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Should everyone be an angel investor? + some upcoming events

11 August, by Jason Calacanis[ —]

The biggest question I was asked about angel investing during my New York book tour was, “Can anyone be an angel investor?”

Today I want to try and answer that question and let you know about some upcoming events.

[ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): http://ctt.ec/6sNj5 ]

First, some upcoming events:

This Tuesday, August 15th, I will be in Los Angeles speaking at Google in Venice (Google employees only) from 11:30AM-1:00PM.

Tuesday night, August 15th, I will be speaking at a public event, “Live Talks Los Angeles: An Evening with Jason Calacanis” at 8:00PM, which you can register for here: http://bit.ly/eveningjcal

I’ll be going to Stockholm, New York and Los Angeles in the fall. Frequently updated schedule here: angelthebook.com/tour

Second, “Can/Should everyone angel invest?”

I wrote the book “Angel” in order to detail the risks involved in angel investing, and share strategies that might increase your odds at having a positive outcome if you choose to become an angel.

[ ANGEL book reviews: http://bit.ly/5starangel ]

There is one important rub, however, here in the United States: traditionally private companies only accept investment from “accredited investors.”

Accredited investors are basically rich people, who have a lot of money in the bank or have large, well-documented salaries. Non-accredited investors are the other ~95% of Americans (of which I was one for 75% of my life).

You can read more about this at the SEC’s website here: http://bit.ly/secinvestor

However, last year the SEC introduced a new class of investment commonly called “equity crowdfunding.” This is a way for non-accredited investors to invest in private companies. It’s a bit complicated, and it’s only a year old, but I think it’s a very positive development.

My belief is that all Americans should be able to invest their money in startups, in the same way all Americans can buy stocks, play the lottery, start small businesses, start a well-balanced portfolio at Wealthfront, or even go to Las Vegas to play poker, roulette or place a bet on a football game.   

In that spirit of experimentation and investment in new ideas, we are partnering once again with SeedInvest, a platform that matches startups with investors — both accredited and nonaccredited, to find great startups and help them raise capital live on stage at our events.

We did live equity crowdfunding on stage at the LAUNCH Festival in April and the participating startups raised $7.5 million from 3,900 investors on SeedInvest.

Two companies had notable raises: HelloMD and Kylie.AI. HelloMD raised over $3 million, with investment sizes between $500 to $1 million. In fact, SeedInvest reported to us that HelloMD was oversubscribed by $700,000.

Kylie.AI’s raised $1.5 million and was also oversubscribed. SeedInvest has informed us that they received 110 investments ranging from $500 to $350,000.

We are going to do live equity crowdfunding with SeedInvest again in two months — and we’re looking for startups to participate.  

The Important Details

LAUNCH SCALE is October 17-18, and we have an all-star line up of speakers including Chamath Palihapitiya (Social Capital), Josh Elman (Greylock), Kathryn Minshew (The Muse), Jason Lemkin (SaaStr), Monique Woodard (500 Startups), Loic LeMeur (Leade.rs), Tomasz Tunguz (Redpoint Ventures) & many more. http://launchscale.net

In addition, five startups will get the opportunity to present on-stage and receive product feedback and fundraising advice from a panel of investors. These five startups will be chosen by me from 10 companies that participate in equity crowdfunding on SeedInvest.

To apply for equity crowdfunding and the chance to pitch onstage visit: https://launchxseedinvest.splashthat.com/

If you’d like to learn more about the SeedInvest platform, you can check out their overview presentation: https://docsend.com/view/zv38y6b

Any other questions email the SeedInvest Venture Team at: venture@seedinvest.com

Angel investing is hard, rewarding and complicated. If you’re thinking of doing it please a) read my book ( http://bit.ly/5starangel ), b) only invest money you can afford to lose, c) take your time, making small bets for the first year or two while you learn.

What excites me about equity crowdfunding is that people can typically make very small bets (say $500), while they learn about what I’ve found to be the highest risk and most interesting asset class on the planet: startups.

