Online Dating is the Future of Your Business

I gave a talk today as part of TEDx Silicon Valley on “Online Dating is the Future of Your Business”. Here’s the video and an expanded version of the slide deck.

In the talk I discuss how some of the successful online dating startups are models for new businesses, many of which in various ways help businesses get more and better clients. Specifically, I discuss some of the interesting companies in the dating space — True, BeautifulPeople, 420Singles, HowAboutWe (portfolio company), STDSter (a dating site for people with sexually-transmitted diseases), ignighter, InterracialSingles, AshleyMadison (a site for finding a mistress) — which are models for some of our portfolio companies:, Voxy, 500px, LocalResponse, Hashable, ThinkNear, and InfoChimps.

I’d greatly value your feedback!

Watch live streaming video from tedx at

Thank you to interns Raphaela Sapire and Wei Deng for their help researching this presentation, particularly some of the more questionable dating sites.

30 Seconds of Your Time Could Mean the World to Me

UPDATE: Chevy was so impressed with what all the participants produced, as well as the turnout for the voting, that they did the smart thing and decided to declare us all winners! Thanks to everyone for your support.

I have a small favor to ask that will only take a few seconds of your time, and could really do something amazing for me.

Super-short version for super-busy people:
Please vote for me. No registration – just 2 mouse clicks (Scott Allen, Vote).

Longer version if you have more than just a few seconds:
A couple of weeks ago, I took my son and his best friend on a "mancation" sponsored by Chevrolet (who ever said blogging doesn’t pay?). We had an absolutely fantastic time, the video is at the bottom of this post.

Well, it’s also a contest, and the winner gets a second mancation (with a little more spending money). I’d greatly appreciate your support in the voting. It’ll only take a few seconds of your time, and winning it would mean the world to me. You can vote here. For extra karma points, tell your friends, share it on Facebook & Twitter, blog about it, etc.!

Thanks for your support.

Seeking Head of Engineering for Internet Finance Startup, NY

Internet Map. Ninian Smart predicts global com...

I’m in the midst of assembling the founding team for a new startup, and seeking a head of Engineering. I’ve attached details below.  I welcome suggestions!


Seeking Head of Engineering for Internet Finance Startup, NY


We are seeking a Head of Engineering for the founding team of an internet finance startup, based in New York and soon Asia. This is your chance to get in on the ground floor, shape a new company’s technology and culture from scratch, and create a significant company.


Our first product is, an automated research and analysis engine focused on private companies, and specializing in working with private equity funds. Our technology is somewhat parallel to that developed by such firms as Alacra, Bloomberg, Capital IQ, Connotate, FirstRain, InfoNgen, SkyGrid, and ThomsonReuters; we particularly value experience from these and similar companies. We are also comparable to traditional investment banks. For more on our service and background, please see our site . The startup is led by David Teten, a serial entrepreneur.



+ For each segment of our software platform, make buy/build/tweak decision.

+ Manage full product lifecycle including infrastructure, development, design, scalability and security.

+ Recruit and manage additional team members.

+ Research strengths and weaknesses of different data vendors we are considering.

+ Build hooks into APIs of major online networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)

+ Design and implement logic and scoring algorithms.


+ Over 2 years management and 5 years development experience.

+ Proven success in large scale, high transaction systems engineering.

+ Use of formal and agile development methodologies

+ Built complex, integrated, sanitized, normalized databases based on many messy data sources (linear, non-linear).

+ Passion about our startup’s vision.

+ Highly motivated self-starter who has a track record of continuous self-improvement, high achievement, and aggressiveness.

+ Strong analytical and math skills. High attention to detail.

+ Have managed development teams over time, with hiring and firing responsibilities.

+ Familiar with machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), screen-scraping technologies, semantic web, and/or agent-based systems.


We also value:

+ Experience in social networks, online dating, and/or finance industry, particularly investment banking and private equity.

+ Built consumer-oriented web applications.

+ Belief in the Edward Tufte school of communication.

+ Strong writing experience. Value a high GPA in writing-dependent courses.

+ Strong verbal communication/sales skills. Experience in debate, public speaking, and acting is pertinent.

+ Familiarity with startup environment and networks with local business/ government related organizations

+ Fluency in languages other than English.


+ Primarily equity initially. We are currently self-funded and expect to raise outside capital in late 2010/early 2011.


Please include with your detailed resume:

+ Link to your LinkedIn profile (or other online identity).

+ Availability.

+ Writing sample

Please send resume and cover letter to Careers(@) with "Head of Engineering" in the subject line. We prefer that you save your resume in Microsoft Word format with the name "Last Name-First Name-Year.doc", e.g., "Hayward-Tony-2010.doc".

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The Perfect Handshake

2235525962_6eb16dcc29_o reports that researchers at the University of Manchester have developed a mathematically optimal formula for the perfect handshake, based on 12 key measures, including vigor, eye contact and hand temperature.

