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The latest news on Startups from Business Insider

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    Kitty Hawk Flyer

    The mysterious flying-car startup funded by Google cofounder Larry Page, Kitty Hawk, took the wraps off its first vehicle on Monday.

    The Kitty Hawk Flyer looks a mix between a flying Jet Ski and, as John Markoff of The New York Times puts it, "something Luke Skywalker would have built out of spare parts." It's designed to be flown over water and will be available for sale by the end of this year, Kitty Hawk says.

    Kitty Hawk says its Flyer can be operated without a pilot's license as long as you fly it in "uncongested areas." The startup hasn't said how much the Flyer will cost, but it's offering an early $2,000 discount for people who are willing to pay $100 now to get on the wait-list.

    Here's everything we know so far about the Kitty Hawk Flyer and the other flying cars Page is funding:

    The Kitty Hawk Flyer is a fully electric aircraft with eight rotors that weighs about 220 pounds and seats one person.

    Kitty Hawk 3

    The vehicle is designed to fly above fresh water with two pontoons at its bottom. The prototype Kitty Hawk Flyer "looks and feels a lot like a flying motorcycle,"according to Cimeron Morrissey, who tested it.

    Kitty Hawk 1

    The flyer is controlled by two handlebars and what looks like a giant touchscreen. It travels at up to 25 mph at a max of 15 feet above the water.

    Screen Shot 2017 04 24 at 12.57.41 PM

    The Kitty Hawk Flyer doesn't need a runway for takeoff or landing. Here it's making a vertical landing:

    Kitty Hawk 2

    Kitty Hawk is calling its current Flyer a "functional prototype" and says that "the shipping version will have a different look and feel."

    Kitty Hawk 4

    Kitty Hawk says you don't need a pilot's license to operate its Flyer and that it's meant to be flown in "uncongested areas."

    Screen Shot 2017 04 24 at 1.29.29 PM

    Its price hasn't been unveiled, but Kitty Hawk says the Flyer will go on sale later this year. Those who pay $100 to be put on a priority wait-list on Kitty Hawk's website will receive $2,000 off the final price, it says.

    Kitty Hawk 5

    Kitty Hawk is also offering early backers three years of membership to its community program, which promises "exclusive access to Kitty Hawk experiences and demonstrations" along with special gear.

    Screen Shot 2017 04 24 at 2.07.15 PM

    The Kitty Hawk Flyer is just one flying vehicle the Page-backed startup is working on. Page has reportedly invested more than $100 million into Kitty Hawk and its other division, Zee.Aero. Both organizations have registered to test several aircraft, from gliders to sailplanes.

    zee aero patents

    The goal of Kitty Hawk and Zee.Aero is to one day reinvent personal transportation. The divisions have about 100 employees combined. Kitty Hawk's CEO is Sebastian Thrun, the cofounder of Udacity and father of Google's self-driving-car project.

    Screen Shot 2017 04 24 at 1.31.20 PM

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The newest flying car is backed by Larry Page — and you can buy it by the end of the year


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    LoveCrafts founders

    LONDON — LoveCrafts, the UK-headquartered marketplace for craft products, announced on Tuesday that it has raised £26 million in new funding from Scottish Equity Partners, as well as previous investors Balderton Capital and Highland Europe.

    LoveCrafts isn't a traditional e-commerce site — it favours building communities around different kinds of crafts rather than just serving as an online shopfront.

    Right now LoveCrafts runs two online communities: Knitting and crochet. Users can follow each other and purchase designs for knitting and crochet projects.

    LoveCrafts takes a cut of the cost of designs, as well as any of the crafting supplies sold through the site. It's essentially a mix between a social network and a more traditional, Etsy-style marketplace.

    LoveCrafts said in a press release announcing its funding that it will use the money to launch more online craft communities and expand internationally.

    Business Insider interviewed two of LoveCrafts' founders, Edward Griffith and Nigel Whiteoak, at the company's London office before the funding round was announced.

    LoveCrafts is considering adding lots of news crafts

    Whiteoak said that the company is considering expanding to several new crafts, including sewing, quilting, papercraft, baking and cake decorating. Griffith added that he's also keen to see technology projects on the site such as Raspberry Pi computers.

    LoveCrafts

    Investors don't always understand LoveCrafts

    LoveCrafts isn't a typical technology startup — its customers tend to be female and middle-aged, rather than the standard tech audience of young men. So that has lead to some investors being confused about the company. There's "generally a kind of puzzlement" from investors, Griffith said. "It's very rare to find an investor who has hands-on knowledge of the crafts world."

    However, sometimes investors do have personal experience of the world of crafts. "It does happen. Occasionally you'll find an investor will talk about their mother," Griffith added.

    LoveCrafts doesn't find that its users are less digitally savvy than the rest of the population, Whiteoak said. "This population is pretty active online. We're not in the late nineties anymore," he said. "They've all got their iPads, or their tablets or their phones. They're all pretty savvy online. It's far easier for them to shop online than it is to go down to the shops. [It's] far easier for them to find a pattern than to have to wander down to their newsagents and pay their money."

    Griffith said the inspiration for LoveCrafts came from watching his partner struggle to source crafts online. "I was watching my better half struggling to get designs and struggling to get the ingredients," he said. "[I] wanted to provide a better, more integrated solution."

    "She was looking at magazines for designs and was struggling to find the stuff that she needed or she was looking on Pinterest and then couldn't find what she needed, it was never described anywhere. She was looking at blogs. The whole thing seemed to need a more integrated digital solution."

    The US is now LoveCrafts' key market

    LoveCrafts is based in London, but its main market is now the US. Griffith said that the UK is now the company's second market, and it accounts for around 30% of orders. LoveCrafts has shipped items to around 140 companies, but its founders say the site wants to launch localised versions to help it expand more.

    LoveCrafts

    LoveCrafts has an office in Ukraine

    It's common for technology companies to split their teams up to take advantage of cheaper labour costs in other countries. Fintech startup TransferWise has a team in Estonia, for example. Griffith said LoveCrafts has a development office in Kiev, Ukraine.

    "We wanted to be able to double the size of the product development team in the next year," Griffith said. "It's quite hard to grow quickly. We've gone from one engineer to product development is now 60 or something in the space of three years. London is still the heart of Europe's tech scene. It's still really competitive."

    LoveCrafts took an unusual approach to choosing Kiev as the city for its second office. Griffith said the company used data from coding platform GitHub to map where in the world people with certain technical skills were. That lead the company to Kiev. The second reason, Griffith said, "is that I have friends there." Those friends have helped introduce the company to local lawyers and accountants, Griffith said.

    There are often problems with splitting the company between different offices, though. "It's hard to find great videoconferencing kit," Griffith said. "[It] will be the first thing on my shopping list after our Series C funding. We haven't solved that one."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Treadmills were originally used as torture devices for prisoners


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    dr ali parsa babylon health

    UK artificial intelligence (AI) startup Babylon has raised $60 million (£47 million) for its smartphone app which aims to put a doctor in your pocket.

    The latest funding round, which comes just over a year after the startup's last fundraise, means that the three-year-old London startup now has a valuation in excess of $200 million (£156 million), according to The Financial Times.

    Babylon's app has been downloaded over a million times and it allows people in UK, Ireland, and Rwanda to ask a chatbot a series of questions about their condition without having to visit a GP.

    The medical chatbot provides feedback on the patient's symptoms and recommends a paid-for video call with a human doctor when the occasion calls. In the UK, one-off calls with a doctor start at £25, while calls with a specialist cost more. Alternatively, Babylon users can pay £5 a month for a subscription to the service. In Rwanda, where Babylon has 450,000 users, people pay 50p for a consultation.

    "The new funding will be used to accelerate the development of our technology and expanding geographically," Ali Parsa, founder and CEO of Babylon, told Business Insider. "We are looking at 11 to 12 countries," he added, saying that South East Asia and Africa are regions of focus for Babylon. The company is also in talks with a Middle Eastern government, Parsa said.

    Babylon babylon_lifestyle2

    Babylon currently employs around 170 people but Parsa said that this number is expected to grow "significantly" by the end of 2017. "There are 60 vacancies [at Babylon] right now," he said.

    Babylon's aim is to build the world's most advanced AI platform in healthcare, support medical diagnosis, and predict personalised health outcomes globally.

    "Cutting edge artificial intelligence together with ever increasing advances in medicine means that the promise of global good health is nearer than most people realise," said Parsa in a statement.

    "Babylon scientists predict that we will shortly be able to diagnose and foresee personal health issues better than doctors, but this is about machines and medics co-operating not competing. Doctors do a lot more than diagnosis: artificial intelligence will be a tool that will allow doctors and health care professionals to become more accessible and affordable for everyone on earth. It will allow them to focus on the things that humans will be best at for a long time to come."

    babylon_lifestyle25

    In the UK, Babylon employs around 100 doctors and pays them roughly the same as they'd get paid if they were working for the NHS. Many of them are busy mums and dads who don't want to work full time at a surgery or in a hospital, he said. 

    Last January, Babylon raised $25 million (£19.5 million) from a range of investors, including DeepMind cofounders Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman. That round valued the company at over $100 million (£78 million), according to The Financial Times.

    The latest funding round reportedly includes Egyptian billionaire business family, the Sawiris, as well as several other new investors.

    The company teamed up with the NHS in January on a trial project that saw its AI doctor used to power the NHS 111 app, which is available to over a million north London residents. The partnership means that Londoners will be able to type their symptoms into an app instead of calling a human to describe their health problems over a phone. The app will then provide advice to the person on what to do next.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 6 things the Samsung Galaxy S8 can do that the iPhone can’t


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    Alastair Mitchell and Andy McLoughlin of Huddle

    Enterprise software firm Huddle urgently needs to find at least $5 million (£4 million) or a buyer to keep its bank happy, according to a Companies House filing that was first spotted by Computer Weekly.

    Huddle has until April 30 to explain to its bank how it will raise at least $5 million in equity. It needs the money to ensure it can meet its financial obligations over the next 12 months.

    "If the covenant is not met, the group would not have adequate cash resources to continue to pay liabilities as they fall due for at least the next 12 months," the filing reads.

    "Management is confident they will meet the covenant requirements, however this represents a material uncertainty which may significantly cast doubt about the company's ability to continue as a going concern."

    Huddle was cofounded in London in 2006 by Andy McLoughlin and Alastair Mitchell, who was also the company's CEO. The company has raised $89.2 million (£70 million) for its content collaboration platform. It was called out by UK government agency Tech City UK as one of the UK's most promising startups in 2013 when it was selected to be part of its Future Fifty cohort.

    Huddle VP Tim Deluca Smith said there was no need to be concerned about the impending deadline presented in the filing.

    "As we are coming to the end of a funding cycle, our annual [Companies House] filing requires us to disclose how we are expecting to bridge our funding requirements going forward," he reportedly told Computer Weekly. "This is very normal. We are a venture capital (VC)-backed company and, like any other, we require funding until either we break even or the business is acquired."

    Mitchell stepped down as CEO in January 2015 and made way for Morten Brøgger, a veteran tech exec whose past roles included CEO of Mach, which he helped sell to Syniverse for $715 million (£557 million) in 2012.

    Huddle did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: SCOTT GALLOWAY: Why you should worry about a company if its CEO is in a fashion magazine


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    blade delta

    Blade, the on-demand "Uber for helicopters" startup, wants to help its customers avoid the airport completely. 

    The startup has launched a partnership with Delta Air Lines to streamline the transfer process for passengers flying in and out of New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. 

    Delta passengers arriving to JFK, including from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London, can arrange to be met on the jet bridge by Delta's Elite Services team, who will gather their checked luggage and bring them to an awaiting Blade car on the tarmac.

    That car then brings them to a Blade helicopter, which will get them to Manhattan in less than 10 minutes. Blade operates three lounges in Manhattan, where passengers can arrange to be dropped off. 

    Passengers using Blade's services to depart out of JFK will go through an expedited TSA screening process before being transferred to their Delta flight. A Delta Elite Services team member will personally handle their luggage and escort the passenger to their seat.

    "We partnered with Delta given their relentless focus on raising the industry bar on passenger innovation," Blade founder and CEO Rob Wiesenthal told Business Insider. "With Blade, this innovation now includes reducing the time and friction associated with traveling between Manhattan and JFK. "

    The transfer through Delta costs $250 plus $1,000 for the private helicopter, which has six seats. It can be booked via the Blade app. It's worth noting that a typical Blade airport ride to JFK (without the Delta Elite Services team, and with the typical TSA screening) starts at $195 a seat. 

    SEE ALSO: Meet the man behind the on-demand helicopter startup that the 1% use to get to the Hamptons

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This $250M mansion is the most expensive home for sale in the US — complete with a helicopter and a $30M car collection


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    Oliver Samwer

    German startup factory Rocket Internet desperately needs some of the startups in its portfolio to go public in 2017, according to analysts at Barclays.

    The Berlin-headquartered firm, which is a public company itself, reported losses of €741 million (£630 million) for 2016 on Tuesday, partly due to a lack of significant exits.

    Losses at the company, which invests in existing internet companies and builds some of its own, were almost four times higher than losses in 2015, when the company reported a loss of €197.8 million (£168 million).

    "In our view, the key to the story is an IPO of one of the assets in 2017E," several Barclays analysts wrote in a note to investors on Wednesday.

    There are a couple of companies in the Rocket Internet portfolio that are tipped to exit this year. Food delivery startups HelloFresh and DeliveryHero "are possible stories this year" wrote the Barclays analysts, who went on to say: "We think both are credible opportunities".

    Delivery Hero said on Monday that it is considering a stock market listing after reporting a 79% increase in full-year sales to €297 million (£252 million).

