Joy of Business Case Study Authorship – iStockphoto US$50 million Calgary success story

Friday, 28 May, 2021

Let’s walk down memory lane. Almost 15 years ago in November 2006, I had the joy of writing and publishing my first business case study about iStockphoto, a Calgary based company acquired by Getty Images for US$50 million in cash in February 2006. If was amazing meeting, interviewing and learning from iStockphoto founder and first employee/ex-president to write the case study for the site Startup Review thanks to its editor Nisan Gabbay.

Before I repost my 2006 case study, let’s put “Stock Photo” in a bit of 2021 fun context by sharing screen captures of search results of “stock photo simu liu”. Yes the same star Simu Liu of Kim’s Convenience and Marvel Superhero Shang-Chi fame appeared on the covers of way too many accounting textbooks if you ask him! HuffPost article “Simu Liu Was A Stock Photo Staple Before He Was A Star” quoted Simu screamed well in an adorable tweet, “PLEASE STOP USING MY FACE FOR YOUR ACCOUNTING MATERIALS!!”

Here is a version of the iStockphoto business case study that I rediscovered thanks to the trusty internet archive. I hope you learn as much as I wrote it in 2006 and as I re-read it now in 2021! 15 years have gone by since I conducted the interviews and wrote the case study, it is an insightful read even for me now in 2021, if I may shamelessly say so. Enjoy!

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iStockphoto Case Study: How to evolve from a free community site to successful business

written by Kempton Lam and Nisan Gabbay, posted on November 26th, 2006

Note from Nisan Gabbay: I am pleased to announce that this week’s case study is the first to be authored by a Startup Review reader, Kempton Lam. Kempton is a management consultant who specializes in assisting start-ups. Please see Kempton’s background and blog for more information. Kempton followed the same process that I take in creating these case studies, and I served as editor to ensure that the format is consistent with the Startup Review format. If you’d like to become a guest author for Startup Review, please contact me.

Why profiled on Startup Review

iStockphoto is both an online community for photographers and a source of high quality, low-cost stock photos. As of October 2006, iStockphoto’s stock photo library contained ~1.1 million images contributed by 23,000+ photographers. In 2006, iStockphoto expects to sell 10 to 12 million photo licenses from this library, at prices ranging from $1 up to $40 per image. iStockphoto’s success opened up a new market segment for stock photography, catering to customers who could not afford traditional, high cost stock photos from the likes of Getty Images and Corbis. This success caught the eye of Getty Images, who acquired iStockphoto for $50 million in cash in February 2006.

Interviews conducted: Bruce Livingstone, founder & current CEO of iStockphoto. Patrick Lor, first employee and ex-President of iStockphoto. Paul Connolly, independent consultant specializing in digital media and the stock photography market. Special thanks to Kara Udziela and Yvonne Beyer of iStockphoto for helping to support the creation of this case study.


Key success factors

Offered a free alternative for a previously high cost service

iStockphoto established the market for “microstock” photography by providing high quality stock photos at extremely low price points. iStockphoto’s innovation was offering all its photo licenses royalty-free, available via easy download over the Internet. The notion of high quality photos licensed for free was a game changing development in the stock photography market in 2000. iStockphoto enabled the distribution of photos from budding and semi-professional photographers to reach a large market for the first time. iStockphoto also drastically reduced the cost of stock photography for a slew of customers (graphic designers, small businesses, non-profits, etc.) that could not afford traditional sources of stock photography.

As iStockphoto increased in popularity, hosting and bandwidth fees for the site grew proportionally, forcing a decision upon Bruce as to how to pay for bills approaching $10,000 per month. Bruce opened the discussion to the iStockphoto community, ultimately allowing the community to determine an acceptable solution. In February 2002, the community decided to charge $0.25 per photo mainly to cover site maintenance fees, with 20% of charges going back to the photographer.

iStockphoto has since gone through several iterations of its business model, but continues to offer photos at a relatively low price point. The first iteration occurred in 2004, when iStockphoto officially became a for-profit entity. At that point iStockphoto charged 1, 2, or 3 “credits” (priced at $0.50 per credit) for photos of different sizes, offering a 20% commission to the contributing photographer. Today, iStockphoto offers photos at a myriad of price points and has a more robust photographer commission structure. For example, photos are offered at price points of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, or 40 credits (priced at $1 per credit). Commissions vary from 20% – 40% based on sales milestones reached and whether the photographer grants iStockphoto exclusive use of images.

Fostered a loyal and active community

iStockphoto was started as a hobbyist site by founder Bruce Livingstone and it remained so for several years. The fact that iStockphoto wasn’t created as a business venture from the start was a big factor in iStockphoto’s success. In many ways it parallels the start of another popular online community, Craigslist. Just as Craig Newmark’s personality has had an influence on Craigslist, so too has Bruce’s personality and passion for photography had an influence on the iStockphoto community. Bruce was always a core user of the site, and as such attempted to nurture the needs of its users.

iStockphoto consciously fostered its community from day one through forums, emails and face-to-face meetings. iStockphoto has many active online forums where new users can post questions and get help from experienced users. These active forums have made the iStockphoto community welcoming to new users and engaging for experienced users. Secondly, iStockphoto makes a point to provide very prompt responses to user questions submitted via e-mail. Even as CEO, Bruce routinely takes the time to send emails to users to offer encouragement or help. Thirdly, iStockphoto hosts a series of trips (called iStockalypses) where users can shoot photographs of interesting places and share knowledge about the stock photography trade.

