Information on legal and business topics from Canadian business lawyer Shane McLean

Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

My Top 5 Books For 2014

Posted by Shane McLean on December 15, 2014

This is the time of year when we see annual lists start popping up.  I use annual book lists as a way to find new books to read so I thought I would share the top books I have read (or listened to in my car) in 2014.  Some of these books might not be new this year, but I finally managed to get around to them this year so I have included them.  In no particular order, I liked:

1.   Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Steven Kotler and Peter H Diamonds

A more positive look ahead based on the theory that, as it has in the past, new technology will rise to meet the problems facing humanity and the Earth going forward.   The book is not without its warnings for the future, but overall it presents a relatively optimistic (and usually believable) view of tomorrow.

2.  Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things by David Rose

I found this to be a great discussion of different ways in which the “Internet of things” and connected objects might evolve.  It covers some of the design concepts and thinking necessary to make connected objects useful and easy to use.   Good backgrounder.

3.  Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate your Startup  by Brad Feld and David Cohen

This book, from the founders of Techstars, is a collection of essays about various aspects of startup life and building a business.  Very good practical information for any startup founder or anyone who works with startups (like me!).

4.  The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers by Mark Hatch

Mark Hatch is a co-founder of TechShop, a chain of membership based maker spaces in the US, and he offers up this discussion of the maker movement.  Mark provides a series of discussions based on makers he has met, including the inspirations, challenges and successes faced by makers as many of them turn their hobby or passion into a business.   At times it reads like a bit of commercial for TechShop (naturally) but it is worthwhile if you are at all interested in the maker movement.

5.  Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton

This book had a bit of controversy around the time of its release with a bunch of the folks involved condemning the way the author presented the history of Twitter.    I found it to be a well written book.  The author takes pains to describe his sources and methods for researching the history of Twitter and I suspect some of the people who object to the book are objecting due to the fact that it hangs some part of the blame for Twitter’s early dysfunction on virtually every one of main players.

Honourable Mentions:

Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, The Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick

The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet by Robert M Hazen

Flash Boys, by Michael Lewis


Posted in Business Structure, Financing, Misc., Social Media, Startup, Venture Capital | Leave a Comment »

Crowd funding in Ontario’s future

Posted by Shane McLean on September 5, 2013

In December 2012 the Ontario Securities Commission published a Staff Consultation Paper seeking comments on a number of potential new prospectus exemptions.  One of the potential exemptions that created a bit of excitement in the startup community was an exemption which would allow Canadian companies to raise equity financing through crowd funding, which is essentially a process of raising financing from a large number of small investors through an online portal.

Borrowing heavily from the concepts established by the US regulators in the JOBS Act approved in early 2012 (most of which has yet to be implemented in practice), the OSC described the following possible crowd funding structure:

  • The funding would have to be raised through a registered funding portal that meets certain qualifications.
  • A company would not be able to raise more than $1.5 Million in a 12 month period using the crowd funding exemption.
  • An investor’s investment in any one company would be limited to $2,500 and the investor’s aggregate investments in a calendar year using the crowd funding exemption would be limited to $10,000.
  • Investors would have to sign a form of risk acknowledgement.
  • Investors would have a 2 day cooling off period during which they could withdraw.
  • The company would be required to provide a pre-defined level of disclosure about the company, the financing and the funding portal.
  • The company would have certain ongoing disclosure obligations to investors that came in through the crowd funding exemption.

On August 28, 2013 the OSC released a progress report.  The good news for crowd funding fans is that the feedback received by the OSC on the crowd funding proposal has been positive.  As a result, the OSC will continue its work to come up with a definitive framework based on the proposed structure.  The key area where further deliberation and focus may be required seems to be on the role of the funding portal including the qualifications needed and the processes to be followed by such intermediaries.

The bottom line is that it sounds like Ontario companies and investors can expect to be able to someday take advantage of a crowd funding prospectus exemption for equity financings along the lines described above.   Regulators in other Canadian provinces are looking into this issue too and we would hope that any structure ultimately settled on will be rolled out as a harmonized policy across the country.

