What Are Apps Doing With Your Data? Five Things To Know About Data Privacy And Security

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by Anish Sebastian, Co-Founder of Babyscripts

Earlier this month, the New York Times published an opinion piece titled “It’s Time To Break Up Facebook“. The title itself is not necessarily provocative — voices have been calling for the disbandment of the social media conglomerate in greater and greater numbers — but the by-line is. The article is authored by Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook.

Hughes’ claim that Facebook poses a “threat to democracy” is grounded in the social media’s access to an incredible amount of raw data. Facebook and its affiliates, Instagram and Whatsapp, aggregate data such as likes and dislikes, engagements, time spent watching a video, etc.; and encourage users to share even more personal information; ostensibly to improve their targeted ad services. However, as Hughes points out and the Cambridge Analytica scandal confirmed, such unfettered access to data can lead to more concerning problems than targeted ads that seem to read your mind.

Hughes is neither the first nor the only tech entrepreneur to blow the whistle over data privacy concerns, and the problems he identifies are not limited to social media. The current generation, fueled by smartphones, smart speakers, smart homes — smart everything —  is waking up to the serious challenges to privacy that these technological efficiencies are potentially introducing, driving policies like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For companies that deal with special categories of sensitive data — like medical information — the stakes are much higher, as publications like the Washington Post and Vox have enumerated. Access to information such as mental health, sex life, family planning, history of disease, physical wellness, etc. could potentially jeopardize users’ job opportunities, promotions, and may even engender or perpetuate discrimination in the workplace.

While the increased awareness of data privacy and security issues is forcing companies to take a second look at their protection policies, there are steps that consumers can and should take on their own to keep themselves informed — a “know before you go” approach.

As an executive at a data tech company, here are my five top tips for consumers to keep data private and safe:

1. Ask yourself: how do they make money?

If an app or tool is “free,” it’s likely collecting revenue from advertising rather than sales, which means that your data — everything from number of logins to location to the number of times you visit the app in a day —  is potentially being shared with third-party sites, either in a direct or de-identified form

2. Look for the company message and prioritization of security.

If a company has a chief information security officer, that likely means that data is being monitored 24/7, making it a critical part of a cybersecurity system. If the company has any users in the EU, or does any business with the EU (and this is the case with many companies), they may need to be GDPR-compliant. While there is a long list of requirements for GDPR compliance, one of the most significant is that a company must inform its consumers of a data breach without undue delay and in many circumstances within 72 hours.

3. Is there a consent process?

Is the app or tool upfront and transparent about data use and policies? Do you have a good understanding of how your data will be used after you have been given access to the App?  Apps or tools that do not ask for permission at set up, or mask their data sharing practices in complicated language are suspect. Pay special attention to third party data sharing, including services like Apple, Alexa, and others; and make sure you are okay with this before you sign up.

4. Check the fine print.

Not all data use and sharing is equal. Sharing data in a de-identified and legally-compliant manner can have the positive effect of improving outcomes or performance for the benefit of all users without compromising user privacy. Check the fine print to determine what type of data sharing a company is performing.

5. Do your research!

It is always a good idea to do your own research. Take the time to do a simple Google search on a company’s privacy and security policies. Look up the third-party sites that are sharing their data. Determine whether you can delete your own data from a site should you choose to. Companies may or may not adhere to regulations of data, but the consumer has the power to hold them accountable.


Anish Sebastian co-founded Babyscripts in 2013 with the vision that internet enabled medical devices and big data would transform the delivery of pregnancy care. As the CEO of BabyScripts, Anish has focused his efforts on product and software development, as well as research validation of their product. Under his leadership, the Babyscripts product development team has refined the product offering, enhanced the product market fit, and commercialized their product suite in multiple markets.


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Five Simple Rules To Achieve Anything You Want In Life

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History has taught us that anyone can achieve anything they want in life, no matter how grand or little. Although the possibility of such an event might seem utterly ludicrous and entirely fictitious, it is incredibly true.

As long as you can stick to the simple laws of success, almost anything is possible.

As such, depending on what is to be achieved, we have drawn a list of five simple rules which if followed, can make what seems like the most frivolous of ideas come to fruition.

1. Identify What You Want.

It is obviously unwise to set out on a quest without having a destination in mind or to embark on a pursuit without an end in sight.

Therefore the wisest thing to do, which is often the first step to take, to achieve anything you want in life is to identify what you want.

Once an individual identifies what they want out of life, it suddenly becomes achievable. As a matter of fact, many plans fail to materialize into reality because people are indecisive about what direction to go in life and are easily distracted by every wind of doctrine. If you are not sure what you want and how to go about it, you can consult a life coach to help you with many things in your life.

2. Draw A Plan.

After identifying what you want, it is easy to make the mistake of not following it up with this next simple step.

This step is what turns a passive strategy into an effective strategy. It turns options into objectives.

This simple act of drawing up a plan of how you hope to achieve your dreams indicates seriousness and definiteness of purpose.

Write down your plans, goals and objectives on a vision board, as this will help to identify what has been achieved and what is lacking, as you make your way forward.

3. Measure your results.

It is certain that if you put all necessary effort into any given task, there will be resultant progress, as long as you don’t give up.

For this reason, it is essential to measure the results from every physical, mental, emotional, or financial input.

With this, you will be able to easily appreciate how much progress you are making and judge your methods to know if they are working for you.

4. Never stop believing.

This isn’t some religious mumbo-jumbo or psychobabble that exists for the sole purpose of keeping the hope alive.

Depending on the nature of what you plan to accomplish, there will be occasions that require you to believe in the possibility of your dream, the feasibility of your plan and the reality of your idea, even if no-one believes in you.

Only by keeping the faith alive will you be able to achieve anything you set out to accomplish when the going gets tough.

5. Be flexible with your plans.

The biggest challenge that stands on the path to achieving a goal is resistance to change.

No matter how new and un-explored your idea, dream or plan is, it should be open to modification and revisions when necessary.

Being flexible does not affect the big picture; most times, it only changes the means to achieving the desired result.


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Things To Expect As A Woman Founder When Starting A Tech-Based Company

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by Saumya Bhatnagar, CTO and Co-founder of InvolveSoft

Over the years, the rapid growth of  startup networks is seen in almost every sector. Although several startups were able to sustain themselves, others shut down within a few months of operating. Amongst all the hustle, several women entrepreneurs have made their mark in the business industry.

According to Markets Insider, the number of enterprises run by women in the United States has doubled in the last 20 years. Every day in the United States, women initiate around 849 new businesses; a highly impressive figure that harbors innumerable challenges.

Venturing out into the startup world can be a big task for anyone, but women have to face a myriad of acceptance issues not just from society but also the business community. Below are a few challenges you should be ready to face if you are an aspiring female leader looking to build a start-up, especially a tech-based one:

1. Responding to Social Expectation.

If you ever participated in any social event, you can relate to this. You walk into a jam-packed event and can count the number of women on your fingers. Sometimes, women have to accept a stereotyped male viewpoint because the majority of women in businesses are comparatively low.

The feeling of alienation is bound to take over, I have dealt with a fair amount of sexism throughout my entrepreneurial journey, as have several other female leaders;  I recall an individual that refused to share a conference table with me, but had no issues doing the same with our co-founder and CEO, that happens to be male.

