Friday, August 31, 2007

Best Description Of HelloGroup Yet

This is the best description of HelloGroup I have seen on the web - from Venture Capital Journal via Jakob Langemark. I highly recommend their work and their drive. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time with them.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ad Of The Day: Domain Consultation

I also offer this service, but I will only charge, like $24.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

new blist website!

We have just republished our informational website –, and want to make sure that you are one of the first to know. We’ve revealed enough additional information about blist for people to begin to place us in the startup universe.

Exciting stuff!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Exploding Tasklists

I use 'exploding tasklists' to give a real sense of urgency to the day and force myself to get everything done that I have planned. What is an exploding tasklist? It's just a simple list in Notepad that you create fresh each morning, never close, and are not allowed to save. If you save the file, you can close it, and then it ceases to be top of mind. Throughout the day you add items and check off items (I check off items by adding a leading asterisk). The requirement that you can't save the list means that you are forced to construct your list each day thoughtfully. At the end of the day, your list is gone.

Exploding tasklists work in conjunction with longer term, more persistent lists of tasks and goals that you may use, and they can really help you hammer out progress, day after day after day.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What's Your China Strategy?

We were discussing the importance of remembering international markets when you have a product that is not geographically limited, and I happened on a New York Times article from April asserting that Japanese language blogging is roughly equivalent in volume to English language blogging – each accounts for around 35% of the total. Obviously, this is useful to keep in mind. As another data point, Mattishness traffic averages around 50% international and 50% U.S. More food for thought!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Met Todd Sawicki Offline Today

I met online marketing guru Todd Sawicki of Sawickipedia fame very briefly offline today. Another small step in my quest to make Seattle seem like an even more minuscule community than it already does.

I already ran into Chris DeVore of Judy's Book randomly on the ferry to Anacortes a few weeks ago.

Next up, see random person from Lakeside at somewhere like U-Village.

Anyway, if you haven't already noticed, Todd has reskinned his blog somewhat recently.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shiftboard Rules Scheduling

Shiftboard is a Seattle startup that already has a great story. Shiftboard is a scheduling portal for organizations – scheduling, not calendaring. Basically, Shiftboard provides a regulated marketplace for an organization where employees, contractors and volunteers can schedule their shifts in a self-service way - while still leaving power in the hands of coordinators. Shiftboard has already had early marketplace success with hospital staffing companies and non-profit organizations.

In the hospital case, precisely the right mix of doctors, specialists, nurses, technicians and other staff need to be in precisely the right rooms at precisely the right times 24 hours a day – or lives are lost. Shiftboard solves the complex scheduling problem and greatly reduces the pain felt by the people who are responsible for making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time. Another obvious case is the chain of coffee shops where a large number of part-time employees work irregular hours at a large number of locations and often need to trade shifts.

In the non-profit case, Shiftboard has helped the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) schedule thousands of volunteers and staff at several locations over a few weeks for show times around the clock while maintaining strict permissions about who can, say, work the ticket windows and cash registers. Shiftboard has already seen a lot of organic growth in the film festival world, and is also used by the Seattle-based public radio station KEXP for its events.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Product Progress

At blist, we rounded up last Friday afternoon to look at the product together. With our small team, it’s great to focus our scheduled social time around a productive purpose that is still fun rather than saying: “Okay, mingle.”

Anyway, I was really impressed with the progress that we (okay, not really me) have made in the product over the last 2 weeks. Like I’ve mentioned before, it really feels like we are taking big steps forward over every interval – and that’s exciting!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pubmatic Ad Toggling

It's ReadWriteWeb Day at Mattishness. A post about Amazon PPC ads just sparked my thinking, and now it's a post about Pubmatic - about which I have something at least not completely valueless to say, which I initially posted in the RWW comments:

"this is a solid idea because many more-sophisticated websites have been building this exact type of ad-toggling system in house and it is valuable - so pubmatic extracting and productizing the functionality is a good idea that is similar to the behavioral targeting providers like A.K. that have sprung up to offer Amazon like personalization to other web retailers."

So there you have it! Every good writer knows that one essential key to success is 'write once, sell twice' and that is advice that I want to take to heart.

