Mark Slater’s Weblog

Musings about work, life, and all things in between

mini casinos – the solution to bad local government?

I was reading this article over the weekend. Very interesting. It seems that a loop hole in sweepstakes law has allowed this category of businesses to pop up, sell you an entry to a sweepstake – and then allow you to sit down and “play a game” to see if your sweep stake won. There is no skill. The sweepstakes is predetermined – you can just press a button and see the results if you like. But people are flocking to these things especially in America’s great bankrupt retirement belts, where the lure of the “game” brings them in in droves. Go read the article and see for yourself. – Its on its way to being a multi billion dollar industry.

Ofcourse its legally on thin ice. precedent cases site the mcdonalds monopoly sweepstakes in support.

But it got me thinking. Anyone who lives in the city like i do (and maybe the suburbs these days too) is well familiar with the tax on the ignorant that has over taken our local corner markets and shops – where you go in for milk and end up behind a 10 strong line of lottery ticket checkers and keeno zombies.  The state rakes in billions from this addiction – all going back to the state in some fashion. We all know how that story ends. It just another feeder line to the bluberous, utterly disfunctional and out of date government system.

Ask yourself this – do you really trust your local government to spend your tax dollars properly? I dont. I see evidence every day. YMCA closures, poor street management, bloated use of public resources for things like police details, indecision on key issues, education in absolute chaos and so on.  I’m no aspiring politician believe you me, but it dont take an Einstein to realize that we can be doing alot better.

So i am going to open a sweepstakes center in southie. I am going to give all the proceeds back to projects in the community that are crowdsourced by the participants in the sweepstakes. Its simple. Come in the shop – buy your sweepstakes – and select your top 3 local projects that are on the monthly ballot for funding. At the end of each period – each project receives a charitable donation from the shop. Simple as that. New computer room at the library, roof for the Y, improvements to the parks.

you and i both know it would work. It would take the money from the fat cat misappropriators downtown, it would go straight back in to the community and at a level that is meaningful and dramatic.

It would be very hard for any authority to argue against that.

who’s in?

Filed under: gambling and gaming

Consumer unrest at bank bonuses

This is hilarious. the dutch consumer has reacted to the bonuses being paid out to bankers organizing through social media and threatening a “run” on those who have OK’d such bonuses.

“Politicians have voted to implement a 100% retrospective tax on all bonuses paid to executives at institutions that received state aid as a result of the financial crisis. In other words, no banker should get a bonus until the debt is cleared, and they should return payments made since 2008”

i am reminder of the great banks in Hong Kong that james Clavelle used to write about.

Could this be heading our way?

Filed under: Uncategorized


Its been quiet on my blog now for a little while.

With all that transpired with my last company and the responsibility of leading the new one, i’ve found that my time writing has been limited mostly to things over there

here are some tidbits over here:

1. why dont you call it what it really is mayor: a total friggin shakedown. your version of cleaning up is issuing 1000’s – i mean 1000’s of tickets today as its the first day of “street cleaning” – go ahead post how many tickets you’ve issued for street cleaning in the city.

2. new beastie’s is out

3. No.2 is on the way at the slater family! now the pressure is really on!

4. Facebook has defaulted to you seeing ONLY posts from people who you’ve recently interacted with or interacted the most with (which would be limited to the couple of weeks just before people started switching to the new profile) So in other words, for both business and personal pages, unless your friends/fans commented on one of your posts within those few weeks or vice versa – you are now invisible to them and they are invisible to you!!

there is a fix but seriously WTF?

Filed under: going out in boston



we are almost there…..

Filed under: social media, Uncategorized

A beautiful day

Stellas birthday and my wedding anniversary

Filed under: Uncategorized,

At the intersection of location, time and purchase

We’ve seen two distinct trends emerge over the last 2 years or so. your phone knows where you are (location) and depending upon the action you take (checking in etc) can timestamp this position. But this is truly where these services stop. The gulf between the location/timestamp combination and the purchase goal is vast. Its vast because these services have misunderstood that both location and time are a ‘means’ to an end, and not the end.

take Foursquare. They overlay a location instance with a rather neat timestamping tool called checking in. the reason i refer to this as a timestamp rather than some other description is that it is the the combination of time and location, that aims to drive the world of opportunity associated with the service. Some might argue that their is value in this social graph – the accumulation of time/location check ins has some derived cumulative value in the form of a virtual currency ( in their instance a badge) but i place this firmly in the fad bucket and this is why.

the “end” as opposed to the “means” to all of this in my view is a purchase of something. i want to be able to say i am hear at this location at this time and i am looking for XXXXX. Not, i am here at this location at this time and i am interested in where you are, what this place is like, and how big my crown is. Because i have already discovered my city, and i really don’t care for a badge. you see if i want to know about a place – i tap in to the curated web. there are milliions of ways for me to do this today. If i want to know where my friends are i can call them, and do i really need to go somewhere because it looks really popular or crowded? these are all nice pieces of information – but they are really a means to something as my primary concern is that i have decided to do something or buy something and i want to engage with the appropriate selling universe in real-time so that i can make my decision.

i am looking to eat italian tonight with 3 friends
i need a baby sitter
i want to go clubbing, or golfing or on and on and on with examples

and i want an audience of merchants to respond to me in 140 characters and tell me why i should buy from them, and why i should tell my friends that i bought from them.

i dont want curated discovery and review – or even curated recommendation – i want to find out whats in it for me to do what i want to do – and i want a real merchant to tell me so.

i want responses from real people, who want my business – not from a proxy of stored coupons. I want to control my universe of merchants so that i can build relationships – i only want to consider others if a friend reccomends and so on….