    The analysts stressed that HelloFresh needs to show growth in the number of subscribers in the first quarter of its financial year. "If a clear sequential subscriber acceleration can be shown then investors should become more positive," they said. "We think this will happen. If there is no clear acceleration in a quarter where seasonal factors should be favourable, it is right to ask questions on whether the underlying growth of the business is slowing."

    Rocket went public in 2014 when it listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange. However, shares in the company have continued to slide as investors question the company's strategy.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 6 things the Samsung Galaxy S8 can do that the iPhone can’t


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    Neil Vogel

    About.com launched in 1997. It used to be one of the world's most visited websites.

    Today, internet entrepreneur and investor Neil Vogel has been tasked with saving the IAC-owned dot-com brand from extinction.

    "I got a phone call from Joey Levin, who is the CEO of IAC. He asked, 'What do you think of About.com?'" Vogel said during a recent interview with Business Insider. "My answer — in perfect arrogance — was 'I don't.' Who thinks of About.com? Nobody."

    Levin persuaded him to come in for a job interview anyway, and Vogel walked out convinced he could help turn the company around. Now he is CEO of About.com, and to save it he's trying something that sounds crazy.

    He’s shutting down the entire website in early May. In its place, he's launching a half-dozen new sites.

    "This is either going to work and be a great success or we're going to crash the plane as we're flying it and this is going to be a horrible failure," Vogel says he told IAC.

    So far, the radical plan seems to be working. We spoke with Vogel about the turnaround, and, before that, how he founded the Webby Awards, which have been dubbed "the Oscars of the internet."

    On an episode of "Success! How I Did It," a Business Insider podcast about the careers of accomplished and inspiring people, Vogel also explained how a cross-country road trip in a Ford Bronco changed his life.

    You can listen to this episode below.

    Subscribe to "Success! How I Did It" on Acast or iTunes. Check out previous episodes with:

    Following is a transcript of the conversation, edited for clarity and length.

    Alyson Shontell: About.com is a 250-person media company that you've revived. It was a dot-com baby, founded in 1996.

    Neil Vogel: Nineteen ninety-six. We're 20 years old. We're not a baby — we're not even adolescent. We're like a full-fledged millennial.

    Shontell: You've been a venture partner at Firstmark Capital. You've created a company that made awesome events like Internet Week and the Webby Awards, which have been called "the Oscars of the internet."

    Vogel: I've done a lot of things. I'm old, man — I'm old.

    Shontell: Let's go back to when you were young and hungry. How did you start this career? Investment banking, right?

    Vogel: I listened to your podcast with [Bustle and Bleacher Report founder] Bryan Goldberg and he talked about this, but when I got out of college, which was in 1992 — I went to Penn — the only things seemingly you could do were become an investment banker, a consultant, or a brand manager somewhere. And I didn't do any of those things.

    For a year I took an internship at IMG, the big sports agency, which I was terrible at, and I hated it. After seven months, I went back to my roots and was an investment banker. I was a banker for five or six years. I very quickly learned that I admired and respected my clients a lot more than my bosses. I did not want to be some dude eating Chinese food in the office on Sunday night at 7:30 making a model for someone else's business. That, to me, seemed stupid. It seemed to me like I wanted to be the guy the model's being made for, which makes some sense.

    I ended up leaving and going to work with a couple of guys who started a company called Alloy — or Alloy Media Marketing, for you internet 1.0 people. I was the sixth person there. We ended up growing to be a $300 million-revenue business — very profitable. It went public and had a really good run.

    Shontell: What was it like back in the dot-com days for people who might be too young to remember?

    Vogel: It's hard to describe. We were kids. We were 27, 28, 29 when Alloy went public. We were just playing business with other people's money. And it felt irresponsible, but we tried really hard. We worked incredibly hard.

    The founder of the company, Matt Diamond, was incredibly smart. He was always very focused on building a business that made money. We always made money so we didn't have the outcome of a lot of 1.0 guys. We ended up being pretty successful. But it just was crazy. Everything was at hyper speed. Nobody knew anything. We were the first at everything we did. It was really fun.

    Ultimately, I wanted to run my own thing. I left, took a year off, and, with a partner, started a business called Recognition Media. We ended up owning and producing nine or 10 different award shows and events, including the Webby Awards, and we started Internet Week, which we subsequently sold.

    A life-changing, yearlong road trip in a Ford Bronco

    Shontell: Before we get into that, I want to discuss the time you spent in between jobs. You did a cool soul-searching experiment in which you bought a truck and you drove across the country.

    Vogel: I did. I took, like, almost a year off.

    Shontell: Tell me about this crazy road trip that changed your life.

    Vogel: I don't know — I was 32, single, and we just had this reasonably good outcome. I had no responsibilities and no expenses. I had a dumb rental apartment. So I bought an old Ford Bronco, took the roof off and drove around for a summer.

    My father gave me great advice. He said, "Look, you're in a position where you don't have kids, you don't have anything. Go get yourself bored and figure out what you want to do."

    For a couple of months I was trying really hard to think about it and figure it out. Then I decided to not think about anything. Believe me, I know it's an incredible luxury to be able to do that.

    I didn't think about anything, and then everything became clear. It's an amazing feeling to have no responsibilities. Just "What am I going to do? Oh, I'm going to drive here and visit my friend." Or "I'm going to get on a plane, go to Europe, and hang out." It was amazing.

    I was at the beach with some friends before Labor Day weekend in 2004. I hadn't done anything for the whole summer. I wasn't even checking email. I panicked because I had hit maximum boredom. I got in this truck and I drove back to Manhattan on the Thursday before Labor Day weekend. When everybody was going out to go the beach and have fun, I got on a plane, flew to LA to where my business partner was, and we wrote a business plan, and that became the business that was the Webby Awards and Recognition Media.

    I tell people it was the best thing I've ever done in my whole life.

    Shontell: You're on the beach, you realize "Oh my gosh, I actually miss work. I want to do more. I want to do something." You have this idea. Had you done anything with events before?

    Vogel: No, nothing. Zero things.

    Shontell: You just thought it would be a fun thing to start.

    Vogel: We actually started the company by buying a very small business. Before I dropped off the face of the earth, I talked to a lot of smart media people I knew. And a guy called us with an opportunity. He said, "You can buy this thing called the Telly Awards," which was a little award show based in Ashland, Kentucky.

    He found this business in an ad in the back of The Wall Street Journal. He read it, then he clipped it and faxed it to me. I took a look and said, "Wait a minute. This is a database of creative professionals who are all doing internet things and need recognition for their work." If you make TV commercials, who says whether you are doing a good job or not? You need third-party validation.

    We did some research, found out there were a million of these little awards around. If we bought this first one and figured it out, we could probably do a bunch more and make this work. That's what we did. I flew to LA to do the work on this Telly Awards thing that we then raised a little bit of money and bought a few months later.

    Building the Oscars of the internet, the Webby Awards

    webby awards dennis crowley foursquare

    Shontell: What exactly are the Webby Awards, and how did they become this glamorous thing?

    Vogel: We bought the Telly Awards and we'd had some success with it. Then, we found out the Webby Awards were owned by IDG, the big media company. They started this award show in the '90s in San Francisco that got some traction. But it kind of went out of business. For two years they didn't have the show. But they had the brand. We approached them and said, "Guys, we want to buy this from you."

    The business model is, people pay to enter, and we get lots of corporate sponsors and have a show. The first year we had 800 entries, mainly all from the United States. By the time we were done with it [seven years later] it was about 14,000 entries from 60 countries. It's the award, the Cannes Lions, or the Oscars for people who do internet stuff.

    We built a brand really, really stealthily. We did it by just making sure the brand was impeccable, that the most important, most influential people liked it. And we did it all online at a time when that felt really weird to people.

    Shontell: So it's a once-a-year event. How much money can you make from an event like that?

    Vogel: I can't really tell you exactly how much. You can figure out the math. The more people who enter, the better off this thing is. Then you're connecting really big corporate sponsors with very tight, very engaged audiences that are super valuable. We can put you in front of 2,000 people who make the best stuff in the world every year. That's a really valuable thing.

    Shontell: Was it ever hard?

    Vogel: Everything is hard. It's impossible. It tells as a super-elegant story. No, but this is impossible. Everything was a disaster. We had eight offices. We couldn't get anything right. We made so many mistakes. The nature of the internet is it's very forgiving. You can't really make that big a mistake.

    The interesting thing about a business that is an award show is it's once a year. Now, at About.com, we can make changes that are instant tomorrow. At the Webby Awards, you make a change, it takes a year to see if that worked. You learn how to manage businesses differently because you have a full-year cycle, which is often very annoying. We made every mistake a startup can make.

    Shontell: Despite that, someone did come in and buy a big chunk of it.

    Vogel: Yeah, we were happy. I'm still on the board. Then I transitioned to Firstmark Capital, where I have a bunch of friends who are investors.

    Shontell: They've got early-stage investments and things like Pinterest, Airbnb, and Draft Kings.

    Vogel: I spent probably a year hanging out with those guys, and I learned so much in that year from just sitting and listening to their process. The first thing I learned is I'm a terrible investor. I like the quick wits of running businesses. But the long lead time and thoughtfulness required to have a thesis and invest against it and follow up is just not my jam.

    A radical plan to save About.com — shut down the URL and start from scratch

    Neil Vogel CEO About.com

    Shontell: So you started to get bored and then IAC called you. IAC owns About.com.

    Vogel: Yes. So About.com was owned by The New York Times. They owned it for five or six years. IAC — Barry Diller and crew — bought it for about $300 million at the end of 2012.

    Shontell: Significantly less than The Times paid for About.com.

    Vogel: It is less than The Times paid, which is less than Prime Media paid before them. I think it's widely known, but About was a mess at that point. It was still one of the 20 biggest sites on the internet, but there had been a lot of neglect.

    IAC, who's very opportunistic in buying things, said, "OK, this still does a lot of revenue. It has 100 million users a month. We're pretty sure we can do something cool with it." So they bought it.

    Shontell: There was a bidding war for it too. Answers.com wanted it.

    Vogel: There was a very quick bidding war that they won. I think the entire cycle was seven days, which is crazy when you think about how that works. Probably five or six months after they owned it. I wasn't there, so I can't say this definitively, but I can guess. I think it was a bit of a bigger mess than they thought.

    I got a phone call from Joey Levin, who is now the CEO of IAC. He might deny it went this way, but it very much went this way. He calls me — Joey's a very direct character — and he says, "What do you think of about.com?"

    My answer — in perfect arrogance was — "I don't. Who thinks of about.com? Nobody. It's a thing with these blue links on it. I don't think about About.com."

    He says, "Come in and talk to me about it." I go in and talk to him about it. I thought he wanted me to help him find someone to run it. I went into his office, and the next thing I know, I'm going home with a stack of information.

    I'm thinking, "Ugh, I'll look through it, I guess."

    By the time I got through it, I had a full mental turnaround on what this thing could be. I was definitely like the 25th person they talked to.

    Shontell: It was founded in the search era, right? There was no social or Facebook driving a ton of traffic. It was all the good old days of Google search traffic.

    Vogel: It's all Google search. The model was — this is important to note because it took us a bit to figure out — the model was the same thing as AOL, or the same thing as MSN, or the same thing as Yahoo. It was a big general information site. In our case, we made the content ourselves with experts. They made content different ways. But it was a big general information site. I decided I would ... I'm like, "OK, you know what? I'm going to do this." I went and I signed up to do it, and a little bit of the reason was the "you can't fall off the floor" reason. I'm not going to be the guy who ruined About.com. It's already ruined, so this is all upside here.

    What Marissa Mayer and Yahoo did wrong

    marissa mayer

    Shontell: What do you think of Marissa and Yahoo?

    Vogel: We can actually talk about that. We have point of view on that, which is part of how we decided to do what we did. We actually have a strong point of view on that. I'll make this story a little shorter here.

    I joined, and within a year we took the employees from 150 to 250. Every person, with the exception of one or two above senior director was new. We have 250 people now, and there are probably 10 who were there before we got there. When I got there, I couldn't tell you how many ads we served the day before. I couldn't tell you how many visits we. It was just a mess.

    We got there and spent the first year building a data-science team so we can understand what was going on. Building a sophisticated programmatic ad stack because our site kind of looks like crap. It's very hard for us to sell premium stuff. So we're going to start selling programmatic things like moving away from some other monetization things. We used a lot of Google ads and we have to not do that. Users don't really like that at scale. Hired a bunch of smart people. I basically went and drove the "A-Team" van around New York and was like, "I know you, you're great. We've worked together. Come join us!" I think people got excited about the chance to fix an iconic internet.

    A year and a half into it, we launch a brand-new site and rewrote every line of code. We had code from the '90s in there. We put forth the new About.com and everyone was excited. We stopped the decline. We started to make more money, traffic stopped going down. We could go to a cocktail party with a straight face and say, "Look at this things." We had some pride in what we were doing and it was making some sense. We felt good, and then six months later we're still in the exact same spot and we're like, "Ugh, why is this not growing?" Again, at this time, everyone's really happy with us. IAC is happy with us.

    Probably a year after we launched, we went back to IAC, and this was the scary moment, this was like the big move, and said, "Guys, everything we did was wrong. We're doing it wrong."

    Shontell: How did you come to that? It just stalled?

    Vogel: It goes back to your Marissa question. We realized that our fundamental model of what we were doing was wrong. Our value is we have this great content that advertisers will like and consumers like, but nobody cares about a general-information site anymore. You have three constituencies when you're a publisher: advertisers, consumers, and people who send you traffic (basically algorithms). And it turns out that if you play tennis this weekend and hurt your knee, you don't want your "why my knee hurts" advice from About Health. You want it from WebMD or Everyday Health. We're like, "Oh, point." If your router breaks at home, you don't want that from About Tech; you want that from EnGadget or The Verge or someone how to fix it.

