Archive for category: Business

Worst Week Ever for Uber? CEO Caught On Video “I need leadership help…”

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick apologizes after being caught in argument with Uber driver. In the video he tells the driver, some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own Sh..(hhhhut yo mouth).

In his apology on Uber’s blog he writes, “This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

The argument started when the driver stated he was upset with the decreasing rates for the Uber Black Car. He explains how this has impacted his life, and then it escalates from there.

A Rough Couple of Weeks

In January Kalanick wrote a Facebook post telling business leaders to work with controversial President elect Trump, and joined his business advisory council. In response to what appeared to be interfering with New York City Taxi Union’s strike protesting Trump’s travel ban, an estimated 200,00 people deleted the Uber app. Kalanick subsequently resigned from Trump’s advisory council on Feb 2.

Feb. 19, a female former Uber engineer wrote a blog post exposing alleged sexual harassment she experienced while an employee at Uber.

Feb. 22, The New York Times published an investigation into the “aggressive, unrestrained” culture at Uber.

Feb. 24, Waymo, a self-driving company created by Google, accused Uber of intellectual theft in a lawsuit.

And now this!

I’m not going to pile on ol’ Travy boy here. The driver was pretty upset and a little aggressive verbally in my opinion, so the natural human instinct is to respond as sharply. The problem is when you are the leader of a $60 billion company you are held to a higher standard, as you should be. A better response by Travis would have been to exercise more restraint and simply wish the driver the best. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

What do you think? Hit me up on the Gram.

YouTube Wants to Kill Cable: Launching $35 YouTubeTV Service & it Comes with ESPN!

Don’t like traditional cable TV? No problem, YouTube is soon to join the ranks of Dish’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW by introducing an “Over The Top” (OTT, delivered over the internet) skinny bundle called YouTubeTV.

The Rundown On The New Service:

  • The Live on-demand TV streaming service will be called YouTubeTV.
  • No cable or satellite service necessary.
  • $35 a month for a family plan of up to 6 accounts
  • Service is launching in the US in the next few months (actual date is TBD)
  • Subscribers will have access to up to 40 channels including, ESPN, USA, FX, Fox Sports & NBC Sports.
  • Subscriber will have access to YouTube Red, their premium originator content service.
  • Users can also record as many programs as they want.
  • People will be able to stream to their TVs using Chromecast.


JackThreads is Hanging on by a Thread: Looking For a Buyer

JackThreads, the online men’s retailer made some risky bets and they’re paying for it now. They’re looking for a buyer according to multiple sources. The Columbus, OH company founded by Jason Ross in 2008, got its start selling men’s urban wear at deep discounts in limited quantities. It quickly built a strong following and in 2010 the company was bought by the online publisher Thrillist. Five years later the two companies parted ways in 2015.

The C’mon Son!

In 2016 the company focused it’s offerings on their own brand of clothing and selling it at full price. Hmmm now why would a customer pay full price for your product when they are accustomed to getting it, along with your competitors gear at a discount on your very site?

The Double Whammy

In addition to changing the focus to their native brand, JackThreads embarked on a risky business model called TryOuts. This model allowed customers to order as much product as they wanted, let them try out the clothing, return what they didn’t like and paying only for what they kept. Shipping both ways was free for the customer. (This clearly put heavy downward pressure on gross margins.)

How’d That Work Out?

The TryOuts model was introduced in the Spring of 2016 and by Fall JackThreads was talking to investors about needing to raise more money. The latest reports are that JT is looking for a suitor. Anyone got a few extra mil laying around?

What would you have done differently? Hit me on the Gram.


Facebook Declares War Against LinkedIn? Launches Facebook Jobs

Facebook wants to land you your next gig. The company recently introduced Facebook Jobs. It allows employers to post jobs for free, but they’ll have the option to boost the listing so it reaches a wider audience, for a small fee of course. The business/recruitment/social network space has traditionally been LinkedIn’s domain. Facebook’s encroaching on their territory. You think LinkedIn is just gonna sit there and take that?! Get your popcorn ready. In the meantime check out this Facebook Jobs Demo video if you want to learn more about it.


Jay Z Launches New Venture Capital Fund

The Rock is in the building.

