Thursday, November 29, 2007

A different experience

One of the things that is readily observable when I'm on the road at trade shows is the built in defense that the attendees have for marketing claims for products and services, especially in the email filtering space.

Everyone unanimously agrees that you don't trust performance claims by the manufacturer. Period. So much so, that when I joke about it, everyone smiles and nods. Really, everyone does.

Gee, why is that? Perhaps for the previous 5 or 6 years anti-spam companies have been overstating claims of what they're product does? No? Could that be the case? (anyone catch my sarcasm here?) ;-)

I'm not a sales guy. Yeah yeah, I'm out selling, but I'm a technology guy who's being an evangelist about my product. My enthusiasm is genuine, I look people in the eye when I talk to them and I'm open and honest about the product and our competitors.

My goal every time I get the opportunity to talk to someone is to have a conversation about the product, not stand on my soap box and just talk. I want to engage them in a productive conversation and my goal isn't to get them to order a unit on the spot. My goal is that sometime during our conversation, I earn their trust. And in turn, trust MailFoundry to handle they're most sensitive and valuable communications asset, their email. If I don't earn they're trust, I don't believe that we've earned the opportunity to have them as a customer.

As the fall schedule comes to a close in the next two weeks, I'll be examining how effective our efforts were for building end customer product demand and how the shows themselves performed and what we'll do in 2008.

One thing is certain, the more I get out and engage people, and put a face on the name of the company, the more successful we are. Mind you - this isn't about me. Not at all. This is about a different experience with a manufacturer. They're real people. So are we. We let them interact with us as people, not a anonymous customers to a faceless corporation. The product we produce is not the only thing that's a different experience.

The company itself should be a different experience.

Is your company just like everyone else? How do your customers really see you? What are you doing to shape and influence their experience?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


If you read my blog you know I'm a huge Google Maps fan. While returning to my hotel room this afternoon in Portland I happened to strike up a conversation with the person next to me and much to my surprise, she's a road crew tech for the company that does all the pictures you see in Google Maps. Very cool! Bummer that her car mate was stricken with stomach flu, but that's life on the road I guess.

The picture here is the Portland Convention Center in Google Maps which is where the show is this week.


Fred posts this morning that his brand image of Apple is "fear and loathing" and that this is "...not a great brand image"

Fred writes, "I am afraid to upgrade to a new version of iTunes because it might make my music and video unusable or it might brick my iPhone."

As for bricking Fred's iPhone - Fred, you've unlocked your iPhone and are using it with TMobile. Any problems stemming from that are YOUR problem, not Apple's. I've blogged about this in the past and forecasted that folks like Fred would whine about this.

"I have a brand new iPhone sitting right next to me on my desk that I can't figure out how to unlock and jailbreak now that it comes pre-loaded with 1.1.2 firmware. So it just sits there on my desk making me hate Apple more every day"

Again, this is Apple's problem?! Cripes man, get a grip! My beloved Treo doesn't work in Europe. Is that Palm's problem? Sprint's? What am I going to to, hate Palm?! I'm the idiot that bought the phone KNOWING that this was an issue. You bought an iPhone knowing that in order to use it the way YOU want to use it, you need to jailbreak it. And because you can't either 1) figure out how to do that, or 2) have the balls to run the jailbreak code for fear it will brick the iPhone, that's Apple's problem??

But wait, the best is yet to come...

"Apple is an old school company. Instead of forcing Verizon to open up like Google does, they make a sick consumer unfriendly deal with AT&T here in the states and then proceed to replicate it around the world. Thank god there are governments in other parts of the world that are willing to stand up for the rights of the consumer."

Uh, Fred, what "rights"??

Dude! I bought this killer 30mpg Mercedes R class and can you believe that they FORCE me to put diesel fuel in it?!! I mean, WTF! What about my rights!! I want to run unleaded premium gas in my car! And did you look inside?! There's no 8 track player?!? How will I play all my Seals and Croft 8 Tracks?!? Please, someone call the government and make them fix they're product!!

Ok, perhaps that was a little bit much, but its essentially the same as Fred's whine. Why people feel the need to turn to the government to fix things is beyond me.