It is essential to remain determined and passionate towards your goals so as to conquer these hurdles, and it is absolutely necessary to speak up regarding particularly bothersome incidents. Dropping the mental baggage is essential to make advancements in your path to success.

2. Difficulty in Raising Funds.

It is a biased notion that women are not as efficient as men in terms of business. For that reason, most investors avoid investing in companies run by women. According to a report, in spite of playing a significant role in the U.S. economy, female-founded startups could raise only 2.2% of venture capital investment in 2018.

Another reason that makes it difficult for women to gather adequate funds is more than 89% of investors are male in the Venture Capital World, who often overlook women entrepreneurs.

I pitched to 86 investors before getting the green signal from only 5 of them. Getting investments isn’t a simple task, and being a woman can make it potentially harder, however, backing down should never be an option.

3. Making Balance Between Personal and Professional Life.

It is often challenging for women entrepreneurs to make a balance between their business and family life. Managing double responsibilities can become a major cause of stress. It is no surprise that familial responsibilities usually fall on a woman’s shoulders by default. A report reveals, 2% of working women leave the workforce due to this reason.

It is necessary to involve the rest of the family members and distribute this workload amongst them, at the end of the day, even superwoman can use some help.

4. Dealing With The Fear of Failure.

Failure should not be seen as a negative thing because the road to success goes through several losses and mishaps. A study shows that female founders fear that they are less capable of running a business than men, and therefore, fear that they will lapse into chaos.

Resilience can be hard to muster, especially when you are being torn down by the extra ‘goodies’ you receive for wanting to break the mold as a female leader.

If you notice your plans are not executing the way you expected, it is time to reframe your goals. Learn from your mistakes and not repeat them.

Resilience is acquired as you move on in your journey.

5. Building a Support Network is a Big Challenge.

Before you dive into business, it is crucial that you surround yourself with the right people. It is seen that despite providing worth, women do not have a strong support network. According to an article published in Inc., about 48% of women entrepreneurs report that a lack of advisors and mentors limits their professional growth. Having good advisors is critical for avoiding potentially catastrophic decisions.

By making good connections, you come across new opportunities. To grow your circle, it helps to join women-focused networking events such as Bizwomen, Win Conferences, and more.

Today, more and more women are starting businesses. There are several women entrepreneurs across the world owning renowned business brands. If you’re planning to start a company, it is crucial to stay motivated toward your entrepreneurial dream. Remember, confidence is the key to prosperity and growth.


Saumya Bhatnagar is the CTO and Co-founder of InvolveSoft, a workplace community platform which helps employees volunteer in the community. Before starting InvolveSoft, Saumya co-founded a startup right out of high school in New Delhi which focused on using technology to reduce gender-based abortions in India which was later acquired by the Indian Government. Saumya is a strong advocate of more representation for women in tech and is the founder of a nonprofit in India for women empowerment.


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5 Business Activities You Can Outsource To Set Your Startup In Motion

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When opening a new business, time and cost management are extremely important, in order to get you that jumpstart you need as a new entrepreneur. One of the best ways to save both money and time is to outsource part of your work to professionals who can help you deliver without having to go through the process of hiring someone full time.

One of the main reasons companies choose to outsource is to save money on staff. Outsourcing certain tasks to professionals allows businesses, especially small ones, to keep their budget under control and only pay for the services they need. Below is a list of the five most common business activities that companies choose to outsource and the reason behind it.

Accounting and Bookkeeping.

When you are running a small business, chances are bookkeeping is not something that needs to be dealt with daily, so hiring someone in-house for this job only might be a bit counterproductive. Of course, you could choose to assign some of the work to one of your employees and take care of a part of the tasks yourself, but that will take up unnecessary time that could be used for other, more important tasks.

Besides the obvious reason of saving time, having an expert deal with your finances will give you more peace of mind. Accounting experts are always up to date with the field’s laws and regulations, as well as proper technology for the job. A good accounting firm will make it their top priority to provide you with the best solutions for your business.

When looking for an accounting firm, make sure to choose one that has experience working with startups or small businesses. Accounting means more than just tax preparation and bookkeeping. A specialized firm can provide you with managerial accounting services, which will help you make more informed financial decisions, which is extremely important when you are starting a new business and want it to grow.


The main focus of a new business should be its growth and development. Most of the time, this requires a solid marketing strategy as well. Outsourced marketing agencies will provide you with a qualified team, prepared to take your business to the next level.

Marketing agencies have many areas of expertise, from search engine optimization, to branding, affiliate marketing and lead generation. Make sure you choose a company that focuses on the areas you need help in. Keep in mind that, throughout time, you may need to change your marketing strategy to align with your business needs, as well as keep up with the new emerging techniques.

Having a small in-house marketing team might work at first, but chances are, they will not be able to keep up with the ever-changing tools and trends. At least not without some investments on your side. When you hire a professional team of marketers, it is their job to be up to date with the newest marketing trends and provide you with the best possible solutions.

Software Development.

When you have an in-house team of developers, you can’t expect them to have knowledge in every skill and technology out there. At least, not without paying them a colossal wage. With outsourcing, your business can get access to a dedicated development team that is skilled and trained to finish any type of project you might be needing.

This will save you time and money on training sessions, project management, as well as licensers for the most recent tools. Besides that, outsourcing software development will give you access to a skilled and trained team, which can be a big competitive advantage for your company.

Risk management is another reason you should consider outsourcing software development. One good solution to manage risks is to choose different vendors, each of them specialized in a different field.

Another reason for outsourcing software development is software security. If you experience security flaws, it can seriously put your company’s sensitive information at risk. An experienced development team will make sure that your applications and processes are as secure as possible.

Customer Service.

The way you handle customer service can make or break your company, so having a properly trained team to deal with all the help your customers might need is paramount. Outsourcing customer service is perhaps the best way to save some money, as you would need quite a big team to handle all the calls and emails your company will get, even if you run a small business.

Having professionally trained people dealing with your customers will give you the competitive edge you need and increase your efficiency. If the team is properly trained, nobody will be able to tell that they don’t work under the same roof as you.

Another reason for outsourcing customer service is the seasonal spikes in volume, which would normally require you to hire more people, but only for a short period of time. Especially if your work in retail, or eCommerce, chances are you will be experiencing more demands during the holiday season. If you outsource, the company handling customer service will most likely know when those times arrive and will assign the necessary personnel.

Legal Services.

Everybody knows how expensive lawyers can get. Most small businesses don’t require 24/7 legal support, so outsourcing legal services may be a better option. Besides reducing costs, because you won’t be needing permanent staff, outsourcing provides you access to senior partners at law firms, that will offer you the counseling you need.

When it comes to legal advice, having someone that will stay with you from the beginning is extremely important. While in-house legal staff is more prone to changing personnel, it rarely happens when it comes to outsourcing.

Some companies choose a hybrid between an in-house legal department and an outsourcing firm. With this, you will have someone in-house, to handle some of the work, while also maintaining the possibility to outsource part of it to another firm, when the work becomes too much for one person to handle. The same can happen when your in-house team has to face a more difficult situation and require more expert advice.


