Orlando Invests $94.5M in Arts & Entertainment

Yesterday’s decision to approve a venues package of $94.5 million has stirred up quite a buzz in the city beautiful. The vote, announced Tuesday evening, was passed 5-2, to much community acclaim and relief. The funds provided by this package will go towards civic improvements in the downtown area, underscoring Orlando’s commitment to becoming a world-class city for work and play.

The infusion of capital will benefit the Orlando area through three core improvements:

  • $25 million towards a multi-form hall designed to seat 1,700 guests at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.
  • $12 million towards the Citrus Bowl, earmarked to be applied as part of a $200 million renovation project that will add 5,000 club seats to the stadium’s capacity, and go towards improving stadium amenities (which are currently terrible).
  • $20 million will go towards the development of a new soccer stadium, eventually intended to be the home base of the city’s very own Major League Soccer team. 

While some might protest the distribution of government funds on these venues, I believe that is a myopic stance to adopt. By backing these city-centered arts and entertainment initiatives, city planners are investing in a rich cultural future for their constituents. These assets will prove invaluable as the city attempts to attract and retain the creative class – the artists, designers, engineers and visionaries who want to live in a progressive city.

In addition to benefitting Central Florida residents directly, it should also stimulate alternate tourist markets, such as those vested in performing arts, professional soccer, and other sporting interests. This, in turn, will help to support ancillary business concerns, such as hospitality, retail and dining. This is a far-reaching investment that will broadly impact the financial futures of the citizens of Orlando. I give the vote a big thumbs up and congratulate Mayor Dyer and his team on their success.

The $12.5 Billion Tweet

How much is a tweet worth?

Can a tweet actually impact a business? As CEO of IZEA I get asked these questions everyday. My job is to match companies with influential people and pay them to tweet, post and otherwise endorse their products and services through social media. It is not unusual for a celeb to get tens of thousands of dollars for a single tweet, and that can stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the A-Listers. Yes, that may sounds like a lot of money – but when you combine the right person with the right brand it can be well worth it.


Today Carl Icahn tweeted about Apple, a company that he has taken a large equity position in. He has a mere 39,957 followers, but those followers are the right followers. They are truly influenced by Icahn, not just by clicking or retweeting, but by buying. Within 100 minutes Apple stock jumped as high as $494.66, to close nearly 5% higher, at $489.57 per share – a six-month high. Icahn’s tweet added nearly $12.5 billion to Apple’s market cap. AMAZING. While the size of his stake has not been disclosed, it is safe to assume that he just made himself tens of millions of dollars.

Screen shot 2013-08-13 at 5.32.41 PM

How much is a tweet worth? You tell me.

Disclosure : I own Apple stock.


Dogfish Head Brewery

Great Beer

I love beer. It is delicious and apparently good for you (or at least that is what I tell myself). Nothing is better than drinking an ice cold beer on my dock at the end of a long week. Perhaps my favorite microbrewery right now is Sam Calagione’s Dogfish Head Brewery. Dogfish Head grabbed my attention when I tasted their eccentric 60 minute IPA years ago, but they earned my faithful dedication when I had the rare 120 minute IPA. With 18% alcohol by volume, one bottle of 120 minute and you are….”relaxed”.

dogfish_head_sam_calagioneGreat Entreprenuer

The microbrewery’s humble origins can be traced back to 1995, when Calagione founded the company in Milton, Delaware. Calagione entered the brewing industry after imbibing the craft beers he was serving at a bar in New York City. The richly nuanced flavors inspired him to pursue his own microbrewery. The company’s line-up featured seasonal varieties, including Punkin Ale, a sweet brown ale with hints of pumpkin, and Chicory Stout, which is an amalgam of Mexican cocoa, licorice, St. John’s Wort and finely roasted chicory.

Calagione’s innovative mind has remained the backbone of thecompany. He refuses to monitor the actions of Dogfish Head’s brewing rivals; instead, all brews are personally concocted, and Calagione forces the competition to constantly catch up with their clever blends. He spends his time “roaming” in industries outside of beer to get inspiration. His company seeks artistic overlap, and forges collaborations with anyone who shares their creative interests. They have formed an alliance with The Grateful Dead, which subsequently culminated in a themed beer known as American Beauty. Like most of their beer, this pale ale also packs a vicious punch.

The company earned widespread notoriety with the inception of their India Pale Ale line in 2001. The first beer introduced in this series was Dogfish’s 90 Minute IPA. Outside of the 120 Minute IPA, it delivers one of the most full-bodied experiences you will find. The name of the product refers to the length of time it is boiled for hops infusion. A lighter variety appeared in 2003, known as the 60 Minute IPA, which was my first introduction to Dogfish.

