big bets

Snap to acquire Smule (a big bet)

Have you guys heard of Sing by Smule?  It’s this incredibly sticky karaoke app that’s got a steep subscription model (at $45 a year, it’s 3x the price of The Economist!)


Featuring a huge song catalogue, and a gamified model - singers can sing together and ‘battle’ for singing all the notes correctly - the app is incredibly addicting and also a huge time drain. One song, averaging 3 minutes, might take 3 or 4 tries to get right before you publish it on the app. The whole process can easily eat up an afternoon. (They have also evaded legal issues by having users upload the MIDI tracks of many of the songs - so they’ve relied somewhat on an open source model to build the business.)

My big bet is....

that the next time Snap experiences negative user growth, they will buy a company like Smule. Not for its attractive revenue model. (Although it is an attractive recurring revenue biz). Nor for its audience (I doubt these are unduplicated users to Snap, anyway)...

...But, for time spent on platform metric.

a measurement that, I believe, will increasingly become the only valuable one on social media.


We’re past the scorched earth stage of the internet. The pioneers have gone West - the Lewis and Clark’s have laid claim to each eyeball that has the internet on a phone or a computer. Everyone who is going to be on the internet, is. [At least in America, anyway. (And not babies...yet.)]


We’re now in the new land grab: the one for attention. Only the strong will survive this next frontier - can your content be more compelling than content on any other platform? How much time can you get your users to spend with you? The longer you have them, the more ads you can show them. (See also: Twitter content partnership announcement at NewFront’s 2018).

If you can’t create great content, you’ll have to acquire it...somehow.

Watch this space.

Big Bets

I’ve been making future predictions for as long as I’ve been a walking / talking / breathing human. My poor mother has been listening to these ideas since I was able to formulate them…some early hits include: “in the future, there will be a microwave but for COLD things!” and “there should be a way we could rent a dog for an afternoon!” Other behaviors I embraced from a young age (that mapped to society’s evolution) also included a vegetarian lifestyle and stretching as a form of exercise :)

Along the way, I’ve realized I have other ideas that aren’t so far-fetched. Maybe it’s my process of looking at the past to help predict the future that enables me to observe natural evolutions in products, human behavior and systems. Maybe it’s my intense curiosity about the world we live in.

However they come, I’m starting to canonize these “Big Bets.”

I want a place to archive all these random big bets I, rather than call my mom with all my latest predictions, I’ll put a time stamp on them and throw ‘em up often as I have them. And I’d love to hear your Big Bets! It's more fun to try to predict the future together!


My mother

(the aspirational inventor)


P.S. I attribute 100% of this ‘big bet’ thinking to my mother -- who was the original inventor (and not creator) behind such big ideas as the drive-thru pharmacy.