Jay Z is launching a new venture capital fund with business partner Jay Brown according to a new Axios report. They’ll be focusing on early stage tech startups. No word yet on the fund’s size. Jay’s had some hits on billboard charts as well as investing. He’s also taken his share of lumps. Let’s take a quick glance at his investment record.

The Wins

He was an early investor in Uber participating in the company’s 2011 Series B funding round, when it was valued at just $300 million today Uber’s valuation is at approx $66 billion. Nice!

He purchased Tidal for a rumored $56 million, and recently sold 33% of the company to Sprint for approx. $200 million.

Jay Z co-founded Roccawear clothing and sold it for $200 million in 2007.

The Losses

In 2012, Jay Z’s Roc Nation invested in a company called Viddy, who was aiming to be the “Instagram for video.” Unfortunately the company failed just a few years into the investment.

Roc Nation also invested along with Ashton Kutcher & Marc Benioff in a private jet startup called BlackJet in 2012, but the company shut down last year.

Too Close to Call

In 2011, Roc Nation invested in Stance, a “premium sock company.” I know it sounds a bit weird, socks son?! Stranger investments have blown up, think Snuggie. Who would have thought a blanket with holes in it would gross over $500 millon? Well the sock company, Stance, has raised $116 million. Let’s see how this one pans out.

In the VC game 75% of venture capital investments fail. All it takes is 1 to pop and you’re a legend. The 1 win can obliterate all of the losses many times over. Scared money doesn’t make money. Be smart though!


One Share of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway ‘A’ Stock is Worth $250,000!

As the stock market closed on Valentines Day there was “much love like Wimbledon” (tennis, love… get it?) for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock. The company’s shares have reached an all time high. Hathaway’s class A stock closed at $250,412 per share, bringing the value of the company to $412 billion. Claude have mercy!

Financial analyst, Jim Shanahan of Edward Jones rates the stock a “Buy” largely due to the cash pouring in from Berkshire’s subsidiaries.

At the current rate, Berkshire’s cash pile could top $100 billion by the second half of this year, he said, giving Mr Buffett “a lot of dry powder” to make large and potentially value-enhancing acquisitions.

Hmmm, so you’re telling me Warren is keeping almost 25% of the company’s market value in cold hard cash? What’s he keeping so much dinero on the side for? Could it be to weather a coming recession? They do tend to occur every 10 years or so… Remember the Great Recession of 2008?

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Sneaker Startup GOAT raises $25 Million

Founded in 2015 the mobile sneaker marketplace GOAT is capitalizing on the love for fly kicks (sneakers). The company recently raised $25 million in a funding round led by VC firm Accel Partners. Here’s the lowdown on the company.

What Do They Do?

GOAT is a mobile-based sneaker resale marketplace. The company acts as a middleman between buyer and seller and provides the service of verifying the authenticity of the goods.  They hold the funds in escrow until the product is verified. All the while GOAT takes a cut for their efforts. It’s a win win for all parties involved. Makes ya say dang why couldn’t I think of that.

Product/Market Fit?

Membership has reached 1.5 million customers with an average order per transaction of $330 according to TechCrunch. Yep, looks like the product is fitting with the market quite well.

Total Funds Raised

To date the company has raised a total of $37.6 million.

What Do They Plan To Do With All Of This Dough?

GOAT plans to use the new funding to fuel its growth by hiring new engineering, operations, product and marketing specialists. It will also invest in new facilities to bolster its operations and logistics.

Who’s the Chief?

Eddy Lu is the co-founder and CEO of GOAT


GOAT Verification

Goat Employee inspecting the product above.



Snapchat Officially files for $25 Billion IPO.

Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, has officially filed the paperwork to begin selling shares of their company to the public. Here’s the quick and dirty:

  • SNAP will be listed on the NYSE.
  • The company’s valuation is expected to be over $25 billion when it goes public.
  • March 2017 is the IPO target date.
  • Snap has 160 million daily users (growth slowed by 82% thanks to Instagram copying their key feature with Instagram Stories).
  • $400 million in revenue in 2016
  • Snapchat paid $114.5 million for mobile search engine Vurb.
  • The stock to be issued does not come with voting rights. Total control will be retained by company co-founders Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy.

