my last three phones have been android, and i’m a very happy, satisfied user -- even proponent of android.  but i’m still switching back when they announce a new phone on tuesday.  basically what aaron levie said…

my biggest gripe about ios / my biggest love of android has been about choice.  i wanted -- and still do want -- to be able to download whatever app i want, to choose my default apps, and to have the kind of freedom we’ve come to expect from our laptops.  software is eating mobile, and this is clearly the direction of both platforms, albeit ios at a slower pace.

but for too long i’ve probably been wearing android-colored glasses.  every piece of data i saw, i would conclude that it benefits android.  at least until benedict evans (subscribe / follow / read everything you can that he puts out) slapped some sense into me.  he posted this chart on global handset sales…

to which i concluded that android was the way of the future.  he quickly set me straight.

he's right that you have to do both, eventually.  but where to begin?

the crux of my decision to go iphone was really about app development.  i don’t think it’s possible to design for a platform you don’t use each and every day.  mobile is where i spend the bulk of my team these days and it’s time to make the switch.  hopefully a few blog posts down the road, you’ll *really* see why.

andrew chen wrote a great piece recently about why android needs a billion dollar success, and he has some great ideas on how to make android-first a reality.  depending on your market and traction levels, android is a natural evolution, but it’s not the starting point in most cases.  the one exception is when your app is google-dependent or one of the banned topics on the itunes apple store -- such as bitcoin.  but per benedict’s point, apple is still the most fertile ground to launch most apps.  

i still believe the direction is moving in android’s favor, and some of apple’s recent decisions -- such as backing patent trolls -- has turned off a lot of its most fervent supporters.  but my multi-year hypothesis doesn’t have much relevance on a near-term market decision.  thus, you’ll find me on tuesday constantly refreshing the apple store page, waiting to place my order for an iphone 6.

 

Posted
Authorjonathan hegranes

from websites to twitter @ handles, and a host of other purely digital properties that are bought and sold on a daily basis -- domains have become their own asset class.  

some people collect domains like their stocking a wine cellar, while others are simply looking for the right place to hang out a shingle.  for entrepreneurs, sometimes we start out in a fixer-upper… starting our domain with “get” or slapping a non “.com” tld at the end.  e.g. my friends at prime are currently rocking the stayinyourprime.com url -- but i’m sure it won’t be long until they own prime.com.

with any luck, we all move on up to the east side with a beautiful domain and matching twitter handle, but getting there takes time, money, and some creative negotiation.

having been a part of a number of such transactions, and advised numerous others, i wanted to document my latest thinking on how to structure such deals.  

note, i’ll use the term ‘domain’ to include twitter @ usernames, websites, and the like.  and yes, we all know that you can’t really buy twitter @’s, but you can “buy” them through consulting-type deals.  and as with any of these transactions -- whether strictly allowed by t&c’s or not, creativity and openness can create win-win deals for buying and selling domain assets.  the key is to be honest, especially with yourself, about what you are giving up and what you are receiving in return.

 

1) assess the value of your domain

whether a domain hoarder (collector), or starting a real business -- it’s natural to think that you just scored a domain worth well more that you paid…  people have told me i owned $20k domains, but until you have a real offer, so what?  it’s just a made up number, like an appraisal on a house no one wants to buy.

have you built up seo?  does your site generate regular traffic?  do you have a mass of engaged followers?  is their innate value in your domain (i.e. it’s short, pronounceable, and at least close to a real word)?

in short, what is the buyer getting besides just the domain?  if something, document it.  if not, realize it.

 

2) how does your value translate to the prospective buyer

mba classes will talk about batna -- the best alternative to a negotiated agreement.  basically, if the buyer doesn’t get your domain, what are her options?

can he just allocate that money to buying keywords and siphon the traffic?  does she already have a backup domain, or is it mission critical / strategic?

knowing and preparing for this will help both sides come to an equitable deal.

 

3) win / win

if you’re honest about #1 and #2, then a true win / win deal isn’t unheard of.  with creative deal making, both sides can get what they want.  

i saw a great example recently with opendoor, the real-estate startup that just raised $10 million from everyone.  at the bottom of their site, you’ll notice a link  that says “looking for opendoor networks” -- which takes you to a site lovingly coded in html circa 1999.

keith rabois or opendoor can comment on the specifics, but my guess is they came to an agreement with the former owner of opendoor.com where they not only exchanged cash, but also tried to offset any lost traffic with a link to opendoor networks, which can now be found at opendoor.biz.  in all likelihood, opendoor networks has never had more traffic.

which leads to my last point…

 

4) schmuck insurance

no one wants to sell a domain that turns out to be worth billions.  

