Thursday, August 28, 2014

8/28 Newsletter Quickie

I published issue No. 2 of my new newsletter today -- never miss it by signing up at TinyLetter (it takes 10 seconds, max). It's coming along. I'm finding my footing. It's a work-in-progress, and probably will be for a few weeks, at least. I'd always like to make it a little faster.

I'll also probably start publishing it here, because why not? Here you go:

"Jerry, just remember: It's not a lie if you believe it."
-- George Costanza

Josh Shaw: This is the USC football fabulist (ne team captain) who claimed to have injured his ankles jumping from an upper-story balcony to save his drowning nephew -- to widespread, fevered acclaim -- only to reveal it was a lie.

The piece of this that fascinates me is not that the story turned out not to be true, but that given its uplifting, made-for-virality details, we all have been conditioned to assume it was true.

Why? As Shaw realized he would have to make up a fiction for himself, as he weighed the possibilities of believability, he decided on the most Upworthy-ish story possible. The most social story possible.

Our attention is fleeting -- we read a headline (yes, sometimes a bait-y one), we click a "like," we pass things along -- especially the feel-good stuff. That's not some cranky critique; that's how people have implicitly told us they want to consume.

This is the real "curiosity gap" -- in the moment, it didn't quite matter that it wasn't real; your Facebook feed, your favorite sports-news outlet, your in-person "did-you-hear" source made it real.

SeatGeek: The engine for finding tickets to sports and cultural events announced new $35 million funding, led by Accel, the same VC firm that led a similarly sized round in Vox Media a year ago. (I'm a fan of the product and the team, who organize the excellent On Deck Conference, which I participated in last year.)

But much of the enthusiasm is reserved for who ELSE was in the round: Peyton and Eli Manning. Nas. Carmelo Anthony (through his new VC fund). An owner of the Boston Celtics. Shane Battier. And, curiously, Stanford University Athletics. Athletes getting into early-stage investing is a pretty well-known thing at this point. But that last one -- Stanford Athletics -- feels like a harbinger, and other universities should be paying close attention.

With a free-market implosion pending for big-time college athletics, I could see more universities (who are almost all currently heavily invested in various funds, VC and otherwise) and their high-net-worth athletic departments leveraging their athletics cash flow and hedging their increasingly uncertain market positions by creating funds to invest in venture-backed early-stage companies that fit an athletic department's thesis of the future.

And if an athletic department doesn't have a thesis of the future yet, that better move up on the to-do list.

Speaking of innovation in ticketing: Re/code's Peter Kafka reports on Aziz Ansari's interesting way of using Twitter and texting to generate exclusive enthusiasm among his fans for upcoming shows. (Also: Ansari's partner is David Cho, publisher of Grantland and former GM of The Awl and all-around smart operator. I could see this working for a much wider range of entertainers and athletes.)

Parenting: If you pay your kid to do chores, this from the NYT's indispensable Ron Lieber is worth a read. (I adhere to Lieber's philosophy: We don't link kids' allowance to chores; chores are part of their responsibility as part of the family. The allowance is to help teach them financial literacy.)

Just in time for college football's kickoff tonight: Every year, Spencer Hall writes an essay to kick off the new college football season -- often only tangentially relating to college football. I look forward to it every August, and it never disappoints. This year's edition is no exception. "Sense has never made a dent in how people ****, drink, or watch football. They are inelastic ghosts with tin ears and large, bellowing mouths."

Now, I just need to get Verizon FIOS to allow me to watch the SEC Network in the out-of-SEC market that I live in.

And another fantastic football read: ESPN's Don Van Natta with a definitive profile of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Enjoy it this afternoon or save it for the weekend -- either way, put it on your list.

File away this quote: "If anything, we need to make it clear that you can use Twitter without tweeting." -- Adam Bain, Twitter president of global revenue and partnerships, on CNBC this morning (h/t @sdkstl)

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