The internet has opened the door for numerous technologies and products that have drastically altered the way we do business and live our daily lives. Bitcoin is one such technology that arguably has the greatest potential to revolutionize the world of international finance. Micah Winkelspecht, the CEO of Gem, a company that helps its customers accept and secure bitcoin transactions, sat down with me to discuss the various facets, uses, and implications of Bitcoin, as well as the challenges it faces for broader adoption.

(I am also extremely happy to announce that LiveJournal now accepts Bitcoin!)

Katya: So what is Bitcoin and how does it work?

Micah: Bitcoin, at its core, is an international digital currency; it’s like money for the internet. However, to call it just “money for the internet” is actually missing the point. It’s more like the internet of money. Bitcoin system is an internationally distributed network of computers that are running around the world whose sole purpose is to allow us to move value from point A to point B anywhere in the world instantly and with no third parties in the middle; it’s peer-to-peer value exchange. Collapse )


As we accelerate our use of data and tools through digital means, security of our information has become increasingly important. This is especially true for businesses, who are entrusted to thoroughly secure their customer data. I sat down with Andrew Rubin, security expert and cofounder of the security company Illumio to discuss the changing landscape of the enterprise security needs.

Katya: Let’s start by evaluating the state of online security in general. Where are we standing right now? Are we doing well, or do you think we’re miles apart from where we could be?

Andrew: I think there are certain areas that we’re doing very well in and others where there is an opportunity to improve. There’s a phenomenon we see repeatedly, we call it the paradox of the perimeter; where organizations spend 80% of their security dollars to secure 20% of the traffic. I think that is one area where we’re going to see improvement. Organizations are thinking about their security differently as a result of things like virtualization and cloud. I think that we’re going to find that there are a new set of problems that we’re all trying to face and deal with effectively and we’re going to have to have a new set of tools in order to do that.

Collapse )


Product partnerships are an ongoing topic of discussion for any CEO because they’re subject to so many variables. Not only are there different kinds of partnerships, but also different opportunities, depending on the product. Knowing which partnerships are worth pursuing, which last, and which are unlikely to be beneficial can be crucial to navigating the partnership process.

I spoke with entrepreneur and angel investor Scott Banister, perhaps best known as a co-founder of IronPort as well as an early advisor and board member at PayPal. He gave us his perspective on what makes for a fruitful product partnership. His take: Listen to what your customers want without losing sight of your company’s core vision.

Katya: How important are product partnerships for a company?

Scott: They are a mixed bag. First you have to make sure that you’re executing well on your core business; if you’re not, no partnership is going to save you. Google’s partnership with AOL in the early days was a big deal to Google, but it didn’t save them. They were doing well with their core product as it was, and the AOL partnership just helped them to distribute it to a wider audience. If their core product was crap, then it wouldn’t matter if they started putting that crap product over on AOL; it still would be crap.

Collapse )

Financing Your Idea

You have a great idea for a new or better product and want to start a company. What do you do next? How much funding will you need? How do you manage the finances once you receive funding? Where do you make cuts when situations beyond your control impact your capital? And the favorite Silicon Valley question - when do you go public? I sat down with brilliant David Eckstein, Senior Finance Director of OpenDNS to talk about the most important topic of finances.

Katya: Silicon Valley seems like a dream. Even the dumbest product idea can get funding; is that true?

David: The short answer is no. A lot of companies will contact me to say: “Hey, can you be an advisor? Can you look at my pitch deck? Can you prepare me to pitch to VCs so that my presentation is persuasive? Am I hitting all the important points?”

But there is a natural filtering process on ideas to understand if they are viable.Collapse )

Disrupting Real Estate

Tactics for disrupting a market vary depending on whether you’re attempting to launch a new product or break out from within an entrenched one. I spoke with Jason Freedman, CEO of real estate search service 42 Floors to provide his perspective on the necessary steps to make an impact on markets both old and new. 42 Floors is an incredible one-stop shop for all your office needs. They are doing to one of the most conservative industries in the world what Uber did to the Taxi Industry.

Katya: How is a business where you disrupt a very conservative industry different from one where you create a brand-new product? Because you’ve done both, right? (Jason’s company, FlightCaster, was acquired back in 2011. They created software that intended to perfectly predict flight delays.)

Jason: The big thing is one has an existing market and one doesn’t.

Katya: And not just an existing market, but a market with a very strong set of rules that has been the same for a long time. Like Uber with Taxis.

Jason: Well, that’s just how mature the market is. So, when I build a product that’s brand new to the market, you can’t do an analysis that says people spend this much money on this, and if I can capture this percentage of them then I can make this big of a company. Instead, you’re more in the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs type mind-set of saying, “I could have this really big vision, where this thing could eventually exist that’s really huge. But right now, no one would believe that.” I think the actual motivator of disruption at that point is individual interest, not world-changing disruption. Microsoft’s mantra: “A computer in every home,” didn’t come about until years later. That all started with Steve Jobs liking micro computers.Collapse )


As a CEO, I face hundreds of decisions every day on all fronts: product, engineering, servers, marketing, PR, earning and spending, hiring and firing, overall moral, vision for the future, inspiring the team, evolving, etc... You name it. As a human being, I am faced with even more decisions. Every second  there’s a new decision to be made.

I have always believed that in order to make the best decision, it’s crucial to be able to look at the situation from as many different angles as possible. To gain insight into new perspectives, I read a lot of biographies. I strive to learn from people who have achieved personal and business success as a result of a unique decision-making processes. I learn how they approach the same kinds of problems I face, because while solving difficult issues requires experience, it doesn’t necessarily have to be your own experience.

Many of us in the technology field often wonder what people like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel talk about when they are in a private room. What type of advice do they give each other? What do they learn from observing the other’s way of thinking?

So, as I lead LiveJournal towards a successful future, I ask a lot of questions. I continue to learn from friends and role models in different industries, observing the ways they come up with their creative solutions.

This blog will serve as a record of these conversations so that we all can learn from each other a little more. I hope this will become a platform where creative people can exchange ideas and continue their personal growth. Welcome!

Katya Akudovich, Chief Executive Officer
LiveJournal Inc.

*The name for this blog comes from one of the incredible concepts that Napoleon Hill described in his books - Mastermind Principle.

"It is the principle through which you may borrow and use the education, the experience, the influence, and, perhaps, the capital of other people in carrying out your own plans in life. It is the principle through which you can accomplish in one year more than you could accomplish without it in a lifetime, if you depended entirely upon your own efforts for success."

Here is the video of him explaining the MasterMind Principle: