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Millionaire Matchmaker Meets (her) Match…

Millionaire Matchmaker Meets (her) Match…

By Kathleen Blackwell

Move over Pattie Stanger, there is a new matchmaker in town. Scratch that…a new “matchmaking group” in town. Last Wednesday night I attended one *badass* meetup event: Tech Cofounder Dating LA. Organized by Aaron Abram and sponsored at BLANKSPACES LA, the evening was the first “dating kind” on the burgeoning L.A. startup scene—and much like a first date, too, all sorts of tech people were in attendance looking for their better half…their cofounder. A Wiki-moment in the making, file-stamped “Cofounder Matchmaking,” Wednesday, November 9, 2011 marked the official launch of Tech Cofounder Dating LA.

Organizer Aaron Abram says he founded this concept based on a “selfish need to find a cofounder who actually wanted to build a tech company rather than just talk about building a company.”

Yes, like many of us who have run up against the “douchebagery” types—the “I’ve got a million startup ideas” person (yet, never seem to actually start anything)—Tech Cofounder Dating LA was actually founded on the premise that somewhere in our land of silicone in the Silicon Beach, there does exist…doers.

Aaron saw a problem in the market based upon his own need and wanted to fill that void by creating a viable solution, his meetup group. He quickly determined that there were a slew of people seeking their “better business half,” for as quickly as he posted the event on, they were over-capacity and had people on the wait list chomping at the rope to get in—as if this was their “only hope” for a true business hookup.

I discovered Tech Cofounder Dating LA through a Google search, as I, too, was looking for that proverbial “significant other, left-brain business development strategist” to round out my creative energy and the moment I stumbled upon this meetup—I signed right up! I couldn’t help but hope my new business partner in crime was right around the corner. And guess what? The über-sweet news is the Tech Cofounder Dating LA event was every bit as cheeky-geeky cool as I imagined it would be because the people who showed up were there with a serious intent to make a connection—yes…doer!

In his opening remarks, Aaron said to “think of this group like your Y-Combinator.” The format was warm and welcoming, as if a large group of friends were sitting around a campfire…lots of camaraderie.  Everyone was mingling (and snacking on the trendiest cupcakes in town sponsored by BIGMANBAKES—serving up fresh, moist, mini cupcakes in assorted flavors like “old school,” “red velvet cake,” and “black & white”—delish!), then moved into what I would classify as an open mic session for entrepreneurs whereby everybody had an opportunity to introduce themselves “on the mic,” and explain their business model and/or startup, along with their “dating” needs, i.e. “I’m looking for a full-time CTO or business person to backup our frontend development on a major social networking platform that we have investor interest on.”

I was duly impressed with the array of entrepreneurs present, from tech to business savvy, veterans to new-bees, all with the intent on building awesome technology companies here in Silicon Beach, Los Angeles.

What were a few general themes that popped up in the open mic sessions? Well, 1) the word “content” was used frequently, 2) there were what seemed to be a handful of “groupon-esque” related businesses attempting to isolate and dominate a niche, as well as 3) crowdsourcing in a niche, like crowdsourcing around the concept of getting a tattoo, or in one humorous moment, “crowdsourcing a boob job—,” (which in Hollywood, well, almost seems natural nowadays, plus aligning the concept in support of breast cancer), 4) there were a few location-based travel ventures, and 5) in several instances many presenters were marketing the fact that their startups empowered people by giving individuals a new economic opportunity.



What were the most unique pick-up lines? I’ll highlight two: 1) “Hi, my name is Gregg and I look like Borat.” (Insert crowd laugh here, because Gregg did look like Borat.) And for the record, (one of) Gregg’s businesses is So, now you can put a face to the concept—meet Gregg Martin! And, 2) “Hi, my name is Tracy, and I’ve been a licensed nerd for 30 years.” (Insert intrigue here. Tracy definitely led the room in all around experience—a former executive at toy-giant Mattell—with a cutting-edge vision for whether a consumer-based product would actually work. Tracy also claimed to be a “professional naysayer”—which is a great quality in business.)

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Stopping Online Piracy: 5 Internet Injustices of #SOPA Bill

Stopping Online Piracy: 5 Internet Injustices of #SOPA Bill

Democratic Congressmember, Zoe Lofgren, represents a constituency in central California that includes parts of San Jose and the Silicon Valley. In late October 2011, after some of her colleagues in the US House of Representatives, led by Congressmember and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith of Texas, introduced a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA], Ms. Lofgren declared her opposition to the proposals as “the end of the Internet as we know it.”

