Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 In Retrospect - Top 3 Themes

Three top themes punctuated my 2007:

3. Scandinavia: My father's family came from Sweden, my mother's from the Shetland Islands, but despite having traveled extensively throughout my life, I had never been to Scandinavia. In 2007 I spent a lot of time in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, check, check, and check.

2. Job-Switching/Career Progress: I switched jobs twice in 2007. I gained a lot of professional confidence, and really expanded my network through this process. I can really appreciate the foundation and springboard that my friends and mentors at Judysbook provided me.

1. Breaking up: My girlfriend and I broke up in September after five or so years together that span my entire post-college lifetime. These are some of the most formative years in a person's life, and I can't imagine muddling through with anyone else. Thanks for all the amazing & uncommon experiences, generosity, and support.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ad Of The Day: Facebook, Scrabulous, Trickery

Trickery is one of the foundational pillars of Internet advertising, particularly of the pay per click variety. I've been seeing a lot of ads on Facebook recently that try to mimic native Facebook features, like a notification, but are in fact pay per click ads. This is, of course, old hat, Adsense optimizers have been attempting to make Adsense look like website nav links for donkey's years. This ad might have fooled me, and I give them an 'A' for effort, but fortunately a little typo tipped me off, and I didn't click through.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Churn Is Bad

Andrew Chen has a) a good post up about why churn is good to measure and bad to have, and b) a link to a great resource: a list of the most-trafficked websites as measured by Quantcast. This is a more detailed list than is available for free anywhere else.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Words I Live By

Bonus prize for anyone who can name the source - this is gospel:

You can laugh you can cry
You can live you can die
Spend your days asking why
But you can't ignore my techno

Be all that you can be
Just as long as you are free
You were blind and now you see
That was just my techno

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why I Love Startups

Because I am convinced it's the fastest way to get me here:

Pitbull! Terrier!

Evaluate Business Ideas - Evhead

This wins for best startup blog post in just about forever. Congratulations, Evan - you win a blist t-shirt.

1. Tractability
2. Obviousness
3. Deepness
4. Wideness
5. Discoverability
6. Monetizability

will it fly? how to evaluate a new product idea

Go read it right now!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Web Office Convergence

Over the blist blog, which is becoming the home of my more insightful blogging, I'm talking about the New York Times article from this past weekend pitting Google against Microsoft on web office strategy. Don Dodge and Henry Blodget are two of the other authorities on subject that I point at in my post:

Goog Vs Msft, Nyt, Henry Blodget, Don Dodge

Tuxedo - Every Once In A While

Friday, December 14, 2007

What is a Facebook App User Worth?

Tim Oren has collected some actual market data from the Stanford Facebook App class:

"Apparently a few of the teams have been given purchase offers (reputedly in the eight cent per user range)"

What is anything worth? What someone is willing to pay, of course. That's how markets get made.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why Arent DBAs Obsolete?

Kevin just told a great big, grand story about blist - this is what we're all about - please go and Digg this story!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Sheer Power Of A Friendly URL

The equation goes something like this: Mattishness + Search String in URL ~ Fox or Reuters with a lot of garbage in their URLs

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tim Ferriss - Meet Graham Greene

Tim Ferris makes a lot of sense, even if he is a bit of a huckster, runs some kind of a borderline 'nutraceutical' business, and pads the page views on his website by auto-refreshing every minute or so.

Graham Greene was famous for making his friends feel inadequate through his ruthlessly precise and efficient work habits:

"His friend Michael Meyer observed him at work during a trip to Tahiti in 1959, when he was writing “A Burnt-Out Case”:

He wrote in longhand with a fine pen in a very small, almost illegible script, for two hours each day; no more, no less. In those two hours he would write seven to nine hundred words, the equivalent of two to three printed pages. . . . At 9 a.m. he would stop. This was when I got up, and as I walked along the verandah to the shower room he would look up and say, somewhat complacently I felt: “Nine hundred words this morning,” or, even worse, “Finished my work for the day”—a depressing remark with which to be greeted when I hadn’t yet begun and the thermometer was climbing towards ninety."

