The Demon Bride of Twitter

The Demon Bride of Twitter

“I am eating”

“I am Going here…”

“I have Come from there”

“I have baked a cake”

“I am happy”

“I am sad”

“I am a Gentile, I am a Jew”

“I am at XYZ place;anyone here want to meet up?”

Phew….I worry about the Demon bride of Twitter – a swinging hip chick with a modern job in the crossover laced techno-branding sphere. Profiles on Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, and umpteen other presence services.

She is, by anyone’s measure, riding the new wave of social media. I’m sure she has a Second Life, if even only as a professional dalliance.

I worry about the Demon bride of Twitter. I worry about the industry as a whole the way I worry about family members. Maybe I need to worry more about my consulting practice? Continue reading

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Bedrock Needs, Social Network Fluff

This is a story of un-served and under served markets. This is also a tale of saturated markets that also happen to be speculative in their very nature. Lately, Venture Capital has been flowing into a considerable number of ventures piloted by a dubious mix of characters. There is an oft heard adage quoted many times in the cannon of startup literature, “the team is more important than the product – rather a great team with a ‘meh’ product than a brilliant product with a ‘meh’ team. How can you argue with that?

But we are seeing a flood of money being poured into ventures that, in all honesty, can’t be called serious. If it was merely the duplication of existing and unproven models, then you might argue that the cadre of privileged VC fund partners who are responsible for the Pilate-like ‘thumbs-up-down”, then maybe the funds are just playing the odds. They feel the need to play in the space, and dare not be left out of the madness.

Obviously, I wasted much time as a lone wolf trying to pitch ThruDispatch to these funds; I’m not even sure I want to be the CEO, CFO, CTO amalgam that the grant of such benevolent dilution confers.

But again, what can you say when the attributes of a real, recession-proof, service-based venture is proffered and rejected so…summarily. Here we have an under served market, a real business, even a modest one, that is based on real, preexisting client constituency who has been well surveyed and who are eager to pay subscriber fees to use such a system.

It must be ….me? Fine. No academic credentials, bootstrap career through the trades, and now, very modestly self-employed. I have a few nice recommendations and one or two marquee clients. Im not VC material.

And as of now, I don’t want it anymore. They don’t want me, I don’t want them. Lesson learned.

So if it only took me since 2005 to learn this, and there is still absolutely no competition in the hosted mobile dispatch for independent automotive services space?

I will persevere by seeking partners in the conventional mobile workforce management space, and keep trying to find a small development team that might take this on the cuff for equity, while I work the marketing and field build-out.

Social Networks: New Age Solution to Problems of the Old Economy

I’m a curmudgeon, a hard headed analyst. I compete with much larger agencies to help companies find alternative product strategies when first efforts are running out of steam. I point out weaknesses and overlooked opportunities, find partners, and debunk shoddy market volume figures proffered by staff in order to keep projects funded, or to justify their existence of such. My advice is often ignored – until much later after my contract is long over. That’s when they dredge up my reports and presentations and go over them with a highlighter.

Strategies for Social Media, in particular, have been a challenge when soft pedaling my services in the outreach phase. Companies want to just jump in and create systems from whole cloth, offer white box services, or create Facebook apps – all without a thought as to what interactions they are trying to foster, who they are endeavoring to connect or enable, or what model they are trying to exploit. Forget any reality checks for monetization, even in the soft sense of labor savings or process streamlining.

No, when an organization has made up its mind, the strategic issues are often put aside, and the project proceeds apace to implementation. Bad for me, good for the latest crop of Social Media systems designers; all power to them. We will see how it shakes out, long term.

But I am a staunch advocate of applying New Age solutions to Old Economy problems. Continue reading

A Fairy Tale of Mountain View

It was a silent 4:00PM in Mountain View, CA, the artificial city of the Silicon Peninsula. I ended my funding pitch with a quote from Jonathan Swift. I had no idea it would be so poorly received:
“When a true genius enters the world, you may know him by this sign: the Dunces are all aligned in confederacy against him.”

So I quoted with a smile at the VC meeting where my baby, ThruDispatch, was pitched.