See this is the “end” and not the “means”. and i know that merchants will pay for my custom. they’ll pay all day. they can get new business using 140 characters and they can get new customers within minutes – and only pay when they do.

UPDATE: it turns out that some others are thinking of this and are coining the phrase THE INTEREST GRAPH

Getabl has the opportunity to be the onramp to this graph. =- very exciting.

Filed under: Geolocation and RFID, going out in boston, social media, Uncategorized

the discussion around “in-stream” advertizing and promoted tweets

I am not a huge fan of twitter. Its just not my thing. I have never really derived any value from it personally. Of course there are hundreds of millions who will counter – and thats fine. i just don’t derive the same value that’s all.

It does get a little more interesting to me though when the discussion focuses in on some of the commercial permutations of this “stream”. Companies like aim to capitalize on the stream by a sponsored recommendation service. Something like – we will pay you to tell your friend that you liked our shoes.

that’s shaky ground.

Firstly – the fact that the message comes from a trusted source (example my wife) has no correlation to its authenticity and its shocking to me that this has been missed. If anything there is negative correlation. it is designed purely to attempt to insert a push based advertising model in to a new form of communication. Not only am i NOT happy that a friend leveraged our connection to let the wolves in, but i am incensed that push is looking to establish a foothold in a new web layer.

The fact of the matter is that in my world, Push is dead. i simply dont want to receive anything i did not ask for or have not been recommended, free and clear of commercial distortions.

This is what i do want:

i want to express an interest, and receive commercial propositions that best match that (by location, friends etc etc). The beautiful thing about the web today is that it is truly a synchronous medium.

People can ask and express now, they are not just receiving and responding.

This is a very important but subtle transfer of power : I initiate (and not just a check in either – thats just silly) and the web reacts.

At the end of the day the only game i want to play is one that saves me money, gets me things and makes me feel a bit warm and fuzzy in the process. and I don’t mind some of my close friends seeing this but not the entire schoolyard. I want a direct relationship with the merchants i choose to commerce with. these will likely be small ones, local ones, single owner type shops – i want to avoid mcfashion, and big box if i can.

…and i want all this in my pocket.

I want Merchants responding to my indications of interest, in real-time, from their devices. its a new way of conducting commerce for both me and them – its one that fits with all my needs and more importantly excludes those distortions that seek to drag us back to old school brand equity tactics and horrible unwanted bombardment of irrelevant messages. Most important though – its a method that gives the small guy an opportunity to acquire new business in a free and frictionless way. It allows him to react to dramatic swings in business on the fly, and to build small, tight but meaningful relationships with his custom.

we’ve called it GETSMS and its about to launch

Filed under: Geolocation and RFID, social media

EBay’s board and the fraud story

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I had dinner with our good friends Dade and Rebecca this weekend and listened to a wonderful story about the power of the feedback loop. My friends are the proprietors and operators of a wonderful business called the white aisle. For anyone out there getting ready to take the walk, i highly recommend that you visit with them, they provide a wonderful service.

White aisle also happens to use the paypal payment platform along with millions of other online businesses. So it came as some surprise when their order book was hit with 10 orders in very quick succession, for product worth roughly $8 per order, and shipped to 10 different locations. The product ordered was pretty obscure and given that 90% of white aisle customers are – you guessed it – brides to be – the anomaly was amplified as all new orders came from males.

With the fraud sirens beginning to be heard, a closer look at the names of the individuals ordering really sealed the deal. It turns out that these fraudsters were using the names of some of America’s most prominent business people. Pierre Omidyar, William Ford Jnr, Fred Anderson, Scott Cook, and Marc Andreessen.. These people actually had the “nads” to use some of Ebay‘s(paypals owners) board members!

Fast forward an hour, and the fraud claim has now been submitted with PayPal’s Indian support center, who frankly don’t know what to do about it. Team White Aisle, now having spent a good 90 minutes of futility with Customer care decide to contact the culprits directly through the email addresses submitted with the orders…..

A somewhat perplexing response comes back from one of the culprits claiming that they are in fact “who they say they are” – and that the board of directors were being taken through a demonstration of the payment platform and were using an active partner – White Aisle for the demo. Rebecca of course calls bullshit on this and demands that they call her if they are who they say they are…….

the phone rings……..its the chief of staff of something or other from Ebay – calling on behalf of the members above and apologizing profusely for the inconvenience caused – in fact the board are having a ‘good old chuckle” at how this must have looked from whiteaisle’s point of view. Of course they are also somewhat perplexed at the 90 minutes spent on the phone with India – and as emails begin to trickle in from various corners of the planet in total panic, it begins to become clear that this outlandish “Ruse” may just be true, and the likes of Ford, Jnr, and marc Andreessen are ordering 8 wedding thank you cards!

Update: The story gets better – the good folks on the board of ebay have given White aisle some amazing ad placements as a token gesture for the inconvenience caused. D ade and Rebecca have been ‘amazed’ at how this has all been handled once it became apparent to the board that there was a “flustered customer” on the other end of their test.

Read Dade’s account of the events – complete with the emails here

Filed under: Uncategorized

apple is flawed – reason 2-X

i read a blog called both sides of the table written by a guy called Mark Suster. He thoroughly examines the Iphone App ecosystem in this post – its worth a read.

I appreciate folks like him who take the time to write so extensively on issues that give the readership such value. Not to mention the conversation on the comments that always follows.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Google Buzz is amazing

just tried it on my iphone – this tool is absolutely amazing – if you are a gmail user its a must.

Filed under: Geolocation and RFID, social media

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February 2023

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