Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I would like to pitch you all a business idea...

It involves people paying thousands of dollars, to sit in rooms and listen to other people with years and years of knowledge talking for free.  I get the talent for free and the audience pays thousands for the pleasure, plus they usually travel, stay in a hotel, eat stuff called food then spend hundreds of dollars each getting each other drunk and networking.

This is the most genius business on earth.

Firstly, it plays on all of our egos to get up on a stage and pretend we know more than the people in the audience.  The audience then loves the fact that they get to interact with you, the supposed expert, and maybe a business tie is made.

Attendees sit and learn in various speeches, panels and break outs.  Really?

I once spoke at a conference in NY for marketing to Tweens and Teens.  I stood on stage and said the following, (I paraphrase myself here);

"If you need to take advice from me, and are looking for me to solve any of your marketing problems you're in deep sh*t"."

Now I know this is a cynical post, but really, if you need to drop $3K listening to me on a stage, or anyone, (other than obviously Oprah and Dr. Phil), then you're in deep sh*t!   If you are really invested and involved in your business you shouldn't need to listen to anyone on a stage to learn the business you're already meant to know.

The smartest person in the room and the one we can all learn from is the event organizer...they're the one's driving the Ferrari's lol.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I just got called by a debt collection agency !!!

Update #2 in BLUE
Updates in RED

Yup it's true, at noon today, a woman called my phone asking to speak to Milcum Bard, and figuring that was me, I answered.  First of all, without telling me who she was she asked me for my address, to verify my identity. I asked if she was seriously expecting me to give her my address out to this complete stranger and she then identified herself as from  a debt collection agency!!! Errrr wot?

I was shocked!  What could this be about, I pay all my bills on time, don't owe money to anyone...you hear the words debt collection agency like you hear the letters IRS, it sends shudders down your spine. It was Time Warner Cable.  Still shocked, we closed the account under a month ago and paid the final bill on May 10th.  How much did they claim I owed them, I mean, to get a collection agency on my *ss in under a month, that's gotta be serious no?  $124 !!!!!!!

So I call my business manager, and sure enough it was paid May 10th. So i don't actually owe them anything.

This, (apart from angering me), led me to think...who gets a debt collection agency involved in the first place for such a small debt in such a short window of time. I mean, if someone at Time Warner Cable had checked the account, they would have seen a cell phone number, (the same one they passed onto the collection agency), and they could haver called me to discuss and see if by any chance in this world THEY had made a mistake... but they didn't. They would have also seen that I had been an upstanding customer for over five years, paying on average $240 a month to them...do I sound like a collection agency target?

Let me explain why this all started.  If you live in NY you will be aware that most buildings are wired for only one cable and internet provider. The city is divided into areas controlled by cable companies who have a virtual monopoly in that area. In my building it was Time Warner Cable.  I suffered through terrible internet speeds, dropped internet, appalling cable reception with dropped programs, pixelation, freezing programs,it really was in my opinion a sub standard service for five years.  Then, like a knight in shining armor, (or my building board member Pamela in Prada), a deal was made with Verizon Fios for them to wire our building.  I didn't jump to Fios I leaped, and let me tell you, it's been month, and boy so far, all their wondrous claims have come true, incredible picture quality on all TV's,  ( I truly never knew my plasma TV in the living room could look THAT good), lightening fast internet, no drop out, no freezing of programs...what they in fact promised me when I signed up.  All that for $120 a month, saving over $100 from TWC.  We returned the TWC equipment and my business manager in LA paid the final bill.

So you would understand my shock, horror, anger and bemusement when  a debt collection agency called.  I thought I would call TWC to get some answers.  First of all like all large corporations you can't actually get through to their executives, you automatically get forwarded to their answer service.  So, being a crafty chappie, I asked to be put through to the head of corporate communication's Ellen East's assistant, and finally got a human being.  Sadly though Ellen is on vacation, (well let's face it, it's not a sad thing for Ellen, she's probably lying on a beach somewhere and good on her). Ellen's assistant though did forward me to the office of the president 's customer service team, ( this is actually corporate bull for, let's give the caller a fancy title so they think they got through to Glenn Britts office when we all know that Glenn has probably never met them, and has nothing to do with them but hey let's play along with their game, it's fun right?), and spoke to a wonderfully polite person.  This person was so nice it's hard to remain angry at her, she was so nice that even if she had eaten my cat I would still like her...a truly nice, attentive person.  I asked her the following questions:

1: Why did no one from TWC call me?

2: Why did you not check that I had paid my final bill, how can that be transferred to a debt collector so quickly?

