Friday, September 30, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
I Lost Five Million Dollars This Morning
- Posted by James Altucher
- on September 24th, 2011
I found an email this morning that cost me about somewhere between two and five million dollars. It was dated April, 2009. I was one of two that were cc-ed on the email.The guys who wrote the email , like most people who need money, were desperate. I’m an email hoarder and like to extricate what I can from the archaeological dig that gmail provides me.
(five million dollars)
There were two emails. Here’s the first:
April 29, 2009:
Dr. Zhivago [name changed to preserve the innocent.]
I’m writing to introduce you to the team at Foursquare, Dennis and Naveen. They’re a really interesting startup based here in NYC. It’s a location-based service for friend finding and venue finding, and is quickly becoming a competitive game amongst tech digerati in major cities around the country. Killer team, incredibly net-native approach, great game dynamics to increase engagement.
We (XYZ Ventures) definitely want to continue to follow their progress, but given their current stage, we’d love to see these guys pick up some angel invesment in the near-term to see how their current success can scale over the next few months. So, we thought of you as a good person for them to talk to. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m sure a conversation with the team will be mutually beneficial.
One person on the cc-list wrote back to Dr. Zhivago and me:
George Washington wrote: [Again, name changed]
I saw them present at ny tech. I thought it was fun but geared mostly towards college kids, but XYZ thought it was a disaster. Pass.
So there you have it: Foursquare. That seed round valued the company at about $5 million. A few months later they turned down an offer from Yahoo to buy them for $100 million in cash. More recently they raised money at about a $300 million valuation. The business is actually doing great. They are making money. Someone will buy them over the next two years for over a billion dollars. Probably Facebook will buy them.
Whatever I would’ve invested at that round would’ve been worth anywhere between one and three million at this point and much more by the time they get bought. So in my mind, I lost three to five million dollars this morning.
This morning I’m a witness to a disaster. I could’ve had that money. I also could’ve been deeply invested in Google pre-IPO. So now this goes on the list of things I regret. Someone might say, “it’s only money”. But money is a good thing. It’s a great thing even. Every day I find new ways where I potentially sacrificed my future.
And I wrote THE seminal post on how to deal with regrets. It’s easy to give advice. Does Eckhart Tolle take his own advice. It’s easy to speak about regrets, but with one sitting here right in my hand, like a baby bird, will I let it go and let it fly? It’s like opening a window in a jail. It’s easy to climb through it. But will I?
But I will follow my advice:
- - First off, I’ll ask, “What am I doing Today?” Since this regret involves money, when I do the Daily Practice below and exercise the Idea Muscle I’ll focus on things that can make me money. I’ll also keep bringing myself back to the present, the only reality that exists for me right now.
- - Today I Will do the Daily Practice I outline. I’ll exercise. Exercise my idea muscle. Meditate. Etc.
- - I’ll laugh. There’s a new episode of The Office out. I’m excited to watch it.
- - Don’t judge people. I won’t judge anyone on this email. Everyone had a rationale for not doing the deal. And I could’ve done it anyway. Nobody was stopping me. In fact, they wanted me. So it’s my fault. I would never judge or blame.
- - Honesty. I’m not going to lie to myself. My life would’ve probably been a lot better if I had made that investment. I make a lot of mistakes. Some of them are life-changing mistakes. This was delivered to me in my hands. When you lie to yourself, you keep the regret bottled in, so it never escapes and it infects your brain. How would you like it if someone sawed your brain in half, severing all your connections into two different realities.
- - List the positives. It so happens the day I got that email was also the day I had my first date with Claudia. If I had to do due diligence on Foursquare maybe I never would’ve gone on that date. That’s a huge positive. Another positive: I’m happy people thought of me for this. I’m potentially in the flow for future deals.
- - Be passionate about your work. I’m about to officially release my latest book: “I Was Blind But Now I See”. I’m passionate about the ideas in this book. Much more passionate than I ever would’ve been about Foursquare. I only have about 40 or 50 years left on this planet. I want those moments to be filled with things I’m passionate about.
- - Good will. Everyone I see today I’m going to wish them well. I’m going to continue to help Claudia deal with her sickness. I’m going to do good today. Having extra possessions will never change me being a good human.
