Tech Products I love and Use Every Day (and my five year angel investor goal)


Inspired by Mike Arrington’s (my partner on TechCrunch50) fifth annual
list, ‘tech products I love and use every day,’ I thought I would
liberate his format and list the ‘Tech Products @jason loves and uses
every day.” Mike’s post here:

SIDEBAR/DISCLOSURE: As of the start of 2010, I’ve set a five year goal
for myself: be the most sought-after, and value-added, angel investor
in the world. It’s a lofty goal and it’s going to create a massive
amount of conflict for me as an pundit, but you know what they say:
“no conflict, no interest.” As you look down this list of top
products, please be aware of the fact that I’m probably trying to
invest in ALL OF THEM. It would stand to reason that, if I love a
product enough to put it on this list, I would love it enough to
invest in it. My strategy for becoming the most sought-after angel
investor on the planet is five-fold:

1. Produce media that is helpful to entrepreneurs (like this email
list, This Week in Startups, etc).
2. Host conferences that help startups grow: like TechCrunch50 (coming
in September!) and the Open Angel Forum (
3. Support the hell out of the companies I do invest in as much as
possible so they tell other CEO/founders “Jason is the greatest, hold
a $25,000 angel slot for him”
4. Can’t disclose–competitive advantage.
5. Can’t disclose–competitive advantage.

Now, on to my list of the “my favorite technologies I use every day for 2009!”

1. Chartbeat: Chartbeat is Google Analytics on crack. This real-time
analytics tool shows me exactly who is on Mahalo, what pages they’re
looking at and where they came from. This allows me to focus our
editorial efforts based on popular stories on a given day or a new
trend. For example, two days before New Year’s Eve, one of our how to
articles, “How to Make Jell-O Shots,” started trending on Chartbeat.
We doubled down on that page and made it even better–in real time. I
almost don’t want to tell you about this product because I’m so in
love with it and consider it one of Mahalo’s secret weapons. I’ve
recently joined their board of advisers and I’ve been begging my pal
John Borthwick of BetaWorks to let me be the first investor in this
brilliant product coming out of his brilliant incubator (the same on
that brought you and Summize–purchased by Twitter).

2. Security Spy & Remote Patrol: Security Spy is a $300-400 software
product that allows you to connect dozens of IP-based cameras to your
home network. I’ve put six cameras in my home and I’m adding another
four this week. In Month One, I’ve become a combination of the
over-protective father and Scarface, sitting in my loft office with a
big screen TV displaying video cameras from around the compound. The
iPhone application, Remote Patrol, lets me pull up the same security
cameras over AT&T’s (horrible) 3G network. At $10, this software gives
my wife and I the ability, for example, to zoom in on our daughter and
watch her sleep while we are out watching “Avatar” or at a New Year’s
Ever dinner with friends. We are the envy of our social set because,
while other folks show photos of their kids, we can pull up live video
of our daughter on our crib cam. It cost me under $5,000 to install a
10-camera system which just two or three years ago would have cost me
$50,000 to $100,000. I know because I’ve priced these things out, and
many of my Brentwood neighbors have shown off their proprietary
systems, which cost 20x our open source commodity hardware systems,
and have less features. Epic WIN!

3. Sonos with Rhapsody: Sonos is a home sound system that allows you
to place a wireless speaker or amplifier in each room of you house.
These system connect to each other over wifi, creating a multi-room
sound system for about $400 a room. I now have 11 sound “zones” in my
house which I can control with my iPhone, iTouch, computer or the
overpriced but delightful Sonos proprietary remote. The system allows
you to integrate Pandora, thousands of categorized radio stations,
Napster, iTunes, Sirius and my favorite, Rhapsody. For $15 a month,
Rhapsody allows me to pull up every Frank Sinatra song ever recorded,
hip-hop stations from Seoul or Paris, WFAN from NYC or my Rilo Kiley
station on Pandora. At Christmas, I was blowing out Christmas music in
the driveway, backyard, living room, kitchen and other zones. Once
again, I was the envy of the entire neighborhood, and isn’t that what
technology is all about: making people insanely jealous at how blown
out your gear is?

