Dustin Curtis

Villain.

Page 9


The cost of Groupon’s incompetence

$2.5 billion.

GRPN

On Friday evening, Groupon revised their very first earnings report to the SEC, reporting that the company’s revenue was actually 3% lower than initially reported, increasing losses by $22.6 million. In the 10-K filed yesterday with the SEC, they admitted to having a “material weakness” in their financial reporting structures:

[…] Management concluded as of December 31, 2011 that our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective at the reasonable assurance level due to a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting […]

This is actually the second time Groupon has had to revise its earnings; after their S-1 (the IPO prospectus) was first filed with bizarre accounting procedures, the company was forced to make considerable revisions.

Amazing.

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Symbols, everlasting

Heroes become super by virtue of their actions. They do great things. They perform heroic acts. And then, when the honor is bestowed upon them by some shared consciousness, they become superheroes. The super- prefix is one that is earned, not given. It is a trophy. No superhero has ever become a superhero by calling himself a superhero.

Villains, however, are different. Because people are assumed to be good by default, villains must consciously decide to deviate into villainy. No villain has ever accidentally become a villain. Villainous acts are performed with the full intention of achieving an end goal that satisfies ego, greed, lust, or the desire for power. Sometimes those goals align with universally positive outcomes, and, though they should always be seen through the lens of skepticism, villains are not bad without exception. Actions that appear evil can often be used to...

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A brutal story of capitalism at work: $0.75 pizza in Manhattan

N. R. Kleinfield in The New York Times:

On Thursday evening a week ago, Bombay/6 Ave.—unprovoked, and without warning—cut its pizza price to 79 cents. The next morning, 2 Bros. retaliated by moving to 75 cents (its owners felt it was easier to make change from a dollar than at 79 cents). Bombay/6 Ave. matched the 75 cents, and that’s where everything sits.

Clearly, a slice of pizza cannot be sold profitably in Manhattan for $0.75. The price is an unsustainable gesture. Something has to give. It’s going to be fascinating to watch the story unfold.

See also: The term used in biology to describe this evolutionary principle (as it manifests itself in ecosystems) is punctuated equilibrium and the term describing the effect in economics is called the Bertrand Paradox.

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RIM posts terrible fourth quarter results, loses its CTO, COO, and former co-CEO

RIM has posted its fourth quarter financial results. They’re bad.

Revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 was $4.2 billion [ … ], down 25% from $5.6 billion in the same quarter of fiscal 2011.

A quarter of RIM’s business has been wiped out in just one year. Net income (profit) is even worse (you can ignore the word “GAAP”):

The Company’s GAAP net loss for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 was $125 million [ … compared with] GAAP net income of $934 million, or $1.78 per share diluted, in the same quarter of fiscal 2011.

That’s a billion dollar swing towards the negative in just one year. It’s hard to comprehend that kind of change, especially considering that RIM hasn’t done much to stop it.

Exodus

In a ridiculously worded sentence, RIM reported that both its CTO and COO are leaving the company:

In addition, David Yach...

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Amazon’s Refurbished Kindle Fire is suspiciously cheap: now just $139

Amazon is selling its refurbished Kindle Fire for just $139, a huge discount from the normal price of $199. This large price cut, as we are nearing the middle of Amazon’s second quarter, is suspicious. I find it difficult to believe that Amazon is making any profit at this price point. With the iPad now starting at $399, the Fire is a ridiculous choice for anyone except the most price-conscious.

I’ve had a Fire since it was released a few months ago. While it is the best Android tablet I’ve used, by far, it is still basically piece of junk. The screen is extremely wide, but it is not cinematic; it makes web browsing awkward. Scrolling performance is terrible. Amazon Prime videos, Netflix and Hulu work great, but nothing else on the device does, unfortunately.

If you decide to buy one, use this affiliate link to make me a wealthy man.

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Google’s first self-driving car user is Steve Mahan, a man who is 95% blind

Google has been working on its self-driving cars for a couple of years, and they have finally reached a point where they can test with real users. They recorded a video of their first test, with Steve Mahan, a man who has lost more than 95% of his vision in both eyes, making him well beyond legally blind.

This video is a glimpse into the future.

I was skeptical of the ability of cars to drive themselves, but Google seems to be making it entirely possible. In fifty years, I bet we’ll look back and think about how barbaric it was for people drive themselves.

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The Song Machine

John Seabrook, in The New Yorker, on how top 40 hits are made:

As is usually the case, Eriksen worked “the box”—the computer—using Avid’s Pro Tools editing program, while Hermansen critiqued the playbacks. Small colored rectangles, representing bits of Dean’s vocal, glowed on the computer screen, and Eriksen chopped and rearranged them, his fingers flying over the keys, frequently punching the space bar to listen to a playback, then rearranging some more. The studio’s sixty-four-channel professional mixing board, with its vast array of knobs and lights, which was installed when Roc the Mic Studios was constructed, only five years ago, sat idle, a relic of another age.

Fascinating and extremely well written. Definitely worth the read.

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Colourlovers buys Forrst

Sarah Lacy at Pando Daily:

Creative community Colourlovers has acquired another creative community called Forrst in a bid to create the preeminent place on the Web where creative types can come together, make pretty things, help each other get better at making pretty things, share pretty things, and ultimately monetize them. The combined site wants to make great design simple and accessible and create a lucrative business doing that.

Two great communities, now merged. This is one of the few types of acquisitions I believe are actually beneficial in the long term.

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TechCrunch on what Svbtle is really about

Eric Eldon has written a great article about Svbtle. Me, quoted by Eldon, at TechCrunch:

Until I feel the design and workflows are good enough for a wide release, I’m working on building a private network of extremely well-vetted bloggers. I’m running it with more of a newspaper model than a blogging platform model; I plan to offer copy-editing and other benefits to help improve the writing of members on the Network, for example.

Lots of crazy assumptions have been made about my intentions, and the majority of them have been incorrect. Eldon reports on the real story.

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The pull-to-refresh patent

I’ve been wondering why Apple hasn’t implemented pull-to-refresh in any of its apps. It is a fundamentally better user experience for refreshing time-based list items. As it turns out, patents may be the issue. In a patent titled “User Interface Mechanics,” owned by Twitter and listing Loren Brichter, the developer of Tweetie (which Twitter purchased), among its inventors, the abstract describes pull-to-refresh behavior:

Input associated with a scroll command may be received. Then, based on the scroll command, a scrollable refresh trigger may be displayed. Subsequently, the scrollable list of content items may be refreshed in response to determining, based on the scroll command, that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated. In at least one instance, it may be determined that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated in response to determining...

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