale, Fl.

The report said Decheng Mining was suspected by the authorities of having pledged the same stocks of the metals — about 100,000 tons of aluminum and 2,000 to 3,000 tons of copper — as collateral for multiple loans, amassing bank debt exceeding 1 billion renminbi ($160 million). Phone calls and emails to Decheng’s parent company, Dezheng Resources, went unanswered on Wednesday.


Meet Benedict Van, the con man of Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley Hustle: Former Motionloft CEO Accused Of Defrauding Investors
Silicon Valley tech bigwig arrested for fake barcode Lego scam

Banamex Said to Snub Citigroup Oversight as Fraud Mounted – Bloomberg
Citi Fires 11 More in Mexico Over Fraud – NYTimes.com
Banks Fear Missing Collateral in China – NYTimes.com

RIP Springpad

The demise of a startup venture is always disappointing. In the case of SpringPad, it was continously compared with it’s large competitor EverNote. Even today (July 7, 2014) it’s domain no longer responses to pings. ping: unknown host springpad.com

OneTreeFrog_1stPostThe announcement was made on May 23, 2014 (See below). Within hours, there were regrets and rumors. Days later, list of alternativesacquire-hire, and Five (5) Pre-morteum lessons (list below) were in writing. 11 days later, multiple alternatives were available on a public spreadsheet, and Microsoft had tools to port data off of Springpad. On the last day of official operations, June 25, 2014 – warning notices were re-issued by the press.

With all this noise, you’d think users would have gotten the message. No, some in the press did not. Odds are handful of the 5 million users did not.

Announcement: Springpad is Shutting Down on June 25th
Posted on May 23, 2014, by Katin

We are very sorry to let you know that Springpad will be shutting down on June 25th. At that point Springpad.com will no longer be available, all online and sync features of the mobile apps will stop working, and your personal data will no longer be stored on our servers.

Please know that it is our top priority to help you during this transition. Amidst current rumors we wanted to confirm the news and give you all of the information possible at this time. We are putting the final touches on a new export tool that will allow you to take your data with you. This will include an improved backup file that you can save and use to reference your notes in the future in addition to the option to migrate your data.

In the coming days, we will make the export tool available to all users and developers and will communicate more news about our shutdown on our blog, via email and on Springpad.com. You will then have until June 25th to export or migrate your data.


RIP Springpad. We will miss you
May 23, 2014
Springpad, a productivity app similar to Evernote and Pinterest, is planning to throw in the towel as it admits defeat against its cloud-based notes rivals.
Google might be acquiring Springpad in acqui-hire deal | BetaBoston
May 23, 2014

springpad_Postcard61Springpad App Alternatives: Boston Startup Springpad Engineers and CPO to Join Google | BostInno
May 27, 2014
Five Springpad engineers to join Google as Boston-based personal organizer app shuts down – Boston Business Journal
May 27, 2014
Five Lessons for Consumer Tech Startups in Springpad Shutdown
May 28, 2014
  1. East Coast vs. West Coast
  2. Product-market fit
  3. Revenue model
  4. Business issues
  5. Distribution and user acquisition
This Spreadsheet Is a Definitive Guide to Springpad Alternatives
Jun 3, 2014
Microsoft releases OneNote Clipper for Chrome, Springpad-to-OneNote migration tool
Jun 9, 2014
Today’s the last day to download your Springpad data
June 25, 2014
8 unwritten rules of job searching
These people did not get the memo.
springpad2This Startup Had Over 5 Million Users And A Great Product. Then It Folded
The (somewhat) surprising demise of the popular organizing app Springpad–and what happened next.
Published June 29, 2014

politico.com – How to Lose $100 Million (on the web)

How to Lose $100 Million

The undoing of Tina Brown.

