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John McAfee: Outlaw or Hero?

May 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Phin Upham

It was November of 2012 when most people got their most recent glimpse of John McAfee, the elusive and eccentric mind behind McAfee antivirus. That’s when Belizean authorities announced that they had sought him for questions in relation to a murder case.

Holed up in his private estate in Belize, McAfee became withdrawn to say the least. He hoarded ammunition, fake passports and piles of drugs. He disappeared almost entirely for a period, sparking an International hunt for the man to answer to justice, but he was eventually cleared of all suspicion.

McAfee left his own company two years after it went public in 1992. They incorporated in Delaware, despite being headquartered in Santa Clara, California. His company went on to change its name to Network Associates before it was purchased entirely by Intel in August of 2010. McAfee is said to be pleased that his name is no longer associated with the product, and has even released a self-deprecating video called “How to Uninstall McAfee Antivirus.” In the video, McAfee is seen snorting a white powder, and surrounded by many beautiful women, further perpetuating the stereotypes that surround him.

McAfee is a technophile who has expressed a disdain for technology, but contradictions are the norm for him. He is frequently concerned with government surveillance, and most of the technology he has conceived since his days with McAfee reflects this attitude.

McAfee currently lives in Portland with his girlfriend, where he is attempting to get the movie rights of his life sold and produced. Perhaps we may get a closer look at McAfee’s version of the truth.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Twitter page.

Mad Men and American Advertising

May 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Mad Men is a popular AMC television show about a group of advertising executives at the transition of the 70s. It begins in the 60s, going through famous events that include the assassination of JFK, but the show focuses on the work the agency does. From the sales process to fulfillment, Mad Men chronicles the tumultuous times of the 1960s through its advertising campaigns.

Prior to the 1950s, advertisers essentially tested out logical arguments on consumers and prodded them for that one that would make them say yes. It was akin to psychological abuse.

It was not until David Ogilvy came to Madison Avenue that the narrative craft of advertising started to take shape. Ogilvy was infamous for dressing his models in character. Bill Bernbach, who hired women, beatniks and immigrants to bring a different perspective to his own work.

It was an age of wit, of being honest and relaxed.

The famous “Think Small” ad of Volkswagon is a good example. The ad is self-deprecating, casting German engineers as detailed to a fault, but it also gives the car some character. The viewer is forced to look closer at the car, which makes them consider more detail.

It was the beginning of the “friendly corporate face.” These ads were creative and inspiring, putting people into the ad themselves. They were immersive, and played off of our emotions. It was also the first time that executives considered the potential value behind the story of a brand.

Samuel Phineas Upham

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Twitter page.