The iStockphoto site itself has many features that help to get users engaged with the service. For one, it provides transparency around how active certain members are with the site, specifically around number of photos uploaded and number of paid downloads. This enables new users to learn from the success of power users, providing examples of the types of photos that get the most traction. iStockphoto also creates a sense of positive psychological exclusivity amongst users by only approving photos that meet certain quality standards. This process helps users improve their photo taking skills and makes them feel that they have “earned” their place within the community.

Emergence of low-cost “prosumer” digital SLR cameras

In the winter of 2003, the Canon Digital Rebel (a 6.3 mega pixel prosumer digital SLR camera) became available at a price under $1,000. Both Bruce and Patrick viewed the availability of these cameras as a turning point for iStockphoto because they created a great influx of high-quality photos. iStockphoto was in a great position to capitalize on this emerging trend through the infrastructure they had developed over the previous years.

Took measures to ensure that submitted photographs met quality standards

As the popularity of the iStockphoto service grew, the number of photos submitted exploded. At the same time, customers came to expect a certain level of photo quality from iStockphoto. As such, iStockphoto developed detailed guidelines for what constituted acceptable photo submissions. iStockphoto views this both as a quality control mechanism and a means to provide feedback to photographers. iStockphoto takes time to explain to contributors why their photos are rejected. According to Patrick, sometimes a new user may only start with a 25% acceptance rate but with constant feedback and guidance are able to improve their acceptance rate to 75% – 90% within 6 months.


Launch strategy and marketing

iStockphoto was originally started as a hobbyist site in May 2000 by Bruce Livingstone. Bruce created the site as a means to share and publicize his portfolio of photographs. Initially seeded with 1,600 of Bruce’s photos available for free download, the popularity of the site prompted Bruce to open the site to other photographers who also wanted to contribute their photo collections. This transformation took place 6 months after initial launch, creating a thriving community of contributing photographers.

Bruce initially marketed the site by word of mouth, telling friends via e-mail. One of Bruce’s friends, web design guru Jeffrey Zeldman helped publicize the site from its early days by blogging about it and using iStockphoto images in magazines like Macworld. Mr. Zeldman’s influence in the designer and photographer communities was highly instrumental in popularizing the use of iStockphoto for royalty-free stock photos.

As the iStockphoto community evolved, its photographer base served as the main marketing vehicle. By promoting their own iStock photos, these photographers create publicity and word of mouth marketing for the service. iStockphoto provides them with some interesting marketing tools (like free, customizable business cards) to help them self-promote their portfolios. Today iStockphoto has 23,000 photographers that are the cornerstone of the company’s marketing efforts.

Later on its lifecycle, iStockphoto began advertising its service on the Internet, in print, and at trade shows. An extension of this advertising strategy was to maintain good long-term relationships with influential book authors within the design community who could provide increased awareness for the iStockphoto service.


Exit analysis

iStockphoto was able to support its operations for many years from the revenue generated by photo sales. However, during business planning in late 2005, the company realized that they needed about $10 million to meet their future growth expectations, including $3 million for hardware expansion costs. With this new capital requirement, the iStockphoto management team sought venture funding for the first time. After securing a term sheet from a VC, management became hesitant that this was the best option for the company. The team feared that they would not be able to maintain product control or nurture the community in the same fashion that iStockphoto had been built upon. Thus Bruce decided to seek other options, and contacted Jonathan Klein, CEO of Getty Images. After some positive conversations regarding company strategy and cultural fit, iStockphoto was sold to Getty Images in February 2006 for $50 million in cash. This represented a valuation substantially higher than the valuation placed on the company by the proposed VC investment. Hence the sale to Getty Images made both financial and cultural sense for Bruce and the rest of the iStockphoto team.


Food for thought

I was surprisingly struck by the parallelism between iStockphoto’s company history and evolution, and that of another successful online community, Craigslist. Both began as a hobby fueled by the passion of their founders: for Bruce it was photography and for Craig Newmark it was local events. The popularity of both services grew beyond anything the founders had envisioned, largely driven by creating a free service where only high cost options existed before (high end stock photography and print classifieds respectively). Both grew to a point where the services had to be sustained by incorporating small fees into the service, all with the support of the community itself.

Some great lessons can be learned by the examples set by these two successful companies. For one, the needs of the user base will tell you when is the right point in time to add fees, rather than implementing a revenue model prematurely. For iStockphoto, as the level of sophistication of its users grew, so did the necessity for more advanced pricing and commission models. For Craigslist, they began charging for some categories of online classifieds to improve the user experience. In both instances, it was actual user needs that drove the revenue model and timing of the revenue model.

Secondly, you have a sustainable company on your hands when you have created or contributed to the financial livelihood of a segment of your users. One reason that iStockphoto has such an active community is that their power users have personal, financial ties to the overall success of the company. For example, the top iStockphoto photographers have had hundreds of thousands of their photos downloaded – that’s real money that iStockphoto is putting into the pocket of its users. eBay and Google are probably the best two examples of Internet companies that have also created significant personal wealth for individual users. iStockphoto has created it as well, albeit on a much smaller scale. Can you create a service that contributes significant personal income to your users? If you can, chances are you’ll have a successful service.

