Sunday, April 27, 2008

Harnessing the Power of the Social Web

Yesterday I read a great post that made connections between historical disruptive periods and the social web and took a look at both the driving force and transforming period before the force developed significant value.

Its definitely worth a read, but in summary, Clay Shirky describes the period of transformation from rural life to urban during the industrial revolution and the collective struggle. He states that it wasn't until the creation of key public services, museums, libraries and expanded education for children - services that were unnecessary prior to this transformation - that opportunity was realized.

Clay then suggests that the sitcom, a staple of TV since the second World War was the "social lubricant" as "the critical technology of the 20th Century. Now before you dismiss this consider his point, that following the war and the shift in our economic system of 9-5 jobs etc... that there was a new surplus of free time. True enough we have used this free time to consume ever larger amounts of TV (and all other media too) and while TV has created both great entertainment l
ike Seinfeld as well as not so great reality shows like Tila Tequila - Shot at Love, it has also driven the standard of living, democratizing the access to information (24 hour News), and social issue commentary. I'd take it step further that TV also helped the US establish a definable economy and obviously our brand model. There would be no Tide without TV, no Wal-Marts either.

The punch line for the post is that we are on the verge of another big transformation due to the Social Web, that we are moving beyond the "gin-carts" of the industrial revolution and the post war sitcom's.

You might guess that I think he's right. Yeah sure we'll still have all the crackerjack aspects of the Social Web, the hot or not's and the like, but there are real opportunities for the world. Look at the number of charities that have grown, the green movement advancement, and more through the social web already. Look at the access to information, and our ability to participate, Digg and Wikipedia are great examples.

What direction does this go? Who knows for sure, but I'm excited to see where!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Startup 2.0, Examination of the Transformation

This is a repost of my introductory post on


Part 1:

When did this begin? At what point did the shift occur?

Does it matter?

No, it only matters that we recognize it, try to understand the transformation and to see where it's going.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about the new garage startup, call it Startup 2.0 (or 3.0, 7.0, the number doesn't really matter just the recognition that its all changed), where companies/products/services are built in weekends, brands are built through social networks, viral isn't enough, software is free, music is almost free, the list goes on.

Startup 2.0 still requires great imagination and inspiration but it rewards execution much more than 1.0 in my opinion. Companies that can think AND act in the same sentence achieve success while the plodders simply get left behind. I'm sorry but I think the "turtle" model is DOA, at least from a startup perspective.

Its important to note that what changed was the not just the entrepreneurs but the market itself. The combination of low cost highly accessible data storage, ubiquitous net access and a philosophic transformation: that users would create and share content - created this new market. Now the user became ultimately important and who you are and who your friends are matters. What you create has a new value. Maybe more importantly users are willing to create for the fame more than the fortune even if that fame is relatively small and short lived. Call it "social celebrity", a new kind of status that can achieve above the "D-List" but rarely reach it, but that's OK. New web services grew to take advantage of this content and make it easy to show, share and comment - and the Social Web was born.

The Social Web is the most significant transformation in the last decade of the web other than the rise of Google. I think the Social Web would not have grown without Google, creating instant revenue streams to Social Networks, Blogs, and Web based Apps, regardless we are now living in the midst of the Social Web revolution. Companies no matter how large or small must take notice or watch their competition leave them behind.

This movement has created a market where platforms were developed (Facebook, Myspace, Open Social) to support the users and the new behaviors. These platforms created new markets for entrepreneurs and bleeding edge companies to create highly niche viral services and create large user bases. The question still remains if companies can monetize these users but the barrier to entry has been reduced drastically, you can now develop services that scale and can grow with extremely small budgets. Again the key is create/execute here.

New models have been launched to leverage this new paradigm, YCombinator should be looked at closely by any business person wanting to understand whats happening with Startup 2.0. YCombinator ( is seed funding new startups and connecting them with other entrepreneurs to accomplish two goals; one to provide seed money (usually less than $20k) to get an idea launched, and two to assist the companies in getting across the chasm to being market ready. This approach signifies the transformation of the traditional Venture Capital and even Angel funding models.

As a serial entrepreneur this brave new world is both exciting and disrupting, I guess its nice to know that in the face of all thats new, the old standards remain true: What Doesn't Kill You Only Makes You Stronger!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Is Facebook Important? I think so.

But I found someone who doesn't.

Earlier today I was checking out Hacker News, a really great site I visit almost daily, ran a post linking to a blog "Facebook Is Really Not That Special" which successfully pulled me and many others in. The writer is Matt Maroon, a blogger I hadn't read previously that proposes that Facebook and the rest of the Soc-nets have limited value and scope.

Of course I immediately visited the site and posted a few comments, because as I see it the social network phenomenon is a fundamental transformation of how a significant market connects to the web.

My view is that you can't simply dismiss this phenomenon as un-important. I suggest that you read his blog and weigh in.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Robo-Snake....You gotta see this it's pretty cool!

Google's New Engine.....Will it Fly?