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How AI And Big Data Are Changing Century-Old Media Companies

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by William Ammerman, author of “The Invisible Brand: Marketing in the Age of Automation, Big Data, and Machine Learning“

In the early days of the internet, the news was always free. In a race to secure eyeballs over subscriptions, every publication launched a website and gave away free access to their content — even while still charging print subscribers. That experiment worked for some publications, but not for others. We’ve seen a comeback in the notion of a “paywall,” a subscription needed to access what used to be free content, as younger consumers have begun to embrace the idea of paying for quality journalism.

Yet, from the beginnings of the internet age, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) never caved. It has stood behind its paywall since 1997, trusting that customers interested in its content would pay upwards of $200 a year for it. There were exceptions from time to time — if a WSJ story was shared on social media, nonsubscribers could often read it — but the paywall has stood solidly, and it has helped the publication accumulate nearly 3 million combined paid subscribers for its print and online content. That is, until recently.

A Grand New Experiment.

The WSJ has begun a grand new experiment using machine learning and user profile data to help open up the paywall on a trial basis for potential new subscribers. When nonsubscribers arrive at the site, an algorithm instantly “scores” the visitors on more than 60 different factors, such as their frequency of visits and the kind of device or operating system they’re using. Then, based on the resulting score, their paywall tightens or loosens depending on whether the algorithm believes the visitor will convert into a subscriber.

Users who seem most likely to convert — what the WSJ calls “hot leads” — hit the hard paywall. But for those visitors who may be less likely to subscribe — the so-called warm and even cold leads — the paywall opens up to give them guest access for a limited time, if they’re willing to hand over their email address. The whole idea is to hook them on the content while also gathering more data about them and what they do on the site. As Karl Wells, WSJ’s general manager for membership, told an interviewer:

“If you think about paywalls broadly, there have been metered, freemium, and hard paywalls. Metered considers people who will want to read more than, say, five stories. Freemium assumes this and not that is the type of content people will pay for. This is what we’ve tried to move on from. Our model now is to flip that and start with the reader. The content you see is the output of the paywall, rather than an input.”

The WSJ isn’t the only site experimenting with this kind of predictive and dynamic paywall. The Financial Times has been using a similar model for years. Meanwhile, a Scandinavian media company called Schibsted, whose publications had been free online since 1995, has begun scoring visitors on their likelihood of subscribing using information it has paired from Facebook and then customizing ads touting the benefits of becoming a subscriber. The prediction model gives the website’s sales and marketing teams information they can use to target different groups of registered users with different digital subscription packages.

The list of subscribers, and all the associated data about their behavior, is a hard asset. A newspaper or magazine built to compete in the future knows its users’ names and where they live, what they do online, and, through cookies, some of what they do on other sites. The publishers can link someone’s name and address to offline data, such as home value, credit card use, and even when he or she last voted. And in that, there is value.

Old Media Models Are Melting Down.

We’re now in the midst of a meltdown of the old media business models. Real-time bidding and ad placement strategies have blown a hole in the idea of “building an audience and selling it.”

Because any desired audience can be assembled in real time, with ad placements across thousands of sites, media companies no longer have a lock on their audiences. They can opt out of placing display ads from big auction ad exchanges and allow their remnant ad inventory to go unsold. Or they can accept those discounted ads and get paid far less than in years past.

As a result, for a media company in the twenty-first century, there are three primary ways to remain relevant and make money:

The Traffic Grabber.

One way to sidestep the loss of revenue is to aggregate more eyeballs. A lot of eyeballs. A media company that adopts this strategy is no longer about a consistent collection of content. It’s simply about more and more traffic. That means celebrity news, silly videos, and anything else that will generate viewing. Yahoo! is a good example.

The Data Hoarder.

Traffic is worth more if a site knows more about a customer. Taking this to its logical conclusion, a site that assembles the most data can sell its advertising avails and knowledge for the highest amount. Sites like Google and Facebook have vast amounts of knowledge about customers, which makes their ad avails worth far more.

The Pinpoint Targeter.

Sites like the Los Angeles Times have specific information about visitors that’s hard to come by elsewhere — such as a local address paired with online behavior. CNET’s Download.com knows what software people are using. Amazon knows what people have bought. These sites can turn this knowledge into unique value for advertisers.

Broadcasting companies, newspapers, and online publishers are always moving slightly among these three roles, but the one place a media company will no longer succeed is in the dataless zone of the broadcasting middle. If a site has average traffic and moderate, generic data about its customers, it used to have a business. But in the age of the Invisible Brand, it’s toast. So what will your media model be?


William Ammerman is Executive Vice President of Digital Media at Engaged Media Inc. and has previously held leadership positions with Tribune Media, Hearst Television, and Capitol Broadcasting. Over his career, he has managed digital advertising for hundreds of television stations and their websites, mobile apps, and connected platforms. He is the author of”The Invisible Brand: Marketing in the Age of Automation, Big Data, and Machine Learning” and writes about marketing in the age of AI at MarketingandAI.com.


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Entrepreneurs Share 7 Smart Reasons They Use Business Credit Cards

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A business credit card can be much more than a convenient way to pay for purchases. These cards can also provide lucrative rewards, superior fraud protection, and can smooth out cash flow. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Small Business Credit Survey, 52% of firms with 1 to 499 employees use credit cards on a regular basis.

Here, seven small business owners reveal the smartest purchase they ever made on a credit card, and why putting those purchases on plastic was a savvy move. In addition, you’ll learn strategies for making the most of your business credit cards.

1. Travel rewards

“I put all my marketing ad spend from Facebook and Google on my business credit card and pay it off monthly. It’s helped me gain an extra 30 days of cash flow at no cost and was the driver for scaling my business quickly. The biggest advantage, though, is that I’ve racked up 500,000+ miles by switching from my operating account to a business credit card. I’ve used these points to fly my family round trip, first class, to Spain for free. I don’t pay for flights anymore!”
Jeff Root, owner, Rootfin.com, an insurance comparison website

Travel miles strategy: Business travel credit cards can offer lucrative rewards, but choose wisely. If you typically fly one airline, consider that airline’s co-branded credit card as it may provide perks such as priority boarding, free checked bags, and the ability to earn status faster with that airline. Otherwise, a card that offers flexible travel rewards that can be used with multiple providers will often be best.

2. Fraud protection

“Anytime I’m dealing with vendors outside the U.S., I find it’s critical to use our business credit card to pay them. It’s nearly impossible for a small business to go after someone for an international claim if they get taken advantage of, so using our card for foreign transactions gives us protection to dispute the payment and protect our cash on hand.”
—Seth Kravitz, CEO, Phlearn, an online Photoshop and Lightroom training company

Fraud protection strategy: Business credit cards provide excellent fraud protection, Under federal law, cardholders are not responsible for more than the first $50 in fraudulent charges, and most issuers offer zero liability. Business debit cards do not offer the same protection under federal law, so a credit card is often a smarter choice.

3. Finance large purchases

“When we first started our business we needed some specific third-party analytic tools that we simply did not have the money for. However, we did not feel we could move forward and be competitive without them. Taking a leap of faith, we purchased the program we needed on our small business credit card and luckily it paid off 10 times over! Leveraging our small business credit cards equity allowed us to purchase something we direly needed to grow our business and it was the smartest purchase we have ever made for the business.”
—Mark Huntley, co-founder, Credit Knocks, an online credit information and review service

Financing strategy: You may be able to finance large purchases inexpensively by using a card with a low introductory rate or a low-rate balance transfer. Also keep in mind that even a credit card with an interest rate of 16 to 18% is often cheaper than other small business financing options that often carry much higher rates.

