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Farewell from Intern Gil Kaplun

I have seen things grow. My youngest cousin Jeremy was born when I was 12 years old. He is now eight years old and I remember when he started crawling, walking, and talking. I have watched my basketball team grow from a middle of the pack team, to a potential contender, to a team that won its final eight games in a row en route to a championship. When it comes to people and basketball teams, I can tell you how they will grow and what to expect. After spending my summer at AC Lion, learning from people like Alan Cutter, Mike Adler, and Giles Van Praagh, I have developed a strong understanding of startup growth and venture capital.

The progress of a startup company is extremely dynamic and exciting to follow. Once someone has an idea and makes the decision to try and turn it into a company, you need money to get started. In most cases, they will turn to family and friends to get their angel funding. An entrepreneur will either take on debt or give out percentages of equity in exchange for capital. Debt can come in the form of a loan or a convertible note. In the case of a convertible note, an investor will receive equity if they have not been repaid at the loan’s maturity date. This is an important milestone because you will have your first company valuation. If you choose to issue equity, value your company at $1 million, and need $100,000 in angel funding, then your company valuation after receiving funding will be $1.1 million, and you will have given away 1/11 of the equity of your company.

All startups need to have an exit strategy. Either they will keep going through rounds of funding until they go public, or they will try to find a niche in an already developed market and work towards a merger or acquisition. Facebook held its IPO on May 18, 2012, the biggest ever for a technology company. Mark Zuckerberg adeptly navigated his company from a Harvard dorm room to an IPO, resisting the temptation of selling to both Viacom and Yahoo. Facebook has acquired numerous companies, most notably, Instagram for $1.01 billion. As Instagram’s user base exploded, Facebook quickly moved to acquire the photo-sharing platform. Facebook’s path to an IPO was not as smooth as most assume. In Facebook’s 2007 Series C round of funding, Microsoft purchased a 1.6% stake for $240 million, giving Facebook a valuation of $15 billion. In Facebook’ 2009 Series D round, Digital Sky Technologies bought a 2% stake for $200 million, dropping Facebook’s valuation down to $10 billion. A decreased valuation hurts the position of everyone with a stake in the company. Following their Series D round, Facebook’s stakeholders watched their holdings drop to 2/3 of their prior value. Facebook has since rebounded nicely, however a less developed company can go under following a decreased valuation. A decreased valuation is one of the many ways that a startup can fail. An article published on Business Insider last June captures nearly all of the paths to failure for a young company. The exit strategies, or lack thereof, these companies planned to carry out simply failed, as is the case with most startups.

Tremor Video and Yume are two smaller scale companies, prominent in the digital media space, which recently went public. Yume’s shares first began trading on the NYSE on August 7, 2013. They were strategically priced at $9, well below the expected range of $12-$14. This came in response to Tremor Video’s disappointing first month since going public. Tremor Video held their IPO on June 27, 2013 and priced each share at $10. Less than 2 weeks later, share prices had dropped as low as $6.81. Shareholders are anxiously anticipating Tremor Video’s announcement of their Q2 earnings. This will allow accurate for predictions of thee company’s outlook. Yume, hoping to avoid similar concerns, saw their stock price close their first day right where it started. So far so good for Yume; they hope their growing profitability will lead to large returns for investors.

Yume and Tremor Video are part of the extreme minority of companies that are fortunate enough to file an S-1. A startup realizing its exit strategy is just like winning a championship in an 18+ Men’s basketball league at your Jewish community center. That is the goal, and you need to grow before you can get there.

As I write this final paragraph, I am just an hour away from the end of my summer internship with AC Lion. It has been a great ride, giving me exposure to the digital media world that I was always close to, but was never a part of. At AC Lion, I was a part of something. I grew close with the interns, working on various projects together. I learned a lot from my bosses/mentors Alex Yee and David Carona aka Doc Knowledge. I owe them a lot and look forward to keeping in touch with everyone at AC Lion.

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Sh*t Not To Say During That Big Job Interview


The employment process is often much like dating. You spend time searching through tons of prospects in hopes of finding the right “fit.” It’s often very time consuming, nerve wracking, and it may take a few duds before you find success. The first interview with a company can remind you of a first date: you spend days preparing for the big moment, hoping that you say all of the right things and do your best to bring your A game.

