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Sam Harris on Michael Bloomberg and stop-and-frisk

Hi folks. In the latest podcast episode (189) Harris made some comments about Michael Bloomberg and stop-and-frisk. Let’s first of all take a look at what Harris said:
“Let’s start with Bloomberg, because he’s someone who is getting, you know there’s at least an attempt to defenestrate him based on a few things he said as mayor which may have been politically imprudent or too candid by half, but in many respects not obviously wrong. And the arguments against him really seem to be pseudoarguments. And so, at the time of recording this this is a fairly vivid scandal or pseudoscandal in journalism now. But, the Democrats are pillorying him over remarks he made that were just unearthed from the Aspen Institute in 2015 when he was talking about stop-and-frisk. And I have the quote here, so this is Bloomberg in 2015, after he was mayor. He was I believe mayor for 11 years of New York City, and the policy for those who don’t recall it, it’s been since more or less phased out, but, the cops were stationed more in minority areas and stopping and frisking people looking for guns, mostly, and crime rates plummeted. There’s some uncertainty about the causal factor there, but it was not irrational at the time to think that stop-and-frisk was part of the policy that was succeeding in causing crime rates to plummet. Anyway, so Bloomberg said:
'95% of your murders and murder victims fit one MO. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15-25. That is true in New York. That is true in virtually every city in America. And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people who are getting killed. So you want to spend the money on a lot of cops in the streets. Put those cops where the crime is. Which means minority neighborhoods.'
And then in a subsequent interview he said:
'One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying ‘Oh it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.’ That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the crime. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much, and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they’re saying. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course, or a logic course.'
Alright so he’s clearly making it difficult for himself there, in hindsight, politically. But the reality is, all the data I’ve ever read about violent crime support what he’s saying here. The disproportionate number of perpetrators and the disproportionate number of victims are coming from minority communities. And what these communities suffer from is not too much policing, it’s been the wrong type of policing. There’s too much policing around petty crime, and not enough policing around solving murders, and how to get that right is a difficult question. But the people who are saying that the only way to have arrived at a stop-and-frisk policy was borne of racism, and not caring about the disparities of the way in which crime victimizes communities, that’s just clearly untrue. A completely rational and compassionate attempt to mitigate violent crime could have given you this policy. And it seems to me that the thing the Democratic party has to be able to admit at this point, in order to talk anything like sense on this topic, is that it’s a difficult social problem, that, the mayor was right in his diagnosis, that you could win money all day long in a casino that would allow you to place a bet on the age range and gender and minority identity of a perpetrator of a violent crime in New York City. You know, it’s not the ultra-Orthodox Jews who are mugging people in New York City. But that’s a politically toxic thing to make salient, and the remedy of stop-and-frisk became politically toxic, and probably wasn’t worth doing in hindsight. He could have figured that out earlier than he did, perhaps. But, the fact that he’s being castigated on the left as a racist monster, just seems to be emblematic of all of the miscalibrations in our politics on the left, that the wokeness is ensuring. And it seems, above all, a recipe for giving us four more years of Trump in the end.”
Okay, well I have some thoughts about this. Let’s break this down into what was said, and what wasn’t said.

What was said.

Firstly, Harris is generally misrepresenting the situation when he says Democrats are ‘pillorying him’ over remarks he made. If you look at the transcripts of the two recent debates, the comments aimed at Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy are generally not about the comments Harris quoted, but the policy itself.
From Nevada:
Sanders: ‘In order to beat Donald Trump, we’re going to need the largest voter turnout in the history of the United States. Mr. Bloomberg had policies in New York city of stop-and-frisk, which went after African American and Latino people in an outrageous way.’
Warren: ‘Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop-and-frisk.’
Biden: Well the fact of the matter is, he has not managed his city very, very well when he was there. He didn’t get a whole lot done. He has stop-and-frisk, throwing close to 5 million young black men up against a wall. And when we came along in our administration, President Obama and said, “We’re going to send in a mediator to stop it.” He said, “That’s unnecessary.”
Biden: ‘Yes. Let’s get something straight. The reason the stop and frisk change is because Barack Obama sent moderators to see what was going on. When we sent them there to say, “This practice has to stop,” the mayor thought it was a terrible idea. We send them there, a terrible idea. Let’s get the facts straight. Let’s get the order straight. And it’s not whether he apologize or not, it’s the policy. The policy was abhorrent and it was, in fact, of violation of every right people have. We are the one, our administration sent in people to monitor it. And the very time the mayor argued against that. This idea that he figured out it was a bad idea. He figured out it was a bad idea after we sent in monitors and said it must stop. Even then he continued the policy.’
Warren: ‘When the mayor says that he apologized, listen very closely to the apology. The language he used is about stop and frisk. It’s about how it turned out. Now this isn’t about how it turned out. This is about what it was designed to do to begin with. It targeted communities of color, it targeted black and brown men from the beginning. And if you want to issue a real apology, then the apology has to start with the intent of the plan as it was put together and the willful ignorance day by day by day of admitting what was happening. Even as people protested in your own street, shutting out the sounds of people telling you how your own policy was breaking their lives. You need a different apology.’
From South Carolina:
King: ‘Mayor Buttigieg, mayor to mayor, mayor to mayor, you've certainly had your issues with the black community as well. Do you think the New York City's implementation of stop and frisk was racist?’
Buttigieg: ‘Yes, in effect, it was. Because it was about profiling people based on their race. And the mayor even said that they disproportionately stopped white people too often and minorities too little. ’
O’Donnell: ‘Senator Klobuchar, was the way that the mayor implemented stop and frisk racist?’
Klobuchar: ‘Yes, and I think that what we need to do instead of just reviewing everything from the past is talk about where we're going to go forward.’
So we can see that generally, the comments being made by Democratic rivals are about the policy, how it was implemented, or how Bloomberg responded to criticism of the policy. Ditto comments made in the press:
Repeating the phrase, “We will not beat Donald Trump with,” Sanders ticked off the issues that have dogged Bloomberg for a week: a “racist” policy like stop-and-frisk that “caused communities of color to live in fear,” his past opposition to raising the minimum wage and that he “blamed the end of racist policies such as redlining for the financial crisis.”
Biden slammed Bloomberg’s record on policing in New York and other issues important to African American voters, a crucial demographic for the Democratic nomination -- and especially for Biden, who has lost black support as Bloomberg’s support among blacks has picked up.
“You take a look at the stop-and-frisk proposals. You take a look at his ideas on redlining he’s talking about. You take a look at what he’s done relative to the African American community,” Biden said. So the idea that the criticism is simply about remarks Bloomberg made is either a misrepresentation or is misleading commentary.
Secondly, ‘the arguments against him really seem to be pseudoarguments’. Which arguments? Because lots of arguments have been made about stop-and-frisk as it relates to Bloomberg, and we’ve already seen that the criticism of Bloomberg isn’t narrowly lazered in on some comments he’s made about it, but is about the policy itself as implemented and handled by Bloomberg. Without specifying the arguments that have been made, or the people who have made them, this is just a lazy and vague assertion. Nevertheless, we can actually look at some arguments against Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy:
evidence has emerged of the harms created by the strategy. We now know that students heavily exposed to stop-and-frisk were more likely to struggle in school, that young men were more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, that this exposure fostered cynicism in policing and government writ large, and that it made residents more likely to retreat from civic life.
In effect, Mr. Bloomberg’s policing record — one of his greatest liabilities as voters begin to appraise him at the ballot box — may have clouded the other accomplishments that form the strongest case for his bid as president, in areas like education, public health and good government.
Recent research by Mr. Bacher-Hicks and Elijah de la Campa found that black middle-school students exposed to more aggressive policing were more likely to later drop out of school and less likely to enroll in college.
The researchers looked at parts of New York that had many stops, not necessarily because those places had high crime or other correlated factors, but because they happened to be assigned a precinct commander who was more likely to advocate frequent stops. Within these neighborhoods, students may not have been stopped themselves. But they went to school in communities where this kind of policing was pervasive.
The negative effects on education appeared for girls, too, even though they were far less likely to be stopped by police than boys or young men. That implies, the researchers suggest, that something deeply embedded in the girls’ environment — like fear or distrust of authority that students learned from it — might have hindered their education. More police stops, the researchers found, were also associated with chronic absenteeism.
That study adds to other research in New York finding that black male students who were more exposed to stop-and-frisk had lower test scores. And other research using surveys about experiences with the police has found that students around the country who were arrested or stopped, or who witnessed these encounters or knew of others involved, had worse grades.
That these effects appear strongest for black students suggests that aggressive policing could worsen racial achievement gaps in school as well.
“All these kinds of disadvantages can accrue and build up,” said Aaron Gottlieb, a professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who has studied policing and student grades. “Let’s say a police stop reduces the likelihood that you go to college. That’s going to impact your earnings in the long run.”
Other research shows that negative interactions with the police can shape how residents think about government and civic institutions, and even democracy more broadly.
“It teaches something really important — and something really negative — about what agents of the state and bureaucracies are supposed to be doing in your community, what role they play, what their character is,” said Amy Lerman, a political scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.
She and Vesla Weaver, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins, have found that even minor encounters with police can reduce the likelihood of voting, a pattern other research of stop-and-frisk in New York has documented as well. Ms. Lerman and Ms. Weaver have shown that aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics can even have a chilling effect on whether residents use a service like 3-1-1 to report issues that have nothing to do with crime at all.
Is this a pseudoargument?
Data suggests that the vast majority of street stops made by the police in New York at the height of stop-and-frisk weren’t particularly helpful in fighting crime: Few led to arrests or uncovered weapons. But research has found that a small subset of stops, those based on specific suspicions by officers and not general sweeps or racial profiling, do appear to have helped reduce crime.
From the study itself:
Impact zones were significantly associated with reductions in total reported crimes, assaults, burglaries, drug violations, misdemeanor crimes, felony property crimes, robberies, and felony violent crimes. Impact zones were significantly associated with increases in total reported arrests, arrests for burglary, arrests for weapons, arrests for misdemeanor crimes, and arrests for property felony crimes. Impact zones were also significantly associated with increases in investigative stops for suspected crimes, but only the increase in stops made based on probable cause indicators of criminal behaviors were associated with crime reductions. The largest increase in investigative stops in impact zones was based on indicators of suspicious behavior that had no measurable effect on crime. The findings suggest that saturating high crime blocks with police helped reduce crime in New York City, but that the bulk of the investigative stops did not play an important role in the crime reductions. The findings indicate that crime reduction can be achieved with more focused investigative stops.
Is this a pseudoargument?
Thirdly: ‘There’s some uncertainty about the causal factor there, but it was not irrational at the time to think that stop-and-frisk was part of the policy that was succeeding in causing crime rates to plummet.’
While it’s not possible for me to say whether it was rational or irrational at the time to think that stop-and-frisk played some role in crime reduction, even at the time, going back to at least 1999 (predating Bloomberg’s first mayoral term), the City had been aware that stop-and-frisk involved widespread constitutional violations:
[The City has] received both actual and constructive notice since at least 1999 of widespread Fourth Amendment violations occurring as a result of the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices. Despite this notice, they deliberately maintained and even escalated policies and practices that predictably resulted in even more widespread Fourth Amendment violations. . . . The NYPD has repeatedly turned a blind eye to clear evidence of unconstitutional stops and frisks.”
Which would not seem to be a great thing for a Presidential candidate to have aggressively expanded and vigorously defended over many years, when there was awareness of widespread constitutional violations at the time.
Fourthly: ‘A completely rational and compassionate attempt to mitigate violent crime could have given you this policy.’ If such a policy were rooted in rationality and compassion, would there not have been consideration for the known widespread constitutional violations and the fact that the vast majority of those being stopped were innocent people having negative experiences with law enforcement? In addition to which, when the New York City Council passed bills which provided oversight of the stop-and-frisk policy, including an independent monitor of the police department, Bloomberg vetoed them both! Surely someone being motivated by rationality and compassion would not object to oversight of their practices?
Fifth: ‘And it seems to me that the thing the Democratic party has to be able to admit at this point, in order to talk anything like sense on this topic, is that it’s a difficult social problem, that, the mayor was right in his diagnosis, that you could win money all day long in a casino that would allow you to place a bet on the age range and gender and minority identity of a perpetrator of a violent crime in New York City. You know, it’s not the ultra-Orthodox Jews who are mugging people in New York City. But that’s a politically toxic thing to make salient…’
So Harris says that this is a politically toxic thing to make salient, but for some reason the Democratic party are supposed to say ‘Well, Bloomberg was right that it’s mostly young black or Latino people committing violent crimes, in fact you could win money all day long betting in a casino on this very proposition!’ and this is…supposed to help them in the election? This sounds utterly ridiculous and a surefire way to alienate and anger voters and depress voter turnout.
Lastly: ‘the remedy of stop-and-frisk…probably wasn’t worth doing in hindsight’. Is this all Harris can say in assessing the policy, it probably wasn’t worth doing in hindsight? No mention of its being unconstitutional in practice, of widespread constitutional violations being known since at least 1999, of the majority of those stopped being innocent people, of various harmful effects it could have caused and which may still be ongoing? This statement is so devoid of awareness or familiarity with the details that it just comes across as either callous or oblivious.

What wasn’t said.

Anyway, I have to say that, when considering both what Harris did and didn’t say about stop-and-frisk, I didn’t find him to be making much sense on this topic. What are your thoughts?
submitted by RalphOnTheCorner to samharris [link] [comments]

[Kickstarter watching] Project Phoenix, the rise and fall of Kickstarter's FIRST Japan-based video game project!

Full disclosure, I'm a backer for this. I've also backed a number of other games on KS and most of them actually did really well (Bloodstained yay!).
Something I love doing from time to time is going through video game Kickstarter projects to see what cool things developers might be coming up with. Some turn out okay, others, well, not so okay.
KS project deaths can be be quick and brutal and some would-be creators know when to call it quits when things don't work out. Some move on or find another way to see their dream project realized making lemonade out of lemons. Some don't.
The ones that linger can mutate, becoming a shambling mass of what-could-have-been occasionally moaning a hint of whatever former life it may have once had to anyone within earshot, prodded by the pulse of the occasional update haunting email inboxes.
Project Phoenix is one of the latter.

A few helpful terms:

Some games mentioned:

KS maintains old projects for reference so the names and events here are public knowledge. As one of the backers, I also have access to the "backer only" updates, so I provided some context from those here, too. The same with the referenced articles from outside sources that have looked in on this weird saga from time to time.
Pledges were made, backers followed the promises, and a professional musician becomes the head of his first video game studio. Wanna take a ride?

Oh hey! This is cool!