SOPA, sometimes known as E-PARASITE [Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation], is the House’s equivalent of the Senate’s PROTECT-IP [Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property] bill, in that both are meant to put a stop to websites that carry content that infringes on copyrights, combined with Senate Bill 978, which would criminalize online streaming even of people who sing others’ songs on YouTube. Whatever kind of anti-online piracy legislation gets passed, there is the thinking that it could do more harm than whatever good may come of it. How so? Let us count some of the ways:

1. No due process.

Under the proposals, any copyright holder can get a court order to shut down a website that posts any infringing material without giving the accused website an opportunity to challenge such a shutdown in court. On top of that, the owner of such a website could even be denied Internet access…again, without due process.

2.  Guilt by association.

Prof. Mark Lemley of Stanford told the public radio program “Marketplace” that if you so much as put up a link to a website that carries the infringed copyright material, you’ll end up just as guilty of “facilitating infringement” as the website that infringes copyright. Even Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube could be all but put out of business as a result.

3.  What constitutes a ‘copyright infringement’?

David Sohn of the Center for Democracy & Technology commented that under SOPA, “a central issue is that the bill’s definitions of bad websites are vague and broad.” So much so that the Future of Music Coalition commented that even legitimate sites, both within and outside of the US, could be held for violations of SOPA, thus making the Internet “too wide for comfort.” On top of that, copyright owners, by filing a court order against an infringing website, don’t have to go to court and explain their actions, which adds to there being no opportunity at justice for the accused.

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Startup Spotlight: IgnitionDeck Looks to Ignite Crowdfunding by Empowering Creators with a DIY Twist—Funding On Your Terms (#WordPress)

Startup Spotlight: IgnitionDeck Looks to Ignite Crowdfunding by Empowering Creators with a DIY Twist—Funding On Your Terms (#WordPress)

Hallelujah—it’s here! Finally, an intelligent twist within the crowdfunding platform that speaks to creators (musicians, filmmakers, software developers, artists, etc.), and aims to put the “$-kaching” back into the hands of developers, versus middlemen. IgnitionDeck is a newly launched WordPress plugin allowing artists to self-fund their projects without asking for permission, or giving away more money than they have to when using a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or IndieGogo.

Last week I ran across a post on Facebook talking about IgnitionDeck and instantly became smitten with the “take charge, empowering concept,” so I reached out for a quick “Startup Spotlight Q&A” with the IgnitionDeck Founders—Nathan Hangen and Shawn Christenson. Super smart guys, awesome concept twist—enjoy the Q&A!

1. What is the IgnitionDeck app? Who is the intended, or target audience?

Here. We. Go. IgnitionDeck is a DIY crowdfunding platform for WordPress that installs as a plugin and allows creators to raise money without the restrictions of other platforms. The problem we see with Kickstarter and similar platforms is that if your campaign fails to raise, you end up with zero investment despite the fact that you’ve worked your tail off trying to drive traffic to the Kickstarter site. We’re building IgnitionDeck for those people, and anyone else that wants to crowdfund on their own terms, rather than the terms of the middle man. It’s perfect for musicians, filmmakers, software developers, artists, and anyone else that has something cool to sell.

2. How is IgnitionDeck different from Kickstarter, or other crowdfunding platforms, like IndieGogo?

For starters, it’s the only product of its kind that empowers the creator, rather than the middle man. With ID, the creator is in complete control—they get to drive traffic to their site instead of another platform, get to keep the SEO benefit of linking/sharing, and get to keep all of the money (outside of Paypal’s fees). Another big benefit is that it works outside of the U.S., so anywhere you can use Paypal, you can use IgnitionDeck.

3. Are you the sole Founder/Creator of IgnitionDeck?  If not, who are the other team members?  Backgrounds?

The team is made of two co-founders, Nathan Hangen & Shawn Christenson, who live in Florida and Alberta, respectively. We both do a little bit of everything, but Shawn, being the better designer by far, does much of the product design, while Nathan focuses heavily on development and product management.

