Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Great Debtpression

This blog is normally reserved strictly for my business strategy and marketing ideas for startups,entrepreneurs and VC's. I think that what the government is doing right now however (destroying capitalism as we know it) is horribly flawed, and important enough that I want to share my ideas on what they need to do now!

I originally alluded to my idea on Stocktwits (Created by Soren Macbeth and Howard Lindzon). Since all the bigwigs in Government, On Wall St, and at the Fed read Stocktwits, I am certain they saw my idea earlier. For those not familiar, Stocktwits is the first vertical on Twitter to be wrapped up and aggregated. It allows you to view and share ideas, and investment strategy along with some of the smartest investors out there. If you have not seen or tried Stocktwits yet, I suggest you do. Even if you do not have an interest in stocks, it should give you entrepreneurial types ideas on just what you can do on the Twitter platform, and what you can build for just a few pennies.

OK now to the meat of this post. See the graph above? What you are looking at is the DJI during the 1929 Crash and subsequent "Great Depression" overlayed with a graph of the NASDAQ starting from the 90's bubble and subsequently the current "Great Deptpression".

The experts will all point to how it is much different today, because we have learned from out lessons of the past (after the 1929 crash government tightened up credit). I say BULLSHIT, it is exactly the same, and the overlayed charts echo that sentiment.

While the Government IS doing things differently in reacting to this crisis, it is still doing it wrong. The Fed is pumping BILLIONS of liquidity into the markets. The Fed is (will) spend over (at least) one TRILLION dollars on recapitalizing the banking system before this is all said and done. This is KEY to the failure. Even in the face of all this money, we are watching the Banking system as we know it fall into the abyss one by one. While I recognize that the over 80,000 banks in the US is too many - Letting them all fail in this manner is just bad for everyone.

Without our banking infrastructure, there can be no economy. Let me state that again NO BANKS = SOUP KITCHENS AND FOOD LINES!

The reason that TARP and the recapitalization (socialazation) of our banking system is a failure is a result of their recent capital structures. Banks have (had) been leveraged and allowed to loan against there asset base way in excess of their capital base. That worked fine until the FASB changed the rules and instituted "Mark to Market", and underlying assets plummeted in value "the perfect storm".

For those who might not know, this is how it works. Banks are required to have a certain percentage of assets in relation to the amount of money they loan. Mark to Market requires a bank to carry those assets on their books at their CURRENT value. For the purpose of this post, look at a typical asset as someone's house. Let's assume that the bank made a loan for someone to buy this home a few years ago, and lent $500,000. Now, that same home is only worth $400,000. So that $500k asset on the bank's books needs to now be written down to "market value" - or $400k. As banks write down all of those underlying assets to reflect the current downturn in the housing market - they fall below capital requirements and technically become insolvent.

On top of the dozens of large banks that have already failed as a result, Citibank (once the worlds largest bank) is trading as a pennie stock ($3 per share). Though a Citibank failure by itself will not bring down the entire banking system, it is just the latest one to do so. The stock market as a result can and will do NOTHING but go down, as long as the ailing financials keep failing.

The government needs to immediately STOP the TARP and bailout. Even if this was effective (it is not), they are simply printing more money = Dangerous implications for the value of our currency (US Dollar), and the inflationary pressure that will ultimately result.

What the government can and SHOULD do is change/remove the "Mark to Market" rule that is currently in place. When I pose this idea to friends, they all suggest that somehow this is simply pushing the problem out to the future. To which I say RUBBISH!

Let's revisit our earlier example of a bank that lent out on a $500k asset now worth only $400k. Yes, we have been in a housing bubble, and yes the values can decline even further but hey - What do you think that home will be worth at the maturity of the loan (30 years)? You would be hard pressed to find anyone who thought that it would not be worth AT LEAST $500k, if not more.

So Government get rid of Mark to Market, and let the banks Mark to Maturity. Any bank marking to maturity should subsequently be required to hold that underlying asset until either it is sold at par, or till it's maturity.

This action will allow banks to recapitalize organically, and without further socialising our banking system and most importantly without printing Trillions of new dollars in the process.

How would you fix the banking system? Please leave your comment.

Do you agree with the logic of my argument, if you do please consider DIGGING it.

You can follow and be followed on Twitter here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Help stop the Great Debtpression! Tell Congress to stop pissing away our money!!