On a separate note, both Bruce and Patrick credited much of their success to having great mentors and advisors involved with iStockphoto. Both Bruce and Patrick have been reading, learning, and applying business concepts and ideas from the business guru Guy Kawasaki for years. After meeting Guy in 2003, he became a close personal mentor for the iStockphoto management team. Having great advisors and mentors can be critical to the success of any company, but particularly a start-up. No entrepreneur can possess all the skills and experiences necessary to succeed themselves; it helps immensely to have the right mentors to act as a sounding board.


Reference articles / additional reading

Additional thoughts on iStockphoto at Kempton Lam’s blog.

“The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, Wired, June 2006 (the paradigm shifts initiated by iStockphoto and others)

“2006 Fast 50 nomination of Bruce Livingstone”, FastCompany.com (a glowing nomination, and a long list of supporters’ endorsements that make for a fascinating read)

“Interview: Bruce Livingstone, CEO istockphoto.com”, Decker Marketing blog, January 2005
Nice interview with Bruce who has some insightful responses on what makes the istockphoto different from the competition and why it was initially successful.

“The stock photo community”, DesignMentor Training website
Has a few detailed paragraphs on Bruce’s background and how iStockphoto got started.


(Last updated 20201009) News Clippings – #Covid19 #Canada Ventilator supply

Saturday, 15 August, 2020

Last updated 20201009

20201009, Stat News, “7 looming questions about the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine” (many VERY insightful questions #mustRead)

20201009, The Atlantic, “Atlas Coughed – Donald Trump has steadily turned masks into symbols—not of government overreach, but of governmental impunity.

20200915, Guardian, “Sweden records its fewest daily Covid-19 cases since March – Chief epidemiologist puts low number of cases down to light-touch ‘sustainable’ approach”

FMI: 20200320, “The Tip of the Iceberg: Virologist David Ho (BS ’74) Speaks About COVID-19” (Note: I wonder if the insight in this March 20th article remains useful or relevant on 20200915?)

20200815 News Clippings

CBC News, “Ventilator supply starts to increase as chief public health officer warns of possible surge of COVID-19 – Canada ordered more than 40,000 ventilators — but only 606 have arrived”

Only a small fraction of the 40,000 new ventilators Canada ordered for hospitals last spring have already been delivered but several companies involved say their production lines will start delivering the products faster in the next few weeks.

The promise of new arrivals comes as Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned Friday that a fall surge of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the health-care system, including its supply of critical-care beds and ventilators.

“What we know based on what we learned from other countries and cities that had a devastating impact in that initial wave, if you exceeded that capacity the mortality goes up really, really high,” she said.

Flu season and other respiratory infections common in the fall could put added pressure on the system if COVID-19 flares up in a big way.

Tam said there were many lessons learned from the spring, when the government was ill-prepared and without enough protective equipment for health-care workers, and feared a massive surge of COVID-19 would overwhelm the health-care system.

“We are much better prepared than we were before,” she said.

CNN, “CDC’s chief of staff, deputy chief of staff depart from agency

The pair [Kyle McGowan, the chief of staff, and Amanda Campbell, the deputy chief of staff,] had been criticized by Trump administration officials for not being loyal enough. McGowan started working in Health and Human Services under then-Secretary Tom Price. He first served as director of external affairs for HHS before moving to the CDC. CNN has reached out to HHS for comment about the departures.

When our politician ask CDN stars for Covid help, they obliged as only good CDNs would!

CBC News, “Seth Rogen tells B.C.’s young people to ‘smoke weed and watch movies’ instead of partying – Joins fellow Vancouver native Ryan Reynolds in issuing COVID-19 warning”

xxx


More David Cronenberg

Saturday, 30 May, 2020

More video interviews with  David Cronenberg. Quote I LOVE, “To be faithful to the book, you have to betray the book”.

Cronenberg on Cronenberg (~1 hr 27m)

David Cronenberg SHIVERS on CBC | David Cronenberg Virtual Exhibition

David Cronnenberg : Lifetime Interview 1986 (The Fly)

2014, “VIGGO MORTENSEN & DAVID CRONENBERG | In Conversation | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2014

David Cronenberg on Jonathan Ross – an episode of Tonight with Jonathan Ross, he interviews director David Cronenberg about his new film Naked Lunch. Read the rest of this entry »


Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?

Wednesday, 6 November, 2019

20191106 Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers? - Pix 0120191106 Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers? - Pix 02

I posted “Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?” as a comment on CostCo’s Facebook page yesterday. And Costco’s social media teams replied promptly (within the hour) to inform me my concerns have already been sent to the appropriate team(s). Will see what happen next.

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For the record, here is “Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?” ,

Hi, We just had a rather #awful Costco Wholesale Canada membership renewal experience this past Friday. Ended up spending ~30 minutes talking to three (4) different customer service employees/manager with one of them even threatened me to stop writing down her name (I said I might want to complain about my experiences at some point). I was told I’m not allowed to remember their names in order to properly complain if I wish to. Is this normal and standard operating procedure of CostCo employees to threaten members who may want to complain with precision?
Can someone explain why does CostCo treat loyal customers WORSE than brand new customers? Shouldn’t renewal NOT be taken “for granted”? Is it wrong to think each renewal should be treated as EARNED?

— Calgary Zoo example
In stark contrast, Calgary Zoo does things right and treat each member who decides to renew (some don’t renew) with full respect and work hard to earn each renewal. As a start, the zoo treats a renewing member EQUALLY as a new member and would NEVER shortchange/disadvantage a loyal existing member!

