Build Your Boat Now Before The Mobile Tsunami Washes You Away

The wave is coming. Like a tsunami that starts miles off shore, unnoticeable to the human eye in the middle of the ocean but gradually builds up speed and power as it gets closer to land, a mobile tidal wave is most definitely building. And it’s forming right in front of our very eyes.

You may have noticed people aren’t looking up very much anymore. No, when you see a person nowadays they are most likely looking down at their hand. Next time you are on public transportation, in a restaurant, at the mall or any other pubic (or private) place, take your eyes off your device and just watch people. It will blow you away how often people look at their mobile devices.

So as I was doing some recent market research I came across quite possibly the most staggering collection of mobile usage and commerce statistics in the world. It’s well worth your review if you want to know where the world is going. Since it takes quite a while to swim through I have pulled out some of the most impressive stats and wrapped them into a conversation about the mobile web. Spoiler alert: You’re gonna get wet!

6 Billion Mobile Devices

There are approximately 5.9 billion mobile subscribers, which is roughly 87 percent of the world population. Mobile subscriptions outnumber fixed lines 5-to-1. Also, there are now 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide, based on the latest stats for active mobile-broadband subscriptions. Did you notice the ratio difference between mobile subscribers and mobile web users? It is easy to see why the experts predict that mobile Web usage will overtake PC-based Web usage very soon and why it would be a good idea to have a real mobile strategy.

Many of those mobile Web users are mobile-only, meaning they do not, or very rarely use a desktop, laptop or tablet to access the Web. Even in the US 25 percent of mobile Web users are mobile-only. In mature markets, the mobile Web will be a leading technology for business to consumer (B2C) mobile applications and should be part of every organization’s business strategy. If you are a merchant or a local business you need to pay attention and build that dang boat, a figurative term for your mobile site and interactive mobile experience utilizing an app, mobile browser or text.

8 Trillion Text Messages

Speaking of text messaging. Over 8 trillion text messages were sent in 2011, overtaking voice minutes and making it the worlds most popular mobile communication medium. We have yet to see the biggest impact SMS and messaging will have on our society. A2P, application to person SMS, is expected to overtake person to person SMS in 2016. A2P messaging includes messages between applications and customers in financial services, advertising, marketing, business administration, ticketing, television voting, and other automated systems. This nascent market should not be overlooked – by 2016 A2P messaging is estimated being worth more than $70 billion.

Global expenditure on mobile advertising was approximately $3.6 billion in 2009, and is estimated to grow to $38 billion in 2015 and the worldwide mobile messaging market will reach $334.7 billion by 2015. For any businesses this is significant or a number of reasons, namely to identify the most cost effective platforms to utilize in their mobile commerce.  People respond differently to different types of mobile marketing, proven by studies in the UK and France, where they found opt-in SMS gets the best results, and in Germany mobile Web ads got the best results.  It seems time sensitive special offers or discounts (especially mobile coupons) were most likely to lead to a purchase.

$1 Trillion of Mobile Payments

Most significant will be the transformation in how we use our mobile devices in everyday commerce. Mobile ad spend worldwide is predicted to sky rocket to $20.6 billion in 2015, driven by search ads and local ads. A logical evolution for mobile search is towards mobile transactions. Once the connection has been established through the mobile device, brands can build up much more detailed profiles of users compared to online and plan follow-up campaigns accordingly. In 2009, there were 81.3 million people worldwide using their mobile device to make payments and it is estimated by the end of 2014, this is forecasted to rise to nearly 490 million. Mobile transactions will drastically change our society. The market for paying by mobile device could be well over $1 trillion by 2015.  Simply put, that is HUGE!

Now we know a flood is coming so let’s go back to thinking about your boat. If you were building an actual boat, would it be smart to build only to float in salt water? Probably not. Then why are we building systems and business only for specific devices and operating systems? If you follow that logic you will definitely drown when the tidal wave hits since 95 percent of the worldwide mobile device market is not an Apple.  It would be best to build your boat – a mobile-optimized web experience – looking beyond a single device to maximize reach.  Do it and you will surely rise with the tide.


Anyone Promoting NFC Is Fighting The Right Battle With The Wrong Weapon

Using NFC (Near Field Communication) to pay for something is not much different than swiping your credit card on a terminal.

Anyone fighting the battle to improve payments will agree it’s an all-out war against the decades old practice of using plastic cards and a centuries old tradition of paper and coins.  These payment methods are so ingrained in our everyday life we hold on to our wallets like our lives depend on it.  So how are we going to transition into the cashless society everyone keeps talking about?

Enter NFC, or Near Field Communication, which can be loosely described  as chips built into our mobile devices that transfer information to another device when  placed at a specific distance from a reader.  Some think this is the future of mobile payments, and some don’t.  I think ReadWriteWeb’s Dan Rowinski says it best:

 From a technological perspective, near field communications (NFC) is one of the most powerful and prominent innovations to come about in the last several years. But from a functional, real world standpoint, NFC is a technology without a clear-cut purpose. What problems does it actually solve? When it comes payments, how much different is a tap with your smartphone than a swipe of your debit card? What about the ability to open doors or share content with your friends? There are solutions already available on mobile devices for many of these “problems.” So, what is the real future for NFC?

Even before I put my gear on, saddled up my horse and rode it directly in the middle of the mobile payments battlefield I questioned NFC as the next big thing in payments.  Why?  Because using NFC to pay for something is not much different than swiping your credit card on a terminal.  Although there is more to the technology, like the ability to include services and software in the payment experience, I believe it is not fundamentally going to change the payment industry for a number of reasons.

Problem 1: Hardware Requirement In Phones

Your ability to swipe your phone and pay for something (via NFC) is dependent first and foremost on you having an NFC enabled device.  This is determined by an NFC chip placed inside your mobile phone when it was assembled.   The majority of phones on the planet carried by most people are not NFC enabled.  Although millions of phones will be shipped this year with an NFC chip inside, it will pale in comparison to the number of phones currently being used that lack the technology.  The mobile device you hold in your hand should not qualify you to purchase a product.

Just as SMS texting technology has nothing to do with your specific device, your ability to pay via your mobile device should not rest on the fact that you are “NFC” enabled.  In fact, what if SMS technology was not just for messaging between friends and family but actually carried a transaction between two parties – be it friends or customers/merchants?  More than 8 trillion text messages were sent around the world last year and those were pretty much all words between people.  It will be interesting to see how a communications technology that is already prevalent and widely used around the world can be leveraged for quick payments.  It’s would be adopted a lot quicker than a technology that will take at least three to five years to get traction and requires a big investment in hardware by merchants.

Problem 2: Hardware Requirement For Merchants

The second biggest requirement for an NFC transaction to work is the merchant must have an NFC enabled terminal so you can swipe your phone.  Expecting consumers to purchase new mobile phone hardware every 2 or 3 years is not too much to ask, but thinking merchants are going to upgrade their point of sale terminals to enable NFC mobile payments is outrageous.  Being on the front lines of servicing local merchants, I personally know these proprietors will do almost anything to not have to spend money upgrading their payment terminals.

And since technology is moving so fast these days the hardware that comes out this year will be ancient in a few short years.  So what are businesses supposed to do then?  Not accept mobile transactions anymore?  Requiring local business owners to upgrade their terminals every couple of years is a losing proposition.

Like anything, the answer is not more hardware but better software.  That is why even though PayPal is experimenting with NFC in some capacity moving forward, the company ultimately believes that the technology is a step backward when it comes to point-of-sale transactions.  Web enabled software connecting customers to merchants for communication and transaction is what will win the battle for mobile payments.  The solution that eventually goes deep into “main street America” will not depend on any new hardware that needs to be replaced every few years, but will leverage existing technologies and networks already in place and which are cost effective to both merchants and consumers.

Problem 3: Your Physical Presence is  STILL Required

Something I am not sure most have thought about when considering the payment experience is the concept of presence.  Many NFC supporters will talk about the security of NFC, meaning it’s safer because you have to be there and swipe to make transaction, similar to how most credit cards work today.  Although that is true, unfortunately this does not make the payments industry any more efficient than it already is.  Even when using a “new” technology like NFC, physical presence is still a requirement.  The point of a new transaction experience is to replace a wallet full of cards, not create new cards or re-create the card present experience.

What happens if I want to pay for something like tickets to an event, a dinner I want delivered to my house, or my rent due every month for my apartment?  Based on the requirements of Google Wallet and NFC, I have to do what I have done for the last 20 years and actually be present to use the payment technology, or call and read them my credit card numbers.

Even Erick Schonfeld agrees: “Waving a card (or phone, for that matter) over a reader is not a huge improvement in ease or convenience to simply swiping a credit card. Credit cards work. More importantly, people know how they work. They are not going to stop swiping and start waving without some incentive to do so.”

At Seconds, we believe the future of payments will be found in your ability to make payments regardless of your physical presence.  That is why we are very excited about our Pay by Text technology, we see a whole new world of payments when you disassociate proximity from transaction.

Whatever happens in war for mobile payments one thing is for sure, the battlefield will see many warriors and the ultimate winner will own a very large territory.


Here’s Google’s Homepage 1999 vs. 2012. Can You Tell The Difference?

Today’s design lesson:  Don’t change what’s working.  Here are two screenshots of Google’s homepage; one from May 1999 and one from January 2012.  See much difference?