-Ruth Franklin, The New Yorker, 2004.

I love work efficiency!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Delay - Via SFJ

Sasha Frere-Jones pointed me at Delay through his New Yorker blog

I'm pretty in to the tracks on his Myspace page - they remind me of Dead Ringer vintage RJD2 - particularly Rise N Brass - which is incredibly high praise in my book!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

On Being Yourself - Cocteau

Last night, at a little bistro, I became engrossed in one of those deep, this-is-the-kind-of-person-I-am and this-is-what-I'm-all-about conversations with my best friend for several hours while we ignored our small check waiting to be paid.

Good times & What are friends for!

Coincidentally, this afternoon I came across a fabulous quote from Jean Cocteau buried deeply inside a lengthy examination of Joyce Carol Oates in the current New York Review of Books. So, without further adieu:

"What the public criticizes you for, cultivate: It is you."
- Jean Cocteau

Love it!

Thomas Friedman Redeems Himself

I've never been much of a Thomas Friedman fan, too often he's just riding his facile, corporate-speaking-engagement-friendly flat world horse, but this piece is super funny - and even much better because it encourages Americans to put themselves in the shoes of Iranians:

Intercepting Iran’s Take on America

Well done, Tom! Huzzah!

Invention Vs. Refinement Over At blist

Kevin let me loose on the blist blog this morning - so, clearly, I recommend heading over there and reading my post:

Web Office 2007 - Refinement Vs. Invention

By the way, the invention in the diagram above is:

patented march 10, 1896

Saturday, December 1, 2007

blist - The Reference

Mark Hendrickson at Techcrunch referenced blist yesterday in his profile of web-page creator, Doodlekit. I love this - it means that, for a few people, in a preliminary way, we are really becoming a reference product and company. Thanks, Mark!

"As the WYSIWYG market develops, I’d like to see companies like Doodlekit leverage easy database creation/management tools like upcoming Blist. Then, a wider range of people will be able to collect, manage, and publish their organizational data online without needing to rely on web developers."

Doesn't that look like a blist t-shirt? Want one? Convince me :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Protagonist - George Bush Plus Nick Nolte

Call me crazy, but when I saw this photo in Stephen Holden's New York Times review of The Protagonist, I immediately thought the shot of Hans Klein looked eerily similar to a composite of George W. Bush and one of Nick Nolte's mug shots. You decide for yourself.

Banff Mountain Film Festival - 20 Seconds Of Joy

Wow! Went to the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour at the Mountaineers in Seattle last night. I've seen it in many different cities over the years, and it's always one of the top five highlights of my year. Last night, wow, 20 Seconds Of Joy, a journey through 5 years in the life of Norwegian BASE jumper Karina Hollekim, amazing, moving, and amazing. Here's the preview - the full length is not available on DVD yet, but I have to see this movie again!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ryan Stewart On blist

Ryan Stewart has a really nice post today about blist. In his post, Ryan reveals a little bit more about our technology stack. Very exciting!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NATO Airstrikes In Afghanistan

This from the 'I may not be the smartest man in the world, but . . .' department: Maybe the best way to win the hearts & minds of people in Afghanistan is not to callously kill even our own hires with indiscriminate air strikes. I'm actually fairly certain that the resurgent Taliban do not do this, and at least in this regard - look like the good guy to the man on the street.
From the New York Times

Monday, November 26, 2007

Defeat Email Scraping

There are as many ways to break email address scraping on the web as there are . . . well, there's a lot - from 'at' 'dot' 'com' to images. But spammers never rest, so we have to keep innovating. This is the current state of the art:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fantastisk Thanksgiving 2007

San Francsico & Santa Cruz

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Favorite Swedish Bands

I'm all about Swedish bands - maybe because my middle name is Gustav. I saw The Sounds over the summer at Roskilde - and have been listening to their new album on repeat for 2 weeks straight right now. Here's a taste of the kind of awesomeness I'm talking about:

I'm also way in to Johnossi right now, and here's a kick-ass Johnossi video:

blist on my SERP

I love that blist is now #8 on the Google SERP for "Mathew Johnson" - at least today, now, for me.