— CostCo: a multi-billion dollar entitled company?
Now back to CostCo, please correct me if I am wrong. When a NEW customer decide to take out a NEW membership on November 1st, his/her membership will expire in 2020 November 30th, correct me if I am wrong?
Now when we renewed on November 1st, we were told that our membership expired on September 30th! Major #fail with CostCo! In fact we were further explained, for ANYONE who “renew” within three (3) months of their previous membership expiration date, their membership expiration is the OLD date! So for example, members who decide to renew 89 days after expiration will have their membership shortchanged with 89 days LESS!
Fair? I don’t think so. This, to me and to be frank, is the actions of a multi-billion dollar entitled company that disrespect loyal customers because “it has always been done like this” or it is in the “terms and conditions” (which I tried to read “Membership Conditions & Regulations, and Privacy Policy” but is unable to find the exact exploitative legal language).

— More Training (not punishment) & Will CostCo start treating Loyal/Renewal customers with respect??
I will NEVER want anyone be punished for my stupid complains. Life is too short. Training may be. I want other customers be treated much better than I had been.
I take time to complain not just to benefit myself (sure, I want my complains fixed) BUT I take time to publicly complain in order to raise issues that I think companies like CostCo should think seriously and consider fixing.
I’ve laid out my complains and the issues (hopefully clearly and factually). Will CostCo review your corporate policy and START respecting all Loyal/Renewing customers reminds to be seen. Don’t take my words for it, Google or ask Calgary Zoo how they treat their renewing members and if they treat their loyal renewing members as good as their new ones and if they also shortchange their members because many are too busy to ask?


#DailyPositive Bianca Andreescu vs. Jennifer Brady

Thursday, 3 October, 2019

#DailyPositive #GoBiancaGo #GoCanadaGo

20191003 Bianca Andreescu vs. Jennifer Brady | 2019 China Open Third Round | WTA Highlights

20191003 AP (Sportsnet), “Andreescu moves on to quarters at China Open after 17th consecutive winRead the rest of this entry »


#DailyPositive Bianca Andreescu vs. Elise Mertens

Wednesday, 2 October, 2019

#DailyPositive #GoBiancaGo #GoCanadaGo

20191002, Bianca Andreescu vs. Elise Mertens | 2019 China Open Second Round | WTA Highlights

20191002 (The Canadian Press), Bianca Andreescu wins 16th match in a row at China Open

After the world No. 6 beat Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a second-round match at the China Open, Andreescu said she has to focus on stressing the positives.

“Today was more of a battle mentally with myself than anything,” said the 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont. “I felt like I was getting very down on myself. I expect a lot from myself in general, but I have to realize not everything is going to go the way I want it to.”

Andreescu fought back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set and then fended off a set point to beat Mertens in a rematch of a U.S. Open quarterfinal. The Canadian also won in New York last month en route to her first career Grand Slam title.

“I can improve on a lot of things, but I think the main thing right now is definitely keeping a more positive approach to things,” Andreescu said. “Even if there are 100 positives in something, if there is one negative thing that happens, that triggers something in me and I then I totally forget about all the positives.

“I just want to think of the positive as much as I can and just work with what I have.”

20191002 Ashleigh Barty vs. Zheng Saisai | 2019 China Open Third Round | WTA Highlights (For the record, Bibi will next play Barty, currently ranked #1 in the world.) Read the rest of this entry »


Dream big to get big! – Bianca Andreescu #SheTheNorth – new Quote I LOVE

Friday, 13 September, 2019

I have an extensive & detailed post about Bianca with links to tons of videos and articles so check that out for sure. Here I’m adding this new quote to my long list of Quotes I LOVE,

Dream big to get big! And don’t forget who you are. Don’t forget your roots! She [Bianca’s mom] has been telling me that ever since I was a little kid.” – Bianca Andreescu (2000- )

Bianca on ET Canada (timecode 5m34s)

xxx


Something about “The Testaments”, Margaret Atwood’s much-anticipated sequel to her 1985 classic The Handmaid’s Tale

Thursday, 12 September, 2019

I feel guilty and must confess that I’m one of those very few Canadians that have neither read Canadian National Treasure Margaret Atwood‘s awards winning The Handmaid’s Tale nor watch a full episode of the famed TV series. But still, I’m fascinated about “The Testaments” and here I plan to collect some radio/TV interview, news, and book reviews.

20190911, Channel 4 News, Margaret Atwood on her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, politics of fear and the climate crisis

20190909 Waterstones, Margaret Atwood reads from The Testaments

20190904, TIME (with a short bit of reading by Atwood), Margaret Atwood On The Sequel To ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ | TIME

20190910, CBC News, Margaret Atwood unveils sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale: The Testaments

==== Book review ====

20190910, Guardian, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood review – a dazzling follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood is at her best in this Booker-shortlisted return, three decades on, to the patriarchal dystopia of Gilead

NOTE: I hope to add more in the coming days.

xxxx


Something about “Talking to Strangers”, Malcolm Gladwell’s new book

Monday, 9 September, 2019

I’ve reserved a copy of “Talking to Strangers”, Malcolm Gladwell‘s new book, from the Calgary Public Library and looking very much forward to reading it. Here are some video interviews Malcolm has done on his book tour to promote his book and some links to book reviews. Enjoy!

