Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Guest Posts Archives

Illuminate - Duarte Debuts New Movements Marketing Practice


The Silicon Valley firm that helped Al Gore create a movement to curb climate change introduces strategy team to help leaders spark and sustain change. Guest post by Chris Knight 

In 2012, Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez set out to write a book to help business leaders envision the future and make their big, audacious visions a reality. In their 2016 book Illuminate: Ignite Change through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols, they lay out a five-part taxonomy for leadership movements.

Based on four years of in-depth research, Illuminate is rich in case studies about how great leaders like Apple's Steve Jobs, Starbucks' Howard Schultz and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used speeches, stories, ceremonies and symbols to mobilize the masses.

In a review of Illuminate, Forbes’ contributor Nick Morgan highly recommends the book for organizations that are keen on thinking through and telling stories that take

“best advantage of human cultural symbols, signs and signposts along the way. You can run an organization without telling stories to bring employees, customers, and the public into your fold – but you can’t run it very well.”

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Startup Voodoo Keynote: Prospering Female Entrepreneurs


I'll be at the Startup Voodoo conference in St. Louis on June 18. Here is an interview by conference co-founder Aaron Perlut, with one of the keynote speakers: Maxine Clark, who pioneered crowd-sourcing in 1997 to build a very successful business. 

By Aaron Perlut

Veteran retail entrepreneur Maxine Clark is one of our keynote speakers at the 2nd annual Startup Voodoo innovation, entrepreneurship and startups conference in St. Louis June 18.

Not familiar with her name? Well, you should be. Because while crowdsourcing is today all the rage as a means of corporate engagement with customers, Clark’s Build-A-Bear Workshop – with more than 400 locations worldwide — has been at the forefront of the concept since 1997.

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'Growth Hacking' Makes Me Twitch - 5 Lessons For Enterprises


Erin Steinbrugge is COO of, where she authored the Growth Hacking 101: Rookie Template; and is a contributor to the Accelerate St. Louis startup ecosystem. 

Guest post by Erin Steinbrugge

If there is one area where marketers excel, it’s continually redefining and rebranding the role of marketing itself. As a marketer at heart, I appreciate the continual innovation yet sometimes cringe at the latest and greatest buzzwords and emerging new job titles. The latest title that has caught my fancy and that of Silicon Valley over the last couple years is “growth hacker.”

What exactly is a Growth Hacker?

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Guest Column: The Complexities Of Governance In The Age Of Data 2.0

Man lost in data lake  WEB

A data lake...

The following is a guest column from Sharmila Mulligan, CEO and founder of ClearStory Data.

By Sharmila Mulligan

In the late 1990s, organizations struggled to solve the problem of who gets access to more information, more applications and more data. As enterprises began amassing more data and making it available to employees, partners and customers, security considerations escalated.

We saw rapid innovation in security technologies. The first single sign-on applications emerged together with many other authentication technologies.  And we saw the first appointments of Chief Security Officers (CSOs), helping these essential applications to proliferate in the enterprise with beneficial results.

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Guest Post: Big Data From The Internet Of Everything Needs 'Chefs' To Mix It

Here's a guest post by Chris Knight, who recently returned from the International Consumer Electronics Show and he's convinced that Big Data needs to have some top chefs.

Guest Post by Chris Knight

With billions of smart devices coming online, the variety and volume of new data sources will require businesses to move from back-end IT and data science to hiring "top chefs" of data.

Delivering on big data's promise for strategic business edge is now far more daunting after a string of news and products coming to market to at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. As some pundits noted, big data was a "quiet star" at the mammoth annual gadget fest.

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What’s Driving Investor Interest in HR Services?

Editor's Note: Wall Street and VC investors seek out companies selling services in the human resources (HR) sector, as compliance with new legislation grows in complexity.

Guest column: By Burton Goldfield, CEO, TriNet.

If you look at the HR cloud market, you’ll find recent growing financial interest and investment in cloud-based, human capital management. Companies like TriNet, Paylocity, Workday and Paycom have all had recent IPOs, while ZenPayroll and Zenefits have received VC funding. Additionally, within the last two years Oracle and have acquired Internet-based HR software firms.

So, what fuels the recent interest in HR services companies?

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Apptheneum: Disrupting The Scientific Media

By Matthew Grimshaw at InPress Media Group

Most people don't know much about the business of science publishing. When I tell friends what I do for a living there's a certain look of terror that flashes across their eyes at words such as, 'semiconductors,' 'physics' and 'journals' as if they are about to hear a three-hour lecture on the subject.

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Smart Data: How To Compete For Talent Against Silicon Valley Giants

By Prakash Nanduri, Co-founder and CEO at Paxata and Kenny Mendes, Head of Recruiting at Box and member of Paxata Advisory Board

The technology boom is driving a hiring frenzy, pitting giant companies like LinkedIn, Twitter and Google against small, scrappy start-ups in a battle for talent. Top candidates are able to negotiate four or five offers, with the same cash, equity and even project quality being put on the table.

How can companies optimize for this reality? It starts with data. And while everyone talks about how using data wisely can accelerate confident decisions, reduce costs and drive efficiencies, very few of the current generation of recruiters are applying Moneyball methodologies to their hiring and retention strategies.

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The Technology of Umpires At The America's Cup

OracleAmericascup  1 of 1

People at Oracle World on Wednesday watching Larry Ellison's team win the America's Cup in a spectacular finish. 

By Intel Free Press

“America’s Cup racing is more aggressive in its use of technology, particularly in officiating, than any other sport. Baseball uses lots of data, but the umpire still calls balls and strikes,” said Stan Honey, director of technology for the America’s Cup Event Authority. “The America’s Cup has chosen to use data to make (officiating) calls in real time — all calls based on measurement are made in the booth using data and subjective judgment calls are made by officials out on the water.”

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Guest Post: A Cautionary Tale Of Goliaths And Davids...

By Heddi Cundle

When you're building your business, you'll come across global corporations that may step on your toes. Here's a timely example of a recent scenario that happened to myTab.

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Rethinking The Cloud - The Need For Cloud-Jumping Enterprise Applications

Google-funded CliQr helps enterprises move any application to any cloud. Turning cloud providers into commodity services.

By Gaurav Manglik, CEO CliQr Technologies

For many businesses the promise of cloud computing has been the ultimate paradox. What company can argue with having access to almost infinite, third-party supplied and staffed information technology resources on-demand, topped off with a utility billing model that allows companies to only pay for what they use?

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The Value Women Bring To Startups: Higher Revenues And Capital Efficiency

Here is a fascinating guest post infographic sent by Muhammad Saleem from the blog on

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Disqus: The Importance Of Trolls And Anonymity In Comments

DanielHa 17

Daniel Ha  (above) is the CEO and cofounder of Disqus.

By Daniel Ha

To some, the idea of improving internet comments may provoke flashbacks to the war on drugs or overcoming gridlock in Washington. Some problems are too pervasive to fix, so why even bother?

But comments matter for the simple reason that we read them and they shape our perceptions of daily life. And we’re commenting more than ever.

As one of the leading models for large scale discussion, The Huffington Post set a record last year with over 70 million comments.

Our own data at Disqus shows that nearly half of all article page visits include a trip to the comments.And a growing body of research demonstrates that reader comments shape news perception. 

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SAP: Using Supply Chain Technology To Raise Living Standards In The Developing World


Guest post by Amy Seidman - Noble Profit

Jennifer Scholze, Senior Director, Sustainability Solutions Product Safety and Stewardship, explains how SAP is working with women in Ghana as part of the Ghana Shea Value Chain Initiative.

SAP is using its supply chain technology to minimize the number of middle men necessary to get supply to purchasers. The goal of the initiative is to increase the income for women that are harvesting shea nuts.

Scholze discusses how SAP demonstrates their commitment to supporting communities and improving lives in disadvantaged areas of the world. 

Follow Noble Profit on

Register at Noble Profit to gain valuable insights in related topics.

Collaborate Or Fail: The New Corporate Ethos Of The Innovation Economy


Interview with Adam Pisoni (above), co-founder of Yammer.

By Intel Free Press


At a time when many doubted social networking could benefit a business' bottom line, Yammer hit the scene with a service that many called "Twitter for the Enterprise."

More than 5 million corporate employees, 85 percent of which are at Fortune 500 companies, reportedly use Yammer.That success drove Microsoft to pay $1.2 billion last year to acquire the private, social network, with ambitions to roll Yammer features into Microsoft's SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 applications.

Yammer co-founder and CTO Adam Pisoni sat down to talk about why empowering employees is central to his product and essential for any business that wants to thrive in today's fast-paced world.

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Friday's Guest Posts: Hundreds Of Millions Of Women Missing From Online Worlds

Fridays is when SVW opens up to additional voices by publishing some of the guest posts that readers send to us. This week there's a coincidental theme: the hundreds of millions of women that are missing from the global online communities.

It's a massive gender gap that is found within the digital gap -- an economic barrier. But it's also a cultural obstacle. This infographic sent by  Muhammad Saleem from Brain Track illustrates the issues.

Intel Free Press interviewed Trina DasGupta the Director of the GSMA mWomen organization, whose mission is to help more than 300 million women acquire their own mobile phones.

Maryruth Belsey Priebe from Noble Profit, profiles two projects by social entrepreneurs that have helped alleviate women's burdens in the collection and transportation of clean water.

Also: Social By Design announces a new type of marketing lab based on work at Stanford University.

If you have an interesting guest post to contribute please send it to [email protected] with "guest post" somewhere in the subject line. A wide range of topics is fine. It's OK if it has been published elsewhere. Guest posts might be edited lightly for readability.

DejaView from earlier: 

- Richard Edelman, the head of the world's largest privately held PR firm speaks at the Churchill Club on the contagious lack of trust that is infecting business, government, and entire industry sectors. - Video extracts from Richard Edelman panel at Churchill Club.

- The massive amount of content that's being produced will grow ever larger as web sites pursue falling advertising rates, making it more difficult for all types of content to cut through the noise.

Silicon Valley has become a Media Valley, a giant virtual Gutenberg machine that's evolved from moveable type to programmable type.

- The martyrdom of Aaron Swartz: Where were the activists when he needed them the most? His suicide is being used to promote open data agendas, and a reform of the judicial system yet he chose not to link his death with anything at all.

- The Crunchies Awards in photos: Geeks dress up and head to San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall for a mutual adoration festival.




The Emergent Mobile Woman - Squeezing The Global Gender Gap in Mobile Technologies

NewImageBy Intel Free Press

Trina DasGupta (above) directs the GSMA mWomen organization, which operates under a cloud of disheartening data. Its research shows that there are more than 300 million women missing from the global mobile communications revolution. 

She recently discussed how her program serves as a mobile-minded advocate for disadvantaged women and as a catalyst in the creation of life-enhancing mobile services such as healthcare, finance, education and entrepreneurship.

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Social Entrepreneurs That Innovate Around Women And Clean Water


Guest post by Maryruth Belsey Priebe at Noble Profit.

Two social entrepreneurs have recently introduced simple, yet astoundingly effective systems that can be used by women living in developing countries to collect and carry clean water.

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The Global Gender Gap Inside The Digital Gap - Women Lag By 25%

There's millions of women missing in the online world and it's not necessarily because of poor economic resources. It's also due to cultural biases held by women themselves.

Guest post infographic from Muhammad Saleem, at Consumer Media Network and the former Director of Social Media Strategy at Chicago Media Tribune Group:

Original source:

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Social By Design Launches Marketing Lab For 'Behavioral Design'

Guest Post: The marketing consultancy Social By Design is charting new territory with a novel service that allows clients to experiment with a variety of strategies before launching a large campaign. It's based on methodology developed at Stanford University. Giovanni Rodriguez and Toby Chaudhuri explain:

2013: The Year Social Science Meets Social Engagement

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Silicon Valley Leadership Group: Anne Smart On The Importance Of Cap And Trade

Here is the first of regular weekly Friday posts from Amy Seidman's Noble Profit, which interviews executives at companies that are striving for a better way of building sustainable businesses.

By Amy Seidman

Watch Anne Smart from Silicon Valley Leadership Group speak about Cap and Trade.

A historic milestone was reached November 14, 2012 when Governor Schwarzenegger's California Global Warming Solutions Act came into law, commonly known as Cap and Trade.

The bill passed in 2006, and since formation companies and citizens have been vying for where the billions of dollars raised as revenue from these taxes will be used.

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Take A Look Into Topix - Mass Bullying Across Thousands Of Small US Towns

By Virginia Hoge

My name is Virginia Olive Hoge and I am in the strange and fated position of being one of the first people who noticed that something very alarming was happening on Over three and a half years ago, I noticed how it was being used as a vehicle for slander, to batter people online.

I was dragged onto Topix when my liberal blog was attacked there. I was slandered in a series of attack threads on the Pasadena, CA, Topix forum, the kind I would soon find out were everywhere.

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Welcome to Friday Guest Posts!

Fridays is when I'll be publishing some of the guest posts people send me as part of a plan to open up SVW to additional voices. My choices won't necessarily reflect my opinions.

If you'd like to participate send your article to [email protected] with "Guest post" in the subject line somewhere. I don't mind if it's been published somewhere before if it's still relevant. I might lightly edit for clarity and pace but I promise to preserve the spirit and meaning of the original.

This Friday:

Silicon Valley Leadership Group: Anne Smart On The Importance Of Cap And Trade

Take A Look Into Topix - Mass Bullying Across Thousands Of Small US Towns

Computers Want To Be Touched: Here's How It Works

(Above: Capacitive touchscreens use an electrostatic field to continuously sample the screen surface for movement and relays that information to a processor that can interpret it. )

I've long been curious about how touchscreens work and never got around to finding out. Here's a great explanation.

By Intel Free Press

Today, largely due to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets such as the Apple iPad, sophisticated touchscreens are a common fixture in our digital lives.

To understand how touch technology works, requires a look back to the basics of how touchscreens evolved from primitive interfaces to chic and powerful digital accessories.

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Advice From A Top VC: Big Data Insights From 'Cloud' Companies And The 'Death Of McKinsey'

Silicon Valley VC firm Emergence Capital Partners was an early investor in and now works exclusively with cloud-based startups primarily focused on business customers. Gordon Ritter writes that they can learn a lot from consumer services companies.

By Gordon Ritter

Consumer internet companies have always been good at harnessing behavioral data from their customers to serve their customers better (and help themselves in the process). Many enterprise cloud companies have the same opportunity but have not focused on the importance of this data.

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Touch Me: Do Users Really Want Touch-Responsive Computers?

Touching the screen on a tablet is different from using a laptop with a keyboard. Intel's market research shows that despite tired arms ('gorilla arms') users like to touch.

By Intel Free Press

Touch on vertical screens, such as laptops, has been thought to result in so-called "gorilla arm," a term engineers have coined to describe what happens when people use touch interfaces for lengthy periods.

"Touchscreen on the display is ergonomically terrible for longer interactions," Avi Greengart of Current Analysis said to Wired in 2010. In user testing conducted by Intel in Brazil, China, Italy and the United States, however, people embraced touch on laptop displays.

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The Joys Of Modding PCs ... And 'Mad Men'

Jeffrey Stephenson surrounded by several of his computer designs. He is a fan of the Mid-Century Modern designs depicted in the AMC television series "Mad Men"

By Intel Free Press

By day, Jeffrey Stephenson works as an information technology professional, but in his free time, he's better known as "slipperyskip." That's his Twitter handle and the name he uses on computer hardware forums where he posts about how he transforms retro furniture and antique appliances -- he once turned an Elvis microphone into a fully functioning PC. His handcrafted designs have made him a celebrity in many computer hardware circles and a living legend among PC modders.

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Windows 8 Changes The Security Landscape

By Paul Lipman, CEO, Total Defense

As the industry prepares for the release of Windows 8 toward the end of this year, just about every security company is wondering how they will be affected and how the general security landscape may change.

Windows 8 is expected to offer some compelling new security enhancements that have the ability to significantly reduce exposure to digital attacks, and while I believe this is a step in the right direction, fundamental issues still remain with the underlying architecture, leaving the potential for vulnerabilities to be exposed and exploited.

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Can The Future Of Technology Be Predicted? Here's How Intel's 'Futurist' Works...

By Intel Free Press

Brian David Johnson is Intel's "futurist," which means his job is to look out 10 to 15 years ahead and develop plans that Intel engineers can use to create technology for, well, the future. His job is a complicated mix of sociology and research, looking deeply into how people interact with computers and computation today to anticipate how it will evolve over time.

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CES Show Set For Massive Turnout - With Or Without Microsoft

By Intel Free Press

Despite Microsoft's announcement that 2012 will be its last CES, the technology trade show is poised for the biggest turnout in years.

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"Big Things Underway" Zagat Founders Talk About Google

Google is moving quickly into the content business, becoming more like the media companies that use its AdSense advertising network. Here's an interview with the founders of Zagat, recently acquired by Google.

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Inspired By Burning Man: Giant Silicon Man - At The World's Largest GeekFest

An artist rendering of what the 18 feet tall Silicon Man (SciMan) will look like after he is erected inside the Moscone Center West during the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Sept. 13-15.

By Intel Free Press

No one would ever confuse the Intel Developer Forum with Burning Man, but the upcoming tech industry event in San Francisco will boast at least a hint of the annual counter-cultural festival in the Nevada desert.

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Intel Chips Confuse Retailers... What Hope Consumers?

Do you know the difference between Intel's newest microprocessors and older generations? Intel found that sales people are confused so how about consumers?

By Intel Free Press

Looking for the latest back-to-school laptops might have shoppers wondering if the sales associates, themselves, should be going back to school.

That was the appearance, at least, when several retail stores in the Sacramento, Calif. area were visited to see if staff knew a basic piece of information about Intel Core processors.

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Interview With Former BBC Exec Now Head Of Intel Digital Home Group

Erik Huggers knows very little about silicon which made him a prime candidate to head Intel's Digital Home Group based in London. He worked at Microsoft and most recently at the BBC as director of the director of the Future Media & Technology organization.

By Intel Free Press

Since joining Intel 4 months ago, have you ever asked yourself, "What have I gotten myself into here?"

