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My Mantra

Posted on December 1, 2010 at 6:59 AM Comments comments (69)

"Surround yourself with value creators so that you can continue to be open with your heart and mind in an environment based on grace, merit and generosity." -me


"All we need to do is make sure to keep talking." (Prepare to be Astounded)

Posted on August 30, 2010 at 4:04 AM Comments comments (46)
A friend of mine on Facebook shared a series of inspirational postcards made by his friend. One of them had a headline saying that 1,330 years are spent on Facebook everyday based on a citation that 700,000,000,000 minutes are spent on Facebook everyday. I was about to click Share on the photo but decided to do a quick check on the math.

First, I searched for that fact. I found the link below from Facebook saying:
People on Facebook

More than 500 million active users
50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
Average user has 130 friends
People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

I quickly shot a message over to the creator of the postcard correcting his citation and saying that's a monthly stat not a daily stat. 
Then I decided to do the calculation myself. I expected the the number of years to go down. However what I got was this:
700,000,000,000 minutes = 1,328,172 years per month
1,328,172/30 days = 44,393 years a day spent on facebook
Let me write that again. 44,393 years a day. 1,328,172 years a month.

 [Slide created by Cory Jim of Empowered Presentations]

This made me think of a quote from from Stephen Hawking:
"For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn't have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking." This was used in Pink Floyd's song "Keep Talking" from their 1994 Album "Division Bell." []

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Faebook has unleashed an unprecedented conversation. The world is talking. We are talking  in the micro-scale and the macro-scale. The social graph is much about a conversational graph as it is about our physical connections that tie us together. In the end, as Hawking points out, humanity's saving grace could come from continued talking. This conversation can never be bottled up again. The pandora's box of conversation has been unleashed and we can never be muted again. No government can ultimately stop it. And this organized conversation is not a tower of babel but a tower of meaning. In all this historic time spent people from around the world are coming closer together, reconnecting and re-architecting the landscape of our shared humanity.
The good that will potentially come in the decades ahead from the world coming together in a way and scale never before seen will be Facebook's legacy.  That legacy will be defined by the very product decisions made by Zuckerberg and team. I have said before that Facebook's product and policy decision have more effect on humanity than most governments let alone any other companies.  It is a heavy burden to have but one that holds so much potential for good if handled well. The key is make those decisions and make sure that they are learning from and informed by the very character and evolution of humanity's conversation. 
Finally, as a research nerd, seeing these staggering numbers makes me yearn for more efforts to support science and research projects like SETI and genetics research. More product innovation in the future could be done to support education and reading. Imagine a social Khan's Academy for example. Some of these innovations could come from Facebook and others by other developers building on top of Facebook. Facebook if leveraged this way at this scale, using simple social game mechanics, could potentially contribute to the solutions to many global issues through the crowd-sourced contributions of millions of people. Wouldn't that be something? 
-Shervin Pishevar

Thanks to Cory Jim of Empowered Presentations for the inspiration. 

New America Declaration

Posted on July 4, 2010 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (22)


"The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation."  ~Woodrow Wilson


New America Declaration

Shervin Pishevar

July 4th, 2010

We believe that the founding fathers formed a firmament that divided the world between light and darkness. The Free were promised in prepetuity unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A government was established whose sole and sacred duty was to protect these rights from assault.  Over centuries the Nation was reborn; enduring a Civil War shedding the blood of brothers to universally guarantee such sacrosanct rights. Two World Wars were fought at a cost of millions of our sons to extend and protect such rights for citizens of other Nations.

Now a ceaseless, invisible and silent war has flung the founding fathers firmaments asunder; a perpetual wave has eroded the solid banks of the principles established by them. The Ship of State has run off course without a captain; aimlessly navigating the waters and stranding the sacred rights of its Citizens. No longer are Citizens of this Nation or the world guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A modern form of slavery has arisen that guarantees life for many without happiness and the misery of dreams deferred and unrealizable. The founding fathers greatest dream has turned into a nightmare of a Government now established that organizes its powers in such form as to most efficiently assail our safety and happiness.

Note: This is a work in progress. I want to hear feedback before I write the concluding section and call to actions. This was inspired by continuing conversations with my good friend Auren Hoffman about Start Up Nations and a dinner hosted by the amazing chef Michael Hebb by the Frank Lloyd Wrights Marden House at the home of AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey at Summit DC 2010. We were asked to reimagine the Declaration of Independence anew and this is the what I presented with final edits done today on the birthday of my amazing country America. America has always been to be the single greatest idea ever invented and one that we must constantly diligently protect, spread and give ever more energy and vigor to so that freedoms flame will burn anew for everyone here and everywhere. I was inspired by many at the dinner to begin sharing this with more people. I hope to receive comments that I can then finalize as a new declaration. There is much work for my generation to do and think we need new and organized collective efforts to reimagine America and the American idea. I plan on organizing a meetup around this very idea and invite anyone interested in participating to contact me.