Yesterday @ the Google Campfire One event (watch Scoble's Qik Stream of the event) Google announced a really, really big deal - Google App Engine.

(note: don't you love how App is a word now? can we update the spell checkers to include it already?)

I think TechCrunch had a very good review of what the Google App Engine is and is worth a read but I think these 2 paragraphs sum it up best:

Google isn’t just talking about hosting applications in the cloud any more. Tonight at 9pm PT they’re launching Google App Engine (Update: The site is live), an ambitious new project that offers a full-stack, hosted, automatically scalable web application platform. It consists of Python application servers, BigTable database access (anticipated here and here) and GFS data store services.

At first blush this is a full on competitor to the suite of web services offered by Amazon, including S3 (storage), EC2 (virtual servers) and SimpleDB (database)."

The post goes on to define the fundamental differences between Amazon's offer by describing the Google App Engine as a complete and connected solution (all you can eat) instead of al a cart.

These services fundamentally are enablers to developers and entrepreneurs as they can resolve core issues with scalability and cost. What they enable is the ability to grow user base and data stores without having to build a game plan for adding servers.

Our experience with Amazon's Web Services to date has proven to be limited to large data sets that don't require immediacy of delivery. They are great for building large data queries and storing lost of data, but lack the ability to deliver dynamically. Will Google's approach be different? Time will tell but I am intrigued with the fact that its a solution that is connected at the platform level, this may resolve latency issues and support Social Web app's..........

Time will tell if Google's model wins this game or not, but developer and entrpreneurs have a new tool to leverage and that's pretty cool.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Microsoft and Yahoo Deal - Get it Done Already

For weeks we have been hearing rhetoric from both sides of the Microsoft bid for Yahoo played out in the press and I'm getting a little bored with it. TechCrunch ran an article yesterday that covered this really well (Here) and predicted that the deal would consummate in a couple of weeks with a $1 or $2 per share price increase.

My question is why?

If you're Microsoft all you've done is hurt your market cap and you get another property that you have to integrate into you own. There are lots of complimentary services which is where everyone sees the opportunity. The assumption is that you can maintain the market share of each service but reduce the cost of supporting both creating a net win.

I think that logic is flawed. The cost of restructuring and the golden parachutes of ex-Yahooers aside, you have to recognize how people use the web. I think that if they are lucky they will retain 80% of each services pageviews (where duplication exists) because the transition process will be slow (its Microsoft and Yahoo after all) and the lack of new ideas, service issues and malaise will create opportunities for competitors to gain market share. Neither company has a real Social Web strategy and the deal will likely only delay Microsoft in getting one.

For Yahoo I think they end up with some reasonable shareholder value and there aren't enough smart, risk loving people over there to figure this out on their own, but I feel the only play for them (if they don't sell) is leverage the network and completely shift to a Social Web experience.

Not that they'll listen to me :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Social Web

The web has changed just about every aspect of our lives but I'd propose that the explosion of the social web may be the most significant since email. Yeah it sounds nice to throw out big statements like that and maybe I'm wrong, but in my opinion the whole power play of the web changed.

By no means meant as a complete view of web history by any means, but as a place to make a point, look at the power shifts: The first power position of the web belonged to AOL, why? it offered connectivity, content and a revenue model. It moved from AOL to the Browsers which then was transformed to the Portal. Browsers became portals, heck everyone tried to be a portal. Yahoo and MSN, AOL are the last of that breed. Next power position went to Google. Yeah, that little simple tool that was kinda just an accepted web component became and still is the dominant player today.

But then a powerful transformation took place. The combination of low cost storage, broad net access and a philosophic transformation: that users would create and share content - happened. Now the user became important and who you were and who your friends were mattered. What you created had a new value. Maybe more importantly you were willing to create for the fame more than the fortune even if that fame was relatively small. New web services grew to take advantage of this content and make it easy to show, share and comment - and the social web was born.

What does this mean? It means that our web consciousness is now growing significantly faster than Moore's Law. Maybe we need a new law, the growth of an individuals web consciousness doubles every 15 days?

Any way you look at it the cats out of the bag, everything needs to be thought of in the context of the social web now. Get used to it. Better yet get in the game before it passes you by......

Waited too long....

To start this.


So I've been spending the last several years starting companies, developing products and services and consulting companies, I've learned a lot. I've also enjoyed the transformation of content distribution - I don't read the newspaper (not for about 5 years) I read content online and more and more through blogs.

Does that make my thoughts worth reading? Time will tell. I am excited to begin this journey.

Here's what I promise. I will give you my honest perspective on things, these will largely be web 2.0 focused, but I'll throw other things around now and then.

Who am I? I am a local Seattle kid that hasn't made his millions but has played in the tech game in a unique way. My experiences connect at the intersection of Business Development, Product Marketing, S/W Development, and the Consumer. I'll get into these in greater detail along the way but I find that I play a rare "middle man" role between these areas, maybe its high functioning ADD or some other mental ailment, but I definitely have a unique perspective to offer.

Questions are welcome, comments too. Lets get this show on the road, shall we?