Amazon Pages With PPC Ads

Alex Iskold, of Brad Feld's instant classic "giant brain" description, has an interesting post up about Amazon's experimentation with PPC ads on their product pages.

I wrote a comment on that post that was longish by my standards (and also not a throw-away joke!) - so I thought 'what the hell, I'll just republish it on Mattishness'. Here goes:

"i dont think it sounds unreasonable at all that adding ppc contextual ads would capture some incremental revenue from visitors who are not interested in buying at that time, and the display banners add a little incremental revenue as well. obviously, the key is to optimize how the distracting ads are promoted so they only distract the correct amount from amazon's core salespitch(es) - and so the average revenue is slightly higher than without 3rd party ads

including the ppc ads is a little cynical, in that amazon only wants to send visitors who will not buy, but that's a well-known strategy in the affiliate world."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Truth In Advertising

Ads for financial products often catch my eye as I have been known to write a fair bit of financial ad copy myself.

When I saw this ad, I thought "Gee, what a relief, the risk of those oil stocks with actual underlying value has really been getting me down. I wish some unregulated bookmaker would offer me a completely opaque and proprietary bet on oil." And now one has!!

Google Thinks I'm A Facebook Expert

In the last few days, I have gotten a bunch of organic search traffic for these Facebook related keywords:

does facebook really work?
face book, how does it work
facebook +invite friend +how to
facebook invite
facebook invite friends
how does face book work
how does facebook work
how does mutual friends work in facebook
how to invite a friend in facebook
how to invite a friend on facebook
invite a friend to facebook

Maybe now I'll get some more :)

Since Google never lies, I am available to help you get $3M for your FB app.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sexy Widget Hot Blog

(this is (one of) my favorite blog post titles yet!)

SexyWidget is a smart blog that I have been reading lately. Definitely worth subscribing to - subscribe to Mattishness as well, if you haven't already!

For example, here is a good post about modeling widget distribution.

Here is another good post, this one is a review of local company Shelfari's widget.

One particularly astute observation:

Shelfari is, however, facing a couple of significant challenges. All I have to do to keep my iLike widget loaded with fresh, self-expressive content is to listen to music. Unfortunately, with Shelfari, my completion of a book doesn’t automatically add it to my shelf. I have to log in, search for the book title, and explicitly add it to my shelf. This is a big deal, and there’s really nothing that Shelfari can do about it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Compete Coincidence

I actually like the metrics quite a bit, but this gives me pause - What's so magical about July '07, anyway?




Overheard in Sublet Office Space

"I'm usually skeptical of the whole e-book thing,
you know, 'make millions', but . . ."

And then a few minutes later, I heard something about life coaching.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Domain Sale Datapoint

A friend of mine told me last night over a beer that he sold the domain '' (no need to visit this site) in 2005 to an Eastern European gentleman with a mailbox in Florida for $7500, promptly paid. The buyer first offered $1000 but then went straight up to $7500 when my friend told him that he had some interest in developing the site himself, etc.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dear Bot Herders

Dear Bot Herders,

Paul Kedrosky has a fun post called the Largest Pump-and-Dump Scam in History. Up 60%? Please! You can do better; penny stocks routinely bounce around by factors of 2 or 3 without image spam. Lets work together - I have a perfect candidate stock for manipulation - PM me :)

Mathew Johnson

Easy To Code Vs Easy To Use

Quote of the week:

"That sounds like you are advocating for what's easiest to code, not what's going to be easiest for users to use"

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

totally blist out!

I have just started at blist – a new Seattle technology company. blist was started by Kevin Merritt, a repeat successful entrepreneur, who I have mentioned here before, but not by name.

I am definitely a diligent student of startups, and we are getting so many things right already. There’s real innovation here and a ton to do – as it should be! It really seems like each day we march forward and make strong progress.

Basically, I think we are really putting ourselves in the sweet spot where growth sustaining usefulness and innovation intersects interest-sparking awesomeness.

blist is going to make a huge impact; the site is pretty stealthy now, but we will shortly be revealing more information there, and I can already speak a little more freely in person. . .

