A Startup Education

Paying Attention: One of the most incredible new business case histories is the one provided by Everpix, an internet based photo storing and sharing site that shuttered itself in November, 2013.
Everpix failed but not because the product wasn’t great, the entrepreneurs not experienced, the software not good. Sometimes, you can be very good at something, just not good fast enough. That was Everpix’s story.
Incredibly, the founders of Everpix have sanctioned and produced a case history of the company, how it came together, and the VC and business nuts and bolts that built it. This is compelling, incredible reading.

The case history of Everpix is an amazingly detailed look at an internet startup that almost made it.
The case history of Everpix is an amazingly detailed look at an internet startup that almost made it.

Since the first quarter of this year is dedicated to the theme of “Get Your Startup Going”, this is information you should read. Start with this great piece on Everpix from The Verge.
Then, move to this set of metrics, data, and documentation on Everpix at GitHub.com to get one of the most in-depth views of what it takes to get a startup in motion.  All of this–the article and the data– is a complete education you should take advantage of. And thanks to the founders and executives at Everpix for sharing this incredible story.

Building Up The Trust Fund


Photo by epSos.de (2013), used under Creative Commons license. Thanks!
Investing is not boring. It’s just the way to make the money you work for, work for you. Photo by epSos.de, (January 2013), used under Creative Commons license. Thanks!

Press Clippings:  Investing is an important component of modern life. Whether you were born with money or made your own, the sooner you start investing, the better off you’ll be.
Bloomberg.Com has just produced a very informative slide show that tells you which companies are projected to increase dividends the most over the next three years. When you click to the piece, be certain to read the methodology involved, and be comfortable with it.  As always, seek the advice of an investment professional before you invest in anything but if you’re investing in stocks, stocks that pay dividends as well as appreciate in value, should be on your radar.

The Daytona 24 is the quintessential ‘crap shoot’ of endurance races

Risi Competizione’s Rick Mayer, Team Engineer, continues his tradition of writing a preview of what it’s involved in setting up a car for a race with this very insightful brief on getting the Risi Comp Ferrari F458GTC ready to run the 24 Hours of Daytona. For over 5 years, Rick has provided a unique perspective on racing and race cars. The season begins again and so does Rick. Read his insights (below) and then watch how it all plays out at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, this weekend. 
_J3U3106_Rolex24_140124General: It’s a new season, new series and new rules. The total car count of 67 cars on the 3.56 mile track, together with a large quantity of varying skill level Pro-Am combos, will almost certainly factor into the results of the race. Getting through traffic cleanly and staying clear of trouble will be more difficult than in any race in 2013, and a driver’s mental fatigue and any lapse of concentration could easily affect the outcome. The ‘new’ wave bye rules for safety car periods will ensure a large lead lap car count for each class, as the new rules make it easy to make up any lap deficit. The IMSA TUSC specific balance of performance (BoP) GTLM rules are established for Daytona but will be evolving throughout the season with some makes having an edge over others. This doesn’t change the inherent strategy you choose, but it may change the intra-class competition balance and each make’s ability to pull away, catch up or maintain position within the class. Clearing GTD traffic will be particularly difficult for GTLM as the GTDs have a banking speed advantage due to less restricted engine rules.
The track: Daytona is the iconic, classic ‘roval’. Weather and grip will vary with conditions. It was repaved recently and, with mild winters, the track surface is still relatively smooth. The corners are all slow except the Bus Stop and the Kink. This is all complicated by having to run very high tire pressures and very low cambers in order to diminish the chance of having banking related tire failures. There are many ways to get a good lap time here but good corner exits from turn 3, 6 and the Bus Stop, plus speed through the latter are key to a competitive race car.
_99R4439_Rolex24_140123Setup: Daytona is a track that requires some reserve in setup to increase safety. The mechanical setup and tire pressures we need to run (Daytona only pressure and Daytona only cambers) here are all in the direction of safety at the detriment to lap time and performance. We bias the setup to improve traction and power down where, at the more regular road courses, we lean toward trying to reduce the understeer. The required high tire pressures (+20%!) reduce front and rear grip. The increased pressures tend to bias the deficit to the rear both at corner entrance and power down at the exit. The reduced camber rules (more than one degree less camber) also decrease grip; all of these change the general setup from what you’d  expect. We’ll try and trim drag, as much as you can on a GT car, to improve banking speed. With 67 cars you’ll be in traffic throughout the infield nearly every lap. The only legitimate passing areas are on the banking to clear slower cars, into braking at turn 1 and the Bus Stop and occasionally into turn 5. The better car to race is the low drag version if the lap times are similar. Being fast in the infield section is of little advantage.
_99R6177_rolex24_140124The race: The Daytona 24 is the quintessential ‘crap shoot’ of endurance races. The field is packed and the pit lane boxes are the smallest of the season so you have to take as much care in the pits as on the track. Luck and patience pay large dividends here,  more than at other tracks. The wave bye rules for cautions are likely to ensure a large number of lead lap cars in each class in the last stints of the race. After the opening hour, you need to stay in touch with the class leader, ideally BE the class leader, and be positioned for the 23rd-hour sprint to the finish. We had good results at the end of 2013 and, in general, have had great success with the long races at Risi Competizione.  Let’s hope the momentum carries to Daytona.