Did I mention I read the audiobook myself?   http://adbl.co/2vMZGNc

Best, @jason

PS – We are taking LAUNCH Festival to Sydney in 2018 & 2019. If you want to join us, and maybe even dive the Great Barrier Reef, join this Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/launchsydney


ANGEL the Book Tour

4 August, by Jason Calacanis[ —]

Friends,

My book “Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups” is out and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. You can order ANGEL here, and if you like it, please write a nice review on Amazon!

The book tour is in full swing, below are past & upcoming events. If you’re interested in hosting a book signing or meet-up, more info is here. Hope to see you on the road.

best,
@jason

[ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending: http://ctt.ec/y4vkf ]

Upcoming Events
(updated frequently here)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Google Talk LA: 11:30AM-1:00 PM
Private Event

Live Talks LA: An Evening with Jason Calacanis: 8:00PM
Purchase Tickets Here

Monday, September 4 – Friday, September 8, 2017

Stockholm and Norway – Event details coming soon!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Speaker and Book Signing at TechStyle: 11:45AM-1:30PM
800 Apollo Street, El Segundo, CA

Fireside Chat, Q&A, Book Signing at Mind & Mill in Riverside, CA: 5:30-8:30 PM
Details Here

Previous Events

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Seed Invest – Fireside Chat: Jason and Ryan Feit at Silicon Valley Bank, NY: 12:30 PM

Seed Invest – Q&A and Book Signing at Silicon Valley Bank, NY: 3:00 PM

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dim Sum with Jason at The Golden Unicorn, NY: 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fireside chat: Jason and David Sorin at Montclair University, NJ: 6:00-9:00 PM

Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Signing at Barnes and Noble Tribeca, NY: 6:00-8:00 PM

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fireside chat: Jason and James Altucher at Squarespace HQ, NY: 6:00-9:00 PM

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Harvard Business School Event, NY: In Conversation w/ Jason and John Reese: 6:00-8:30 PM

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bloomberg Beta Future Founders: Fireside Chat: Jason and James Cham: 6:00-8:00 PM

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fireside Chat: Jason and Michael Todasco at Paypal: 1:00-2:00 PM

Fireside Chat: Jason and Asra Nadeem at Draper University: 6:00-9:00 PM

Monday, June 20, 2017

Keynote Speaker at San Diego Startup Week with special guest James Heller (Wrapify): 7:30-10:30 PM

 


I wrote a book

29 June, by Jason Calacanis[ —]

Friends,

I wrote a book about angel investing, starting companies and the future.

It’s called ANGEL and it’s coming out July 18th.

[ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): http://ctt.ec/N6o9W ]

They offered me a ghost writer, but I decided to write it myself. It took 19 long days, but I think it came out great. If you’re a founder, investor or in any way involved in technology you’re going to get a lot out of it.

If you’re not in the industry, but you’re interested in breaking in and understanding how it works, well, ANGEL is a candid look at how it works and how you can break in.

I wrote the book because I believe that the best way to generate outsized results is to own stock in high-growth, private, early-stage technology companies.

If you’ve ever come to one of my events, or appreciate the podcast or my writing, a great way to show your support is to spend $10-20 bucks on the audio book (I read it), the hardcover or the ebook. If you’re a super fan, buy all three or give them as a gift.

After you read it, please consider writing a review — if you loved it!

Barnes and Noble:
goo.gl/ZUw9k2

Amazon:
http://amzn.to/2sSyyKi

Audible:
http://amzn.to/2sAfEpv

iBooks:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/angel/id1166101041

All the best, @jason calacanis

PS – If you want to angel invest alongside me, or see my deal memos, sign up for http://jasonssyndicate.com


Billion Dollar Startup Ideas: The HBO of Podcasting

http://launch.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=baefb9fcb23d26e0308254e5c&id=7882768909&e=f566c08c59play episode download
29 March, by Jason Calacanis[ —]

tl;dr: Someone is going to create the Netflix or HBO of podcasting, but it will take a legendary investor to put up $100 million to start a subscription-based network.

