October 2008 Archive

Somehow This Is Just Cool...

I cringe so badly reading anything about myself that I don't have a Google alert for my name and scream when Mr. Lacy tries to show me things from his "Sarah Lacy" Google alert. But this made me smile, mostly because it really had nothing to do with me. Just Microsoft, Yahoo, Time Warner and my footwear. I especially like that my footwear empowers my loving, part-time employers in this scenario.

From "The Guru of New" blog:

"Then there’s on-again, off-again Time Warner, who Yahoo turned to after Microsoft got a touch too possessive last spring. 'Just because you have $47.5 billion doesn’t mean you can act like you own me!' snapped Yahoo, stomping out of Starbucks in awesome Sarah Lacy-style boots."

Yeah.

 

Three's A Party

A lot of people are unaware that I actually live with Sarah and her husband. It’s an interesting dynamic working, living, and drinking together, and Mr. Lacy has been a fantastic sport in dealing with an additional crazy, curly-haired, Memphis-born woman under his roof.

As you all know, Sarah slaves away down at Yahoo in her DVF dress three days a week, so she hits the road to Sunnyvale at 6 am. Mr. Lacy uses these mornings before work to do a bit of reading, and fill all the request orders for his awesome photography zines. At least, he used to. And then I came to town.

Sarah always asks what we do three mornings a week, and we just shrug our shoulders and mumble "stuff." To fulfill her own burning curiosity, she has proposed the idea that Mr. Lacy and I life-cast a morning show to give a little more insight into our strange situation. We’d occupy our respective butt grooves on the living room sofa and blather on for about three minutes as the day kicks off.  Secrets of Sarahlacy.com revealed! The inner workings as exposed by SLDC’s only two employees! Because when the (Vinnie/Winnie) cat's away, the mice do...play?

Pssh. Actually it’s more along these lines: me in a grungy t-shirt or my robe, serving up some eggs on toast; Mr. Lacy perusing photography blogs; my greasy face and Mr. Lacy’s cowlicked hair, and a whole lot of F bombs. (Looking nothing like we do below...) On a typical day, Mr. Lacy and I  order more OYLTYG books on Amazon, bark at the cats, white-people rap some choice Lil' Wayne lyrics, and then brave bridge and tunnel traffic to drive Mr. Lacy to work. Oh, and I force him to listen to 92.7’s early morning homo-jam dance mix along the way.

In a way, the livandlove/sadkids format is really no different than, say, Regis and Kelly. It’s all there: fashion, beauty, recipes, home, tech and pop culture- albeit very unique iterations of those themes. To the chagrin of my sophisticated Southern mother, I have no qualms about being a total goof on camera. And Mr. Lacy is one of the wittiest people I know. No doubt, we keep ourselves entertained, but the more important question is, would you be entertained? (Breathe easy, fair geeks- the lifecasting would be relegated to the video section so as to not interfere with Sarah’s substantive reporting.)

What do you think? Do you want a three minute glimpse into the lives of the other two-thirds of SarahLacy.com?

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Damon Weaver is my homeboy....

Five things I learned from the intrepid fifth-grade reporter Damon Weaver:

1. Self-promote with confidence and purpose.

2. Seek out a mentor figure if you have questions or need advice.

3. Keep your questions clear and to.the.point. 

4. When in doubt, embarrass your crew. Impromptu dance moves are a sure-fire win.

5. Remember your audience.

I am now going to perfect holding a microphone at a bizarre 45 degree angle above my head in an awkward yet cute manner for future SarahLacy.com lifecasts. Fact.

UGBT Houston: We Have Lift-off

And you thought the UGBT was over.... After a month living the sedentary life at home in San Francisco (literally-I think I've created a personal butt groove on the living room couch), Sarah and I are itching to get back out on the road. Which is why we are really excited about the Houston stop THIS SATURDAY.

Coordinated by the divine Erica O' Grady, the Houston UGBT event promises to be a combination of three of SarahLacy.com's favorite things: a fantastic co-working space, Caroline Collective; a great group of entrepreneurs; and free food and drinks. Click here for more details and to RSVP!