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The Techie Minute (VIDEO 2) – 1) Facebook & the No Email, Email 2) Facebook & the Holy Grail & 3) Groupon COO & Spinal Tap

Welcome to the second installment of ‘The Techie Minute’—a ‘one minute dish’ on tech gossip of the week—like Talk Soup meets MTV News for the tech world. Yes, this is a homemade video—recorded using PhotoBooth, edited using iMovie and Picasa—trying something a little fresh here at HOLLYISCO—a boutique press site covering entertainment technology from Silicon Valley, to Silicon Beach, to Silicon Hills.

HOLLYISCO: The Techie Minute (Video 2)

Play Youtube VideoHOLLYISCO – The Techie Minute – Video 2

In this video:


What is ‘bootstrapping’ your business? Bootstrapping is the art of building your business without much external help and on a budget. Two bootstrap concepts introduced this week on “The Techie Minute” are 1) Bootstrap Lighting—for when you don’t have the Hollywood budget, or a P.A., and 2) Bootstrap Branding—how to make a mockup product using just your business card and packing tape only—kaching! The featured mockup product this week on “The Techie Minute” is WineBeer by HOLLYISCO.


#1. FACEBOOK and the ‘No Email, Email Announcement’

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Siemer Silicon Beach Summit Aims to Brand Southern California as the Epicenter for Technology Investing — Banking on the Power of Hollywood

Siemer Silicon Beach Summit Aims to Brand Southern California as the Epicenter for Technology Investing — Banking on the Power of Hollywood

HOLLYISCO is excited to be covering The Siemer Silicon Beach Summit—a premier event formulated to meet today’s hottest trends in entertainment technology. In this article:

  • Siemer Silicon Beach Summit (Keynote by Arianna Huffington)
  • The Rise of “Silicon Beach” (The Next Wave)
  • The Emerging Celebrity-Tech Crossover (Celebrity Branding)
  • The Boom of Digital Multi-Media Companies in L.A. (Global Interest in Hollywood)

Siemer & Associates, LLC—a global, boutique, merchant bank serving digital media, software, and technology companies will host a specialized invite-only conference at the famous ‘Shutters on the Beach Hotel’ in Santa Monica next week, aptly named Siemer Silicon Beach Summit—bringing together an elite group of leading players in digital media and emerging entertainment technology companies from around the world. Co-hosted by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP—a leading national law firm representing a sophisticated client base from Fortune 500 to a diverse range of emerging companies—the Siemer Silicon Beach Summit will draw 300+ CEOs, VC’s, and global media executives with a focused intent on increasing the recognition of Southern California as the premier epicenter for technology investing—banking on the power of Hollywood. Online media pioneer Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, who launched HuffPo right here in Los Angeles—aka “Silicon Beach”—will present the opening keynote.

The Siemer Silicon Beach Summit is seen as a way to foster relationships and connections throughout the burgeoning international tech community—especially those companies centered on entertainment technology that comprise a large part of the “entech” startup scene currently thriving in Southern California.

“The Siemer Summit presents tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators to shape the future of digital media. Connections and networks define the new media landscape, and this Summit will build both,” said Hale Boggs, a partner at Manatt who, with firm partner Jonathan Bloch, created the Summit with Siemer & Associates.

The Siemer Summit is on the cutting edge and poised to become the premier “must-attend” conference on the West Coast—“SoCal is leading the world in digital content creation, content monetization, game development, and celebrity-focused media and commerce, fueled by the expanding focus on major film, television, and music studios who are increasingly becoming purveyors of streaming video, music, and digital content,” says Seimer & Associates, LLC.

The Siemer Summit will provide 50 industry-leading companies an opportunity to showcase their visions. A sampling of presenters in attendance include:

BuzzMedia: the web’s fastest growing entertainment publisher reaching more than 50MM monthly pop culture, music, and celebrity enthusiasts worldwide. BUZZMEDIA’S more than 40-category leading brands include Buzznet, Celebuzz, Absolute Pink, and GoFugYourself to name a few, plus the official sites for celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Whitney Port, Kimora Lee Simmons, and others.

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My 3 Big Beefs with A TechCrunch Writer and Her Article Featuring 500 Startups-Backed Kibin

My 3 Big Beefs with A TechCrunch Writer and Her Article Featuring 500 Startups-Backed Kibin


Kathleen Blackwell (aka "Tech Bitch" for the purpose of this article)

Okay, so I should probably entitle this article “Tech Bitch,” as that’s the way I’m going to sound, alas I can’t hold back anymore. I suppose I am prompted to let go here based upon an article I read earlier today that was posted in the Los Angeles Startup Digest Reading List for this week. The article? “Getting Users For Your New Startup,” in which author Philip Kaplan (Pud’s Blog), simply states to “Start Controversy.”