Yesterday's Top Keywords

the forgotten commodity
viral equation
how to visit cuba
the forgotten commodity
"viral marketing" "viral coefficient"
ad of the day
alex iskold
forgotten commodity
global warming ads quotes
how does facebook work
legal persian
matthew johnson seattle
the forgotten commodity is
viral equation coefficients
what is the difference between word and excel
mathew johnson seattle

Monday, November 19, 2007

WildlifeDirect - Blogs From Conservation's Front Lines

Conservationists in Africa are carrying out critical work to protect wildlife and habitats, under difficult, isolated and often dangerous conditions. WildlifeDirect was established to provide support to these conservationists via the use of blogs – this enables anybody, anywhere to play a direct and interactive role in the survival of some of the world’s most precious species - and really develop a deep understanding from current, first-hand accounts.

Richard Leakey is one of the driving forces behind WildlifeDirect - if you haven't read his fantastic book Wildlife Wars - I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Splog In My Name - I'm Honored

Not quite sure which step it is in the ladder, but it's definitely a step when you find a splog generated off your own name, when I first looked, there were contextual ads referring to the keyword blist, so I know I had something to do with it:

Round The County 2007

I had a fantastic time last weekend sailing around the San Juan Islands. One of our competitors put together a fun video from the weekend. I also took a few photos of my own.

Good times!

Minus Two Messages

Repro that! And it wouldn't be complete without a link back to WorseThanFailure, where you frequently find similar such things.

Monday, November 12, 2007

blist - Techcrunch & Screenshots

blist got written up by Techcrunch over the weekend. More importantly, Techcrunch managed to coax screenshots out of us - which is a pretty big deal. We are very proud of the innovative user interface work we are doing. Exciting stuff!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Ad Of The Day: Legal Persian

Since I read Farsi, I can tell you authoritatively that this website has nothing to do with cats, persian kitty, or other related euphemisms. It's a law firm serving the Persian-American community.

The real moral of the story is much untapped value to be had from innovating in ad-targeting!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blogging Game Theory

This is one particularly impressive power you get from blogging:

If someone else doesn't blog, and doesn't have too much of a web presence tied to their name, you can just write a blog post with their full name in the title, and say whatever the hell you want - then you own them - anytime a prospective partner, employer, other important person - searches on that particular full name as a quick background check - they see what you wrote.

So, the moral of the story is . . .

The Difference Between Word And Excel

There is a lot of innovation going on in the Office 2.0 department these days. Some great use cases are coming out of it. I've sat across the table from a fellow copywriter - spitballing headline ideas and writing them into the same Google Document at the same time.

But fundamentally, people still use Google Docs or Buzzword (and Buzzword is very cool!) to write stuff - just like they use MS Word.

Excel is a different story. Nearly everyone uses Excel to do things that it wasn't conceived for.

Most people use spreadsheet programs to organize things - but spreadsheets were conceived and designed as an accounting tool. Accounting and organizing are definitely related, but they are definitely not the same thing, either. There is some real innovation to be had around organizing information - phone lists, sales leads, sports schedules, etc.

Other organizers exist, but none have really solved the problem - because none are as flexible, or powerful as a spreadsheet - so that's what most people continue to use.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Viral Coefficients & Equations

Or, an illustration of why marketers are charlatans who make up pseudo-math to give a false appearance of rigor.

Lets begin by searching on the keyword string "VIRAL COEFFICIENT" - all the top results have to do with Internet viral marketing. Now if you were actually using something like a coefficient in any kind of serious way you'd be deriving it and building it into an equation. Lets try searching on the keyword string "VIRAL COEFFICIENT" EQUATION - all the top results are from the natural sciences. I rest my case.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Advancing Usefulness

As Kevin wrote, we spent most of yesterday at the University of Washington computer science department talking to undergrads, grad students, and professors.