"The human handshake is one of the most crucial elements of impression formation and is used as a source of information for making a judgment about another person," he said.

The researcher added he was surprised "that up until now there has not been a guide showing people how they should shake hands," which has been a traditional greeting and a key part of business deals for thousands of years.

Beattie’s steps to the perfect handshake, for both men and women, are: use the right hand; a complete grip and a firm squeeze (but not too strong); a cool and dry palm; approximately three shakes, with a medium level of vigor, held for no longer than two to three seconds.

The handshake must also be executed with eye contact kept throughout and a good natural smile with an appropriate verbal statement.

While I do find this research interesting and moderately useful, I was particularly struck by the comment from someone who identified himself only as “Bubb Rubb”:

It’s no wonder that yet another study must be performed for something that we once thought was natural.  Way back when…. a boy learned a proper handshake from his father.  His father learned it from his father.  Things like manners, common courtesy and of all things since the Romans, the handshake, have gone by the wayside.  Pretty soon we will all need a shovel to find our collective bootstraps.

Along these lines, while it’s not entirely scientific, we do have a sort of “formula” for the perfect virtual handshake, i.e., how to introduce yourself and make a good first impression in a forum or group. Again, it should come naturally. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, as readily evidenced by spending any amount of time in discussion forums. And a little refresher helps keep you at the top of your game.

Image credit: thinkpanama

Writing for American Express OPEN Forum

OPENForum1 I’ve told a few friends and may have mentioned it on Twitter. I’m pleased now to officially announce that I’ll be a regular columnist to American Express OPEN Forum in the Money section. My first article, The High Cost of Employee Turnover, is now up on the site.

I’ve been intrigued by this topic for a while and wanting to write about it since my days. I see so many businesses that are short-sighted about how they treat their employees, not realizing that a few extra dollars in pay or perks is probably cheaper in the long run than the turnover they’re experiencing.

Turnover also creates a bad customer experience (and, conversely, seasoned employees usually create a better customer experience). There are a couple of convenience stores in my neighborhood. One treats its employees like robots and can’t seem to keep anyone for more than about a year. The other treats every employee like a manager. Most of them have been there five years or more, and one has been there over ten. Guess which when I go to 90% of the time?

I’ve seen several articles and even some online calculators for turnover costs, but most of them weren’t thorough enough about the soft costs. Also, a lot of them either don’t explain exactly how to do the calculations, or the way they say to do it is wrong (for example, calculating lost productivity based on revenue per employee rather than profit per employee mistakenly inflates the calculated cost).

To learn more, check out The High Cost of Employee Turnover. Retweets much appreciated.

Oh.almost forgot. MUCH thanks to my friend Kate Lister for referring me for this gig.

Seeking Interns for Launch of New York Internet Startup

Working Like a Dog by KM Photography..We are seeking 1-3 volunteer interns (graduate or undergraduate) who would like to be part of the founding team for an Internet startup. This is an ideal project for a current or recently graduated student who is interested in learning more about social media, Web 2.0 technologies, and how to build a startup. The role is part-time (5-10 hours/week), you can be located anywhere, and your hours are flexible.


The research is led by David Teten, a New York-based investment banker ( ), advisor to venture capital funds, serial entrepreneur, Harvard MBA, and author of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online. David has founded 3 companies and sold 2. He has also served as a guest speaker at Columbia Business School, NYU Stern, Yale SOM, Wharton, and Princeton. You can see slides from some of his presentations to BAs and MBAs at . We have strong testimonials from interns who have worked with us in the past.



You will have ownership of your own projects and manage these projects from start to finish during the course of your internship.

+ Hours/work location: Flexible. Work at your convenience and your preferred hours from home, anywhere in the world. Typically 5-10 hours per week.

+ Class credit (if you have a professor who approves your participation, and/or if you can recycle this work for a class)

+ Interact with venture capitalists and other thought leaders.

+ Learn about blogs, social network sites, and other Web 2.0 technologies.

+ Learn about social media and social network analysis.

+ Get to know the New York startup community.

+ Significant creative input and flexibility.

+ Very positive references (if merited).

+ We have a strong track record of helping past interns win full-time roles at top firms, including in the past McKinsey, JP Morgan, Lazard, and UBS.


+ Cash compensation: None

Please note that we are a growing company which will be hiring people in the future, but we cannot guarantee any possibility of employment.


Analyses you may work on include:

+ Competitive profiling

+ Pricing options analysis

+ Business/financial model research

+ Process improvement consulting

+ Research on regulatory environment

+ Financial model background research

+ Industry trend analysis

+ Business plan research

+ Other strategic initiatives


+ Passion about our startup’s vision.

+ Strong analytical skills. High attention to detail.