Here we go. Ready?

I have three big beefs and it’s in regards to another article I read today. TechCrunch writer, Alexia Tsotsis, wrote about 500 Startups-backed Kibin in an article titled, “Editing Community Kibin Helps You Proofread Your Writing Fast And For Free.” Tsotsis writes, “Kibin is an editing community that allows you to upload a piece of writing and get it edited and proofread for free in a matter of 24 hours.” Tsotsis then goes on to make this statement, “You have no idea how much I want this to succeed.”

Great! Me too. The problem I’m having with Alexia Tsotsis’ statement is that I don’t believe she really wants this startup to succeed and as a practicing editor and writer myself, that totally bums me out. Why do I feel this way? To be honest, it’s because I think an editing service like Kibin is desperately needed. They are aiming to fill a market void with a creative approach and when I heard the concept emerge as one of the favorites at 500 Startups Demo Day earlier this week, I was thrilled…until I read Tsotsis’ TechCrunch article today.

My 3 Big Beefs:


The proofreading example provided by Tsotsis showing how Kibin works had a huge, glaring, grammatical, this-is-not-rocket-science mistake. Whether the example provided was insisted upon by Kibin, or not, or whether Tsotsis drummed it up herself, I feel that since Tsotsis appears to post her own articles, she had an editorial responsibility to at least review the example, find the this-is-not-so-rocket-science mistake and as a common courtesy to Kibin, ask that they provide another example.

Kibin – Proofreading Example – TechCrunch

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Music Education Startup Chromatik Is on a Three Month Funding Tour—a Slam Dunk for Any Early Stage Investor

Music Education Startup Chromatik Is on a Three Month Funding Tour—a Slam Dunk for Any Early Stage Investor

We are experiencing a bit of “June gloom” in Southern California, but that doesn’t mean we are without our requisite ray of sunshine. Last Friday here in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to visit with Chromatik Founder, Matt Sandler, who is heading-up one of the brightest startups based in Southern California—Chromatik Music—a ray of sunshine indeed. As a matter of fact, Chromatik might just be one of my favorite startups eva’ because Chromatik combines my love for music, education, tech, and yes—a ton of progressive innovation << and all that entails. Least not, one of the most important factors for any startup, the combined RAQ (relationship acquisition intelligence) of the Chromatik team alone makes this startup gleam—they’ve covered their court with cross-platform strategies and any investor interested in courtside seats should get ‘em while they’re hot.

What is Chromatik? In essence, Chromatik is doing for music what the Rosetta Stone did for languages—Chromatik (a word-play on a musical term, as in a chromatic scale) is redefining how students learn music by offering an adaptive learning platform that brings the world’s best music techniques, teachers, and resources to students’ fingertips via mobile and desktop applications. Founder Matt Sandler says,

“Our overarching goal is to blend the best practices of music education with what is possible in technology today. Tons and tons of people are learning music throughout the world, but music education hasn’t changed since Bach and Beethoven. Yes, we’re seeing the ‘gamification’ of music—Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Miso Music—and those are great stepping stones, but the fact remains we don’t have anything that actually helps you learn an instrument and approach music in a pedagogically-appropriate way.”

And in a world where schools are adopting new technology left and right (Kindles, iPad’s), whether state-funded, parent-funded or self-funded, and in a world where kids live, breath, and eat “gadgets and tech”—the melding of Sandler’s concept (education + music + tech) sits beautifully in a steady-state pocket of harmonic overtone perfection coiffing through band hall just moments after a Mozart Quintet releases its last note, um…let’s say the Mozart K452 Quintet in E-flat Major. Yes, that’s it. Sweet!

Founder Matt Sandler

Twenty-three-year-old Matt Sandler is energetic and perfectly-cast in the role of Founder. Sandler, an East Coast transplant whose father was a Salesman and whose family has roots grounded in music, attended UCLA, has his degree in Saxophone Performance (<< cool!), and has taught woodwinds in Los Angeles Unified and Huntington Beach Unified School Districts. Sandler has also worked A&R at Capital Records in Hollywood (<< the gig I always wanted!), helped program music at the “world famous” KROQ (106.7) here in Los Angeles, (plus attended a couple of “them KROQ Weenie Roasts”); and in the startup world, Sandler curates the Los Angeles Startup Digest and was on the early team of the social media marketing startup CitizenNet.