20190910, CBC Radio The Current (23 minutes), Can a stranger’s demeanour tell you what they’re thinking? Maybe not, says Malcolm Gladwell

20190904 Channel 4, “Malcolm Gladwell on truth, Trump’s tweets and talking to strangers

20190907 Economist, “Why we should talk to strangers, according to Malcolm Gladwell | The Economist PodcastRead the rest of this entry »


Bianca Andreescu, US Open Champ #TeachableMoments

Monday, 9 September, 2019

In life, I believe we can and should take stock and learn from #TeachableMoments whenever we can. I don’t play tennis but I see lots to learn from 2019 US Open Champ Bianca Andreescu (and her interaction with 23 times grand slams and multiple US Open Champ Serena Williams)!

pix 00 - 2019 US Open Bianca Andreescu vs Serena Williams

pix 00 – 2019 US Open Bianca Andreescu vs Serena Williams

I went to a pub and it was a ton of fun watching Bianca played and won live with other Canadians! But I learned a lot more from her many post-game press conferences, news articles and off the court behaviours (who can forget her Rogers Cup on court moment (see video) with Serena?!) and desire to inspire the next generation of tennis players (especially Canadian female players).

Bianca is so talented and look at what she achieved in just one year! What an epic year! I LOVE quotes, and there have been much online talks of  attribution/misattribution of quotes involve underestimating/overestimating what one can achieve in one year or five/ten years. But another way of looking at it may be to simply give Bianca‘s visualization process (?) as mentioned in the news and her press conference a try. In fact some Twitter user pointed out that Bianca writing herself a cheque for winning the US Open when she was young and her visualization process was not unlike what fellow Canadian Jim Carrey did (see Jim’s video interview with Oprah). (NOTE: One day I may write more about why this is important to me but that can wait for now.)

For the record, I tweeted 20190811 (with video link in tweet and also below),

My eyes were wet when I rewatched Bianca & Serena courtside uncensored talk a few times+their press conf twice each. Best in sport moments transcend technical skills, winning/losing & become #teachablemoment re how to treat other w empathy & respect, try2be better versions of us.

I may still add/update this post to share a list of my own #TeachableMoments from these last few weeks and months from Bianca. Until then, the following is a list of most of the raw sources that I learned those #TeachableMoments from. Enjoy and have fun!

  • Bianca‘s desire to inspire other tennis players (like Serena has inspired her), especially younger Canadian players! (Note that Bianca herself is ONLY 19 years old, that in itself is impressive!)
  • (NOTE: I may add more in the future if I can find some time.)

xxxxx

=====  References & Sources of inspirations for my #TeachableMoments =====

* 20190908, TSN (with video) “A day after US Open win, Andreescu already hungry for more

* New Yorker, “In Her U.S. Open Victory, Bianca Andreescu Shows the Swagger That Serena Williams Brought to Women’s Tennis

* 20190907 CBC News, Bianca Andreescu wins U.S. Open, becomes 1st Canadian to claim a Grand Slam title

* CTV News Toronto (with video of viewing party in Toronto), “The most Canadian way to accept a trophy? Bianca Andreescu says ‘sorry’

Read the rest of this entry »


Kawhi Leonard “paid” millions to “buy” NBA Championships

Thursday, 11 July, 2019

 

20190711 Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely By Doug Smith - Sports Reporter

20190711 Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely By Doug Smith – Sports Reporter

I love Doug Smith’s analysis and he is always a good read. In this case (see below for an excerpt), I disagree with Doug and want to make a few observations.

  1. No one got “played”. Everyone knows exactly what they get themselves into.
  2. I won’t call billionaires “riverboat gamblers” because the millions to them is “nothing” like you and I pay $5 for a cheap movie. For billionaires, it is not gambling if you enjoy the time spent watching the movie (or your NBA team do stuff) as they can never finish spending their money in their lifetime and last I check, even if you bring money to your grave, your hands are kinda stiff and you can’t spend the money.
  3. And wow Kawhi! I admire Kawhi so much as he has left “that much money on the table” (in the words of Doug) to buy (“buy” is my word, and yes, he “paid” millions to “buy”) the maximum chance to win NBA Championships and to win them fast asap, preferably in the next two seasons in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021!
    Kawhi (and his team of advisors including Uncle Dennis) thought carefully about how best to increase Kawhi’s chances to win. He is gambling with a pair of legal mercury loaded dices named Leonard & George that he personally designed. He has put the Clippers on the clock (and they know it) to win like NOW.Remember, at some point, any extra millions Kawhi can make also becomes meaningless to him because, lets not forget, his aim in life is NOT to collect the biggest number of houses around the world or the most number of fancy cars! Kawhi’s aim in life is to win the most number of NBA championships in the time that he is healthy to play basketball. In case anyone is counting, Kawhi is currently at 2× NBA champion (2014, 2019).

Kawhi told a reporter in 2015, “I’m just trying to pass Tim Duncan in championships if I can one day.”

For the record, Tim has 5× NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). That my friend is what the #FunGuy has been thinking since high school and aiming to achieve in his basketball career all along, 6(?)× NBA champion (2014, 2019, 2020(??), 2021(??), ????, ????) How can you not admire Kawhi and think he is kinda “fun” in his own champion kinda way!

Here is a brief excerpt from Doug Smith’s blog post, “Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely

“Wow.

Only doing a two-plus-one deal with the Clippers sure caught everyone I talked to by surprise and once again proved Leonard is impossible to read and to think you can is folly.

