Crypto Currency – An Interesting Value Proposition

By |November 9th, 2017|

With all the recent Crypto Currency hype with BitCoin, Ethereum, Monero, etc, it got me thinking about the value of different assets in society and what ownership really means.


What is the distinguishing factor that allows 1 person to own something and another person not to own it? One person can claim something is his, but if someone else claims they own it as well, who is right? In our society, assets of significant value like Real Estate have a document that is filed with the government that states that X person owns this piece of land and the improvements upon it. The entire position of ownership is based upon the fact the government, with all its legal force, will allow you to own the property and all rights that go with it. If the government was not present, someone could come in with some weapons and claim the property as their own if the landowner is unwilling to put up a fight.

The entire value of the property in this case comes from the fact that the government will enforce property ownership rights. This comes with its own set of problems. The government does not do this for free. They expect the land owner to pay a fee (taxes) to the government for this right as well as many other services that may not be of interest to the landowner. This can cause the property’s value to fluctuate significantly if there are changes in government policy. Let’s imagine that the local government decides to raise taxes from 1% of the property’s value to 5%, this will very likely cause property values to drop significantly.

If you go on and begin look at other types of assets such as physical currency, bonds, business equity, these assets also tend to have their ownership [...]

Riding Waves – Making a Pokemon Go Map App

By |September 4th, 2016|

TLDR: Made a Pokémon Go Map app and received over 300,000 downloads in the first week

I was on vacation in Big Bear Lake, California for the 4th of July when the latest and greatest Pokémon game was released, Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go was the first official Nintendo licensed app for iPhone and Android, so it was a pretty big deal. It wound up having one of the best game launches of all time and receiving international press attention.


Deciding to make an app

On one of the first days, it occurred to me that if I wanted to take advantage of the hype of Pokémon Go, I’d have to do it now. The App Store search engines work by giving apps that have a lot of downloads, high usage, and ratings high search engine positioning for keyword searches. So, I knew if I wanted to get ranked for any Pokémon Go search terms, I’d have a small window of time before other apps were occupying that same space.

For the next couple days, I figured out what kind of app I would make and got to work. I read that the company that created Pokémon Go previously made a similar game where they got all the Gym and Pokéstop locations from. I looked into it to see if I could easily scrape that data to make it available in a map app. However, the data was not trivially easy to scrape so I rejected that idea since time was critical. I settled on making a map app that would crowd-source Pokémon Gym, Pokéstop, and Pokémon locations. I pre-loaded roughly 5,000 points of interest that I found on other locations around the internet.

There were a few delays: driving [...]

Things Looking up on Google Play

By |May 21st, 2015|

So, in my last post, I talked about how I launched on android years late.  I had a successful iOS application and when I launched Private Photo Vault on Android it was essentially unsearchable on Google Play due to so many other apps showing up when searching for Private Photo Vault. In a trial and error process, coupled with various marketing tactics, I have been able to start getting it to index for a variety of different keyword searches.

google play rankings


Above is a chart of the download ranking on Google Play. What you can’t really see is that before it increased it rank, it sat nowhere on the charts due to being practically impossible to find in the store.  So, I had to generate some installs without anyone being able to search for it.

I will probably post some occasional updates on this as well.

I Launched on Android Years Late

By |April 7th, 2015|

So, just yesterday, I launched the Android version of Private Photo Vault (you can download it here).  Private Photo Vault was originally launched in February of 2011, so releasing it 4 years later is an extremely long period of time to wait to launch an Android version, especially in the software world.

Looking back, I can’t come up with any good reason that I didn’t launch on Android earlier (I was in college for a good percentage of that time though). Regardless, now that the product is released, I am immediately realizing the problem of launching late.


Showing up in app store’s search results is crucial for getting organic downloads. Upon launching Private Photo Vault yesterday, the app shows up as the 40th result when searching “Private Photo Vault” while Google Play is auto-predicting my app’s iOS name in the search results because people search for my app’s name on Google.  This is a huge problem as people who are looking specifically for Private Photo Vault and not those 40 other apps can’t find it. They will likely download a competitor because they won’t scroll through all 40 of the other apps.

Most app store algorithms work by looking at number of downloads, number of reviews, app engagement, and keywords. Since number of downloads and number of reviews are highly correlated with the length of time the product has been in the store, older apps will perform better and it is difficult to move your way up.

Competitors Move Ahead

While I had one the earliest products on iOS to allow users to password protect photos, my product is not novel on Android. There are many competitors on Android that have well established positions. Being forced to move ahead these competitors will probably take significant effort/money.

I feel fairly foolish for waiting [...]

How Flappy Bird accidentally went viral

By |February 1st, 2014|

If you haven’t heard, the latest bird game to hit the top of the App Store is Flappy Bird.  I saw this game at #1 for numerous days in a row and had to figure out what was going on.  One guy even goes as far as to say that the developer is using bots to fuel all the downloads for the app.  He just doesn’t understand the mechanism that is fueling this extremely rapid growth.

Here is one of the latest charts showing Flappy Bird’s crazy growth. After months of nearly no downloads, it jumped and out of nowhere surged to the top of the App Store.

Flappy Bird number downloads


What Flappy Bird is NOT doing

Ad Spend – According to the developer, he has spent no money on any advertising for Flappy Bird.  Many of the top games in the App Store such as Candy Crush or Clash of Clans have a 5 or 6 figure daily advertising budget.

Cross-Promotion – Flappy Bird is doing no cross-promotion with other successful apps in the App Store.  One technique of driving growth for apps is to link to other companies apps and they link back to you in turn growing both of your user bases. Flappy Bird doesn’t do this.