Here are 6 important suggestions for congress.

1) Let Gov't fund mortgages DIRECT, banks only service them. It should be Every one's right to own (afford) a home.

2) Let banks fund OTHER things ie- Solar in the home is affordable if amortized over 30 years = new revenue stream for banks

3) Give EVERYONE (not just troubled loans) a haircut on their mortgages. Average it out dutch auction for example, if it is determined that banks need to write down 60% of loan value = 60% less owed on mortgage for every current homeowner

4) Reverse TARP, and bailout., and let the weak banks fail but not before removing "mark to market"...should always have been "mark to hold date" Which means, if a bank commits to holding a loan till maturity then it is "mark to maturity" = TRUE mark to market

5)Gov't going forward should also have an equity stake (kicker) for ANYTHING it funds ...this reduces the burden on our children. A little bit of socialism is NOT bad.

6) No money for automakers unless shareholders get wiped out first. Gov't money MUST be senior.

Leave YOUR comments what would you have Government do differently?

Do you agree with this post? Then please DIGG it and let's let congress know they are WRONG.

Want to debate this further, you can find me here on Twitter.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Your VC 's Hidden Value

As someone who has worked with numerous startups, founded a few, and written many business plans I follow the VC community. Most that I have ever met, talked with or corresponded with have always remained behind closed doors. For some entrepreneurs these VC's are fine. For others though you need to look beyond the term sheet to find the hidden value some VC's can add.

While writing this post, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures comes to mind. He is the perfect example of how I define "hidden value". Fred is "out there". Recently named the #1 man in New York tech, He Tweets on Twitter (one of his Union Square investments). He uses Disqus (another Union Square Investment) for people to leave comments (and have an extended conversation) on his AVC blog. He tags all his blog posts with yet another Union Square Venture investment, Zemanta. I am certain he uses ALL of his venture portfolio in similar fashion.

Fred Wilson has become not only a showcase but an eco-system for his investments. His very popular AVC blog is read by approximately 120k people per month. As someone who is a frequent visitor to Fred's blog, I myself find myself using most of his portfolio's tools/services. I saw how effective, and useful they were for why not for me?

If you have ever launched a startup, you know just how hard, and how important it is to attract your early-adopters. This is usually the costliest(Marketing) part of your launch. Having a VC (or any investor) who can add "FredWilson" value (likely 10's of thousands if not 100k users) has found the hidden value not written in any term sheet.

What value does your VC (or if you're a VC) add? Please leave YOUR comments. If you think others might learn from this post, please DIGG it.

You can have a chat with me here on Twitter.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Mashups NEW Content is King

I (like many) always like to see the "Next big Thing" early. I believe that for Media (content producers) the next big thing will be Content Mashups.

We are already starting to see it *trickling* in. The New York Times recently introduced "Times People " allowing its readers to mashup the content of original New York Times articles. Want to write a book with others? Try a service like WeBooks which allows you to co-author books with others.

I believe that this trend is only in its infancy, and we will watch it unfold into mainstream media projects as well. We will work WITH Hollywood in determining how a movie unfolds. We (collaboratively) will write the script, they will produce it.

I have been working on writing a business plan called 9thTrack would allow any professional musician (or label) to submit their original songs. Their fans would then alter the songs to their liking (Want to remove a piano solo? Perhaps you want to add a harmonica or your cool guitar riff?). Once altered it would be sent to that bands "staging" area, where the best versions would then be vetted. Top vetted versions would then be made available for sale.

Now, instead of having the Internet only pirate their sales of CD's, they actually have NEW revenue streams.

EVERYTHING will be mashed up! If you are interested in Mashing up the 9thTrack business plan, feel free to reach out to me and we can collaborate on that too! Oh ya, people are already mashing up business plans too -

Please leave your comments on what you see as the next big thing in content, or if you just liked this post, please consider Digging it.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Business Development for Startups

Business Development is not some role where you hire someone to sell ad space or whatever on for your startup. So HR people take note, I can not stress this enough. Your Director of Business Development job, or VP of Business Development job is NOT the same role as a Sales Job.

The role of a Director of Business Development , or Vice President of Business Development is a strategic role. Your Business Development executive needs to be able to accomplish these core objectives:

1) Identify the different channels for their business development activities.