Of course, as a job seeker, you want to make sure you leave the right impression, but many people forget that an interview is meant to be interactive. The purpose behind interviewing – like dating – is to give both parties the opportunity to feel each other out. You have to be engaged, attentive and actually offer value if you expect to get a call back. As with a bad date, one false move or bad response could immediately eliminate all hopes of securing your dream job.

Here are a few things to avoid:

Never ask about something you could have easily looked up

Asking what the company does, who the founders are, or general questions about the role you’re interviewing for can put you out of the game – fast! Look at the company website and spend time studying what they do and where they’re going in the future. I often suggest looking into competitors, as well, just to get a feel of the company’s positioning in the marketplace. Also review the job description! That is an easy way to gage what area the company needs support in, and it can give you a guide as to how you can provide value. Always highlight how you can provide the solution to their problems.

Never ask about time off, lunch breaks, or holiday schedules

You haven’t gotten the job yet, so none of this matters! If you ask about any of this on the first interview, it’s basically suggesting that you don’t really care about the job; you just want to know about the perks. These questions are only appropriate later on in the process (like if you get are expecting an offer), after the company has shown genuine interest in bringing you on board.

Never ask about drug tests or background checks

Very simply put, don’t be an idiot. If you ever initiate a conversation about this, you’re screaming, “I have something to hide, and I want to cover it up before it’s too late.” I’ve never heard of someone being hired after asking about a screening process.

Never ask about compensation

Inquiring about how much the job pays during the initial interview translates to the interviewer asking you to get the hell out of his office. Of course, compensation matters.

You want to make sure the job can support your comfortable lifestyle. However, it should NEVER be brought up on the first interview. It’s best to do your research to see if it’s in the range of what you’re looking for.  Look up reviews to see what other people at the company make. You can also research the specific position to gain a better understanding of what’s fair in the market for the role at hand.

Most importantly, be confident, and be yourself! Don’t do anything strangely out of character, keep your head up and try to keep your nerves controlled. Also, bring out as much of your personality as possible. Remember, different companies garner unique cultures. If you don’t seem like a good fit for the company’s goals and environment, it can hurt your chances. Proper preparation, good questions, a bit of humor and great body language can get you very far.

Good luck!

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Social Media On TV: Tweeting With Your Shows!


Earlier this morning I attended PluggedIn Ventures Roundtable “Second Screens & Social TV” and it couldn’t have been better. I jotted a few notes and here’s a quick summary:

Social TV, a general term for technology that supports communication and social interaction in either the context of watching television, or related to TV content is truly taking off and is the way of the future. While some have doubts there are already strong trends showing it will take over in the very near future (think of the hashtags in the corner of a show, by tweeting with that hashtag you not only can join in on relevant conversations, but you are also providing easy data points).

Rich Ullman moderating the convo.Currently, there are about 18 million unique social TV viewers and growing – social TV generates referrals and gives the advertisers the opportunity to hone in on a target market; according to Oliver Young of Blue Fin Labs, “Ads for social TV are meant to interact with the show, which create the organic word of mouth for advertisers.” There is nothing better than a word of mouth referral. From a consumer’s standpoint, I would much rather receive ads that discuss fantasy football than potpourri – it’s the same idea how Google sends you ads based on your Gmail conversations.Additionally, social TV benefits the networks and shows directly. For the first time ever, shows can figure out (almost instantaneously) where their content fails or succeeds. WWE Raw actually experimented with something similar with a “click to vote” idea. Essentially they asked the people in the arena to pick match-ups for later on in the evening; sure enough there was an overwhelming response (I know, how could you pick who fights who if wrestling is real – this is a whole different and important conversation that will hopefully be discussed at the next roundtable).  Giving your audience what they want is the smartest and simplest way to keep them coming back for more, a.k.a.: retention. A prime example of a successful social TV campaign is the show “The Walking Dead;” their social presence is unbelievable (they actually promote Twitter chats for the show, during the show!) and while it may not be the reason it’s the most tuned into show, it most definitely attracts viewers because of it – I know this because I am one of the many that began watching due to its social traction.On a very similar note, look at Old Spice (while some might consider them an outlier I see them as trailblazers), they took an intimate product and made it sexy and cool. This was done through their social TV campaigns and by making “cooler ads” – a simple yet true comment from the roundtable. One of the reasons why Old Spice exploded is because they themselves, as well as their ads, are relatable and interactive.

