Archives For September 2012

How Khan Academy Got Started

September 24, 2012

I was perusing the latest issue of Fortune this morning and came across an article about a new book, One World Schoolhouse*, by the founder of Khan Academy. The article referred to an older article that was published in Fortune in 2010. I found that article and wanted to share a portion of it about how Khan Academy came to be:

In the summer of 2004, while still living in Boston, Khan learned that his seventh-grader cousin, Nadia, in New Orleans was having trouble in math class converting kilograms. He agreed to remotely tutor her. Using Yahoo Doodle software as a shared notepad, as well as a telephone, Nadia thrived — so much so that Khan started working with her brothers, Ali and Arman. Word spread to other relatives and friends. Khan wrote JavaScript problem generators to keep up a supply of practice exercises. But between their soccer practices, his job, and multiple time zones, scheduling became impossible. “I started to record videos on YouTube for them to watch at their own pace,” Khan recalls. Other users tuned in, and the blueprint for Khan Academy was created.

It’s amazing how so many big things start out almost by accident.

The winner of the latest AFM giveaway was commenter #6, Mercyn. Congrats to her!

I’ll have another giveaway in less than two weeks. Stay tuned…

Interesting chart I put together. Notice how the two are neck-in-neck until somewher around 2003, which is about the time oil prices took off. It’s also interesting in that we can probably expect that high oil prices have had a negative effect on a lot of the companies in the S&P 500 Index. Bottom line: I’m glad we own some Chevron stock.

Here’s a year-by-year look at the two side-by-side:

AFM reader, Anna, posted a link to this quote from Shaquille O’Neal’s book Shaq Uncut: My Story* yesterday in a comment. I thought it was worth sharing because it made me laugh:

NOTE: “Lester” is Shaq’s accountant.

One of the things I invested in when I first got to Orlando was some coin-operated car washes. We were doing really well, making a lot of money, but one day Lester called me up and told me the numbers weren’t matching up. The profits we should have had were not the same numbers that were being deposited in the bank.

“Don’t worry, Lester,” I told him, but he was freaking out about it. He even flew to Orlando to discuss it with me. He calculated we were missing almost a quarter million dollars.

It took me awhile, but I finally came clean with him, I showed Lester my bedroom, where there was a whole bunch of wooden rain barrels full of quarters.

Lester said, “Shaquille, what the hell is this? Is this the missing money?”

“Yes”, I admitted. “Lester, I can’t help it. I like seeing my money. Come here, run your fingers through all these quarters. It’s awesome.”

Love it.

*Affiliate link

This kind of stuff saddens me: How did Vince Young end up broke?

A 20-year-old model embarking on an NFL career is doomed to fail if he does not have the right people around him. Family is not the right people, no matter how good or loving or well-intentioned they are.


I once asked former NFL coach Bill Parcells what his advice to players was regarding money. He was always meddling in their business, calling them into his office and giving advice too few listened to. What he told them was to bank that signing bonus for a year, live on only one game check, then after a year live on the interest from the bonus.

He said few players listened.

So many of these young kids have no financial sense and then are given these massive contracts and they simply don’t know how to handle themselves. Add to that the fact that there are lots of “experts” out there willing to “help” these young kids for a fee. It’s all a game, people.

All that work, sacrifice, beating the odds to make it to the professional level, and then you lose it all because of bad decisions.

Here it is (click on the graphic to see it as part of a much larger graphic):

Tax Burden

Source: NY Times

I have a couple of questions regarding the payroll taxes portion of the graphic:

• At the lower incomes, why are the numbers different? If the tax is the same percentage up to income cap, then why are the percentages different?

• Shouldn’t the employer portion of social security and medicare be included in the employee’s income? It’s obvious that they are including the employer portion in the taxpayer burden. This is misleading because I’m certain the employer portion is not being included in the employee’s income. In other words, by including it as part of the burden but not including it in income, it makes the burden seem high as a percentage of income. Lying (or misleading) with statistics 101.

I don’t trust the NY Times to be honest with their “facts.” Can you blame me?

I’m trying to get more consistent with AFM giveaways. This is the second giveaway on the new every-other-week schedule.

I posted this giveaway earlier this year, then had problems with my website and never followed up on it. So, let’s give it another go around.

If you’d like to take part in this giveway, just leave a comment below detailing what you feel was the dumbest investment mistake you ever made. Since this giveaway will probably foster some discussion, I will only have one rule this time:

You must be a resident of North America (I won’t ship internationally).

I’ll randomly-select a winner Friday morning. Good luck!