Friday, March 31, 2006

eBay Widget mania!

Slowly but surely we're making our way out/into the woods. Thanks to Alan Lewis from our Evangelist team, we've introduced two widgets for MS' (check it out) and for Typepad's new Widget Gallery. eBay is now officially part of the Web 2.0 movement.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Not dead yet

Per the Yellow Pages post below, I went to today and lo and behold they've started showcasing 1) their video content ranked by user popularity (i.e. Digg) and 2) podcasts of their content. Not earth-shattering for sure, but still a good early integration effort from a traditional media player. This is the type of thing all 'traditional' content providers should consider in an initial migration toward user-generated content, or at the very least, to providing cross-platform accessibility.

Has Web 2.0 jumped the shark already?

There's two rules to live by when looking at technology trends/fads. First (it's an old but true joke) be wary when newly-minted MBAs start jumping in and founding companies in a particular field en masse. Most MBAs aren't risk-seeking (otherwise we wouldn't gone after an MBA ;)) hence why the vast majority of successful startups come from plucky engineers (Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, eBay, and on and on) who bucked conventional wisdom. There are exceptions (feel free of course to confidently invest in any and all future companies I may start), but when the non-risky folk start jumping into something, its no longer a technology trend to follow, but a fad to be cautious of.

The second sign of the end is when any glossy periodical starts talking up a particular trend. One clear example was a great article in Fortune on the Real Estate gold rush. Literally within 2-3 months the market for flipping real estate fell apart. From Digital Tech News, Newsweek apparently is headlining Web 2.0 in their next edition "Putting the WE in Web". Ack. Not only is the title as trite as "Putting the EW in Newsweek" but its a misnomer. User-generated content and social-networking is only one of many drivers of these models. Usually by the time traditional media brands something as next generation, the real innovation has moved on...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Never mind :)

Don't you hate when you jump the gun? :)

Update: Well, now that Paypal Mobile is officially reported on (if not officially live) I feel a bit better talking about it. This is a great example of the intersection of web services with wireless (in this case an SMS/Voice application). Take this a few steps out and you can imagine any offline business (i.e. professional services, restaurants, etc) that accepts the Paypal mark could now engage offline customers to pay via phone. From a security perspective there's no sharing of credit card numbers, no physical credit card that can be stolen. The service is authenticated to a phone number and via PIN which is a heck lot more reliable than authentication through simple signature. Regardless of how its used, kudos to the Paypal team for a fantastic service...

Yellow Pages heal yourself!

Thanks to Adam for finding this post on a Web 2.0 panel at Mix 06. Essentially a number of tech luminaries (Tim O'Reilly, Jeremy Zawodny, Michael Arrington, and yes even you Adam :)) responded to a question about the future of the classified model. They 'agreed' the model was going to die regardless of it being on or offline due to content aggregators (such as Google) cannabilizing revenue and the increasing relevance of user-generated collective intelligence sites (such as Yelp) drawing away users. Classifieds are just too Web 1.0 apparently...

Quite dire that. While I'm a huge fan of 'Web 2.0' (even I'm getting tired of calling it that), I'm not in complete agreement with the aforementioned panel. Offline classifieds are doing step 1 fairly quickly - going online. Take as an example. Owned by Verizon, Superpages is ranked 329 by Alexa. From that lofty position, Superpages (and other classified models) have a clear opportunity to enable a lot of things which make Yelp (4,851 but growing quickly), JudysBook (6,841) and InsiderPages (10,085) increasingly popular - namely user-generated local content that is shareable - which in turn promotes viral growth. While Google is a great tool for data discovery, it does a far worse job in helping decipher, filter and screen that content, or building a community to generate user reviews (i.e. I'm not going to go to Google to find a great contractor).

The other thing to remember is that often these old-school classified players have large salesforces to reach all those small businesses out there. If those teams could be used to not only capture sales, but capture more relevant, catalog-friendly data on those businesses, this could help drive better search results... (i.e. give me an auto-repair shop that fixes interiors vs tire repair)

While the shift from Web 1.0 (base classifieds) to Web 2.0 (classifieds enriched via user-content) is a difficult pill, it's not impossible. And its far from a death sentence so long as the cure is applied...

Monday, March 20, 2006

A warmer, friendlier Microsoft

Looks like eBay's Web Services got a nice mention by Bill Gates at Mix 06. You know times have changed when MS gives you the warm and fuzzies.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Wireless Development

Had a good meeting with the team from AppForge yesterday. Shouldn't be a shock that wireless will be the prime access point to the Internet and hosted applications in the immediate future with the growth of Wifi/WiMax. From my personal experience, it's hugely liberating to not carry a laptop around. I can access my emails and most Internet sites through my Treo. Give me a portable monitor/keyboard, hosted access to my files ( and an online Office (hello MS?) or secure P2P access to my desktop and that's all I would need.

Anyways, AppForge has developed a platform (Crossfire) which allows developers to deploy and manage .Net, C# and Visual Basic applications on over 500 mobile handsets. For those folks who have tried developing in the wireless space, trying to build an application that can be used on more than one handset model is by far one of the biggest headaches and pain points. Given the future of wireless, it's critical for developers to start considering this space as an important channel for both discovery and usage of their apps. Hopefully working with companies like Appforge can help...