One interesting issue that was slightly broached was live TV – Twitter is a real time tool (about 60% of the time) and Tivo (or DVR) being the most amazing creation since television itself, takes us out of that real time element. A quote that was thrown out and stands true for just about anything, “People want the path of least resistance” and with television that translates into no commercials.  I would much rather watch a Chicago Bears game in an hour and a half instead of the 3 hours it takes for the live broadcast. That being said, according to David Markowitz of SecondScreen Networks, “Social TV will be good for advertisers over time. It forces the viewer to watch TV live to get the full effect.” This I firmly agree with, while I may strongly oppose commercials I am all for live friendly banter during a Chicago Bears game.

So Will Twitter ignite more real time TV viewers? I would bet on yes. People are already being active and seem to enjoy it; according to this Nielsen study a third of active Twitter users tweeted about TV related content and those numbers are growing.

Nielsen study on Tweeting with TV

Lastly, with all this talk about Twitter, one might wonder where the other social media powerhouse (Facebook) comes in – it doesn’t.  At least not until Facebook opens their data will they be able to compete with Twitter in the social TV world – to quote David Beck of Univision, “Facebook has to open up their firehouse to combat Twitter and their reach with TV.”

Bottom line: Social TV is a forward thinking venture that will ultimately prove majorly successful (and profitable) for the masses very soon; it also doesn’t hurt that Social TV was listed as one of the 10 most important emerging technologies by the MIT Technology Review in 2010.

Thanks to Eli Mandelbuam of PluggedIn Ventures for putting everything together; props to Rich Ullman for doing a fantastic job as the moderator and thank you to an impressive panel – it was an amazing conversation to be a fly on the wall for – looking forward to the next one!

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What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay in Vegas: Hotel Databases BlackList Guests

The hotel industry, who have been hammered hard by online user generated content, are fighting back.   No, they are not pasting over all those negative reviews of dirty bathrooms and dreadful views.  They are fighting back against unruly guests.   So if you had a bad weekend, and maybe put a stolen tiger in your hotel room, don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms.  GuestScan will know if you stole the towels or  trashed the room.

So, where will Charlie Sheen stay when this wife kicks him out?  Think the Plaza will take him back?


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Digital Media Continues to Take A Big Bite Out of the Big Apple

Nice to see Crain’s and Inc. magazine confirm what we here at AC Lion already know:  NYC is a hot spot for fast-growing digital media companies.  Of the annual list of 500 booming businesses, AC Lion’s sweet spot (or, new media advertising, as they call it), software and IT rule.   It’s a full fifth of the NY area companies listed (Click here for the full list)

Around here, this is no surprise.   Digital media has more than held its own during the recent economic downturn.   And I hear it from friends and family all the time—expressing surprise that a recruiting company is doing well during a ‘jobless recovery.’   As I tell them, it’s just like real estate—location, location, location.  Our location (i.e. digital media) is in demand—and so are we.   Our clients are hiring—and so are we.  So times are good for us here at AC Lion.  (BTW, always open to referrals to good sales people and recruiters).

So thanks to Crain’s and Inc. for confirming what we know to be true—the Digital Mad Men (and women) will continue to be based in NYC!

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GOOAAALLLLLLL! And US Soccer Site Traffic is Finally on the Rise.

World Cup fever is spreading—and driving traffic online.   Huge spike in traffic. On Opening Day, 1.2% of the global Internet audience visit the site.

Geographical differences in visitation to suggest varying levels of interest in the World Cup depending on one’s corner of the globe. The Middle East-Africa (2.5% penetration) and Latin America (2.3% penetration) exhibited the highest relative visitation to, well outpacing the global average of 1.2%. Europe followed with 1.3% penetration, while North America (1.0% penetration) and Asia Pacific (0.5% penetration) ranked below the global average. In absolute  terms, Europe accounted for the greatest number of visitors on opening day at 2.6 million.

