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Antone Johnson › Comments

Antone Johnson
Re: A Sad Day For Patent Reform - http://avc.com/2014...
"Insightful comment. I'd like to think there is some logical consistency in taking the view (as I do) that regulatory barriers should be kept to a minimum, but some laws are essential when market failure is certain to occur (or has been documented). That tends to become more evident with larger companies and more mature industries. Much of it can also be predicted by economic theory — e.g., without any health or safety regulations, market forces (brutal competition) lead businesses to do the bare minimum, which causes outcomes we find unacceptable (child labor, cheaply built buildings collapsing, etc.). "Net neutrality" is a bizarre deviation from the generally libertarian ethos in tech. I think there's a tremendous, heavily funded disinformation campaign going on right now; that's the only way I can reconcile it. The consumer Internet has experienced consistent, explosive growth for the past 20 years — one of the greatest periods of wealth creation and empowerment of all time —..." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: A Sad Day For Patent Reform - http://avc.com/2014...
"Not a dumb question at all, particularly given that "reform" means very different things to different people. Classic example of diagnosing the disease but having widely divergent views about the best treatment. The usual suspects are pharmaceutical companies, some biotech, and universities. Individual inventors and NPEs ("patent trolls") also oppose reform for obvious reasons, but they're more grassroots by nature. Tech startups and growth companies generally favor reform (if they understand the issues). Large tech companies are more divided; they'd love to get rid of the "tax" of endless patent suits by trolls and non-competitors, but also have amassed power and wealth under the current system with their vast patent portfolios." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: A Sad Day For Patent Reform - http://avc.com/2014...
"There aren't that many wealthy entrenched interests opposed to patent reform. Big Pharma and universities are the main ones that come to mind. It's a non-issue for the vast majority of trial lawyers, who will never touch a patent case in their careers. (They are a lobbying force to be reckoned with on legislation related to personal injury, insurance, auto safety, etc.) I have to think it's more political theater than anything else. Remember it's an election year." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Consider The Alternatives - http://avc.com/2014...
"Traditionally the line has been drawn at payment. Commerce is what makes an operation commercial. I don't charge houseguests a penny, nor do I charge friends or family for housesitting while we're out of town. "Sharing economy" is a lovely utopian buzz-phrase, but in reality, services like Airbnb turn millions of individuals into commercial businesses. That's fantastic for entrepreneurial types, but most ordinary folks are totally unprepared for it — from being unaware that short-term subletting is a breach of the lease that could get them evicted, to being unaware that their residential homeowners' or renters' insurance policy excludes liability coverage for losses such as personal injury if a home is being operated as a business. I've been cynically waiting to see what happens when someone is paralyzed or killed from a tragic slip-and-fall accident and the inevitable personal injury suit results. Either (1) the insurer pays, and learns to make sure all policies going forward..." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Consider The Alternatives - http://avc.com/2014...
"Excellent point about keys. I've seen places intended as vacation rentals (both through Airbnb and traditional agencies) with special locks that have changeable codes for this very reason (as do hotels). That's an example that favors the person who buys a unit to use as a pure short-term rental income property. For the more sympathetic sounding "little guy" who just wants to rent out here or there to help defray the high cost of housing, there is no clear solution to this problem. It would be cost-prohibitive to have doors re-keyed a zillion times a year." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Consider The Alternatives - http://avc.com/2014...
"Isn't it the reverse? Passengers can see available Uber cars in their vicinity. You can pick a preferred driver if its someone you've ridden with and liked. But that does leave the door open (sorry) for passengers to discriminate based on the name and/or picture of the driver. Of course, it's not really fair to blame the company or product for individuals' prejudices — but someone will always be there to blame it." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Consider The Alternatives - http://avc.com/2014...
