Monthly Archives: July 2006

Flickr, Upcoming & Katrina

I have been filling in on the Weblogs Work blog as Jake gets settled in.  I will fill you in with an overview of my posts:

Jake McKee joined the team this week and you can look forward to his voice on the blog in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, I am pulling double duty.

The how and the why. . .

Looking for some light summer reading?  If you are looking for a great read on WHY the Internet is changing business check out Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail.”  If you want to know HOW you can do something about it check out Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s “Naked Conversations” – THE definative business blogging book.  Oh and if you are in your 20s or 30s buy a copy of each to give to your parents.  They will thank you.

Much ado about nothing: The Long Tail Debate

The long tail, colored by yellow.Chris Anderson’s blog post, magazine article, turned book, “The Long Tail, Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More” is causing quite a stir in the traditional media world.  If you are not familiar with the Long Tail concept try the book or the Wikipedia entry (tail in yellow).
First Lee Gomes from the Wall Street Journal takes Chris to task in his article titled, “It May Be a Long Time Before the Long Tail is Wagging the Web.”  Chris responded and Lee responded and it has turned into a fairly interesting debate.  I won’t rewrite the debate as Nick Carr did a great job in a series of posts you can find here.

At the end of the day I think both sides of the debate agree that there is significant profit to be made in the long tail and that it is easier for most of us to play in the tail than in the head.  Whether sales in the tail will outstrip sales in the head – does it matter?  I really don’t think so.  Chris has a great read on what is going on and so does Lee.  I recommend the book for everyone except Britney Spears (she is so firmly fixed in the head she need not be concerned abou the tail).

The right response to 1402?

I can’t help but comment yet again on the war between Israel and the Hezbullah.  The world is outraged that Israel continues to respond to the attacks by the Hezbullah.  World leaders claim that Israel is overreacting.  I am floored by these statements.

How many rockets would the Hebullah need to fire at Washington DC before we were compelled to hunt down the people responsible?  One?  Two?  Ten?  One hundred?  One thousand?  I dare say if anyone dared fire a single missle at a U.S. city they would feel the full force of our military.  I suspect this is true of any western power (UK, Germany, France, Spain and so on).

Over 1,402 rockets have been fired at Israel since the first three Israeli soldiers were killed (perhaps even more that failed to hit Israel).  Let that sink in.  FOURTEEN HUNDRED AND TWO rockets have been fired at Israel this month.  Over 1,262 Israeli’s have been wounded.  What would you expect the U.S. to do if the Hezbullah fired ten rockets into New York City?  I think you would agree we should figure out how to disarm these people… right?


BarCamp Texas – August 26th (Austin)

What is BarCampTexas? Well, the organizers of BarCampAustin, BarCampDallas, and BarCampHouston have decided to join forces and create BarCampTexas! The goal is to get over 1000 campers to join together August 26th-28th. BarCampTexas will be held in conjunction with BarCampEarth, Saturday August 26th to Monday 28th.

Where?  Austin, Texas (location TBD any minute)
What? Proposed Sessions Include:

  • Agile Development experience reports – what has worked in your organization? What hasn’t?
  • Scalability. This could be either general routes to engineering for scale, or technology/platform/software stack-specific post mortems (e.g. I know how to do this with LAMP, but I’m curious how RoR would change the picture, or J2EE, or…). What happens when your site’s url is in the screen crawl on CNN Headline news?
  • Designing for Mobile/Portable Devices
  • Workshop on Audacity
  • Deploying a Commercial Web Application/Product: War Stories
  • Tips for Building Community & Attracting User Contributions
  • Ad Management Tools: Options other than Google?
  • Calendaring (Caldev, hcalendar, tool comparisons, Outlook exports)
  • Microformats: Commercial Uses
  • Server Virtualization: Xen, UML, OpenVZ, VMWare, etc. Tricks, tips, experiences, battle scars, etc.? Hypervisor technology migrating into the common whitebox server space from the mainframe world is (imho) one of the most exciting things to happen in the systems management world in a while. (I don’t have the material/experience to comment much on this one but I’d be fascinated to hear what others have to say.)
  • Why XSLT is sweet for Ajax Widgets
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Setting Your Mac Up–soup-to-nuts from the basics to Darwin Ports, subversion, and leveraging the unix underneath with the sweet, sweet Aqua goodness.
  • Moving your life or business from desktop apps to webapps. Where do you keep your data, and who can you trust? Also, AJAXy web clients vs. “Thick” desktop clients for web based apps/services.