For a twenty-three-year-old relatively new transplant, I’d say Sandler has transitioned exceptionally well to the Los Angeles lifestyle (currently residing in Santa Monica). When we met he was adorning the “native Angelino uniform,” aka Hollywood Casual, which consists of a great pair of blue jeans and an even greater pair of flip-flops (that all non-natives adopt the minute their ship sets sail, their anchor strikes pay-dirt, and their heart docks somewhere between the worlds 18th largest Port in Long Beach, the 18th hole on Trumps National Golf Course in Palos Verdes, and the 18 bikini-clad ‘girls gone wild’ in Malibu).

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Lady Gaga and the Bigger 360 Monster; Plus Backplane and Beyond

Lady Gaga and the Bigger 360 Monster; Plus Backplane and Beyond

Statistically speaking, there is no denying that Lady Gaga is the most powerful celebrity in the world. In making that declaration, Forbes magazine noted that Gaga took in $90 million in 2010. There’s also no denying how extremely popular Gaga is on Facebook and Twitter, to say nothing of what she wears, nor the stands she takes on many of the hot-button issues of the day. And while Lady Gaga is the creative master-mind behind Lady Gaga Inc., she shares the business stage with Troy Carter, her Manager and the quintessential digital strategist behind her well-oiled machine—a duo like none other who claim to practice the 95/5 rule.  [95% of the time Carter does not comment on the creative side and 95% of the time Gaga does not comment on the business side—a “real trust relationship”.]

Nor can you deny how the Mother Monster herself can also do those little things for some of her Little Monsters, like feeding pizza and doughnuts to a couple dozen fans waiting in line for a couple of days outside the NBC Television studios in New York City for tickets to “Saturday Night Live”, where Gaga was not only the musical act on that show’s 2011 season finale, but also joined in some sketches with guest star Justin Timberlake.

But have you ever wondered that someone’s been making money off her power? When major-label leader Universal Music Group [UMG], through its Interscope brand, signed Lady Gaga way back in 2007, they gave her one of those “360 deals”, in which the label takes a cut of any money Gaga takes in, whether it be through album sales, concert tickets, endorsements, website, anything. And the label still owns the master recordings and music videos, among a few other things.

Troy Carter

So far, according to The Wrap’s Johnnie L. Roberts, who cited executives familiar with the numbers, UMG’s share of Gaga’s success these last 4 years has reportedly totaled $200 million, and perhaps with the blitz that centered around her latest album, “Born This Way”, as well as the new Gaga, Google-Chrome commercial, it wouldn’t be surprising if the label’s share cracks the quarter-billion dollar mark.  Of course, we wonder if her label also has a “360” claim in the development of the yet-to-be-unveiled, integrated social platform for celebrities called Backplane, which is led by Troy Carter and a team of seven, including technology investor and entrepreneur Matthew Michelsen [with Lady Gaga acting as an informal consultant with a 20% shareholder stake] and described by Carter as “a platform meant to power online communities around specific interests, like musicians and sports teams, and to integrate feeds from Facebook, Twitter and other sites,” in a recent interview by The New York Times.  Oh who are we kidding, we’d hedge a bet the label has some claim on Gaga’s shares of Backplane—unless there was a legal wrap-around loophole found on behalf of Lady Gaga, aka Stefani Joanne Germanotta.

As powerful as the Mother Monster is, I’m thinking, were it not for that 360 deal she has with the Bigger Monster that is the major record label, she would have gotten millions of dollars more than she’s getting now.

Bob Donnelly, of the law firm Lommen, Abdo, Cole, King & Stageberg, wrote about why artists should “do a 180″ on a 360 deal. In addition to extending on the analogy that signing a major-label recording contract is like “taking out a mortgage on a house, repaying the mortgage in full, but the bank winds up owning your house,” Bob says that long-term recording contracts of 8 years’ duration are that way because the labels want that “reasonable return on their investment.” Terms that, as Bob elaborates, motion picture companies and book publishers don’t require.

The record label’s cut from a 360 deal are based on gross revenues, but Bob wonders why that is when the artists and their managers don’t get paid on gross. And if an artist, hypothetically, has to give 20% of tour income to the label, after paying all the production costs and commissions to manager, booking agent, lawyer and business manager, Bob figures that artist is left with half of every net touring dollar, while the label pockets the other half.

