A state judge today ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey, saying gay couples would be denied federal benefits if the state kept allowing only civil unions.
Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson granted an emergency request by six gay couples, ordering state officials to begin officiating same-sex marriages on Oct. 21.
"Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey constitution," the judge wrote in a 53-page opinion.
This is surely going to be appealed, as these rulings always are, but marriage equality advocates are no doubt thrilled about this. It also puts Governor Chris Christie in a tough spot. How vocal will he be in opposing this decision? He previously vetoed a gay marriage bill; will he take any steps to fight marriage equality this time, knowing that doing so could hurt his chances in 2016? Or might opposing gay marriage actually help his chances in a Republican primary?
Gripping read on CNN about Akamai Technologies co-founder Danny Lewin, who found himself on the wrong plane (American Airlines Flight 11, which hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center) during the nadir of the dot-com bubble … something which seems almost modest in comparison to what happened on the way.
Nevertheless, things were particularly grim on September 10, 2001. [Fellow Akamai co-founder Tom Leighton] remembers a session stretching late into the evening in which the executives had to decide whom to lay off, including some friends and colleagues who had been with them almost since the beginning. The next morning Lewin had to fly from Boston to Los Angeles.
"He probably barely got an hour of sleep before getting on board the next morning," Leighton remembers.
Lewin was sitting in seat 9B. With his Israeli military training and understanding of Arabic, he may have figured out what was going on, perhaps even tried to stop it. According to flight attendants’ calls relayed to authorities on the ground, the first passenger to be killed was seated in 9B. He was stabbed to death.
He died at just 31, but he left behind a quiet, persistent legacy: Akamai’s technology was among the earliest efforts to speed up the Web, finding success because it managed to keep up large sites even during traffic surges. In other words, he was sort of a low-key hero of the internet, creating a foundational layer which allowed sites to stay online even as traffic was crippling.
What’s more, the tips on Foursquare are arguably easier for the startup to parse, enabling the company to call out popular venue features and embed them seamlessly in its search engine. They can range from highlighting the best bar cocktails to the best secret dance clubs to the fastest coffee shop Wi-Fi.
It’s interesting to me that I no longer check-in on Foursquare for the social dynamic, but instead just to see the tips left at the venue I’m at. Those tips, when plentiful, are a goldmine of information about a place. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life are a result of those tips.
Eat real food, as close to nature as possible. It’s what we do to food that is a problem — processing, refining, reducing and altering in general. Forget about reduced fat and skim milk. The less processing the better. If you’re going to eat fat, choose good quality and go for full-fat. Eat avocados, use olive oil or coconut oil (yes coconut oil is healthy) in cooking, have nuts, wild salmon, grass-fed butter, and pastured grass-fed beef.
I think that reduced-fat foods, particularly skim milk, nonfat yogurt, etc. are a slippery slope. When you remove the fat content from one cup of milk, you lose a significant volume, which means it’s replaced with milk that has a higher concentration of sugar to fat ratio. It’s not the fat in milk that makes us fat. It’s the sugar.
People are willing to get short-term gains at the risk of long-term choices. So, if someone can do something to sell a few more records now at the expense of the artist, even if that artist will sell a lot less later, they’ll make that choice.
A lot of it has to do with structure, because the structure of the music industry is rooted in a corporate structure. It’s a quarterly business, but art is not a quarterly business. … And it’s impossible to build a music company as if you were selling shoes. It’s a different business. It has a different ebb and flow. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. You have to look at it as a longer-term game.
Almost 2 years ago today, I quit my day job and started building something. After months of customer development, discussions with my wife about my plans, savings and sleepless nights, I finally decided to take the plunge.
I’m glad I did
That day I quit my job marked the beginning of an epic roller coaster ride. One that saw me hit the top of TechCrunch, hire employees and become a rising star in the technology world. Glowing in our newfound success and ramen-riches, we got an offer that seemed to be the key to making it huge. We were offered a spot in a very well known accelerator.