"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave."  ~Elmer Davis

On Why I Became Executive Chairman. Lessons I want to share with other entrepreneurs. (originally on Quora) by Shervin Pishevar

Posted on May 31, 2010 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (10)

I thought I would share my experience recruiting a CEO and moving to the Executive Chairman role for other founders/entrepreneurs to learn from. I spent a year searching for an amazing CEO for SGN to help take it to the next level. I met Randy Breen in March 2009 and spent the rest of the year forging a great relationship with him.

Randy was highly recommended to me by a number of my trusted mentors. Randy had joined EA when it was less than 100 people and pre-IPO and spent 15 years there helping build EA. He then joined Lucas Arts and spent 5 years helping build the gaming business. Prior to EA Randy spent 4 years in the Navy in a nuclear submarine. That background plus racing Ducati's thoroughly impressed me.

I reached out to mentors andfriends like Reid Hoffman, as well as other unnamed mentors in very large companies, to learn how how they handled  recruiting a top CEO to their start ups. I learned a lot from those interactions. Some of the key takeaways were:

1. Bring the ideal candidate into the company in an interim title like COO but give them a CEO's package interms of equity and pay.

2. Internally announce that the person you are bringing in is effectively running the company as CEO and thatyou (the founder) are Executive Chairman.

3. Give the interim candidate the room to run the company without too much interference so that you can watch their performance.

4. If things are working well don't wait longer than 6 months to promote the interim candidate officially to CEO. 

I feel very lucky to have had such sage advice about this process. I have heard about a lot of nightmare scenarios where the wrong candidate, the wrong process or a combination of both wrecked or permanently debilitated a company, a culture and/or a team. Mistakes in leadership transitions such as this are very difficult to recover from especially in a fast moving start up and/or space.

I find that, often times, founders are married to the CEO position for the wrong reasons.You should only remain CEO if you truly believe there is no one in the world better than you as CEO to help grow the company. If you find that person and you decide not to recruit them then you have done yourself, your team and your shareholders a huge disservice. I have found that there is a lot of surprising confusion from founders about the difference between a Chairman and Executive Chairman of a company. Chairman is not active and heads the Board of Directors. Executive Chairman is active and works at the company day-to-day (with the focus and role something that can be defined to suit the specific company).

There is a small ratio of founder CEO's who are in the right evolutionary and developmental time and space in their careers as entrepreneurs and business leaders to successfully transition from very fast moving founders in a small start up to a larger company with hundreds if not thousands of employees. Bill Gates and now Mark Zuckerberg are the exceptional outliers at the far end of the spectrum of this example.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page are examples of exceptional outliers in the other end of the spectrum who successfully recruited an incredible CEO in Eric Schmidt at exactly the right inflection point in Google's history. They created a unique management and leadership structure perfectly aligned for Google's culture and future growth. It is easy to forget that when Larry and Sergey recruited Eric Schmidt in the summer of 2001 the Google business was only a $70 million business. The timing of this transition was, in hindsight, immaculate.

There are examples in between this spectrum littered with horror stories where Board members and/or entrepreneurs misjudged the timing, either too early or late, or the candidates fit, which led to unrecoverable dents in the businesses growth.

In my case, after observing Randy'sperformance from September 2009 to late December 2009 I grew certain that I had made the right choice. After seeing him hit every single milestone and deadline, especially during the crucial Christmas holiday season for iPhone apps, I decided to pull the trigger and promote him officially to CEO. First, however, I assembled my key leadership team (without Randy) and asked each of them if they would give their vote ofconfidence in Randy as CEO. To a person, they all voted for him with absolute confidence.

Randy was getting married in Australia the last week of December. I waited for him to come back right at new years and invited him and his wife to a home cooked Persian meal. After the dinner, I took Randy for a walk and walked over a few blocks away to Steve Jobs' house for inspiration. It was there that I told him that I wanted to promote him to CEO of SGN right at the cusp of a new year. I knew the timing was perfect and that there would be no better time to start a new year and a new beginning both professionally and personally for him. Everything was aligned perfectly. To my joy he accepted wholeheartedly and we both hugged. We looked at Steve Jobs' house and we thanked him for the incredible opportunity he had opened for so many new companies like ours in the mobile space.

That night I went home inspired and wrote this email to my Board and investors:

Dear Board,

As you know, in September when we hired Randy I followed David Sze's advice about how Reid Hoffman handled the hiring of Jeff Weiner: give him a CEO's package, give him an interim period to run the company as if he is a CEO and when you are sure that he is the right guy promote him without hesitation.