May 1999 was almost 13 years ago!  The web has changed dramatically since then, yet Google’s search experience hasn’t.  This is a huge lesson for anyone looking to get traction.  One of the most difficult aspects of brining a product to market is user education – meaning after they hear about your product how easily do they start using it.  It’s important because when a user knows how to use a product or service they will tell others about it.

If they can’t use it, they won’t tell anyone.  It’s that simple.

Google has done many thing correctly, but arguably the best was to design their user interface so anyone could use it.  I bet your Grandma knows how to use Google.  I bet your child knows as well.

Can you say that about your web or mobile service?  Are you making it as easy as possible to use your product?

Want Hyper Hockey Stick Growth? You Must First Endure The Blade

We all love to talk about the companies experiencing massive user growth in a short period of time, generally referred to as hockey stick growth.  Twitter experienced it.  Facebook saw it happen.  Of course Google did as well.  All great companies at one time went from a small unknown startup with no users to a well known company with a massive user base.

A few startups currently experiencing meteoric hockey stick growth are Instagram and Tumblr, incidentally interviewed at a recent Techcrunch Disrupt about managing hockey stick growth.

As fascinating as the hockey stick growth can be, something intriguing happens immediately before the growth period.   Not talked about because it’s not as sexy, Something must be happening before the massive uptick in usage or the uptick wouldn’t happen at all.

So what is it?

I call it the blade.  As you can see, the hockey stick on the right has a flat section (the blade), an angle (the inflection point), and the  rising handle (growth phase).  The blade is the most critical point for any startup because if they get over it alive they move on to the crazy hockey stick growth phase.

Although the Techcrunch Disrupt interview is great and both founders offer a number of insights as to what its like to go through the insane hockey stick growth periods, they don’t really talk about the blade.  My guess is because it’s not as exciting as hockey stick growth.  In fact, it’s tough.  So tough it will make or break a startup.

Blades Require Heat

When referring about a hockey stick, deciding on a blade may be one of the most important decisions a hockey player can make.  The makeup of a hockey stick blade will determine how durable it is and how much stress it can withstand.  A blade — the bottom portion of a hockey stick that may be curved or straight — can help determine the way a player is able to control a hockey puck.  Wood blades today are frequently covered with a composite material, such as Kevlar. Kevlar is a strong, fiber substance that is designed to be used in high stress situations.

Being made of composite, hockey stick blades are malleable and can be shaped to a players advantage.  All it takes is heat.  When a player heats a blade, they can curve it and shape it to their liking.

As if you didn’t know… startups are situations of ridiculously high stress and immense pressure.  It’s almost like you sign up saying ”let’s see how hot it can actually get.”  As part of a startup, you are trying to create the most with the least amount of money, which leads to tremendous financial heat.  You feel heat trying to force the product down people’s throats, working towards product market fit. The pressure is on to prove a specific customer for your product before time runs out.  Lots of late nights, pivots, redesigns and tough conversations will create friction and heat amongst the team.

The blade period – the period of time after launch but before massive usage growth – is one of the most challenging times a team can go through.  Yet, therein lies the test.  The blade test for a startup team involves a number of points: to observe reality that the product is not an overnight hit, listen to feedback, watch available usage metrics, identify what is working and what isn’t, agree on changes to be made, make the changes, reposition the product, polish the messaging and many many others.

The key is to do all this without losing your mind and going crazy.

This situation is extremely difficult for a young team to get through, and that is why most startups don’t make it.  Failed startups don’t ever get to the position of hockey stick growth because they could manage the heat on the blade.   It’s like a right of passage. Show me a (successful) company that did not get over the blade.  The only way to get from launch to hockey stick growth is to get through the heat and over the blade.

Blades Are Short

If done correctly, the blade is just a phase in the life of the company; the shorter, the better.  Flat growth actually shouldn’t last very long if the founders are quick to make needed adjustments to the product, positioning, messaging, and user acquisition strategies.  When great products hit the market, people take notice and users are attracted.

It may be all relative, but some startups only last a few months on the blade, some last years.  Most are somewhere in between.  What does it take to get off the blade?  As I was researching about hockey stick growth, I found this article about the internet and how it finally hit hockey stick growth.  Interesting to note:

The Internet served an important role for a limited number of users, but it had serious barriers to entry. It displayed its messages in monochrome text; no color, no pictures. The Internet had to become pretty and easy. Lessons to be learned include that ease of use, attractive displays, entertainment value, cost-effectiveness, and genuinely new utility are the keys to type-one hockey stick growth.

The goal is to shorten the blade and reach inflection as soon as possible.  Notice how the above statement clearly illustrates the internet grew quickly once it became easy to use, was cost effective, entertaining and useful (of course this is referring to the world wide web.)  These characteristics are  what every startup is searching for in their product.

A lot of the blade comes from not knowing what to change, but a few major points come to mind.  Correct positioning in the market will allow for your product to actually be found by the right audience.  Finding the correct messaging will help the right people/customers to understand your value proposition and start using your product.  As your user base grows, features that help current users share your product will lead to new users.  And the correct distribution model will aide all other aspects and amplify growth.  As these are fairly general, it is for the fact that each action will be unique to your specific offering.

Not to be overlooked, part of putting yourself in the right position for hyper growth is building the right team.  It’s not about hiring, it’s about finding the right talent.  The correct people in the right positions at the right time will only help to shorten the blade and get a startup to hyper growth.

Blades are Remembered

Although any founder or early employee will tell you growth is what they are looking for, the times on the blade is are always the ones the remember the most.   Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO recalls the early days when they almost didn’t make it…. many times over in his book Delivering Happiness.  It’s a great read for any startup founder or early employee, as he re-lives all the challenging (and fun) times Zappos endured.  You can almost feel the sharpness and heat of the blade they got over.

Microsoft co-founder and fellow Seattle resident Paul Allen spends the majority of his book recalling the Early days of Microsoft, the struggles and challenges they faced on the blade.  I was not aware of all the times he and Bill were scared, feeling little hope for the future of their company.  Can you imagine Paul Allen or Bill Gates fretting over $100?  But… we all know the rest of the story.  I’m just glad they went through it at one time in their life as well!

So the blade is a fact of startup life.  The only questions are: how much heat can you take?  What will you do to shorten it so you can get on with growing your company?  And what crazy stories will you be telling when you do make it over the blade?


Groupon, Google, Ebay or Amazon: Who Will Win The Local Market?

No doubt he local space is heating up.  We are starting to see an all out war and currently there are 4 major players lining up their guns and taking aim on the local marketplace.

Groupon recently went public on the Nasdaq and is the undisputed king of daily deals, creating a new movement in local commerce known as the group coupon.  Yet things are not all rosy as they also created quite a bit of controversy as they approached the finish line.  Their numbers are greatly scrutinized  and they can’t seem to shake questions regarding the validity and sustainability of their current model.  Groupon no doubt made a significant splash in the local space, but do they have what it takes to transform our daily consumer lifestyle?

Google’s eyes have been on the local economy ever since they realized a critical mass of searches are local in origin.  Early on they knew local was a goldmine, the tough part has been designing products which bridge the gap between local consumer and local merchant in a way that adds value for both.  Google Places, HotPot, the purchase of Zagat, the failed acquisition of Groupon, and now Google Offers are all attempts to make a play on the local marketplace.  But to date it is hard to argue they have made any significant progress in solving the local market conundrum.  Will they do it?

EBay, the buyer/seller marketplace who has lingered on the outskirts of the web for more than a decade (and hinged earnings on a payment platform) looks to be emerging as a solid player in the local marketplace.  The combination of a number of acquisitions have placed them in a drivers seat helping power the next generation of location specific platforms.  Milo, Magento, Zong and Where all offer unique value propositions that when grouped together create a strong combination – and a strong competitor to the Googles and Amazons of the world.  This is one to watch…

The king of worldwide online commerce is Amazon, and I guarantee they their sights are set on the last mile of the web – the local market.  Their $175 million investment in LivingSocial seem a lot like a “look and feel” investment as they watch how the landscape is taking shape.  Make no mistake, the leader in worldwide e-commerce would love to be the worldwide leader in local commerce as well.  The question is, do they know how to do it in the way the everyday consumer will appreciate?

Ultimately, it is nearly impossible to predict who will eventually win out in the local market.   Remember, Google was late to the search party…

Another valid question is: will any of these major players hit the home run or will a new, tremendously different but effective startup with a better combination of commerce and communications transform our everyday consumer experience?

Share your thoughts in the comments.


Good Lord, All I Need Is Another Darn App In My Life…

I think I am like most other people.  I use a few apps daily… like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, the weather app, email, maps, texting, and some various other ones I can’t remember their names but I do remember what they look like and where they sit on my phone.

I flip through 6 or so “screens” of apps each day just to find the one I need. This is too much in my opinion.  It feels as if we are drowning in a sea of apps.

So do we really need more apps in our life?  And should you rest your company’s future on thinking people will want to download another one to their device?

Here are some stats:

  • The most used Android apps in the US are Google Maps, Gmail and Facebook, according to research from Nielsen.
  • More than 500,000 apps have been approved in the Apple App store.
  • Total App Store revenue before the break-down is almost $3.6 billion in aggregate.

There’s half a billion apps are available for me to download… and how many will actually end up on my device?  Very little.  And once some have made it to  my iPhone, will I even use it after the first time?  I fear not…

The message here is :

1) if you are a mobile phone user, you have to dig through so much clutter to find useful apps today.  This is inconvenient and it sucks, so we will remain with our “tried and true” apps and not venture to download many more.

