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rickwebb's tumblrmajig

Hi. I'm Rick. I write, advise, and invest.

Venture Partner, Quotidian Ventures / CEO, Secret Clubhouse.

Formerly Co-Founder Barbarian Group & Consultant Tumblr

rickwebb.net / On Medium / Music From My Past / Maps Without Alaska

Archenemy Record Co. / The Longbox Society / Rock Tourist

My Music Making / about my investments

Posts tagged tech:

At Quotidian Ventures, we are making a bet on entrepreneurs who know their industry, but don’t necessarily know the rules of the startup game or how to code. If you have a great business idea, but don’t know jack about the startup world and want to hear from some of the people who have made the transition, you should seriously consider attending this one day conference. It will be a good time. 

At Quotidian Ventures, we are making a bet on entrepreneurs who know their industry, but don’t necessarily know the rules of the startup game or how to code. If you have a great business idea, but don’t know jack about the startup world and want to hear from some of the people who have made the transition, you should seriously consider attending this one day conference. It will be a good time. 

One of the things I have the hardest time with in my angel investing is stealth mode. I recognize, academically, it’s a necessity sometimes. But i like to talk about things. A lot. It’s in my nature, and my profession. Whenever a company I work with is in stealth mode, I feel like a kid on christmas morning, trying to not ruin his sister’s present by blurting out what it is. I manage, but, boy, is it hard.

It’s been doubly hard with Nestio these past nine months. It was my third investment ever, and I was the only investor prior to their entering TechStars. I was intimately involved with the formation of the company, helping Caren whenever I could, introducing her to her cofounders, and seeing them literally every week for the past few years. Caren’s co-founders were old employees of mine. It’s been hellaciously hard not to talk about all the awesome stuff they are doing.

So the fun part, then, of course, is when a company comes out of stealth mode. Boy, so I love that. And here we are! Today, after, god, I don’t know, nine months? A year? Nestio’s coming out of stealth mode.

Now, of course people know Nestio. It’s a TechStars graduate, and one who was featured on the Bloomberg TV show, no less. They have a great consumer product that people use to help them find apartments. It’s got amazing tools to help renters sort through listings from Craigslist and other places. It is an incredibly useful service enjoyed by thousands.

But for the last nine months or so they have been also secretly working to radically improve not just their product, but the very way in which we rent apartments in New York. Let me explain.

The fact of the matter is that the way in which we find an apartment in New York is archaic. And everyone that’s tried to fix this has run into the same problem: that the listings on the web, at the core, are out of date and inaccurate. This is because of the way in which landlords and brokers interact with each other. It’s actually got nothing to do with the consumer, with the internet. The information the consumer needs isn’t even ON the internet. It never has been. Rather, it’s transmitted by email, by fax, and even by hand. The means in which landlords and brokers update each other every day is insanely old school. Until this is fixed, Nestio, or any other apartment hunting site, will never be able to compete with a broker, because the listings don’t make it to the internet at all.

I should also mention at this point that New York is 10% of the US real estate market.

As the Nestio product grew, they heard a common refrain from their users: the product was great, but the listings weren’t up to date. This wasn’t a refrain limited to Nestio. it was, in fact, the case with every single rental product out there.

The solution, obviously, was to get accurate listings. This is what Nestio has been working on. Now, others have made attempts here, but the key is to building something of value and of use by the landlords and the brokers themselves. To build something that fits into the way they work, and easily replaces their current work flow. Others have tried to “build a product” for landlords or brokers, but no one’s ever taken the time to immerse themselves in the lives and businesses of both landlords and brokers. To build a product they want to use. To make something that actually incentivizes them to move to a networked solution. To speak their language. To build the product they need.

This is what Nestio has been doing for the last nine months. And more than that, they haven’t just been building it, they’ve been implementing it. They haven’t just been signing landlords and brokers to biz dev deals or taking their investment money, they’ve been signing on landlord and brokers to actually use the product. And many of them have.