    Advertisers? We heard this constantly: "Your data is great, your scale is great, we like your content, but you're not endemic, so we're not working with you." They want head-of-household moms, and they make computers, but they would not give us any money. And then the other problem was algorithms. Google and Facebook and those guys no longer knew what to make of us. You can't have, "Symptoms of Colitis" content on the same domain that you have "How to Unclog My Drain." On the same domain you have, like, "How to Cook Beer-Battered Chicken" and "How to Fix My Tendinitis."

    Shontell: It kind of works for Wikipedia, though.

    Vogel: We'll talk about that in a second. It's a little bit different. For a site like us ... Wikipedia's traffic is going down, by the way, from search, because they're not specific. If you have colitis, you'd rather go to a colitis-specialty place than Wikipedia. They're losing also.

    We came to the realization that we needed to do something. We went back to IAC and to that meeting and said, "Here's what we're going to do: We're going to turn this place from AOL or Yahoo or MSN, and I'm going to turn this into Condé Nast or Vox. And that's what we're going to do. This is either going to work and be a great success or we're going to crash the plane as we're flying it and this is going to be a horrible failure. But we're betting, because our content is good, because we still have search traffic, because we know how to play social, that we're betting that we can do this."

    And IAC — because they're not a media company, they're an internet company; it's a huge difference that I've learned — they basically said "Do it. Do it. Go ahead, take the chance. Roll the dice and do it. We'd rather have the outcome that you are the next Condé Nast than have the outcome that is now, which is we're going sideways."

    'We could have literally gone to zero"

    Barry Diller

    Shontell: That sounds like it makes a lot of sense. But there is huge risk involved with a move like that.

    Vogel: Existential risk. We could have literally gone to zero.

    Shontell: Yes, because you have, what, over 100 million people visiting About.com?

    Vogel: Yeah, about that.

    Shontell: And you're talking about all these new properties that have to start from scratch, right? Then what's left for About.com?

    Vogel: What we said was, we're going to take pieces of About.com, we're going to break them off and make these new brands, and then when we're done, About.com is going to go away. As of May 2, we're announcing a new brand name for all of overarching brand for our brands, and About.com is going away.

    Shontell: This site that had 100 million-plus readers, you just canned.

    Vogel: We didn't can it yet, but we're canning it in six weeks. Again, because we've now made five different, sites that if you add them up have more users than About.com had. That was the trick.

    Shontell: How long did that take?

    Vogel: We've done it over the last 12 months. The story of the first one is an easy one to tell.

    Shontell: Within a year you've built four new brands that now are bigger than About.com ever was.

    Vogel: In aggregate, when you add up all the things, not ever was, because that was humongous, but we are — our traffic now, we have more traffic now with four of our five brands launched. So four brands in the market, one brand still under the About.com name. We have more traffic now than we had a year ago, two years ago, when we were just About.com.

    Here's what we did: The first thing we wanted to launch is we wanted to launch ... We launched a health brand called Very Well. We dove right into the pool. Health is our most valuable, most-trafficked, biggest vertical, so we came up with an idea. Our content is very much in the style of like WebMD or Everyday Health. But we thought those sites, we just didn't think they have served a market need. We thought that we could make a beautiful, kinder, gentler health site. You go to these some of other sites with a headache, you think you have a brain tumor. You come to us with a headache, we're going to make your headache feel better and explain why you had a headache and make it better. That was the thesis.

    So we took our 100,000 pieces of health content of About.com, threw 50,000 in the garbage because they were old. We didn't like them. The other 50 [thousand] were read by our writers. If it was medical information; it was read by a doctor. We had 30,000 pieces of content read by physicians, edited, cleaned up. Built a brand-new site from scratch, a new taxonomy for our content, put it on the site.

    We did that. We built this beautiful new site from scratch, everything from scratch. Took design, product, content, tech, everyone, walled them off. You now work for Very Well; you don't work for About anymore. You work for Very Well.

    Shontell: The About people who remained were no longer able to write about beauty and health or about —

    Vogel: Yeah, we moved the health stuff all to Very Well. Health is now gone from About.com, and we launched it in April.

    Shontell: You see, instantly, a ton of traffic to About.com, I'm sure, go away.

    Vogel: Terrifying. Really, you have to compare all of About.com to now About.com, plus Very Well, right? So here's what happens, a lot of, more, probably at the time, 70% of our traffic was from search. Three weeks after we did this —

    Shontell: No search traffic, I'm sure.

    Vogel: No, what you can do ... the trick is making the search traffic move to your new place. We built a new site with a new taxonomy so every URL over here gets redirected to one over here.

    A month after we launched this thing, our health traffic, which is our most valuable traffic, was down. Traffic was in like 45% or 50%. But we're like, "OK, we're just going to hold on and we're already halfway done doing our next vertical." All of a sudden, Facebook, Google, all the domains figure it out. As of now, today, I think our health brand has — I'm going to get this slightly wrong because I always get numbers slightly wrong — I think we had 8 million uniques when we started a month, I think we have 17 million uniques now to Very Well. So we've pretty much doubled in size in 12 months. We're by far the fastest-growing thing in the health space. I think we're No. 4 or 5 on comScore on health because our bet was right ...

    We knew that this would work. Then we launched something in the summer. Ran a very similar playbook on our personal-finance content called The Balance, which has pretty much doubled in traffic since we launched it this summer. We launched something called Life Wire in November, which is our evergreen-content tech site — how to fix my router, how to unbrick my iPhone. We launched three weeks ago, about a month ago something called The Spruce, which is the third-biggest home site on the internet, only behind HGTV and the Hearst Brands. We had such scale on About, that we're launching these new brands into the world that are new to the space with no legacy issues, look like start ups, but all of a sudden, like we're top 10 in comScore because we're coming with such scale. The market's like, "What? Where do you guys come from?"

    And we have one more site to launch, called Trip Savvy, which we're launching right after we change our name. We're now going to change the name of the company May 2.

    Shontell: So as a collection of sites, how much traffic do you guys have?

    Vogel: More than we started. I think — I don't know — last month ... internally, I think comSquare was like 60 million last month or something. So we got a lot of scale. We're around the same size as you guys. I think internally we're like 100 million.

    The future of media isn't about scale; it's about finding a niche

    Very Well

    Shontell: So, for a while it was great to be a site that was all-encompassing, had all this scale, you know, the Yahoos, MSNs, and you. Are you're saying that that's no longer the case and that the future is to go niche?

    Vogel: It doesn't work. Yeah, it doesn't. I just think everybody wants expert —

    Shontell: The scale days are over?

    Vogel: You see it in the mall, right? There's no place for a department store. People don't want that anymore. People want things that are specialty. I think the other people in our position —

    Shontell: Except for Amazon.

    Vogel: Except for Amazon. But there's always a place for that. There's a place for Amazon and Target and Wal-Mart, cause they're competing on price, or service, or something. Not on expertise. And that's more of like a retail thing. But in content, you generally want content from someone you believe is an expert in that. That trends toward being an expert in like, a domain of content, which trends toward being vertical. And I think different people have made really interesting decisions about this.

    I think AOL has made a brilliant decision. We looked at our content and said, "All right, we make really premium content in these very premium areas." AOL looked at their type of content and said, "You know what, this is content that is probably going to be best served by programmatic ad selling." Cause of the type of content it was, not that it's good or bad, it just is. They built an unbelievable ad stack, they assembled properties that work like this. And it totally worked, and they crushed it. And now they're like Target. Like it totally works for them, and now that's why Yahoo makes sense. I think MSN didn't want to deal. And Yahoo made a different decision.

    Like we looked at what we were doing and said, "We make money one way. We sell ads against content. And we're doing it wrong, but that's the fundamental model that works for us." Yahoo wanted to become something completely different, that I don't think anyone totally understands exactly what the thesis was. And I think that's why it didn't work. I think the AOL-Yahoo combo is gonna be great. It's gonna be great for advertisers. If it works it's gonna be like a legitimate third option to the big two. And I think they took the right approach to content.

    Shontell: The big two being Facebook and Google. The Duopoly.

    Vogel: The Duopoly. No media buyer in the world wants there to be only two places to buy stuff from. Look, it's really dangerous and they're growing like crazy but ... If you make valuable content, and you give people a really great experience, there is a place for you in the world. When you're general, like when you're the old About.com, there might not have been a place for us in that world. Because it just doesn't work. But when you're Very Well or The Balance, and when you're like a mutual-fund company that needs to advertise against people who are specifically looking for mutual fund information, we're an unbelievable resource for them. That's better than like guessing someone wants mutual funds on Facebook.

    Shontell: So one thing you mentioned is that with AOL and Yahoo merging under Verizon, you think it'll be great. And could maybe challenge these guys. And that's a mega-merger.

    Vogel: That's a big one.

    Shontell: You know, all these huge companies coming together under Verizon. Do you think that's going to keep happening, and is that is your goal with About, to build it up to a point where you could join and be a power player in a big mega-merger like this?

    Vogel: I don't know. I think if you look at the history of IAC they, you know, the market we have is $5 billion or $6 billion, but the value of the companies that have come out of IAC are, what, like $50 billion or $60 billion. So there is a history at IAC of being the builder, not the buildee. And if we do this right, we have a really interesting opportunity to build something great.

    Shontell: So one kind of different question for you, what's Barry Diller like?

    Vogel: First of all, he's great. He does not suffer fools. There's something incredible frustrating that happens when you deal with him in that you'll be in a meeting with him, or you'll get some feedback from him via email, or secondhand, or you'll talk to him directly. And he will say something to you that, at the time, you will be like, "I don't what?" Because you're like an arrogant CEO and you're like, "I ... I ... I know better about my business than he does. What's he talking about?" And then a day later, you're like in the shower, and you realize, like, "Ugh, he was totally right. He was a thousand percent right."

    There's nothing he hasn't seen or been through, and he has this really unique way, which I think you do, when you sit in his perspective, of just looking at our problems or issues and just ignoring the nonsense, and like, bam. Like right to it. And sometimes by getting right to it you don't understand that right away, because you're too in the weeds, or you're busy running the business. But he just like, nails it. And he's great to work for. He does not suffer fools, there's not a lot of, like, nonsense. But it's awesome to work for someone that, and this doesn't happen a lot.

    Shontell: Very true. So to wrap this all up, if you had to say the one thing you've had a lot of different lives in your careers. In all of them you've found success. So what do you think is the one common thread that has made you successful in all of these different areas and, ultimately, in your career?

    Vogel: I'm annoyingly relentless when I believe in something. When I was a banker, I figured out that you'll be much better at doing something if you're passionate about it. And it's not saying like, "My great passion in life is to build publishing companies," or "My great passion in life is to build award shows." But if you believe in what you're doing and you can get excited about it, you're gonna be a thousand times better. And I'm really direct and I'm really honest with people, which doesn't always work that well. But if people always know where they stand with you, you will always know where you stand with them. And I think that's really valuable.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    sam altman

    A group of more than 800 US-based startups, investors, and related organizations on Wednesday issued a letter urging Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai not to undo Obama-era "net-neutrality" rules, the latest sign of a looming fight over the future of internet regulation.

    The letter was organized by prominent startup incubator Y Combinator, accelerator TechStars, and startup advocacy group Engine. Y Combinator is led by noted Silicon Valley venture capitalist Sam Altman, who has expressed support for the current net-neutrality laws in the past.

    Startups from all 50 states have signed the notice, including popular sites like Kickstarter, Foursquare, Medium, and Etsy.

    The existence of the letter was first reported by Axios earlier this month. It is now revealing its signees and being made public on the same day Pai is expected to unveil the first details of his plan to undo the current net-neutrality laws.

    Those laws were passed along party lines in 2015. They most notably prevent internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from blocking or slowing the speeds of certain sites or apps, and from creating so-called "fast lanes" for preferred services in exchange for payment. They exist at a time where some large ISPs are increasingly looking to own or distribute content that competes with other online services.

    ajit paiPai has said on multiple occasions that he supports a "free and open internet," but that he opposes the framework the FCC used to enforce those laws. That framework involved reclassifying ISPs as "telecommunications services" under Title II of the Communications Act, and thus giving the FCC stronger authority in saying what those ISPs can and cannot do.

    Pai and other Republicans say the Title II classification is too heavy-handed, and that it has slowed ISPs' willingness to expand and upgrade their broadband networks. Various media reports this week said he will unveil a high-level plan to undo the classification on Wednesday.

    Pai and Republican commissioner Mike O'Rielly currently hold a 2-1 majority at the agency.

    Various reports from earlier in the month said Pai has floated the idea of having ISPs voluntarily commit to upholding the core principles of net-neutrality in writing, and subject them to less stringent federal oversight via the Federal Trade Commission.

    Net-neutrality advocates, including those signing the letter, say Pai's reported plan would be too lenient. The letter contends that it "would give a green light for internet access providers to discriminate in unforeseen ways."

    fccSome larger tech companies defended the current rules through a trade group that met with Pai earlier in the month, but with no formal rollback attempt announced, most have not vocalized support of them individually.

    Smaller startups generally have an easier time defending stricter net-neutrality rules, since they are less likely, hypothetically speaking, to benefit from systems that allow ISPs to give some services preferential treatment. Netflix, for instance, said in January it supports today's laws, but that it's likely too popular to be affected by any policy changes.

    "Our companies should be able to compete with incumbents on the quality of our products and services, not our capacity to pay tolls to internet access providers," the letter says.

    Whatever the case, the letter is just the latest sign of the political battle that is likely to come with any attempt at a net-neutrality rollback. Democrats and consumer advocacy groups strongly support the current laws, and the FCC said it received a record-breaking 3.7 million comments on the topic when it was debated in 2014.

    You can read the full letter below:

    SEE ALSO: As Trump’s FCC boss looks to kill today's net neutrality laws, Silicon Valley companies are starting to push back

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    gett shahar waiser

    BERLIN — Gett confirmed on Wednesday that it has acquired rival taxi company Juno.