These are the kind of people who get really excited about what blist is doing - solving hard problems and really advancing the usefulness that people get out of computers in a fundamental way. People who know what they're talking about get a look at blist and say: 'that's important'.

Really exciting to show off blist to more people, more publicly, than ever before and get such great reactions!

Monday, October 29, 2007

VC In Hanoi

How many double-entendres can be made about VC's in Vietnam? A lot, I'd hazard. As far as nascent hotbeds of Internet startups in Asia, I would put Vietnam at the top of the list. Developing countries that are relatively tech savvy like Vietnam can provide exactly the right mix of low-cost talent and business model innovation driven by a freedom from the legacy assumptions that can stem from a pre-existing startup and technology infrastructure. Interested? you should get in touch with my friend Landon at IDG Ventures Vietnam.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ad Of The Day: Body Armor

I found this ad block running at the bottom of the New York Times world section. Clearly, these vendors sell necessary armor to spouses, families, and friends to ship over to their loved ones fighting in Iraq. From what I've heard, this is a fairly large business, and I don't think anyone can question that it is a pretty sad state of affairs for U.S. soldiers to be reliant on family money and private charity for the combat gear that they need. Certainly it is a dereliction of duty on the part of the logistical chain.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Global Warming - Greatest Quote Ever!

Ms. Boxer said she was working to push climate legislation through the Senate, adding that she also worried about global warming. “We can see it happening, we can feel it happening,” she said. “The fashion industry is so upset because they can’t sell their cashmere sweaters.”

-The New York Times

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ad Of The Day: Facebook - McDonalds

Now I am sure that McDonald's hires MBAs and executives and such, but even still, you have to agree that this is a real triumph of Facebook ad-targeting technology at work on the Brown Facebook network:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

nice blist mentions

blist got 2 great mentions this week from leading lights Andy Sack and John Cook. We are proud & thrilled. Thank you!

Easy Business Idea Generator Protocol

Easy Business Idea Generator Protocol - I developed this system through years of experience and insight. I am seeking 1 or 2 apprentices who want to learn my system :)

Step 1: See some article about a company that you have some familiarity with.
Step 2: Remember what was worthless about that company.
Step 3: Come up with solution addressing that worthlessness.
Step 4: Profit.
Step 5: Fame.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ad Of The Day: Linklaunder

If you can call blog comment spam advertising, and yes you can, then this is the ad of the day. You had me at the domain 'linklaunder'

Monday, October 15, 2007

Environmental & Social Justice Partners

In honor of Blog Action Day, I thought it appropriate to announce Environmental & Social Justice Partners to my limited audience. We are targeting a niche that falls between microcredit and legacy banking infrastructure in the developing world. All of you startup types will immediately recognize that if debt is not usually the best financing method for high tech startups in U.S. hubs led by experienced teams, it is probably an even worse method for innovative small businesses in the developing world that contribute to environmental sustainability and social justice - that's why ESJ is relatively uncommonly designed around the concept of micro-equity, not micro debt.

We are very keenly looking for deal flow - so please chime in. One hypothetical investment could be a farmer in Oaxaca who makes tortillas from heirloom varieties of maize that could air-freighted to high-end grocery stores in the U.S. and sold at a premium. Another example could be a cooperative of women in Balochistan whose carpet production could be marketed with a heavy emphasis on the women themselves in the West - bear in mind that it might be hard to sell me on these specific ideas :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Beauty Of iMacros

I first came across iMacros through the world's best ever post about Facebook (specifically, Facebook flyers) from Shoemoney a couple of weeks ago. But it's only this week that I started playing around with it myself.

The best summary is that iMacros had me, ahem, auto-subbing to Truemors in under 5 minutes.

Back to Facebook flyers - Rahul made the astute observation that 'exploiters' can often offer deeper insight than analysts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Alex Iskold - Thought Provoker

For the third or fourth time, Alex Iskold has written a deep post on, what else, The Structured Web over at RWW that provoked me into writing a comment that is worth repeating here as a blog post. Thanks for helping me with material!

