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Why the Alliance of American Football failed

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Why the Alliance of American Football failed

The Alliance of American Football premiered with an seemingly A team level of management that came with many answers; venture backed funding from the excellence of Peter Thiel, among others; mounting distaste for the NFL, its integrity, Roger Goodell, and off /on field controversies. Yet the Alliance of American Football league faltered within months of operation. The attribution of the entirety of this collapse does not rightfully belong to a single cause. As a student of entrepreneurship, it was once said by a teacher “There is no shortage of money for good ideas.” Somewhere along the line the Alliance of American Football stopped being a good idea. It stopped being a good idea to the point where their lifeline came in the form of Tom Dundon and when the rug got pulled out from underneath them, a second lifeline was unavailable. The NFL could have easily provided the second bailout, thus integrating the league. But the flaws of the Alliance were readily apparent.

Taking on March Madness

The timing of the AAF season left a lot to be desired. But the Alliance of American Football sought to capitalize off of the steep drop in football following the Superbowl. This capitalized on marketing of CBS, their main broadcasting partner, who leveraged the line “football isn’t over yet” to generate viewership. But the timing of the AAF season would have been better served at a greater distance away from a superior product. The Alliance of American Football cannot reasonably match the sheer pageantry of the Superbowl, despite having a high proportion of competitive games in their own repertoire. In terms of ambiance, it would be like going from Teen Titans to Teen Titans Go in the matter of a week. Perhaps capitalizing off of the overflowing demand for football would have worked better if not for the sports behemoth the Alliance of American Football went head to head with: March Madness. College basketball from a sports perspective owns March and early April. That’s three Saturdays and two Sundays the AAF is losing 5/5 year after year.  These are essentially wasted weeks in terms of generating interest, buzz, and ratings. Major League Baseball can meander this through longstanding tradition and operating every day of the week so sports fans always have something to watch or talk about, but the AAF relied on weekends. The Alliance of American Football timed their league to the coziest convenience of the NFL and not growing a fan base. Despite these accommodations, the NFL did not provide a lifeline.

Past Mistakes

When there is a long history of failed leagues in not just football but baseball as well. The history of these other leagues paint a very clear of the existential challenges of cash management, and the pathways to success. The AFL successfully pressured their way into a merger with the NFL, despite inferiority. The USFL could have gone down the same path or even successfully rivaled but instead chose to utilize anti-trust law to their own demise. The Alliance of American Football made more amateur mistakes than their predecessors, despite having a beginning very much like the American Football League.

Toxicity of Silicon Valley

Despite funding issues that arose a year later, when the Alliance of American Football was publicly announced, the leagued seemed well-backed by Silicon Valley venture capitalists. This changed, by the league’s start despite an impressive debut. But this reveals the folly of Charlie Ebersol. Why would a newborn sports league base its operations in San Fransisco? Venture capitalists are everywhere whether we are talking about Boise Idaho or Omaha Nebraska. But the ones in Silicon Valley will throw money at anything including tech that adds redundancy to existing products such as Juicero or Smalt. But the AAF was a far better idea than those yet Silicon Valley perpetuated a myth that became the cash dumpster of the football venture. The AAF presented itself to the public as football with an app that enhanced the experience, but to its investors, it seems that the Alliance of American Football was an app with a football league. In reality, the Alliance of American Football was a football league with an app that did not enhance the experience.

From a software standpoint, it was impressive that the AAF was able to roll out their highly anticipated app on a fixed deadline. It could functionally stream a football game and not drain a phone’s battery nearly to the same extent as games and other streaming apps. However, the AAF, seemingly, reneged on its promise to stream every game on their app. They would show a stream of most games, but most streams were only the raw footage of the game. One could go on Youtube for a better streaming experience.

So what was the point of the app? The AAF was pushing a real-time fantasy game. This game allowed the user to predict the next play with bonus points for accuracy. It was overly simplistic with no option for sacks, turnovers, or special teams. It was, however, true to its real time advertisement. But who then could play it? If one had the stream on their computer, and wanted to play the fantasy game whilst they stream, the stream would be multiple plays behind the app. It’s a spoiler which undermines the live sports watching experience. Yet the AAF pushed this hard. Every commercial break seemed to have a push for this, calling this feature on the app an “easter egg.” One wonders whether the TV networks knew the app was counter intuitive to the general goal of increasing ratings. The Alliance of American Football would have been infinitively better served telling the humble stories of the players during commercial breaks. Fans are interested in the stories of the players. They weren’t interested in playing the app while they watched the actual football. The app was a severe cash drain on the company that one would have reasonably expected a negative cash flow from operations in its first season. With the combining of two cash flow negative functions into one venture, it’s no wonder why the league was pressed for cash right after the league premiered. Plainly put, the app was a waste of money, but the app was not alone.

