“The danger of a single story.”

This recent thread on Reddit highlights a few noteworthy TED talks. One of the most up-voted replies was the talk “The danger of a single story.” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Adichie makes several great points during this talk, mainly related to her theme that viewing anything from just one perspective can lead to great misunderstandings. I agree with her thoughts and this line in particular stood out to me:

The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.

One of my professors recently remarked that nearly all news outlets today have become “boosters for their own causes”. You could probably extend that to “all people have become boosters for their own causes”. Perhaps it’s impossible to avoid bias, but we are all capable of seeking additional angles. We are capable of understanding a complete story provided that we put forth the energy to seek it out.

Personally, I’ve found the threat of a great misunderstanding frequently extends into personal relationships. Gossip produces unhealthy grapevines. When you hear something through the informal passing of information, the picture is often incomplete. Thus, one of the best filters I’ve discovered for “friends of good” lately is to simply take notice of who has asked for your side of the story in a particular conflict. True friends are often those who will not stand for incomplete information; they recognize the danger of a single story.

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24

07 2014

Urban Art

Last May I was fortunate to have traveled to Shanghai, China with my family. As we explored the quickly growing city on one of the touristy “Hop-on, Hop-off” busses, one particular stop grabbed my attention: Xintiandi. This is a posh car-free section of the city that is filled with high-end restaurants, shops, and other entertainment. In Xiantiandi I felt as if I was in any of the major cities of the world.

Luck was on my side during this day. My sisters pointed out a truck printing large portrait images of anyone who wanted one, and for free!

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I was intrigued, but I continued on with my family in search of a lunch spot. Minutes later, we stumbled upon more portraits that were pasted on a number of buildings from previous days.

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The artist and TED Prize winner “JR” had been doing his “Inside Out” project in Shanghai. It was an art experience unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Art in public, in your face, and it was classy. It was designed to reach people who don’t seek out art from galleries and museums.

There is tremendous value in institutions such as The Met, The Louvre, The Hermitage, etc but for the most part they are one directional. The experience I had in Shanghai allowed every day people to participate, including myself, and this extra dimension is what pushes the boundary to make Inside Out so special.

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Urban art continued to make appearances as we continued on our trip throughout China:

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This is a pop-up photo gallery named “Power of the Image” outside The Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China. According to Kodak’s website:

The award-winning images in the Power of the Image reinforce world peace, the advancement of human civilization, the protection of our environment, and uniquely highlight photography as a way of expression.

The Temple of Heaven is one of the places on earth I would least expect a photo gallery of this variety to appear. This exhibit succeeded in changing the scenery outside a major Beijing landmark. It was also refreshing to see this despite knowing that I was exploring a country with some of the most oppressive laws, terrible pollution, and little freedom of expression. Or perhaps it was propaganda? I’ll let you decide.   

Perhaps the most recognized form of urban art is known as “graffiti”, and the most broadly known artist is “Banksy”. But there’s even more examples of art and artists who aren’t permanently defacing public property! Here are some examples of urban artists and movements that I’ve enjoyed learning about recently:

_

Now what is the purpose of urban art? I think each artist is driven by their own personal mission but they hold one common belief: Art changes perceptions.

To quote JR, “What we see changes who we are.” and further:

In some ways, art can change the world. Art is not supposed to change the world, to change practical things, but to change perceptions. Art can change the way we see the world. Art can create an analogy. Actually the fact that art cannot change things makes it a neutral place for exchanges and discussions, and then enables you to change the world.

I think attempting to change perceptions (with positive intentions) is a noble cause in itself. But urban street art completes the picture for me because it’s accessible. Every day people experience and are exposed to art by simply living their life as normal. And sometimes they can even participate in the cause. To me that’s flipping the idea of art inside out. 

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23

06 2014

Surge Pricing Goes Mainstream

When I think about what differentiates Uber as a convenience driven customer experience, I think about their ability to dynamically price rides based on real-time supply and demand. The “surge pricing” concept is not new but Uber is the first consumer tech startup to shove price fluctuations into the face of its customers. You can easily get an Uber car on a cold rainy day in New York as long as you are willing to pay the additional price.

