Investing in the Debt Crisis

I made a bet back in April that the government was not going to be able to avoid a down grade in the rating of the US debt.  The bet was to move money out of the market onto the sidelines.  I went from 90% of capital in the market to 35% of my money in the stock market.  I left my holdings in Apple and Amazon and few low risk mutual funds.

My bet was slow to start working in my favor, but I just don’t see how the debt crisis gets resolved.  I think the best we do is get temporary relief for a few months before we relive the debate again.  I hate thinking the worst of our politicians but it was obvious early in the spring there was no way we could reach compromise on a grand scale.  Living in Washington my whole life I have never seen the government as divided as it has been over the past 10 years.

Once we get past Tuesday, then it will be time to take stock (pun intended) and decide if and when to get back into the market.  Hopefully our elected leaders sober up and realize what happens when we default.

Ross Tucker Dishes Dirt on the Redskins and Steve Spurrier

Link: Ross Tucker Dishes Dirt on the Redskins and Steve Spurrier

I still get tons of laughs from the last 13 years of Washington Redskin history.  As someone who never missed a home game growing up, I have only been to 2 games at FedEx field.  Of all the hilarious coaching mistakes, many fans overlook the Steve Spurrier era preferring to focus on the Jim Zorn era.  Well Ross Tucker who was an offensive lineman during the Spurrier tenure reminds us on the absurdity of his time as Redskins head coach.

This interview along with the Dan Snyder moments, the Redskins are the laughing stock of the NFL.

No Hard Knocks for 2011…Why HBO?!?!

I am very happy that the NFL is back from its extended lockout, but one of the casualties of the lockout is HBO’s Hard Knocks program according to Sports Illustrated Peter King.

 

No “Hard Knocks” this year. I repeat: No “Hard Knocks.”less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

 

The show gives all fans a behind the scenes looks at the lives of an NFL team during training camp.  The show appealed to hard core fans like myself, but even to casual fans like my wife who tuned in to watch the personalities.

Over the years Hard Knocks gave us Shannon Sharpe, Jerry Jones and most recently Rex Ryan.  I hope the show comes back in 2012.

Atlantic City – Failing to Deliver on a Promise

Like a gambler convinced he has an edge, Atlantic City thought it had an edge in being a gambling destination when New Jersey’s attempt to revitalize the city by legalizing gambling in 1976.  Atlantic City’s heyday was in the 1920s when prohibition was in place, the city served as an escape where visitors could drink and gambled.  HBO’s Boardwalk Empire tells the tale of Atlantic City during this period.

With this in mind, I headed to Atlantic City for one night.  Sadly, Atlantic City’s best days are behind it.  With more states legalizing gambling the excitement of heading to AC as an alternative to Vegas is waning.  Just to get to the main strip with Caesars, Bally’s and Taj Mahal, you have to drive through some of the most depressing neighborhoods.  Its a fond reminder of what happens if you gamble to often.  We went to the Shops at Pier in Caesars which were nice, but no one will confuse it with The Forum Shops in Vegas.

For dinner we went to Borgata, and it was here I felt like we were in a Vegas-style hotel.  But what does it say about Atlantic City if we had to leave the Boardwalk to get a pleasant experience.

For Atlantic City to deliver it needs something to differentiate itself.  How about legalizing sports gambling?  Perhaps they should just concentrate on moving the casinos to closer to the Borgata.  Atlantic City needs to bet big to get me to return.

Google+ Thoughts

Google+ has been out for 3 weeks now, and what has started out as an Emerald Sea has turned into a tidal wave of excitement and opinions.  The first night Google+ opened up invites, I posted to Twitter, Facebook, and to everyone at Clearspring that I had invites, and after 2 hours had handed out over 100 invites.  I had never seen anything like that, including when GMail launched.  The fervor has not died down either, as many of our publishers have asked us what we think about +1 and Google+.  Publishers who were so skeptical of +1 and were taking a wait and see approach are now are clamoring for the button.  As a launch partner for +1, adoption was steady at first but now we see “hockey stick” growth in installs and clicks.

What does this all mean?  

I have been telling publishers that Google+ is off to a promising start.  I think they definitely got their video chat product, “Hangouts” right, and I will cover that in a future blog post.  Circles is great and the overall look and feel is awesome.  Early adopters are loving it because it is a bright shinny object, and because “it is not Facebook.”  However, it is still early and the jury is still out if mainstream users will start using Google+.  Publishers are intrigued because of the influence +1 has on search results, but it is still early here as well to know if the impact will matter.

Will Google+ kill/replace/hurt Facebook?  

Not that I can see in the near or mid term.  Nothing lasts forever in the online world of social, but Facebook is not going anywhere yet.  From what I can see, the online behavior that has changed for me the most is not my engagement with Facebook, but rather my engagement with Twitter.  I have posted less to Twitter and more to Google+, I still consume my Twitter feed via Tweetdeck, but I am more engaged with the people I follow on Google+.  The nice thing about Google+ was that it was like starting anew, where I had a clean slate of people I could choose to follow and friend.

Google+ has been an early success and for early adopters a salve to our Facebook fatigue.  The integration into GMail and other Google services keeps Google+ in the front of your mind.  I think there are many key moments ahead to see if Google can build on the early success.  One of those was the launch of an iPhone app.  The second will be support for Google Apps accounts so companies and colleges can take advantage of circles and hangouts to increase productivity.  The third moment will be when Google releases an API for Google+ and developers start building apps for the service.  It’s off to a good start, but time will tell if Google+ can co-exist in the world of Twitter and Facebook.  

