massive greatness

by MG Siegler

Writer. Investor. Thinker. Drinker.

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When Apps Modify Behavior

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Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed an app blowing up in my social circle. It’s more of a controlled explosion, really — as far as I can tell, the app hasn’t even yet cracked the top 200 in its category in the App Store. But I think it might, because I think it’s tapping into something at the right time.

The app is called Frontback, it’s an offshoot app from another service called CheckThis. (To be clear, I’m not an investor in either of these, but I know a bunch of folks who are.) The idea is almost laughably straightforward: take a picture of what you’re looking at with the back camera of your phone, then take a photo of yourself with the front camera. The app then automatically stitches those two pictures together, one on top of the other.

From a product perspective, the app has three key things I look for: it’s clean, simple, and fast. The UI is clever. You look at it and...

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30 Minutes

I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour.

— Will Freeman, About a Boy

I have very poor time-management skills. It’s not that I sit around and do nothing — quite the opposite: once I commit to doing something, I have a hard time stopping. This often makes me late for basically everything in life. And on the flip side, it makes starting larger activities, like writing, even more daunting. I basically have to block off hours at a time.

When I was a full-time writer, this was less of a problem because I basically had one job: to write. Sure, I had a meeting here or there, but rarely more than one in a day. And often none at all. I was just chained to my desk all day, doing one thing. My calendar was simple.

As an investor, my...

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The Kaepernick Of Startups?

Last year, Alex Smith led the San Francisco 49ers to The NFC Championship Game. They were one (or two) muffed punts from making the Super Bowl. This year, Smith came back and through the first half of the season, he had completed over 70 percent of his passes (which led the league) for over 1,700 yards and had a 104.1 quarterback rating, which was third-best in the NFL. He was on pace to shatter all of his career highs, and at 6-2, the 49ers were well on their way to the playoffs once again and were arguably the best team in football at that point. Smith had just had a game in which he threw three touchdowns and had only one incompletion. One.

The cases were starting to be made for MVP. And then Smith got hurt.

In the 9th game, Smith left the game with a concussion. In stepped backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. With Smith still not cleared to play the next week, Kaepernick got the...

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A Turd By Any Other Name…

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…would smell like shit.

This evening, Brian Alvey, chief scientist and founder of Ceros, wrote a rebuttal to my post from last week about the death of The Daily. While Alvey wrote his post on TechCrunch as well, I figured two back-and-forths was enough of a circle jerk for TC, so I’ll respond here.

Avley seems particularly annoyed with my post because he and his team helped build The Daily.

And it’s great, you see. No, there’s no tangible proof that it is or was ever great. But he says they put a lot of work into it. Puppy dogs, milkshakes, and rainbows. Effort medals all around.

In reality, The Daily was still shit. I’m sorry, it just was. Alvey implies that I was never a reader — but I was. I happily subscribed to The Daily from its inception until I had to pay for it. At that point, I made the (right) call, that it simply wasn’t worth it — for many of the reasons outlined in my...

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Never Apologize For Having An Opinion — Especially When You’re Right

You know it’s going to be an entertaining blog post when the lede is: “See the end of the editorial for an important update.”

So when I read the Jon Fingas editorial on Engadget entitled, Amazon and Google are undermining mobile pricing, and that may hurt everyone, I was expecting something crazy. Maybe it was suggesting that Amazon and Google are killing baby seals to hurt iPad sales? Or perhaps a notion was put forth that a terrorist organization is bankrolling both companies to keep tablet prices low even though they make no money selling them?

Nope.

Instead, what I read was a compelling and thoughtful argument as to why the race to the bottom by two behemoths in the tablet space may end up hurting innovation in said space. An opinion piece, sure — but one full of good thoughts worth discussing.

Then I got to the end.

Update: Clarifications and apologies are in order.

The...

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“No.”

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A few days ago marked one year since I made the jump from TechCrunch to CrunchFund — from writer to investor. It has been a fantastic year and I’m really happy with all of the investments we’ve made (not all of them are listed as some are still under-the-radar/undisclosed, but that’s most of them).

And I’m really glad that I’ve been able to keep writing. Obviously, my pace has slowed. But as I’ve always said, I’ll never stop writing. Here, there, or anywhere.

One thing I haven’t written too much about yet is investing. That has been on purpose. I learned during my professional blogging years that pretty much above all else, context is key. That is, anyone can write something about anything, but without the proper knowledge about a topic, your post is likely to range from weak to pure shit.

I think about this often when I look at new tech bloggers out there today. I read things that...

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Dear Chrome, Slow Your Roll

This morning, I mentioned that with each new build, Chrome for OS X seems to be getting a bit less stable and a bit more bloated. No big deal, I tend to send such bitchy tweets before I’ve had any caffeine. But I noticed something a little odd in the responses: no one disagreed with me.

In fact, nearly everyone said they had been noticing the exact same thing recently. And it apparently isn’t just with OS X, it’s the Windows build of Chrome too. As the product progresses, for many of us, it’s getting worse.

A number of the responses brought up Firefox. As in, Chrome seems to be heading down the same path that Mozilla’s web browser went down a few years ago. What started as a fresh, fast answer to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer at the height of its dominance, eventually became a slow, buggy, bloated turd.

To many of us, Chrome was the fresh, fast answer to Firefox. Now it seems to be...

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Ripping Off The Bloody Band-Aid

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It’s really not that hard to understand. Nor is it evil. Nor is it perfect. Nor is it the end of the world. It is what it is. And my bet is that, as usual, the outrage will be relatively short-lived.

I’m talking, of course, about the Maps situation in iOS 6, and the Google/Apple war of words over it.

Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve seemingly heard all possible sides of the story. Apple blind-sided Google. No they didn’t. Apple was open to negotiating about maps, but Google wasn’t. No, it’s Apple who wasn’t. Apple was refusing to approve Google’s new Maps app. “Nope.” In fact, the app doesn’t even exist. Well, not yet.

Make no mistake, both Google and Apple (or people associated with those companies) are behind the scenes trying to convey their side of the story through strategic leaks. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. It’s over. There is no going back.

And it shouldn’t...

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My Product Feedback

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“It’s Math”

Earlier today at TechCrunch Disrupt, Ryan Lawler led a media panel. On it, sat Alison Moore, HBO’s Senior Vice President of Digital Platforms. Naturally, the topic of selling HBO direct-to-consumers via HBO Go came up.

“Here’s the thing: it’s math. It’s a little presumptuous to say that $8 [a month per consumer] is going to make the business whole,” was Moore’s response.

Is it presumptuous to think that any of us know more about HBO’s business than HBO does? Of course. But such a statement should also be a huge red flag for the company.

As Moore was on stage, I happened to be reading this piece by Farhad Manjoo. He talks about the circumstances that led to the creation of the iPhone, based on the testimony from the Apple/Samsung trial. Much of this information isn’t surprising and some of it isn’t even new. But the main takeaway is still important — especially in the context of HBO.

...

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