The Blog of Kendall

Observations and Interests of Kendall Schoenrock – Web 2.0, Startups, Technology, & Other Fun Stuff

February 7, 2008

Apple MacBook Air Song – When selling out makes sense.

Apple does it again. I could easily dive into how Apple is leader in innovation, but I would like to focus on a different aspect of Apples skill set. Watch this commercial and then I’ll get to the soul of my post.

There were times this past week after watching this commercial that I found myself unconsciously dropping a “la la la” here and there. What a catchy tune. This got me to track down Israeli pop star Yael Naim’s ‘New Soul’ and to plop down a buck over at my itunes account. As James Sullivan points out at spinner.com

And she’s the latest example of how quickly selling out went from being an unforgivable indiscretion to an admirable career move, the savvy underwriting of your still-righteous indie career. In ‘New Soul,’ the singer blithely finds herself “making every possible mistake.” Latching onto Apple’s latest product roll-out won’t be one of them.

January 15, 2008

Beer and Taxes… it got my attention

Ten men go out for beer. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1. The sixth would pay $3. The seventh would pay $7. The eighth would pay $12. The ninth would pay $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. He said, “Since you are all such good customers, I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.”

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men — the paying customers?

How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his “fair share”? They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay!

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings). The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings). The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings). The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four

continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He

pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”

“That’s true!!”shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only $2 ? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!” The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important.

They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up any more. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

January 8, 2008

Business barons scan future

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My older brother Anderson got some great press coverage regarding his startup company

ScanDigital.com. Check out this article from Danny Brown over at EasyReader.


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Photo by Danny Brown

Many people dream of making their first million before they are 30. For lifelong Manhattan Beach local Mike Mothner, 27 and Santa Monica resident Anderson Schoenrock, 28, the dream was already old news when they sat down last spring to collaborate on an empire in the uncharted digital world.“I was eating Christmas dinner with my family last year when my mom, who had just got her digital camera, asked me how she could get all the old photos into the computer,” recalled Mothner. “The light bulb went off. It would be a time consuming task and I ran upstairs and checked online to see if other people were doing it.” Mothner pitched the idea of converting photographs, negatives and slides to Schoenrock at a New Year’s party last year. The two met in 2001 when they were members of Dartmouth University’s Psi Epsilon and made vague plans to one day work together. They launched their new company last June.
The start up money for ScanDigital came from Mothner’s Wpromote.com, an online marketing agency that achieved approximately $6 in revenue in 2007. Inc. 500 ranked Wpromote as the 62nd fastest growing private company in the United States.

Mothner began the company from his dorm room during his freshman year at Dartmouth. During the peak of the dotcom boom, he worked as an intern for Red Point Ventures, reading business plans. This was before Google had become a household word and there was an array of different search engines sprouting up. Reading through the plans, Mothner noticed a pattern: the companies all had websites and needed to find a way to increase their visibility online.

Mothner began programming while a student at Pacific Elementary. When he was 14 he wrote a basic calendar program that was like a simpler version of Microsoft Outlook.
“It got passed around schools and campuses and probably generated about four grand,” Mothner said. “I spent the money on baseball cards and comics — probably not the wisest investment.”

Mothner ran Wpromote throughout college, where he pursued a double major in Computer Science and Economics. For $9.95 a month, the program alerted the different search engines about a new website and indexed it, a process that would otherwise take two days of work. The company caught the eye of people working at Google. The Web conglomerate and Mothner formed a relationship that has since given Mothner a powerful ally in the cyber realm.

“I’ve stayed pretty close with the Google team,” said Mothner. “A few months ago they came down to our office to help train people, and a bit after that I was invited to their office to do a Q and A about the things I liked and disliked about their product. Only three other agencies were invited.”
Mothner was working as the fulltime CEO of his college start-up company when he approached Schoenrock with the idea for ScanDigital.

Schoenrock, who graduating two years before Mothner, had landed an investment banking job on Wall Street. At 25, he and a Wall Street colleague started a boutique real estate firm. The firm completed a number of high profile transactions, including the sale of the Union Bank Plaza Tower in downtown Los Angeles for $143 million. When Mothner approached Schoenrock, the boutique real estate company controlled $600 million of real estate property. But Schoenrock was sensing that the real estate boom was nearing its end.

“I sold my share and the people I worked with went onto a bigger real estate company,” said Schoenrock. “I didn’t have any interest in working for a big company again. I liked starting up companies.” “I recognize the risk of working with friends,” said Mothener, “but if you divide the roles well, then the benefit is going to be better than if we didn’t know each other.”
Within months of its summer launch, the company has experienced an average 25 to 30 percent monthly growth and has increased its staff from 3 to 17. Schoenrock handles the day to day affairs while Mothner works at the strategic level, while addition to continuing to run Wpromote. “Our growth trajectory has been too rapid to put into numbers,” said Mothner.Schoenrock agreed. “One of the best lessons I learned on Wall Street was that you can get bogged down if you spend all day with projections. The best thing to do is to focus your energy on building a solid product. If you do that well, then the money will be there.”

During the Malibu fires a 70 year-old lady said she was able to leave her house quickly because ScanDigital had converted nearly 100 of her photo albums onto a few CDs. “Our hope is that in a few years people will say, oh you know what you should do with that box of old photos? You should ScanDigital it,” Schoenrock said. “That’s our hope, to make our company’s name into a verb.”