The Macintosh is 30

Paying Attention: This weekend, Apple will have a big celebration for the Macintosh computer, which was announced 30 years today, 24 January 1984.  Since it’s creation, the Macintosh–it’s spirit, technology, innovation and attitude– has propelled Apple into a mammoth business that operates in industries ranging from software to music distribution and cell phones. Even though Apple has a market cap of approximately half a trillion dollars, it somehow manages to maintain an intimate and highly personal personna and brand.  One of the early writers/followers of Apple was Steven Levy, who wrote a very nice piece about being there at the beginning for WIRED.  Here’s a link to Levy’s article; it’s also advised that you read his book on Apple, Insanely Great: The Story of Macintosh, The Computer that Changed Everything.  Apple is celebrating the Mac’s birth with its own lineup of photos, video, and key points in the product’s history. You don’t have to be an Apple fanboy to appreciate what they’ve accomplished and the impact it’s had on our world.

Photo of Macintosh Plus brochure by Katie Lips, London, England taken April, 2013. Used under Creative Commons license. Thank you Katie.
Photo of Macintosh Plus brochure by Katie Lips, London, England taken April, 2013. Used under Creative Commons license. Thank you Katie.

Rolex 24 At Daytona Schedule

Below, the schedule for the 52nd running of the 24 Hours at Daytona, now called the Rolex 24 at Daytona (you will remember the iconic Daytona Rolex watch, eh?…made massively famous and desirable by Paul Newman, who raced at Daytona). Risi Competizione, the Houston-based Ferrari GTLM sports car team will be running the race in the no. 62 Ferrari F430GTC (drivers: Fisichella, Bruni, Malucelli, Beretta). More detailed information on the race, drivers, car, etc. is at the Risi Comp site. Select journalistic coverage will be displayed here as well.
Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona
Tudor United Sports Car Challenge Championship
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Understanding Design

You've held a hundred of these. They serve multiple purposes and perform none of them well. Time for a change.
You’ve held a hundred of these. They serve multiple purposes and perform none of them well. Time for a change.

Paying Attention: There is so much press today about the importance of design in our lives, that it might be a good idea to verify that we’re all on the same page when it comes to an understanding of what design is and how it works.
Design is not just graphic design–the arrangement of elements of art, type, photography–on a page. And it is not simply the shape or outline or form of something, although that’s certainly an element, especially in areas like industrial design which, although one of the most esoteric areas of design, has been the major driver of the current renaissance of interest in design.
Design–graphic, product, industrial, architectural, interior, exterior,  mechanical–is first and foremost a thought and research project, in which the designer (regardless of discipline) takes apart the elements of a given design assignment, rethinks the entire set of variables that exist, creates new elements that do not currently exist, and then pushes everything together into a final design that is unitized, beautiful, elegant, simple (it’s hard to make complex things simple, as we all know…but that is the mark of the gifted) and effective. Really good design has a massive “Oh, yea, that makes sense” element to it, the visceral reality that the design is so  pure, it couldn’t be any other way (until the next disruptive design comes along).
We can thank Apple for pushing design out to the masses, but before Apple there was SONY, JBL, Herman Miller, Knoll, Ray and Charles Eames, Mies, Ettore Sotsass, Pininfarina, Milton Glaser, Herb Lubalin. All brilliant designers of their times and simultaneously ahead of them.
A very good and enjoyable design brief is Peter Smart’s overview of a new design for that most common of worldly objects–the airplane ticket. Read it, take in it’s multiple messages, and enjoy. And then–as it’s the weekend–play around with a little design of something yourself for an hour or two.