This blog post “Beyond Uber, Venture Investors Predict Mainstream Surge Pricing” in The Wall Street Journal describes that airlines and hotels have been doing this for years, but now new data collection technology has allowed for demand information to affect prices in other industries. The article mentions that some critics view this as strictly price-gouging. However, it makes sense to me that a luxury/convenience oriented business should be able to charge more for their services when demand far exceeds supply. Keep in the mind that in the case of a company such as Uber or Airbnb, it’s individual agents (drivers and property owners) that stand to gain the majority of this pricing increase.

BeyondPricing will likely bring this dynamic surge based pricing model to thousands of Airbnb hosts. Table8 gets you access to last minute reservations at popular restaurants. And I can definitely see this trend continuing into much of the healthcare industry.

On the flip side it will be interesting to see if any companies allow for a price-hedging option, meaning that the customer could lock-in a guaranteed price in exchange for purchasing the service well in advance. Southwest Airlines enjoyed the benefits of price-hedging during the recent US recession when they decided to lock themselves into jet fuel prices at early 2000′s prices. This benefit is of course passed onto consumers in the form of lower fares. Competitors to Uber such as Lyft are already developing a reputation for this type of service when demand is low and supply is high: Lyft offers 10-50 percent off rides during off-peak hours.

Keep a close eye out for even more industries to begin experiencing drastic changes in pricing; it’s likely their will be many opportunities as an influx of readily available information on supply and demand opens the free markets even more.

P.S. Kevin Novak recently talked about how a simple interface change at Uber dramatically changed consumer behavior during surge pricing. Check it out!

14

06 2014

Inflection Points

On the last page of a few recent National Geographic issues there has been a section named “The Moment” which describes a “moment of peak energy”, an inflection point, discovered by one of their photographers on assignment. The idea behind this special photo blurb is that each cover story has a decisive moment which captures the most authentic energy of the subject.

My thoughts are often similar to a reporting photographer waiting to capture the essential moment of their subject: I have an undying fascination for observing moments in life during which we come to realize happy and painful truths. This past winter was no exception.

I am writing this post to dive deeper into what it means to re-evaluate yourself and the beliefs about the people who surround you. First I will begin with an excerpt from an interview of David Foster Wallace’s opinion on great art, and then I will take a look into some of the work by Marina Keegan.

Great Art

Wallace describes that great art requires a selfless emotional leap in an interview originally published by Larry McCaffery:

Really good work probably comes out of a willingness to disclose yourself, open yourself up in spiritual and emotional ways that risk making you look banal or melodramatic or naive or unhip or sappy, and to ask the reader really to feel something. To be willing to sort of die in order to move the reader, somehow.  … Maybe it’s as simple as trying to make the writing more generous and less ego-driven.

I am proud of this blog in many ways, but one recurring self doubt is that I am overly mechanical in my writing; I am unready, unwilling, or unable to disclose how it really feels to be in my shoes. Any of my close friends will tell you that I speak of a few key influential moments in my short life, some of which I was able to capture here: We Weren’t Born To FollowPeer Groups, and Peer Groups Continued. Unsurprisingly these posts (including this one) have coincided heart-break in business or life, and for better or worse.

You would also probably not be surprised to learn that these “sappy” posts don’t quite produce the SEO home-runs that an exposé of Rap Genius might bring, for example. But the page views aren’t my key metric here. This is just my brain to your brain, my heart to yours.

It’s my goal to begin publishing writing that brings out my emotion more often than I have in the past.

Marina Keegan

One great writer I discovered during my time away from school is Marina Keegan, a graduate of Yale in 2012 and the victim of fatal car crash shortly afterward. Despite the tragic nature of her death and unrealized post-college ambition (she was due to begin writing for The New Yorker just weeks later), I learned that she had an uncanny ability to narrate some of the most pivotal moments in life.