4. Save on travel

“Booking our travel with our business credit card has to be the smartest purchase we’ve made. By using our credit card, we save on travel insurance and rental car insurance. We also earn rewards which lets us earn free flights and discounted insurance. I always make it a rule to book all our travel with our credit card as it helps us keep a record of our deductible expenses, too.”
—Patricia Russell, CFP, founder, FinanceMarvel, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit financial planning organization

Travel savings strategy: Some business credit cards offer collision damage waiver coverage when you rent a car as primary coverage, which means you may not have to file a claim with your own auto insurer first. Some offer secondary coverage, which may provide benefits if your auto insurance doesn’t cover the full amount of the loss or damage. Read the fine print to make sure you understand your benefits.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business

5. Fund your startup

“We spend thousands of dollars a month running online ads and paying for them with our business credit card. When we were first starting out, we needed the credit card because we didn’t have the funds to purchase the ads right away, so it was a way for us to initially get off the ground. But now we enjoy being able to cash in on all the reward points. We go on company retreats all the time, and much of the expenses are paid for due to credit card perks. These points keep adding up because we are constantly spending on the card.”
Sean Pour, co-founder, SellMax, a nationwide car-buying service

Startup financing strategy: Most business credit cards rely on the owner’s personal credit scores when evaluating an application, which means these cards may offer financing for new businesses that don’t have access to other forms of financing. In addition, income requirements may often be met with income from all available sources, not just business revenues.

6. Save on important expenses

“Hands down, the best small business purchase we made on a credit card was hiring a developer to create our forum. The forum has proved very valuable since launch, because it has given our audience a platform to speak with one another, post pictures of their pets (bearded dragons, leopard geckos, etc.), and ask critical questions on how to take great care of their pets. We’re seeing an instant impact on user engagement, which has increased our repeat sales.

“Because our credit card offers 2% cash back on all purchases, we look at all credit card purchases as if they have a 2% discount. The forum was about $15,000, which made it obvious that we’d want to use the credit card to pay for the service; it yielded a $300 cash back return. This may not seem significant compared to the cost of the forum; however, over the course of a year, 2% cash back on all business expenses can cover a significant portion of someone’s salary or other business expenses.”
Jeff Neal, operations manager, The Critter Depot, an online seller of insects and supplies for reptiles

Cash back strategy: Cash back is a popular reward that every business can use. Some cards provide flat cash back rewards across most purchases while others provide a larger cash back reward for specific categories of spending. Cards with the highest rewards may charge higher fees. You may maximize cash back by using more than one card. Analyzing your spending can help you determine which card works best for you.

7. Provide employee perks

“I charged my remote employees’ home offices on my credit card. I made sure they received top-of-the-line desks, ergonomic chairs, and brand new laptops for them to do their jobs efficiently. I immediately saw performance improvements in my remote employeesI’m not kidding! I later found that some of my remote employees had previously been working on their couches with their laptops on their lap. And not only did these employees’ efficiency improve once they had a real home office setup, but morale improved as well. 

“And as an added boost, I used a business credit card that gave me travel rewards for my purchase: win-win!”
Logan Allec, CPA, founder, Money Done Right, a financial information website

Employee perks strategy: Some business owners accumulate cash back rewards throughout the year and then use those rewards for end-of-year bonuses or celebrations. Others share miles or travel perks with specific employees. Still others, like Allec, make purchases that benefit employees. Any of those strategies can have a positive effect on employee satisfaction and productivity.

Use the right card

Finally, when choosing a credit card, consider the impact to your business and personal credit. According to the Nav American Dream Gap Survey, 22% of business owners reported using a business credit card and 24% used a personal credit card the last time they needed funding. With a personal credit card, account activity will appear on the owner’s personal credit reports and can impact personal credit scores.

Small business credit cards, however, do not always impact personal credit scores, and most of them will report activity to commercial credit reporting agencies, which means they help build business credit. (This chart explains which business credit cards report to business credit reporting agencies.)

RELATED: 5 Business Credit Card Myths That Can Cost Your Business

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Examining Bitcoin SV’s Developer Ecosystem Claims

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Supporters of Bitcoin SV claim there is a thriving developer ecosystem being built. After seeing a recent Twitter thread on the topic, I decided to take a closer look to find out how true this actually is.


The definitive directory of Bitcoin SV projects is maintained on BSV/DEVS. It’s a simple website that currently has 136 listings. I decided to click through each and every link to get a better picture of what is actually going on.

Most Impressive

There are a few surprisingly good looking projects.

Money Button

MoneyButton is a service created by Ryan X. Charles that provides a simple and easy way for developers to accept BSV payments on websites.

Both the user experience and developer experience are simple and straightforward. The UI is slick and attractive. It accomplishes this task very well.


Handcash is the widely acclaimed mobile wallet for Bitcoin SV. It’s easy to use and incorporates a nice human readable handle system.

However, not all the bugs are out just yet. When I first tried to use the wallet it crashed on me several times. Then someone tried to send me a payment and it failed.


Bitcom is a “Decentralized Global Registry of Bitcoin Application Protocols” created by the well-known Bitcoin maximalist, _unwriter.

This isn’t the kind of project that a normal user will ever interact with, but it is an important building block to future applications based on open standards.

Least Impressive

There were also many projects that were less than impressive.

Paymail Wall

A site that lists moneybutton.com e-mail addresses for sale. For the low price of $1,000,000, you could own “markzukerbarg@moneybutton.com”!


Real-time chat on the blockchain… but why? Seems like a complete waste of disk space.

It would have been nice to at least see it in action, but unfortunately, it wasn’t working. I couldn’t see any other messages other than a bunch of garbled messages at the top, and I couldn’t post anything.

Lottery 6/45 Number Generator

I saved the worst for last. This app consists of just a couple of random numbers and a tip button.

General Impressions

During my examination, I encountered many small things which are harmless on their own but shouldn’t be ignored when viewing the ecosystem as a whole.

  • Copy and paste clones of open source projects.
  • Forks of existing open source projects.
  • Purchased codebases (off the shelf solutions).
  • Broken or dead websites.
  • Unfinished or abandoned projects.

There is nothing wrong with adopting open source or purchased codebases. But the quantity of them as a percentage of what is listed seems to be high, and the continued development is low.

Broken and abandoned projects occur all the time, but they tend to be more prevalent in dwindling ecosystems because the developers are demonstrating that they are unwilling to give more time investment.


There are a couple of projects that look great or have high potential, but the vast majority are sub-par.

There seems to a lack of investment and innovation in the ecosystem in general. The ecosystem, as a whole, pales in comparison to some of the other industry leaders.

Does it have any merit? Yes. Could there be some hidden gems being built that haven’t been announced yet? Possibly, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Based on what is available today, I would conclude that the claims are false and that the Bitcoin SV ecosystem is not thriving by any means.

