Sunday, July 29, 2007

Launch At An Event?

Is there a good reason to launch at a trendy event like DEMO or Techcrunch20?
Of course events like these offer some obvious concentration of useful(?) people, but everyone there is also pretty easy to get a hold of online through email and blogs, etc. Probably the most useful goal is generating ripple-effect press coverage after the event. If an event generates more press coverage for you than you could generate without the event then it might be useful, but if this is true, it’s pretty likely that you are only getting coattail PR because of an eminent speaker or another, more exciting company. The biggest problem is that of noise. When an influential blog does the ‘DEMO round-up’ and you get a couple of vapid lines in the middle of the page along with 19 other logos, is that really better than getting a stand-alone, in depth review from a journalist who has had the time to dig into your service at their leisure? It’s pretty easy to have your launch overshadowed at an event, when you launch on your own, you can be the center of attention. The argument against an event launch is related to the ‘ignore the competition’ line of thinking.

I think the real answer is that if you are able to successfully generate a lot of quality press on your own, then there’s no harm in coming to a launch event, too – but if you can’t, an event is not going to vault you above your station.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Newspaper Classiness - Ad Reputation

Quality is a HUGE differentiator on the Internet - just think how much crap is out there in any niche.

So I just clicked over to read John Cook's P-I blog and I tried to start reading a good entry, but found it hard to focus because of this widespread gem of an ad.

Now I've certainly seen some ads on - but I don't think they would run this one - mainly because of the associations - you probably have seen this ad before - probably on a crappy, scammy site of some sort, so that is what I think of - even though the P-I is a solid, real newspaper.

Web publishers need to make sure that they don't suffer reputational damage by allowing 3rd party ad networks to place crappy ads on their sites - and in prominent real estate, no less.

As an aside, I noticed this VC-finder drop-down on John Cook's blog:

Note to self - when I start a firm, I will name it "AAA Venture Partners" - to make sure my listing beats out Chris & Ted (9:12 3200m!) for this screen real estate. (That one's for you, Dave!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Track & Field: A Great Sport

Everything I know about working hard, working smart, setting goals, and excelling I learned from track & field.

I still love the sport as a fan. The only major drawback is that I am not in Monaco today for the IAAF Herculis Grand Prix meet. What a shame ;)!!!

Amiga Has Fallen So Far

Oh, I remember when the Amiga was THE graphics powerhouse for serious gamers - Now they are welching on a naming rights deal - for a hockey arena in Kent.

Sad, so sad.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Answer is 3

I just searched for ‘fx trading’ on Google (

I was interested in how many of the top ten advertisers on this search term pulled a sign up form directly up into the landing page above the fold rather than providing a more informational landing page with links (numerous?) to the sign up form.
The answer is 3.

Signup form:

No signup form:

Too bad I don’t have all the comparative conversion numbers for these, I would be interested, and you might be, too.

SecondSpace Just Did It Right

I just read Brier Dudley on SecondSpace coming out of stealth mode – with a year’s worth of revenue. That’s definitely the way to do it. What a better PR item than “XYZco comes out of stealth mode with zero users or revenue but is hoping to get some now”.

Nice to have the ‘Guess we are right, because we are making money’ angle. If you do things like frequently check the portfolio section of VC websites, you will know that SecondSpace took a round over a year ago from Ignition, etc. but have just launched now.

Most striking to me about SecondSpace is the ‘separate vertical sites from day 1’ strategy because even within their overall segment, they have avoided the unified-field-theory of Internet business planning.

A launch story like this should be on anyone’s list of goals, I know it’s on mine. Fortunately, Brad Feld has a nice post on AskTheVC on the basics of launch marketing. Very helpful. . .

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Collective Intellect Blog - Good Read

I think Collective Intellect has a really good thing going - and by good thing, I mean chance to make a lot of money. Their corporate blog is good, too - they just surfaced this interesting article in USA Today, of all places, about the intersection of high-frequency trading and textual analysis:
Collective Intellect Blog

Viral Recommendation Chains - How Long?