Here's what I say:

"Yeah, big, big data-matching problem. I am excited about the 'wisdom of crowds' effect creating some organic commonality of xml tags much like delicious tags. I could believe that xml from Amazon and B&N and Alibris might all contain an 'author' tag. I think this organic effect is liable to be much more far-reaching than deterministic microformats, if not as neat and tidy."

Come visit us at blist :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

VMware & Yacht Racing

Diane Greene of VMware from the Merc via the Seattle Times: "I think sailboat racing taught me a lot," Greene said. Racing and running a company, she explained, require preparation, organization and "the right team." It requires a keen awareness of shifting conditions and the ability to weigh all the factors, including rivals: "What are the other boats doing?"

Clearly, that (currently) $25.8B market cap will work out for me, too, because I sail :)

Interestingly, if you spend anytime sailing, you notice that, on average the sport attracts the CEO type like your Larry Ellisons, and not the professional, lawyer type - obviously a lot of it is that sailing can take up a lot of time, so running any kind of campaign pretty much requires that you set your own schedule and own something so you don't have to bill by the hour (explicitly or implicitly).

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ad Of The Day: Toyota Warcraft

I don't even like WoW, but what a breath of fresh air when it comes to truck ads during football games!

You might also want to check out blist :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What No Link, Guy?

Guy Kawasaki wrote a great post on what entrepreneurs need to watch out for when it comes to lawyers. I am proud that Guy included my name in his post, even without a link. Well, baby steps, right? First my name, links will come later - I'll just have to keep on working.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Yes I Am A New Yorker Junkie

It feels like I have been reading the New Yorker (well the cartoons at least) practically since birth. It's by far the best magazine on any topic and has been as integral to my education as elementary school, high school, or college.

The great thing about the Internet is that you can communicate with practically anyone if you just take a little initiative.

Monday, October 1, 2007

blist demo today

We did a blist demo today in our offices and I am not trying to sound smug, but the audience was really impressed. This is getting to be a trend for us - we get a lot of 'wow's - Basically, in the current climate of low cost web app development, most new companies are trading off a lot of quality and value-add for rapid development of the 'I cloned Youtube in a weekend' variety. Not at blist, sure we work rapidly, but we are doing a lot of heavy-lifting that translates into superior value to the user - if we put a lot of work into a particular area, then, as a user, you won't have to.

Our beta list is really filling up quickly, so if you haven't thrown your email in at yet, I strongly encourage you to do so - we won't be able to let everyone in right away. There must be some strong word of mouth going around because we haven't had any press coverage to speak of - and there is a ton of interest building already.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ever Heard Of Ask Maps?

I hadn't either until yesterday. I suppose this shows why:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Any Post That Leads With Don Johnson

. . . deserves to be promoted as widely as possible (CLICK HERE!). This is one reason I like working for Kevin - he's got a great sense of humor. I have written before that you should always try to work for someone smarter - a strong corollary is that a great sense of humor is usually a by-product of a more general brilliance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

RealSelf Gets Some Coverage

John Cook mentioned new Seattle startup RealSelf in his 'Baby Bartons' post today.

RealSelf is in a great place at a great time - right in the wheelhouse of the current craze for women's content, social networking, shopping, and advertising - like Sugar and Glam - combined with the sky-high margins of anti-aging and wellness products. Plus, my friend Eric works there, and is brilliant.

As an aside, I continue to be surprised that John Cook hasn't picked up blist yet :)

This Is An Experiment - Please Help

You can even watch the 30 second video if you want - it's mostly a clip from Entourage:

Thank you very, very much!