This post was originally published in the Inside Podcasting newsletter. Subscribe here for free!

Eight years ago I started a podcast called CalacanisCast. We quickly changed the name to This Week in Startups, and over the past seven years we’ve done over 700 episodes, twice a week, week after week.

This year we will hit $1m in revenue, 95% from loyal advertisers who are thrilled with the performance of their advertisements and my spectacularly heartfelt “reads.”

[ Note: We created something at the start called “white-listed advertising” which stated that I would never accept a sponsor unless I, or one of my team members, loved the product. We turned down things like LifeLock and e-cigarettes that would have been lucrative but that we personally didn’t use. ]

We have four full-time employees on the show, not including me, and we are doing not only audio but also video. We do a dozen live events a year on average and “the show” is often the professional highlight of my week.

The podcast was, in large part, the reason I signed a high-six figure deal for my first book, titled ANGEL, which is coming out on July 18th (pre-order from this link if you want to thank me for all the free content we’ve done live and on the show — I sure would appreciate it).

My podcast is the best reflection of who I am, probably even better than these email missives because they include me interacting with the startup founders who are trying to change the world.

The pod has also made me wicked smart, giving me the MBA and Psychology PhD I never had the time to complete.

2017: The year of the Podcast

I predict this year is the tipping point for podcasting, with “Serial” laying the groundwork two years ago for “Missing Richard Simmons,” as well as folks like Joe Rogan going supernova, podcasts which are taking the medium from the underground to the mainstream.

Add to that the fact that Bill Simmons’ TV show on HBO flopped (I liked it) but his podcast is surging, a testament to the fact that talk shows are often awkward and gimmicky — severely so when compared to the authenticity of podcasting.

I’m guessing Bill is way past $10 million a year in podcasting revenue, and my pal Leo Laporte (for whom I have had the privilege of sitting in as host from time to time) is also at that $10m mark after laying the groundwork for the rest of us.

Reading advertising isn’t horrible, in fact it’s enjoyable for the right partners. I love reading ads, and have had my listeners yell “ohhh Audible!” and “I love Squarespace! Tommy John! MailChimp!” at me when they meet me — which is hilarious.

Candidly, selling ads and living hand-to-mouth is hard, even for an established podcast like This Week in Startups, which sells out for three to six months in advance (thanks Luke!).

On top of all this, podcasts are still hard to measure — something that is a “soft” issue because all the ROI-driven marketers use codes to get directional info on how they are doing.

Most podcasters would jump at the chance to stop selling ads and start simply collecting a check from an HBO like Bill Maher and John Oliver do, or cash a check from Netflix to produce something pure and unadulterated.

Podcast fans are more than willing to pay, and we see many Patreons hitting thousands and tens of thousands of dollars per month. When we did our patronage effort (long before Patreon existed) we instantly hit $5,000 a month.

However it’s hard for a large group of folks to pay for five or ten different podcasts they love, and that’s where I think the opportunity lies: a group subscription for podcasting’s top talents.

This would remove the cognitive load on consumers looking to support their favorite shows, while allowing the talent to focus 100% of their effort building increasingly better content — not marketing or revenue.

Simple Math: 100 podcasters, five million subscribers

If you could grab 20% of the top 500 podcasts over the next two years for the “HBO of Podcasting” at a $4m payment each, you would be looking at a whopping $400 million content budget — or as Sirius XM would refer to it, “two Howard Sterns” and Netflix would call it four “House of Cards” or “three weeks” (of content).

That’s a ton of money, but for 50 to 250 episodes per year depending on the cadence of each podcast, it would be $16,000 to $80,000 per episode — a HUGE budget for content creators.

My guess is that every podcaster in the top 20% zone could deliver 10,000 to 100,000+ paid subscribers. Call it 50,000 on average, which means without overlap you would be looking at five million paid subs. With duplication call it three or four million people, each paying $10 a month.