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Guest Post: Why Google+ Gets A Great Big Minus

[Basheera Khan is a user experience designer focusing on information architecture and content strategy.]

By Basheera Khan

The proposition is simple: Google+ is a social network built on the foundation of what you do and who you know. I'll leave off the qualifier of the word 'online' because, well, d'uh.

The problem with the execution is how heavily it relies on Google Contacts for the who you know bit. This 'product' is so messy and error-prone that I still consider it to be an alpha.

For starters, there's no easy way to handle duplicate contacts within Google Contacts. But Google+'s recommendations for who you could connect with are driven by the information in your Google Contacts.

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Intel Is Investigating Server Errors Caused By Background Radiation

By Intel Free Press

Two employees in Intel's Corporate Quality Network have been running a remarkable chip experiment, 2,150 feet beneath the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico.

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Neccesity Is The Mother Of Invention - Popular Portland iPhone App

By Intel Free Press

Andy Wallace remembers clearly what life was like living in Portland, Oregon before he had the 'Take Me Home' button on his iPhone's PDX Bus app.

Eight years of commuting to work some 250 miles each week had Wallace often sprinting from his public light rail stop in order to catch the right city bus. Relying on quick feet and good timing, he would have to make what he calls "a perfect storm of connections" or else get stuck taking the long way home.

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Intel Engineer Helps Build Submarine, Finds Sunken Treasure

Tales of sunken treasure have fascinated the world since perhaps the first sunken ship, but few can claim a story of their own.

By Intel Free Press

Ken Privitt is a technical marketing engineer at Intel who happens to have built a small submarine with his father years ago. Now, a lot of Intel employees have interesting hobbies and stories to tell, but Privitt's may be among the more unique. His story involves a nearly 150-year-old shipwreck, the submarine, the Supreme Court, and a fortune in gold. It even has an interesting twist.

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Here's How Google+ Could Be Used To Create Killer Apps

By Graeme Lipschitz

The meteoric launch of Google+ (20-million users in less than 3 weeks) can be seen as the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes of such failures as Buzz and Wave - the word 'Circles' immediately comes to mind here.

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Consumerization Of IT: Intel Allows Staff To Use Their Macs

(It took a while - first pilot program was in 2006 but Intel's IT department has now OK'd the use of Apple computers - Aaron Tersteeg (above) took part in the first pilot program.)

By Intel Free Press

Putting Apple MacBooks to work behind the corporate firewall is something many small Silicon Valley startups may have been doing for years, but it may be less likely inside larger, established companies that rely upon heavily protected enterprise networks to manage email, store documents and dispatch software to employees around the world.

That is about to change inside Intel.

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Intel Seeds Tablet Market With Best "Recipe" Designs

By Intel Free Press

While many top chefs might hold on to their most precious family recipes, Francois Piednoel is touring the Asia giving away what he calls his "recipe" for building an Atom processor-based tablet.

"When companies in Asia heard about the recipe, they wanted it," said Piednoel, a veteran performance analyst at Intel who has traditionally worked on the extreme edge of high-performance PC's.

"But if I give you a recipe of French cooking and you go into your kitchen alone, you are not going to make what my mom used to cook," he says with his native French accent, then chuckles.

"A lot of people building tablets were using the wrong recipe," said Piednoel "They were using things that were designed for today's high-end PCs and they tried to run them on Atom. It's not going to work."

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Intel's Battle For Female Talent In China

By Intel Free Press

It is the world's second-largest economy and the world's largest labor force. It is China, and Intel is recruiting talented women who live there or want to return -- women who are graduating from Chinese and American universities at nearly the same rate as men and who make up 40 percent of MBA students in top-ranked programs.

Even as Intel actively recruits technical and non-technical women in China, the company is realizing it has to focus on retaining them as well. While women's opportunities in China are growing, they are dealing with cultural expectations that they are responsible for child and elder care according to Intel managers in China. Other issues include gender bias and travel time.

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Morris Jarvis: Intel's "Red Neck Rocket Scientist" Plans Space Launch

By Intel Free Press

For a self-described redneck, Morris Jarvis sure doesn't fit the mold. For one thing, he's a building information modeling project manager in suburban Phoenix, not a poor Southern farmer as the true definition of "redneck" suggests. Jarvis also has a college degree -- in aerospace engineering, no less. And not one of his leather belts is personalized.

Oh, and the man has a spaceship in his garage. And he wants to send people into space using standard off-the-shelf technology.

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Intel VP Sean Maloney Talks About Stroke, ARM, China...

[Sean Maloney Exec. Vice President was recently named head of Intel's China operations. He returned to work in January after suffering a stroke last year. The following transcript is taken from a recent video interview.]

By Intel Free Press

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Guest Post: Capturing Collaboration In The Real World

Guest post - Luidia offers eBeam, which transforms any surface into an interactive whiteboard.

By Rafi Holtzman, CEO of Luidia

Collaboration is quite the buzzword these days and is undeniably an integral part of our day-to-day business. We are continually bombarded with collaboration solutions such as online applications, videoconferencing technologies, Unified Communications Suites and interactive devices (think mobile gadgets or interactive whiteboards) that facilitate the exchange of information.

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A Wacky Wave: USB-Powered Aquariums, Disco Balls, Slippers And More...

By Intel Free Press

Keyboards, printers, joysticks - sure. But toy missile launchers, disco balls and thumb drives that look like thumbs?

When a small team of Intel engineers developed the Universal Serial Bus with a half-dozen other companies in 1994, the objective was to create a low-cost plug-and-play interface to connect computers to peripheral devices. In the early days USB products were sold primarily at computer and office supply stores. Today, they're as universal as the serial bus itself.

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Guest Post: Fighting E-Book Pirates - An Author's Tale

By Mitzi Szereto

Contrary to popular opinion, writers aren't writers because they have nothing better to do and are merely killing time until they end up at the cemetery. The majority of us who toil with the pen (and keyboard) need to earn off our labours, just like everyone else on the planet.

We all have to make a living. We all have bills to pay. And we all have to survive.

So why is it that some individuals out there seem to be under the impression that the product of our labours should be given away for free and without any form of compensation?

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Interview With Head Of Intel India - Praveen Vishakantaiah

By Intel Free Press

With nearly 1.2 billion people, India represents a vast and multi-faceted challenge for Intel, as well as one of the company's most important growth markets. Praveen Vishakantaiah, an Intel veteran of 17 years, oversees the company's activities in India. He leads more than 2,600 employees, with most working in software and hardware design and sales and marketing. The sprawling 40-acre campus in Bangalore alone is Intel's largest non-manufacturing site outside the United States.

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Intel's Radia Perlman: Don't Call Her "Mother Of The Internet"

By Intel Free Press

Call her a mother of two, but don't call her "Mother of the Internet." Engineer, author, inventor and, since March, Intel's director of Network and Security Technology, Radia Perlman never cottoned to the label despite its use nearly every time she speaks at a technical conference or is written about in a story (including this one, her first interview since leaving Sun Microsystems).

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Eye Of The Needle: "In The Plex" Author Predicts Google Will Get More Social... And Maybe Twitter

(A guest post by veteran Silicon Valley journalist Dave Needle.)

By Dave Needle

Steven Levy, author of the new book, In the Plex, about Google, shared a series of fascinating insights Tuesday at a Churchill Club event in Mountain View not far from the famed Googleplex. All Things D's Kara Swisher interviewed Levy before an attentive early morning audience.

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Big Differences In How Large Companies Innovate

By David Needle

There are no shortage of tried and true ways to succeed in business, but if your goal is to be the next Apple be prepared to toss the rule book out the window.

That's the inescapable conclusion I came to after hearing a number of tech and business execs discuss how they promote innovation and inspire leadership at their companies.

"We've moved from over 25 to very small teams of four or five people and we iterate with our customers to get closer to the customer's pain. We have failures, but we have more at-bats," said Kaaren Hanson, vice president of Design Innovation at Intuit. Hanson spoke recently as part of a recent Churchill Club-sponsored panel on innovation at Microsoft Research in Silicon Valley.

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Intel's Centrino And How It Sparked The WiFi HotSpot Revolution

March - 2003: photo shows inauguration of first airport WiFi hotspot - San Francisco (SFO).

By Intel Free Press

Coffeehouses, fast food joints, airports, hotels and college campuses were some of the first public places to offer it, and today WiFi is available on trains, planes, in taxicabs -- almost everywhere, including inside millions of homes around the world.

It wasn't always this way.

Few technologies in recent decades have caught on and become as ubiquitous as quickly as WiFi, but few may remember that things really didn't take off until 2003 when it became a standard feature of laptops with Intel's Centrino mobile technology.

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Is This The World's Oldest Computer?


By Intel Free Press

The seeds of the digital revolution were planted with the invention of the transistor in 1947, which led to the integrated circuit in the late 1950s followed by the world's first microprocessor in 1971 that later gave birth to the personal computer.

But according to archaeologists, the birth of the world's first computer was much closer to the dawn of democracy than to the digital age.

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Deja View: The Post-PC Era ...

Linley Gwennap is one of the most respected analysts in the microprocessor industry who has closely followed the industry for more than 15 years.

By Linley Gwennap (via Intel Free Press)

Pundits are positing a new era in which tablet computers and smartphones will become our primary method of computing, displacing the PC from our lives. Some even expect the PC to go the way of dinosaurs like the minicomputer and the mainframe, which, as we all know, were displaced by the PC itself. This coming post-PC era will, of course, be disastrous for Intel and other chip makers that depend on PC sales.

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Here's Where Intel And Obama Agree...

by Intel FreePress

As President Barack Obama prepared to meet Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini and tour Intel's state-of-the-art chip factory in Hillsboro, Ore., we took the opportunity to examine a couple of recent speeches both leaders have made in their respective areas and found some interesting comparisons.

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Bob Baker: Intel Manufacturing Chief Interview

(The secret to understanding Intel is recognizing that its core strength is not in chip design but in its manufacturing prowess. It can ramp up a multi-billion dollar fab in record time and produce hundreds of millions of chips (virtually) glitch free across a network of fabs. It's a stunning achievement especially when you consider that chip fabs represent the most advanced, expensive, and complicated manufacturing systems of our industrial society. Here is a profile of Bob Baker, Intel's top manufacturing executive. It marks his retirement after 32 years at the world's largest chipmaker.)

By Intel Free Press

Q: Bob, you've been at Intel for more than three decades. What was going through your mind when you first entered the doors of Intel?

I was excited to go to work for Gordon Moore, Bob Noyce, and Andy Grove's company. I had followed them through my college years. I was a college grad out of Washington State University in Pullman just excited to move to California.

The first two months at Intel, I had five different bosses. But I was pretty excited until about the eighth week, and then I remember thinking, 'Oh man, what is this place?' [Laughs]

Q: Craig Barrett has said that he wanted to become a forester when he was a child. What did you want to be when you were young?

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Here's Why Emerging Markets Are Winning The CyberSpace Race

By Uzair Parker

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama called America a nation of Facebook and Google, citing that, when it came to sparking the creativity and imagination, Americans do it better than anyone else.

However, Obama, an avid enthusiast of leveraging social media on a political platform, may have his optimism level set a bit too high this time.

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How SmartPhones Can Help You Sleep Longer, Live Longer

By Intel Free Press

We've heard a lot about what smart phones can do for people, from connecting with friends to managing your business and finding places to eat. But can smart phones help people live a longer, healthier life? Researchers at the University of Washington think so.

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MIT MBAs Take 9 Lessons Home From Silicon Valley Tour

By Anagha Ramanujam

One hundred and nine students pursuing the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program at the MIT Sloan School of Management began their New Year in the Silicon Valley on the school's annual, Silicon Valley Study Tour.

The school firmly believes that business innovation must drive the economy in the next decade.

The visit, led by the MIT Entrepreneurship Centre Managing Director Bill Aulet, was designed to expose students with entrepreneurial aspirations to the Silicon Valley ecosystem. The tour enabled students to develop personal connections with the entrepreneurs, venture capital firms and CEOs in one of the most successful startup hubs of the country.

Over a span of three days, we visited more than 70 startups in the valley.

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Intel: The Back Story On (Wi-Di) Wireless Display Development


By Intel Free Press

It wasn't incredibly difficult convincing computer industry executives and engineers at such companies as Dell, Sony and Toshiba that people would soon want to beam movies, videos and photos from their laptop screens on to a big screen digital TV. The tough part was making it all happen without adding hardware or extra cost to the manufacturing and selling of laptops.

It was 2006 when a team of Intel engineers began working on what would later be dubbed Wireless Display, or WiDi, technology, which allows people to wirelessly stream video and photos directly from their WiDi-equipped computer to a big screen TV with the use of a small companion adaptor.

"We wanted to create things that we had never done before," said Kerry Forell, who was then in Intel's Mobile Platforms Group collaborating with researchers and engineers inside Intel Labs, Software and Services and other parts of the company.

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VC Funds Below $250m Face Problems

Georges van Hoegaerden[In this guest post Georges van Hoegaerden argues that small VC funds face considerable obstacles to success. This is a lightly edited version of the original which can be read here.]

By Georges van Hoegaerden, Managing Director, The Venture Company

There is a lot of talk about Angels, Super Angels and Venture Capital firms (VCs) these days who are playing the startup field with small sums of money coming from small funds.

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How Intel Invented An ARM Tablet In 1998...


By Intel Free Press

It had a touch-screen display, was powered by an ARM processor, featured a built-in MP3 player and it let you surf the Internet on your couch. Sound familiar? Think again.

This was the Intel PAD or, as it was known internally at the time, the IPAD. It was officially branded the Intel Web Tablet, but it never made it to market.

Amid the tablet frenzy at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show where some 80 new tablets were announced (how many of these may not make it to market is anyone's guess), we took a stroll down memory lane with some of the Intel employees who developed Intel's tablet over a decade ago.

The Intel Web Tablet let users connect to their PC and surf the Web from anywhere in the home using Intel's Anypoint wireless home networking solution. It was not a stand-alone PC but an extended browsing device with some additional applications.

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China, Russia, South Africa - And The Facebook Connection

By Matthew Buckland at Memeburn

There is something going on in China, Russia and South Africa. Via various internet investments and creations, these three countries combined have built up major stakes in some of the world's biggest sites and social networks.

Russian investment company, Digital Sky Technologies (DST), now owns about 7-10% of Facebook by various estimates, putting the company among Facebook's biggest owners. Via its sister company, another 2.4% of Facebook is held. Recently, according to the New York Times, DST ploughed a further $50-million into Facebook.

DST also owns about five percent of the popular social gaming company Zynga and another five percent of the prominent shopping-coupon company Groupon. The company is now apparently eyeing a piece of Twitter, but then again who isn't?

The Group, which has grown into the biggest Internet company in the Russian-speaking world, owns 100% of Russian social networking site Odnoklassniki, and has a significant stake in the country's other major networking site, Vkontakte. DST also owns the early-web era instant messaging service ICQ, an interesting investment because the service is somewhat of a fading star.

The Chinese and South African connection

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CES Teardown: The Day After...

By Intel Free Press

When talk of tablets and 3-D TVs changes to stucco basecoats and acid staining, you know the International Consumer Electronics Show is over.

With CES 2011 all but a flash-based memory, the World of Concrete is about to move in. So that 55,000 representatives of the commercial concrete and masonry construction industries can have their show, every last trace of CES must be removed from the Las Vegas Convention Center by midnight Thursday.

So as the army of attendees estimated at 140,000 leaves town, another small army moves in to clean-up. This year's deadline is set in - ahem - concrete as many of the same Teamsters helping tear down CES will be back 6 hours later to build the city's second-largest trade show of winter. Goodbye in-car infotainment systems, hello cement mixers.

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Curation - The Third Web Frontier

Here is a guest article by Partice Lamothe - CEO of Pearltrees (Pearltrees is a consulting client of SVW.) This is a lightly edited version of "La troisième frontière du Web" that appeared in the magazine OWNI - Digital Journalism - March 2010. The article argues that the founding pricinciples of the Internet are only now being implemented and that the next frontier is in organizing, or curating, the Internet.

By Patrice Lamothe
Everyone realizes that the web is entering a new phase in its development.

One indication of this transition is the proliferation of attempts to explain the changes that are occurring. Functional explanations emphasize the real time web, collaborative systems and location-based services. Technical explanations argue that the interconnectivity of data is the most significant current development. They consider the web's new frontiers to be closely related to the semantic web or the "web of things".

Although these explanations are both pertinent and intriguing, none of them offers an analytical matrix for assessing the developments that are now underway. Some ideas are too specific.

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VCWatch: How VCs Kill Innovation

By Georges van Hoegaerden, Managing Director, The Venture Company

I believe no General Partner at any Venture Capital (VC) firm I know intentionally sets out to destroy innovation, yet the destruction of innovation is the outcome of the economic model under which Venture operates today. Let me elaborate.

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Interview: Ron Friedman - Leading Intel's Chip Design Across Cultures

[With the forthcoming launch of Intel's next-generation Core processors at CES - here is an interview with the man that has been leading microprocessor design at Intel.

Ron Friedman is vice president and general manager of Intel's Microprocessor and Chipset Development group responsible for microprocessor design teams in California and Israel, including Intel's new "Sandy Bridge" architecture.]

By Intel Free Press

As you and your teams worked on the new microprocessor architecture, what unexpected challenges did you run into?

Sandy Bridge was new to us in many ways. It was the first time at Intel that we were doing real integration of graphics and the IA core in the same die. And we were trying, at the same time, to prepare up-front for multiple permutations of the product -- to allow the best optimization of cost and performance.

And finally, the team had to work with groups we hadn't interfaced with before -- but it was essential to establish good working relationships and close cooperation. Those were the main challenges in bringing Sandy Bridge to product release qualification.

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Surveys Show Battle for Screen Time Heating Up

By Intel Free Press
Analysis from two recent research reports show what many of us already know - that people are spending less time with offline media such as radio, newspapers and magazines. But a side-by-side comparison of these surveys reveal conflicting results about where people are spending more of their precious time: in front of the TV or engaging with the Internet.