    The deal is worth $200 million (£156 million), according to TechCrunch.

    Juno is an Israel-based transportation app but its service is only available in New York City. Acquiring Juno should help Gett, which is backed backed by $300 million (£233 million) from Volkswagen, to compete with larger companies like Uber and Lyft, specifically in New York City.

    A source with links to the company that wishes to remain anonymous told Business Insider on Wednesday that Gett will initially pay $100 million (£77.9 million) for Juno and that it will involve mostly stock. A subsequent $100 million will be paid if certain targets are met, the source said.

    "It's $100 million immediately and further funding up to another $100 million if they [Juno] achieve growth targets in other cities," said the source.

    Founded in Israel in 2010, Gett employs over 1,000 people in Tel Aviv, the US, the UK, and Russia. All of the R&D, however, takes place in Israel. The company has raised over $500 million (£390 million), according to Crunchbase.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    bronco

    Neil Vogel is the CEO of a 250-person company, About.com, and he cofounded Recognition Media, the company behind New York's Internet Week, and the "Oscars of the Internet," the Webby Awards.

    But before that, when Vogel was 32, he left the work force for a year. He bought a Ford Bronco for $3,000 on eBay, took the roof off, and went on a road trip.

    His ultimate goal: reach maximum boredom. Then figure out what to do with the rest of his life.

    Vogel had been one of the first ten employees at a successful dotcom startup, Alloy Media and Marketing. He was single, didn't own an apartment, and had no real responsibilities.

    "My father gave me great advice,"Vogel told Business Insider in a podcast episode of "Success! How I Did It." He said, "Look, you're in a position where you don't have kids, you don't have anything. Go get yourself bored and figure out what you want to do."

    By not thinking about much of anything for a long period of time, Vogel says he was able to gain clarity.

    "For a couple of months I was trying really hard to think about [my life] and figure it out," Vogel said. "Then I decided to not think about anything. Then everything became clear. It's an amazing feeling to have no responsibilities. Just, 'What am I going to do? Oh, I'm going to drive here and visit my friend.' Or, 'I'm going to get on a plane, go to Europe, and hang out.' It was amazing."

    Neil VogelAt the end of the summer, Vogel found himself on a beach. All of a sudden, he couldn't wait to get back to work.

    "I was at the beach with some friends before Labor Day weekend in 2004," he recalled. "I hadn't done anything for the whole summer. I wasn't even checking email. I panicked because I had hit maximum boredom. I got in this truck and I drove back to Manhattan. When everybody was going out to go the beach and have fun, I got on a plane, flew to LA to where my business partner was, and we wrote a business plan. That became the business that was the Webby Awards and Recognition Media."

    Vogel realizes most people don't have the financial means to take a year off work. "Believe me, I know it's an incredible luxury to be able to do that," he said. 

    But if you can swing it, Vogel swears the experience is a game-changer: "I tell people it was the best thing I've ever done in my whole life."

    Check out Vogel's career (and road trip!) story below, in this episode of "Success! How I Did It," a podcast about the career paths of today's most inspiring people:

    Subscribe to "Success! How I Did It" on Acast, Overcast or iTunes. Check out previous episodes with:

    SEE ALSO: The CEO of About.com has a crazy plan to save the beloved 1990s website from extinction — he's shutting it down

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    YikYak founders Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll

    Yik Yak will be shutting down its anonymous chat app in the next week as the school year draws to a close, the company announced on Friday

    The anonymous chat app used to be valued at $4oo million after raising more than $73 million in venture capital.

    At its prime, Yik Yak was considered the darling of the anonymous messaging space, having attracted a young user base of college students that would compulsively open the app multiple times a day to stay informed. However, Yik Yak had trouble enticing people to stick around, especially as Snapchat took off.

    "We were so lucky to have the most passionate users on the planet. It’s you who made this journey possible,"the founders said in their good-bye note. "The time has come, however, for our paths to part ways, as we’ve decided to make our next moves as a company."

    The app will be winding down at the end of the school year, the founders, Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll, said. Some of the engineering talent will be joining Square at their office in Atlanta after Bloomberg reported that the payments company had spent $3 million to bring on some of the engineering team. 

    Founded in 2013, Yik Yak at first grew rapidly as high schoolers and college students latched onto the anonymous messaging app. However, the company faced problems with harassment and bullying in the app and never quite found a good way to combat it. Last August, it made a move to do away with anonymous and add real profiles, but it never took off in the same way again. Yik Yak laid off 60% of its team at the end of 2016. 

    Now, Yik Yak will be shuttering the app as what's left of the company starts "tinkering around with what’s ahead for our brand, our technology, and ourselves."

    "Building Yik Yak – both the app you used and the company that powered it – was the greatest, hardest, most enjoyable, most stressful, and ultimately most rewarding experience we’ve ever had," the founders said. 

    SEE ALSO: Alphabet just revealed details of a secret Sergey Brin company — and it sounds like his new blimp project

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    tech networking event

    TL;DR — I was dissatisfied with my job on Wall Street, so I quit without another opportunity lined up. I wanted to work for an early-stage technology company, and spent the next few months immersing myself in the NYC startup scene.

    Using the tips below, I was fortunate to land a role with a startup accelerator (Techstars). This led me to become the first employee at a startup in which they’d invested. I often get asked how I navigated this process, so I hope this post can serve as a tactical guide.

    When beginning my job search, I set four goals for myself:

    1. Regain and maintain physical and mental health
    2. Learn a new industry (technology startups)
    3. Learn about companies and find job opportunities
    4. Develop relationships and expand my network

    Below, I’ll break down each of these goals in detail. Additionally, I made a Google Sheet of resources I found helpful. I’d love to hear any feedback on this post. You can find me on Twitter: @CantHardyWait.

    1. Regain and maintain physical and mental health

    When I was working on Wall Street, I severely neglected my mental and physical health. I rarely exercised, my diet was poor, and my stress levels were astronomical.

    During my job search, I’d wake up and go to the gym first thing in the morning. I also began to dabble in morning meditation. I’m a creature of habit and found it energizing to develop a routine where I accomplished something as soon as I woke up. In doing these activities first thing in the morning, I was far less likely to make excuses and skip them. Restoring my mental and physical health laid a great foundation for pursuing the job search.

    This post is not meant to be super “self-help”-y, but I firmly believe there is power in both (a) building habits and (b) making those habits unrelated to your search in order to preserve your sanity. It can be exercise, meditation, writing, reading, etc. Basically, find your happy place:

    Note: None of the activities portrayed in this video are good ideas to do first thing in the morning…

    2. Learn a new industry: technology startups

    A large part of my startup job search was becoming conversant in tech. I had little tech industry knowledge, other than using apps on my iPhone.

    Within the context of any job interview, you’ll be expected to have knowledge of the relevant tech vertical, if not the startup world generally. For someone starting with no knowledge, spending about an hour per day getting up to speed is a good target. I’d break up reading into News and Analysis.

    News

    Every day, I read StrictlyVC. It’s a TechCrunch newsletter by Connie Loizos, with an overview of funding, startup news, and great interviews.

    My Google Sheet has other good news sources

    Cool hack: Download Nuzzel, follow the Twitter accounts I recommend, see what they’re sharing.

    Analysis

    It’s important to know what’s happening, but even more important to know what it all ‘means’ in context. I highly recommend Stratechery by Ben Thompson  —  his analysis is unparalleled. He also has an excellent companion podcast, Exponent.

    Other good resources for tech analysis.

    3. Learn about companies & find job opportunities

    Stay organized

    Tracking your opportunities will make your search more manageable. You should make a simple ‘target companies’ list. I kept a Google Sheet that tracked the following:

    alex hardy

    During your search, you’ll get exposed to many new companies. When you hear of one that sounds interesting, write it on the list. Even if the company doesn’t have an open or interesting role posted, list them anyway. In tech, the best jobs will often not be posted to a job board.

    One of the benefits of reading tech news is learning which startups recently received funding. Companies that raise money generally do so to hire new people. Those are great companies to target.

    Determine your criteria

    Narrowing your criteria will help you focus your search. Even if you are truly ‘industry agnostic’ and just want to work on something cool, you’ll need to have a better story when you interview. I suggest honing in on the following elements:

    • Role at the Company: Probably the most important factor, warranting a blog post of its own. When I left Wall Street, I had no concept about the different typical roles at a startup. If you’re not a software developer, you’ll probably end up doing one of the following: Marketing, Sales, Growth, Finance, Business Development, Customer Success / Experience, Operations. Learn what each of these roles does (my Google Sheet has some suggested resources to assist). I found it very helpful to seek out people at startups who actually did these roles, and try to talk to them. Generally, the earlier stage the company, the less defined the role.
    • Geography : How comfortable would you be working remotely? There can be drawbacks to your productivity, happiness, and job safety if you are not working closely IRL with your managers.
    • Number of employees & Amount of funding Think carefully about a company’s size. Your experience at companies of five people vs. 50 people vs. 500 people will be vastly different, even though each might be (wrongly) classified as a “startup.” Funding is a good proxy for size & “stage.” Generally, the earlier the stage, the higher the risk.
    • Industry / Vertical: FinTech? HealthTech? EdTech? AdTech? The possibilities are (seemingly) endless. Coming from Finance, I got the most traction with FinTech companies. If you’re truly agnostic, pursuing a vertical where you have *some* experience and/or genuine interest is a good place to start.
    • Customer base (Business-to-Business [“B2B”] vs. Business-to-Consumer [“B2C”]): Who does the company market and sell to? How do its users or customers make decisions? Would your work / life experience help you succeed in one environment or the other?

    Pitching for the role ⚾️ : When pitching yourself for one of these roles, think of how your skillset & experience would translate into the role you’re targeting. For example, coming from investment banking, it might be difficult to land a role managing a digital marketing team. However, experience with spreadsheets and interacting with clients might make you a good fit for business development or partnerships.

    If you’re interested in a role but lack any experience, you can demonstrate passion and pick up experience via a “side-hustle.” This could take many forms: building an audience on a blog or social media, helping a friend with their startup, or putting together a prototype for an idea you have.

    Public service announcement* 🗣: Make sure your LinkedIn is current with no egregious spelling or grammatical errors. LinkedIn (along with Twitter) is basically the front page of your internet identity.

    My Google Sheet has sources for where to find companies and job openings.

    4. Develop relationships & expand network

    Strive to be a person who people want to help. This will put a massive tailwind at your back as you explore opportunities.

    People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

    This advice holds true in all walks of life, but is a particularly powerful thing to keep in mind during a job search. Building relationships and cultivating a network are major keys that can supercharge your job search.

    Fortunately for you, people in tech tend to generously volunteer their time and insight to engage with folks interested in breaking in to the industry.

    I broke down relationship development into the following:

    • Twitter
    • Email outreach
    • In-person meetings
    • Tech Events

    Twitter: your secret weapon

    Twitter is really really important. If used correctly, it can 10x your chances of landing a great job in tech.

    I was initially a huge Twitter skeptic. I thought it was a platform to post useless life updates and navel-gaze. Or another superficial channel to follow celebrities.

    In reality, some of the best analysis I’ve read, deepest conversations I’ve had, and tightest relationships I’ve formed have happened on Twitter.

    In the context of the job search, it’s an amazing tool to stay in the “flow” of tech news and analysis. More importantly, it’s a way to interact with operators, investors, and journalists . Many of these folks would never respond to your email, phone call, or stop to chat with you on the street — However (inexplicably) they’ll respond to tweets.

    Twitter for novices: Start by using Twitter passively to consume content. Follow relevant tech people and absorb what’s going on. I’d start by following the accounts I mention here. Massive thanks to Adam Besvinickfor forwarding me a list of his favorite twitter follows. You can gain a ton of value by simply following relevant accounts. The next step is actually tweeting and interacting. The Google Sheet has a good guide for doing so.

    Email outreach

    You should assume that if you just email a “cold” job application, it will not get lifted off the resume pile. Given the current desirability of working in tech, companies have all of the hiring leverage. It sounds cliché, but you must stand out.

    One such way to stand out is being referred to an opportunity or person you’re interested in connecting with via a “warm introduction.” This is where someone you know, writes an email vouching for you to someone you don’t know (but want to be connected with). It is a deep-seated tradition in tech.

    I used email to connect with a broad group of people who I thought would be additive to my job search.

    When asking for a warm intro, certain etiquette is expected. This is a good overview of rules for requesting an introduction to someone you’d like to meet. Here are 11 other tips:

    1. Proofread. All. Of. Your. Emails. Nothing will torpedo your credibility more quickly than email typos. Prospective Employer: “If you can’t compose an important five sentence email without spelling or grammatical errors, how can I trust you to market or sell my product, or run my company’s finances?” Many people believe this. Mistakes will hurt you.
    2. When asking a favor from someone, your goal is to make their life (and fulfillment of the favor) as easy as possible. So when you ask for an intro, make sure the email that YOU send to THEM is forwardable. It should be a clean email (not a reply to a previous thread). It should include a few sentences on who you are, what you’re asking, and why.
    3. Interesting as it may be, don’t include your entire life’s history. Your description of yourself should be three–four sentences at most. People are busy.
    4. Profusely thank people who make introductions for you.
    5. When your connection provides you a warm intro, you (the requestor) should respond promptly — within a couple hours.
    6. When you respond, have a specific ask. People are inundated with, and loathe the open-ended: “We should get coffee sometime” Better to say something like “As [introducer] mentioned, I’m in the process of figuring out my next opportunity. Given your move to [Company Y] after your time in [Industry Z], it would be great to learn more about how you decided to make the move”
    7. When you respond, offer three specific times of day to meet, at “whatever location is most convenient” for the person you’ve been intro’d to. Throw in: “if none of those times work, happy to propose more.” Scheduling sucks, and your goal is to make this as frictionless as possible.
    8. Proofread all of your emails.
    9. Don’t be offended when people don’t respond.
    10. You can gently nudge with a follow-up, but be careful. Wait at least a week, and don’t be annoying. Use common sense, but err on the side of being patient.
    11. Proofread all of your emails. A good proofreading trick I learned was to read the draft of your email backwards, i.e. starting at the end and reading upwards to the beginning.

