donderdag 30 augustus 2012

Designing content for the reality of multi-screen access: smartphone, tablet, PC, TV

The relatively recent rise of smartphones and tablets has changed how we use tech and how we consume news. However, while they have eroded usage of the long established interfaces of PCs, laptops, and TVs, they certainly haven’t supplanted them.

This has lead us to the dawning of new phase in which a large proportion of people in the developed world consume content and use applications across four different primary screens: smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs, and TV (or more generally the primary large screen in the household).

Google is clearly interested in understanding how people use these four screens on their own and together, and has sponsored an interesting study The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior, also embedded below.

The most interesting insight from the study is that “90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal”, including 67% in shopping online and 46% in managing finances.

In many cases the screens are accessed sequentially.

We found that nine out of ten people use multiple screens sequentially and that smartphones are by far the most common starting point for sequential activity. So completing a task like booking a flight online or managing personal finances doesn’t just happen in one sitting on one device. In fact, 98% of sequential screeners move between devices in the same day to complete a task.

It has become increasingly evident that people use other screens while watching TV. This study says that 77% of the times people watch TV, it is with another device.

This reality of consistent multi-screen access to content, services, and applications must be at the center of design, and indeed at the center of how businesses are operated. Single-screen design is no longer sufficient.

from Trends in the Living Networks

woensdag 29 augustus 2012

The law of requisite variety: Why flexibility and adaptability are essential for success

I first came across the law of requisite variety almost 20 years ago. Ross Ashby proposed the idea in his 1956 book An Introduction to Cybernetics (see p.202-218), and expanded on it in his paper Requisite variety and its implications for the control of
complex systems
. The idea became one of the foundational concepts of the field of Cybernetics.

The law is developed mathematically, using essentially what we would now consider game theory. Ashby states it as:

If the varieties are measured logarithmically, this means that if the varieties of D, R, and actual outcomes are respectively Vd, Vr, and Vo then the minimal value of Vo is Vd – Vr. If now Vd is given, Vo’s minimum can be lessened only by a corresponding increase in Vr. This is the law of requisite variety. What it means is that restriction of the outcomes to the subset that is valued as Good demands a certain variety in R.

To make it a little more accessible, I have restated the Law of Requisite Variety (with a slight conceptual reframing) as:

The only way you can control your destiny is to be more flexible than your environment.

Last week I gave the opening keynote at Thunderhead Innovate, where I explored the changing nature of organizations and the imperatives for effective leadership today.

I used this statement of the Law of Requisite Variety to describe the reality for organizations today. Only those that are able to be as flexible and adaptable as their environment can control their fate. Otherwise they are completely subject to the increasing variety around them.

It is of course a big ask for any organization, particularly a large one, to be have as much variety and flexibility as the world around it. Yet that is the challenge every company and institution faces today.

More on how to achieve that in another post.

from Trends in the Living Networks

dinsdag 28 augustus 2012

Some new geeky Facebook lists and advice for startups launching

The press takes a look at iPad 2

Yesterday I went through hundreds of startups’ Facebook pages. Why? I built a new list of hundreds of startups. You should subscribe to it. I also added a lot of investors onto my startup investor list. Subscribe to that one, too, and you’ll know what the money in the industry is thinking. Finally I also built a new list for programmers.

Why on Facebook? I’ve noticed a change lately. Facebook is the best place to build lists like these. Why?

1. Everyone is on Facebook. It is very rare that I can’t find a startup. Out of the 72 Y Combinator startups almost all of them were on Facebook.
2. The list-building facility in Facebook is better than Twitter or Google+. Twitter limits me to 500 things on each list. Facebook doesn’t. Plus, if you subscribe to lists they actually put some items from each list onto your main feed. Twitter doesn’t do anything when you follow a list. Finally, I haven’t hit a list limit yet on Facebook, where on Twitter I’m limited to 20 lists.

Anyway, that’s a long way of getting around to some things I’ve noticed that Startups could improve on when launching their companies (I’ll be at Techcrunch Disrupt with our awesome new video studio thanks to New Tek’s Tricaster to meet the latest startups launching. If you have a startup that’s launching there, make sure you email me and get on our calendar. If you want to go I arranged a $100 discount, use the Scobledsf12 code).

1. Get a name that’s searchable on ALL services. It’s amazing that about 10% of startups couldn’t be found on Facebook because they had common names or names that weren’t searchable.
2. Make sure a description of your business is on your Facebook page. Quite a few didn’t have a description.
3. Make sure you link to your website. It’s amazing to me to see how many businesses don’t link back to their main website.
4. Make sure there’s a call to action on your Facebook page “Download our app today and you’ll get $10 off” for instance. Very few startups do this. Ask for the sale! (Or the download or the click).
5. Use photos and videos often. The best startups post lots of imagery and videos. The worst ones? Text only. This is one reason why I take photos, so I’ll have some to use on my posts in the future (the photo above I shot at the iPad 2 launch).

While I’m thinking of Techcrunch Disrupt, here’s some ideas for how you can use your Facebook page to scale out your conference investment (it is expensive).

1. Post photos of your staff uniforms BEFORE the event. You do have a staff T shirt, right? Y Combinator does this so well. Every company at its demo day last week had its employees wearing a company T-shirt.
2. Tease us with what you are going to be doing. For instance, at our booth we’ll be using a new piece of video gear. You all will want to see it. That’s a tease. If you have a new UI, show us a piece of it, and say “you can see more at our booth.”
3. Make a list of competitors who will be disrupted by you. You do have competitors, right? You are better, right? If not, why are you going to Disrupt? Post a blog post about them and what makes you different. Heck, post a blog post about what makes THEM better than YOU! That will get attention and demonstrate you have real passion and credibility about the marketplace you serve.
4. Don’t listen to Techcrunch’s rules. They tell companies not to disclose what they are doing to journalists ahead of time. This is risky, yes. If one of those journalists leak before you get on stage you might get kicked out of the show. So, pick some journalists you trust, and give them a sneak peak, but embargo them. They will have a deeper story to augment the few minutes you get on stage. Companies that don’t take this risk really are lame and really ruin their “coming out” chances for huge and deep coverage. Remember, great companies are built, not launched.
5. Make sure your signage explains what you do quickly and efficiently. It’s amazing when I walk through an expo hall and can’t figure out what a company does just by walking past its booth. On Y Combinator’s brochure every company was described in four words or less. BufferBox simply said “Drop boxes for packages.” Vastrm says “Warby Parker for shirts.” Instacart says “Groceries delivered fast.” says “Personal timeline.” Every company figured out what it was and shrunk it down to four words or less. Everyone. You have no excuses.
6. Have a “schtick” that gets people to engage. Some companies have mini-golf contests. Others have funny people presenting. Others just have a fun contest. But you gotta find a way to stand out above the noise of expo halls.
7. Hand out some awesome swag. Word gets around that your booth is a must visit. Plus, even if they aren’t customers, maybe a few of the influencers will take photos of your swag and post them around.