Hmm, Market Forces 101 : If a product in the marketplace doesn't serve the market, then another product will come along to fill the void and serve the market better. If not, then perhaps this is something Fred needs to jump into, given he has the financial capability and he's an astute consumer in the marketplace.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of Apple's decision to marry the iPhone with AT&T. I think its a horrible decision that is holding back the growth of the iPhone in the US and while I (and Fred) don't agree with Apple's strategy, we can both just go pound sand and blog about it, whine about it and even throw ourselves on the floor and have a full out tantrum about it. What did I do about it? I gave my iPhone back and went back to my Treo.

Fred, I, as a consumer, have a right - and that right is my choice.

Not "choice" as in government should force them to provide me with a choice, but the power to choose.

I choose not to use an iPhone 'cause I didn't like a lot of things about it. And just because I don't like things about it doesn't give me the right to make Apple change. They can do what they want. Its their company, not mine. And no government in the world should have the right to force Apple to do anything about its products. Market forces will do that.

Fred's a smart guy. But why he believes he (and the rest of us) needs a government tit to suckle off of is beyond me. Perhaps he wasn't breast fed enough as a child? I have no freakin' idea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Slow Company

The upcoming issue of Fast Company has a cover article that explores the exposure and possible downside of Apple's current position in the marketplace.

The writer is critical of Apple's ability to stay on top because, "In an age of convergence and simplification, customers are ever more insistent that computers, phones, TV, and music systems work together."

No, GEEKS are insistent that their products exhibit this type of behavior. The mass market is flocking to Apple because they're products WORK.

He continues, "Winning outright is a very tall order, of course. It means coming up with a self-contained system so beautifully functional that a critical mass of consumers are willing to enter that world and never leave."

Uh, dude - isn't that what Apple's done with the iPod?? Someone needs to hit this guy with a clue-by-four. And hard!

Not yet done, " But when you get down to it, the Apple phenomenon is as much about fashion as it is about technology. You might say that Steve Jobs is the Marc Jacobs of computers (minus the heroin), betting the house his products will be, season after season, cooler than anyone else’s. Yet fashion is, by definition, fickle. Lose the buzz, and you’ve got trouble. And for the first time in years, there are signs that Apple is not infallible and that Jobs’s reservoir of goodwill with his followers is not bottomless."

Apple's success is based on products that WORK, that also happen to look good. Other companies can make good looking products (ie. a nice looking Windows machine) but in the end, its still FLAWED and is doomed to exist along with crappier looking, but functionally equal products.

The "buzz" with Apple is form combined with function. That's the secret sauce. No real secret there mind you.

I looked and I don't see where Apple claimed to be infallible. If anything, they're the master of learning from their mistakes almost on a small business level, but with the ability to execute globally as the multi-billion dollar company that they are.

I know its cool to be a renegade, and in this case, to bash Apple. But the intellect here is about on par with a headline about Peary's conquest of the North Pole by saying, "Peary has no place else to go but south!"

Yeah, bloody brilliant insight.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Blast from the past

I was working on my MacBook Pro this weekend and stumbled across this picture from WAAAYYYYY back. Hmmm, lets see what's in the photo :

- My Apple ][e with my custom EFRom for, er, software security engineering testing. Yeah, that's what those were for. (I still have this machine in storage)
- 12" Amdek monitor. That thing killed!
- Applecat modem (those who know, well, you know)
- Sider 10MB hard drive - 27 lusty volumes of jet turbine sounding ProDOS goodness. (lower right of pic with the AT&T logo on it)
- My good friend (another David) driving - hell of a coder, now easily one of the best plastic surgeons in the country.
- 4:06 AM - another late night coding in the winter of 1985 at boarding school.
- note the print outs in front of David and the pen in his hand. Yeah, those were the days.
- See the blue handset on the monitor? Well, that was the handset off of the Applecat which was also wired into the payphone in the dorm basement. Somewhat problematic if I forgot to disconnect the line and the payphone rang with an incoming call...
- Oh, just noticed the Apple joystick next to the Sider in the lower right corner.

I don't even want to guess the music we were listening to that night. LOL

Ok, I think my geek rating just went up a few points. (sigh)

Apple's "Hobby" product

Steve has always said that the AppleTV product was more of a hobby than a full fledged product. This has lead to a lot of confusion in the marketplace, since if you've ever used it, its feature rich and works pretty damn well for a hobby product.

The reason its a hobby is that Apple didn't know really where this product would fall in terms of customer usage in the entertainment stack and with a household with iMac's and MacBooks's with video content on them. Its a really cool device, but its kinda riding the fence because it requires you to load or stream to it from another computer or laptop.