For example, when I headed up Business Development for RoboForm my business development encompassed different strategic partners, and different business channels. There were distribution business development deals (Bundling RoboForm's Freemium software on Sandisks flashdrives as one example). Getting a paid search deal to include Yahoo's paid search results in RoboForm's toolbar is another - and importantly different business development channel. There were (and are for you) many different Business Development Channels.

2) Identify who the *Key* players are in these repspective business development channels.

3) Structure how to best approach the deal (what's in the deal for me, and what's in it for my partner <--- You MUST read THIS post on Negotiation if you not already).

4) Close the deal.

Now all of this is likely straight forward, so what is the point of this post on Business Development? The point is that Business Development and the role of your Business Development executive is MISSION CRITICAL to not only your business, but more importantly the business plan itself!

When you decide what features you want to have on your cool new Web 2.0 social network, or your new *wizbang* software - consider leaving some out! "Huh? WTF did he just suggest?!" Yup, leave it out. This might give you the added oppertunity to structure partnerships for the missing feature. By NOT building/adding this internally or organically you have just opened the door for a strategic partner to bring you new users, or more importantly a revenue stream!

I will offer one example of this just in case my (rambling) point is not clear. When I was doing Business Development for RoboForm (a browser toolbar password manager), I closed distribution deals with the majority of browser vendors (think IE,Maxthon,Firefox, Avant as examples).

Looking at Avant for this example, they did not have their own Password manager built in to the browser, and instead offered their users a Freemium version of RoboForm. This ultimatly provided Avant with a seven figure revenue stream. Considering that there are not many obvious ways to monetize a free product such as a browser this is not a tiny sum of money.

After I left RoboForm Avant subsequently built (and added to Avant) their own Password manager. Want to guess what happened to Avant's revenue stream once they built it themselves...?

On this blog I give away my intellectual property, but the cost is not free. If you liked or learned from this post, please leave YOUR comments. If you do not have anything to add but still found value, please Digg it, Stumble it or just Tweet about it.

So that I can follow and learn from you on , reach out to me on Twitter here. Lastly, apologies for all the "Business Development" type google juice :-)

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Brands on Twitter

"I'll take that coffee to go"... Why not take Twitter "to go"?

Twitter (in spite of itself) has started to attract some brands to it's micro-blogging service. Most of these brands are using it to interact with their customers in real time. They also (correctly) use it to give their brands a personality (putting the human element into their brand/marketing). This form of marketing/customer service on Twitter just makes sense. Especially for the early adopters, who will receive free notable press and kudos as a result. This is the first generation of Twitter for biz.

Even though Twitter 1.0 for biz is still in its infancy, I believe we will start to see brands using Twitter 2.0 - as more become aware of its powerful reach. Unlike brands on Twitter (Comcastcares, DunkinDonuts,Starbucks) who go to Twitter for their interactions we will see a new form of Twitter usage by brands, where they bring the Twitter experience in house.

In a recent blog post, we discussed how one method for Twitter to monetize was a business development deal with Twitter has "Tweetups" now, however they are informal, and organically organized.

If you own a brand why not invite Twitter (and their millions of users) over for dinner? Dunkin Donuts just as one example could arrange "Tweetups" at the local level. Now, instead of waiting for a customer to come in for a cup of coffee, they are inviting Tweeple to come by and join other like Tweeple for a social experience. A social experience that will sell coffee, and donuts.

Even if you are not a large brand with national/international exposure there is still always a way to make this work for you. Do you own a bar, or a local pub? Why not organize Tweetups at your place? Offer a free beer, or perhaps organize your Tweetups arround an 'experience' (how about a Tweetup at your pub for people to play Guitar Hero?).

Just because Twitter is a social network, it does not mean you can only leverage it's strength at Think outside the box, and think about taking your "Twitter to Go".

How do you envision brands using Twitter in the future?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Embed Images in Twitter Tweets

Want to have some Halloween fun on Twitter? Try cutting and pasting the following Twitter Halloween Icons into your Tweets:

Want a Halloween Bat: >o<

Jack O Lantern: `O

Skull and Crossbones: 8-#

Frankenstein: [:-]-I-

Tombstone: +-(

Spider: ////Ö\\\\

Scary Moon: ( | )

Mommy: (|:|/)

Witches Hat: <|:~(

Vampire: :-[

Thanks @ Hajime

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Business Development should start with your VC

We keep reading about the upcoming crisis for startups, and how funding will be more difficult to come by. I wrote a post, How to run Lean and Mean, here. Fred Wilson, a prominent VC wrote about it on his blog, here. I can only help if you hire me, but people like Fred are in an even better position to help.