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How Tech Giants Plan To Avoid Wireless Traffic Jams

By Intel Free Press

Intel, Cisco and Verizon have teamed up on a joint research project aimed at how to deal with the rapid growth of video on mobile devices and the expected flood traffic that could grind mobile networks to a halt.

While today's 3G and 4G wireless networks are bringing voice, data and rich media to souped-up smartphones, the companies are trying to look ahead and prepare for what could be a meteoric rise in mobile video demand. If it continues as it is trending today, smartphone owners may be looking at significant network traffic jams in the near future.

The multi-year research project, called Video Aware Wireless Networks (VAWN), also includes projects at several leading universities.

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Time Magazine: Zuckerberg, Grove, and the PC...

By Intel Free Press

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was just named Time's 2010 Person of the Year, reviving a decades-long theme that the magazine itself appropriately recognized way back in 1982. It was that year when Time named not a person, but the personal computer as a precedent-setting "Machine of the Year."

"The 'information revolution' that futurists have long predicted has arrived, bringing with it the promise of dramatic changes in the way people live and work ... perhaps even in the way they think," said the 1982 cover story. "America will never be the same."

Since that time, ironically, only two people from Silicon Valley have been chosen to grace the venerable year-end cover as person of the year: Zuckerberg and Intel's Andy Grove in 1997. Indeed Zuckerberg, Grove, and the PC are inextricably linked. All three have made a mark and truly influenced the way people live, work and play.

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Silicon Valley Heads North - The Office Boom In SF's SoMa District

(Here is a guest post by Justin Bedecarré - a Real Estate Advisor at Cushman & Wakefield.)

By Justin Bedecarré

As entrepreneur after entrepreneur poured into the Mission Street bar Bruno's one Thursday night, for a tech startup party, the notion that we are trapped in a perfunctory recovery completely escaped my mind.

The tech scene, driven by a plethora of startups like Flowtown, Plancast, and who hosted this meet up, is thriving in San Francisco's South of Market (SoMa) district.

As San Francisco's banks and law firms continue to consolidate, fast growing firms such as Zynga are hiring hoards of engineers and salespeople and they need lots of office space. Zynga recently signed the biggest office deal in San Francisco in five years, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

As Palo Alto becomes more expensive...

Palo Alto is home for many startups and it is home to hot companies such as Facebook but competition for office space has driven up prices. Palo Alto office space now leases at comparable rates to the top floors of the Pyramid Building and the Embarcadero Centers in downtown San Francisco -- two of the top marquee buildings on the West Coast.

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Pandora's Tim Westergren Interview: Revolutions In The Radio Business...

By Intel Free Press

Tim Westergren is having the time of his life. Not long ago he was a struggling musician, trying to earn a living traveling from town to town building a fan base one venue at a time. Today, he's holding town hall meetings across the United States, lobbying congressmen on Capitol Hill, and negotiating high-stakes deals with the powerful Recording Industry Association of America.

Oh, and revolutionizing radio along the way.

Revolutionize is a term often overused in the technology industry, but when you see what Westergren is up to and recognize the potential it has to disrupt the traditional radio business, you get a sense this one might qualify.

Westergren is the chief strategic officer and founder of Pandora, the fledging Internet radio service that began initially as a music e-commerce site 10 years ago but only in the last 5 has blossomed into an Internet radio phenom with over 65 million listeners.

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Intel Says "A Smart TV Is Not A PC"

By Intel Free Press

Amid all the recent news on new smart TV products from Sony and Logitech, the message from analysts and researchers who study humans for a living seems to be: Don't make TVs into PCs.

Logitech last month became the first company to unveil a set-top device running Google's new Android-based TV platform, followed by Sony with a host of slick new HDTVs and a Blu-ray disc player. All of these devices are powered by a chip originally designed for computers, but customized for consumer electronics to enable 1080p video, Dolby 7.1 surround sound, DTS and more. And while there have been connected TVs for some time, Google TV is the first to marry the Internet with broadcast TV in an entirely new way.

According to analysts, something on the order of 300 million digital televisions ship every year. That's about double the number of PCs sold in 2009, so it's a big market for all the companies involved, and growing.

Speaking to Computer World, analyst Rob Enderle predicted that in the right format and with the right usage model and customer experience, people could adopt Google TV. "Folks probably won't be doing much browsing on their TV," he said. "But consuming Internet media? Certainly. Up until now it has been too difficult for most to do that."

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Is Software Intel's Best-Kept Secret?

By Intel Free Press

Semiconductors are the silicon-based bread and butter for Intel, but what used to be the company's "best-kept secret" is anything but these days.

With each new acquisition and news announcement, Intel's Software and Solutions Group steps farther away from the shadows. Intel has always had a software arm, its origins rooted in the need to create tools for customers who would otherwise not be able to do anything with the silicon Intel produced. Today, in addition to providing software to support its chips, Intel is expanding its software focus into more tightly integrated product lines, such as phones, embedded products and tablets.

"Software has been Intel's best-kept secret up until the past couple of years," said Renée James, who, as senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Software and Services Group, is responsible for making sure Intel hardware and software work together. But it is more than just compatibility. James is also tasked with how Intel offers a profitable complete software stack on top of its silicon.

"Intel is no longer a silicon company only," James said, acknowledging the growing importance of software in everything from laptops to smartphones. "We need to expand our capabilities and build more of the product stack."

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Reports of Netbook's Death Greatly Exaggerated...

With all the excitement around the iPad and predictions of dire impacts to the netbook market and perhaps even laptop sales, we got to wondering: Is the netbook really dead?

Nifty, low-cost netbooks hit the scene in late 2008 and sold over 36 million units in 2009, according to ABI Research. Even with projected sales of 35-43 million units this year, the future of these diminutive laptop-like computers is being pulled under a dark cloud of doubt as new tablets grab the limelight and spare cash from consumers.

Collection of new netbook designs on display at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco in September 2010.

"The all-in-one nature of media tablets will result in the cannibalization of other consumer electronics devices such as e-readers, gaming devices and media players," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices (ASPs) drop below $300 over the next 2 years."

Not so fast, say people who are looking at the robust sales of netbooks, which were one of the fastest-ramping consumer devices in the PC world and are still selling tens of millions of units per quarter.

"Early adoption of media tablets is not outpacing netbooks," said ABI Research principal analyst Jeff Orr. "Forty-three million netbook shipments is good growth, just not the meteoric pace of the past couple of years."

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Consumer Trust In The Smart Grid Requires More Education

Guest Post by Bob Lento, Convergys

You would think support for the smart grid would be unanimous. Research shows that many consumers want to reduce their negative impact on the environment and take a more active role in personal energy management.

The Department of Energy awarded $3.4 billion in stimulus funds to 100 smart grid projects. According to the latest data from GTM Research, the market for smart grid technology will reach $9.6 billion by 2015. Meanwhile utility companies themselves stand to save billions in peak hour energy production costs by influencing consumers to even out their energy use.

Government, consumers, utilities, and tech companies are all winners, so we should all be on the same team, right? Wrong.

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An Explosion In Video Business Comms Is Coming

Guest Post By Sudha Valluru, CEO of ViVu

The necessity of real-time remote collaboration is now well accepted in today's global workplaces.

The days of holding office meetings with everyone sitting around a conference table, are a thing of the past. Workforce is now spread across from homes, coffee houses, to offices around the world and it involves exorbitantly high costs to gather them at a single meeting point at an appointed time.

The importance of "video" in collaboration solutions, to help simulate real-life, physical conferences and to develop a personal connection among remote participants has been well documented in various studies over the last two decades.

However, video conferencing was largely confined to the expensive conference rooms, affordable only to a few and severely restrictive even for those. It is safe to say that "video" has largely been missing in everyday business communications, due to limitations in technology, infrastructure and the lack of affordable, intuitive solutions.

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How Intel Uses "Wargames" To Beef Up Enterprise Security

By Intel Free Press

Enterprise security today is equivalent to an arms race. There really is no such thing as winning, but rather it's a challenge of staying one step ahead of your opponent -- the attackers. As attackers evolve and become more sophisticated, large corporate enterprises must follow suit.

Many companies are investing millions of dollars securing data centers, factories, offices and other assets against increasingly sophisticated security threats. Assessing the risk and taking precautions are usually handled by a single group of people -- typically internal information security specialists -- and are aimed at understanding vulnerabilities in a particular computing environment.

Security threats however, come from living, breathing opponents who are creative, knowledgeable, collaborative and often very determined to inflict damage. They also have a big advantage over enterprise experts in thinking outside the box, mainly because they are outside the box. To anticipate and better prepare themselves against these attacks, many enterprises are trying to move beyond understanding their computing environments to understanding how their opponents plan, think and attack.

To do a better job of this, Intel Corporation has embraced wargaming as an additional type of risk analysis that helps the company better understand and defend against malicious attackers.

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Intel Acquisition Wind River - A Lesson In Independence

By Intel Free Press

A little over a year ago, Intel Corporation wrapped up an $884 million acquisition of software company Wind River -- Intel's biggest acquisition in a decade until it announced the still-pending McAfee acquisition in September.

Unlike some of Intel's past acquisitions, Wind River was both dramatic and different when compared to some of the large acquisitions of the past decade. The company has been pioneering computing inside embedded devices since 1981, and its technology is found in more than 500 million products.

"Wind River's business was and is a great strategic fit with where Intel is going in the handheld, embedded, and consumer electronics spaces," said Renée James, senior vice president and the head of the Software and Solutions Group. "However, they also have a strong and profitable product lineup that we did not want to hinder. So, we deliberately took a different approach."

Rather than paint over Wind River red with Intel blue, Intel decided this one would be different. The company learned from some of the mistakes made during the frenzy of acquisitions in the late '90s.

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Caught in the Crossfire: Intel's Investor Relations Chief

(Here is a guest post from "Intel Free Press.")

In today's buy-low-sell-high and "show me the growth" environment on Wall Street, Kevin Sellers is caught in the crossfire as the man directly responsible for keeping Intel's investor community in the know with the latest financial information and future direction of his company.

Even with a market cap north of $100 billion, and billions more invested in staying innovative, Intel continues to perform week in and week out while its stock price has taken a pounding, spiraling mostly downward for more than a decade. Even as the company revealed record earnings for Q3 2010, announcing the first $11 billion quarter in the company's history and beating estimates for earnings per share, Intel's stock price wavered the next day, ending down.

"These are crazy, crazy times," said Sellers, Intel's vice president and director of Investor Relations.

Even in bad times, good performance doesn't seem to go unpunished. While a few companies in the tech industry seem to be enjoying celebrity status, most seem stuck in the mud, despite beating revenue, profit and even margin expectations.

Maybe billions of real dollars invested and generated from meaningful innovations and true manufacturing are simply not sexy enough for Wall Street any longer?

For the most part, Wall Street has kept its hands in its pockets since the world economy tanked a few years ago, even as companies such as Cisco, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle are delivering strong financial results.

"We're going through a long, painful market correction where valuations are being hammered," Sellers said. Inside the company, it's Sellers who sometimes feels hammered, balancing his day between talking to Wall Street analysts on one hand, and Intel executives on the other. It's a tough job.

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The Middle East: Where iTunes And Pandora Fear To Tread

Photo: L.A. Reid, CEO of Def Jam Records; Hassan Miah, CEO of UrFilez; Comedian and Actor, Orlando Jones; Grammy Award-Winner, James Ingram.

Guest post by Hassan Miah, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of UrFilez

Everyone pretty much agrees that the Internet has helped make the world a flatter place - the leveling of the global playing field where competitors have an equal opportunity and hopefully consumers are able to access things like never before. From a macro perspective, it's absolutely true but there are plenty of examples where consumers are still getting the short end of the stick.

Just one example is the availability of music across the world. In the US, we're fairly lucky, being able to access hundreds if not thousands of digital music services in a few clicks. The reality is that music - the food of life that's supposed to bring people together - is still unfairly skewed towards the established markets. It's me and you in the West who benefits most from digital music technology and what major and regional artists have to offer. Sadly, it's been that way for some time; decades in fact.

Why is that the case though and how is that possibly fair?

Everyone should have the right to access music. Music is something that is incredibly special, something which belongs to every culture and something that has the power of transcending boundaries. From the dawn of time, people have listened to music and over the ages this has evolved; from banging on a couple of rocks and basic wooden instruments to classical orchestras, rock bands and today, when anyone can write their own songs on a home computer.

So that brings us to the very latest stage in music's evolution - the purchasing and availability of different tracks online and through mobile applications. Again, it's Western fans that have been able to use the services of iTunes, Pandora, Amazon, and so forth. But fans based in the emerging markets have still been missing out. It's a sad fact, but the majority of these individuals have had to rely on piracy to get their music online, as there is such a huge lack of any decent music platforms in places like the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia.

The established music services that you know and love so well (and probably use on a regular basis) have pretty much left the emerging regions to their own devices, simply because it's too hard and doesn't fit with their marketing strategy. But why is it that these regions should miss out? The emerging markets are home to billions of music fans and they all have the right to listen to their biggest idols, both from home and abroad, just like you do.

Technology shouldn't be an inhibitor, it's in an enabler - it has the ability to facilitate the supply of music to any region and that's why I, and the team at UrFilez in New York, made it our mission to ensure that everyone has the right to access the very best music through the best platforms and at the best price.

I was incredibly proud to have been in Bahrain at the end of September to launch our new service to the Middle East and the broader emerging markets. Through UrFilez, fans in this vibrant region will now have access to not only the big international names and labels but can also experience what other countries all around the world have to offer.

I know first-hand the joys music can bring and its emotive power. Music has been my life and that's what's given birth to UrFilez. It wasn't an easy undertaking to get to where we are today and there was a lot of preparation that went into our journey but we're very glad we did it. It's high time that the emerging markets have the opportunity to sing along to the same tune.

- - -
Please see: UrFilez Launches DRM-Free MP3 Music Service in the Gulf -- NEW YORK, Sept. 26 /PRNewswire/ --

Guest Post: Marco: A Location-Based Service That Respects Your Privacy

By Dana Oshiro, NetShelter.

After watching The Social Network and Mark Zuckerberg's alleged fascination with getting into Harvard's Porcellian Club, I'm beginning to understand the value of exclusivity. You want friends that are cool, that are more signal than noise, and that don't bring shady stoners over when they're couch surfing at your place.

Ironically, for all Zuck's love of privileged privacy, he and Facebook encroached on my location-based privacy early this year by making my city searchable to random grade school friends.

I've learned two lessons. The first is to refuse my home to those I haven't seen in 20 years, and the second is that location-based services require tighter user control.

Marco creators Josh Rooke-Ley and Tarikh Korula aim to solve that.

Marco is an app that lets you send an exact location via text message to the user of your choice and the receiving party doesn't need to download or use the app. Anyone with a Webkit browser that supports location services (iPhone, Droid, Pre, WinMo or Blackberry) can view the Marco SMS and be directed to a mobile site to reply within a 30 minute period.

If they play along you'll see their response in real-time on a shared map with directions on how to meet them. If they ignore you, then your session (and possibly friendship) come to a close. It's all very simple. There are no public feeds and no awkward confrontations.

While Foursquare and Gowalla are great for promoting open events, you certainly don't want people picking up a swarm badge at an AA meeting. As for Facebook's Places, the reality is that if you've been too lenient in accepting friends, you're either afraid you'll prompt a flashmob or you'll miss updates in a noisy wall feed.

Marco's value is in user privacy control.

Similar to EchoEcho, the beauty of Marco is that your information is not publicly shared. In addition and as an added layer of privacy, because Marco users don't create an account, the company doesn't store location information on its servers after a session expires. What a concept! Explicit privacy controls built directly into the user experience!

Far be it for me to choose this as the winner in the war of the location-based apps. These guys are barely out of the gates, Marco only works on a one-on-one basis, and session initiators need to download an iPhone app.

But the experience is certainly more conducive to those of us with privacy concerns. Plus there are plans to launch multi-party SMS alerts and a Droid application in the not so distant future.

If you're like me and you just want an app that will connect you with your inner circle, download Marco for free from iTunes. If you want more info or you want to check on the Droid release visit

Dana Oshiro | | | | @suzyperplexus

ABOUT NETSHELTER: NetShelter is a technology publishing group with more than 120 million unique visitors and 180+ partnering properties in the gadget, mobile and IT space. In addition to offering publishing resources to properties like MacRumors, SlashGear and VentureBeat, NetShelter helps brands reach IT decision makers, mobile professionals, developers and consumer electronics buyers.

Guest Post: How SEO Is Breaking The Web (And Killing Google)

By Matthew Buckland, Memeburn.

The web is in trouble. Big trouble. It's not the first time. It was also in trouble in the mid '90s. But then Google saved it, ushering in a new era of search. People forget how impossible good content was to find in those days. Critics routinely lambasted the web for the rubbish on it.

Those were the days of Altavista, Hotbot, Lycos and a host of search engines that would regularly return results of dodgy, random websites. It's not that there wasn't good content on the web, it's just that we couldn't find it very easily.

Google, with its lauded PageRank algorithm, was able to mine the beautiful diamonds, mercifully elevating them to front pages of search results. Suddenly, when we searched, we found the good stuff.

The bad stuff didn't disappear, it was relegated to its justified position in the content hierarchy: Obscurity. It's why Google suddenly emerged as the undisputed king of search and, all around it, rivals crumbled.

But now it's back to the future. Once again, the web is threatened. And there is doubt about whether this time a knight in shining armour like the Google of the 90s will be able to fix it. It seems an impossible problem to solve.

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New Study: Social Media Has Changed The Business Buying Process... But How?

Guest post by Don Bulmer and Vanessa DiMauro

We are pleased to announce the launch of the 2nd annual New Symbiosis of Professional Networks research study.

Vanessa DiMauro, CEO, Leader Networks and I are leading this research as part of our 2010 Fellowship with The Society for New Communication Research (SNCR).

This annual study, is designed to explore how social media is impacting business by better understanding how business leaders use social media and social networks to support and inform their decisions.

When we understand how social media changes professional decision-making, organizations can be more efficient, timely and supportive in how they interact with customers- ultimately leading to better engagement and decision-making in business.

