Posted by Dave on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 03:05 PM in Conferences & Events, Geeks, Tech, Startups, Social Networking & Social Media, Venture Capital & Startup Finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: angel investor, canada, fbfund, incubator, metrics, silicon valley, startup, venture capital
Time to get in touch with Water, Land, & things Blue-Green.
Time to meet friends across the Pacific in the Middle.
It's time to...
Come join us Nov 1-5 in Oahu for tech, green, clean, and mean social media... register now using code REDPILL, and save over $600 off the normal conference fee.
RethinkHawaii will feature a conference of mini-conferences around:
Check out who's coming... including Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay and the Omidyar Network.
hope you can be there with us, to think about what's coming next :)
Posted by Dave on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 04:25 PM in Blog the Blogging Bloggers, Conferences & Events, Geeks, Tech, Startups, Metrics & Measurement, Music, Art, Food, Travel, Social Networking & Social Media, Venture Capital & Startup Finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: clean tech, green tech, hawaii, rethinkhawaii, social media, startonomics, startup, sustainability, technology
Since October 2006 i've posted more than 60 presentations on SlideShare, had over 300,000 views and over 10,000 file downloads, embedded my presentations in numerous blog posts, and used the product for hundreds of talks and presentations at speaking events & conferences. it's one of the single most useful web services for business i've come across, and because of that i sought out the founders several years back, offered to help them as an advisor, and subsequently became an angel investor in 2007. In addition, Rashmi & Jon are close friends & some of my favorite people to hang out with :)
However, up until now SlideShare wasn't a service i could use to make money with directly. While the website has grown from ~5M to over 20M users in the past year, and generates an incredible amount of traffic & visibility for my talks and presentations, i hadn't really thought about how i could use it to help my business other than via word of mouth.
This morning, that all changed.
I am not exaggerating when i say these products have the potential to change business marketing as we know it, and are possibly the most notable advertising innovation since Google launched Adwords and AdSense. They make social media marketing measurable & performance-based.
Let me say that again.
Up until now, there hasn't been a performance-driven way for people to drive on-demand traffic & leads using social media marketing for business purposes. Now SlideShare makes it easy to use business presentations and related social media content to drive traffic (with AdShare), and collect customer leads (with LeadShare) using targeted, measurable, pay-for-performance methods.
Making social media marketing measurable & performance-based is no small thing. This marks a dramatic shift in how to use professional presentation content to drive meaningful, predictable customer acquisition for their business. Anyone can now upload their business presentations, generate targeted traffic, and start collecting qualified leads for their business. That's nothing short of groundbreaking.
I encourage you to check out SlideShare for Business and give it a test drive.
COUNTDOWN to GEEKS On a PLANE in 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
We're getting everything ready for the upcoming GeeksOnaPlane.com trip to Europe, which begins with a kickoff event in Washington, DC next Friday, 9/18. For you folks making last-minute decisions, better hurry up! You can register for the tour here if you'd like to join the main tour group.
Note: although some of our events will be available to the public at each local city & venue, many of our meetings are by invitation / priority for those who register with the core travel group (including the DC event at the White House with the Digital Media team & State Dept Innovation team, and also for SeedCamp Week in London). If you live in one of the tour local cities (DC, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Paris) you can also register for individual events on the GoaP website (individual event registration will be available shortly, after we finalize reservations for the core travel group).
An overview of the entire tour is below:
(and yes, we're still interested in more sponsors!)
Posted by Dave on Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 08:14 AM in Blog the Blogging Bloggers, Conferences & Events, Dave, Friends, Family, Geeks, Tech, Startups, Social Networking & Social Media, Venture Capital & Startup Finance | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: amsterdam, berlin, DC, europe, fowa, geeksonaplane, goap, london, paris, picnic, prague, seedcamp, white house
I'd love to write a longer post about the fbFund REV social incubator program i've been running this summer, but tonight we're getting ready for our investor demo day presentations tomorrow, and it may be a long night before i get to sleep. for a more in-depth review of what we've been up to, check out the Techcrunch post on the fbFund REV Summer of Social.
in the meantime, checkout the video below of me pimping REV, and tune in for our fbFund REV webcast live on ustream Tuesday, Sept 1st at 1:00pm PST for all our fbFund company presentations.