Though Fred does not work for the companies he has funded, he is on the board of directors for many. Of the investments where he does not maintain a board seat, he at least has a relationship - and likely a direct line in to the CEO.

Now I am not writing this post to pick on Fred Wilson, I am only using him as an example because I am familiar with some of his investments, and some of their issues. Let's take a quick look at just a few of Fred's investments, and show how Fred could be a catalyst to business development initiatives that would benefit all.

Fred Wilson is an investor in Meetup makes it easy for people to locate, create or schedule (off line) meetings using their platform. Meetup appears to be doing well. They are a leader in their space, they have 5M members, and help facilitate over 100,000 meetups a month. They charge $19 a month for someone who wants to create a Meetup. Seems like a good company, and a sound business model.

Fred Wilson is also an investor in Twitter. Twitter monthly unique users are currently over 1M. They likely have around 4 Million users in total, and are the fastest growing social network. As recently as this week, the Wall St. Journal proclaimed that "Twitter has gone mainstream". Unlike Meetup, Twitter has yet to divulge any business model, nor any form of monetization for their service.

This is where Fred Wilson as an investor in both Twitter and Meetup can help out his investments. Fred should be the catalyst in introducing them to each other, and should plant the seed for a business development relationship as well.

Meetup should port their service to run on top of the Twitter network. The benefit is that there is likely little overlap between their similar (in size) user base. So Meetup immediately gets access to an additional 4 Million users. More importantly it is a user base that is growing much faster then their own.

Twitter will be able to receive a revenue share of what will now be known as "Tweetups", and can leverage a Meetup platform that has taken years to build out. WIN WIN.

Fred Wilson need not stop there. Let's look at an even easier partnership he could introduce. Fred Wilson owns a stake in Zemanta, and he also owns a stake in Disqus. Both tools target the exact same customer base, bloggers. Both services are non-competing. Disqus is a "best of breed" commenting system for bloggers. It is also a syndication system of sorts. Zemanta helps bloggers by automatically finding other articles, and "tags" that are consistent with a blog post.

Fred Wilson could read an earlier blog post I wrote that describes a very subtle method to offer a second product after an initial installation. You can read about it here. The general idea though is that Zemanta and Disqus have many commonalities. They are both seed funded, and fledgling (small user bases). They both serve the same end user. Their products compliment each other. This allows for a very easy "you scratch my back, and i'll scratch yours" relationship. Fred Wilson should propose that they offer each others products (Opt In) at the end of each others installations.

VCs - What investments do you have in YOUR portfolio, where you could make an introduction? Entrepreneurs, what other startups do you know of that might COMPLIMENT what you have to offer?

I would like to get your take, please leave a comment here. Do you think other VC's or entrepreneurs might benefit from this post, then please consider Digging it here.

If you want to discuss this or other ideas in real time, you can find me on Twitter here.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blogging is dead come see your NEW BLOG

While clicking around the web the other day, I found an article on Wired discussing why blogging is dead. Immediate thoughts of "man, are they dead wrong" stormed through my head before I had even read the article. Reading it however revealed that the author had some good points. While the "Blogging is dead" mantra is sensationalism, I am starting to agree (somewhat).

I am by no means a professional blogger. Lack of advertising on the afpr blog, and more notably my lack of good grammar prove that! But what started out as an online journal of my random thoughts and comments, has now made it into the top 1% of all Social Media blogs. Now just when all my hard work promoting is starting to attract traffic, I am starting to think...why bother?

I have another blog I did not even know about. It is powered by a commenting startup called Disqus . Disqus while not ubiquitous across the blogosphere is used more and more often by more blogs as their commenting system. Now, whenever I leave a comment, the original blog author (or anyone for that matter) can reply back. Now the original blog topic never has to die. When someone replies to a comment I left, I am notified via email, and have the oppertunity to add to my comment.

I never realized it before now, but I have had more to say via commenting on other peoples blogs, than on my own blog. Disqus, and services like it will be the new way that many of us blog - it just makes sense. You can read my "Disqus blog" here.