    Meet people in real life (IRL) 

    I recently looked back through my calendar. Over the course of my four-month networking bonanza, I had initial coffee chats with over 6️0 different people.

    Not only were many of these folks immensely helpful to me in the immediate-term (for which I am hugely grateful!) — but I run across many of them professionally, keep in touch with a decent amount, and ended up becoming good personal friends with a few.

    Rules for meeting people IRL:

    • Don’t be late. Seriously. Be five minutes early. To some people, there are few greater sins than disrespecting their time.
    • Do your basic research. Look up the person on LinkedIn, and Google a bit about their company
    • Have a list of a few questions you want to ask. You can ask them the generic advice of “how they got to their current role”, but better to have specific questions about their background and company.
    • Even if it it’s not a formal interview assume all of these professional interactions are interviews. You never get a second chance to get a first impression. Again, you want people to want to help you.
    • The more that you can establish a genuine connection with someone, the more likely you both will be to help each other.
    • Goes without saying, but you shouldn’t be distracted or checking your phone during one of these such meetings. 
    • Keep these meetings to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes has elapsed, tell the person you’re meeting with that you want to be conscious of their time and confirm they can continue chatting.
    • Don’t be shy about asking them if they can think of anyone who might be helpful in your search.
    • When the meeting concludes, thank them profusely, and ask how you can help them  —  even if you’re unsure that you can. 
    • Write a gracious thank-you email that includes any follow-up items.

    Tech events and meetups

    In NYC, we’re fortunate to have a never-ending selection of nightly tech events. I made an effort to find events at least two nights per week to attend.

    Gary’s Guide is my go-to resource for sourcing tech events. For those based in NYC, it’s the most complete weekly overview of the NYC tech ecosystem, period. Don’t let the retro formatting fool you.

    Other good resources for finding tech events.

    How to get the most out of tech events

    Some people think that tech Meetups and events are a waste of time. Indeed, some even turn out to be so. I viewed each of them as pure option value. That is, there was no downside to going, and if I could make even one relevant connection, it would be totally worth it. Here are some good general rules to follow:

    • Consider yourself in a business setting. Don’t get too drunk or behave in an otherwise inappropriate manner.
    • Seriously, it’s important. The tech world is very, VERY small. As Warren Buffett said: Your reputation takes 20 years to build and five minutes to destroy.
    • I suggest ‘focused’ industry MeetUps (FinTech, AI, VR, etc.) as opposed to generic tech or startup MeetUps.
    • If you’re not comfortable talking to innumerable random strangers for hours (I’m not), go in with a manageable goal. Talk to two new people.
    • A very easy ice breaker is “Have you been to XYZ event before?” or “How did you hear about XYZ event?” Yes, it feels ridiculously socially awkward at first, but such is life.
    • Cool Hack: at some point during the MeetUp, go up to and thank the organizers. First off, it’s good manners. Secondly, they are generally active members in the Tech community (They went through the trouble and effort of organizing a MeetUp for goodness sakes). They can likely help you.
    • These events generally have a panel of speakers. Often after the panel discussion concludes, the audience, in unison, makes a mad dash toward the speakers to ask them questions one on one. Then a hopelessly long line begins to form. I generally refused to stand around waiting in these lines waiting to schmooze with the speakers. Better to find them on LinkedIn or Twitter afterwards, and reference that you saw them speak but didn’t have a chance to connect.
    • In any social interaction at these events, don’t monopolize someone’s time. Similarly, be courteous if your time is being monopolized and you’d like to exit the conversation. You can always say “It would be great to continue this conversation some other time.”
    • Again  —  this will feel socially awkward. Get over it.
    • Don’t interject or blatantly interrupt people who are mid-conversation. It is understood that you are allowed to “saddle up” to an in-progress conversation. Wait for a natural break if you’re going to make a comment.
    • If possible, identify people ahead of time you’d like to talk to
    • I didn’t make myself business cards, but found it effective to simply connect with people on LinkedIn soon after I’d met them.

    Thank you for checking out my post! The above represents one person’s experience (mine) so please evaluate it accordingly. Here’s a Google Sheet that lists many of the resources I’ve used. Please let me know what you think of this post, and if I can be helpful in your search! Twitter: @CantHardyWait.

    Finally, a HUGE thank you to Bez, Tommy, Nikhil, Max, and Khe for reading various drafts of this and providing massively helpful feedback! 

    SEE ALSO: 5 unconventional tactics I used to land interviews and offers at Google and other tech giants before I was 25

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Scott BelskyThe biggest problem with “on-demand” apps, the Uber for XYZ model, is that they make whichever service they are selling a commodity, according to tech entrepreneur and investor Scott Belsky.

    That's fine for some services, specifically ones where it doesn't really matter who exactly is fulfilling your request. In fact Belsky, who was an early investor in Uber, thinks the on-demand model is perfect for two crucial areas: driving and delivery.

    But for "relationship-based" services — tutors, acupuncturists, chefs, fitness instructors, dog walkers, and so on — Belsky told Business Insider there’s value in finding someone you trust, and can stick with. And he thinks these types of service professionals have been hurt more than they've been helped by technology.

    “You don’t need 10,000 hairstylists” on an app, Belsky said, matched to you based on optimal proximity, or user ratings from tons of people you don’t know. You just need a friend you trust, perhaps one with similar taste, to recommend you a good one.

    prefer screen 1That insight is what has led Belsky, a venture partner at VC firm Benchmark who sold his previous startup Behance to Adobe for a reported $150 million, to spend the last year-and-a-half quietly building Prefer. Prefer is an app that uses the recommendations of your social network — your friends, and friends of friends — to help you find and book service professionals across any industry. Prefer had its wide launch Monday.

    Old problems, new problems

    “I like to start with a problem,” Belsky said. In this case, his was that the service professionals he'd had conversations with were dissatisfied with both the old model of doing business and the one provided by new technology.

    Here’s how Belsky described it: On-demand apps turn their work into a commodity, online marketplaces (where they can list their services) de-personalize them by focusing on a “star” rating system, and companies that book everything for them take a huge cut of their revenue.

    Belsky talked particularly about a massage therapist who he started seeing a few years ago, after traveling back and forth all the time from New York to California took its toll. After a year of seeing her, she told Belsky that the person she used to book clients took 30%.

    "I almost choked,” Belsky recalled.

    So Belsky started pitching everyone he knew on the idea of a new way to book service professionals, trying to figure out what stuff might work. He got encouragement to keep at the idea from people like Uber cofounder Garrett Camp, and also eventually found the team that would Prefer, including CEO Julio Vasconcellos, the founder of Peixe Urbano and a former member of the Facebook growth team.

    Small-town mentality

    But for Belsky, one of the crucial elements in building Prefer was getting feedback not just from techies, but from service professionals of all kinds as well. And it led to some surprises about what they actually wanted out of the platform.

    “We assumed they would be excited about superior booking and payments,” Belsky said. “As a client, people are annoyed by the back and forth [of booking appointments]. But it turns out service professionals didn't mind it as much. So much of their time is under-utilized. They don't see it as much as a pain point. The thing that got them really excited was getting referrals to their clients' friends. That’s the Holy Grail for them.”

    That aspect became the central piece of Prefer. The app uses your phone’s address book — where you presumably have the numbers of both your friends and the service professionals you use — to build out a network of who is employing whom. You can hide certain ones if you wish, but the point is to be able to see which people your friends have trusted to do certain kinds of work. You can also add testimonials.

    “I love this idea of bringing stuff to a small-town mentality,” Belsky said. In a sense, Prefer wants to build you a virtual small town of service providers.

    unnamed 2The concept will also, in theory, stop service providers from simply going off-platform once they find a new client. Because of the way Prefer is built, every time someone books a service provider using the app, the system takes that into account when recommending. “When you stop booking me, I will sink down,” Belsky said. The app has its own payments and bookings functions as well.

    Prefer makes money by taking a fee of every transaction, from 3% to 5%. New clients discovered on prefer platform are in the 5% category, and existing clients are in the 3% one. In addition, Prefer charges a convenience fee for booking.

    Belsky’s hope is that this business model will prove attractive for service providers, and perhaps even stretch beyond, into the economy at large.

    “We really like this idea of questioning the notion of a ‘firm,’” Belsky said. For service professionals, the benefits of working with firms are the automatic billing process and getting new clients, according to Belsky. The smartphone could replace that for some. “In this modern day where everyone has this small town in your pocket … why do professionals need to work for firms or salons?”

    Business Insider's US Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell recently interviewed Belsky for her podcast, "Success! How I Did It." Listen here.

    SEE ALSO: The 'messy' way a former Goldman Sachs employee grew a $150 million startup, then turned half his employees into millionaires

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    unnamed 2As part of an ongoing series, Insider Picks features products or stores poised for big things. The subject of this spotlight is a direct-to-consumer fine jewelry company called Mejuri.

    Most women associate getting fine jewelry with special occasions, like anniversaries, engagements, and birthdays.

    But that doesn't have to, and frankly shouldn't, be the case if you ask Noura Sakkijha and Justine Lançon, the cofounders of Mejuri, a Toronto-based jewelry startup.

    Sakkijha and Lançon launched Mejuri in early 2015 with the idea that women don't need to wait for someone else to give them fine jewelry; instead, they wanted to put the purchasing power in the hands of women, giving them the opportunity to buy contemporary, fine jewelry for accessible prices.

    "We wanted to create a class of jewelry for women who shop for themselves the way they shop for their shoes and bags," Sakkijha told Business Insider. "Women don’t want to spend their whole paychecks on high-quality jewelry; they want to have a choice to buy high-quality, non-overpriced jewelry for their day-to-day lives. And we are giving them that choice."

    Women currently account for 89% of the company's transactions. As a woman, I totally get why it's resonating with this demographic so well.

    The jewelry market looks crowded, but if you pay close attention, it’s mostly divided into very classic and expensive fine jewelry or affordable costume jewelry that won’t last. Women want something in the middle, and Mejuri fills the gap with its delicate collection of rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, which retails for as low as $25 for a solid gold stud to as high as $325 for a solid gold evil eye necklace

    To that end, Sakkijha and Lançon told me Mejuri has already exceeded over 1 million dollars in year two of operation and reports 20-30% of monthly transactions are from repeat customers. "We've established a great level of loyalty with customers in a product category that is perceived as a non-frequent purchase," said Lançon.

    The company's direct-to-consumer business model, which allows it to keep price markups low, and its commitment to customer service are largely to credit. Since launching, Mejuri has relied heavily on customer feedback to improve its jewelry. 

    "We involve our customers in product feedback, since this helps in the evolution of our quality and choosing what we introduce to the market," Sakkijha and Lançon told me. "We also give them the ability to reach out to us via email and text, and will be integrating more and more technology to speed up our response times. We’re really driven to provide a luxury experience to every single customer."

    9k=

    After getting to wear a few pieces from Mejuri's current fine jewelry collection for a few weeks, I'd recommend the company as one of the best places to buy fine jewelry online. Not only is Mejuri constantly putting new pieces into production (it's established a lean and quick supply chain that allows it to get products from concept to store in 3-4 weeks), its message, high quality, and transparent prices are all things I can get behind. 

    The company sent me a pair of hoop earrings ($125), choker-style necklace ($255), and ring ($170) so I could get a sense of the jewelry's overall quality, and each piece feels and looks a lot nicer than its price suggests. They're my new everyday go-tos, and I'm already eyeing a couple other pieces I want to eventually buy for myself.

    Mejuri is smart addition to the jewelry market and one that's going to be great for customers, be they women who are shopping for themselves, or people who are looking to find great gifts for the women they love that don't put a huge dent in their wallets.

    Have a closer look at some of my favorite jewelry from Mejuri below: 

    DON'T MISS: This is the work bag professional women everywhere have been looking for

    SEE ALSO: 23 gifts your mom actually wants this Mother's Day

    READ THIS: This Brooklyn shop makes jewelry you'll want to wear every day

    Whether you prefer white, rose, or yellow gold, Mejuri has something to suit your taste. 

    The Letter Ring, $98Solo Diamond Ring, $175 

     



    These hoop earrings offer women a modern, sophisticated silhouette, and they're perfect for everyday wear.

    Twist Hoops, $125

     



    Wearing a choker with another slightly longer necklace is a subtle way to step up your jewelry game. 

    Spheres Choker, $255 Diamond Necklace, $290



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    gary vaynerchuk

    Gary Vaynerchuk is a best-selling author, entrepreneur, startup investor, and media personality. The New Jersey-born, diehard Jets fan has been hustling since he was 14.

    His hustle mentality helped his family's wine business grow from a few million dollars in annual revenue to upwards of $60 million. It also landed him a dinner with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who invited him to invest before its 2008 IPO.

    Vaynerchuk has amassed a huge following on social media, with more than 1.4 million Twitter followers, 1.7 million Instagram followers, and 2 million Facebook fans. He's turning his knack for marketing into a media empire, VaynerMedia, which he says will generate more than $125 million in revenue this year.

    We spoke with Vaynerchuk about how he got started and how he's building his Vayner empire, in an episode of "Success! How I Did It," a Business Insider podcast that explores the career paths of today's most accomplished people.