Find me here on Google+:  http://gplus.to/gregcypes

Bike Beats a Plane in Los Angeles

Dating back to the dawn of man we have been obsessed about getting from point A to point B the fastest way possible.  As we developed various modes of transportation the obsession became a debate as to which vehicle could move us faster and which route to take.

From “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne to Top Gear’s 5th episode in the 10th season, we have been racing planes, balloons, boats, and bicycles to see which moves us faster from point A to point B.  With that in mind we now have an answer in the debate of whether a bike can beat an airplane from Burbank to Long Beach in LA.

Thanks to Carmagedon, JetBlue flew a few planes 20 minutes between Burbank and Long Beach to help people avoid the 405 expressway’s 10 mile long closures.  This inspired a bunch of bikers to challenge the airplane to a race.  A passenger on the plane and the bikers left the same location in Burbank at the same time, and the first to get to the Long Beach Aquarium wins.  Because the flyer has to check in, go through security and board, the cyclists made it to Long Beach before the plane even took off.

Welcome to America Spotify

Many US Internet users have never heard of a company called Spotify, but tomorrow morning that is going to change.  Spotify launching in the US is significant as it will trigger a change in the way we consume our music.  Some of us here in the US have had access to Spotify via a variety of tricks and knowing the right people.

I have used Spotify for the last 6 months and the thing I love the most about it is the simple integration of Facebook so I can discover music my friends are listening to.  This is something Apple has never gotten right with iTunes.  In iTunes I get to see what the most popular music is across the US, but I have no idea what my friends are listening to.

Spotify fixes this problem by letting you create playlists that you share with friends, and the entire Spotify network.  Being able to mix your local music with streamed music creates an endless library of tunes.  Rumors of giving Spotify a free 20 hours per month of music is generous despite the ads.  I have paid for my Spotify account from day one so I can get music on my iPhone/iPad too.

Welcome to America Spotify, our ears thank you!

Netflix and the Separation of DVDs and Streaming

When Netflix announced their change in plans tonight it was not greeted warmly by the web.  There have been a lot of speculation about why Netflix did this:

My guess is that Netflix has pressure on multiple fronts.  First, the costs of mailing DVDs has to be increasing.  The USPS has been saying for a while that stopping Saturday is on the table unless they raise rates.  Netflix also has been saying the future is streaming, that DVD shipments may go down this quarter for the first time ever.

My issue with Netflix, and let it be known I have a streaming account, is that the content available on Netflix is weak.  Recently I have thought Amazon has offered better content.

Everyone will be watching subscriber numbers closely I am sure over the next two quarters and the stock will be put under the microscope but for me I will be watching to see if Netflix can offer more content.

Delivering the Goods

In the six months since arriving at Clearspring, I have been very impressed with the team I get to work with every day.  At AOL the team always used to say we had to act like a startup, but I never realized how far from reality that was.  It goes beyond our 2 week release cycle, rather it is the camaraderie of the team working passionately and with a sense of urgency.  We are all in this together, and in the 6 months have cranked out tons of code, worked late nights AND early mornings, and most importantly delivered the goods that our publishers and users are wanting.

Here are a few of my favorite things we have delivered the first half of the year:

- Real-time analytics: For publishers looking to see how their content is resonating across the social web.  Many publishers have our real time dashboard running on screens in their editorial rooms helping them make content decisions.

- Tools and SDKs for Mobile:  We just announced this week our solutions for iOS, Android and mobile web browsers.  We spent a bunch of time testing with partners the SDK and making sure that our mobile browser solutions are friendly to the form factor and touch inputs.  We are currently looking for partners to help test our Android SDK, and you can sign up for access here.

- Measuring All Sharing: Earlier this spring we released a way for publishers to measure sharing that happens from people who click Facebook Like and Twitter Tweet buttons.  We also help publishers measure how many people are copying and pasting the URL of the web page and sending it to their friends in emails, IMs, tweetdeck, etc.  We know that copying/pasting URLs is 10X larger than all other sharing combined.  Publishers now can see how much of their direct/organic traffic was really a result of people sharing their content to their friends and family.

It has been a great 1st half of the year, and I know the 2nd half is going to be even better.  If you are still wondering what AddThis is all about we re-did all our videos in the past month too…check them out:

Summertime in DC, Time to Play the License Plate Game

For those of us who sit in traffic for hours on end in the DC, summertime brings a new rinkel to the mundane commute.  So many cars pass through DC at all times of the day, my nine mile drive to Clearspring each day provides me with ample time to play the license plate game.

For those of you uninitiated in the license plate game it is a game in which you try to identify as many different state’s license plates on the road.  On a good day in DC, in a 9 mile commute I may get up to 12 different states (my personal record is 15), but the average is 8.  Morning is always the best time for seeing different plates, and it tends to keep me engaged on my drive in.

You may be asking who cares, it’s DC no one who actually lives here is from here?  True, but, when sitting in my car listening to the traffic report tell me that another car overturned on the American Legion Bridge, the game is entertaining.  Heck there are even iPhone games for the passengers to play.