Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hangover Proxy

Alright. So I have a headache, feel real tired, and have a bit of a headspin. This is the father of two version of a hangover. (No beer, no whisky, nada) Last night worked late until 1AM or so. Was in bed, ready for a solid 5+ hours of sleep. My son, pictured below, got up at 2:30AM and didn't stop asking for his mom, until she broke down, got him from his bed and brought him in ours. The rest of the night until 6:30AM was spent with him rolling around, fingers/toes digging into my back :( One hour of sleep later, I'm wandering the halls as if I had a real bender...

Create Your Own!

I think his molars are coming in. Anyone with kids have any recommendations?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Zecco - zero commission trading

While I'm not always a big fan of Google, I have to grant them this. In my most humble opinion, click-through advertising has driven this whole Web 2.0 movement as much as any other factor (low-cost hosting, bandwidth, user-interaction included). Google/Overture made sources of traffic fairly invisible to advertisers. So long as users click-through, advertisers pay. With the aggregation of publishers and advertisers through these networks, the cost of generating (initial) ad sales essentially falls to zero for startups. Coupled with cheap hosting & bandwidth, free open-source code for SQL/databases & web servers, outsourced engineering, the fast growth of broadband access (and numerous other supporting factors), no-cost revenue generation via click-through advertising make prototyping and launching web services and applications very low risk.

Why state the obvious? Om Malik did this write up on Zecco. Apparently Zecco is looking to launch zero commission trading, making up the $2 per trade cost to them on advertising revenue. Paradigm-shift anyone? Trading (and paying for trading) has been around for a wee bit. Bohemoths like Charles Schwab, Ameritrade, eTrade and other personal finance 'retailers' generate billions focusing on trading revenue to the mass-market. If its at all possible to pull off, by the time the big guns try to adapt to this model, Zecco will be driving massive traffic and usage. Yahoo! Finance is already one of the biggest traffic (and ad revenue) draws for Yahoo! Combine that functionality (boards, blogs, real-time stock prices) with zero-trade commissions, and Zecco can eat up share not only from the trading firms, but from the finance portals as well.

Obviously big-name advertisers will wait on marketing directly via Zecco until it has a big enough audience draw, but thanks to Adsense/Overture, Zecco doesn't need to wait on (or invest in) generating revenue on their own. The same could be said for the thousands of other web sites leveraging click-through advertising on traffic volume alone. How does Web 2.0 differ from Web 1.o? These businesses with seemingly no revenue model (paying for $2 per trade in return for $0 would at first seem *cough* irrational), should everything else fail, have a safety net thanks to Google/Overture. Without it, business models like Zecco's would probably be too high risk for even crazy, base-jumping, shark riding entrepreneurs to take on.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bella's Birthday

Bella had her birthday party this weekend. She is now 4. Scary :D Here's some photos...

RockYou slideshow | View | Add Favorite

Monday, September 18, 2006

Eventful Widget

Check out this calendar widget from Eventful.

Compared to a lot of Web 2.0 companies that are solely focused on user-generated content to drive traffic, Eventful combines user-based content with a proprietary database of events across the web. This database isn't easy to replicate and serves as a great barrier to competitive entry. Eventful also offers a unique 'Demand It' functionality that allows users to aggregate requests for specific entertainers/artists for their location of choice. This function, much like the event calender widget above, is portable and is now used by bands on Myspace to reach out to fans. Unique user functionality, an easy to use web service platform, combined with a proprietary, hard to copy database makes for a compelling business...

Ivan, hit the Events tab, conduct a search for a specific event in your location and look to the right (here's Giants in San Francisco) for 'Save as sticker'.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Feedburner take two

Quick note. While I'm a big fan of Statcounter (best free service I've found which packs a lot of charting and historical data for blogs), and have started using Mybloglog for the blog community aspects (note to Mybloglog management - make more of your blog log services free), Feedburner has absolutely rocked. It pains me I took so long to adopt the service, assuming folks would go through the hassle of copy/pasting the XML to their reader. With the vast majority of folks still not using any RSS reader and finding blog content through search engines, it's easy to lose potential future readers. The sheer number of people who find this blog by searching on "ro choy blog" makes that obvious. Making feed subscription easy is like building recurring revenue for your business. It's an absolute no-brainer...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Linkedin and The Bachelor

Just got this email from the good folks at Linkedin...

"Dear Rogelio,

"ABC Television’s hit reality television show, The Bachelor, is searching for its next star. After viewing your profile on LinkedIn, the casting producer has selected you as a potential candidate.

"ABC is using LinkedIn to find its next Bachelor because this time around, they’re looking for an accomplished professional. LinkedIn is about your professional life instead of your personal life, so we don’t know if your marital or relationship status qualifies you for the show. However, your professional profile fits the bill. If you think you’d make a great “Bachelor,” please let me know by reply and I will contact you regarding next steps.