Now the time has come for AppleTV to move to version 2.0 and find its true place in the entertainment media spectrum. The largest addition to the platform will be the ability to directly access the iTunes store for ordering, downloading and streaming content ON DEMAND. The verdict is still out on its DVR capabilities and existing AppleTV's will be firmware upgradable for these new features.

Expect to see the new device this January at MacWorld and at CES.


Go ahead. Take the geek test. I dare ya.

How'd ya do?

I'm happy to report that I'm ONLY 61% geek.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"We want Dallas!"

Today's Thanksgiving day game against Detroit is behind us. The Pack advances to 10-1, but the Cowgirls routed the Jets (no surprise there) and they also advance to 10-1. The stage is set for next Thursday's game in Dallas as these two teams get to hammer it out for 60 minutes to decide who gets to sit on top of the NFC. (Its the biggest game of the season, and thanks to the NFL, almost nobody will get to see it, unless you live in Green Bay, Milwaukee or Dallas. Oh yea, if you are one of the few thousand that subscribe to NFL network, you get it too.)

In the final minutes of a playoff game in 1997 in Lambeau Field, the entire stadium was chanting "We want Dallas! We want Dallas!". It raised the hair on the back of your neck. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.

Next week, those 74,000+ fans are gonna get their wish.

UPDATE - somehow I missed this, but with the conference win over Detroit, we're on top of Dallas for the lead in the NFC. SWEET! (click for larger standings image)

(and as always, the picture on top is from, the standings image is from

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A winning strategy

Tonight there were 3 (UPDATE - 4 calls - see below) calls to the house from telemarketers that once you picked up, played an automatic message that put you on hold to wait for a live person. I hung up each time. (and its only 6:30pm, so I expect a few more calls! Light those lights!!)

Seriously, is this a winning strategy? Does telemarketing even work anymore? And as long as I'm asking, does fax spam work? I'd say we have at least one, if not two fax spams per day at the office. All of these various spams actually have a real world cost component as compared to email spam, so the folks involved really need to use winning strategies and techniques in order to get their ROI.

Calling someone only to put them on hold seriously can't increase their chances of actually selling you something.

It must work, 'cause they're still at it.

UPDATE - got a 4th call, so I stayed on the line and after 35 seconds, got a person. I asked him several times for the name of the company he was calling for, "Allied..." something or other, he was deliberately slurring the name since he was alert that I was PO'd. Upon the "remove my number from your database" request, he danced around the issue and then flat out told me that "since you are being uncooperative, I'm going to leave you on the list since I don't believe that you are responsible for the billing on this number." A-M-A-Z-I-N-G

What would you rather have?

With yesterday's announcement of the $399 Kindle eReader from Amazon, this morning's Engadget article begs the question - Which will sell better? The $399 Kindle, or this $399 laptop from Dell? Which features a 1.7ghz cpu, Windows XP, XGA display, 120GB hard drive, 1GB ram, DVD-R, ATI graphics card and 802.11g.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What does Lion taste like?

Sundays win against the Panthers put the Pack on top of the NFC tied with the Cowboys. They lead us though we're both 9-1 since we lost to the Bears, and I hope that loss doesn't come back to haunt us. This week the Pack travels to Detroit for a little Thanksgiving football. A win here could clinch the division for us as we'd be up by 5 games.

There was a great sign at the game on Sunday, "Today we eat Panthers, and on Thursday we'll eat Lions instead of Turkey". ;-)

Again, the photo here is from through the lens of Jim Biever.

If you want two tickets to the next home game on Dec 9 against the Raiders, I've got mine up on Ebay as I'm busy that day and can't make it to the game. GO PACK GO!


What do you get when you take this : (GM solar powered racer)

And crossbreed it with this? (Cirrus R22)

You get this! a 300 mpg "car" from Aptera.

I'm sure there's a market for it somewhere, provided it can pass the DOT safety requirements, etc. (with three wheels, is it really a car? Or a motorcycle?) On the design side, the wheel layout is like a classic taildragger aircraft, and those can be tricky to handle when on the ground.

This design is all about human transportation without any utility. Pure people mover, provided you only need two seats.

Kinda intriguing, eh?

Net it out

Ok, the Kindle's details are out - Engadget has decent coverage of the launch. (photo here is from Engadget, watermark and all) While Jeff is doing the expected "groundbreaking" and "paradigm shifting" crap in his demo, here's what I think is important in this announcement.