+ Highly motivated self-starter who has a track record of continuous self-improvement, high achievement, and aggressiveness.

+ Strong interpersonal communication skills.

+ Poised, professional demeanor.

+ Prefer strong writing experience. Particularly value a high GPA in writing-dependent courses.

+ Prefer familiarity with Edward Tufte’s work.

+ Strong computer science/web development background valuable but not required



Contact via e-mail only; do not call. Save your resume in Microsoft Word format with the name "Last Name-First Name-Year.doc", e.g., "Clinton-Bill-2010.doc".

Include with your detailed resume:

+ Dates/hours of availability during Spring-Summer 2010. Include travel schedule.

+ Writing sample (from work or school)

+ Physical location. You can do all of the work on this project remotely. However, if you are in the New York area, that is preferable.


Please make sure that you include all of the information that we request above, or we will not be able to consider your application. Please send resume and cover letter to Careers(at) with "Research Assistant" in the subject line.



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How to whitelist your site for corporate firewalls, so that the Fortune 500 can see you

Bank Security Guard by Brad & Ying. Over the last year, I periodically would hear from clients and friends at some of the large investment banks that they could not view Given the amount of "adult" content on this site is zero, I was surprised and annoyed by this. The site is not a very good marketing tool if potential clients can’t see it.


After further investigation, I found out that some corporate firewalls were blocking the site, presumably because they had misclassified as a site that employees were using to search for new jobs.


Getting our site whitelisted took much more time than I would have liked, and we’re not done yet.  My colleague Taimur Hassan prepared a a list of the major web security and corporate firewall providers, and links to check your website’s status. More details here.


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How to Contact LinkedIn Technical Support

First off, let me say that it’s ludicrous that this even merits a blog post, but LinkedIn has so obfuscated the process that it takes a lot of digging to find it. If you just want the link, here it is:

If you’d like to see how to find it for yourself, read on. Also, if you don’t get any response at the link above, there are some ideas on how to escalate your issue at the end of the post.

I had my attention called to this issue on Twitter today:


It actually took me a couple of minutes to figure out. I won’t bore you with all the dead-ends I tried that didn’t work.let me just show you what did:

1. Scroll down to the bottom of any page on LinkedIn:


2. Click on the Customer Service Link. This takes you to the LinkedIn Customer Service Center, where they invite you to first try to help yourself:


3. At this point, click on any of the FAQ entries – doesn’t matter which one. Once you do, now at the top of the page there will be an Ask Customer Service tab (why it’s not there on the first page is a mystery to me, but it isn’t):


4. That will finally put you on a contact form that will allow you to submit your question to customer service. You can even attach a file if needed, such as a screenshot of the problem:


What happens then? Well, LinkedIn isn’t known for their customer service — nice enough people once you get to someone, but they’re massively understaffed and overloaded. If you don’t get the response you need, here are some additional ways to try to escalate your issue:

1. According to, LinkedIn’s phone number is 650-687-3600, then press 5 to reach a live person. Based on the comments, though, good luck actually talking to technical support.

2. Try or

3. Try @linkedin or @mariosundar on Twitter. There’s also a list of LinkedIn employees on Twitter.

4. Try community support. If something’s actually broken, that won’t help, but if it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do something, or if it even can be done, other LinkedIn users are pretty helpful. Try or the Using LinkedIn category on LinkedIn Answers.

Good luck!

New tools: CompanionLink, SP400 Smart-Pointer

I want to make a quick plug for two new tools that I’ve been using.

CompanionLink Software gave me a trial copy of CompanionLink, which synchronizes PIM/CRM data with your phone or other supported desktop applications and web-based services (like Google, Act, Goldmine, etc.).  I use it to sync my iPhone with Act 2009 Premium.  I find that syncing tools are particularly hard to get working smoothly, but this product worked smoothly and consistently from my first use of it.


SP400 Smart-Pointer (Silver) 2.4Ghz RF Wireless Presenter with Mouse Function and Laser PointerI also recently purchased the Satechi SP400 2GB Smart-Pointer 2.4Ghz RF Wireless Presenter with Mouse Function and Laser Pointer.  Thanks to Taimur Hassan for his help researching this product category.  In a very small form factor, this product has a laser pointer, remote mouse, 2GB USB key, and standard presentation controls. If you make presentations regularly, this is a very small investment ($40) to help your audience absorb your material and reduce your risk that the host of your presentation will not have a functioning remote projection device available.

Free comics from the Federal Reserve: economics, banking, foreign trade, etc.

Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the introduction...

My wife and I just ordered some comic books from the Federal Reserve on topics that we think our children should learn about:

– banking

– monetary policy

– currency

– barter

– checks and electronic payments

– and most important to their future (sadly), inflation

These comic books are useful educationally, particularly in the current environment, and single copies are free.  Order here.

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