Facebook's defining moment

As I wrote about in The importance of an Always Be Learning Life, I go to the TED conference every year and it just wrapped up on April 19. This year was particular poignant and it kicked off with this amazing talk by Carole Cadwalladr, which set the tone for much of the conference. I highly recommend you watch it if you haven’t already before reading further.

Then I was having coffee with someone this week (I’ll keep them anonymous), and they are about to go work at Facebook and having some regrets. You see, around the Thanksgiving table they are now going to be asking this person about why they made that decision instead of them getting high-five’d… because Facebook is really in the arena right now. Their answer isn’t going to be as easy as it used to be. And also this week Facebook just reported an earnings beat, even accounting for a record FTC fine-to-be of at least $3 billion, and once again it stock soared. What’s going on here?

Revisiting Wikileaks, or "When you don't want to be right"

The news about Julian Assange being arrested two days ago reminded me of a blog post I wrote eleven years ago. I went back to read it today as I couldn’t remember what I said about Wikileaks that long ago. Prior to blogging at Lucky7, I used to blog quite a bit at Bazaarvoice. I felt a real sense of us creating history there, as I do today at data.world, with a power of Archimedes lever of working alongside some of the largest brands in the world. It is important to recall when you read this that at the beginning of Bazaarvoice in 2005 only three retailers in the United States offered customer reviews on their products, Facebook was closed to the public, the iPhone hadn’t come out yet (that was 2007) or Android (that was the next year), and there was no such thing as Snapchat, Twitter, and many of the other mediums, including Medium, that have moved more and more of social interactions - and in some cases transparency (certainly in the case of customer reviews) - online. I’m archiving the post here and will discuss it below, for now here it is as I wrote it on March 2, 2008 (note that I couldn’t recreate all of the links referenced as some have gone offline):

Thinking of my father, Brian Douglas Hurt, today

One of my dear friends, Julie Gilbert, said something very nice to me just now. It made me think about my parents, which I do often. I broke down crying watching the “Dumbo” preview a few days ago - I actually have tears in my eyes as I write that just remembering it. It is because “Dumbo” was one of the first movies I can remember sitting in my mom’s arms.

So, I’m archiving the original Bazaarvoice blog post about my father here, which I reference in the tribute I wrote about my mom. Here it is so I never lose this, as Lucky7 is my permanent blog (named in honor of my mom).

This was written on June 20, 2008:

Seven critical lessons learned in angel investing

I had dinner with my good friend and Bazaarvoice co-founder, Brant Barton, on Tuesday at the new Sway in West Lake Hills (yummy) and we talked about lessons learned in angel investing. It was on my mind as I’m doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) webinar with my good friend and often investing colleague, Josh Baer, on Tuesday, Feb. 5 from 4-5pm CT (you can sign up here). During my conversation with Brant, I distilled down to seven lessons learned (in the spirit of Lucky7, of course). Brant is reading Jason Calacanis’s book on angel investing and told me that many of these are in there (maybe all of these, I haven’t read the book), so you may want to turn to that to really dig in as I’m going to do my best to keep this post short. My hope in sharing these with you is that it ignites more angel investing in Austin - it is vital to our startup ecosystem here. We are doing better on that front in Austin than ever before, but I believe we are only scratching the surface here. And I hope these lessons have an impact beyond Austin angels and startups as well.

"The Entrepreneur's Essentials", my free ebook, is in progress

I’ve been writing a lot lately, just not here on Lucky7. I finally decided to compile and refresh some of my best posts over the years into a free ebook named “The Entrepreneur’s Essentials”. In this article, the Austin Business Journal interviewed me about doing so. It is really fun to reflect on what I wrote years ago and have been applying to data.world for the past three years. If you would like to check it out, head on over to Medium. Here are the four lessons I’ve written so far:

  1. The Entrepreneur’s Essentials #1: How to leverage advisors and investors as your extended team

  2. The Entrepreneur’s Essentials #2: What’s in a name?

  3. The Entrepreneur’s Essentials #3: The five critical ingredients to build a big company

  4. The Entrepreneur’s Essentials #4: Seven lessons learned on the journey from founder to CEO

What I've learned about eating animals - and what the future holds (Part Three)

"I'll eat anything." - the most socially acceptable phrase of 2018 when it comes to ordering at a restaurant with friends.

It is hard to believe it has been four years since I wrote my two-part series on this subject, and even harder to believe how fast the trend I predicted would take place has accelerated since then.  Before you get too far in this post, if you would like to backtrack on why I decided not to eat animals and where I think the future was going to take us (an entrepreneurial prediction), you can read 2014's Part One and Part Two of this series first.  Those were my most popular blog posts of 2014 and the comments thread, especially in Part One, is very interesting.  Every possible argument you can think of for eating animals is in those comments.