On August 12th, 2013, Project Phoenix popped up on Kickstarter (KS going forward).
This was during a heady era of KS investment following the wild success of projects like Tim Schafer's Broken Age in 2012 which garnered a whopping $3+ million in donations. It, with others, drove a rebellious wave of excitement over what what seen as a fresh, new take on funding games that "AAA" studios may have found too risky, leveraging the connectedness of the internet and the dreams of anyone looking to bring something of theirs to life at the time. Effusive hype bled into projects like Project Phoenix touting itself as "Japan's indie RPG feat. AAA talent!" and as "a JRPG with squad based RTS game design, brought to you by veteran developers and creators from the East and West" with a targeted release in mid-2015.
It featured a large roll of people with direct experience in the industry. The director and producer was a professional musician, Hiroaki Yura, who had worked on titles like Valkyria Chronicles. Years later in an interview with Gamespot, he would confess that even though he had never shipped a game himself before, his peers in the industry encouraged him to embark on this grand Kickstarter adventure to realize a game idea he had been nursing.
The quest would even be joined by the famous Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy series) as the lead composer. The creative side was bolstered with a number of artists and sound engineers but the programming side had an "unknown" portrait as that person was "one of the leading Unity programmers in the world" whose identity couldn't be made known until "late in the development process". That same Gamespot interview with Yura by Gamespot would reveal that the programmer was David Clark who, at the time, was also working on Ori and the Blind Forest. An even earlier article by Kotaku's Jason Schrier in 2015 had also mentioned Clark.
As backers, though, we had no idea just who this mystery programmer was. Clark would simply be referred to with a flattering reverence often reserved for holy figures by Yura, a theme we would become too familiar with over the next few years.
Project Phoenix exploded past its initial funding goal of 100k and then some, making a little over a million and change. A separate web page featuring a PayPal donation link was even set up for those "late" to the party. Nearly 16k eager JRPG fans pledged to see what would come next.

2013 - 2014

The next several months following the end of the campaign were a flurry of activity. New staff joined the team, a test video of the animation was shown off, more art was shared along with world-building fiction. Project Phoenix even garnered a mention on Classic FM as part of its "12 video game soundtracks you have to hear in 2014" featuring Nobuo Uematsu. Things seemed to be hopping!
On September 10th, 2013, Hiroaki Yura also held an AMA on Reddit where, when asked by a backer concerned over the lack of specifics, he answered that Project Phoenix was to "set an example in Japan, just like how Supergiants Games did with Bastion, what a small team of dedicated individuals can do with a game". In another reply, Yura hoped to surpass what inspired them in the first place citing titles such as "Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy Tactics Ogre, StarCraft and Warcraft, C&C series, DotA/LoL." The hype was reaching Peter Molyneux DEFCON levels.
The first odd sign this wasn't your typical KS video game project was when they suddenly made an announcement for an anime called "Under the Dog" on August 18th, 2014, which was also a Kickstarter project.
CIA (the company Hiroaki Yura formed to build Project Phoenix) was collaborating with another company to produce the anime episode and pursue a series. It would even have a "special collaborative item reward in Project Phoenix." And just as he had done with Project Phoenix, Yura also did an AMA on Reddit for Under the Dog, describing hopes for it to break free of the typical establishment shackles and pave the way for a new method of creating animation by keeping it under the greater control of those making it. There was even interest in making a game based off of the anime if it took off successfully.
A backer or two over on the Project Phoenix campaign page wondered if the company might be spreading itself thin like this, but for the most part, most everyone had faith in Phoenix to keep the course.

2015 - "...an assumption to rely on works by volunteers"

Long story short, Under the Dog was successfully funded and would later be released some time later.
Yet at the time in February, 2015, something bubbled up in the news over at Siliconera (who focus a lot on covering Japanese-related game content). It was reported that both CIA and Kinema Citrus (the studio working on Under the Dog) parted ways with CIA due to 'creative differences'. The new producer taking over from Hiroaki Yura, Koji Morimoto (a veteran of the anime industry), had also discovered the following:
"I found out: 1) there is a high possibility of rewards costing more than the initial estimates (since there were expensive rewards such as figurines, etc. being included), and 2) there was practically no budget set aside for the operational costs—probably based on an assumption to rely on works by volunteers. Those were the major concerns for me and that’s why I needed to check the financial aspect of the project first."
A few days later, an update on Project Phoenix's merch store (yes, they were planning a merch store while the game was barely an alpha at this point) wrote "nothing on UTD will affect Project Phoenix going forward". Under the Dog would also never be mentioned again. It also noted they would be "posting applications for recruitment on the project, so if you have experience in creating a game keep your eye out for the next update." This was a bit worrying.
By early 2015, the most that backers had gotten was a lot of announcements, art, an underwhelming vertical slice, and a tiny card-based mini-game. Fans were concerned but still had faith that it could work. The solid quality of the art concepts (and the music samples) helped. Still, others were starting to worry, especially in the face of other projects that were leaving their nurseries that year while Project Phoenix seemed to be dragging its virtual feet.
It also didn't help that the project was putting out the call for Unreal engine programmers signaling that they were shifting gears from Unity. Again, the reasons why would only become clear a few years later from that Gamespot interview in 2017 and Jason Schrier's piece in 2015. In both, it was explained that with the success of Ori and the Blind Forest, Clark was no longer able to commit to Project Phoenix leaving it scrambling for talent.
But as Hiroaki Yura put it then:
Unity had a lot of under-developed tools we need to create the game so our team made a decision to move to UNREAL which would cut development time and mess a lot.
In March, 2015, a "backers only" update came out emphasizing the time needed to transition to the new engine.
Changing game engines mid-project is almost never a great thing. It can be akin to deciding, part way through building a house, that maybe you want to change the foundation and where the basement was.
That's also money down the drain. For some projects, this is enough to kill them -- or at least force them to rescope just what they need to do such as making a smaller game than was intially envisioned.
Updates were also becoming infrequent. Sometimes a month would pass without word. In another apologetic update from Yura, he wrote of using "personal funds" to create concept art for a "very very famous animator" to animate "in a very awesome way" (AFAIK, that never happened or was shown to anyone). In August, another new name dropped into the project to keep us updated and demonstrating a new video with gameplay.
Backers were again underwhelmed. The update even mentioned that they "currently lack someone to edit some opener logos, music, and disclaimers so please use your imagination". The suggested lack of professionalism from "AAA talent" was eating away at backers' confidence in the project. Some would go on to say:
It blows my mind that after all this time this is what you guys can show. Other projects did better with less funding. I get it, placeholders, WIP, whatever. The gameplay looks unoriginal and boring, the mechanics don't inspire anything or make me want to play it. I still regret having backed this project, my hopes of it becoming good are completely gone.
what is this shit? It went from promising a Final Fantasy Tactics/Tactics Ogre SRPG to THIS?!?! Are you kidding me? I am NEVER backing another videogame on Kickstarter.
By December, the project had to "clarify" that they actually do have a programmer on the team after previous updates made it seem like they were scrambling to find one. In practice, though, the programmer wasn't a full hire and was participating in the project only sporadically with "his current work" apparently "delaying his full commitment here by about 2 months" and pushing the estimates for completing the game "2.5 years from the time we get our full-time programmer on board". Nobuo Uematsu was apparently still doing music for the game and there was hope he would show up in a future video. Updates on his progress would eventually dry up, too. And despite Classic FM's previous optimism, we didn't get that epic soundtrack to listen to in 2014 aside from a few samples. There was also a note on refunds and how they weren't considering those "at this time" because it meant "to give up on the project since there would be no money left to complete it."
Kotaku's Jason Schrier posted an article that December as well, two days later on the 11th. In it, and from an email that Yura had sent over in response to questions Schrier had about the project, he revealed that they had been waiting (for a bit over two years now) for David Clark to come onto the project after Ori. That didn't happen. Yura, as usual, cited Clark as a "good friend of mine" and a "godly programmer", but now had to find a new programmer.
One thing Yura notes in his email to Schrier is that they were "making this game part time". Nowhere in the original campaign proposal was this made clear, other than in saying in ambiguous terms "Many of them have taken time out of their personal schedule to contribute their expertise towards Project Phoenix's success. So while everyone has donated a lot of their time, there’s only so much more we can do for free." while later stating "Luckily, we have industry veterans on staff who are reliable, not only in the art of programming, but also in the art of project management."
None of which seemed to be working in their favor.

2016

Yura and friends seemed to still trying to figure out staffing heading into the year but they eventually did get a programmer proficient in Unreal tech, Daniel Dressler, which was announced in February, 2016.
After that, there's not much to say about 2016. The drought of real updates was concerning but in hindsight, there was probably a good reason why. One could almost say, it was a "tiny" glimpse of things to come.
Because meanwhile, in another corner of the Kickstarter universe, a game called TINY METAL showed up in September. Created by AREA 34 who were "based out of Los Angeles", the game was asking for 50k in funding to create what was observers regarded as a spiritual successor to the popular Advance Wars from the Game Boy Advance, a fan favorite, JRPG-based tactical, turn-based splash from 2001. The studio had a whole roster of AAA talent, too. It was like this studio came out of nowhere to tackle a classic thirst for chibi tanks.
TINY METAL failed to meet its funding goal of 50k but they mentioned that they had managed to secure funding from elsewhere to at least build a basic game and that was what they would continue moving forward with.

2017

On April 23rd, an update explaining The Pathfinder class arrived. But below the class description was something unexpected -- a breakdown of what was going on with the development of Project Phoenix from the money end written by Daniel Dressler.
In it, he described how much less money there was to work with. Roughly 260k was off the top of that million+ figure for KS fees, PayPal fees, and fake pledges that didn't come through. In order to fulfill things like physical rewards, 350k of what was left would be set aside and "will not be touched". If Koji Morimoto were a ghost, he would probably be moaning in the background as these words were read. That left roughly half a million in change by their estimates to fund development in 2013. But the thing that crippled the finances for the project was the decision to go fully 3D from 2.5D once they were flush with funding.
Costs ballooned. Also mentioned was that "The programming was going to be done by a genius, once he finished up work on this other major indie game" (again, likely a reference to David Clark who would no longer be joining the project and which, as a reminder, they waited nearly two years to join them). To help cover the extra costs, Yura allegedly invested 500k of his own money earned from his music work back into the project.
Towards the end, mention is made of a "tiny project" whose success would mean that "private investors" would invest "significant capital into Project Phoenix". These mystery moneymakers funded the creation of a new staff and a new project.
And like clockwork, no one really put two and two together until much later. Again, there were more than a few backers that were upset:
Thank you for the update. I know you will never read this but that's only fair since I'm adding this project name to my junk filter because the money I gave you (well not you Daniel since you came in 3.5 years in to the project and are now the de facto spokesperson) is not worth the frustration of seeing Kickstarter emails in my mailbox only to find out it is this project and it is still in development...
It sounds like the entire development was a house of cards predicted on getting some anonymous "genius" to do most of the work for little or no money, and having to actually hire people caused your entire budget to fall apart. What utterly inept project management...
Thanks for the update. It's a constant reminder why I never buy into a kickstarter project anymore. Keep it up!
And again, Kotaku's Jason Schrier reported on this particular update, saying "Although this campaign always seemed shady to me—too many sketchy claims and lofty promises—it’s a bummer that 15,802 backers will never get their money back."
Dressler's explanation compared Project Phoenix's troubles as broadly similar to those that every other project faced. From a certain perspective, he's not wrong. Many crowdfunded projects faced the same general issues especially as more money came in. But as time went on, the Potemkin villages dotting CIA's countryside would slowly come apart in the face of other projects that didn't fit the narrative such as Harebrained Scheme's Shadowrun Returns (and its subsequent sequels). All Kickstarted successfully and each one made in Unity.
But one reply came from a developer who was also a backer who offered their time to help get the project back on track and urging contact.
Every word I've heard, from this and other updates, signify huge red flags to me. Your mini project will not be enough. You need an efficient pipeline. Contact me if you are serious about finishing this game.
Others would chime in and urge CIA to take them up on their offer of help.
Because of CIA's penchant for vagueness (har har), one question on backers' minds was whether any money from Project Phoenix, since it was in such dire straits at this point, had gone over to this mysterious game. While the money didn't go into building someone's house, going to a wholly different project wasn't a great prospect, either.
On June 12th, Hiroaki Yura released another update clarifying that their new project was not using funds from Project Phoenix and was a concept developed with Dressler "several years ago". The game was to be a "proof of concept" to demonstrate an ability to deliver a "successful game", convincing the potential investors backing this strategy title to back Project Phoenix. Because of this, he noted, "progress on Project Phoenix has slowed temporarily as a result".
And remember that developer who offered their help in April? They also had something to say in response to this update.
I talked with Mark, who is a backer like all of us and volunteers his time to CIA. He relayed to me that Hiro saw my offers and isn't interested as their "problem doesn't lie with project management"...
...and goes on to say...
...so unless this project has somehow transcended how video games are made and discovered a new set of issues, they are simply not interested in the supporters, or finishing this project as their first priority. I lost $120 on this, nowhere near what some have, but I don't feel right sitting back and saying nothing.
Then in September, PC Gamer interviewed Yura at PAX West 2017 where he was promoting a game called TINY METAL as CEO of the studio in charge of making it (now referred to as AREA 35 instead of AREA 34).
So maybe it wasn't surprising that a few months later on November 15th, a "backers only" update appeared in the Project Phoenix campaign for that same game. If you haven't already guessed, this was their "tiny project".
Although the game started making the publicity rounds earlier in 2017 as far back as May for the Nintendo Switch, Hiroaki Yura, CIA, or any association with the project was left a vague breadcrumb trail. AREA 34 had listed completely separate roster of developers who were cited instead in press releases and its own updates on their KS page. Now it appeared Yura was promoting TINY METAL as a second Christmas for the studio's survival.
Yura urged backers to try out the demo for TINY METAL. For backers who thought they deserved a copy of the game, the reply was that doing so would "be in breach of our terms of agreement with both the major stakeholder groups of the project; our investors and our publisher." which, predictably, didn't sit well with more than a few of them.
Then Yura wrote the following:
Unties, the publisher of TINY METAL and a division of Sony Music Entertainment has already expressed interest in publishing Project Phoenix. We are so close. This is the first time to tell anyone outside my friends, but I am going through a lot with my personal life and I have been separated from loved ones at the moment, and it is honestly one of the worst experiences in my life... and going through an extremely hard ordeal. Been beaten by backers about Project Phoenix that I lied and cheated is one thing, as I understand how some people feel about me and honestly, I feel responsible and deserve the beating. However, been beaten when you try to reach for something to keep a promise, and sacrificing so much... losing my family and at the same time protecting the families of my staff, is the biggest challenge I've faced yet in my life. So just this once, please look carefully at the work we've put in. TINY METAL is our only salvation. With so little resources, many staff from Project Phoenix has toiled to make a simple yet fun little game and this is our result. If you truly like what we've made, please help us, we need all the help we can get. We don't want your money, we just need you to tell your friends and family.
Gauging the backer replies, while a few were understanding, many others were not:
...You stole our money. Failing a project is fine but to stop making the game altogether and making another game with the money is damn right disgusting.
This is a dead horse you keep beating. Yes, the horse ate our money, shat on us and then died. But it is definetly dead. Please make your peace with that and move on.
But there were also supportive words there, too:
Remember the story of the Phoenix, and you can rise from the ashes after tragedy. I believe in you. <3
This project is clearly a train-wreck, and is having a real effect on those involved. Some of these comments, however, are just gross.

