Jason Calacanis' Top Tech Products (And A Political Rant)

jasoncalcJason Calacanis lists his own favorite tech products after reading ours. His list, which was sent out to his mailing list earlier today, is below. Along with one heck of a political rant about the middle east and energy policy, which we have left in its original form.

Inspired by Mike Arrington’s (my partner on TechCrunch50) <a href="fifth annual list, I thought I would liberate his format and list the ‘Tech Products @jason loves and uses every day.”

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 (This Week in Startups, this post, 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 Bit.ly 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 post@posterous.com. That video will then be posted to Calacanis.com, 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 importantapplication 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 fingers.

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, Blippy.com, Backupify, Drobo.
b) Services that would have been on my previous 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. :-)