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Examining Bitcoin SV’s Developer Ecosystem Claims was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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GENIUS V. GOOGLE: The Founder of Genius’ 100% Unbiased Take and Perspectives

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Chillin with the Nasfather, one of our first angel investors

Genius started as a fun art project, but we started to take it seriously about 6 months after the launch, when we realized one of the most-searched words on all of google is “lyrics”. Although I spent the first 6 months creating rich analysis of the Biggie and 2Pac classics which I had pondered since my teenage years, the site actually got traction from random users transcribing and annotating lyrics to new songs.

One of the first songs that blew up was the “Beemer Benz or Bentley Remix”, an obscure track Ilan’s friend had transcribed and annotated just as it was released.

Once my cofounders Tom and Ilan realized where the traffic comes from, they devised an ingenious scheme which I didn’t fully realize until about 2 years in, when we started raising money.

I kept working on hip-hop classics, giving invaluable exegesis — but they realized that the annotations were just a side-project designed to give our community the incentive to transcribe lyrics to new songs and debate the accuracy of the transcriptions.

Transcribing lyrics is very difficult, especially rap lyrics. When we started Rap Genius, dominant lyrics sites like AZLyrics and MetroLyrics had horrible inaccuracies; most of their lyrics seemed to have been transcribed by someone with no knowledge of the artist who was not 100% fluent in English.

For hip-hop lyrics, which are far more intricate than pop songs, the big lyrics sites were a total disaster. For a lot of songs they simply didn’t have the lyrics — they had a stub that said “if you have a suggestion for the lyrics to this song, please email us”.

There was a site called KillerHipHop.com where this one cool British dude had taken it upon himself to give accurate transcriptions of new hit rap songs; at one point, around 2010, the Alexa rank of his site was in the top 2K globally… and he was just a one man show. That’s how big the market is for accurate rap lyrics.

Eventually, Rap Genius’ community became huge. KillerHipHop shut down — the British guy admitted our community was doing a better job. He is a G, love that guy.

The biggest part of Genius’ community is the participation of the “Verified Artists” — which was 100% my idea btw, not to brag… We got Nas, Pharrell and Eminem to angel invest and annotate their own lyrics. Rob Markman joined the company right after I left and he is friends with pretty much every rapper — he made Genius the go-to spot for artists who want to provide and annotate their own lyrics, which it is today.

Google’s corporate philosophy is that they are committed to putting the best content at the top of every search. That is their mission. I learned this in 2013, when they violated their mission in order to f**k with me.

Back then, Google banned Rap Genius for 10 days because I had sent an email to a blogger, telling him that I would share his posts on Rap Genius Twitter if he shared our annotations to the lyrics of Justin Bieber’s new album.

Honestly, I did nothing wrong. The blogger shared my email on Hacker News saying this was a smart SEO hack.

But for some reason, Google decided to retaliate, cause a huge news story, and alienate everyone in tech.

Their head of webspam, Matt Cutts — the guy who was in charge of banning Rap Genius — resigned several months later. I’ve been told he was forced to resign, even though he was one of Google’s earliest executives, because of the unpopularity of what he did — Google’s search engineers were furious that Rap Genius was not showing up at the top of lyrics search results, even though we had by far the best content.

I wonder how those engineers feel about “Google Lyrics” as a whole. When Google started posting lyrics themselves 2 years ago, I remember being horrified. But I thought that the engineers would put a stop to it for the same reason they made Matt Cutts resign — because they knew that Rap Genius has the best lyrics.

We are the ones with a community of thousands debating and parsing the meanings, unearthing the mondegreens — we are the forum where artists themselves give the lyrics and ask for an interview where they can provide exegesis.

The scary part is, Google has done this before. Yelp is the “Rap Genius 1.0” — Google’s earliest victim. Putting up photos of shops and restaurants is difficult — just like transcribing rap lyrics — but Yelp was able to build a community that enjoyed doing it.

There aren’t that many of us, but I am personally an “Active Yelper” and I’m proud! I’ve Yelped over a hundred times. I have created joy and misery for business owners — I revel in the power.

Sometimes, I’ll show my nerdy friends my collection of Yelp badges on my profile. I’m not a big-timer or anything, in the grand scheme of things I am a mid-level Yelper at best — but Yelp knows I’m worth something.

I don’t understand — why would Google try to devalue this cool community by ripping off Yelp’s photos? Don’t they already make enough money? Where does this schizophrenia come from?

In light of Genius’ accusations yesterday, I saw the CEO of CelebrityNetWorth complaining that Google had scraped his site too. For him, I have little sympathy because CelebrityNetWorth is not a community, it is a shitty content farm.

Good riddance! Google can do whatever they want to him — but to communities like Yelp and Genius — where nerds like me take pride in their participation — scraping is a crime. I don’t know the laws of it or anything, but that’s how I feel philosophically.

The funny thing is, I’m currently building a company that is the new, decentralized version of Google. So the timing of this debacle feels like I’m in a movie.

I’m a big believer in the decentralized internet — that’s the purpose of my 2nd company (Everipedia) too. Communities like Genius and Yelp should decentralize — they are not perfect either. But at least they HAVE communities where people take pride in their work.

By ripping us off, Google is behaving like a scraper site content farm — the very antithesis of the values Google was meant to uphold.

Also, Google’s shitty PR tactic of passing the buck for plagiarizing lyrics onto LyricFind is truly debased. That’s like if Hitler was on trial and he said “I didn’t kill anyone — blame the concentration camp soldiers..”

And so, in conclusion, I would like to say, F**K YOU GOOGLE! I hope this is a repeat of 2013; I hope your own engineers get sick of your hypocrisy and force you to stop ripping off my site.

GENIUS V. GOOGLE: The Founder of Genius’ 100% Unbiased Take and Perspectives was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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The Future of Centralized Internet with Mahbod

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Episode 52 of the Hacker Noon Podcast: An interview with serial entrepreneur Mahbod Moghadam, co-founder of GENIUS and co-founder and CEO of Everipedia.

This episode of Hacker Noon is sponsored by Indeed Prime.

Visit https://www.indeedprime.com/hackernoon/ to flip the script on the job search and join now for access to resumé reviews, 1:1 sessions with technical career coaches, personalized work-style assessments and even negotiation tips to help seal the deal.

Listen to the interview on iTunes or watch on YouTube.

In this episode Trent Lapinski interviews Mahbod Moghadam, co-founder of GENIUS and co-founder and CEO of Everipedia, wiki-based online encyclopedia. You get to discover the future of the Internet, blockchain and current projects Mahbod is working on.

“The blockchain stuff, the plan seems to be to destroy the centralized internet. And some people in the centralized internet seem to be showing love”.

“Are they trying to co-opt this? Like the 10 million dollars question is if someone going to destroy Facebook? Or is Facebook just going to co-opt whatever someone else builds like they did with Snapchat?”

“My mission in life is to get people to come out of their privacy. You embrace digital real estate”. — Mahbod Moghadam

E52 – The Future of Centralized Internet with Mahbod Moghadam

Production and music by Derek Bernard — haberdasherband.com/production

Host: Trent Lapinski — https://trentlapinski.com

P.S. If you dig the new Hacker Noon Podcast, consider giving us a 5 star review on iTunes.

Also check out the top stories from June, the latest stories, and today’s homepage.