For more information visit Scandigital.com. ER

December 28, 2007

Excellent Ad Dollars Spent

There is advertising campaign that has recently impressed me . Burker King has launched it’s new “Burger King Freakout” campaign which shows real people’s reactions to a fake corporate decision to get rid of their best selling product – The Whopper.

I have always been a fan of putting people in real world, slightly uncomfortable situations and recording their reactions. It is this exact reason that I enjoy the comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen [Other Posts: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Borat (take 2), Jagshemash!,The True Inspiration for Borat?]

I think this ad campaign deserves credit for identifying the the passion people have for a given product and breaking the norm. Logically, no one expects a company to get rid of one of their best selling products and that is exactly what they played upon with this prank.

The company took it a step further and started to replace the Whopper with burgers from other joints like McDonalds and Wendy’s. This is an excellent way to showcase the primary difference between the two. BK flame broils their burgers while the other guys fry them.

Watch out for the Punk’d knockoff “You’ve been fried.”Here is an example video:

December 26, 2007

MyBlogLog is dying…

A year ago I was introduced to this awesome new company called mybloglog.com. I blogged about them here and here.

mybloglog.gifIt was interesting when it was fresh because it introduced me to new blogs and cool bloggers. But as of late I’ve not had the desire to dive into the mybloglog community to find new blogs or review the increasing amount of comment spam that is getting sent my way. I think this is a classic example of where a big company (Yahoo!) buys a small innovative company and the company dies. I wish them the very best, but I’m going to remove their widget from my blog.

To copy techcrunch, I’m moving MBL to my own personal use deadpool.

December 14, 2007

The Kite Runner – Movie

I’ve always been jealous of those selected few who get to see an upcoming film before its slated release. I always wondered how it happed or who you had to know to get that exclusive “sneak peek”. Earlier this week I finally joined the club when I was invited by a well connected friend to see The Kite Runner an incredibly emotional film based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini. The invitation is yet another perk for living in New York City. 🙂The Kite Runner (Movie)

As you may remember I am a huge fan of the book having read it with through the One Book Villanova Program.  I blogged about the program here.  The movie does the book justice in nearly all aspects.  It does not dive as deep into the culture and drastic change that takes place in Afghanistan, nor does it fully explore the psychological damage the change has on many of the main characters.

I was most impressed by the young actors who delivered a performance worthy of the title “The Sultans of Kabul”.  The Kite Runner  has a PG-13 rating for strong material including the rape of a child.  To bring the violence from the silver screen to the real world the release of the film was delayed six weeks because of fear for the safety of three Afghan child actors.

If you’ve read the book I think you will be pleased with the movie as I think they did it justice…
“The is a way to be good again.”

December 13, 2007

Finals Week – Flashback

Just when I start to miss my college years, I see a comic like this one from James Kim and it reminds me of the stress I so easily forgot.   Cheers to all you college kids who are up working on papers assigned 3 months ago…. I don’t miss it.

All-Nighter

December 4, 2007

Peru buys 260,000 Laptops for the kids – of course!

I’m pleased to report that Peru has signed on to purchase 260,000 laptops through the One Laptop Per Child program. From Cnet’s Liam Tung:

One month after the One Laptop Per Child charity went into mass production with its $188 laptop, the Peruvian government has signed a contract to purchase 260,000 units. Nicholas Negroponte, an MIT professor and founder of the project, announced the deal on Saturday. He also revealed that Mexican billionaire and longtime friend, Carlos Slim, had ordered 50,000 units for distribution in Mexico.

In November, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) charity contracted Taiwan’s Quanta Computer to start producing the green-and-white computer in its new Changshu manufacturing center, which is located north-west of Shanghai. The first countries to place mass orders for the rugged green-and-white laptops were Uruguay and Mongolia. Ivan Krstic, the director of security architecture for the OLPC project, has said that Uruguayan water and mobile-phone utility companies have allowed the organization to plant wireless access points on existing towers to facilitate the laptop’s use.

I think this is excellent and I’m also pleased with the government for going with the OLPC program and not selling out to Intel or the other big businesses which are trying to compete with the non-profit. As you might have read on my previous posting I have a special place in my heart for the youth of Peru.

November 30, 2007

TaserAbuse.com

I’ve noticed a constant rise in articles and news stories about people being abused with Tasers. I did a little hunting for $10 I purchased the domain name TaserAbuse.com. I’m not sure what I should do with the website so I’ve decided to put it up to the community to give me some suggestions. Think about what type of website I could create at www.taserabuse.com that would bring attention to this subject. Please leave a comment with your suggestion!

October 25, 2007

Chulucanas, Peru – October 2004

Today in New York City I finally had the feeling that the seasons have turned. The air is cool and crisp and I might reach for that extra blanket tonight when I tuck in. It’s the sort of evening that made me brew a cup of hot tea and take a moment to slow down and reflect. I reflected on my life and where I am – Where I am going and why. During my moment of introspection I came to the realization that I have not shared with you a story about a service trip I took to Peru three years ago and how important that trip was to shaping who I am today.

[Side note: This is a longer than normal post… so bear with me. I will make this a theme over the next couple of posts and we can dive into some of the new ways the web solving the problem of global poverty in some unique ways after this introduction. Feel free to send me some suggestions for companies that are helping out in a web2.0 way.]

October 2004: I was a full time MBA student at Villanova University and with this status I was fortunate enough to have semester breaks free. Read the rest of this entry »