The Paralyzing Fear of Getting Started

I haven't been straight with you.  Like most entrepreneurs... I haven't told you everything.  I told you why I decided to found data.world in this Lucky7 post.  I told you the good part.  What I didn't tell you is that I was living in fear during those first few months of getting started... being back in an office and back in the arena once again.

But why?  I had started successful companies before, such as Bazaarvoice and Coremetrics.  data.world was my sixth!  I had a bigger network than ever before.  I had more know-how than at any other point in my entrepreneurial career, including the lessons that hardened for me in writing Lucky7 over the years to help other entrepreneurs.  I had spent three years in deep reflection.  I had seen over 1,100 startup pitches, which really does have the effect of making new mental connections (VCs call this "pattern recognition").  I had worked behind the scenes at Austin Ventures, seeing how the VC industry really works.  I had served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at both The Wharton School and U.T. Austin.  I knew company culture like the back of my hand - Bazaarvoice had been rated the best place to work in Austin when it was a small, medium, and then large-size company, winning #1 in all three categories as we rapidly grew.  Alongside my excellent co-founders, I had spent months researching the viability of data.world.  In short, I was, rationally speaking, more prepared than I had ever been before.  So why was I afraid?

Kara Swisher is the new Lesley Stahl and the power of podcasts

If you haven't listened to Kara Swisher's Recode Decode interview of Mark Zuckerberg, I highly recommend you do so here.  It has been almost 10 years since Lesley Stahl first interviewed Mark Zuckerberg on 60 Minutes, when he was 23-years old, and wow has a lot happened since then, including this week's disappointing Earnings Report.  Facebook was worth $15 billion back then - today, $506 billion (and that is after this week's 20% haircut).

I won't repeat all of the news here, as I'm sure many of you have been reading along, but what really struck me after listening to Kara's interview of Zuckerberg is just how powerful podcasts have become.  This podcast goes into so much detail as compared to a TV show, including one as great as 60 Minutes.  If you are at all a fan of business and a leader yourself, I view this interview of Zuckerberg as a must-listen.  We are living through an amazing moment in history - with the modern world being socially-networked for the first time, with all of the implications of that (including the recent Russian tampering of our Presidential election).  Facebook was just recently one of the top five most valuable companies in the world by market cap and is certainly one of the most important companies throughout the world; their reach and impact cannot be overestimated.  In my opinion, they'll be back stronger than ever.  And, in my personal opinion as a leader, Mark Zuckerberg does a tremendously great job in this interview.  I don't agree with some of his positions but I can also empathize with how difficult it must be to manage a social network of Facebook's size - and determine who the real arbiter of truth is.  There is a lot to consider as a leader as you listen to this podcast - how would you handle a similar situation?  Or, as Tim Cook says, would you have avoided the situation altogether (also a podcast interview with Kara Swisher, coupled with a new live TV show)?  I think about that as I contemplate if Facebook was a B Corporation, would they have had this situation at all, but that is a topic for another day.  Zuckerberg fired back at Tim Cook on his point, as detailed in this The Ezra Klein Show interview ... also a podcast.  

Two incredible years at data.world

On July 11 we celebrated our second year anniversary of data.world being live.  We had a great time at SPiN in the first ever OWL Cup (the ping-pong championship) during the same week as the World Cup in the finals.  It was a real upset, and you should ask us about it (as well as why OWL is all in caps) the next time you see us in person.  We don't have to spill the beans on everything publicly!

But we did make a decision about how public to be in the release of our first ever Public Benefit Corporation Report.  As a Certified B Corporation®, we are required by Delaware corporate law to report how we are fulfilling our public benefit purpose to our private shareholders every two years.  Given our love for the data.world community, which is now the largest collaborative data community in the world, we decided to make our PBC Report public for all to read.  You can read it here, and it really has been an incredible two years.  I won't repeat the report here, as we all collectively put a lot of time into writing it, but I will say how proud it makes us to be a B Corporation.  A lot of people don't understand B Corporations, thinking that they are social businesses that don't focus on financial performance or making money for their shareholders.  That couldn't be farther from the truth - our business plan includes us becoming a top-tier financial performer and we are doing our best to generate a large shareholder return.  We are fortunate to have raised $33.3 million from such a prestigious and helpful group, and we are very serious about performing well for all shareholders, including ourselves.