The success of these beers facilitated a national expansion for the brand. As a result, their manufacturing output increased by massive proportions. From a dream… to a micro brewing powerhouse. They now brew 75,000 barrels of beer annually with a loyal following of craft beer lovers.

1.5 Billion Photos Taken Every Day

The Growth of Digital Photography

Over the past two decades, owning a digital camera has shifted from being a rare luxury to an essential commodity for most Americans. Whether you are using a point and shoot, SLR or simply a camera phone chances are you take at least one photo per day on average.

cameraAn engineer for Kodak, Steven Sasson, actually invented the first digital camera back in 1975. Despite being far more basic than the digital cameras today, it was much too expensive to be made available on the commercial market. The first Kodak digital cameras did not reach the market until 1990, and they still held a price tag of about $13,000.

Within a few years, other companies released their digital cameras, often boasting that they could hold 5-10 photos at one time. At this point, they were still much too expensive for most Americans. Digital cameras that were considered “cheap” were still priced upwards of $600 and produced very low quality images. During the last half of the 1990s, digital photography gained technological momentum, and competing companies gradually lowered their prices.

My First Digital Camera

I purchased my first digital camera in 1999. It was a Nikon Coolpix E950, it had a retail price of $899 and took 1.9 megapixel photos. I had a 8 megabyte compact flash card, which allowed me to store about 21 photos in JPEG mode (less than a roll of film) or one (yes, 1) photo as a TIFF. Below is one of the first photos I took with my E950, compared to a photo I took with my Canon Rebel T3i a few months ago.

1999_photo 2013_photo

The Death of Film

As a child I remember developing film in a dark room with my father. He always had a fascination with all things related to photography and motion pictures. At the same time, he was also an early adopter and bread that same spirit into me. Once I took my first digital photo I knew there was no going back.

As digital camera technology advanced and prices dropped, people like me bought fewer traditional film cameras. Photo enthusiasts were drawn to the ease and convenience of snapping several photographs without needing to buy and develop additional rolls of film. Early in the new millenium, digital camera sales finally overtook film camera sales for the first time. Nowadays, digital photography is the standard and photography classes are teaching technology that focuses on enhancing digital photos.

While the United States is still a top consumer of digital cameras, Western Europe and Japan are also large consumers gaining momentum. Warren Struhl, founder of Polaroid Fotobar, claims that roughly 1.5 billion digital photographs are taken every day. Over 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook everyday alone.

Most Popular Cameras in the Flickr Community


Camera Brands used in the Flickr Community


A Missed Opportunity

While Kodak was an early pioneer in digital photography technology their dependence on the sale of film and film cameras caused them to lose the arms race in the digital era. Kodak is no longer the dominant camera company and had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2012. During the new millennium, Canon cameras experienced a rapid increase in popularity, producing several of the world’s best-selling digital cameras (including the one I carry every day). Nikon, Sony, and Panasonic are also producing excellent SLRs. Even the little camera in your iPhone is capable of producing some pretty amazing shots.

Thinking back on the amazing advances over the past 20 years, one can only imagine what digital photography will be like in the next 20 years. My hope is that 3D photography advances at the same rate as digital photography has.


Jeremiah Owyang’s Collaborative Economy

I first met Jeremiah Owyang back in 2005 when he was working for Hitachi Data Systems. I interviewed him for my podcast called Internet Marketing Voodoo (you didn’t know I used to be a podcaster did you?).

Those were the very early days of social media, before Twitter even existed. He and I would often see each other at conferences where we would both be speaking about the coming wave of “consumer generated media” and the impact it would have on business. Those were very exciting – yet frustrating – times as many of the C-Level execs we addressed just couldn’t see the future that was so clear to both of us.

altimeter_group_logoI recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jeremiah, now a Partner at Altimeter Group, on a trip to the bay area. We traded war stories like old veterans that served on the front line of a long, bloody battle. In many ways I felt like I was closing a chapter in my professional life. Jeremiah was the person that first broke the PayPerPost story online by sharing the launch with Mike Arrington. That post started a ethical battle about paid social media that would rage for years. It is now clear that I was on the right side of that battle – though I took many an arrow in the back for leading the way.

The Next Chapter

Jeremiah and I are both looking to the next big thing. I am working on a new product (details coming soon) and he is blazing a trail with his research on the collaborative economy. He shared his thoughts with me over breakfast and I think he is on to something huge. Many of the principles he speaks about are already baked into the product I am working on.

