Monday, March 31, 2008

Metrics To Manage By - Donald Rumsfeld Edition

Don Rumsfeld knows the importance of managing by the numbers, and they're doubly important when it comes to Internet companies/sites:

"In late October 2003, when I was in Baghdad watching the launch of the so-called Ramadan Offensive -- five simultaneous suicide bombings, beginning with one at the headquarters of the Red Cross, the fiery aftermath of which I witnessed -- then Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was in Washington still denying that an insurgency was underway in Iraq. He was also drafting one of his famous "snowflakes," those late-night memoranda which he used to rain down on his terrorized Pentagon employees.

This particular snowflake, dated October 16, 2003 and entitled "Global War on Terrorism," reads almost poignantly now, as the Defense Secretary gropes to define the war that it has become his lot to fight: "Today we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror," he wrote. "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?""
-Mark Danner

A good place to start in terms of web analytics are these two measures (in either case you can/should go more granular and get more creative, but at a high level, success boils down to these):

1. Inbound flow of new users (growth in, where they come from, etc.).

2. How active/how many times they return/how many actions taken (on average, in a specific cohort, over time, etc.)

Sometimes, and happily, the work that you do leads to improvements in both sets of numbers - often though, some work items generally bring in new users, and other items keep them sticking around. It's easy to make your business successful - you just have to do both. When allocating scarce resources, it often makes sense to focus on one side of things for a short while and then switch over and focus on the other for a short while (and repeat). That's it, a recipe for success. (Un)Fortunately, building a successful business on the Internet presents a more tractable problem than, say, getting involved in a land war in Asia ;)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Money For Facebook Apps

A few datapoints from the Facebook App Exit Strategies panel at Snap Summit 2.0 - featuring Seth Goldstein, Jeremy Liew, Jeff Clavier, and Lee Lorenzen.

Seth Goldstein says that over the next ~24 months eCPMs for social networking pages (including apps) will go from ~$0.50 to ~$3 as big brand advertisers start getting - this will multiply the revenue numbers that FB Apps are pulling in - making for larger exits. Seth says that online advertising spend will grow 25% YoY in 2008 over 2007 - mostly by taking market share away from more traditional advertising.

Jeff Clavier says that FB app valuations are in the range of 2-3x revenues - in line with general technology valuations. I personally think that this is not so good for app developers because FB app monetization is at a pretty early/rudimentary stage. Remember that FB Platform launched only 9 months ago.

Jeremy Liew says that the largest FB app exit that he is aware of is single digit millions, about half cash, half stock.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Going To Snap Summit 2.0 In SF

I am going to be at Snap Summit 2.0 in San Francisco on Tuesday - I think it will be pretty insightful as far as events go. This is how they describe it:

"SNAP Summit 2.0 focuses on the business and design of social applications: how to attract users and keep them engaged, how to monetize and advertise, and what to watch out for in the future."

Basically, I am hoping to cast some light on what comes after 'All your web mail passwords are belong to us!' when it comes to social network power features. Wait, wait, brainstorm: it's virtual goods!

If you're there, definitely make a point to email/find me on Tuesday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Priceless Hacker News Thread

Mike Arrington recently mentioned how was one of his few 'look here first' sites to read every day (too lazy for link).

I've been reading it for a little while. Here is a priceless thread - if you're a little bit tired or something, I bet you'll laugh at loud a couple of times:

Ask: What would you do/make if you never had to monetize it?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Guy Walks Into A Coffee Shop . . .



So a guy walks into a random coffee shop in Mountain View and immediately overhears an annoyingly loud cell phone conversation about making a 'sweet' facebook app. Guy gets his coffee, and walks over to a table to sit down. . .



A totally different guy is having a totally separate conversation about making some other 'sweet' facebook app.



3rd different guy, same g.d. conversation.

***UPDATE 2***
If I hear the phrase 'Facebook app' onemore time, I am going to shoot myself, and I mean I like Scrabulous as much as the next guy, but . . .

