Archive for September, 2016

Some find the newsletter a little random. So I’ll do things a bit differently today. Instead of writing opinons about technology or anything of the sort. I will share some links and let you read them in your own time.

This is very Toronto Centric but raises a lot of questions about women in tech:

Some media related news: 

And finally something closer to home:


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Photocredit: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Green-Moth-finally-posed-605964763

The Debates were on. I was not watching them simply because they’re depressing. I did catch some on Twitter via live-stream but promptly shut it down. But anywhere I turn it’s all about the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I am just afraid that Donald Trump will actually be elected.

Who gave all these Silicon Valley dudes the megaphones they have? Palmer Lucky, the founder of Occulus VR has been funding Anti-Hillary Memes. First Theil bankrupting Gawker and supporting Trump, now him and it all goes back to Facebook. I want to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt that they don’t intentionally get fine folks like this in their company. But perhaps it’s because Facebook is so massive, weird things happen. Sure you can argue free-speech but it’s also the right of everyone on the internet to express their opinions and developers withdraw support. I always like to think the founders personalities are reflected in the companies or products they create. So where does this leave Occulus? Some developers will stay and with Facebook’s huge money machine behind it, it will not disappear into technology obscurity. 
Like it or not, and if Facebook will admit to it or not. It is a media company but as a friend said to me recently, the danger is that they don’t act, think or behave like a media company. Another example of Facebooks power, they disabled Palestinian Journalists accounts (and said sorry). What kind of internet are we creating where the power is concentrated within such small circles?

Funny tweet of the day: “Disney owns Star Wars and if they Buy Twitter, they will own my life” — not sure who said it but saw it in passing. Definitely a better match then Salesforce. Salesforce will make Twitter into a sales prospecting tool. This is off the cuff comment so please don’t take it seriously. But as a friend (thanks Maya) mentioned, Disney can really leverage Twitter for entertainment which has always been Twitters strength (not for me personally).

Other opinion drafts:

SnapChat released glasses and changed their name. Why do I think they’re cool and won’t meet the same fate as Glassholes I mean Google Glass? A couple of things in no order:

– They will become teenagers GoPro. All the kids who don’t want to spend $300 on a GoPro or have the need for 1040K Digital HD Video from their skydiving adventures will use Spectacles to record 10 second (or 30 second) videos of whatever they do.
– They are super casual and look fun and laid back. SnapChat is already huge amongst teenagers, the glasses are designed to appeal to them. Ever seen someone wear Google Glasses? They look arrogant and frankly a little prick(ly). Google Glass wanted to slap a computer on your head and era in the future of computing on your face. Snapchat wants you to have fun.

– There’s no invite needed to buy a pair, though they wont be at your local stores anytime soon. Pricing is low enough to make me want to buy a pair just for the hell of it, as opposed to $1500 for Glassholes (I really should stop saying that) which were invite only. Just the fact that it’s invite only, exclusive in the case Google Glass was a barrier to mass adoption.

At the end of day, Google Glass and SnapChat want to appeal to different groups and achieve different goals. Will it be easy? No. Hardware is brutal. Just ask Pebble. But Snapchat can just hire some folks from Amazon and Apple to figure out the manufacturing and distribution.

“That’s my view as a business reporter. As a human being, it’s hard to believe Spiegel has truly thought through the potential ways a frictionless recording device can shatter young girl’s lives. These are the questions the press should be asking in the coming months.” — Sarah Lacy
Note: This is an unlocked link from Pando Daily that expires in 13 hours and some screen captures of Evan (Snapchat CEO) leaked emails are not safe for work or young kids.

Edit: Snapchat is now known as Snap. The omission was intentional.

Thanks for reading,
– Kamil

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I came across Tara Hunt’s new video over on LinkedIn via Amrita. Tara talks about the misconception of marketing as something that follows everything else. It’s a symptom of the ‘engineering’ driven company mindset where it’s overly focused on the technology but not really keeping a line of sight on who the technology is for. For example Uber thinks of itself as an operational/logistics company which uses technology to scale. The same argument can be made for 80% of companies that label themselves as tech.

Marketing is the process of bringing a product to market.

If a company says ‘we achieved 100% YoY growth without a single dollar spent on marketing’ my next question is great — how did people actually hear about you if you didn’t do any marketing? You probably did but you don’t realize it and also don’t confuse advertising on the web with marketing.

