Money Is Not Everything

Even though Jeff Bezos is now worth $151.4 billion, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t throw a hissy fit this past Monday when his company’s website went down minutes after Amazon Prime Day 2018 started. I heard he went crazy. This event was in the making for more than a year.

Why didn’t someone predict that such a disaster could happen? I would have easily been the one to question the capacity of the servers. What makes me so insightful? The answer is obvious. Experience.

We had a client who was introducing a free WiFi cell service on a technology called voice over Internet (VoIP). Our PR agency, HWH PR, convinced David Pogue, then a writer for the New York Times, to cover the introduction. Our client, Line2, opened for business the day David ran the story. Seventeen thousand folks read the piece and immediately went to the website to sign up for the service.

It didn’t take long for the entire system to go down. That was a decade ago, and it took over a week to get the website working again. All the orders were gone and we had to start all over. It was a nightmare, but I learned a great lesson. Find out if a server can handle thousands, or millions, of folks accessing a website at the same time. Probably not. Heavy duty backup systems need to be put into place.

I do feel bad for the richest man in the world. I feel worse for the people he blamed. I’m sure it was not a pretty scene. Bezos’ ego was being tested. It wasn’t that he was losing money. It was that his company was out-of-control. For a man who seeks complete perfection, this was a day he never wants to see again.

The Elements Of Style

I noticed that my handwriting was getting worse and worse. At first, I thought it had to do with getting older. I noticed my mother’s handwriting got shaky looking when she reached 70.

I mentioned this to a friend who owns a digital company and he laughed. “When was the last time you held a pen and a piece of paper?” he asked. I thought about it. I do all of my note taking on electronic devices. Occasionally, I have to sign a document with a pen, or hand write a list. Other than that, everything is digital.

It’s no surprise that my penmanship looks wiggly. I lost my touch. That’s too bad. I’ve been told many times that when you hand write something you exude more emotion and detail. The feel of pen, or pencil to paper, allows you to be more creative. I can’t prove any of this, but it does make sense to me.

I work very hard to be totally digital. I really try not to use paper. In my profession, it’s totality uncool to be seen with a pile of papers. That’s why I loved a recent story in the Wall Street Journal that discussed what devices and apps you can use for note-taking and writing that mimic the pen and paper process. There are alternatives.

Read about it here.

Something New On The Menu

There is no secret that most restaurants are having a tough time making ends meet. We don’t go out to a restaurant without calling first to make sure they are still in business. You never know. We have shown up at a few restaurants only to find out that they closed a day or two earlier.

A company named Spacious, located in New York and San Francisco, is trying to help the restaurant industry. They created a new concept so restaurants can make money and get exposure to potential new clients.

Spacious is converting 25 popular restaurants in New York and San Francisco into weekday work spaces. That means restaurants who are closed for breakfast and lunch can now get paid for renting out their dining rooms. Restaurants make great work spaces for the community.

Bars and tables become desks and booths are conference rooms. For folks who would like to consider a restaurant as a workspace, it will cost $99 per month on an annual basis, or $129 by the month.

Will this work?

Spacious just received $9 million in venture capital and plans to sign up 100 more restaurants.

You can read about Spacious in the New York Times and here

Groupon Up For Sale

I remember my girlfriend Ruth telling me she thought the founders of Groupon, the leaders in daily deals on the Internet, were nuts because they turned down a $6 billion buyout from Google just a few years after they started. I agreed with her. We had a good laugh about how greedy they were.

A year later they were worth $16 billion after a 2011 IPO, which was the second largest for a tech company during those years. Ruth and I stopped laughing. We should have started crying that we weren’t the ones who came up with the idea. Ruth became a big Groupon customer. She always included us in the fun activities she bought. To this day, she and her husband Howard, are always going to amazing events that were presented on Groupon.

That’s why I was so startled when I read that Groupon was putting itself up for sale. Recode, a leading tech site, announced the sale. I later learned that Groupon is now valued at just $2.4 billion.

It doesn’t make sense that a very successful and popular company suddenly starts to go sour. I often wonder why it’s so easy for an entrepreneur to start a business but not as easy to keep it going forever?

For clues to what went wrong with Groupon read Recode. Click here.

Phone Home

I used to love coming home just to ask, “Did anyone call?” That was before cell phones. Now you know the answer because all of your calls go directly to your individual cell phones.

Even though everyone we know has a cell phone, the landline is still very much alive and well. The Wall Street Journal just reported that 44% of all households still own traditional at-home phones. This is a high number considering most people complain that they get way too many solicitations on their phones at home. They find it annoying to keep answering calls from commercial enterprises or people running for political office.

We still have a landline, with many extensions, because we just can’t depend on cell service. We get a lot of interruptions, or the calls just drop. That doesn’t work well when we are on business calls, or we need to have serious conversations.

It’s amazing to learn how many areas around the United States don’t have decent cell service. The Hamptons and Silicon Valley are notorious for poor service. We also can’t forget about emergencies like hurricanes, snowstorms, mudslides, earthquakes, floods, and fires. It’s always good to have a backup.

The Wall Street Journal has more to say about this subject. Click here.

Smile, You’re On Surveillance Camera

The last two DigiDame posts were about how technology is being used to monitor our every move. Today, I got a real scare when the New York Times sent me an alert about how “China is using facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track 1.4 billion people.”

Just look at the photo from the Times. It shows exactly how the Chinese authorities are keeping records of all of their citizens. It’s very unnerving to know that 1.4 billion people have cameras watching them all the time. I worry that the rest of the world may also be going in this direction.

We are living in times when we just don’t know what’s going to happen next. I often question if technology is giving power to the wrong people. One of my new clients will be introducing smart glasses that will be able to track your emotions and intentions. The purpose is to help people understand what the other person is thinking. I don’t know how well the glasses will work, but I do know that technology is going to change our lives in ways we never imagined.

Check out the New York Times story.