But a lot of people were combination of mystified and perturbed by the move and some were kind of thankful it ended as it did.

I talked to agents who simply couldn’t comprehend a client leaving that much money on the table and I presume some eyebrows were raised at the players association office, as well.

It’s kind of telling that no player – not Leonard, not Durant, not Kyrie Irving, not Jimmy Butler to name just four – got every last dollar they could have out of the market. Not sure if that means the market is flawed or just too full of money but I do think it means something.

What it also means, to me in the immediate moment at least, is that the Clippers got used and a bit played and now the pressure on them to win big and win fast is astronomical. [K note: “win big and win fast is astronomical” is exactly the position Kawhi want Clippers to be in] It was one thing to pay the highest price ever paid by an NBA team on the trade market – basically two good players and a decade of draft picks to get the one guy the guy you wanted demanded you get – when the expectation was you’ve have Leonard for four year, a much longer time to win championships than just two.

I don’t know for 100 per cent that they knew they were only going two years guaranteed and if they did, wow, are they riverboat gamblers. If they didn’t, they got played.”

2019 July 11st update:

ESPN, July 10, 2019 “Kawhi’s contract puts the Clippers under pressure – Stephen A. | Pardon the Interruption” (quite similar to one of the points I made)

xxx


Anna Maria Tremonti’s final edition of The Current (with a new Quote I LOVE)

Friday, 21 June, 2019

20190619 Anna Maria Tremonti's final edition of The Current

20190619 Anna Maria Tremonti’s final edition of The Current

I’ll miss Anna Maria Tremonti very much as I listen to the final edition (full text transcript) of The Current. AMT is one of the best broadcasters in Canada (if not the world). I totally admire her and see her is a National Treasure! Looking forward to her new podcast.

I highly recommend you have an enjoyable listen to AMT‘s final edition of The Current.

AMT, best of luck to you from a confessed listener since The Current started in 2002!

Here is an excerpt from the last interview of AMT by Carol Off, the departing host being interviewed on her show! (emphasis added, transcript mistakes fixed and link added)

AMT: […] To be able to do that story, to be able to say to The Current I want to take half an hour of prime time morning radio and I want to talk about the rape of women in war. And the bosses say: Okay. What do you need? We’ll let you do that. That’s the gift of The Current as well we have been able to tackle those kinds of stories at a time of day when people would go ‘Oh we’re not so sure about that’. And you know what the listeners have said thank you for that. And that’s really been important to me.

CAROL OFF: Because that’s the gift of Anna Maria Tremonti because what you do with that story is that you don’t make it so horrific that no one can bear it. You tackled it as into the humanity of those stories and that has been your hallmark no matter who you talk to, no matter where you’ve gone, you have made it a hallmark of your empathy of being able to draw those people and I think what people remember most about what you have done for these 17 years is that you have made Canada your hometown. You have been from coast to coast, talking to people on the line but also going to town halls everywhere. You have connected with this country. What does that meant for you?

AMT: A lot. You know when I became a foreign correspondent it was Joe Schlesinger who said now that you’re foreign correspondent you better think about what you’re going to be when you’re not. And I thought about coming home because when you’re foreign correspondent you never want to come home. It’s a great life. And the people you answer to are far away and asleep. So it’s perfect.

And here I’m adding a new quote to my long list of Quotes I LOVE,

“For 17 seasons you have been my partners in listening. In fact the most important thing I have learned in hosting The Current is how to listen, not how to talk, not how to ask questions, but how to listen. How to say nothing even and hear what someone else is really saying because I learn not in the asking but in the hearing. I learn about someone or something in the words that are spoken and then how they’re spoken and the words that are used in the exuberance, in the hesitation, in the emotion. Even the silences tell me something and they tell me something loudly.

At a world where so many people are shouting at each other, where so many refuse to hear anything but their own voice, the ability to hear another side to think differently, to question yourself, to learn something new, that is a gift.” – Anna Maria Tremonti (1957- ) (AMT’s final edition, timecode (~1hr 08min 38sec))


NBA Champ Raptors, Load Management, Kawhi Leonard, and a whole lot more

Tuesday, 18 June, 2019

For the record, the following are excerpts from five insightful articles I found to read re “Load Management” as used by NBA Champion team Raptors on its players including MVP superstar Kawhi Leonard. Pay attention to mentions of Alex McKechnie, Raptors’ director of sports science (hired by Raptors in 2011) who now has six, yes SIX,  NBA championship rings!

Let me start by sharing this cool bonus video that I found online:

How Toronto Raptors’ Alex McKechnie Built a Career in the NBA

Article #1 (This, by far, is the most insightful one out of the series of four)

June 1, 2019 Sportsnet, “The maestro of load management has been key to Raptors’ playoff success” Here is an excerpt (with emphasis added),

The Raptors were 17-5 when Leonard sat in the regular season but his value — and the value of Toronto’s patience — has been proven in the post-season.

The Raptors are 22 points better per 100 possessions with Leonard on the floor than when he sits, which is why Nurse has leaned on him so heavily when the games have mattered most.

That Nurse has been able to do so reflects the outsized impact of the club’s director of sports science, Alex McKechnie, a white-haired senior citizen with a Scottish accent who has as much influence in the organization as anyone other than Nick Nurse and president Masai Ujiri.