They say accelerators speed up success and failure, in our case, all it sped up was our ability to play the startup game
The day we set foot into the doors of the accelerator, we had a business that DHH would be proud of. Bootstrapped, lean and already providing (in a small way at least) for the needs of my family and that of my co-founder. Over the next 3 months, our initial desire to not raise a seed round was dismissed and we were thoroughly convinced that we had to continue on the VC rocket-ship in order to matter to anyone. My reluctance to do this was met by scoffs and dismissals from many others in the accelerator cohort (most of which have since gone on to fail hard) as well as by the mentors and investors who had offered their time, network and resources to help us succeed. This is where we made the first in a series of many mistakes
We listened to our investors
They were proven entrepreneurs that had made millions (sometimes nefariously…) and they believed in us. If only we would:
“Make feature X free”
“Stop focussing on revenue, someone else will pay the bills”
“Grow $VANITY_METRIC so you can show a hockey stick at demo day and look good”
“Cut out that pesky client that generates 80% of your revenue, they’re a distraction on the road to executing $OUR_BIG_VISION”
We drank the Kool-Aid and went all-in. By the time demo day came around, we had cheques being written and were all over the press. Still, I had this nagging feeling eating away at me. That nagging feeling was disbelief.
I didn’t believe the shit I was selling investors. This was not the company I put my life on the line to build.
We raised our round, closing up early so we can get back to work and stop fucking around on endless pitches and breakfast run-arounds. Product after product hit the market and found traction, but not the million-user strong kind of traction that would make us matter. My team was still motivated though, firing on all cylinders building these apps that they loved. Despite this, I found myself sitting at my desk, afraid, alone and overwhelmed.
I built a team that I love. I didn’t build a team that can lead.
I really love my co-founder. It’s an enduring bromance that will last a lifetime. He’s a talented executor, supportive listener and I trust him entirely. However, he left me alone in the cold. He didn’t mean to do this, he didn’t even realize he did. I became the guy who would “do-it-all”. Biz Dev, check. Product Management, check. Support, check. Accounting, check. PR, check. Ad Copy, check. Development Lead, check. While he took complete ownership over design (and really excelling at it).
I’m overwhelmed, stretched so thin and unable to do a really good job at any of my duties. I don’t sleep nearly enough and honestly think the only thing that keeps my health and my marriage intact is my running.
When I built this team, I didn’t build it with generalists and with people who could jump into any area of the business and get shit done. Instead, I built it with quality-minded perfectionists who build beautiful things. These people have their place, but not as early founders unless they can hustle.
Thus, in many ways, when my startup fails, I can clearly say that I failed since behind the scenes I’m responsible for much of what the world sees and how the gears of this (albeit tiny) organization turn.
I don’t know what happens next
I made the decision to start this blog in the middle of the night last night while lying in bed next to my sleeping wife. Just one of the many people I will have disappointed due to this failure. (However, undoubtedly one of the few that will still love and support me afterward). This week, I need to speak to the other founder and fire our first employee before he leaves on a planned vacation. He’s a good developer, but I won’t fucking make payroll next week if I don’t clear him and his severance out of the company.
Everyone, I’m elated to tell you that Tumblr will be joining Yahoo.
Before touching on how awesome this is, let me try to allay any concerns: We’re not turning purple. Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing.
So what’s new? Simply, Tumblr gets better faster. The work ahead of us remains the same – and we still have a long way to go! – but with more resources to draw from.
Yahoo is the original Internet company, and Marissa and her team share our dream to make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas. I couldn’t be more excited to have her help. We also share a vision for Tumblr’s business that doesn’t compromise the community and product we love. Plus both our logos end with punctuation!
As always, everything that Tumblr is, we owe to this unbelievable community. We won’t let you down.
I kept busy by thinking about how running that marathon was much like doing a startup. - Dan Martell
People say doing a startup is like a marathon. It’s actually a roadtrip at night with no headlights. You think you’re going to Toledo but you’re actually going to Miami and you might not have enough gas so you might need to buy gas from someone who might take you out if you aren’t driving well. - Ben Silbermann via Jason Shen
This is what running a startup is like…every day (cue video). - Jason Calacanis
Running a startup is like being punched in the face repeatedly. - Paul Graham
In my tiredness, my scars, and my strength I have noticed that launching and running a start-up is a lot like war. - Ryan Wood
Running a startup is like having all the bad guys from Die Hard attack you, but you’re way more scrawny than Bruce Willis. - Aaron Levie
For whatever reason marketing seems to be a second rate citizen in startup land. Most startups are sucking up as many engineers as possible, but delaying marketing help until after a significant funding round.
