Thursday, August 16, 2007

A New Era at Technorati

I have spent a lot of time in the San Francisco offices of Technorati over the past 8 months. As a result I have had an opportunity to observe this company from a unique perspective -- on the one hand, having sold them my company (The Personal Bee), I had a stake in what was happening and had a chance to be involved in conversations about the future of the company and I had the chance to get to know Dave and his team. I am impressed with the group's ability to make hard decisions about the best way to move forward in revenue, growth opportunities, and how to get the team focused on execution.

For the past couple of months I've been working with Peter Hirshberg and his team at Technorati on the opportunities in conversational marketing and I'm exciteD -- there is a lot of momentum, they remain a great brand and at the end of the day their ability to adapt and make tough decisons is a mature thing to see from a start up. I expect great things from Technorati in the near future; change is never easy, but its often necessary to keeps growth companies vibrant.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

AT&T: Sick and wrong

I know other people have written about this but I just need to vent -- 27 PAGES?! WTF!? Why do I need a bill from you, AT&T, that has 27 pages of "data transfer cost $0.00" ?! Who benefits from this? Are you guys on crack? I wouldn't be an AT&T customer except that it was the only way to get an iPhone (thanks Apple). And as soon as it is possible to have an iPhone and STOP being an AT&T customer I will.

By the way, $0.35 per minute for overage minutes and a 1 minute minimum for a call that doesn't even connect us usurious.

I can't wait to DUMP AT&T

Monday, August 13, 2007

Linkedin vs. Facebook

About a month ago Jeff Pulver wrote a blog post on why he was ditching Facebook in favor of Facebook. Then to add insult to injury he wrote "viewpoint" for Businessweek on the topic, Confessions of a LinkedIn Dropout. Having known Reid and LinkedIn for a very long time (I was an early beta tester, before the site was live) my investment in LinkedIn is considerable. I have invested in using the tool as a professional network (over 350 contacts) and as a resume ( and used it successfully to recruit employees, do background checks, and stay in touch with old colleagues. On the facebook side, I had a login with no profile - just created as a holding place.

But at the same time that Jeff was writing his post and article, I was watching an interesting thing happen. While it had taken years of deliberate active effort to build my Linkedin network to 350 people, within 2 months my Facebook network grew to 60 people and is still growing - organically with no effort on my part. And as it has grown, I have gained significant benefits from being in closer touch with these 60 people -- I am finding out about events, interesting articles, and gaining insights into my friends lives.

In short, I am being drawn into Facebook and can also see a day when I might abandon LinkedIn. How did this happen? What did LinkedIn do wrong? And will Reid's recently announced attempt to launch his own open platform for applications on LinkedIn help save the company?

I believe that crux of the problem lies in the way each company looks at "first circle" uses (as Reid might call them). In LinkedIn terminology, you have different kinds of things that you would do with people depending upon whether you know them directly (first circle) or whether they are a friend of a friend (n circles). To me, this distinction is the primary strategic difference between these two social networks. Where LinkedIn focuses on things you might do to connect to people n circles away from you, Facebook is focused on first circle uses -- how do you stay connected with the people you already know.

For awhile now I have thought that this would mean that the two tools would have distinct uses and that I would continue to use both. But I am realizing that first circle uses absolutely trump n circle uses in a tool like this, and I think the reason may hold a lesson for all social media applications.

Because Facebook is alerting me now multiple times a day with interesting items from my friends, I am spending more and more time adding content to it myself, resulting in a positive network effect. As each of the people get more engaged, more value is created for all of the participants and each participant is encouraged to get more engaged. LinkedIn, by contrast, is a cold and distant planet that I might visit once in awhile if I have a very specific objective in mind.

So while LinkedIn becomes a more and more core part of my online existence, LinkedIn becomes a more and more peripheral part. I don't have to write a blog post and an article for Businessweek about abandoning LinkedIn in favor of Facebook - it is just happening without my even noticing.

It is definitely not too late for LinkedIn. There is still time to correct the problem. But the place to focus on product development is the daily experience with my first circle, not the application platform. While the open API will eventually be useful, developers will only write applications for a platform that people use. That problem must be solved first.