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Ben Silbermann and Pinterest

Ben Silbermann was born in Des Moines, Iowa to two doctors. He also grew up with two sisters who were also doctors. So naturally, Silbermann thought he would become a doctor himself. But the people he looked up to were not doctors. Silbermann looked up to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs like George Eastman, Walt Disney, and Steve jobs. He looked up to these guys the same way he looked up to Michael Jordan.
Ben started his path to medicine until his junior year in college when he got into business. He began working as a consultant in a firm’s IT group. Silbermann recalls reading through the site TechCrunch and thinking that there was more than building spreadsheets all day and that he was in the wrong place. So he moved out west to Silicon Valley.
Silbermann got a job at google where he made product design recommendations and analyzed data. Again. Ben was not happy with what he was doing on a daily basis. He Wanted to create his own products. So he quit Google and began to look for people that could help him.
Ben teamed up with old college friend Paul Sciarra and created an online shopping app called Tote. This app had a lot of trouble off the ground so Ben and Paul scrapped the app idea and moved forward creating Pinterest.
Ben created Pinterest based on what people like to collect. He says that you can learn a lot about someone through what they collect. In 2010 a program called “Pin It Forward” created a blog chain that really helped Pinterest grow from there.
Today Pinterest has a whopping 72.5 million users and is continuing to grow.

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How Amazon Actually Makes Money.

Whether looking for a gift for a loved one, or hunting for a bargain on textbooks it seems that almost everyone has shopped through Amazon, or at least heard of them.  The truth is it is hard to beat Amazon.  Their prices are low, free two-day shipping to prime members, and an unbeatable selection.  Most people just assume that this is how Amazon makes their profit, but the reality is Amazon makes its profit in a completely different way.

The reality is Amazon makes most of their money through their Amazon Web Service or AWS for short.  In fact, 52% of Amazons operating profit comes from AWS (Kelleher).  Amazon Web Service provides cloud computing and access to database storage for companies like Spotify, Yelp, COMCAST, and more.  These cloud services are what drives the Amazon machine forward.



“Amazon – Investor Relations – Quarterly Results.” Amazon – Investor Relations – Quarterly Results. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.
Kelleher, Kevin. “Amazon’s Secret Weapon Is Making Money Like Crazy.” Time. Time, 23 Oct. 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2017. .
“What Is AWS? – Amazon Web Services.” Amazon Web Services, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.
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Big Data

Volume, Velocity, Variety.

Today, most of our world, our actions and what we do online is constantly processed, segmented and analyzed. Everything from what we search on-line to the music we listen to on our phones and i-pods. Huge oceans of user generated data are transformed into usable structured data. This data is then used by major brands and companies to form marketing strategies and consumer reports. In an annual report, the CEO of Google asked the rhetorical question, “How do we make money?” Put succinctly, the answer was, “We generate revenue primarily by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising.” While this may seem obvious to the average online user, the nuts and bolts behind how Google gathers the information necessary to deliver “relevant, cost-effective online advertising,”  is much larger and more intricate than is commonly known.

So what is BIG DATA?  Big data is a situation where the volume, velocity, and variety of data exceed an organization’s storage or computing capacity  for accurate and timely decisions. Where is this data coming from? and how big is BIG? Well this data can be segmented into two types: Structured and unstructured data. Structured data is anything within the enterprise that helps run business today, e.g. client, product, trade, transaction, sales data, dates, units, and other manufacturing data. Unstructured data is everything else. Any kind of digital content can be considered unstructured data including text , audio, video, images on the web, social media and other public channels.When we are talking about these large volumes of data being generated it is necessary to get a grip of how much is actually out their. Exabytes and exabytes of digital information is being generated daily. To understand how big this actually is lets examine the following. If we consider 1 byte of digital information to be about the size of a grain of rice we can extrapolate the following.

Byte: one grain of rice

Kilobyte: cup of rice

Megabyte: 8 bags of rice (each 25lbs)

Gigabyte: 3 semi trucks

Terabyte: 2 container ships

Petabyte: blankets manhattan

Exabyte: blankets west coast

Huge amounts of content and data are available to marketers and business out their. Googles ability to deliver “relevant, cost-effective online advertising” hinges on the existence of BIG DATA. So, as internet entrepreneurs and digital marketers it is in our best interests to be aware of the impact this kind of information can have on a digital community and a digital earth.

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It is overwhelming how much content is on the internet–blogs, forums, discussion boards, news articles, etc. There is so much information at our finger tips, yet the content drowns in the vast pool of online information and is lost.

Livefrye has discovered a way to create online content that rises above the rest. Launched in 2009, the San Fransisco based company designed a platform that “helps companies engage consumers through a combination of real-time conversation, social curation, content and advertising.”  This combination is achieved through a variety of platform that Livefrye offers–Engagement Cloud, Social Library, Conversation Apps, Visualization Apps, Content Hubs & Storify 2. Through these platforms, Livefyre’s customers are able to create original content that is sharable, current and relevant. Each platform offers something different, so customers are able to choose the one that works best for their company.