Of course, there will be books and t-shirts on sale, and Sarah will be poised, pen in hand, to sign your copies and meet as many of you as possible. Also in attendance will be David Wallace, the former mayor of Sugar Land, Texas and author of the new book, One Nation Under Blog. It's a Web 2.0 weekend, folks. So y'all come on out ya hear! (sorry, couldn't resist the temptation... after all, it is Texas)

Why I Think Prop K Is Not OK

Earlier today I voted. The big three issues for me:

  • Obama- duh!
  • No on Prop 8- duh!
  • and No on Prop K

I said as much on Twitter when someone asked and hours later found myself in a debate with Melissa Gira Grant (and a few others) on why exactly I was so against sex workers rights. I'm not. In fact, I was excited about Prop K when I first heard about it. Then I started hearing more details and read it myself.

This is not a proposition that helps everyone-- in fact it hurts the sex workers lowest on the totem poll and hurts people investing in San Francisco homes and neighborhoods. I'm limited to what I can say in 140-characters on Twitter and my followers were probably annoyed by all the back and forth. So in case you live in San Francisco and are voting next week (hopefully another "duh") please read this letter a good friend of mine wrote after studying the issue. He wrote it to send to the candidate he was hoping to vote for for district supervisor. That guy had staunchly supported K, and when he read this letter he went back, read the prop, and switched his vote, writing my friend back to thank him and say he was right. (Both letters on the jump.)

As I said on Twitter, bad law with good intentions doesn't equal good law. History books are filled with laws that meant well, but introduced a flood of negative unintended consequences. (Remember energy deregulation and Enron???) We can do better. We live in the most progressive, most freethinking city in the U.S. We should do better.

I'm not urging you to vote based on what my friend says below.  But if you are going to vote for it, just read the proposition for yourself, please. We all get this phone book-thick lists of all the stuff we need to vote on every year and almost none of us sit and read what we're essentially enacting into law.

I don't want to keep debating this. This is what I think, have a free-for-all in the comments if you disagree just keep it clean for the sake of my readers. And, @philipn, I don't apologize for caring about this as a homeowner. First of all, if I were a renter I'd want my block safe for the kids who live next door and across the street. Second, my husband and I worked our asses off for ten years in low paying professions like art and journalism to buy this house and invest in the city we love. If that makes me a bad person in your book, unfollow me.

(BTW: Forgive the digression from startup/business/tech posts, but the election is all I can think about this week.)

The letter on the jump:

Quick Hide Your Women and Children! TWITTER IS COMING!

OK, let's just say a lot of things have gone well for me since this whole author gig began:

  • I got to quit my grueling staff reporter job
  • I make a jillion percent more working for myself (factor in here how little many journalists make and that "jillion" isn't really a number and that sounds way less braggy.)
  • I got to live my lifelong dream of walking in a bookstore and seeing my book on the front table
  • I've gotten thousands of letters from people the book inspired
  • I got under the skin of a New York Times Book Reviewer
  • I pissed off a whole army of geeks at SXSW, torches and pitchforks ensued
  • I got to travel to 15 different cities and meet thousands of entrepreneurs on an off-the-wall book tour

Pretty exciting year, right? Well there was one thing that didn't go as well as I'd hoped: I hoped that enough parents would read my book that they'd realize how absurd all the fear mongering about Web 2.0 is. You know, the idea-- nay, belief in some quarters-- that their kids would be stalked by pedophiles on MySpace and one drunken Facebook photo or YouTube video would mean the end of their professional lives.

See, the year I was writing my book, I'd take gym breaks during The View, where I'd hear frightened mothers talking about the grave dangers of MySpace and YouTube and Facebook and how they were killing our society and endangering our children. (Nevermind few of them had actually used these sites.) Worse: I actually met lots of high school kids whose parents and schools banned them from using sites like these.

