Author Archives: lasr467

Complete-Meal-In-A-Cup Gazpacho Recipe

Bowl of gazpacho

In college, my friends and I joked that fast food would eventually evolve to the point where young professionals in suits would beer bong a perfectly balanced meal at a chain down the street to get their lunch down in minutes. We haven’t gotten there yet but this cold soup is certainly close. An incredible combination of superfoods that’s cheap, you can make in no-time and grab quickly from your refrigerator when it’s time for work.

Gazpacho brings me right back to the “turn” playing golf midday in the summer as a high schooler… ah, screw that, most food blogs do this storytelling thing right about here in the post but I know you don’t care about me and my lifestyle so let’s get to why you should care about this. It’s time for:

THE BENEFITS OF THIS EPIC SOUP AKA WHY THIS IS A LIFEHACK:

My Complete-Meal-In-A-Cup gazpacho is low carb, slow carb and whole 30 compliant. It’s damn good and only takes about 15 minutes to make. I’m not even on any of those diets and I make it almost every month. I’ve always looked for super-light lunch solutions (mainly salads) because I’ve found that a calorie bomb midday slows me way down and I’d rather jam through my work and leave at a reasonable hour. Plus, if meetings run over or cram you out of a lunch break, gazpacho requires no re-heating and is very easy to down quickly. 

As far as pre-prepared lunches go, this one matches the Sunday preparation requirements perfectly:

  • Quick to make — a fraction of the chopping of salad prep — let a blender do that work
  • Barely any clean-up because most blenders also do that themselves
  • Gazpacho in vertical mason jarsCheap because you won’t get conned into eating out for lunch; and if you’re in college, you can get a lot of these ingredients frozen or canned and it’ll still be delicious
  • Easy to grab-and-go and it stores efficiently in the fridge all week; I keep it in these long narrow mason jars because they use a lot of the vertical space of a fridge that other tupperware won’t maximize

Having a Vitamix probably helps a lot with getting that speedy chop going plus easy clean up — you can just run it with water on high for a few mins and it’s clean.

For the record, I don’t usually post recipes on this blog but my wife said she wouldn’t buy ingredients for my recipes unless they’re on Pinterest. I think this will allow it to be “pinned” although I don’t know how Pinterest works.

INGREDIENTS

The ingredients are ALL optional. Do what tastes good.

Take a quick browse and you’ll notice this thing is healthy as all hell. Protein, veggies and fiber all in one delicious package. 

I’ve listed the ingredients in order of unusualness in order to catch the attention of people who are quickly browsing:

  • 3-4 hard boiled eggs — source of protein and gives the soup a creamier, thicker consistency
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame — more protein; I usually get this frozen and pre-shelled from Trader Joe’s
  • 3-5 vine-ripened tomatoes (about 1 lb) — it’s OK to use canned, in fact, in some climates/seasons, those will be better
  • 1/2 a can of V8 or 4-6 ounces of tomato/vegetable juice
  • 3-4 TBSP of ground flax seed — you can hide a ton in there, thickens the soup and gets you some healthy fiber and fatty acids
  • 3-4 TBSP of red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 TBSP of EVOO (together, these are like a salad dressing)
  • 1-2 green or red bell peppers — you can also get away with these frozen in a pinch
  • 1/2-3/4 of a hothouse cucumber — no need to peel
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • Ground pepper like a madman
  • 1-2 TBSP of salt

That’ll make about a Vitamix-worth of gazpacho which translates to about 3 tall mason jars of the stuff (18 ounces each). I find that half a mason jar is a normal lunch amount for me but sometimes I have a whole jar if I’m hungry.

PREPARATION

  1. Start hard boiling your eggs using your preferred method — I use this really easy Dash Rapid device. This takes the longest so do this first and they’ll be ready when you’re done.
  2. Second, I grind up the flax seed in the Vitamix because it won’t get shredded up enough if you dump it in with everything else. When you pour it in, it won’t reach the blender teeth but when you run it on high, the breeze will suck it in and grind it to bits. Side note: If you grind up flax seed on a weekly basis, this is a good time to do it… dump the excess into a container for the fridge and leave enough in there for your gazpacho.
  3. Next, cut up all the produce. Here’s the cool part: you BARELY need to cut this stuff up. Rinse it all off and you can just cut it into big 1-2 inch square chunks. The bell pepper will need some seeding, the onion/garlic some peeling and I like to cut the top off the tomatoes, but otherwise, it can all go right into the blender with a rough chop.
  4. As you chop things up, you can toss it right into the blender to minimize clean-up. Try to get the liquid into the blender first, then the tomatoes and cucumber, then the rest… for an optimal blend.
  5. Run the blender on LOW for about 15-20 seconds. Then, taste it, make any additions (usually salt and pepper) and run again for about 15 seconds. It will taste about 3x better once cold. If you’re using a Vitamix, flip it on at 1, turn it up to 2 and let it hang there… the veggies will gradually get sucked down into the blades.
  6. Pour into individual mason jars or one big pitcher and refrigerate! You can serve it immediately if some of the ingredients were frozen because that stuff will cool down your room-temp items.