One of the Senior Partners hurled a stentorian barb in my direction.”You are calling yourself a genius and we are the Dunces? ”

“Not at all. I am merely saying that many valley equity investors seem to be throwing capital at just so many duplicate social media and video sharing plans”, I said, almost ready to mace these suits if it wasn’t for the consequences. Don’t they see the mess in cloned business models ruining this wonderful valley?

One of the Juniors looked at me with withering scorn and vomited his invective in my general direction, “Everyone in this room makes seven figures, we are placing the next sub-round in Facebook Apps…good day Mr. Wilensky and, good luck with your….plan”.

As I left, I passed a famous ‘Silicon Valley undertaker’, a reaper of VC capital, walking confidently into the conference room. He had a track record of raising capital and burning down (so to speak) any number of here and gone startups, few of which ever became profitable. Indeed, he seemed more notorious for NOT making equity pay. What was his secret?

“How do you do it?”. I hissed, “how, how?” He barely glanced backwards at me as his Patek Philipe Minute Repeating watch chimed a quarter past the hour.

“I hire friends, I am hired by friends, I make sure that the first order of business when receiving a placement of equity is to find a way to compensate the VC partners”, he said, his suit was impeccable.

Hmm, leather sandals with a suit in such Bay Area cold.

Clammy and faint, I staggered towards the elevator – Ping….Bing…bong..softer as the conference room door clicked closed….fainter voices from behind…”hey guys…good to see you again….(Ping!)

It was 4:30PM in Mountainview.

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Jerry Yang, don’t do it !

Jerry, do not buy Facebook. Do not squander billions on a platform that has not yet delivered its mission critical use case.

Mr. Yang, you have one of the most talented developer corps in North America, use the billions that would otherwise be squandered in the acquisition, not to mention the potentially horrible management entanglements, to build a superior product.

Social networking, as it is today embodied by the very immature early platforms, including Facebook, have a long way to go in providing bedrock value, especially in the B2B applications area. There is much good work to be done in really creating a credible, useful and enduring model for social networks, beyond the buzz.

I know that work done to date by Facebook and MySpace is worthy of much applause in the consumer space, and is a potential horizontal advertising and market bonanza, yet I implore you to take a fresh look at the space and innovate with that special Yahoo Voodoo sauce that has, in the past, executed so well.

Here is a chance to do things right, to set a new agenda, and exceed the state of the art.

Just ask H. Hoffman, the shadow CEO of Yahoo, what she thinks….

Technical Product Service Demands Social Networks

Technical Product Service is a fancy name for anything that requires a skilled technician or engineer to effect a product repair. In the grand old days of consumer electronics, when the Hi-Fidelity system was the center of home entertainment, skilled, lab-coated technicians would troubleshoot your amplifier, receiver, or tape deck (!) to the component level. I was one such skilled technical servicer. I have come to the conclusion, based on my past experience as a professional trainer of technical specialists, and in my current experience as an IT industry product strategy sector analyst, that the current upheaval and innovation in Social Networking may be poised to have a huge impact on the way professionals get things fixed, how they apply their trade, and how laypeople get complex issues resolved.

In those days, as fast as technology was changing in the late 1970’s, even the most advanced and innovative new technologies, such as the VCR, were based on discreet components. Even the first, very expensive CD Audio players had only a modicum of customized integrated circuitry. It was very much the case that any repair one might effect, from that time in to the mid 1980’s, was a case study of one’s education and skill as a technical journeyman.

I used to teach national service classes for thousands of consumer and commercial electronic technicians; the stakes were high, as productivity depended on fast and accurate diagnostics. This was before the advent of the internet, and collective knowledge was typically dispensed via bulletins, national convocations, and the very nascent electronic pre=PC era BBS systems. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

All of my instruction during those years always included basic tracks on electronics, as revealed by the Horowitz and Hill reference book for electronic education, “The Art of Electronics”. Many of my colleagues subtly berated me for wasting precious time in regional and national trade events, as to my covering remedial ground. I always pointed out that I was not merely reviewing the standard syllabus, but I was gathering a body of collective mythology that often permeates complicated subjects, like electronics and its applied science, troubleshooting.

What does this have to do with today’s sexy, topical issue, i.e., Social Media and Social Networking? If you will bear with me and read on for one more minute, please. Continue reading