4 Criteria For Moving On A Business Idea

Entrepreneur Kevin Rose announced this week that he’s shutting down his photo and video sharing app called Tiiny.

In that announcement, he shared four filters his company uses when trying to determine if a business idea should be moved to the design and prototype stage. They’re worth sharing (emphasis his):

  1. How big is the opportunity? No “lifestyle” businesses.
  2. Is the idea original or an adaptation of an existing idea? If it’s an adaptation, is the idea at least a 10x improvement over the competition?
  3. How well does the idea match the skill set and domain knowledge of our team?
  4. How passionate are we about the idea?

Advice To Young Journalists

Despite the blowback a couple of these “advice to young journalists” columns generated last week, there’s some good stuff here from Ezra Klein.

Perhaps the most important piece:

Try to figure out what your particular interests and/or skills are. Then work to make those competitive advantages. Subject area expertise is wildly undervalued in journalism, but it’s what makes the best journalists.

In other words, it’s not enough to know how to do journalism. You have to know how to do at least one other thing: interpret company financials; speak a foreign language; be an expert in a specific domain like wine, minor-league baseball, etc. etc. Hence the advice don’t go to journalism school. Study something else.

Journalism is become more and more fragmented, more and more niche. The more “other things” you can do, the easier it will be to carve out a niche where those areas of expertise intersect. Breaking into sports journalism with a bachelor’s degree in journalism isn’t easy. Breaking into sports journalism as an international soccer expert who speaks Spanish is easier.

‘Robot’ Sports Stories From Automated Insights Now STATS Product

The big week for sports data provider STATS continued with the purchase of Automated Insights, one of two primary companies in the U.S. using software to translate data to text.

Danny Ecker at Crain’s Chicago Business has a comprehensive summary here, so there’s no need to repeat what he’s reported. But here’s one of the most interesting elements:

“We’re able to cover, with (AI’s) capabilities, all kinds of opportunities editorially that were not economically realistic if you needed to have a person to write about them,” Stats CEO Gary Walrath said.

That means Stats will look to start churning out game recaps in the near future for things like Division III football and basketball, semi-pro and minor-league sports and even some high school sports. The company can then sell that content to media outlets.

In my experience, there are limited markets in the U.S. where high school football data, for example, is of a high enough, uniform quality to produce game recaps. However, that could change if STATS begins to partner with the state associations that govern high school sports.

An easier (and more profitable) “go-to-market” would seemingly be at the NCAA Division I level. The Associated Press is already moving quarterly corporate earnings reports on its news wire; why not college football and basketball recaps?

STATS acquires The Sports Network; SportsData partners with NASCAR

Big day in the sports data world on Monday: STATS made its second big purchase in the last six months when it bought The Sports Network, and SportsData has become the first data distribution for NASCAR.

Danny Ecker outlined the STATS-TSN deal here. The biggest prize for STATS is TSN’s exclusive deal with the NHL.

Meanwhile, SportsData, which is owned by Swiss-based Sportradar, inks its first deal with a U.S. league in a move to expand in North America and compete with STATS.

More info on the SportsData agreement here.

STATS Adding WAR To Baseball Data Feed

Evidence that advanced baseball statistics are further becoming mainstream, STATS — the data provider that powers much of the mainstream sports media in North America — has added WAR to its Major League Baseball XML feeds for the coming season.

WAR stands for “wins above replacement” and measures a player’s contributions, in a single number, relative to other players who could theoretically replace him. Like other advanced stats, WAR is becoming more and more a part of the conversation of baseball. It’s worked its way into the language of broadcasters and can even be found on the back of baseball cards.

Now, publishers who subscribe to the STATS feed can include it as part of their leaderboards, player profile pages, etc. It’s already a staple of sites like Baseball Reference, which has been using it since 2010.

Other advanced stats in STATS’ MLB feed include BABIP, wOBP, wRAA, OPS+ and FIP.

3 Questions To Ask When You’re Hiring Someone

This comes from Sam Altman, the president at Y Combinator, in the Stanford CS183B class “How to Start a Startup,” which I’m currently working through. You can find the video lectures and course materials here.

Here are the three questions:

  1. Are they smart?
  2. Do they get things done?
  3. Do I want to spend a lot of time around them?

They all sound simple, but I’ve seen job interviews stray far from trying to answer these questions. Altman says if you can answer yes to all three, chances are good the hire will work out.

3 Documentaries To Watch

I know I’m not going out on a limb with any of these — one won an Academy Award, another a Peabody, and the other is considered a classic — so call me late to the party. But they were well worth my time.

League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis: I’ve followed the NFL since I was a kid, back when I ran around the house in a plastic Miami Dolphins helmet pretending I was Dan Marino. Watching this, however, made me feel somewhat ill at ease with being a fan of something so purposefully violent. The full version is available on the PBS website.

Inside Job: Illustrates how the individuals responsible for causing the financial crisis in 2008 were also the ones who ended up profiting from it. Some of the interviews are so unbelievable they’re laughable. In the end, though, it left me feeling angry. I couldn’t find it streaming on Netflix so I had to rent it from Amazon.

Pumping Iron: Considered a classic bodybuilding film, it chronicles the weeks leading up to the 1975 Mr. Olympia competitions, which Arnold Schwarzenegger won for the sixth consecutive year. Schwarzenegger’s focus is incredible — when his father died, he chose not to go to the funeral because it would have messed with his head two months before a competitions — but at the same time, he’s supremely confident and relaxed. He spends most of the time teasing Lou Ferrigno. Available on Netflix.