The Future of Centralized Internet with Mahbod was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Hacker Noon from a Community Perspective with Linh Dao Smooke

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a podcast with OneMonth’s Chris Castiglione

This transcript was originally published on OneMonth. This episode of the Hacker Noon podcast would not be possible without DigitalOcean.

“Tech it’s basically electricity right now. It’s everywhere; it’s with everything that we do. So if you have a story that is related to tech we always and only judge the story on its own merit. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never published with us before. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never published anywhere before.”

“We are looking at Hacker Noon content as having three niches. We have the blockchain, bitcoin, cryptocurrency people. We have the general tech, startup people. And then we have software development. Software is where we started, so it’s always dear to our heart.”

What is Hacker Noon?

Linh: Hacker Noon is an independent tech media site. We are a contributor-driven network with over 7,000 contributing writers — and counting. We had a small and lean team with my husband and me to start in the beginning, and now we are up to four full-time employees and about ten different contractors all over the world.

We’re publishing mostly tech stories, but we do believe that tech infiltrates all aspects of life. So we also have stories about startups and building your own businesses as well as really, really deep dive technical stuff on JavaScript, software development programming, as well as blockchain content.

How many articles are on Hacker Noon?

Linh: It is about 20,000 articles that we have published already. So we started in 2016, January of 2016, and so far every day we’ve been publishing about 20 to 30 stories. Probably a bit fewer in the beginning. But we’ve been growing pretty steadily, and yeah, we have about 20,000 stories in our library right now.

Who can contribute to Hacker Noon?

Linh: Most of these stories are by our amazing contributors who are the heart and soul of our platform, for sure.

What makes Hacker Noon so unique?

Linh: I think we don’t pretend to be the Jesus of publishing. We just kind of trying our best to be the reflection of the internet, if that makes sense.

Chris: Can you explain what the Jesus of publishing is?

Linh: So, there are a lot of platforms out there whose primary purpose is to really have every single person on the planet use their platform. I mean, it’d be cool if we ever had that, but I don’t think that has ever been our focus. We really are interested in what people have to say about technology, and we have a strong editorial team.

At the same time, we don’t police what people have to say about certain topics around here, so people feel like the freedom to express themselves, and the entry barriers are a little bit lower than some of the other tech sites. Like, you have to go through a lengthy review, lengthy editorial process, and a lot of the times not for that much better distribution.

For us, we accept anyone and everyone. Of course, we have three editors now who look into the quality, before that it was just my husband and me. And they have to meet a certain standard, with grammar and with best practices of hyperlinks and stuff like that.

But in terms of the actual content, we’re very, very lax on that. As long as you have an interesting story to say, even if you do everything in lower case, we don’t care. If you put a lot of memes and gifs and stuff like that, we don’t care. You don’t have to AP style or anything.

You have to attribute other people, but that’s pretty much it. We don’t standardize that kind of thing. So I think because of that people feel that sense of freedom of expression and freedom to tell their stories.

Chris: Yeah, there’s really like this democratization of content from the author’s perspective. You feel like, oh I can have a voice in this community. I think that’s the way Hacker Noon feels to me as someone who has submitted work myself. It feels like, oh okay, you know, I guess whatever you said with the tech Jesus, I like that term, tech Jesus, it’s a lot harder even just to get something in tech around. Because it’s very like, to use the word centralized, and hierarchical, to get the voice, as a comparison.

Linh: Oh yeah, or something like Forbes Technology where it’s also a contributor-driven model like us, but it can take up to weeks or months to get your piece up. With the number of submissions we have, that timeline just doesn’t work. We need to be able to move fast.

How did you get involved with Hacker Noon?

Linh: So, my story of getting involved in Hacker Noon goes all the way back to 2015. That’s when I, totally by chance, met David, actually.

Sharing about Hacker Noon

I was traveling to San Francisco for business. I was leading the Asia division of this innovative, brand new university called Minerva. I was leading the marketing, sales, customer relations, like everything you can think of building a brand new identity for a university in Asia. And my office was on the ninth floor of Market Street, and there was a concert going on on that day, and I was just attracted to the music. So I went down, and that’s when I randomly met David [Smooke].

I guess he found it very entertaining that I was plugging my phone to my computer to charge it while being at a concert. Like talking about how technology infiltrates everyday life. So his line was like, “Um, you have a lot of technology on your hand,” or something like that, and that’s how we met.

So because of the way we met, we didn’t really have anything professionally. We were just building relationships. But whenever we got married, and I left my job at Minerva, I was witnessing the growth of Hacker Noon the entire time, up until that point.

I remember when Jay and David started Hacker Daily. When it first started, it was called Hacker Daily in January, and then they changed the name to Hacker Noon in April. Everyone thought that it was such a bad idea that it was called Hacker Noon, not knowing that that would actually be one of our proudest assets, the name, Hacker Noon. It’s really catchy, and it seems to be resonating with people.

So I was witnessing the growth of Hacker Noon for the entire year, just kind of on the sidelines seeing how hard David was trying to recruit all these stories, personally communicating with all of the writers. I mean even members, the first 500 or even 1,000 studies he published, every single story meant a lot to him. So I was kind of seeing all of that.

Chris: So let me just make sure I have this right. Because there’s a lot there. So a quick summary is you heard some music outside, you met David, fast forward to you fell in love, and meanwhile, he was starting Hacker Noon. He changed the name from Hacker Daily to Hacker Noon.

I think it’s also interesting to mention that, when you say you “started Hacker Noon,” — anyone can start a publication on Medium, right? But it sounds like what David had done was he had attracted writers who had something important to say. Because it’s not easy to get attention for that.

Linh: Yeah, I was going to tap into that. What I noticed was that out of all the publications, we also started one publication together on feminism called Athena Talks, actually, around that time. So 16–17 different publications were all around the first quarter of 2016. And each of them has a varying degree of success in terms of growth and how attractive they are to writers and readers.

Hacker Noon just by far was just crazily, insanely attractive to people. And I think it says something about a market or the lack thereof of a platform for these incredibly smart people. Software engineers, developers, blockchain enthusiasts, bitcoin-ers, students of computer science, to just say something from their own perspective, their first-person perspective.

Chris: I love that.

Linh: So yeah I mean it was fascinating to see how Hacker Noon is like ten, twenty, thirty times the growth of like all the other publications combined. So that was interesting. And I got to see all of that as it was happening. I think they got to like a thousand writers, either writers or stories, I need to get my story straight, in like the first ten days. Something like that. It was really, really crazy.

Did David Smooke start Hacker Noon solo?

Linh: Yeah, it was David who’s kind of like this publishing expert person, and then there was Jay who’s an engineer at Capital One. So they were friends from before, and they just kind of worked together to build this brand. And I think they did some time off script to sort of automatically recruit writers in the beginning, but that quickly got shut down. Like very, very quickly, like within single digit of days that they started it.

And it actually triggered a change of terms and conditions in Medium’s very own terms and conditions. So if you see something along the line of like, you can’t run a script in our app, it probably was triggered by that event back in 2016.

Do you have any advice on how to start a successful publication on Medium?

