Dr. Gary Karlin Michelson, Found Animals Foundation, Forbes billionaire, 20 Million Minds, Alya

Dr. Gary Karlin Michelson, Found Animals Foundation, Forbes billionaire, 20 Million Minds, Alya
Dr. Gary Karlin Michelson, Found Animals Foundation, Forbes billionaire, 20 Million Minds, Alya

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dr Gary Michelson invests in startup Packback Books that charges more to rent a digital book than to buy a real book. Forbes, billionaire.

Gary Michelson saw the TV show "Shark Tank."  This is a TV show where people pitch their idea to investors. Packback Books is "Founded by students while backed by notable angel investors in education and digital-media." Gary Michelson is the "angel investor." An "angel investor" is someone who gives money not expecting a return on their investment. They're not really an investor but a donor. This is like a GoFundMe project where people beg for money to start a company, make a movie..

This is a TV show. The purpose of the show is to get viewers so they can sell advertisements. The people who want to go on the show want to get exposure and money. These are the two main agendas here.

Dr. Gary Michelson's supposed agenda is to give students access to free or cheap books. Packback books charges students $5 per DAY to rent a digital book. A semester is 16 to 18 weeks. I remember my college days. I needed the book one day a week at least, little more before finals. This turns out to $80-$90 at the minimum, probably more like $100. I would buy a used paper text book for $100, sell it back to the school for $70. I spent $30. Today things are more expensive than in 1984. Still, this model only makes sense for Packback books. They still have to give licensing fees to the book owners, pay for bandwidth, servers, billing...

I just looked at their website. They also rent books for kindergardeners, elementary school. Books are free in elementary school. Why would anyone rent an elementary school book?

Below is from a press release.

"On the heels of their successful venture into the turbulent waters of "Shark Tank," philanthropist Dr. Gary Michelson's 20 Million Minds Foundation (20MM), which is always in search of pioneering, cost-saving measures for students, has partnered with Packback to help reduce financial burdens while ensuring access to the textbooks students need to be successful in their courses. 20MM will also be working with Packback to deliver open textbooks to students courtesy of OpenStax College, an open textbook initiative out of Rice University that Dr. Michelson helped fund."

Gary Michelson is going to give Packback Books free textbooks? If Gary Michelson does that, won't Packback Books lose rental income? Yes. That would cause Packback Books to lose money. This does not make sense if Packback Books is supposed to be a business. Packback Books appears to be founded by students who didn't like paying a lot of money for books. So they decided to start a book rental company to make money renting books to other students. I don't believe this rental service helps students. They do say that if you rent the book a lot you can buy the book from them and the rental fees will be a credit. I have a feeling that is what they hope people do. If that's the case then we just have students who want to make money when other students have to buy a book.

This brings me back to everyone's agenda. Packback Books wants to make money. Gary Michelson wants to give textbooks to students for free or cheap. TV show wants ratings. What makes for good TV does not generally make for good business. TV wants an interesting personality with a compelling story. If you are an interesting TV personality with a compelling story will you be successful after the TV show in the real world? Basically can you make money in the real world. History has told us this is not necessarily the case.

Here's a great example. TV show "Groomer Has It." The star of season two was Artist Knox. He had a compelling story. He was down on his luck, came from a poor family, had a young son to support. He was a good dog groomer. That's it. If he were a good business person, he would have had a successful business and not been on the show.

He wins the show, gets a dog grooming van, gets money to open up a groomer business. He can groom dogs but knows nothing about business. He loses the van and shop. Actually the shop "burns down." Turns out Artist Knox is a suspect in that arson. Recently he pled guilty to another arson. He burned cars in a carport. I think the original story stated someone close to him owed money on the cars. A fire, insurance money would get them out of the lease or loan. I'm not positive about this but he pled guilty and will be going to jail for at least four years.


My point here is if you give money to a TV person so they can start a business in the real world and make money, they will fail without a ton of guidance. This is similar to the "bad luck" of lotto winners. When the lotto winners were poor, they would blow all the money. They did not know how to make or keep money which is why they were poor. If you give them money, they will blow it. Unless people with business acumen, experience take over Packback Books, I predict their failure. Gary Michelson again will be giving money to something that does not meet the goal of helping students get cheap or free books.

Just looked at some tweets people are sending to Alya Michelson and Dean Florez. They aren't answering the tweets. They are sarcastically being asked if college degrees are helping people get jobs? The answer is of course no. Most people graduating today with law degrees don't go into law. They can't find work. There are jobs out there but the people don't have the specific skill set for the jobs. Some say there should be more vocational classes in high school. I agree. I took the EMT class. Plus, technology such as digital books, out of country labor are causing there to be fewer jobs here in the US. Automation is also causing a decline in jobs. For instance the LA Times has a robot that instantly spits out an earthquake story as soon as one is recorded. Yahoo has a robot that automatically posts press releases as news content. It also auto posts just the title of someone else's article with two sentences as news. This way they don't have to pay researchers or writers.

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