They have literally spent thousands of hours talking with the industry. They have hired people who worked within the industry. They built a product that the industry needs, and loves. They’ve iterated on the product for months, side by side with the owners and brokers. This is a product that owners are committed to, and love. They leave it open on their desktops all day.

And now? The product is built, and landlords are using it, and loving it. They’re are adding listings to Nestio every day. By my rough calculation, we now have something liks 15% of the major players in the New York housing market adding listings to Nestio. That is insane. That is amazing.

There’s more to go, more to do, but it’s so awesome to finally be able to talk about how someone is finally fixing the problem at the core of the New York rental market. And that someone is Nestio. Woo!

Well this will be exciting! Congrats, Anthony and Matt!

A Long Poem of Magic

The first time I used a remote control

The first time I put on a walkman on and walked down the street

The first time I recorded a sound on my mac and played it back

The first time I played a synthesizer

The first time I used a cordless phone

The first time I tapped a BASIC program out of A+ magazine into my Apple II

The first time I dialed into a BBS

The first time I saw an Osborne 1 suitcase computer

The first time I flew a remote controlled plane, or sailed an RC ship

The first time I programmed a VCR

The first time I played an NES

The first time I used a sequencer

The first time I bought a CD

The first time I saw the Apple //’s amazing full color HGR2 graphics. 

The first time I programmed turtle graphics to make something beautiful

The first time I wrote a PASCAL program

The first time I saw a font on a Mac

The first time I saw a camcorder

The first time I saw Sim City

The first time I used Photoshop

The first time I chatted with a stranger on the internet, a man in Finland 

The first time I saw a piece of film come out of an imagesetter, from a Mac

The first time I used Quark

The first time I saw a Powerbook

The first time I saw the actual faders move on a mixing board

The first time I saw the cover of Wired magazine

The first time I used a color laser printer

The first time I saw a Heidelberg digital press print something without film

The first time I bought a cell phone

The first time I saw Steve Jobs walk on stage and show the world the iMac

The first time I saw my computer play four simultaneous tracks of audio

The first time I saw a digital camera

The first time I saw an autotune filter

The first time I saw the world wide web

The first time I paid for something with my ATM card

The first time I saw a video on the internet

The first time I saw Napster

The first time I used a computer on a porch with Wi-Fi

The first time I wrote a song on a computer

The first time I got something delivered to my house from Kozmo.com

The first time I used a remote car starter

The first time I bought something on eBay I had been looking for for ten years

The first time I used GPS

The first time I ripped a CD

The first time I saw a TiVo

The first time I travelled with an MP3 player and rocked out in the Sahara

The first time I IM’d someone from my phone, a T-Mobile Sidekick

The first time I saw the amazing AJAX that was Google Maps

The first time I played music on my phone

The first time I IM’d someone a file

The first time I saw Livejournal

The first time I saw an iPod

The first time I used Zipcar

The first time I met someone in real life that I only knew on the internet

The first time I blogged asking a favor and a kind stranger came to deliver

The first time I watched a Roomba clean a floor

The first time I saw Minority Report

The first time I used Dodgeball

The first time I saw Flickr

The first time I logged into Facebook

The first time I learned about Ruby on Rails

The first time I played an Xbox game with some kids across the planet. I lost.

The first time I downloaded a movie

The first time I checked in on Foursquare and people magically show up

The first time I connected my computer to the 3G network

The first time I saw Daft Punk

The first time I logged onto the internet on an airplane

The first time I bought a book on the Kindle

The first time I videochatted with my girlfriend

The first time I blogged something that a “real news publication” picked up

The first time I heard about AWS

The first time I saw a Tesla roadster

The first time I saw an iPad mini

The first time I took a picture of a check to deposit it in my account

Magic. 