This is the next wave of innovation and opportunity for business, both online and offline. While it may sound a like a fad right now –  just remember that people said the same of social media. I interviewed him via email as a followup to our conversation:

Collaborative Economy

What exactly is the collaborative economy?

jeremiah_videoOur tight definition is: The Collaborative Economy is an economic model where ownership and access are shared between people, startups, and corporations. We currently see that corporations are being disrupted by the sharing revolution, and are fighting back through lobbyists or marketing. We see an opportunity for corporations to get involved, and not stand by the wayside.

(The details of this are in the research report published here. Also check out this video and this series of posts by Jeremiah)

Collaborative Economy

What inspired your research?

Over dinner, Loic Le Meur, the founder of LeWeb and serial entrepreneur leaned over and told me in his charming French accent that the next LeWeb would be about sharing, at the time he called it “digital hippies”, which he settled on the sharing economy. It took a few weeks for it to sink in, and as I probed the space, I realized that this was a major disruption to corporations as people could buy one product once, and then share many times with each other –not needed to buy again. I also saw there were many corporate business opportunities for the taking, but the idea and concept had not yet been fully baked in the market, so I did what I do best: I conducted a research project to find out what is possible –and what is not.

Your vision of the future must be met with some resistance because it challenges the status quo. What do the naysayers push back on most often and what is your response?

This reminds me of 2005-2006 when we first started to get together Ted and create social media (back then we called it something else), and we were singing the exact same song that corporations need to get on board or lose out. It feels the exact same way as I heard it eight years ago, but now, rather than sharing media, people are sharing goods and services. When I told you, I could see the same fire in your eyes light up that I saw in us 8 years ago.

How does this shift effect the small retailer running a store in my neighborhood? What can they do to adapt?

This is a great opportunity for any size business, as they can now unlock any inventory or space or services that are idle and resell on the market, or they can offer their own services on demand we call this Company as a Service. Companies can also Motivate a Marketplace of customers around them to resell or add new value to the products and goods that are being shared in their own market. For example small business ScotteVest encourages their own customers from their dot com to buy and sell used goods, bringing the community of customers closer to them.

In what ways has the collaborative economy effected you personally? What are you doing now that you didn’t do 5 years ago?

Well, for one, I let a stranger drive off in my family car using a website called RelayRide so I could generate revenues from my idle car that was sitting on the curb. The out of town college student got a car for the weekend, I got some revenues, and we both won. I also use Taskrabbit for work at the office, as well as at home, tapping into workers on demand. At Altimeter, where I’m a partner, we’re tapping into LiquidSpace to find meeting space on demand for our remote meetings and more.

Collaborative Economy

It’s key to remember, this is still part of social business. The first phase was sharing media and ideas, the second phase is about sharing goods and services.

Welcome to the Collaborative Economy.

3D Printed Body Parts

Imagine a future where, instead of sitting on a transplant list for years, you could just have a new heart or liver in several hours? Or losing a limb in an accident, then simply having a new one printed and attached at the hospital? What if you wanted to keep a young, firm complexion? Bioprinting may make aging a thing of the past. I believe that in the future, possibly even the next decade, you will be able to have a “fresh coat of face” printed right onto your old one.

The implications of 3D bioprinting are mind blowing. It may soon be possible to live very long lives, with failing organs being replaced with new organs printed from your own cells. Currently bioprinting is largely experimental, but in the future your local hospital will be printing and growing body organs and parts.

Bioprinter HoldoutThe droplets produced in a standard ink-jet printer are just about the same size as human cells. Professor Makoto Nakamura is the Japanese scientist who was the first to realize that the technology would work for human cells. By 2008, he had developed a bioprinter capable of printing out biotubing, or blood vessels. He continues to work on bioprinting and his hopes match those of fellow scientists: to have the ability to print human organs, which would be ready immediately for transplant.

Organovo is a company that is also pioneering the bioprinting industry. The company was created at the University of Missouri by Professor Gabor Forgacs. The same year Nakamura was printing blood vessels, the people in the Organovo group also successfully printed blood vessels and cardiac tissue using cells from chickens.

Since then, Organovo has teamed up with Invetech, to create the NovoGen MMX, a commercial bioprinter which combines a dissolvable biopaper, made from gelatin or other hydrogels, with layers of cells to create a mold. The printer lays out layer after layer of little blobs, and then lets nature take charge. The blobs, or bioink spheroids, almost magically blend together to create the organ.