Are Casper, Endy and a dozen other mattress companies tech companies or mattress companies? They argue they are tech companies. Maybe because it makes it easy to get funding from venture capitalists, who would want to put money into a mattress company? I’d call them ‘Internet Enabled’ businesses. A mattress is a mattress. The differentiation from where I stand is the branding. That’s why the Canadian company Endy (I first called it Eva that is how saturated and similar the name’s are) has bought entire Toronto Subway ads for itself and Casper has sleep pop up shops around the city.


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Photo-credit: Deviant Art: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Untitled-634298413


Just before I started writing this, I was in a call with Meta Data.They’re a B2B ad/marketing tool with a hybrid agency model. There’s a platform but they also offer creative services to design and manage the ads. It’s an interesting model, that I’ve come across recently. It reminds me of the concierge service that I started for Organimi to build company org charts in Organimi in the 2nd year of the company’s existence. Do more companies adapt it to increase the LTV of their customers or is it because ultimately something can’t be done by machines? In the case of Meta Data, they have a platform fee for accessing the product and additional creative services and management fee (optional from what I can tell).

Closer to Toronto, Betakit ran story on Vantage that pivoted to a similar(?) model with a added a similar component from the sounds of it.

So this is an interesting one. China is the Bitcoin super power. Imagine trekking the mountains of Tibet and thinking your away from civilization and you hear the familiar sound of a electronic hum. The cheap power and relatively cheap labour makes it a mecca for Bitcoin mining. I don’t think Bitcoin itself is going to be a normalized currency for the next 10–20 years atleast, not until everyone agree’s on its value. I can buy coffee with Bitcoin, sure but if I want to pay rent, my landlord will raise an eyebrow and kick me out.
“These are concerns that have parallels with the way China is using its digital market power to reshape the Internet and influence the global debate about censorship and surveillance.”
Why are we so paranoid about China? They already run the half the world if not more. Read the Post essay here.

I am a huge fan of Rand & Sarah (Moz) and in light of the recent layoffs, they’ve faced some serious heat. But Rand in in signature tell all style wrote about the layoffs from his perspective and its a great read on the hard choices you make to run a business. There’s been layoffs in Canadian Tech recently but they’ve been pretty hush hush. Especially recent ones in Toronto. People will find out and its better to get ahead of it and explain. I was tempted to use ‘control the narrative’ here but that sounds like Theranos a little too much. Moz had to make a tough choice but it was the right choice. Ultimately you have to operate a business and if they did not make the layoffs, it would have run the business to the ground. The folks who were let go supported each other and even made a site Hiremoz to make it easy for companies looking for talent to hire them.

For the marketers reading this, here’s Drift putting out all the emails they use. This partially marketing, partially transparency but definitely helpful.

I haven’t been on Quora on a while. I always wonder about where that company is headed. They have a incredible community but sometimes there’s formulaic answers to questions which are optimized for up-votes. Perhaps that’s me being skeptical. At some point they will have to monetize it, will they use ML or some sort of technology to serve ads related to people’s queries? I’ve ‘exploited’ it for traffic and signups in the past and it worked well. We’re all guilty of finding loopholes.

Facebook Video’s are weird. They auto-play so it counts as a view but I rarely watch them. Now Facebook is saying they made mistakes measuring views vs ad spends for brands. Growing pains of video on social and how to get ad dollars from TV on to the internet.

What is this and how is this different from Airbnb? It’s called Sonder and it also works in the same home-sharing model as Airbnb. I poked around the site, which looks alot like Airbnb. But design-wise, it works. So why re-make something that isn’t broke.. I know Flatbook, but from my impressions Flatbook is niche sub-lets market from what I can tell.

Edit — Flatbook re-directs to Sonders so they re-branded and pivoted? Google still indexes them as Flatbook

It’s friday. Have a great weekend!


P.S Excuse any typos. This was written at 5pm on a Friday.

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Cognitive Bias Codex — Buster Benson. Buy it here: https://www.designhacks.co/products/cognitive-bias-codex-poster

Hey/ Salaam there,

9 subscribers, including my wife (hey Soph), dad (hey Dad), Siblings ( Boogie: Gul, Aimal)

Before anything — Trump has been getting more media coverage then he deserves. I wish we’d just ignored him and let him wither in the darkness. But we didn’t. So now Josh Whedon has gotten together a ‘sh&t ton of famous people’ because it’s that important.