Exciting stuff!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Super Lightweight E-Commerce

Finally, for the first time, I saw an AdSense ad pointing to a Googlepages page. Those of you who know me well may have heard my theory about 'the good kind of lazy' - and this is certainly a great example. Crappy, you might say, it isn't even a good page by Googlepages standards - but hold on. There is a real logic behind this. I bet the owner of Island Nutritionals would point out that the ad/page combination sells product with zero upfront investment and zero change required on the offline side of the business (if there is one).

If this is can be a business - no one has any excuse not to become an entrepreneur!

PS - Don't nobody say: "Matt, this seems like the kind of business you would start"

Loosely Couple, Loosely Couple

Loosely Couple, Loosely Couple.

Business people have been known to victimize web developers with this phrase – usually in an attempt to beat down release schedules by ‘minimizing complexity’ around connecting back end data sources and front end front-ends. This approach is usually not too happy or well-informed – but there really is something to loose coupling (and I don’t mean ‘open marriage’ either).

Say you present some content on the web, and further say you use a blog platform because it’s so convenient. And then say you easily add a form to your site using a form-specific online database like Wufoo.

What do you know, you have just loosely coupled 2 completely separate databases and interfaces (interfacii?) together to accomplish a business goal really quickly. Sure there are limitations, but, extremely rapidly, you have a place on the Internet where people can go and input information – seems like that could be useful for a start. What's more, loose coupling offers enormous flexibility for things like personalization, which is why the smart technologists at Amazon use 100 web service calls to dynamically tailor their homepage to the visitor, time of year, product releases, etc.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Flash Ads For Dating Sites

I saw a really nice flash ad from Yahoo Personals today - It may be that more titillating flash ads may induce more irrationality and lead to more paid conversions, but I though this ad was cool:

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Paris Hilton Or Me - Who's The Better Fit?

Who completes this group of rockstars better, me or Paris Hilton?


I would be remiss if I didn't also include a few key words, like:
paris hilton
paris hilton photos
paris hilton pictures
paris hilton stars are blind
paris hilton hot
paris hilton quotes
paris hilton las vegas

Friday, August 3, 2007

How Not To Blog Market

Uncov has pretty much a textbook example of how not blog market courtesy of Wellsphere, talk about tone deaf! Stupid idiots!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Federated Media - FAIL!

Good thing that no one who reads any of the web properties in the Federated Media ad network uses IE. Today, the ads on Techcrunch have crashed IE6 for me twice, but Techcrunch loads just fine on FF. That seems not only pretty bush league to me, but just plain irresponsible as well. As Uncov might say: FAIL.

Fortunately, Federated Media is an ad network - and at least ad networks actually sell stuff to actual people for actual, real money, which is more than can be said for many new Internet companies.

Facebook Invite - How Does This Work?

I just got a Facebook invite from Jobster's Jason Goldberg in my Gmail, but I get all my Facebook mail on a Yahoo account. I definitely have at least one friend on Facebook who is also an (offline) friend of Jason's, but the invite must not have gone through him because then it would have been in my Yahoo mail. Jason must have gotten my Gmail address from Mattishness or directly from a mutual friend - the problem is that the invite doesn't seem to be tied in to my own Facebook account because of the different email addresses, hmmmmmmm.....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Alexa As Cultural Phenomenon

We're all so smart - we know Alexa rankings are worthless and easily gamed - that's one of the most-told stories on tech blogs. But what if we're missing the point? We may know not to trust Alexa as an actual, useful metric - but dammit if Alexa rankings don't keep generating a free PR like the monthly Seattle Startup Index or this piece of *solid* analysis. Even if the wisdom of crowds is a crock - it's still what the crowd believes!

I say PR has a value, even if the underlying numbers are not to be trusted. And it's not like Compete or Quantcast really provide canonical traffic data across the web.

Give me the Alexa toolbar, the auto-refresh firefox extension, and a few Chinese teenagers, and I'll show you some value!

Smugglers Run From Canada

Ganges, BC to West Sound by way of Bedwell Harbour, Roche Harbor and Henry Island:

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