In other words, you would break even if you could convert 1–2% of Americans into a subscription.

To put that in perspective take a look at this ranked list of paid subscribers:

  • New York Times: About 3 million (digital + print combined)
  • WSJ: 948,000 subscribers (digital only)
  • HBO App/Direct: 1 million
  • Pandora: 4.39 million (total)
  • The Podcast Company: five million in five years (projected)
  • Hulu: 12 million (launched in 2008)
  • HBO: 49 million (US)
  • SiriusXM: 31 million (US)
  • Netflix: 49 million (US)

To execute on this business you would need to do a Series A investment of $100m for 1/3rd of the company, followed by three or four additional rounds of investment in the $100–200m range. After spending ~$600 million you would have a service that was self-sustaining and have a high-growth value of 10x top line revenue of $500m — or five billion. You would have an outside chance of becoming the next Spotify or Netflix, putting you in the decacorn club.

At scale, you would integrate some modest advertising back into the product without having the subscribers get upset — SiriusXM did just that, and it’s barely noticeable when Howard does a quick ad read every hour or so.

Venture capitalists don’t normally deal in this kind of $100m investment range, so it would take either a very bullish one or a later stage private equity fund to do this.

There have been dozens of attempts at a podcasting network, but none of them have had the nine figures of funding it takes to get a true subscription flywheel going. A ten or twenty million dollar round of funding won’t get you to first base in a media landscape with Netflix and SiriusXM.

Sure, SirisXM, Spotify, Audible or Netflix could take this on, but greats companies tend to be great at one thing — so it’s unlikely they would dip into podcasting.

So, in the words of Kanye West, “Now who’s gonna be the Medici family and stand up and let me create more; or do you wanna marginalize me ’til I’m out of my moment?”

Best,

@jason


PS — LAUNCH Festival is next week… join us: launchfestival.com/tickets // use code JASON10 for 10% off any ticket.

PPS — Angel Summit is on Wednesday: 40+ angels talk about what they are investing in and why.

PPPS — My book comes out July 18th and it’s called ANGEL. Will be doing two weeks of media in New York city from the 17th until the 30th of July. If you want to host a book party at your startup or in your city, please hit reply and let me know. We are forming “ANGEL Squads” in various cities to setup Q&A and pitch sessions and I could use your help getting 100 folks to each one.

PPPPS — We just finished our sixth syndicate at Jasonssyndicate.com (no longer on AngelList). If you want to see the deals I’m investing in, and possible join us in funding these companies, you can signup to get my deal memos.

PPPPPS — I’m having fun with jasonstxtlist.com, where I regularly share these emails BEFORE I publish them to get feedback. I send maybe five to ten txt messages a month. Nothing crazy, it’s just sort of a fun way to communicate with y’all.

PPPPPPS — My startup, Inside.com, publishes concise, compelling newsletters that round up everything you need to know in 20 different verticals.


Airpods are Apple’s Best Product Since the iPad

14 March, by Jason Calacanis[ —]

To say Apple’s product launches since the iPad have been underwhelming to Apple fans would be an understatement.

[ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): http://ctt.ec/aTBRn ]

Apple Watch: everyone I know bought one, almost no one I know wears one. It’s confusing and not very useful.

Siri: after a four-year lead, Apple’s most fascinating service has been embarrassed by the prowess and ubiquity of Amazon’s Alexa — which is finding its way into TVs and washing machines!

Macbook Pro: After taking years to upgrade the standard laptop for developers and creatives, Apple released an underpowered and overpriced computer with all the important ports removed, creating a healthy market for used Macbook Pros.

Let those three missteps sink in for a moment.

Apple’s products used to be drool-worthy by default, now consumers expect to be let down by Tim Cook. In the words of POTUS… SAD!

The iPhone 7 Plus was an OK release, with its exceptional camera and underwater functionality making up for an otherwise “meh” update.

Despite all this, Apple is still a money-printing machine, leading folks like Warren Buffett to load up on it while the pundits wonder if Apple is losing its product edge.