What are the new ways that you blog, leave your comments , or move the conversation to Twitter by following me here.
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Twitter the railroad tracks of the 21st century

I just posted this (originally as a comment on Fred Wilson's blog)in answer to yet another call from people asking how Twitter will monetize? Amazingly, people STILL just don't get it.

What might be stupid is the question, since most who ask it have no vested interest in Twitter financially. I have blogged over 15 different methods Twitter can use to monetize. I suggested yet another one in an email to Jack Dorsey this past week. Twitter's ultimate value is in its network, and the ubiquity of it all (both users as well as different plumbing such as email/sms/IM etc).

Try this... I just now discovered that I will be moving to Phoenix in a few months from NYC. Using the Twitter network and one of their API partner's products I was able to build my own little social network on the fly (Link will show you everyone Tweeting from within 20 miles of Phoenix) TwitterLocal .

Now tell me, where else can you build a social network on the fly? As GPS enabled smartphones become even more prevalent, this will increase Twitter's value as the underlying network exponentially. And it's not even just about geographic. Using Twitter one can build a network around anyone, anything, any place (look at Twitter's election board as an example, or Stocktwits as another).

People should start looking at Twitter for what it is... Twitter is the railroad tracks (railroad infrastructure) of the 21st century. How much is that worth? What do you think Twitter is? If you agree, please consider Digging this post

Why not follow me on
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Negotiating & Negotiation

Art of the Deal - Negotiation 101

Negotiation truly is an art. What makes it an art is being able to "read" your partner, and walking a fine line in what you ask for. Make no mistake about it EVERYTHING can be negotiated. Even in instances when price is not negotiable, consider looking outside the box - ask for other extras to be thrown in. There are many things that go into a successful negotiation and these are a few that stand out in my mind as being important:

1) Always, no ALWAYS attempt to let the other side make the first offer...this is regardless of who is approaching who first in the negotiation. This is important because right out of the gate, you have a center point that allows you to not offer too much immediately, nor too little. Make them show their hand first.

2) Know not only their business, and existing partnerships - but make it your business to know everything about their competition as well. Never forget, knowledge is power. The more you know the better the deal will be for your company. There is a secondary benefit in that the person on the other end of the negotiation, will not only respect you more - they will also have a better flow of conversation with you (socially). When two people click or clash, this will determine whether or not a negotiation ends before it even gets started, or gets to a successful deal for you.

3) Do not be greedy. Successful partnerships go much further then the initial contract often having amendments, and secondary contracts from the continual relationship as time goes on. It is important then to note that a successful negotiation is ONLY one where both parties feel happy about the outcome. Getting your company a "steal of a deal" in a negotiation can backfire, should it leave a bad taste in your partners mouth. Negotiation MUST be a win-win for all parties.

4) Make certain you are talking with the decision maker, and not a gatekeeper. Many times even though the party on the other end of the negotiation will tell you that it is their domain, and their decision it actually is not. When you get a rejection from these people, do not be afraid to approach someone else within their corporation. It just might have been that you were initially talking to their ad rep, who told you he was their business development guy - even though he was not. Great starting points to secure you are asking for the right person include sites (services) such as LinkedIn . When possible, try NEVER to go in via the switchboard operator.

5) Do not drop the ball. While some negotiations can be tied up over one email/phone/meeting/lunch, others can take a year to close. Do not get frustrated, and realize that many times (especially if your partner in the negotiation is large) you and your agenda are not the only thing on their plate. Often times, in a large corporation they will actually do a market research study, feasibility study or internal meetings to determine if they want to proceed. Even if they are the decision maker, high level negotiations often involve more then one party. Do not let your mind convince you that there are unspoken reasons why they are not getting back to you in a timely fashion. Just follow up...not daily to be a pest, but again, walk that fine line in your follow up.

Please add your comments, what works for you when you negotiate? If you think others can benefit from this post, please DIGG it. Lastly, you can find me on Twitter here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Facebook Vs. Google = Co-opertition

Jeremiah Owyang, Forrester's Social Media analyst just Tweeted about having met with Google. He went out of his way to make a comment that Google has invited Facebook people to the meeting as well. The "Tweet" seemed to imply that Google and Facebook are best buds. I don't buy it for a minute.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Make no mistake about it, Google and Facebook are no best buddies, think of it more as Co-opertition.