Fun Twitter shirt seen at LIFT

What about you? Do you have any suggestions for companies launching?

from Scobleizer

Prediction: Video-conferencing will help drive increased business travel

Yesterday I gave the opening keynote at Global Business Travel Association Australia/NZ’s annual conference, on The Future of the Global Economy: The Opportunities.

My keynote focused on the major economic, technological, and social shifts under way and how they impact business travel and how it is managed in organizations.

Clearly a particularly pointed issue in the world of business travel today is the rise of video-conferencing, which many companies in recent years have latched onto as a substitute for travel, largely for cost-saving.

In the first edition of Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, which came out in 2000, I wrote in the chapter on managing communication portfolios that the ever-improving quality of video-conferencing would be accompanied by increasing business travel.

Video-conferencing is often considered a substitute for face-to-face meetings, but in many cases they are complementary. Both have their role.

There are in fact a number of advances that will take us beyond even the high-bandwidth “telepresence” solutions offered by vendors vendors today.

Back in 2005 I wrote about the quasi-3D Teleportec virtual meeting platform.

As I wrote, one of the critical aspects for immersive video communication is a feeling of eye contact. This can be emulated by embedding cameras in the middle of screens, or more sophisticated approaches.

Tele-Immersion uses the ultra-high bandwidth Internet2 to create the impression of being in the same room, including being able to manipulate objects with your counterparts.

Yet even these technologies will not replace face-to-face meetings. This is partly through the extraordinary richness of cues used in human interaction, ranging from facial muscle micro-ripples to pheromone detection. However probably more important is that a video conference is focused on specific agendas and outcomes, and does not allow for the non-purposeful social exchanges that are fundamental to relationship and trust development.

A great case study is web-based collaboration software company 37signals, which has development teams in its head office in Chicago, and in LA, Stockholm, and Romania. While the company lives off its clients’ distributed project work, and its company guide Getting Real says that “Meetings Are Toxic“, the company invests in flying all its staff in to Chicago 3 times a year for face-to-face meetings and relationship building.

Clearly video-conferencing, in both its quality and its degree of acceptance, is gaining massive uptake across companies, helping to drive the rise of global distributed work that I spend so much of my time researching and practising.

However I stand by my prediction of a dozen years ago, that increased video-conferencing will be accompanied by even more business travel, not less. These twin trends have been largely true thus far, and I believe they will continue to prevail.

The rise of global distributed work will mean that meetings – and the required travel – will be even more important than ever in enabling effective collaboration. Anyone who has used video-conferencing will attest that it is easier to collaborate remotely with people that you have physically spent time with.

I have to acknowledge that this is a fairly risky prediction, and I may be proved wrong. Let’s see whether business travel indeed continues to increase, as I believe it will, in the face of what are now increasingly good alternatives to face-to-face meetings.

from Trends in the Living Networks

maandag 27 augustus 2012

Looking for a genius projects/ marketing/ web/ publishing manager in Sydney (PT)

We have recently launched our We’re Looking For Talent website, which represents a new phase in the growth of the companies in the AHT Group.

The first role we are very actively recruiting for is a genius projects/ marketing/ web/ publishing assistant or manager. The ad says in its capabilities section:

We are looking for people who can point to special talent in at least two of the following:
* Online and offline marketing
* Web project management
* Social media and social media marketing
* Use of crowdsourcing tools and platforms
* Print publishing and paid content on the web
* Creative project management
* Mobile app marketing

As described in our Why Work For Us? overview, for different roles we are either open to global applicants, or prefer people in Sydney. This particular role is Sydney based, working with our core team based out of Surry Hills.

We may be open to exceptional applicants from the rest of the world for related project manager roles, however for now this is a significantly lower priority.

I’ll continue to regularly share on my blog who we are looking for, together with lessons learned as we build out our own crowd business model.

from Trends in the Living Networks

donderdag 23 augustus 2012 Earnings: Stock Dips, CEO Bullish’s earnings forecast for its upcoming quarter seemed to disappoint investors, who lobbed more than 5% off the stock in after-hours trading. But that didn’t dim CEO Marc Benioff’s enthusiasm.

On the analyst call this afternoon he was quick to point out that the company has raised its revenue forecast for this year by more than $100 million, to $3.025 billion. Meanwhile the company’s Service Cloud offering for customer service is on track to reach $500 million in sales in 2012, a figure Benioff surely touted to show the company is successfully expanding beyond its core sales software.

A few highlights from the call:

-Total second quarter revenue was $732 million, an increase of 34% year-over-year.

-Subscription and support revenues were $687 million, an increase of 35%.  Professional services and other revenues were $44 million, an increase of 20%.

-Second quarter  GAAP net loss per share was ($0.07); non-GAAP diluted earnings per share was $0.42.

-Rick Sherlund with Nomera Security asked about Benioff’s plans in the HR market, and Benioff was quick to hint he isn’t aiming to trample on Workday, the HR software firm expected to go public in the next few months.

He said: “At Dreamforce we”ll be announcing We’ll also have Aneel Bhusri, the CEO of Workday, and you’ll see how we’re working with them… You’ll see Workday’s integration with Chatter.”

-Benioff pointed out some softness in small business sales.

-He plugged the upcoming Marketing Cloud, which he’ll reveal at the company’s annual confab in September, Dreamforce. The effort is the blend of‘s largest acquisitions, Radian 6 and Buddy Media. Says Benioff: “I’m really focused on how do we get the marketing cloud to $1 billion in revenues.”