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 23: Landon Donovan of the United States celebrates with teammate Edson Buddle after scoring the winning goal that sends the USA through to the second round during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between USA and Algeria at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 23, 2010 in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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Sarah Silverman gets “Grandma” to Vote

Article By: Joshua ‘The Red’ Russak (

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

2008 is a hip-year for voters. Besides the fact that the candidates have driven more intrest through YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social-media Web2.0 sites…there are so many 2nd tier efforts taking place on the side by companies seeking attention and results.

Actress and Comedian, Sarah Silverman took a brave approach with As quoted directly from her site, “The Great Schlep aims to have Jewish grandchildren visit their grandparents in Florida, educate them about Obama, and therefore swing the crucial Florida vote in his favor. Don’t have grandparents in Florida? Not Jewish? No problem! You can still become a schlepper and make change happen in 2008, simply by talking to your relatives about Obama.” Just watch the video above and you’ll see what I mean.

This video inspired me to not only post a blog, but cover some other successful voting awareness and viral campaigns out there. At the top of the leader-board is obviously RockTheVote , a “non-profit organization founded in Los Angeles in 1990 by Jeff Ayeroff for the purposes of political advocacy. Rock the Vote works to engage youth in the political process by incorporating the entertainment community and youth culture into its activities” (Wikipedia). Year after year of support from political officials and celebs alike! It’s #1 go-to spot for voting encouragement.

A more “awareness” based approach was put foruth by Someecards digital greeting card company with their viral campaign. They are increasing voting a very entertaining way. Vulgur, to-the-point, & hilarious cards that you can post on your blog and share with friends

Another voting attempt came with the recent release of Swing Vote, starring Kevin Costner in a film where, “in a remarkable turn-of-events, the result of the presidential election comes down to one man’s vote.” It was a great attempt to capture the attention of soon-to-be voters and promoted the NEED to vote. Glad to see it got a wopping 38% on RottenTomatoes. Can you smell the sarcasm?

As for some failed/awaiting attempts, I’m not sure what happened to Puffy’s Vote Or Die campaigns this year. I haven’t seen much. Another one was hidden in cyberspace, but I managed to pull it out. NYC was planning to launch a viral e-mail marketing campaign, but nothing came out of it. Check it out here.

Can’t wait to see what comes out next…

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Financial Bailout leaves Tech & Media Behind…

Front-and-center on the Yahoo! homepage: Citigroup to buy Wachovia banking operations! Bear, Lehman and WaMu…now we have arrived at Wachovia!? “In the latest byproduct of the widening global financial crisis, Citigroup Inc. will acquire the banking operations of Wachovia Corp. in a deal facilitated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.” How will this effect the Technology Sector and Digital Growth? The financial markets have been on edge since Friday following the proposal for a $700 billion banking bailout hit a roadblock of opposition. (Read the $700 Billion Bailout Plan or the Alley Insider Summary.) Surprisingly, big financial companies raised the Dow Jones more than 120 points on hopes lawmakers would hammer out the bailout rescue plan this weekend. The Technology sector suffered a different fate, quoting Reuter’s article on Friday: Dow, S&P gain on bailout hopes, Nasdaq slips , “Tech shares took it on the chin, keeping the Nasdaq in the red, after a disappointing outlook from BlackBerry maker Research in Motion. considered a bellwether for the sector. […] The fate of the rescue plan pushed nearly everything else to the background on Friday.” The Technology Heavy Nasdaq was down almost 4 points on Friday! Research in Motion wasn’t entirely to blame. Apple Inc, shed 2.8%, also hurting the Nasdaq. Apple is really feeling really the pain. In ZDNet article, Apple: Is It Really Recession Proof?, “Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty thinks that Apple can’t outrun a slowing economy. And she’s betting her estimates on it.” PC’s are coming out on top because “Apple doesn’t play the sub-$1,000 game.” The cheaper option prevails during a recession! This is going to be a recurring theme in our economy! Want proof? My girlfriend was just given the assignment to write a 5 page essay on the effects on the purchasing of Brand-Names during a recession. I will gladly post that paper on my blog as soon as it is completed. To make things seems even worse, AdAge just published the article: Revenue Growth Slowest Since 2001! “The nation’s top 100 media companies saw a 4.6% revenue boost in 2007, their slowest growth since the recession year of 2001.” Though on the bright-side of things “Media’s biggest winner is no surprise: digital, with revenue up 10.8%.” Could we be headed back to That doesn’t change the fact that for the Media Sector, mergers-and-acquisition activity has slowed dramatically this year undoubtedly due to the credit and capital markets current situation. “There have been only five announced U.S. media acquisitions valued above $250 million so far this year. […] In contrast, there were 14 announced media acquisitions above $250 million by this time last year.” (AdAge) All these facts do not mean the tech sector is suffering entirely. According to article FiSpace.Net: One Company’s Recession, Another Company’s Opportunity, “some businesses find that the economic malaise has created a greater need for their technology and services. One such company, Zippi Networks, Inc. (Pink Sheets:ZIPI), may well be in the right place at the right time as they assist individuals in successfully selling items on eBay, creating a revenue stream for their customers and the company.” The article continues to explain how many tech companies are reaping the benefit of our current economic situation. The title for this article may be a bit misleading, but the point is simple: This is a very mixed-up place to be for the tech and online media space and I’m interested to see how this will play out in the next few months (or weeks pending any new surprises from the financial sector).