Their one notable exception is Airpods, the most gloriously elegant, addicting and game-changing product that Apple has produced since the iPad.

Airpods are wireless headphones that look like hearing aids with a tiny stem attached to them. You look like an idiot wearing them right now, primarily because they only come in bright white, not in an array of darker colors that would make them elegantly disappear.

These tiny wonders are designed to work instantly, as opposed to every other experience you’ve had with bluetooth devices, which constantly fail to connect or lose their connection so often that you ultimately stop using them.

Here are the nine brilliant features of Airpods I love:

  1. When you tap the case to your iPhone for the first time, they connect with a square box that pops up on your phone. You don’t need to go to Settings > Bluetooth and connect.
  2. When you open the Tic Tac-sized box it tells you the battery life of each pod as well as the case itself.
  3. The case charges the pods, which is brilliant.
  4. When you put the pods in your ears they automatically turn on — brilliant!
  5. When you double tap on the side of the pods, they will either activate Siri or play/pause your audio (it’s your choice).
  6. You can use both of them or just one at a time, depending on your preference.
  7. They work brilliantly for calls thanks to noise canceling and their dual mic setup.
  8. They don’t fall out (at least for me and the majority of users).
  9. Airpods sync with all the devices on your iCloud, so theoretically they will pair with your iPad and Macbook or iMac automatically — this didn’t happen with my laptop for some reason. I had to manually pair them, which worked fine.

When you put together this entire experience, it’s so delightful that you actually find yourself wanting to consume more audio and make more phone calls.

The apex of product design is when it is so delightful that it drives more usage.

It’s a similar phenomenon we see when people who buy a Tesla immediately start road-tripping to SuperCharger stations because the act of driving a Tesla and not paying for gas is so darn delightful!

That’s Airpods — Apple’s best product in a decade.

Airpods are the new Smartphone

The big picture, however, is not that Airpods are the best way to consume podcasts and make phone calls, but what will happen in two years when the box they come in has a 4G connection and a processor, and you can leave your phone at home but still make phone calls, call an Uber or search the web.

If Apple can get someone competent to run Siri, you can imagine a future in which you leave for work and pop your Airpods on, leave your iPhone at home and do things like this during your commute:

  1. Hey Siri, make a reservation for four at a great sushi bar in San Francisco for 7:30PM tonight, confirm with me which place you select and then email invites to Joe, Susan and Vanessa from work.
  2. Hey Siri, play the latest episode of Bill Simmons’ podcast at 1.35x speed, but fast forward through the commercials.
  3. Hey Siri, set Waze to take me to my office on the 280 unless it’s seven minutes more than the 101 and set my Tesla to 84 miles per hour, but slow down to 72 miles per hour if Waze reports the police are ahead.
  4. Hey Siri, read me my iMessages starting with the people I text the most.
  5. Hey Siri, send my wife a message that I will be home at six o’clock to put the kids to bed and send her my ETA every 10 minutes after I leave work.
  6. Hey Siri, order more coffee for me on Amazon.
  7. Hey Siri, read me the next 5 things on my To Do list.
  8. Hey Siri, please move my lunch back 30 minutes and confirm with all guests.
  9. Imagine someone walks up to you speaking Japanese, and it’s automatically translated for you.  

All of this would occur without ever having a phone with you or having to take your eyes off the road. As you can see from the examples above, these are all second- and third-generation style requests, those that require some “if thens” and include some conditions (i.e., if Waze sees the cops!).

We are three to five years away from Siri and Alexa being able to parse these type of requests. Whoever can do complex instruction sets by voice and across apps and connected devices (i.e., my Tesla and Waze) will be a huge winner in the post-smartphone era.

In this example you would have a total of two ounces of computer on you.

Two. Ounces.

The Big Vision Airpods + Watch + Apple Glasses

Clearly Apple will launch AR — augmented reality — glasses in the next year. Tim Cook has professed his love for it and Robert Scoble, who is often right about such things, has been talking about this incessantly.