4. Tesla Roadster: For over a year now, I’ve had the privilege of
driving the world’s only in-production electric car and it is the most
delightful and exciting driving experience of my life. RANT: For over
a year, I haven’t visited a gas station and have been able to give the
finger to the bastards in the Middle East who believe that women and
gays are about as valuable as dogs, and that the freedoms we enjoy in
the United States are the root causes of all evil. If Obama had any
leadership ability, as opposed to his consensus-building nonsense, he
would have taken the billions we’re going to spend in Afghanistan and
simply spent that money on electric car and solar subsidies in
America. We have to stop wasting our money building schools and
bridges for backwards societies that don’t appreciate them and start
spending that money on energy independence. There is no reason we
couldn’t put solar panels on every rooftop in America, and electric
cars in every driveway, instead of spending money fighting enemies
that don’t want the freedom we’re promoting. Sorry about the rant, but
I’m really frustrated that Obama, who I voted for, is such a
disappointment. He was supposed to bring some innovation to politics
and his policies feel no different than the failed strategies of
Cheney/Bush (in that order). If I was president, I would cut our
losses in the Middle East and stop sending any money there, instead
investing it in nuclear, solar, wind and EVs. This is such an obvious
solution to everyone except the idiots we put in power. Shame on all
of us. END RANT

5. GoWalla/FourSquare: I’m so in love with location based services
like Gowalla and FourSquare that I tried to invest in both companies,
and was actually able to make a tiny angel investment in GoWalla.
These two services are amazing, and I could write and entire article
on why they are so important. In fact, I will do that! For now, why
don’t you go ahead and sign up for both and tell me what you think!

6. Posterous: Every day, I try and share a dozen thoughts, photos or
videos, as well as sneak in three or four how to articles or buzzy
stories from Mahalo, and Posterous is my go to application for this. I
simply take a video or photo of Taurus and Fondue, for example, and
email it to That video will then be posted to, my Twitter account, Facebook, Flickr and a half dozen
other services. One email, 10

posts. You gotta love it! I’m absolutely
in love with this company, and I even interviewed one of the founders
on This Week in Startups:

7. BlackBerry: I’m still addicted after all these years. My fifth or
sixth curve is still 99.999% rock solid for the most important
application in my life, email. I love you RIM, and I always will.
Really. Don’t pay attention to #8 below. 🙂

8. iPhone 3G/Android: I’ve got a jump-ball, love and hate relationship
with these two phones. They are my backup phones to my Blackberry, and
while I do all my email and 90% of my twittering on my Blackberry
Curve, I do 90% of my web surfing on these two phones and their larger
screens. 50% of the time, I have three phones with me, and 100% of the
time, I have at least two. I’ve got OCD when it comes to connectivity,
and given my day job and side projects, the cost of having three
phones is MUCH less than the cost of being out of touch. In 2010, I’m
going to try and make a decision which one of these phones wins and
it’s not going to be easy. Steve Jobs had the lead, but Google’s
Android is much more open and snappy than an iPhone. I’m loving
watching Google and Apple fight it out…My money is on Google in the
long-term, but most handicappers put this game at even money. The real
winner is the consumer, as Google’s free and open strategy is going to
put Steve Jobs’ “my way is best, consumer feedback be damned”
philosophy to the test.

9. Flip MINO HD: About $200 to have HD video in your glove
compartment, purse or laptop bag. Buy them three or four at a time and
give them to everyone in your family. Nothing is easier to use and
provides as much long-term value per dollar as this product. The best
Christmas gift you can give to your parents and siblings–period.

10. Audible: Ohhhhhhhh….. Audible. Mmmmmmm….. Audible, I love
Audible. I get two credits a month and fill my iPhone with audio
books. Spending hours a day on a computer makes my eyes too strained,
on average, to read. However, putting on my noise canceling headphones
and listening to books like “Shadow Divers,” “The Road” and “The
Post-American World” while running or playing poker is my guilty
pleasure. Have I read that book? Of course I have, you take me for an
illiterate? I “read” two or three books a month (wink wink!).
Seriously, feed your brain with Audible goodness. Disclosure: for
three years I’ve been talking about Audible on This Week in Tech.
After three years of my making love to the brand, the fine folks at
Audible decided to sponsor This Week in Startups for a couple of
months last year. Too kind of them, but I wanted to point out that
they have sponsored my media recently.