AdAge has a fantastic article on academic research around viral marketing dynamics, mostly by Duncan Watts at Columbia.

My favorite quote:
"Virality is an outcome, not a channel to be planned"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Managment Abstraction Level

(This is not precisely how I would do it, but) "I think that's a great idea and it accomplishes our fundamental goal here, so let's do it."

Any student of management will immediately see the usefulness of this statement, that part is obvious in theory, but there is an important subtlety in practice that is make or break:

It's not always evident to people on what level of abstraction the 'fundamental goal' lies, but if you can get it right on a regular basis, the world is your oyster.

The line at the top is an open source management tool, free for all to use as they see fit :)

Oh, yeah - you needn't say the part in parentheses out loud.

Sun in Denmark!

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Monday, July 16, 2007

I Make You Money Through SMS

As I have touched on before - there is gold in SMS marketing. The New York Times picked up on this today. My favorite quote came from local analyst extraordinaire, Greg Sterling:

“This is going to ramp up much faster than the Internet did, it took 10 years and the proliferation of broadband for marketers to do things online that were predicted early on. This will take half the time or less.”

So, I've gone ahead and incremented the 917 area code to start - and have a killer idea to generate opt-ins, just drop me a line ;)

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Great Italian Postal Bond Trade

This is my all time favorite article from the Economist:

Why Didn't I Think of That?

Besides The Italian postal bond trade, the article includes some John Templeton, and a little George Soros as well.

I'm glad some public-spirited soul has PDFed it for easy web access.

Thank you!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hillary Clinton, Kickboxing, Landing Pages, Conversion Funnels

Growing up I used to covet Benny "The Jet" Urquidez's kickboxing training videos that I saw advertised in the pages of Black Belt magazine. These days Benny has a website, and low-tech as it is, Benny gets landing pages. His website is primarily a vehicle to sell videos and so he gives you some convenient links upfront in an intro page before you have a chance to be distracted by the rest of the content.

Hillary Clinton also gets landing pages - her website is primarily a vehicle for signing up supporters/donors - and she uses a focused intro page in the same way that Benny does, although Hillary uses a cookie so returning visitors bypass the intro page.

By contrast, Barack Obama's website does not use a focused intro page, rather he pulls the signup form to the top right of the page - which does give emphasis, but allows for the rest of his content to distract the eye.

By contrast, Bill "Superfoot" Wallace - another Black Belt staple with a website, forces visitors to click through to, and around in, his store, introducing many more steps into the conversion to sale funnel.

Paraphrasing The Shadow: Who knows what lurks in the mind of Matt :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Great Organizational Behavior Posts

There are 3 fantastic organizational behavior posts coming out of the Andy Sack, Brad Feld, Scott Converse constellation today.

Organizational behavior is a tough nut to crack. There is a good reason why there are so many management books in airport bookstores, even if most of them are crap.

Monday, July 9, 2007

FXWave: E-gold + Bad English = Scam

"We Our e-gold account number is 444862, please check it before make an investment."

I almost forgot to mention the part about 1000% profit after 2 days.

Here is the link - Do not invest money!!

Pirate Management

"And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner"
-Geoffery Rush

Pirates were top organizational behavior experts.

James Surowiecki reviews Peter Leeson's new academic paper:

An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Teenage King Of Sea Alice

Like many people, I am fascinated by precocity.

DVD Jon, the teenage king of DVD ripping,
Dale Begg-Smith, the teenage king of adware and mogul skiing, Angus Davis, the teenage king of Netscape and TellMe, just to select a random few, are all great stories.

Turns out that there was once a teenage king of online Sea Alice marketing, too.

And I know who it is, but I've been sworn to secrecy.

Available For Voiceover Work

When I lived in Cairo, I always heard rumors that the Egyptian film industry had a steady need for Westerners in bit parts, and that it was easy to pick up a role. Unfortunately, I never got to the bottom of that one.

But last week, my native English speaker skills paid off as I got to narrate a comprehensive Flash demo/mock-up that was part of a proposal for a big corporate website development project.