Through a series of short essays in The Opposite of Loneliness, Keegan captures three significant life lessons that I have been able to relate to in my own life. I’ll explain these lessons with help from a book review in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and then offer my anecdotal evidence. It is my hope that you may identify with these moments as well.

I’ve named these lessons “The Cheat”,  “Fleeting Happiness”, and “B-team”.

The Cheat

In “The Ingenue,” a young woman catches her boyfriend cheating at a casual game of Yahtzee, throwing into question everything she believes to be true about him.

This is the gut feeling when your whole world spins 180 degrees. It’s important to note that the cheating action is insignificant but the overarching moral dilemma is profound.

What do you do in this situation? What I would probably do is step onto an orthogonal vector: a diverging observation point in which judgement is neither made or discarded. In one sense, the insignificant cheat is exactly that, no stakes, nothing to lose. In a more rational sense, any cheat signifies a moment of indignity.

I’ve found that we humans tend to have an irrational amount of good hope for the person we love or admire. It’s easy for infatuating feelings of a special person to override any judgement derived from an insignificant cheat. In other words, the complex and multidimensional nature of humans covers up our own unique flaws and our ability to see them in others.

I am suggesting that we pay closer attention to these seemingly insignificant moments because they are the small actions that constantly define us. In any outcome we have the ability to forgive others, and that’s important.

A couple of years ago I remember this painful feeling the first time I watched one my good friends smoke a cigarette. I was absolutely mind-blown that someone I trusted so deeply had happily accepted a life of routinely smoking cigarettes. We are still close friends, but in that moment my expectations were temporarily shattered as if I didn’t really know that person.

Fleeting Happiness

“Baggage Claim” also explores this same concept as a young couple visit a store that sells unclaimed baggage, and the thought of the personal photos deleted from the found digital cameras forces the male narrator to contemplate the fleeting nature of happiness — how quickly happy moments occur, and how quickly they can be erased.

Keegan is emphasizing that nothing lasts forever. Most of us work so hard to build up towards certain goals, but one slip up can reduce that progress to nothing.

The Swedish House Mafia reminded their fans of fleeting happiness during their final performance at Ultra Music Festival in 2013:

“Remember your last day in school? This is our last day in school. We can tell you how it feels, and that we are sad, and that we are ending Swedish House Mafia together.”

but they reminded us that fleeting happiness does not always have to be an unhappy memory:

“or we can tell you how it feels to have played for one million people on this One Last Tour. We can tell you how it feels to look in people’s eyes, with their hands in the air, with smiles and screaming at you because they love your music”

During this time of year (end of the school calendar) it’s impossible for students to not think about how things were vastly different a year or six months ago. Sometimes even less than than that, just moments ago.

When I lived in New York in one moment I would be dancing with my friends late into the night. Moments later I was alone in a dark apartment facing my own psychology, thirsty, hungry, and awake.

Or the moment when you leave the table at the last family holiday dinner. The last page of a thrilling novel. The moment your cell phone screen cracks. And of course the moment that ends a relationship.

One of the most important lessons I learned after leaving college is that everything can change instantly. Withdrawing from school and moving to California instantly removed me from a social support structure. Eventually the fleeting nature of my happiness pushed me towards a different course. I needed to make a change in my life to optimize for happiness, and by returning to Wake Forest I got the instant change-back that I needed more than anything else.

From my experience the cliché “you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone” stands true.

B-team

“Cold Pastoral,” the most striking short story, is a melancholy exploration of love in an age where our past never really leaves us. Claire, a college student, learns of the sudden death of a casual lover. Claire’s mourning process is full of anxiety as she grieves for someone she shared a bed with but whom she ultimately didn’t understand. This leads Claire to a painful universal truth: namely, that we are not guaranteed leading roles in other people’s stories, no matter how much we feel we deserve them.

