When I heard last week that you could order a pizza via XBox Live, a little part of me died inside.
Of course, I'm exaggerating. The truth is, I lapsed my XBox Gold membership over a year ago because it had been ages since I had played games over the service and I was one of those people who had dumped Netflix when it went all Quikster. And using Facebook, or for that matter any other social media on my XBox, is the reverse equivalent of playing Gears of War on my phone.
But seriously, if being Pizza Hut's marketing arm is the most innovative last gasp that the 360 is giving me, I've got reservations about the new model.
I was one of the people who lined up for the XBox back in 2001, and while I waited a few months for a 360, I eventually got suckered in and loved the thing. I've had my XBox hardwired to the Internet since I opened it, I've played brutal, curse-filled deathmatches over Live, and I've used the various media services like Netflix with much success (it was actually kind of hard to let it go).
I thought it would be a great day when Time Warner and Microsoft finally agreed to give me ESPN3 over the XBox, but that went kind of meh. I bought a Kinect, I like the Kinect. My kids like it more. I have had Halo 4, still unopened, since I got it for my birthday.
Yes. People still buy me XBox games for my birthday.
So when I got the invite to come see the new XBox -- the XBox 720 or the XBox 3 or XBox Me or whatever they're going to call it -- as it's being unveiled next month, that was like hearing an old friend you haven't talked to in a while is moving to your city. It sounds awesome, but it also might be a lot of work. --Read On
A couple of weeks ago, I sent an email at 11:00pm to a business contact who I didn't know very well. I frequently send emails late at night and wasn't expecting a response for at least 12 hours.
At 11:15pm my iPhone dinged. I assumed it was eBay telling me for the 32nd time that I should use their website to sell stuff. But it was a response to my email of 15 minutes ago. How nice.
Technically, I should have titled this article “What Your 11:15pm Email Means to Me,” but that didn't sound right. And the significance isn't in the exact time of the email – that would be weird. (For the record, we did exchange a few more emails time stamped after 12:00am.)
The point is that when my iPhone dings at 11:15pm, 12:00am, or 1:30am, it tells me something about the sender that would never be communicated in an email sent during daylight hours. --Read On
As an unpopular 18-year-old nerd, I was somewhat biased and hell-bent on getting out. Downtown was a place of abandoned brick buildings where people didn't want to go — especially after dark. I only had two reasons: the Regulator Bookstore on Ninth Street and weekly piano lessons.
After high school, I spent four years in Chicago and six in New York. I interned at a national magazine and then transitioned into the ad world. I worked 50 hours a week, commuted an hour to the office, and barely had money for food. I loved it.
I find myself back in the South 10 years later. Other than the architecture, Durham is unrecognizable. Bars, restaurants, and music venues occupy the once-shuttered buildings. Hip 20- and 30-year-olds saunter along the sidewalks, popping into cafés and vintage stores. A trip downtown almost makes me feel like I'm back in Brooklyn. But, more important to job-seeking 20-somethings is the thriving start-up community. Cutting-edge companies are sprouting up and flourishing in Durham and the greater Triangle area.
Take Thursday night. The fifth Tech Jobs Under the Big Top brought 13 local start-ups to American Tobacco to have a beer and tell hundreds of job seekers a little more about themselves. From small, young start-ups like Adzerk to more established companies like ChannelAdvisor, each had a table and three minutes on stage to present what they do. Afterward, they met with the eager attendees, handing out business cards and taking résumés. --Read On
As Aaron Houghton, current co-founder and CEO of BoostSuite and former co-founder of iContact, walked me through his house a few minutes before the kickoff of the 17th ExitEvent Startup Social, he kept repeating one thing: "If people want to come and hang out in here, that's cool."
And the more he said that, the more I realized that it wasn't about who Aaron was or how successful he had been. The fact was, one of the most veteran entrepreneurs in the Triangle was opening his home to the startup community. He was inviting them to come on in, hang out, be themselves, play a little pool, whatever they felt like doing.
I'm not going to lie to you, if you missed the Social Monday night, you missed not only the best Social yet, but you missed an experience. A happening. When you talk about the startup community and the need for it to be led by the entrepreneurs -- to be honest I just can't think of a better example. --Read On
At Monday night's ridiculously useful ExitEvent Startup Social, someone I know who has been a part of the startup community in a support capacity for quite some time was, well, way more dressed down than usual.
Turns out he had made the ultimate jump, ditching his job at an organization that supports the startup community to go to work for a startup.