A big hearty congratulations to Tamar Weinberg, who became both an author and a mother recently.
The baby arrived a little bit early, which made it tough on the delivery of the book, but she managed to pop both out this summer :)
I had the very good fortune of being asked to write the foreword to her book "The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web", which i've reproduced below. My foreword can't compare to the book itself, but i hope it gives you a flavor of the stuff she writes about.
I highly recommend both Tamar and her book, and encourage you to go out and buy a copy right away.
(by the way, Tamar's annual best-of-online-marketing summary is also a can't miss, and it's free).
The New Community Rules: Marketing on The Social Web
Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another kiss is what it takes
You can't sleep, you can't eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
Your throat is tight, you can't breathe
Another kiss is all you need
Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff (oh yeah)
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough
You know you're gonna have to face it
You're Addicted to Love
- Robert Palmer, Addicted to Love (1985)
Hello. My name is Dave and i'm a Facebook-aholic ("hi Dave, keep coming back!"). The rest of you may not be addicted to social media the same way i am, but i guarantee you it's only a matter of time. Now that Oprah & CNN have become run-of-the-mill streetcorner pushers for social media crackpipes like Facebook & Twitter, you can bet the rest of consumer mainstream ain't far behind. Mark my words folks: we're all being seduced by a dangerous & sexy online mistress named Social. If you haven't fallen for her yet, you will.
This book is dedicated to everyone who has ever read a blog, visited a MySpace page, watched a YouTube video, checked out a photo on Flickr, or clicked on a link in Twitter. Then five hours later, looked up to check the clock and realized it was 4am. Admit it, you've been there: heaven help me the baby is screaming and needs a diaper change but gimme a sec i just need to click on one... more... link... aaah. Now doesn't that feel better?
You might be a teenager on Hi5 profile-hopping all the hot girls in your freshman class at high school, or a grandmother anxiously checking YouTube to see if your daughter has uploaded the latest video of your 3-year-old grandson. You might be a punk rocker adding a new song to your band's MySpace page, or a Harvard grad surfing LinkedIn to see who you know at Google who's hiring. You might be the Real Shaq Daddy tweeting out nightly box scores and a slam-dunk on Yao Ming, or Barack Obama rallying the faithful to get out the vote via SMS on the eve of the most historic election in American history. From the largest to the smallest, from the youngest to the oldest, the world has become engrossed, enthralled, and addicted to social media.
Unless you've been in a coma for the last five years, your behaviors and interactions with social media have changed dramatically. We now spend more time connected -- both literally and figuratively -- than ever before. Our offline-online existence is fused together into an electronically-enhanced experience that would have seemed unbelievable just over a decade ago, but now seems almost second nature. One wonders how people ever managed to make plans to meetup for dinner or a night out on the town before everyone had email, eVite, Yelp, or text messaging? Our fascination and fastened-nation with all things digital has been both a blessing and a curse, enabling people to communicate whenever and wherever they please... even if that means listening to the sales guy in the bathroom stall next to you talking to a customer, and wondering if you should wait till he's done to flush.
The first ten years of the Internet Revolution were all about getting computers connected to the World Wide Web. But the next ten years are going to be all about getting people connected to each other. There are now over 1 billion people online across the globe, and over 3 billion people with mobile phones who can send a text message. Imagine how much time we can all waste poking each other on Facebook!
More seriously, this sea change in how people spend their lives and leisure hours has created a challenge for those in traditional marketing roles. As with the explosion of cable television channels in the 90's and subsequent fragmentation of mass market media & advertising, online behavior in the 21st century has been moving away from large portal mass-produced websites like AOL & Yahoo, and towards a world filled with search engines, social networks, millions of tiny blogs & "long-tail" websites, user-generated content sites, news feeds, apps, widgets, RSS, email, SMS, IM, chat, twitter, bookmarks, etc, etc. Finding ways to effectively reach customers in the world of Web 2.0 has become a Sisyphean task, requiring a wide variety of online marketing skills and an endless number of communication channels.
And yet there also exists the everyday miracle of one clever, creative individual who executes a very cheap, viral, word-of-mouth campaign that reaches millions overnight. How can this be? We are both powerless and powerful at the same time. We are fragmented and yet unified. We are solitary shut-ins glued to our computers, but we are powerfully & instantly connected to thousands of others all over the earth. We are billions of people on the World Wide Web, and we are a billion people blathering on in a billion and one tongues.
