Fred Wilson wrote an interesting list of 10 characteristics of great companies. My contribution was suggesting an 11th characteristic: “Great companies fail repeatedly – and learn from their mistakes. ” But even more importantly, check out this classic Michael Jordan ad that is the inspiration for that idea:
My transcription of it:
Michael Jordan talking: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Gives me tingles to watch it!
I have a friend, Bobby Fishkin, who has started a neat startup called ReFrameIt. It is a Firefox plugin that allows you to create and share annotations on the web pages you visit. Over the past year, he has made very nice technical progress on his service, and has formed a heavy-weight advisory board including such Internet luminaries as Terry Winograd, Esther Dyson and Larry Lessig.
So, imagine Bobby’s surprise when he learned that Miracle Whip was launching a competitive social annotation service called Zingr! My question: did his illustrious board see this coming and how should he respond?! Does he need to take the battle to Miracle Whip’s home turf, perhaps a hip new product like RefraMayo?
Of course, the real story is that this service was created by an ad agency. Mayonnaise isn’t a real threat, but perhaps Bobby should start talking to other agencies about partnerships if there really is interest in these marketing initiatives.
I use twitter to share interesting resources, new stories and blog posts that I come across. I am a little perplexed at how the media portrays twitter (and it’s older sibling blogging) as primarily a channel for mundane chitchat about pooping, etc.
Anywho, here are some links that I have stumbled on during the last few weeks. I haven’t had the time or inspiration to write a longer blog post in a while, so this is my somewhat lame attempt to update the content on my blog. There are some good nuggets, so please enjoy!
A few links that were highly received by the twitteratti:
- Gadzooks! Kindle Books Now A Shocking 35% Of Sales When Kindle Version Available – link
- Another FaceBook phishing scam. Avoided it myself w/simple rule: Don’t enter your PW anywhere but Facebook.com (duh). link
- Irony alert: Newspaper Association of America cuts 50% of staff, kills print edition of magazine: link
- Great info by Forrester about the growth and size of the social media advertising: $500MM in 2008, 34% CAGR thru 2014 link
And a longer list of everything else:
- Watching: “Chris Sacca, Startup Whisperer” Especially starting at 4:15. link
- FriendFeed: beyond aggregation to real-time conversations. Still too clever by half perhaps? link
- Can you imagine JP Morgan expressing such personal emotion? Larry Page’s University of Michigan Commencement Address” link
- OK, I think I am going to experiment with blip.fm to replace Last.fm for how I discover new music: link
- Coldplay + Buena Vista Social Club? Really? It’s pretty awesome! via openzap.com: link
- The possibilities of the open stream API of FB are pretty awesome. I’m a big fan: link
- Interesting bet by hi5 on digital goods not social ads. “Why hi5 Might Have an Edge on Facebook” – link
- Be lean. Avoid overproduction (making things unwanted features) and inventory (making things that aren’t used NOW)” link
- The ugliest houses on the market / what you can buy for under a $1,000: link
- Interesting ideas how to create & improve a marketing web site: link
- Playing with the newly launch Facebook adobe AIR desktop app. Yeah, open activity streams! link
- Thanks for documenting the event w pics, @johnmccrea, sad I missed the ‘tasting’! link
- A nice article about how social media can help you cut through the clutter: link
- LA Times nails the story about the open stream by FB. Complicated but good move by FB, imo: link
- “Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market.” NYT:link
- Big news at Facebook re:activity stream: link
- Annotating Geithner’s calendar – a perfect actiivity for reframeit? At the NYT: link
- A way to improve the feeds on SocialFeet? Facebook opens up API for feed items: link
- Term Sheets are hard work- even w/o a counterparty! WSGR venture financing term-sheet generator is brilliant. link
- GMailUI is the plugin that you seek for the Thunderbird email client: link
- Oh, login in autodetection – this is my preferred solution too. Luke at FaceBook describes the problem well. link
- reading: “Three secrets to make a message go viral” 1) emotion; 2) public service; 3) trigger link
- great reading: “The Power of Passed Links” link
- weiks: Spot on. Reid Hoffman: “Rule of 3 for Investing” link
- reading: “A Better Calling Card: Twitter Challenges Facebook Connect” (ReadWriteWeb) link
- watching: Peter Thiel vs. Jonathan Zittrain on the future of the Internet link
- Silicon MBA: This struck a chord “Get a product in the market fast and iterate based on customer feedback” link
And please feel free to follow me directly on twitter (@weiks).