-Heather Bellini of Goldman Sachs asked how much evangelism Benioff plans to do to get his new marketing effort to $1 billion. His pointed out that his salesforce is already selling beyond sales departments.‘s customers are gradually shifting from monthly to annual contracts. Around 2/3rds are currently annual contracts.

The stock continued to dip during the analyst call. It currently trades at 8.35 times sales and 73.75 times forward earnings.




from Upside Potential

Forget Archery, At Camp in Silicon Valley We Build Apps

It is a bright, balmy morning in the upscale Silicon Valley suburb of Atherton, California. Venture capitalist Gary Dillabough’s backyard is an idyllic, perfectly-manicured spread of leisure temptations. There’s a pool, a tennis court with basketball hoops, a putting green, trampoline and badminton lawn. But never mind all that. Along with 12 kids ranging in ages from eight to 13, I’m in the cavernous pool cabana watching a Power Point presentation.

The Menlo App Academy faculty: Matt Dillabough (right) and Max Colbert (left) along with their younger brother assistants, William Colbert (center left) and John Dillabough.

“How do you chose the correct programming language?” flashes a slide.

It is the middle of summer in paradise and we are learning how to code and market iPhone apps. Our teachers aren’t computer science P.h.D’s or even 20-something Google developers putting in some feel-good time, but rather Matt Dillabough and Max Colbert, two 13-year-olds who think Facebook is a fad and software development is a must-have skill.

Apple is getting mysterious about their approval process. We believe they may be outsourcing it,” says Dillabough. He adds: “This is why presentation can make all the difference in your app.”

We are lined up two per desk with Mac laptops humming.  The goal by the end of the week is to have a quiz app submitted to Apple. The online game Minecraft is the most popular quiz theme for the bunch, followed by tennis and golf. That these kids in braces are creating apps risks making it sound wonderfully simple and a fulfillment of the everyone-as-coder vision technologists have dreamed of for years. But this is tricky stuff.

Every quiz question is developed in three parts, with each referring to the other. There’s some neat drag and drop functions, but also classically complex and unforgiving code lines. It’s easy to mistype a colon for a semi-colon and get vexing error messages. I make this gaffe three times in five minutes.

“These files are going to be best friends, but first you have to get them to talk to each other,” Colbert tells the group. After being asked to type in a five-sentence-long code sequence, the students get restless and start cracking jokes. Colbert takes note, waves his arms as if to make up for his tiny frame and says: “Hey guys, chill out. This stuff is important to understand. Trust me.”

Dillabough and Colbert are the founders and head teachers of the Menlo App Academy. Their younger brothers, John Dillabough and William Colbert, serve as tech support and activity coordinators. They manage snack purchases and lunch clean-up. The elder brother duo launched the Academy last fall as a weekend class after being unimpressed with their school’s computer class, which they describe as “typing”. They learned how to code apps with their Dads in their spare time. Gary Dillabough is a green tech investor at Westley Group; Brett Colbert is a vice president at NetApp.

Both parents quickly took the idea of pushing their kids toward a real understanding of technology. “Our schools have great computers, but they teach kids how to paint and draw lines, nothing that would be of value professionally later. Meanwhile the technical guy I send to conferences gets 20 job offers,” says Colbert. And yet a deeper, more universal parental anxiety is driving this: “Gary and I had crappy jobs as kids and had to really climb our way up. Our kids live in this safe cocoon. They play games and hang out with friends. How do we balance that with some set of skills and knowledge that will allow them to compete?”

The Academy was quickly popular. Kids from Texas and Tokyo inquired about attending remotely somehow. The summer session sold out in weeks. They charge of $350 per student. The CEO of the recently-public security technology company Fortinet sent his son to the Academy, as did Chris Espinosa, Apple’s eighth employee (he was 14 when he joined). In a twist that could only happen in Silicon Valley, Espinosa pioneered Apple’s  Xcode integrated design environment. This happens to be the software-creating tool set these kids are using to build their apps.

Max’s Dad is sitting in the corner of the room with his own laptop, a mug of coffee, and the family’s new rescue puppy. He chimes in only if someone’s computer crashes or the boys need help getting everyone’s attention. There are rules at the Menlo App Academy. Arrive ten minutes early. Make sure someone picks you up on time. But perhaps the most important one of all: no phones.

In a moment of weakness during lunch break, Max Colbert gives in on this one. Within seconds six boys are suddenly silent as their noses press up against their iPhone screens playing games. “Someone needs to turn off their sound,” bellows one. Dillabough pulls Colbert aside. He’s irritated: “Why did you let them use their phones? We can’t have distractions like this. They need to do something outside during their breaks. Kids need to blow off steam.” No more phone access from then on.

The boys are expected to cover their costs, manage their Web site and enrollment. They’re interested in scaling their App Academy into a kind of digital Boy Scouts of America, and so they’ve been researching online learning. They’re also learning a new coding language, Corona, which would allow them to develop for Google’s Android operating system. Dillabough feels it is a priority to be “cross platform” in a rapidly-evolving technology space.

from Upside Potential

woensdag 22 augustus 2012

The App I Wrote At Summer Camp

Matt Dillabough (left) and Max Colbert (right), along with their assistant app intructors William Colbert (center left) and John Dillabough at the home in Silicon Valley where they teach coding.

Matt Dillabough’s backyard in Atherton, Calif. is a kid’s paradise: pool, tennis court, trampoline. But the 12 children he has over are all inside the guesthouse on laptops, learning how to write iPhone apps.

And Matt, 13, didn’t actually invite them over. They’re each paying him and his best friend, Max Colbert, also 13, $350 to teach them how to write an app in one week.

The rules: You have to arrive ten minutes early and make sure someone will pick you up on time. Max’s dad, Brett, a vice president at NetApp, is keeping an eye on things from a corner, with his laptop open and the family’s new rescue puppy nearby. “Have your apps made money?” inquires a front-row student. Colbert’s answer: almost. A game he wrote has 100,000 downloads. The game is free, but he has charged 99 cents in the past.

