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Sep 20

latimespast:

On the last weekend of summer, we hope you can appreciate this California-shaped pool. It belonged to architectural historian Charles Jencks, whose home The Times wrote about in 1986. 
"When you design a building, you’re designing it to live a good life–to personify and symbolize the good life," Jencks said. Read more. 
Photo: Ken Lubas / Los Angeles Times archive / UCLA Library


Oh my god. Beautiful.

latimespast:

On the last weekend of summer, we hope you can appreciate this California-shaped pool. It belonged to architectural historian Charles Jencks, whose home The Times wrote about in 1986. 

"When you design a building, you’re designing it to live a good life–to personify and symbolize the good life," Jencks said. Read more

Photo: Ken Lubas / Los Angeles Times archive / UCLA Library

Oh my god. Beautiful.

(via latimes)

Sep 19

“When SAP, and, specifically Hasso Plattner, said they’re going to build this in-memory database and compete with Oracle, I said. God, get me the name of that pharmacist, they must be on drugs.” —

The Most Controversial And Entertaining Things Larry Ellison Has Ever Said

Peter Thiel was not the only one inferring that certain tech company executives were taking illicit substances…

(via marksbirch)

Larry is one of a kind. No Silicon Valley executives are like him these days.

(Source: Business Insider, via marksbirch)

The Man Who Keeps Bill Gates Rich -

parislemon:

Fascinating profile of Michael Larson, the head of Cascade Investment LLC — aka, the secretive fund that invests most of Bill Gates’ wealth. A couple fun tidbits from Anupreeta Das & Craig Karmin’s reporting:

The firm owns at least 100,000 acres of farmland in California, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana and other states—or an area seven times bigger than Manhattan.

And:

Cascade employees are expected to be frugal. Even though Mr. Gates owns nearly half of the Four Seasons Holding Inc. luxury-hotel chain through Cascade, the investment firm’s executives stay at less-expensive hotels, even when traveling on Four Seasons business.

They also own the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, and a 490-acre ranch in Wyoming once owned by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

Amazing.

Sep 10

A classic by Paul Graham: How to Raise Money -

I often get asked about fund raising strategies, here is all you need to know especially if you are in the US or any other developed market. If you are in a crazy market such as Latin America, there are a few tweaks here and there :)

Why Hollywood People Never Say 'No' - Hollywood Reporter -

Great article about the different types of NO’s :)

So in Hollywood, where, as the late comedy legend Larry Gelbart pointed out, the truth is as stretchable as a limo, and one’s business persona and personal life are co­dependent, an overabundance of caution inevitably filters down to the most mundane transactions. This makes turning down a date, a dinner or a charity as fraught as greenlighting the next installment of a fading action franchise.

Don Draper's Four Rules of Selling -

Great post all around, especially the four rules:

Go get the details :)

Advisors and Startups

Over the last few years I have came accross different situations that involved start-ups and advisors. Some excellent, some average and some pretty bad so I will summarize what I learned so far:

Only equity, not cash. Give advisors only equity (common stock preferably). If an advisor comes to you to give and asks for money, run away. It is not an advisor, is an employee.

Give small amounts. There is not golden rule here, but the idea is to give something small to each advisor, unless it is a super hotshot and will take you to the moon non-stop. Anywhere between 0.10% to 2% is what I am currently seeing, although there are outliers and just be well justified.

Vest, vest, vest. The advisors will provide value to the company in the long run. So make sure you are vesting their shares, so if the advisor rans away, he is just plain lazy or starts something that conflicts with your business you can terminate the agreement.

Separate roles of advisor and investor. It is somewhat common that an early-stage investor can also have an advisory role to the company. And that is just fine. Just make sure to separate these two roles (preferred shares usually for investors, common stock for advisors) because if things go bad you can terminate the advisory agreement and recover the unvested shares without touching the real money investment.

Change over time. It is not the same advisory board you need on a super early-stage project with a lot of focus on product development and technology than a later stage company with focus on expansion or growth. You get the idea, pick advisors that are stage-appropriate for your project.

Focus on value, not just names. Everyone wants big names on the advisory board, but it is often the case that they bring very little value on real life and day to day operations. Focus on what each advisor will bring to the table. Are your areas of pain related to B2B sales, a specific niche or vertical or mobile development? Then make sure you have core advisors there. And as I said in the previous point, areas of pain should change if you are doing the right stuff, so you will probably need new advisors as new challenges arise.

PS: Here is a good article that talks about the typical equity stakes for advisor and a good template for an advisory agreement document.

Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) lessons for Entrepreneurs and Startups

Once upon a time there was this hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management, or LTCM. It was a fund that focused or arbitrage opportunities, meaning they expected for a certain amount of assets to converge on their prices and make a profit. And they used a humongous amount of leverage. Problem is that those prices took more time than they expected to converge, and their strategy collapsed. Big, big failure. Eventually they converged.

When looking at many startups and entrepreneurs I see more or less the same story. Projects that are focusing on solving a specific problem or pain point, but the customers is not there yet. Startups run out of money trying to do this all the time. Or they pivot just months before starting because they need to monetize as soon as possible so not to fail. Key lesson here is that you need to fully understand what your end game is, and fully fund for that end game so you don’t run out of gas.

LTCM could not find more leverage to keep on financing their strategy (economy did not help either), startups cannot raise money and convince investors if traction has not happened. 

If you want to research more about LTCM, there are three great HBS cases you can download here.

Sep 09

Hollywood's Big-Money YouTube Hit Factory -

Great report on MCN’s and their rapid evolution.

This is a great picture showing the deal making happening right now in the MCN scene. It is from a great article that ran a few weeks ago at Businessweek, you can grab it here.

This is a great picture showing the deal making happening right now in the MCN scene. It is from a great article that ran a few weeks ago at Businessweek, you can grab it here.