He deliberately skips the ball across the pond and onto the green during the par 3 contest before the Masters tournament. (He’s the second player to tee off in the video.)
I like the advice of this post about fundraising. Here’s the crux of his advice:
Young funds go through a period where the first handful of deals test the proof of concept. Can these cats pull this off? Then, you’ve got another bunch of deals that ask the question, can they scale their strategy without blowing up? Then, there’s the next stretch of transactions — a larger number, not unlike the larger patient populations of Phase II trials — where you really start to get a sense for whether a fund is going to work or not. And then you get to the metaphor for Phase III (which, interestingly, often coincides with fund III) in which you can see a robust test of the hypothesis. Is this thing better than the alternatives? (Of course, by then, it’s typically too late to get on the bandwagon, so the sweet spot is usually somewhat earlier.)
Although he is talking about General Partners who are raising private equity funds, I think that it actually applies more generally to anyone raising funds (e.g., for research, for non-profits, for candidates, for new ventures,etc.) Test concept. Try to scale. Ramp up. Don’t screw up your new institution!
So, I’m a month into my twitter experiment. (Plug: follow me at @weiks on twittter.com.) It’s been pretty interesting, although time- and attention-consuming. Here are some of the links that I’ve shared and tweeted about. (I got the idea from Andrew Chen.) I am not sure how valuable this post will be. I suppose if just one reader finds just one link valuable, then I know it will have been worth it.
- A VC who still wants to invest in FB co’s (Dave McClure) link
- The right way is to post your status updates to twitter. You can target only some to appear on FB with this app: link
- Clay @shirky’s interesting historical analysis of the demise of newspapers link
- a great find for font afficiandos link
- Orrin Hatch was soliciting comments on the budge via twitter (none yet). Note that he has MBL. link
- Terrific commentary! But I think Jed is hopeless optimistic. Twobbying is here to stay, sadly. link
- Jim Cramer vs. Jon Stewart: they are both right, and it’s funy! link
- Database of VC’s – resource for startups link
- Can you lobby congress with tweets? An interesting effort by the Sunlight Foundation link
- Interesting: “Will Search-Marketing Dollars Also Shift to Social Media?” link
- holykaw! SocialMedia reports that some Facebook Developers are making over $700,000 a month. Awesome! link
- 47 Awesome Twitter Tools You Should be Using link
- ideas how to distribute music into twitter link
- This FB connect chat feature is quite interesting. and look at the example site too! link
- a powerful partnership to aggregate (and not just distribute) content via social networks link
- An interesting model for monetizing social actions (here, a tweet) link
- A service that helps you decide whether to follow someone back on twitter…looks cool, giving it a try now. link
- disqus is leading the way with twitter, reblog and FB connect functionality for comments link
- taking quizzes and blowing them out by vertical (e.g., romance) and by channel (e.g., myspace, fb) – interesting! link
- An interesting e-gov conference: Personal Democracy Forum 2009 link
- interesting reading: how twitter is a hybrid between a space (like a forum) and a channel (like email) link
- a great article on newsfeed optimization on fb link
- My Twitteristics: Tweets 10X as much as the Twitter founders(26/day), Engaging(37%), Hyperlinked(52%)! link
- “In the meantime, the lobbyists are getting the news they need. The voters, not so much.” link
- Been there, done that. Nice post. “Jason Calacanis: What to do if your startup is about fail” link
- hahaha: “Our Social Media Future (comic)” link
- Another one bites the dust. No federal bailout for newspapers? link
Instead of his normal comedy routine, Jon Stewart played the prosecution in the trying of Jim Cramer. Stewart has bemoaning the role that the media played in allowing the financial bubble to get so big. He tried to build the case that Cramer and others intentionally and knowingly played games with our retirement accounts for their own profit. It an awkward and revealing segment, and difficult to watch because Cramer is trying to plead for mercy and Stewart is going in for the kill. You can watch it here:
I think Cramer did a reasonably good job. He didn’t say it, but I think that he used to be on the dark side but he is now on the up and up. And he certainly did not suffer the terrible performance Tucker Carlson put in.
