My new gig

As most of you know, I’ve been working with several companies over the past few years helping them with their marketing, communications, business development, and so on. I enjoyed the freedom that came with freelancing – but over the past year was becoming increasingly itchy for a change. I had debated starting another venture, but it felt terribly daunting and I had nothing I was sufficiently excited about to spend the 80 hours a week building it and trying to raise money.

Something I have long been very excited about was one of my clients – EdgeCast. The company is a content delivery network (CDN) competing with Akamai and Limelight (to name a couple.) In a nutshell, EdgeCast does for bits what FedEx does for packages – delivers them quickly, accurately, and intact. [OK, it’s a little bit more complicated, but that’s for another conversation.] The incredible explosion of demand for digital content – and the equally huge explosion in the supply of it – is combining to create a staggering market opportunity in the shuttling and stewardship of those bits. The public internet just wasn’t built for this.

Anyway, the company was founded in 2006 by friends – some very smart guys I admire a lot – and so I have been lucky enough to be involved since the idea stage and to see it mature into a serious contender.

Long story short – I’m really excited to announce that I joined the EdgeCast management team as their VP of Communications and Marketing. It’s actually been a couple of months now, but I haven’t had the chance to formally let the world know.

Everything was right about this opportunity – the timing, the team, the work I’m getting to do, the incredible market potential. I love that I’m applying my creative and technical mind in equal doses – and the company is at a very exciting stage. Perhaps best of all, I’m having a lot of fun.

So there you have it.

The Blackberry Killer?

Most of you have already heard about this so-called “Craigslist Killer.”  This labeling is the worst type of media laziness and it perpetuates the fear of information technology that our society still can’t seem to shake.  Fear of new things is, itself, nothing new.  But our ability to rapidly disseminate and amplify that fear certainly is.  A couple of years ago – when this same kind of panic had reached new heights with Chris Hansen’s MySpace hysteria – I told Tom Zeller at the New York Times basically the same thing I’m going to say now.  At around the same time, Andrew Kantor at USA Today smartly called out our fear of everything tech – cameras, Lite-Brites, and things with “batteries and wires.”

So, I find myself (not) wondering:

If he drove a Toyota, would we be calling him “The Toyota Killer”?
If he wore Nike sneakers, would we be calling him “The Nike Killer?”

The shooting incident happened at the Marriott – why isn’t he “The Marriott Killer?”

And I’m sorry to belabor this, but I noticed the suspect appears to use a Blackberry cell phone – so why aren’t we calling him “The Blackberry Killer?”

Because we’re much more comfortable with cars, sneakers, hotels, and even cell phones (however fancy they may be.)

But online communities still scare us; we don’t get them.  They’re still weird, new, foreign, or somehow sinister to most people.  So we draw an association that does not exist.  And in doing so, we irresponsibly do damage to a brand.

A Moment of Truth With The National Association of Realtors

Kevin Is Back, by Anthony Citrano
Kevin Is Back, by me.

For the are-you-fucking-kidding-me files, we have an article from this month’s issue of Realtor – the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors. In the article “Overcoming Buyer Reluctance“, various ways to trick people into trying to catch a falling knife are discussed.  While the piece is primarily excerpted from Gary Keller’s new book, “Shift”, it’s presented as a how-to for realtors who are struggling to find buyers in this market.  (They find it odd that people finally seemed to have smartened up, I guess.)

Here is the first tip they offer:

“A simple technique to prove to potential buyers, or even sellers, that they can’t perfectly time the market is to do this easy demonstration: Take out a blank sheet of paper and pen. Now, starting at the top of the paper, draw a line going down and at the same time ask the buyers to stop you when the market has bottomed out.  As long as your line keeps going straight down they won’t be able to. The moment you start back up, they’ll say ‘there!’ but of course they missed the bottom. Now, keep drawing your line up while asking them to tell you when the market has peaked. Again, they won’t be able to tell you until you’ve rounded the top and started back down. Then they’ll say ‘there!’ and once again they’ll be behind the peak.  This should be a moment of truth for them.”

Yeah, it should.

Etymotic hf2 Review, or: Can A Headset Change Your Life?