2) if you are a business, maybe the app store approach is not such a good idea.  Fighting for shelf space is getting more difficult as they days go by because I think most people think similar to me.  Why put such barriers to everyday usage for your web service?  My opinion is if you are  solely depending on a app store positioning, the odds are you will get lost in the clutter.

Does anyone else have this problem?

If Facebook And Twitter Are Today, Is This Tomorrow?

Real time communications are increasingly seeping into our world and the era of ubiquitous web is upon us.  Twitter allows us to disseminate comments and links at the speed of bits, creating a whole new way of discovering information.  Facebook keeps friends and family updated with the latest thoughts and images from our life.  Yes, even the use of email is changing.   We still send emails and that will not change for a while, but how many times do you engage in an “instant email” conversation with a friend or co-worker.

This begs the question:  What will we be using tomorrow?  What new types of technologies will disrupt new industries to create unthought ways in which we will use the our devices?  Here is my quick thinking on four emerging ideas as I gaze into the web tonight.

Real Time Local Information Platform

Imagine a twitter like experience, including relevant informational updates from around your local city/town/village, from people and places you chose to stay connected to, delivered to your mobile device in real time.  This will happen sooner than you think…  Some might say “well Nick, that sounds a lot like Twitter, I don’t believe another platform will replace Twitter.”  Great, me neither.

I think Twitter will continue to grow and mature into a different set of protocols and essentially replace certain information hubs we still use today.  But Twitter cannot be ubiquitous worldwide and at the same time incredibly strong on a local level.  What I think will be different is exactly how the “local” community uses technology to disseminate information.  I am hedging my bet on it not being Twitter proper as we use it today.  I believe a new player will emerge with specific value propositions set for the local merchant/community/consumer.

Social Search and Discovery

I have written extensively on the concept of Social Search, you can find them here on Business Insider.  My main theory is around the fact that in the not-so-distant future we will discover and find relevant information not from a traditional Google search but from leveraging our network of contacts.  Think about how much information your network of twitter followers, Facebook friends, and linkedIn contacts interact with on a daily basis.  I believe new platforms will be built to collect, organize and disseminate this information to you exactly when you need it.  No more 10 links per page with 1,000,000 results crap.  If you think about it, why do  search engines even tell you about a million results anyway?  That doesn’t mean anything to us as users.  Whatever….  My point is the forefront of social search and discovery will come from some surpassing players, no doubt.

Mobile Commerce

In less than 5 years, there is no doubt your commercial experience – especially around your local community – will be tremendously different than it is today.  Paying with cash… gone.  Calling in an order on the phone… forget it, so last century.  Waiting in lines to be seated… a thing of the past.  Being called Sir or Madam from the restaurant owner…. probably not any more when they now can identify you.  With the use of new mobile commerce technologies, all this will be unified within a local commercial network, encompassing orders, payments, communications, social sharing opportunities, offers, marketing messages, etc… and all this will be personalized to the individual so no two people have the same experience.  It will be amazing and all driven through your mobile device of choice. Someone should be work on this…


What if cars could talk?  No, not to us… to each other.   Web enabled cars will fundamentally transform our world.  I am not referring to cars having internet screens in them, which some do today and will in the future as a standard feature. More specifically, Google is not too crazy to be working on a self driving car.  If an automobile is connected to the web and in constant communications with all the other “devices” on the grid, theoretically there shouldn’t be any more accidents or fatalities due to automobiles.  Each car would travel at a certain speed, maintain a certain distance from another, roll along on a set route and never veer from the predetermined destination.  It will be transportation 2.0.  I believe that day is not too far off the radar and would be a great time to invent or invest in this area.

These are just a few of the things I thought of tonight when I asked myself… man, if Facebook and Twitter are today, what is tomorrow?


You Know What’s Sexy? This Profitable Startup

Ya know, the web is an interesting place where anything seems possible and innovative new applications recreate the very world we live in.  Each day, entrepreneurs flock to it in hopes to create wealth akin to the 19th century American gold rush.  Understandably, it’s tempting to want to reach for the stars and invent a sexy, new, innovative web application.  Yet for every thousand or so businesses created, usually only one actually turns a profit.

It just so happens one of them is ResourceWebs, and anyone wanting to actually make money on the web might want to sit up in their chair and pay attention.  Class is now in session.

ResourceWebs is a network of targeted niche websites, each offering an education resource for its users – hence the name ResourceWebs.  As unique consumer properties they focus on a specific topic and are filled with a variety of high quality content, tools, and resources.  Some of their fastest growing and most popular properties include:,,, and

Evan Britton, company President and a 12 year internet marketing veteran whom has worked within several successful entrepreneurial endeavors (and a Business Insider contributor as well), says focus and quality are the keys to a successful web content business. 

“On the web today many web properties spread themselves thin by focusing on everything.  We learned it’s about quality not quantity, as the properties which we invested and nurtured the most have become the most successful, while the smaller and more automated properties have slowly died off.

The world of content sites has flipped recently as Google Panda came out with 23 questions for webmasters to consider.  Google says that it looks for articles written by enthusiasts, that it wants articles related to the interests of the site’s visitors and that it more values websites which are a recognized authority on the topic.  Basically, it’s trying to clean up the web.

“This has been our vision all along, to focus on niches that we felt we could truly make an impact on, and not spread ourselves thin by trying to cover topics not directly related to our niche verticals.” 

Monetizing these sites has put ResourceWebs in an elite class – profitable web companies.  Putting to use highly targeted contextual ads ResourceWebs is able to generate significant monthly income organically from the more than 3 million visits and 10 million page views.  Britton wasn’t specific on revenue but did mention ResourceWebs monthly revenue is in the five figures with a goal to hit the low six figures soon.

Starting Small and Staying Lean

Contrast Britton’s approach with one of the latest web bombs – Color.  Color built a photo sharing app for a mobile device, raised $41m before even launching a product, was valued at over $100m pre-launch and created mass hysteria prior to any market traction.  All that unnecessary crap ultimately led to Color falling flat on its face.  Considering all the hysteria, Color never generated much traction or any revenue nor was it even clear how it would ever be a profitable company.   Maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh, they were valuable for at least one thing – teaching us how not to launch a company.

“Our goal with ResourceWebs has been to keep the business profitable throughout each stage of the company.  Doing this may have taken us longer to grow – but it assured that we were growing an endeavor which would indeed be profitable.” Britton maintains this might not be as sexy as other startups but is by far more dependable and sustainable.

I say dependability, sustainability and profitability are damn sexy!

Britton is keeping his options open but seems quite satisfied where they are as a business.  “Seeking outside funding is always an option, but right now we aren’t looking for any further acquisitions and we are able to invest in our properties each month as the business has low overhead and very solid monthly income.”

Know Where Your Startup Could Fail

Britton’s approach to ResourceWebs should be an example to all of us web entrepreneurs.  Below is a chart displaying the top 20 reasons startups fail from an article describing in detail the top reasons for startup failure found in post-mortem studies.   Whether Britton knows it or not, he took care of the top six right out of the gate.  Successful companies generally don’t pop up overnight, must focus on a finding and fitting a market need, listen and cater to their customers, find some sort of ability to generate revenue early on and should be grown and marketed organically so they can achieve a sustainable and profitable status.  Besides understanding green is the color of money, the guys at Color don’t seem to have a clue.  Maybe they should study this image.

Located in Santa Monica, CA, ResourceWebs is a small operation tightly ran by Evan.  The gatekeeper for each of the properties, Dr. Robert Amodeo, is the IT Manager who holds a doctorate in engineering from UCLA.  Prior to joining ResourceWebs, Robert worked as a programmer and IT manager in the UCLA math department.  North of that they have a team of writers who cover specific properties in which they have the most passion, something Britton notes to be a winning formula.  “All in all, we learned that you can find success through tackling a niche if you have passion, maintain focus, and create value.”

So my question is if ResourceWebs is attracting millions of visitors each month, minting millions of dollars each year, highly profitable and growing steadily, why are investors still flushing money down the drain on nebulous startups who can’t figure out what they are doing or how to generate any revenue?

ResourceWebs may not be as sexy as some of the new startups out there, but you know what is sexy?  That’s right, a profitable company.

Is TechCrunch Too Big? Or Is Quipster Too Small?

It’s tough to be a startup today.  It’s even more difficult to be a youngster looking to run with the giants.  I admire young startups like Quipster, who is dodging the giants right now.

Looking at Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Google we think they are indestructible.  It’s understandable.  It’s easy to be armchair critics, Monday morning quarterbacks or Negative Nancy’s when it comes to seeing a new startup attempting to play on their turf.  But the reality is a King’s reign does not last forever, and it’s usually replaced by the one we never expected.

Quipster recently launched to mild criticism, especially from one of the media Giants in the startup industry, TechCrunch.  I respect TC and their reporting, but not exactly their take on Chiding the Child.

“Do we really need another mobile check-in app? Newly launched startup Quipster seems to think so.”  They go on the provide a brief overview of how Quipster is really no different than all other checkin apps.

Is TechCrunch too big for Quipster?  My guess is yes, so big they didn’t even care to give the startup a fair shake.

The three paragraph post – which probably took 1o minutes to complete – does little justice in finding the pearl within the oyster that is Quipster.   If they would have looked a little closer they would have discovered Quipster came from three Thai engineers in Palo Alto led by CEO Krating Poonpol, who has always dreamed of being an entrepreneur and fought for seven months to gain an H1B visa just for the opportunity to build a company here in the US.   Krating – a former engineer at Google who became a bestselling author in Thailand for penning a book on his experiences at Google –  also won two medals in international mathematics competitions, taking home the gold for Thailand in physics.