Apple’s bought a couple of companies, including Metaio, FaceShift, and PrimeSense, that would lead one to believe that Apple Glasses are a lock — but you never know with Apple. The physical TV and the car seemed well on their way to Apple Stores before Tim Cook pivoted those projects.

Imagine a future where as you run the series of commands I mention above all of my examples were overlaid onto your view of the world.

You would now have two ounces of Airpods (with their case), combined with two ounces of Apple Glasses, on your person.

All of this will make the smartphone obsolete.

Not in our generation, but certainly for our kids.

Why on Earth would you crane your neck into a tiny screen and carry a brick with you? It makes no sense to do this when you have a more elegant solution, which includes projecting data and interfaces on to the real world with Apple Glasses and interacting via the Apple Airpods.

You can add a watch if you want to the mix, but candidly, why would you care to look at your wrist for notifications or the time until your Uber arrives when it could be projected into your eye already?

You wouldn’t.

All of this requires Apple to fix the disastrously closed and deformed Siri, which is the linchpin of this vision.

Airpods will be easy for Amazon and Google to knock off, and with Alexa and Google assistant being far better than Siri, I’m guessing we will see them both release similar products in the market in 12-18 months.

The Augmented Audio Reality Wildcard

Airpods represent a fascinating tool to mess with our reality by re-mixing our base reality with digital audio. Imagine having Siri lower, or eventually remove completely, the sound of cars while increasing the clarity of human voices around you. Walking down the avenue with a friend would become as quiet as talking in bed in the middle of the night.

Imagine looking at a specific person in a crowd and having their conversation from across the room amplified while everything else is muted.

Or perhaps while you’re walking down the deserted beach you could add playful dolphins squealing and splashing next to you, with their bodies and the splashes they create being added to your augmented world with video and audio.

Heck, why not turn your mountain hike into a time-travel adventure back in the Jurassic age?  

Downsides

You’re going to shocked by this, but Apple Airpods are way too expensive at $159. They really need to be $50 or $75, but Apple knows their fans love to give them their money so don’t expect these to drop to $50 with an Apple logo. But it’s obvious that Google and Amazon will make $50-100 versions, as I mentioned above, in the coming years.

Oh yeah, you’re going to lose these things, just like you do phone chargers. And it will suck because, well, they’re really expensive.

Set up your Apple Airpod Implant Surgery

Don’t be surprised when we eventually start embedding this technology directly into our bodies. Having implants inside your ears that gave you these features, as well as contact lenses as the new screen sounds like science fiction — but are we really that far off?

What a time to be alive.

We live in the future!

Best, @jason

PS – I shared this newsletter with members of jasonstxtlist.com last week and got some amazing feedback before publishing. Jason’s txt list is a little tool I built that lets you sign up for SMS messages from me. 1,400+ folks have signed up, only 30 people have unsubscribed and I’m using it as a “private twitter” of sorts. Not sure where I’m going with it, but it’s been fun.

PPS – Founder University is taking place on April 3-4 in San Francisco. It’s a free, two-day course for founders who are looking to sharpen their game. We are going to live stream it by invite only, so if you want to watch the class live visit http://founder.university (yeah, they have a .university domain name now, cool).

PPPS – The Angel Summit is almost sold out. Forty angels & VCs talk about what they are investing in and why for 15-20 minutes each. Two tracks with lunch and an “Angel Dinner.” Sign up at http://launchfestival.com/angel-summit. Use the promo code JCAL10 for 10% off.

PPPPS – I just finished my book on angel investing. It’s coming out on July 18th. I’m looking to do a book tour where we do readings/meetups around the country. If you think you can get 100 people/books sold, email jacqui@launch.co who is setting up the stops on the tour.

PPPPPS – I have no idea how to market my book. If you have ideas hit reply and tell me. Curious what you think will move books. I would like to make my publisher Harper Business really happy so I can write a second book! I really did enjoy writing this one.











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