1. Bundled EVDO with no contract. Ok, this is cool. WAY COOL. But is it what it really is? Sure its EVDO, and as a end user you don't have a contract, but do you have full EVDO capabilities? I somehow doubt it. I'd expect that Amazon has a low bandwidth/usage agreement with Sprint with a up front payment structure with some sort of rev share on book sales, etc. The device isn't able to really consume data given its data formats. Jeff calls it "whispernet" which I think eludes to the low data consumption capabilities of the Kindle. I think hackers will dive into this to see what's really going on here - EVDO is just too cherry of a service not to find out what's under the hood. (also, I'm going to assume it has regular Sprint Vision data as well)

2. Lots of tech. The Kindle has a lot of little nice things on it - the reduction of which would bring the price down, but perhaps not enough to justify the omission? I dunno, I'm not in hardware deep enough to know the real costs of the slide bar display, etc. I think they could have built a low end version of this for $99 or so. This price point wouldn't leave any $$ for Sprint (assuming some of the cost of the unit goes to Sprint) but with a sub $100 price point, I'd bet that sales would benefit a healthy boost because, after all, Jeff is really interested in the ongoing book and subscription revenue. So, don't you want to maximize distribution of the reader?? Sure they could drop the price later - ala Apple and the iPhone price change, but Amazon should have learned a lesson there and opted to come out swinging and go take the emerging eBook market.

3. Email, blog reading, etc. are all internet centric items hinting at this device playing the middle ground between a true stand alone book reader and an internet device. Note I didn't say internet CAPABLE device, and there's a difference there. There's real use in the Kindle, but I'm not sure how smart that is, though it goes a long way to help justify the price of the product. It then begs the question as to how far should they take it? But how far can they take it? The display is the limiting factor here - no color and low res. (Assuming slow CPU and severely limited graphics capabilities) So where does that leave the Kindle in terms of real use as an internet device? Let alone a $399 device?

In the end, this is more than a book reader, but where will it carve out a market? Does it fit into my ubiquitous computing post from this morning? I think it wants to be - but the display and CPU is a deal killer.

Something I'm a fan of

A reader pointed out in email to me that in the recent posts that I'm quick to tell you what I'm not a fan of, and he asks, "So, what ARE you a fan of?"

With my posts about the iPhone and Kindle, while there's plenty I don't like about those devices, BUT! there's an undercurrent that I like and have been since I got into computers when I was a wee lad.

This weekend I found myself in Best Buy (hate that store, but ended up there because they were the only ones in town that had an Airport Express in stock) and I was on the verge of buying a handful of iPod Touch's. Why? Not for their music or video capability, but rather for their use as a low cost handheld wireless computer. With the forthcoming iPhone development initiative and the ongoing jailbreak/hacking on the platform, the Touch and the iPhone are two of the best products out there in terms of ubiquitous computing.

Sure there are Windows tablets out there. Heck, some guys even hacked MacBooks to be a touch tablet, but I'm looking for a low cost, small handheld in which the OS doesn't need to be worked with in order for users to use it.

Science Fiction has a neat social model for this - I'm referring to all the little tablets in Star Trek (TNG, DS9, etc.) ... they come in lots of shapes and sizes and nobody owns them. They are cheap, everywhere and disposable.

The Touch isn't perfect for this, but its really nice in terms of doing a little social experiments to see where it leads. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we're there yet, but I think we're headed there with products like this. There have been a few products that were close, but were missing some important ingredient - for example : Palm's last few tablets. They had the low cost part down pat, all they needed was wifi with the ability to run a browser like Opra, etc. and they could have nailed it years ago. I think the LifeDrive was a possibility, but they blew that as a near miss.

I think Apple is the best bet with their iPhone/Touch platform - and as many of you know, I'm still looking forward to Apple releasing the device that sits in the gap between the iPhone/Touch and the MacBook at MacWorld Expo in January.

Damn, there I go again. I'm such a tease. ;-)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Books rule

Tomorrow, Jeff Bezos and company will formally announce the Kindle. Its a rather ugly looking, but technologically adept electronic book reader. (sans backlighting) Its rumored (thanks to the FCC website) to have EVDO (Sprint), WiFi (Update - no WiFi), about 30 hours of reading operation and have access to close to 90,000 books at launch which should download in 2-3 minutes with the (rumored) connectivity. MSRP is $399 (again, rumored) and this is (rumored) supposed to include the EVDO service. Its also (rumored) to have email built in.

