Tag Archives: twitter

HBCU Money™ Business Book Feature – Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley


An NPR Best Book of the Year

“Incisive…. The most fun business book I have read this year…. Clearly there will be people who hate this book — which is probably one of the things that makes it such a great read.”
— Andrew Ross Sorkin,
 New York Times

“Eye-popping.”
— Vanity Fair

Liar’s Poker meets The Social Network in an irreverent exposé of life inside the tech bubble, from industry provocateur Antonio García Martínez, a former Twitter advisor, Facebook product manager and startup founder/CEO.

The reality is, Silicon Valley capitalism is very simple:

Investors are people with more money than time.

Employees are people with more time than money.

Entrepreneurs are the seductive go-between.

Marketing is like sex: only losers pay for it. 

Imagine a chimpanzee rampaging through a datacenter powering everything from Google to Facebook. Infrastructure engineers use a software version of this “chaos monkey” to test online services’ robustness—their ability to survive random failure and correct mistakes before they actually occur. Tech entrepreneurs are society’s chaos monkeys, disruptors testing and transforming every aspect of our lives, from transportation (Uber) and lodging (AirBnB) to television (Netflix) and dating (Tinder). One of Silicon Valley’s most audacious chaos monkeys is Antonio García Martínez.

After stints on Wall Street and as CEO of his own startup, García Martínez joined Facebook’s nascent advertising team, turning its users’ data into profit for COO Sheryl Sandberg and chairman and CEO Mark “Zuck” Zuckerberg. Forced out in the wake of an internal product war over the future of the company’s monetization strategy, García Martínez eventually landed at rival Twitter. He also fathered two children with a woman he barely knew, committed lewd acts and brewed illegal beer on the Facebook campus (accidentally flooding Zuckerberg’s desk), lived on a sailboat, raced sport cars on the 101, and enthusiastically pursued the life of an overpaid Silicon Valley wastrel.

Now, this gleeful contrarian unravels the chaotic evolution of social media and online marketing and reveals how it is invading our lives and shaping our future. Weighing in on everything from startups and credit derivatives to Big Brother and data tracking, social media monetization and digital “privacy,” García Martínez shares his scathing observations and outrageous antics, taking us on a humorous, subversive tour of the fascinatingly insular tech industry. Chaos Monkeys lays bare the hijinks, trade secrets, and power plays of the visionaries, grunts, sociopaths, opportunists, accidental tourists, and money cowboys who are revolutionizing our world. The question is, will we survive?

HBCU Money™ Dozen 4/28 – 5/2


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Did you miss HBCU Money™ Dozen via Twitter? No worry. We are now putting them on the site for you to visit at your leisure. We have made some changes here at HBCU Money™ Dozen. We are now solely focused on research and central bank articles from the previous week.

Research

Undersea warfare: Viruses hijack deep-sea bacteria at hydrothermal vents l NSF http://1.usa.gov/1ufJ3k8

How-to Make the Most of Your New Twitter Profile l CIOonline http://trib.al/5O16UiP

Apple’s Great Green Progress l Clean Technica http://dlvr.it/5YWDLF

Newest sighting of element 117 brings it one step closer to periodic table glory l New Scientist http://ow.ly/wqTu7

$9 million in grant funding for clean diesel projects. Propose a project before 6/17 l EPA http://www.http://go.usa.gov/ksVT

Bees and butterflies drink tears straight from crocodile’s eyes l New Scientist http://ow.ly/wqTEC

Federal Reserve, Central Banks, & Financial Departments

Rise and fall of U.S. labor force participation l St. Louis Fed http://bit.ly/1iHjQeO

Africa now has more than 90 tech hubs. l World Bank http://wrld.bg/wo5xC

Paying down credit card debt: a breakdown by income and age l St. Louis Fed http://bit.ly/Q9pc6m

Food security stats play fundamental role in estimating level of food & nutrient consumption l World Bank http://wrld.bg/wkON4

North Korea: Rising home prices in America create homelessness l Housing Wire http://hwi.re/5YVyKm

Urban Institute: Lending standards aren’t getting looser l Housing Wire http://hwi.re/5YVhx4

Thank you as always for joining us on Saturday for HBCU Money™ Dozen. The 12 most important research and finance articles of the week.

HBCU Money™ Business Book Feature – Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind


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Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, discusses the power of creativity and how to harness it, through stories from his remarkable life and career.

THINGS A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME

From GQ‘s “Nerd of the Year” to one of Time‘s most influential people in the world, Biz Stone represents different things to different people. But he is known to all as the creative, effervescent, funny, charmingly positive and remarkably savvy co-founder of Twitter-the social media platform that singlehandedly changed the way the world works. Now, Biz tells fascinating, pivotal, and personal stories from his early life and his careers at Google and Twitter, sharing his knowledge about the nature and importance of ingenuity today. In Biz’s world:

-Opportunity can be manufactured
-Great work comes from abandoning a linear way of thinking
-Creativity never runs out
-Asking questions is free
-Empathy is core to personal and global success

In this book, Biz also addresses failure, the value of vulnerability, ambition, and corporate culture. Whether seeking behind-the-scenes stories, advice, or wisdom and principles from one of the most successful businessmen of the new century, THINGS A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME will satisfy every reader.

