Month: April 2018

  • Bird Scooters in San Francisco

    I was just in San Francisco for a fundraising event for the Tony Hawk Foundation.

    It’s another youth-focused cause my wife and I have begun supporting more formally in the last 12 months and I joined their board about 90 days ago. (Will write more about that later).

    A few weeks ago, I read Fred Wilson’s post about his Bird Electric Scooter Sharing experience in LA.

    When I arrived in SF on Friday, I was excited to find out that Bird Scooters were here as well, although I came to find that the residents seem to be either unaware of how to use them or slightly negative on all the Birds landing here recently this spring. (See what I did there?) I think it’s only been a few weeks.

    To ride a Bird, you download the Bird app. It shows you where the scooters are and what their battery life is. Once you find the scooter, you point the cam at the QR code, Apple pay kicks in and you ride off in under 30 seconds. It bills you like a taxi at 15 cents a minute.

    Once I realized how easy they were to find and use, I decided that I would use a scooter in lieu of an Uber or Lyft (normal SF transportation) wherever and whenever I could over this three-day trip.

    Here is what I have learned in over my three days of riding, which spanned 22.7 miles and only cost me $59.03:

    • Birds are surprisingly nimble, moreso than a bicycle. You can step right off and pick it up or stop. You basically start / stop / change direction so fast your riding “line” is almost like a jogger’s vs a bicyclist’s. On the sidewalk, off the sidewalk, through lights, “jaywalking”, over curbs, etc., like freestyle walking with speed.
    • Thanks to the “jogger’s line” factor, in normal city traffic, this could be the fastest way around town. High utility.
    • Regardless of the utility, it is a very, very cool way to see a city.
    • After 22.7 miles, even in sneakers, my feet hurt. Birds need a bit more of a suspension.
    • It goes about 15 mph and this is fast enough to get hurt. You need to pay attention and probably wear a helmet.
    • I didn’t try to go “up the hill” in SF, but I have to believe it would have struggled. With a hand brake, I would have been fine coming down any major hills.
    • At 8-10mph average, I was only actually riding 2-3 total hours of my 6 billed rental hours. It’s super convenient that you can electronically lock the scooter and “keep the meter running” while you do other things. Half the time I had it parked and waiting for me while I had a meeting or ate while only billing me .15 cents a minute. I also didn’t have to wait for it like calling an Uber or walk to a parking garage as if I had my own car.
    • Birds are safer than a bicycle IMO. At one point I hit a huge pothole on a sidewalk and instead of going over the bars or pancaking (the other bicycle crash) I popped off to the right side and ran out of it. The bars hit and pinched my stomach with my belt buckle but that was it. On a bike there is no way I could get clear of the frame that quickly to stop the wreck.
    • In SF, they have only been there a few weeks most people don’t know how to use them, they are just annoyed they are “littered” everywhere and are a bit of an eyesore. I’d agree they are just left places with mostly no care. My friend Dave B (pictured above and rode Friday with me) pointed out that if the other Birdlers (my word for Bird Riders) just were a bit more thoughtful they could minimize the eyesore factor by parking them next to bike racks or against poles to just generally get them out of the way. Good luck unless SF institutes a fine. #thisiswhywecanthavenicethings
    • The width of the handlebars is too narrow to ride one handed and be stable. I’m sure this is by design to avoid Birdlers texting or using the phone. I tried within the first hour.
    • SF has wide streets and defined bike lanes. I can’t imagine somewhere like Philly having scooters running in parallel with normal bicycles and traffic. I have to believe it would be a bad experience in a more cramped and aggressive urban environment. I think it would be harrowing at worst and not enjoyable or unsuable at best.

    Over all It was like I had  this tiny fun rental car that could be parked instantly anywhere, only costing $59.03 for 3 days. It could not go on the freeway, or leave the city but for the SF use case of my weekend it worked for everything but one ride to and from a evening dinner across town.

    For a visitor, these were awesome. Fast, cheap, reliable, easy and fun. I’d look forward to exploring a new city and utilizing electric scooter technology there. I know my wife would love this and can’t wait for the first time we Birdle (my verb for riding one) around a new destination.

    Birds and other new forms of electric transportation also mean fewer cars. Carbon footprint, pollution and congestion should all be affected positively as more technologies like this come to market.

    Lastly, I know it’s early, but i’m sure a city like SF will find a way to curb (regulate) the Bird litter problem and find aesthetic stability in the urban ecosystem.

    I’m obviously net positive as a tourist, but even if I were a resident of a progressive city like this one, I’d have to believe that there is enough benefit that the Bird Electric Scooter issues will ultimately be resolved.

    More Bird pics on my instagrams if you like.  Chirp.

  • For You Leaders Podcast Part 1 – RevZilla MVP through Scale

    Recently, a former executive coach of mine, Kirk Dando, asked me to participate on his podcast series focused on scaling leadership and scaling companies. It’s called For You Leaders.

    I love sharing the things I’ve learned from my years piloting the orange rocket ship in an effort to help others. I also want to continue to crystallize the insights with high fidelity for future reference. So I happily took KD up on it.