Needless to say, these aren’t 3 frat dudes sitting around looking to get rich by riding the bubble of copycats. Even ReadWriteWeb does a better job reporting both the positives and the negatives of Quipster as well as questioning the tactics of TechCrunch.

By taking more time, TechCrunch would have also been able to share how Krating started Quipster to simplify and unify social check-ins, an category fragmented and ripe for simplification and a problem worth solving.  His goal: to be the driving force behind the next wave of geolocation.

According to Krating “Geolocation is not really about the check-in, it’s about sharing a context of what you’re doing as well as where you are with a single click and no typing.  He continues …we are creating a fun and fast way to share what your doing and what you like about certain places.”

The ” too many checkin apps ” reaction misses the point about Quipster.  Although check-ins apps are abundant, most lack any context.  Receiving a Foursquare update that reads “John Smith just checked in at Joe’s Bar” really doesn’t tell me anything, and leaves a lot to be desired.  Others are taking notice of the problem.

Krating, like any good innovator, is seeing an area where improvement is needed.  “we are seeing at least 5 or 6 responses resulting from each quip, giving a basis of interaction between users which goes farther than just a “here I am”.  This lowers the barrier of interaction among friends and strangers within a city and also gives users a chance to see what is hot in the city.”

I see apps like Quipster emerging with visions going way past the basic checkin feature and on towards making our everyday life easier and more enjoyable.  And for a possible business model, Krating did not to go into details, but he did say “Like Google – building out the interest graph, adding location and targeting meaningful marketing” seems like a good place to be.”

Am I saying Foursquare or Twitter won’t continue to reign in this space?  Not exactly, they are powerful horses for sure.  Do I think Quipster is the new Foursqare at this point?  No, I think they have a few obstacles to overcome.  But I am impressed with early startups looking to move the needle forward.

An Unfriendly Startup Trend

While I was doing my research to cover Quipster, I started to take notice of a new trend in tech media.  Coverage of young and emerging startups is falling behind at a frightening pace.  I am not the only one to notice.  Recent research found Ten companies now account for 30% of TechCrunch coverage.  The image below illustrates the heavily weighted coverage of late seed or large companies, increasing each year.  It is understandable why major outlets cover Apple, Facebok and Google more often, indeed they drive many more pageviews. But it begs the question: Is this raw startup journalism or have Techcrunch (and the like) really become the “New” Old Media?  Has it become all about more page views?

I am a long time Business Insider and TechCrunch reader, but these trends are cause for worry if you are an early stage founder.  Below are a few observations, straight from Guest contributor Mark Goldenson:

1.  Companies funded by a prominent investors get covered twice as much

2. TechCrunch writers do play favorites

3. TechCrunch’s long tail is now 14 times longer but the fat head is 24 times bigger

Guide The Child

My view of the purpose of media is to be a guiding light in helping emerging technologies and companies acheive top of mind with the general public.   Covering young startups with facetious mocking does not do those numbers any justice or help pull startups forward.  Media outlets such as TechCrunch (as well as this one, Business Insider) influence the general public more than they know, and covering a new company with a 3 paragraph Chide probably does more harm than good for an early stage startup.

TechCrunch, Business Insider and the entire startup community – pay attention to small startups like Quipster and remember Twttr was once is the same position.

The Future of Search: Why Humanoids Will Rein Over Androids

Social Search Series: This summer I am embarking on a journey through on the emerging web of Social Search.  Traditionally known as the Questions & Answers industry, this category is currently being transformed by social and mobile technologies.  No more asking a site questions and finding old answers.  I believe the future of the web is ingrained in the dynamic interdependence of social and informational networks.  This is part II of the series, you can find part I here.

In my last post I briefly covered how the nature of the web is rapidly shifting toward social.  I also noted the future of search does not look bright for Google, who seems to constantly struggle connecting social dots.  I call this new category (formerly known as Q&A) Social Search and here’s why I think it is emerging as the future of the web.

Semil Shah, in a recent post suggested Google is Asking the Wrong Question With Social.  He seems to agree with my stance:

Before the Internet, most “search” was conducted through offline directories and by the time-honored evolutionary tradition of asking questions. “Where would you recommend I stay on my trip to Hawaii?” “What dish did you order at that new restaurant in the hotel?” “Where can I get the best deal on that hotel?” Google has elegantly stripped down these queries and trained us to, instead, enter the following text in a search box: “Hawaii + hotel deal” or “Hawaii + restaurant + popular dish.”

Now, that might be how some geeks actually ask questions in real life, but this is not how we are wired to search. We are most accustomed to asking questions as an extension of our own curiosities.  And while Google keyword search is incredibly efficient, the content it points us to is unfortunately declining in quality. The bottom line is that although it’s never been easier to search online, it’s getting harder and harder to find exactly what we’re looking for because there are perverse incentives to not only create, but also promote, keyword-optimized content.

Eloquently put: traditional online search goes against our biological inclination of gathering information – asking questions.  Naturally, humans tend to search for information through asking other people questions because we intuitively know everyone is an expert at something.  And as hard as Google tries it cannot create an algorithm as intelligent as a human being, let alone harness the quality of knowledge curated from many different people and perspectives.

So what’s the point of social Q&A and why is it merging into the next form of search?

I would postulate the original point of asking questions – even dating back to prehistoric times – was actually search.  It was how humans searched for information before Google, PageRank and keywords were available.  Cavemen conducted searches when they asked others where they made their last killing for the same reason we, in the 21st century, type “pizza” into a Google search bar; to find out where to have dinner.  Because most humans are now constantly connected, it feels more natural to use social tools to find information.  Notice how often we send out messages on Facebook or twitter asking our friends  this or that, if they have eaten at a certain Pizzeria or seen the latest Transformers movie.  It is not a coincidence social questions are increasing at a rapid rate.

As I was talking to a CEO the other day he made an interesting analogy I think fits well in this discussion.  During the first internet wave (mid 90’s), it was fascinating how you could sit in a coffee shop in Seattle and somehow find information, communicate and do business with another person in a place like Tokyo.  Borders became irrelevant as the web layered on a communication system that spanned the globe.  Never before in human history had we experienced this phenomenon and it certainly was socially and economically transformational.  But today, do we really care about what is available to us in Tokyo?  More than what’s available in Seattle?  Do we want 1,000 different options displayed on 100 pages to requiring time and attention to sift through?  No, the pendulum seems to be swinging back the other way.  We care about what is going on down the street, in our social circle and in our immediate local surroundings.  We want to be shown what is MOST relevant to us at the moment (and not have to see the rest).

It seems the cycle in Search has followed the same trajectory.  Google broke through because it discovered the very best way to 1) index and organize the web and 2) bring us information matching specific keywords when we searched.  But it’s a different web now.  The problem is there’s just too much information on the web today.  Like, waaaaaaaaay too much.  The major player(s) are struggling to instantly sift out 99.999% of the information in the world so they can provide us the most relevant and useful .001% – our answer.  What they lack is intuition.

For example I live in Seattle and right now I am hungry for pizza, in fact New York Style Pizza, so I choose to do a quick search on Google “New York Style Pizza” to find an viable option.  Observing the image above, it is clear Google is lacking in the contextual department.  Lil’ Frankies and Big Al’s are both pizza joints in New York City!  Amazingly, nothing on the page has anything to do with pizza here in Seattle.  This is not good.  I’m pretty sure my friends on Facebook or even growing local social search platforms such as CrowdBeacon or LOCQL would provide me a New York style pizza option closer than 2,400 miles.  I am aware Google has made strides in localization, but it is not apparent when I quickly use their main search tool.  This simple query illustrates how broken search is at the moment.

It is becoming clear to me, as more  and more information gets created each day, how important our network of social contacts are in bringing us information. More specifically, those two phenomenons are inversely related – as the amount of information grows, the tighter and more important my social contacts become. Why? Because as the amount of information increases we need context and location to help determine relevance. Context can help determine if I am searching for a pizza place in New York or if I am looking for New York style pizza. Location helps define if I am indeed looking for a New York style pizza joint here in Seattle.

Another noteworthy contextual observation is the innate difference between certain search decisions, for instance searching for a clothing retailer versus searching for a restaurant. I would be fine buying a shirt from a distant retailer in New York City. Ordering pizza…? Not so much. Google’s Android DNA doesn’t seem to understand humanoid nuances at all. I guarantee a social search application (powered by my friends) would intuitively understand the contextual and location nuances within my searches.

Understandably, this is freaking Google out and forcing them to push socially awkward applications onto their users at an increasing pace. Unfortunately this is not how social works, you simply cannot rush things on the first date or you will never have the opportunity for a second one. Google+ looks to be their best social offering as of yet, but only time will tell if they have finally aligned the social dots.

It is now clear why Google purchased Aardvark, one of the social search companies I highlighted in my last post. Just read this brief overview and think of how it could help us search:

Aardvark is a way to get quick, quality answers to questions from your extended social network. You can ask questions via an instant message buddy or email. The questions are then farmed out to your contacts (and their contacts) based on what they say they have knowledge of. If you ask taste related questions about music, books, movies, restaurants, etc., they’ll ask people who tend to show similar tastes as you in their profile.

