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Posts from March 2, 2014 - March 8, 2014

Washington State Looks To Loosen Up Crowdfunding Laws

The State of Washington is looking to take a progressive stance on crowdfunding. A senate bill was passed that will make it possible for entrepreneurs to raise up to $1 million during any 12-month period as long as the residents are from Washington state as part of a crowdfunding campaign. The big plus is that the funds are now being raised from non-accredited investors, as well as accredited investors.

This is a trend that other states are beginning to adopt as well, and is designed to open up more options under the Jobs Act of 2012. Right now, under the current federal regulations only accredited investors can contribute to fund raising under 506-C. 

Call Washington progressive in my book.


Telecommuting is Really Here

My name is Andy, and I am a telecommuter.

Today's New York Times has a story about telecommuniting, a subject near and dear to my heart. You see, I've been telecommuting since before there even was the term. It began back in 1976 when at the end of every night my home office - it was really a desk in my bedroom complete with a Bell of Pennsylvania supplied answering machine (call it Voicemail minus -1.0).  Five or six nights a week calls from up to a dozen high school hockey games would be called in by the scorekeepers (email wasn't even in existance as we know it). I would transcribe the scores and the highlights taking down the details from people who I had barely known at first. I then would spend the next hour or so calling in the scores to no less than 12 media outlets around the Philadelphia area talking to the desk editors, writers and copy clerks as well as radio news readers and producers. That was telecommuting and I was doing it from the start.

Some of the media outlets would simply take the scores, others took the scores and the highlights. Some even wanted a quote. Then there were the nights where I often spent a few hours freezing at some hockey rink watching a game or two, taking notes on a reporters notepad.

Between the calls and my first hand notes, I then composed the summary of the night for a few reporters. When I could, I used the office phone belonging to the rink manage at the hockey rinks, worst case from some pay phone. That was telecommuting.

But my favorite story involved negotiating a two sponsor sponsorship into a three way deal. I never left my home office, spending hours on two phones (my office and home phone) wheeling and dealing in sweats, a bathrobe and my t-shirt. It was classic telecommuting. I made outgoing calls on one phone line, had people call me back on the other. Thankfully we already had call waiting, plus the answering machine and by the end of the day, the deals were all done, the early committed sponsor felt good, and the two who came in at almost the same moment, felt thrilled that we had worked things out. It was really a win-win-win for them all.

Over that 13 year period when I worked for the Philadelphia Flyers my office moved four times, and really seven if one counts the four different locations in the now departed Spectrum. And, other than one year in an apartment in downtown Philadelohia, my real office was that desk, phone and bed at the house I grew up in. You see, I telecommuted long before the term was even in use and today, I still telecommute.

 


 
 
 
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Acquisitions and investments are in the news more and more, demonstratiing that tech companies are a hot item again. Today Spotify moved closer to out Pandoraing Pandora with the purchase of MIT bred The EchoNest. The official release is below, and the story is out everywhere....ON To the News...

 
 

 
 

Spotify Acquires The Echo Nest

 
 

SOMERVILLE, MA - March 6 - Spotify today announced that it will acquire the industry's leading music intelligence company, The Echo Nest. The acquisition supports Spotify's strategy to grow global music consumption and overall revenue back to the music industry by building the best user experience and music discovery engine for millions of global fans.

 
 

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Oh, where have you gone Harvey PollackBaseball and Big Data have their roots in the movie MoneyBall but back in my sports days GMs and scouts, even my hand compiled statss of teams and players were all data based. Now no pro team worth their weight isn't looking at how data is shaping their world. FYI-the reference to Harvey Pollack ties to how immaginative he was as statistician for the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers, Wings and others, where he created categories and provided hand compiled big data long before there even was a PC....In my mind, he set the bar and now others are following suit but good old "Super Stat" was doing all this first.

 
 

 
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Learning from Analytics in Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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It used to be hard getting a virtual visit from a doctor approved by the insurance company. Those times are a changing.

 
 

 
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eVisits: The 21st Century House Call - Deloitte CIO - WSJ

eVisits: The 21st Century House Call Trends in technology and business are aligning to make 2014 a breakthrough year for online health care. This year should see a spike in the use of "eVisits," in which patients interact directly or indirectly with health care providers via the Internet.

 
 

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Emergency response is going far beyond "I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up." Now Apple has patented a detection and assistance feature for iPhone, going far beyond what is out there today.

 
 

 
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Apple Patents Built-In Automated Emergency Detection And Assistance For iPhone

A new patent application by Apple just published by the USPTO (via AppleInsider) adds a feature to an iPhone that may not be as cool as an optical heart rate sensor, but could be just as (or more) life-saving: the new tech would use data from onboard sensor to automatically detect when a user is subject to physical attack, including car crashes and violent personal altercations, as well as sudden medical emergencies.