11. Mozy: Mozy online back up is a wonderful off-site backup system
that provides unlimited service for $15 a month for five computers.
I’m taking the absurd number of videos from my Security Spy camera and
backing them up to Mozy. This will result in Mozy backing up a
terabyte of information for $200 a year for me. That’s absurd. I love
this company and service.

12. Amazon & Amazon Prime: Amazon is one of the ten greatest companies
ever built. Jeff Bezos is, perhaps, the entrepreneur I admire
most–certainly in my top three. However, at the end of the day, it’s
Amazon’s perfect service and user experience that I love most. Amazon
Prime, which basically gets you products super-fast without worrying
about shipping, is a MUST for anyone who orders from Amazon more than
five to ten times a year. I buy everything from Amazon (or Zappos, now
part of Amazon), with rare exception–even when they are NOT the best
price (which is about 20% of the time). Why? I like shopping with
them. The experience is flawless, and few things in life are flawless.
Oh yeah, Amazon owns #10 on this list as well: Audible. Two flawless
services, and more evidence that Jeff Bezos might be the best
entrepreneur of our generation. (Sorry Steve Jobs and Bill Gates!).

13. Samsung BluRay with Netflix On Demand: Watching movies at home has
never been so good. Netflix On Demand is flawless and with the
exception of not enough high-def options it’s basically a “game over”
solution for on demand. Netflix is about to become to movies what
Sonos+Rhapsody is to music for me. We now watch more Netflix on Demand
than Netflix in the mail. Enough said.

14. Samsung 55″ LED TV: This TV is so real that most folks who look at
it say “that looks like real life, not a movie.” LED technology is so
clear it makes LCDs and Plasma’s look like tube TVs. Well, maybe not
that bad, but close. Combined with a BluRay player and surround sound
there is little reason for me to visit a theater for anything but the
top movies. Also, the TV is about one inch thick and lift as a
feather. I have folks put the width of the TV between their eyes and
look at me on the other side of it to show how thin it is. You can
literally fit the TV between your two eyes and move it with two

15. Tricaster: The Tricaster by Newtek is a complete digital studio in
a box. This amazing device allows me, and Leo Laporte, to create
multicamera shoots without spending $100,000 building a studio and
having a half dozen engineers on call for a show. Instead you drop
$10,000 on this box and have one editor man the Tricaster and you’re
done. Leo has used the Tricaster to create a $2M a year podcasting
business with a half dozen employees and This Week in Startups is
making over $250,000 a year in advertising after only a couple of
months. The podcasting/video show revolution is powered by Tricaster.
I love this product.


a) Service that I’m playing with that might make the 2010 list: Canon
7D,,  Backupify, Drobo.
b) Services that would have been on my pervious lists, had I done
them, but are too obvious to put on this list: Twitter, GMAIL, Macbook
Air, Plantronics DSP 400 Headset.
c) The 10 worst services/technology moves of 2009: I wrote about seven
of these before I realized I could get another email newsletter out of
them. More to come. 🙂

What are your “Top Tech Products for 2009?”

Please post your answers at Mahalo Answers:

I will compile a list of your top products and why and send a followup
to you guys.

all the best,

Jason McCabe Calacanis
310-456-4900 mobile

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Some plugs:

1. My 2009 angel investments:,,
2. Open Angel Forum, January 14th Los Angeles:
3. TechCrunch50, 4th year! September, 2010:
4. My twitter:
5. My blog:
6. My day job:, a knowledge engine. 15M unique visitors
in December!
7. We’re hiring 12 developers at Mahalo in
2010. Interested? email
Mark Jeffrey: mark at
8. Will be playing in the World Series of Poker Main Event again in
2010 thanks to my peeps at Full Tilt Poker!
9. My podcast: This Week in Startups,
10. I exec produce: Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, — it rocks.


If you’re reading this message you read to the bottom of the email
newsletter. That’s it, there is nothing more to read. No more plugs,
no more insights and no more rants. It’s time to get back to work!

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