This is social media. And like the social beings who create it,
social media is
It was in the middle of that mess that my personal journey began.
let me explain.
Back in late summer 2001, i had the good fortune of accepting a job offer at PayPal, while the rest of the dot-com world was crashing all around me. Little did i know, the towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan would also come crashing down my first day on the job. While still in shock at a changed world offline, i began putting my toe in the waters of a brave new world online as well.
I had always been a geek of some kind -- music geek in grade school, math major in college, computer programmer after graduating, and a small-time internet entrepreneur in the mid-90's until my company got acquired in 1998. However, my new job at PayPal was in (developer) marketing -- pretty unfamiliar territory for a geek. I wasn't even sure how i got the job; a friend who was a PayPal angel investor had referred me to them, since he knew i'd been organizing several Silicon Valley tech & entrepreneur user groups for many years. I guess PayPal figured i was about as close as they could get to someone who knew how to market to developers, so they gave me a chance.
Now just to be clear: there is nothing more anathema to geeks & programmers than an asshole with a business card and a marketing title... well, except perhaps someone in sales; but at least geeks understand salespeople are necessary to make money that pays their salaries. So basically as far as developers are concerned, marketing folks are the absolute bottom of the food chain -- they're assumed to be both clueless and useless, and liars to boot.
As a former developer myself, i realized my job was going to be all about marketing to repressed loner, smart-ass geeks who thought i was a dumb, incompetent liar. Great.
Given the humbling & humiliating task ahead of me, and given my dirty little secret of not knowing one damn thing about traditional marketing, i realized i better come up with some pretty creative tricks / hacks... and fast.
Hack #1: change the official job title on my business card from "Director of Marketing" to "Director of Geek Marketing" (disguise & subterfuge, become part of the community).
Hack #2: stop trying to SELL developers on PayPal, and just focus on helping them USE the product & provide tech support, LISTEN to what they were asking for, and see if i could get the product team to fix bugs & build something geeks would use.
Hack #3: since they probably knew more than me, i appealed to developers to help answer questions, and recruited geek advisors and promoted them as experts to the rest of the community.
Hack #4: get all of our technical documentation & code samples out in the open on a no-login required site, without requiring anyone have to create a PayPal account to learn.
Hack #5: start a message board & blog (had to bend some rules and avoid corporate bureaucracy but i did it), and get an open channel of publishing & communication to the community.
I could go on, but i think you get the picture -- let's just say i did some VERY non-traditional marketing in the first year or two. And i really had to change how i thought about marketing in order to reach the people i was going after. In fact, much of my success was due to subverting, bending, and even breaking the normal rules of corporate marketing to get what i need to get done. And finally, i had to become part of the community itself, and i had to create some non-traditional publishing & communication models to engage the community to help me do my job.
Along the way of becoming a mole in the machine, i also discovered a number of other important new trends & techniques in online marketing: search marketing (both organic & paid), email newsletters & distribution lists, blogging, mini-apps & widgets, message boards & forums, RSS, screencasts, instructional video, social networks, and many, many other geeky pursuits which consisted mostly of me goofing off online and somehow getting away with saying i was doing real work. While it may have seemed like i was screwing around wasting a lot of time (cough, cough... nothing could be further from the truth!), turns out I was getting some world-class on-the-job training in social media marketing. Who knew?
As i spent more time diving deep into this Ocean of Social, i realized something important was happening & changing how people were communicating. Starting somewhere between 2001 and 2005, a whole bunch of non-geeks were getting computers, getting digital cameras & mobile phones, getting broadband connections, and getting online. The internet & the browser were just the beginning; by the time YouTube arrived in 2005 the Internet had already been taken over by the masses. By 2008, your mom or grandmother was probably stalking you on Facebook and trying to find out who you were hooking up with.
This was not your geeky old Internet -- THIS was the glory of the World Wide Web, and people were doing a WHOLE LOT MORE of the following:
As each of these activities in turn spawned entirely new ecosystems and communication channels dedicated to legions of fans, online populations similarly dedicated themselves to the creation and consumption of new media / social media in these online environments.
