Monthly Archives: March 2008

The proper way to throw your club

Friend sent me this recently, not because its just funny, but this has happen to me a couple of times, a few on purpose, and ONE by accident, whereas the club flew out of the yard and landed directly on the windshield of his neighbors car – broken. true story.

See Video

Hero’s Happen Here – Detroit Launch

Attended Microsoft’s Hero’s Happen Here launch event today, in downtown Detroit.  Each “launch” since windows XP seems to be less and less of an event.  Sure, Microsoft knows how to host an event, logistics, registration, even swag – its pretty good.  However, my biggest critisism comes to the lack-luster presentations, as there just doesnt seem to be much that fires up the crowd(s).

Ok, yes, i know, its a technology conference, yet there’s a different feel to conferences in the midwest, not sure if vendors lower the bar, or the audience itself is to blame?  Firstly, there’s the ongoing issue, that not a single “demo” works – its actually become comical, somebody, somewhere, put some accountability on presenters to showcase demos that actually work!

I found myself sitting in the SQL 2k8 track most the day, as it was the area i knew the least about, win2k8 & vs2k8 has been covered pretty well in recent events and the press, and both, to me, represent evolutionary, not revolutionary releases.  Sure there’s some cool new stuff, but nothing that makes me race back to the office and start playing with the bits (quite possibly because, we’ve already been doing some experimenting – but still) – so I was anxcious to get under the hood of sql 2k8, and after several hours, this release also seems consistent with my previous assessment.  I’ll be posting my notes in the next couple days, for those interested.

One thing not covered at all, which is still odd to me, is Service Broker.  Is anybody using it besides us?  It’s easily the most under-utilized feature (originally surfaced in sql 2k5), which after a brief chat at the experts-panel, sounds like it may soon be getting some much-deserved attention, now that micorosoft has officially pulled the plug on notification services.  In any event, I’d give this event a 4, on my 1-10 scale, but am thankful for the swag (a msft lunch box & copies of: vista/visual studio/windows 2k8 and latest sql bits (as sql isnt yet shipping.)

Here Comes Another Takedown

Here’s a funny web 2.0 spoof, I originally saw at GSP. YouTube keeps trying to take it down, but if you haven’t seen it, take a look (before its gone again)

Social Graph Platform Wars

Borrowed this from Dave McClure of 500 hats. Originally saw this at GSP and thought it was worth sharing. Things are starting to get messy huh?

Social Graph Platform Wars

Notes from GSP, day 2 – OpenSocial Apps & Containers

 One api, many websites
  – client-side javascript
  – server-side rest
   – atomPub and JSON

 Core services
   – People (who am I, who are my friends)
   – Activities (what I’m doing)
   – Persistance (state without a server)

 Caja – when gadgets go bad
   – gadgets can be a new vector for phishing, spam, etc.
   – cabability-based javascript sanitizer
   – open source project from google
   – optional, but recommended for openSocial containers
   – eventually will be secure enough to run gadgets inline instead of in iFrame

Notes from GSP, day 2 – Getting Funded/Selling Out

As application providers targeting social networks, is getting funded/selling out realistic?  Are they pipe dreams , and big bucks or bust?  The final panel at GSP involved several perspectives on the subject, two VCs and an app developer who recently recieved funding.  Below are my notes from the session:

Why is facebook worth 100b?
  2007, went from 12M -> 60M users
  2008 projected @ 200M users
  open social expected to reach 200M by v1
  600B spent globally in online ads
  – monetization growing daily for facebook app providers
  – crowd sourcing continues to be an interesting trend
  – unprecidented opportunity to engage users

 – would should app providers seek VCs?
  – companies seeking to reach the 100M milestone
  – devs are making 100+K/mo, but ‘businesses’ need more.  

What is UADA – united application developer alliance
  – gaming & dating apps are big right now 2/3 horse race
  – infrastructure for cross-promotion and ad-program alliance
  – Interesting idea, ownership back to developers.  
  – target 10k/daily users
  – 100k installs

Where to start? 
  – start with, covering the costs of the service.
  – then draw a salary
  – focus on apps that attract a demographic (fishing in the facebook ocean)
  – attract fish, that are lucrative to advertisers
  – advertisers (in back of mags targeting similar audiences) will want to help

 – Most recently, the current trend has investors catering to the needs of the founders.
   – FBFund
   – Founders Fund

  – where are the eCommerce for/within apps?
  – vSanata combined with Amazon for social shopping (still early, but interesting)
  – not as easy as people think!

  – scale is difficult, solid revenues, exchange money for value still difficult
  – advertising is low hanging fruit, start here
  – facebook commerce capability coming soon
  – required to reduce the barrier of entry
  – safety/security is key
  – cpc of google may be similar to a transaction fee for FB within Apps eventually
 Who to target first?
   – facebook first, most players there, stable, very useable framework.
   – build first 100k here, before moving to other platforms

   – what protection do you have?  in FB, not much, apps can have the same name!
   – however, FB will take down apps, giving rights to first idea (been done)
   – what protects it, grows it.  principal of consistency
   – once app has critical mass, difficult for next guy
   – risk is, if you have a great idea, should be investigating getting it into other platforms before someone else does
   – traditional ways to make money will eventually work their way into social networks
   – ecommerce, retail sales, distribution

What to expect from VCs
  – 500-1.5M is average investment from VC
  – valuations range greatly, from app to app.  based on track record, exec team, market, maturity of model, 
  – typical engagmenets last 3-5 yrs

Notes from GSP, day 2 – Social Games

I had one of those moments of clarity during the social games section of GSP, which, even if you’re not a game provider (like me), there was a lesson to be learned.  The game folks got their users pegged.  They know what motivates them, and what turns them off.  To build a successful game, the interaction, or in GSP terms, “engagement” – should to be compelling and when/if possible, derived from the actual game-play, thru person-to-person interactions, or some form of “advancement”, whereas users are compelled to regularly return, and try again.

One interesting technique into virality was limiting the initating of notifications from the acctual app provider (i.e. invites/alerts/SPAM); and instead let game-play incorporate a the “take a turn” format, where users interacted with the games at their pace, in which the game/app would notify the “next” user to take their turn, driving
 the user back to the game/site, in a non-invasive way.  interesting huh? 

Another obvious, but often overlooked characteristic is the need to keep content fresh.  Users get borred quickly, your app should be different in some way, each time they return.  Enable discovery, let users keep digging, surfacing an nearly endless experience.  A user should never be ‘done’ with your app, keep them wanteing more and coming back often, think youTube, once you watch a video, its extremely easy (and addictive) to watch others of similar interest.

Anther interesting take on this, is the post-office model; whereas you visit the post office regularly, but you never run out of mail to send/receive – seek this kind of re-occuring interactivity.  Consider advanced game-like implementations, such as leaderboards, ability to un-lock levels, make users feel like they’re making progress, esp. if its self-promoting and/or competitive.  And, most importatnly, let the app drive inter-activity among users.

In closing, a compelling strategy may be to facilitate a tool, with a utility that never ends.  People always have more packages to mail, read more books, and find new things to share with their friends.  Put another way, create ratio metrics, whereas users have to check back twice for every one ‘activity’.