Ntl Systems, Inc.

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This website started out as a sales site for NTLSystems. In the process of upgrading the site, we added some articles related to start-ups and the Downtown Project. The articles on this page are not for general circulation. The people who drank the Kool Aid do not want to hear it. Much of what is presented here is educated guesses and might not be right. It's presented here to see who agrees.

10

It's time to figure out who Tony Hsieh is and who the members of the downtown project are.

You can figure out who Tony Shea is by watching him in action. The the people who have joined the downtown project seem to be a particular type. Unless you hang out with them at their favorite watering holes it's a little difficult to determine what that type really is.

People at Zappos and the downtown project have been evaluated to see if they "fit".

Part of fitting in seems to mean being impressed with Tony, and there seems to be a requirement that you be visibly impressed by the opportunity to join the club.

If you have enough cash in the bank you can pay lip service to Tony's ideas and as long as you don't directly contradict those ideas you can go along and get along. Tony seems to have a short attention span so once you've been selected as one of the guys who fit in you're good until something changes. You can get along fine as long as you don't need him.

There's a difficulty for those who got into a deal that depends on Tony's money. A lot of deals were funded because he thought they were cool on the day that they were presented to him. After while, many of these deals have changed from cool to cold. Tony is no longer interested and his money is no longer interested.

If the future of your business depends on that money you might have a problem.

Businesses are always being started and ended - that's the name of the game.

But the downtown project seems to have funded well over 300 start-ups and businesses. Not all of them are doing well.

It seems that the current DTP plan is to select the start-ups they call "cannonballs" and give them more money. No one has said what happens to the rest but it seems like there's a good chance that they're on their own.

If this is true we are looking at somewhere between 150 and 250 start-ups that were founded using Tony Hsieh's money and are about to discover the joys of life in the big city.

If this is the correct guess, some of the smarter guys have already figured it out. If I were in that position one of my buddies in a bigger company would be talking to reporters about the wonderful opportunity they have to buy me out. With any kind of luck someone else will jump in and make the purchase that my buddy is pretending to be interested in.

The guys who don't have a buddy have a problem. They don't have the money to stay in business and they don't have the money to gracefully get out of business. Of course there is some chance they can find a purchaser without having a buddy to act as a shill.

The effects of all this on the downtown project should be obvious - but it probably isn't obvious to everyone. If they understood what happens next you would have never seen the article about the switch to "cannonball" financing.

Loss of a couple of hundred start-up businesses pretty well knocks out the idea of downtown Las Vegas as a Disneyland for entrepreneurs. Venture capitalists go with what works. If it isn't working they aren't interested in fixing it - they move on to something that does work.

Tony seems to have moved on to Albuquerque in the hope that no one there is aware of what happened here. If Las Vegas crashes and burns there will be a pretense that he had nothing to do with it, but "cannonball" financing has already been announced and the venture capital guys won't have much trouble figuring out what happened and why.

The alternative to these problems would be enough financing to keep the marginal start-ups from going under. This probably also means writing off previous loans and giving back the 50% of the profits that are supposed to go to the DTP after the loan has been paid off. This needs to happen quietly, and in writing. Those start-ups that are in trouble are the marginal start-ups and they are going to have to provide their own solutions and their own leadership.

It's possible that leadership of the Downtown Project will recognize that they're all in it together. If that doesn't work, the marginal start-ups are going to have to figure out the numbers and communicate clearly what happens to the entire downtown project if they are thrown under the bus.

There is financing available. That money will step forward when it becomes clear that there is some leadership in downtown Las Vegas.

All of this may simply be a guess. I'll be grateful for any information that tells me whether I'm right or wrong.

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