Friday, August 25, 2006

Corporate blogging

Thanks to Mark Cuban for finding this blog post from Rahool Sood, President of Voodoo PC. This is a ridiculously good example of how a company blog can be a great marketing tool. Reading this post (and having no real interest in high-end PCs) makes me want to get to know Rahool and his company better (which ultimately is what great marketing is about).

The post is a good yarn about Rahool's conversations with Michael Dell, and his opinions on Dell and Apple in the high-end PC market. What comes through clearly is Rahool's passion for his company and for his customers. It personifies Voodoo for me as a company that really cares about its target customer segment, about being as cutting edge as possible, and investing heavily to be so, and provides substantiation for the high-price points of their product. Rather than feel 'cheated' by the high price of a Voodoo system, I walk away from this post thinking that IF I bought a Voodoo, 1) I'm buying into something valuable because of the R&D investment and 2) that Voodoo's customer service should be top-notch (given how passionate the President of Voodoo is about his product and customers). All this from a blog post...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Web 2.0 bubble?

Bumped into this list from Seth Godin on Alexaholic that breaks out the top 'Web 2.0' companies ranked by traffic. A few thoughts. First, I'm glad Seth included eBay on the list :) Also, knowing a few of these companies fairly well, it's surprising to see how much activity and traffic is being generated by at least the top 100 sites. Take Grouper, recently acquired by Sony for $65MM. They stated they had north of 6 million users a couple months ago, but they're only 63rd on the list with Alexa rank of 2,979.

Before the days of Google, eBay, Yahoo and Myspace, 6 million users would have been fairly impressive :) Frankly, even today, any service that manages millions of customers has to be taken seriously. Given there's 61 companies with more traffic than Grouper on Seth's list (and no Alexa isn't perfect, but at least its directionally correct), the sheer amount of activity being driven by these sites collectively is nearly incomprehensible.

There are many comparisons of Web 2.0 to Web 1.0's bubble activity. Only a handful of Web 1.0 sites got even close to a million users, let alone multi-million. Something has dramatically shifted in how Joe Q is using the Internet, and for at least 100 Web 2.0 companies, crossing the chasm isn't an issue anymore...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Microsoft Web 2.0

This interesting tidbit from Don Dodge at Microsoft:

"George Moore, GM of Windows Live, said there a 240 million Hotmail users, 230 million Live Messenger, 72 million Live Spaces, and 8 million mobile subscribers. He also said that at any given moment, 20 million people are simultaneously connected on Messenger and 5.7 billion messages are sent per day. Also there are 300 million F2F video conversations on Live Messenger every month. George also said Live Spaces is "now the largest blogging service on the planet". It grew to 30M accounts in its first 6 months."

:O. 72M Live Spaces users is pretty surprising. Currently Spaces ties together social networking, image hosting, blogging and a webtop experience. The webtop feels fairly function rich, and is reminiscent of Netvibes, if still a version behind that service. There seems to be less 3rd party content or web services to add to my Spaces page (though the beta page seems to have a bunch of 3rd party content available) . The social networking piece is also a bit raw (I was confused whether building 'my' space actually generated a social network profile or not). In terms of people search, for some reason the images are very small. Search results for 'friends' across age groups seem to fall below 50K users per search and the profiles themselves are fairly spartan, so it appears the social networking piece is still developing.

All that being said, this is a forward-thinking attempt at capturing social interaction across multiple channels (photo sharing and blogging seem very popular) and tying them together. With Messenger, Hotmail and blogging as its foundation, has a lot of room to grow. While beefing up the social networking functionality (via build or buy) seems like an apparent need, MS has an intriguing asset on its hands...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Teen Email Usage

This from CNN Money on teens not using email. Not that this is at all surprising. With IM/Text Messaging becoming the de-facto mode of communication for the next generation, there's an increasing importance to owning that channel of communication as it relates to marketing. Sites like MySpace and services from Yahoo, MSN, Skype and others are obviously well positioned here... Interesting trend to watch.