3: WTF! ... Ok I didn't actually say that, but I did say who gets a debt collector for a debt that only a month old?

4: What are they going to do to correct and blemishes that will appear on my credit ?

5: What are you going to do to make this right?

6: What's the secret to life and immortality, (OK I didn't ask that but it would have been great if I had).

So the follow up from TWC is quite interesting, a new person from the presidents office of...oh god, it's just customer service, called, also very nice. It seems they have either lost the check or it is still "processing" and we should wait until Tuesday.  That's completely acceptable APART FROM THE FACT that you didn't wait and got a collection agency on my *ss.  They have no answers to the other questions I asked, it seems that no one can actually answer anything.  Will update as this develops but hey, TWC, there's a company for ya!

Jamal, in the TWC collections department called .  You might not believe this but hey let's give it a go.  Jamal informed me that because I was NOT a "High Risk" client, as all my bills had been paid in full for five years, as a policy they wouldn't call me if I defaulted or they didn't receive payment. If I had been a "high risk" client, I would received a call.  Because I did return the equipment on time the account was closed and wasn't an active account so they, instead of calling me, automatically send me to a third party debt collection agency, even though we had paid the debt or thought so, (we're still trying to sort that out). So if I had been a delinquent customer, and if I had defaulted on payments, or not returned the equipment, they would have called.  When I asked Jamal if he understood why I found this process completely remarkable he just sort of said nothing.  When I asked how the third party company operates he said,  "I don't know their process,"  "they're a third party company". When I pointed out that I would expect any company that hired a third party company to work for them, to understand their process and how they were going to represent them, he agreed they should.  

I decided to email TWC CEO Glenn Britt directly, here is what I wrote...


Please take five minutes and read this blog post.  I have perpetually asked the questions contained in the blog and when not ignored, the answers to some are unbelievable.  


I would love to hear your thoughts on your companies practices.

With best regards,


Will advise as to any reply.  $100 on a customer service person responding.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


No not me!  Arrested Development, on Netflix, I'm crying Uncle and subscribing!

Why?  Well I used to be a Netflix subscriber and to be honest found the online selection poor.  So I cancelled, and no number of begging emails from them, (forget trying to stop them emailing you, it's relentless), offering free months, first born children, swiss bank accounts would get me back to the service.  I have been happily living with Apple TV for online movies at $4 a rental.  On average we might watch two Apple TV movies a month so it's net net.

Then Netflix then did something really clever, they announced that they had secured the entire cast of Arrested Development to do a new series! Then they had to go away and write, produce and deliver that service so it got filed in the back of my mind.

On the heels of that announcement Netflix produced House Of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kristin Connelly & Kate Mara. WOW that's some firepower and at $3mm an episode, it must have took balls of brass to green light, but apparently you can hear Reed Hastings clanging as he walks the halls of Netflix.  Not only was it a bold move, but praised by critics and audience alike.

Netflix just announced that it was striking a blow to Viacom's bottom line and allowing their license deal to end.  They might pick up a series here and there on an individual basis but no overall deal.  This is a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to Viacom, and a lot of content to Netflix, so what's going on?

I think Reed has worked out the HBO model.  Fill 99% of your schedule with "B" list library movies, and swing for the fences with break out home grown shows like "Soprano's" and "Entourage".  As long as you maintain at least one must see show you keep your audience.

So, first House of Cards and now on Sunday, Arrested Development.  They are both masterful moves, but if he wants to really keep it going he has to have a large development pipeline and at least one Arrested Development ready to be released every quarter.  If they can do that, they really could become the HBO of the Internet, well in a way as they have already surpassed HBO's subscription numbers, they already have!

Well they got me, I'm in for the Arrested Development ride, and I'll also watch House of Cards, but what's next?  Can I lobby for Miami Vice?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Do you need a box?

Today Microsoft announced a new XBOX.  It's very nice, web connected, shiny new, makes cappuccino, (OK it doesn't), but my question is...do you need a box?  Are we not at the stage that I go to a menu on my TV and select a game I want to play, subscribe to a cloud based games service, buy that game, play it live on the TV and when I get bored, (around the eighth hour), I can just switch over to TV.  CD ROMS have gone the way of the arc, DVD's have one foot in the grave and the other one slipping, games on CDR must be going the same way.

Will games remain platform unique, if you were a game producer, wouldn't you just make it available on the web and that captures everyone?  I don't think you need a box, drive it all from the cloud, make that game available on your TV, PC, Tablet and smart phone.