When the Raptors traded for Leonard, who had missed 73 games in San Antonio in 2017-18 due to an unspecified right quadriceps injury, a Raptors insider texted McKechnie with a simple message:

“You’re the most important person in the organization now.”

Managing the load
When Leonard arrived in Toronto, he made his priorities clear — after establishing that he was, indeed, “a fun guy” — a few minutes into his opening press conference on the eve of training camp.

He was asked: What does he want for his career?

“Just be able to be healthy, that’s my No. 1 goal,” he said. “Play a long, healthy career [and] be able to be dominant, wherever I land.”

He’s dominant. He showed it all season long as he posted career highs in points (26.6) and rebounds (7.3) and was second-team All-NBA and second-team all-defence despite playing just 60 games — missing most of the other 22 due to “load management.”

The term is a medical one, recognized by the NBA and deemed an acceptable reason for teams to sit out players who aren’t otherwise acutely injured or ill. It was McKechnie — who’s in his 19th NBA season and seventh with the Raptors — who made the term part of the lexicon and was responsible for managing the load by keeping track of Leonard’s fitness through a combination of biometric measures, outside medical opinions and feel.

Shortly after he joined the Raptors, McKechnie — who was not made available to be interviewed for this story — described his approach, honed after more than 40 years working in the field, as a blend of science and instinct born of thousands of hours of in-field experience.

“When we look at rehabilitation and training and conditioning, there’s a science to it, [but] once you establish the science the trainer becomes an artist, and so it’s really painting that individual’s picture,” McKechnie told Raptors.com in 2012.

“For example, you’re not going to do the same things you may for a post-up player as you would for a guard. Totally different approach to the training protocols. In much the same way that we look at a player shooting on his right side as a guy shooting from his left. There’s a completely different set of default postures that we look at.

The following excerpt is also very insightful (with emphasis added) but again, I recommend you read the whole report “The maestro …“, Read the rest of this entry »


Raptors – Kawhi Leonard: “I don’t care about being best player. I want to be the best team.” Kyle Lowry: “Why not feed the big dog? Let the big dog eat.”

Sunday, 26 May, 2019

I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed watching “Kawhi Leonard & Kyle Lowry Postgame Interview” along with reading the report “NBA Playoffs 2019: Masai Ujiri’s bold moves, starting with the Kawhi Leonard gamble, forever changed Raptors history“. Here are links to a few notable time codes in the Postgame Interview,

0:11 Just LOVE this answer from Kyle Lowry: Why not feed the big dog? Let the big dog eat.

4:35 Kawhi Leonard: I don’t really judge my game like that. I’m more of a team aspect, see what my team is doing. Just want to win. I don’t care about being best player. I want to be the best team. I always said that.

5:13 Love this Q&A. [HT Canadian Press /CTV news for the following:]

//And another grin as Leonard and Lowry shared the post-game podium in the wake of the history-making 100-94 win over the Bucks. It came after Lowry was asked how this group had managed something no other Raptors team had accomplished. The point guard cracked a smile, looked left at Leonard, then broke into a laugh, looked at Leonard again and continued laughing. Leonard happily grinned back. “The one thing about Kawhi, and you guys all know it, is he literally stays level-headed all the time,” Lowry said admiringly. “He never gets up, he never gets down. He showed some emotion after Game 7 against the Sixers. But I think him and Danny (Green) brought that championship pedigree here, just kind of staying level-headed and even-keeled.” In the same news conference, Leonard deflected praise from team president Masai Ujiri, who called him the best player in the league during the post-game trophy ceremony.//

Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors – Game 6 – Full Game Highlights | 2019 NBA Playoffs

Raptors, Good luck and all the best in the finals.

P.S. The following are great read too.

CBS Sports, “NBA Playoffs 2019: Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard stating case as best player on Earth with transcendent postseason run

The Star, “Kyle Lowry took his chip and went all in with the RaptorsRead the rest of this entry »


Clinical study: Single blood test from U Calgary could offer rapid breast cancer diagnosis

Friday, 15 March, 2019

Hope the two year clinical study will prove to be successful, time will tell. Good luck and best wishes to Dr. Kristina (Tina) Rinker and her Early Cancer Detection Initiative team!  #fuckCancer

2019 March 14th, CBC News, “Calgary-made blood test aims to improve breast cancer detection – Clinical study now underway at University of Calgary on test that could reduce wait times, patient stress

//The clinical study, which began in May 2018, will involve more than 800 women from Calgary and Edmonton, and roughly 600 women in Manchester, U.K.

Participants are given a simple blood test along with their regular mammogram.

“The earlier you can identify the breast cancer at a point that it’s treatable, the better the outcomes,” said Kristina Rinker, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Calgary.

According to Rinker, a computer algorithm allows scientists to identify a molecular marker for active breast cancer in the blood at an early stage. She says 800 samples — already collected — show the test has an accuracy rate of about 90 per cent.

“Finding it early, finding it at stage one, getting the treatment as fast as possible, that’s going to save lives,” she said.

Rinker hopes the blood test will eventually be used along with mammography to help identify cancer in women who have dense breast tissue — which makes cancer more difficult to detect — or those who have inconclusive mammogram results.//

Further reading, U of Calgary, 14 March, 2019 “Single blood test could offer rapid breast cancer diagnosis – Two-year clinical program seeking participants for study” which has a link to the ‘Identification of Breast Cancer from a Blood Sample (IDBC)’ study for “Women interested in participating in the IDBC clinical program can find more information” which has additional links for people to read through the IDBC Consent Form, IDBC Questionnaire or IDBC Brochure.