It will be interesting to see how (and if) Google integrates Aardvark to help navigate this new search territory. Regardless of the outcome, I do not think Google will loose its shirt anytime soon. They have a stranglehold on the overall search market and most realize there are many different channels in search. I agree with Semil,”This type of search, or social discovery, will become important, but it won’t dominate search—it’s just one channel, and different social networks exist for different parts of our lives.” 

This is just the beginning of an incredible change in how we will find and use information and I cannot wait to see what emerges. In five years (2016)  we will not be looking at a white screen with blinking cursor begging us to type a few short words into the search vault so it can pull thousand’s of links for us to plow through.

In my next post I will go in-depth on the first of the four quadrants of social search, an area I believe has yet to fully experience this massive technological revolution.

$99,970,000,000 is The Difference Between These 3 Decisions

If MySpace would have just copied Facebook, it would have been FacebookSean Parker

That was Sean Parker’s answer to the question “what happened to MySpace?”  in a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon.  This got me thinking and was the needle prick I needed to start on a topic I have wanted to write about for some time.

If you can remember at one time MySpace was the social networking behemoth, holding the crown as the largest site on the web.  “Do you have a MySpace?” was the proverbial question between twenty-somethings.   They had over a hundred  million users worldwide, were driving revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars and it looked as though we had an MTV 2.0 on our hands.  They made headlines with the acceptance of a $580 million acquisition from News Corp, validating Social Networking as a ligament startup business venture.   Little did we know they would turn out to be a joke, an afterthought on the web and a huge lesson to any young founder looking to build the next big company.

At right is a snapshot of the monthly unique users from earlier this year (courtesy of Techcrunch). As you can see (and probably already knew) usage has continued to plummet.  MySpace is literally a ghost town at the same time Facebook has grown to the largest site in the world, officially eclipsing 700 million users on their way to an inevitable 1 billion users and will soon IPO with a valuation of more than $100 billion!  This begs the question: What happened?

My take from Parker’s statement is MySpace had such a massive lead in users, media coverage as well as total mindshare in the social networking space it was their race to loose.  Quickly incorporating the features they saw Facebook releasing could have helped them stay atop the game.  Imagine what MySpace would be worth now if all they did was manage to keep it all together and ride out this new wave of social/mobile web.  Definitely more than the rumored $30 million News Corp is looking for to get them off their books.  What a sad ending to once dominant company.  To take Parker’s statement a bit further, I argue the biggest mistake MySpace made was sell out to the suits for a mere $580 million.  Here are three key differences that add up to a $99,970,000,000 difference between Facebook and MySpace.

Lack of vision and Leadership

The biggest difference between Facebook and MySpace is an intangible I have written about it extensively before.  Just as the difference between Apple and Microsoft was found in Leadership, so too was the difference between the social networking companies Facebook and MySpace.   (Get used to me writing about vision and leadership because I believe it is the number one reason companies succeed or fail.)  MySpace was early out of the gate and sprinted the first mile but did not foresee what could possible be on the horizon.  All they knew was people wanted a page to customize as their own and maybe a place find and connect with others.  But who was leading MySpace?  To put it bluntly, MySpace had no clue what they were doing and no clue who to look towards for leadership.  MySpace was not created by a visionary such as Mark Zuckerberg, who saw something in the web most did not.  They were driving solely on dollars and revenue, and the lack of vision and focus devastated MySpace’s growth in the end.

If Facebook was only a profile page where you can connect to your friends, MySpace would have won the race.  Facebook bet (and won) on a vision of the personalized web, integrating our friends in almost everything we do in the digital world.  Zuckerberg saw not only a web of information, but a web of people and set out to connect all those people into the web.  Execution on this vision required laser focus from a passionate founder.  MySpace ran the first mile faster but lost its way.  Facebook knew the course and won the marathon.

Message to entrepreneurs:  Have the intelligence to place a visionary leader at the heart of your company and let them guide the way.

Technically Inept

Myspace proved they were technically inept, lacking any engineering vision of how the web should work.  According to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek tell-all article, the company was constantly at odds with leadership on how/what/where to innovate.  “They were having to do all technical innovations to address the various panics that are happening. Basically their development cycle turned into one of crisis management, not one of innovation.”  Bottom line, MySpace lacked the vision as well as the technical edge necessary for a web company to maintain their dominant position.

More importantly, MySpace was not created as an innovative new platform built by forward thinking engineers. They were a company who decided to copy Friendster using sub-par technology but grew because they understood how to market their brand to the general public.  Choice quote from the article: “Using .NET is like Fred Flintstone building a database,” says David Siminoff, whose company owns the dating website JDate, which struggled with a similar platform issue. “The flexibility is minimal. It is hated by the developer community.”  Why did they choose to do this?  Driven by revenue pressures they chose to skimp on technical details and focus on more ads.

On the contrary, Facebook was intended from the beginning to be a socially transformational technology built by smart engineers.  Zuck made it a point that their engineers would determine the road ahead.  They aimed to redefine the web and understood this would require major investment.   As a non-technical executive, it was still obvious to me who was stronger in  engineering talent between the two companies.  Remember how refreshingly clean a Facebook profile felt vs the craziness that was a MySpace profile.  MySpace chose to skimp on the engine and polish the chrome.  Bad mistake.

In an interesting note, most close to Zuckerberg would admit the best decision he has ever made was to bring in a much senior and more businesslike Sheryl Sandberg as the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.  It is said she is in more direct managerial oversight than Zuck, and who would want that?  Sandberg has been credited with building out Google’s ad business, helping create a multi-billion dollar search ad business.  I credit Mark for submitting his ego and filling holes with the right people, Facebook is better off for it.  Looking at MySpace and their recent history I cannot say the same.  Holes were not filled and egos were not subdued.

Message to entrepreneurs:  Know where you are good, understand where you need to be great, and find the right people to fill the gaps.

Poor Culture Fit with News Corp

“I think any time a startup is acquired, there’s always a certain amount of culture clash.” – Chris Dewolfe, MySpace Co-founder and one time CEO.

The worst decision for the future of MySpace was to sell the company to News Corp.  (Okay, the founders and initial investors made out fine, but the future of the company pretty much was set in stone.)  Time and time again I observe or read about another startup being acquired by a larger company and I think to myself  “well, there it goes…

The blazing, crazy, edgy, partying, sometimes innovative culture of MySpace was suffocated by the bureaucracy of corporate New Corp.  Do yourself a favor and think about your startup culture currently, and then think about the culture in a Microsoft, Google, Aol, or any other large corporation.  Ask Dennis Crowley.  Ask Evan Williams.  Ask Caterina Fake.   It usually doesn’t end well when you sell your booming startup to a large corporation.  Facebook fought off takeover bid after take over bid until everyone knew they just weren’t ever going to be for sale.  That’s ballsy, but its also what has to happen if you want to see your vision come together.

Message for entrepreneurs:  If you have a long term vision for your company, don’t sell – ever!  If you want to make some quick money, sell at the top of your hype – and walk away as early as you can.  The post-acquisition company will be nothing like the pre-acquisition company.

I am tired of seeing innovative startups being gobbled up by larger corporations only to disappear off the face of the earth – this is not how innovation changes the world.  It is actually how innovation is hindered.  I understand, as a founder you are double minded building your company.  You want to make a chunk of cheddar, and  there’s nothing wrong with that.  Isn’t that what going into business is all about?  I understand… and I would want to do the same thing in your position.

But before you sign those papers I would step back and determine what you really want and if it’s the best option.  If you really need to sell, truth is you did not build the company correctly.  If you want to cash in, great.  But understand, odds are the world will no longer be changed by your innovation.  If you really feel selling is the best option, think deep and hard about the culture inside your company as well as inside the potential acquirer because the marriage is going to be tough.  And if you feel deep down in your heart your company has a great future, don’t sell out.  Just think about how News Corp and the original MySpace founders feel about this outcome right now.

Image courtesy of Flickr user UltraRob.

This post was originally published on

I Just Asked My Friend About the Future of The Web, and Here is What They Said

Social Search Series: This summer I am embarking on a journey through on the emerging web of Social Search.  Traditionally known as the Questions & Answers industry, this category is currently being transformed by social and mobile technologies.  No more asking a site questions and finding old answers.  I believe the future of the web is ingrained in the dynamic interdependence of social and informational networks.  This is part I of the series.

Traditional Question & Answer sites are old and antiquated.  You know the drill – go to a specific website, type a question into a search bar and a variety of indexed answers come back to you.  The answers vary in context, quality and relevancy.  This was fine in 2002 when the web was less mature, but the reality is with advancements in web technologies it simply does not work today.  The problem is these sites typically:

  • Don’t know your location

  • Don’t know who are your friends

  • Don’t understand the context of your query

  • Are typically of low quality and relevance

Answers tend to be more relevant and helpful when they include this information.  When the system lacks these inputs, the quality of answers remains very low and you are left with an inadequate solution .  In fact, so low in quality you might as well just pick up your phone and call a friend.

Enter a new category of applications emerging on the web.  Social search applications implicitly take into consideration your social network, your location, your demographics, previous search history and other key data sets to help provide you with the best answer possible at that time.  I will not refer to the Questions and Answers space anymore, since I think asking a question and waiting for an answer is quite limiting and the entire concept is antiquated.  I believe we are on the cusp of a new internet category where users leverage their social/local sphere to quickly find relevant information.  I am calling this space the “Social Search” category.  Note that currently I am not including Facebook – the largest social networking site – in this category.  This is a study of startups who are strictly focused on social searching technologies.