"Hotels don't exactly verify identity of guests, but in general they have (1) somebody's payment card authorized if not actually charged in advance, (2) 24-hour desk/doorman, (3) staff accustomed to short-term occupancy in each of scores or hundreds of rooms, (4) access controls like electronic keys and elevator floor limits set accordingly, (5) safes required by law for valuables, and (6) a wide variety of commercial regulations to comply with — all of which are reassuring in a dense urban environment like NYC. Perhaps most importantly in my view, hotels have deep pockets, hefty commercial insurance policies and are therefore attractive targets for lawsuits. As businesses they also have reputations to maintain. These are powerful financial incentives to self-police in whatever ways make sense under the circumstances. I'm a big believer in incentive-based regulation of most markets. That said, if authorities don't agree upon and adopt reasonable rules to govern Airbnb-type rentals, the..." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
"Switched from Blue Bottle to Bicycle coffee. WTH? Didn't they realize they had to consult me first? Seriously; though, I can't complain; both are delicious. These guys know how to work an espresso…" - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: How do I Really Feel About Anonymous Apps Like Secret? - http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2014...
"Great post, Mark. Thus far, I've found Secret to be all over the map, as you noted, from the compassionate and empathic to the cruel and stupid. I'm inclined to give it a chance, as with all new social media; in 2014, it's frankly not rocket science to manage an online community and take measures to discourage problematic behavior. It's also in the service's best interest to do so if it wants to attract a large, growing user base. That said, I also agree the challenges of anonymity loom much larger than in pseudonymity, where people invest in building reputations behind screen names (e.g. FAKEGRIMLOCK), and therefore have a disincentive, growing over time, to use those online personas for trollish or abusive behavior. An icon on Secret is equivalent to a "burner" cell phone. I would strongly urge VCs and others looking at investing in or joining startups built on anonymity models to first talk to someone who has run an abuse team at a large social site. They have seen it all, there is..." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Unregulated Crowdfunding - http://avc.com/2014...
"That sucks. Personally I couldn't care less about getting TV over a telco connection, but if you can't get usably fast DSL in a major city (or any DSL at all), that's a big problem." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Unregulated Crowdfunding - http://avc.com/2014...
"That's a big "unless" that swallows the statement. How many big urban areas *don't* have widely deployed DSL in 2014? Things were very different a dozen years ago, but even then (working for @Home) I had the choice between cable and DSL. Today I have satellite for TV and DSL for (very fast) Internet. Granted this is one of those classic "YMMV" issues." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Unregulated Crowdfunding - http://avc.com/2014...
"Completely agree about the Microsoft case, but it's easy to overlook the second-order effects of that kind of thing. Criminal justice (including antitrust) is as much about deterring similar behavior in the future (whether specifically by MSFT or by other industry participants) as it is about rectifying injustice." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Unregulated Crowdfunding - http://avc.com/2014...
"> I have just enough ego to believe that things are better when I am the strong gravitational center of them Andy, I like the way you put that. Isn't that the essence of being an entrepreneur? You wouldn't toil to build a new venture from scratch *unless* you believe you're uniquely insightful, gifted, etc. in one way or another to give it a good chance at succeeding. I work with entrepreneurs for a living and most of them certainly don't fit the "let's decentralize everything" model. If anything, they generally want to retain as much ownership and (more importantly) control as long as possible, to keep others from screwing it up. It's been their baby from day zero, they've worked like hell for a long time (often unpaid) to create value, and know every aspect of the business inside and out to an obsessive degree of detail." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Unregulated Crowdfunding - http://avc.com/2014...
"If something is very wrong with VC today, it is — according to widely published reports — that VCs on the whole are delivering a lower ROI to their LPs than should be the case given the risk involved. That is, as a group, they are underperforming. That would seem to contradict the notion that VCs are profiting spectacularly through all kinds of unfair advantages. I don't fault anyone for holding that view because the stories that get all of the publicity are spectacular successes like WhatsApp. They, and the small group of elite VCs who fund them, are at the upper tip of a very long tail. Nobody reports on the vast majority of investments by VCs and angels that result in mediocre or negative returns or complete write-off." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Unregulated Crowdfunding - http://avc.com/2014...
"I agree. Size of investment is a significant issue on which reasonable minds differ. The libertarian perspective is to let people make their own choices about how much they are willing to risk. The history of crowdfunding legislation such a the JOBS Act suggests a desire among legislators to place some kind of cap on the amount of any single investment. One person's "nanny state" intervention is another's vital consumer protection depending on where you sit." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Unregulated Crowdfunding - http://avc.com/2014...
