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WLITF: Private Jets for the Masses -- A Surf Air Review

Surf Air uses the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12 for its flights [ photo courtesy of Pilatus Aircraft ].

As part of my ‘we live in the future’ series, here’s a review of an unlimited private jet service for everyone.*

*And by jet I mean turboprop, and by everyone I mean upper-middle-class people.

Also, I talk about the 'instant economy' and the concept of 'implied odds' (from poker) as it relates to taking on big challenges like Surf Air is doing (the 'what if it works' section).  

Took a Surf Air flight today (gratis), as I'm considering a membership to the 'all you can fly' service.

It's day 16 of Surf Air's 'beta.' I’m writing this on my Blackberry Q10. Yeah, the new Blackberry with the keyboard. It’s awesome. Not kidding, I love having a keyboard.

Surf Air currently operates between the tiny San Carlos airport in the Bay Area and Burbank in the Los Angeles area. They're going to add a bunch of cities to the membership including Santa Barbara (July 10), San Diego and Lake Tahoe.

It's $1,650 a month for unlimited travel between their cities, plus a $500 one-time initiation fee.

My four to six monthly Southwest flights to the Valley make it almost a 'push' for me, as I pay $199 to $250 each way on average. If I do five flights, 2.5 round trips, I would nearly break even.

Now, as a disclaimer, I don't like small planes. I can handle a small jet, but puddle jumpers and turboprop/regional airlines are not my thing.

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The 20 Companies You'll See at LAUNCH Education & Kids June 26-27, 2013

[ JoyTunes delights the judges at LAUNCH Education & Kids in June 2012. ]

We’re proud to announce the 20 companies that take the stage at LAUNCH Education & Kids this week. Tune in for Jason's fireside chat with Mitch Kapor at 1pm PT on Wednesday, June 26 followed by demos at (and again at 9am PT on June 27, when we kick off with Lynda Weinman of Our full agenda is here.


CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization that increases access to high quality educational materials for K-12 students all over the world. They offer free high-quality, standards-aligned, open content in the STEM subjects.


CollegeSnapps™ is a mobile application that connects students to their academic advisors. Through a series of live and prescribed interactions, it fosters engagement by allowing advisors to monitor a student’s progress and help the student succeed throughout college.


Crowdmark is a web application, with a paper-to-cloud bridge and a marking workflow that streamlines document assessment on a massive scale. Crowdmark helps teachers grade better.

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A YouTube Creators' Bill of Rights (Or 'A Roadmap for Building a Better YouTube')

In my last piece I explained why I didn’t want to work on YouTube’s farm no more. As promised, in this piece I will follow up on one of the two parts I couldn’t get to in the first piece: 'How Twitter, Hulu, MSN, Yahoo and Facebook -- or a next-gen YouTube startup -- could each take on YouTube effectively.'

My explanation takes the form of a 'YouTube Creators' Bill of Rights,' which can be used as a roadmap for YouTube to build sustainable bridges with their current partners -- or as a roadmap for a competitor to crush YouTube. :-)

In other words, these are the five killer features that could kill YouTube.

If you built a service around these five features, and you had some level of traffic and sales support (think Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, Facebook or my favorite Twitter), you could instantly take the top 500 channels out from under YouTube.

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I ain't gonna work on YouTube's farm no more

Editor's note: Read Jason's followup to this piece, 'A YouTube Creators' Bill of Rights,' here.

Summary: I spent the last year as a funded YouTube partner and was one of the top ~10% of content creators who had their deals renewed in ‘cycle two’ -- and I turned down their money.

In this editorial I explain:

a) Why YouTube is an amazing platform
b) The five reasons I turned down YouTube’s funding
c) Why content owners investing solely in YouTube are investing in their own demise
d) How you can outgame YouTube and suck massive value from the ecosystem
e) Exactly how Twitter, Hulu, MSN, Yahoo and Facebook -- or a next-gen YouTube -- could each take on YouTube

Just over a year ago, YouTube asked me to pitch them on making shows that would take their service from a UGC (user generated content) juggernaut to a more advertiser-friendly platform.

They needed better-looking content, produced regularly, to get the big advertisers.

Also, to be frank, they needed reliable and appropriate content. Much of YouTube is comedy, and a lot of it isn’t exactly ‘sponsor friendly’ (see Shane Dawson).

They needed folks with experience in this space, so they reached out to people like me who had a track record in web content.

The deal was simple (according to public reports): we give you seven figures to make great shows, we sell the ads, we promote your content and then we split the revenue.

Great deal! What could go wrong, right?

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I Started a Co-working Space in LA


I'm thrilled to announce that I’ve started a co-working space here in Los Angeles. Being an entrepreneur is sometimes lonely work, and having a bunch of founders around you makes it a lot easier.

We’re calling it LAUNCH Co-work, and it’s a 10,000+ square-foot, 30-foot ceiling space in Culver City with room for a dozen startups.

We’re looking for awesome collaborators to learn, share and generally change the world with. I might angel invest in some of the startups, have them on “This Week in Startups” or just talk shop in the kitchen.

Click to read more ...

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