This space is heating up and I am starting to read more about emerging companies working to build out the next social/local search platform.  Traditional Q&A sites are starting to see the writing on the wall, with just recently massively laying off employees and replacing their CEO and CTO.  In fact, I wrote about a few local Q&A startups a while back noting this space is a game changer on the web.

When evaluating this new space, Four categories/quadrants emerge to separate the players in social search.  I have diagrammed them based on their relation to the four categories.  (If you don’t see an application that might fit on here, please reach out to me)

Location Relevance

Locating a user when a query is submitted is fundamental to providing the BEST answer possible.  According to Bing, over 50% mobile device originated search queries are about a specific place.  Think about how often you need an answer and how often you quickly use your mobile device to find it.  Exactly.  Mobile search will define the next wave of the web.


LOCQL is a Seattle startup some refer to as “Foursquare Meets Quora”.  These guys smartly put together two basic premises; 1) everybody knows a little bit about something and 2) location specific information always make something more valuable.  Marry those together, involve some game mechanics and you have a living, breathing repository of location relevant information based upon where you currently find yourself.  They are still in beta but anyone can use the LOCQL application.

Others include:







Local Mind

Location Agnostic

Some social search applications do not integrate location technologies into their functionality.  These applications more or less originate around specific topics and knowledge bases, not so much around a specific location.   Although these applications are location agnostic, they still can be relevant to certain users and possibly large search companies.


Aardvark is a way to get quick, quality answers to questions from your extended social network. You can ask questions via an instant message buddy or email. The questions are then farmed out to your contacts (and their contacts) based on what they say they have knowledge of. If you ask taste related questions about music, books, movies, restaurants, etc., they’ll ask people who tend to show similar tastes as you in their profile.

Others include:




Yahoo Answers

Long Term Value

It is important to create a  repository of information so users have something to search, and if done correctly this can be a great competitive advantage – the largest collection of information generally provides the best and most accurate information to a user.  Most questions have a narrow answer and this information generally does not change much over time.


Quora, founded by former Facebook employees, is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.   They aim to build THE go to application for wisdom and knowledge.  The cool thing about Quora is you can follow well known people as they continue to add their knowledge to the site. Quora seems to be the emerging leader of these newly minted social Q&A sites.  Thus far they have maintained their focus on the relatively smaller web tech community of Silicon Valley.

Others include:









Yahoo Answers

Real – Time Answers

Instant interaction technology (real time) has transformed the web from a static information repository to a live, interactive medium.  This single change gave birth to what we know today as the social web, including Facebook, Twitter and many other social interactive platforms.  Search technology is catching up as well, and when infused with social interaction things could get very interesting.  Understandably, this category is nascent.


Localmind allows you to send a question to any place in the world, and get an answer from someone at that location in real-time.  They connect you, temporarily and anonymously, to someone at the location you are interested in, allowing you to ask any question you want, and get an answer in real-time. You can find out how crowded it is at a bar, how long the line is at a club, or how many tables are open at the restaurant.

Others include:

Ask Around (



Look for my next post as I investigate: what’s the point of Q&A anyway?  Why am I now calling it Social Search?

Dear Advertiser: Please Do Better

This post was originally published on


Dear Advertiser,

We haven’t formally met but we have had an ongoing relationship for quite some time.  I am a consumer; you are an advertiser trying to sell me something.  Our Love/Hate relationship goes something like this: I love to use my internet but hate to be interrupted by you.  I know you are the one I should actually thank for my ‘free’ usage of all the websites and applications on the web, but deep down in my heart I am finding it hard to thank you.  You see, I just want to go about my day and easily use the mobile apps I enjoy, listen to my favorite music on Pandora, search on the topics I need to know about and read interesting articles.

But here is what I don’t think you fully understand.  You make my life worse.  You interrupt me in every possible way you can think of and believe just because you “got  in front of my eyeballs”, I will make a purchase.  The thing is, I cannot easily use my mobile apps, since you jump right in as I load it up and steal another 5 or 10 seconds of my time.  I hate this!  When I listen to Pandora, between every 2 or 3 songs you shout something I don’t ever pay attention to, so you are wasting your money.  I bet you didn’t know that as I listen to Pandora when drive I turn the radio off or the volume down for about 10 to 15 seconds so I don’t have to hear you freaking annoying voice for the 10th time this hour.  You are just an annoyance and I despise you more and more as this goes on.  When I search on Google, there you are… trying your hardest to sell me something I don’t want.  Even though when I search I type in a keyword, most of the time I am looking to be informed on a topic not buy it.  And what makes me the most frustrated is when you cover the screen the instant I hit a website like Forbes, basically witholding me from my very intent.

Do you realize how rude this is?  I don’t walk up to your desk as you are working and put my hand right in front of your screen, and hold it there for 15 seconds – smiling like I am doing something nice for you.  If I did, you would probably hit me.

I understand it is you who underwrites our “free” access to information so I am not blindly telling you to go away.  All I ask is please make my life better, not worse.

Know my preferences.  Better yet, let me tell you what I like and what I don’t like. 

All the spying, cookies and social data mining in the world will not come nearly as close to knowing me as good as I know myself.  Please allow me to tell you what I like and what I don’t like so when you do step in to talk to me I am actually interested in what you are saying.  (Would someone out there build a platform where I can input my 15 category interest and allow only those advertisers to reach me on every interactive media in the world?  Come to think of it, I just might.  If you are interested in helping, give me a shout.)

Know when I want to interact.  Never interrupt me.

Interrupting is one of the rudest forms of communication in the human race.  Maybe this is your problem: since you are not human you don’t realize you are committing one of the biggest faux pas out there.  If you were to start your strategic alignment with more of a human perspective you would better position yourself for me to receive your message.

Make my life better.  Add value to me and my life

Hindering my internet viewing, making me wait to watch a video or jumping in the middle of a conversation does no make my life better.  It only creates frustration.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I assume you want to create value for the brand or company you are representing?  Okay, if that is the case… I will value any company who makes my life better.  And since we naturally associate the Brand of the company with the mode of advertising … any Brand who rudely interrupts me is instantly placed in the LAME bucket.  Sorry, that is the truth.  On the contrary, any Brand who slides naturally into a position to add value to me and make my life better –  pure GOLD.  Loyal.  They got me for life.

Look, I know this is going to be a life long marriage so can you please start to see things from my side of the bed for once?  If you do, I guarantee you will get more than you ever imagined.

This Get’s the Creative Juices Flowing sends out a monthly briefing on emerging trends.  It’s awesome.  Here’s the latest mini-consumer trends they highlight in their latest edition, “Innovation Extravaganza” .  Read the briefing to get the details.

The both scary and celebratory part? Wherever you live, whatever it is you do, you have absolutely no excuse to be unaware of innovations originating in Australia, in the Netherlands, in the US, in Argentina, in Turkey, in Singapore, in South Africa … It’s all out there, reported 24/7 by numerous sources dedicated to trends and new business ideas.

Prediction: There Will Be No Bubble

Update: This was republished on

You do realize it’s us, with our words, who actually create the Bubbles we will then loathe.   Yes – you, me, all of us… we create the hysteria and the irrational exuberance necessary for a “bubble” to actually form.  If we can just refrain from the word this time, maybe better things will happen.  Plain and simple.  I know the conspiracy theorists out there will indeed flame up the comments with a variety of criticism – and that’s fine, commentary is a good thing.  But I argue we are not going to see a bubble since we just entered the Golden Ages of the Internet.  Don’t want to take my word for it?  Let’s go ahead and use some logic backed by historical analysis to peel this onion a bit.  We’ll see what can come of it since I think it’s better than just running around yelling BUBBLE every time a round of funding is raised or a new company rings the opening bell.

In my recent article, The Evolution of the Tech Bubble, I referred to the book Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital by Carlota Perez.  I have to say again, quite an amazing book.  On a surface level I described the general phases of each cycle (Irruption, Frenzy, Synergy, Maturity) and laid out a nice framework to grasp the magnitudes and movements of the cycle.  I will now go deeper in an effort to bust this silly Bubble talk.

As you can see, our economy has gone through 5 major cycles since the late 1700’s.

1) 1770s through the 1820s – water power and introduced factories and canals, primarily in Britain.

2) 1820s to the 1870s – the age of steam, coal, iron, and railways.

3) 1870’s through about 1910 – steel and heavy engineering.

4) 1910 through 1980 –  the rise of the automobile, petroleum-based materials, the assembly line, and the motion picture and television.

5) Our current cycle began around 1970 – based on silicon: the integrated circuit, the digital computer, globaltelecommunications and the Internet.

These are not my opinions, Perez illustrates through factual analysis each cycle lasted roughly 60 or 70 years.  I argued we have just entered the Synergy phase of the fifth cycle, probably sometime in the mid 2000’s.  Like it or not, this means the core paradigm (the internet) is about to spread into every corner of your life.  This period is pleasantly referred to as a Golden Age.  The image to the right provides a view of the Synergy and maturity phases, which together last 20 or 30 years.  There’s the internet, going into everything around you.  One thing to note here, the financial recession we just experienced is not directly correlated to these cycles.  I am not passing off the idea that sometimes things rise and fall unexpectedly.  It happened, and will happen again.  The image used in my previous post illustrates the  rate of diffusion of a technology into a society, not the rise in markets or a bubble, per se.

Here is what I think will happen next and why it will be mind blowing.

Fred Wilson recently stated at TechCrunch Disrupt we will very soon experience an incredible cultural revolution on a level we might not realize yet.  Many things will be created to challenge the establishment (think Egypt) and new applications will change your life in very profound ways.