    In the podcast, we cover:

    • How Gary grew his family's wine business from $3 million to $60 million in annual revenue
    • What he did in his 20s to set himself up for success in his 30s
    • Why Zuckerberg invited him to dinner, and what it's like to eat with the Facebook CEO
    • How he found and invested early in Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Twitter
    • What you need to know to build a big brand and a social-media following
    • How to know if you're a "fake" entrepreneur
    • Why you should dump your "loser" friends (and maybe even your parents?!)
    • Why he doesn't eat breakfast or lunch
    • When he will buy the New York Jets — his ultimate goal — and who will be his future GM

    Listen to the podcast or read the transcript below:

    Subscribe to "Success! How I Did It" on Acast or iTunes. Check out previous episodes with:

    The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

    Alyson Shontell: Gary Vaynerchuk is with us today. He's a social-media guru and a marketing master. He's actually one of the first-ever YouTube stars. He turned a wine company that his family started into a business that was making tens of millions of dollars a year. He's a best-selling author who runs VaynerMedia, which reportedly does more than $100 million in annual revenue.

    I want to go back to your childhood. A lot of people might think you were born into success, but your beginnings were pretty humble.

    Gary Vaynerchuk: You know, it's funny, I actually think my kids are going to have a harder time being successful than I was. I think being born in Belarus, coming here with nothing, my parents working every minute — that instilled a huge competitive advantage, a chip on my shoulder, a work ethic. Immigrants win a lot and they win a lot because of a couple core things.

    I didn't start with a lot. I have friends who started with a lot who have now built on top of it, and I'm impressed because I used to think that was a disadvantage. I think there are a million ways to do it.

    I like my dad's narrative the best. He was 22 when he came to America, had nothing, so that's a really amazing story. I'll take mine. Baseball cards, lemonade.

    Shontell: You were doing all those things that kids try to do when they're entrepreneurial-minded. You had a series of lemonade stands, right? A franchise almost.

    Vaynerchuk: I didn't know it was a franchise when I was 6. I've always had a knack for branding, so even with the lemonade stands, it was "Gary's Lemonade Stand." I worked on the signs all day, more so than on the lemonade itself.

    Then I learned you had to make good lemonade to build an actual business, so that taught me about lifetime value and quality. I learned a lot as a kid. I was a very poor student, which was really unusual for immigrants, but I didn't see education as my way out. It originally started as, I'm a good salesman, and then it was, I'm a good businessman, and then it was, I'm a good operator. Now the current term is I'm a good entrepreneur. It's a DNA thing with me.

    Shontell: Like you said, your dad came here when he was 22 and he built up a wine-and-liquor shop. From what I read, you all shared a studio in Queens. There were eight of you in a studio. Packed house.

    Growing a family wine business to tens of millions in revenue

    gary vaynerchuk

    Vaynerchuk: Packed house. My dad first was a stock boy and then was a manager. An amazing piece of advice for a lot of kids, 50-year-olds, whoever is listening right now: Saving money is a good strategy. I didn't have stuff, but it was because my parents were saving. They were saving. We didn't get toys. They told us to go outside and paint a rock.

    It was very, very smart because after seven or eight years, he was able to buy a liquor store of his own in Springfield, New Jersey — Shoppers Discount Liquors. He built up a great business. A $3 million- to $4 million-a-year business. He made it, right? Literally made it. Middle class, upper-middle class, and made it. We didn't ever need anything. They didn't spend a lot. They're big savers but we made it and then I got dragged into it at 14. I’m the oldest son; I'm one of three.

    Shontell: At 14 can you even be in a liquor store?

    Vaynerchuk: Yeah, because nobody was really checking. At 16 you can get a permit but I was in there at 14. That's probably why they put me in the basement bagging ice and stocking shelves. Somewhere around 16 or 17, I realized people collected wine, and that caught my attention because I was deep into baseball cards and comic books.

    I really enjoyed learning the wine world and really became fascinated by it. That all manifested a couple years later to me launching, in 1996, a site called WineLibrary.com. We rebranded the store to Wine Library and that started my first chapter. We grew the business from $3 million to $4 million a year initially, to $45 million then $60 million a year in a very short period of time.

    Having a website 21 years ago for a single-store wine shop, liquor shop, in New Jersey was like having a VR studio in a flower shop right now Iowa.

    Shontell: How did you know to do that?

    Vaynerchuk: I went on the internet in '94 and in four seconds landed on a AOL bulletin board where people sold baseball cards, and I just knew. The same way that I knew that Twitter would be big and that's why I invested. Or Tumblr or Facebook or Uber. I've done Snapchat. I've done really well on one core principle which is, I think I have an intuitive ability to understand consumer behavior more than the average bear, and I'm not scared to bet the farm on that gut feeling. Even online dating. I met my wife on JDate in 2003.

    I just remember thinking in 10 years, every single person — I didn't think they'd be swiping to the right — but I'm like every person's going to do this because this is practical. People are romantic. People are like, “I'll never buy a tomato on the internet.” This is what I heard in 1996.

    I'm like, "Yeah you will. Because time is valuable, because other things matter more." I knew because I thought people would buy stuff on the internet long before a lot of people thought that.

    Shontell: That's still 10 years before you really became known for your YouTube videos.

    Vaynerchuk: Yes, that's right.

    young Gary Sasha Vaynerchuk dad son Wine Library liquor store

    Shontell: That's where I think a lot people assume that your career started but you were working behind the scenes for 10 years building up this internet business.

    Vaynerchuk: The thing I'm most proud of is that when people try to take a razz at me as a self-promoter — and I'm very empathetic to that, because I do so much around my personal brand — but if they even spend four seconds digging, they’ll realize I didn't say a word until I was in my mid-30s and had already built an enormously large business. Not by tech standards, but I had no cash infusion. A 10% gross-profit liquor store in the mid-90s — to grow to that scale was very hard.

    VaynerMedia's been fun for me. I would tell you secretly, and I haven't said this a lot — I'm trying to give you a nugget for your podcast. I needed to build VaynerMedia up for myself because I was starting to become Gary V, to your point. The wine videos put me on the map. I wrote a book in 2009 called "Crush It," which gets me into the "You're a motivational speaker" or "You're a pundit." It started becoming about my personality and me on Twitter, more than my business accomplishments, so I needed Vayner.

    I need to build an agency against the biggest firms on Madison Avenue, and I needed this big success even to just remind myself that I'm an entrepreneur, an operator, an actual businessman first. I'm not what I think there's a lot of right now, which is a lot of people running around and saying they're an entrepreneur on Instagram.

    I'm proud of that. I look at something that is upsetting to me. When I see Yik Yak sell for $4 million, I feel bad for the guys.

    Shontell: It used to be worth $400 million.

    Vaynerchuk: Correct. But I don't feel bad, because that's entrepreneurship. That's business. I think a lot of people are getting confused right now about what success actually looks like. Only a very few will break through and actually sell their business, actually go public, actually make it.

    What to do in your 20s to set yourself up for success in your 30s

    Gary Vaynerchuk

    Shontell: What did you do in your 20s to set you up for success to really strike in your 30s?

    Vaynerchuk: I worked my face off and I learned my craft.

    Shontell: How many hours?

    Vaynerchuk: All of them.

    Shontell: 24? No sleep?

    Vaynerchuk: I slept. I'll give you a good example. There are not a lot of 20-year-olds who can say they worked every single Saturday of their entire 20s. Period. I did.

    I worked 50 to 52 Saturdays a year, from 22 to 29, until I met my wife and started having to build some level of work-life balance. That's hard work.

    Shontell: What did you do on those Saturdays?

    Vaynerchuk: I got to Wine Library at 7:30 in the morning and I left at 7, 8, or 9. I just worked. I just built a management staff, I tasted wine, I built up the website. Learned how to do Google AdWords. I just worked. When I tell you worked, I am and was a workaholic and I didn't say a word. I didn't do podcasts. There wasn't social media, but there was. I didn't start a MySpace page to say look at me, look what I'm doing. I had the outlets. I built my craft.

    I ran a business. I was a merchant and I was training up my people and training someone to be able to replace me if I got hit by a bus. I was watching trends and that's what led me to YouTube.

    I was like this is going to be big, but wait a minute. I can't buy ads on this like I can on AdRoll or on Google. What do I do with this? Should I get a camera and just talk about wine? That sounds like not a bad idea. Content's important. I didn't even call it content, right? This world didn't exist that we all live in now. I thought about Emeril Lagasse when I did it. I thought about that.

    I started reviewing wine. That did take off, as you mentioned.

    Getting a big break from Conan O'Brien

    Shontell: Was it quickly that you got a following?

    Vaynerchuk: No. I started on February 20, 2006. In July of 2007, a year and a half later, the break happened. It was still quite small, but I got invited to be on the Conan O'Brien show.

    Everybody, and I mean everybody, wrote about me being on Conan because it was like, “A YouTube person on Conan?” Then the clip was awesome. I got him to eat dirt and grass. It went viral on YouTube and that took me from being a top 500 followed person on Twitter to a top 50 person followed on Twitter. Then, Kevin Rose asked me to be on Digg Nation. I was on the "Today" show and Ellen and then it started rolling.

    Shontell: Wow. What was it that Conan saw in you that made him invite you on his show? A wine guy, a YouTuber.

    Vaynerchuk: He had no idea who I was. A producer of that show's cousin was watching me, thought I was funny. They have these pitch meetings where they're like, “What should we do? Well, there's this weird guy on the internet who's like talking about wine in a very different way.” They called me. I had always thought what would happen if that happened so I had the idea of —

    Shontell: You thought about what would happen if Conan called you?

    Vaynerchuk: Yeah, of course. I already think about what I'm going to be doing on Alexa voice and what am I going to be doing on VR and how am I going to use message bots and what's going to happen when my kids are 18 and when I buy the Jets — who's going to be my GM?

    Shontell: Is it going to be [Group Nine CEO] Ben Lerer?

    Vaynerchuk: It's definitely not going to be Ben Lerer. I'm not even going to let him in the stadium. By the way, I referenced Ben earlier. Ben's dad was very successful, and to watch how hard Ben has built Thrillist and the Group Nine Network. It's just very inspiring and makes me hope that my children will have that fire. It's not like he's a trillionaire but he had stuff. Way more than I did.

    Shontell: Kenny Lerer, his dad, was the cofounder of The Huffington Post. [Lerer also sat on Business Insider's board.]

    Vaynerchuk: Right. Ben matters to me a lot. Ironic that you brought him up because he shows me very closely, because he's a friend of mine — hey, you can have stuff but still be on fire and do it. That's been fun for me.

    Anyway. Then YouTube sells.

    Shontell: To Google for about $1 billion, and it was a massive deal at the time.

    Vaynerchuk: Oh my God. It was $1.7 billion and, just for everybody at home, if Musically sells tomorrow to Viacom for $250 billion, that's what it felt like ... I said, Holy crap. I was right about e-commerce, I was right about Google AdWords, I was right about email, I was right about retargeting banner ads. I'm right about blogging. Now, I'm right about YouTube. I've got something better than, “I can sell wine.” The next time I feel it, I'm going to invest. And that happened a couple of months later, at South by Southwest.

    What it's like to grab dinner with Mark Zuckerberg

    mark zuckerberg phone

    Shontell: That's when you became a startup investor? What was your first investment?

    Vaynerchuk: Twitter.

    Shontell: You go from investing in nothing to Twitter. That's a pretty good track record.

    Vaynerchuk: It gets better. The next thing I invested in was Tumblr and Facebook.

    Shontell: How did you find Facebook early? In what year?

    Vaynerchuk: It was 2008. I had made a video, one of my first business videos that was titled "Facebook should be worried about Twitter." It was like, "Why am I starting to use Twitter more?" It wasn't this big grand statement. It was one person's point of view.

    That goes viral inside of Facebook. [Startup investor and founder] Dave Morin sends me an email — he was the head of platform at the time. He goes, "Hey, a lot of people are debating this video. Would you ever come out to Palo Alto and give a talk about it?"

    I'm like, "I'm going to Palo Alto next week"— which I wasn't.

    I gave a talk about consumer behavior. I didn't even know but Mark was in the audience. He came down. He was like, "You want to have dinner tonight?"

    I'm like, "Yep." I had a flight that night. I clearly canceled that.

    We hit it off and in 2008, a lot of times when he came into New York, he would hit me up and we got to know each other. Somewhere in that year, Mark and [his sister] Randi emailed me and they're like, "Our parents are selling a bunch of Facebook stock. Do you want to buy in?"

    I said "Yep." That was life-changing.

    Shontell: What is dinner like with Zuckerberg?

    Vaynerchuk: This was 2008, 2009. I'm built on emotional intelligence. I'm not the smartest. I just know what people are going to do. He's a tech kid and an engineer and a Harvard kid. I go in thinking he's that. I leave that dinner and I'm like, "F---, this kid absolutely gets human behaviors." That's when I knew that he was going to win, because I'm like, "Wow, he's got both." He knows how to build it. I can't build stuff. I'm not an engineer. That's not what I'm in to, but I'm like, "He understands what I understand." That was it. I was just bought into him from day one. He's super smart.

    We're a funny match in the 10 or 15 times we've interacted because I only want to talk and he only wants to listen. That's why he'll probably end up with a hell of a lot more money and be successful, but he's extremely bright. I like him a lot. I think he's kind, but most of all he just understands people. That's weird because people look at him as introverted and quirky and all that but I don't see it and I never saw it. Obviously, he's more media trained and grown into himself. I can't speak to how he rolls now because I haven't spent time with him but I can definitely tell you there was no confusion from those initial meetings for me, and I mean none.

    Shontell: Fast forward. You then invested in Snapchat down the road, right?

    Vaynerchuk: Affirmative.

    Shontell: How did you find Snapchat? It's one thing to find and spot something but another for a founder to let you in.

    Vaynerchuk: I should have invested earlier. I was way on it before I actually invested, but I don't like reaching out. I never reach. I have not spent a day with [CEO] Evan Spiegel. I've spent a ton of time with Emily White, who was originally his right hand and then with [COO] Imran Khan. I was bringing a lot of value, and they were like, “Hey, would you like to invest?” I said yes.