TINY KOMBAT

After the November update, something new appeared on Project Phoenix's Facebook page.
Tariq Lacy, a former employee of AREA 35 (the Japanese indie studio working on TINY METAL) who had been working there for a few months, put up a post essentially saying that Hiroaki Yura and his company, CIA, had used funds from Project Phoenix to make TINY METAL.
Although Yura and Dressler repeatedly said in the past year that TINY METAL was funded by sources outside of Project Phoenix, the long delays and lack of real progress had already incensed furious backers waiting for the other shoe to drop. Lacy's story was all the proof some needed. In return, Yura accused Lacy of "being a toxic employee who has sexually harassed our female staff amongst many other problems" which he later apologized for. Lacy's entry was "factually incorrect" and deleted but not before some news outlets noticed, setting the stage for a little Mortal Kombat.
In a Twitter conversation with PC Gamer following the news, Lacy also noted that AREA 35 and CIA are one and the same. Not only that, but they were also in the same building with "shared office space and PCs". Replying to this piece of information, Yura confirmed that both companies are at the same address but both have "different staff and purpose." Further:
"CIA’s core business is audio production and Area 35 is game and animation development," he said. "We used to have CIA do all of the above but we needed corporate identity and clarity hence we separated the companies. We have absolutely no money from CIA that went into Area 35, it was created by our own money from the executives." The majority of Area 35, he added, is held by himself and a partner."
Then the studio's project manager, Gian Carlo Peirce, replied to PC Gamer in an email adding:
"Creative Intelligence Arts has held onto enough funds to create the backer rewards and their fulfillment, but the development funding has been exhausted. We’re not the first and we won’t be the last Kickstarter to have these kinds of challenges, but we’re committed to seeing it through with a quality game..."
Dressler, who also worked on TINY METAL, had a post on Steam, now preserved by the Internet Archive, refuting the accusations of a former staff member that AREA 35/CIA embezzled funds from Project Phoenix. He also noted that the "entire portion of the project phoenix development budget was invested into development ages before I even joined the company." At least now backers knew why updates for Project Phoenix that year were so glacial. Or had a pretty good guess.
Then, according to an interview with Siliconera in December, TINY METAL also needed to sell 150k copies to "resurrect" Project Phoenix. In the interview, Yura throws the work that Airborne Studios (the company CIA used for art assets early on) under tank treads by saying "We aren't happy at all, it looks too cheaply made." going on to say later answering another question "We felt, although we did our best with Airborne, it's not their fault. In terms of the pipeline, it's nobody's fault. It's my fault because I did not prepare enough money for that failure. I did not prepare enough time for that failure. I accept that. I would never blame the artists or the pipeline."
When pressed to answer what the studio would do if the sales target came short 50k units, Yura replied:
We don’t need to discuss our internal business decisions. There are a lot of things I can’t tell you about. What I can tell you, in general, is this is not the only thing we do. We have other jobs that will basically feed us. That 50,000 [units] would be nice to concentrate on this, but if we can’t do that we can do recordings. We can do other work. We can do programming work for other companies. If we make the right game we hope, it will sell. If we don’t, it won’t sell. Then it will be another challenge to get Project Phoenix’s budget.
A few days before TINY METAL's release, Gamespot posted an interview with Hiroaki Yura who provided the publication with documented proof that the game was funded by investment outside Project Phoenix. As mentioned earlier, this was one of interviews (along with Jason Schrier's) who revealed who the "genius" level programmer Unity programmer was along with some other tidbits.
About funding Project Phoenix should TINY METAL do well:
...We were first introduced to Sony during the work on Project Phoenix, and though this is not official, verbally we agreed that if Tiny Metal does well, then we will probably work on Project Phoenix.
...and then on why he started the project:
...I've got lots of friends who've worked on the AAA side of the industry, and when I spoke to them about it, they wanted to do it. And then they all pointed to me to produce and direct it, because I'm bilingual. But the thing is, I've never delivered a game, but I've had backing from Uematsu-san, several key artists from Square-Enix who've worked on Final Fantasy, people from the Warcraft team--it was just sort of overwhelming.
...and on what led to the first major delay with Project Phoenix because of the art:
...It wasn't A1's fault, but I think the visual design was too 'chibi,' like super-deformed. It looked too immature, and the content of the game was much more mature than that. So we were running out of budget, we were running out of time, so we announced our delay and we started planning for [Tiny Metal] to try and make money for Project Phoenix.
TINY METAL was released on December 21st, 2017 after a short delay and published by Sony's Unties garnering relatively solid, if not enthusiastic, response from critics in general and players on Steam.
Months passed with the next update arriving on July 31st, 2018, dropping another bombshell with Japanese courts confirming that Lacy's charges against AREA 35 were bogus and legally requiring him to publish a public apology.
Although Lacy's claims of embezzlement were ruled untrue, it didn't explain why Yura and Dressler created a fog of war over their relationship with TINY METAL as far back as early 2017, opting instead to cryptically drop hints from time to time as if this were an adventure game from Sierra On-Line. Though, judging from a number of backers' furious reactions when the curtains were finally drawn back, the reasons why might not be that surprising.

"BRING OUT YOUR DEAD" ("But I'm not dead...!")

The last update for Project Phoenix was March 26th, 2019, where Yura wrote that they were "currently cultivating the programming team, but before we're able to fully recommit to Project Phoenix, we're working on titles independent of this project." No mention of genius level programmers, an Academy Award™ winning sound engineer, or very, very good animators was made though he noted that Nobuo Uematsu was still contributing music.
Six more artists were also joining the team led by Takuya Suzuki, a former artist at Blizzard, along with Erasmus Brosdau formerly of Crytek, to start creating world assets "sometime later this year". Once those are done, he writes, "we hope to have our programmers ready to take on the task."
There was also no further mention of whether the physical rewards were even a thing at this point, the 350k part of the budget that was set aside to cover those. Maybe backers did get them and just decided not to say anything making it another unsolved mystery (Robert Stack not included).
By now, more than a few of those with access to the project and able to post replies to the Kickstarter updates do this instead:
I invoke my rights under Kickstarter's Terms of Use: https://www.kickstarter.com/terms-of-use/oct2012 "Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill." I demand a full refund for my pledge amount.
CIA/Hiroaki Yura did answer a question about whether there might be a new roadmap to which someone replied:
The balls on you, seriously! " It's going to be very turbulent ahead, but we definitely want to nail down this game." Are you getting a good chuckle out of this, Hiro?
There have been no further updates since though people are still leaving refund demands as recently as January, 2020.
But there was one update outside of Project Phoenix.
A few months after that March update, a sequel to TINY METAL, TINY METAL: FULL METAL RUMBLE, was released by AREA 34 (and developed by AREA 35) on PCs and the Nintendo Switch on July 11th. As for whether this game will actually resurrect Project Phoenix, it's probably a safe bet at this point that it hasn't.

Aftermath

Nearly seven years later, Project Phoenix has metamorphed into a zombie trainwreck washed up by the tide of exuberance during Kickstarter's peak video game era, becoming another example of a massive KS failure in the video gaming space.
Through a variety of factors, it somehow burned through a million dollars of goodwill -- more once you account for Yura's alleged injection of capital -- and attempted to survive with a secret project quietly built behind AREA 34/35 names and rosters as a byzantine Plan B for their funding woes.
From what can be told going through the (now largely outdated) staff list still posted at their campaign page and the few names that came up during their staffing spree years ago, most of the principals have either moved on to other work (one former artist is now working on James Cameron's Avatar 2, Airborne went on to do work on titles like Apex Legends, Dressler is working on a new game). Others continued doing what they do outside of the project (their "day jobs") likely having fulfilled whatever contractual obligations they had at the time and few if any of them mention their association with Project Phoenix nowadays.
Project Phoenix's .info page now exists only as a largely abandoned forum, a bare shadow of its former self. Its Twitter has remained silent since the last announcement. Responses to the last news on its Facebook page varied from disbelief to shock and happiness that it was still a thing before silence descended once more. A few people out there are still excited to get alerts on the project. The only activity on its campaign page are demands for refunds.
Even Hiroaki Yura's twitter doesn't mention the project at all aside from his bio linking to the nigh abandoned .info page.
But in an interview with Escapist Magazine in November of last year, he referred to Project Phoenix as a "snafu", a lesson learned informing him on what ventures to pursue nowadays. And that was that, an epitaph likely as close to anything anyone will get for what its campaign page still hails as "Kickstarter's FIRST Japan-based video game project!"
EDIT: Many humble thanks kind stranger for the gold!
submitted by reboot_the_PC to HobbyDrama [link] [comments]

Feb/18/2020 -- Daily News summary from Armenia -- Stay informed about the ongoing Anti-Corruption Busts, Constitutional Court crisis, Politics, Economy, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...

suicide/murder in army

Despite the ongoing 18% reduction of crimes in the army, 5 non-combat army-service related suicides or murders happened since January 1st. The army says there are ways to combat this problem.
Once a week, the army contacts all high ranking officers to provide a report on bullying and dangerous incidents, and describe the origins of the problem, so the officers can take steps to prevent such incidents in their units.
Since June 2019 the army prevented 8 suicides. There is a reward system for action and disciplinary punishment for inaction.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180854

generals and minister to be fired

After a meeting between Pashinyan and Defense Ministry, a decision was made to fire several high ranking army officials for unsatisfactory work. At least 2 generals in Armenia and Artsakh were sacked.
According to media sources, Artsakh's Defense Minister was reportedly fired (Artsakh won't confirm or deny) and will be replaced by a "respected military figure" Jalal Harutyunyan who became a general in 2019.
(links below)

Military Police chief fired / Accused of being ready to shoot Pashinyan in 2018

The chief of Military Police Arthur Baghdasaryan is among those fired for unsatisfactory work.
An interview was circulated yesterday during which a former Military Police official, the subordinate of the now-fired Baghdasaryan, claimed that during the 2018 revolution, the Military Police chief Baghdasaryan said, "I'll shoot Pashinyan the moment Serj tells me to."
 
The official claims that Baghdasaryan also instructed them to run over the crowd and make sure ~7 people die if the crowd blocks the police cars' pathway.
 
The official said during the interview:
I refused to accept his (now-fired Military Police chief's) illegal order and decided to file a complaint with the secretary. The secretary rejected my complaint because he was friends with chief Baghdasaryan. I then decided to confront the chief himself about his illegal order. I entered his office and told him I wouldn't follow the order to squash the crowd.
He looked at me and said, "Mr. Colonel, it looks like you're afraid?". I asked him what I should be afraid of and he said, "Listen carefully. See the portrait of Serj Sargsyan hanging from this wall? If he gave an order I'd shoot Nikol Pashinyan." I told him I'm not used to shooting Armenians, I'm a soldier who went through a war. I left the protest note on his desk.
There was another illegal order by him witnessed by 22 other people. During the revolution days, the Military Police raised an emergency alarm to gather 80 men. We were supposed to catch the rogue soldiers who left their barracks and joined pro-Pashinyan protesters. We drove to the protest area. Chief Baghdasaryan, with his unprofessional attire and behavior, was already there. "Are you the punks who're supposed to catch the soldiers?" asked the chief.
Then a truck full of special unit armed soldiers came and closed the area. These special forces guys were under my direct subordination. I was surprised to see them there because I didn't give them orders to come. I asked chief Baghdasaryan, "Mr. General, why are they here with live ammunition and rifles, did you order them to come?". The chief responded, "It's none of your business".
After 5 minutes of arguing I convinced my special forces to get back in the truck and drive back to the station. (Another march 1st averted?). Baghdasaryan's decision to give them live ammo and bring them against unarmed soldiers was illegal. Even if they try to destroy records now, 400 people have witnessed this.
29:00 https://youtu.be/2IwqZkhDags
https://www.1in.am/2703682.html
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005284.html
https://factor.am/222337.html
https://www.1in.am/2703984.html
https://www.lragir.am/2020/02/18/518766/

criminal subculture detention

Famous criminal subculture "thieves" Noratusci Alik and 6 of his allies were detained today for reasons unclear.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180859

Constitutional Court

Parliament passed a bill to schedule a referendum on April 5th to fire 7 out of 9 CC judges.
The longest-serving CC judge Felix Tokhyan, a Levon Ter-Petrosyan appointee, confirmed that he recently met his "good apprentice" Parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan and other officials. The two haven't discussed the new law that allows judges to retire early and get paid.
Tokhyan doesn't think the court is in a "crisis". Says he's willing to give a detailed press conference to answer questions about CC's past work, including validations of past disputed election results. (CC is accused of validating past elections despite evidence of fraud, and helping the former regimes to give themselves "extra votes" by keeping the voter lists secret.)
He praised the new judge Vahe Grigoryan as a good legal expert and said Grigoryan's ongoing boycott of court sessions is his personal business and it doesn't hinder CC's work.
Tokhyan's brother is a QP MP who recently voted in favor of the referendum that seeks to fire his own brother from CC.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005348.html
https://factor.am/222405.html

betting odds & referendum

Bookmakers give a ~1.x victory coefficient that the YES vote will win, while the NO vote is 25x.
Odds of YES gathering >87% is 1.85x, odds of it gathering <87% is the same 1.85x. Odds of NO getting >12% is the same 1.85x.
The YES needs 650,000 votes to pass.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180844

Judge Tovmasyan & his godson

The SIS finished the investigation of CC chief Hrayr Tovmasyan and his godson Norayr Panosyan for their alleged illegal activities during their 2013 Justice Ministry years. The investigators found enough evidence to send the case to court. The suspects have been given copies of investigation files.
https://hetq.am/hy/article/113460

Kocharyan & Co trial

Trial of Robert Kocharyan & Co was delayed until Feb-25 because co-defendant Yuri Khachaturov's translator couldn't show up. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180842
 
In a different trial, Kocharyan's former chief of staff, also a defendant in a Kocharyan case, says the Appeals Court made a verdict to allow him to move across the border, and to ask the prosecutors examine why his earlier attempt to leave Armenia was blocked at the border. (you have 3 attempts to guess why) https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005333.html

Serj & Co trial

Serj, the owner of Flesh Fuel, and others were earlier charged with stealing 0.5bln worth agricultural fuel. Two of the co-defendants had their border-crossing rights restored by a court. One of them wanted to visit Georgia for a vacation.
http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/278065/

Court annuals a police discrimination law

The Human Rights Ombudsman asked the CC to annual two laws: one about prohibiting a policeman from being a member of a religious organization, and the second about restricting a policeman's rights to voluntarily resign or hold regular jobs while he's a subject of a felony investigation.
The first law was struck down. The second one is being heard.
https://factor.am/222353.html

Yerevan district chief sacked

Update: Yesterday, Factor outlet reported that Yerevan's Ajapnyak chief Gevorg Babayan was fired because of a corruption investigation initiated against him after a recently-terminated city inspector claimed the district chief fired the inspector to cover up an illegal construction.
ArmTimes outlet contacted the now-former district chief Babayan to get his version of events. He said:
There have been multiple complaints against me and others in the busy construction field. No facts were presented. This could be another such instance. The person who filed a complaint against me is a former employee who used to work as a construction inspector. The city took both of our accounts and sent it to the police. They're investigating.
 