Mr. Donnelly also makes some arguments in favor of the 360 deal, if the label used it as collateral against what they spend on the artist, and then revert the 360 rights back to that artist once the debt is paid back, it would make more sense. However, as Bob also writes, many 360 deals extend the label’s rights beyond recoupment, probably to the extent that the label would still take a cut of the artist’s earnings even if the label chooses not to release any more recordings.

What’s to say if Lady Gaga would have gone with one of two alternatives that Bob recommends—either a “Net Profits Deal” [label and artist split profits after manufacturing, distribution and marketing are deducted] or a “Self-Release Deal” [finance your own recording and own the masters, which would be a more truly independent deal]? And what’s to say if, a few years from now, Gaga will come out and say that she lost millions on that 360 deal she signed in 2007 and wants to do that 180?

And if she does, perhaps the time will come when those millions of Little Monsters get asked to “crowd-fund” a future album for their Mother Monster. Or perhaps, going a step further than crowd-funding, what if the Little Monsters could get an actualized monetary return on their investment; which is exactly the vision of start-up company ROCK STOCK, which aims to educate fans on investing and money by providing an opportunity for a fan to invest in their favorite artist, thus providing a new revenue stream and a new economy for artists, industry, brands, and fans by measuring parts and monetizing the sum of an artists career—where artists are stock purchasable by fans. In essence, Rock Stock is Kickstarter with equity.

Well…until that happens, Gaga has to put up with the Bigger Monster that is the 360 deal.

Golden Gut Guru Gets Gabcast Going

Golden Gut Guru Gets Gabcast Going

Back in April 2011, I asked whether YouTube was late to the party with their introduction of live video streaming, similar to what uStream, Stickam and others have offered. But no sooner did YouTube join that fray than another outfit decided to join in. True, in this Internet world, there can be room for more, and part of what distinguishes this newcomer from the others is that they are backed by people who have largely worked in ordinary TV, one of whom could be thought of as a “golden gut guru.”, based in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, went into alpha testing [one step below beta, of course] on May 9, 2011. Now on the surface, they might be no different than the other companies I just named, but according to its Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Paul Wagner, Gabcast “want[s] to bring the creation process and the engagement process closer together,” as its pitch is all about helping any of its users “become a reality star on the next generation of TV.”

Mr. Wagner’s credits include everything from writing TV shows in Boston to his involvement with Will Ferrell’s ‘Funny or Die’ comedy website, while Gabcast’s other Co-Founder, Fred Silverman, was famous from his days in the 1960’s, ’70s and early ’80s as either a programming executive or overall head of each of the so-called “original 3″ TV networks—first, CBS; then, ABC; and finally, NBC. He has worked as an independent TV producer in recent years.

Serving as advisers to Gabcast are two other legacy media veterans: Michael Eisner, who once programmed ABC television in the early 1970’s, only to end up running the company that bought ABC—Walt Disney Company—in the mid-1990’s; and Lloyd Braun, who was a TV programming executive at ABC in the early 2000’s.

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SF MusicTech Summit—Music. People. Tech.

SF MusicTech Summit—Music. People. Tech.

On Monday, May 9, visionaries and high-tech players from all parts of the music technology spectrum will meet in San Francisco for the SF MusicTech Summit to “talk shop” on the evolving music industry ecosystem—converging culture and commerce and bringing together the best and brightest developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians, and organizations in a proactive dealmaking environment.

The range of guest speakers, panelists, and attendees include founders and representatives from leading music-tech companies like Slacker, SoundExchange, Pandora, Topspin Media, Live Nation, and MOG, to tech and business press like TechCrunch, Bloomberg / Businessweek Magazine, and Billboard Magazine, to musicians like Lead Singer of Incubus, Brandon Boyd, and Incubus Guitarist, Mike Einziger, to VC groups like Walden Venture Capital, and organizations like GoGirls Music —”Cuz Chicks Rock!” says their Fearless Leader and Founder of Social Networks for Business, Madaln Sklar.

One of my favorite, new music-tech businesses in attendance is StageIt—a platform that brings together artists and fans, akin to a modern-day fireside chat. StageIt was founded by Evan Lowenstein of Evan and Jaron—the Pop/Rock, Top 40 hit-making duo who topped the charts in 2000 while signed with Columbia Records with their self-titled album Evan and Jaron—the StageIt concept is ripe and ready to blow-open living room doors across the globe by providing a platform for artists to “interact with your fans LIVE at anytime and from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have millions of fans or just a few, you now have an online stage where you can showcase your talents to the world and make money!”