And the startups that are trying to find marketing help tend to get inundated with “squishy b-school marketing” types rather than marketers that can traverse the full marketing stack. This lack of full stack marketers likely explains why most startups are waiting to hire marketing help.
So I wanted to delve into what skills actually make a good full stack marketer. This way startups can know what they are looking for in a real marketing hire and this way marketers can know what skills they need to hone in on in order to get hired at an early stage startup.
The 21 Skills of a Full Stack Marketer
In no particular order these are the skills that I think would make a A+ marketing teammate at an early stage startup.
Many of these skills overlap and many of the resources are about similar concepts as well.
Understanding of how to drive traffic to your site via targeted keywords, link building and on page optimizations.
Be able to create content that is relevant to your market and drives signups for your application. This could be blog posts, guest posting, infographics, podcasts or any form of content that drives links and traffic back to your blog or site.
Be able to write content that is both interesting and compelling to your target market consistently. Similar to copywriting and content marketing. You need to be able to write good headlines and interesting content.
Stories are one of the oldest means of communication. Before the written and recorded word humans passed along information, traditions, and knowledge via stories. Being able to tell stories well will pull in people to your blog or product.
Lifecycle marketing is usually done via email. It’s a way to trigger messages to your leads and customers that match their current state in the marketing funnel. Sending the right email at the right time can increase sales by 10% and sometimes more.
App Stores like the Apple App store or the Salesforce AppExchange provide a great opportunity to get your product out in front of a known audience. Being able to rank highly in these stores can send a steady stream of leads your direction.
As the saying goes, “50% of marketing works. We’re just not sure which 50%.” With the advent of internet marketing, though, we’ve gotten much better and figuring out how well our marketing efforts are working. A good understanding of web analytics will help you double down what is working and throw out what isn’t.
Another skill of a savvy marketer is being able to iterate towards optimal solutions. A/B testing lets marketers test two different variations of an offering and figure out which one converts the best. A/B tests can result in double digit percentage increases in conversions with relatively little effort.
A marketer who can get their hands dirty will be much more effective than one that always has to lean on a developer. Being able to edit the copy directly via HTML reposition an element on the page via CSS will let a marketer iterate quicker without distracting the development team.
Marketers have to constantly be communicating with customers. There isn’t a better way to do this than through customer service. A marketer who can’t communicate effectively with customers via email, phone, chat and in person is going to be a lot less effective than one that can.
Every marketer has to be pitching. Constantly. Pitching could be emailing a blogger about doing a guest post. It could be convincing a conference organizer to let you talk at a conference. It could be pitching a bigger company to partner up.
Being able to generate lots of content has been a theme of this post. But content that no one sees is pointless. A marketer needs to know how to find outlets for getting product and content out in front of an audience so people actually know about your content or product.
Business Development is the art of partnering with another company in a way that will help you both grow faster. Biz Dev is harder than making a sale of a product. Biz Dev is putting together a deal and being able to implement and coordinate the deal for start to finish with minimal distraction for both team.s
It would take years to become great at any of these things. Decades to be an expert at all.
Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert.
You only need to be able to get the ball rolling. You only need to know enough to put something in place to build from. You only need to find one or two successful tactics early on to get early traction with the product.
Once the startup has some momentum and either revenue or significant funding you can bring in the domain experts to optimize the marketing channels most important for the startup.
The Best Learning is Doing
You’ll find a lot of data while learning how to do any of these skills. But keep in mind it may or may not apply to your startup.
The best way to learn is to try everything.
Give everything a one or two shots. If it’s terrible forget about it for now. If it shows an inkling of promise put some extra effort to see if you can make something happen.
I just tweeted about this, but I wanted to elaborate a bit on the “why”. A few weeks ago, I hired Rob Sequin to broker the purchase of a domain from an existing owner. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it work because the owner was unresponsive, and so I’ve moved on to my second choice….