Matt and Max started the Menlo App Academy last fall after being unimpressed with their school’s computer classes, which they describe as “typing.” They’re convinced that software development is a vital skill at even the youngest of ages. Kids from Texas and Tokyo have asked about attending remotely. The CEO of security technology firm Fortinet enrolled his son, as did Chris Espinosa, who was Apple‘s eighth employee and pioneered Apple‘s mobile development tools.

The boys have big plans for turning the academy into a kind of digital Boy Scouts of America. Up next: Android classes. “We need to be multiplatform, no doubt,” Matt says. “Technology changes fast.”

from Upside Potential

dinsdag 21 augustus 2012

Hanging out at Y Combinator demo day and I am now looking forward to Techcrunch Disrupt

I’m hanging out at Y Combinator‘s Demo Day and I think there’s a real problem here with the latest demo days. Each of 82 companies is getting two minutes and 15 seconds to talk about themselves to the audience. It’s like sitting through an entire day of advertisements about new companies that we have no context upon which to decide which companies are good, which ones to show you, etc. Tomorrow I’ll post my thoughts about the companies and will link to the best reports around the web from the day — unfortunately they aren’t live streaming it. You can watch live tweets on Twitter search here.

It’s very frustrating. It almost makes me want to go home with my list of companies, and just start making interview requests and playing with their products. In fact, that’s probably what I’ll do after lunch. The networking here is off the hook.

I far prefer an expo hall approach like what happens at Techcrunch Disrupt. Why?

1. Very quickly people tell me what the interesting companies are anyway. That already happened here at Y Combinator. The companies themselves are good “signalers” of who is hot. This happens at every company. I remember the day when found me before its presentation at Techcrunch Disrupt.
2. I can spend a lot of time with those companies and I know where to find them in the expo hall. Here every company is wearing branded T-shirts, but it’s random and chaotic.
3. The folks on stage get questioned by judges, and have enough time to spend with them, so you can really learn something about those companies. Here you just get advertisement after advertisement. Which I guess is really necessary because there are 82 companies. If they took any longer than two or three minutes we’d be here for months. Which shows the value that the press and judges have. Curation is really needed here. But we’re sitting through all these because its Y Combinator.

Anyway, I’ve arranged to have a booth at Techcrunch Disrupt. We’re arranging to interview several companies there. Please email me at if you want to get on the calendar. You’ll get more than two minutes to explain yourself, for sure. You can get in with a $100 discount if you use the code: Scobledsf12

from Scobleizer

Apple’s platforms for success and why it is worth 76% more than when Steve Jobs died

I did a couple of interviews today about the news that Apple’s market capitalization of $622 billion is the highest ever in absolute dollars (though not in inflation-adjusted terms). In the interview below I discuss some of the current landscape for Apple.

I was also interviewed for a segment on the 7pm News.

Here are a few of the thoughts I shared in my interviews, not all of which were included in the segments above.

Beyond Jobs. Apple’s share price is 76% higher than on the day of Steve Jobs’ death on October 5, 2011. This is a testament to his ability to build a company that thrives beyond his lifetime.

Riding mobile. The heart of Apple’s success is in how deftly it positioned itself to ride the extraordinary trend that is the shift to mobile everything. In the most recent quarter iPhone and iPad accounted for 72% of Apple’s revenue; it is today predominantly a mobile device company.

Pre-positioning platforms. In our Future of Media: Strategy Tools landscape I use our flow economy framework to analyze Apple’s success, showing how it has over the years shifted value from iPod to iTunes to iPhone, pre-building the platforms that have allowed its extraordinary success in mobile.

Pent-up demand. Apple’s most recent year-on-year growth rate of 23% was the lowest for three years, however that is largely due to people waiting for the release of the iPhone5 before buying Apple products.

Dividend distribution. Investors like dividends, so while the $2.5 billion distributed in its last dividend is only a fraction of the increase of its cash over a quarter (most recently standing at $118 billion), it helps to appeal to a broader pool of investors and support the stock price.

New vistas. While Apple has not really cracked the TV hardware or TV content markets, many believe they are well positioned to take significant value with new releases as the landscape of these markets shift dramatically in years ahead.

Extreme loyalty. Neuroscientists have likened Apple fanaticism to religious experience. In a world in which loyalty and brands are eroding on all sides, a significant proportion of Apple’s customer base do not seem likely to change buying habits soon.

Of course all this does not mean that Apple will necessarily keep its lead, however its position today is exceptional, as reflected in its stock price. It will be fascinating to see how it fares in the years ahead.

from Trends in the Living Networks

zondag 19 augustus 2012

Six startups that predict a killer YCombinator demo day this Tuesday

Four companies. If the other 80 companies that will be born on Tuesday are anything like these four, we are in for quite a week in Silicon Valley startup land.

Here’s a look at the four companies, two of which visited me in my Half Moon Bay, California, house on Friday to talk about Y Combinator and why it continues to be the best incubator and the one that most entrepreneurs hope to gain entry into.

Company One: Grid.

Go read about Grid on Techcrunch. That impressed me enough that I asked Josh to come by and spend some time with me, which is the video here. My only complaint is that Grid isn’t ready for prime time yet. The ideas are killer, but most people won’t be able to use this new kind of spreadsheet until sometime in 2013. I could listen to Josh, the founder, though, for hours. He worked at Microsoft on the Excel team and got stymied there because Microsoft doesn’t want to rethink its products. Heck, I wouldn’t. They are cash cows. But Josh’s ideas are awesome and I can’t wait to use his products.

Company Two: Smart Asset.

CEO Michael Carvin spent a bunch of time with me on Friday. He also was in Techcrunch a few days ago. Already 14,000 people have visited his site, which helps people make major purchase decisions. Like buying a house. His design hit me as being done by Edward Tufte, Carvin told me that his designer loves Tufte. When you enter a few things in his site has lots of sliders so you can adjust up and down your down payment and other details. It is one of the best done sites I’ve seen and I wish I had had this site when I purchased my house. screen shot

Company Three: Hipset

I love anything contextual that uses my Facebook data to bring me personalized experiences. Too many entrepreneurs are listening to the Facebook naysayers. When I was at Disneyland last week it seemed that EVERYONE was on Facebook. Only one guy in the audience of Chase Jarvis’ awesome photography show wasn’t on Facebook. And we’re putting more and more of our data into Facebook every day. Read more about Hipset on Techcrunch here.

