Have you heard of Color? It’s the start-up that raised a staggering $41 million without a product. Unfortunately,  that capital didn’t translate into a hit and Color soon folded.

Clinkle could be the next Color. Clinkle raised an amazing $30 million, also on the back of concepts and not actual product. Unfortunately, that capital didn’t translate into a hit and…Clinkle is now pivoting.

TechCrunch has a story on the pivot, now called Treats, and it basically sounds like a debit card with rewards you give to your friends. I use the word “basically” because I’m still confused by the mechanic, despite TechCrunch laying it out in point-by-point form.

That’s got to be worrying for Treats.

People are busy and have enough problems; most won’t learn something new that’s complicated when there are already so many good alternatives.

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Fast Company has a fascinating article on Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Fire. It’s a great piece and worth the long length. Check it out and then come back here.

For those who don’t need the nuance, here’s the story’s bottom line: the Amazon Fire was Jeff Bezos’ baby. He micromanaged it like Steve Jobs, and made decisions unpopular with his team but which he pushed through anyway. One example is Dynamic Perspective, the feature that enabled the phone’s 3D effect, came at great cost and which customers didn’t end up appreciating.

The story is fascinating because it gets to the heart of intuition vs. data. Are great products born out of intuition and personal genius? Or out of market research, data analysis and testing? Microsoft is traditionally about the latter, and the one time they tried the former — Steven Sinofsky and Windows 8 — it wasn’t successful.

It appears that Amazon too tried to make that leap.

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Tim Cook is fond of citing customer satisfaction scores as an indication of Apple’s truth north — that it’s about making delightful experiences for customers first; with market share and profits further down the list.

He won’t like the most recent customer satisfaction survey about mobile phones from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, based on 70,000 consumers. And that’s because Samsung beat Apple in the latest report.

Fortunately for Cook, the survey was conducted prior to the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The bigger display just might reverse the trend.

If it doesn’t, it would be interesting to see what Cook has to say in his next keynote.

Making customer satisfaction scores the key metric is tricky business. So much of it is dependent on initial expectations that’s it’s not often a good indicator of actual product worthiness or progress.

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As entrepreneurs or as aspiring entrepreneurs, we all have pressure to succeed. Given many of us gave up dependable, rewarding careers to do our own thing, it’s a burden that can weigh heavy at times.

There’s a story out of Japan that’s a good reminder not to lose sight of what’s important: creating real value and not just the perception of it; the satisfaction of a job well done and not the pursuit of celebration and admiration.

That story is disgraced researcher Haruko Obotaka, who earlier this year claimed she discovered so-called STAP cells that can grow into any tissue in the body. For example, it could grow new human organs for sick or injured people who need them. If true, STAP cells would have been game changing for all humanity.

It was the kind of discovery on par with Louis Pasteur and vaccination — and coming from such a young, relatively attractive woman too. And so, unsurprisingly, Obotaka became an instant celebrity and national hero in Japan.

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Google announced yesterday the initial roll out of a new “store visits” metric for AdWords. Essentially, it is an attempt to trace conversion from an ad click to an actual store visit. According to Google:

With the holiday season upon us, it’s clear that the majority of sales for many industries still happen in person – in fact, roughly 95% of retail sales take place in physical stores.1 And online activities are influencing offline transactions more than ever, bringing together the digital and physical worlds. Thirty-two percent of consumers say that location-based search ads have led them to visit a store or make a purchase, so it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand the impact that search ads have in driving visits to your physical locations, whether that’s a store, hotel, auto dealership or restaurant.

The implementation, however, leaves something to be desired. Google will establish location by conventional means, e.g. geo-fencing and Wi-Fi, and which can have an error rate of over 500 meters!

This means the store visit metric will only work for certain kinds of retailers. It won’t work for stores in dense areas or in shopping malls. It’ll only work for a Costco-like mega store that’s in the middle of nowhere by itself.

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My strategy professor from business school once said that if you left your company’s strategic plan on the bus and a competitor discovered it…and you were then screwed, it was a bad strategic plan. I completely agree.

A great strategy is one that’s unique to your company. For Apple, it’s a commitment to simple designs that cater to the every-person, and to deliver integrated, vertical experiences even if that means basic feature sets. Everyone knows this, but only Apple can be Apple. Only Apple has a large, loyal fan base that absolutely trusts Apple’s product taste and are willing to always pay for it. Only Apple can attract the best talent without needing to pay top dollar for them. Apple’s war chest means they’re able to tightly control their supply chain so competitors have a hard time matching its product quality and profit margins.

Elements of Snapchat’s strategic plan were leaked in the recent hack of Sony Pictures, and so I was surprised to read a very emotional reply from the CEO of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel.

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Yesterday, I wrote how ads are a valid revenue model for online businesses, and not necessarily anti-consumer. Today, I write how display ads don’t even really work.

Intuitively, you know that to be true. How often have you actually looked, processed and clicked on an ad, much less act on it? Take those probabilities and divide them in half, because according to Google, only 44% of all display impressions were even seen by actual human beings.

The definition of seen is quite generous: at least half the ad’s pixels have to be viewable and for at least one second to be counted. So Google is counting even the ads that appear on the side that you completely ignore as you read the web page’s main body of content.

Under this definition of seen, ads that appear just “above the fold” (i.e. are viewable as soon as you arrive) and ads that are vertically long are seen more often.

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