Linh: I think you should just find your vertical, whatever that works. You can’t just publish anything. So I think the most important thing first is to find your niche, find your vertical. Next, is just basically go for it. I mean I remember I was actually helping out a little bit with recruiting stories in the beginning, too, you just have to go at it.

Chris: When you say recruiting stories, does it mean you’re actively searching on Medium, and you’re asking people, “Hey, do you want to be a part of our publication?”

Linh: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We would look at this interesting story, and then we immediately messaged the writer. Back in the day they actually have a “add this story to your publication,” or something like that. Like “ask,” to add this story to your publication. They cut that functionality months ago, I think maybe even more than a year ago already.

But yeah, they used to have that. I think you should just kind of be vigilant and go for the best stories you can find. And I think people like that about us. We’re very transparent about our intention, and we just share with people like, “Hey, we just started this publication,” we do that with like 16, 17 other publications, too.

As for me; I’m very interested in fitness, and I’m very interested in feminism, so I kind of went out of my way, like spent hours just kind of talk to people about the stories that they wrote, and how interesting they are.

Chris: Because what I’m wondering if it’s interesting your strategy, if we call it that, for having an idea to make something a publication. It sounds like maybe the idea was hey let’s try a bunch of these and if one hits, we’ll go with that. Is that more of the story of how it happens?

Linh: Yeah, but also I think with Hacker Noon we also spend a lot more time just thinking about the bigger questions of technology and how that impacts every single thing that we do. Even the very software that we use to recruit stories is part of the story of technology, big picture technology. And I’m skipping the story way ahead, but now as we are shifting gears from a publishing company to a software company, it blew my mind how that happened.

Can you tell me a little bit about what’s going on with Hacker Noon and Medium?

Linh: So we’ve been building our following and our stories on Medium infrastructure for the past almost three years. And you know, around the beginning of 2018 they kind of communicated with us that after many pivots, they finally decided that publications are no longer an integral part of Medium business. And it was really detrimental for a lot of other prominent publications, and I really thought that was why people like Signals and Noise left the platform.

Chris: And Linh when you said they decided that, did they decide it by emailing you? Or was it just your traffic just dropped, or was that?

Linh: Traffic was still growing constantly. January 2018 was actually our biggest month because of this one story by David Gilbertson who exclusively publishes on Hacker Noon, it’s this very fascinating story about a data breach. But yeah, January was around when they started communicating at first, just via email about the intention, and then many, many long calls after that about their pivot.

This is not surprising to us because they’ve pivoted many times. They’ve kind of let go of a third of their staff earlier, before that, and then they also hired a new editorial team before firing them again. So we just kind of knew that they were experimenting a lot with their business directions.

Linh: But the particular news of publications no longer being an integral part was pretty detrimental to us. We tried to get into the partner program that they were trying to promote, they want everyone to pay them $5 a month, and we kind of like, “Yeah, if you want us to be part of that we’ll be happy to, we can help with distribution.”

But that didn’t go anywhere. So yeah, long story short, right around mid-May or June of 2018, we knew that we had to move off. They actually offered us a very small amount to move off.

Did Medium try to acquire Hacker Noon?

Linh: Yeah, they did. It was laughable, really, the amount that they offered. But they did offer some, and we rejected it, and we were kind of thinking of our own pivot. Now we actually have to do something. At the time, we already have almost 7,000 writers and about 18,000 stories in our library. And the thought of just doing all over again was really overwhelming, you know?

Chris: But what options did you have at this point? You’re saying they didn’t want you, so.

Linh: Yeah, we have three options at the time, at least in our mind. We either just shut it down altogether, as they wanted, and take their offer, that’s number one. Number two we can be working for someone else, like some other, bigger companies can acquire us and like take over this problem, it will become their problem.

Or the third choice, which is the hardest one, and I was kind of in denial for the first month or two that we had to choose that, to build our own software. Build our own infrastructure and just start everything over again. And you know after many, many late nights and many talks and pondering, we decided to go for that route.

Chris: Oh, so it wasn’t an easy decision, but that’s where you are now, is this decision where you’re telling me to leave, to do your own thing.

Linh: It’s been actually amazing, Chris. It’s like whenever we decided like we make that mental switch, everything changed. We approached one of our contributors who happens to be the CEO of this equity crowdfunding platform called Start Engine.

We didn’t know much about crowdfunding at the time, but apparently, it was only available since 2015, the Jobs Act of 2015, allowing basically every ordinary person, American or international, with the exception of a few countries, to invest in a private company.

Before that, it was never possible, only accredited investors could do so. And Howard, his name, was really helpful in just explaining to us that the crowdfunding platform is the best option for us because of all of the readers and followers that we already had.

Linh: And we just kind of took a leap of faith at the time and be like, “All right, if people want this company, this application to continue, maybe they’ll chip in.” Our goal is to reach for the sky. The maximum, which is 1.07 million dollars, and we didn’t know how much we’re going to be able to raise. And after a few months, we raised the max amount.

We were actually oversubscribed towards the end, meaning a lot more people chipped in more money, but because of crowdfunding regulation, we couldn’t get more than 1.07 from 1200 readers. So whenever people say funded by readers, we are genuinely funded by readers. And these are not donations or anything like, kind of like a Kickstarter or Crowdfunder. So it is equity.

What’s the difference between crowdfunding (what you did) and running a Kickstarter?

Linh: The main difference is that we don’t just give away T-shirts, which we do, or stickers. In return for your investor in us, you actually own a little bit of the company. The 1200 investors own about 14, 15% of Hacker Noon right now, which is our valuation is 7.5 million after the crowdfunding.

Chris: If you didn’t use Kickstarter, was there a platform for doing this kind of equity crowdfunding, is that what you’re saying?

Linh: Yeah, so I don’t think we were ever even considering just a donation campaign, because it just doesn’t bode well with what we’ve done. We have helped people a lot with distributing their stories, but at the end of the day it’s their stories, it’s the contributors’ stories, and they own those stories.

So to us, everyone who invested in us should own a little bit of the company as well. So that’s why we go for equity crowdfunding and not just the regular crowdfunding. So now we actually report to 1200 bosses. Like before that we were actually an S Corp, which the requirement is fewer than 75 investors. And we quickly passed that after like the first four hours of the first day of raising the fund.

So because of that, now we have a lot of people to be accountable to, and it’s amazing. We promised these people that we will do a quarterly, in-depth report of the state of the company, just every quarter.

And last time when I did it we sent an email to 1200 people, and like a thousand people immediately opened the email. I mean, I’ve sent a lot of emails before; but having an 80, 81% open rate on the first day, I’ve never heard of that.

Chris: I’ve never heard of it either.

Linh: So these people, they’re really, really true believers, and we’re so grateful.

Chris: Oh my gosh, yes, I love the story.

What percentage of the company do your crowdfunded investors own?

Linh: Altogether these 1200 investors own 15% of the company.

Chris: And how do you manage that? I know like CoinList, or there are some crypto ways to split equity, does this have anything to do with a blockchain token?

Linh: No, we would love to explore some of that, but right now they actually manage on Start Engine, the crowdfunding platform, and we do have their emails and all of their contact information. So we can either send it via Start Engine or via OCRM. Managers is a funny word because we really consider these people our bosses.

