Adopting San Francisco

by Shadab Farooqui

One thing that I really admired about NYC was the street cleaning that happened on both a daily and weekly basis all over the city. The apartment buildings "adopted" the sidewalks and kept it clean by washing them with water, each morning. This is not to say that New York is the cleanest city in the world, but I admired the dedication and resolve with which the doormen washed the streets with a hose every morning.

San Francisco has a littering problem. It's everywhere, it is apparent and it is getting worse.

For every company or startup, being in San Francisco should be a privilege. Maintaining a street should be corporate responsibility.  Companies should more directly contribute toward keeping their streets clean, in addition to paying city taxes. If you took pride in your second home, i.e. your workplace, wouldn't you naturally care if the sidewalks on your street were clean? Why are clean sidewalks more of a luxury in San Francisco than in any other major US city?

Imagine the density of companies in the SoMa/South Beach area -- there are hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals per street block. If each individual could make a contribution in a small way, the systems to support the cleanliness initiatives would get funded. 

Ideas for starting some kind of an "adopt a street" program:

1) Fund more of those cleaning trucks or increase the frequency of cleanung. The costs should be covered by companies collectively (similar to an HOA)

2) Use private companies that maintain the sidewalk for you. Each company pays a monthly subscription fee. 

3) Push local officials to take action (don't hold your breath).

Will it make it more expensive to start and grow a company in SF? 

Absolutely, and why shouldn’t it?

5 Stages of Learning

by Shadab Farooqui

Learning Stages and Channels:

Stage 0: Unknown-Unknowns  <— Explore Twitter

Stage 1: Known-Unknown <— Explore Google

Stage 2: Familiarity with topic <— Explore and Exploit Google & other content Pipes

Stage 3: Comfortable with topic <— Practice via actual or simulated projects and situations

Stage 4: Advanced Knowledge <— Practice, Teach and share knowledge via various mediums and distribution channels. 

Stage 5: Expert knowledge <— Share what’s most important and what can be ignored via various mediums and distribution channels.    

98 Targeting Options In Facebook

by Shadab Farooqui

Facebook and Google are the most formidable threats to the entire ad industry. The depth of Facebook targeting is unprecedented and it will continue to add unique 3rd party data sources to go deeper. 

"When combined (3rd party data from Axiom, Epsilon, Experian) with the information you’ve already given Facebook, you end up with what is arguably the most complete consumer profile on earth: a snapshot not only of your Facebook activity, but your behaviors elsewhere in the online (and offline!) worlds."

Orignal article:

Targeting options for Facebook advertisers*
1. Location
2. Age
3. Generation
4. Gender
5. Language
6. Education level
7. Field of study
8. School
9. Ethnic affinity
10. Income and net worth
11. Home ownership and type
12. Home value
13. Property size
14. Square footage of home
15. Year home was built
16. Household composition
17. Users who have an anniversary within 30 days
18. Users who are away from family or hometown
19. Users who are friends with someone who has an anniversary, is newly married or engaged, recently moved, or has an upcoming birthday
20. Users in long-distance relationships
21. Users in new relationships
22. Users who have new jobs
23. Users who are newly engaged
24. Users who are newly married
25. Users who have recently moved
26. Users who have birthdays soon
27. Parents
28. Expectant parents
29. Mothers, divided by “type” (soccer, trendy, etc.)
30. Users who are likely to engage in politics
31. Conservatives and liberals
32. Relationship status
33. Employer
34. Industry
35. Job title
36. Office type
37. Interests
38. Users who own motorcycles
39. Users who plan to buy a car (and what kind/brand of car, and how soon)
40. Users who bought auto parts or accessories recently
41. Users who are likely to need auto parts or services
42. Style and brand of car you drive
43. Year car was bought
44. Age of car
45. How much money user is likely to spend on next car
46. Where user is likely to buy next car
47. How many employees your company has
48. Users who own small businesses
49. Users who work in management or are executives
50. Users who have donated to charity (divided by type)
51. Operating system
52. Users who play canvas games
53. Users who own a gaming console
54. Users who have created a Facebook event
55. Users who have used Facebook Payments
56. Users who have spent more than average on Facebook Payments
57. Users who administer a Facebook page
58. Users who have recently uploaded photos to Facebook
59. Internet browser
60. Email service
61. Early/late adopters of technology
62. Expats (divided by what country they are from originally)
63. Users who belong to a credit union, national bank or regional bank
64. Users who investor (divided by investment type)
65. Number of credit lines
66. Users who are active credit card users
67. Credit card type
68. Users who have a debit card
69. Users who carry a balance on their credit card
70. Users who listen to the radio
71. Preference in TV shows
72. Users who use a mobile device (divided by what brand they use)
73. Internet connection type
74. Users who recently acquired a smartphone or tablet
75. Users who access the Internet through a smartphone or tablet
76. Users who use coupons
77. Types of clothing user’s household buys
78. Time of year user’s household shops most
79. Users who are “heavy” buyers of beer, wine or spirits
80. Users who buy groceries (and what kinds)
81. Users who buy beauty products
82. Users who buy allergy medications, cough/cold medications, pain relief products, and over-the-counter meds
83. Users who spend money on household products
84. Users who spend money on products for kids or pets, and what kinds of pets
85. Users whose household makes more purchases than is average
86. Users who tend to shop online (or off)
87. Types of restaurants user eats at
88. Kinds of stores user shops at
89. Users who are “receptive” to offers from companies offering online auto insurance, higher education or mortgages, and prepaid debit cards/satellite TV
90. Length of time user has lived in house
91. Users who are likely to move soon
92. Users who are interested in the Olympics, fall football, cricket or Ramadan
93. Users who travel frequently, for work or pleasure
94. Users who commute to work
95. Types of vacations user tends to go on
96. Users who recently returned from a trip
97. Users who recently used a travel app
98. Users who participate in a timeshare

