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Showing posts from December, 2010

Why Social Matters

I've been tracking the growth of social networks and social apps from the time online groups were the most social thing going. Facebook's explosion is of course notable; 25% of the web's traffic is generated from links shared on Facebook.

The following image reflects the impact of social vs utility sites:

[caption id="attachment_235" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Facebook, Twitter, Digg"][/caption]

Both Twitter and Facebook are social. Digg is a utility, and much less social, meaning sharing news links is not really an activity between friends on Digg, it's among Digg users.

Twitter's traffic is impressive, but it feels too techie to become a serious challenger to Facebook. The UI isn't great, and it's not a place where I think about inviting friends to join. In fact, I can't recall if Twitter even has an invite function.

So social matters, even though we discount its importance to us personally. We don't …

Facebook, Microsoft, and Employee Stock Options=Fraud?

Like a lot of people, I've dismissed the Twins case against Zuckerberg and Facebook as sour grapes; yes, they had a bit of a claim, but the real work is in building a compelling app and getting people to use it. Not knowing the details, the settlement seemed fair; connecting people through a website was not a new idea.

But today's NYTimes article about the twins' effort to challenge the settlement is eye-opening--not in terms of who came up with the idea, but at least one example of poor corporate behavior by Facebook. (On a side note, the Times put the substantive info 80% into a long article).

As soon as I read this, I knew what happened (I think, anyway):
But according to court documents, the parties agreed to settle for a sum of $65 million. The Winklevosses then asked whether they could receive part of it in Facebook shares and agreed to a price of $35.90 for each share, based on an investment Microsoft made nearly five months earlier that pegged Facebook’s total value a…

Train Time, Plane Time

It's amazing how you can get blown out of the water--the fun, amazing startup water--by external forces. I haven't coded much in the past five days because of  a variety things, from family to the school district, and I'm feeling way behind schedule.

This week I'm meeting with investors on the West Coast. Everyone asked for the summary or plan, which I've sketched out but haven't finished. I've relied on the ChiliSoft headline, which I think has a half-life of 5 years, which means were entering the phase of diminishing efficacy.

Today I take the train to NY and fly to the Bay. The idea was to stack the day today with meetings in NY, but the timing didn't work out, so it's only two, with the possibility of a few more Monday.

I use the 2.5 hrs of train time to work on business models and plans. I really value the time, because it's largely disconnected from the web, so I allow fewer distractions.

Plane time is the best for coding if I have decent spac…

WikiLeaks, Amazon, and My New Startup

I've been working on some stuff I really dig over the past year or so. This summer I shifted to something else, tried some new ideas, and discovered some things that just excite the hell out of me. For the first time since ChiliSoft, I'm incredibly excited about a startup. (Mission Research was heart work, not head).

And I think it will be big--certainly could be. People will be able to use the new stuff to reduce the time it takes them to find stuff on the web, and discover other things and people they might be interested in. Vauge, but it's still early and too soon to talk about.

To be big, we need to scale. We can do that by adding servers as the software takes over the world, but then we have to lease and maintain servers and manage the people who run them.

"To the cloud!"

The cloud has become cliche, and we've been forcefed the term, but the actuality of the cloud existed before the imperfect term was applied to it. For a very small amount of investment, we …

Bad Demo Days

Yesterday I gave a bad demo of pretty good software that has a few rough edges. I made a classic mistake, after working on it for months: assuming the audience is as forgiving as we are, and that they'll see what isn't there.

We left out a number of subtle but absolutely key visual cues. I've know for some time that we need a designer to clean things up, and a UXpert to help shape the nav, paths, and presentation choices.

Yet I never got around to bringing someone in, and instead kept my head in the code. A faulty approach.

Over the next week we'll tighten it up, bring in the UXpert and take a design pass. Space, color, timing, proximity, context, semantics, metaphors. Critical stuff, noted in the spec, but not attacked. Tough to do for one full-time person, but it's time to put the code aside until we nail the user experience.

When you're very close to something, it's very hard to see the full picture. It's true in relationships, businesses, jobs, music--a…

Speech of Startups

The more excited I get about the new next big thing, the faster I talk. We're developing a lexicon--the semantics for describing what we're doing and trying to make it, well, understandable in simple terms. It's hard to do that with the brain running fast and the mouth just shy of that, but we're getting there.

Fun times.