"It likely would, under current standards. Hence a shift in thinking is probably necessary in Washington to get there. That's not inconceivable — Bernanke's comments about Bitcoin were more positive and open-minded than I ever would have expected — but the wheels seem to turn slowly inside the Beltway." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Unregulated Crowdfunding - http://avc.com/2014...
"As a devoted technophile, I *love* this kind of big thinking. As a seasoned startup and securities lawyer, I'm skeptical that any technological solution can solve the centuries-old principal-agent problem between management and shareholders/investors. It's the single most vexing problem in investing, from the friend-of-a-friend pieces-of-the-Brooklyn-Bridge scam to Fortune 100's like Enron. Massive information asymmetry exists between entrepreneurs and investors, which is why private investments rely so heavily on trust and due diligence. When investors go from a handful of VCs and angels to thousands of individuals, it's impractical to build that kind of trust — which is why we rely on things like SEC and exchange regulations, audited financials, etc., to mitigate (not eliminate) that asymmetry. Basic economic theory tells us that asymmetric information guarantees inefficient outcomes. For the majority who are honest and transparent, wonderful! For the fraudsters, dissemblers and..." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Updating our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Dropbox for Business Agreement - https://blog.dropbox.com/2014...
"People are so wacko paranoid. What are the odds you ever sue Dropbox before you die? For what? Nothing is ever worth suing over unless it's at least $10K or so. (Small claims goes up to 7-8K.) Wish I could say I'll live long enough to pay Dropbox $10K. Enjoy losing out on a great product because you're being asked to *voluntary* give up the right to fight an imaginary lawsuit. SMH." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: California regulator seeks to shut down 'learn to code' bootcamps | VentureBeat | Education | by Christina Farr - http://venturebeat.com/2014...
"This makes no sense. Corporations are operated to make a profit that creates value for their shareholders. Nonprofits like universities have no shareholders and never will. That's a major difference. Ask any entrepreneur who's built a valuable enterprise and exited for seven or eight figures." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: California regulator seeks to shut down 'learn to code' bootcamps | VentureBeat | Education | by Christina Farr - http://venturebeat.com/2014...
"Not just violence. Every type of economic screwing imaginable. A few weeks of Econ 101 freshman year at one of those apparently now-obsolete/worthless universities lays out a panoply of market failures that result in all kinds of unfair, unjust or truly evil consequences. Just to take one, the "tragedy of the commons" is the fundamental cause of what may prove to be the ultimate market failure of human history — the rendering of our planet uninhabitable by climate change — because no individual has any self-interest in limiting his or her own polluting activities, but collectively several billion of us do. Hopefully we'll get lucky and not pass the point of no return." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: California regulator seeks to shut down 'learn to code' bootcamps | VentureBeat | Education | by Christina Farr - http://venturebeat.com/2014...
"That would only make sense in a fantasy world of zero transaction costs and contracts that magically enforce themselves. The enormous cost of litigation is enough to ensure massive numbers of people get screwed every day because it just isn't worth the money (not to mention time and other resources) to go to court over $____ (pick your threshold). Take it from one of those legions of lawyers." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: California regulator seeks to shut down 'learn to code' bootcamps | VentureBeat | Education | by Christina Farr - http://venturebeat.com/2014...
"Actually, all commerce *is* regulated on certain fronts. For example, false or misleading advertising and fraud are prohibited with respect to every kind of business. This kind of basic policing is essential for the operation of markets and free enterprise. Because buyers and sellers *always* have asymmetric information AND sellers have financial incentives to screw buyers as hard as they can get away with ("rational profit maximizers" in the amoral language of microeconomics)." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: California regulator seeks to shut down 'learn to code' bootcamps | VentureBeat | Education | by Christina Farr - http://venturebeat.com/2014...
""The reality is that regulation and licensure is almost always the result of entrenched private interests influencing governments to erect protectionist barriers to entry against innovative entrants in a variety of industries." Can you cite anything whatsoever to substantiate that claim? Op-ed pieces in Reason don't count." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: NSA spying: FISA court upholds surveillance; LinkedIn files petition; Verizon exec blasts tech firms - http://www.siliconbeat.com/2013...