Twitter’s IPO – African America Creates Billionaires, Just Not Themselves


To be thrown upon one’s own resources, is to be cast in the very lap of fortune. – Benjamin Franklin

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At this very moment, I am watching the Twitter IPO and there is money flowing into the streets. The company’s initial IPO price was set to be $15-17, then rose to $25-27 on the eve of its IPO, and upon its actual first trade opened at $45.10. Seventy million shares just went from a value of $1 billion to over $2 billion. Evan Williams, co-founder and largest shareholder, just saw his net worth climb by $2.5 billion. Goldman Sachs, the lead investment bank for Twitter’s IPO, is set to take home almost $30 million of the $60 million in fees this IPO generated. The New York Stock Exchange lands a coup for pulling a major tech IPO from under NASDAQ’s nose after their Facebook debacle. What is not in any of that money? African America. Well, sort of.

African America’s presence is in Twitter from the place it typically is – as a consumer. While African Americans account for 13 percent of the United States population, we account for 22 percent of Twitter users. In terms of daily usage, we account for 11 percent, while European Americans usage is 4 times less than that. To say we have a dominant presence on Twitter would be something of an understatement. If African Americans left Twitter in mass, investors would be clamoring for bomb shelters as the stock would probably fall a part. So why are we not present where it matters most? Do we even know where it matters most?

When it comes to the capital markets picture of Twitter, we are completely absent. There were no African American underwriters present on the company’s S-1 filing. Again, part of that $60 million dollar pie in fees. In terms of early money or venture capital, there were no African Americans with significant investment in the company. Although, it is at least rumored that P. Diddy at one point tried to buy the company. Commendable on one hand and laughable on the other given his financial worth. By the time this company would have even been on Diddy’s radar it was already being valued at upwards of $1 billion – twice his net worth. As Chris Rock often reminds us there is a difference between rich and wealthy.

Sadly, this IPO highlights an all too often reality in African America’s economic behavior. We often are the suppliers of the content, but rarely if ever control the mediums of distribution. We often consume the product, but rarely are we the finance or investment behind its creation. Much of what I am saying here is repeated old hat, but it is worth repeating over and over again until the mindset and behavior indicates some movement of change. These are just some things to ponder the next time you are sending out your next 140 characters.

Yahoo’s Only Chance: A Merger With Twitter


William A. Foster, IV

Enemy of my enemy is my friend. – Proverb

Yahoo recently filed a lawsuit against Facebook to the dismay of pretty much everyone in the tech industry. It reeked of a desperate attempt by Yahoo to take attention off the reality that they have yet to figure out how to remain a relevant company since Google came on the search scene, why it can not seem to figure out its own management issue, and is in the midst of major shareholder revolt. Again.

Then, there is the loveable new but not so new kid on the block Twitter who launched in 2006 and caught fire with well over 100 million users that pump out over 340 million tweets a day. The company produced $140 million in revenue and had a valuation of approximately $8.4 billion toward the end of 2011. However, even with such a strong valuation the business model at Twitter still leaves much to be desired from an investor’s standpoint to believe the company could grow sizable revenues over time. The company has had its own share of musical chairs in management primarily because of its inability to figure out its business model but there is no denying its management has been with the platform and its growth. While things seem settled with co-founder Jack Dorsey taking the helm (again) there is still an air of uncertainty if this company can produce sizable revenue growth expected out of a young company based simply off its ad revenue. I believed then and I believe now that the boat Twitter truly missed was charging its business and non-profit organization users for accounts.

All that leads up to why these two companies need each other. Yahoo is completely absent as it were in the social media space and could use a more visionary management team which I believe Twitter has. Twitter on the other hand needs a stable source of revenue and a way to monetize users toward products it can actually sale with growth. Something Yahoo has with the likes of Yahoo Travel and other products. Offering specials to its users that could easily spread like wildfire given Twitter’s application of the ‘Retweet’  which is a unique feature that neither Facebook or Google has found a way to mimic. This would allow the new company to have a diverse mix of ad and product revenue. Both companies weaknesses would be offset with the others strengths which is exactly what a merger is suppose to create. The company indeed would put Facebook & Google on notice. Finally, the tables would be turned and the move could potentially spark off a much needed consolidation arms race of the tech social media space. Pinterest anyone?

Disclaimer: There is no ownership of any of the companies mentioned in this article by myself, my business, or my family as of this article’s publishing.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & President of AK, Inc. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.