I'm thrilled to see built in EVDO, but its completely mismatched for the application (books). I think Amazon could easily get away with plain old wireless data - after all, we're talking text files here.

Funny, the device that SHOULD have EVDO (iPhone) doesn't, but this device that shouldn't, does. How ironic.

At $399, this device is near priced to low end PC laptops with WAY more capabilities. Do we assume that a bulk of the price is headed towards the wireless carrier (rumored to be Sprint)?

Nothing really makes business sense on this product.

The price is WAY too high. Who is it marketed towards? Can't be business travelers as I can't imagine anyone who wants to add another electronic gadget to the already overweight load of gear, plus its accessories. Home users? Doubt it. Elderly? Nope, eyesight problems with screens, let alone the technology hurdle. Kids? Yeah, right. Hmmm, who's left?

When it comes to reading, there's nothing better than a book. Turning pages, the feel of the paper, bookmarking with your boarding pass (a habit of mine) and the best part - no batteries or charging needed. Last time I checked, I never had that problem with a book.

Ok, I'm busted. I'm not, and never have been, a fan of eBooks. Its not that I don't think people like to read on their computer (ok, I do actually think people prefer books and print for recreational reading) but do we really need a new breed of specialized machines built just for this purpose? No way. Jeff should know better. IMHO - his personal stock is headed downward with this one. (I'm likening it to the stillborn Palm Foleo and how it changed
my personal view of Jeff Hawkins role as a visionary and technologist)

Now if Amazon gave them away for free .... there might be a business model in there someplace....

UPDATE - FSJ busted the Kindle on its design. (go figure)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why is this a good idea?

I have to admit, I'm NOT a fan of the whole phone/mp3 player (ipod) mash-up. I'm not sure where this convergence idea came from, and considering that every iteration of the idea has failed miserably, I'm amazed that providers keep going in this direction. (The Juke that's pictured here is the latest entrant into the market)

Before you email me about the obvious iPhone's success, I need to point out that the success of the iPhone isn't the integration of the phone and ipod, its the total package and the promise of extending the OSX desktop experience that has lead to its success. Oh, and its an Apple product designed by angels, and that's a sure bet for a home run product. ;-)

The ads for the Juke are pretty compelling, not from a product perspective, but just in terms of decent marketing. The Juke itself will fail, just like all the other phones with mp3 players built into them, not because the product sucks, but because its a bad idea.

The problem is that its neither a good phone or MP3 player. Of course its not an ipod, which is a death sentence in itself.

A lot of folks are heralding the Google/Android announcement as the second coming, but I don't see it. (yet) After I get some hands-on time with it in January I should have a better feel for it, but right now, I'm not excited about it. Perhaps its because I've not been thrilled with any of Google's product/services in a few years. All they do is search, and everything else blows. Yeah, that could be it. ;-)

The right tool for the job

You always need to have the right tool for the job, and when it comes to preparing food, your knives can make or break your experience. I can compromise just about anywhere in the kitchen, but when it comes to my knives, I want a precision tool sharpened for maximum performance.

All knives are not created equal, and the three in the lineup here are my mainstays, along with a well used (and abused) cutting board.

There's one tool that this rule doesn't apply to. A hammer. When it comes to hammers, there are really two rules that apply. 1) a hammer can fix anything and 2) anything can be a hammer.

If you know what the middle knife is for, email me and you'll win a prize if you're right. ;-)

Brain dump

I'm working on a startup right now, and when I'm in the groove, its almost impossible for my to get a good nights sleep. My mind is racing and I'll wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea and can't get back to sleep as my mind is off and running. (actually, even when I'm not working on a new project this is a common problem for me)

The strategy I've developed to deal with this situation is amazingly simple. I just grab a legal pad and pen and literally dump all my thoughts to paper. Once I've got it written down and out of my sometimes forgetful mind, my heart rate slows and I'm able to once again lay my head down and fall back to sleep. I do NOT use my laptop for this - for me there's something peaceful and cleansing about a pen and paper. Plus I'd probably get distracted with email, etc. and never get back to sleep.

I realized early on that I stress out when I'm in this mode because I'm franticly coming up with ideas and somewhat fearful that I'll forget them. Writing them down not only solves this problem, but it also forces me to clarify the ideas as I put them to paper.

I bring it up only because another business owner asked me how I deal with this sort of problem. If it can help him, I figure its worth mentioning here.