Hmmm not sure how I feel about that last point. Effectively the shareholders have no say in the management of the company.

What do you think? Will you be lining up to cop SNAP’s stock in March?



Google Takes Apple’s Crown As the World’s Most Valuable Brand

After a five year stint at the top Google informed Apple that there’s a new sheriff in town. Google takes Apple’s spot as the world’s most valuable brand according the Brand Finance Global 500 2017 report.

Apple’s brand value fell by 27% to $107.1 billion, according to the report this was largely because the company “failed to maintain its technological advantage and repeatedly disillusioned its advocates with tweaks when material changes were expected.”

Google on the other hand saw it’s brand value increase 24% to $109.4 billion. The report states, “Google remains largely unchallenged in its core search business, which is the mainstay of its advertising income.”

The Top 10 Most Valuable Brands in the World

  1. Google $109.4 billion
  2. Apple $107.1 billion
  3. Amazon $106.4 billion
  4. AT&T $87 billion
  5. Microsoft $76.3 billion
  6. Samsung Group$66.2 billion
  7. Verizon $65.9 billion
  8. Walmart $62.2 billion
  9. Facebook $62 billion
  10. ICBC (Chinese bank) $47.8 billion


Hustle Like Russell: Russell Simmons Sells RushCard Business for $147 Million

Green Dot announced it will buy hip hop mogul, Russell SimmonsRushCard business for $147 million. Simmons started RushCard in 2003. The company issues pre-paid debit cards with lower than average fees targeted toward minority communities. The RushCard’s customer base is estimated to be around 750,000 users. The sale includes Rapid! the payroll debit card as well. Rapid! has over 2,500 corporate customers that use the card as a payment option for employees who may not have regular bank accounts.

The grind salutes you sir!


Cisco Scoops Up AppDynamics for a Measly $3.7 Billion Hours Before their I.P.O.

Just before the software developer AppDynamics was set to launch their Initial Public Offering Cisco puts the kibosh on things and drops a big bag of cash off. $3.7 billion (cash) is what it took to put an end to all this silly talk of AppDynamics going public.

Cisco appears to really like this company because they’re paying a $1.8 billion premium over AppDynamics’ last private equity valuation of $1.9 billion.

What’s So Special About AppDynamics?

AppDynamics develops software to help companies like eHarmony to Expedia monitor their mobile apps and websites for bugs and fix them before customers are impacted. They help companies save millions of dollars and in return they charge a nice fee for this service. The company was founded in 2008, and according to CNBC in the first 9 months of 2016 they generated $158.4 million. This is a 54% increase over the previous year’s revenue for the same period.

Why Does Cisco Care So Much?

Cisco is becoming the old guy on the block and needs to adapt quickly. Cisco grew in previous decades into the behemoth that it is by providing the big switches and routers needed in computer networking that helped to fuel the growth of the internet. Today, instead of buying big branded hardware, companies are demanding commodity equipment that can be run by less expensive software. This is where AppDynamics fits in. They provide software products that are in high demand and this purchase helps Cisco pivot towards the future.

Check out this story from Forbes Magazine on of how AppDynamic’s founder, Jyoti Bansal, came to America from India to pursue his dream and created a multi-billion dollar software empire.


Jigga Done Did It Again: Sprint Buys 33 Percent Stake in Jay Z’s Tidal

Jay Z’s music streaming service Tidal and wireless phone service provider Sprint have teamed up. Sprint has acquired a 33% interest in Tidal. The deal gives 45 million Sprint customers access to Tidal along with exclusive content. Sprint’s CEO, Marcelo Claure now has a seat on Tidal’s Board of Directors. According to Billboard, Sprint paid approximately $200 million for their stake.

“It Wasn’t All Good Just a Week Ago”

Accounts of Tidal’s struggles permeated the industry. The company reportedly lost $28 million last year. This signals a major turn of events. Jay-Z purchased Tidal for $56 million and in 2 short years they’ve received an infusion of $200 million. Quite the power move. Well played sir. Maybe he does have the keys… 

Enough spectating from the sidelines, what are your next business moves? Hit me on the Gram and let me know.