This is probably the hardest lesson because of the line right here: “we are not guaranteed leading roles in other people’s stories”. No matter how hard we beg for forgiveness or try to improve our situation, we are not guaranteed unconditional love. Every person deserves to be loved, but I don’t think from and to whom is something that you can choose all that much.

This lesson is the hardest to accept because your past continually affects you whether you like it or not. My english professor this semester regularly projected his skepticism of the word “closure”. Yes, in a mechanical sense any situation can be terminated and escaped, but the term “closure” is really just a coping term. Both good and bad life experiences never truly leave you.

Fortunately at Wake Forest and in the startup world I’ve found a handful of people that deeply care about me. When I see any of those people leave my life it has always left a feeling of emptiness inside. In just a moment you are moved from someone’s front and center vision to the periphery. Despite real feelings making it hard to embrace this change, we have to move on and be thankful for the past.

Extrapolating this lesson further, I see this lesson applying to many tough moments in life: the classic story of a childhood sports saga when a kid doesn’t make the “varsity” team and gets sidelined with a “less talented” group of peers. When a person doesn’t get the job promotion they feel that they so much deserve. Or when a divorced parent is not granted custody of their child.

. . . 

So, if people are fundamentally flawed, happiness is always teetering, and our leading role amongst people we care for is not guaranteed, what should we strive for? My friend Paul Dejoe often reminds me that striving for sincerity is the best we can do:

We forget that we are just passing through this world so we put emphasis on possessions and status when all we have to leave behind is how we’ve made others feel.

Paul suggests that we all want to be relevant to other people but he says that the only thing of true relevance is how we make others feel. Perhaps if we are more generous and less ego driven, then we can be better people through the sincere energy in our interactions.

I’m talking about the moment of when you decide to speak up in class instead of sitting back in mutual acceptance. The moment of when you say “hi!” to the stranger in the elevator instead of pretending like they are just air. The moment when you don’t cheat at the causal game of Yahtzee. These are the decisive moments of peak energy. These are the inflection points.

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10

05 2014

Google News Growth Hack Exposed

In the past I’ve found Google News to be an acceptable source of headline news because it organizes a ton of information very efficiently and collects similar articles on major topics. For example, stories on the Ukranian crisis often include several links to news agencies in the US and Europe, thus offering me the latest content from various angles. This is great because users of Google News can synthesize the gist of recent world news very quickly.

For serious journalistic inquiry I do not recommend Google News. And now, I hesitate to recommend it to anyone for any use:

Today I was casually browsing Google News on my iPhone and I saw an interesting story about the Egyptian pyramids:

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After clicking on the Egyptian pyramid story, I learned a bit about the pyramids of money some Google News publishers are making…

I expected to be linked to a news story on “The Standard Digital News” about this interesting discovery. Instead I was redirected via the url “http://c.mobpartner.mobi/?s=1080793&subid=2eus” to the tracking domain “hastrk3.com”:

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I was confused, so I tapped the screen. Any click on this screen, not just the two buttons, leads to an automatic redirect to the app store:

 

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According to AffPlus.com, a publisher who refers a download is paid about $1.75 for a US user. The payment is likely via the company “MobPartner” as per the redirect above.

To summarize, I was interested in reading more about the Egyptian pyramids and instead I was redirected to download a game named “Dragon City”. At this point it was abundantly clear that Google News is being gamed by some of their publishers, and those publishers are definitely making a hefty profit from this simple mobile redirect.

So how does a news organization get onto Google News in the first place? First, you don’t need to be a vetted news organization. Any site can be added once it is approved based on Google’s explicit guidelines found here.

The second guideline states:

Journalistic standards. Original reporting and honest attribution are longstanding journalistic values. If your site publishes aggregated content, you will need to separate it from your original work, or restrict our access to those aggregated articles via your robots.txt file.

Let’s go back to the original article that I hoped to read:

Scientists say they have finally solved the mystery of how the Egyptian pyramids were built 4,000 years later

You may notice at the bottom of the article the author name “Mirror” makes it clear that this article is aggregated content. Try copying + pasting the first couple of sentences into Google and you will see this story has been published on hundreds of other news outlets. Thus, no original reporting here.