Article By: Joshua ‘The Red’ Russak
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Last Day To Vote – “Silicon Alley 100″

Article By: Joshua ‘The Red’ Russak (

Silicon Alley Insider is a business blog, produced by and for the New York digital business community…and easily one of my favorite blogs in the Online Space!

Only in their 2nd year, they are now hosting their second Silicon Alley 100, an “annual list of the 100 most influential and important folks in New York’s digital-business community. The list includes executives, investors (venture capital, private equity, angels), financiers, attorneys, journalists, analysts, commentators, philanthropists, and others who make extraordinary contributions to New York’s digital industries (such as the guys on the right).” (Launching The 2008 Silicon Alley 100…Vote Now!)

If you’d like to Vote, then go to the Silicon Alley 100 Voting Booth and make your selection. You’ll recognize quite a few names on the list, and you’ll be surprised to see how they rank. If you don’t like the way our tally looks right now, their voting booth will close at end of the business today (aka: Tonight!).
As always, here’s SAI’s company info provided by



Business Insider image
Location: New York, New York, United States
Founded: May, 2007
Funding: $18.6M

Business Insider, formerly Silicon Alley Insider, is a business blog, covering tech, media, law, Wall Street, investing and entrepreneurship. It consists of blogs Clusterstock, Silicon Alley Insider, The Money… Learn More

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Web2.0 Applications Are Getting Easier To Hack

Article By: Joshua ‘The Red’ Russak (

Forbes Article Reformed Hacker Looks Back, brings to light just how vulnerable Web2.0 technology is to hackers like hacker legend Kevin Mitnick.
Kevin David Mitnick is a computer security consultant who was a controversial computer hacker in the late 20th century. In 1999, Mitnick admitted to the authorities […]. Mitnick served five years in prison, of which four and a half years were pre-trial, and eight months were in solitary confinement. He was released on January 21, 2000. During his supervised release, which ended on January 21, 2003, he was initially restricted from using any communications technology other than a landline telephone. Mitnick fought this decision in court, and the judge ruled in his favor, allowing him to access the Internet. (Wikipedia)
Where’s Kevin Now? Mitnick now runs Mitnick Security Consulting, a computer security consultancy (Wikipedia).
As for the weaknesses in Web2.0, quoted from Forbes:

What do you see as the biggest threats to cybersecurity today?
Cybersecurity used to be about the network or operating system. Now it’s more at the application layer. Companies and their contractors build their own applications hosted on a public Web site, and the people who write them aren’t trained in secure coding. The mistakes they make can be leveraged to break the system.

…and he’s right. People are pumping out web-based applications all the time and I imagine the only protection they have remain vulnerable hackers like Kevin. I imagine this will become a bigger issue as software becomes a thing of the past and everything is web-based.

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