Charlie Ebersol and the other founders were living the tech startup lifestyle in San Francisco squandering the investments they received on high overhead. Did San Francisco have a team? No. Does San Francisco have special skills the company needed? Management, marketing, and football aren’t unique to Silicon Valley. Is San Francisco one of the most inflated parts of the country? Yes. If you have a hundred dollars to spend on groceries for the month, you are not going to Wholefoods. Yet that is essentially what the Alliance of American Football did. They shopped at Wholefoods on an Aldi’s budget. They did not value cash. How could they when they were in the bubble of Silicon Valley, the environment that told a football league to sink money into an app rather than marketing.

What the AAF did right?

The Alliance of American Football successfully proved their concept. They showed that a second football league could exist, even be a compliment to the NFL. They wanted to show that the NFL could do a better job at harnessing talent. This would have lowered or at least slowed the rising player costs in the NFL by providing more reliable alternatives for players as LeBron James Effect spreads to the NFL in the form of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. More professional players equals lower wages for owners to pay. But the AAF did not get to see this play out. Another correct action was the team locations. The AAF sought cities that have been snubbed professional football, San Antonio and Birmingham, despite being football hubs. They also chose some of America’s fastest growing municipalities, such as Salt Lake City, Orlando, San Antonio, and Atlanta. Their uniforms and team names were great. This stands in stark contrast to the XFL which strove for large TV markets and has announced no real team names or uniforms. The AAF also provided transparency in officiating, something the NFL hasn’t done, and eliminated less exciting special teams plays. This further exacerbates the folly that led the team to make a predatory deal with a man who had selfish ambitions for the league.

AAF vs XFL

Vince McMahon announced the XFL relaunch after his failed gimmicky run almost twenty years ago. His announcement was vague. Meanwhile, Charlie Ebersol answered many questions during the AAF’s announcement. One would have came away more confident watching Ebersol’s announcement than Vince McMahon’s. Yet the AAF didn’t quite last two months in live operations. Looking back, the Vince McMahon may have been intentionally vague, so as not to give the NFL two entire years to prepare for what he has coming. Such is the Art of War.

Final Thoughts

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” Sun Tzu

The Alliance of American Football failed before the games began. No business plan goes accordingly, but their business plan was faulty for a football league. Their business plan chose not to focus on a single core competency, instead dividing effort onto multiple cash negative fronts. This folly killed a viable concept.

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Economy

The 1751 machine that made everything

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The 1751 machine that made everything

A short video on how technological innovation born of economic liberty has changed the world.

History is more than dates, places and battles. In many instances it’s technological advances that change the world for the betterment of all mankind. In this case it’s the story of French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson and his creation in France of the first all metal slide rest lathe, the forerunner to all modern machine tools in 1751.

Lathes had been around for centuries, but lacked the precision with hand held cutting tools. The slide rest of the Vaucanson metal lathe that provided the control to produce metal part of exacting dimensions. The lathe is said to be able to produce every other machine and machine tool. This advancement changed everything.

The producer of the video references a profound chart of World Population GCP and per Capita GCP 1 –2008 AD from data of the late Angus Maddison, similar to this produced by the  Visual Capitalist, we credit them for the chart and commentary:
Image Credit: Visual Capitalist

 

For thousands of years, economic progress was largely linear and linked to population growth. Without machines or technological innovations, one person could only produce so much with their time and resources.

More recently, innovations in technology and energy allowed the “hockey stick” effect to come into play.

The video was produced by Machine Thinking last year.

While some may quibble about which particular machine produced this miracle The larger point is that the machines of the industrial age profoundly changed what people could produce.

As the video noted the average person in 1600 was no better off economically than someone thousands of years earlier. This is what is called the Malthusian trap and for seven thousand years, it was inescapable no matter what we did.