Yerevan city says the district chief was fired for "poor performance and being too slow".
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180838

new airlines flight route

Russian Ural Airlines will launch new flights from Perm to Yerevan this year. They got the clearance from the Russian aviation. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005326.html

BREAKING: 10 countries recognize Karabakh's independence.

During the Munich security summit, Ilham Aliyev made a gaffe saying "10 countries have recognized the independence of Karabakh" while he meant to say the Khojali events.
Later, the Azeri AZERTAC media outlet edited the footage to do a voice-over to remove the "Karabakh independence" portion and replace it with "Khojali genocide", without issuing a clarification.
Original: https://youtu.be/g3XYDP5BDcM
I didn't save the link to the edited video.

fire in Baku

Baku's Sadarak shopping center joins the now-long list of malls that caught on fire in recent times. Residents have speculated that some of the past fire incidents elsewhere were a result of retaliation or insurance scam. This particular mall burned down 6 months ago as well, injuring 16.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005280.html
https://jam-news.net/16-people-injured-in-baku-market-fire/

Turkish businessman

Pro-Armenian Turkish businessman Osman Kavala, and his allies, have been acquitted and released from jail by a Turkish court, in a landmark case lobbied by ECHR and human rights groups.
They were arrested in 2017 and charged with organizing "anti-Erdogan" protests in Gezi Park in 2013 that spread across Turkey. 9 were killed and 5,000 injured. Their arrest was viewed as politically motivated.
Interview with Turkish AGOS newspaper editor: https://youtu.be/aQX-bWjxNys
www.civilnet.am/news/2020/02/18/Turkish-Philanthropist-Osman-Kavala-Acquitted-in-Landmark-Trial/376615
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-gezi/turkish-court-acquits-businessman-other-defendants-in-landmark-trial-idUSKBN20C1I9?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

apartment prices

Yerevan apartment prices continue to grow. +11% in 2019 vs 2018.
The Central district was highest at 607k/m2, while Nubarashen lowest at 177k.
The highest avg prices outside of Yerevan was in Tsakhkadzor resort city at 281k, while the lowest in Dastakert at 2k (two thousand drams and zero lumas, my boi).
http://arka.am/en/news/business/home_prices_in_armenian_capital_city_grow_by_10_8_/

chess champion

Grandmaster Karen Grigoryan has already secured his victory in the Spanish Santiago Masters tournament before the last round begins. He has 7 out of 8 points with runner ups having 5.5.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005313.html

eggs purged

Food inspectors found 54,000 expired eggs in Myas Factory and destroyed them. The Lusakert Factory was caught with 130,000 eggs with a false date stamp.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1005353.html

fight against smoking

Cigarette production grew 6.8% in 2019 vs 2018. It accounts for 13% of Armenia's processing industry.
While production grew by 6.8%, the sales grew by 10% thanks to increased exports. Exports to Syria & Iraq +16%, while exports to EAEU -21%.
Grand Tobacco was the #1 taxpayer in 2019, with 57bln in taxes, or +35%.
All while the Armenian public's consumption of cigarettes declined by 0.2%, possibly because of excise tax increase.
https://factor.am/222335.html
https://hetq.am/hy/article/113455

Yezidi community

Armenian govt visited Iraq in 2019 and decided to provide aid to Yezidi refugees in Iraq. Today a 3yo Yezidi girl was flown to Armenia to undergo free heart surgery in the Norq Hospital.
https://youtu.be/T4kBlbwvfAg

plastic bag ban

Update: a short video about the upcoming shopping plastic bag ban in Armenia, local canvas bag manufacturers who're ready to sell reusable bags, nature protection impact.
https://youtu.be/0q5FHvCy0Mk

Կտոր մը Հայաստան TV episode

This Saturday on H1 TV, famous diasporan Armenians will talk about diaspora stuff.
https://youtu.be/P_opjULiX3Q

DISCLAIMER

The accused are innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, even if they sound guilty. Currency in Armenian ֏ unless specified otherwise. Archived posts by Idontknowmuch : PART 1 ; PART 2 ; PART 3 ; PART 4 ; PART 5.
Edit: typos and clarifications.
submitted by ar_david_hh to armenia [link] [comments]

How to innovate through corporate venturing

How to innovate through corporate venturing
Written by Gonzalo Martínez de Azagra
In this article we review how large corporations take advantage of startup innovation. We discuss corporate venturing: the entrepreneurial efforts by which established business organizations invest in and/or create new businesses (Sharma & Chrisman, 1999, p. 19).
The insights are based on the academic and professional experience of the author (co-founder and CEO of Cardumen Capital, former head of Samsung Ventures Israel) and the experience of the Cardumen Capital team (who collectively have invested $240 million in VC and Corporate VC deals).

The acceleration of disruption

The disruptive impact of technology in markets and the economy is not a new phenomenon. One of the most influential economists of the 20thcentury, Joseph Schumpter already pointed this out in his famous 1942 book “New technologies lead to regular phases of disruptive creation, changing existing market patterns”. Today this phenomenon is even more pronounced as we see technological innovation accelerating and impacting more sectors faster. Established companies are being disrupted by the entrance of startups and large technology companies such as Amazon, Apple or Uber.
The entrance of these agile competitors increases competition and leads to the decline of those who fail to react. Below we show a graph that may indicate that competition is more fierce than ever. Since 1960 the average life span of the largest companies in the USA (S&P 500) has dropped from 60 to 20 years. We believe this trend will continue and lead to faster growths and declines due to technological innovation.
Figure 1. Average life span of SP 500 companies. (Each data point represents a rolling 7 year average). Innosight/ Richard N. Foste Standard & Poor’s.
Successful adaptation to changing environments typically involves learning from exploratory initiatives (March, 1991)”. To respond to these threats, companies are “exploring” open innovation initiatives, and more specifically corporate venturing teams.
Figure 2 Corporate Venture Capital firms. CB Insights

What is causing innovation to accelerate?

A main driver behind innovation acceleration is easier access to technology. Reductions in the cost of compute, storage and network resources have allowed startups to gain access to technology that was out of their reach in the past. We call this the democratization of technology.
Figure 3. Deflationary trends of major technologies. Blackrock
Secondly, the internet and smartphones allow startups to reach to customers globally that were not reachable in the past or required a large network of physical locations. In other words, technology has leveled the playing field for startups and corporates.
Third, more and more devices will be connected and be able to connect to the internet. The addition of AI to these devices will lead to an explosion of valuable data. Not only will there be a larger amount of devices than ever, but the adoption will also be faster. The internet of things means that we will reach trillions of new devices in a short period of time.
Figure 4. The explosion of IoT devices. NCTA — The Internet & Television Association
It took 50 years for electricity to reach 25% of the US population. The smartphone took 5 years. IoT is already all around us (Wearables and health bands, connected cars, connected industry) and will likely continue to take over our daily lives and objects pushed by the adoption of 5G.
Figure 5. Years taken until adopted by 25% of the U.S. population. Market Realist, US Census. Wall Street Journal and Cardumen Capital edits
The growth of Software as a Service business (SAAS) and the adoption of the lean startup methodology also have accelerated change. This methodology has led to a reduction in the product development times. Startups come up with a minimum viable product, test it in the market and iterate. This contrasts with long traditional development cycles that perfected the product before it was launched.
The democratization of technology was shown empirically by Henry Chesbrough, professor at UC Berkeley and person who coined the term “Open Innovation”. In his research, Chesbrough shows how R&D spending in startups has increased relative to the spending in large corporations. Data shows that the weight of R&D spent by startups today is five times what it was in 1981.
Figure 6. Based on Henry Chesbrough UC Berkeley research with data from National Science Foundation. Survey of Industrial Research Development
These factors are creating the perfect storm. The market is experiencing shorter technology and product life cycles, fierce global competition, and greater diversity in technology (Chesbrough et al 2006). Companies caught off guard without an effective strategy to adapt to this new paradigm will likely shrink or die altogether.
At Cardumen Capital, we describe this phenomenon as the Tech Innovation Vortex. Incumbents in traditionally slow changing industries are being attacked by technology startups and technology giants. These two types of entities are sucking traditional industries into this Vortex. Tech entrants are disrupting these industries with new business models and light speed change.

Corporate Venturing: startups as an opportunity rather than a threat.

For the purpose of this article we define broadly corporate venturing as any initiative by a corporate to take advantage of the virtues of technology startups. Corporate venturing under this definition includes but is not restricted to Corporate Venture capital, corporate investment in funds, accelerators and incubators.

The origin of corporate venturing

Corporate venturing (and specifically investment in startups) started in the 20thcentury with conglomerates looking for opportunities to grow, diversify and create synergies.
In 1914 Pierre S. Du Pont, president of chemical and plastics manufacturer Dupont, invested in a 6 year old startup called General Motors. Dupont invested with both strategic and financial objectives in mind. If GM turned out to be successful, it would lead to more sales of Dupont’s products (leathers, plastics and lacquers, paints) and at the same time, be a great financial investment.
In the 1970s the growth of Silicon Valley and the release of the personal computer led to the second wave of corporate venturing. Private money searching for high growth startups grew fast thanks to changes in regulations. Corporate Venturing followed this trail of private money and began to invest. Some companies invested directly in financial venture capitalists, others created funds with external managers and some created internal corporate venture capital teams.
The third wave was fueled by the dot com boom. The rate of growth of startups and the “apparent” endless potential attracted many more financial venture capital firms but also led to creation of a large amount of corporate venturing teams.
However, many of these newly created corporate venturing teams disappeared after the dot com bubble burst when Nasdaq dropped over 40% in value in three months. The crisis that followed scared off executives who, in many cases, decided to shut down the corporate venturing teams altogether.
Figure 9. Dotcom bubble before and after. Brian Mccullough, January 2017
Today we are in the fourth era. The last five years has seen a significant increase in corporate venturing teams worldwide. Corporate venturing teams are deploying more capital and participated in close to 1 out 4 of all VC backed deals in 2018 in the USA.
Figure 10. CVC participation in VC backed deals 2013–2018. CB Insights 2018
Figure 11. Annual global disclosed CVC deals, 2013–2018. CB Insights 2018
In addition, companies without such a team have begun to ask themselves if they should open one, but how should they think about this?

How to strategize about corporate venturing

In order to define your organization´s strategy you must understand the objectives you pursue and your own organization´s limitations.
Hill & Birkinshaw highlight that corporate readiness is as important as having a CVC strategy/team:
Given the need for flexible exploration in highly dynamic environments, managers of firms in such environments should carefully consider CVC as a viable mode of exploration and renewal. In so doing, managers should assess whether their firms possess the necessary competences to benefit from CVC investments. While the dynamism of a firm's environment can encourage the use of CVC, this motivation must be tempered by a rigorous assessment of whether the firm has sufficient quality and fungibility in its resources to benefit from CVC. Finally, a firm must be able to make these resources available for use by the unit responsible for its investing activities if it is to benefit from CVC. CVC units realize higher performance when they can effectively leverage their parents' valuable resources in pursuing their exploratory missions.
Corporates must invest time in understanding their internal dynamics before deciding what method to use for corporate venturing. This assessment must include understanding the organization’s readiness to work with external, small innovative companies. It requires an understanding of the level of acceptance of management/employees with corporate venturing, their risk aversion, and their acceptance of failure.
Significant impact to a company’s bottom line through corporate venturing is unlikely in the short term. For this reason, it is also important to commit for the long term in order to reap the benefits and see a return on investment.

High level reasons for setting up a corporate venturing team

Understanding the goals of a corporate venture initiative helps design the appropriate strategy, processes and systems to achieve them.
In the long run, a corporate is looking to enhance and improve net profit. The corporate would like to see a return on the investment associated with a corporate venturing team. More specifically they are looking to neutralize future competitors, create barriers to entry, and create new customers for example. Today, corporate venturing is a way to fight off the constant threat of corporate annihilation and prepare for the trends three, five and ten years in the horizon. In addition, the corporate venturing team creates an opportunity to generate significant intangible value through corporate image, talent attraction, publicity and brand renewal. These benefits can help support or even catalyze a change in culture within the corporation to foster open innovation.
Figure 13. Based on Poser, 2003, p. 111 and Dauderstaedt 2017

Culture and Mindset

Corporate venturing teams require a different mindset from the classical corporate attitude. Large corporates have grown from a successful initial business and are hence more focused on scaling, efficiencies and execution than on innovation. A startup is usually responding to a known problem but creating a new solution to that problem. This requires thinking outside the box, flexibility and questioning all assumptions. Iskender Dirik in his “Manual for Corporate Venture Capital” discusses several important attitudes the corporate venturing team must adopt (below see a modified version):
I. Error Culture1: Mistakes and losses are an inherent part of the system. Not all startups will succeed and not all startups will end up working with the corporate business unit or delivering strategic value. The corporate venturing team must be evaluated as a portfolio and not only per deal.
II. Write-offs: Venture capital is a high-risk form of investment. Consequently, some investments will necessarily fail or possibly only return the sum invested in the first place. Write-offs are a normal part of business, not a reason to withdraw funding. If your team is not experienced expect a lot of writeoffs in your first fund.
III. Minority Investments: Portfolio start-ups are not subsidiaries. You do not own them and you should not try to control them. If you try to do this, the market will spread the word and you will spook future potential partners. Help them help you, offer support, become a trusted partner and they will come to you first before going to your competitors.
IV. Blank Slate: Don’t try to impose your systems or processes in your portfolio companies. You are trying to escape your corporation’s limitations not spread them.
V. Flexibility: Startups are not used to rigidity; this will not be well received. Accept that in their fast-paced environment pivots may be required and speed is of the essence.Embrace the concepts of Minimum viable product and Lean development.Understand that your stringent requirements, quality control and mass market requirements may not be met initially by the startup. Help them reach these requirements rather than dismissing them for not reaching them on their own.
VI. Casual Mentality: Enable a “sneakers and t-shirt” culture. The real value behind this concept is to try to foster a flatter organization where ideas flow freely. Incentivize a friendly and communicative (“open”) culture.
1Modified but based Iskender Dirik’s work

Setting up a Corporate Venturing arm

Once the decision to set up a corporate venturing arm has been made, it is important to take the time to close the loop with defining its strategy, structure, modus operandi, philosophy, monitoring systems and importantly staff’s incentives. Staff incentives are particularly important because employees tend to see investments and collaboration with startups as a dangerous endeavor with little upside if no incentives are in place.