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The fifth guideline states:

Readability. Clearly written articles with correct spelling and grammar make for a much better user experience. Limiting your use of distracting ads and auto-load videos also allows users to more easily focus on your article content.

For mobile users, this publisher “The Standard Digital News” practices a “sneaky redirect“. Again, a clear violation of the Google News guidelines.

Thankfully, Google has a form for submitting problematic publishers and articles found here. But you may notice that the default issues are heavily directed towards existing publishers who are having trouble getting their content properly syndicated.

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The form appears to be just a user support feature for the publishers of Google News, not a reliable Spam reporting tool.

Sounds like the wild west of news, right? “The Standard Digital News” is a real news organization based in Kenya, but I bet they aren’t the only publishers violating the guidelines. The frightening reality is that anyone can make their own news site and in just a couple of days see their content on Google News. Take a look at this thread in an online Internet Marketing forum. All a person has to do is follow a handful of steps:

  1. Setup your domain with a new WordPress news theme.
  2. Hire writers from oDesk to rewrite news articles for $2 each. (Being sure to use copyscape to ensure “journalistic quality”.)
  3. Start with 150 back-dated articles to show that the site has some momentum.
  4. Setup a nice logo and real phone number.
  5. Double check that the site complies with the google webmaster guidelines.
  6. Submit for approval.

 

And then boom! You could be a publisher on Google News, and you could deploy “sneaky redirects” for the thousands of mobile users referred to your site. This is a harsh reality and I sincerely hope that Google will monitor the quality of their Google News results as closely as their SEO guidelines.

04

05 2014

2014 TEDxWakeForestU

During the past six months one of my primary commitments was helping to produce the TEDxWakeForestU event. On February 22nd, 2014 I had a fun day ensuring all of the speakers’ logistics were taken care of as they shared their new ideas at Wait Chapel on the Wake Forest campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

I’m proud of how the talks turned out. We had a great lineup of speakers representing many new ideas from different areas of technology, entertainment, and design. You can watch them here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsRNoUx8w3rPdjYMEtCNT_02e3cLvdLyR

Kevin Novak’s talk was selected as a TEDx talk of the week: (Data Scientist from Uber)

Thank you to all who supported this year’s conference!

13

04 2014

Ultra

It’s that time of year again: spring cleaning, summer planning, and you can finally feel the heat of the sun on your skin again. But most importantly, it’s the end of Miami Music Week, the undisputed leading electronic dance music event in the world.

During Miami Music Week, the top DJ’s, record producers, club owners, and fans from around the world flock to Miami, Florida for a week of sharing and listening to new electronic music. Topping off all of the festivities is the Ultra Music Festival, the greatest electronic dance music event of all-time.

I don’t usually write about events because the quality of specific events tends to be subjected to waves of pop-culture interest, but Ultra is different in my opinion. It’s unlike any event I’ve ever experienced.

I first heard of Ultra when I went shopping for computer speakers at a Best Buy in South Miami during the summer of 2010. The Best Buy rep asked if I had heard about this thing called Ultra – An all-night dance party on South Beach. I told him no, but I was immediately intrigued.

Throughout the next year my exposure to EDM increased and things started clicking when I stumbled onto Avicii’s set from Ultra in March 2011. There, on Ultra’s main stage, Avicii debuted “Levels”. Over the course of the next year Levels became a worldwide sensation and finally brought EDM into mainstream pop-culture.

Beginning in late 2011, everywhere from the frat house to the local coffee shop to H&M stores were playing Levels or a derivative of electronic music. This wave of interest had me hooked and I was all set to attend Ultra in March 2012. Unfortunately the timing didn’t work out because I was participating in the Y Combinator Winter 2012 funding cycle, and I ended up watching Ultra 2012 from my computer monitor.

However, the next year in 2013, I vowed to make all efforts to attend. It was well worth the wait.