sometimes you know with whom you’re negotiating… e.g. if you owned delicious.com and someone came knocking -- chances are it was the startup del.icio.us.

but many times you don’t… such as the guy who sold uber.com to the now $17 billion and counting company.

to combat this, think about terms to give upside to the buyer, or at least limit the downside.

on the downside, maybe you sell the domain for less than “face value”, but with a balloon payment or clawback in x years -- where you can get the domain back if the buyer doesn’t make it.  chances are he won’t.

on the upside, think about equity as a way to align interests and give the seller option value should you take her domain and turn it into billions.  missing a point on your cap table won’t matter if you’re hugely successful, but it could make getting that elusive domain that much easier.

curious to hear your thoughts on ways that you have structured domain transactions, as well as any other resources that you want to share.

one of my favorites is the affectionate domain snob jason calacanis on twist.



Posted
Authorjonathan hegranes

traditionalists will never win, especially in sports.  with the camera technology that we have today, we see the action like never before -- but that’s also made the viewing public more demanding in how the game is played and how the game is called.  

we want every call to be right.  we expect every call to be right.

soccer, yes soccer (i’ll get to that in a sec), is a great game with an amazing history, and perhaps most of all a terrific vernacular.  but as we wont to do from time to time, it’s time for america to improve or at least “improve” (for our sake) the game of soccer…  with a few tweaks, i think this sport could become more than a once every four years fascination in this country.

-embrace the term “soccer”

stop fighting for the name football.  that's a losing battle.  plus, sports with “ball” in the name are kinda boring… hockey, tennis, cricket, golf, ping pong, you name it -- they are all better names than baseball, basketball, and yes even football (whichever football you’re talking about).  

 

ronaldo questioning whether or not he was offsides...

ronaldo questioning whether or not he was offsides...

-offsides

we don’t need a rule change here, but rather just how the rule is interpreted and called in a game.  basically, just keep your flag down ref.  if a player is borderline offsides, don’t call it.  in essence, the tie goes to the runner -- where the burden of proof is substantial in order to call a player offsides.  the result? more goals, more aggression, and more excitement.

-sudden death extra time (overtime)

the boring part about soccer is that “prevent defense” can start before half time.  and even in “extra time”, you’ll often see the lesser team just trying to get to penalty kicks where any team can win.  so keep the two 15 minute extra periods, but make it first goal wins.  voila.  no longer can a team sit back and hope for penalty kicks.

-more refs

at least for the world cup, let's add more referees… baseball goes from three or four to six in the playoffs.  and in soccer the pitch is fucking huge.  let’s add a few more refs to get all the angles -- especially those flops in the penalty area where another set of eyes or two can change a game.

-replay

no challenges.  no stoppage of play… just a team in a booth or off site (much like hockey or baseball or college football) that reviews key plays, fouls, and flops in near real time.  if they see something to overturn, they call down to the referee.  with the amount of dead time with free kicks or penalty kicks or “injuries”, there’s more than enough time to get every call right without slowing the game.  and just like in football, if a team is afraid of a call being overturned, they can hurry up.

 

so while you’re watching the final today between germany and argentina -- enjoy the match, take in the vernacular, and consider how a few tweaks just might make this game more exciting for us all.


what would you change?

Posted
Authorjonathan hegranes

of my long list of favorite posts by @paulg, “do things that don’t scale” has been top of mind for me lately.  i usually have this link on speed dial, but i’ve shared, discussed, and debated the post a handful of times just the last few weeks in meetings and advisor sessions.  it turns out the hardest part about this concept is putting it into action.

*actually* doing things that don’t scale is harder than it sounds.

as engineers, it’s instinctual to want to find a way to automate once and forever.  for lawyers, it’s easy to glide down a slippery slope to get to a potential outcome x quarters down the road.  for investors, it’s natural to think about how a company can build out its product / service to the delight of millions.  for leaders of an organization, we're always looking to do more with less.

but none of that matters until you are at scale, or at least dutifully strolling down the golden brick road to building a massive company.

back around 2010 when i was hustling as co-founder of @workables, we practiced the unscalable.  we were a finalist for techstars boulder and got our way into techstars for a day where they also used our workables for the event.  the boulder team dug the service, and asked how we did it… after we told them, they naturally asked, “but how will that scale in more cities, for more users, etc, etc?”

paul graham, founder of yc, has seen the unscalable done to perfection -- and his post from last july has some killer examples from which to learn.

if you’re hacking away on your own venture, practice this.

if you’re head down at a startup, practice this.

it won’t always be the easiest sell internally, but adopting this experimental and experiential attitude into your culture is one of the few ways i know to get to the promised land of product-market fit.

 

ps, hoping this strategy works for newborns, as well... i'll report back.