Sleep tight!

Music everywhere

Ever since the Airport Express came out, I've been a huge fan. I've got them in my office, scattered around the house and at least one in my bag when I travel so I can easily make the wired connection in my hotel room wireless. (or share a single connection with employees in rooms next to me)

I just bought another Express today with some desktop Bose speakers to add some tunes to the kitchen. When I cook I like to have music playing - keeps me in the groove as I'm preparing a meal, serving up drinks and entertaining guests. All I do is plug in the Express, speakers and wala! Instant music. No speaker wire to run, its quick, easy and can be moved as needed.

With iTunes, you can select multiple wireless speakers and drive music anywhere you want. Great capability with minimal cost and of course, no wiring.

You can also send streaming music in iTunes to the Airport Express as well. The only downside is that it has to be streaming music IN iTunes - so until Apple buys Pandora, I'm outa luck in this department. (yea, I know I'm beating a dead horse here....sigh)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not something you see every day

I'm used to seeing odd aircraft at EAA's convention every summer in Oshkosh (OSH). However, when I randomly catch unique aircraft when I'm not expecting it, its a nice little treat.

Upon landing in Philly tonight, I was beat, tired and my contact lenses were giving me fits. I blinked twice to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing - and sure enough, sitting out adjacent to the runway we just landed on was an Antonov 124 transport aircraft belonging to Volga-Dnepr Airlines.

My camera was out of battery juice and not that it would have mattered as there was really no way I could have gotten a shot anyway. The picture here is from If you like planes, that website really rocks. Check it out.

Opportunity cost

I was speaking with one of our account reps for a trade show series that we do and she was really bummed out about her travel schedule that her boss booked for her. She could have gotten an early flight out on the last day of the trade show, but in order to save a few bucks, they put her on the red eye flight instead. This puts her with 6 hours of downtime sitting at the airport, the pain of a two connection red eye flight, and they expect her to work the next day as well. On top of it all, she's got a negative feeling about the whole deal and for what? Saving a few bucks? Is the downside worth it?

Travel is a pain. Travel cross country is a real pain, especially from the west coast in the afternoon when your destination is east of the Mississippi. Doing the little things like getting folks on decent flights or cutting them a little slack if they do a red eye flight can go a long way towards keeping your staff happy.

We travel a lot - the fall trade show schedule has been kinda a death march, and while we just suck it up and hammer as best we can, we also keep our flights, hotels and ground transportation plans under control to minimize wait, expedite travel times and keep logistics complexity to a minimum to manage the opportunity for problems to near zero. It works best that we book our own flights and hotels, cutting out the middle man and be in control of our own destinies.

We're all a lot happier as a result and when something goes wrong, we can only point fingers at ourselves. And that's just the way we like it.

I know if she was given the control to manage her own travel schedule, she'd be more productive and a happier employee. Bummer that they're mismanaging that situation. The opportunity cost of finding another employee with her capabilities is nothing compared to the few bucks that they saved.

Facebook's bubble?

Facebook is working on monetizing their ever growing user base and page views, but one of the problems with a younger demographic is that they really don't respond to adverts on sites like Facebook.

Fred has a trial on Facebook, and has gotten a fair amount of impressions, but no click through action. Others talk about much larger impressions for their ads, but still the same (zero) response in terms of clicks. Is this really a Facebook failure, or is it just a terrible place to advertise a venture capital firm? If you look at the activities going on there, advertising something like Union Square Ventures doesn't make a whole lot of sense in terms of real ROI, but it IS generating some free PR for Fred and company.

For advertisers who are a prime candidate for Facebook users, I wonder how well its working out for them? I'm talking in terms of impressions, click thru, cost per click and % conversion for action. This metric is what I'd use as a real world value for putting a number on FaceBooks' valuation. Google had the same problem in terms of value as search, and then they monetized search with adwords and BAM! Solid revenues that continue to drive their stock price. Sure investors like Microsoft bought into Facebook at an agreed upon value, but to keep the bubble in check, you need to actually look at value in terms of its market value for operations (advertising) else you risk being a large part of another dot com bubble burst.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Truth in blogging

Just a quick shout out to Shoemoney for admitting on his blog that he was accidentally in the woman's bathroom at the Blog World Expo in Vegas last week. Did he need to tell his readers that? Heck no.