Objectives when investing in startups

Corporate venturing can provide value to a company in several ways. It strengthens the innovative power of the parent company by opening a window to new technologies developed by more agile startups. It searches for new business opportunities as well as revitalizing the core business of the parent company. Below we list the major reasons behind a corporate strategic investment.
Figure 14. Reasons for investing in startups. Cardumen Capital 2020
One reason to invest is to understand a startup and its dynamics before deciding to acquire it. In other words, it is an extended due diligence.
Israeli startup Corephotonics, inventor of the dual aperture camera that you find today in most phones, is a clear example of an extended due diligence by Samsung.
The author invested in Corephotonics2, became a board member, and negotiated a commercial agreement for the use of its technology on Samsung phones. Three and a half years after the initial investment, Samsung acquired the company for $1663M. The investment helped Samsung understand if Corephotonics was a good fit. Also, the investment reduced the cost of the total transaction. This is because Samsung already owned a piece of the company that it purchased at a lower price.
2On behalf of Samsung Ventures
3Exact amount not public
Integration or joint R&D is the most common reason to invest in a startup. After the corporate invests, the startup is better capitalized and may be able to support a collaboration with the corporate with more resources. An investment is not always necessary for a collaboration, but it can strengthen the partnership and help the startup attend the demands of the corporate. This is the structure that Stanley, Black and Decker (SBD) employed to work with Humavox an Israeli wireless charging company. Together they will develop a solution to charge some of SBD´s devices wirelessly, in exchange, SBD invested in Humavox.
At times, the investment can help add strategic terms such as Most Favored Nation, exclusivities or even M&A notification rights.
Corporates can bet on future salesby investing in a startup. If the startup uses the product or service of the corporate, it could end up being a significant client if it grows rapidly. A semicon startup out of Israel accepted an investment from Samsung. In exchange, the corporate requested exclusivity of the startup’s semicon manufacturing. For Samsung, this customer was initially insignificant. However, Samsung used excess production capacity and at the same time was betting on the startup growing fast. KPMG has also decided to invest in this way. It set up KPMG Capital to invest Series A and B capital in promising start-ups around the world. They are teaming up with young innovative companies that will eventually develop to a state of maturity and size at which they become interesting for KPMG’s core business services4.
A corporate may also want to enter a specific marketand partner with this startup to learn about the culture/HR before entering that market. A variation of this strategy is the one employed by Cisco through “spin-ins.”
Another reason to invest is what we call, ecosystem enrichment. This was common at Intel during the late nineties. The iFund encouraged the development of technologies that rely on the parent corporation’s platform. Venture investments could then help increase demand for the corporation’s own products. Those investments accelerated intel´s chip adoption by several months, according to Intel. Another corporate giant, Samsung, made a long list of investments in next generation data storage technologies. These technologies were based on flash (nand memory). One of Samsung’s most successful products was flash and hence the success of these startups, such as Purestorage, led to a higher demand for flash memory.
A corporate may also want to associate themselves with a specific brand, perhaps to reach a certain portion of the population, or renew its brand image. This type of justification for an investment is what we call a Marketing play. In 2011, Samsung invested in a smartphone keyboard company called Swype. This keyboard allowed users to swipe across the phone keyboard without typing. At the time the keyboard was integrated into the Samsung phones and a joint marketing campaign was launched. The investment was aligned with Samsung´s target customer, the Young Minded individual (young or old tech savvy customers).
Eyes and Ears is a strategy that Qualcomm used for a long time. They would invest in interesting companies to learn about the sector or new trend. The idea was to gather market intelligence and be close to large growth areas in search for opportunities and threats. This is the weakest of all reasons to invest but can also provide valuable information and reduce reaction times when high growth startups become a threat.
4Iskender Dirik
In addition to these specific goals, an investment brings value in several ways. An investment and a collaboration with a startup can help change your organization´s culture (Cultural Impact). The change comes about due to the constant interactions with the startup. The corporations must adapt to the speed and style of these startups to be able to work with them. The change is not immediate and will only take place if the corporation works with multiple startups for an extended period.
Figure 16. Corporation and startup culture analogy. Cardumen Capital 2020
Typically, corporations beginning new open innovation initiatives will confront pushback from their internal R&D teams. They will try to disqualify or reject the outside technology, at times even before evaluating it. We call this the Not-Invented-Here (NIH) syndrome. The R&D manager, with time, learns that these collaborations with startups can help him accelerate his own progress by complementing the corporation’s efforts or by covering specific areas. This sort of “outsourcing” or rather “insourcing” brings in many benefits. For one, the startups may have a head start allowing the corporation to access that technology faster thanif they were to try to develop it themselves. Usually the corporation co-invests with other investors. This means that, in a sense, the corporation is piggybacking on the investment of others, getting a bigger bang for their buck. Finally, if the startup fails, the corporation is not forced deal with a more convoluted winding down of an internal team, hence, a faster disengagement.
Despite all of these valuable reasons, one of the world´s most successful tech giants, Apple, does not have a corporate VC. Apple is actively acquiring and working with startups, so why and how are they interacting with startups but not investing?
According to Sharon Wienbar from Scale Ventures, they do not require a corporate venturing arm to keep an eye on trends, in part because of their iTunes store. Apple can already monitor what kinds of apps users are interested in and monitor trends. Additionally, because of its tech dominance, Apple has incoming requests from the best and brightest startups anyway. We believe there are other reasons for not having a corporate venturing team. Apple is a very secretive organization, for this reason it believes in owning rather than investing to have tighter control over information and their product.
Not all organizations need a dedicated corporate venturing arm, even if they wish to engage in corporate venturing. We discuss this topic further in our next section.

Effective corporate venturing structures

What is the optimal structure to work and invest in innovative startups?
Here are four different structures:
  1. Part time venture team
  2. Fully dedicated venture team focused on strategic investments
  3. Fully dedicated venture team focused on financial investments
  4. Externalized venture team (investment in a VC fund)
Part time venture teams are common in medium sized companies (up to a few billion). Capital usually comes from the company’s balance sheet and human resources are limited to the part time involvement of multiple individuals who have other roles other than investing. Often the decision is taken all the way up to the CEO, CTO or CFO. The deal flow is limited, and the investment strategy is usually opportunistic. A passive search leads to few deals but deals that are deemed very strategic.
Fully dedicated strategic venture teams: The author’s prior employer, Samsung Ventures, is an example of an advanced Corporate Venture capital firm. Samsung Ventures’ employees are fully dedicated to deal sourcing, investing and portfolio monitoring.
Samsung Ventures is a separate legal entity with a Management Firm and Fund structure whose capital providers (Limited Partners/Investors) are Samsung companies and Samsung partners (suppliers, etc.). The firm is structured like a financial VC but the objectives are strategic and not just financial. Samsung Ventures’ real mission is to impact positively and significantly Samsung’s businesses. Given the Samsung group’s top line, a minor percentage improvement in cost or top line can be multiple times the value of the financial return of the actual investment. The creation of a separate entity is valuable because it creates a degree of separation between the core business and its investment arm. This separation reduces the conflict of interest and this fact can be marketed. Moreover, its incentive structure is such that it is more aligned with startups.
Fully dedicated financial venture teams: Google Ventures (Now GV) is a corporate venture capital firm whose objectives are purely financial. The mother organization (Google Alphabet) provides the capital but GV is independent and does not pursue any strategic benefits for its parent company. This structure can be as financially attractive as a regular VC, but does not provide any strategic value other than generating brand equity. For this reason, we do not consider this type of structure Open Innovation. It does little to help adapt the company culture (due to the separation between the entities), it does not integrate technologies into the parent company and it does not leverage its company know how (or at least to a lesser extent) for its investments.
There are companies that are operating in a hybrid structure between a strategic and financial corporate VC. Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners is one such firm. Its CEO, Vicente Vento has spun out the management firm from Deutsche Telekom but most of the capital still comes from Deutsche Telekom. Despite being an independent entity, DTCP does leverage its parent company to generate value in its investments.
This sort of Spin offs are common today and in the past. Canaan Partners was originally part of General Electric. Magenta is a separate team originating from Mitsui and GE Capital is considering spinning off again.
**Externalized venture team:**an investment in a financial VC can add significant value to a corporate. Samsung, Banco Sabadell5, LG, Hyundai, many large corporates invest in VCs for several different reasons. The most important reasons are access to deal flow, to a specific market, to best practices and processes. This can be a first step into corporate venturing or a complement to an existing corporate venture team.
Figure 17. CVC and VC structures. Cardumen Capital 2020
5Invested in our fund, Cardumen Fund I, €7.5 milion
Banco Sabadell invested 7.5 million euros in Cardumen Capital’s fund I. Since the investment took place 8 months ago this is what Banco Sabadell has done through Cardumen Capital:
· Deal flow meetings every two weeks
· Accessed over 100 startups in Israel
· Visited 50 startups in person
· Sent an employee to our office in Israel for a month for a secondment
· Finalized an investment in one of the startups sourced by Cardumen Capital
An interesting example of externalizing corporate venturing is Mapfre. Mapfre has invested 25 million euros in Mundi Ventures instead of creating its own corporate venture team. This approach is interesting and was employed during the nineties by multiple corporates. However, in the opinion of the author, there are a few issues with this approach. The conflicts of interest are very large, especially if the corporate sits on the VC’s investment committee or represents a large portion of the fund. If the corporate is effectively investing through the VC this could require a compromise between strategic value and financial value.
Table 1. Evaluating different corporate venturing structures. Cardumen Capital 2020

Our opinion on the different structures to do corporate investments (Table 1)

We believe that corporate venturing and particularly investing can help a company adapt to changes in its environment. Hence, we would always recommend keeping corporate investment as an option. The real question is how to manage this. We recommend selecting a person with extensive experience in venture capital to lead the efforts. A single individual with extensive experience can be capable of executing on 5-6 deals a year if needed. Another valuable start is to invest in a VC with corporate VC experience. This can help the organization connect to the VC inner cycle fast via this “partner VC firm”.

Strategy, Process and Accountability

For a CVC to be successful a corporate must also select an investment strategy (stage, areas of investment, ticket sizes, etc.), KPIs/Incentives, and design adequate processes.
Investment Stages: The objective of the investment determines the appropriate stage in which the CVC should invest. A seed stage company usually requires at least a year to initiate conversations with a corporate. If the corporate expects a product to be ready, then it could be forced to wait several years.
For this reason, a simplistic approach is to aim for deals in Series B and above. At this stage, the startups usually have product market fit, some traction and a sudden death is less likely. However, for advanced corporate venture capital firms or specific markets, Series B may be too late. In Israel, where companies are usually acquired earlier in their development, many corporates choose to invest in Series A to guarantee visibility into the hottest deals before it is too late.
Figure 18. CVCs play. Based on Mac Millan et al 2008
Ticket sizes, follow-ons and terms: The size of the tickets depend on the capital available and many other factors. We recommend corporates to invest the minimum amount that gets them the strategic value they want. We will not dwell on a follow-on strategy or specific terms in this article.
Investment processes:
Many corporates are failing to deliver results because of the lack of clearly defined processes. Traditionally, corporates have strong cultures that do not welcome innovation and suffer from NIH (Not invented here syndrome). A process assigns responsibility to the investment committee and the decision makers in the different gates of the process. This eases the path for the person within the corporate tasked with closing deals with startups. This individual is then aware of who he must report to, what process he must follow and what requirements he must meet. Moreover, a clear process helps analyze where the deals are being stopped within the organization and identify execution issues.
Designing a corporate venturing team requires an understanding of the organization and the use of best practices. It is said that in venture capital it takes $100M to learn the trade. For this reason, a corporate wanting to start a CVC should hire individuals with prior VC experience to avoid a long and costly learning curve.

Teams that work this startups

Figure 19. Teams inside a corporation that work with startups. Cardumen Capital 2020
It is likely that corporate venturing processes will impact multiple teams in the organization. Many times it is the R&D team, within the business units that define the tech roadmap and hence the areas of interest for the corporate. These areas of interest are then conveyed to the corporate venture teams and tech scouting teams. Their role is to identify startups that solve a known problem or fit within this “Tech Shopping list”. These areas of interest are also relayed to the incubators and accelerators of the corporate who, again, use these themes to select startups. The M&A team is usually looking at the portfolio of companies in the incubators, accelerators, VCs at the CVC and even those just collaborating via the tech scouts to identify potential acquisitions.
Each of these teams have different incentives and motivations. Creating an incentive structure that generates alignment is critical for the success of all open innovation and corporate venturing initiatives. It is typical for the business unit to be more interested in the day to day operations than in future looking opportunities because of the pressure to sell. This is the main barrier to fruitful collaborations with startups, who usually require time and dedication.

Monitoring success: Performance Metrics

KPIs or performance metrics are a crucial for the success of a corporate venturing initiative. These KPIs should be monitored and evaluated periodically by management. KPIs should be easy to measure and simple. For example, Is the corporate venturing team achieving commercial agreements between the PCs (Portfolio Companies) and the BUs (business units)?
The exact economic impact of a corporate venturing team will never be known, but with simple indicators, management will be able to validate its usefulness and track changes in performance. The table below shows a list of the most common and valuable Corporate Venturing team KPIs.
Table 2. Created by the author inspired by Phillip Dauderstaedt

What value can a CVC add to a Startup?

A startup can leverage the CVC’s industry expertise, brand name, deep pockets, network of connections and customesupplier base. The brand name of a large corporate attracts other investors, customers and acquirers. Additionally, a CVC can help the startup navigate the corporation if a collaboration is being pursued. It can help secure engineering resources to help with the joint development of a product/service from the corporate’s business unit.
Figure 21. Startups and corporates a mutually beneficial symbiosis. Based on Ersnt et al. 2005
Moreover, usually a collaboration comes with an associated Non Recurring Engineering fee (NRE), which helps finance parts of the startup’s development. It is a common occurrence that corporates may want to use the startup’s technology for a different purpose than was originally intended. In this case, the corporate venturing team must ensure that the BUs do not steer the company out of its original direction and into the corporate’s direction. This can create an excessive dependence on the corporate which can lead to a failed startup, accusations and a bad reputation in the market.