Hipset takes that data and makes a music magazine out of it. Since I have more than 5,000 likes on Facebook (go ahead and steal my 300+ music likes to try this magazine out) Hipset really rocked for me. Love it, although it has quite a few things that need improvement. This needs to be an iPad app right now. The mobile experience is janky to say the least.

Company Four: Instacart

These guys snuck into Y Combinator at beyond the last minute. How? Their product rocked. The story is on Techcrunch. What does it do? It does 1-hour grocery delivery. What we’re witnessing is the “Uberization of everything.” If you haven’t used the Uber car ride app yet, you should. Within a couple of years everything will have an app that looks like Uber and works like it too.

Company Five: Credictive

When you meet founder Ela Madej, from Poland, she infects you with her passion for starting companies. This is her third company, which will let people give everyone credit for the site you are on. Last time I saw it it was an overlay for the Web that let you see who built that site. I thought it was an innovative competitor for, which lets geeks brag about the products they built or worked on. Why is that important? Well recruiters LOVE sites like these. I know, my neighbor John Poore is a recruiter (I did an audio interview with him a few weeks back).

Company Six: Boosted Boards

When other entrepreneurs love what you do, you know you’re onto something. These guys take a skateboard and put a little electric motor onto it. I hear it’s quite a kick to ride and is something that will be hot with teenagers in no time.

Here’s a video that PandoDaily did about this company:

Well, there you have it. Six very different Y Combinator companies. I hear there are 82 companies that will be revealed on Tuesday, most for the first time in public. I’ll be there with my video camera looking for more great companies to highlight. Startups, if you want to get together, my phone number is +1-425-205-1921 or my email is

Oh, and I also will be filming startups at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco September 8-12. I’ve arranged with Techcrunch for a $100 discount. Just use the code: Scobledsf12. Hope to see you there!

from Scobleizer

zaterdag 18 augustus 2012

Cinchcast shuts down, demonstrates troubles of when you bet on services you don’t control

Last night CinchCast (an audio service for mobile phones) announced it was shutting down. Major bummer because I have more than 300 recordings on the service including some really historic ones with folks like Instagram’s founder, Kevin Systrom and more. That interview is here. Or it will be until October, when Cinchcast shuts down for good.

In the past year I’ve moved my iPhone audio recordings to SoundCloud, which is really a great service and has much more funding behind it.

Last night I recorded my thoughts about what happens when services shut down and take parts of the Web with it:

Yes, I already have downloaded all the files, but any links to them will break. So, this is a real bummer.

Anyway, my Cinchcasts are at:
My new SoundCloud channel is at

This is a real problem with using third-party services you don’t control to hold your life.

As more and more “contextual” services grab pieces of our lives, and study them, what about us will disappear if those companies disappear or decide to “pivot?” Something I’ll be thinking about as Shel and I work on our new book, “The Age of Context.” Speaking of the book, I took a couple of weeks off, but the book continues to hum along. More news coming soon.

No, this won’t get me to stop betting on third-party services like Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, but it does show there’s a risk to locating your content on places where you have no control or ownership.

Here’s the email Cinchcast sent all its users last night:

Dear Cinch.FM users,

It is with great sadness that I announce that we are shutting down the Cinch.FM service. While we continue to believe that easily creating audio content has an important place in the digital world, we just do not have the engineering and product resources to maintain the service while continuing to invest in our main property, BlogTalkRadio. We’d like to make the transition off of Cinch.FM as smooth as possible for you by providing the steps necessary for preserving your content.

Effective August 20th, 2012, no new accounts can be created on Cinch.FM and for those of you with an existing Cinch.FM account, you will no longer be able to create new audio recordings.

Your existing content will remain online and available until October 20, 2012 – two months from the shut down date. Cinch.FM players that have been published on your blog or any other website will continue to function until that date. In addition, the RSS feed for your account will remain available for the same period.

If you would like to save any of your recordings, please log in to the Cinch.FM web site immediately and download your audio content. To download your content, you may login here. If you have a large volume of content that you would like to download, we recommend that you use the RSS feeds available in your account and a podcast client.

After October 20, 2012, your content will be permanently deleted, and we will not be able to retrieve it.

I know that many of you actively use the Cinch.FM service, but please know that this turn of events saddens us as well and we are truly sorry. We’re incredibly thankful for our Cinch.FM community of users.

Again thank you for being a Cinch.FM user.


Bob Charish, COO Cinch.FM

from Scobleizer

vrijdag 17 augustus 2012

TED: Rob Legato: The art of creating awe - Rob Legato (2012)

Rob Legato creates movie effects so good they (sometimes) trump the real thing. In this warm and funny talk, he shares his vision for enhancing reality on-screen in movies like Apollo 13, Titanic and Hugo.

from TEDTalks (video)

donderdag 16 augustus 2012

Research on the declining credibility of established news organizations – this creates opportunities for new ones

Pew Research Center has just released the latest results in an study that has been running since 1983 on the credibility of US news organizations under the title Further Decline in Credibility Ratings for Most News Organizations. Some of the data is shown below.

Source: Pew Research Center for the People & The Press

There is no question that as we experience an increasing profusion of information, there is a very real and greater value to having trusted brands to help filter the overload.

Established media organizations are especially loud in proclaiming the value to users of media brands. However the picture changes if the credibility of those news organizations is eroding.

Reputation is one of the 8 elements that make up our NewsScape of where value resides in a post-channel media world, however that itself has a number of components.

In the reputation economy, brands rise and fall faster than ever. A list of the most influential publications in the world shows that indeed the old, established brands such as New York Times and Reuters are at the top of the tree. However an increasing proportion of brands, and the fastest-rising ones, are new.

People look to news organizations as filters. That has always been true, yet ever more today as we are deluged by information. However social filtering is providing a valuable alternative to news organizations editors in uncovering and selecting the most interesting and relevant news for us.

Many established news organizations of today have to deal with the legacy of outdated channels, most notably news-on-paper. This creates an opportunity for new organizations to establish credibility and build a brand. There is no question that a powerful national or even global news brand could be developed in a matter of years. That is sufficient for people to develop a high degree of trust.