RIP, Photoshop Pirating

I have a confession: when I was a child, I pirated software. I began pirating Photoshop from version 2.0, 1991 or so, on. I would use those bit-by-bit binary disk duplicating apps, with two 3.5” floppy drives attached to a Mac. I never read a manual. I taught myself Photoshop by patiently going through every single menu item and palette option and figuring out what it does. I did this for many apps. They were all pretty easy to copy, except one QuarkXPress. That one took some real technical know-how to copy. 

In 1993, after graduating from college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I went back to Alaska for a while, worked at the airport, thus fulfilling my childhood dreams of getting to play around on baggage carousels and doing that flag wavy thing with airplanes. I worked at the radio station. In 1994, when my sister was going to Boston to attend Northeastern university I went back with her. 

By then, I was a full blown software pirate. To be clear, I’d copy, and trade, and give away, but I never sold it. I never profited by it. We copied it, passed it around, and learned the software. I learned Photoshop, Quark, Premiere, Bryce KPT, Newtek Lightwave, and many other software apps. Music apps - Opcode Vision and StudioVisio (another notoriously tricky app to copy), Protools, Cakewalk, etc. Oh and fonts. I was obsessed with fonts. I had a collection of some 10,000+ fonts. If a font existed, I had it. 

In the eyes of the software industry, I was a thief. In their eyes, I probably “stole” tens of thousands of dollars of software from them. 

But, then, in 1994, a funny thing happened. I went to a little company in Harvard Square called MacTemps. I took two tests, one in Photoshop, one in Quark. I passed them both, only missing a single question across the 50 or so tasks in each app (the question I missed involved the conversion between picas to points, something I’ve never forgotten since). They instantly placed me into a page layout job, at Bank of Boston, and from there I began an illustrious career with MacTemps, which grew into the massive staffing company Aquent Partners (who later became a client of mine). They placed me in a series of increasingly rewarding jobs, first at banks, then in audit, then in creative studios. Eventually I left them for a while, took a full time job at Ernst & Young, learned the web (mostly on pirated software), and then went back and started a prepress company with some friends inside a larger media company. Then I went back to Aquent, and graduated to ad agencies. From there, I started freelancing at Ad agencies, eventually taking a full time job at the prestigious agency Arnold, during its Volkswagen “Drivers Wanted” heyday. 

From there, with some friends, I started my own agency. And at that agency, the first thing I did was - get this - I TOOK OUT A LOAN to lease $2,500 of Adobe software - Photoshop and Flash (which I had also learned through piracy). Our $2,500 purchase grew through the years, and my last negotiation for a company-wide site license for Adobe amounted to somewhere around $50,000 per version. 

So, by my calculation, I have now personally overseen the procurement of well over $250,000 of Adobe software through the years. Software I learned through piracy. Piracy that gave me a career. 

As Emma and I were sitting here catching up on the day’s events, we discussed today’s new announcements from Adobe about Adobe Photoshop CC. The upgrade looks pretty good, and Emma enjoys downloading Photoshop on a subscription plan, which works with her full time job as a designer. It’s easy - money comes in, she spends a small amount to stay up to date, and it works for her. 

For me, however, it doesn’t work. I still love Photoshop, and like to use it all the time, but I don’t want to pay a monthly fee for it. I am a casual user now.  I’m a well off-casual user. and I’m sure I’d go impulse buy Photoshop through the app store or something, but i can’t countenance a monthly fee for something I use once a month. 

But more than that, the new cloud-only, subscription only Photoshop will, of course, be incredibly hard to pirate. I’ve read the forums, there’s a chance they can pull it all off with a virtual server blah blah blah, and maybe that’s just as complex as bit-by-bit hacker-made copy apps were in 1989, but it seems to me that the era of pirated Photoshop may well be coming to an end. 

Both of us learned Photoshop on pirated software, yet in the end, we both became wildly profitable customers for Adobe. Ironically, Photoshop itself also eventually became a client of mine, as I lead my old firm’s work with Adobe on Photoshop Express. 