All of this sounds sappy. Like I’m trying to make up for something. I can’t betray myself. I’m never going to be feel GREAT about this email. But so what?
Right behind me I have hanging this picture:
It’s Joe Harris’s initial sketches of “Underdog” before it became a cartoon hit in the 60s. I’m Underdog. And deep down, whether anyone believes it or not, I’m also a superhero.
I love James Altucher's self-deprecating writing style (and his tips on dealing with regret are great, too. I didn't get a chance to angel-invest in Foursquare but I do wish the best to Dennis, Naveen and the team - hopefully they will sell for a thousand million $$$
Friday, September 23, 2011
Wow that was fast. I saw Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch’s posting on Kickstarter yesterday for their Video Game High School project, asking fans to kick it $75,000 to help fund it. In less than 24 hours, the pair blew past their goal and have now raised over $77,000 with 1,736 backers and counting.
At first it seemed a little odd that two of YouTube’s hottest young creator-filmmakers would even need to resort to crowdsourced funding at all. But then I came to realize that they may have just pulled one of the smartest moves ever, getting the fans bought into the project before it even starts shooting. Skin in the game. Word is this is just a piece of the overall budget for the series, but still crucial to the production.
All of us here would like to thank our generous backers, who have raised over $75k for VGHS in a single day!
Every dollar we raise here is going into making this project the biggest and best series it can possibly be. More money means we’ll be able to spend more on VFX shots, production design, hiring cast and crew, etc. – all of which will have a material impact on the quality of the final product.
So know this – your pledges and your support can only improve this project from this point forward. By pre-ordering the DVD now and pledging your support, you’re ensuring that the end product is better than it would have been.
We can’t thank our fans enough – you are redefining how online content is made and funded, so let’s make this one of the biggest Kickstarter projects of all time!
Freddie Wong is one of the top 10 youtube stars and regularly receives several million views for his new videos. Now he's tapped the crowdfunding well and within a day already raised $80k from his fans for a new project. Truly impressive yet not surprising considering his reach equals that of a large cable show in any given week!
Monday, September 19, 2011
Netflix Splits In Two -- The DVD Business Will Be Renamed Qwikster
Netflix is renaming its traditional DVD-by-mail business Qwikster and will run it as a separate business.
Yes, the Qwikster envelopes will still be red.NFLX
161.8 +6.61 (+4.259%)
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced the change on the Netflix blog on Sunday night. Andy Rendich, who has been running the DVD business for the last four years, will become CEO of Qwikster.
Both businesses will still be part of the same company -- this is a branding change, not a full spinoff. Netflix announced plans to make the split in its last earnings call.
But the name change highlights the fact that Netflix sees its future as streaming.
The revision was mainly about the DVD part of the business -- Netflix dropped subscriber expectations from 15 million to 14.2 million for the quarter. It also lowered streaming subscriber expectations slightly, from 22 million to 21.8 million.
Netflix dramatically raised prices for DVD-plus-streaming customers in July, and this has apparently driven some customers away. But a lot of analysts argued the loss of DVD customers isn't that bad -- it actually means that Netflix is taking bold steps to avoid the classic innovator's dilemma, and cannibalizing its current successful business to bet on the future.
In his blog post announcing the change, Hastings apologized for the way Netflix announced the changes: "members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming, and the price changes."
Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.
When Netflix is evolving rapidly, however, I need to be extra-communicative. This is the key thing I got wrong.
By the way, the Qwikster envelopes will still be red. Only the logo will change.
And yes, Qwikster is kind of hard to say out loud.
This is a bold move by a bold company: they're splitting the business into old (let's call this blockbuster) and new (let's call this hulu). It's a great way to try and run the streaming business as aggressively as they have to in order to gain an edge there after recent misses (Starz etc.) and will give the legacy business a chance to be managed for cash-flow. Logical next step? Two separate stock market listings - but i'd be somewhat afraid of that if you consider Hulu is supposedly worth around $2bn and netflix is currently worth almost $9bn; I doubt someone would pay $7bn for the mail-order business.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.
By Christian Busch on Monday, September 12, 2011