So, I say: Cramer is a good guy. But I also think Cramer is on notice: put up now, or shut up.
Bernie Madoff has pleaded guilty today, and will be released from prison no sooner than his 220th birthday. What is he up to in his final deal?
My cynical self has the answer: fall guy. He is shielding his family and perhaps other employees from damage by taking all the blame. In his final deal of his life, he has done a masterful job of painting himself as the lone wolf. He kept all the attention on himself, and it look like any accomplices to his massive fraud will get away scot-free.
At StephanieBamBam.net, I learned that Skittles.com has revamped their web site to be a weird social media experiment. Essentially, they are scouring the internet (in particular, twitter and wikipedia) for any mentions of ‘skittles’ and putting them, without any editing, right on their homepage. Indeed, when I clicked “chatter” on the site, one of the top tweets displayed was “Unicorns fart skittles.”
But the key thing is whether it sells more candy or not. As she says:
In the long run, is this going to make me buy more candy? Absolutely not. But I will be pointing to this as an example of UGC [user-generated content] gone bad for years to come. So for that, thanks Skittles!!
And she is quite negative about the experiment!
I, however, have a different take on the site. Although posters may be interested in seeing their tweets go on skittles.com, their messages are carried to their followers too. These messages far outweigh the exposure on skittles.com, and they are matched to their audience. I know that some of my readers, like Eric say, will *love* the title of this post. It will not reflect badly on skittles at all! And any negative connotation of “unicorns fart skittles” that one sees on skittles.com must be taken with a grain of salt.
I would be interested in seeing if the campaign has any impact on sales or not, because I am bit more bullish about the impact than Stephanie is.
Anyone for a rainbow of fruit flavors?
My aunt forwarded me this video. It’s fun to watch. Interestingly, it’s an ad created for t-mobile. Some people think that future will be ads that are engaging that you will *want* to share with your friends. Well, this video is at least one example of such an ad. Enjoy!
Jason Calacanis has some great thoughts about what to do when you think your startup is about to fail. I’ve gone through this experience once as a founder of e-thepeople.org, and I’ve seen it at a couple of companies that my friends have been involved in. This advice is bang on. Let me summarize, and you can read his long but highly readable original missive here.
1. Test your funders. Tell them you believe, and that you are going to stretch things out but you want them to put in more now (even though you still have a ramp).
2. Test your employees. Make the cuts. Consider salary reductions, but make sure that the employees who remain are still happy.
3. Test your landlord and vendors. Negotiate for a little free rent, subletting permission and other discounts. Losing you completely is not in their interest.
4. Put yourself to the test. Offer to sell your car to put the money into the company! Take the same reductions as the staff.
5. Put your product to the test. Make sales calls yourself. Celebrate the process of sales: new leads, pitches, etc.
6. Know when to quit. Use your last 120 days of burn to wind down honorably.
Great stuff–thanks Jason [x2].
(And if you are as obsessed with failure as I am, check out my other post “Why failure isn’t the worst outcome.“)
Increasingly, A-list celebrities like Shaquille O’Neill and Demi Moore are actively updating their fans through twitter. In Demi Moore’s case, she has nearly 50,000 people following her! Even Congress is getting into the act, as 20 Senators and 50 Representatives have started twitter accounts. A friend from college has launched yardbarker.com, an amazing site that has gotten hundreds of professional athletes to blog on a regular basis and has the inside scoop on sports in general.
Why are so many celebrities and public figures “wasting” their time on social networks? Disintermediation. Now, they can offer tidbits directly to their fans bypassing the gossip rags and traditional media. By offering the personal tidbits of their own choosing, they can simultaneously help satiate their fans while controlling the spin about their lives.
Is this disintermediation a good thing? My brother-in-law, Sam, is a sport reporter, and he was bemoaning the fact that Tiger Woods issues press releases directly to his fans through his web site but does not do press conferences. Sam worried that ultimately fans were getting a disservice because they lost the chance of indepth, knowledgeable follow up questions on potentially sensitive subjects. His concern translates into a more alarming question when we turn to politics. Can we really imagine a “Watergate moment” by a blogger?
At the present time, I think the disintermediation trend is very real. We are losing our traditional “fourth estate” in the process, and hopefully entrepreneurs will create new institutions that are native to the new media to speak truth to power.