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spokeo: Creepy, Stalker Email

Totally out of the blue. Go away, yuck!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NY - T, RB, ER

Spent most of Sunday happily ensconced with:

The Sunday New York Times

The New York Review Of Books

The New Yorker

I think the three is just healthy enough, one more and that'd be overdoing it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lykke Li - One U.S. Show Only - SXSW

Lykke Li is a brand new Swedish artist who I can't stop listening to - don't just take my word for it, here's some corroboration.

You can listen to 'Little Bit' right here on imeem:

SXSW is the only U.S. show listed on her Myspace page - I would almost schedule a trip to CPH or thereabouts for another of her shows - but I have no doubt she'll be back stateside before too, too long.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

David Cowan (Bessemer): Sharp Guy

I've definitely enjoyed getting to know David Cowan at Bessemer Venture Partners a little bit purely as a reader of his blog; for instance, I appreciate his devotion to skepticism and people like Richard Dawkins. Here's quite a good video interview featuring David from RedHerring. As always, you might need to click through to actual post to watch the video if you are reading in a feed reader or email - this vid is a little wide for muh blog template:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

George W Bush Dancing Dancing

Ok, fine, had to do it - I got so much traffic after blogging about Obama in Laramie, I had to post this video that starts off with President Georg W bush really cutting a rug (click through to post if you can't seethe video):

SearchMe & Search Innovation

Search innovation is all about the indexing and the ranking and the massively scalable infrastructure, not natural language queries, not categorized search results or suggested keywords.

SearchMe raised $31M today from Sequoia. Their slick Flash UI to display previews of search results is getting all the attention, but I want to know what the smart money at Sequoia got behind from an indexing and ranking and infrastructure perspective - I am curious about that.

SearchMe CEO Randy Adams, on Kara Swisher’s blog, says:

“We are no Google, of course, but we are trying something different to provide a new experience for search users,” said Adams. “Most of all, we are trying to innovate in search, which is still largely a text and list experience.”

‘Text & list experience’ is not at all the most glaring hole in today’s search experience. Here is a better acid test: try finding authoritative, non-commercial information about ringtones - - turns out, as great as Google is at searching - not only is there is still a ton of improvement that can be made, but as a Google employee like Matt Cutts might tell you, improved search experience is a moving target that requires constant maintenance and innovation, particularly with regard to parallel developments in SEO techniques and wide dissemination thereof.

Powerset is doing some really useful work in search, mainly by contributing to the open source distributed computing projects Hadoop and hBase. Powerset also touts some natural language processing work, which is probably, relatively less impactful (‘impactful’ is not a real word). Hakia is doing some useful work putting natural language processing to work on the indexing (not search query construction) side of things. And more approachably, is forging ahead in image search through their initial, shopping vertical.

Like SearchMe, at blist we know that UI innovation is an important piece of the puzzle, but at the same time, it's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of creating a ton of value for users. I want to know about the 3/4 of SearchMe that is below the surface.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Raveonettes - Lust, Lust, Lust - Dead Sound

Figured I'd go ahead and embed Dead Sound off the Raveonettes new album Lust, Lust, Lust right here:

Raveonettes Via Launch21

I was fortunate enough to attend Sunday night's Raveonettes concert courtesy of Launch21 :)

The new album Lust,Lust,Lust is excellent. Here's a quick Youtube video:

and even though they are not a Swedish band - they are from Kobenhavn - and that's just a quick Oresund bridge away.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Faacebook Ad Targeting - Big Opportunity

It's true, I have some Arabic, though my rusty vocabulary gets smaller every year - but that doesn't really excuse Facebook for serving me ads in Arabic. Guys, you're giving my language skills too much benefit of the doubt. Target your ads better, and I'd imagine the proverbially low CPMs on social networks would, at the very least, creep up.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Al Gore On Mattishness

Who on God's green earth from Chicago Googled 'Al Gore', came to Mattishness, spent 26 minutes on the site and visited 22 pages??? I mean, I know my blog rulez, but still . . .

Obama In Laramie, WY

Having spent enough time as a resident of Laramie, Wyoming, myself - I am crystal clear about how exciting it must be to have Barack Obama in town.

Additionally, Wyoming Democrat, Mike Massie has one of the nicest oratorical turns I've heard in endorsing Obama. Wyoming is getting just a bit more purple!:

“199 years ago, a person was born who grew up in Illinois, who served in the Illinois Legislature for many years, who only served two years in Congress before he was elected president of the United States,” Massie said. “His face is now on Mount Rushmore, and (he’s) regarded as one of the greatest presidents in this nation’s history.”