People were kind and said I did an okay job - so I'm just going to go ahead and claim that my voice is worth like a million dollars, or something :)

No seriously though, it's really fun to do that kind of creative work.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Marketing & UE

I agree with this post from Jackson Fish pretty strongly:

"Marketing IS User Experience"

The title says it all.

Roskilde 2007

Roskilde 2007:

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Simple Blog Launch Plan & Taxonomy

Looking to launch Newco with some blog buzz? Here is a simple taxonomy and plan for reaching out to the group of web/tech/startup bloggers who are 1 degree (but maybe not 2 degrees) removed from the top 100, A-list bloggers. It’s not rocket science, it takes some work, but it’s a good plan - go ahead and execute.

These people fall into 3 categories:
1. A-list blogrollers – people who are listed on the blogrolls of the best-known bloggers.
a. For this group, I would go through the blogrolls of the most applicable 30-40 A-list blogs and make a list with contact information for all the people who were not themselves part of the A-list group. By applicable, I mean blogs that have blogrolls and blogs that are more personally focused around a blogger rather than being more news-media type sites.

2. High frequency commenters on A-list blogs – these people are gold, because they clearly love to talk and promote themselves, and may not have many other vectors than blogging and commenting.
a. For this group, I would go through the most commented posts on the big blogs like Techcrunch and Gigaom, (around 10 of these), perhaps over just the last month or two and again make a list with contact information for the top 20 (good) commenters on these 10 blogs. By good, I mean that they link to their own actual blog when they comment, and not their company site, or other – and that their own blog passes a subjective minimum bar for insight and posting rate.

3. Other 2nd (or so) tier bloggers that I am familiar with and/or have corresponded with in the past who have not been identified in groups 1 or 2.
a. For this group, I would again make a list with contact information
b. A few of these people may include A-list bloggers.
c. I also want to specifically call out an important sub-group here – professional business/tech journalists at newspapers and magazines who have a toe (or foot) in the blogging world definitely important to rope these people in as it is obviously their job to surface interesting information for a wider audience.

So, taking stock, I will now have a very strong list of around (40 x 10) + (10 x 20) + ~30 = ~600 bloggers.

1. I would write a very short and succinct email that simply and straightforwardly says:
2. I have read your blog, and I think it’s insightful
3. Here is an invite to a very limited private beta of only 500 (or 200, or 100) people
4. Please help us improve with any feedback you can offer – and feel free to publish or discuss your opinions anywhere and with anyone.
5. When you activate your beta account, you will have 10 invites to share with friends or other people that you have an interest in sharing with – these 10 invitation accounts must be activated within 7 days of the time you activate your account or they disappear.

• Now you are at a reach of circa 6000 of the right people.
• I think it is critical to give people something concrete to play around with, it’s not worth reaching out to them without it.
• I would also want to email the group of 600 in waves of 25 or so over successive days to test 3-5 email variations for conversion and response (plus, it’s a lot easier to email 25 people at once, than 600!)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Malmo - Amazing Architecture

We spent a sunny weekend in Malmo, Sweden. Malmo has a lot of amazing modern architecture, the crown jewel being Santiago Calatrava's Turning Torso. Great place, I recommend it.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Down2night - The Party, After You Left

I got this mini-pitch email from


We recently launched wanted to know what you thought. Here is a link to our blog:

Best regards,"

I like it, it's short, to the point, and not falsely personalized.
As a humorous aside, the subject line for this email was: "follow up Down2Night re-launch" - but for some reason, when I searched my email, I had never received a first email - oh, subject lines!
Here is what I think about down2night:

There is a lot of enthusiasm around this particular local niche.
1. The me-value that is going to draw in new users is going to be voyeuristic party pics and videos
2. Then a user may or may not find a new place/event to attend.
3. Then a user might upload their own party pics and videos.
4. Then a user might want to message that hot girl that he saw at the party, but didn't have the guts to approach, sort of like a 'missed connections' personal section.
I think they might be a good candidate for a big, site-wide branding from a liquor company, I hear there's a lot of money in liquor marketing.

I would further recommend that down2night takes a good look at this Roz Chast cartoon, it's brilliant and funny!