First, this article requires some personal background: I had meningitis as a kid; as a teen I went to a lot of rock concerts with zero hearing protection; then, a few years ago, had a vestibular infection and/or Meniere’s Disease (even the experts at Harvard’s Mass Eye and Ear couldn’t decide) on my right side.

The net:net, without all the personal whining, is that I’ve ended up with some fairly significant nerve deafness, much worse on the right side. While it doesn’t much affect my day-to-day life, over the past several years I’ve found that I just don’t use the phone like I used to.  Don’t like it much at all.  No fidelity to the voices, they sound extremely flat, have to ask people to repeat, etc. etc. …… so I generally avoid the phone if I can.  I know, I know, I should probably go get a hearing aid or something but I hate the idea – and besides (and more important) – why? I can carry on conversations just fine (unless there’s a ton of background noise), can still enjoy music, and honestly, most of the sound out there in the world I’d just as soon not hear.

Continue reading Etymotic hf2 Review, or: Can A Headset Change Your Life?

Systemic Shock Is Here

Currier & Ives print on economic bubbles, 1875.

Tonight’s reading:

Princeton Economist Krugman: Bailout 2.0 by this weekend or else:

“… it will be very alarming if this weekend rolls by without a credible announcement of a new financial rescue plan, involving not just the United States but all the major players.…the only things anyone wants to buy right now are Treasury bills and bottled water…  You may think that things can’t get any worse — but they can, and if nothing is done in the next few days, they will.

NYU Economics Prof Nouriel Roubini presents a grim assessment on his blog tonight:

“The US and advanced economies’ financial system is now headed towards a near-term systemic financial meltdown .. [this] crisis was caused by the largest leveraged asset bubble and credit bubble in the history of humanity..”

Even with aggressive coordination we could see near-term bank or market closures and otherwise fitful times.  I reiterate my advice that you each seriously consider a personal or family contingency plan for a potential four-alarm banking emergency.  This may seem unlikely – but it’s no longer out of bounds in pleasant conversation.  We discussed this very delicate issue in a bit more length here, and I’m hoping to write a little more about it in the next couple of days.

Sorry it’s been a little bleak around here lately.

Fixed Income Panic

Cozy weekend reading.

Seeking Alpha: Corporate Bond Market Grinding to a Halt

“The market in my opinion is on the verge of ceasing to function… it is nearing the time when my next post will be an obituary for the fixed income market.”

Don’t miss this trader’s comment: Continue reading Fixed Income Panic

Breadlines and Battlecries

Scoble Blames You

Valleywag picked up a FriendFeed discussion between a few of us yesterday regarding the bailout bill within which Scoble blames “people like [me]” for the coming “breadlines”.  It rings a little hollow considering where I’ve been on all this and where he’s been (i.e. nowhere), but it brings a much more important issue to the fore.

To the thread in particular, I realize how acerbic my tone can be when discussing such things and try to be cognizant of that every time I write.  Sometimes my frustration – the result of a bit too much anguish about our national slumber – gets the best of me.  But Americans sat mostly silent as international and domestic crimes were perpetrated in their names and their economy was wrecked – choosing to glide along as if they had far more important things to think about.

Robert is right to describe the financial mess as the result of our collective idiocy.  The bill for one or two generations of stupidity has now come due and our remaining credit cards have been declined.  And for the moment, the social media characters participating in the specific tendril of web masturbation that is Robert’s “what to do” post have come up substantially empty.  So, I’ll see what I can come up with.

Continue reading Breadlines and Battlecries

Bailout Boondoggle

The bailout will be yet another crime foisted on the American taxpayer.  All the reward from the “up” has been consumed – burned away like the vapor it was – and now the risk, the cost of the “down” will be borne by us.  Privatized reward; socialized risk.  Tonight, House minority leader John Boehner called it a “crap sandwich”  — that he plans to vote for anyway.   It’s a really bad idea for many reasons – not the least of which is: it’s not going to work.

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How Big Is This Problem, Anyway?

Warren Buffett called them “financial weapons of mass destruction” six years ago.  But how big is the problem?  Surely if the all-powerful government steps in, all is well, right? Not so fast.  This ought to give you a pretty good idea of the magnitude [Yes, that little speck on the left is the entire US money supply]:

[Source: US Global Investors]

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