Let’s take a look at Storify 2.
Storify 2 is a platform for article creation and curation. When writing a post, the user can search for real-time social media posts, gifs, article links, images, music and videos by using their right side tool bar. Once finding an appropriate post, the user may simply drag the post into the article and it is automatically put into place. By using this platform, the user is able to create interactive and real time content. In addition, users are also able to collaborate with other Storify writers in the same article.

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So has this platform been successful? Will people use Livefyre instead of WordPress or other blogging platforms?

To give you an idea of Livefyre’s success, let’s take a look at their customer list. Some of their top clients are CNN, FedEx, Hallmark, SkyNews, and Motorola. They have over 1.000 enterprise customers in addition to 65 million registered users–pretty impressive.

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Internet Schooling? 4 Things to Model



Working on Gary Glew’s “Life College” project got me thinking about people who are successfully coaching and teaching over the internet. Glew wants to create an instructional program for young adults who need help transitioning into fully independent life. This would include things like learning about asking for raises, filing taxes, and managing rent. It’s a pretty unique program. I haven’t stumbled upon any other that does that. But we can still learn a ton about best practice from others in the internet-teaching sphere.

I love looking at patterns, and I found 4 key ones to model while researching this area. We’ll talk about each of them, and how they might apply to Glew’s project as an example of finding ways to model established strategies in a new business.

1) Successful teaching sites openly feature their biggest customers. Almost every site I looked at had images of big customers’ logos on a banner somewhere. For Glew’s project, we could have a banner with the logos of the colleges who have bought or participated in the program.

2) Successful teaching sites are categorical. They clearly define what ‘courses’ or types of information they offer. Kahn Academy is a great example of this. They separate their subjects into math, science, the arts, economics, and computing, and then go into clear sub-topics within those.

3) They produce their content in multiple formats. The most successful teaching sites use a variety of platforms, from videos, to podcasts, to blog posts. This could be helpful for Glew’s project if we decide we want to create a ‘Freemium’ model, for example letting people read blog posts and listen to podcasts for free, but charging for video content.

4) They have a call to action on the first page of the website. This is usually an opt-in to subscribe for a mailing list with an incentive. For example, Glew could put up an opt-in with the incentive that if you subscribe, you get 2 free videos of your choice to start with.

I didn’t realize how huge and varied the online teaching space is, but there are definitely a lot of people doing it the right way. I can’t wait to see how this space expands in the future.

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Vlogging: A Hobby or Career?

During the early 2000’s, the concept of video blogging came to life. This new form of media brought a more personal quality to the digital world. Looking beyond still photos, people were able to capture their lives through short videos and share them with the digital community. Viewers not only became familiar with the vloggers appearance, but also began to connect with their personality and chose to invest their time into the vlogger’s channels.

Now, this concept may seem invasive or narcissistic–why should we care about what people are doing on a daily basis? Yet, there was a tremendous positive response from the digital community, specifically the YouTube community. Quickly the video blogging concept expanded exponentially to genres such as gaming tutorials, beauty tutorials, comedy films, DIY tutorials, travel guides, everyday life and much more.

Here is where it gets interesting: some vloggers not only vlog as a hobby, but rather as a career. The top Youtube bloggers have created an incredible brand for themselves, establishing an immense following of loyal fans. Starting with a few simple videos, these vloggers have launched a career of film making, book writing, key note speaking, and a variety of other paths.

An example of such success is Zoe Sugg, an English 22 year old who has conquered the beauty/lifestyle vlogging genre. In 2009, Sugg created her channel, “Zoella,” which focused on beauty and fashion tutorials. After experiencing social anxiety and panic attacks, vlogging helped Sugg cope and overcome her struggles. After 2 years of vlogging, Sugg gained a large following on her channel and her popularity escalated. 7 years since her channel launch, Sugg’s vlogging journey has led her to achieve a following of 10 million subscribers, establish multiple YouTube channels, produce a beauty product line, and publish a book.

To learn more about Sugg, watch this adorable video:

A second example is a pair of British twin boys named Jack and Finn Harries. Their Youtube channel, “Jacksgap,” originated during their gap year in between high school and college. Jack uploaded his first vlog 4 years ago, which currently claims over 3.2 million views. Since then, the Harries twins have curated a multi-platform brand which eloquently tells their adventurous, free-spirited story. Their vlogging experiences have led them to travel internationally, partner with global corporations, advocate for social justice and impact the lives of millions.



… and now


These avant-garde millennials have pioneered another avenue for web-based careers, demonstrating once again that a career does not have to be a 9-5 day job. Instead, a career has the potential to be unconventional- something that has the ability to impact the world.


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