Posted in Crowdfunding, Financing, Law, Misc., Social Media, Startup, Venture Capital | Leave a Comment »

Twitter’s growth plateaus

Posted by Shane McLean on June 16, 2009

It may seem like I have a hate on for Twitter (see my prior posts on the subject here, here and here). Please believe me when I say that I don’t have anything against Twitter per se.  What I am doing is desperately grasping at any evidence that others feel the same way as I do in an attempt to ensure myself (and you) that I am not crazy (at least not about Twitter).  The groundswell of support for Twitter   makes those of us who don’t get it feel like outsiders so it’s good to know that others are seeing what I am seeing (by the way, Groundswell happens to be the title of a great book about the whole Web 2.0, Social Media phenomenon).  One of the people who seems to be thinking along the same lines as I am is Larry Bodine who runs the Law Marketing Blog.  I have referred to Larry’s posts before and he put one up yesterday that further reinforces my feelings about Twitter (Check it out here).  It’s well worth a read.  Larry puts up statistics to support the thesis that Twitter is fizzling out and is not useful as a business development tool.

Posted in Misc., Social Media | 1 Comment »

Social media, it’s all clear to me now

Posted by Shane McLean on June 5, 2009

I saw this posted by Scott Annan over on and after my periodic rants about Twitter I had to repeat it here.  The image below is from where they sell it on a T-Shirt.  Their slogan to go with it: “Social Media: Unlocking the Awsome potential of behavioural disorders”.  Classic.


Posted in Misc., Social Media | Leave a Comment »

Twitter Has Poor User Retention Rate

Posted by Shane McLean on May 7, 2009

In a prior post I talked about my frustration with Twitter and how I cancelled my account after a few weeks because I just didn’t get it.  I originally put that post up on the blog and it generated a lot of comments which (by my count) were about half/half in terms of their views on Twitter.

Larry Bodine runs a Law Marketing Blog that I follow and yesterday he put up a post (here) describing  a study showing that 60% of Twitter users quit after a month.  Interesting stuff.  Glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t get it.

Posted in Social Media | Leave a Comment »

Does the Emperor Have Any Clothes?

Posted by Shane McLean on April 24, 2009

Originally Posted on on April 22, 2009

I am prepared to make a confession.  Here goes: 

I don’t get Twitter. 

Phew!  Now that I have that out in the open I feel much better.  I have been carrying this weight around for a while and have been afraid to admit it.  Have you ever seen a movie that everyone absolutely loves but you just don’t get it?  That’s me with Twitter.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried.  I’ve made an effort to attend  events where Twitter was the topic, I have read tons of  articles extolling the virtues of Twitter and making vague claims as to how it is being used in beneficial ways and I signed up for a Twitter account and followed a handful of people and organizations for several weeks (you may remember me from such Twitter handles as McLeanShane (but probably not)).  Unfortunately, I saw very little value (to me) in what people were putting out there.  On top of that, I kept getting notices that people I have never heard of were suddenly following me, even though I never posted a thing.  In frustration I ended up cancelling my account (which, by the way,Twitter made very simple).

Maybe I wasn’t following the right people.  Maybe I’m missing all the good stuff.  I sure hope so.  To be clear, I was following people and organizations using Twitter professionally as a communication tool, as opposed to getting on there with all my friends and gabbing about personal life.  I suppose if you were a regular user of instant messaging with a group of friends, Twitter might provide a useful forum to continue that activity.

The Tweets I saw were mostly non sequitur, train of thought kind of stuff that may (or may not) be interesting to the person posting it but were of questionable value to me.  For the most part, the folks I was following also have blogs on which they posted more detailed and useful articles in parallel with and covering the same topics as their Tweets. Is there any use in following someone on Twitter if I follow their blog?

 I am fully prepared for an onslaught of comments and/or criticism from Twitter maniacs out there.  Let’s have the discussion.  I am posting this with the hopes that someone can let me in on the secret. My only ask is that you please keep in mind that I am not trashing people who use Twitter This is not a personal thing.  If you use it and love it, more power to you.  On the flipside, I would also appreciate hearing from those who agree with me (cue crickets…).  I’m perfectly comfortable if at the end of the day I’m unique in failing to get it, but I am genuinely trying hard to understand the medium and figure out how or why people use it.  Maybe if I can get my head around it, I could even sign up for another account!  

Posted in Misc., Social Media | Leave a Comment »