Livestrong, can it survive Lance Armstrong’s retirement and drug allegations?

February 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lance Armstrong finishing 3rd in Sète, taking ...

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Lance Armstrong’s struggle through cancer and his redemptive return to win 7 Tour de France titles is legendary.  What may not be as well known is what led to Livestrong or his undeniable thirst to help those in the ‘club’ – as he so affectionately refers to those battling through the effects of cancer.

Through Lance’s personal triumph came a great deal of frustration following his cancer treatment and subsequent survival.  The uncertainty of what comes after treatment.  For those that have experienced the unfortunate difficulty of going through cancer treatment – it’s all to common to have a feeling of relief when the treatments finally end, however, what many do not anticipate is the fear and isolation that follows.   Typically, following treatment, patients are sent off as if their prior lives will simply resume.  The after effects, both physically and emotionally, are rarely addressed and can linger for quite some time.  No matter how much is donated and spent on cancer research there is little effort or resources allocated to help patients through the emotional and physical tolls cancer and treatments render.

It was this experience that led to developing a foundation to address the needs of those post treatment.  It was his intent that the foundation would become the preeminent resource for those seeking and needing guidance following cancer treatment. Unsurprisingly, there was overwhelming acceptance in the community of both cancer patient and caregivers.

However, after all the success and dedication could the foundation’s efforts be in jeopardy?  According to Doug Ulman, CEO of Livestrong, the investigation into the allegations that Lance used performance-enhancing drugs during his Tour de France run has been frustrating.  According to Ulman it’s been a distraction from their mission.  He continues by saying that as long as he is not charged with a crime he will continue to be an effective ambassador and remains the most visible survivor and advocate for those faced with cancer.[1]

Nonetheless, during his ‘first’ retirement, albeit brief, Armstrong dove back in with as much gusto as the foundation could hope for. Armstrong aggressively lobbied politicians and citizens to support ‘Prop 15’, a bill to raise $3 billion for cancer research and patient advocacy for the state of Texas.  Needless to say, Lance was once again victorious.

Although Ulman has his worries, he is also quick to embrace Armstrong’s return to the foundation.  Ulman realizes more than anyone that Lance brings more than just a face to the foundation.  Armstrong is the brand identity behind Livestrong and has the ability to connect with those struggling through the tortures of cancer.  Lance is more than a spokesperson but a ‘club’ member who doesn’t retreat in the throws of adversity; he confronts it head-on.

The timing of his return could not be better.  Although, the foundation has had a great deal of support and guidance it will be Lance who propels the foundation into the next stages.

Whether the allegations are true or not and no matter the outcome, cancer patients and their caregivers will always look upon Lance as a symbol of hope that anything is possible.  His reputation among cyclists would be tarnished for sure, but among those in the club, it will only be seen as another obstacle Lance will most undoubtedly conquer.

To learn more about Livestrong or donate visit:  Livestrong

[1] Salter, C. (2011, February). What Lance Armstrong’s Retirement Means for Livestrong. Retrieved from


Look out Porsche!

February 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

BMW's answer to Porsche

YouTube Facts: 10 Things You May Not Have Known

February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Brought to you by Mashable:


YouTube is huge. Humongous, even. More video content is uploaded to YouTube in a 60 day period than the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years.

The average YouTube user spends between 15 and 25 minutes a day on the site, but how much do we know about the world’s largest video sharing website? Do you know what the most watched YouTube clip is? Can you name all three founders? Do you know how many times per minute a YouTube link is tweeted?

There is a ton of interesting data, info and stats to be learned about YouTube — we’ve delved deep to find 10 fascinating facts. Have a read and let us know which ones you didn’t know in the comments below.

1. PayPal’s Role in YouTube’s Creation

YouTube was created by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim in 2005. The three founders knew each other from working together at another Internet start up, PayPal. In fact, Hurley designed the PayPal logo after reading a Wired article about the online payment company and e-mailing the startup in search of a job. YouTube was initially funded by bonuses received following the eBay buy-out of PayPal. You could argue that if there was no PayPal, there would be no YouTube.

2. YouTube’s Origins as a Dating Site

The founding trio didn’t come up with the YouTube concept straight away. Legend has it that YouTube began life as a video dating site dubbed “Tune In Hook Up,” said to be influenced by HotorNot. The three ultimately decided not to go that route. The inspiration for YouTube as we know it today is credited to two different events. The first was Karim’s inability to find footage online of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction,” and the second when Hurley and Chen were unable to share video footage of a dinner party due to e-mail attachment limitations.