How Orwellian

Story from The Register on GPS tracking of parolees. Apparently three convicts are getting GPS-enabled ankle bracelets to monitor their movements. Normally I wouldn't have any issue with this, and as a father of two, the thought crossed my mind that it would be nice to track the kids if necessary (kidnapping, getting lost in the woods, illicit house party :)). Ultimately though, it's uncomfortable to think of any organization, worse yet our government, monitoring your every move and waking sound.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Top 15 social networking sites

For anyone who's interested, here's the list of top social networking sites. Looks like raunchy is working for

Friday, March 10, 2006

Solving the SMB Gordian Knot

Small business (SMB) is a hugely sought-after market, but also one of the hardest to market to (given its high fragmentation/ product differentiation). In my opinion, eBay has been able to harness a thriving SMB marketplace due to three factors - 1) massive consumer adoption 2) a common platform (buying/selling/APIs) and 3) a critical path service offering equally valuable regardless of SMBs' product/category.

The first piece, massive consumer adoption, is obviously the toughest. Once attained, it becomes a natural target for businesses to market to. As a clear example of this, Paypal now drives over a billion in revenue from merchant services. Merchants came aboard to serve Paypal's massive consumer base that was built via a free P2P payment service.

Building a common platform isn't easy (especially as it relates to web services)... but once individuals on eBay get used to buying and selling between themselves, having a common platform for buying/selling across product category made selling as a business a fairly easy transition from selling as an individual. A broad web service offering allowed developers to build applications and tools to facilitate that process, and integrate eBay into business practices and legacy processes/systems. Selling on eBay as a business became easier (if not yet easy) as a result.

Finally, eBay addresses a critical path requirement for SMBs - demand generation - by enabling an active user community through communication, shared interest and trust. Helping optimize natural search and paid search for products on behalf of sellers contributes significantly as well. eBay enables this regardless of a business' product offering, letting sellers essentially sell whatever they want (with few exceptions) on the eBay platform.

The combination of these three ultimately drives small businesses to use eBay as both a selling and purchasing platform, fostering B2C/B2B sales from what originally was a pure C2C play. In response, eBay has built a portfolio of products to serve this market, including eBay stores, Prostores, and others to provide the maximum value to SMBs that both currently sell on eBay and to the numerous small businesses that have yet considered eBay, let alone eCommerce, as a channel for sales.

All this to explain why I think Skype's recent entry to the SMB market is the first step towards a much larger revenue stream. Much like Paypal and eBay, there's strong consumer adoption of the service. If some material % of an SMBs current and potential customers are using Skype, there's a strong likelihood that SMB will adopt the service over an alternative one (i.e. Yahoo Talk, etc). Skype works off a common platform which is already API enabled, evident in the myriad of hardware and software extensions of the service (enabling SMBs to more easily adopt Skype to their current business practices). Finally, in terms of category blind critical path service offering, free/cheap communication is an obvious need. Skype's extensibility as a P2P service has even greater potential for SMBs in the near future, beyond voice communications alone. Tie all three together and Skype (like eBay/Paypal before it) cuts through the SMB Gordian Knot.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Social Networking explained

This YouTube video from the Daily Show explains the ins and outs of the social networking movement. Hilarious stuff :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Alright, the impossible has happened. Down at the ETech 2006 conference, Greg, Director of eBay's Developers Program and my boss, and my archnemesis, Jeffrey McManus, Director of Yahoo!'s Developer Network, shared a moment together. (Just kidding Jeffrey :) Behind Adam and Alan and Dan, you're my favorite evangelist).

Natalie Portman

Thanks to Cindy for this find. Funny as heck gangsta rap video from Natalie Portman on SNL.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Mr Personality

Thanks to the Business 2.o blog for this personality test. Pretty cool little app with absolutely no viable business model. I ended up an animated leader... go figure. (Attention eBay!) And yes I answered honestly :P

Friday, March 03, 2006

G's a bad date

Apparently a bunch of CIOs are auto de-installing Google Desktop after seeing their company data being transferred to Google's servers as part of Google Desktop's base functionality. Story here. G, I know you want my data, but you gotta wine and dine me a little first, geesh...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Analyst Day for G

For those of you who don't subscribe to CNET's RSS feed, here's a nice minute by minute synopsis of Google's analyst day. Enjoy.

Lloyd's epiphany

Is this an admission of defeat or an epiphany for Yahoo? Story here. Lloyd Braun's 'acceptance' of user-generated media over TV-style studio production for Yahoo! has some clear connotations. TV-based content is essentially defined by its medium. TV shows have little to no interactivity with its audience and a show's success is set by its reactive popularity. Because there's limited bandwidth to expose new shows on TV (as set by a time schedule), the initial investment required (to set up a pilot, hire actors, etc) is high. Production studios are like down-on-their-luck gambling addicts. Hit it big on one show and they have enough money to make a bunch of lousy pilots until the next hit.

Obviously the Internet and new social-based applications (with tagging, relevancy, feedback, etc) provide an immediate, real-time interactivity with content. The popularity of startups like YouTube are proof that there's high demand for this new medium. In addition, what's great about long-tail marketing (letting any user put up their own content of choice) is that all content becomes user specific. If I'm interested in Icelandic Goat herding, it's out there for me to watch, read, hear (in return I get to see ads for Icelandic Goats on eBay). Studios don't dictate what content you're going to watch anymore and there's massive bandwidth for putting things out there to see what gets 'picked up'. It's a complementary channel to TV (which I don't think is ever 'going away' - lots of folks like passive entertainment as well - I know I do ;)) and can provide some great grist for the TV mill in terms of tracking trends or picking winners.

Lloyd's decision to embrace the 'social media' movement whole-hog is absolutely the right one. If I want veg on the coach, I'm not going to go onto Yahoo! and watch some studio-produced show there. I'll turn on my Samsung flat-panel and pick from 700 channels of dictated/passive goodness. Interacting with my PC requires exactly that - interaction. Crafting content that fits that mold... Eureka! (Jeffrey - want a powerpoint of this? :))
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