Participants in this year's study will receive a free copy of the results. A link to the survey and last year's findings can be found on the research website.

About the Research

The New Symbiosis of Professional Networks is an annual research study designed to benchmark the impact of social media on enterprise decision-making.

The social nature of decision-making has increased significantly, connecting generations of professionals to each other--changing the dynamics of customer relationship management, marketing, and communications - forever.

In the first study, we focused on professionals' use of social media--and it all comes back to the strength of the relationship. Human relationships and peer-to-peer decision-making are inherently interrelated.

Professional networks facilitate vast interactions, connections, and networks of people by enabling collaboration anywhere and at any time.

Communities of practice, professional networks, social media, email, and SMS are among the tools that enable multi-channel access for individuals (employees, customers, partners, and suppliers).

In this second study (in the series) we will further examine the role of social media on decision-making among enterprise users and explore the dynamics of trust as well as the value of engagement and collaboration to support decision making and innovation across company operations for internal and external purposes.

The study explores the following questions:

The methodology for this study will be a two-pronged approach. A survey will be issued to gather quantitative data about professionals perceptions and experiences with social media in support of their decision-making. Following the survey, select interviews will be conducted using a semi-structured interview guide among a set of survey respondents who are willing to participate in the second phase of the study. The final study report will blend the survey research findings and the interview results to offer a well-rounded examination of the social media for decision-making process and opportunities.

Influence On Twitter Is Linked To Quality Of Content And Not Quantity Of Followers

[Daniel Romero is a Ph.D Candidate at Cornell Univeristy in the Center for Applied Mathematics. He works with Hewlett-Packard's Social Computing Lab Bernardo Huberman and colleagues.]

By Daniel M. Romero

The importance of mainstream news has changed with the advent and immense popularity of online social media.

The mainstream media is now aware that they have to be involved in the social media in order to keep their audience engaged. They understand that they no longer have complete control on what information people will attend to.

With social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc people can find the news they want even if the mainstream media may not be providing it to them. This is why today we see all major broadcast networks present and active on Twitter.

But are they as successful at social media as they are at mainstream media? Are they as influential as they are assumed to be in the offline world? Who are the most influential ones?

To answer these questions, we measured the influence of all the news media accounts on Twitter. We used the Influence-Passivity Algorithm discussed in a previous post at SVW: HP Twitter Study: Weak Link Between Popularity And Influence.

The data includes all tweets containing a URL from June 15th through July 22nd of 2009. You can find the list of the 100 most influential news media accounts here (and below).

Most of the major news broadcast networks are present in this list. However, they do not fully dominate it. We see blogs such as@mashable, @bigpicture, @gizmodo, @harvardbiz, among others with very high influence ranking and above major players from traditional media such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The list also includes the number of followers each account has. The same observation about the weak link between popularity and influence made in the previous post can be made here.

Having a large number of followers does not imply having influence in news social media. Furthermore, not having a large number of followers does not mean lack of influence.

A particularly interesting example is @bigpicture, a photo blog for the Boston Globe; with a mere 23K followers it is the 3rd most influential account on the list. After taking a look at some of the very high quality photographs tweeted by this account it becomes clear why people are willing to re-tweet them and why this account has so much influence.

This demonstrates that to be influential on Twitter news media networks have to keep their audience engaged through valuable tweets and not simply convince people to "follow them on Twitter".

The work on this project was done in collaboration with: Wojciech Galuba (@wgaluba); Sitaram Asur (@SitaramAsur); and Bernardo Huberman (@bhuberman)

Follow on Twitter:

- - -

Number@nameNameFollowersInfluence Rank
1@mashablePete Cashmore203784059
2@cnnbrkCNN Breaking News322447571
3@big_pictureThe Big Picture2366692
4@theonionThe Onion2289939116
6@breakingnewsBreaking News1795976147
7@bbcbreakingBBC Breaking News509756168
9@harvardbizHarvard Business Rev219039227
13@wsjWall Street Journal366133358
14@smashingmagSmashing Magazine224333360
16@rollingstoneRolling Stone133999436
17@whitehouseThe White House1794544448
20@peoplemagPeople magazine2099081565
21@natgeosocietyNational Geographic274851603
22@nytimesThe New York Times2502914705
24@foxnewsFox News260081710
27@huffingtonpostHuffington Post632555849
28@newscientistNew Scientist144355852
29@mental_flossMental Floss68975874
30@theeconomistThe Economist311109902
35@bbcclickBBC Click17494701041
36@fastcompanyFast Company1482921056
37@reutersReuters Top News1944291119
38@incmagazineInc. Magazine1092561143
39@eonlineE! Online22710261227
40@rwwRichard MacManus10379071232
43@mckquarterlyMcKinsey Quarterly909811354
44@enewsE! News2797371540
45@nprnewsNPR News2705611572
46@usatodayUSA TODAY Top News627901628
49@boingboingBoing Boing486491811
51@empiremagazineEmpire Magazine333351905
52@todayshowThe Today Show6204131927
53@goodGOOD 4149562003
55@msnbc_breakingmsnbc Breaking News593752088
56@cbsnewsCBS News15756382090
57@guardiantechGuardian Tech15920672139
58@usweeklyUs Weekly2287282233
60@sciamScientific American883362373
61@pastemagazinePaste Magazine646422379
62@drudge_reportDrudge Report1005582468
63@parisreviewThe Paris Review221272599
64@latimesLos Angeles Times712872625
65@telegraphnewsDaily Telegraph News173252629
66@abc7ABC7 Eyewitness News363432638
67@arstechnicaArs Technica820512692
69@nprpoliticsNPR Politics18018712882
70@nytimesphotoNew York Times Photo794432927
71@nybooksNY Review of Books898272966
72@nielsenwireNielsen Wire138402994
74@sciencechannelScience Channel 825143064
75@usabreakingnewsUSA Breaking News139873120
76@vanityfairmagVANITY FAIR762823182
77@cw_networkCW Network700313183
78@bbcworldBBC World News2628573202
80@themomentThe Moment15805693413
81@socialmedia2daySocial Media Today345163510
83@washingtonpostThe Washington Post1496173636
84@tpmmediaTalking Points Memo154383678
87@cnnliveCNN Live392603793
88@davosWorld Economic Forum15087723891
89@planetmoneyNPR's Planet Money813093965
90@cnetnewsCNET News.com757303981
93@guardiannewsThe Guardian751984665
94@yahoonewsYahoo! News371544668
95@seedmagSeed Magazine98984696
96@tvguideTV Guide5862404757
97@travlandleisureTravel + Leisure840294767
98@newyorkpostNew York Post433344790
99@discovermagDISCOVER Magazine719134816
100@sciencenewsorgScience News756654888

Women In Tech: Sol Tzvi On Starting A Startup . . . Part II

[Sol Tzvi is head of Genieo, an Israeli startup. She shares her story of starting a startup. Part I is here.]

By Sol Tzvi, CEO of Genieo

Convincing others - Being a humble CEO

I enjoyed working for Microsoft for those few years in the past. I was presented with many challenges, especially at a time when securing Microsoft product was a major problem, which required prompt solving, due to Microsoft software being regularly infected by viruses.

I had multiple roles in the organization, the major one being building our customer messaging system from scratch, a system designed to deal with the frustration caused by hacker attacks on the Microsoft software. People used to hate Microsoft so much back then (now they've shifted their attention to other targets).

I loved Microsoft as a company, I loved the people around me and I loved dealing with these challenges.

However when working in corporations one too often finds oneself seeing holes when others see only walls. You find yourself knowing what the right thing to do is, yet taking forever to convince others. You spend all your energy talking to people instead of taking action.

Too often I found myself frustrated and thinking: "Oh well, when I have my own company I'll be the one making the decisions, and I'll lead all my people to the Promised Land, in my own way."

Years went by, and ironically I must admit, I've learned that in order to be a good leader one has to sometimes let other people lead.

Everybody's seeking guidelines. And still, if you choose to work with great and smart people, you must allow them the freedom of choice; otherwise you will only find yourself building another corporation, with people taking forever to convince you and each other before actually beginning to build the product.

Startup companies do not have this time to waste, and as the leader of such a company you must hire great and creative people, and make sure you allow them the space and freedom to spread their wings and take you up.

This is why, even at the earliest stage of founding my own company I realized I cannot tell people: "Hey! THIS is the right thing to do."

Instead, I knew I had to bring them around my ideas, make them understand what I want, and let them come with their own solutions -- so that they can express themselves the same way I always wanted to do myself back then.

Raising money

For the longest time, my impression of people who went around raising money from strangers in order to support the development of their own ideas was that they must be arrogant. Today I know otherwise.

People who believe so strongly in their own ideas, can feel comfortable enough asking for other people's money as a means to realize their dreams. However, whether it's VC money or Angel money, it all comes from people who worked very hard for it, and therefore it must be respected.

So, I eventually found myself asking investors to believe in an idea of mine.

It took me a while to understand that it is not the idea I'm selling for the money, but it is rather me and my skills. I don't think that Genieo is the cleverest idea I ever had but I do believe it came up at the right moment, which enabled me to make it happen and lead my company to success.

Oh yes, I may fail, the investors may lose their money but they can rest assured that they've put their money into a great management team, which increases their chance of success.

When you go around raising money do not fix yourself only on the idea or on its potential. Investors are after the full package, they are looking for the right people who can make it happen.

I never spend extra money on a business class ticket when I travel around the world, I never buy fancy stuff to make me feel like a successful CEO, but I do try to spend a fair amount of money on my employees. This is the wisest investment I can make with my investors' money.

Find your partner

Never start a company by yourself. A great partnership and collaboration will always prove more beneficial than anything you can do on your own.

The greatest challenge when starting up a new company is finding the right partner. A person to walk with you all the way: "To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part" - yes, exactly like a good marriage, you must find the person who will complete you, fill in your weak spots, encourage you when you lose faith -- a person with whom you can share all your intimate thoughts on your path to success. It may be hard to do but you'd better find that great partner for this journey.

Consider as well, that your investors and employees are also partners. When they lose you lose, when they fail you fail, their success is your success.

And always remember that when you win they should all be winners, and you must make them part of the celebration by showing them your goodwill and gratitude, and give them more than you promised to give. Remember that without them you wouldn't be standing there, at that moment of success.

We can all fail, as great as we may be. Sometimes it'll be because of wrong timing, other times we may take the wrong direction. People who dare always make mistakes.

Remember that you are not defined by what you do or don't do, or by what you achieve or do not achieve. You are the reflection of the strength of your faith, and of the power of your will and diligence. This is what makes you who you are and it all has to do with the freedom you give your mind. You are the dreams you dare to dream.

Every light bright or faint, begins with a spark of the freedom of dreaming and the courage to believe. This is the difference between the creator and its opposite, the eliminator.

The road does not seem so long and hard when in good company.

- - -

Part I is here.

Women In Tech: Sol Tzvi On Starting A Startup...

[Sol Tzvi is head of Genieo, an Israeli startup. She shares her story of starting a startup.]

By Sol Tzvi, CEO of Genieo

As a young CEO and Co-founder of a startup company I often find myself thinking of the path I chose and the destination I lead myself to.

Thinking of all those lonely times, when I'm traveling around the world in the middle of the night - sometimes even in the middle of nowhere really; crossing the world from one corner to another; scheduling meetings with different people from different cultures; speaking in a foreign language which forces me to concentrate not only on what I have to say but also on how to build a proper sentence, all in the cause of reaching out and touching these different cultures.

This is my idea of living: exploring, learning, teaching others, sharing thoughts and ideas, braking rules and lines I locked myself in years ago without even noticing, growing day by day and becoming the person I am today, re-inventing myself to with every new dawn - every day I am the person I am that day.

Our definition of ourselves as people is based on our past: past behavior, past experiences, past achievements. And yet, is observing a prior behavior really the best approach to understand who we really are? Well, to some extent - yes. But then this could lead us to live in a false impression and view of ourselves. After all, we humans are only trying to simplify complex questions, such as who we are.

Can we really do it?

Story continues...

VCWatch: Dumb Capital Please Exit Here

Georges van Hoegaerden[In this guest post Georges van Hoegaerden argues that Limited Partners should take an active role in reforming venture capital investing in the US.]

By Georges van Hoegaerden, Managing Director, The Venture Company

I was reminded again by how dumb capital has destroyed innovation by listening to Paul Kedrosky's interview with TechCrunch, in which he concludes that The Kauffman Foundation (which Paul represents as a Senior Fellow) may get out of Venture Capital altogether and deploy some of its monetary assets elsewhere.

Not an unexpected move, as I predicted a while ago many Limited Partners (LPs) as investors in Venture Capital (firms) would make, but a somewhat presumptuous conclusion from a respectable foundation that is supposed to be at the foreground and chartered to support the proliferation of innovation. Foolishly, I expected more intelligence from an entrepreneurial foundation than the intelligence displayed by a run of the mill pension fund stuck in a product of their own making.

Nevertheless I applaud the move based on how Paul described the foundation reached that impending conclusion. For we need to rid Venture Capital (VC) of Limited Partners who do not understand the foundational principles of innovation the sector depends on, and who do not understand the deployment of its unique risks. Probably for the same reasons why Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital twenty years ago did not want to see pension funds enter the Venture Capital fray.

Take responsibility for you own actions (and in-actions)

First off, the reason why Venture has not and unchanged will not perform (at scale) is because of the financial system Limited Partners in Venture Capital have deployed, one that allows Venture Capital firms to take it for an all too comfortable ride.

With multi-tier bottom-level diversification (as described in 2010: The State of Venture Capital), a grab bag of other alternative investment options and ten additional levels of diversification once a VC firm is ready to invest, it should be no surprise that Venture Capital overloaded with derivatives and diversification has lost the merit it was once founded on.

We can now all easily blame 95% of the VC firms who do not produce any consistent returns for their Limited Partners, or Limited Partners can ask themselves the question why they created and participated in a financial system that enables such systemic underperformance.

We, as financiers of innovation need to take the responsibility of how we enabled a flawed governance of innovation.

Mired in "downstream thinking"

But our observations about Kauffman are based on the activities deployed by them over the recent years. The interview with Paul, the types of programs they support and a recent interview of Carl Schramm, Kauffman's current CEO with Charlie Rose all confirm who they have become. The beachhead for downstream thinking.

The entrepreneurial foundation, driven by the principles and money from a magnificent entrepreneur, seems to have made the mistake of confusing deep consensus driven hindsight with the proper definition of innovation; groundbreaking yet unrecognized foresight.

Perhaps not surprisingly since many of the key figures in Kauffman are economists who could not predict the demise of venture capital until it hit them in the face, and consequently have no idea as to how to fix it - as deep hindsight rarely translates into meaningful foresight. Hindsight and foresight are polar opposites.

Rather than to accept the outcome in Venture as a fait accompli, only a real entrepreneurial foundation would start to wonder what needs to be done to tap into the incredible entrepreneurial capacity in this country and model its financial constructs accordingly. Apparently not the Kauffman foundation.

Financial incompetence chokes our country

Now in the grand schema of things Kauffman is a drop in the Venture bucket, with a potentially side effect of dragging down other Limited Partners in Venture who are similarly clueless about how to reinvigorate the arbitrage of innovation. Such an atrophy of Limited Partners is actually a good thing (as it washes out those without proper investment discipline) as long as it is promptly replaced with new Limited Partners who have a more astute and disciplined interest in Venture aligned with the massive greenfield that lies ahead in technology innovation.

Problem is that beyond the danger that Venture as a scalable asset class could unjustly disappear, the malaise of the financial system in Venture may leave a large stain on the potential of the underlying asset, innovation. Already innovation in the U.S. has suffered from twenty years of subprime VC investing that by design can never scale innovative outlier capacity. The damage we already incur is a significant lack of faith, interest and distrust of technology companies by the public.

Because of the underperformance of the vast majority of Venture Capital firms many financiers now begin to think that the potential for innovation has decreased similarly. And that stain causes further mistrust in the sector, increases fear and catapults whatever is left in Venture even faster down the subprime spiral and our country into the lost leader of innovation.

Subsequently, the demise of VC creates some opportunities for alternative venture strategies, new Angel and micro-VC oxymorons that further perpetuate and fragment subprime investments and on average perform even worse than VC firms. Subprime at its best.

My recommendation to Limited Partners:

  • We are at the beginning of the technology evolution. Keep in mind that less than 20% of the world's population has access to meaningful technology innovation to enhance their daily life and improve productivity. A fantastic investment horizon lies ahead and as the youngest asset class in your portfolio, technology Venture has the most attractive economics and if deployed correctly, phenomenal potential for massive returns short term.

  • Venture Capital, the way deployed as a financial instrument today cannot support groundbreaking innovation at scale. Not because of a purported "Voodoo" of technology, but because of the systemic improper deployment of risk. Unchanged Venture Capital will continue to create self-induced risk, and therefor consistently produce deplorable returns for Limited Partners.

  • You can't teach an old dog new tricks, so don't expect better LP returns from the existing crop of VC General Partners. For twenty years Venture Capital has been given virtually unlimited freedom to deploy their optimal investment thesis, with massive market pull and the ability to control all the strings with regard to the governance of innovation. Tightening financial incentives does not magically turn subprime GPs prime and does nothing but dissuade new prime GPs who want to clear the air (the subprime ones will hang on for dear life as long as possible, even if you tinker with their management fees).

  • The deployment of the financial system that drives the deployment of risk in Venture Capital needs to be re-invented (we have). Investing in Venture unchanged is the definition of insanity. The solution is not a deeper understanding of Venture Capital's complexity, but a dramatic simplification and accountability of its foundational principles

  • Stick to your knitting. Get out of Venture if all of this is too much hassle for you. You may miss out on the incredible opportunity that lies ahead in technology Venture but your passive presence in the sector does nothing but perpetuate subprime and hurts the performance of our economy in the long run.

Startups: Angels Or VCs Or None Of The Above...7 Reasons To Bootstrap

There's been much written recently about angel investors and venture capitalists especially about the rise of the "super angels" such as Ron Conway, Jeff Clavier, Marc Andreessen, etc.

The VC community is disdainful of the angel investors and their puny funds but the angels can go into deals that the VCs cannot because they are too small for the large funds.