I have been blessed with mentors who I can count on and learn from. This was an important process for me and I couldn't have done it without them. Inthe  preceding months, I reached out to various entrepreneurial friends and mentors like Eric Schmidt, Reid Hoffman, Bobby Yazdani and Jack Dorsey to seek their advice. What was fascinating was that almost allof them agreed on the main meta and micro issues. One of my mentors hit it out of the park with this gem:


"The other piece of advice I would have is to embrace it enthusiastically. People will instinctively smell your hesitation or hacks to the purity of the change. And it only backfires. It hurts your reputation, makesyou look weak/insecure, and hampers the chances to have the company succeed, not to mention Randy.  Own it, act as it is your initiative [which it is], give Randy  all the support and rope to climb or fall, and then monitor closely."

Last week, I went to dinner with Reid Hoffman and the key takeaways from my discussion with him was that he felt like he could and should have done the switch over to Jeff sooner. The risk in not calibrating the timing is losing someone like Randy's interest and impacting our 2010 goals. I have been watching Randy closely and giving him room to lead and I am convinced he is ready.

I invited Randy and his wife to dinner at our home tonight. I took Randy on a walk by Steve Jobs house for inspiration and brought this up and he enthusiastically embraced it and hugged me. He has been waiting forthis moment his whole career and is ready to hit the ground running.

I would like your support and we can do an official vote on at the Board call on Tuesday. I will separately bring my executive leadershiptogether and will announce it. Randy is very popular in the company andI am sure they will all embrace it. I will become an operational Executive Chairman and Randy would be the CEO reporting to the Board. All reports in the company would be under Randy.  We will then make anannouncement later in the month publicly.

Iwant to thank also deeply thank David Sze and Justin Fishner Wolfson for  their advice throughout this process. I look forward to growing SGN with you all and Randy to become the number one Mobile Social Gaming company in 2010 and beyond. These are exciting times. Look forward to our call on Tuesday.


Top 5 Predictions for 2010

Posted on December 31, 2009 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (34)
DISCLAIMER: These are all wild guesses and some tongue firmly in cheek predictions. These are not based on any factual information other than my own edumacated guesses.


Facebook files to go public in first half of 2010 to raise at least $2 billion after hitting $1.2-$1.5 billion revenue run rate. Facebook goes public in second half of 2010 (between April and September 2010) at $20-25 billion market capitalization. Nasdaq ticker symbol might be FBOK or BOOK (FACE is taken) although I think FRND, POKE or ZUCK would be cute. Facebook millionaires from vintage years 2004-2007 era go traveling around the world, starting/funding charities and starting new cool companies.  IPO propels David Kirkpatrick's book The Facebook Effect to the best sellers list- yet another example of the Facebook effect.

2. Activision Blizzynga

Zynga hits $750-$900m run rate by year end 2010. Files to go public by end of 2010.  Friendship between Kotick and Pincus leads to Zynga getting bought by Activision Blizzard (ATVI) (Blizzynga!) for $4-5 billion stock/cash deal in December 2010. Reduced virality of web-based social gaming on platforms such as Facebook and increasing ad rates help make it clear this was a great result for the company versus an IPO.  Mark Pincus buys a bigger jet to supplement his cool Micro-Jet. Pincus stays on at Activision and gets groomed to be the next CEO or he becomes a VC at a top firm like Kleiner Perkins. 


LinkedIn files to public by years end. I would expect LinkedIN to raise at least $800-$1 billion at a minimum $4-$5 billion market capitalization and hitting a run rate of at least $750m by end of 2010. Look for Linkedin to make a huge acquisition in the space

4. Apple-Google Mobile Wars Heat Up

iPhone continues its incredible march across the planet crossing 100 million active units. Android with Nexus One leading the charge begins to become a serious contender to iPhone with a thriving App Economy and breaks 30+ million active units.  Apple and Google go on spending sprees acquiring companies (see Admob and Lala as prototypes). Expect Apple to acquire a competing mobile ad network like Millenial Media or similar company. Both companies double marketing dollars to push their competing mobile solutions and both launch Tablets that break 10 million units by year end. 

5. Mobile Social Gaming is the new Hotness

The Mobile Social Gaming space on iPhone and Android becomes as hot as Web-Based Social Gaming Space was in 2009. SGN, Tapulous and  NGMOCO become the Zynga, Playfish and Playdom's of the space. Fueled by Apple iPhone and Android growth and free-to-play models, Mobile Social Gaming marketplace hits hundreds of millions. Due to ever increasing quality and ever present nature of Mobile Social Gaming, the space begins to gain more momentum, profits and engagement than its predecessor, Web-Based Social Gaming. [Disclosure: I am the founder of SGN so I am a obviously biased here and have a vested interest in a thriving Mobile Social Gaming ecosystem!].