"If you know anyone else that would make a great "Bachelor", feel free to let us know about them"

I love Linkedin. Use it religiously. Who knew there would be these additional perks? Seems the casting producer is OK with my having two kids and a mortgage (it's in my Linkedin Profile). Think how well that would sell with the bachelorettes. Just got to convince the wife of the upside... ;)

That aside, props to ABC for being forward-thinking and using Linkedin to source their Bachelor candidates. If only for that I'll check out who they end up picking.

Update: Btw, there's a nice bounty for finding the next Bachelor, so if you're interested send me an email :)

Spleak and IM chat marketing

Recently a friend of mine, Josh Scott, decided to join the IMTLabs team. IMTLabs is responsible for Spleak, a virtual girl that can be 'friended' on MSN Messenger. According to the site, Spleak can do a bunch of stuff via natural language queries.

"She plays games. She makes jokes. She can give you all kinds of information, from weather and news to spell checks and definitions. She will find you new friends from all over the world."

Now first blush, IM chatbots seem fairly old hat. My AIM friends Moviefone and ShoppingBuddy must feel pretty lonely and abandoned by me at this point. That aside, with the mass transition from email to IM Chat among the next generation (I'm still firmly stuck between the two - i.e. I'm old :(), a personalized chatbot starts making a lot of sense. With open access to IM via cellphone (Mundu) and browser (Meebo), having real-time answers to questions via Spleak is a nice value-add (vs opening up another browser window, going to a search engine and trying to 'find' the correct answer). Based on that, it's no surprise that Spleak has already been uploaded to a few million chat clients.

Spleak gains a very detailed understanding of each user's interests since she's answering questions across a wide range of topics. With that, focused, niche marketing via IM starts becoming a very real opportunity (I ask a question about local restaurants and get premium and standard listings). Kudos to the IMTLabs team. Looks like they're onto something big...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rules for Web Startups

Here's a good read - ten rules for Web startups from the founder of Pyra Labs/Blogger, Evan Williams. Agree with all of them. Apparently Evan broke most of his own rules with his current podcasting startup Odeo. One rule he forgot to include: Be honest with yourself...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Online Communities

The recent reactions of social networking users to policy and product changes make clear both the leverage and constraints in building a business around community. Some things for future community-enabled site founders to consider:

1) Co-ownership rocks (except when it doesn't). Communities can feel great ownership over a site and its functionality. They work around a site's idiosyncracies and learn from force of habit how to make best use of said site on their own terms. No matter if the site's design is less than appealing, if a community feels ownership over it (like an unattractive baby), they'll perceive it beautiful since it's their own. Open discussion forums, blogs (w/ comments allowed), and user-empowerment (rankings, reviews, networks, etc) are great tools to cement co-ownership with users. Co-ownership is fantastic in terms of generating word-of-mouth marketing and deep customer loyalty. But with that, the expectations of the community are heightened. Co-ownership, whether real or perceived, generates a lot of passion...

2) Vet, vet, vet. If you're an owner of a site, you'd probably prefer changes to said site, whether product, design or policy, be something you can directly influence. If changes are made without involving community members (especially if they're the most vocal members), a user community will feel less empowered, less sense of ownership. This can result in ambivalence to a site (reduced loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing) or worse, antagonistic communities being formed. This is a definite cost to having a community-empowered business model, since the vetting can lengthen development times for product and require multiple reviews of policy decisions.

3) Online communities tend to mirror their offline kin. Once an online community supporting a site has been formed, leaders and influencers arise. Identifying these folks and engaging them in your business decisions and processes are key. Well established communities dont often openly accept radical change since understanding and adjusting to these changes takes a ton of collective work. Just as with any constituency, lobbying for changes with community leaders/influencers can build support across a wide base of users and minimize negative reactions.

4) Never take it personally. The absolute worst reaction to community pushback is to deny, dismiss, patronize or over-react to user concerns. Again, communities are passionate due to sense of ownership. Fully expect strong opinions and strongly-worded expressions of displeasure (and support). Take it on the chin, listen to what's behind the concerns and address them (or at least take them into consideration) as openly and publically as possible.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tucows buys Kiko

While $250K might not sound like a great liquidity event, it's still pretty cool that Tucows made it happen on eBay...


So I've finally signed up to Feedburner and added an RSS widget to my blog (look right :)). Doh. It's only taken me a year and half to realize that folks reading this blog have a hard time getting a feed from the site. While more than half the readers of this blog are looking for "Google Porno" (I'm number #4 out of 14MM results), I imagine a few of you out there are sick and tired of typing in "ro choy blog" on Google.

Btw, I've been tied up in knots with work lately so haven't had a good original thought I could blog about for a bit, but I promise good stuff to come...
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