Google has a talent for looking down field, it’s just that they are horrible about executing on their vision. Schmidt recognized the bizillions of page views that social networks get, and that might have been the original catalyst for Google’s initial Orkut (social networking) initiative, and once failed their now Open Social plan. Facebook owns this space, and Google wants to be best buds, but not for Facebook’s billions of page views.

Facebook will eventually become Google’s strongest competitor (yes, not Microsoft, not Yahoo, Facebook). This is not because of what Facebook is perceived as today (a social network with billions of page views). This is because as the web becomes “smarter” (phase #1 we are amassing an amazing database of information about everything and everyone), we will mine both semantically and intelligently (phase #2) the enormous data that is the “web”. Social networks have an even larger advantage in that their data contains more personal attributes. When married to general web (non-social) data, this new social intelligence will provide for an entirely different “marketing” experience then how we currently interact with advertisers and brands today.

Going forward, with the ability to take ones’ social network with you everywhere (phase #3) Facebook will have now gotten a potentially life threatening edge over Google’s bread & butter. I am not talking about Facebook the social network, or even about Facebook the marketing platform. I am referring to Facebook as the *new* Google adwords.

Facebook is putting into place all the pieces it needs to run it's own Adwords network. This means that Facebook will no longer be pitching to brands about marketing solely on the Facebook platform. It will mean pitching to brands that they now have the same global scale and reach that Google has, but with a better, and smarter algorithm to boot!

Google sees it, Facebook knows it, do not believe for a minute that these to 800 pound gorillas will not end up face to face, Mano to Mano at some point in the next few years.

What do you think? Please add to the discussion, or if you like this post, DIGG it. Want to comment elsewhere, Why not send me a Tweet?

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Startup Funding - How to be lean

The other day I read about one of Jason Calacanis 's posts about the lack of liquidity (and funding) coming in the startup space. I never like Calacanis's self promoting rants, but he raises an excellent point. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures sums it up nicely. Startups need to "get focused, get better, get leaner, and ultimately to get profitable". The following is from a comment I left on Fred's blog. I got so many comments on it (most via Twitter) that I decided to add it here as its own post. Here are a few ideas that I have used in the past that entrepreneurs can use to stay lean;

1) Don't pay the rate card - Whether it is online advertising, print or other - I was often able to negotiate steep discounts when paying for advertising (example was rate card was $24k I paid $6k / rate card $70k, I paid $10k ... It's all a poker game, when you first inquire, be a little aloof and ask them to keep you in mind when they have remnant inventory.

2) Don't buy CPM, or even only CPC - Make them a vested partner. When I built an affiliate channel, the most successful partners were ones that were revenue shares (they only made money, when they sold a product)

3) Don't waste your money on a meaningless booth at a meaningless tradeshow (I was dumbfounded by some of the companies that had paid for a presence at this years Web 2.0 in NY).

4) Let others do the heavy lifting - A lot of start-ups that I advise bring their social network business plans to my attention for my opinion/comment. They all make the same mistake, in that they are going to create this great social network around a particular niche. Why reinvent the wheel? If you need to be nimble early on, consider leveraging someone else's already existing social network (ie- make your service into a widget for FaceBook, or use Twitter as your member base). Consider that getting a new user to your service will likely eat up the majority of your cash. Save the driving new users to your site for latter when you have the cash.

5) Partner up with non-competing (even better complimentary) start-ups where you can share infrastructure costs. This can be anything from sharing office space, to sharing servers,etc.

6) Realize that your most important asset is not your programming expertise...consider hiring someone with a marketing background (*hint) early on. Most start-ups I speak with have ZERO marketing guys on board of their first 20 hires! A competent marketing person can often pay for themselves 10 fold by bringing you ideas, partnerships,etc that you likely would not have thought of on your own.

That's all the IP I feel like giving away today. If you want to pay me for it, here's what you can do. PLEASE COMMENT and tell me YOUR vision, or if you liked this Digg it. Want to comment away from this blog, send me a Tweet
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Monday, September 29, 2008

How to attract blog traffic?? READ THIS!

Learn how to attract more traffic to your blog.

I have been blogging for a few years now, but mostly as an exercise in putting my thoughts down somewhere I could reference at a latter date. During the course of this time, I might have had a few dozen followers a week. It gives me a good feeling to know that other people read my posts.