Today's entrepreneur has a choice: angels or VCs or none of the above.

It's worth considering the "none of the above" option because startup costs are very low.

Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite, which was the Google of its day, told me that they needed $5m for a data center when they first started.

Today, with the ready availability of cloud computing you don't need to raise lots of capital to fund your capital costs.

Development costs are cheaper too, with high level languages and development platforms such as Ruby and even development platforms in the cloud from companies such as Engine Yard, development is quick and scalable.

Angels and VCs can be good in terms of getting access to an experienced hand in building a business, helping to recruit the right people, even mundane things like finding office space.

But a good network of mentors or board directors/advisors could provide similar help without the ownership and other terms that outside investors demand.

Bootstrapping is a viable option

Many startups could achieve a lot with just the founders pooling their credit cards for a year or so and then seek expansion capital, maybe with debt.

Sramana Mitra, writing in Forbes, says there is an assumption that only mom-and-pops businesses can be built with bootstrapping:

How very wrong! Ask Frank Levinson and Jerry Rawls of Finisar whose bootstrapped venture went public at a $5 billion valuation. Or ask Christian Chabot of Tableau Software, who raised his Series A from NEA at a $20 million pre-money valuation by bootstrapping the early stages, when typical valuations for that round are in the $2 to $5 million range.

From: Why B-Schools Set Up Entrepreneurs To Fail

This is a good time to reprint one of my favorite guest columns, written by serial entrepreneur Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow Technologies:

Seven Reasons Not To Raise VC capital
By Greg Gianforte

Raising venture capital for early stage start-ups seems to be the prevailing path for most entrepreneurs; however, most would-be founders should reconsider.

Here are some reasons why:

- If you start by selling your concept to potential prospects (rather than stock to VCs), you will either end up with initial customers or a conviction that your idea won't work. Why raise money and then find out which one it will be?

- Raising money takes time away from understanding your market and potential customers. Often more time than it would take to just go sell something to a customer. Let your customers fund your business through product orders.

- Adding VCs to the mix early gives you an additional set of masters you must serve in addition to your customers. It is always hard to serve two masters, especially in a startup.

- With no money you can't make a fatal mistake. This is a blessing. Without VC money, you are forced to figure out how to extract funds from your customers for value you deliver. Ultimately that is the only thing that really matters.

- Money removes spending discipline. If you have the money you will spend it - whether you have figured out your business model and market or not.

-Raising VC money determines your exit strategy. You will either sell the business or take it public. What if you end up with a very profitable, modest sized business that you want to just run? That is no longer an option once you raise VC money.

- You sell your precious equity very dearly before you have a proven business model. This is the worst time to raise money from a valuation perspective. I know this is a contrarian view. And some of you are saying that might be fine for a small company.

Don't forget Dell, HP, Microsoft all originally started without VC funding; you can build a big business with bootstrapping and without VC money. At RightNow, we doubled our revenue and employees every 90 days for two years before we took any outside money, and even then the employees retained more than 75% ownership after raising $32m.

Greg Gianforte is the author of:

"Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company With Almost No Money."

The 8 Truths Of Enterprise IT...

Enterprise IT is notoriously conservative and resistant to any changes. Yet the enterprise IT market is massive and it's a market that is primed for change because of many innovative technologies.

However, it can be a very frustrating experience for companies targeting the enterprise IT market. Jake Sorofman, chief marketing officer for rPath, which provides solutions for automating system deployment and maintenance across physical, virtual and cloud environments, shares his theories on what makes enterprise IT tick.

Guest post by Jake Sorofman. (

1. Drift happens - Complex software systems are rarely consistent or what they ought to be. They drift and morph in definition over time as patches are applied, updates are made and IT personnel tunes, tweaks and fiddles. These changes are typically untracked, and IT rarely knows precisely what is running. When they're initially deployed, systems are opaque. Over time, they're complete mysteries.

2. Change hurts - IT fears and avoids change because of a Law of Unintended Consequences that hangs over the data center. At the heart of this law is the reality that deployed systems and their dependencies are poorly described and documented. When change happens, stuff breaks. This is why, on the topic of change, IT tends to channel Ross Perot: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

3. IT abhors a vacuum - As the cost of computing drops, workload demand increases. This is the force behind VM sprawl and the attendant growth in management costs. Like nature, IT abhors a vacuum. When space is made available, it's quickly filled in. (Perot may call this "a giant sucking sound.")

4. Demand follows the path of least resistance - Like it or not, enterprise IT competes with a marketplace of alternatives. When alternatives offer comparatively better options in price, performance and availability, workloads will follow the path of least resistance. Public cloud is a perfect example of this phenomenon at work: IT organizations that fail to transform will surely watch in vain as workloads, following the path of least resistance, escape to the cloud.

5. Dependencies grow geometrically - Software is more diverse than ever, comprising an unthinkable array of custom, commercial and open source options. This means that developers have more resources to ply their craft, and IT is utterly mired by complex, interdependent and constantly changing systems. It's made worse by the ongoing abstraction of IT, from managing discrete single-use piece parts to the composition of reusable services. The network of interdependency is massive and--much of the time--poorly understood.

6. So does scale - Each subsequent architectural advancement leads to an increase in scale. Scale exploded as mainframe gave way to client-server and client-server gave way to web. Today, we're seeing x86 architectures, virtualization and cloud are all driving growth in the volume of systems that need to be managed.

7. Proportionally, budgets will always contract - Operating budgets cannot keep pace with growth in IT scale, so even when the top-line budget is growing, the budget per managed system is always contracting. IT will always be forced to do more with less--forced to find new ways to change the economics of scale.

8. Complexity is the mother of reinvention - When IT complexity reaches the frontier of existing tools and processes, IT must reinvent. Containing complexity is like holding back a tide. The only way forward is through reinvention, embracing new tools and approaches for dealing with IT complexity at scale.

So that's it--eight IT truths as I see them. What truths do you see?

Learn more about rPath at, follow rPath on Twitter at @rpathand contact Jake at [email protected].

(If you have a guest post you'd like to publish on SVW please send it to foremski at gmail.)

Saving Silicon Valley From The Coming VC Implosion

[This guest post is extracted from a longer article: Saving Silicon Valley.]

Georges van Hoegaerden was born in The Netherlands and came to Silicon Valley to work at Oracle. He soon jumped head first into the startup life and became a serial entrepreneur. But he quickly became disillusioned with VCs and a VC industry that lacks proper governance and consistent execution. He is passionate about reinventing the entire VC industry.

In this post he warns that Silicon Valley is on the brink of a serious "implosion" because 95% of VC firms are not making money for their investors. Many VCs are risk averse, they don't have the business experience needed for the job, and they are happy living off of generous management fees rather than working hard to build successful startups.

He points out that there are tremendous business opportunities ahead. We are still at the very early stages of a massive technology boom with just 20% of the world's population having access to any meaningful technologies. The VC industry should be expanding rather than contracting.

By Georges van Hoegaerden, Managing Director, The Venture Company

Georges van HoegaerdenSome people do not understand why I do what I do and why I bother, and underestimate my determination to fix Venture Capital. Certainly there are much easier ways to make money than to pursue the obliteration of an investment cartel, in which seemingly everyone belongs to the club.


I came to the U.S. on my own with some hard earned chunk of change in my pocket, invited by Marc Benioff (now CEO, then Oracle VP) and Larry Ellison (Oracle's CEO) who wondered why I was able to sell their (then) emerging products while they couldn't.

I left Oracle with fond memories as soon as my green-card was approved and jumped in Silicon Valley hoping to find more intelligence there.

My first startup was a group of consultants with a horrible business plan, and I told them about my opinions in a way only I can. Instead of fleeing, they came back and asked for guidance (management incubation). We turned the company into a product company and raised a double digit series-A post 9/11. The company was sold in 2006 for triple digits.

Story continues...

Guest Post: Here's Why Google's Paywall Will Work (And The Times' Will Fail)

By Matthew Buckland -

Google has been quietly testing a new paywall system for publishers it is calling "Newspass". According to Italian newspaper [1] La Repubblica, Google has been piloting the service with publishers in Italy.

The search giant will apparently launch "an integrated payment system" allowing users to buy news content with just "one click". Newspass would allow publishers to use a single infrastructure for Web, mobile and tablet computers to monetise their content.

Importantly, La Repubblica reports that consumers will have a single log-in across a multitude of news sites that would be flexible enough to accommodate various kinds of payments, including long-term subscriptions and one-time micropayments. It would be a one-click payment for access, not too dissimilar from Google Checkout [2].

Paywalling systems on news sites have been controversial for a better part of a decade. There is justified scepticism about whether they work or not. A handful of publications around the world, largely in the specialist finance field, have got it more-or-less right, but for the most part, paywalls have not been a success.

Google's new effort is an acute case of Déjà vu. In the early 2000s many online publishers tried to paywall their content, but were forced to retreat in the face of what became known as the "web 2.0″ era. This saw a tidal wave of user generated content and blogging content hit the net, a source of traffic for publishers. Google News [4], an aggregator [5] of the formal online publishing sector and a big source of referral traffic, launched in 2001. Quite simply, publishers did not want to miss out on all the eyeballs that were being sent their way by putting paywalls in place.

Now, driven by a slowdown in advertising, a financial crisis and an inability to make significant revenue out of online advertising, the paywall debate has resurfaced with vigour -- with much of the noise coming from the Rupert Murdoch camp.

What's different about Newspass

Google's new initiative is however significantly different from the failed paywall attempts at the start of the decade. Its paywall initiative does not follow a silo approach which involves each individual online publication creating their own bespoke paywall and payment system. This, it could be argued, contributed to the failure of many paywall systems in the past because it was a barrier to entry, causing complication and admin for users who just wanted to get their story.

Google's initiative involves a comprehensive solution across multiple sites -- and a simpler, streamlined combined value proposition than many individual website paywalls. This is also a better fit with web content consumption behaviour patterns, because readers consume content across a broad range of sites. They don't like to be siloed to just a few publications -- that's the print world. A Newspass that grants access to multiple sites may just represent fair value for a user.

Take the analogy of satellite TV. You pay once and you get a bouquet of hundreds of channels. The transaction is simple and easy. You know you're getting good value for money too because there is an economy-of-scale effect at work. Now imagine another scenario: What if you have to pay individually for each TV channel and go through the effort, time and extra cost to do so. It's a no brainer really.

Whether Newspass will work really depends on the publishing sector and whether they embrace the initiative. If they take a combined decision under the auspices of global publishing bodies like the World Association of Newspapers [6] or IFRA to support the move, which then leads to rapid adoption, then it may work.

But if viewed with suspicion because it involves a third-party like Google or because publishers are keen to implement their own systems on an individual basis -- then, once again, paywall attempts will fail.

A colleague of mine once described Google as the "crack cocaine" of the online publishing industry. Many traditional online publications have a love-hate relationship with the search engine. On the one hand Google sends a rush of traffic, but on the other aggregates content that it does not pay for. Then there is the sticky issue of advertising. Google has the better model -- and one that disintermediates publishers from their advertisers. Quite simply, the online publishing industry has no idea what to do about it.

I'm a paywall skeptic, but I feel the pain of online publishers who want to generate more revenue to ultimately increase quality and value for their readers.

This, a third party, neutral service, offers the best chance of a paywall system working. Google is probably the only internet player able to implement such a broad-ranging initiative. Of course the news industry could come up with their own paywall system, but would the industry ever be able to come together to agree? A paywall system needs a dispassionate third party like Google.

Should there be a strong take up of Newspass in formal online publishing sector, you may eventually see publications clamour to be part of it -- because it may even become an indication of quality for the user. Then as more publications join, so the free options narrow for the user. Consequently users will find that there may be simply no choice but to buy a Google Newspass.

There is no shortage of content and distraction on the web. What's often harder to find is quality content. If Google's paywall initiative contributes to increasing quality, then it's good for the industry.

But whether Newspass will work or not is, well, entirely up to the publishing industry.

Article printed from memeburn:

Guest Post: Time to Kill the Suggestion Box

By Christine Crandell, CMO, Accept Software

BP recently created what may be the biggest suggestion box in history; it has over 35,000 ideas to improve the oil situation in the Gulf and is staffed by 70 full-time employees. This has led to a wave of experimentation in oil clean-up methodologies including a five-mile sand barrier on Dauphin Island, actor Kevin Cossner's oil separator and oil-absorbing hay.

This suggestion box may lead to some of the greatest advancements in oil cleanup in decades. As a company that lives and breathes innovation and ideation however, at Accept Software we know that the suggestion box is a cruel creature. It's no surprise that mainstream media is flooded with reports of inventors that feel they're being ignored - leading to a public perception that the whole thing is a PR sham.

Throughout history suggestion boxes have proven to be extraordinarily valuable, conceptually. Since the first recorded implementation of the suggestion box in the British Navy in 1770, suggestion boxes have been proving over and over that individuals, staff and customers really do have valuable ideas. But as a process the suggestion box is a cumbersome, slow, resource-intensive form of ideation that generates only submissions instead of meaningfulcollaboration that then actually results in a better product, service, or new innovation .

The fact is more than 90 percent of ideas submitted in any ideation process aren't remotely viable. Consider this audio clip at Gawker of a reporter submitting an idea to BP that stopping the leak hasn't worked, so they should simply allow it to flow and work on getting the world used to the idea of oil in the water. Then there's the idea to place a giant cork over the leak. Out of 35,000 ideas, how many are just submitted by angry people? How many are outrageous?

Borrowing some stats from our own blog on product innovation, we can see how flawed the process of the suggestion box is:

BP faces an incredible timeline issue to innovate, yet it's not entirely unlike any product company that's leaking market-share, revenues and buzz because it has slipped behind the competition or the market's pace, and appetite, for the next, more advanced product release. The challenge for product companies is that 50 percent of R&D investment do not generate any revenue, ever. The other 50 percent investment in R&D returns only three to eight times the investment over an average of five years, according to PRTM. Integrating ideas into a product innovation lifecycle process and having key stakeholders collaborate on them produce better products and features, faster and profitably.

The ideation process needs conversation and collaboration. Submitters need to be able to review, rate and comment on each other's submissions; to improve on them and work together collaboratively online. Allow submitters to get feedback on their ideas, which ones are being identified as most relevant and why.

So our suggestion to BP - and to every business really - is to go beyond the knee-jerk reaction to create a suggestion box as a way to solicit information. You don't have the resources or time to sort through thousands of giant corks and angry customers before fixing a giant oil leak in the middle of the ocean.

Christine Crandell is the CMO of Accept Software, the developer of the Accept 360 product innovation management suite. Christine writes regularly for the company blog "The Innovation Jam"

Guest Post: Can Facebook Unring The Privacy Bell?


J.R. Johnson is founder and CEO of (, a social media platform focused on finding common ground. He grew and to successful companies that recently sold to Expedia.

by J.R. Johnson

Remember when Facebook was called the "walled garden" because it felt so nicely protected from the outside world?

Privacy was core to Facebook's original success and brand identity. Recently though, the social media giant has begun to dramatically open up its users' information to be more public. The topic has earned a Time magazine cover and sparked active debate over their "real" agenda for privacy with everyone from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Facebook's attempts to quell the backlash, resulted in 50 privacy settings with 170 options, which are now getting yet another makeover.

At this point, the number of privacy controls is actually irrelevant.

When you start as an open platform right out of the gate, expectations are set and clear. However, when you invite people into a walled garden and then start taking those walls down, that creates a fundamental change to the basic definition of your product.

The Catch: Facebook's Product Is Produced By Its Consumers

These privacy changes can have such a chilling effect on contribution to Facebook, that the resulting product can be comparable to Budweiser deciding to sell only non-alcoholic beer.

While Budweiser is the producer of their product and we, the public, are the consumers, Facebook is different because we are both the consumers of the product and the producers. This means the product itself is at stake. Not because people will leave Facebook entirely (though we've seen a few high profile Internet mavens make that move already). Rather, people will simply ... hesitate.

For example, they may hesitate before updating a new cell phone number, wondering who might see it; "liking" a new TV show, if they're not that committed to it yet; or posting vacation photos, letting potential strangers know we're not home.

As soon as that happens, then for all of us "consumers" on Facebook, our stream of personal entertainment and information just got a little less interesting. The best content on Facebook, the product that keeps users coming back to the site, might not be there anymore. We'll no longer have the same product.

We'll have non-alcoholic Bud.

First Self-Inflicted Demise in Social Networking?

Myspace overtook Friendster by building a faster and more scalable product. Facebook then supplanted Myspace, again because it was a better product. Privacy was the biggest differentiator in that case, and people flocked to it.

What's so interesting here, is that no one actually beat Facebook with a more innovative product. If they're unseated, it will be death by their own hand.

The more intertwined with the concept of privacy the Facebook brand becomes, the more the product will change, regardless of any privacy settings they may offer. It will be an erosion rather than an exodus, but the outcome could be just as detrimental.

Facebook has bounced back from past growing pains before, like allowing non-university users in, changing the newsfeed, and the Beacon debacle, among others. Some changes stuck, and some were rolled back.

In the case of privacy though, I'm not so sure that's a bell that they can un-ring.

For the sake of social media's future, and how much better it will be if transparency prevails, I sincerely hope Facebook can figure this out. I'm just afraid that every time we hear a friend, the media, and especially Facebook itself, talk about privacy, the bell gets rung yet again.

The Big Picture

If privacy was at the root of their success, why would Facebook even consider changing course to open things up?

I believe Facebook's intentions are actually very valid. Mark Zuckerberg believes in the power of connecting people around the world and all the potential good that can result. His stance seems to be that if we all open up a little bit and get comfortable sharing things about ourselves more openly, the world will be a better place.

Personally, I share these beliefs, and have since I was 15. My approach with my current company is actually based on very similar values, seeking to uncover people's points of common ground in order to help us all become more thoughtful and tolerant.

I believe this is really important work, so ultimately I'm rooting for Facebook. Though they'll have to pull off a branding Houdini like we've never seen before.