Tod Sacerdoti on selling Brightroll

by Shadab Farooqui

Tod Sacertodi sold Brightroll to Yahoo for $640M with 8 years of hard work. Started 2006, sold 2014, $640M. Bullet points from a talk he gave at Yahoo, where he shares his learnings:

  • (#1) If you invested 100k in A round, you’d make 6M in returns. 
  • Know when to overspend. It’s not a linear curve. Pay above market to the "top of the industry” execs / rockstars. Lesson: You can’t overspend on great people.  
  • Start with compensating Talent Acquisition above market. Top dollar for top candidates. 
  • Don't innovate on non core biz stuff. Focus energy on doing few things the best in the industry
  • Focus on edge cases as they raise the bar for the core as well. 
  • "Be and effective a**hole in your industry"
  • Raise money from people who know and have low chance of f-up. Leads to lower valuation, but clean cap table pays off. “10% of something is worth more than 50% of nothing"
  • Create a ‘Tribe’. Successful companies are not a family. They are small, trusting Tribes going after a shared vision. Let people be Tribal. 
  • "Post-traumatic growth is positive psychological state experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning.”
  • Customers share a lot of competitive intel — “every edge of company is a touchpoint of information”

Medium Link:

Alexa vs Google

by Shadab Farooqui

Can Alexa replace Google? Lets see..

In 2016, commerce/transactional searches are 'transaction-enabled' via vertical apps and services.  As people move towards using apps that in addition to providing the information queried, enable the related transaction.

Ex: Amazon helps you research *and* buy the product. Yelp helps you *research* and make a reservation or delivery from/at a restaurant. These are transactional searches -- which have verticalized over time across platforms and mediums.

Echo is a medium (voice) and a platform (SDK) similar to iPhone and iOS. Has iPhone replaced the computer for certain tasks? Yes. Can it replace the computer entirely? Possibly. However, the developer ecosystem is as important as the medium itself. iPhone would be nothing without the developer ecosystem. Same principle applies to Echo. How much can Echo hurt Google really depends on Echo's scale -- # people using it, and its developer ecosystem (integrations with other platforms such as Yelp etc).

Yes, "Voice" or AI category is definitely a threat -- but not just because Echo or other similar voice digital assistants can perform a search. It's because they can transact without you having to touch anything.  

Can Echo replace all search in the future? Yes. Is voice going to be the medium in which one consumes all searches or content? No. Is voice going to be the medium in which one consumers specific categories of information? Yes

For Example: Prime members such as myself often use Amazon as the starting place to shop, skipping Google altogether. This hurts Google's traffic for that highly valuable specific segment of "in-market" consumers doing "product search". 

Behaviorally, its the instant gratification generation. We seek instant 'end-results', not just queries. Thats where Echo makes a difference -- it gets instant results for your voice commands. Same query using Siri or any other assistant from your phone would be a "4-thought" process.

  1. Putting your hand in your pocket or wherever the phone is placed
  2. Removing phone on your pocket
  3. Unlock or Keep home button pressed
  4. Speak the query - and get results. 

Echo's one-step experience is convenient and natural, which makes it addictive and could seriously impact Google by enabling range of "tasks" or "queries" Echo can perform. I'd bet anything that Google will launch its own product to compete with Echo. There's no other way to hedge the risk of Echo. 

Uber vs Facebook

by Shadab Farooqui

The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…
— Sun Tzu

Uber is building an army of people (with a car for now) ready to MOVE (anything) at moments notice. The have the potential to disrupt any and all verticals such as:

- Travel

- Security

- Shopping/Delivery

- Hospitality

- Advertising

- Healthcare

Facebook: Make the world more OPEN and CONNECTED -- Facebook digitally connects people, places & things; Uber: Make the world more accessible -- Uber physically connects people, places and things

So far, here are the things Uber has physically connected people with:

- Cars: Announced financing

- People: Call an Uber from app

- Cats: Cat delivery

- Roses: Rose Delivery

- Things: XBox

- Brands: Partnerships with NFL, Budlight, Nasdaq, Pepsi & XBox

In the future, each of us are going to be Uber service providers in some form. Uber will be more impactful with a larger market cap than Facebook - excited to see what the future holds for both companies (and potential partnerships between them). 



Snapchat vs Facebook

by Shadab Farooqui

Is there is a correlation between the increase in Selfies versus the growing trend of teens leaving Facebook?



They key in understanding the future of each of the services is in their mission statements:

"Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected"

The mission was shared with Zuckerberg around IPO time, and also explained in detail in his letter to investors. The mission is two part - 1) Give people the power to share 2) Make the world more open and connected. Facebook does a damn good job at it. For Facebook, relationships are open, one-many and long-term.

Compare Facebook's mission statement with Snapchat's (unofficial) mission:

"Capturing and sharing moments with your friends in real time"

For Snapchat, relationships are secretive, transactional, one-one and short-lived. In the short term, Snapchat may have more brand recognition and utility with teenagers than Facebook.

Facebook cannot be everything to every person. They are thinking in the right direction with segmenting their users and creating standalone apps/experiences for each.

1) Instagram - For the photo takers / producers

2) Messenger - For the texters

3) Paper - For content consumers

4) Facebook - For content producers

5) New Product/Feature - For Live Broadcast.

Video is ultimately going to trump text as a medium of communication and expression. I'd bet that Facebook will launch a competing video broadcast product to stay on top of this trend.