“StageIt isn’t about broadcasting concerts online. It’s about sharing the amazing moments that happen in between. Did a friend drop by to jam? StageIt. Got a new tune you’re working on? StageIt. Getting ready to go on stage? StageIt. The front row seat is the most expensive in the house, but the place everyone wants to be is backstage. We made it so easy for you to finally give your fans a row seat to your ‘backstage’ experiences.”

How cool is that? What’s even cooler? Alongside an artist’s live performance onscreen is a tip jar, merchandise store, and chat window—clever, classy, brilliant, and 100% on par with the future.

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From the Developers Notebook: Game Making—the Largest of the Entertainment Industries

From the Developers Notebook: Game Making—the Largest of the Entertainment Industries

Game makers around the world have been trying to entertain us for years. At current the Games industry is somewhere around a $50 billion worldwide industry. Certainly the largest of the entertainment industries. But how are they made? We are familiar with movies and music but so often no one addresses the game development process. We are here to show a high level view of what goes on behind the doors of a game studio.

All games are produced by a team of very smart and talented people:

  • Game Designer—The principle person who designs the game from beginning to end, this would include story, characters, goals, and game play.
  • Executive Producer—Oversees the development of the game (timelines, resources, planning).
  • Producer—Oversees part/s of the game development under instruction from EP  (Engine Programmer).
  • Artist—Draws all graphical elements of the game.
  • Game Programmer—Responsible for coding the game, there may be one or several coders.
  • Engine Programmer—Creates and programs the game engine. If the engine is created by someone else, this person may be used for game engine integration
  • Level Programmer—Creates the different levels of a game.

There can be more people involved, but this is the basic crew. Now that we have the team in place, let’s make a game!

Part 1: Game Design Basics

I have been asked several times on how games are made. What are the processes and activities that go into a game? Well to start, games can be very simple or very complex, but there are some overarching rules that most game designers use. Games are made of a set of simple rules that allow the player to advance through the game, but sometimes these rules become complex for the designer. Without getting into too much detail I will go over a few things to keep in mind.

First off, games are not puzzles. They are experiences that take players through an interactive journey. Games are different in that they change with the decisions of the player. Puzzles never change.

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From the Developers Notebook: Zipline Games Looking to Take Mobile and Cloud Development to New Levels

From the Developers Notebook: Zipline Games Looking to Take Mobile and Cloud Development to New Levels

From the Developers Notebook:

Seattle startup Zipline Games looks to make mobile development a speedy process with its new platform. The new platform will allow developers of mobile, social and web-based games and applications to easily get started—up-and-running the same day. It promises to remove the difficulty of cross platform development.

“I wanted to make it possible for game developers and designers to go have a crazy conversation at lunch, then come back and get those new ideas working in the game by the end of the day,” said founder and CTO Patrick Meehan in an interview on Zipline’s website.

The Mobile Platform For Pro Game Developers

Zipline has released the beta version of its development platform MOAI which allows mobile game developers to write the games in Lua rather than writing for each device. Then once the games are completely developed, Zipline offers cloud hosting and royalty free distribution. This is a stand out for smaller developers.  The Moai SDK can handle graphics, animation, input, physics, collisions, and more. Moai Cloud hosts your game logic, databases and additional game content.

“There’s a lot of interesting challenges in the market,” said Zipline co-founder Todd Hooper. “People want to be on board with IOS and Android and you need a solution that lets you get on board with those.”

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Entrepreneurial Guru Jason Cohen—Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and Life—Talks About Startups, Mentoring, Investing, and What Makes a Great Idea Work!

Entrepreneurial Guru Jason Cohen—Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and Life—Talks About Startups, Mentoring, Investing, and What Makes a Great Idea Work!

Jason Cohen is ‘one of those guys’ anybody would aspire to be—genuine, motivated, brilliant—and indeed, in a class of his own. ‘Entrepreneurial Guru’ of Capital Thought (Lean Customer and Product Development for Startups), Capital Factory (Early Stage Accelerator Program for Tech Startups), and WP Engine (Finely Tuned WordPress Hosting Service), Cohen shares his thoughts with HOLLYISCO on a series of questions surrounding his business, business models, startups, tech, the future (hint: mobile and ‘gamification’), seeing internet darling Amanda Palmer in New Zealand, and yes, Cohen references liking one of my classical favorites, Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff, along with Depeche Mode.