More recently however, I have started taking my "Random Thoughts in Marketing" blog more seriously. I have started using tools outside of my blog in order to engage people other than myself to view,comment and interact with me.

I have started to more actively "get myself out there" using different social networks such as Twitter, FriendFeed & LinkedIn and so many more.

I use Twitterfeed to update my Twitter followers when I have a new blog post.

I encourage my readers (contributors as well) to Comment, Digg or even Tweet me.

(I bold-ed the aforementioned to highlight just how important this can be. Though I use the aggregating bookmarking icons like ShareThis, or AddThis I find that people like it when you keep it simple. So I give them a direct choice to the most important interactions).

I make certain that my more important posts are stumbled upon (yes, even if I have to stumble the first one myself).

I offer an RSS feed for my blog, and make it available to blog feeds.

Most of you likely already know of and use some of these tools. Here are a few more though that you might not have thought of.

A good portion of my traffic is not due to what I write on my blog, but rather what I write elsewhere. I set up alerts to monitor blog posts and articles of interest, and for which I believe I might be a SME. I make certain that when I comment elsewhere, I always sign it with my signature; . Ultimately, if what I wrote about was of value, they will find their way to my blog eventually.

Peter Shankman runs an excellent service called "Help a Reporter Out", or HARO for short. Reporters, and members of the media use HARO to locate SME's. Anytime I believe I can add value, I reply to these reporter's requests. Being quoted in the press can go a long way toward getting street cred toward being a SME. This article in Software Developer Times quotes me, which in turn led to another reporter asking my opinion on Google's Android (GPhone).

Do not blog for the sake of blogging. Think about what you are good at, or have a passion for and specialize. Become a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Do NOT take your eyes off the ball. It is after all not important how much traffic you get, but how much of that traffic links to you, Tweets about your posts, and most importantly returns to read more in the future.

What works for you in driving blog traffic? Let us know. If you agree with me, please DIGG this, and as always be sure to say hi on Twitter.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Web 3.0 your CONSUMER will design your product!

In earlier posts I commented on my vision for what Web 2.0 is, and what Web 3.0 will be. While I stand by those comments, they were more from an infrastructure standpoint. I want us to now think about the same question - how it relates to, and what it means to marketing your brand.

If ever there was a definition of Web 1.0, it was "advertising". At the advent of the Internet, most brands simply did what they had always been doing offline. Static one way communication, as dictated from marketing, or some advertising agency.

With Web 2.0 it gets interesting, and more importantly interactive. Now I hate using other's cliches, and I am certainly not the first to state this; Web 2.0 is about interacting, or as Chris Brogan often uses the term - *listening*.

Since most of us are clear about what Web 1 & 2.0 are, lets look for a moment about what Web 3.0 might be (recall this is all as it pertains to marketing a brand - a subject that came up during an excellent Chat hosted by @lindydreyer).

In my vision of Web 3.0 a brand will not put their product out there to discuss (they will, but that will be "So Web 2.0"). The consumer will instead tell the brand what to produce. One of the upcoming trends of Web 3.0 (IMO) is Crowd Sourcing. If you do not know about it, you should. In the future, people will apply their needs, and demands collectively. The sheer power of

these groups will shape everything from what you will be able to charge for your product, to what that product is. Think I'm crazy, then you need to visit Fusion Center. Fusion Center, is a business that was built entirely by a crowd of people who shared a passion for a product that did not exist. The resulting business has produced over 26 products - ALL thought up by the crowd. Not one product that they produced was based on an internal (to the company) thought . The resulting products are exactly what their consumer wants, and priced more efficiently then any products that have since entered their space.

What is your vision for marketing in a Web 3.0 world?

PLEASE COMMENT and tell me YOUR vision, or if you liked this Share It. Want to comment in private, send me a Tweet.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mobile Tagging see the future NOW!

Most who know me, know my vision for the cellphone of the future. It will replace everything, and simply be a conduit device that interconnects anything that in turn is connected to the Internet.

For example, you will simply place it on a table in your living room, and it will pull video content from the web, projecting it on the wall (likely holographic eventually) and as such will negate the need for you to have a TV. I know, that vision is constrained by bandwidth, battery life an other factors. We will not be able to use that vision of Mobile for 5-10 years. But do you want to see something that's as fun, and is likely right around the corner?

