USA vs. Belgium, Orkut Finally Dropped, NBA Free Agency, and More


There were/are some big developments over the weekend and taking place currently in the sports and business worlds, so I wanted to focus this post on a discussion of various links and items. You know, just over two weeks ago, I was wondering how I was going to stay productive at work with the World Cup on. Suffice it to say, as I rehab from surgery (more on that at a later date), my questions were answered. I now have time to watch all the soccer games I want. Which brings me to the first item…

  • USA vs. Belgium: It’s on. 3 PM today. The USMNT have advanced out of the Group of Death and have a meeting with the formidable Belgian side. Nate Silver had a great write-up on why we should be glad with our knockout opponent draw. Statistically speaking, although we are underdogs, we have a 41.6% chance of beating Belgium, according to Silver’s models. By the eye test, I agree. While Belgium are formidable and feature the attacking talents of Eden Hazard, Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku, et al, they are not on the same level of a Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands, Colombia, or France. On two important personnel notes, I think Jozy Altidore will be a sub today. Even though he’s fit to play, I think the team has adjusted admirably so far. He will come in on an if-needed basis. I’d also like to see more playing time for DeAndre Yedlin, who has been composed, crafty, and injected a lot of pace and creativity whenever he’s been on the pitch, setting up several attacks while not losing his shape defensively.


  • Orkut’s done: Google has finally announced that it will shut down Orkut formally on September 30th. It’s about time. I had almost forgotten that Orkut even existed. As you may or may not know, Orkut was Google’s first attempt at a social network,
    graph via Forbes

    graph via Forbes

    created 10 years ago, but doesn’t really fit into today’s Google, which is focused on Google+ anyway. People share because their friends share. Problem is that nobody really caught onto Orkut. It was clumsy, and faced the problem of being released a mere 3 months before Facebook. Facebook was about connecting. Twitter is about micro-blogging. But Orkut? You couldn’t really tell what its core ideal was. It was sharing for the sake of sharing, which is never a good idea to chase. Google will parrot that Orkut really caught on in Brazil, yet the fact remains that it died in Brazil pretty quickly as well, soon thereafter struggling to hold onto a 2% share of social media usage in the country. Goodbye Orkut. You’ll hardly be missed.

  • NBA Free Agency begins: You can find Matt Moore’s pretty accurate breakdown of the top 40 available free agents at the link. Free agency began officially at midnight, but the NBA’s offseason has been lively even prior to it. The draft was last week, and several big trades were made, including the return of Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks, and the trade of Omer Asik to the Pelicans. LeBron James is no doubt the crown jewel of free agency, although it’s a long shot that he will even leave Miami. He’s not just the King, he’s a kingmaker; any team he plays for will become an instant contender by sheer virtue of his presence alone. Any team that goes after Boris Diaw really needs to look hard at how he may perform outside San Antonio. Consider that he produced negative win shares in his last season in Charlotte. Isaiah Thomas shouldn’t be overlooked, plus he’ll come relatively cheap. He’s one of the best young guards in the league but played for Sacramento, so nobody really recognized that he is probably a top-10 point guard.
  • US Leads Developed Economies in Startup Activity: According to 2013 figures, approximately 13% of the working class population was launching or running a new startup venture. This is the highest reported rate among 25 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. This is good news for job growth as well, as 37% of those ventures are expected to open up six or more jobs in the next five years. There could be many reasons for this. It could be partially a higher necessity than in the other countries for startup creation given a lack of other job options. Traditional employment has become more fickle, and less glamorous, especially in the mainstream media (see: Silicon Valley TV show). Many of the world’s biggest startup success stories started in the United States (see: Facebook, Uber), and this is certainly a motivating factor. As more people get into the startup world, their compatriots are exposed to that wave of enthusiasm and get in on the action as well.
  • Jason Kidd gets his Machiavelli on: Zach Lowe has a brilliant look into the Jason Kidd fiasco. The lowdown is that Kidd made a power play for a pay raise and position upgrade to team president, similar to the roles of Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers. Prokhorov denied him, and as Kidd burned bridges in New Jersey, he has become the Bucks new head coach, while the Bucks still employed Larry Drew. Nobody comes out of a convoluted situation like that looking good. Jason Kidd is Machiavelli reincarnate, and his “coach killer” reputation will surface again. The Nets had insights into Kidd’s agitations since December. The Bucks just surrendered assets for a sophomore head coach while having one under contract and working behind the back of their GM. Only in the NBA.
  • Bitcoin to Houston: Finally, rounding off with a Houston bullet point. On June 27, US Marshals auctioned off 29,000 bitcoins to the Houston community. Bitcoin enthusiasts are no doubt excited by this development. It’s a sign that the government is dipping its toes into the digital currency world. It’s a significant step towards the regular usage of bitcoin in Houston, one of the country’s best business environments and fastest growing cities. However, beyond the known issues with Bitcoin’s volatile value, there is real skepticism from me about its adoption. Bitcoin is not as tidy to use and document (nobody’s rushing to buy a beer for .0088 bitcoin) in a dollar-dominated world. The potential is there in international trade and macro-scale applications, but I don’t see it catching on with small businesses (which is apparently what many of the evangelists are looking towards). Not while it is still a niche, higher-end currency, where an auction for bitcoin has a minimum $200,000 entry fee.

Oh, and 167 people took 175-to-1 odds that Luis Suarez would bite someone during the World Cup. It’s now mathematically proven that you’re more likely to get bit by Suarez than by a shark. Happy Tuesday, everyone!


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