Bioprinting has vast potential to revolutionize healthcare and how we live our lives. There are ethical questions, as there always are when man is able to essentially play God. Just because we can create these things, does it mean we should? What are the ethical implications of having the ability to extend our lives, and will people stop trying to take care of their bodies if they know they can just print a new body parts?

Want to eat that block of cheese? It’s cool… you can just print out a new heart.
Want to drink you life away? No problem… you can just print out a new liver.

I am sure this technology will be abused, but as someone who is seeing the years pass by all too fast I am happy to see how quickly it is progressing. If you could get any organ or body part replaced today what would you do?

The History of LinkedIn

Over the past decade LinkedIn has grown from a simple idea to a company with more than 200 million members worldwide. Designed for professionals, recruiters and job seekers, the site allows members and companies to build profiles and make connections, taking business contacts out of the rolodex and into the 21st century.

I am a huge fan of LinkedIn. I have used the site for recruiting, sales and even raising capital. If we aren’t connected we should be. You can find my profile here:

I thought it would be cool to take a look back and see how it all started. A brief history of LinkedIn:

2003: Reid Hoffman and Colleagues Launch the Site

Like so many other internet and technology ventures, LinkedIn began in someone’s home, more specifically, the home of Reid Hoffman. Formerly an employee of SocialNet and PayPal, Hoffman invited a team of colleagues from those companies to begin work on his project. Co-founders of LinkedIn include Allen Blue, Eric Ly, Lee Hower, Konstantin Guericke, Stephen Beitzel, David Eves, Ian McNish, Jean-Luc Vaillant, Yan Pujante and Chris Saccheri.

2004-2006: Growth, Investment and Profitability

After the launch in 2003, LinkedIn grew slowly at first, but by the following year, the site gained the attention of Sequoia Capital who invested more than 3 million dollars in the company. During these years the site introduced new features for its users, such as Address Book, Groups, LinkedIn Jobs, Business Accounts, InMail, Recommendations and People You May Know. The company also began advertising to small business owners in partnership with American Express. By 2006, LinkedIn achieved profitability

2007-2010: New Faces and New Places

After reaching profitability, LinkedIn experienced changes in leadership and a period of expansion. Replacing Reid Hoffman as CEO, Dan Nye took over the reins in 2007. The following year, LinkedIn opened their first international office in London and launched both French and Spanish language versions of the site. The company would again see a change in leadership when Dan Nye departed from the company and Jeff Weiner became the new CEO in 2009. New features during this time include LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn Recruiter.

2011: Initial Public Offering

On May 19, 2011, LinkedIn went public under the stock symbol LNKD, beginning at $45 per share. The company also opened the doors to new offices in Paris, Bangalore, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, Sao Paolo, Stockholm, Tokyo and Singapore, and added even more foreign language versions of the site. That same year, the Apply with LinkedIn feature was introduced, allowing job seekers to apply directly to companies through the site.

2012: New Visual Architecture

After the IPO, the LinkedIn website underwent a complete visual redesign, streamlining everything from the homepage to profile and company pages. The company also continued to add new language versions, bringing the total to 19 that year

2013: 10th Anniversary

As the company turns 10, it boasts an impressive 225 million members and counting, with new memberships numbers estimated at approximately 2 new members every second. Countries with strongest membership numbers include the US, India, UK, Brazil, Canada, Australia and the UAE. There are 23 products and services now available on the site, such as InMaps, Resume Builder, Sales Navigator and Talent Connect.

Facebook Bets Big on Hardware

The following is a post I originally wrote for my friends over at Socialfresh as part of there 2013 Social Media Predictions.

While Facebook may be thought of as a “social network” the reality is that this behemoth is aiming to be much, much more. Zuckerburg has been amassing a small army of engineers over the past few years, and now possesses the billions in cash it needs to compete with the biggest tech titans in the space. Facebook has a $50B+ market cap, while frenemy Google has a $200M+ market cap, Microsoft has a $200B+ market cap, and Apple enjoys a $500B+ market cap.

The common difference between Facebook and these leading companies? Hardware.

Software is great – but controlling the entire ecosystem of a hardware platform is where the really big money is.

Everyone Wants Hardware Revenue Like Apple

Microsoft can’t go back with Windows. They will forever be slaves to their hardware partners, while Apple continues to gain desktop market share. However, Microsoft learned their lesson as we saw with Xbox and more recently Surface.

Controlling the entire platform, owning the supply chain and optimizing the user experience is incredibly important. Microsoft needs to be in the hardware game in order to compete with Apple, which is the same reason that Google purchased Motorola.