What is Ultra like exactly?

Ultra is a three day dance party in Bayfront Park, Miami, Florida. Nearly 100,000 people attend during the weekend, including people from literally everywhere in the world. Koreans, Swedes, Italians, Brazilians, Bahamians, Australians, Germans, and many more take pride in their identity by wearing their country flag throughout. And the majority of attendees enjoy the festival from 5:00PM – 12AM each day.

The synths of electronica radiate throughout the park, originating from one of several stages setup in a theme park layout. Most Ultranauts are likely to spend a decent amount of time at the Main Stage where the headline acts perform, but most people are also frequently interweaving throughout the weekend to see their favorite sets.

Beyond the waves of euphoric house music, creative stage designs, costumes, and endless dancing, is the rave culture “PLUR”. Peace, love, unity, and respect. Tony Hsieh from Zappos talks a lot about this culture and its positive impact on his life and business. When you are at Ultra, most people are extremely friendly and respectful. It’s not uncommon for strangers to share light diffraction glasses, or for random people to talk to you about interesting things on their mind.

Don’t believe me?

My sister Megan posted this photo tonight from the plane she flew on from Newark to Miami. Already a great new experience, new friends, and the common bond is Ultra. Oh by the way, Ultra knows it too, they retweeted the photo:

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For three days, Ultra is community of people who are celebrating house music, friendship and happiness.

The great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said “The limits of your language are the limits of your world.” While I normally would agree with this statement, Ultra is not complicit. Ultra puts traditional language aside for a weekend and uses electronic music to open up the world.

P.S. here’s a great new track from 3lau who will be kicking off Ultra 2014:

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27

03 2014

Reading and Writing Technology

Two skills have repeatedly served me well throughout school and startups: reading and writing.

While this may seem obvious at first, I think too many people take these skills for granted. The high tolerance of mediocre writing, and a growing reading deficit among college students in particular, is a dangerous signal if we wish to have a truly competent and educated workforce. Writing and reading well takes consistent effort with feedback. Thus, I’m always excited when I see people building tools to help make people read and write better.

Luckily, I’ve discovered three impressive tools in the past few months:

  • 750 Words
    • Write 750 words every day, unfiltered and unedited. Just get the words out of your head and onto the screen.
  • Hemingway
    • Useful for instantly identifying common grammar mistakes. It’s like having an english teacher peaking right over your shoulder.
  • Spritz
    • Just as sprinting is to running, spritz is to reading. Read and retain more on the go.
 

After using these tools you will notice that they are all simple and immediately useful. Common hindrances in technology products such as on-off switches,  complicated user-interfaces, instruction manuals, etc. are not found with any of these. Instead they all follow the 0123 design architecture. Again, any user can derive value from these products immediately.

Of course the heavyweights in terms of new reading and writing technology include the Amazon Kindle, tablets, and audio books. These innovations alone have helped to expand the minds of millions of people, while also helping us retain vast digital libraries. But I think it’s important to note that we are lucky to see even more reading and writing tools developed on the Internet, and they are allowing us to practice our literacy skills in ways that we could’ve only dreamed of a decade ago.

28

02 2014

Email Responsiveness

One of the more important yet subtle lessons I’ve learned through my entrepreneurial experiences is the importance of email responsiveness. I’ve found that many successful founders share the common trait of insanely fast email response.

Specifically, I mean that if you have a request for a trusted founder friend with this trait, they nearly always get back to you within hours, sometimes within minutes. They are often able to achieve this because their responses are clear and concise. When they send their response, a decision has been made, or work has been delegated. For every email request beyond trusted friends, this is obviously not possible on all occasions. But for the majority of email requests from close friends, I’ve noticed they respond clearly and concisely within an hour.

Less determined and indecisive folks seem to respond more casually, perhaps forgetting altogether. If a severely delayed response does arrive, it often contains a verbose apology or additional thoughts that make the task at hand unnecessarily complicated.