Not only had we become addicted to The Network, we had BECOME The Network:
In Order to Form a More Perfect Platform,
Establish Internet Equality,
Insure Domestic Social Connectedness,
Provide for the Creative Commons,
Promote the General Web-fare,
and Secure the Blessings of Liberty
to Our Blogs and Our Friends & Followers,
Do Ordain and Establish this Network
for the .COM, the .NET, the .ORG,
and the Entire World Wide Web!"
Posted by Dave on Monday, July 20, 2009 at 12:27 PM in Blog the Blogging Bloggers, Books, Movies, & Media, Dave, Friends, Family, Geeks, Tech, Startups, Social Networking & Social Media | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: marketing, New Community Rules, social media, tamar weinberg, techipedia
I feel like i've hit a turning point in my life. Something has happened in the past 6 months, in the past 3 years since leaving Simply Hired & PayPal. I'm not sure when it all clicked, but i've been fortunate to have a lot of wonderful things come my way lately.
Those things include but are not limited to:
DISCLAIMER: i've never really had any professional training in user interface design... and i'm sure that's obvious from my blog fonts & colors. However, i started designing & developing applications over 25 years ago, back in high-school when i developed some payroll reports one summer for my mom's company. Since 1991 or so, around when Object Builder and Visual Basic came out, most apps i've built or worked with have been in windows-based or browser-based graphical UI environments. And for the last 5-8 years or so, most startups & applications i've been involved and investing in are based on social networks & platforms. So whether or not i have any fucking clue what i'm doing, let's just say i've seen my fair share of designing visual user interfaces & interacting with social platforms.
If there's one thing i've learned from all that geeking around, it's that UI typically works best when it's butt-simple. As a famous PayPal colleague of mine once stated succinctly:
"Users are Stupid... give them something to click on."
Wise words. You'll do well not to forget them, Young Jedi.
However it's not always enough to simply give people underlined text links to click on... rather, it's important to have strong associated visual cues that encourage users to take action. Sometimes that can be as simple as just creating a beveled, slightly rounded, 3D-looking button with a color offset and some text that identifies a Call-To-Action (CTA). Many people have become trained thru years of working with operating systems to click on things that look like buttons. particularly BIG buttons. particularly BIG buttons with pictures or icons. they are almost irresistible. Go on. Click it! you know you want to!
But -- and i do mean butt -- even big buttons with big graphics aren't always going to capture user attention. What has gradually happened over the past 10 years is that online consumer interfaces have started to zero in on basic human behaviors, recognition systems, and patterns. many of those offline interactions start with the simplest of human interactions -- looking at someone's face.
In fact, you could argue that much of the online experience these days is less about reading text, and a lot more about looking at faces, icons, and other visual representations of people.
"The FACES, You Idiot... It's ALL About The F**KING FACES!"
About 2-3 weeks ago, i was meeting with a startup about some new widget workflow they were creating. The company shall remain nameless, but they were trying to develop a new UI around people exploring other people. However, the interface was still mostly comprised of text explanations and directives. Although it was being built as a social platform, they were missing the social part.
And of course this cuts right to the heart of the matter.
As the startup founder and i were discussing alternatives, i happened to check my inbox (because i think it had been at least 2-3 minutes since my last fix), and i noticed a new LinkedIn Network Updates email -- who got a new job, who made a new connection, etc. And i thought it was curious that there weren't any visual images in the email.
Now believe me, i am a HUGE FAN of LinkedIn, and i'm friends of a lot of folks over there. And they are making a LOT of money, and are very likely to be an IPO candidate way before Facebook. But i *do* think they have done some things fundamentally wrong over the years, and possibly the prime evidence of that is their very late adoption of user photos almost 4 years after launching and the overall sparse use of faces within a social networking platform. LinkedIn is about *professional* social networking, but i don't think being professional means you have to be boring or not engaged. in any case, LinkedIn is doing just fine but i'd strongly suggest they are missing out by not making their platform more visual, more social, more viral, more engaged, and more group-oriented. but perhaps that's a longer discussion for another post. i'm still hoping they get there soon.
there was at least one other example of FAIL that i can't remember that pushed me over the edge, and i finally had to scream and just tweet out:
for many folks, the state of the art in consumer internet development is to design big beautiful fonts and flash animations and green-blue web 2.0 colors. and for Google (at least until recently with Wave), the most advanced design elements they seem to come up with were still almostly exclusively text-driven.