3. YouTube Caused Problems For Utube

The domain name was registered on Valentine’s Day in 2005. This, however, caused a huge misunderstanding for Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment based in Perrysburg, Ohio. Its company domain, “,” was overwhelmed with traffic from people that tried to spell the video site’s name phonetically. The manufacturing company sued YouTube claiming its business was damaged by the video site, but the claims were dismissed. Nowadays, it seems Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment has bowed to the inevitable — its business site has been moved to and the original is a video-themed landing page for bad spellers.

4. The First Ever YouTube Video

The first video to ever be uploaded to YouTube isn’t a classic by any means. Shot by Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo it shows co-founder Jawed Karim in front of the elephant enclosure going on about long trunks. It has, nonetheless, racked up a very healthy 4,282,497 views since its online debut on April 23, 2005.

5. The First Rickroll

The first instance of a “Rickroll” appeared on YouTube way back in 2007. Apparently, it is the evolution of a 4chan prank that originally “duckrolled” users via links that led to a duck on wheels. Now a classic in its own right, the Rickroll has become what must be the most common online practical joke. Back in 2008, at the height of the phenomenon, a SurveyUSA poll suggested over 18 million U.S. adults had been Rickrolled — perhaps more, given that Rick Astley himself participated in a mass-Rickrolling in that year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Although Rickrolling has perhaps now had its day, we imagine that figure has easily doubled.

6. YouTube’s Annual April Fools Pranks

For the last three years YouTube has pranked its millions of users every April Fools Day. The first was a classic — every video on the site’s homepage was actually a Rickroll. In 2009 YouTube turned the site upside down and in 2010 an attempt to reduce bandwidth costs saw a “TEXTp” mode introduced, which translated colors in the videos into text. We can’t wait to see what YouTube has in store for 2011.

7. Some Jaw-Dropping YouTube Statistics

As of February 2011, YouTube has 490 million unique users worldwide per month, who rack up an estimated 92 billion page views each month. We spend around 2.9 billion hours on YouTube in a month — over 325,000 years. And those stats are just for the main YouTube website — they don’t incorporate embedded videos or video watched on mobile devices.

8. YouTube’s Social Stats

Social media-related YouTube stats are just as impressive. YouTube says that on average there are more than 400 tweets per minute containing a YouTube link. Meanwhile, over on Facebook over 150 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every single day.

9. The Most Viewed, Liked and Favorited Video

Not counting music videos (which due to licensing restrictions are often shown only in the U.S. on YouTube), the most viewed video of all time is the classic “Charlie bit my finger,” with an astounding 282,151,886 (at the time of writing). When you include music videos from the U.S.-only VEVO site, then the crown goes to Justin Beiber, whose “Baby” video has over 466 million views and counting.

Did you know you can view the “YouTube Charts” at any time to see continually updated info about what’s popular?

10. The YouTube “Snake” Easter Egg Game

YouTube has a fun Easter egg that will let you play a Snake-esque game within the video window. The clip above will give you a demo, but it’s simple to execute if you’re keen to try it out. Head over to YouTube, click on a recent video from any category, pause it and then hit the left and up arrow keys at the same time. Enjoy!


Three Trends That Will Shape the Future of Curriculum | MindShift

February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Interesting change in the dynamics of today’s education and the role technology plays moving forward.

Three Trends That Will Shape the Future of Curriculum | MindShift.

VW abandons ‘Farfegnugen’ for market share?

February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Volkswagen Wolfsburg industrial plant (Wolfsbu...

Image via Wikipedia

Farfegnugen’ or ‘the thrill of the drive’ may be dying at VW.  The stout and nimbleness of the German manufactured auto is what many have been drawn to and yet it’s also been the bane of VW’s existence in the US and Asia.  The cost to manufacture ‘performance’ comes with a price – perceived and real.  Their design and manufacturing process is steeped in performance and neglects the practical and economical factors that have made Toyota and Honda such successes.  German’s have historically been focused on creating the ‘ultimate driving machine’ (to borrow BMW’s tag) and this has come at a cost for VW.

Although, the performance strategy works in some regions but it falls short in their most lucrative.  Consider the practical and conservative nature of the US or the tech driven markets like Japan and Korea or the cost conscience countries like India.  VW is simply not on the radar in these markets simply because their product does not speak to the consumer’s needs.  Consider a VW or any German make for that matter; the auto’s are not built on a heavy tech platform or do not, on many occasions, share the same components due the nature of the design and its performance specs; unlike VW’s Asian counterparts.  German automotive engineering is not based on practicality.  Something as simple as a cup holder is elusive in the design process – if you’ve driven a VW you know what I mean.