Sam Altman recently wrote about “Super Successful Companies” and ended with this note:

*They move fast. They make quick decisions on everything.  They respond to emails quickly.  This is one of the most striking differences between great and mediocre founders.  Great founders are execution machines.

The essence is right there in that last line: Great founders are execution machines.

An easy example is the Rap Genius team. Mahbod responded to my cold email in the “RapGenius Growth Hack Exposed” saga within 5 minutes. This was not an anomaly, the Rap Genius team gets things done and their growth proves it.

This means you need to equip yourself with a smartphone.

18

01 2014

RapGenius Growth Hack Exposed

Yesterday RapGenius posted the following announcement on their Facebook page:

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As a contributor to various blogs and an endearing fan of RapGenius, I took a special interest in this opportunity. So, I emailed Mahbod for more details:

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Mahbod quickly responded:

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What you see here is the beginning of a potential growth hack for RapGenius. To understand this growth hack, you must be aware of the business of RapGenius, and why Bieber is important to their growth.

The Business of RapGenius

RapGenius makes its business off music lyrics. Millions of people search the lyrics to their favorite songs daily. RapGenius wants to be the first result that people click on when people are searching for any lyric.

Their business depends on their search engine ranking position (SERP’s) on Google. Hyperlinks connect the web and determine SERP’s. Thus, the most powerful weapon RapGenius can deploy is a series of powerful hyperlinks. You can see in Mahbod’s email that he is asking for hyperlinks from high-page rank sites (personal blogs) with anchor text that mentions tracks from Bieber’s most recent album.

Furthermore, the 80-20 rule applied to RapGenius’s business indicates that 80% of their traffic comes from only a select 20% of their lyrics database. According to Alexa.com, “Get Lucky” and “Holy Grail” were the top traffic drivers to RapGenius for most of 2013. However, music is highly cyclical, and the traffic from previous winners will eventually fade. Looking forward into 2014, it’s only logical that RapGenius would hope for Bieber’s new songs to refer them enormous traffic.

Why Bieber Is Important to the Growth of RapGenius

Justin Bieber just released his new album “Journals” last night; Beliebers will be searching for the lyrics to his new tracks repeatedly in the upcoming months. To demonstrate the magnitude of the Beliebers, check out this graphic: Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus were the most searched musicians in 2013, but Bieber is consistently the most searched person over time.

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High SERP’s for Bieber are the top prize for RapGenius, assuming they want to continue to dramatically increase their traffic.

Summary

  • RapGenius wants to grow quickly.
  • In order to grow quickly, they need to rank well on Google searches for Justin Bieber’s new songs.
  • In order to rank well, they need backlinks with anchor text that specifically mention Bieber’s songs.
  • They are reaching out to their friends asking for backlinks in exchange for a tweet.

 

It’s surprising to me that RapGenius, a company with $15 million in financing, would openly execute such a frugal strategy for their link-building efforts. There are many consulting firms and savvy internet marketers that specialize in this work. We’ll see what Google decides for their efforts.

Update 12/23: Just added these links. Let’s see what happens to the SERP’s…

1. Justin Bieber – Heartbreaker Lyrics
2. Justin Bieber – All That Matters Lyrics
3. Justin Bieber – Hold Tight Lyrics
4. Justin Bieber – Recovery Lyrics
5. Justin Bieber – Bad Day Lyrics
6. Justin Bieber – All Bad Lyrics
7. Justin Bieber – PYD Lyrics
8. Justin Bieber – Roller Coaster Lyrics
9. Justin Bieber – Change Me Lyrics
10. Justin Bieber – Confident Lyrics
11. Justin Bieber – Memphis Lyrics
12. Justin Bieber – One Life Lyrics
13. Justin Bieber – What’s Hatnin’ Lyrics
14. Justin Bieber – Backpack Lyrics
15. Justin Bieber – Swap it Out Lyrics
Justin Bieber – Journals Tracklist Lyrics

Update 12/24: Removed the links.

23

12 2013