P.S. Here is a UC link to Dr. Rinker’s peer-reviewed article. and her profile at the Creative Destruction Lab.


Designing the Canadian Flag

Wednesday, 13 March, 2019

I recently watched the documentary “Design Canada – The History of Graphic Design in Canada” via online streaming service Kanopy (free thanks Calgary Public Library) and LOVE it! Especially loving the segment about the design history of the Canadian flag! I love that Canadian flag segment so much that I looked up more online and found some extra cool info produced by CBC News in 2015 to celebrate the 50th birthday of our lovely flag!

CBC News, Feb 16, 2015, “The real story behind the Canadian Flag

Have a read of the lovely historical and insightful four-page document “Dr. George F.G. Stanley’s Flag Memorandum – “the genesis of the Canadian flag”” as shown in the above CBC News report.

Here is a trailer of “Design Canada – The History of Graphic Design in Canada

P.S. I love Canada and the Canadian flag and I’ve requested a Peace Tower flag that has flown on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and hoping to receive it around the year 2060, hopefully I’ll still be alive to receive it!

I like the Greek proverb (?), “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” In requesting the Peace Tower flag that had a waiting list of 46 years at the time, I made myself a commitment/promise of sort to love, cherish, and to try to make Canada a little bit better than I found her!


In the quest to build a better battery

Friday, 14 December, 2018

I’ve always love and curious about battery technologies. CBC News has this interesting news article, “In the quest to build a better battery, a Canadian is energizing the field“. Will see how things pan out in the coming years with Canadian Don Sadoway, a professor of materials chemistry at MIT. (Prof. Sadoway “did both his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Toronto, receiving his PhD in 1977”.)

2012 Ted Talk Donald Sadoway: The missing link to renewable energy

2015 World Economic Forum, Unlocking Renewables | Donald Sadoway


Sad 2018 #HumanRightsDay #MichealKovrig #MichaelSpavor #MengWanzhou #Huawei

Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Dec 23, 2018 update: Global TV News, (with video) “Canada’s ambassadors urging allies to push for release of Canadians detained in China: Freeland

Dec 21, 2018 Global Affairs Canada Official statement: “Canada deeply concerned by arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China

Dec 21, 2018 update: CBC News, “U.S. , UK, EU] joins Freeland in condemning ‘arbitrary detention’ of Canadians and calls for ‘immediate release’

UK Gardian, “Canada demands China immediately release citizens detained in ‘retaliation’ arrests – US, UK and EU express support, after two Canadians held in seeming retaliation for arrest of Huawei executive

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I’m sorry to say 2018 #HumanRightsDay (Dec 10th) was a sad day when former Canadian diplomat Micheal Kovrig (update: and Mr. Michael Spavor) were detained in China with no reason given. (China taking Mr. Kovrig as “hostage” over the arrest of Huawei CFO Ms. Meng Wanzhou?!) Where is due process? Where is rule of law? I understand he served as political lead on Prime Minster Trudeau’s visit to Hong Kong in September 2016, so on a personal note, I feel sorry for Consul General Mr. Jeff Nankivell and others in HK that Mr. Kovrig might have worked with in preparation of that 2016 visit.

How “lucky” Canadians must be to be stuck between two superpowers fighting a trade war? One superpower has a president that locks up human rights lawyers (including blind human rights lawyer) and makes dissidents “disappear”. The other superpower has a president who clearly sees himself above the law and has no idea of what “judicial independence” means. Even his former secretary of state recently said in public, “the president would say here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it and I would have to say to him, Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law.”

If there is #TeachableMoment in all this mess, it is that one must try to respect the rule of law, due process, and judicial independence. Even now it seems we really got used by both sides to fight their beeping trade war!
P.S. Incidentally, Trump/US government has imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum using Section 232 of U.S. trade law claiming our steel and aluminum are “threats to American national security”.

P.P.S. Former Canadian Amb. to China Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques has this to say:

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This sentence (from a CBC News report) kinda highlights the difference between Huawei CFO Ms. Meng Wanzhou’s case and the trumped up detention of Mr. Michael Kovrig (currently on an unpaid leave of absence from the Canadian embassy): “China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday denied knowledge of the detention of a former Canadian diplomat, as Chinese citizens rejoiced over a Canadian court’s decision to release a top Huawei Technologies executive on bail.Read the rest of this entry »


It’s not just what you stand for, it’s what you stand up for. – New Quote I Love

Wednesday, 7 November, 2018

I’m adding a new quote to my long list of Quotes I Love.

“It’s not just what you stand for, it’s what you stand up for.” – Canadian Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella (1946- )2017 Commencement speech at Brandeis University

Rosalie Abella – 2017 Commencement speech at Brandeis University


‘Reflections on the Rule of Law in a Dangerous World’: The 2018 Sir David Williams Lecture by The Rt Hon. Beverley McLachlin

Friday, 26 October, 2018

Sir David Williams Lecture 2018

On Friday 19 October 2018, The Rt Hon. Beverley McLachlin delivered the 2018 Sir David Williams Lecture entitled “Where Are We Going? Reflections on the Rule of Law in a Dangerous World“. (more info: downloadable audiophotos)

Sir David Williams Lecture 2018

Sir David Williams Lecture 2018


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