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Putting Perspective On Wealth - Al Gore

"Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore left the White House seven years ago with less than $2 million in assets, including a Virginia home and the family farm in Tennessee."

Leaving aside all that Al Gore's done since leaving office, which is a lot, think about all of the people with similar wealth making less of an impact.

Food for thought.

Via Paul Kedrosky, via Bloomberg

BrandVerity - Picks & Shovels Of Ecommerce

BrandVerity is a new Seattle startup offering a clear product that addresses a real pain point for brand managers on the web. It's about trademark abuse, and not the wishy-washy kind either - the kind of trademark abuse that directly takes money out of the pockets of trademark holders.

Target customers do not equivocate - 'Yes, I need that. Yes, I want to pay money for that.'

I can't speak highly enough about the team behind this.

You can find out lots more about BrandVerity here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Barack Obama On Foreign Policy

We then asked, well, what about foreign policy -- should we be concerned that you just don't have much experience there?

First, he said, I'm on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where I serve with a number of Senators who are widely regarded as leading experts on foreign policy -- and I can tell you that I know as much about foreign policy at this point as most of them.

From Marc Andreessen

Clarity Of Thought - Hertzberg

Hendrik Hertzberg succinctly contrasts a recent speech made by Barack Obama with one by Hillary Clinton:

"Good writing can sometimes reflect clarity of thought"

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Great Expectations & P.G. Johnson

Far and away, my favorite aspects of blist as a company are our great expectations, high standards, and immodest goals. In fact, ‘favorite’ is much too weak a word; I do not thrive in any environment lacking these. I have many (too many?) intense interests to distract me from an environment with obviously limited upside potential. This quality can make my life excruciatingly difficult at times, but with perspective is, on balance, a good thing.

A lot of the reason that I am the way (PITA some might say) that I am stems from my family history. My grandfather, P.G. Johnson, managed to be both enormously and precociously successful in business as well as contributing very centrally to history and progress. P.G. was a pioneer of the modern, professional CEO role during the nineteen-thirties and forties before dying too young. You can read more about him on Wikipedia, here and through the external links on that page.

Having this sort of role-model as a forbear cuts both ways. On the one hand, it’s inspirational and confidence building; At least I know I have the genes for success, however small a role they play, and believe me, I can dream big. On the other hand, as a progressive (one who subscribes to the idea of progress), I feel that I ought to, in summation, do more. Now, I don’t necessarily expect to have quite so much business success as my grandfather, but I need to prove a significant amount of it - and here’s where it starts getting tricky. I need to simultaneously be able to live a long and balanced life - something he did not do - and contribute to the world in some possibly broader and more public spirited ways. Definitely the environment, definitely human rights, definitely foreign affairs/understanding, perhaps elected office. Basically, to leave a mark, so that I couldn’t say that I might as well have never been born. And that can feel like a heavy weight from time to time, while paradoxically, the way to accomplishing all those things is just to energetically get on with it. And I try to do that - most of the time.

blist - killin' it

Was at a party on Saturday afternoon with a bunch of Seattle startup people, some of whom I knew already, some of whom I met for the first time.

The reactions to blist ranged from: 'You guys are the hot startup in Seattle', to 'You guys are totally killin' it'.

On the inside, all we tend to see/think about are all the things that haven't been, but need to be, done yesterday. It's nice to get a little bit of outside perspective from time to time.


Unfortunately, it is about 5:30 am right now, and I have been up since about 3 am - I need to figure out a non-pharmacological way to start sleeping better, because it has been a long time since I've had much luck with that :(

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Kayak, Farecompare, Beirut

Kayak's buzz is a great feature - it keeps me coming back to the site, time and again. Maddeningly, though - Kayak doesn't let you select the Middle East as a region choice, it skips directly from 'Europe' to 'Asia'. This is where Farecompare takes a better approach - just type in any specific city pair without a date range. And who knew how cheap it is to get to Beirut right now . . . itchy, itchy mouse-clicking finger . . .