    Building a new-age ad agency that generates $125 million in revenue

    ryan harwood and gary vanyerchuk

    Shontell: Let's talk about creating VaynerMedia. It’s a huge thing that you're in now, and you and your brother did this in 2009. Does it really generate over $100 million in annual revenue?

    Vaynerchuk: We'll do over $125 million this year.

    Shontell: Where does that all come from?

    Vaynerchuk: That comes from clients like Chase and Budweiser and GE and Toyota and Quaker Oats and Amazon Prime in the UK paying us for either spending their media and given us a commission, making video productions to distribute on the social and digital web or managing their social and digital properties and producing non-video content or consulting for them on their strategies.

    Shontell: You're a social-media agency of sorts?

    Vaynerchuk: We're a modern-day ad agency. The only difference is we do everything and most don't because I'm building it for myself. I don't want to sell it to a holding company. We've started working with small businesses. I come from that world. Small business, it costs $25,000 a month, so you have to be doing millions in revenue, but we're just building a client service business. It's nothing sexy. It's not like I invented anything. The only difference is I'm really good at marketing.

    Shontell: Sum up what VaynerMedia is because there are a ton of moving parts. And then how did you start it?

    Vaynerchuk: In 2009, ESPN sent me an email and said, "Can you come to our office and talk to us about Twitter? Why do you, Gary V, have more followers than all of the Disney properties combined?"

    Shontell: How many followers do you have these days?

    Vaynerchuk: These days I have 1.4 million on Twitter, 1.7 million on Instagram, 2 million on Facebook. At the time I had about 700,000.

    The email was sitting in my inbox because I was busy. By the time I came back to it that night, they had already emailed a second time. They're like we'll pay you $5,000.

    It was really cool and I was really excited. We had this conversation and I get out of the office and my brother calls me. My brother is now a senior at Boston University. It's February and he's graduating in May. We're under the gun because we've promised ourselves we're going to start a business together. We're thinking fantasy sports, because we think it's going to be big. We're trying to figure it out and I call him and I go, "You know how I talk about maybe one day buying businesses? Instead of doing that cold, maybe we should start a consulting firm," is what I said. Learn about corporate America, make some money, and then decide what to do. That's what we decided to do.

    I got another email from Gillette, the razor company, to do some sort of idea session. We just started. We didn't know what we were doing. We hired four or five of AJ's friends from college and high school and we literally started reaching out to people. I started using my network.

    The first two years, what happened, a couple months later, “Crush It,” came out and that's when Gary V. was born.

    Shontell: That's your first book?

    Vaynerchuk: That's my first book. It went really viral.

    Shontell: You did a 10-book deal, right?

    Vaynerchuk: I did. What was not reported in there was if my first book sold enough copies to pay for the entire 10-book advance, I would become a free agent, which is what happened.

    I wrote that book. It went very viral and then I started getting offered $25,000 to give a speech and that was so hard to say no to at the time in my life.

    Shontell: Why did you say no?

    Vaynerchuk: I didn't, which means I wasn't involved in Vayner that much the first two years. I got us the clients, I would check in, but it was really AJ and our band of 20 young characters in the beginning and the first two years show that. I think we were doing $2 million in revenue.

    In August 2011, I decided to take over full time because I was stunned that two years later, nobody was doing what I wanted to do two years earlier and I realized that corporate America's slow. I attacked. I saw and opening and I attacked. I got serious. From August 2011, which really means 2012 because I was cleaning up and hiring ... In the last five years, we've gone from 25 to 750 employees. From $3 million to $125 million in revenue, and now we're a real player as an agency.

    What you need to know to build a great brand

    Gary Vaynerchuk happy Jets fan celebrate

    Shontell: When you're building a brand, what are the most important things that you need to know?

    Vaynerchuk: First of all, you have to know who you are, what you are, and what you stand for. That's clichéd marketing-bullshit jargon, but it does matter. It helps. You have to know who you're targeting. I think too many people fight the market. There are certain people who are never going to want your stuff no matter what you do. There are certain people are never going to love me because I curse and I have bravado and I'm a Jersey boy and I'm brash and they won't take the time to see the humility and the patience and the truth. They shouldn't.

    Who am I to actually make them have to take that time?

    Brands have to be honest with themselves and know who's going to buy their stuff and who's not. Most importantly, they need to market in the year they actually live in. We have brands spending ungodly amounts of money on print, television, outdoor radio, programmatic banner ads, website takeovers. Garbage.

    When I say garbage, they work-ish. They're just so overpriced. I don't know what else to say. I do not believe that it is worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars in distribution and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost to make one 30-second video to tell a 29-year-old woman that your soap is great, in a world where she is not going to consume that commercial.

    I do not think it's great to spend millions of dollars on banner ads across the desktop internet on the right side below the fold of tons of websites. Nobody's ever going to pay attention to that banner ad because the CPM cost is low.

    Shontell: One thing that you’re doing at Vayner that's interesting is your merging content and brands. In the journalism world, people start screaming. There was news that BuzzFeed is launching a team of people who are going to start sending you things that you should want to buy. There were people in the journalism who were like, "Oh my God, good thing they work for a forward-thinking publisher, because The New York Times would never do something like that."

    Vaynerchuk: New York Times does it. New York Times has a wine club in their newspaper in the “Dining In” section. All that is is romance and highbrow snobbery … The New York Times sells wine. The New York Times is a competitor of my family's wine business. I don't know what else to say. I have a lot of friends who work at The Times because I'm a fan. It was so fun to make fun of them.

    I was like, “You've been doing it.”

    They're like "Oh."

    I'm like, “Where are you?!”

    But yes, I have. I've started something called the Gallery. VaynerMedia is what I've been running. I've created a holding company called Vayner X. VaynerMedia sits on the left. On the right side is something called the Gallery. Our first purchase was a company called Pure Wow. It's in that Pop Sugar, Refinery29, female space.

    I had become increasingly aware that Vice and BuzzFeed and Vox were building creative shops and felt like they were true competitors because they had better digital DNA than, let's say, the agencies on Madison Avenue. I thought, "Look, I can sit here and watch that happen or I can do the reverse." In my great dream of building the greatest communications and marketing machine, publishing will be part of it. I never worried about the conflicts and things of that nature because everybody's doing it. New York Times is doing it. It’s just that an agency hadn't bought a publisher, because most of them couldn’t afford it and most of them don't have the — to be very frank — the ambition I have.

    When you want to buy the New York Jets, you have to do big things.

    The goal is to buy the New York Jets

    Shontell: How close are you to buying the Jets?

    Vaynerchuk: Far. The Jets are probably $2.7 or $2.8 billion. I'm nowhere close to that. The good news is I don't want to buy the Jets tomorrow. I love the journey of being an entrepreneur more than I like of the idea of buying the Jets.

    The good news is, Woody Johnson's healthy and young and not looking to sell. We'll see how it plays out and if the booby prize is the Dallas Mavericks ... Well, no, actually Cuban's too young ... If the booby prize is the Milwaukee Brewers, we'll see and maybe it'll be something altogether different. All I can focus on is trying to build the business around giving me those kinds of opportunities in the future.

    Why you should dump your 'loser' friends and family members

    Shontell: I have a couple of wrap-up questions because you produce these advice videos on big topics that everybody thinks about when they run a business. First one: dropping a "loser" friend. You've done a video on this.

    Vaynerchuk: Wow, I can't believe you went there. This is a tough one.

    Shontell: How do you get rid of friends who are useless to you?

    Vaynerchuk: This has been the one that I've been very hot on talking about in the world but I've been scared of because even when you just said that, I'm like, “Ugh. This guy's terrible.”

    Shontell: It's a good, provocative headline.

    Vaynerchuk: It is. I think that people are keeping very negative people around them and if they aspire to change their situation, it's imperative to audit the seven to 10 people who are around you.

    That’s the reason I go after a friend, or a parent. In the details of that headline, I said "Hey, you may have to audit your mom. Not that I want you to never talk to your mom again, but you may want to take a step back." I've done this for friends and acquaintances. It's a very painful, eye-opening experience to realize, “Wait a minute, my dad actually doesn't want me to be successful because he's not happy.” Whether you call it misery loves company, it's not like parents are bad people. It's a human trait. It's just a thing.

    Maybe if you got rid of one friend or spent a lot less time with one friend who's a real drag and a negative force and added a positive person in your office ... If you switched it from 80 days hanging out with your negative friend and one day with your office acquaintance who's super positive, to four days with your negative friend and 12 with this new person. I've physically watched I mentor in my organizations have a totally different life on that thesis.

    It's lonely at the top — if you don't like that, then you don't start a company

    GettyImages 457687288

    Shontell: All right. That makes sense. It's basically the company you keep and if it's positive company, you think you'll be more successful. Another topic you talk about is, “It’s lonely at the top.” How do you solve for that?

    Vaynerchuk: You don't solve for it because it's the truth. When you're the CEO, it's on you. It's Sally's fault. It's Rick's fault. Everything that's wrong at Vayner is my fault.

    Here's what I would say. 80% of you who are listening are actually not entrepreneurs. You think you are. You're doing it because it's hot and what you really are is a great number three [third employee at a startup], or a great number seven. You're not actually built for eating shit and being in fire all day long. You're going to be more depressed. It's even harder and I think it's time we talk about entrepreneurship in a real way, because there's a lot more underlying suicide and depression in our tech startup entrepreneurial world …

    I think we're in a vortex of fake entrepreneurship that's going to lead to a lot of pain so I want to talk about the loneliness because it is hard. I've had a shit week, Alyson. Honestly. There's been a lot going on. Clients, internal stuff. It's not fun but it's my calling. I don't even know anything else.

    Shontell: How do you deal with it? Do you meditate?

    Vaynerchuk: I put in perspective and honestly. I love it but I love shit. I love the pain. I love the process. I'm just watching kids I invested in, and really struggle and go to Coachella and skiing every weekend to deal with it. Which then means they're not putting in real work to the business.

    They would have killed it as number nine at Instagram. They would have made a fortune. They would have crushed it as number 11 at Purple Mattress or Casper. They would have dominated as number 29 at Business Insider. But everybody thinks they're a goddamn founder now.

    Shontell: The last one that I would ask you is you're clearly a confident person, you don't mind speaking your mind, you're assertive. How much of success, do you think, requires that?

    Vaynerchuk: I think it's the one we see. I think the opposite version of me is the one we don't see, which is there are tens of thousands of outrageously successful businesses of very quiet, very calculated, calm executors who are confident.

    You can't be successful without being confident. They believe in themselves. They have their own version of assertiveness … I think confidence matters and I think other things matter, like I would tell you empathy is probably why I'm more successful than confidence. I'm empathic to the customer, to my business partners, to my employees.

    Vaynerchuk: You've got me in a very thoughtful zone. This is a very weird version of me.

    How to focus when you're doing a million things at once

    Gary VaynerchukShontell: Good. We'll capitalize on the weird. Rule No. 1 of running a business is focus. But you're doing 10 different things. You have your sports agency, VaynerSports, your media business, Vayner Media.

    Vaynerchuk: Let's go through it because I think it will help and it will help other entrepreneurs. I think I'm good at making it look like that. It feels like a lot's going on but, for example, 80% of my public speaking is only accepted if I believe there's a business-development opportunity for VaynerMedia. Instead of doing RFPs like Ogilvy, I go to CMO conferences, speak real truths, and get a client without spending four and a half months courting them. That's smart. That's being VaynerMedia’s CEO.

    VaynerSports. [My brother] AJ and his team are running it. I am — just like I was for VaynerMedia — the guy who gets Braxton Miller signed. Do I have to fly to Houston and close it? Sure.

    Shontell: How did you do that?

    Vaynerchuk: We hired somebody who went to Ohio State who had a relationship. We just started talking, getting to know each other and over the course of nine months ... We are going to build a very disruptive sports agency. We are going to make more money off the field for these athletes than anybody has ever done because we'll do a lot of small deals. We're going to hustle. We're not just going to rely on Puma, Reebok, Nike, Under Armor, and Panini Sports Cards. It's going to come to us in waves but that's how. Just personal relationships.

    There's VaynerMedia, which is 90% of my time.

    I've really calmed down on my investing because I think there's a lot fake entrepreneurship. Phil Toronto is running point for me and is looking at a lot of stuff, but I'm looking at very little stuff … Don't forget, I'm also working 15 to 18 hours a day, which means if you really think of somebody's eight-hour day and you think about 40 hours and then you think about lunch and breakfast and dinner, which I do none of during my actual day.

    Why eating is a waste of time

    Shontell: You don't eat?

    Vaynerchuk: Nope. I eat at night.

    Shontell: Don't you get hungry? I could never do that.

    Vaynerchuk: Nope. This is the part where AJ jumps in and says, “Gary's actually a robot. That's why this is all happening.”

    Shontell: Do you sleep? Are you one of those four-hour sleepers?

    Vaynerchuk: Nope. I'm all in on Arianna Huffington’s [you-need-sleep theory]. Give me six or seven hours. Give me 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. every day, then I work out and then I work. I also take seven weeks of vacation with my family. It’s extremism on my work-life balance. But I'm getting a lot done.

    Shontell: Well, that's something to aspire to.

    Vaynerchuk: It's something to aspire to if it makes you happy. It's not to aspire to to make money. I can tell you that right now. You can make ungodly amounts of money working 9 to 5, or 8 to 2 on Wall Street. It's not about the money. The thing to aspire to that I think I'm a blueprint of is, forget about people knowing who I am or how much or little I make in my life. I'm happy every day.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A CEO and former Googler shares 2 tricks for cold emailing anyone


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    The Skimm founders CEO Carly Zakin Danielle Weisberg

    Every morning at 6:00 a.m., more than 5 million subscribers receive an email newsletter from theSkimm.