Posted
Authorjonathan hegranes

we’ve been telling people for a little while now, but figured it was time to make an official announcement… especially now that we just learned -- it’s a girl!

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 3.16.21 AM.png

you still probably wouldn’t know that pei is pregnant (my stomach is still bigger than hers :), but we’re just about to cross into the 20th week.  life is definitely getting easier now that we’re in the second trimester.  gone is the crazy morning sickness (often china-time morning sickness), and starting to think ahead about the coming months…  leading up to independence day, which is an ironic due date.

looking forward to catching up with friends and family as this magical time unfolds, but thought i’d answer a few questions straight away…

do you know if it’s a boy or girl?

well, did you read the subject of this post?  of course, for those who know how pei cannot stand surprises, there was no question that we wanted to know asap.

are you sure it’s a girl?

yes.  this pic on this post is actually from a few months ago…  we learned yesterday it was a girl and they gave us a cd with all the images.  but alas, we don’t own a device that plays cds.  rest assured, we’ll get those new pics somehow.

have you thought about names?

up until yesterday, we were thinking about both boy and girl names, but now we can start to narrow in on a name for her.  we have a few favorites right now, but always looking for suggestions -- both english and  中国名字.

are you going to be those annoying people who start spamming facebook?

hell no.  aside from an occasional pic, we’ll mostly be posting on path (go download now and friend me if you want baby madness), and you can also bookmark http://baby.hegranes.com/.

one of the best parts of our pregnancy so far has been the loving words and awesome support that we’ve received.  from gifts and advice to high-fives, the excitement you’ve shown us is special.  thank you.

 

Posted
Authorjonathan hegranes

the speed at which small teams can work is well understood.  we expect two guys in a garage to move faster than a fortune 500 corporation with thousands of employees.  we marvel at how quickly a startup with dozens of employees can iterate, and out maneuver a massive incumbent who either isn’t focused on that problem, or simply doesn’t have the organizational mindset to disrupt itself.

as facebook is legendary for saying, “move fast and break things.”  dick costolo’s primary focus at twitter is cadence, and how they can move faster in every aspect of the business.  evernote talks about being a 100-year startup.

but if all goes well, eventually that small startup becomes a billion dollar corporation itself.  an organization now all too aware of risks -- from external legalities to internal roadblocks.  very uncommon ground is a large company that can iterate, take risks, experiment, and evolve at a fast pace.

the nfl is a lovely exception, worthy of examination by all industries.

the national football league (nfl) is one of the best “big startup” organizations out there today…  right up there with google and amazon in terms of creativity and risk taking, willing to cannibalize existing business while targeting higher and higher revenues.  while other sports take up new issues every decade (such as the nba), or once a generation (looking at you mlb), the nfl changes every year.

1) global: the nfl is growing in international markets.  they started a few years ago with a preseason game in mexico, to now having a regular season game in london…  now there’s talk of having up to three games next season, with rumors of one day having a team based out of london.

2) tech: the nfl was an early adopter of technology, particularly in the use of replay.  every year they add new plays that are available for replay… and many people expect larger replay changes next year, such as central replay (instead of on-the-field under the hood replay).

3) extra points: even something as fundamental as the extra point is up for debate.  why? because the game has changed.  kicking as become extremely specialized, and thus 99.9999% of extra points are made.  read -- wasted time by boring plays.  if the nfl can make the game more exciting by having more 2-point conversions, or tweaking the extra point -- they will.

4) pro bowl: the pro-bowl used to be the forgotten asterisk to the season, scheduled after the super bowl.  now, the pro-bowl is scheduled during the off-week between the conference championships and the super bowl.  but even that wasn’t enough… this year the nfl tapped two hall of famers -- deion sanders and jerry rice -- to pick their own pro-teams in a fantasy-style draft.

5) social: last fall twitter and the nfl announced a partnership designed to bring exclusive content to the twitter audience.  but it didn’t stop there, as the nfl is active on everything from facebook to vine (though have yet to get a snapchat from them)…  clearly the nfl not only understands the importance of social, but they are willing to experiment with time, money, platforms, and reputation in an effort to build and engage their audience.  of course, the tweet above tells you everything you need to know.  great content with a compelling image.  perfect logos and clear calls to action.  spot on.

6) playoffs: this is where the money is made, thus the nfl is looking into adding more games and more teams…  can they find a balance of rewarding the regular season’s best teams, while also adding more playoff excitement (read $$$)? i think they can.

perhaps most impressive about all of this risk taking, experimentation, and evolution is that the nfl has accomplished this in the face of lawsuits, having to deal with a union, and juggling a bevy of different stakeholders.    

that’s what happens when you have a great product and managers with a vision.

Posted
Authorjonathan hegranes