I very much hope to see fresh news brands take advantage of the enormous opportunity offered by the declining credibility of established news organizations. We need news we can trust, and I agree with the consensus that most major news organizations are increasingly not credible.

from Trends in the Living Networks

TED: Timothy Prestero: Design for people, not awards - Timothy Prestero (2012)

Timothy Prestero thought he'd designed the perfect incubator for newborns in the developing world -- but his team learned a hard lesson when it failed to go into production. A manifesto on the importance of designing for real-world use, rather than accolades. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)

from TEDTalks (video)

Launch of We’re Looking For Talent – the foundation of a crowd business model

We have just launched our new recruitment site We’re Looking For Talent.

Crowd business models are a major theme for us in our publishing and events. They are also at the heart of the AHT Group business model. As we build our businesses we want to see how far we can take the use of distributed work.

We currently tap work and talent on a wide variety of crowdsourcing sites, but we have reached the stage of creating our own platform in finding the best people to work with.

The principles for how we seek to attract talent are described in detail on the page Why Work For Us?, which is the best place to read about what we are doing, however I’ve provided a brief summary below.

Key principles. The heart of the model is our belief in talent, and offering flexible part-time work to draw on what we see as a deep pool of talent.

Pay and rewards. We will pay team members for their work within a lean startup structure, and offer a share in profits using a point system that recognizes contributions and value creation. There is also the potential for some people to be given equity in new ventures.

Process for joining the team. There is an extended process to fully engage with the team, including tests, trials, and a period of building deeper engagement.

Location. Some roles will be based in Sydney, others can be done from anywhere, and some roles can be done globally but we will prefer people in Sydney if we can find the right capabilities.

Evolution. We will evolve the model over time, and share the lessons we learn along the way. A large part of our intent is to provide others with a useful framework for building crowd-based business models.

Roles we are looking for now and in the near future include a core team project manager, an agency launch manager, creative project managers, 3D infographic designers, web developers with expertise in APIs, and writers on a wide variety of topics including crowdsourcing, personal branding, and the future of sex.

This is an experiment, and we no doubt have much to learn. However we have been building the foundations for this step for a long time, including establishing project structures and methodologies that will enable us to best tap a growing distributed team.

I’ll provide regular updates on how the model is working and the lessons learned along the way. It’s a very exciting time for our companies and the entire team.

from Trends in the Living Networks

woensdag 15 augustus 2012

TED: Jon Ronson: Strange answers to the psychopath test - Jon Ronson (2012)

Is there a definitive line that divides crazy from sane? With a hair-raising delivery, Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, illuminates the gray areas between the two. (With live-mixed sound by Julian Treasure and animation by Evan Grant.)

from TEDTalks (video)

Data: What the Fortune Global 100 are doing (and not doing) on social media

A recent study from Burson-Marsteller looks in depth at what the Fortune Global 100 are currently doing on social media.

Some of the interesting insights from the study include:

* There is a massive amount of communication about major companies, with each company mentioned in an average of over 55,000 tweets and 19,000 blog posts each month

* Corporate participation in social media is high though not yet pervasive, with 82% of the companies on Twitter (compared to 65% in 2010), 74% on Facebook (up from 54%), and 79% on YouTube (up from 50%)

* The average Fortune 100 company has almost 15,000 followers on their Twitter account, almost 3x a year earlier, and over 150,000 likes on Facebook

* There has been a rapid shift to multiple social media accounts, with the average company having over 10 Twitter accounts and 10 Facebook pages, across segments, geographies, and purposes

* 25% of the companies have Pinterest accounts, showing they are on top of trends

Overall, the data points to a high and increasing level of engagement with social media by large corporations. However by 2012 it is still rather surprising that there are still major companies that are not yet engaged on social media. Undoubtedly under the headline data there are many companies that are engaging on social media, but with little depth or enthusiasm.

How well companies engage in social media is likely to be an increasingly accurate indicator of their ability to deal with accelerating change in the business environment.

from Trends in the Living Networks

dinsdag 14 augustus 2012

Insights into the evolution of Klout’s algorithm

The rise of the reputation economy is one of the most important trends of our time. As such, like it or hate it, Klout’s role as probably the most prominent influence engine today means it is useful to track its structure and mechanisms.

Klout today unveiled a major change to its algorithm and scores. Here are some thoughts on the changes.

* It is valid to regularly change algorithms.
Many people feel that if Klout keeps on changing its scoring mechanism (the last major change was in October 2011) it makes it hard to believe that they have any validity at all. It’s a fair response, however we are still early in developing reputation measures, so the more important task is to keep trying to improve the algorithm rather than being consistent with something that can be improved. It disrupts its clients who are running campaigns, but that is a low cost to driving a better score.

* Increasing people’s scores is a good thing.
The biggest complaint people had with Klout’s last algorithm change is that most people’s scores went down. As I explained in my analysis of that change, it was an avoidable and unnecessary move. It looks like today’s change will increase most people’s scores. Before today, I would guess that a Klout score in the low 50s would put you in the top 1% of people, giving almost 50 points to distinguish between the top 1%. When you are scoring against a scale of 0-100, it is more useful to allocate scores more evenly. A side benefit is that people are happy that their scores have increased, even it doesn’t change their relative ranking. Another interesting aspect is that Klout together with its main competitors, PeerIndex and Kred, calibrate their scores against each other, simply because people prefer seeing higher scores. Klout and PeerIndex score on a 1-100 scale while Kred scores on a 1-1000 scale. Kred tends to give higher scores on the scale than the others. Now that Klout has readjusted its scoring scale, PeerIndex tends to rank people lowest on the scale.

* The algorithm now extends beyond social media.
Klout says that it is making its “first steps towards including real-world influence” by including an array of new measures listed here. Still the vast majority are on social media, but it now includes measures such as LinkedIn (so call yourself as Director or CEO) and PageRank on the person’s Wikipedia page. These are indeed first steps however presage other moves. Our stealth startup Repyoot intends to focus on real influence not social media influence, reflecting the reality you don’t need to be on social media to be influential (though it increasingly helps).