Please see: - A Platform For Critical Thinkers . . . And A Spiritual Mission - SVW

Guest Post: Remaking Advertising The Apple Way

by Troy Young, President, VideoEgg

Last year we held an event called 7 Minutes to Reinvent the Internet for Advertising. In my 7 minute spiel, I spoke about the challenges you'll find with the online ad experience and management of consumer data.

It occurred to me that every medium has a native (and logical) ad model, but the Internet was struggling to find one, mostly because of its amorphous nature - it is at once all media, a transactional environment and communications tool rolled into one big hairy package.

I suggested an alternative idea - something called the Advertising Programming Interface (API with an ad twist) - a flexible toolset making possible the delivery of rich ad experiences across a range of digital environments.

Ideas came rushing back to me today as I considered Apple's entry into the advertising world and the introduction of its new media consumption device, iPad. Steve Jobs makes the obvious points here - mobile advertising needs to deliver experientially and with a lot less friction for the consumer.

Indeed, the iAd seems entirely logical for a company obsessed with controlling the user experience. You see the instinct in it with every move Apple makes - control hardware, control the OS, control applications, control retail, control online point of sale. Remaking advertising the Apple way is entirely logical. What is the point of creating a very elegant tool if the ad experience undermines it? That and the business opportunity are compelling. Apple is making advertising native to the device as part of the 4.0 IPhone OS.

Now what the iAd points to is a broader requirement for success in online brand advertising. For digital brand advertising to succeed, it needs to be both interactive and emotional. For a second, imagine if this same thing happened on the Web. What if advertising was part of the "Web OS"?

What if advertising was part of an open system, built into HTML, supported by every browser and OS?

Think about a simple tool kit to create stunning consumer experiences (like the Apple SDK), consistent rules so consumers know what to expect, full-page immersive ads integrated into a universal profile management system. Maybe even a universal shopping cart.

As an industry we would worry less about size (IAB standards) and more about the experiential tools that advertisers leverage to create things people actually dig.

That would be cool. And, in many ways it is happening across the Web. But with hundreds of competing players and standards, it's taking a hell of a long time. Brands wish it was happening faster.

A Windsor Brit in the NCAA's Court? The Science of Picking the Perfect Bracket

By Chris Boorman, Chief Marketing Officer, Informatica

With the Final Four now set, I am sure that the results of the tournament so far are not what the majority of us expected, which is no doubt reflected in bracket pools across the country.

If it is any consolation to those of us who had Cornell going out in the first round and Kansas winning it all, few brackets, including those of the best-known sports writers, fared much better. In fact, USA Today points out that only 12 brackets, out of 4.78 million entered, correctly picked the first eight teams to make the Sweet 16!

With nearly everyone's bracket taking serious hits from 'bracket busters' this year, the question must be asked: what would it take to pick the perfect bracket?

Having left behind cricket and rugby two years ago to move from the UK to the US, I am probably not the best person with whom to strike up a casual conversation about basketball. However, one thing I am quite comfortable discussing is data. So when recently considering the data and analysis required to create the perfect bracket, I noted many similarities to issues I am dealing with professionally. For example, how do two major corporations integrate their databases after a merger? How can federal and international governmental agencies share information to prevent terrorist attacks or the spread of deadly pathogens?

What makes these questions similar is the immense volume of data that is needed to solve the problem. The data required to pick a perfect bracket is on a similar scale to the volume of data needed to make certain aspects of our business, financial, health and public sectors work. Another similarity is that once the amount of data required to understand something-or as is the case with our brackets, predict something-explodes. Data integration, or connecting the data dots, so to speak, becomes a very important, if not essential tool.

Consider each team's regular season wins and losses, quality wins, individual player statistics, respective tournament histories, prior match-ups, injuries, possible home-court advantages, seeding/ranking, player-to-player match ups...and so on. The data points that would be generated from these variables alone would require the sort of full data integration view that governments and some of the biggest corporations in the world regularly tap data integration experts to provide for them.

The truth is, without a unified view of the billions of individual data points for each of the 64 teams in the NCAA tournament, this mountain of information will not set you on the path to a perfect bracket - the odds of which are one in 9 million trillion. And this is a reason for why the experts, and possibly the Villanova alumnus in your office, have been so wrong. Without an integrated view of all data, or without the ability to connect all of the dots, it is nearly impossible to make sense of the mass of data.

But what happens when we start to use data integration to pick our brackets in the future?

For now, it is safe to say that the excitement and surprises of the tourney will be a spring fixture for years to come. On the other hand, it is quite uncertain if UCSF, UCSC or Sonoma State making it to the Final Four in 2025 will be such a shocker.

[If you would like to publish a guest post on SVW please send it to [email protected] with guest post in the title.]

These Are The Signs That Show When A VC Is A Bad Date...

[This guest post is a slightly shortened version of the original: Why VC is such a bad date | Entrepreneur | The Venture Company]

By Georges van Hoegaerden, Managing Director, The Venture Company

Finding the perfect date

Georges van Hoegaerden As a VC, finding the right type of innovation to monetize is like finding the perfect date, they are few and far between. And to a founder of a startup finding the right General Partner (at a VC firm) is similarly daunting.

A unique match between two people (the General Partner and the CEO) is something that takes more than glowing at the prospect of having a baby together (i.e. build a new prosperous company) and discussing the financial projections and terms of the deal.

Higher standards

The reason why many people are such bad daters is because they do not hold on to their own standards, those that make them happy and those that make them strong.

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Here's How To Manage Your Online Reputation


Cartoon by Guhmshoo.

[This is part of a guest post I received from Michael Fertik, CEO & Founder, ReputationDefender, which offers tools to help manage online personal information.]

By Michael Fertik

Soon, companies (and governments and people) will start to use evidence computationally aggregated from social media sites to make decisions about you that affect your lives.

Today, they can use information gathered directly from Google, Facebook, and other sources to make those decisions. If you talk about doing keg stands on your social networking page, you might not get hired. Fair enough.

But that's the version 0.5 application of what I'm talking about. Shortly, we'll see version 1.0.

The data stored inside social networking sites will be collected and used to determine if you are eligible for health insurance coverage, for educational opportunities, or for discounts on coveted consumer desiderata.

I'm on the record saying that soon insurance companies will be able to make decisions as to whether or not to offer you coverage based on your Web activity.

Recently, the world saw the beginning of this; a woman was denied medical benefits based on photos that appeared on her Facebook page.

Again, this is version 0.5 of what is to come. Version 1.0 of Internet data exploitation will be more comprehensive.

Here's one hypothetical scenario.:

If your emails contain references to breast cancer fundraising, if you're of a certain age or if you have participated in an online discussion forum about breast cancer, there are digital footprints connecting you to a terrible affliction that can be cross-referenced to actuarial tables that put you at higher risk of suffering from breast cancer one day.

So now, your name gets on a list that is distributed to insurance companies that then charge you higher premiums for medical insurance coverage.

Frightening, yes, but it follows the simple logic of commerce in the free market. A company looking to mitigate risk and maximize profit will start to use the data sets that are available to them to make the best decisions they can for their own purposes.

Yup, the machine is getting smarter, and as a society, we want to get all the myriad social scientific benefits we can from aggregated data streams about human behavior.

But, unwelcome consequences often come with it.

Putting together the bits and bobs from all we've accumulated on social networks into one, aggregated narrative can paint a detailed picture for third parties, whatever their intent.

So what can you do to prepare the future? What can you do to maximize your control over your digital footprint? Here are some clear steps to get you started:

1. Take the time to remember ALL the social networks for which you've signed up. They are all part of your digital footprint.

2. Try to recall (or recover) the passwords you had for each of the profiles you created. Either update them or erase the information you no longer want to share, but don't let them remain obsolete.

3. Grab your name on all the social networks that open up. Claiming your personal username real estate on social networks prevents people from impersonating you later and allows you to create the digital footprint you want -- with the maximum Google power that comes from having your real name in the headline or URL -- if you ever decide to use them. You don't need to use all of the social networks, but it makes sense to grab your name on them for the future, just in case.

4. Be careful what you post. Be careful about how much you post about your travel and purchase habits. Recently, a group of teenagers were arrested in LA for robbing the homes of celebrities whose day-to-day goings and comings were visible on various Websites. The kids allegedly waited until the celebrities were meant to be out of the house and then they broke in.

There's no reason this can't happen to everyday people who are tweeting about their two-week vacations or posting live photos from the beaches of Acapulco. The moral here is that managing your digital reputation is part and parcel of managing your personal digital footprint, your personal digital security.

Ultimately, social networking sites can serve as huge boons to your online identity and reputation, but they must be carefully managed, controlled, and protected.

EAST MEETS WEST - 5 Observations on Silicon Valley from an MIT Sloan Perspective

By Rob Lemos and Erdin Beshimov

Last week, a class of 90 MIT MBA students traveled to Silicon Valley as part of the annual MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship & Innovation Class Trek. Our purpose was to cast a deeper glance at the entrepreneurial ecosystem on the West Coast by engaging entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the Valley. We met with successful companies such as Genentech and LinkedIn, hot startups such as Aardvark and Yammer, and premier VCs from Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, Accel, and more.

As co-founders of the MIT Entrepreneurship Review (think Harvard Law Review but from and for MIT; set to launch in February-March), we were keenly interested in entrepreneurial and industry trends, local investment perspective, and the Silicon Valley culture.

Here are our top 5 observations:

5) Be wary of hardware.

VCs in the West are big on capital efficient start-ups. The mentality that start-ups should stay agile and respond quickly to the market, a carryover from the days of the Internet bubble, continues to permeate the atmosphere. Interestingly, we found, at least anecdotally, that cleantech start-ups don't seem to be as hot in the West as here in the East - a) they typically require large infusions of initial investment and b) returns usually take several years. Hardware bets certainly can be very successful, but the feeling in the Valley is that it's important to choose wisely.

In a similar vein, consumer web is generally more preferable to enterprise software. Typically, consumer web startups are able to launch quickly and learn, iterate, and adapt based on user feedback, which is more difficult to do with enterprise software applications. As founder and CEO of Aardvark, Max Ventilla, aptly pointed out, the only real risk in consumer web is product fit.

4) The pathway to success is paved with failure.

Fail often but fail quickly - this is, perhaps, the most reiterated message from the Valley. It appears as though trial-and-error is an evolutionary process in the West where failures are seen as creating opportunities for better innovations to take root. Failure is encouraged and rarely punished. The spirit of the American West! And it's not that this message isn't well known, most of us have heard it multiple times before. It's that hearing this message live being continuously stressed by some very successful people brought it to life that much more.

At the same time, we heard from Doug Leone, Sequoia Capital partner and MIT Sloan alum, that successes and failures should be balanced. If you haven't failed, you haven't tried; but if you've only failed, you don't know how to do things right.

3) Social Media will reshape the world.

It's not just that the icons of Web2.0 such as Facebook and Twitter are all based in Silicon Valley, but that startups out West are responding quicker than anyone to the burgeoning business ecosystem around Facebook and Twitter. There was a big surprise in store for those students who visited Zynga, a rapidly growing (an understatement) social gaming startup, and expected to see a small, plucky, garage-based outfit. We found instead a huge (yet superbly funky) office and seven hundred employees - while the company was founded only two years ago! Absolutely impressive.

2) The people make the culture.

Silicon Valley has a culture characterized as fast-moving, encouraging of failure, and wary of prolonged investments. Add to that list a spirit of experimentation that is rampant and reinforced by the individuals who embody it. The environment is flat and welcoming; a nice change from the entrenched and often bureaucratic culture in the East. It was amazing that on our trip we were able to schedule meetings with some very busy and accomplished people at just a couple of days' notice. This is much less likely to happen in Boston.

1) Pivot.

Entrepreneurs cannot predict how their businesses are going to go. Business plans are only worth as much as the paper they are written upon. Therefore, an entrepreneur has to pivot upon his/her business plan according to the customer. Be careful not to let your customer rule the roost, but pay special attention to what the customer wants.

After our trip, the top question we are left wondering is this:

Is Silicon Valley going to host the next decade of Malcolm Gladwell's "outliers"? If not, where will they come from...?

At the MIT Entrepreneurship Review, we hope to continuously explore this question and many more by examining the interplay between science, technology, and entrepreneurship. If you want to be on the cutting-edge of thought-leadership in entrepreneurship, follow us on Twitter @MITEReview for updates and news about our upcoming launch.

Rob Lemos and Erdin Beshimov are MIT Sloan MBA students Class of 2011. To see the MIT Entrepreneurship Review's "About Us" video, go to

Guest Post: Social Media Marketing is Swiss Cheese

By Hugh Burnham, Co-CEO, Gutenberg Communications

The Internet has become overrun with trends, tips, and how-tos for social media marketing. If one were to spend a lifetime absorbed in social media marketing content, one would emerge a mindless zombie repeating buzzwords like engagement, two-way communications, and customer-centric conversation, but still hopelessly lost.

The dribble comes from the armies of organizations and individuals looking to capitalize on rising social media marketing budgets by positioning themselves as experts, though they aren't actually doing it, for themselves or their clients. If your PR agency says they do social media, but you're not sure if they actually do, you're probably right to be wary.

And so the emerging industry of social media marketing is like Swiss cheese. It's held together by a porous structure of substance, but filled with pockets of emptiness. And while old school media is shrinking, the social media marketing industry is growing faster than newspapers can go bankrupt. Corporations have turned to PR for social media marketing; giving the public relations industry an opportunity to grow - not shrink - in size and prestige, if it can seize a leadership role in social media.

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Dimdim: Avoiding 'SOS' - sick office syndrome

Guest post by DD Ganguly, CEO, Dimdim

A few years back, I used to work for a global company with more than 13,200 people. My office alone had more than 1,000 people, so when winter rolled around, it'd be hard not to encounter someone who had a cold or the flu. Back then, it was unpleasant to hear a colleague sneezing or coughing in the halls, but it wouldn't prevent me from being in the office, nor would I be upset that they were coming to work sick. But now, coughing in your elbow is not enough to prevent the spread of dangerous, highly contagious diseases like the H1N1 virus. We must change the way we do business to stay healthy.

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The Canary In The Coal Mine - America's Innovation Imperative Is At Risk

[Guest post from C. Josh Abend, founder of Innovation America, a consultancy established in 1976. He has worked with some of the largest corporations in the US.]

By C. Josh Abend

Many people relate to the story of how fragile canaries are used in the mines to warn of imminent danger of gas, fire, and explosion. When the canaries keel over, its time to leave.. The weakest and most fragile elements in the environment are the ones that signal catastrophe and are the first to succumb. Then we should take survival steps or perish. We are now getting such a national warning... and it is about innovation.

The canaries at risk represent our "secret sauce" of economic success. That is our vital, independent, start-up companies, created by passionate, entrepreneurs and innovators ; they represent Americas legacy of inventiveness, willing to put themselves at risk for a new idea.; and such ideas have contributed to our enviable economic assets and made us a world exemplar of innovation. Today every small business deserves, help, but to extinguish our entrepreneurial "innovation feed-stock" could inflict an irreversible wound at a time we will depend on this process more than ever.. One danger of neglect could be a domino effect inhibiting job creation, growth, and our global competitiveness. Some might consider that an implosion.

Why such a dire prediction?. Any small business if viable can create income and jobs for its owners and its local employees. But only an innovation derived business or technology, offers scale; when successful, it creates a much larger multiplier of opportunities and jobs in more than one location. It can produce new plants and offices, offer a new tax source, and it tends to seed a continuous birthing of new innovations and economic growth. Apple for example has been one such admired start-up for over two decades.. It is time industry officially elevated Innovation beyond its current buzz word status. It remains one the most powerful engines we use to create economic wealth, new products and services. Can we risk the possibility that this engine might sputter and stall-out? In today's economic rescue parlance, some industries are considered "Too big to fail". Doesn't bailing them out without a requirement for a measurable innovation policy and operational plan risk the failure of billions of stimulus dollars ?. The entire innovation community is waiting for the chance to help get that right.

Between a rock and ... no place

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ChipWatch - Could Chip Manufacturing Make A Return To The US?

By Matt Grimshaw, Editorial Director of the Semiconductor Technical Journal Future Fab International

Another week gone of 2009 and almost no-one I know will be sad to see the back of this most depressing of years. However amidst the empty trade shows, wafer thin magazines and ominously empty ad spots on websites I saw some news this week that warmed the gloomy skeptic that's hidden in the dark parts of my soul: Texas Instruments is finally kitting out its 300mm Richardson, Texas Fab (RFAB) that it broke ground on in 2004.

I'd sourced and run a number of papers on the construction of the facility itself a few years back as it was the first (and I think only - apologies if I'm wrong in this) LEED Gold certified semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world - meaning that it's so green the Environmental Protection Agency wants to give it a big hug and introduce it to the wild.

It was doubly impressive because chip fabs are not exactly what you'd call green. They consume enough power in a day to light up a small city, more gallons of water per day than flow down many rivers and generally have a pretty sizable environmental impact including the use of some not very nice chemicals and materials.

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The $10 billion question: Why is online image theft so widely accepted?

[Guest post by Lawrence Gould, CEO and co-founder of the microstock company Vivozoom (, he was previously the CFO of Getty Images.]

By Lawrence Gould

Could it get any easier?

Web designers, advertisers and bloggers can choose from millions of pictures - everything from shots of Afghan voters lining up to cast ballots in their presidential election to one of the sun setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge - thanks to traditional stock and microstock photo companies delivering the right, high-quality image for any need.

But as users have gained unprecedented access to these images, the combined theft of stock and microstock photos comes to as much as $10 billion a year. As evidenced by the recent controversy over the Los Angeles Times lifting copyrighted, all-rights reserved photos of wildfires from the image-hosting site Flickr, confusion over image rights reigns supreme.

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Guest Post: Making Forgetfulness A Distant Memory

[Guest post from Sunil Vemuri co-founder of reQall (, a service available on iPhone and BlackBerry that's designed to improve your ability to remember. Mr Vemuri holds a Ph.D. from MIT's Media Lab, where his research on memory prosthesis inspired reQall.

By Sunil Vemuri

When IBM last listed its annual Five Innovations That Will Change Our Lives in the Next Five Years, it was satisfying - dare I suggest a little validating? - to see the computing giant acknowledge that "smart appliances" would usher in a new era of remembering with ease.