This is seriously one of the most pro moves ever. To hell with all those people who think this is just drinking salsa. It’s an unmatchable fast, easy and cheap meal with incredible nutrition… it’s the Complete-Meal-In-A-Cup Gazpacho.

Gazpacho in vertical mason jars

Marie Kondo For Your Email Inbox

Lots of folks are talking about Marie Kondo now that she has a Netflix show. I haven’t watched the show but I skimmed her book. And my clothing drawers have never been the same! I love her advice of thanking items “for their service” — gratitude is awesome.

The phrase that’s never helped me much is the “spark joy” rule. It seems to work for everyone cleaning their rooms, but not me, until now. I realized lately that it helps me enormously with defending my email inbox, instead.

My email is a private line right into my pocket so everything in there should spark joy, not dread! Does that email newsletter spark joy? Before you hand out a business card: will this person bring me joy?

It’s actually a very good test. Many email newsletters are awesome– but for me, they sometimes inspire panic to buy something or the anxiety that I’m behind on reading the news. Unsubscribe! And it’s for the opposite reason — sparking joy — that I violate the sacred rule of “inbox zero” and keep subscriptions to a few newsletters that I love.

Apple’s Rumored Hardware & Content Bundle – Maybe Content is Just for Retention?

blog post maybe content is just a retention tool

I’ve been thinking a lot about the rumor of Apple’s hardware and content subscription bundle. The idea — whether it actually happens or not — is that they’d create a very expensive subscription of $80/month or so that bundles Apple Music, the new Apple original content, Apple Care, iCloud and a new iPhone every year. This is very much a rumor but very viable avenue posited here and by Matthew Ball at Redef.

This immediately reminds me that for years, Americans paid $100+ per month for another expensive hardware and content bundle: cable TV. I remember the salesman coming to my home and explaining to my parents what cable TV included. It was much more than TV, because before the internet, that box was your only gateway to many things. It was movies, music channels, educational programming for your kids, breaking news, live concerts and the hardware to make it all look beautiful on your only screen.

One way to frame Apple’s rumored hardware/content bundle is that they attract you with their device ecosystem (hardware) and then keep you hooked with their shows and music (content). The phone and its TV and cloud components are already a huge draw for audiences so their content can play the role of keeping users engaged there by making that ecosystem useful on a daily basis.

This got me thinking… maybe content isn’t really an effective audience awareness or acquisition tool AT ALL. Maybe, when all the cards fall, content is just the retention piece of a recurring payment business model and other elements of the bundle are what bring you in the door. This is somewhat reflected by the calculus Amazon did around their original video: it turned out that prestige TV shows like Mozart in the Jungle and Man in the High Castle weren’t such an efficient acquisition tool for Prime.

Amazon shows don't easily drive Prime memberships

Check out how this thinking might apply to other businesses. I’ll use this analogy: come for X (acquisition); stay for content (retention).

  • Apple hardware/content bundle – Come for the hardware ecosystem; stay for Oprah.
  • Amazon Prime – Come for free shipping; stay for Nicole Kidman.
  • HQ — Come for a cash prize; stay for the trivia.
  • Facebook — Come for your friends; stay for Facebook Watch.
  • And the corollary seems to also be true with failed SVODs and streaming services — there’s no acquisition component, just a bunch of originals and licensed content to retain the audience that never came.

There are probably a bunch of examples that prove this thesis wrong, chief of which are Netflix and HBO. (But you could argue that they OVER spend on content, trying to force content into becoming an acquisition tool.)