Jason Cohen is Managing Director of Capital Thought. Co-Founder, WP Engine. Director, Capital Factory.

So, if you’re in the business of life, and the game of understanding some inalienable truths—tech, business, startups, or what-not—Cohen’s interview answers are a must read. As well, for any startups considering this summer’s Capital Factory Accelerator Program—deadline to apply is March, 27. Cohen says, “So hurry up!”

« Introducing Jason Cohen »

How many business ventures are you personally involved in? Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and anything else that you can share?

That’s enough right? (Wink!)

Capital Thought is the structure by which Joshua Baer and I launch new startups and help others through consulting. In particular, we launched WP Engine last summer and it’s doing great!

Capital Factory is an incubator in Austin, TX (with applications for this summer due March 27, so hurry up!). I’m a mentor and investor.

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Seedups US Launch Party Tonight SXSW! (Create, Fund, Grow)

Seedups US Launch Party Tonight SXSW! (Create, Fund, Grow)

Got a tech start-up? Need funding? Seedups is a crowd-funding platform matching entrepreneurs with investors, and their US Launch Party is tonight during SXSW at Latitude 30 at 8 PM.

Marketing information for Seedups says that Seedups for entrepreneurs uses the crowdfunding platform and gives new start-ups a secure platform upon which to pitch for seed and early stage funding of up to $250,000 from a ready-made pool of high net worth, accredited and sophisticated investors. If you have a new technology venture, a plan, and the team to exploit your market opportunity, get funded faster with Seedups.

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It’s a ‘Hurricane Party’ Par-tay during SXSW!

It’s a ‘Hurricane Party’ Par-tay during SXSW!

Arguably, the coolest new app on the planet this year at SXSW 2011 is Hurricane Party, which deserves a big, “Woot!” For those of us who have ever lived around an area, think South Texas, where hurricane warnings and tropical storms have created an instant need to commune, gather, take refuge, etc., the term ‘hurricane party’ conjures up an image of party-on-the-spot—and that’s exactly what this app does:

“Hurricane Party is a free mobile app that helps friends find, share, and create spontaneous parties. It’s social networking that’s actually social.”

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SXSW 2011 ‘The Power of the International Geek Community’ and Sound-Bites with Tim O’Reilly

SXSW 2011 ‘The Power of the International Geek Community’ and Sound-Bites with Tim O’Reilly

I’m at the Austin Convention Center as SXSW “Day 1″ is officially underway. Parking was almost a nightmare, but I narrowly escaped the loop-around by finding an open lot on 7th & Trinity, phew. On the way in, I spotted one of Chris Sacca’s latest ventures—Uber Cab. I had seen him tweet that Uber was making its debut in the Austin market during SXSW.

While awaiting keynote speakers, or interview rather, with the amazing Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media) by Jason Calacanis in Ballroom D on Level 4, everybody is friendly and opening up conversations centered around technology and living. For example, the two guys next to me are talking about the latest trends in education-based technology, Bill Gates, and The Food Network.

The opening remarks from the SXSW camp centered around “The power of the international geek community,” and indeed, that is the feeling of the day and perhaps the week here as the SXSW Interactive, Film & Music Conference rolls on. As well, SXSW has set up relief efforts for Japan, hoping to raise $10,000 this week. To donate, please visit SXSW4Japan. Yes, the power of the international geek community is alive.

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SXSW 2011: Day 1 “Hot Tech Cold Beer”

SXSW 2011: Day 1 “Hot Tech Cold Beer”

I’m headed to the Austin Convention Center to begin my SXSW 2011 journey, and I am looking forward to a variety of keynote, distinguished, and featured speakers; notably, Barry Diller (“Insights On All Things Media”), J. Craig Venter (“Does The Future Include Synthetic Life”), Tim Ferriss (“The 4-Hour Body: Hacking the Human Body), Guy Kawasaki (“The Art of Enchantment”), and Gary Vaynerchuk (Vaynermedia), to name a few.

A quick visual scan of the attendees during registration yesterday indeed saw the “hipster-geek” style in action and yesterdays evening activities saw no shortage of the creative drive, with Capital Factory (an early stage accelerator program for tech startups) hosting a “Start-Up Crawl – Hot Tech Cold Beer” meet the founders tour around the Austin-area; replete with shuttle service and of course, cold beer. Fun!

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