But he did. Kudos dude. I still don't buy how you ended up there in the first place, but I'll let you slide on that. LOL

PS - click on the image and don't freak when you see the $$ in his Google Adsense check.

A little trivia

I learned last night that the Apple iTouch ad that's running out on broadcast TV was actually created by an 18 year old British student, Nick Haley.

Very cool! Not bad to have on the resume, eh?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New Apple (MAC) Ad

Its been a while since I've seen a Mac TV ad, but then again, I don't watch a lot of TV so for all I know, this ad might be an old one. (Update - Just saw these on some Apple sites this morning, so they are new ads)

My favorite Apple ad is the first one about Vista - the one with the guy in sunglasses looking like a secret service dude standing behind PC asking for authorizations while PC and Mac chat back and forth. I was at the last RSA show in San Francisco and while talking to a guy from Microsoft, he noticed the Mac driving the display next to me. He broke out in a big smile and said, "Have you seen the Apple ad ripping on Vista?" I had to admit that I hadn't, and he continued, "You gotta see it!" and goes on to describe the ad to me in detail, visible enjoying the ad in his mind all the time. The shocker was when he explained that the ad was ripping through the Redmond campus since its release and all the folks he knew at the offices loved it.

Its hard to produce an ad that has humor, staying power and still works in the marketplace, let alone a string of ads that do just that.

If you have a few minutes to kill, check 'em all out.

Annoying tactics

While watching TV - more to the point, ABC at night (Sunday night), you might notice that when the commercials come on, you have to turn down the volume or else be blasted by the volume from your TV. Now I've heard commercials louder when watching television, but ABC has gone above the beyond what's tolerable.

Slightly louder is one thing, but when I have to reduce the volume to HALF of that before the commercial, I draw the line. I don't watch a lot of TV, so perhaps I'm more sensitive to it than others, but still...

This is so well known that there are even products that automatically control the volume for you.

I'm certain that there's some lame assed ABC marketer who has all sorts of study groups that states that this tactic works, but perhaps they need to do a study and find out how annoying it is. I think the general assumption is that normal everyday folks who watch ABC are nimrods and just sit there when the commercials come on.

Add this to the list of why TV advertising keeps slipping into the white noise.

8-1 and still rollin'

I have to admit, I was nervous about the game today against the Vikings. Sure we beat them in Minnesota earlier this season, we're on a roll and we have them outmatched at almost every position. But still, I was nervous. Its like the loss we had to the Bears almost exactly a month ago - we lost to an inferior team when we should have won. I call these games, "spoiler games", and I was afraid we were going to meet one again today.

Boy was I wrong. (and happily so!) The Pack trounced the Vikings handily and shut down their so-called running game. Now the Pack advances with an 8-1 record and as I write this, Detroit looks like they'll drop to two games behind us. (yeah, I probably just jinxed that game, sorry) UPDATE - Detroit lost. ;-)

Friends of mine in Boston are pinging me for a possible Packers/Pats rematch in the Super Bowl, but that's a LONG way off and we have a lot of pigskin to play.

But that sure would be fun, eh?

(again, photo credit from, a production of DMiNTERACTIVE)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Small is good

One of the most popular questions we get at trade shows is, "How many people work at MailFoundry?". Lately I've been asking back, "Why do you ask?" and the common theme is because we're being innovative and doing things that people claim is impossible (ZERO false positives WITH 98+% kill rates on spam) they are wondering just how we're doing what we're doing. Everyone is surprised when I tell them "...less than 20".

I'm a big believer that a small, highly focused team can accomplish more in less time than larger, more complex groups of people given the same project. This philosophy was anchored in my brain back in my early teens as I discovered how Kelly Johnson and his now famous Skunk Works at Lockheed Martin worked to build truly revolutionary airplanes some of which (SR71) are still unequalled 40+ years after their first flights.

In addition to the team being small, it needs to be flat. Seclusion is also an important ingredient, and it also helps that the work space be, how shall I say, less than desirable? No plush offices, no high priced furniture and even things broken all contributed to increased productivity of Kelly's group.

When I spun off the group that is now MailFoundry in the winter of 1999, we moved from the larger group in the middle of the night into the basement of a building I had recently bought. We didn't tell anyone we were leaving, or where we were going. Not even my management team knew what we were up to. There was construction going on and we were almost impossible to find. They saw our cars there, but it took some of them weeks to locate us. This enabled us to get development back on track and set the stage for what was to follow. As the team has grown and shrunk over the years, one thing rings true - when we're small, flat and fast, everyone is happiest and we turn out our best work.