How do I know?  Take a look at what happened the last time we were sitting in this position.

 The car was at the heart of the last technology surge, based on mass production, which started in 1908 with Henry Ford’s Model T. The installation phase was about increasing car ownership and building road networks. The crash came quite early, and the deployment phase was delayed by depression and war. But the deployment phase was the period in which the suburbs evolved and supermarkets became the dominant mode of food distribution and retail.

Looking back, we realize it was because of the automobile (transportation) we now have suburbs, supermarkets and shopping malls.  Now think of the Interstate network, and how important it was to connecting our country.  Thankfully, this is how you can easily have food on your table…  which you bought from the supermarket… which you drove to in your automobile.

Yes, it is amazing.  And it’s all small potatoes compared to what is going to happen next.

Applying that perspective to today’s environment you can now start to grasp the notion we just entered the Golden Age.  Mass adoption of the internet, real time communications and real time data will create adjacent industries we haven’t even thought of yet.  Just ask Reid Hoffman what he thinks about this subject.  For the first time in human civilization 2 billion, maybe even 3 billion people will all be connected on one platform.  Almost a third of our world population is online or using some sort of connected device.  This is even more moving: in the emerging markets of China, India, Brazil, Russia, and dozens of smaller developing nations, a billion people will soon enter the expanding global middle class.

Do you even realize the magnitude of what this will do to our global society? Place communication technologies on that platform.  Include a way to exchange currency and do commerce.  Find a way to locate a mobile device, right down to a 10 foot radius.  Now imagine three billion people using this each day!  Not everything will be rosy, but I argue it will be golden.  For a little economic context, in the year 2000 the AOL/Time warner merger was at the time valued at $350 billion with AOL having roughly 30 million subscribers.

If you look back at the previous 4 cycles, it’s important to keep in mind how little of role communication technologies played.  This is not something to overlook.  Until the fourth phase (early 20th century) people were isolated on their own continents, lest they endured a few months boat ride to a new world.  They were also confined to their local flea market if they couldn’t snag a horse ride.  And information was short supply, limited to neighborhood gossip and a letter which mostly arrived too little too late.

Today, only 1oo short years later, I am theoretically one finger swipe away from anyone in the world (or 2 billion at least).  I can video chat with someone in remote Africa, literally seeing them as we talk while they are on another continent.  I can learn about an earthquake that hit another part of the world less than one minute after it happened.  If you are reading this on your mobile and wanted to buy Perez’s book right now from a random person on the East Coast, an Amazon transaction will take you less than 30 seconds and you will be back reading this next sentence before you know it.

Take a step back and juxtapose those last 2 paragraphs.  This is why I recently quit my job and finally got serious about building something.  I am pretty excited to see what this synergy phase will bring out from within us.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend to know the future. But I am using solid facts from the past to help me gauge where things might be going.  If you are not serious about doing something amazing, now might be the time to reconsider.

Referencing my last article on the Bubble subject, the Frenzy period was characterized by individualism, excessive investment and miraculous manipulation of wealth.  These ridiculous actions create Bubbles.   Since the foundation of the web is already in place, this Synergy period is a time of Production.  It is because economies of scale, maturation of the core technology and a new understanding of our global network we will not see a bubble burst.

I will leave you with a thought from Perez:

Whatever time it takes to set up the framework to overcome the recession, the beginning of Deployment is usually characterized by synergistic growth, extension of markets and increasing employment.

Bubble schmuble…  can we just stop saying that word?  I suggest we start using the words Internet Golden Age.

Image courtesy of Flickr user

A Public Thank You to John Battelle

Disclosure: no one knows I am writing this, not even John.  It is not a stunt for attention, but a genuine thank you.

This morning, as I was glancing through FM Signal it occurred to me how much value John Battelle brings to this industry (and to my life).  It also occurs to me how hard he works.  Amazingly, he touches numerous industries – marketing, advertising, technology, the web, early stage startups, blogging, journalism, music and many others.  Even better, he is at the cusp of bringing together and connecting those industries, a skill I don’t see in many others.  I look forward to each day as he curates information just for my unique education.  And, boy do I still need it.  You should take note just some of the ways he adds value to our lives:

Federated Media

Started by John in a garage in 2005, FM was intended to create a business model for the best independent publishers.  I have always been impressed with FM and look for great things from them in the near future.  From their site:

FM develops programs and products that help brands engage in those conversations and host their own dialogues with current and potential customers. As we’ve grown to have offices across North America and represent a larger number of partners, that basic principle continues to describe our business.

Web 2.0 Summit

Each year in the late fall, the tech world convenes for one of the great rituals of the industry –  The Web 2.0 Summit.  Years ago, this was one of the first events to have a tremendous impact on me and the direction in my life.  Did I attend?  No.  But I did always download the audio files of the talks, burn them onto a CD and drive around listening to them on my way to work (it beats radio commercials).   Together, John and Tim O’rielly really helped a guy like me further my knowledge and get up to speed on things.  This year’s, called The Data Frame, should be more of the same great stuff.  I hope I can attend.

The CM Summit

The Conversational Marketing Summit is another event put on by Federated Media, focused on the intersection of Marketing and technology.  Arguably, marketing people need John more than we tech people do.  They need someone who can communicate in both languages – marketing speak and tech speak – to help nudge them towards more effective concepts.   The next one is June 6th in NYC.   Go here for all things CM Summit.

FM Signal

Each morning I am greeted with a collection of 8 to 10 links to very informative and educational articles.  I make sure I start my mornings with a review of the latest in the industry, so this is one of the first emails I open each day.  Coffee, check.  Music, check. Signal, Check.  Man, good stuff.  If you want an edge in this industry, you must get the Signal.  Go to the upper right hand corner on this page to sign up.

Influential Blogger and Author

In addition to FM Signal, John blogs at John Battlelle’s Searchblog.  He always has unique insights to a variety of topics, mostly around the web, technology, and conversational marketing.  Also very useful has been the book The Search, an in-depth look at how Google and search in general has transformed our world.

If you are in any of the above mentioned industries, use these resources from John.  They have no doubt changed my life.  Thank you John.

You Talkin to Me?

Update: The post was republished on

As a youngster growing up I did not know I wanted to be an “entrepreneur”.  In fact I didn’t even know what one was.  It’s kind of a weird, unintuitive word.  But even as small children I think we can tell the difference between a Pirate and a peon.  Early on I just  knew I wanted to do something different, something bigger.  I knew it the first time I saw Tony Montana scorch the earth building an empire in the movie Scarface.  If you are reading this as an entrepreneur, you probably remember your early entrepreneurial feelings as well.

@ev, @jack, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Larry and Sergey, Marc Andreessen and many others – I have incredible respect for you.  Not many will do what you have done and maybe one day we can connect, hopefully some of that can rub off on me.  But I ain’t talkin to you.

I’m talking to the rest of y’all – the other 98%.   You at your desk hoping your boss doesn’t catch you reading Business Insider at work… again.   No need to close the tab, he probably hasn’t seen yet.  And you, reading this on your phone at the restaurant as you wait for your significant other to come back from the bathroom.  Go ahead and finish reading, I assure you they’ll be glad you’re reading a tech blog and not secretly texting someone else.  And yes, you laying in bed reading this on your ipad, you are just trying to squeeze in one last article before you go to bed.

How do I know you are all doing this?  Cause I am one of you.  I’ve done all those things and more.   I have wanted it so bad I couldn’t sleep at night.  Like you I have also put years into my own vision only to come up short on the latest attempt.  Like you I lived a double life, straddling the fence of trying to successfully launch a side project and lacking the cajones to let go of stability in a day job.  Somewhere along the line I found myself living a lie – vicariously living as an entrepreneur but not actually acting and doing like real entrepreneurs should.   That life sucks and I am done with it.

Yes, it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur and things once again seem to be bubbling.  Venture investments are up.  Valuations are rising.  IPO’s are starting to pop again.   With all this talk of Bubbles, IPO’s, Frothiness, and “it’s different this time”, I just have one question for you: What you gonna do now?

Because here is the truth for most of us:

1) We’ve never launched a successful product. We only wished we had.

2) We’ve never succeeded in raising venture capital, because of number 1.

3) Even though things are frothy, this will not change the numbers game.  Our odds of launching a successful product and raising VC are still going to be slim to none.

Well Tony would say eff the odds.  Tony said eff to everything and everybody.  He knew where he was going and nobody was going to stop him.  Regardless how you feel about the word (my apologies), I think it’s a great perspective.  Tony was the quintessential entrepreneur – purposeful, driven, headstrong and at times ruthless.  When he set his mind to something, you pretty much knew he was going to get it.  Great entrepreneurs look odds straight in the face, laugh, and then get back to work.

But what about Captain Jack?

I don’t care if you’re a billionaire. If you haven’t started a company, really gambled your resume and your money and maybe even your marriage to just go crazy and try something on your own, you’re no pirate and you aren’t in the club.

I about jumped out of my skin when I read those words written by Michael Arrington on Techcrunch a few months back.  It chilled me to the bone and was pure poetic justice at a time when I was really needing to hear it.   I wish I would have cut it out, put it in my pocket and showed it to anyone who asked why I was leaving my “stable and dependable” job.  Most people just don’t get how exotic and intoxicating being an entrepreneur really is.  I think Tony Montana would second Michael’s statement as well.