So what we do is we invite them all to our private community on community.hackernoon.com, which is a discourse instance that we built with the help of Digital Ocean. And it serves as our community forum. And these people are all invited to our private group on there. We also make sure that they are the first to know, let’s say if we have a beta product that we want them to test. Or if we have a special sponsorship opportunity or any kind of job opportunities, things like that, they would be the first to know.

Chris: All right, so this is amazing. So you made this tough decision to move away from this giant corporation, Medium, at this point. And now you have the backing of about 1200 people who have actually funded this idea. How do you then get all of the content off of Medium and onto your own platform? It seems like that’s a huge challenge.

Linh: Yeah, it’s a good question. So we’ve been backing up all the content since pretty much the beginning, so we have all of our content backed up on a third party.

Chris: A third party? How does that work?

Linh: They’re called Cosmic JS, and they’re actually also a contributor of ours, we just work with basically all companies that contributed to Hacker Noon.

Chris: The thing going on here is that you know all the smartest people in tech.

Linh: Yeah, I’m so grateful for that, like just an awesome unintended consequence. But yeah these people have a vested interest in Hacker Noon; basically, they want Hacker Noon to be successful, so that’s why they’re so eager to work with us. But we’ve been relying on Cosmic JS for years now, and they help us back up the content in their system. So right now, when we’re migrating the stories over it’s going to come from Cosmic JS.

Linh: Now in terms of what stories we’ll move over, it’s going to take me a long time to explain it, but we’ve been for the past four months after we concluded the crowdfunding company, making sure everyone is informed of this move off Medium.

All of our seven, eight thousand writers are informed of the move, and they give us exclusive permission to publish their content or to really remain, like making sure their content remain on hackernoon.com and no links around the internet, of which millions are broken.

Chris: I hate that, yeah, that’s going to be a pretty wild day when all those links break, so to speak. The internet is going to break. I have some of my writing on Hacker Noon, are my links going to break? I gave permission, so I’m curious if people gave permission.

Linh: No, your links absolutely will not break if you gave us permissions, then 100% it will not beak. We have the stories in our system.

Chris: That’s good for anyone else listening who’s either a fan or a writer to know that if you gave permission, then the links won’t break, great.

Linh: Yeah, absolutely.

I don’t think there’s any precedent for this before. Some publications, some companies have moved, but Medium usually is pretty nice to those companies, and have work like hand in hand with those companies, publications. So our case, this breakup, is I think a rare case. So we’ll see.

We’re still trying to work with them. We’ve been emailing them back and forth, and I think the last communication we had with Medium was kind of when they did that whole email thing to all of our contributors saying that we basically didn’t exist, so that was pretty abrupt. And yeah, after that they did try to reach out again, so we’ll see how that goes.

So Medium basically went behind your back and emailed your writers… what?

Linh: Like, “Hacker Noon is just a container within the Medium infrastructure,” and basically “you shouldn’t go there.” Something along those lines. It was a very surprising Monday.

Chris: Well, let’s talk about the future. And if people listening right now might want to contribute, what is the process, or what kind of stories are you looking for to get more of on Hacker Noon?

How do you become a Hacker Noon writer?

Linh: Sure, so we’re looking at Hacker Noon content as having kind of three niches. So we have the blockchain, bitcoin, cryptocurrency people. Then we have the general tech startup people. Then we have software development, which, you know software is always where we started, so it’s always dear to our heart.

But we kind of get to see the rise of blockchain as we publish stories, and we just educated ourselves a lot on the topic. And a lot of these companies, they can’t advertise or tell their stories anywhere else because talking about big companies, they have a lot of control over the exposure of blockchain. So, we kind of have an interesting intersection for that. We allow people to talk about their own stories and the future of blockchain.

Then outside of that we also have a lot of startup founders and technical, non-technical founders in general, and people who are building things just talking about how they build them. So those are the three topics that we know that there will always be an audience for them.

But even outside of that, I think like I say in the beginning, tech is just basically electricity right now. It’s everywhere. It’s with everything that we do. So if you have any story that’s remotely related to tech, and we will always and only just the story by its own merit.

It doesn’t matter that you’ve never published with us before, it doesn’t matter that you’ve never published anywhere before. In fact, the majority of our writers are unprofessional writers. They write stories as part of something else, they don’t write stories just for the sake of writing.

So yeah, it doesn’t matter, you can just publish or at least submit your stories to Hacker Noon. Right now, we have contribute.hackernoon.com, and it will directly go to the inbox of one of our three main editors. We also have me, myself, and a few other people in addition to those main editors, but yeah.

The three topics that I talked to you about, each of those is manned by one editor, and they will provide you with a minimum of ten minutes per story of like improving the headlines, making sure that search engine will recognize it. Also, improving the structure of the story, making sure it’s readable, easy enough for the readers to follow, any guideline around links around best practices.

Then you can just simply go to contribute.hackernoon.com for that. And if you would like to get a sneak peek into Hacker Noon 2.0, you can go to community.hackernoon.com where we, like I said it’s our forum, we have a couple of thousand readers, writers, shareholders on there already, and we do product updates and just polls of what features people want us to include in our software on there.

And we also discuss things like, “What will replace Google search?” You know, “What’s your spirit animal? Or like, what computer do you use?” That kind of thing, it’s really fun. Then you’re going to go on there, and if you want to reserve your handle on Hacker Noon 2.0 you can go to auth.hackernoon.com, and right now I think you might be able to reserve Chris, maybe. You know, like there are like 2 or 3 thousand handles reserved already, so yeah.

Do you have a favorite author or story on Hacker Noon?

Linh: I think it’s got to be Rick, Morty, and the Meaning of Life by Dan Jeffries, I mean how amazing it that? He just blew my mind. He exclusively publishes on Hacker Noon as well, and Dan Jeffries is set for life with his job. Like he sells software for some rich companies on his day time, and every other hour of this life is spent thinking about big questions like the future of humanity.

So yeah, I just love reading his stuff a lot. He and who else, Dan Gilbertson’s I Have Credit Card Numbers and Passwords from Your Site. I mentioned him a bit earlier, he’s the person who wrote our biggest story ever on the data breach, security breach.

Chris: What a crazy name.

Linh: There’s also this one from Cassie, who’s the Google chief data scientist, I believe. She publishes a lot on Hacker Noon as well, and she does one on Tensorflow, Long Live Tensorflow, Tensorflow is Dead! That one is interesting as well.

Where can people find out more about you Linh?

Linh: So, I’m Vietnamese actually, so I don’t use Twitter a lot. I didn’t know it was a thing until I went to the U.S., I study in the U.S. back in 2009, so four years in college then. But you can see all of my things on Facebook I guess, unlike a lot of other work people I’m still using Facebook. And that’s like a way for me to connect with my family back home, as well.

Facebook is still really big in Southeast Asia, and we have this chat, DaoTalk, which is like among our family that has been going on for years. Like literally, Facebook has been the reason for me being able to keep up with my family for a decade, so I have a different point of view on their place in the world.

And obviously they are very ambitious, and they’re doing a lot of questionable things, but people tend to use them as a scapegoat for a lot of their anger at technology as a whole.

But yeah, you can just search me on Linh Dao Smooke, and then you should be able to see me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Hacker Noon.

Hacker Noon from a Community Perspective with Linh Dao Smooke was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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