MacArthur Genius Grants 2007

The MacArthur Foundation just named its list of grantees for 2007. This is pretty much the coolest award that a person can win - maybe a Nobel or Fields Medal is right up there, too - but looking down the MacArthur list is typically more interesting and definitely diverse. For the technology audience, the most interesting grantee this year is also this year's youngest: Saul Griffith of Squid Labs. Saul's projects are Interesting, Cool, and Useful - all at the same time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Valuing Opportunity Cost

Kevin Merritt of blist has an important post up about valuing opportunity cost in a startup. Kevin basically nails what is missing from the 'raise lots of money' vs. 'don't raise money', Web 2.0, 'who needs venture capitalists' blog topic.

blist is, incidentally, hiring great engineers.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I just got this email from a nice guy named Isaac Garcia:

I don't know you but your comment on TC today was classic:

# mathew johnson
September 21st, 2007 at 2:50 pm
i just hope google comes out with an api that lets people read my email -
that would be awesome - maybe let 3rd parties 'parse' my emails to show me
ads or something.

It's perfect.

Isaac Garcia

Thank you, Isaac, the least I can give you is a link.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

NewsTrust - Huge Value Add

NewsTrust is a fairly new and important company/organization/force for good. Bold-face names are involved (Dan Gillmor, Craig Newmark, Howard Rheingold) – and my friend Kaizar works there.

NewsTrust describes the idea like this:

“The free website features daily feeds of quality news and opinions, which are carefully rated by our members, using our unique review tools. We rate the news based on quality, not just popularity. NewsTrust reviewers evaluate each article against core journalistic principles such as fairness, evidence, sourcing and context.”

I like NewsTrust, and receive news digests in my email – here’s where I think they need to go from here: NewsTrust already does a great job pulling together news coverage, and filtering it through a strong community vetting and fact-checking process – the input piece – but then the results are put in front of me – and I already agree! To keep the community active and contributing, NewsTrust needs to broadcast their value-add out to people who have been convinced not to think critically about news coverage spun by politicians – and who are being lied to effectively by government, and interest groups, and business.

One way NewsTrust could communicate out really effectively would be to formally partner with main stream media outlets, and act as ‘out-sourced’ fact checkers. Many publications are losing the budgets to do this work in-house – and might appreciate the help!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

LinkedIn: Best Humor Site?

I just never get tired of all the funny tidbits I find on LinkedIn. I have previously posted about the number of LinkedIn users who describe themselves as a 'visionary'. Today's funny tidbit is a funny job title (for some reason, I get a lot of organic traffic for variations on 'funny job titles') from a new second degree contact of mine (did I blur that enough??). I actually do think that delighting your customers is vitally important, but nonetheless, it is a little bit funny to have it in your title. Enjoy:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Crunchbase: Honestly?

Do people give up just anything on a web form? Honestly? Tip of the day: Most of the time when a form (on- or off-line) asks for your SSN - you don't really have to fill that part out. On a side note: I think I must have just found the "lever" that you pull for more funding!

The Listphile File

Listphile was covered in Techcrunch for the first time last week. As I often do, I started digging to learn more:

This is the guy who started Listphile (Go Bruno!):

This is the developer he hired to build it:

This is the use-case that they originally released quietly back in June:

This is their blog:

Friday, September 14, 2007

VC Story Of The Day: Tats

I give this story from Xconomy, one of my new favorite sites, a great big "F--- Yeah!": Extreme VC

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bahamas, Tax Shelters, IKEA

A friend of mine from college just took a new job at an environmental consulting firm in the Bahamas (Nice!). Curious, I checked out the Cape Systems Ltd. website and found that they have an intriguing ownership structure whereby Cape Systems, a for-profit business, is a wholly owned subsidiary of a non-profit organization. Not only does the profit function as part of the organization’s fund-raising – the business itself is designed to complement the program activities of the non-profit parent.

Now I ain’t the smartest man in the world - but I am guessing that the ‘numbers’ might pencil out for a tax-exempt parent to give away 5% of assets annually (in the U.S.) when compared to a standalone corporation paying taxes.
Which leads me to my second favorite Economist article ever: the labyrinthine (byzantine?) ownership structure of IKEA.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Best Fundraising Post - Venture Hacks

I am pretty sure that this is the best blog post about fundraising that I have come across - courtesy of Venture Hacks - fresh . . .
Hack: Create a market for your shares

Ad Of The Day: The Forgotten Commodity

This ad from my Yahoo Mail was confusing enough that I clicked on it. Confusion is an underappreciated advertising strategy, I don't like to be confused, so I clicked through to un-confuse myself. Was the ad trying to say that 'options' were a commodity? I wouldn't put that past an online trading ad. As an aside, I am not sure this ad text would pass Google's quality guidelines . . .

