NBA Launches Augmented Reality Game

Available for free download in the Apple App Store:

“The NBA claims to be the first US sports league to have released an AR game, giving it a reputable first in the space. The title is free on the Apple App Store and requires users to flick shots at the hoop using the phone’s inbuilt accelerometer. They are tasked with scoring as many throws as possible inside a 30 second window. Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, NBA senior vice president, Digital Media, said: ‘We’ve always said that basketball can be played virtually anywhere – and today that takes on an expanded meaning.’ ‘Augmented reality presents a variety of fascinating engagement opportunities, so we hope our fans download the app and try out their skills wherever they might be.'”

NBA strengthens ‘basketball anywhere’ ethos with augmented reality game

Unilever’s Six Buyer Personas for Axe Body Spray

How Unilever targeted their ad campaigns for Axe Body spray:

“Unilever first analyzed the potential Axe user by breaking males down into six profiles:

  1. The Predator — He takes advantage of drunk girls, and lies about his job and where he lives
  2. Natural Talent — Athletic, smart, and confident. He doesn’t need to lie to score
  3. Marriage Material — Humble and respectful, he’s the sort of guy you want to bring home to Mom and Dad
  4. Always the Friend — He always hits that glass ceiling
  5. The Insecure Novice — He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, and things get awkward fast — the geeks and nerds
  6. The Enthusiastic Novice — He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, but he’s outgoing and tries valiantly anyway

Then, they determined that The Insecure Novice would be their natural target, since he needs the most help in getting women, and would be easily persuaded into buying a product that could aid the woes of nerdhood.”

How Axe Became The Top-Selling Deodorant By Targeting Nerdy Losers

The End of the On-Demand Dream

Farhad Manjoo writes in the Technology section of The New York Times:

Other than Uber, the hypersuccessful granddaddy of on-demand apps, many of these companies have come under stress. Across a variety of on-demand apps, prices are rising, service is declining, business models are shifting, and, in some cases, companies are closing down. Here is what we are witnessing: the end of the on-demand dream. That dream was about price and convenience.

Like Luxe, many of these companies marketed themselves as clever hacks of the existing order. They weren’t just less headache than old-world services, but because they were using phones to eliminate inefficiencies, they argued that they could be cheaper, too — so cheap that as they grew, they could offer luxury-level service at mass-market prices. That just isn’t happening. Though I still use Luxe frequently, it now often feels like just another luxury for people who have more money than time.

But Uber’s success was in many ways unique. For one thing, it was attacking a vulnerable market. In many cities, the taxi business was a customer-unfriendly protectionist racket that artificially inflated prices and cared little about customer service. The opportunity for Uber to become a regular part of people’s lives was huge. People take cars every day, so hook them once and you have repeat customers. Finally, cars are the second-most-expensive things people buy, and the most frequent thing we do with them is park. That monumental inefficiency left Uber ample room to extract a profit even after undercutting what we now pay for cars.

Full article: The Uber Model, It Turns Out, Doesn’t Translate

Zenefits CEO Resigns, New Focus: Integrity

Part of the problem with the “who’s gonna stop me?” attitude of Startuplandia is when companies try to move into heavily regulated industries. Leaders they can just ignore decades of entrenched bureaucracy and regulation simply because they’ve got a high valuation.

Employee management cloud software company Zenefits (which has raised $500M in 2 years at a $4.5B valuation) hit the fan earlier today when their CEO Parker Conrad resigned over compliance issues:

In an email sent to employees today:

We sell insurance in a highly regulated industry. In order to do that, we must be properly licensed. For us, compliance is like oxygen. Without it, we die. The fact is that many of our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong.

In December, we hired a Big Four auditing firm to conduct an independent third-party review of our licensing procedures that we will turn over to regulators as soon as possible.

Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company.

Effective immediately, this company’s values are: #1 Operate with integrity. #2 Put the customer first. #3 Make this a great place to work for employees.

They literally have to call out integrity.

The 2 Smartest Things You’ll Read About Twitter Today

As talks of a purchase to go private loom, I found Ben Thompson’s post on Twitter’s tribulations:

Facebook always had an inherent advantage over Twitter in that its network, at least in the beginning, was based on networks that already existed in the offline world, namely, people you already knew. That made the service immediately approachable and useful for basically everyone. Twitter, on the other hand, was more about following people you didn’t know based on your interests. This theoretically applied to everyone as well, but uncovering those interests and building an appropriate list of people to follow had to be done from scratch.