Even if it’s only a little true, it’s a helpful thought experiment: what if you had to launch a streaming service WITHOUT using content to acquire an audience? You’d have to offer real utility to your users — some other valuable product or service that would attract them to your subscription. Apple already has that part figured out: the phone, the ecosystem. And on the content side of your business, brands like Marvel, leagues like the NFL and celebrities like Oprah wouldn’t be as valuable because you already have a giant draw for new users. If your content is only playing the role of retention, it doesn’t need to hit an attention-grabbing must-see fever-pitch. It can be much less ambitious. You can spend way less than Netflix.

Media and Tech Moguls’ ‘Rare Displays of Mortality’ Will Make You Feel Better About Your Mistakes

Jeff Bezos is #1 on Vanity Fair's listWeighted way-too-heavily with tech platform executives, journalists and media moguls, Vanity Fair’s New Establishment list (out today) is basically a who’s-who of people I idolize… But my favorite part of the list is how they recap their picks and in particular, an occasional category dubbed “RARE DISPLAY OF MORTALITY” which highlights one of their colossal missteps in 2017, instead of how they continued to dominate.

I’m a perfectionist. I’m an asshole to myself when I make mistakes. So it helped me a ton to read a laundry list of mistakes and embarrassments made by a usually infallible elite. They’re just like us! Here are some highlights:

  • Peter Thiel would have $6 billion if he hadn’t unloaded his Facebook stock soon after the IPO
  • Two of Shonda Rhimes‘s new shows were cancelled this year
  • The joke was on Stephen Colbert and Showtime’s Election Night Special when the election results upended the entire show
  • Remember when Mark Zuckerberg said it was “crazy” that Facebook might have swung the election?
  • Larry Page‘s own CFO is giving hell to his pet-projects like Fiber
  • Tim Cook helms a company about to be worth a trillion dollars… but his latest innovation is an Echo rip-off and their first original program was Planet of the Apps which one reviewer said “feels like something that was developed at a cocktail party”
  • Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet/Google, made a $2.7-billion-dollar anti-trust mistake in the EU
  • The New York Times is firing hundreds of employees
  • Snap’s stock is down 40% and it was probably the most-anticipated IPO of the year
  • Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss announced their next project was about an alternate-history where the Confederates won the Civil War and it was naturally hosed into submission online
  • Head of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy has had to fire 3 directors of Star Wars installments
  • Marc Andreessen has never hired a female partner at Andreessen Horowitz
  • But of course Jeff Bezos, #1 for the second year in a row… is perfect

The Google/Facebook Digital Ad Duopoly by the Numbers – 2017 Advertising Revenue by Company

Digital ad revenue by company 2017People keep saying that Google and Facebook get 90% of digital ad spending… though still a concerning stat, this is somewhat of a distortion. The rumor started with Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report and has been paraphrased and rounded up. The real stat is that the duopoly gets about 90% of digital spending growth. So, as advertisers and agencies spend more on digital ads, Google and Facebook are gobbling up most of the new money. That doesn’t really make them a monopoly… it just means they’re doing a great job at keeping other companies from growing in a white-hot space.

eMarketer released some reports giving us real insight into their dominance. Turns out, the duopoly has about 63.1% of the spending. Again, this should still be concerning to you if you work in advertising for anyone but Google and Facebook… but it paints a slightly more optimistic picture.

Check out their data below. Since I’m mostly concerned with market share, I’ve compiled that nicely here:

  • Google 42.17% (YouTube 4.67%)
  • Facebook 20.93% (Instagram 3.71%)
  • Microsoft 4.34% (Linkedin 0.98%)
  • Verizon 4.34%
  • Amazon 1.99%
  • Twitter 1.46%
  • Yelp 0.87%
  • Snap 0.77%
  • IAC 0.54%

Here are my observations:

  • Google has twice the market share of Facebook – When we say the word “duopoly” or call out 90% of growth and 60% of market share, we’re missing the fact that Google has more than twice the market share of Facebook. Put another way, Google has more market share than Facebook and all the other significant digital ad companies combined.
  • Instagram vs. YouTube – By the same token, Facebook has one asset that’s whooping Google: Instagram. Without much of a video product, Instagram is still only $800M behind YouTube in terms of net revenue and the eMarketer predictions have Instagram surpassing YouTube next year.
  • Photo finish for 3rd – I’m really interested in who has the best chance of eating away at the duopoly and it’s a photo-finish for third place with Microsoft and Verizon holding 4.34% of the market each. But they might not really be competitors because AOL/Verizon actually reps a lot of Microsoft’s inventory and why wouldn’t they partner to take down the Goliaths? It would be interesting if these two could start to chip away at either.
  • Snapchat is slightly better off than they look – I’m bullish on Snap because I like a good underdog. eMarketer points out that while they only have .08% of the overall digital ad market, they have more than 1% of mobile and a lot more teens than Facebook and Instagram.
  • And Amazon is lurking at 2% and they just started trying.
  • Apple isn’t on this chart.

