Showing posts from August, 2008

Is the smallness of Web 2.0 killing the big wins?

Great story from the New York Times.
Judy Estrin, who has built several Silicon Valley companies and was the chief technology officer of Cisco Systems, says Silicon Valley is in trouble. In a new book, “Closing the Innovation Gap,” which will be in bookstores Tuesday, she writes that the valley’s problems are symptomatic of a crisis in innovation facing the country as a whole.I have to agree, but it's not just Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, I'm learning this from direct personal experience with my own startup.

We started as ClickCaster, a podcasting platform that was veryy good at making it simple to create and publish an audio or video podcast. We built a great product and great team. We did everything 'right', but podcasting, so far, hasn't become a business. So, about 6 months ago, we sold it to a company down in Texas (the URL, userbase and a license for the software). We kept the software and intellectual property as well as the team that built it and brou…

Boulder Parking: A Sort Of Protection Racket?

I've heard of this, but I just experienced it directly today.

Boulder is running a scam on it's citizens and as far as I'm concerned it's a form of parking ticket enforcementfraud.

Know what this feels like? It feels like a revenue generating operation that's a tiny bit like a protection racket.

In an approx. 30 day period from mid June to mid July, the meter maids gave me three $15 tickets, and within 45 days of the last ticket, turned it into $180 in fines and booted my car (another $40 charge). $220.00.

Not a bad hall for 3 slips of paper and 6 minutes of meter maid time. How many times does this happen in a day? How much revenue does this generate for the city?

What' the ROI for the city? I'm betting: really really good.

Interestingly, this was all with zero warning. No letters (at least none that I got), no warning stickers on the car, nothing.

Apparently, Boulder enforces the 'laws of the state' around parking much more stringently than it d…

Is Apple a Republican?

I don't mean this in the political sense, I mean it in the 'how we do business' sense.

I've noticed that Apple simply never, ever, says it's sorry. It also never admits it's wrong without being called on it, repeatedly, by many sources, over days or weeks (sometimes months). The latest example being the 3G phones unreliability and the MobileMe online service outages and outright failures.

Apple is also the most secretive company in the business. everything is a secret, even inside the company with product teams working on the same product. It's compartmentalized and everyone is isolated from everyone else (outside of their immediate group). Sound a bit like our current administration? Just a little?

I've also noticed that all the latest "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads, although cute, funny and fluffy, are negative ads. Negative in the sense of attack ads, similar to what the Republican's do so very well.

I know.. it's a stretch, bu…

Ultimate Geek Out

It doesn't get much better (or more geeky) than this.

Presenting the Large Hadron Rap:

White female science writer turned rapper Katherine McAlpine knocks it out of the irony park.

You have no choice but to love it.

Google Kills Feedburner

This is sad, and I have to wonder what the motivations behind it might have been.

About a year ago, Google bought Feedburner, an RSS tracking system that did a very nice job of creating advertising revenue for RSS powered content. Google announced they'd shut it down a few days ago.

Why would Google spend a reported $100M on a company and then, a year later, shut it down? I don't think they transferred that business to their adsense network (Allen Stern, in the video above, agrees with me here).

I suspect this was an example of a big company seeing that a small company had something very innovative, were first movers and were creating an 'alternative' ad network to adsense on Google.

Having worked in some really big companies I've seen this kind of behavior over and over so it's possible I'm being overly cynical ... Maybe I'm giving Google too much credit for thinking into the future and being a little bit evil here. But, maybe not.

I'm effectively sa…

Librarians as Free Speech Shock Troops

Every so often, I read a blog post that makes me go 'wow' and sticks with me long and hard. Posts like that are rare so when I run across them I believe it's important others have the opportunity to read them as well.

Jamie Larue just wrote such a post called "Uncle Bobby's Wedding".

The subject matter is a childrens book about gay marriage, but it could be about any idea that one person or group of persons disagrees with and doesn't feel should be made available to another group (in this case, children aged 2-7). It addresses the importance of free speech and open thought. He's addressing libraries, but it extends well beyond that to any free speech be it in a library, or on the internet.
"Our whole system of government was based on the idea that the purpose of the state was to preserve individual liberties, not to dictate them. The founders uniformly despised many practices in England that compromised matters of individual conscience by restric…

Benevolent Dictators and Cross Pollination in Boulder

Rebecca McKinnon did a great post on Silicon Valley's benevolent dictatorship. Personally, I think she nailed it. To a large degree, she exposed how a large number of high tech people tend to think about this space. Benevolent Dictatorships are, indeed, largely what creates great companies in Silicon Valley. I won't go into her take on the downside of that, read her post. It's worth it.

The guys over at Techdirt, not to be outdone, write a post about Rebecca's post that adds an important additional side note in the last couple of paragraphs about the cross pollination of people and ideas is one main reason Silicon Valley tends to be so successful. These two things, based on my 20 plus years of observing it and 10 years actually living there, make up a large part of why Silicon Valley succeeds beyond the obvious things talked about and copied by other areas many times before (money from VC's and Angels, access to universities, quality of life, etc.).