Figure 22. Extract from Samsung Ventures’ introductory slides

Other Open Innovation tools: Incubators, Accelerators, EIRs, Fast Prototyping and Tech Scouting

Investing is not the only way to leverage innovative startups. Some companies do not invest but create tech scouting and business development teams to collaborate with startups. As mentioned earlier, it is also common for corporates to have an accelerator or an incubator or both.
Incubators and accelerators can be broadly differentiated by the maturity of the startups they support. Corporate Incubators support startups at their seed stages to fuel the creation of strategically relevant startups. This is particularly valuable in areas that create innately few startups. Johnson and Johnson, Takeda, in partnership with RM Global created an incubator in Israel to promote healthcare related startups. These startups are specialized in areas requiring FDA approvals and long development cycles. Nurturing this type of startups makes sense since bootstrapping for founders is usually not an option due to costs associated with reaching maturity.
Corporate accelerators tend to support existing startups with space, resources and funding to encourage a collaboration with the supporting corporate. Samsung created an accelerator program called Runway. The selected startups received a $50,000 grant and a business unit sponsor to work on a project for a few months. After the project the business unit would judge its success and consider a collaboration with the company.
There are many initiatives of this type with different degrees of success. The space of accelerators and incubators would require a separate article and we hence limit the discussion to acknowledging them as an alternative/complement to investment teams.

PR / Communication

Corporate venturing is an important part of an “Open Innovation” strategy. “Open Innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively“(Henry Chesbrough, 2003). These so-called knowledge inflows and outflows require a clear and well-defined communication strategy to be effective. With Corporate Venturing an organization is trying to attract talented/innovative external partners and future employees. In addition, an organization must ensure existing employees embrace and accept these partners/innovations into the organization. The corporate venturing should have a constant information flow inside the organization highlighting milestones and promoting success stories. The more familiar the organization is with the work being done by the corporate venturing team the more accepting of it they will be. This process of “Normalization” of Open Innovation and the Corporate Venturing function can take several years and must not be underestimated.
External and internal messaging must be controlled by the corporation to ensure that it is aligned with its brand, values and mission. Moreover, it must be reviewed to ensure confidential information and other sensitive details are not shared by the corporate venturing arm or the PC.
Additionally, corporate venturing teams should welcome PR on deals, exits and even collaborations.
This PR will attract other startups, enhance the image of the corporation and provide an opportunity to promote its “open” culture. This “Open” culture is what will connect the corporate to its environment and allow it to react faster to changes, threats and opportunities.
Figure 23. PR and communication is critical for a successful corporate venturing initiative. Philip Dauderstaedt

Conclusion:

Corporate Venturing is a fundamental tool for corporates to react faster to their changing environments. Before embarking in the creation of a corporate venture teams, corporates must evaluate the different structures, select an experienced team, put process in place, devise a strategy and gain full executive buy in.
An investment in an existing financial VC can be a great first step to learn and prepare for the creation of such a team. The VC can propose individuals, advice on the processes and connect the corporate to the market. At Cardumen Capital we will be happy to hear from you if you are considering this option.
We hope you will leave comments and let us know if there are areas you would like us to explore deeper.

Acknowledgements:

I would like to thank my team at Cardumen Capital for their feedback in creating this article.
I would also like to thank Minsu Kim for hiring me, supporting me and giving me the opportunity to get into Venture Capital via Samsung Ventures; Michael Pachos and Jay Shin for helping me get into Samsung Ventures; my former team Junho Cha, Jinwon Jun, Sung Hoon Yang, David Suh, Roy Gottlieb and Sungsik Byun for your support, patience and friendship. Would also like to thank Srinivas Ananth from Intel Capital for his comments and suggestions.
_____________________________
Cardumen Capital is an independent European Alternative Investment Management Company. Its technology fund focuses on deep tech early stage startups in Israel. Get in touch with us [here.](mailto:[email protected])
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Possible Connection Between Jack Ruby and an International Child Trafficker [Long Post Ahead]

Possible Connection Between Jack Ruby and an International Child Trafficker [Long Post Ahead]
To preface, this is all circumstantial dot-connecting. I don't have verifiable proof that the subject of the article is the man in question. However, there are some interesting and noteworthy details to consider. Without further ado, I will present these findings.
On November of 1962, Jack Ruby became a tenant of the freshly built Marsala Place Apartments located at 223 South Ewing Street in Dallas, Texas. This is the property he would stay at until he assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24th, 1963. There are many strange things that took place on that property, but I'd like to take a look at who owned the property.

223 South Ewing Street
On November 13, 1962, Ruby moves into the 223 South Ewing Street property. He makes out a $40 deposit, and the slip is signed by a man named John D. Norman. This comes from a report tracking Ruby's movements and their association with the mob.

From \"HSCA Volume IX: V. Possible Associations Between Jack Ruby and Organized Crime\"
Who is John D. Norman? Well, he's presumably the owner of "Norman Construction and Apartments", the company that owned and built the property at 223 South Ewing Street. This is confirmed by a man only known as J.B. Harrod, who served as a superintendent to the construction company, when he was interviewed by the FBI.
FBI Ruby Investigation: http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/FBI%20Records%20Files/44-24016/44-24016%20Volume%2013/44-24016-13a.pdf
HSCA Volume IX: V. Possible Associations Between Jack Ruby and Organized Crime: http://aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/hsca/reportvols/vol9/pdf/HSCA_Vol9_5G_Chronologies.pdf
From the FBI Investigation on Ruby

I have no idea what the initials J.B. stand for as they are not made clear in this report. But let's get back to John D. Norman. All I am going off of is a name, nothing more. However, when you research the name John D. Norman, you're likely to stumble upon a guy by the name of John David Norman.
Who is John David Norman?

John David Norman
The John David Norman in question is classified by the state of California as a Sexually Violent Predator.

Sex Offender Record of John David Norman circa 2008.

Turns out that not only is John Norman a sex offender, but a known sex trafficker who ran a nationwide homosexual-oriented pedophile ring known under the names "Epic International", "The Odyssey Foundation", and most commonly "The Delta Project".
Chicago Tribune report on pedophile rings from 1977.
Through a network of pamphlets, serving as a catalog of sorts, would be shared with a prospective customer. His plan was to establish “dormitories”, which would be houses in which 3 to 4 young boys were kept in under the supervision of one or two adults. This is how it worked, according to a 1977 Congressional hearing on Child Exploitation:
Senator Culver; Would you describe this project, how it works?
Mr.Lehman; He sends out material and receives material from other agencies similar to his, which invites men to – well, one program is called the Don program. In this program, he invites anyone who is willing to have a cadet, which is a young boy between the age of 13 and 19 right in there, to have him live in his house, he will take – a don should take one to three cadets to live with him in his house. He would pay a fee of $50 a month for having these cadets live in his house. But at the same time, these cadets would not only serve him sexually, but would also – any other members of the Delta Project, which is quite vast, would contact these dons and he could invite them for a weekend and these people would in turn pay him for letting them use his facilities, his house and the youth. And John Norman would get a percentage of this back.
This stuff is compelling on it's own, yet it gets even crazier. John Norman's known associate, Phillip Paske, was employed at serial killer John Wayne Gacy's construction company.
Checks made out to Paske through Gacy's construction company.
Furthermore, there is a tape of Gacy confirming that he knew both Norman and Paske, further stating that Paske even had keys to his infamous house. The tape begins at 2:30; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byq8rsavFrw
Now that we have set the stage for the reach that John Norman had, let's jump back to August 8th, 1973. It was that day that the state of Texas dealt with the horrors that were soon to come to Illinois. A man by the name of Dean Corll was shot and killed by a teenager named Elmer Wayne Henley Jr.
Authorities would soon unearth 17 bodies of young boys buried under a boat shed, then 11 more spread out across various bodies of water. Corll's accomplice would inform police that he and another kid were paid to procure victims for Dean Corll, who would subsequently torture, rape, and murder the young boys. Both of Corll's accomplices also stated the Dean Corll produced pornography that he would sell to ring of like minded miscreants. Well, a week later, on August 15th, authorities are tipped off to a sex trafficking ring operating in Dallas after a 24 year old member panicked that the police were closing in.
From the New York Times [ https://www.nytimes.com/1973/08/16/archives/alleged-homosexual-ring-found-in-a-raid-on-apartment-in-dallass.html ]:
"DALLAS, Aug. 15 — The police here said today that they had uncovered a nationwide homosexual procurement ring in a raid on an apartment on the city's near north side.
Last night's raid turned up catalogue files containing the, names and addresses of 50,000 to 100,000 people around the country, the police said.
Also seized were booklets containing the pictures and names of teen‐aged and young adult males available through the ring for homosexual activities, they said."
The article further reads:
"The alleged leader of the ring, John Paul Norman, 45 years old, was freed today on $7,000 bond after the police filed charges of violation of state I narcotics laws, stemming from the seizure of marijuana in the apartment.
Charges of conspiracy to commit a felony‐sodomy and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile were to be filed tomorrow. Five others arrested were released without charges.
It was learned that Norman has an arrest record in Houston for sexual assaults in 1954 and 1956, but disposition of the cases was not immediately known.
He also has convictions in California in 1963 for such assaults and in 1971 for sending obscene literature through the mail, a Federal charge. He was also committed to a state hospital by the California Department of Mental Hygiene as sex offender."
In the article, authorities at the time state that they didn't see any direct evidence linking Norman's ring to the Corll killings. But with the timing and later association with John Wayne Gacy, I would confidently bet that Corll did business with Norman's operation. Sgt. Ronald Kelley also stated in a Chicago Tribune article that he had evidence linking Norman to Corll, however that evidence has never been made public. You may note that the article names him as John Paul Norman, not John David Norman. Well, it is confirmed by the Homewood Police Department that it is in fact the John Norman in question, after they opened an investigation on him merely weeks after he fled Houston
Homewood PD's investigation of Steve Gurwell, later identified as John David Norman.
You may also be wondering what happened to the 50,000 to 100,000 index cards? According to the Chicago Tribune, the State Department destroyed them due to "not being relevant to any fraud case concerning a passport(?)"
From the Chicago Tribune May 18, 1977 pg. 16
That was not the only time index cards we confiscated from Norman. However, much like Dallas, those cards are no where to be found.
The story of John Norman, even without the Kennedy links, is a compelling and terrifying rabbit hole on it's own. If you are interested in delving deeper, I recommend digging through my earlier Reddit post about John Norman. There you will find the links and sources to everything that is presently known about John David Norman. Which only amounts to a few police reports and newspaper articles. From here, it is all speculation. I will admit there is not a whole lot I'm going off of that concretely places John Norman as the landlord of the 223 South Ewing St apartments. But I will present a few points for you to consider.
[For a deeper and more resourced deep dive, check out my write up on the John Norman case]: https://www.reddit.com/conspiracy/comments/bgpzal/john_norman_the_delta_project_a_coverup_of_a/

Billy Byars Sr., J. Edgar Hoover, and Guy Strait

Bill Byars Sr. was a wealthy Texan Oilman who worked for Humble Oil and was a friend of J. Edgar Hoover. Such friends that Bill Byars Sr. was among 3 phone calls that Hoover made upon hearing the news of John F. Kennedy's death, the other two being then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and the Secret Service. According to author Anthony Summers, Jack Ruby had even met Byars Sr. at one point.

The FBI Encyclopedia by Michael Newton pg. 55
Seeing that Bill Byars Sr. has a suffix after his name, one would assume he had a son. He in fact did.
Bill Byars Jr. fancied himself as an artist, so he started up his brand; Lyric International. Lyric International started in the late 1960's and began as a photography brand that featured naked photographs of young boys. He later broadened his horizons and in 1972, he wrote and produced a feature film titled; The Genesis Children. What is The Genesis Children about?
According to IMDb:
A charismatic leader and a high-spirited student group are on holiday in Italy. The surreal adventures of these friends are a free-flowing, four-part "multi-sensual symphony," bereft of traditional story line. One national critic described the boys' anarchic revelry as a "dream-like descent from civilization into the chaos reminiscent of Lord of the Flies."
The film also features nude scenes of pre-teen and adolescent boys. According to the parent's guide on IMDb; "Eight teenage boys are nude for about a quarter of the movie. The camera records them from almost every angle, but there aren't potentially prurient close-ups."
Eventually, Bill Jr. met up with known child pornographer Guy Strait. He operated a child pornography ring in which he made $7,000,000 from sales. Strait also admitted to knowing John Norman in a Chicago Tribune article from 1977.

Chicago Tribune May 17, 1977 pg.8
Strait and Bill Jr. merge their brands into DOM-Lyric, a "distribution" company. We can probably guess as to what their products were.
In 1973 the pair were arrested along with 12 other men for producing pornography featuring children as young as 6 years old.

The Los Angeles Times Fri. Oct 26th, 1973 pg. 3

Details pointing to Norman being involved

  • First let's start with the obvious; his name**.** The name that appears on the receipt for that deposit slip is John D. Norman. Not John Norman, but with the middle initial and everything. I'll admit, John D. Norman is a pretty generic American name. So let's examine some other points.
  • John David Norman's age and known whereabouts match up as well. John Norman was born in 1927, so he would have been 35 at the time he signed that deposit receipt. John Norman was arrested twice in Dallas during the 1950's for sexual assault, according to the aforementioned NY Times article detailing his Dallas bust. He was arrested in 1963 in California, but that doesn't mean he was living there at the time. It seemed like he traveled specifically to San Diego quite a bit throughout his life and made plenty of "business trips" from a given location. This detail is made clear in his Homewood arrest record.
  • John Norman was a known homosexual. While this detail may not seem important to some, it is if you are familiar with the "conspiracy theories" surrounding the Kennedy assassination. A lot of the players implicated in the JFK were closeted homosexuals, a factor used presumably as blackmail. This would make sense given the context of early 60's Texas. A Patrolman by the name of Fred Sexauer, told his FBI interviewer that rumors were heavily circulating that Jack Ruby participated in homosexual activity with a person(s) unknown in room 206. Other tenants at the apartment also report many men coming to visit Ruby and that the only girls who came to see him were strippers from his nightclub.

Officer Sexauer's testimony regarding the rumors of Ruby's homosexuality.

