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The History of Caesars Palace

May 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article was written by Phineas Upham

That’s not bad grammar, Caesars Palace really is spelled without an apostrophe. Jay Sarno, the creator of the casino/hotel, said that he wanted all of his guests to feel like royalty.

He began construction on his hotel in 1962. Sarno relied on many contracting companies to help him craft the exact aesthetic he was looking for from the casino. He wanted fountains, swimming pools and architecture designed to emulate the opulence of the Roman empire. He took out a loan for $10.6 million dollars to help pay for the construction of the 34-acre resort. All told, Sarno’s final costs would be close to $25 million.

His inauguration took place in 1966, hosting Phil Richards and Andy Williams that night. His original idea was to feature a busty Roman goddess feeding grapes to a toga-clad man holding a phallic knife. He was all about design and conception. His partner handled the financial aspects.

Caesars was and is known for its decadence, but it became something of a family attraction in 1996. Caesars magical empire featured optical illusions, fire dancing, underground tunnels and an invisible pianist.

Guests would enter the celestial court via a magical elevator that transported them beneath the ground. In reality, the guest would not be moving at all, but that was the kind of magic Caesars sought to create.

Caesars has seen multiple headliners over the years, including Frank Sinatra. Mariah Carey sang there, as did Bette Midler and Elton John.

Phineas Upham

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

The Story of WordPress

May 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Phineas Upham

Would it surprise you to learn that there is a blogging platform on the Web that accounts for millions of websites and businesses around the Net? That platform is called WordPress, and anyone with a serious interest in eCommerce has most likely encountered it at some point. It is a simple blogging platform with many options for customization. It is also known for its large user community, which updates the platform with plugins that change how the blog functions.

WordPress, according to their knowledge database (or Codex), is the successor of a blogging platform created by a French programmer. Cafelog launched in 2001, but ceased development by 2002. The hype might have died if it wasn’t for a singular power user named Matt Mullenweg. He was using the software to post photos of a trip he was taking, and published a post stating his interest in coding a similar project if others were interested.

It turned out that he found a partner in Mike Little, and the two released the first version of WordPress in May of 2003. The team soon launched a site that would notify blog owners of new posts and updates, called Ping-O-Matic. It was around this time that WordPress’s biggest competitor announced changes to how it would charge customers to use its service. People with Moveable Type blogs then had a reason to jump ship in favor of WordPress, which was free to download and use in sub domain or domain form.

Since then, WordPress has evolved to support more customization. It released its own themes, built frame works for designers to build themes simply from scratch, and it built theme customization into its platform.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phineas on his Phineas Upham website

The Creative Revolution of the 1960s

May 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Phin Upham

Long Before Matthew Weiner ever conceived of the idea of Mad Men, there was a cultural revolution taking place in the offices of Madison Avenue. This stretch of New York City is known for the plethora of top advertising agencies concentrated there. It began at the close of the 1950s, when advertising began to veer away from facts and figures toward crafting narratives.

The firm credited with doing the most work in this genre of advertising was Doyle Dane Bernbach, which was co-founded by the late Bill Bernbach. He wanted to veer away from the idea that art should only support the copy, insisting that ads look as good as their slogans.

His approach combined the copywriter and artist into one creative team of equals. Bernbach believed that one creative ad, properly executed, could do the work of ten mediocre ones. He categorically rejected the idea that advertising was a science, once challenging his colleague David olgivy with a famous quote: “I warn you against believing that advertising is a science.”

There were also racial issues to contend with. At the time, Jewish firms like Bernbach’s only worked with Jewish clients. Usually, that meant clientele from the garment district or a retailer.

Ironically, this level of storytelling doesn’t exist much today at Bernbach’s old firm. It hit hard times after Bernbach’s passing in 1982, and it was never able to fully recuperate. When it was bought out by Needham Harper, its approach was more back to basics.

Phin Upham

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