Machine tools such as this changed all of that, one person could produce what had taken many. This surplus could outpace births, allowing the economy to grow at an incredible pace as seen in the chart. All from the genius of the mind undergirded by the Economic liberty of the free-enterprise system. This is why this is vastly superior to the societal slavery of socialism.

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Economy

Colion Noir: Exposing the under the table business of homelessness in San Francisco

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Colion Noir Exposing the under the table business of homelessness in San Francisco

Anyone who has walked the streets of San Francisco in the last few years was likely shocked. Unless they came from Seattle or a similar city in which homelessness and drug abuse are rampant on the downtown streets, it was likely a wake up call to anyone seeing how big the problems have become.

For a city with such extreme wealth and both historically and thanks to the Silicon Valley boom, it can be perplexing to witness how little is done to help those who need it so desperately. As we noted before, for some reason San Francisco is so “woke” yet so blind at the same time.

This video by Colion Noir exposes the ugly truth about San Francisco, that no matter how much money is pumped in by tax payers, the hyper-leftist radical progressive government that runs the city is incapable of solving these problems. It’s noteworthy that some of the people Noir talked to called for less government, including one gentleman who believed anarchy was the only thing that can solve the problem completely.

Yes, the city that is known for imposing the largest amounts and most obtuse overreaches of government is the city that seems to be imploding despite an overabundance of tax dollars flowing in. If there is any better testament to the failures that would befall the entire country if socialism is ever implemented more than it already is today, I’m unaware of what city that could be.

San Francisco is a disaster, yet they continue to depend on progressive leadership to somehow fix what they’ve continuously broken for decades.

Not only is the cover up intentional, as Colion Noir concluded, but the system that keeps homelessness and drug abuse prevalent on the streets is intentional. Dealing with poverty for San Francisco’s bourgeoisie is a political industry.

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Economy

Washington has America standing on the precipice of a fiscal abyss

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Washington has America standing on the precipice of a fiscal abyss

Yesterday was Tax Day, an annual reminder that our tax-and-spend government continues to get taxier and spendier.

Fox News is reporting that Donald Trump will be holding campaign events across the country this week to do some damage control in the wake of his unpopular tax cuts, but the destruction being caused by Washington’s spending addiction should be the real headline for Tax Day 2019.

Although, to be fair, many faux conservative media sources have their hands full right now pushing McConnell’s “vote Republican because #notSocialist” 2020 campaign rhetoric, so we shouldn’t be surprised if they’re too busy to be bothered with something as petty as the inevitable bankruptcy of America.

In a report issued last week by the Government Accountability Office titled “The Nation’s Fiscal Health: Action is Needed to Address the Federal Government’s Fiscal Future,” we were provided with an update on the nation’s fiscal health at the end of FY 2018 and what lies ahead if fiscal policy isn’t changed.

Some of the findings included in the report are:

  • The federal government’s current fiscal path is unsustainable
  • The federal deficit increased to $779 billion — and will reach $1 trillion in the next few years for the first time since 2012
  • Publicly held debt was 78% of GDP at the end of FY 2018 and will surpass its historical high of 106% within 13 to 20 years — sooner than projected last year
  • Other agencies join GAO in saying that the longer action is delayed, the greater and more drastic the changes will have to be

Graphic shows 4 projections of debt increasing

Alexis de Tocqueville, the French legal and political scholar, politician, and historian who is most known as the author of the book Democracy in America (pub 1835 – 1840), has been attributed for this quote: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

Whether these are the words of de Tocqueville or not is irrelevant. The reality is they are 100% true as we are witnessing in Washington today.

With Republicans and Democrats always in election-season mode, policies are decided based on how they affect political parties instead of America’s needs. This has given birth to finding new and better ways for them to buy votes, and it’s why we’re seeing Democrats promoting socialist ideas like Medicare for all, paid family leave, and the Green New Deal heading into 2020.

However, despite claims to the contrary, Trump and the GOP are actively pursuing the same socialist programs as they join the Democrats in a scramble to find ways to buy votes.

After decades of taxing and spending, growing the federal government, and pursuing a socialist Utopia, America finds herself on the precipice of a financial abyss with little reason to hope the unibrow party in Washington will save her. In fact, they’re likely to push her over the edge … if it means they can get a vote out of it.

Originally posted on StridentConservative.com.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook.

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