Monthly Archives: December 2014

Here’s why email newsletters can be so powerful — and valuable


In a world of virtual-reality headsets and Google Glass and responsive mobile websites, an email newsletter seems like the most antiquated technology since the buggy whip. It’s just words on a page! And don’t people hate email and want to kill it? They sure do — except when that email contains a list of the most important or interesting or relevant things they need to know, at which point it becomes more valuable than gold. And that alchemy is something worth thinking about.

Evidence of that value appeared again this week, when The Skimm — a newsletter run by two former NBC producers and aimed at a largely female fan base — raised a financing round of $6.5 million from a series of VCs. I saw many skeptical responses to this deal, as though the idea of an email newsletter raising millions was evidence of a gigantic bubble in media…

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Bacardi, exiled from Cuba in 1960, is hopeful for change


Bacardi, the spirits maker that was founded in Cuba and later exiled from the country in 1960, says it hopes for better lives for Cubans following the Obama Administration’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with the Caribbean island.

“We hope for meaningful improvements in the lives of the Cuban people and will follow any changes with great interest,” Bacardi said in an e-mailed statement. “In the meantime, we continue to support the restoration of fundamental human rights in Cuba.”

Bacardi says it’s taking a wait-and-see approach on Cuba after the United States on Wednesday said it would open an embassy on the island nation following the release of a U.S. government subcontractor from prison. It marked the most significant change in the U.S.-Cuba relationship in decades.

Bacardi, which makes rum, Dewar’s Scotch and Grey Goose vodka, has close historic ties to Cuba even though it hasn’t operated there for more…

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5 trends that could change how businesses use social media in 2015


Duke University recently published a study on social media that left many managers scratching their heads. Social media spending at companies, the report showed, currently represents 9% of marketing budgets, and that’s forecast to rise to nearly 25% within five years. But half of marketers interviewed said they couldn’t show what impact social media had on their business – at all.

Critics were quick to call the surge in social media spending a case of throwing good money after bad. From my perspective, however, these conflicting stats tell an entirely different story: that social media is evolving at breakneck speed and companies are struggling mightily to keep up. Businesses are reaching larger audiences and seeing increasing benefits, but the shifting social media landscape makes getting consistent results – and measuring them – an enormous challenge.

In 2015, the pace of social media change is – if anything – poised to…

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The BlackBerry Classic is an explicit appeal to nostalgia


BlackBerry officially launched the BlackBerry Classic at an event in New York’s financial district on Wednesday. It’s the first new BlackBerry device since 2011 to actually resemble what most people think of when they think “BlackBerry”: A QWERTY keyboard-equipped phone with physical navigation keys, including a touch trackpad.


Obviously, the BlackBerry Classic is a niche device — no matter how many celebrities claim they can’t live without theirs. BlackBerry spent a lot of time comparing the Classic to the Bold 9900, which came out in 2011. That’s the target audience for the Classic — companies that issue BlackBerries to their employees because of security reasons and are still hanging on to aging Bolds (running BlackBerry’s previous operating system.)

Because many people upgrading to the BlackBerry Classic are coming from years-old devices, the specs aren’t paramount, but they still pack a few nice upgrades. The Classic has a 720×720-pixel, 3.5-inch touchscreen and an 8 MP camera on…

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Exposed: Why we know tech startup valuations


Every time, it went the same way. I would ask a CEO to tell me his company’s valuation on its new round of venture capital or growth equity financing, and he’d decline. Same thing if I asked the company’s PR rep, or lead investor. Occasionally a rival venture capitalist who had lost the deal would spill out of spite, but it was rare. In general, valuations were considered precious trade secret.

That was ten years ago. And five years ago. And even three years ago. Today, however, such reticence is the exception to a new rule in which valuations are used to legitimize and promote venture-backed companies. Just think of all those unicorns, and that we all know of their existence.

Part of the shift is media-driven — a byproduct of increased coverage and reporters figuring out how to scour SEC and Delaware filings systems. For example, last week I…

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Music| D’Angelo Releases His First Track in 14 Years “Sugah Daddy”


• Fourteen years sounds like forever, and when it comes to music artist it is. It has been exactly that long since soul music artist D’angelo released his last musical piece and these last two years fans have heard endless rumors about a project that was 99% finished. This weekend Soul & R&B fans everywhere took a sigh of relief as D’angelo released his first single “Sugah Daddy” from his upcoming album Black Messiah.  “Sugah Daddy” was first premiered during D’Angelo’s 2012 comeback tour, and he’s embarking on another one early 2015. The track was debuted on where is was available to download for the first 1000 – needless to say those downloads are long gone. But you can still enjoy the track in the player above, and watch the trailer for Black Messiah.

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