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Andrew Kippen

Andrew Kippen's Public Library

  • Someone walked into my house when I was away. A Wi-Fi home security camera detected motion and immediately sent me a text and email alert - along with a photo.
  • As it turned out, the "intruder" was a family member. But what if had been someone else?
  • I've come to realize that in some situations they're no substitute for a professionally managed home security system.

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  • Piper is a white or black plastic video camera that you can perch on a shelf somewhere or mount on a wall or ceiling. Then you can monitor what it’s seeing on your phone, wherever you happen to be in the world.
  • (Its Vitals screen also displays the current outdoor temperature and humidity. It knows that information not by sensing it, but because it knows where you live and grabs the data from a weather site.)
  • But then there’s the killer feature: compatibility with Z-Wave gadgets. Z-Wave is a standard for home-automation accessories: sensors, alarms, thermostats, locks, motorized window shades, remote-controlled light switches, and so on.

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  • This deal highlights the problem with funding technologies that might eventually be acquired by large companies like Facebook. Traditional investors are overjoyed by the deal, which will reportedly offer a 20-times return on investment. But the people who backed the company’s Kickstarter project are dismayed by the deal, partly because their money went to a company that eventually sold for $2 billion and partly because they backed a technology they wanted to see thrive, not a company they wanted to see sold.
  • A common theme seen throughout the discourse in the days following the acquisition: Kickstarter contributions are just donations, they aren’t investments or purchases.
  • These are commercial transactions. That’s why you can file a chargeback. It’s why Kickstarter is not a store.

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  • Monetary pledges, developer time and emotional investments in the virtual reality startup offer no legal recourse and no payoff for a company that is acquired for $2 billion. Only people with equity stakes — private stock — in the company enjoy the windfall.
  • Kickstarter offers absolutely no equity positions in companies.
  • An initial investment, known as a seed round, typically requires a company to give up 15% to 30% of its interest in the company, split between an employee option pool and investors.

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  • It might seem hypocritical for me to condemn Oculus’ sale to Facebook when I wrote just over a year ago that Pebble, another company that found life on Kickstarter, should sell to a larger company. But the difference between Oculus and Pebble is that the latter could benefit from selling to a company that might help it ship its smartwatches on time, develop new features to justify the incredible hype surrounding the wearables market, and otherwise deliver on its many promises.
  • Facebook doesn’t have any experience with consumer hardware. It has never so much as hinted at a virtual reality product, and its history with acquired companies is mixed at best. The only thing the company can offer Oculus is a few blank checks, and that isn’t enough to offset the malaise Oculus’ backers feel about donating to a company that eventually offered the most promising virtual reality product to the highest bidder. Those backers were sponsoring a revolution, and they’ve been repaid with promises of independence and a product category that just “became a monopoly before it even became a market,” as Pando’s James Robinson wrote in a post about the deal’s wider implications.
  • It could be argued that Oculus’ promises to its backers will be fulfilled whenever it ships the last shirt or poster it offered in exchange for their cash.

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  • In the end, it’s just product, matching audience preferences. So it was encouraging to see a big-name Hollywood director, Darren Aronofsky, the filmmaker behind the upcoming epic “Noah,” show some defiance against the numbers men.
  • “Ten men in a room trying to come up with their favorite ice cream are going to agree on vanilla,” he said in The New Yorker. “I’m the rocky road guy.”
  • At Amazon, the quants rule. Daydreaming, pie-in-the-sky time and giving people room to fail — the vital ingredients of creativity — are costly, the first things to go at a data-driven company. As a business model, Amazon is a huge success. As a regular generator of culture-altering material, it’s a bit player. Why? It has marginalized messiness.

    • Career rocket fuel comes in three forms. And to take full advantage of Stage 1, you should accumulate all three types of fuel:

      1. Transportable Skills
      3. Meaningful Experiences, and
      5. Enduring Relationships
    • Problem-solving: Can you assess a business problem and create a plan?
    • Communications: Can you write and speak persuasively?
    • Selling: Can you sell, negotiate, and close a deal?
    • Analysis: Can you look at a set of data and draw important insights?
    • Team: Can you mobilize a team to accomplish a meaningful goal?
    • Talent: Can you attract and develop good talent around you?
    • Risk and Judgment: Do you know how to make decisions and take appropriate risks?
  • The purpose of Stage 3 is to pass the torch: closing the loop on succession planning and evolving from a doing/leading role to an advisory/contributory role.