 
 

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That car trolling by may be more than it appears. If you remember the movie "Repo Man" this is Repo Man on steroids, all using big data.

 

 
 

 
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A vast hidden surveillance network runs across America, powered by the repo industry

Few notice the "spotter car" from Manny Sousa's repo company as it scours Massachusetts parking lots, looking for vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loans. Sousa's unmarked car is part of a technological revolution that goes well beyond the repossession business, transforming any ­industry that wants to check on the whereabouts of ordinary people.

 
 

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Facebook just gave the term "Rent A Cop" a new meaning.

 

 
 

 
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Facebook Will Be First Private Company in U.S. to Pay for Full-Time Beat Cop

local Facebook will become what experts say is the first private company in the country to bankroll a full-time beat cop, establishing what could become a blueprint for many more similar partnerships. "It's safe to say this is unprecedented," said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, the nation's oldest police research nonprofit in Washington, D.C.

 
 

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Founders Fund raised a boatload of money and has created a new fund.

 
     
 

 
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Founders Fund Hits $1 Billion Mark for New Venture-Capital Fund

Founders Fund, a backer of Facebook and Space Exploration Technologies, has closed $1 billion in new financing for a fifth fund, the firm announced on Wednesday. The new vehicle is quite a step up from the $50 million the firm raised when it was founded in 2005 by Peter Thiel and Ken Howery, both former top executives at PayPal.

 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Tuesday March 4th, 2014

 
 
 
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If you couldn't tell that Ellen DeGeneres was pimping for Samsung at the Oscars on Sunday nights telecast, now the jig is up.  To those of us with experience in product placement, it was obvious and one can actually question if $20 million was worth it.-Now on to the news.

 
 

 
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Ellen's preplanned Oscar selfie: a Samsung product placement

Samsung Electronics Co. spent an estimated $20 million on ads to run during breaks in the Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday night. But Samsung may have got more promotional mileage from Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres during the show itself.

 
 

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Make no mistake, drones are a hot topic. They have more application than simply military use. That is why FaceBook is interested in one of the hotter companies in the space. Why? Well imagine an Internet that can bypass the last mile operators....

 
 

 
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Facebook reportedly in talks to acquire drone-making company Titan Aerospace

Facebook just poured $16 billion into acquiring messaging company WhatsApp, and now it seems that the company is considering adding one more company under its umbrella. TechCrunch reports that Facebook is currently in talks to acquire Titan Aerospace, which specializes in drone technology, for roughly $60 million.

 
 

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If you're an Uber user of the black car or taxi like service who has been frustrated by surge pricing, you are about to see some relief.

 
 

 
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What Goes Up Must Come Down: Introducing Surge Drop

Last Monday, in his keynote address to the Launch Festival, our CEO Travis hinted at a new feature that would "help smooth out the demand spike" at busy times for driver-partners and give riders an option for bypassing surge.

 
 

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Skype in the browser was first talked about at an EComm conference a few years back. Now its really coming into play as Microsoft is binding the talk and IM service with Outlook.com, their online consumer email service.

 
 

 
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Microsoft Launches Skype for Outlook.com Worldwide

Microsoft today launched Skype for Outlook.com worldwide, expanding the service that was previously only available to a select few countries. At the same time, the company has added new features and fixed a few bugs in the previous version.

 
 

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The Emergency Broadcast System tones get television viewers attention. But putting them in a movie trailer isn't something the EBS folks took kindly to. The end result-FINES. BIG FINES.

 
 

 
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Cable Channels Hit With Nearly $2 Million Fine for Airing Movie Trailer

Remember the movie "Olympus Has Fallen," the 2013 popcorn flick about a guerrilla assault on the White House that is foiled by a heroic Secret Service agent? No? Viacom, NBCUniversal and ESPN are likely to remember it for years to come, after getting slapped with proposed fines of nearly $2 million for airing a film trailer that used the Emergency Alert System tones.

 
 

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Consolidation of mobile operators is a hot topic, not only in the USA but also in Europe. In France Bouygues, which has the most advanced network in France,  Long the "third" player in the space, the emergence of Free as a mobile operator, even as an MVNO, makes this far less challenging than it could appear. 

 
 

 
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Bouygues moves forward with SFR takeover plan

TeleGeography's free daily email summary of the world's top telecom news stories.

 
 

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Here in the USA Verizon Wireless is now looking to bolster its prepaid data user base. They are rolling out a 3G only plan that allows users to roll over their unused data bucket, but they are not offering LTE with the plans. This is a way to maximize the money they make on their legacy network infrastructure.

 

 
 

 
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Verizon tweaks its prepaid plans with rollover data

A A Verizon Wireless is overhauling its prepaid data plans for smartphones. Instead of offering different price tiers, Verizon has reverted to a single plan: $45 a month with unlimited text and voice and 500 MB of data.