I'm happy to say that the future is here.

Memory tools are increasingly used by everyone from physicians compiling patient reminders to college students trying to keep tabs on midterms and keggers. Among the panoply of devices and services, which allows users to record a note to themselves via voice or electronic messaging to get reminded at the right time. While it's fun to speculate on how this might free up the time of some ground-breaking researcher trying to crack the grand unified theory, reQall and other such tools already have practical, everyday applications.

People suffering from such neurobehavioral conditions as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are fired from work because they forget instructions from supervisors. Slaves to the rush-hour commute seek out new, effective ways to optimize the time squandered in traffic. Everyone from CEOs to folks juggling multiple jobs to heads of households sweat the small stuff that crazed schedules demand. Memory tools have successfully addressed all these scenarios.

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ChipWatch: Chip Industry Seems To Be Flickering Back To Life

By Matt Grimshaw, Editorial Director of the Semiconductor Technical Journal Future Fab International.

I've started to get a little teed off with the 'light at the end of the tunnel' speech. There seems to be a global consensus that the chip industry (and the world as a whole) is finally starting to do an impression of a Hero in a Hollywood blockbuster that's been close to death...first there's the close up of the inanimate body, then the flicker of life before some sort of choking/coughing that brings our saviour back to life.

The chip industry appears to be flickering in the manner mentioned above, but very, very slowly with all the speed of a tortoise walking through quicksand...each month now is showing gains over the preceding month leading one to believe that the much whispered recovery is underway and perhaps the nightmare of the last twelve months can be put behind us so that we can start to bandage our wounds, bury the dead and rehire some of the thousands of engineers that were laid off... But sometimes it's just hard to believe because there's still a massive cloud overhead and some of my industry contacts have all the confidence of a vertigo sufferer standing on the edge of a cliff.

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ChipWatch: Will The Industry Shift To 450mm?

By Matt Grimshaw

This article all started earlier in the week; news reached my eyes that France & Germany were "officially out of recession", followed by Hong Kong today. Then closer to my own world the first analyst has broken ranks and claimed that the recession was over for the battered & beleaguered Semiconductor Tool & Equipment vendors, although it may be a little too early to cry Hallelujah and cease ritualistically sacrificing of 300mm test wafers to the great god of productivity, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Downturns are never nice, but this one has been the ugliest I have personally experienced, with hundreds of my friends in the chip sector either floating across to the Photovoltaic industry or becoming 'consultants'. Some have even gone running to the hills to begin lives as professional hermits.

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Guest Post: PR's Love Affair With The Press Release (And How To End It)

[Here is an excellent article by Andrew Fowler, from Newsvetter, a Portland based PR consultancy. If you'd like to publish a guest post on SVW please contact me tom at]

By Andrew Fowler

If there's anybody who has developed a successful model for charging for news content, it's the PR industry.

In 2007, press releases represented a $2.2 billion market, according to Fortune. This figure only covers distribution through companies such as PR Newswire and PR Web. It does not include the cost to write and pitch them to the media which, in my experience, almost always exceeds the cost of distribution.

Most companies have accepted press releases (or social media releases) as the main engine powering their news programs. PR agencies love them because it's the easiest way to generate revenue and there's little resistance on the client side.

But how many of these press releases are actually worth the time and money? Not many.

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ChipWatch: The Fall And (Possible) Rise Of Western Chipmakers

By Matt Grimshaw

It's sometimes depressing to be in the US and working in the chip industry, well at least for the last 10 years at any rate. This week's news that IDT is shutting its Oregon fab and becoming a Fabless chip company is about as welcome as a chocolate bar at a Diet Club; I have a lot of friends that work in that fab.

Chip manufacturing in the US has been eroding and shifting to the Far East where government incentives and (initially at least) cheaper labour costs have attracted almost all the new Fabrication Plants. There is of course another reason for this shift - the Fabless/Foundry model which was born in Taiwan.

To those not versed in this concept it's about fairly simple economics: Fabrication plants are horrendously expensive propositions, with the latest cutting edge fabs being in the region of $4.2bn US. That's more then the gross domestic product of a number of countries.

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ChipWatch: Design Show DAC Jammed With People

By Matt Grimshaw

Just as the post Semicon West hangover began to lift, the organizers of the Design Automation Conference, more commonly known as DAC, decided to not only put it in San Francisco this year but also within a fortnight of the Semicon West melee.

Most of my colleagues that cover the Semiconductor space don't care too much about this fact because most don't cover the design segment, but sadly for my inbox (which is again being crushed under the weight of press releases) we do and so I needed to spend at least a day there, which turned out to be Monday.

DAC Christmas

The difference between the first day of DAC and the first day of Semicon West was as contrasting as the day before Christmas and the day itself.

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Guest Post: LaunchSquad - Best Time To Be In PR

[Guest Post from Jason Mandell (@jmandell on Twitter) from LaunchSquad, which PR Week named Boutique PR Agency of 2009. Please send your guest post to Tom(at)]

By Jason Mandell

I know you've been hammering PR firms for years, and to be frank, in many instances I've disagreed with your predictions on the death of the industry and it's decreased value for companies. However, your most recent post on the subject aligned much more with our views on the future of PR, so I wanted to pass along some of our thoughts here at LaunchSquad as well.

One idea that you allude to in your post, but do not outright say, is that this might be the best time ever to be in the PR industry.

Modern communications revolves around good stories that lead to interesting conversations that ultimately drive positive outcomes.

And no marketing discipline sits closer to a company's "story," and has the ability to engage with consumers both directly and through the media, better than public relations. PR people tend to understand "story" more deeply than any other marketing discipline, and as a result we have an advantage in figuring out how to inspire and engage in a credible way with people. The changes going on right now fit right into the sweet spot of skills that PR folks have been required to have.

The bigger question is not if PR will survive, it's how long it will take for the industry to evolve and what its next form will look like when the dust settles. One thing is for sure, it will look very different than today, and we're doubling down that PR will be a driving force within the greater sphere of marketing in helping companies compete and succeed. It's already clear from what many companies are doing that there's a lot of PR firms that understand this well and have embraced this exciting new landscape in very profound ways.

The PR firm of the future in our view is based on the following key elements:

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Chips: A Rebirth For Semicon West With New Players

[Matt Grimshaw is the Editorial Director of the Semiconductor Technical Journal; Future Fab International ( This week Matt writes about the Semicon West show for chip equipment makers. I remember when Semicon West used to be a huge show, it would regularly outgrow its venues.]

By Matt Grimshaw

Instead of reviewing the news this week I thought I'd try something different and just talk about my experiences at Semicon West; the semiconductor trade show that occurred last week.

Semicon West was, as has been commonly acknowledged by everyone in the media-sphere, much quieter this year then in those glory days of not too long ago, and by the way I'm talking about the Chip segment here not the jam packed Solar/PV exhibit.

Initially it was very sad to see how far the mighty had fallen; looking out across the vista of booths whilst coming down the escalator into the South hall the usual "fight for height" that had become the norm for decades with ever larger and more grandiose corporate logo's spinning, glowing or moving in a strange manner in order to gain attention in a crowded hall was very much muted.

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Year One: The Lessons Of The Intel Insider Media Advisory Program


[Today marks the first anniversary of the Intel Insider program, which brought together leaders in new/social media. I am a founding member of Intel Insiders. Ken Kaplan, is one of the key proponents of the Intel Insider program. Intel is a former sponsor of SVW.]

By Ken Kaplan - Intel

Two steps forward and a half step back to see if we're going in the right direction and bringing forward things that can help us leap into tomorrow. That's how we're celebrating the June 24 anniversary of our Intel Insiders social media adviser program.

IntelInsiders1.jpg Last year, my Global Communications teammates agreed that we'd benefit from fresh advice from people who are doing great things in the quickly advancing area of social media. We wanted to get more involved with the inspiration, talent and know-how we saw driving people to communicate and share experiences and knowledge online.

So we pulled together some long time acquaintances, invited a few new friends we admired and created the Intel Insiders.

Our goals remained steadfast, but 12 months of relationship building, meetups and feedback gathering has changed the way we think, act and plan our communications and events. Across my Global Communications team, each public relations manager has moved more time, resources and ambition toward communicating addition to their work with traditional print, TV and radio.

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A Message To VC's LPs: We're Just At The Beginning Of The Tech Build-Out . . .

[Guest post from Georges van Hoegaerden, an accomplished entrepreneur, CEO and venture catalyst "turned conservationist of the technology asset class." His articles also appear at Here are extracts from a longer essay: How LPs should deal with VC. ]

By Georges van Hoegaerden

Georges van HoegaerdenThe technology sector which is my passion for the last 30-years is at the beginning, not the end of its emergence. Perhaps the top-level indicator of the innovative runway we have ahead of us is the following: more than 5/6 of the world's population does not yet use a computer connected to high-speed/broadband internet today. And all should and will, given the right technology.

That's where technology innovation comes in; not just in connecting people to the internet but in deploying innovation that uses the internet as a distribution mechanism. The way we use the internet today is rudimentary, and many new technology stacks will emerge to improve its impact on everyday citizens.

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Chip News Roundup - Things Are Looking Up

[Matt Grimshaw offers a weekly roundup of news affecting the largest US tech industry.]

By Matt Grimshaw, Editorial Director, Future-Fab International

SIA & WSTS figures, TSMC hires, Fab spending to double, acquisitions and the Green Memory Movement…

As we all consign another week of 2009 to the rather flippant memory of history I’m struck by just how much has changed in the chip business in a scant 6 months or so.

Just half a year ago the world was collectively swallowing hard, gritting its teeth and taking hard blows to the solar-plexus on an almost daily basis. News was just too damned depressing to watch.

It was like those times when you’re in a low mood anyway and a commercial comes on the TV for an abandoned kitten shelter or something equally fluffy in that vein. Suddenly taking a swan dive off the Golden Gate Bridge no longer seems like an act of desperation but rather an appealing alternative lifestyle choice.

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7 Great Reasons Not To Take VC Money

[Guest column by Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow Technologies and a serial entrepreneur.]

By Greg Gianforte

Raising venture capital for early stage start-ups seems to be the prevailing path for most entrepreneurs; however, most would-be founders should reconsider.

Here are some reasons why:

- If you start by selling your concept to potential prospects (rather than stock to VCs), you will either end up with initial customers or a conviction that your idea won't work. Why raise money and then find out which one it will be?

- Raising money takes time away from understanding your market and potential customers. Often more time than it would take to just go sell something to a customer. Let your customers fund your business through product orders.

- Adding VCs to the mix early gives you an additional set of masters you must serve in addition to your customers. It is always hard to serve two masters, especially in a startup.

- With no money you can't make a fatal mistake. This is a blessing. Without VC money, you are forced to figure out how to extract funds from your customers for value you deliver. Ultimately that is the only thing that really matters.

- Money removes spending discipline. If you have the money you will spend it - whether you have figured out your business model and market or not.

-Raising VC money determines your exit strategy. You will either sell the business or take it public. What if you end up with a very profitable, modest sized business that you want to just run? That is no longer an option once you raise VC money.

- You sell your precious equity very dearly before you have a proven business model. This is the worst time to raise money from a valuation perspective. I know this is a contrarian view. And some of you are saying that might be fine for a small company.

Don't forget Dell, HP, Microsoft all originally started without VC funding; you can build a big business with bootstrapping and without VC money. At RightNow, we doubled our revenue and employees every 90 days for two years before we took any outside money, and even then the employees retained more than 75% ownership after raising $32m.

- - -

[I see a lot of companies that are seeking VC money, or have VC money but need more, as if that would make their business viable. VC money isn't always smart money and it isn't always the smartest thing to do. I republish Greg's column at least once a year because it contains lots of common sense.]

Greg Gianforte is the author of: Eight to Great: Eight Steps to Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience

His previous book is: "Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company With Almost No Money."

If you would like to contribute a quest column please let me know: Tom(at)

Notes From Interop: Attendees, Wrestling Rings and Cloud Computing

[Guest post from Las Vegas and the Interop show by Jo Large and Laura Gonzalez]

One look around at the lunch tables at the conference did reinforce that the mood was very subdued at Interop, even compared with the recent RSA conference in San Francisco. In a conversation with one attendee, he remarked that the mood of Interop was "gloomy" compared with the previous 14 Interop conferences he had attended.

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Plan To Fix VC Industry Promotes Role Of VC Over Entrepreneur

[Guest post from Georges van Hoegaerden, an accomplished entrepreneur, CEO and venture catalyst "turned conservationist of the technology asset class." His articles appear at]

The auto company's plan to fixing VC

By Georges van Hoegaerden

georgesvanhoegaerden.jpgThe National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) has released its recovery plan (4-pillar plan) to fix Venture Capital that is eerily similar to that of the auto companies. It focuses on the prolongation of (their) life rather than on the quality of its product; the ability to spawn meaningful innovation.

Now I am sure Dixon Doll, from his perch atop a $1.6B Venture firm, means well but his purview is severely limited by his role as chairman as one of the most closely held investment clubs in the nation. Its members, ninety-something percent of the U.S. VCs are simply not incented to present all options for improvement, and certainly not one that would include self-cannibalization.

Nothing in this plan covers the stimulus and meritocracy required to spawn and monetize disruptive innovation. The plan mentions entrepreneurs, as the real value creator in this equation - in passing - only once (slide 11) amongst its thirty slides. The plan seems to forget that the entrepreneur is the real value creator, not the VC.

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XBRL Technology Could Rebuild Public Trust In Corporations

[Earlier today I met with Diane Mueller who has spent nearly ten years helping to develop the extensible business reporting language (XBRL) standard for financial reporting, which the SEC mandates that public companies must use from June 2009. XBRL is a markup language that tags financial information making it easy to search and analyze. She believes XBRL will democratize financial markets enabling anyone to access verified financial data and perform their own analysis. I will write up the interview later this week, in the meantime, here is a recent column by Ms Mueller on this topic. She writes at Just XBRL - "A Blog about unlocking XBRL's potential."]


Rebuilding Public Trust: The Case for Compliant Financial Data

By Diane Mueller

In the aftermath of banking failures, subprime mortgages, and bailouts across multiple industry sectors, it is a good time to examine the strategies it will take to rebuild public trust in our government and in the world's financial markets. I believe the answer depends both on what we can do and how we do it.

With all the financial information that corporations were obligated to report because of existing government regulations, how could we not have foreseen this financial disaster? Did we misread the data? Was the information in the reports incorrect? Is there more that should have been required to report? What was missing were regulations that properly addressed how the information was to be reported. Being specific on the "how" may very well have provided the warnings of the impending disaster rather than finding out how bad it was in the midst of it.

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The Future Of PR When Every Company Is Now A Media Company...

[On my recent trip to Portland I caught up with Kathleen Mazzocco from Clear PR. I mentioned one of my old posts (April, 2006) that every company is a media company. Every company has to learn how to publish using the new (two-way) media technologies, to reach their customers, their employees, partners, local communities, etc. And one role of PR is to help companies become media companies and help them tell their stories. Here is more on this theme.]

By Kathleen Mazzocco, Clear PR

I wanted to continue the conversation we'd started regarding the future of PR. It may seem passe at this point to talk about the need for companies to give up the old PR model and innovate on communications. But the reality is that many, perhaps the majority, of companies still want PR budgets focused to land them big stories in leading print publications. But this is a short term game that doesn't even yield the same results as it once did.

Let me continue by recreating a conversation I've had lately with clients:

"It's time. No more quibbling, no more dawdling. In this age of crumbling paradigms, it is time for you to think about how to become a media company.

Here's why: your favorite print media brands are under siege and quite a few will succumb. We have reached the proverbial tipping point in terms of Internet over print as a source of news. For the first time in a Pew Research survey, more people say they rely mostly on the Internet for news than cite newspapers (35%).

The latest recession has merely accelerated a trend that was already well underway and cannot be reversed even after the economy bounces back. Think of the changes this way: your college age children will never read a print newspaper or magazine. The fact is, information consumption habits have permanently changed: news is consumed in small bites 24/7 from a variety of sites and not always as text.   

Instead of media brands, it is now brand-agnostic Google that mediates access to information.

Media guru Michael Wolf recently stated that 80% of newspapers will disappear in 18 months. That is one (expert) opinion, but you don't have to be a seer to know that most newspapers won't survive, at least in their present print form, and that many magazines will disappear, shrink or decline in relevance as audiences shift, fragment. The pressure on editors and reporters to remain relevant, competitive and simply hold on to their jobs is intensifying. The news hole is very small, with simply less paper available for stories and fewer, more overworked reporters left to write them. (There is a certain tech reporter who, after recent layoffs at his paper, was assigned a second beat: dining. Is that demoralizing or what.) If your story does make it to the New York Times or Business Week, chances are it will be shorter than you think it deserves to be, or not even in print but in one of the newspaper's blogs.

It is becoming very difficult for traditional PR to predict which stories will get picked up in print, even among very good ones. As a way of illustrating the current situation, here's what I heard from two different reporters when I pitched what I knew to be great stories last week:

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Why 'Right Now' Is A Big Thing - 5 Types Of Users Who Care

[This is a guest post by Todd Hogan founder of Surchur, which specializes in real-time search. Please see If you'd like to offer a guest post please contact tom(at)]

- - -

By Todd Hogan

surchur_logo.gifThis past week you've seen the mighty Google show its interest in the upstart Twitter. Now, whether those discussions really were as serious as many at first believed, the takeaway is the same: what is happening "right now" is becoming increasingly important to many internet users. One important trend growing from this is the need to search through all of the "right now" content that is being generated every moment and make it accessible. Our team at is one group trying to make that happen.

But who cares about what's happening "right now?" Here are 5 profiles of users that are very interested in real time search:

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7 Reasons Startups Should Not Take VC Funding - Advice from a Serial Entrepreneur

This is a guest column written for Silicon Valley Watcher by Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow Technologies and a serial entrepreneur:

Raising venture capital for early stage start-ups seems to be the prevailing path for most entrepreneurs; however, most would-be founders should reconsider.