But I wonder how the next suburban 15 year old nerd will learn Photoshop. I guess they’ll become GIMP Jockeys. Sad. 

While Apple’s shareholders and analysts welcome the company’s financial tactics, they say that the maker of iPhones, iPads and iMacs must continue to innovate and fend off increasing competition.

“This is a substantial return of cash, and it’s the right thing to do on many levels,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research. “But, ultimately, the company has to execute. This is no substitute for that.”

Apple Raises $17 Billion in Record Debt Sale - NYTimes.com

This is like your spouse telling you over and over that you need to spend more time at home, and the minute you do, instantly berating you for not focusing on your career enough. Apple FINALLY succumbs to the completely-fabricated distraction of shareholder return, a fake issue trumped up by the financial industry for their own self-benefit, who then immediately turns around and berates Apple for not “focusing on product.”

Hell is the public markets. 

The perfect scapegoat is someone at both extremes. He must be both an extreme outsider and an extreme insider. It can’t be a completely random person drawn from a homogeneous lot. It must be some sort of outsider, lest the people in the crowd get introspective and realize that the sacrificed was essentially just like them (and, next time, may well be them). But neither can the scapegoat be entirely different from the crowd; he must be an insider, since the pretext behind the ritual is that he is responsible for the internal community strife.

—I’ve been slowly working my way through these Peter Theil class notes from his Stanford class CS 183 for over six months now in my Instapaper queue on my phone in lines, etc. They keep getting better. Part 18 is amazing. 

The ability to approach problems from a variety of angles is the undercurrent running through coworking spaces like Secret Clubhouse. Originally established by Rick Webb (cofounder of The Barbarian Group) in September, the Secret Clubhouse addresses a simple, but critical, need for entrepreneurs in the already crowded coworking scene in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn: it gives them a place to sit every day and take advantage of being elbow-to-elbow with other startup impresarios.

In the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, those seats were filled with staff from Gawker, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Vimeo, whose offices didn’t have power. Now that things have settled down, manager Alison Vingiano says Secret Clubhouse isn’t quite filled to capacity of 35 desks, but those who are working from there can work alone or plug into the local tech community through hosted events or just from hanging out in the basement lounge, which is appointed with a pool table, musical instruments for impromptu jam sessions, as well as food, drinks, and cushy seating.

Vingiano says that while collaboration is now a main focus of Secret Clubhouse, “a lot of it happens naturally.” Between hosted meetups and skill-sharing events, Vingiano says Secret Clubhouse members are encouraged to announce positions for hire or talk about what they are working on. Contrary to popular opinion that an open environment like the Secret Clubhouse is just as distracting as a coffee shop, 68 percent of those polled by Deskmag said they were able to focus better, and almost as many (64 percent) reported they were better able to complete tasks on time.

The Future Of Coworking And Why It Will Give Your Business A Huge Edge | Fast Company

(via secret-clubhouse)

jayparkinsonmd:

I’m presenting Sherpaa’s platform tonight at the NY Tech Meetup for the first time publicly. About 700 people are in the audience and it sells out in minutes. For those who can’t make it, you can watch the livestream. I’m very excited. Mostly because I’m just so proud of what we’re building— a platform that lets you very easily reach out to your Sherpaa doctors and lets our doctors power a new kind of virtual practice. And it’s also stunningly beautiful. We’ve got such a talented team. See you tonight!

This is so exciting!

jayparkinsonmd:

I’m presenting Sherpaa’s platform tonight at the NY Tech Meetup for the first time publicly. About 700 people are in the audience and it sells out in minutes. For those who can’t make it, you can watch the livestream. I’m very excited. Mostly because I’m just so proud of what we’re building— a platform that lets you very easily reach out to your Sherpaa doctors and lets our doctors power a new kind of virtual practice. And it’s also stunningly beautiful. We’ve got such a talented team. See you tonight!

This is so exciting!

