Posts filed under “Venture Capital”

The Pandora Letter

He’s on the wrong side. His own.

Read any financial analysis and you’ll learn investors are not bullish on Pandora, because it pays most of its income in royalties. Is this the listener’s problem? Is this the artist’s problem? Is this anything but Tim Westergren’s problem?

If you want to screw others, if you want a personal advantage, you execute behind the scenes. Does Justin Bieber e-mail all his followers and say he’s scalping his own tickets? That fewer than 10% are available at the public onsale? If it’s dirty work you’re involved in, you want no sunshine on the subject.

In other words, Tim Westergren doesn’t know Internet Rule #1.

That on the Internet, the public comes first, people count. Be duplicitous, be less than honest, and your audience will disappear. Look at Netflix… All its reasons for changing fees had to do with the company’s bottom line, it didn’t make sense for the customer, which is why there’s been a backlash that has permanently hobbled the company. Netflix used to be cool, now it’s just another outlet that streams content.

Pandora’s gonna be crushed by Apple. Hell, that’s what Apple’s done time and time again. It crushed Diamond, maker of the Rio MP3 player, it killed Nokia… Know anything about computing, and you know the big kahuna can turn your cash cow into a feature and you can go out of business. Once upon a time, spell checkers were standalone programs, that you purchased… Can you imagine paying for a third-party spell-checking program for Microsoft Word today? Hell, can you imagine needing the bloated features of Microsoft Word tomorrow?

That’s Microsoft’s challenge. Preparing for tomorrow. That’s what the Surface is all about. A way out of the desktop mess. Desktops are disappearing like buggies drawn by horses. Turns out most people don’t need the horsepower and the features, of either desktops or laptops. A tablet is good enough.

Turns out you pick what you want to hear from Spotify and also get a Pandora-like radio service.

What’s Pandora’s end game?


What Westergren has done right is get apps in cars. That’s what built Sirius XM, he’s following their blueprint. As for comparing Sirius XM with Pandora, the day Pandora gets Howard Stern on the service is the day I change my opinion. Pandora is just a bunch of stuff you don’t want to hear mixed amongst a few unknown gems that make you feel good because you discovered them. Is this the future of music discovery? Panning for gold? No, on the Internet people deliver gold right to your inbox. Pandora is inefficient.

But that’s just my personal bias. Your mileage may vary. You may like Pandora, that’s fine with me.

But why should you be obligated to ensure Tim Westergren and his company make more money? It’s like Bank of America e-mailing me to support deregulation of the financial sector because I’ve got an account there. How is this going to benefit me? How is it going to benefit the listener if Pandora pays fewer royalties? It’s not like my computer is gonna turn into an ATM and spit out cash.

Greed. That’s what our country runs on. Everybody’s willing to step on another to get even more. It’s not only Westergren and bankers, it’s artists, it’s everybody. Class warfare? It’s what we’ve got all day long. Teachers are chumps who should be pushed down the food chain. Military men and women are lauded, just don’t make me join their ranks and while we’re at it, let’s lower their benefits.

It is not my obligation to improve Pandora’s business model. It’s not my obligation to make the stock go up and line Pandora’s pocket.

I’m stunned that Tim Westergren is too blind to see this.

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Category: Music, Technology, Think Tank, Venture Capital

What The F**k Is Lean Startup And Why Should I Care?

Category: Think Tank, Venture Capital

No Alpha: Bain Capital’s Investment Results

The political season is in full throat. While everyone is focusing on Mitt Romney’s VEEP selection of Paul Ryan, perhaps it is time to refocus our views elsewhere. During the primaries, there were all manner of attacks on Bain Capital as a proxy for Mitt Romney. The criticism for outsourcing and layoffs, for the fortune he earned…Read More

Category: Investing, Politics, Venture Capital

Design for Startups

Hieu Nguyen: “I prepared this slide to teach at START CENTER (an incubator funded by World Bank)” Design for Startups from Hieu Nguyen

Category: Think Tank, Venture Capital, Web/Tech

Crowdsource THIS

    via XKCD

Category: Digital Media, Humor, Venture Capital

Is Private Equity Bad for Economy?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Category: Venture Capital, Video

Where the StartUp Jobs Are

StartUpHire, with support from the National Venture Capital Association, is releasing a new infographic today depicting 2011 hiring data for startups. What’s the biggest take away? While most of the country is still sluggish on job creation, startups face the opposite problem- a glut of open technical jobs

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Category: Technology, Venture Capital

Step aside, old man. Let imagination lead the way.


My Sunday Washington Post Business Section column is (belatedly) up online. This afternoon, we look at the next generation of tech entrepreneurs Step aside, old man. Let moxie and imagination lead the way.

The online version was the conservative On Investing: The future isn’t grim, and it belongs to young entrepreneurs; the print print version had the more interesting Step aside, old man. Let moxie and imagination lead the way.

Here’s an excerpt from the column:

“On these pages, I have cast a rather skeptical eye on all matters financial. I have mocked the housing recovery calls, critiqued the valuation of Facebook, despised the robo-signing settlement, urged caution on the Black Friday retail hype. The silliness coming out of Wall Street is much like a carnival barker urging us to play one more of “games of skill.” All of which goes to say I am not your run-of-the-mill perma-bull or economic cheerleader. Readers, in fact, have called me a curmudgeon.

And yet, as I look to the long term, I’m optimistic.”


I really like what the Post did in the dead tree version of the paper — the art work is really interesting:
click for ginormous version of print edition


On Investing: The future isn’t grim, and it belongs to young entrepreneurs
Barry Ritholtz
Washington Post, April 22 2012

Washington Post April 22, 2012 Gx6(PDF)

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Category: Apprenticed Investor, Venture Capital

The Future of America

One of the things I have taught myself to do over the years was to think in different time frames. This includes very long geological epochs and astronomical eons. Maybe it was an interest in dinosaurs and astronomy as a kid, but historical time frames was a concept I was familiar with. Perhaps that was the…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Cycles, Psychology, Science, Venture Capital

Webstock ’12: Start Up Lessons for a 40 year old

Matt will cover a bunch of lessons he’s learned in the past decade of life as he embarks on turning 40. They eschew much of the Techcrunch/ReadWriteWeb/Mashable world by focusing on taking a longer term view of your work and focusing on life/work balance and having a happy life as well as a fulfilling career. (He is the creator of Metafilter and was an early employee of Blogger)

Webstock ’12: Matt Haughey – Lessons for a 40 year old from Webstock on Vimeo.

Category: Venture Capital, Video, Web/Tech