Microsoft is now mocking Apple with the full set of stores (new Windows Stores), tablets, and soon will likely add their own phones (Windows Phones) and laptops into the mix.

Social Networks Are Fleeting

Let’s face it, social networks are a dime a dozen. Every day a new social network launches trying to one-up Facebook, much like Facebook one-upped MySpace.


Because two kids in a garage can easily hack together some code, launch it and see what happens for almost zero money.

Someone will eventually get it right and take on Facebook because the barrier to entry is so low. Or Facebook will drown in fragmentation.

Creating a hardware/software ecosystem is something different altogether. It is incredibly resource intensive, requires huge amounts of capital and it is very difficult to get traction.

It is why we haven’t seen a new video game console come to the mass market in so many years. It is just too hard to compete with the existing ecosystems of Xbox, Wii and Playstation. There are many game studios, but there are only three console manufacturers.

Owning Your Own Destiny

To put it in perspective – right now Facebook is merely a game playing on Apple, Google and Microsoft mobile devices. The big boys own the hardware ecosystem and the ultimate interface with the consumer. Facebook’s mobile fate is largely in their hands… much like Zynga’s fate was in Facebook’s hands.

They have to enter the hardware market and create their own ecosystem if they want to fortify their position as the leader in the social space. It is the only way to keep the scrappy little startups from constantly nipping at their heals, or avoid getting crushed by their larger rivals.

My predictions for 2013

1. Facebook Phone

We will surely see the introduction of the Facebook phone in 2013, but it won’t stop there.

2. Facebook TV

The current tech race is for the small screen in our pockets and the big screen in our homes. Television is a social experience by nature and Facebook has a unique opportunity to enhance it. A Facebook set top box would provide an entirely new way for Facebook to generate advertising revenue from brands and distribute social-enabled interactive video.

3. Facebook Payments

Supporting both of these efforts will be the introduction of a Facebook backed competitor to PayPal, Amazon Payments and Square. This new service will have hardware and software components that make it easier for consumers to pay for the items and services they discover through their social graph (and sponsored stories – of course).

It will also allow Facebook to collect incredibly valuable data about user purchases and behavior.

4. Facebook Storefront

The combination of software and propriety hardware in a controlled ecosystem would create a very defensible position for Facebook long term. The more information that Facebook has about you, the more they will be able to charge advertisers and manufacturers to reach you.

Ultimately Facebook will sell products directly to you, utilizing all of the information they have from your social graph and the purchases they process. They will compete directly with Amazon using a social-enabled recommendation engine.


There is an all out war in Silicon Valley.

The giants all want your eyeballs, your data and the cash in your wallet.

Software will only take Facebook so far.

The question is will Facebook break into the hardware market with a solution as compelling as their current service?

Enter the Axe Man

Tonight I signed my absentee ballot. I was for Obama in 2008, but feel that the promise of hope and change simply wasn’t realized and the President isn’t on a path I can continue to support.

I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Frankly neither candidate is really inline with my ideals – and both candidates spew an incredible amount of double talk.

At the end of the day it all comes down to the national debt for me. It is the ultimate quantifiable index of our fiscal health as a nation. We are now $16.2 trillion in debt – up from $11.9 trillion just four years ago. The spending is out of control. There is no talk of serious cuts and even if there was the President’s actions over the past four years wouldn’t back up such rhetoric.

The reality is that our government is just too big, too slow and too bloated for the good of the citizens. Someone needs to come in and clean things up. We need a presidential “axe man” to kill the programs that Obama can’t or won’t. The government needs to cut back on all non-essential spending, just like our families and businesses have over the past few years. We are cutting back… but look at government spending. In 2008 we were spending $2,982B a year with a $458 annual deficit – we are now spending $3,795B a year with a $1,326B annual deficit.

Let’s be honest… nobody “likes” Romney.

I don’t – but I voted for him. He is a hard-ass, brass-tacks ball-buster with Frankenstein lightning bolts in his hair. I want him to come it, assess the situation, nuke the garbage and leave us with a lean, mean government so we can finally move forward. I don’t expect him to get re-elected, but I do expect him to balance the budget and invest our dollars wisely.

The axe man cometh. It is time for the U.S. Government to lose some weight.

Sad Viking

Yesterday I keynoted lunch at BarkWorld in Atlanta. During the presentation someone asked me for the URL of my blog. Frankly I was embarrassed to provide it. This thing is a bit out of date and needs some love. I am going to switch things up a bit and try to update the site more regularly moving forward. Expect to see a combination of long form content, photos and other things that make me happy.