Rebels, Sneakers and Grandmama

I loved college basketball during the 90’s. In-conference rivalries were real and bitter, and the best players typically stayed in school for three if not the full four years. I loved the Big East in particular. Tradition, legendary coaches, and a legitimate star player on nearly every team.

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But the team that excited me most was out West: UNLV during the early 90’s, at the peak of the Jerry Tarkanian era. The 1990-’91 team was a force. The trio of Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anderson (all NBA lottery picks later in the year) was rounded out by George Ackles, Elmore Spencer, Anderson Hunt and H Waldman. Anderson Hunt was my guy for some reason. He was a 3-point assassin off the bench with a cool demeanor and knack for huge, backbreaking shots. And H Waldman — his first name was H! No period, Just “H”. Coach Tark would be on the bench chewing a towel, just gnawing away on it the entire game.

The Runnin’ Rebels were overflowing with talent, style and personality. They ripped off a 27-0 regular season and entered the tourney as the #1 overall seed. My neighbor put together an NCAA pool; all 64 schools were written down on separate note cards in a box, and you paid $2 to reach in blindly and fish one out.

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The Frozen Tundra of App.net

Lambeau

The Green Bay Packers are quite the anomaly.

Typically, pro teams are located in major media markets and owned by one very wealthy person or some corporate entity.  The Packers are based in the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, population of around 100,000, and are the only community-owned franchise in American professional sports.  Put simply, the fans of the team are the shareholders.

There have been five separate offerings of the team’s stock since 1950, with the proceeds going mainly to development projects such as maintaining and expanding historic Lambeau Field.  Prior to the most recent stock sale that began in 2011, there were 112,015 people who could lay claim to a franchise interest and the accompanying voting rights.  Newly purchased shares can be given as gifts, and once ownership is established, share transfers can take place between immediate family members.1  Imagine growing up around Green Bay and inheriting not just a passion for the local team, but actual ownership as well.

Owning a share of the Packers is mostly symbolic.  The redemption price is minimal, no dividends are ever paid and the stock cannot appreciate in value.  My friend @Andrew, a die-hard Pack fan who grew up outside of Milwaukee, proudly owns a share that is framed and displayed prominently in his home.  But this overall structure serves a very important purpose. Stockholders elect a board of directors who in turn select a seven member Executive Committee that makes all major decisions.  Fans have an actual say in how the team is run.

This unique setup also means the team is free, if not compelled, to operate with the interests of its fans squarely in mind.  

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How MBA Students Should Think About Startups

Much has been written over the last few months about what seems like a growing wave of MBA’s pursuing startup jobs.  Most of the reactions have been from an entrepreneur or investor perspective, and are generally skeptical of the value these people bring to the table.  This attitude has prevailed widely enough to trigger the contrarian instincts of Ben Horowitz, leading him to wonder in a great post from last week, “with everyone convinced that MBAs are useless…Is now the time to hire MBAs?

Personally, I won’t knock any MBA student for trying to break into this world. The alternative is to follow the more predictable career paths 95% of their classmates are on towards banking, consulting or other designed MBA tracks within big companies (not that there is anything wrong with that!).   

The main problem I see is that a lot of b-schoolers lack an understanding of how startups view hiring, and come across as a bit clueless in their approach.  Perhaps that’s a good thing and an easy way to filter out those who are not cut out or committed enough to begin with.  There is certainly no unmet demand for MBA’s in tech startups like we have for really good programmers or iOS developers. 

So at the risk of annoying those who wish these tenacious little monkeys would take their fancy new diplomas and head back to Wall Street, here are a few small pieces of advice for anyone on the outside looking to get in…  

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