Image from Bruce Feiler's blog.  Shoeless in New York Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Image from Bruce Feiler’s blog.
Shoeless in New York
Tuesday, June 12, 2007


May/June 2014


This is a seven (7) page story. It is about the salacious nature of an industry in flux — which includes Newsweek, Newsweek the online version, and the Daily Beast. I don’t expect anyone to read it, unless your alone this Sunday — having coffee — and have about 2 hours to kill.

NOTE: Tina was the last editor-in-chief of the last print issue (Dec. 2012) of Newsweek, before it was revived via a sale (of the magazine) and went back into print in March of 2014

Pops open to wikipedia.

More details on wikipedia.org

Not enough on Tina? Post-Tina via the [NY Magazine] six (6) pages

Leading Enterpreneur is a Union Contractor

KeyMarket_redwoodmaplrg2After leaving the tech industry in 2000, I decide to work for a local family-owned grocery store. Becoming the unpaided union shop steward a few years later, taught me alot about the valuable work provide by good union workers.

On Thursday of last week, I ran into this great story at the Peet’s in Castro Valley. Someone had left a print copy of the IBEW Union Member trade sheet. To me it pointed out that knowing-the-work-done is the backbone to the 5 levels of Leadership. It this case, it is central to the business.IBEW_newsPrint

IBEW’s Solar Power in California


With only $2,500, an old Ford Ranger pickup and some power tools, Sullivan put out his shingle. Twelve years later, Sullivan Solar is the largest solar-only contractor in southern California and the 10th fastest growing energy company in the country in 2013, according to Inc. Magazine.


The skill of his workforce has been central to his marketing strategy as well.


“Too many contractors think price is all that matters, but not everyone is a Wal-Mart shopper. Really, most aren’t, but I knew that I would still need the most compelling presentation customers had ever seen to teach them what quality meant and why it was important,” Sullivan said. “I was using my knowledge as a journeyman inside wireman as a sign of quality.”

Sullivan Solar House Example

Sullivan Solar Power installed a 10,841W #solar power system at the Lombroso residence which saves them $540 a month!



Green, green-washing, and communication?

NPR_RecyclingPlant1Green is mainstream or so I’m reminded by UL (Underwriters Laboratories). At one time they were producing regular reports about green-washing, but it appears the money is elsewhere. None the less, the industry is moving forward with real initiatives demanded by customers and their advocates. The story below points out that there has been a production rise of “16 percent in the last five years” for cups made from paper. That’s a rise of 3% per year, almost the same as organic food.

People vote with their wallets.


 Your coffee cup probably isn’t recyclable… yet


In the computer industry, we have a term  similar familiar to green-washing it is known as buzz-word compliant. (Not the same – of course.)

Image source Oregon Sports News

Image source Oregon Sports News

Back to the subject, in 1992 – during his run for president – Ross Perot reminded us that one of the growth areas in business was Garbage. Even so, if you go into most Internet businesses in Silicon Valley you’ll see the obligatory three garbage cans – blue, green and grey. But here’s the test of company communications. Ask someone in the office, which garbage goes in which can. Chances are *someone* in the office can give you a good answer, but look in the cans and more often that not you’ll see a different answer than what you’ve just heard.

In case you are caught short, here is a bit about The Seven Sins of Green Washing.

But if you don’t want follow the link, here are the sins:

  1. Sin of Hidden Trade-off – such as bleaching paper white
  2. Sin of No Proof – claiming as such with no third party verification
  3. Sin of Vagueness – such as, All-natural (my favorite, see below)
  4. Sin of Worshing False Labels – like using the word “green”, when it’s not
  5. Sin of Irrelevance – example: CFC-free, but it’s been banned for years
  6. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils – Organic cigarettes?
  7. Sin of Fibbing – Just a lie

As you can read below, the term “NATURAL” has regulatory issues. As such, it has little meaning we you see a product using that word — with sole exception of meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Regardless of what you see, if regulation is involved, money will move the regulation.


From the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)usda_gov_logo

Natural. As required by USDA, meat, poultry, and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.

From the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) fda_gov_logo

What is the meaning of ‘natural’ on the label of food?

From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.