Speculative parts of this theory

We can extrapolate that John Norman's Delta operation was more or less a honeypot operation for certain people in power to keep tabs on who is using John Norman's services and what they're into. The whole theory behind this is that they can look for those who aspire to hold political power so they can put them in positions where they will play along. For example; judges. That way you can pretty much have the courts rule in your favor. This is the prevailing and most likely explanation behind Jeffery Epstein's operation.
  • It is also very likely that mob had a lot to do with helping facilitate the distribution and muscle for John Norman's operation. It's one thing mob historians like to dance around but you must realize that the kind of thing that Norman dealt in is very profitable to the people involved because it is the most dangerous black market item in terms of the of the repercussions for getting caught up with it. Being a known murderer is much safer than being known as pedophile, especially one of the sadistic variety. Assuming that John Norman did have a construction company, it would likely have been connected with the mob. Especially considering someone of John Norman's disposition. He's in the perfect position to run a morally bankrupt operation while keeping his mouth shut. Those are two valued traits to have and if John Norman was conducting business in Dallas, with his record he would fit right in with that scene. Not much needs to be said about Ruby when it comes to the mobs. Even those who believe the official story knows that Ruby had dealings with organized crimes. Hell, even a mainstream movie like The Irishman put the idea out there that the mob had something to do with the Kennedy Assassination.
  • Now lets move onto government intelligence. John Norman strikes me as a man who never gave two shits about what he did. Not only that, but he seemed pretty cool with everyone knowing what he did. You would think that violent sexual predator like him would be terrified of prison. Not only was he not scared, but still actively ran his operation from prison, hiring inmates to type and print his pamphlets. That should really tell you something. Not only that, he never really served hard time for any of his crimes. I know laws that deal with sex offenders in this country are notoriously problematic, even today. But it's strange how he is able to start up his operation right away when he moves to a new state. No pause, no laying lowing. He obviously does run into problems with local law enforcement quite a bit, but ultimately he gets off relatively easily. The biggest elephant in the room is the destruction and complete disappearance of those index cards. In a right and just world, the state department would have handed those to the FBI and they would have locked him up and thrown away the key. Instead they let him float through the system, remaining a ghost to history. There are no books, documentaries, or even discussions about this guy. If so, he is merely a footnote. He should be one of the most prolific child traffickers and in US history, with a trail of bodies that leads to some of the most notorious crimes in US history. John Wayne Gacy is a household name, for better or for worse. Yet the story were told is of a lone nut, yet there is undeniable evidence that there were more people involved. Not to mention that Gacy was dedicated member of the Jaycees who have had some of the most powerful western leaders of politics and industry pass through it's ranks. People like Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Bill Gates, Howard Hughes, this list goes on... Plus Gacy was known for throwing orgies for members of the Jaycees. He was also involved in politics, albeit on a local level. However we are also talking about one of the most prominent states in the midwest and a lot of powerful people come through the city of Chicago. He could have provided prostitutes for powerful people with sadistic tendencies such as himself. I could write a whole book on system sponsored human trafficking. If Epstein or the Franklin Cover-up can't make you see it, then I probably won't either. As far as government involvement in the JFK assassination goes, most people have accepted that some rogue elements in our government pulled a coup. George H.W. Bush doesn't remember where he was that day. A lot of the people implicated were tied to military intelligence, especially someone like David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald. Let us not forget that the father of Guy Strait's business partner, Bill Byars Jr, had close relationship to J EDGAR HOOVER. There are people who can lay these connections down better than I can and I really recommend you go down that rabbit hole if you haven't already.

My theory

From what I can gather, I'm assuming that John Norman must have started out in business. At some point he involved himself with organized crime. Chances are he was allowed into the higher echelons of that world based on his psychopathic traits. From there he started a business as a front for a prostitution/pornography ring with the help of the mob. When word started going around that they were going to whack President Kennedy, he was recruited via his mob connections to manage the properties that the players in this event would be housed at. Since he's someone who can keep secret and is not inhibited by a moral compass, he is a perfect candidate. In preparation for assassination, they had him build apartments to create safe houses that are free of any busybodies who would alert authorities of all of suspicious characters that go in and out. With the backing of mob and intelligence bankroll, this isn't too far of a stretch. As a reward for his compliance in this operation, he was allowed to do trafficking thing full time without fear of long term imprisonment or financial disabilities. Just as long as he kept his mouth shout and let certain people keep track of his clientele, an arrangement that seemed completely fair for Norman. A sweetheart deal because for as much time as Norman spent in jail, he lived as free man. As in free from any real consequence for his crimes.
This is just my theory so please take it with a grain of salt. This is a pretty obscure lead so I'd like to challenge some of my ideas. I would love to hear everyone's input
Things I would like to know:
  • A confirmation that the John Norman is question is in fact John David Norman
  • Other properties that were built and owned by Norman Construction
  • More about the several managers that ran the building the year leading up to the assassination.
  • Any other known pedophiles associated with the Kennedy Assassination
  • J.B. Harrod's full name and records
submitted by ThePutridDepartment to conspiracy_commons [link] [comments]