For years, VW has tried to defend its position.  However, after years of lagging sales, VW had to take drastic measures to redefine themselves and it begins by understanding their markets first and then designing around those needs and not force-feed their product into markets where they’ve historically received a cool reception.  This approach, however, inherently is not in VW’s DNA, it was difficult to digest at first; but if they wanted to become a dominant force in the industry they needed to build based on their prospective customers needs and need to redefine the way think of automotive product development.

The new designs of the Jetta and Passat are clear indications that VW understands the US market.  According to Car & Driver, what the Jetta lost in performance it gained in practicality (I am paraphrasing a bit).  Car & Driver liked the car for all the practical reasons but as performance goes the car lacked excitement – it’s perfect for the US market.  As for the Passat, this will be the first vehicle in which VW has built on US soil, Chattanooga, TN (the original location was thought to be outside of Detroit) – it’s a message to the US consumer that VW is serious about the market.

The turmoil Toyota has encountered and the monotony of Asian design gives VW a chance at giving Asian manufacturers a run for their money at least in the US.  However, what VW will gain it will also most certainly lose and that just may be ‘Farfegnugen’.

Facebook: Friend or Foe

February 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Mashup or Shutup! (dot com)

Image by dullhunk via Flickr

Facebook’s dominance is apparent. Facebook has an estimated 600 million users worldwide and an estimated $50 billion valuation. If this is not enough then consider how they have been infiltrating the digital ad space by gobbling up revenue from the likes of Yahoo and MySpace. Consider also Facebook’s intent to develop a payment system that will rival eBay’s PayPal service. If that’s still not enough, then consider their efforts to develop a smartphone to compete with Apple and Google. Not to mention, the war they have waged by snatching the best engineers from Google and Microsoft.

Is Facebook a friend or foe?  Facebook’s shear reach and user data can equate to significant opportunities for those that embrace the beast.  Facebook has also created unprecedented opportunity for internet/digital savvy entrepreneurs.

However, ‘Facebook is not shy about their aspirations. “We think every industry is going to be rebuilt around social engagement”, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said. Facebook already helped spur a new crop of videogame companies around the interacting with friends. Ms. Sandberg said, adding, “News, health, finance shopping and commerce – we think similarly, all of these things will be rebuilt by companies that work with us to put social at the core.”[1]

Facebook continues to grow. Online display advertising surged to 13.6% from a paltry 2.9% and reached almost $9 billion in revenue for 2010.  This obvious growth comes as an expense to other companies jockeying for ad dollars to sustain their businesses; and this is not exclusively affecting digital properties but is having an impact on traditional media (TV, radio and print) as well – it is still being argued to what degree it’s having.

So, what is a competitor to do? Instinctively it would be to fight the good fight – to protect and defend what they have rightfully gained through innovation and shear hard work.  However, is this the best approach considering Facebook’s continued march to dominance?

Consider the position Yahoo has taken over the years. Facebook is a mere 7 years old, Yahoo saw the potential wave of destruction coming early on and began very aggressively to fend off the tide.  In 2005, Yahoo launched Yahoo 360 a social network in response to Facebook and bought Flickr the photo-sharing site.  In 2006, Yahoo tries to buy Facebook but the deal fell apart before it could even get off the ground.  In 2007, Yahoo ceases development on Yahoo 360 seeing that they are falling short and begin a new effort to launch Yahoo Mash another attempt at a social network, however, shortly after it’s launched they abandon this effort as well and launch Yahoo Updates which is still in use.  Seeing that their efforts have fallen short time and time again, Yahoo decided to enter into a partnership with Facebook following the old mantra: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  It’s not long after this partnership that Yahoo begins to see further opportunities to develop partnerships with Google and Twitter that ultimately lead to stabilizing site traffic while enhancing the user experience.  Ultimately it’s about maintaining user interest within the Yahoo space.

No matter how you look at the current landscape, Facebook is clearly looking for total domination.  Facebook will continue to tread over other internet pioneers such as Groupon and Yelp by simply reinventing and repurposing an old idea. It’s rumored that they are well into developing similar capabilities in an effort to enhance the user experience while limiting migration from their site to other sites that theoretically compliment Facebook’s current product offering. Facebook may well become the Amazon in the social space – as Amazon redefined e-Commerce; Facebook will continue to redefine the social space.

[1] Fowler, G. (2011, February 15). Facebook’s Web of Fremenies. The Wallstreet Journal, p. B1, B7

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