* Using +K as a measure encourages gaming.
One of the most prominent activities on Klout is giving people “+K” on particular topics to indicate influence. Most people do not realize it, but until today that has not influenced score at all, only the topics that people are said to be prominent in. Now that +K influences score, there is no doubt that there will be many requests for +K, exchanges of +K, and other attempts to get more, as it is one of the only readily gameable elements in the Klout score. Klout can fairly easily uncover and discount these gaming efforts, however people will still do it.

* There will be a trend to greater transparency in scoring.
Klout says that it is introducing more transparency with a “brand new feature called “moments” that showcases your most influential social media activity—the times when your ideas most impacted and touched the people in your world.” That’s more transparency? Not really, though the announcement alludes to more details being provided. In any case let’s hope that it is an early sign of more indication of how scores are set. Klout is undoubtedly responding to Kred, which provides details of how every social media event impacts scores.

I should also add a comment from my post on Klout last year:

There is no such thing as an accurate reputation measure
We know that Twitter followers is not a very good indication of influence. When you start to account for other factors such as amplification and engagement, there is no ‘correct’ result. Human judgment on what is more important shapes the algorithm.

from Trends in the Living Networks

TED: Caitria and Morgan O’Neill: How to step up in the face of disaster - Caitria O'Neill / Morgan O'Neill (2012)

After a natural disaster strikes, there’s only a tiny window of opportunity to rally effective recovery efforts before the world turns their attention elsewhere. Who should be in charge? When a freak tornado hit their hometown, sisters Caitria and Morgan O’Neill -- just 20 and 24 at the time -- took the reins and are now teaching others how to do the same. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)

from TEDTalks (video)

maandag 13 augustus 2012

TED: Ivan Krastev: Can democracy exist without trust? - Ivan Krastev (2012)

Five great revolutions have shaped political culture over the past 50 years, says theorist Ivan Krastev. He shows how each step forward -- from the cultural revolution of the ‘60s to recent revelations in the field of neuroscience -- has also helped erode trust in the tools of democracy. As he says, "What went right is also what went wrong." Can democracy survive?

from TEDTalks (video)

zondag 12 augustus 2012

TED: Mark Forsyth: What’s a snollygoster? A short lesson in political speak - Mark Forsyth (2012)

Most politicians choose their words carefully, to shape the reality they hope to create. But does it work? Etymologist Mark Forsyth shares a few entertaining word-origin stories from British and American history (for instance, did you ever wonder how George Washington became "president"?) and draws a surprising conclusion. (From TEDxHousesofParliament in London)

from TEDTalks (video)

zaterdag 11 augustus 2012

TED: Lisa Kristine: Glimpses of modern day slavery - Lisa Kristine (2012)

According to UN estimates, 27 million people are currently enslaved across the globe. With an imperative message, photographer Lisa Christine shares images from her travels documenting some of their daily realities.

from TEDTalks (video)

vrijdag 10 augustus 2012

TED: Kirby Ferguson: Embrace the remix - Kirby Ferguson (2012)

Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform.

from TEDTalks (video)

donderdag 9 augustus 2012

TED: Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes - Pam Warhurst (2012)

What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.

from TEDTalks (video)

woensdag 8 augustus 2012

Is this the future? Invest in people… and take part of their income

Two years ago I wrote a post Will there be capital markets for equity in people?

That appears to be coming true with the launch of Upstart, a startup from a group of ex-Google employees. Venture Beat writes:

Would you fork over a small portion of your income for the next decade in exchange for funding?

The team behind Upstart, (pictured, above) a new crowdfunding platform, is willing to bet that this will be a viable option for scores of recent grads and budding entrepreneurs. The startup launches today with a new model to give grads a modest amount of risk capital, using their future earnings as collateral.

Upstart works a bit differently from other crowdfunding sites. Unlike with Kickstarter, backers can invest in people — “upstarts” — rather than in teams, projects, or ideas. Upstarts can use the funding for almost anything, and in return, they pay their backers on a monthly basis for 10 years, verified annually via tax returns. It’s a fixed fraction of income, and the max interest rate an upstart could pay is a 14.99 percent annual return.

It would be interesting if this is an idea whose time has come, as we move to more diverse models of venture funding. I earlier wrote:

It is unlikely that highly liquid marketplaces for personal equity will emerge, at least until there are standardized contracts for selling personal equity, that have been shown to be enforceable by law, preferably across jurisdictions. However in the shorter-term there could well be enough transactions for valuation criteria for individuals to emerge.

This would be a strong driver of the reputation economy, where reputation measures would be probably the most accurate indicators of the value of personal equity.

It will be fascinating to see whether Upstart succeeds, with deep interest from both sides of the market for personal equity.

from Trends in the Living Networks

TED: A sense of humor about Afghanistan? Artist Aman Mojadidi shows how - Aman Mojadidi (2012)

Afghan-American artist Aman Mojadidi calls himself “Afghan by blood, redneck by the grace of god.” Playing off his two identities, the TED Fellow's bold, funny, thought-provoking artwork explores jihad, gangsterism, consumers and corruption in modern Afghanistan.

from TEDTalks (video)

dinsdag 7 augustus 2012

Perth drinks/ meetup on 13 August: Twitter/ media/ future/ startups

I’ll be in Perth, WA the evening of 13 August after a client workshop.

After a quick pow-wow on Twitter, a few fine folk have agreed to catch up for a drink and conversation about Twitter, media, the future, startups, or whatever else we feel like chatting about.

When: Monday 13 August, 5:30 – 7:30pm, and then bite to eat for whoever’s up for it
Where: The Trustee Bar, 133 St Georges Terrace, Perth

Esteemed tweeps who have said they will or might be there include @alischaw, @kaz747, @johnt and @RichardGiles.

Just turn up if you feel like joining us, and feel free to pass on word to anyone who might be interested.

Maybe see you there!

from Trends in the Living Networks

TED: Max Little: A test for Parkinson’s with a phone call - Max Little (2012)

Parkinson’s disease affects 6.3 million people worldwide, causing weakness and tremors, but there's no objective way to detect it early on. Yet. Applied mathematician and TED Fellow Max Little is testing a simple, cheap tool that in trials is able to detect Parkinson's with 99 percent accuracy -- in a 30-second phone call.

from TEDTalks (video)

The importance of entrepreneurial organizations: lessons from global comparisons of company age

Last week I ran a workshop for the global leadership of the growth companies division of a major professional services firm.