[T]the use of mobile devices occupies all of the available time around intent. It is only when we’re doing something specific that we aren’t using our phones, and the empty spaces of our lives are far greater than anyone imagined. When it comes to “the empty spaces” most people don’t want to do work, but work is exactly what Twitter required. You had to know what you were interested in, know who to follow based on those interests, and then, to top it all off, you had to pick out the parts that you were interested in from a stream of unfiltered tweets; Facebook, in contrast, did the work for you.

Stratechery: How Facebook Squashed Twitter

Image from this Wired article.

How Blackberry Screwed Good Technology’s Employees

This came up in a meeting a couple days ago. Good Technology was valued at $1.1B. Blackberry bought it at huge discount from it’s value and the employees got screwed:

Around 9 a.m., hundreds of employees filed into a conference room or started up videoconference software to watch Good’s chief executive, Christy Wyatt, discuss the sale. Ms. Wyatt introduced BlackBerry’s chief, John S. Chen, who winkingly apologized for how his deal makers had driven Good’s final sale price down to $425 million, less than half of the company’s $1.1 billion private valuation.

In an investor document about the sale that was distributed to shareholders, employees discovered their Good stock was valued at 44 cents a share, down from $4.32 a year earlier. In contrast, preferred stock owned by Good’s venture capitalists was worth almost seven times as much, more than $3 a share. The paperwork also showed that Good’s board had turned down an $825 million cash offer just six months earlier, in March.

… and the preferred stock of the investors …

In Good’s case, the six investors on the board had preferred shares worth a combined $125 million. After the sale to BlackBerry, Ms. Wyatt, who has since left the company, took home $4 million, as well as a $1.9 million severance payment, according to investor documents. In contrast, startup employees generally own common stock, whose payout comes only after those who hold preferred shares get their money. In Good’s case, the board’s preferred stock was worth almost the same as all 227 million common shares outstanding.

… and some had paid taxes already …

For some employees, it meant that their shares were practically worthless. Even worse, they had paid taxes on the stock based on the higher value.

New York Times: ‘When a Unicorn Start-Up Stumbles, Its Employees Get Hurt’

Putting Together a Customer Advisory Board

I’m putting together a CAB at work so I thought I’d pop my research in here as I find things out.

Basic definition: A Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a representative group of customers that meets periodically to offer advice on the product and company direction.

Sample invitation text here.

No sales pitches allowed: Equally important to outlining your objectives is getting executives, stakeholders, and your sales team to understand that while Customer Advisory Board meetings may lead to sales, they are not sales calls, nor are they intended to be.

Benefits to sell to CAB members:

Reasons they’ll join: They want to network, they can get a clear picture of your strategy, it is rare to find vendors care what customers think.

Common mistakes: Don’t rush, don’t talk too much, don’t invite everyone.

How IBM talks about them: The goal of Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) is simple: to provide a unified, open forum for a select group of forward-thinking customers. As a CAB member, you’ll gain a greater understanding of our product strategies, provide your thoughts and ideas and help ensure that what we develop aligns with your vision for using analytics to achieve your goals.

How Cisco talks about them: The Global Customer Advisory Board (GCAB) brings together Cisco’s Executive Leadership Team and a select group of global business leaders. Through a series of interactive roundtables and discussion forums, participants help Cisco set strategic priorities and shape opportunities for joint success. GCAB takes place over two and a half days. Due to the limited number of customers selected to attend each GCAB, we ask that participants attend the entire program. Invitations are exclusive to invitees and may not be transferred. GCAB is a great opportunity for participants to meet peers in the industry, share ideas, and guide Cisco on how today’s market transitions will shape our future together.

Most of the cursory reading is large companies that are doing this onsite and in person or at a hotel like a retreat. I’m just hoping to get an hour or so phone call going.

This is a bit service-y but Fast Company had a list of the traits of companies that are open to having CABs:

  1. They are sincerely growth-oriented.
  2. They believe in gathering unfiltered feedback to refine their future plans and services.
  3. They are passionate about developing trusted advisor relationships with senior decision makers and industry influencers—and making a difference.
  4. They need to adapt quickly to industry and regulatory shifts to ensure continuity.
  5. They are action-oriented, and are willing to implement actions that advisors recommend.