    We ended up talking for 2+ hours covering my and RevZilla’s collective journey from startup to grown up to company exit to my departure and beyond. Ahhh, memory lane.

    The conversation is being broken into three parts. Part 1 (embedded below) focuses on inception, the business arc and touches on the cost and benefits of not raising money as the company scaled, among other things.

    From the For You Leaders Episode Page:

    “You’ll hear the process Anthony Bucci and his co-founders used to start and generate the idea for the company that became RevZilla. Anthony also goes into great detail about how they differentiated themselves and quickly scaled from $0 to over $140 million in annual revenues. Anthony shares why and how they achieved hyper-growth without raising money.”

    You can find the podcast subscribe links (iTunes, Google, Spotify and Overcast) and see the breakdown for the upcoming Parts 2 and 3 on the episode page, as well. I’ll post them when they are live.

    You can also see all the other talks Kirk has done with other leaders, including some mutual friends (and total killers) Brett Hurt and Sam Decker.

    I’ve always been thankful I met them and they were willing to share (let me steal) some of their playbooks. They are some of the best. Full Episode Guide here.

    Lastly, talking to Kirk made me reflect on my approach to working with executive coaches from 2013 through 2017. I’m going to write a longer post (I wrote it here) sharing my coaching journey, my thoughts on how to find a coach and what to expect from a great coaching relationship.

    Spoiler alert: It’s great parenting for hire that lets your real parents still sleep at night.

    Stay tuned.

  • Eat to Empower Event for Vetri Community Partnership

    One of the things that my wife Tara and I have agreed to do in the last 18 months is support social causes we’re passionate about more concertedly and more often.

    It’s been something we’d talked about for some time, but until I transitioned from RevZilla operations last year, the time constraints of leading a business and having five young kids at home really impeded our efforts.

    Currently, our support comes in a few forms: sometimes a check, sometimes connectivity and sometimes our time. Obviously, we’ve made the biggest impact when we can offer all three.

    We also both share a common focus on youth-oriented endeavors.

    From my perspective, the biggest lottery in the universe surrounds who brings you into this world. The foundational care, support and opportunity a child is born into, purely by chance, affects everything.

    This year we’ve been fortunate to become closer with the Vetri Community Partnership. Their mission hinges on “empowering children and families to lead healthier lives through fresh food, hands on experiences and education”.

    Ultimately they are providing and augmenting additional foundational support structure and life skills through food and eating as a platform.

    It’s also been great to connect with Chef Marc Vetri and his partner Jeff Benjamin to learn more about how social responsibility and formally giving back has been a part of their approach to building their successful restaurant group for over a decade. Even in the midst of the multi-decade multi-restaurant startup-to-grown-up business lifecycle, they prioritized their focus on giving. They did it right and started doing it when times were still less certain for them personally. Much respect.

    Last weekend VCP launched their inaugural “Eat to Empower” benefit event consisting of a few local dinner parties and a Food Festival / afterparty at La Colombe’s flagship in Fishtown.

    Tara and I were honored to be asked to invite some friends to a fundraising dinner at our house featuring a collaborative menu by Michelin-rated Chef Jeremiah Langhorne of The Dabney in DC and Philly star Tod Wentz of Townsend, Oloroso and A Mano.

    It was a ton of fun with killer food, but more importantly a high-leverage way to raise money for a foundation doing excellent work benefitting Philadelphia’s future. A big thank you to our friends who participated and offered support.

    It obviously feels great to add a little bit of a momentum to a cause that can strengthen the foundation for others. That seems small, however, compared to the massive coordinated lift across the VCP staff, donors, chefs, servers, patrons and local businesses that all offered time, effort and resources to move a big locally focused needle.

    Here is the VCP video to accompany the event:

    If you’d like to learn more about Vetri Community Partnership or make a donation:

    If you’d like to see some more pics from the event:

    Thank you and congrats to all who contributed to the success of what was hopefully the first of many Vetri Community Partnership Eat to Empower events.

    Anthony Bucci Sign-off

  • [Video] My Drexel Accepted Students Keynote

    I didn’t think there was any way that Drexel University would be sending me my Keynote Video in under 4-6 weeks, hence my post last week with transcript of the recent talk for incoming freshman and their parents.

    One-week turnaround. I’m impressed, DU!

    Below is the 12+ minute talk that should be named, “I screwed up plenty, but managed to apologize effectively and get it together when it mattered.”

    I’m still trying to figure out who the fake adult in the button-down talking is… heard that dude has like 100 kids.

    Anthony Bucci Sign-off

  • Amazon’s High Standards and 2018 Shareholder Letter

    Based on a few posts (1, 2) recently, you can tell that I’m more than slightly focused on Amazon. I’m also more than slightly concerned about Amazon colonizing Philadelphia over the next decade, although I’m open to debate and obviously see the multitude of benefits.

    I do, however, find what Amazon has done in the last two decades awe-inspiring (and again, terrifying) on a number of fronts.