I've long had a problem with our fear based culture in this country. But this was just stupid. Keeping your children from using some of the most socially transformative tools modern technology has ever seen was at best wildly overprotective and at worst setting them up for a lifetime of disadvantages. It's like homeschooling, cutting off all access to pop culture and self expression, and not allowing them to participate in anything that might advance future career-networking all rolled into one. Ok, maybe that's extreme. But, in some households and cultures, maybe not.

If nothing else, these tools provide more fun and connectivity and benefits than they do dangers. And just like sex or drugs, if your kids want to use them, they'll find a way. I met plenty of kids who'd worked out inventive hacks-- even your cheerleader types.

So, I guess in the culture we live in, it's a feather in Twitter's cap that it's gotten mainstream enough that it's being deemed a tool for terrorism. (You know, terrorists!! Those guys who are always fist-bumping!!)
So the argument goes terrorists just love Twitter because they can communicate in real time. 'Cause you know, they couldn't do that with SMS or chats or any other technology before. I'm sure they also used email and cellphones, and say cars to get around in planning their attacks. BAN ALL THE TERRORIST TOOLS!!! Are you kidding me? No wonder Silicon Valley is hungry for regime change.

Calling LONDON

In just a little over a week, Sarah and I will be touching down in London, and the excitement is brewing here at SarahLacy.com HQ (aka the couch). If you've been reading this blog since last spring, you know that Sarah loves the Brits and the Brits (mostly) love Sarah in return. The new UK edition of her book is entitled The Stories of Facebook, Youtube, and Myspace: The People, The Hype, and the Deals behind the Giants of Web 2.0, and accordingly, we're rolling into town for its November 3rd debut.

Of course, most of you already know this- which is why tickets for her book release event "Secrets from Silicon Valley: Sarah Lacy and the Rise of Web 2.0," are almost, ahem, sold out. If you haven't bought your ticket yet, RUN DON'T WALK. The event features a Q&A session and networking opportunity sponsored by Fidelity Ventures and co-hosted by Robert "British Michael Arrington" Loch and Paul "Irish Jason Calacanis" Walsh on Friday, November 7th. C'mon, you know you want to see Sarah grilled onstage by her own British counterpart, the irascibly charming Paul Carr, and the always delightful Mr. Loch himself (provided he's avoided anything lobster-related beforehand...) You also get free drinks and a copy of the book, which Sarah will be more than happy to sign. If you're still too cheap then you can also try and win a ticket here, ok?

In addition, SarahLacy.com will be headed to the Hampstead Tech Meet-up on Wednesday evening, November 5th. But that's not all London. We have a whole six days to see what you have to offer so give us some insider info! Any awesome entrepreneurs or angels we should meet? Co-working spaces we should visit? Pubs we should imbibe in? Let us know!

Leave your suggestions in the comments section or send them to [email protected] DO IT.

Um, Do You Know What Business We're In?

So, I better write this post now because after tomorrow it might violate David Hornik's sacrosanct "What Happens at the Lobby Stays at the Lobby" rule. Some people-- cough, cough ValleyWag-- take that rule to mean the Lobby is about partying and the attendees don't want that to get out. In actuality, the Lobby is about business and the attendees don't want THAT to get out. "Who's shameless enough to go to the Lobby this year?" Hmm... off hand, I'd say people doing their jobs.

Bad News for the Valley and Media (Ok, Worse News)

Henry Blodget has a frightening-- but I think right on-- post about display advertising online. His take: Wake up! It's going down. Why? The economy, yes. But more important, I don't think display advertising has yet managed to make itself an indispensable part of the ad mix the way paid search has.

There's a debate subtly raging about whether we've really nailed display advertising on the Web to date. Some people, Henry included, say "Duh, it works." But "it works" isn't the same thing as having nailed a new and unique method of advertising consummate with the uniqueness of content and audience on the Web. Online should be something different, the same way print publications should be doing more than just putting the same words on a digital page. Floating ads? Pop-up? Pop-unders? Roll overs? Isn't it all just a quick gimmick until we find ways to block it? I can't remember a time I clicked on a banner ad and those automatically loading video and audio ads just enrage me to the point I don't have a positive brand-association.