IMHO, the two popular companies that have actually done the best job with user interface design optimization are YouTube and Facebook. and of those two, the one that has CLEARLY done the best job around UI for social platforms has been Facebook.
YouTube iterated furiously over the years to optimize UI elements & buttons, and while not always a success from a monetization standpoint, sheer usage & adoption has been nothing short of astonishing. Obviously they were doing something right. there was an incredible amount of iterative development, and an emphasis on UI element overlays on videos, and embeds on other sites, all of which led to massive distribution, engagement, retention, etc. the thing i thought was always smart about YouTube was that the interface was largely about browse-selecting one image from among several options. it was mostly a picture-driven UI. and guess what? many of those pictures are of people's faces.
Facebook -- hey, wonder whether *they* thought much about Faces? -- was started almost exclusively as a collection game around visual images. as it grew & morphed, the profile pages & pictures remained hugely important, however the subsequent innovations around NewsFeed -- again, extremely visual, lots of faces -- and also the overall Facebook Platform, and associated user invitation dialogs, all created interesting & engaging ways for users to click around, into, and on top of interesting visual data (usually faces). they continue to find interesting ways to personalize the user experience, and i don't see them slowing down at all.
that said, i do think there hasn't been much innovation around the user invitation dialogs, and that this is a place where i think a lot of interesting work could be done to a) select LESS # of people, b) who i CARE about more, c) make the faces BIGGER, and d) constrained by the CONTEXT of the current conversation keywords. altho the dialog below is about faces, it's still too many for me.
interestingly, Google Wave takes a MUCH different approach and utilizes a very graphic / picture-rich environment, and a relatively complex UI. while i haven't played with it yet, it does look pretty cool. still, i wonder if this isn't about 3 years late in the making... Google seems to be bragging about how the product has been in the making since 2007 or even 2004, but that seems like a bit of FAIL there... i mean, that's either an engineering fail for taking several years to get a product out the door (which still isn't live yet), or a management fail for not pushing them to get it done sooner. anyway, i guess i shouldn't shit on their innovation even if it's a little johnny-come-lately, but i would have to say it seems more like a reaction to the recent News feed & activity stream innovation that's been happening at Facebook & Twitter than original thinking. but maybe i'm being too harsh. what i will say is that gmail / gTalk already has some useful features based on simply associating faces with email & IM conversations. however, i'll also say that when i used to work with Jawed Karim at PayPal, before he went off to create YouTube he was showing me a visual IM client way back in 2004. perhaps the interesting & minimalist elements of Wave are derived from this very basic association... and if so then i'll be eager to see what they've put together when it ships. in any case, it's clear that Wave is emphasizing faces in a way that has never before been done at Google.
Twitter is another company that i might suggest has done some basic things right with face representations, altho the UI is rather spartan (unless you're using a Twitter client of one sort or other). and before Twitter, i thought MyBlogLog had done some interesting things with faces as well.
As i almost always suggest, the reference presentation for many of these ideas is something called "Putting the Fun in Functional" by Amy Jo Kim, Shufflebrain. AJ does a great job of explaining why the basic human psychology around collection behavior are well-suited for "collecting faces", and how this makes it easier for people to take the actions you want them to.
Brad Feld (& others) recently picked up my tweet and wrote his own piece on "all about the faces", however i think in that post he was discussing a somewhat different subject around whether faces or avatar icons work better in certain social environments. i think he also comes to the conclusion that faces are important, altho i also think warm, fuzzy, familiar avatar icons can also function in positive, user-engaging ways just like faces can.
anyway, this post has now gone on quite long enough, but the primary point i was trying to make is that many consumer internet applications can improve their UI & conversion by simply:
1) Keeping the overall UI simple
2) Use big, high-contrast 3D buttons with simple call-to-action text
3) Use large graphics & icons, and in particular use hi-quality zoomed-in faces
and of course, all of this should be done with rapid, iterative, a/b testing to measure results.
alright this really hasn't hit all the points i wanted to cover yet, but i'll stop here.
at some point in the future i'd like to talk more about how to improve invitation UI dialogs by filtering the available people & friends to focus on smaller subsets with larger facial representations. in other words, less people, who i care more about, with bigger pictures.
or then again, maybe just a big-ass picture of someone's butt would work just as well.