 
 

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Verizon's new prepaid plan offers rollover data, but still no LTE

Verizon Wireless is working to simplify its approach to prepaid with a new Allset plan that costs $45 a month and includes unlimited voice minutes, unlimited messaging, and 500MB of data. Obviously some smartphone users will need a higher data cap than that, but rather than offer several different plan tiers, Verizon now wants its prepaid customers to add data a la carte.

 
 

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Om Malik has stepped down at GigaOm, but he's still writing. Beyond his own blog, he's contributing now to other publications. His first story in FastCompany is relevant to all startups.

 
 

 
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Masters of Their Own Destiny

Like clockwork, apple introduces an upgrade to its iconic iPhone each year. Sometimes it's thinner or less curved, but much like a new Porsche, you can look at it and think nothing's changed. And yet, like Porsche, a lot is different--if you peer under the hood.

 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Monday March 3, 2014

 
 
 
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Microsoft is being shaken up. As reported first by Re/Code-story below, and now by others, the changes at Microsoft are not unexpected as I wrote on AndyAbramson.com. The politics inside the company are massive, and the changes are going to come fast. --Now onto the news.

 
 

 
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Exclusive: Top Execs Bates and Reller to Depart, As Musical Chairs Begins at Microsoft

 

Two direct reports to new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella - EVP of business development and evangelism Tony Bates and EVP of marketing Tami Reller - are leaving the company, according to numerous sources close to the situation. It's not clear where either exec is headed, if anywhere immediately.

 

 
 

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Microsoft Is Said to Shake Up Staff With Penn's Appointment

Related Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) 's newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, in an effort to reignite growth, is shuffling management and putting former political operative Mark Penn in the new role of chief strategy officer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

 
 

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The car and truck market is the next focus for all the major mobile players. BlackBerry's QNX division is focused on that, and in reality, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a big market, of which the automotive market is one of the biggest. Today, Apple unveiled their eco-system first deploying partners, and they are the creme de la creme of cars--Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Volvo.

 
 

 
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Apple CarPlay debuts with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo

Apple has rebranded its iOS in the Car initiative as CarPlay, and unveiled Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo as the first partners to build it into their vehicles.

 
 

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News and insights don't always come from the media. Looking back at Mobile World Congress, the news was rather blase, but there are stories coming out from Barcelona that are not from the mainstream but which play into the grand scheme of things very well. The head of digital at Nordic telecom giant Telnor has some very good perspectives, as does UK journalist/researcher and pal Brad Rees.

 
 

 
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Top trends at Mobile World Congress

"Our business is more relevant than ever. The game is changing and we are working up close and personal with the game-changers." Here's a look at Mobile World Congress through the eyes of the Head of Telenor Digital, Rolv-Erik Spilling.

 
 

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The unsung hero of Mobile World Congress is not an app, a mobile phone or a 'wearable' as Brad Rees examines the Connected City and what it means to the consumer

 
 

 

Wearables, dirt-cheap smartphones and Facebook philanthropy wring from the Mobile World Congress 2014 belltower but there's something big, maybe too big, for our tiny, self-centred consumer brains to take in, which is writ large at MWC, Fira, Gran Via, Hall 3, Stand A11.

 
 

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How companies raise money is a hot topic these days. First Round Capital led me to a post on story telling tips, something our own "master of the message" Bill Ryan has been saying for years.

 
 

 
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Take Your Fundraising Pitch from Mediocre to Memorable with These Storytelling Tips

Oren Jacob grew up in a family of storytellers. His parents were teachers who were constantly hosting family, friends, colleagues, passersby from around the world - each with their own story to tell. So it's not surprising he's built his career around compelling narratives.

 
 

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Three-UK has been a bit late to the LTE game in the UK, but they are catching up quick. What's very interesting is the moves they have made over the past year are not that different than T-Mobile in the USA, but with a difference. Their 11 country data romaing is at 3G/4G/LTE not 2G.

 
 

 
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H3G UK confirms 4G network is live in 36 major towns and cities

TeleGeography's free daily email summary of the world's top telecom news stories.

 
 

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Having been a REGUS road warrior for years, and someone who flys in and out of Gatwick Airport outside of London, hearing they have opened a center at Gatwick is welcome news. More importantly, they are innovating, gearing up more for the mobile worker. Gatwick is in many ways a great test bed for new ideas for the traveler as it is an aging facility that needs a makeover badly.

 

 
 

 
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Regus to open mobile working hub at Gatwick

Global workplace provider Regus has signed an agreement with Gatwick Airport to open a drop-in business lounge and meeting room centre near the South Terminal Arrivals area, in addition to workspace airside next to the departure gates.

 
 

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Pal Om Malik may no longer be writing everyday at GigaOm, focusing more on being a venture capitalist at True Ventures, but he's still penning insightfully. His views on journalism are also still spot on. His commentary on the state of media is a a good read as is the Marc Andreessen post of a few days back.