Could Disney Be the First to Stream Day-and-Date?

I love how ballsy this would be. Disney is out of Netflix and has announced their plans to make a similar service. And in a guest post on THR, Ben Weiss posits this crazy new move: that Disney could quickly amass a big subscriber base by launching their movies on the service “day-and-date” — that’s the much-feared-by-theaters idea that a movie could be streamed the same day it releases in theaters. 

It’s brilliant because it endruns the entire traditional entertainment distribution-windowing business model in favor of the consumer preference of when-I-want-where-I-want. It would definitely grow them a huge base of subscribers. But they’ll never do it. 

  • Disney is already giving up $300 million in revenue by opting out of Netflix. 
  • Theatrical is the majority of their studio entertainment revenue, about 60%… and a move like this wil piss of theaters and threaten that nut. Theaters may refuse to carry the movies or put them in fewer cities. It may even piss off some consumers who still like the theater experience– if their local chain decides not to carry the movies over this move. 
  • If Disney does day-and-date they’re not just threatening the theatrical revenue. They’re endrunning all of their studio ent distribution: pay TV, home entertainment, etc. Why would another provider value their content the same way if it’s already debuted in a streaming window? 
  • And finally, the REAL business of Disney is parks and products — maybe twice the revenue of all of the studio business. What if this slow, gradual windowing model actually helps propel their brands in those venues? It might be a stretch but my instinct is that being in every theater in America is the best billboard ever for a parks attraction or action figure. Better not mess with that. 

But, boyyyy, would I love to live in a world where studios made distruptive moves like this. I dare you, Bob! 

My Favorite Slide Explaining Apple, Google and Amazon’s Domination of Entertainment Companies like Disney

Market Caps of Content Companies vs Distributors via BTIG

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this slide from Rich Greenfield at BTIG. His whole presentation is definitely worth the watch but this one graph truly says it all. (And I’m always trying to pull it up online to share in meetings… so I’m also posting it here to make that much easier.)

In the presentation, Rich first shows market caps of the companies below the line — all of our beloved entertainment creators. We see them in print and on every screen and think of them as massive, powerful companies. Then, he layers on the market caps of the “platforms” and distribution companies that sit between those companies and their audiences… and it’s easy to see how those content co’s are dwarfed.

Rich is looking at this through almost exclusively through a lens of financial analysis and market value… which might not tell the WHOLE story, but it paints a pretty dim picture for content creators and brand owners: Content is not king.

Some things worth noticing (many of these points are made by Rich):

  • None of the entertainment companies below the line — even the juggernaut, Disney — has a meaningful direct-to-consumer platform… they all depend on the companies above the line to reach their audiences
  • Apple could buy Disney in cash
  • Google or Apple could buy the entire entertainment industry in cash, except Disney
  • Every one of the distribution companies above the line have meaningful plans to make their own content that they own completely and perpetually (in other words, they could start to make their own content without depending on the content companies and their brands)
  • Netflix isn’t even on here but its market cap around $70B, making it bigger than everyone but Disney
  • Neither is Snap… it’s much smaller than Netflix at $20B (as of this writing), but it still stacks up above Viacom, Discovery and others
  • The digital-oriented distributors like Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon have incredible volumes of data and knowledge describing their audiences, which is a huge advantage in content creation
  • While some of the content companies have partnered with and invested in the FANGS companies, they’ve missed their chance to buy one of them or build their own; Hulu is the only example and they half-heartedly participate in it
  • Nobody has been able to successfully create a large “direct to consumer” platform with content or brands alone… Netflix had to use DVD rentals, Amazon is using ecommerce, Spotify is using music and UI. In other words, we haven’t seen someone earn lots of subscriptions and ad revenue by only saying “we have ESPN.” It’s always content paired with some other strategy.

What Rich calls the “punchline” is this great thesis: content companies — especially Disney — have to make an acquisition in order to complete their business. What should they buy? Well, all of their options SUCK. Netflix is too expensive. Snap and Twitter don’t come with subscriptions. Pandora or Spotify aren’t video platforms.