Although I agree with Arrington and his version of Captain Jack Sparrow, I feel Tony is a better depiction of a pure entrepreneur.  Strip away the guns, drugs and violence and you have a great example in Tony Montana.  He has the dedication.  He has the attitude.  He has the street smarts.  He has the charm.  He has the willingness to risk.  In him you have someone so committed to his vision he was willing to die for it.  Love him or hate him, we need more leaders as committed as Tony.

So here’s what we need to do:

Realize you are – YOU.   The best way to beat the numbers game is to be unique.  You cannot be the next Mark Zuckerberg, Ried Hoffman or Steve Jobs.  You were given your own unique vision.  Execute it.  Zuck was given the vision of a world wide social network.  That’s great for him (and for us to use).  But go do something different.  I think of Zaarly or Square.  Andrew Mason figured out how to make daily coupons cool again.  Awesome, think of something farther ahead like what LOCQL, a start up here in Seattle is doing.  Who knows, maybe back when Zuck, Hoffman, and Jobs were getting started they secretly wanted to be the next Bill Gates, Andy Grove or Thomas Edison.   But of course, they couldn’t and didn’t.  So they became the best versions of themselves and subsequently created the world you now live in.  Read that last sentence again…

Channel your inner Tony Montana.  One of the most interesting aspects of the movie Scarface is how it touches on both the light and dark sides of humanity, capitalism and wealth.  Most people who watch the movie see the obvious flaws in Tony.  But more subtle is the notion that we all have the capacity to think and act in this way.  You too have a little bit of Tony fire in your belly.  You also have the choice to use your competitive edge for the better of humanity, not the worse.  Channeling your drive, determination and what-ever-it-takes attitude will lead you to make a positive dent in the universe.  This is more important that you might think.  Although I have yet to raise a round of VC, I am pretty sure investors would rather have someone walk in their office with a Tony-esk chip on their shoulder talking about taking over the world than see (another!?) demo of a new twist on a social application which also shares groupons.   Mark Suster is so right – “There are so many big inefficiencies in this country that need tackling. I feel quite comfortable that our bars & restaurant industry will be just fine.” 

Find something you are willing to die for.  No, I don’t mean head out the door with machine gun in hand ready to do battle with anyone who criticizes your next idea.  But I am suggesting you find something so grand in vision you will spend the rest of your life making it come true.   In my humble opinion, this is the key to being successful – a driving purpose.  Simon Sinek taught me to Start With Why.  Read this book and you will discover true greatness is not about copying the next social sharing feature.  It’s about inspiring society to move forward with truly crazy ideas that have a larger purpose.  Trust me – Bezos, Jobs, Edison, Larry and Sergey… these guys would tell you the same thing.

It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur.  Shall we not let this time in history be remembered only as the “Social Bubble”.  I think there’s more within all of us.

Yeah I am talking to you…. you with me?

The Crest of Web 3.0 is Upon Us

I recently authored a post on titled The Evolution of The Tech Bubble.  In fact, it was a re-post of the article here on So Entrepreneurial titled Bubbles and Golden Ages.  My main goal was to take a larger glance as what we call Bubbles, and to provide some context to the inevitability of a technological paradigm and its lifecycle.  It was indeed a birds eye view, and with each phase the possibility remains where one could dive further into the details.  Thankfully, that was done for me.

Jasephase, a commenter on the Business Insider piece, has provided us longer perspective on current times using the Bubble framework I provided earlier.  Jasephase lays out a more in-depth perspective, postulating we are on the crest of Web 3.0.  My takeaway: “The trick is to look past the crest into the subtler currents to extract the themes of Web3.0 and make the Google or Facebook that will in effect become the next Web3.0 Titan.”  Well said.

jasephase on May 27, 7:17 AM said:

I realize this is incredibly long – it’s what happens when a little free time in otherwise very busy days mixes with the first coffee in months…

I have been working, by that I mean visualizing the future, through goggles strikingly similar to these for the last five years.

I agree with the author in that we are, in large part, in the synergy phase. I lose him when he reaches his ‘Maturity’ argument, in effect dismissing maturity as not occurring in the present time but 60 years in the future. I believe the paradigm he is employing here, ‘the internet’, is far too broad a subject to practically inform our thinking and actions now. But the pattern is useful.

As I see it, ‘the internet’ as a whole is, yes, in the synergy phase right now. But we can very easily break the internet up into its own phases: Web 1.0, which I would say came into focus with Google and had its own ‘bubble’.  Then, Web 2.0, the poster child of which is Facebook and social in general, which is bubbling now and may or may not burst as much as peter out. And then finally the predestined semweb, the first faces of which we are seeing now in products that bridge the gap between old and new media, between 1.0, 2.0, and even the early stages of 3.0, between social and local, between social and knowledge, between social and professional, between social and commerce, e.g., Foursquare, Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter, GroupOn, Yelp!, Square…

Thus, I would say that Web 2.0 is in its synergistic phase now, whereas everything Web 1.0 is already quite snug in its maturation phase. Hence Google’s plateau or incremental improvements (which I would argue point to long-term decline and an inevitable dropping stock price (not due just to a changing of the guard and internal restructuring)). Of course some 1.0 companies are making the shift, like Amazon, but others, like eBay, are not. Bezos can pivot and drive for the hoop at the same time.

Still, Amazon and Google are primarily single-value, long-tail companies with a lot of features and secondary products. But if you remove their core value proposition: eCommerce and search, they are dead in the water, networks without a hub. While they are polymaths, they are limited. Apple on the other hand consistently creates entirely new markets for itself to swim through, but that’s a whole other chapter…

Anyway, back to synergy and maturation. I think that this article’s graph of the internet’s growth resembles the period of a Y=sinX curve from x=0 to x=pi/2, but that a Y=X+sinX wavy step function would be much more indicative of a Web1.0, Web2.0, and semweb reality (it’s been a while so my math might be off…). Or better yet, instead of one line, envision the constructive/destructive interference patterns of three or more curves plotted to represent their respective perspectives. In such a system I think we will find that Web1.0 is in maturation, Web2.0 is in synergy, and Web3.0 is in its earliest stage (perhaps situated within the synergy phase of the internet as a whole – but that is a bigger claim than I would make or justify – history and evolution are slippery).

Furthermore, as each 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 wave is interconnected and evidence for maturation and growth are present even in the synergistic crest, we tend to focus only on the crests (on the valuations and IPOs of LinkedIn, GroupOn, Facebook, etc…) while the subtler, smaller stories, such as the maturation of 1.0 and the growth of 3.0 waves, are obscured. Still, if we look past the bubble at the larger picture, we can reasonably foresee or feel-out a timeframe in which 3.0 will start to grow. I would argue that the catalyst for that is the 2.0 crest we are experiencing right now.

Let me expand on that. I believe that the boom of Web1.0 was the activation energy required to begin a Web2.0 phase transition, and that the current boom of Web2.0 will supply the energy necessary to get Web3.0 started. Yet we will not see the accelerated growth of Web3.0 until Web2.0’s growth decelerates. Causation is funny, chicken or the egg. Which comes first: the development of Web3.0 currents or the dissolution of Web2.0 energies? Does Web2.0 by its very nature sew the seeds for its own destruction…? Again, I would argue that it is the dissolution of relative power and of the investment of new capital and of manpower in the 1.0 companies that provides the opportunity for such drastic Web2.0 growth now. Furthermore, if we were to integrate the heights of the inflection point (entrance to maturation) of Web1.0 we get the incredibly steeply-sloped pace of growth for Web2.0. Been a long time since math…

Anyway, evidence for this: read through the lists of every Y Combinator and TechCrunch Disrupt startup – not a single one is doing anything revolutionary or interestingly new. They are all competing to build the best nifty/gimmicky features of Web2.0. They are all trying to ride the same wave. Without forcing these trends into some value-system, this is a ‘good’ thing, a necessary step for evolution of Web3.0. The higher Web2.0 goes and the faster it tips, the sooner and faster Web3.0 will be born. It will be the collective weight of all these startups, the investment of VC, and the mass of incremental innovations they bring to the table that will bring Web2.0 to its crest quickly and eventually take the wind out its sails. So I’m redunant.

Just as no VC is going to fund the next big search engine, neither will the next big social site or deals site find funding. The forces that be effectively crowd out the competition. A startup’s fate in this atmosphere is inevitable (read planned) obsolescence or assimilation into one of the borgs (Google or Facebook…). Thus innovation will peter out, which will lead to the maturation phase of Web2.0, the shifting sights (sites) of VC and entrepreneur alike, and the emergence of the 3.0 startup, to whom the current titans will appear as old media to be disrupted. Google is the dinosaur now, playing at arguably the same game as Microsoft – dead in the water, searching for a board to hang onto so as not to sink.

Seeing all this is the easy part. Making a successful startup in today’s environment, then, is even that much easier, just network, just game the system (like trading in Diablo II, or convincing our old landlord to let us rent the house). The trick is to look past the crest into the subtler currents to extract the themes of Web3.0 and make the Google or Facebook that will in effect become the next Web3.0 Titan.

What will that look like? Who is in that space now? How will it articulate with current industry? What old media will be disrupted? One thing I can tell for sure is that Google is a Sisyphus to keep on chasing a social dream. Likewise, while Facebook’s capitalization on the social graph and social search is still in its infancy and there’s no real telling how far its synergy phase will go, it is still just following the dreams of Web2.0. As of yet there is no competition (glances over my shoulder to see if Apple is listening) in the Web3.0 space, everyone is focused completely on Web2.0. Opportunity?!