The Economist had just run a leader on Europe’s chronic failure to encourage ambitious entrepreneurs, including some interesting data comparing the age of leading European and American companies.

I dug into the original data from think-tank Bruegel in their excellent report The Demographics of Global Corporate Champions to create the following chart. It shows when companies in the FT500 (as of 31 December 2007) were founded, shown by geographic region.

What stands out the most from the data:

* Europe, which has many long-established companies, has almost completely failed to create large companies over the last decades.

* Japan has also underperformed as an entrepreneurial nation with very few major companies created after the second world war.

* The US continues to be a highly dynamic economic that is creating new major global companies.

* ‘Emerging‘ countries, largely in Asia, account for a large proportion of new entrants into the FT500, largely keeping pace with the US over the last 75 years, though a little less at the end of the century.

Industry structures globally are changing dramatically. In some cases long-established companies can be nimble, but in many cases of the major new industries and sectors that have emerged over the last decades are dominated by new players.

The Economist says Europe “has a problem with creating new businesses destined for growth”. Given current shifts in the structure of business, that is not a happy place to be.

As a priority, countries and regions must focus on building the capabilities and conditions from which rapidly growing new companies can emerge.

from Trends in the Living Networks

maandag 6 augustus 2012

TED: Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree - Margaret Heffernan (2012)

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers -- and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.

from TEDTalks (video)

Creating a consistent online voice and identity

I have recently been running a series of social media workshops for retailers in a franchise chain.

The workshop starts with a big picture view and then runs through detailed guidance on establishing a presence, building engagement, and driving success, interspersed with group exercises to set objectives, think through stratgies, and set action plans.

One of the exercises I take the participants through in the workshops is thinking through their online voice and identity.

One of the hardest things to do in getting going on social media is to find your voice.

In the exercise I get participants to find 3 or 4 words or phrases that describe how they want to be seen online.

Depending on the person and their industry, these descriptions could be Expert, Insightful, Entertaining, Generous, Quirky, Fashionable, Ethical, or any number of other possible terms.

It can be very useful to have the list of those words as a reference point whenever posting to a company Facebook page or other social media platform. It can guide not just the tone of any posts, but also what content is found and shared with followers.

Over time the words chosen can evolve, but all times they can provide a guide to how to engage. This simple exercise can help people and companies to create a consistent online voice and identity.

from Trends in the Living Networks

zondag 5 augustus 2012

TED: Scilla Elworthy: Fighting with non-violence - Scilla Elworthy (2012)

How do you deal with a bully without becoming a thug? In this wise and soulful talk, peace activist Scilla Elworthy maps out the skills we need -- as nations and individuals -- to fight extreme force without using force in return. To answer the question of why and how non-violence works, she evokes historical heroes -- Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela -- and the personal philosophies that powered their peaceful protests. (Filmed at TEDxExeter.)

from TEDTalks (video)

vrijdag 3 augustus 2012

TED: Mark Applebaum: The mad scientist of music - Mark Applebaum (2012)

Mark Applebaum writes music that breaks the rules in fantastic ways, composing a concerto for a florist and crafting a musical instrument from junk and found objects. This quirky talk might just inspire you to shake up the “rules” of your own creative work. (Filmed at TEDxStanford.)

from TEDTalks (video)

Beware: A330 laptop power won’t power a laptop

I went to Thailand this week to run a session on the future of business for a senior partner offsite of a global professional services firm.

I have had a whole series of deadlines (fortunately easing a fraction now) so had to work the whole 8 1/2 hour flight to Bangkok. I was flying Qantas business class in an A330, so I plugged in my Dell XPS 15Z laptop and it appeared to be working. Somewhat later I noticed that I was in fact running on battery power.

Neither my outlet power nor that of my neighbor appeared to be working at all. When the crew helped me try the laptop in a vacant seat’s outlet, and even the central outlet at the front of the plane, the circuit cut out. While I had some battery power remaining it ran out well before we arrived.

When I mentioned it on Twitter Charlie Isaacs and others told me it was probably a power issue, which indeed appears to be the case. In one discussion on FlyerTalk a member notes:

It’s all in the inflight magazine, in the info in the back. There’s a 75W maximum, which some laptops without batteries draw. Check with your manufacturer, as to power draw with and without battery plugged in. If it’s more then 75W… buy a new laptop… or carry lot’s of batteries…

As noted in the post and by Charlie and others, by pulling out the battery you can sometimes reduce power consumption sufficiently for the power to work on the plane. However to access the battery on my Dell requires unscrewing 6 screws, and I’m not sure that would fix it. It also seems that many Macs – on which you cannot remove the battery – have too high a power draw to function on the A330.

While some have tried to explain why there are limits to the laptop power that can be provided on a plane, it is not very customer friendly to provide power that is not sufficient for a significant proportion of laptops. People expect that if they have access to power (probably using the very useful SeatGuru Laptop Power Guide to identify whether it will be available on their flight), that the power will actually work.

I presume this is an Airbus issue and it applies across airlines. This is perhaps not an earth-shattering problem (Scott Berkun and others on Twitter accurately described it a #firstworldproblem), however it is something people should be aware of before scheduling work time on long flights.

from Trends in the Living Networks

donderdag 2 augustus 2012

TED: Becci Manson: (Re)touching lives through photos - Becci Manson (2012)

In the wake of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, mixed into the wreckage were lost and damaged photos of families and loved ones. Photo retoucher Becci Manson, together with local volunteers and a global group of colleagues she recruited online, helped clean and fix them, restoring those memories to their owners.

from TEDTalks (video)

woensdag 1 augustus 2012

TED: Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education - Daphne Koller (2012)

Daphne Koller is enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free -- not just as a service, but as a way to research how people learn. Each keystroke, comprehension quiz, peer-to-peer forum discussion and self-graded assignment builds an unprecedented pool of data on how knowledge is processed and, most importantly, absorbed.

from TEDTalks (video)