  • the Dropcam Pro that I tried to set up in the nursery had trouble connecting to my Wi-Fi network
  • Also, my first Dropcam simply stopped working, and couldn’t communicate with my computer for set-up. I exchanged it for a replacement, which the company says is a standard, but rarely needed, practice for faulty cameras.
  • Dropcam isn’t for everyone, but its affordable price and approachable setup make video monitoring accessible for a lot of people. Just be aware of potentially iffy results in areas with weaker Wi-Fi.

  • big cable and telco providers have invaded the space in recent years, hungry to add a fourth leg to their three-legged broadband/phone/TV stool.
  • In the same span of time, a new crop of self-installable security solutions like SimpliSafe popped up, seeing an untapped opportunity to sell to consumers who wanted security but didn’t want to pay a big one-time installation charge and ongoing $50 a month subscriptions.
  • a new wave of companies making low-cost, no-monthly-fee offerings have ridden in on the DIY smart home wave according to a recent analysis at research firm NextMarket Insights.


    This influx includes companies like Canary, which make a single multi-sensor smart-box that monitors a home, and SmartThings, which makes a DIY smart home platform with self-installable door and window sensors.

  • Canary looks to bridge the gap between absolutely no home security and a complicated system that costs thousands. By putting a number of sensors (air quality, smoke detector, motion sensors, etc) inside a little capsule with an HD camera, users can monitor their home from a remote location through a simple app.
  • Canary is smart enough to learn the difference between a pet, or a nanny that shows up at the same time every day, and an intruder, and will alert the home owner as soon as something fishy is detected.
01 Mar 14

Forbes talks about the MIT Internet of Things conference and all the questions it brings up.

  • 1. Would my network thank me for it?


    According to Ann Handley, head of content at MarketingProfs and author of Content Rules, this is a good place to start. Is the content so useful that your audience would thank you?

  • 2. Does it make me say, "Holy smokes"?


    "Useful" is only one of the signs of great content. Content can also be so funny, so ridiculous, or so rage-inducing that you simply must pass it on. What we're looking for here is the "holy smokes" reaction, which Jason Falls explains.

  • 3. Does it pass my Facebook test?


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  • Advertising sales are a tough slog for both -- and for a lot of the same reasons. Media buyers say they are slow, cocky and downright stingy. Both take too long to develop ad products. Amazon's sales approach is too pushy; Apple is too reticent to foster relationships. Most frustrating: Neither is willing to cough up enough of the consumer data that attracts advertisers to them in the first place.
  • even in a digital age, advertising is a relationship-driven business.
  • One exec told Ad Age that Apple doesn't even have official sales targets for its ad business.

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  • “One of the most scalable organizations in human history was the Roman army. Its defining unit: The squad — eight guys. The number of guys that could fit in a tent.”
  • When you’re small, everyone sits in one room and everything works. As you grow, things start to break. “That’s when you need to take all your engineering knowledge and apply it to your team, and you want to end up with a modular system where teams become the unit of scale
  • Build strong teams first. Assign them problems later.

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12 Feb 14

Good reading on the customer decision process for marketing and selling products.

  • Every day, people form impressions of brands from touch points such as advertisements, news reports, conversations with family and friends, and product experiences. Unless consumers are actively shopping, much of that exposure appears wasted. But what happens when something triggers the impulse to buy? Those accumulated impressions then become crucial because they shape the initial-consideration set: the small number of brands consumers regard at the outset as potential purchasing options.

  • A home security system is a great way to keep your home and family safe, but the installation and high cost of monthly fees are real drawbacks for many people. Canary looks to simplify the home security system with a device that requires no installation and no fees. Simply place the sensor in your home, connect it to your home wifi network and you’ll be able to start tracking home security on your phone. The device’s built-in camera, night vision and motion sensor can alert you if there is an intruder. For an added layer of protection, Canary also packs in environmental sensors which can track things like indoor air quality and humidity.

  • This special report will argue that something similar is now happening in the virtual realm: an entrepreneurial explosion. Digital startups are bubbling up in an astonishing variety of services and products, penetrating every nook and cranny of the economy. They are reshaping entire industries and even changing the very notion of the firm. “Software is eating the world,” says Marc Andreessen, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.
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