Building an Ecosystem

Thanks to Greg for finding this article on the value of developer programs to a business. Winning the hearts and minds of developers is an absolute priority where enabling widgets, mashups and generating massive user adoption have become key aspects to success online.

Currently the average Internet surfer focuses on 5-6 sites for both content and services (such as eCommerce or banking). Webtops (and ultimately the social networks will head down this road) are hugely valuable because they allow 2x or 3x the coverage of content and services for the individual user (vs surfing to each specific site) via widget and RSS integration. Based on this value-add, webtops and/or social networks are fast becoming the starting point for an individual's engagement to their personal Internet experience. With mass-market adoption of this trend, offering an application via web services (and not only content as is offered today via RSS) will be one of the most critical aspects to gaining traction among users. It doesn't have to be as broad or deep an offering as eBay has today, but coupling API availability, an SDK or at the very least, a portable Ajax/Flash enabled widget for key application functions are an absolute necessity...

Monday, August 07, 2006

MySpace and Influence

So I finally joined my fellow eBayer Alan Lewis on MySpace and put more 'stuff' onto my profile like a picture and a general description of who I am and what I'm interested in. Tada! Fully expecting the friends to start rolling in now :) All that aside, all of my recent activity on MySpace got me asking a few questions. If I already have a personal blog, what value does MySpace drive? Shouldn't high exposure of my blog via natural search be enough to expose my personal opinions on things?

With all the focus around open standards, open networks and all things user-generated, the value of the 'traditional' closed network tends to be minimalized. The distinction between a MySpace/Linkedin profile and a blog is a great comparison. I'm (almost) free to do whatever I want on my blog. But frankly the lack of structure to a blog, which is greatly valued by some, is most likely a deterrent to the mass market. For those folks, the value that most closed networks bring are structure and an interface that's more easily adopted.

MySpace/Linkedin are great alternatives/complements to the typical blog. I don't need to write periodically to my profile, just enough one time to capture my shared interests, whether business or personal. The closed network then generates 'demand' for my profile by exposing the tags/descriptions via structured search (more user-friendly than an open search on a search engine). So long as the network is large enough or growing (which comes with mass market adoption), exposure of my profile is sustained regardless of new content. In comparison, demand on my blog correlates very closely to the sheer amount of content I put on it. Without new content, a blog's value to search engines decreases, reducing visibility. Unless you actually enjoy writing, a blog is a fair amount of effort over and above the network profile. Additionally, blogs have few if any of the structured search/marketing tools that closed networks offer.

Beyond the social/dating aspect of MySpace and other social networks, the sheer empowerment of the individual through a social network profile and 'friends' network is fairly awe inspiring. (Potentially even more so than the influence you can have through a blog) Consider comedian Dane Cook and his 1.4MM friends. These are MySpace users who have self-selected to receive blog 'updates' from one of their favorite entertainers. Should Dane head to any city, he has a 1.4MM marketing list to work with. Name me an individual blog with that reach... I don't think it exists.

Update: Thanks for reminding me Jeffrey. Here's my Myspace profile - RoChoy

Thursday, August 03, 2006

MeeboMe Doh! moment

One (significant) complaint I have about Meebome. It looks like you need to be signed into Meebo to be actually 'online' via the widget. Doh. My AIM client is always on. Meebo already knows this and should communicate this to the widget. Without this, the intrinsic value of Meebome for presence detection is actually fairly limited... Honestly, how often am I going to be logged into Meebo?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Very clever chat widget from Meebo (look on the sidebar right below the pagefold). I've been using an interoperable wireless chat interface on my Treo from Mundu Wireless which has been a fantastic way to engage with friends/peers while on the road. The Meebo widget is a great step towards tying my 'presence' across multiple sites and via wireless as well (via Mundu).

With multiple potential points of presence (your website, blog, social network profile, linkedin page, etc) starting to proliferate, having a central point to detect presence and engage through one channel is increasingly important as well. In my case, I've put this widget on both this blog and my new MySpace profile (trying to pull together a post on that experience now). Now if Meebo would only give me an equally small widget to log into my chat interface rather than having to 1) go to or 2) enable the entire Meebo webtop on my Netvibes page...
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