""The news is curious because [Hoffman told Arrington] that LinkedIn had not had “touchpoints” with the NSA or Prism." I suspect that's because LinkedIn wants permission to loudly proclaim either that the number is ZERO or that (nearly) all of the small number of "national security-related requests" it has received were not under these controversial practices or programs, but rather by customary search warrants and court orders. (Another clue is from Rottenberg's carefully worded "…numbers of national security-related requests, IF ANY.”) The problem with these strict secrecy laws is that they require companies to "neither confirm nor deny," as they say. As I've written before, the only conceivable reason Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft and now LinkedIn have been asking, pleading, even SUING for the right to disclose these figures is because the number or percentage of NSA/natsec-related data requests they've received is miniscule compared to the total body of requests they receive..." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Snowden Disclosures Finally Hit 12 on a Scale of 1 to 10 - http://www.motherjones.com/node...
"No.  And for that reason the focus should be on keeping that government as transparent and accountable to the people as humanly possible — not on quixotic attempts to confiscate its tools or weapons (however you view them)." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Snowden Disclosures Finally Hit 12 on a Scale of 1 to 10 - http://www.motherjones.com/node...
"Bingo. That horse left the barn long ago. Unilateral disarmament is simply not realistic. To the extent citizens' consciousness has been raised on a serious subject, we need to focus on controlling who holds the power and maximizing their integrity, accountability and transparency. Isn't that the essence of every "good government" movement? My favorite analogy has become police officers carrying guns that could end your life or mine in an instant with the twitch of a finger. Emphasis on COULD. That's not intrinsically evil (well, some may argue it is) — and frankly I'm more comfortable with cops carrying guns than RWNJs. The serious threats come from things like police corruption, brutality, profiling, harassment, intimidation and excessive use of deadly force. We don't cure those ills by confiscating every officer's weapon. We aspire to minimize them through good training, strict policies, thorough investigation whenever an officer-involved shooting occurs, and discipline or even..." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Snowden Disclosures Finally Hit 12 on a Scale of 1 to 10 - http://www.motherjones.com/node...
"Yeah, since this has been going on for *decades*, no doubt we've read of hundreds of cases where hackers and fraudsters have exploited these special government-only loopholes to disastrous effect on regular consumer/citizens.  Oh wait, no we haven't. But then the bad guys only have every incentive in the world to exploit those secret back doors — such as, in the case of financial systems, enriching themselves beyond their wildest dreams while remaining safely offshore.  So that's not much of an incentive to work hard at it or anything.  Besides, we all know those hackers aren't very smart or resourceful or anything. /sarcasm" - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Snowden Disclosures Finally Hit 12 on a Scale of 1 to 10 - http://www.motherjones.com/node...
"Well said." - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: Snowden Disclosures Finally Hit 12 on a Scale of 1 to 10 - http://www.motherjones.com/node...
""Those who quote historical figures out of context to say something the original speaker never intended may as well just fabricate convenient quotes out of thin air." — Abraham Lincoln" - Antone Johnson
Antone Johnson
Re: The College-Loan Scandal | Politics News | Rolling Stone - http://www.rollingstone.com/preview...
"Last time I checked, the federal treasury wasn't exactly rolling in dough (to put it mildly). The "hidden tax" logic needs to be taken a step further. Why does the federal government need to wring every spare penny (or billion) out of these programs? For the same reason it's become dependent on every other revenue source: Extremist, government-hating ideologues have hijacked one political party and made a reckless pledge not to raise any taxes, period, resulting in ruinous fiscal gridlock (see "sequester") in Washington. How did we get here? Let me count the ways: (1) War of choice waged in the wrong country on false pretenses, which we were promised would magically finance itself through oil money -- a trillion-plus at this point? A different strain of extremist ideologues (neocons) were behind that misadventure. (2) Deregulation of the financial services industry, fostering systemic corruption and broad-based perverse financial incentives that fueled the housing bubble -- which,..." - Antone Johnson
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