Here is the landing page:

It's extremely long and wordy, isn't it? This page definitely doesn't fit with traditional thinking on landing page conversion - but snake oil can be a hard sell, so maybe this in-depth 'education' leads to better conversion in this case.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

blist - two nice posts

Here are two nice, recent posts about blist:

This one from Jordan Mitchell, founder of Others Online:

And this one from Todd Sawicki, the marketing expert:

Two more datapoints support the theory that very smart people think Kevin is very smart.

Ad Of The Day:

What did I write in my Gmail???

Mathew Johnson - Environmentalist

One thing I am is an environmentalist:

I graduated from Brown in 2002 in economics with some substantial work in both environmental and Middle Eastern studies. While at Brown, I studied abroad in Cairo where I studied Arabic, and interned at PERC, an environmental think tank in Montana. I didn’t know beforehand that PERC is much too conservative for my politics, but all the same they have some smart people and some good ideas.

After I graduated, I studied marine biology for a semester in Southern California before starting work with a PERC alum who had recently set up his own water rights and resources consulting firm in Wyoming – Westwater Research. At Westwater I did some interesting work, which included writing a monthly stock market column for Global Water Intelligence and meeting some interesting folks at Aqua International Partners – William K. Reilly’s water focused OPIC fund.

After a year in Wyoming, I moved home to Seattle to work as an analyst at Light Green Advisors, a sustainable asset manager. I was at Light Green for almost a year before getting swept up into Seattle’s venture-backed technology community where I have been working in business development and marketing for the last 2 years and change, first at a company called Judy’s Book, and more recently at an exciting new company called blist.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Entrepreneurship Anecdote By Kevin Merritt

Kevin posted a great anecdote from his own experience as an entrepreneur about sticking to your guns and focusing on the right delivery method for the product you're selling.

I do all my best learning from anecdotes that show rather than tell. If you're thinking of buying a business book, put that on hold and go pick up a copy of Boone for a penny instead. It's a great book and a quick read.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Compete Vs Alexa - Subdomains

The Seattle20 list of high-tech startups in, wait for it . . . Seattle, has just switched over to including Compete stats along with the original Alexa in their simple ranking formula. There is a long tradition of documenting Alexa's shortcomings and a corresponding slow trend towards using Compete for web traffic stats. In many ways Compete is certainly more accurate. However, Alexa beats (out-competes?) Compete in at least one minor way - tracking subdomains. Alexa keeps stats on individual subdomains like, while Compete displays their statistics for Blogger as a whole. The same goes for hosted Wordpress blogs, etc, etc.

Just kidding, I actually do get 20 million readers per month - and I'll sell you an ad, too :)

Scrybe - Getting Circular

Scrybe is famous for a great video demo that has attracted a lot of buzz (and views!) over the last 10 months. They were featured in a nice article last Sunday in the New York Times. I am very interested in interaction and feedback between different marketing/pr/buzz channels. It's not a stretch to say that their video demo success was a key driver of Sunday's article. No doubt the article has led to a lot of new user signups over the last couple of days. What's interesting is that the NYT article itself was a pretty clear driver of Scrybe video views - notice the big spike on September 2nd - which leads to even more new user signups. This is called Getting Circular!

Kevin Merritt - New CEO Blogger

Kevin Merritt - the founder and CEO of blist - has just started blogging. His first post is an erudite examination of naming blist blist :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Tricia Duryee Gets Wise To Shiftboard

Tricia Duryee profiled Shiftboard, appropriately, on Labor Day in the Seattle Times. The article coincides with a brand new refresh of the site. It is gratifying to see Shiftboard continue its march towards inevitability - one step after another. Bryan Lhuillier continues to impress as a great entrepreneur.

I am very proud of my extremely minor but ongoing association with Shiftboard.

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?