Apple Doubles Down

Paying Attention:  What most of the media have missed about Apple’s iPad is how well it works for creative people. The change in GUI/interface and the freedom created by a switch from a keyboard and mouse-based input model to touch screen input, enabled software engineers to re-think a lot of the software that was being used for creative purposes. The result was an integrated piece of software/hardware that functions more like a digital sketch pad than a traditional computer. There are less commands but more freedom. And most importantly, the change in input strategies and platform necessitated a complete re-thinking of the creative process.
Creativity is by character anarchistic; it is going against traditional thinking, challenging the old assumptions, pushing out the boundaries. Artists take chances. Some of these chances succeed in major ways, some don’t. Some are commercial and some are not. But the status-quo is not a status that art and artists and creative directors can ever be comfortable with.  
Albert Einstein once said that “We can’t solve problems by using the same type of thinking we used to create them”. He’s right, of course, but some need the outside stimulus of a difference in thought process to spur them into more creativity.  And that’s what the iPad does (if you get past using it just as a window into media, which is another  area in which it’s quite effective).
The wide variety of creative software developed for the iPad can be used to help you push your own creative boundaries. With a dominant market share and coming off of a rather startling and innovative TV commercial for Christmas , Apple has doubled down (again), with a TV commercial named”Your Verse”. It’s unique in a lot of ways–for one thing it’s 90 seconds long– and ties lots of imagery together with a very non-technical voice over.
The main theme of the commercial is creativity on the iPad, specifically, photographic creativity (didn’t know you could hook an iPad onto a tripod? With an outboard microphone?). The iPad generated 76.1% of tablet originated traffic at Christmas (Source: Chitika) and although that’s down 10% from their numbers in July, it’s still massively dominant in the tablet market.  No doubt Android tablets are increasing market share, but despite what some pundits believe, that’s not really the correct way to ascertain who’s winning the tablet battle: the goal is to increase user experience and creativity…..and that’s where Apple is winning in a major way.  By asking questions no one else asks, and creating opportunities no one else is creating, Apple continues to predict the future by inventing it themselves. They really do play the game at a different level from everyone else. 


The Comeback

Press Clippings: How Chrysler came back from bankruptcy. Great piece from Bloomberg on Chrysler’s return as an automobile manufacturer. The main architect, Sergio Marchionne, the chain-smoking head of Italy’s Fiat automotive group, had an industry rep for making risky situations pay off. All of his talents would be necessary to save Chrysler.  Ironically, Marchionne would become–as you will remember–the second person of Italian heritage to save Chrysler, the first being Lee Iacocca whose parents emigrated from Italy. The story-and it’s not short-is from Bloomberg and it’s required readying. Link to it here.

Chrysler's comeback has been built on the Jeep, Ram, and Chrysler 300 Brands.
Chrysler’s comeback has been built on the Jeep, Ram, and Chrysler 300 Brands.


I Heard What You Said Last Summer

Did you know your lake could also be listening in on your conversations?
Did you know your lake could also be listening in on your conversations?

Press Clippings: From website iO9 (it should be in your bookmarks) comes this very interesting explanation of why you can hear your neighbors conversations from across the lake (and, of course, the opposite…why they can hear yours).It’s winter in North America and most are safe from pan-lake eavesdropping, but spring is just around the corner and ripe for exploitation.  A word to the wise……