Hearing that made me very happy.
In my mind, there's no greater way to support the startup community than building a successful startup (an echo of my friend James Avery in this piece on Adzerk's deal with Reddit). I consider the time I spend building ExitEvent (the network, the content, and the Social) and the various startup-focused columns I write all a part of my effort to support the community (as well as a keg of fun), but it's what I do each day at Automated Insights that will ultimately make a difference.
Make Automated Insights successful, and that makes the startup community more successful. So that's mission number one, or, as I like to put it: Family then Automated Insights then Automated Insights then ExitEvent. --Read On
Arcametrics is one of those startups that I've come into contact with several times, mentioned in an article or two, but never really got to know. Don't blame me, they're quiet -- quiet in the sense that they don't make a lot of noise around what they're doing, but when people see what they're up to, the value is kind of obvious.
It's the kind of thing you really don't have to talk about.
But for the record, Arcametrics' proprietary technology looks for patterns to tie together anonymous online behavioral data with offline transactional data. They find audiences that have a big probability of being sold a certain type of product, and sell that audience via an exchange.
In that, Arcametrics just signed a deal with BlueKai, the largest provider of this type of customer targeting data, to be a part of their exchange. It's the biggest deal in their history, although they have a few more on tap as well. --Read On
I just couldn't generate enough buzz to get people all jittery that if they don't register RIGHT NOW, they won't get in. The truth is tickets are just not GOING FAST and they won't RUN OUT SOON. I'm trying to find a velvet rope, but so far, all I have as a bungee cord.
I'm not going to try to convince you that this is the event of the year. It's probably not even the event of the month. As a matter of fact, I think there's something bigger going on the next night.
Absolutely No Celebrity Guests You're Supposed to Have Heard Of
With my sphere of influence being what it is, I just could not wrangle anyone to come out and talk about that cool thing they did a long time ago or why they tweet a lot. Honestly? This is going to be wall to wall nobodies.
There Will Be No Speeches About 18-Month-Old Technology That I've Recently Discovered and Therefore Dubbed "The Future"
But I will argue with you about Bitcoins if I've had a couple. --Read On
I first heard of Cherokee Investments years ago through a panel that Cherokee Investment Partners Founder and CEO Tom Darden spoke at in 2007 at UNC regarding entrepreneurship, smart investing, and the future of Cherokee. It's really great to see that, over half a decade later, not only is Cherokee continuing to flourish, but the Challenge is also in it's third year.
If you are reading this article and are an environmentally related startup, (or thinking of starting one) then you should immediately drop whatever you're doing (once you finish reading of course) and immediately go and apply for the Cherokee Challenge. The deadline to apply is April 30th.
Cherokee created the challenge because they believe "that for today's society to actively address the pressing environmental issues of our time, there needs to be a sustainable business model to back that up."
I saw down with JT Vaughn, the organizer behind the scenes, to find out the details of the Cherokee Challenge. It originally started in 2011 as a grant writing based competition for local startups and has morphed into an accelerator-style competition over the past two years. --Read On
It's said to be a curse but perhaps it's a blessing, though an uncomfortable one to be sure.
I like to think that problems are opportunities and that the challenges we face today represent the necessity from which our best inventions will be born tomorrow. I want to believe that when convention fails, invention prevails.
I don't know about you, but I've reached the point where I no longer believe the old formulas will work anymore. I think we need new thinking. I think it's time we all started crawling out from under our rocks and up from our silos and started looking around a bit to see who else is out there and how we can work together to get something done.
I think it is precisely in interesting times like these that we begin to seek out interdisciplinary solutions. What we need are more Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, more unexpected combinations that turn out wholes greater than the sum of their parts. --Read On
Inbloom, a $100-million nonprofit effort from the Gates Foundation, invited K-12 teachers and administrators to the Durham Convention center, where teams of computer hackers were given thousands of dollars of prize bait to build technology solutions on the Inbloom platform.
Over two years in the making and only publicly launched a few months ago, the Inbloom platform is a secure yet accessible database for student information that allows any company or small team to build web applications that will drive individualized learning for public school students.
Individualized learning is a major goal of the Gates Foundation, which has bet millions that Inbloom will provide a national solution to the expensive and thorny problems that public school IT managers face in having many different systems that can't talk to each other.
Lots of local talent was on hand building everything from learning game systems to tools that would let teachers and parents securely discuss students performance over the web. --Read On