Sekai Camera (World Camera in Japanese) is an iPhone-exclusive social tagging service developed by Tokyo-based mobile application provider Tonchidot that recently Demo'd their product at TechCrunch TC50

This video is a MUST SEE for anyone wanted to get a glimpse of their near (Mobile) future. In the video, their CEO, Takahito Iguchi delivers a presentation for the ages - garnishing a standing ovation for this crowd favorite at the end. The video shows Iguchi walking through the streets of Tokyo holding up an Iphone in front of him. On the Iphone display, we see "tags" embedded on top of the real time images he points his Iphone at. I do not believe it was clear to anyone (because of Iguchi's English language barrier), but it was implied that these tags were;

1) Geotags (location based)
2) User generated content

When asked how it worked, Iguchi replied "We have a patent!"...The room was hysterically laughing at his reply. Based on these two aforementioned assumptions, the so called expert panel panned the business model behind Sekai Camera. They asked and made comments like "What would happen if something that had been tagged , was not longer there?" (in one example in the video, Iguchi points his Iphone in a store's window at a Camera for sale, and is shown a tag telling him more about the camera). I believe that based on lack of vision, these panelists dismissed Sekai Camera right then and there.

The panelists got it wrong!! We will see something like this soon, if not from Sekai Camera, then from others. In my vision for this model, I have already answered all the objections that the panelists had. The tags will come not just from user generated Geo Tagging. The tags will also by via Bluetooth, RFID, Barcode scanning, and from databased (corporate) info. about the items.

"What about too many tags on top of each other...won't there become tag overload?" someone asked. No, this too is easily solved by having filters. Each user will be able to choose exactly what tags they would want to see, when they would want to see them, and how they are alerted that a tag exists. For example, I might be touring New York City, and I could filter my tags to only show me points of interest. So as I approach the empire state building, a tag would alert me. Clicking on the tag would show me a picture and title "Empire State building", and allow me more options;

1) Read about Empire State building (could be Wikipedia based).
2) See pictures of the Empire State building (perhaps pulled from Flickr).
3) See videos of the Empire State building (YouTube).

After I have had my little virtual tour, perhaps I am hungry for lunch. I could simply go to my filter page, and request that it show me "tags" for food around my location. As I point my Smartphone at a restaurant, I will be able to see;

1) The restaurant's menu (
2) User generated reviews (

Well you get the idea...I am just surprised that the panelists didn't. What do you think of Sekai Camera's business model (I think it is spot on and is the future), and what would you like to see for mobile?

Please leave your comments, Digg this, or Twitter me.

Everything, Everywhere FIOS & Facebook

People who have followed my blog over the past few years will recall my thoughts that part of Web 3.0 will be truly everything, on any device. So as I sit watching one of my favorite TV shows, Fringe - There will be a series of smaller boxes on my TV screen.

These boxes will consist of an Oovoo like box, for my video conferencing with my fellow Fringe peeps, an email box, a Twitter feed and other "widgetized" boxes I might add such as my Facebook.

Perhaps my brother will call me, a "phone" box will pop up from the corner of my TV screen and alert as to who is calling. Should I want to accept the call, Fringe will minimize and the call box widget will take over my screen's focus.

We will not see this type of convergence within TV's themselves natively for at least another few years. Recognize however how your TV (Cable) is being delivered today, and note that the tuner is more often then not in the form of a Cable box. Cable boxes run on software, and thus are programable. So while this functionality will not be embedded in TV's soon, it will be coming to your Screen soon, REALLLY soon! From a recent Verizon FIOS press conferance comes word that FIOS will this fall (read NOW) will be offering just such a service (well at least the beginnings) for a mere $4.99 extra per month.

Verizon will ultimatly monetize this further by allowing users interactive ability to perhaps purchase products they see within a TV show or movie, by simply pointing their remote at the screen.

Expect the first generation of this offering to be slightly lame. What excites me the most however is the prospect that following the Open Source trends we see elsewhere, Verizon will allow third parties to create "Widgets" that run in the cable boxes. Twitter (and other social media- are you listening...time to make a widget for FIOS.

What do you envision for an integrated focal point going forward?

Please leave a comment, Digg this, or interact with me on Twitter.