Here are some reasons why:

-If you start by selling your concept to potential prospects (rather than stock to VCs), you will either end up with initial customers or a conviction that your idea won't work. Why raise money and then find out which one it will be?

-Raising money takes time away from understanding your market and potential customers. Often more time than it would take to just go sell something to a customer. Let your customers fund your business through product orders.

-Adding VCs to the mix early gives you an additional set of masters you must serve in addition to your customers. It is always hard to serve two masters, especially in a startup.

-With no money you can't make a fatal mistake. This is a blessing. Without VC money, you are forced to figure out how to extract funds from your customers for value you deliver. Ultimately that is the only thing that really matters.

-Money removes spending discipline. If you have the money you will spend it - whether you have figured out your business model and market or not. -Raising VC money determines your exit strategy. You will either sell the business or take it public. What if you end up with a very profitable, modest sized business that you want to just run? That is no longer an option once you raise VC money.

-You sell your precious equity very dearly before you have a proven business model. This is the worst time to raise money from a valuation perspective. I know this is a contrarian view. And some of you are saying that might be fine for a small company.

Don't forget Dell, HP, Microsoft all originally started without VC funding; you can build a big business with bootstrapping and without VC money. At RightNow, we doubled our revenue and employees every 90 days for two years before we took any outside money, and even then the employees retained more than 75% ownership after raising $32m.

- - -

Foremski's Take:

I see a lot of companies that are seeking VC money, or have VC money but need more, as if that would make their business viable. VC money isn't always smart money and it isn't always the smartest thing to do. Greg's column needs to be republished from time to time because it remains relevant.

Greg Gianforte is the author of a new book:Eight to Great: Eight Steps to Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience

His previous book is: "Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company With Almost No Money."

If you would like to contribute a quest column please let me know: tom(at)

Guest Column: Who shouldn't blog in the PR industry?

By Daniel Bernstein for Silicon Valley Watcher

Richard Edelman totally spoiled ‘Fun with Dick and Jane’ for me.

Edelman, well-respected president and CEO of Edelman PR Worldwide, wrote a blog post this last Monday recommending a few ways our industry can work towards improving how we’re portrayed in film and television. He references Jim Carrey’s latest, Fun with Dick and Jane, in which the comic portrays an underdog communications executive that eventually outsmarts everyone and becomes an unlikely hero to the defenseless everyman. I haven’t seen it.

Edelman asks, “How can we build on this new Hollywood persona, the action-hero PR person? Or better yet, how can we offset the negative images of the mealy-mouthed apologist in the Constant Gardner or the cynical opportunist in Thank You for Smoking?”

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Travellin Loco Luco on artz and kultur events....

Bling, bling..... bling, bling, bling... BAM! Back on the
radar and back in the swing of things here at SVW. Time for
your Friday wrapper from Loco Luco.

Winter has been VERY kind to me: spent New Year's Eve on stage in SF,
singing in front of 7,000 withThe String
Cheese Incident;
rocked an intimate, holiday show with Miss Sarah King
in Portland, OR; and sang silly love songs at the Corazon de Amor" Valentine's day event.
All the music has left me a wee bit
behind on the tech front and I'm only now catching up with the latest
and greatest in recent, new media developments(although it always seems
to be a revolving door!).

Ok, so, back on the scene... and 'bling, bling'... I'm addicted
again. Wearing my pho-chanell, pho-diamond studded
glasses(like, major bling, bling, yo!) passing through Vegas airport
this week, I was wishing I could pull up the network on the interior
lenses and kick it 'round the metaverse. I even pretended it
was happening, tapping my fingers against my thumbs, as if I had the
perfect user interface to sort data while I stood in line to board the
plane. yea, I read too much sci-fi.

But here's one step
in the right direction of interface design. Indeed, I'm tired
of sitting... and I've wondered if someday I'll be able to interact
with the machines while going through the primary series of Ashtanga...
or playing basketball.

Ok, but enough about me and my super future, fantasies.
Here's a list of some hot things happenin this weekend round the bay,
through the metaverse, and beyond:

Gogol Bordello in SF this weekend: Ok, so you probably can't get tickets to the show at this late notice(you should still try) but at least you'll know for next time. This incredible gypsy-punk-performance rock act will blow your mind!  By far, the best show EVERYONE I know has EVER experienced.

Then, if you're travelin through Chicago(as I am), check out Andy
Warhol at the MCA
'nough said.

Traveling round the country this week, you may have noticed a
swarm of hipsters stealin up all the bar stools at your favorite
airport bars. Indeed, some of them are headed to spring
break, but the other, more mature, variety(the ones that don't have
"nice ass" stenciled on their pants) are surely headed to Miami for the
music fest. Get an ear full, if you're near, at theWinter Music
in Miami, Fl. 

And, on the home entertainment front... if you've had enough of main
stream, commercial-flix, check out some under-appreciated, indie flicks
 I recently watched the CRAZIESTflick
'bout 'noodlin(the
age old sport of catchin' catfish wit yo bare hands)!  Nah,
you won't find that on netflix...

And, finally, a bit of eye candy from my latest obsession: street art.
  Check out the Wooster
orWe make money
not art
for some killer street art and underground beauty.
Or, if you're in the Bay Area, see Logan Hicks' and Adam5100's new show, "Layered," at the Urbis
Artium Gallery
on Geary Street.

See ya on the flip, Luco

Guest column: The lack of transparency among leading PR bloggers is a problem

By Daniel Bernstein

Transparent-PR.jpgIndividuals are blogging in every profession, but one profession where citizen journalism seems to have caught on like warm cookies is Public Relations.

Maybe the popularity of the PR blogger isn’t that surprising to most people. For many of us, leaping to bloggerdom is a rather small leap because of the skills we share with journalists, like writing ability, basic smarts, wit, etc. I mean, scores of individual PR professionals blog regularly, most notably Edelman’s Steve Rubel, but there are many others, from fellow PR neophyte Blake Barbera of Horn Group to industry luminaries like Next Fifteen’s Tim Dyson and Richard Edelman. It also shouldn’t be surprising then that we, like many journalists, could become big-time influencers, especially given the profile and reputation of Dyson, Rubel, Edelman and the like.

I’ve been taught from a very young age to be skeptical of those influencing me...

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Geust Column:What IKEA, Google and the government have in common,

. . .and ten predictions for 2006-the year of "Do it Yourself."
by Giovanni Rodriguez, Eastwick Communications

You can learn a great deal about a culture's greatest anxieties – i.e., the stuff that inspires all great product development and marketing – by examining its greatest fantasies and asking, "what's the opposite of that?"

Fortunately, you don't have to go far beyond your TV set to gather all the data you need for this exercise. The evolution of the modern-day reality show – a window into American fantasy life – reveals just how much we have changed over the past half century, and where our priorities lie today.

Consider: in 1955, a faux reality show called “The Millionaire” had the nifty plot device where each week the producers would surprise a lucky family with a check for $1 million. The opposite of that was the dominant fear of the 1950's working class...

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[Guest Column] PR Perspectives: Blogging--Look, think before you leap

[Here is a guest column/blog post)

By G.A. “Andy” Marken President Marken Communications Inc.

Take a look at the raw numbers and blogs are impressive. Imagine being able to reach, inform and influence millions of people around the globe. It looks like the ultimate in 1:1 corporate and marketing communications opportunity. A public tool tailor made for your organization.

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Huge egos and lies: The software industry’s dirty secrets from Story of Informix author Steve Martin

By Steve W. Martin, author of The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White: Lessons in Business and Leadership for the Executive Team (

Q. What do Microsoft, Oracle, Computer Associates, Veritas, Sybase, Symantec, I2, Red Hat, Macromedia, Microstrategy, BMC, and Informix Software all have in common?

A. They have all made financial restatements because of accounting irregularities that skewed previously released financial results.

According to a recent report from the Huron Consulting Group there were 203 financial restatements in the software industry between 2000 and 2004.

Approximately half of these restatements were made because of revenue recognition issues. As is usually the case, almost all of these revenue restatements were lower than the originally reported numbers.

Revenue restatements are more than just accounting reversals. Their impact affects a company in every possible way. Customers are hesitant to purchase products, investors watch stock prices free-fall, employee morale is ruined (along with the value of employees’ stock options), and flurries of class-action lawsuits are filed by lawyers eager to capitalize on misfortune.

It’s a devastating experience that almost always results in a management change and sometimes in bankruptcy. As I2’s CEO and chairman said about their company’s restatement, “Surely, the audit was no fun for us or our customers, and our customers were asked a lot of questions internally by their own people.”

If these restatements are “no fun,” then why are they commonplace today?

John Coffee Jr., professor of law at Columbia University, offers the following reasons: “First, there is intensifying or weakening of a particular company’s stock, which usually occurs during a stock market bubble. Second, there is an overall decline in business morality and in the words of Federal Reserve Chairman an atmosphere of ‘infectious greed.’ Third, the company has a weak board of directors who are not independent from senior management.

Finally and most importantly, it’s gatekeeper failure--the failure of the auditors, securities analysts, and securities attorneys, who prepare, review or analyze disclosure documents.”

While Professor Coffee would rightly argue these restatements are the result of greed, cronyism among the board of directors, and a gatekeeper that wasn’t independent, I would like to suggest four additional reasons for revenue restatements that are specific to the software industry.

Pride. The high-tech industry is filled with leaders who have a fundamental desire to become rich and, equally important, famous. Since one of their most important possessions is their pride, they will go to any length to prove they are right and to avoid embarrassment, even if they have to cheat.

I would argue that the CEOs’ desire to protect their egos is just as powerful a motivator as greed.

Pressure. The pressure starts at the local sales office, where proving oneself is a matter of survival. Pressure is exerted on the finance department to keep the numbers up. Pressure is on the gatekeeper to keep the client happy, and an incredible amount of pressure is placed on the CEO from investors, analysts, and the press alike. Pressure at all these points encourages revenue fraud.

Politics. When the management regime changes at a troubled technology company, it is in the best interest of the new leaders to restate earnings and make the largest restatement possible. By doing so, they reset expectations extremely low and improve their likelihood of turnaround success.

In other words, they debook as much revenue as possible, regardless of necessity, so that it can be recounted later and improve the financial numbers under their watch.

Past history. History naturally repeats itself. The Huron Consulting Group report also revealed that fifteen percent of all restatements filed in 2004 were by "repeat filers." These companies had encountered financial trouble in the past and reported erroneous financial information on more than one occasion since 1997.

The difference between greatness and infamy has never been smaller for today’s business leaders. Under the business climate of Sarbanes-Oxley, officers risk losing not only their careers but also their freedom, every time they sign off on their company’s numbers.

However, the real story behind the software industry’s restatements is about the humanness of its leaders and a value system based upon net-worth instead of self-worth. And unfortunately, there most assuredly will be more revenue restatements in the future because history has a way of repeating itself.

In the words of Machiavelli, “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.”

By Steve W. Martin, author of The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White: Lessons in Business and Leadership for the Executive Team

Software lemmings head for the platform cliff--a provocative post from Greg Gianforte

A guest column by Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow Technologies

Lemming.jpgHow would you feel if your mechanic handed you a 125-piece wrench set rather than actually fixing your car? What if another mechanic then walked up to you with his tools and started arguing with the first guy about whose tools were better? You sure wouldn't feel like either of them was going to help you with your problem, would you?

Yet that's exactly what software vendors are doing today as they engage in platform wars – to the detriment of their customers and the industry.

-Oracle announces its Fusion platform, revealing a grand architectural chart that shows how they will exercise total control over their customers' computing environments. unveils a platform dubbed "AppExchange" that enables customers to engage with unstable, third-rate software vendors more rapidly and conveniently than ever.

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Technology and transcendence: a report from the recent Mind States VI conference

By Luke Maroney and Dawn Montefusco for SiliconValleyWatcher

mindstates conference poster medium.jpegWhile VCs were sailing their boats and enjoying the sunshine of Memorial Day weekend, 500-plus psychedelic geeks and silicon hippies gathered at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco for the 6th annual Mind States conference. Now that the buzz has worn off, it’s time to give a rundown of what happened at this unique event, subtitled Technology and Transcendence.

The West Coast conscious heard the latest developments in everything from techno-biological enhancement to current psychedelic research, herbiculture and visionary art. The most interesting thing, however, wasn’t the chill room or the mescaline-packed San Pedro Cacti but the substance of the sessions.

Marc Pesce, the writer, educator, and technological guru, gave a presentation called "Hyperpeople," in which he described a world interconnected by social technology where "we no longer need to rely on mass media to get our information."

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Open-source enterprise applications can be sold just as profitably as proprietary software

A guest article by Charles Oppenheimer, CEO, Recursive Technology, for SiliconValleyWatcher

Larry Augustin of Medsphere, the open-source electronic health records company, gave a talk last week at the SDForum SIG on open source. It was a great talk, especially for the unfortunate few of us whose entire creative energy revolves around enterprise software. There was lots of audience interaction, and we barely got out of there by 9pm. The thesis of Larry's argument is that open source based companies can operate with profit margins similar to those at typical enterprise software companies that rely on license revenue. And the time is right for open source products at the application layer, which is significant because applications are why customers invest in the whole technology stack in the first place.

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Guestblog: Louise Kehoe recalls Steve Jobs' rock star comeback to Apple

by Louise Kehoe for

1997 MacWorld was a memorable event, in many ways. I was sitting in the front row wedged between Muhammad Ali and Ellen Hancock (Muhammad is a large man, the seats were small). This was Gil Amelio’s last MacWorld appearance. He talked for nearly 3 hours. I don’t remember much of what he said, only that Ellen was suffering on his behalf, I was suffering on her behalf and we were all suffering for lack of seating space. Then Steve Jobs walked on stage. He spoke briefly, to wild applause, in sharp contrast to the reaction that Gil received. We all knew then that Gil was on the way out.

Louise Kehoe chatting with Steve Jobs: So what have you been up to, Steve?

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Guest Blog: Some thoughts on event-driven enterprise syndication

by Michael Terner, CEO of KnowNow Inc

The Internet revolutionized the way businesses operate. Now RSS is about to completely change the way employees, partners and customers communicate. RSS will, for the first time, truly enable the information you need, and only the information you need, to find you. Whether employees need the most up-to-date corporate financial data, manufacturing and inventory statistics, FCC filings, breaking industry news or any other time-sensitive information, “event-driven” RSS is taking over where other communication mediums fall short.

“Events” are anything that produces a change in the business state, such as a drop in the available inventory of widgets. For instance, as soon as the number of widgets drops below a certain level, event-driven alerts are syndicated via RSS to subscribers of that information—without having to poll for it—so they can take immediate corrective action. Event-driven syndication eliminates latency, reduces errors, ensures regulatory compliance and fits nicely into existing business processes. This sort of notification used to be handled by e-mail, but that channel is now completely overburdened, having been either drowned in spam or ignored until it’s too late. Event-driven RSS provides a solution to this problem. With event-driven RSS, stakeholders in an organization’s overall success move from searching for information to watching it.

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Guest Blog: Symantec/Veritas deal could provide McAfee with an opportunity to regain lost markets

Mark Coker represented Symantec competitor McAfee for about four years from June 1993 to July 97. He says there are some lessons Symantec could learn from McAfee's attempts to grow by acquisition-Tom Foremski

by Mark Coker, President, Dovetail Public Relations for

Symantec's acquisition of Veritas risks paralleling a similar strategy pursued by McAfee Associates in the mid '90s that ultimately failed. In early '94, company management believed their annual antivirus revenues, which were then at around $15 million, would peak soon around $20-$30 million (yes, really), so they decided to use their cash hoard and strong cash flow to diversify their product line by creating an integrated suite of network security and management tools. As inspiration, they looked to Microsoft, who had obliterated its desktop productivity app competitors in the early '90s by coming out with Microsoft Office, an integrated suite.

logo_redOnWhite_170x75.gifMcAfee made numerous acquisitions over the next few years, leveraging their high flying stock as currency. Acquisitions included network management, additional network security (encryption, firewalls, etc.), systems management, help desk and storage management products, and made an unsuccessful bid to acquire Cheyenne Software. (Cheyenne was then one of the three storage management leaders along with Veritas and Legato. Although the attempted Cheyenne acquisition failed to happen, the industry took McAfee seriously from then on). McAfee ultimately acquired Network General, the Sniffer company, and renamed the combined entity Network Associates. Most of the acquisitions languished or imploded, while anti-virus became the little-engine-that-could and exploded beyond anyone's expectations.

More recently, the company sold off or closed its distracting diversions, returned to its security roots, and changed its name back to McAfee.

Why did McAfee's strategy fail?

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Guest Blog/Letter to the Editor: Good Karma and Catch-22s in Tech PR...

Mark Coker, President of Dovetail Public Relations, tells readers...

...I'd like to share a personal story about my agency that describes a dilemma I think many good tech PR agencies face...
Today, Cisco announced that they're acquiring our security client, Protego Networks. Last Thursday, Microsoft announced that they're acquiring our anti-spyware client, Giant Company Software.

We signed on Giant in September. They chose us because they liked the work we did for our long-time client PestPatrol, the anti-spyware pioneer, which was acquired in August by Computer Associates. Giant correctly assumed that CA would dump PestPatrol's agency, so they could scoop up our agency's expertise and contacts to raise visibility for their own firm in what has become a very crowded market.

So all this has me thinking about a catch-22 curse that many tech agencies face: As PR practioners, our work directly (and often significantly) impacts a client's visibility, awareness, perceptions and revenues, thereby often increasing the value of their business. Unfortunately, we sometimes become the captains of our own demise when we achieve our objectives, because we can end up accelerating or enabling liquidity events for our clients. And if you're on the wrong end of the acquisition, you lose the client.

It's certainly bittersweet for us. We love to make great things happen for our clients. But we also want to keep them long term. My personal view is that this business isn't really about the companies we represent, it's about people we represent. If we serve our people well, the good karma will return with more new business down the line as these people circulate back into the tech ecosystem.


Although we've had two security clients taken out in the last week,
we're on track to replace the business fairly quickly. We're fielding three new business inquiries, two of which are security companies and all of which derive from previous clients going back as far as 10 years ago. Patience pays off in the karma PR game.


Dovetail Public Relations