32 Year Old Tristan Walker Founded One of Silicon Valley’s Hottest Startups: How’d he do It?

Tristan Walker is a 32 year old African-American who founded one of the hottest startups to come out of Silicon Valley. Let’s take a look at his path to launching a successful health and beauty empire.

Tristan grew up in Queens, NY graduated from The State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2005. After a few years working as an Energy Trader first for Lehman Brothers then J.P. Morgan, he enrolled in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he graduated in 2010.

It was in grad school at the age of 24 where his eyes were opened to another world of possibilities.

“I was 24 and I said, ‘Damn, there are other 24-year-olds not only making millions of dollars, but fundamentally changing the world. I need to be a part of this.’”

While in grad school he interned with Twitter and the Boston Consulting Group in 2009. Upon graduating, Tristan landed a gig with the then hot startup Foursquare as Director of Business Development from 2009-2012. In 2012 he co-founded Code2040, an org that helps gifted minority undergraduate students find internships at the top technology companies. He learned the venture capital game by spending a year working at Andreesen Horowitz (2012-2013) as “Entrepreneur In Residence.” In 2013 Tristan stepped out on his own and launched Walker & Co. the firm that created the hugely successful Bevel brand.

Walker & Co. has raised over $33 million from investors such as his former employer Andreesen Horowitz and rapper Nas’ VC firm Queenbridge Venture. In three years Walker & Co. has successfully established its Bevel branded products which include a specially designed shaving system geared toward men of color. The company has developed strategic partnerships with Target and Amazon and has increased total sales by 5% per week since February of 2016! In 2017 Walker & Co. are planning to launch a brand geared towards women.

The Takeaways

  1. Education Is Key
  2. Work Hard
  3. Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

Education is key! It opened up a tremendous amount of opportunities for Tristan. His undergrad degree lead to a job on Wall Street, which lead to attending grad school in Silicon Valley, which lead to working at a venture capital firm that ultimately financed his startup. He took calculated risks which lead to the launch of Walker & Co. and it paid off. The rest as they say is history.


Say It Isn’t So Oracle! U.S. Sues Over Racial Discrimination

The U.S. Labor Department has sued Oracle America Inc. Apparently the tech giant has “allegedly” systematically paid white, male employees at their Redwood Shores, California headquarters more than female and non-white workers with the same job titles and experience. Interestingly the complaint also notes that Oracle’s hiring practices favored Asian applicants, most notably Indian people.

The complaint goes on to indicate that Oracle has been uncooperative in the investigation, which started in 2014. Oracle apparently refused to provide requested information about its hiring practices to investigators.

3 Sides To A Story 

There’s always 3 sides to a story, your side, my side and the truth… Here’s what Oracle’s spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger had to say:

The claims were baseless and “politically motivated,” and that the company bases employment decisions on experience and merit.”Oracle values diversity and inclusion, and is a responsible equal opportunity and affirmative action employer…”

Be Like Spike

Well there ya have it! Of course Oracle is innocent until proven otherwise. Experience has shown it’s best to acknowledge a discovery (you may not have realized a pattern developed), take corrective action and keep moving. No person or organization is perfect, we must all strive to continually improve. In the meantime “Do The Right Thing” like a Spike Lee joint.

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American Apparel Is Not So American Now

Canada Is Kind Of Like America, Ehh?

American Apparel is that cool clothing company with the edgy, sexy ads, founded by the controversial Dov Charney. The company built its brand on the fact that their clothes were manufactured in the United States, far away from repressive overseas sweatshops. Gildan Activewear, a Canadian clothing wholesaler recently won American Apparel in a bankruptcy auction for $88m.

So What’s The Plan?

Gildan intends to stick to it’s wholesaling roots and steer clear of the costly retail outlets that American Apparel currently operates. They’ve indicated that American Apparel’s retail and online operations have 100 days and then it’s caput (shutdown)… Gildan also plans to shut down American’s Los Angeles based factories and distribution centers. The idea is to consolidate the back end operations of the two companies. This is a little concerning for the American Apparel brand since Gildan has been accused of exploiting its workers overseas.

Let’s Get This Straight

“American” Apparel is really Canadian Apparel, and the sweatshop free brand is now run by a company accused of exploiting its overseas factory workers? The PR and  Marketing folks are going to have their work cut out for them, ehh.