Are you small, flat and fast?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Unbridled enthusiasm

After a little schedule mix up, I ended up connecting with a good friend of mine who's working for a Valley startup that was at the TechCrunch40 this fall. They were in Vegas for some work and a little R&R and it was refreshing to spend some time with a young startup and interact with a small, highly focused and motivated group who's not only working their collective asses off, but having a heck of a good time doing it.

MailFoundry has matured past the startup phase a while ago, and in some ways we're getting entrenched in the day to day business growth battle, yet we strive to keep that unbridled enthusiasm that fuels a young new company.

I had a great time interacting with each of the members of the team and we got to also get into some nice technological conversations as well. It was interesting to me to observe the team as they interacted and it was obvious to me that their personal and professional relationships inside of the team were working in a positive direction that will build towards their future.

So many companies that I observe today have some sort of culture, but nothing close to that which I witnessed with these fired up folks.

Did your company ever have this sort of passion and enthusiasm? Do you still have it? Where did it go? Can you get it back? How would you do that?

The question for this group is that as they grow, can they maintain the culture that is so very much the fiber in the fabric of their company culture?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My take

Essentially anyone who doesn't have their own mobile OS has joined the Google open handset alliance and those who have an OS didn't.

Several handset manufacturers jumped in and that makes sense as now they'll be able to produce their own handsets without licensing fees for Symbian, etc.

The real question is can a beta company (Google) produce a version 1.0 product and keep it going in a product form that consumers around the world will use? I'm guessing that the only reason this has come to fruition is that when Google acquired Android they've kept them as an operating unit and didn't toss them into the mess that is the Googleplex. I've been there a few times and the only way to describe it is that its like being at a university, but less productive.

Palm isn't in the alliance, and they've got a closed OS, but always have had a killer developers kit for the Palm OS. Granted, the Palm OS is getting a little long in the tooth and is sorely in need of being replaced, but the number of apps for the OS go beyond any other mobile device out there.

Being Google, one also has to assume that the OS will be heavily tied to the network for services, but will revenue come from those services? And will it be direct (from the handset user) or indirect (advertising, etc.)?

Time will tell.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

7-1 Baby!

Amazing. Simply amazing. Nobody on the planet would have bet that the Pack would be 7 and 1 at this point in the season. Today's game wasn't pretty, but the final 2 minutes were decisive and nailed it for us. And in the end, a win is a win, no matter how it happened.

The pic here is from, a website that one of my companies has operated for the team since 1996 when we won the original web contract. We're proud of our relationship with the team over all these years and the folks we work with at the Pack are some of the best.

Go Pack Go!


The sun is finally setting behind the point. From now until spring (and the day we move the clocks ahead again) life moves indoors for the most part. Gone are the days of folks walking the road and just stopping in. And evenings of conversation on the deck or around the fire pit will be on hiatus until the sun returns to its position past the point.

The weather is about to turn and up north is forecasted for 8 to 10 inches of snow. Heads up Fraggle! Winter is headed your way!

I'm off to Las Vegas tomorrow for the Exchange Connections show and mid week we redeye it to Philly for an ITEC show. Not the best schedule, but it is what it is.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The disaster that is Vista

With the launch of OSX 10.5, I got to thinking about how Windows users were fairing with Vista as for the past couple of months I've been inquiring with Windows admins about Vista and their experiences with it.

I knew things weren't going well, but I'm kinda living under a rock when it comes to exposure to Vista news so I didn't have a handle on what was really going on.

Between all the trade shows and traveling, I have yet to come across ONE Windows admin who was running it on his personal machine (except Eric, who only did it for his new kick butt gaming machine and he's none to happy about it at all). And when it comes to enterprise deployment, everyone was not only NOT using it, they were openly verbally negative about the prospect of it and wanted nothing to do with it.

Since we're usually at network security shows, those admins were also openly negative about the monies spent on network and desktop security because of how insecure Windows is.

Vista has been how many years in the making and Microsoft spent HOW much money on it? come to think of it, what was the last major release that Microsoft had that folks were really happy with?

I have to shake my head and wonder how these folks can keep shelling out good money for such crappy software. It just boggles the mind.

It goes back to the image on this post that I sent to all my Windows friends on the launch day.

I think the "wow" refers to, "Wow, this Vista really sucks more than we thought it would!"