Apple’s stuck in a rut. Here’s 10 things I’d love to see them do

Was talking about this with Emma and Doug last night, and Apple is a bit in a rut, isn’t it? Sure, product improvements, etc., but after reading more about Google Fiber, and Google’s total relentlessness on innovating total new product areas (Cars, glasses), I’m getting a bit fed up with my hero company. A hundred billion in cash basically sitting under the mattress (okay, being managed out of an obscure office in Nevada). And some basic product things just aren’t getting done. Here’s 10 things they could do to shake it up. 

1) Displays. The whole situation is a mess.  First off, their monitor situation is a joke. 27”?? What is this? 2002? If anything the dire situation only makes me assume that the TV is on the way. An Apple Television is a must at this point. It’s taken so long I’m not sure I’ll even have my usual apopleptic fit upon first touching one. And you know what? You should just trojan horse the Apple television with a fuckin 60” iMac. Do it. The world needs a 60” iMac.

2)  iTunes match limit lifted or raised to 250,000 like Amazon, please. I mean, seriously. 

3) Just close the other studios for iTunes movies & TV. It’s getting embarrassing. You’re Apple, you’re supposed to have this amazing prowess with studio negotiations. The lore used to be it was all Steve, but eventually Eddie Cue was given some due. At the very least, if Google can take on the car industry and the ISP industry, you could, you know, solve America’s HBO problem without breaking a sweat.

4) Would it kill you to make a wireless keyboard with a keypad? 

5) I don’t know this whole Mountain Lion “Save a version”/”Duplicate” nonsense is SUPPOSED to work in the file menu, but it doesn’t. Let it go. Bring back “Save as…” and be done with it. PLEASE. 

6) One more nitpick before I go big: Would it kill you to put your headphone jacks in a place where people can find them on the iMacs? Seriously? And this bottom headphone jack on the iPhone 5 has gotta go. 

7) Okay: $100B. In cash. Sitting around. It’s getting ridiculous. Doug said last night maybe you should buy Honda or something. Why not? It’s market cap is $60B. GO FOR IT. Do something ridiculous. Disrupt a new field. Bring us the future. 

8) Or maybe Facebook? Why not? You suck at the internet (I’m sorry Eddie, you’re making it better, but… ugh). You could pick it up at a 20% premium over its current stock price and still have $30B cash on hand. Buy Spotify, Netflix and Foursquare ON TOP OF IT, and you’d still have more than $20B cash on hand. Seriously, it is getting embarrassing that a company supposedly renowned for changing the world for a better has $100B sitting there NOT working to change the world for the better. 

9) On that note, I think it would be just ducky if you actually told us where that $100b is invested. I love you guys, but god knows what you’re doing with it. You might have a $10B short on Samsung for all we know. Why not at least give us some broad ideas?

10) I’ll leave my last one for my time-honored grumble from my old days as a dude who cared about raw processing power vs. cost. Give us a Mac Pro you can swap the processors and components out in, and sell us upgrade kits. I’m richer now and can afford to buy a new one every time (and yes, I still use Mac Pros, a lot), but the waste side of it is disturbing to me. Mac Pros really are only for Pros now and I think they’d probably buy into a system where you buy a case+components and then can buy component upgrades along the way. Do it for Pixar. 

Oh hey. Branch has groups now. Awesome. 

Oh hey. Branch has groups now. Awesome. 

sprintly:

A little more than a year ago we released Sprint.ly into private beta. In June we removed the invite code. Today we’re removing the beta tag. Over the last year we’ve been actively listening to our current (and former) customers’ major pains.

Those recurring and systemic pains could be summed up…

Don’t Haunt me Bro - find out if your house is haunted, or if you’re close to a haunted house. 
From Nestio.

Don’t Haunt me Bro - find out if your house is haunted, or if you’re close to a haunted house. 

From Nestio.

Circa launched today and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
Psyched to be a part of this. Congrats to Matt and his team.

Circa launched today and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Psyched to be a part of this. Congrats to Matt and his team.

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