Annual Cowboys draft target post - 2nd and 3rd rounds

Continuing with the 2nd and 3rd round
Round 1 - https://www.reddit.com/cowboys/comments/f06f8g/annual_cowboys_draft_target_post_1st_round/
Strengths: Incredibly productive 2019, extremely reliable, strong hands, natural hands catcher, has breakaway speed when given space, big play threat, adjust to the ball that is in flight well, played really well against the best competition he faced, great in traffic, played a really tough schedule and was dominant at times from the slot, big body at 6'3“ that should be able to transition to the outside in the NFL, willing blocker.
Weaknesses: Plays slot exclusively, only one year of big time production which poses the question of if he is a product of great great offense, needs to continue developing on his hand usage at the LOS and route tree as his mostly consists of crossing and go routes, needs to fill his frame a little more to endure the punishment of the NFL
Bottom line: Jefferson exploded with LSU this year. He catches basically everything thrown his way and just continues producing. Great hands, great in traffic, very reliable target, frame that should transition into outside position in the NFL but if not, he can still be an extremely productive player from the slot. The only reason why he isn't higher, and based on production he probably should be is that on his tape you can see that most of his production comes from the system that LSU runs and great QB play. He has an elite trait which are his hands and that is very important for a pass catcher. If he is put in position to grow his route tree and have a reliable QB that can throw him the ball on target and on time, Jefferson will probably outproduce every receiver in this class. If he is put in a bad position, he could fail on the next level.
Strengths: Route running, ability to create seperation, stop start quickness and change of direction are elite, great with ball in his hands, great playmaker that is a threa to take it to the house every time he catches the ball, elusive in the open field, has some great moves that freeze defenders in open field, blur on tape, almost impossible to cover 1 on 1
Weaknesses: Shades and memories of Tavon Austin because of his size, he is a slot only player on the next level because of his size limitations (5'9"), high possible bust factor because of it, questions if he can translate beating press man at the next level as he has faced limited oportunities to do so in college and against athletes equally elite as himself.
Botom line: I love watching Hamler play. Reminds me of Dante Hall with the ball in his hands. That slo reminds me of his size limitations and how much players like he bust in the NFL. I can see him not working out but as a prospect he is a very fun, very enjoyable player to watch. He has great route running skills even tho the route running is limited to mostly slot where most of his production comes from. One of my favourite players in this draft class
Strengths: Ability to release and fundamentally beat the oposing CB, great hands, great in traffic, great on down field shots and tracking the ball over his shoulder, beats press man with hand usage and with foot quickness, ability to produce in a run first offense with one of the best college RBs of all time, fundamentally sound receiver that reminds of Michael Thomas who might not test extremely well but will be a productive force for years in the NFL.
Weaknesses: Missed the whole 2018 season due to alegations of sexual assault (found not guilty), he is not the best athlete in the class and will not wow anyone with it, route tree is still limited as is with most of these prospects, change of direction testing will be big as he doesn't really win with athleticism at the top of the route but mostly just outsmarts the oposition.
Bottom line: If everything in the background checks out Cephus is worthy of as high of a pick as I projected him here. He is a fundamentally sound receiver, having the ability to stack the CB at the top of his route on the downfield shots, has great hands, great ball skills, tracks the ball in flight very well and adjusts to it accordingly. He just does all the things well. He is also of decent size at 6'1" 210. He also projects more as a Z receiver than a true X. Flashes of Michael Gallup in some of his plays and I project a similar career path to Cephus too.
Strengths: Very good receiving TE, natural hands catcher, makes contested catches in traffic, improved as a blocker in 2019, gives his effort in the run game, productive for his position and well coached, very good with the ball in his hands, good at RAC, decent route runner for a TE, can be a miss match weapon as a slot player.
Weaknesses: Size limitations that will not allow for him to ever be a true in-line Y in the NFL, oversized slot receiver more than a true TE, can get overpowered on the LOS, blocking technique needs work.
Bottom line: In a overall weak TE class, if you need a receiving option at the position, you will probably want to go with Bryant. He's a solid pass catching TE who's size doesn't allow him to be a true in-line Y and he is not quick or exposive enough to be a WR but he gets the job done from a hybrid slot/TE position. He catches the ball well, he runs well after the catch, he's productive and well coached and he is improved as a blocker in 2019 and gives his best shot it seems every time.
Strengths: Plays with nasty attitude and mean spirit, adequate footwork and footspeed to become an NFL starter, length and size is great, good at combo blocking, good looking athlete, finishes plays, steady player that face a lot of good competition and didn't look out of place, played both LT and RT at Auburn, moves his feet on contact, has the athletic ability to make some great reach blocks.
Weaknesses: Plays off balance at times, can get pulled and thugged down by stronger linemen, even tho he isn't really deficient in any category of the tackle play he isn't great at any one thing either, his angles in space need work, can get bullrushed with lower anchor strength than some better prospects, he needs refining as a tackle as he is still learning the position, needs to learn how to extend and lock out his arms to not let rushers into his frame better
Bottom line: Wanogho is a prospect that is still learning the ins and outs of the tackle position but the physical traits are all in place. He has great size, great length, moves well in space, has good foot speed. Just needs to put things together more as he develops. He isn't beat that often but when he is he often lets the rusher into his frame or he takes false steps and oversets for a type of rush he expects. If he puts everything together his ceiling is high. I love the attitude and mean streak he has and I personally loved watching him.
Strengths: Explosive player with great get off, elite pad level with extremely good balance, grown man strength at the point of attack, very good anchor strength, very hard to stop in disrupting the play even by double teams, motor runs hot almost every snap, plays in a unfavourable system as a NT but will project much better as a penetrating 4-3 3T on the next level, potential is huge on tape, has pass rush moves and tools and physical traits that NFL teams will covet, love his long arm move, still growing as a player.
Weaknesses: Health will be a concern for NFL teams because he has missed whole 2018 with an achilles injury, he sometimes has trouble finding the ball carrier and making the play even tho he is in a good position to do so, tends to be cautios at the snap at times when it isn't an obvious passing down so he doesn't use his athleticism immediately.
Bottom line: Ross Blacklock is my favourite DT prospect I've watched this year. He is a grown man at the point of attack. He plays extremely hard and is extremely hard to stop. I haven't seen a lot of DTs have a better pad level in college. He is extremely well balanced and coordinatedwhen attacking gaps in the run game and doesn't spend a lot of time on the ground. Enormous potential that might get noticed in the draft process so I wouldn't be shocked if he is one of the first DTs off the board in the end.
Strengths: Very good anchor strength, good run defender, good pass rusher and interior disruptor, good ball get off, violent with his hands and uses variety of moves to get past defenders, plays with good pad leverage and wins with upfield penetration, productive career and a very productive last year at A&M.
Weaknesses: Can get caught up in the block of the OL failing to disengage and make a play, can miss a tackle in the hole, average grip strength to bring down the runners with his hands, can get out of control and fall on the ground failing to do meaningful things on that snap, looks like he takes plays off at times.
Bottom line: Projected penetrating 3T with good anchor strength in the run game. Needs to stay on his feet more and he is going to be making even more plays. Looks like a very good pickup on the 2nd day of the draft for the value he provides. Reminds me of Maliek Collins.
Strengths: Length and big frame he can grow even more into, pass rush, anticipation and upfield penetration, at times explosive first step, backfield disruptor in the run game, adequate anchor strength when facing a single blocker, potential is a huge, NFL teams will love him and he will probably rise even more by the end of the process.
Weaknesses: Can get bullied by double teams in the run game or by stronger linemen, fails to disengage at times and make a play, looks disintersted at times and content to get blocked without doing much of anything, doesn't always use his amazing pass rushing potential.
Bottom line: Potential to be great with Jordan Elliott is there. If he wants to work hard and play hard every snap, he might become a great player in the NFL. Prototype frame with prototype length, Elliott will be rising up the draft boards but his plays off were off putting to me on tape. Even tho he is one of the most prolific pass rushers in the class, even statistically, he needs to play snap in and snap out for me to grade him higher. Improved very much but has long ways to go.
Strengths: Extremely talented, productive career and 2019, possesses basically everything you want in a prototypical edge rusher to be molded into a special player, developed in his pass rush move usage, combination of size at 6'4“ 255, length, speed, explosiveness, uses variety of moves to get himself free of the blocker, nasty arm over move, easy mover in every direction, looks effortless when he beats the blocker, Taylor's first step is great.
Weaknesses: Off the field issues, needs to more consistent from game to game, motor tends to come and go, not going to be on the board for many teams nor will he be a fit for every team, does not look very interested in run defense at times, can allow blockers into his frame at times, bending ability is not great but hip flexibility gets the job done.
Bottom line: Taylor could be 2nd best pure pass rusher in the class. That is, if there weren't „off the field“ concers like fighting Trey Smith, his teammate, in 2017 or an on field fight he got into. He is probably not going to get picked on the first day but he has the ability to become special. Somebody is either going to get a trouble child or a possibly franchise altering talent at DE. Reminds a lot of Randy Gregory in the aspect that the talent is undeniable but the cost and the headache might be too high of a price to pay for NFL GMs.
Strengths: Disciplined steady player, savy pass rusher, good explosive first step that allows him to capture the outside shoulder of the blocker well, good size for a DE at 6'3“ 265, will be a fit for a lot of teams as he has dropped in coverage as an OLB and played in 2 point stance too, very productive career at Utah and improved in 2019 statistically with 12.5 sacks, has enough physical tools to be a good rusher in the NFL, plays with some power and routinely drives blockers back, sets the edge well in the run game, does his job and plays within his skillset very well, great senior bowl showing.
Weaknesses: Does not seem particularly athletically gifted outside his explosive first step and the hip flexibility, bend is okay but nothing spectacular, can overrun the QB because of the lack of ankle flexibility, need him to have a constant plan when rushing, needs to work on his counter moves and to develop a signature pass rush move because most of his production at the moment comes from power and hustle and will to get to the QB, arm length is not optimal.
Bottom line: Anae is a steady player that is going to be a rotational rushing piece for a team in the NFL. He isn't particularly flashy, outside his very good initial explosion off the line but he does his job and plays within his skillset better than almost everyone in this EDGE class. He understands how to win and how to get to the QB and is productive. He is very disciplined and will not cause your team to lose. Plays smart, sets good edge in the run game. Will be a coveted rotational piece that can grow into a starting type DE.
Strengths: Athletic ability, great hip flexibility, mirroring the reiceivers and not losing a step, facing tough competitions he played very well, has feel how to cover in man to man coverage, very sticky and almost impossible to shake in the route, can run the route for the receiver, good at breaking the balls up at the catch point, plays through receivers hands, very good at the point of attack in run defense, sure tackler.
Weaknesses: Head never gets turned around, limited production, much better athlete than a corner at this point of his career, limited to man coverage only on tape, instincts in zone coverage aren't shown so he might be a scheme specific player that not everyone will covet, the pass breakup technique he's thought is gonna get him in trouble if not fixed (swiping at the ball).
Bottom line: Sticky outside corner with great movement skills, Igbinoghene is a better athlete than a corner at this point and all he is basically asked to do in Auburn's defense is to get his man. And he does it extremely well. Playing against some of the best competition there is he really shined and stood out on tape. Not afraid to tackle and to hit. Igbinoghene is an ascending player so far in the process. Many people didn't think he would declare but I think he was right in doing so. He will be a very good player for man coverage teams and if developed properly he can be much more than that with his athletic ability.
Strengths: Incredibly athletic player, shows range, very good closing in a hurry and hitting the targets hard, burst is exceptional, great showing at the senior bowl covering both in the practices and in the game where he showed he belongs, gives added value as a prolific punt and kickoff returner, separates the ball from the receivers with his hits, great at attacking downhill where he is used the best as a hybrid LB/SS type (mini Jamal Adams).
Weaknesses: Can be too fast for his own good which leads to some missed tackles on tape, can take a poor angle to the ball, looks to hit more than wrap up which can create unneccessary extra yardage, always gonna be questions about small school with him and the level of competition which he partially dispelled at the senior bowl.
Bottom line: Small school prospect that blew up the senior bowl, Dugger is an ascending player who's stock continues to rise with everything he does in this draft process. There isn't much that he can't do on tape but the level of competition is obviously going to be troubling for some teams (Cowboys are one of them as they shy away from small school prospects with last one being drafted in 2013, before Will McClay era).
Both of these players are what I would call flex players as I have no idea what to do with them. Gibson is a better Tony Pollard imo. He is a converted RB who played slot receiver most of the time for Memphis and he is electric with the ball in his hands as is Lynn Bowden who is more of a slot receiver but because of Kentucky's offense he was mostly used as a wildcat RB this year getting the highest rushing grade out of all non RBs in the country. Both of these players are interesting prospects that are basically listed as athletes, they don't really fit in RB or WR category with their tape.
Strengths: Great foot speed and change of direction skills for a big body at 6'4“, 210, very good route runner, natural hands catcher, jump ball threat, red zone weapon, very good slant and double move route runner, productive 2019 with 13 TDs and over 1100 yards, judges the ball well in flight, has no trouble tracking the ball on downfield shots, extends his hands to snatch the ball from air, very good at the releasing at the LOS.
Weaknesses: Pure straight line speed so the athletic testing will be big, competition was not the greatest, as weird as it sounds he is much better at moving laterally on slants and crossers and in routes than he is at going down the field and trying to be a down the field weapon, I want him to be even more physical with the body type he has.
Bottom line: I love Isaiah Hodgins. He will be a clasical case of „just trust the tape“ come April. His frame would lead you to believe he is limited in his movement but once you watch him it becomes very clear how quick his feet are and how good he is at setting the defender up and running very precise routes to beat the oposition with explosiveness in and out of his breaks. Straight line speed will be a question he needs to answer and he needs to stay in 4.5s if he is to stay this high on the board but his tape is solid. If he does not test well, he will fall a bit on the draft day but I have no question in my mind that Hodgins will be a very good player in the NFL for a pretty long time.
Strengths: Suddenness at the LOS, very good size at 6'3, 215, shows neccessary hand usage and release techniques to beat press man coverage at the next level, good route runner for his size, shows some breakaways speed when given a little room to get going, sinks his hips and transfers his weight properly on comeback routes, very good slant runner that shields the defenders away from ball with his body, very good feel with ball in his hands and is used as a jet sweep player.
Weaknesses: Sometimes he looks like he's running in mud because he isn't the most explosive straight line athlete but has enough speed with time, much better working vertically than horizontally as a route runner, can get knocked off balance when releasing because he doesn't reduce the surface area at the LOS all the time, needs to play better above the rim, needs to continue progressing and working on his route tree.
Bottom line: Edwards is an interesting receiver. Plagued by, at best, average QB play, there are things on his tape that lead me to believe he will become a steal when he is picked in the draft. He shows very good footwork and foot speed in his releases but sometimes he overdoes it so he gets jammed up. Athletic testing will be important for him. His speed won't scare many in the NFL but he is a really sudden, tryhard receiver at the LOS that if given little bit of space can still make a house call. He played well against good corners of Alabama, he has experience going against press man coverage. He reminds me of Michael Gallup that just like Edwards, showcased ability against the best competition he faced but still went in the 3rd round.
Strengths: Sure hands, big body receiver at 6'4“, 220, big catch radius, highpoints the ball well, natural hands catcher, great possession receiver, shows more shiftiness than the big frame leads you to believe, great at the catch point, has no problem tracking the ball over his shoulder, adjusts to the throws well, comes back to the football, demanded double coverage from best teams he faced, has a great feel how to settle in the zone, QB friendly receiver.
Weaknesses: Limited in his releases, athletic testing will be big, did not face many press man oportunities, does not seem to have that elite breakaway speed, not a big YAC player, route tree and nuances of the route running need to be refined.
Bottom line: Very similar to Mims, Pittman is a big body, possession receiver who's athletic testing will determine a lot of draft stock. At times he shows he has the straight line speed to get away from corners but he gets caught from behind too so it will be interesting to see how he tests. He is an above the rim player that is going to be valuable for an NFL franchise. Has a great feel how to attack the ball in the air, because he isn't a nuanced route runner and his releases are limited he also has learned how to catch the ball in traffic and how to squeeze the most out of his play. He will be a great value on day 2 if you miss out on Tee Higgins.
Strengths: Nasty attitude, finishes plays, very good grip strength in both pass pro and run game, knows how to contort and turn his man to create a hole in the run game, good at cutting defenders down, pedigree of a high end prospect, gives ground slowly if he's getting bullrushed with quick steps and hops, good anchor strength, overall very solid player that has understanding of how to play both tackle positions and has played it at a high level against very good competition for a longer period of time, good at puling and comfortable in space, reach blocks well and drives defenders back with one hand.
Weaknesses: Biggest issue is that he sometimes forgets about his footwork and crosses his feet especially if he doesn't get proper depth on his pass set and he gets threatened with speed, if he crosses his feet he is very vulnerable to counter moves and inside spins, has an extensive injury history that will probably impact his draft stock, can play off balance at times, the times he struggled the most is against the best competition he faced which isn't enocuraging.
Bottom line: It seems like Trey Adams should've been playing in the NFL for 2 or 3 years but here we are, finally, at his senior year and he's here. Plagued with injuries, if he was to declare after his excelent junior season in 2017 he would've been a top 15 pick. He decided to return for another year, year that was plagued with injuries and had him postpone his coming out party for one more year. His tape is much improved from very limited action in 2018. He seems like he is back to his old self. Very good player that has all the makings of a starting tackle in the NFL, Adams plays with an edge, plays almost nasty, has adequate feet and foot speed, is very good in space, good at contorting defenders out of the hole to create lanes for his RB. The only reason he isn't higher is because of extensive injury history and because he had a mediocre/bad showing against Utah and Bradlee Anae which was basically his best competition he faced all year. On day 2, Adams will either be a long time NFL starter or he will continue to struggle to stay healty.
Strengths: Very consistent player, strong at the point of attack, very good grip strength, latches onto the frame of the defender and turns the player to create the hole in the run game, good hand and punch placement, good anchor strength as he does not get bullrushed easily, adequate foot speed and pass set, continues moving feet on impact and drives players back and into the ground, plays very mean style of football and finishes his blocks through the whistle, very few negative plays on the tape even as a RT on an island, good at cutting backside players off with his body which looks weird but is somewhat effective even tho it isn't technically sound, very good at positioning himself to make a block in space and to shield players off from the ballcarrier even while being a slower athlete.
Weaknesses: Probably best utilized as a centeguard in the NFL as his bodytype isn't really a prototypical tackle build, doesn't have „tackle feet“, arm length might be a question as he can get belly to belly at times as a pass blocker, does not look very comfortable pulling as he looks slow and is better in a phone booth type of situation as a blocker, poor showing as a tackle in the senior bowl game.
Bottom line: Throckmorton is one of the prospects I love irrationally probably. He is consistent, very savvy as a player. He is probably better suited as a center or a guard in the NFL as his bodytype isn't ideal for the tackle position but I could see him being a good RT in the NFL too. I watched 2 years of tape on him and even tho he isn't the quickest, the strongest or the best looking athlete, he gets the job done and does not give up much. If I'm an NFL GM I know what Throckmorton is and at least if he can't play the tackle he will be a starting caliber center or guard in the NFL. I am also much higher on him than most people and I curently don't know why. Throckmorton is as solid as it gets in this draft class but he might not fit all the checkboxes that pro scouts or GMs are looking for in a tackle.
Strengths: Quickness of the snap when playing interior, great showing in senior bowl practices where he showed bulked up which pleasantly surprised me, plays with some power and doesn't lose leverage when setting the edge, pass rushes well from the inside, very hard to stop, plays with some attitude.
Weaknesses: Used the wrong way as an edge defender in Auburns scheme which limited the number of plays he makes, needs to get stronger to become a full time 3T
Bottom line: Player that was used in a wrong way in Auburn defense and his play showed. He is not an edge defender. He's a 3T and he showed up bulked up to the senior bowl which was great to see. I believe he has some of the highest pass rushing upside from a 3T from this whole class but he is undersized curently and will need to get stronger and bulk up to play 3T full time
Strengths: Size, strength, anchor strength, block deconstruction, very good run defender, best pass rushing pure NT in the class for my money, quick feet for his size, great arm over move to free himself of defenders on passing downs, smart player that understands how to play the game and what he needs to do, understands what the offensive scheme is trying to do to him, plays hard.
Weaknesses: Not enough pass rush to be ranked higher, not diverse in his pass rush outside of the arm over and bull rush move, when stopped in his pass rush often quits because of the lack of pass rush moves, anchor suffers if his pad level gets too high.
Bottom line: Pure NT, Fotu is best used as a 2 down run stopper. He isn't hopeless if first 2 downs are passing downs tho as he he creates the most push from pure NT position I've seen in this draft class. Pretty straight forward player that will make his living as a run stopper and will probably end up having a long NFL career out of it.
Strengths: Unrivaled motor, great kid that loves the game, fierce competitor, knows how to use his hands to control the blockers hands constantly, wins mostly with outside speed rush or speed to power, very hard to contain by a single blocker, backfield disruptor with penetration, very steady player with who you know what you're getting every snap, enough strength in run game, understands leverage and plays with good pad level, could be a fit for almost every scheme, pro ready player that has had a productive career.
Weaknesses: Looks much smaller and lighter than listed 6'4“, 260, needs to diversify his pass rush repertoair and his approach, can have a hard time shedding blockers hands in the run game at times, needs to use more counter moves once his initial move gets stopped, can get overwhelmed at the point of attack by double teams, unsure about his best fit because he looks like a OLB but rushes almost exclusively with his hand down, arm length is a big knock.
Bottom line: My favourite EDGE prospect, Willekes does not take plays off, ever. Hard nose, workman like, absolute menace on the line of scrimmage, I would bet Willekes will have a long and productive NFL career. He might not be the most naturally gifted or the biggest or the most polished pass rusher in this class but he is an absolute force on the field. Constantly making plays, disrupting with penetration both in run and in the pass game, never stops playing. Projects better as a situational pass rusher for the start of his NFL career but with time, I have no doubt that Willekes will be a true 3 down DE on the next level. His attitude, his work ethic and his play will make sure it happens.
Strengths: Very productive 2018 with 10 sacks, well built for a 4-3 DE at 6'4“, 260, often commands double teams, shows rare explosiveness in his pass rush at times, possesses natural ability to capture the edge, get to the outside shoulder of the tackle and turn the corner, when he is on he is a violent player that plays through the whistle, has a natural ability to dip around his blocker, uses his hands fairly well when using speed rush.
Weaknesses: Off the field issues, regressed statistically in 2019 from a great statistical 2018, lackluster run defender, loses gap integrity in run game at times, fooled by misdirection plays routinely, can stop playing and take false steps, pad level is often out of order leaving him doing nothing on the play once he is initially blocked.
Bottom line: Robinson is a polarizing player in simple fact that he has played pretty well but the production is missing in 2019. He has gotten high praise from Clemson coaches that said he is one of the best players they've gone against this year. Off the field issues are well documented and he could become a steal of the draft if he is in the right situation. Very talented player with innate pass rushing skills and abilities but his stock will vary depending from team to team.
Strengths: Extremely physical player, rangy, athletic and big NFL ready frame (6'3“, 212) that can be used in varity of ways, can be played all over formation (SS, FS and LB on tape), people stopper, does not shy away from contact in run game, nasty attitude, good in man coverage, plus breaks on the ball, understands the defense he plays in, played well against best competition he faced, makes it tough on players he covers, production (13 INTs, 31 PDs in 4 years).
Weaknesses: Competition level, sometimes needs to tone down the physicality he plays with which gets him in trouble with ejections, can allow some receptions in the passing game even after being in good position to make a play on the ball, needs to learn when to just turn his hips and run before letting too much of his cushion disappear.
Bottom line: Jeremy Chinn is my favourite safety prospect from this draft class. Coming from a smaller schol of Southern Illinois, the competition level is basically the only thing keeping me from having him ranked higher. He has dispelled some notions about this at the senior bowl. Extremely physical, smart and rangy, Chinn is used as a SS, FS and sub package LB at times. Absolute stud for his competition level.
If anyone made it this far, you are a champion.
I hope you find it informative and thanks for reading once again.
Also, if any of you guys are interested, I have a twitter profile linked to my reddit profile where I dump all-22 college clips (until and if they get taken down). I take clips while watching prospects so that I can remind myself what kind of player they are once I'm writing a report or discussing them.
Edit: Formating and put Jeremy Chinn in the wrong round with how my board stacks. He is correctly placed now.
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But the Vegas odds on X Factor USA 2013 show that Restless Road and Lillie McCloud are currently the class of the competition, and the betting man’s favorites to win it all in this third season of the US version of the X Factor reality singing competition. Here is a little look into Restless Road: X Factor 2013: Fans blast 'cruel' new format as show twist leaves contestant distraught ITV viewers said they feared for the contestants’ wellbeing after Karen Harding was left in floods of X Factor World. The X Factor has taken the success of both Pop Idol and American Idol and has become a phenomenon enjoyed by fans around the world. There have been memorable contestants on the show. Series 1 found Irish rocker Tabby Callaghan, Chico in 2005, Wagner in 2010 or Rylan Clark in 2012. Follow @sofabet The X Factor returns to ITV on Saturday, September 1 at 8pm, with a second episode following on Sunday. The X Factor is back - and these are the changes for 2018

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