 
 

 
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Your Attention Please

"Instagrams, Secrets, Whispers, and Snapchats are in direct competition with the Times...Daily attention is being sliced and diced multiple ways." That's me in conversation with Ryan Tate of Wired who asked me to comment on Marc Andreessen's recent post about the state and future of media.

 
 

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The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place

BY MARC ANDREESSEN I am more bullish about the future of the news industry over the next 20 years than almost anyone I know. You are going to see it grow 10X to 100X from where it is today. That is my starting point for any discussion about the future of journalism.

 
 

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Stories about Silicon Valley are fun to read....money being raised, culture, security, insecurty and more. 

 
 

 
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More Tech Startups are Raising Double-Digit Funding Rounds Within a 12 Month Span - Why?

In February 2013, Snapchat raised a $13.5 Series A round from Benchmark Capital. Just four months later, Snapchat took a $60M Series B round led by Institutional Venture Partners. And just six months after that, the ephemeral messaging startup took a $50M financing round, this time from tech hedge fund Coatue Management.

 
 

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This Industry Is Completely Ridiculous. Let's Hope It Stays That Way.

 

OK. Let's take a step back from all the recent tech news, look at it with fresh eyes - and try not to burst into slightly hysterical laughter. In Japan, some half-billion dollars' worth of cryptocurrency vanished from a site founded to trade Magic: The Gathering cards.

 

 
 

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When Start-Ups Don't Lock the Doors

Young tech companies have a long list of to-dos. Signing up users and raising money are usually at the top of the list. Much further down? Data security. That neglect has recently come back to bite many hot new applications and web services - and their users - and has them rushing to improve their products after breaches and holes were discovered.

 
 

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Last week was a big week here in San Diego. Comunicano's Irena Boostani and Jim Brynes, along with Bill Ryan and Tim Kridel all contributed to a series of launches that have been in the works which will be helping to shape and redefine the San Diego technology scene. We joined Jeff Belk, former SVP Marketing and CSO to launch Bright Light Management, and along with ex Bloomberg Reporter Josh Baylin, Velocity Growth. Both focus on Crowdfunding but with two complimentary approaches. Bright Light Management has partnered with OurCrowd to bring new sources of capital into San Diego, while Velcocity Growth will be involved with rewards based funding.  

P.S. Now everyone knows why I'll be staying "home" more and traveling less.

 
 

 
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Equity crowd-funding eyed for SD start-ups

Young San Diego companies sometimes bemoan the difficulty of raising investment capital locally, which forces them to court venture firms in hotly competitive Silicon Valley or elsewhere. Can the rise of equity crowd-funding websites give these entrepreneurs an additional avenue to raise money? There's a movement afoot to find out.

 
 

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Innovations in Equity Crowdfunding Take Center Stage in San Diego

Securities regulators are still formulating new rules that would allow startups to use Kickstarter-like campaigns for equity crowdfunding. But in the meantime, a couple of investment groups have put together Internet crowdfunding platforms for people who qualify as accredited investors under existing law.

 
 

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San Diego's StackIQ Gets First-Day Funding Boost on OurCrowd Website

StackIQ, which provides Software-as-a-Service for managing "Big Data" computing systems, said today it is the first San Diego startup selected to raise capital from accredited investors through OurCrowd, the online crowdfunding firm based in Jerusalem.

 
 

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One of the true journalists I respect who has covered and helped define the news market on the internet has called it quits for now. Dan Farber, long a fixture on the San Francisco and New York media scene posted that he's ending his thirty year run and will be seeking new frontiers. 

 


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Skype's Tony Bates To Leave Microsoft-report

Re/Code and others are now reporting that Skype's CEO Tony Bates is leaving Microsoft.

To me, this is not a surprise at all. Privately I mentioned to others close to Skype and Microrosft well in advance of the appointment of any inside candidate to the role of CEO at Microsoft would cause an immediate departure of others on the senior leadership team. So far two have left following the appointment of new CEO Satya Nadella.

I also said privately that Bates would not be the pick and he would leave. A couple of reasons why:

1. He's a consumer guy at this poing, and while MSFT needs someone who clearly understands consumer marketing, he's not going to win the job, even if he was the best candidate from the insiders.

2. He's too much a Silicon Valley guy. No matter how you slice it, MSFT wants people who are fixtures in the Seattle/Redmond tech scene more.

3. Outsiders in key positions never fare well at MSFT

4. Acqui-hires into MSFT are not part of the MSFT culture.

For Bates the departure is a good thing. It's still early in 2014. He doesn't need the job, as his exit from Skype was lucrative. He's a proven executive who can go pretty much anywhere he wants. While some may mention soon to IPO GoPro as a great place to consider, he could also easily end up at a VC firm as an EIR, or even FaceBook as CEO.