That punchline explains many of the plays we see being made around the industry: Twitter continuing to pursue video in an attempt to demonstrate its value as a video platform. Time Warner selling itself to AT&T. Netflix spending billions on original content. NBC investing heavily in Snap. The list goes on…

Development and Advertising Creative via Crowdsourcing and Committee

I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.

– British writer, G.K. Chesterton

Boy this is a GREAT quote cited by copyranter Mark Duffy on Digiday. Duffy is focusing on creative agencies in the post, explaining why a new trend of “crowdsourcing” creative work is a horrible idea.

On the digital entertainment side of media, there are examples of the same trend (that are frequently also labelled as “innovation”). For instance, Amazon, for a long time, has used crowdsourcing to determine which movies and shows it would produce. And that’s a big, obvious example. On less consumer-facing level at digital platforms and in development, I’ve experienced many teams more or less “internally” crowdsourcing their development process by allowing too many people with disparate tastes, areas of expertise and business goals to give creative notes on a project. Inevitably, projects get watered-down, regress toward the mean and join the internet “sameness” crap-trap… And it’ll only get worse as digital content gets more closely controlled by distributors.

Duffy explains some of the cons of this approach in advertising, and internal crowdsourcing is a problem in digital entertainment for the same reasons. But that G.K. Chesterton quote says it all for me.

Here’s the awkward Publicis video explaining their new creative tool:

SnapChat’s Viewability Advantage Over Facebook

What’s one of today’s prime digital advertising concerns? Viewability.

In case you’re out of the loop: Viewability is more or less a measurement of whether or not a video ad is actually viewed by an audience. (Seems odd, right? A marketer can buy and pay for an ad that was never “viewed.”) A number of factors contribute to the dwindling of this number from fast-scrolling users to bots and videos played “under the fold” or hidden in banners or buggy units.

That is why it should be very concerning that Facebook was recently accused of a less than 30% viewability rate by agencies using third-party measurement firms. Viewability is never going to be perfect and that’s OK — viewability is really just a proxy for “how much is my ad dominating that consumer’s attention” and that’s why agencies are measuring it. Some products and platforms will always perform better in this way… we love TV because that’s a big-ass screen with sight, sound and motion and I get all of it for a 30-second spot.

SnapChat’s ad product, by comparison, is extremely viewable. This is one reason that Snap has a huge advantage (esp. in terms of shifting TV ad spend), even though Facebook and Instagram have potentially slowed their growth. Snap’s ad product takes up the whole screen. It can’t be minimized, ignored or “tuned out.” Further, its users are completely engaged in the content — they’re burning the screen, skipping anything they deem unworthy of their attention. They’re leaning forward, right into your ad. Earn their consideration and you get a never-before-seen level of “dominating the consumer’s attention” for 10 seconds. It’s probably BETTER than TV.

Here’s SnapChat continuing to master product design and UI — it’s all about the user first… and just so happens to whet the advertisers’ demand for viewability.

How Apple’s iOS Advantage is Like a Content-Distribution Merger

WWDC 2017 Apple vs Google Penetration statsThere’s a quick Recode note by Tess Townsend pointing out Apple’s huge advantage over Google: they can quickly deploy new features across all of their devices. So, even a mediocre augmented reality feature would catch fire among Apple users well before it could with Google’s Android. (Apple pointed out at WWDC: 86% of iOS users have the current software, iOS 10, while only 7% have Android 7.)

This reminded me of the entire content-distribution “debate” and the mergers we’re seeing lately between the two types of companies. This Google vs. Apple AR metaphor makes it much easier to see why it’s good for content businesses to join distribution pipes (aside from the obvious data and advertising synergies).

Theoretically, Verizon can use its pipes, retail stores and devices to quickly seed new content from HuffPo, TechCrunch and content arms of AOL/Yahoo. And a new combined AT&T + Warner could launch new shows and franchises the same way. They don’t have to wait for the right cable channel to say yes or for the right network slot to open up. Then, once the show or brand or character or channel has earned a following or gained momentum, they can force their competitors to carry it or license it. Just like Apple can quickly deploy new features, a content + distribution co can quickly deploy new IP. So, whether it’s an AR revolution or the next Game of Thrones, those that own distribution are still in the driver’s seat.