I have never been to EW but this video was spectacular and touching. Watch it here.

While we’re on the topic of politics. Respect to Reid Hoffman for launching Trump cards. My eyes went a little wide open when the post mentioned ‘People who work for him personally’. I wonder how much Reid makes to pay his personal staff from his own pocket. ALOT.

Continuing the thread, why don’t more business leaders speak up against Trump? Fear according to NYT & Hoffman.

Found this from a friend who shared it on Twitter (thanks Cori) — Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet. If there’s one thing you click out of this email, this should probably be the one.

Airbnb: I got a call from them yesterday, asking why I am not hosting with them anymore. I explained I was renovating the house so I snoozed it. But I was surprised at the relatively ‘old school’ tactic. This was the first time I got a call from Airbnb but it was an interesting call. Might be signs of something changing. Might not be anything. Speaking of Airbnb, I loved how they tied Superhosting and a ‘Market place’ for hosts to manage other properties. I bet the crop of ‘Airbnb Management’ companies will be given a run for their money. Glad I did not get into the space, even though I played around with the idea and did some research.

Spotify and Tinder are best friends now. It just isn’t about dating, it’s about owning pop culture. Spotify hasn’t been having the best of times, but it’s aggressive partnerships strategy might help it bump its paid subscribers number ahead of an IPO perhaps? I got Spotify premium bundled in with my carrier plan so I didn’t blink an eye. Otherwise I would have questioned splurging $10 a month on it.

If you are in Marketing, you know about Lead Nurturing. Here’s a 36 Minute Read on Lead Nurturing. It’s long but I love the illustrations. I think Intercom and Dropbox & Stratechery made them popular and with the iPad Pro anyone can sketch on a screen. My take away on lead nurturing, don’t over-do or over-complicate it. It reaches a point of diminishing returns pretty quickly. Either someone will buy your product or they wont. Bombarding them with emails; educational or otherwise won’t change their minds or create FOMO or a need out of thin air.

That’s all for today. Back to my day job now.

P.S Trying to figure out the optimal workflow. I am trying a dedicated notebook in Evernote.

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Yesterday I spent an hour with the marketing team in a meeting room, figuring out the SEO for our site. We had done the leg work and audited the site, found on-site issues that we could fix but before everything we needed to agree on the keyword hierarchy. What is the ‘top level’ keyword and how do that or those break down into semantic search queries and support those queries with relevant pages on the site. How do those pages come together in a coherent Web UX?

Most of all though, the question is — what is the strategy? To me, not all SEO strategy should strictly be acquisition. In some models acquisition makes sense. We did SEO for Organimi and 3 years later, its still our biggest acquisition channel. But in the case of Uberflip, the goal is more about education. Education is a cliche’d word to use in marketing context but it’s the best way to put it. Education in the context of giving a visitor enough information about the product, market and general content marketing landscape before the BDR even picks up the phone. Why? Because no one will request a demo right after landing on a page nor is it a tool that you can try and buy scenario.

More on that later. Here’s some interesting read related to SEO that I came across.

First Round Capital Review is an amazing read as always. Here they cover SEO on a tactical and strategic level. It’s a great read on how Yummly a food discovery platform leverage SEO on a massive scale. If you’ve already read the basics on MOZ, this is a good additional resource.Most of all, SEO takes time to build and should be done right. There are tools that’ll push 1,000’s of pages for SEO reasons but they’ll get penalised and it’ll take months if not longer to get back to the good graces of SERP rankings. Key point. SEO is never a 100% but the more you do it, the better you get. Also we all steal other companies ideas. Study those who do SEO well. Think TripAdvisor and Yelp; though they have a ton of user generated content to help with their rankings.

I discovered this through Twitter. Give marketers funnels and they’ll spend hours obsessing over it. Here’s an SEO Funnel from STAT an enterprise SEO Analytics tool.

As an Airbnb host and user, I am always all ears for Airbnb news. They’ve changed the landscape of travel but also raise questions about affordable housing and sketchy landlords kicking out tenants to rent entire units out. Even though France’s tourism has been hit hard because of the bombings, Airbnb is reporting great occupancy while traditional hotels are struggling. Short read from Skift.

Till next time.

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