Another list from Fast Comany – traits of good CABs:

  • Define the purpose of your CAB.
  • Create a written profile of the ideal CAB member.
  • Give yourself ample time to recruit members.
  • Establish clear expectations with potential new members.Keep the group small and intimate.
  • Mix it up [with] an equal number of existing clients, top-tier clients, and a few prospects.
  • Address the compensation issue early.
  • Develop a written advisory board member agreement.
  • Stay fluid [and] be prepared to replace up to a third of your members every year.

I’ll add more as I find it.

Slow Down Your Content Marketing Calendar

From MarketingSherpa’s blog that linked to this blog post on how WorkCompass increased leads by 300% – with a full list of tactics to get the most out of every content piece by chopping it up and dripping it out:

  1. “Publish one piece of anchor content a month e.g. an ebook on a single topic.
  2. It can be small, about 6-7 pages. Big text and lots of pictures. But it must cover the topic well. An example of one I produced is this guide on how to set an employee performance goal..
  3. Split the ebook into weekly blog posts.
  4. Tweet excerpts from the ebook. Not just the book title but tweet quotes from the text.
  5. Repost the blog posts to linkedin pulse, groups and other forums. Put a week delay on these to let the blog get indexed by search engines first. Post the full content. People will appreciate it and still click through to download the ebook.
  6. Use the content to answer questions on
  7. If you find it hard to find people asking questions that your content answers, then you may not be writing the right content.
  8. Set up alerts on social media for people asking questions around the topic so you can share the content.
  9. Take the images from the ebook and post to Flickr under creative commons so people can use (if they link to you). This is a slow burner but works great. I have got links from Forbes, Inc, Mashable and others using this.
  10. Do a press release.
  11. Do a webinar for the content and invite people from outside your existing subscribers as well.
  12. Post the webinar slides on Slideshare.
  13. Post the video recording of the webinar on Youtube.
  14. Promote any of the above content with Pay Per Click ads.”

Full post on the strategy and infographic:

I wrote less content and increased my leads by 300%. This is how I did it.


The New Yorker Drops a Bomb on Twitter

Joshua Topolsky in The New Yorker:

Ultimately, Twitter’s service is so confused and undifferentiated in the market that it’s increasingly difficult to make a clear case for its existence. There are a small handful of features Facebook might add, or a separate app that it could easily create (as it did with Messenger and the photo-sharing stand-alone feature Moments) that would provide a similar but more consistent experience, with vastly more reach than anything the company can provide today (or tomorrow, for that matter). This is especially notable to all of us in the world of media, the people who fill these services with highly valuable and hotly traded “content,” such as the piece you’re currently reading. Social media is a scale game or a product game, and Twitter is failing at both.


The End of Twitter

Facebook Blows Up The Like Button


New Coke or iPhone? Sarah Frier and Bloomberg go behind the scenes of Facebook Reactions – along with a look at Chief Product Officer Chris Cox’s trajectory inside the social networking company. I liked this bit about getting teams to think about users still stuck on older networks and slower mobile data:

Near the end of the meeting, he wonders aloud how to get other Facebook employees to start thinking about the particular challenge of building features that will work on yesterday’s mobile networks, still in use around the world. Someone proposes switching everyone at the company to a 2G connection once a week. Cox loves the idea. “This is our tool for empathy,” he says. “Happy Wednesday, you’re in Delhi!” Two weeks later, the company implements 2G Tuesdays.

And the initial doubts about the Like button when it first came out:

[C]olleagues have war stories about how hard they had to work to get Zuckerberg on board. According to longtime executive Andrew Bosworth, there were so many questions about the button—should likes be public or private? would they decrease the number of comments on stories?—many thought the feature was doomed. Even its champions had no idea of the impact it would have on the company’s fortunes. It was simply meant to make interactions easier—just click like on someone’s post about their new job, instead of being the 15th person to say congratulations.

And how they arrived at the six Reactions:

Facebook researchers started the project by compiling the most frequent responses people had to posts: “haha,” “LOL,” and “omg so funny” all went in the laughter category, for instance. Emojis with eyes that transformed into hearts, GIF animations with hearts beating out of chests, and “luv u” went in the love category. Then they boiled those categories into six common responses, which Facebook calls Reactions: angry, sad, wow, haha, yay, and love.

Cogent point:

“We know on phones people don’t like to use keyboards, and we also know that the like button does not always let you say what you want.”

Full post Inside Facebook’s Decision to Blow Up the Like Button.