    There are reasons that Amazon is as dominant as it is. There are reasons they have zero cost of capital and play by different rules than every other business, public or private. There are reasons Bezos is the wealthiest person in the world. There are reasons they continue to be increasingly ranked #1 on customer and employee satisfaction rankings.

    You could cite any number of factors as the important reasons, but I believe the most critical are Bezos’ high ceiling along with his impossibly high standards. The first is mother nature, the second is a choice.

    This pattern is not new, and does show up predominantly in the leadership of the most successful companies, historically. And, coupling those factors with Amazon’s launch timing into the nascent internet and their ability to execute, allows us to see why they continue to be notably different – even against the other titans of industry, past and present.

    I read Amazon’s 2018 shareholder letter this morning. You can find it here.

    Last year was an excellent commentary on Day 1 vs Day 2 companies (link). This year was an excellent follow-up, highlighting a focus on their leadership principle (core value) of “High Standards”. Below is the full principle from Amazon’s list:

    “Insist on the Highest Standards. Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and drive their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.”

    I appreciate the adjective “unreasonable” tossed in there. I certainly aspired to unreasonable, and it was difficult for my team at times.  If the leader is not anchoring the bar higher than anyone else would, then how does the  average of the total org improve consistently over time vs reverting to the mean of other maturing (Day 2) companies?

    Standards come top down and if you explain why they are critical, the right folks will adapt, adopt and forgive you for their occasional ragged edge. The wrong ones will complain their way out the door, one way or another. And that’s fine too. The trick is sniffing the latter out during the hiring process and eliminating the turnover altogether, but that’s another post for another time….

    Also, keep in mind that amazing as they are to watch, unless your business’ moat is deep and wide, the great white shark from Seattle is coming for you, too. Hoping they won’t is not a strategy.


  • Amazon HQ2 in Philly – Round 2

    A little bit ago I wrote a post detailing why I’m starting to get some cold feet on Amazon choosing Philly as HQ2. The gist of my concern is that the potential speed with which Amazon will impact the city’s culture, costs and infrastructure may prove to be too great, in effect destabilizing (breaking) things via the inorganic growth spurt.

    Since then, I’ve continued to collect data points and I’ve also continued to have interesting and enlightening conversations with a wide range of folks: insiders, outsiders, tech, non-tech, public servants and friends living in town.

    Here are a few of the more interesting follow-up conversations I’ve had.

    Someone shared with me that the initial job influx from the ‘Zon will be stepped, and only be a few thousand in the first few years. This assuages my infrastructure concerns a bit, hopefully giving the city some time to ramp up and prepare before tens of thousands of new jobs hit. I do tend to see Amazon double down on anything that’s working, so I am skeptical that they wouldn’t just move faster to colonize their new home if a post-launch revised forecast shows it would enhance the company’s benefits sooner.

    I still call Philly “RevZilla’s first investor” because it was so cheap to be here. That cheap is probably going to go away over time, anyway, as the city’s brand and amenities continue to mature to their full potential. Gradual change is probably a better curve, though.

    Even if Amazon does follow the current stepped growth plan, I don’t think it will do anything to stop the cost of living bump we’re going to see from a upswing in real estate demand and speculation that may immediately take effect upon Philly “winning”.

    Another close friend also made a great point. “Imagine you are not you, but a city resident that may be in true need of the boom in job creation the city will experience”.

    A very valid point.

    I’d expect the economic influx would create a ton of new opportunities on all levels. Certainly a great and needed thing for the Philadelphia I know.

    Over a five-, ten- or fifteen-year gentrification cycle, however, how far will those Philly residents need to commute each day from wherever they are ultimately forced to reside? The central areas of so many other large cities and developed cities are nearly untouchable to all but those with considerable means. I shudder to think about housing costs and commuter distances in cities such as Seattle and San Francisico. That equation is broken, but I always hope a more mature Philly ecosystem can find a reasonable middle instead of the extremes that have happened elsewhere.

    At this stage, I still think that DC has to be in the lead. It has the foundational things like infrastructure and East Coast proximity to the EU, although I’m not sure what types of tax incentives will be offered comparatively.

    The Washington Post, the need for Amazon to potentially lobby and defend itself on Capitol Hill more frequently in the future and the fact that Bezos already has a residence, all further support my instinct that they’re in the lead.

    I do still think Philly has a puncher’s chance, but I’m hoping we can “get the milk for free” on this one, potentially coming in a runner up.

    What I mean by that is that we can win by not winning. We could surprise the national landscape with our ability to hang to the end of the process, elevating the story of the New Philadelphia’s culture, cost of living and amenities. Give the hometown brand a boost, which will help reposition us for a more organic future.

    Also, this whole process has forced a ton of the city’s key people and institutions to band together and figure out a more compelling collective future vision of Philadelphia, along with a plan on how to build and support it. I bet some of that elevated planning could be put to work, Bezos or not.

    I could be totally wrong on this, but I’m hoping we may be able to increase Philly’s momentum, without the risk of breaking some of the best elements of our still emerging city.

    We’ll find out soon enough.

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