    Launched by former NBC producers Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin in 2012, theSkimm is a daily sum-up of top headlines rewritten for a millennial audience. 

    The startup's motto is that it's "making it easier to be smarter." 

    TheSkimm has added several different features since launching the newsletter. One of its most popular, however, is its SkimmReads book recommendation engine, which is being called the next iteration of the wildly popular "Oprah's Book Club."

    The first book theSkimm's editors chose was "Flash Boys" by Michael Lewis.

    "When we started theSkimm, it was right before the long weekends of the summer, and that's always when we're trying to figure out what to read next," Zakin told Business Insider. "Danielle and I have always been lifelong voracious readers, and theSkimm has always been true to who we are as people."

    TheSkimm's book recommendations, which now come out in the newsletter every Friday, have proven to be huge drivers of sales. According to the startup, books have moved up an average of 3,000 spots on Amazon's Best Sellers ranking shortly after being highlighted in the newsletter. 

    Elan Mastai's "All Our Wrong Todays," for example, moved up from No. 4,110 to No. 198 on Amazon's ranking after it was put in SkimmReads on March 31. "The Thousandth Floor," written by Katherine McGee, moved from No. 4,586 to No. 15 after its appearance in SkimmReads on September 30, 2016.

     TheSkimm, which does get a percentage of sales of the products its editors recommend (though they declined to share exact numbers), has also begun suggesting wines that pair well with certain reads. They'll name a rosé that goes well with a new beach read, for example.

    "We drink wine when we read books. It's just what we do," Zakin said. "When we started recommending wines with books, our wine partners told us they were selling more wine between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. than they do in a whole week."

    Publishers have taken note. 

    "TheSkimm has turned into the holy grail for book publicists right now," said Victoria Comella, director of publicity at HarperCollins. "It taps into the exact right audience — young women who are by all accounts the highest demographic of book readers out there. There used to be Oprah, now we have theSkimm."

    Authors who have been featured are also seeing a boost in buzz around their books. 

    "TheSkimm has become a force in the world of books. I still remember the day they featured 'The Traitor's Wife' in the SkimmReads section," Allison Pataki, author of "The Traitor's Wife,""The Accidental Empress," and "Sisi," said. "Sales spiked that day, and people came out of the woodwork to say that they had seen it on their daily email."

    "TheSkimm has quickly established itself as a tastemaker and a key driver of trends and word-of-mouth buzz."

    Christina Baker Kline, author of "Orphan Train" and "A Piece of the World" called theSkimm "a defibrillator for books: a jolt in sales and prestige like nothing else."

    It's no accident that SkimmReads has drawn comparisons to "Oprah's Book Club." Oprah herself is a noted reader of theSkimm, in addition to being an inspiration for the startup's book recommendations.

    "We were really inspired by Oprah, how she was making reading part of a conversation and part of what you do with your friends. She inspired millions of readers to find their next favorite book," Weisberg said. "We wanted to start SkimmReads to be an engine for our generation's next favorite read."

    In the meantime, theSkimm's New York headquarters have completely filled up with books sent over by publicists. 

    theSkimm Books

    Last week, the team opened theSkimm offices up to the public and posted an Instagram inviting people to stop by and take the books for free. 

    "They were all gone within an hour," Zakin said.

     

    SEE ALSO: How 2 roommates got shot down by hundreds of startup investors and racked up credit-card debt — but built a newsletter empire anyway

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Google Umspannwerk Kreuzberg

    BERLIN — It looks like Google may have a fight on its hands in Berlin.

    The search giant wants to open a new startup hub in the city's Kreuzberg neighbourhood but locals are concerned about gentrification of the area.

    Kreuzberg has a reputation for being one of Berlin's edgiest districts; it's full of punks, anti-fascists, and other lefty-types. The neighbourhood is widely perceived as being "cool," which means that some of the world's biggest companies want to be based there, including Google, whose market cap of around $640 billion (£495 billion) makes it one of the most valuable companies in the world.

    Google, which already has an office in Berlin's upmarket Mitte district, first announced it wanted to open up a space in Kreuzberg last November when it unveiled plans for a new 2,400 square metre startup "Campus" that would open in autumn 2017. That date has now been pushed back to the end of the year.

    Mary Grove, director of Google for entrepreneurs and campus, wrote in a blog post: "Our goal for Campus Berlin is to support the existing startup ecosystem even more and to promote entrepreneurship."

    Google wants to rent around a quarter of a former electricity substation called Umspannwerk that was built around the 1920s for its Campus space. Today, Umspannwerk is primarily used as an event space but it is also home to around a dozen companies and a restaurant called The Volt. No more than 10 Google employees will be based at Campus Berlin but dozens of startups will be able to use space.

    But residents in the area are concerned that Google's presence will damage the area's vibe and drive up rents as entrepreneurs backed by investor's millions rush to move in. Anti-gentrification protestors in Berlin deliberately marched past Umspannwerk on May Day, which occurred on Monday.

    "While I see the concept of the Google Campus being a good asset to the city, I find it to be rather out of place in Kreuzberg," Jazmin Medrano, a life coach and a startup cofounder, told Business Insider. "Yes, gentrification is part of Berlin, but Google coming in to the heart of Kreuzberg is like a conservative, right-winged, homophobic person going to Kit Kat Club. It makes no sense."

    Medrano added: "Google has a bigger social responsibility to consciously think out where it's wanted, where it's not, and its implications. The cool factor to Kreuzberg is that it's alternative, somewhat dodgy, mysterious, raw, and still a bit unadulterated. Hence it being seen as cool, hip, and vibrant. And I'm sure Google wants to be in the mix of a hip scene. But what Google doesn't realise is that its mere presence will alter the cool factor, the makeup of Kreuzberg. And I think that is what most people fear."

    Umspannwerk Kreuzberg

    Ngoc Duong, co-owner of Katie's Blue Cat coffee shop, situated less than 100m from Umspannwerk, told Business Insider that she is concerned many of her staff will be priced out of properties in the area if rents go up any more. Fortunately for Duong, she's been in Berlin for 17 years and she's on one of the city's highly sought after old rental contracts — Berlin property laws prevent landlords from increasing rents without making significant changes to the building first.

    While Campus clearly has its sceptics, not everyone thinks Google moving to the area is all that bad.

    Niklas Lechner, founder of Berlin fintech firm Innolend, told Business Insider: "From a company/startup point of view, I think it's great to have a Google Campus within your city/district. Besides attracting new talents and companies, it will also be a great source of inspiration having them here and good for the overall vibe and ecosystem in general.

    "However, I can also understand other local residents who are concerned about increasing rents, noise and especially the influence this might have on the overall culture, since I am also living 50 meters from here. We’ve moved here because I don't want to run into startup people every day, especially on weekends."

    Google Campus Berlin

    Last week, Green Party councillor Julian Schwarze reportedly told the Neues Deutschland newspaper that the initial construction plans for Campus had been sent back to Google because of noise concerns from local residents and because "the planned installation of an additional story in the historical building would also exceed the designated floor-area size for the district."

    Google downplayed the remarks and said Campus hadn't been "rejected" as several media reports (including Business Insider) suggested, adding that it was perfectly normal for changes to be made during the planning process.

    However, the search giant admitted that Campus Berlin may open "a few weeks" behind schedule but insisted that it will be open by the end of 2017.

    Ralf Bremer, a spokesperson for Google, told Business Insider: "We are excited to house Campus Berlin in the [substation]. As with every rebuilding of historical sites there are tasks that we solve together with the authorities. We build out our space for local community and local entrepreneurs, and are thus working closely with the city to not only preserve, but highlight, the historic features of the building."

    Bremmer did not specify what the next step was for Google in the planning process of Campus Berlin.

    Google already has six Campus buildings in cities around the world, with the others in London, Tel Aviv, Seoul, Warsaw, Sao Paulo, and Madrid. The Campus spaces are designed to help entrepreneurs to form and build their businesses alongside other founders that are doing the same thing. Google claims that startups in its Campuses have raised over €260 million (£220 million) and created more than 4,600 new jobs.

    "We ourselves began in a garage nearly two decades ago and today we celebrate our entrepreneurial roots," Google writes on the Campus website. "Google for Entrepreneurs partners with startup communities and builds Campuses where entrepreneurs can learn, connect, and create companies that will change the world.

    "Since 2011, we've launched Campuses and formed partnerships that support entrepreneurs across 125 countries."

    Google isn't the only tech giant looking to move into Berlin's now-trendy old buildings. Elsewhere in the city, homegrown tech giant Zalando has recently opened a clothing store in a building on the River Spree dating back to a similar period.

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    Travis Kalanick

    Eight years ago, Travis Kalanick launched a startup called UberCab in San Francisco.

    Now, Uber is a global behemoth and one of Silicon Valley's most successful companies — and one of the most contentious.

    Uber operates in nearly 600 cities worldwide, and it's said to be worth nearly $70 billion. The 40-year-old Kalanick is now said to have a net worth of more than $6 billion.

    But Uber — and Kalanick — have been caught up in one scandal after another in recent months, calling into question the future of the world's most valuable startup.

    Here's how Kalanick got his start and built Uber into a global empire. 

    Maya Kosoff contributed to an earlier version of this post. 

    SEE ALSO: The story of how Travis Kalanick built Uber into the most feared and valuable startup in the world

    Uber CEO Travis Kalanick grew up in Northridge, California — a suburb outside Los Angeles. When he was a kid, he wanted to be a spy.

    Source: Business Insider



    Kalanick got good grades and was athletic growing up, running track and playing football. But he was bullied by older students, and later vowed that he'd never be pushed around by anyone again.

    Source: The New York Times



    Kalanick would eventually follow in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his mom, a retail advertiser: He went door-to-door as a teen, selling knives for Cutco. He then started his first business at 18, an SAT-prep course called New Way Academy.

    Source: Business Insider



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Tribe founders

    London running startup Tribe is looking to raise £1 million in crowdfunding to help it expand its business. 

    The company, which creates 100% organic snacks for endurance runners, hopes to raise the money on Crowdcube, which has also helped companies like mobile banking app Monzo and Camden Town Brewery to raise capital. 

    Rob Martineau, cofounder of Tribe, told Business Insider that the campaign will go live in the second week of May. If the campaign is successful, then Tribe will have raised closed to £2 million. 

    "We've had an amazing response from the first email out to the Tribe members, and are excited to get going with it," he said. 

    Tribe ships completely natural energy and recovery supplements to the homes and offices of endurance athletes of all levels. Today, the startup has over 5,000 subscribers for its boxes, which are priced at £8.65 each and typically contain six items. 

    Tribe's energy bars and trail snacks include the Cacao & Orange bar, the Banana flavoured Tribe shake, and the Infinity Banoffee bar, as well as many others. They're delivered in neat little boxes that are branded with inspirational running quotes and contain running recipes on the inside. 

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    Last December, Y Media Labs cofounder and CTO Sumit Mehra gathered with the company's 80-ish United States-based employees in Hawaii for their annual all-hands meeting.

    It was there Mehra made the announcement: The very same "grand mansion" where they were standing, all 5,000 square feet of it, would be free for them and their families to use for as long as they worked for Y Media Labs. Everybody gets access to the Hawaiian residence for a week, in order of how long they've been at the company, no matter their job title. No strings attached. 

    To cut right to the chase, here's a drone flyover of the house:

    Zillow lists the value of the home at around $2.48 million; Mehra tells Business Insider that comparable mansions in the area go for $10,000 a week on Airbnb. The main house has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms; the "Ohana" guest house has another two of each. All in all, it sleeps ten. You can bring your whole family, or go solo. 

    Mehra tells Business Insider that the mansion was intended as a "thank you" to his employees, as suggested by his wife during their own recent Hawaiian vacation. It took a few months to line the place up — Mehra says that he tried to buy it outright, but the owner wouldn't sell. Now, he says, they're spending "six figures" a year to rent it indefinitely.  

    Sumit Mehra Y Media Labs

    Mehra says that it's also a reflection of his "gratitude" to employees for the success of the company. Y Media Labs, which helps design and market custom apps for the likes of Apple and American Express, grew from a bootstrapped startup with no outside funding, to a company with around 280 employees — 80 or so in Silicon Valley, and another 200-plus in India. In May 2015, Y Media Labs was bought by advertising company MDC Partners. 

    "We wanted a way to thank our employees, in a non-traditional way," says Mehra. 

    Dibs

    When Mehra first announced the free mansion offer, it actually slammed Y Media's administrative staff: He says for the first week or so, they were buried under questions, trying to either book a trip, or else just trying to figure out if there was some kind of catch, or if it was really only for senior management.

    But nope, Mehra says. In the spirit of fairness, and to reward the most loyal employees, employees get to book a week at a time, with priority given to those there longest. That means a junior salesperson gets to pick their week ahead of a senior VP of engineering, assuming they joined early enough.

    As a cofounder of Y Media Labs, that suits Mehra just fine: "That actually allows me to get first dibs anyway," he jokes.

    y media labs hawaii mansion

    He says that they opened the house to employees starting in January, and there hasn't been a single week where it's been unoccupied, with employees rotating in and out on the regular. Some employees have actually tried to go back, but they have to wait until everybody else gets their turn.

    Two final, important notes: Mehra says he's a big believer in paying employees what they're worth, and this is more of a company-wide investment in keeping employees happy than it is a replacement for raises, bonuses, or a competitive salary. 

    Second, the employees in India also have access to the house. But in recognition of the fact that it's harder for them to get there than their California-based counterparts, Mehra is working on finding and offering them specific perks, too. 

    "The house is open to everyone," says Mehra.

    SEE ALSO: The CEO paying employees $10,000 to leave San Francisco explains how it's helping him build a $20 million business

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