Social Sharing Buttons – Flappy bird does not employ any sharing features within the app itself.

Marketing of any kind – According to the developer, he just got “lucky”.  Well, lucky is good and all but it doesn’t help other developers to figure out how they can replicate these techniques and make more money.

So why is Flappy Bird #1 in the App Store??

Alright, so to explain how Flappy Bird has had such unbelievable growth in the past few [...]

My Lending Club Filters

By |January 5th, 2014|

In my last post about Lending Club, I talked about how I built a lending club bot to autoinvest in loans so I didn’t have to do it manually.  Here, I’ll be telling you how the bot actually makes a decision about what types of loans to invest in.

Look at historical data

There is loads of historical data available on past Lending Club loans and there are even sites that have aggregated this data and built tools around analyzing it. My favorite of these sites is Nickel Steamroller. You can individually look at various criteria such as loan purpose, loan length, employment length, home ownership, etc and see the historical performance of notes.

What criteria to look for

So, there are 2 crucial components to look at when trying to figure out what kinds of loans to invest in: 1) the historical ROI (return on investment) and 2) the total number of loans that have been funded.  Look for loans that have high historical ROIs and a large number of loans that are funded. If there isn’t a large number of loans funded, it is not a large enough sample size to make a good bet on if future loans will perform well.

lending club stats


If you take a look at the data above, it shows the historical data on loans based on the type of home ownership the person has. If you take a look at ownership type none, the ROI is really high and around 12.19% but there have only been 50 loans of that type funded meaning the data isn’t meaningful enough to actually bet on the performance of future notes.

The Criteria I use

I don’t mind taking a decent amount of [...]

Why you should attend conferences

By |December 6th, 2013|

I just came back from San Francisco yesterday afternoon after attending a conference called AppNation at the Moscone Center. I live in Las Vegas so it takes a bit of work to get up there. With the cost and time involved with traveling, why even attend conferences?

appnation conference


This is probably the most important reason that I attend conferences. I recently heard Tony Hsieh speak in Downtown Las Vegas on what he believes to be one of the most important components to living in a city, collisions. His definition of a collision is whenever there is an interaction between people. He believes that by increasing the amount of collisions that occur on a daily basis, you can maximize fortuitous chance encounters. When 2 people come together that have formerly never interacted, there can be an exchange of ideas and thoughts that has a compounding effect that can really enhance a product someone is building or anything that someone is working on.  By attending a conference in your field, you are essentially increasing the chance of colliding with someone that works in the same problem domain as you everyday. They can share ideas & tips that can dramatically enhance your product or shorten your learning curve.

Idea Exchange + Compounding

Following the idea of collisions, the exchange of ideas with other people at conferences can have powerful compounding effects with your own ideas. While attending the conference, I heard an employee of Uber talking about how Uber is really a Supply & Demand marketplace. In my mind, I had previously just associated the company Uber with being a luxury car service. However, I have predefined definitions of supply and demand in my mind, so when I [...]

App Store Screenshots – Boosting Downloads

By |November 26th, 2013|

After releasing numerous apps to the App Store and having had some that have flopped and some that have crushed it, I have learned what works and what doesn’t in terms of App Store Screenshots. Here are a few strategies I use when creating screenshots. This is Part 3 of a set of 3 posts on how to improve your App Store presence. You can also check out part 1: how to write a download boosting app store description and part 2: how to make a killer app icon.

Why App Store Screenshots matter more than ever

Since the release of iOS 6, Apple has redesigned the app store search results so that instead of having results show up as a list, search results now show up 1 at a time and show the first screenshot. This has dramatically changed the way app discovery works and it is important to know that it is there and to take advantage of it.

iOS 5 App Store Screenshot          iOS 7 App Store Screenshot             
Since an entire screenshot shows up whenever someone searches for your app, this means your first App Store screenshot is more important than ever.

Strategy #1: Select your screenshots that highlight key features

This may seem like something simple, but have your App Store screenshots highlight the most impressive features in your app. If there is heavy competition for your app, highlight the features in your app that make it different.

Strategy #2 : Communicate anything that may not be immediately obvious

There are times when you have a feature in your app that is hard to describe just by an organic screenshot from [...]

Made some new business cards

By |October 30th, 2013|

Being a app developer, I don’t really have as much of a need for a business card as people do in other businesses. Occasionally, I have found that they would be helpful to have though, so I decided to design some.

When I decided to make it, I wanted something that was clean and would stand out. I decided to have my name fairly large in embossed foiled lettering. Here is the result, let me know what you think.

my business card

I had these printed from Morning Print and have to say those guys are fantastic.


How to Make a Killer App Icon

By |October 29th, 2013|

Over the past few years in the App Store, I’ve had apps that have varied from extremely poor performance to chart topping performance with millions of downloads. One of the key factor’s to an app’s success is the app icon. There are several attributes that I have found generally lead to more downloads. I will also show you how to find the best icon designers in the world. This is the Part 2 of a 3 part series on how to optimize your app store presence. You can also check out how to write a good App Store description.

Icon Styles

I believe the best way to learn is by example, so I will start this post by showing you some of the best icons in the App Store.


Candy-Crush App icon   Clash-of-clans    Game-of-war

These 3 icons are from some of the highest grossing games in the App Store. As of this posting, Candy Crush is #1, Clash of Clans is #2, and Game of War is #4.

An interesting thing to note about Candy Crush and Clash of Clans is that they both have an icon border and have a 3 dimensional component where the subject of the icon overlaps the border. This really causes the icon to pop out and get more attention. The other important thing to notice is that the subject of the icon is huge and occupies most of the icon.

What is interesting about Clash of Clans and Game of War is that [...]