Chris Sacca on TWiST

Jason Calacanis interviews Chris Sacca on This Week in Startups. It’s an amazing, 2-part episode full of straight talk about the current state of startups. There are many great stories and interesting nuggets of information sprinkled throughout. I’m still listening so I’ll update this post with my favorites sections but feel free to share your favorite bits in the comments below.

Part One shownotes

Three things that are in the “founder gene”

  1. Ev Williams doesn’t see that failure is a possibility. He’s like one of those free climbers they can climb a mountain without ropes but they never fear the consequences of a fall.
  2. Travis Kalanick (founder of Uber) is an unreasonably fast-moving person. Travis will show you the expansion plan and it makes me nervous.
  3. Kevin Systrom (co-founder of Instagram) is magnetic. Look into his eyes and there’s no doubt he’s going to succeed with his vision for his company.

20 mins into part one, Chris talks about how he dug himself out of a huge financial hole where he was millions in debt.

1 hour in Chris talks about his fund, Lowercase Capital, and how he has nearly $1B under management. His newest investments are in content production companies, a space he’s been watching closely for years and now thinks is ripe for investment. The capital costs of producing content have come down dramatically and you now have high production shows such as This Week in Startups and Leo LaPorte’s This Week in Tech that can be produced at a fraction of the cost of what they used to cost just a few years ago.

Part Two shownotes

Chris managed Google’s $4.7B bid for wireless spectrum. Thanks to their participation, the FCC added the stipulation that the winner of the bid honor open device and open access. Chris reminds us that this is why Verizon LTE iPhones are unlocked.

At 1:50:15 Chris and Jason turn to talk about the sorry state of middle America and how it’s been impacted by politics. Chris refers to a post by Spark Capital VC Bijan Sabet and his post of what it was like to attend a private event with Barak Obama.


Mobile Social Networking “up for grabs” in the United States

Jason Calcanis has a great post on 10 things the new MySpace CEO should do. All of them are good (buy a search engine, add casual games, virtual currency) but I particularly liked his comment about the wide open space for a successful mobile social network here in the US. Japan is leading the way, the US is just not there yet.

Let’s face the facts: Facebook is a much better platform on the Web. MySpace has a lot of work to do just to match Facebook’s offering. However, Facebook and MySpace both suck on mobile phones. Translation? Mobile SNS (social networking services) is up for grabs in the United States.

On my recent trip to Japan, it became very clear to me that the majority of social network activity was occurring on mobile phones–not desktop PCs. No one has built the ultimate iPhone and BlackBerry social networking tools, although some folks are starting to get there. Geolocation tools, combined with the social graph, are the Holy Grail of social networking.

The full post is here.

Calacanis on Value of twitter

twitter-logoJason Calacanis expands upon his offer to pay twitter to get his Mahalo account onto twitter’s suggested user page. It’s the distribution channel and potential click-thru traffic he’s looking for, and click-thrus to his site equals registered users and a lifetime relationship with Mahalo that can be monetized over time.

The top 20 slots on Twitter are actually worth–to some people–2-10x what I offered. If Southwest, Amazon, eBay or Zappos were to get their hands on one of these accounts, they could easily make one uber-compelling tweet a week. 50 tweets from Amazon with things like “Top 100 Science Fiction Movies of All Time–as rated by George Lucas” would garner a two to 10% CTR. A Zappos tweet with “Back to school: Buy two pairs of shoes get one free” would get a huge response on August 20th.

A JetBlue daily notice saying “The first 1,000 folks to respond to this alert get $25 off their next flight” would mean never having another empty seat.

The point is that Twitter has the ability to unleash a direct marketing business the likes of which the world has NEVER seen. I predict they will, and when they do, they will make the Twitter nay-sayers look like the donkeys they really are. (Note: you ever notice the folks who have the most to say about making money are the ones who’ve never made any? Exactly.)

Direct marketing by mail changed retail forever, as did the Web and email.

Twitter will take that to an entirely new level. Why? Because people *live* inside of Twitter like they have never lived inside of a product before. We have NBA stars twittering about their performance at half-time and a president who leveraged the service to get elected.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that there is something disruptive going on here.

Wasn’t this the promise of SMS? A direct channel to which consumers could sign up and get notifications of local deals in their area?

Facebook Business Model – Public Profiles

With over 175M users, Facebook has famously opened up for distribution of marketing messages from businesses, brands, and celebrities. My wife Tivo’d an appearence by Mark Zuckerberg on Oprah introducing it to its mainstream audience and most surely to any brand marketer interested in reaching Oprah’s audience. If Jason Calcanis puts the value of a slot on twitter’s suggested users at $250,000, then a slot on any Facebook featured user page has got to be multiples of that.

If you hit Facebook in a logged out state, look for the, “To create a page for a celebrity, band or business, click here.” link and this is what you’ll see. No more fan pages – social influence is now officially reserved and will most likely be for sale.

Facebook Business Model