The new XBOX does have some cool features, Kinect of course, (but that can be built in a TV); 500 gigs of hard drive, (but that can be cloud driven); a snazzy controller, (should come standard with every new TV); built in SKYPE for conference call playing, (really? they shouldn't need SKYPE for that); voice control, (well that worked so well for Apple); online gaming driven by 300,000 servers, (my point exactly why do you need the box?). And as an added bonus, all your old XBOX games...wait for it...will NOT work on the new box!  hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm how to win friends and influence people Microsoft!

What you could do though is buy one, keep it in the box and wait for it's antique value to grow!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tumblr the billion dollar company

First Instagram, now Tumblr? Over a billion dollars!!!!

On the face of it, deals like this seem crazy, overpriced and have all of the signs of an internet bubble.  The fact of the matter is, $1.1b for Tumblr is a good deal.

In the world of internet networks, there are two main valuations, revenue and audience. Obviously revenue isn't in play with Tumblr as it only does $12mm a year,  but it has a spectacular audience, most of whom are teens and young adults, interacting and engaged in their blogs.

What does this mean in the bigger picture, well a few observations:

1: Yahoo might eventually kill Tumblr by trying to impose strict revenue targets, (we've all seen this before and even thought they are saying the opposite will happen NOW, we've all seen what happens at the end of the honeymoon periods on deals like this).

2: Yahoo gains instant cred.

3: Melissa Mayer looks smart.  It's a big deal, but it's an incredibly clever and well positioned deal, bringing a new youthful audience to Yahoo.  When Randy Falco and Ron Brant went to AOL their first big acquisition was BEBO, a donkey that everyone had ridden and got off, and they dropped $800mm on it.  This turned out to be one of the most stupid deals in recent history. I think Tumblr is the opposite for Yahoo, it's a smart move and shows Mayer's deal chops.

4: Who sells?  Does Yahoo media sales take over sales at Tumblr? I hope not, buyers want to think that they have an independent line to Tumblr especially if they have built up strong relationships.  David Carp is famous for not wanting too much advertising on Tumblr and so if YMS takes over it could get ugly.

5: Does Tumblr loose cred? If your 18 and on Tumblr because it was the little train that can, loving the indie cred of your favorite blogging company, does being owned by Yahoo kill that, are you now blogging with the big purple "man"?

The thing that I love about Tumblr is that it's a real company. By that what I mean is it has been around for seven years, (in Kardashian years that's 300). It has maintained itself through a very difficult time in our economic history and over that time built an impressive dedicated audience.

So is the Tumblr deal worth $1.1b...yes it is, and kaaaaching to David and his folks! All cash, how did they pull that?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Design & Deals

It is amazing to work with amazing designers.  Reviewing design work today like a proud father.  What we are creating is truly elegant  in it's design and UI, mature and not "kiddy", but understandable and easy to navigate for the Tween world.

Had some exciting emails from people interested in the roadshow, (not your normal VC's), in fact one that could blow the lid off this whole thing.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Why am I doing this?  I have a few opinions and thoughts. Maybe not intelligent and lucid, but thoughts non the less.

My thought today is how can Apple (who I am an admitted fan boy), could get their cloud computing so wrong.  I would love iCloud to work well just once. I would love for it to be a completely integrated cloud solution for all my mac needs.  I have had my "ecosphere" within Mac for years, my music, photos, email, my documents. I have even designed pages on iWeb, but now for example, if you create a website on iWeb you cannot publish through the cloud,( you used to be able to through MobileMe).  I have been trying to upload a Keynote presentation to the cloud, and it only uploads part of it.  Keynote, (which as you will probably know is Apple's far superior version of Powerpoint), a MAC product, doesn't synch with the iCloud another Mac product.

I own a chunk of Apple stock and have seen it drop and drop over the past couple of months. Unlike every other iPhone before, I didn't buy the iPhone 5.  There just isn't any real differentiating reason to do so.  I got burnt on the iPhone 4s, with SIRI the wondergirl, who doesn't understand anything I say and does even less than that.

Apple, get your shop in order!


Why am I doing this?

Well first of all to keep a record of this most exciting time in my life, the birth of The Viddiverse.  I have been so fortunate over the past 28 years to work with amazing people and build amazon things, Nickelodeon, Hanna-Barbera, USAB, NBC, Discovery, all amazing, but the most satisfying was AOl where I worked with an amazing team building KOL, (Kids Online) and RED (AOL's offering for teens).

Now I am doing something equally exciting; in fact more exciting, building a new online world for kids, (well Tweens), where they can watch excellent content and upload amazing content that they created.

More to come...