Anecdotally, I keep hearing about no-brainer opportunities for brand advertising online to unique, highly desirable, mass demographics that are not selling. Not even at comparatively cheap rates! (It's all been off the record, so I can't cite examples. It's off the record for obvious reasons as blabbing about it doesn't exactly help the selling process.) This says one of three things to me:

  • There is a lack of qualified ad sales people working in the online space
  • Advertisers don't yet value this market
  • To quote LOLcats: UR DOING IT WRONG INTERNETZ!

Yes, I realize display advertising is a multi-billion industry and it's sustained sites like Yahoo-- my part-time employer-- not to mention offered a new revenue stream for dying print media (albeit an apparently anemic one). But if you consider the demographics and time spent on a lot of these sites there's clearly money being left on the table.

It's not too crazy to draw an analogy to Facebook's situation. (Bear with me, here.) Facebook is generating hundreds of millions in revenue this year. Clearly Facebook has ad inventory people want. But Facebook considers itself in the first inning of figuring out a must-have revenue answer for its unique inventory.

In short, for years now proponents of display advertising have been saying-- and blindly believing-- it's all growth until the percentage of time spent online catches up to the percentage of the ad budget spent online. Maybe we need to assume there's a deeper problem and the hungry company that wants to survive needs to work harder to fix it.

Is Your Startup Going out of Business?

My guest today on TechTicker was Keith Rabois of Slide. Before Slide, Keith was an early member of the PayPal mafia and an early exec at LinkedIn. He also has an advisory role with Sequoia Capital -- where among other exploits he pretty much hand-delivered YouTube to the firm. In other words, in a sea of engineer-minded entrepreneurs, Keith actually knows a thing or two about the business side of startups. He also has opinions and isn't afraid to voice them.

I had to de-Southern myself before taping as I usually sound like I'm saying "Rab-a-way" instead of Rabois. No joke, Mr. Lacy thought it was spelled this way for about the first six months I knew Keith. Ah, the downside of being on camera-- proper pronunciation!

The funniest backstage moment this morning was when the control room told me my guest was ready and I sat down, shuffled my notes and looked up to see a very, very old man in the monitor. "Um, that's not Keith," I said. Oddly enough, the guy sort of looked like a 50-year-older Keith, so I half-wondered if the downturn was just aging him. Turns out, the studio was just confused.

So here are the clips in case you didn't make it over to TechTicker today. The first one is on all the layoffs in the startup world last week (some 250 jobs all together and counting) and what separates companies that are seeing opportunity in the downturn from those seeing doom and gloom. The second clip is about how all those layoffs and hard-to-get-series-b-rounds will ripple into Silicon Valley's macro economy. And the third is about Slide itself: a company planning to spend its way out of the downturn.

Sarah Lacy’s entertaining and informative tour of the world’s fastest growing economies undeniably proves what we’ve known at Endeavor for more than a decade: that impressive and inspiring Entrepreneurs can truly come from anywhere! In taking us on a whirlwind journey bursting with frenetic energy – matched only by that of the amazing entrepreneurs she meets – Lacy gives us an important glimpse into the future of the global economy – a place where the craziest, high-impact entrepreneurs from anywhere and everywhere set the pace.
Brilliant. Crazy. Cocky.

New Book

An unforgettable portrait of the emerging world's entrepreneurial dynamos Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky is the story about that top 1% of people who do more to change their worlds through greed and ambition than politicians, NGOs and nonprofits ever can. This new breed of self-starter is taking local turmoil and turning it into opportunities, making millions, creating thousands of jobs and changing the face of modern entrepreneurship at the same time. To tell this story, Lacy spent forty weeks traveling through Asia, South America and Africa hunting down the most impressive up-and-comers the developed world has never heard of....yet.

Excerpt »

Buy it from these sellers

Srah Lacy

Sarah Lacy is an award-winning reporter who has covered high-growth entrepreneurship for more than fifteen years. She is the founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of PandoDaily.com, the site-of-record for the startup ecosystem. She lives in San Francisco.

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