How much is enough: Calling in Rich

Each year I get together with a group of business people (i.e. friends) that I met in YEO in the late 90’s for a retreat (typically in Vegas).  Over the years we have talked about how much is enough.  I was reminded of these conversations when I read Fred Wilson’s post on “Calling in Rich.”   How much is enough and calling in rich are really two different concepts, but both are interesting.  Fred’s point, and it is a good one, is that truly calling in rich, i.e. leaving with little or no notice, is a very bad idea.  My question is how much is enough to call in rich?
In 1999 many of us felt as thought our “enough” number would be north of $50MM.  By 2003 most of us would take $10MM.  It is now 2006 and many members of the group have hit the $10MM mark, but none of them have “called in rich.” It seems as our resources have grown so to have the number of projects we are each involved with.  I don’t know anyone who is calling in rich at the $10MM number.  From my perspective the money just isn’t that enjoyable – the business is what I enjoy doing.

Fred’s perspective is that of a venture capitalist where the guy “calling in rich” likely works for someone – the board or the VC’s handpicked CEO.  I can imagine sitting on $10MM in liquidity from a company I previous ran, getting fed up with the new direction of the business and “calling in rich.”  I certainly would not be retiring, but getting ready to start something new.  Notice is good, but giving 12-18 months as Fred suggests seems excessive to me.  How about 90 days?

My suggestion to VC’s who don’t want liquid founders to call in rich?  Make sure they are happy, doing what they enjoy and getting paid well.  If your rich “employees” are miserable expect the “Hey, I just realized that I am rich, so I won’t be in anymore” call.  As opposed to the:

“Hey boss, I am up to my elbows in water here, I won’t be in today.”

Cocktail Napkin to Startup (DIY Part Eleven)

Spur News Post in the Texas Startup Blog!

This is part eleven of a series of posts describing how we are taking an idea from a cocktail napkin and putting into the real world. Start now, or read along from the start with: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, part eight, part nine and part ten.

The hResume WordPress plugin is finally complete (in beta). What is it? It is a simple way to present your resume on your WordPress weblog. The resume data is marked-up using the hResume Microformat so that machines can read it. Download the plugin here. Learn more about hResume here. This completes phase one of the project. Let us know if you download it and get it installed.

Phase two includes the modification of our QwikPing server to accept hResume pings from the plugin (i.e. so that we know when you create or update your resume). Phase three includes the creation of a resume listing site (i.e. you can’t post a job or a resume there – only resumes marked-up using hResume will be listed). We will keep you posted!

Future of code? (hint, it is red)

Tim Bray has a great post on his admiration of the Ruby language and the Rails community in general titled, “On Ruby.”  If you are building web applications and you are not considering using Ruby on Rails you should ask yourself why.  Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Beautiful Code - Ruby on Rails is simple to read.  Anyone can pick up anyone else’s code and understand it immediately.  Try that with most other languages.  This is great for distributed or offshore talent working together or in series.
  • Vibrant Community – The Rails community is simply one of the most passionate I have ever seen.  The tools being released are amazing and of course free.

Our coders (either in house or third party) are able to turn my wireframes into real working applications in very little time.  Get with the program and consider using Rails on your next application.  My hats off to the 37 Signals guys for starting the fire – it is “red” hot!

Web 2.0 Positioning

Just as we dropped Web 2.0 from our vocabulary Aman Batheja decided to write an article on Web 2.0 companies in North Texas. He interviews Southlake’s hottest Web 2.0 company: Blinksale (Josh Williams’ startup), as well as Charlie Wood from Spanning Partners (not sure what they do yet – I will investigate), Miles Sims from (we need to do a profile) and of course the office-less Jambo guys Charles and Jim.

None of our babies (Big in Japan, SimpleTicket or Architel) got mentioned, but that might be due to the fact that we dropped Web 2.0 from our marketing messages in May when O’Reilly claimed ownership of it. Talk about bad timing.

SiSTer Technologies Profile

Company Name:  SiSTeR Technologies
Founded:  2002
Founder:  Israel Alpert, CEO
About the company:  SiSTeR Technologies, Inc. is a provider of applications and hosted services for the automated creation and management of multimedia marketing content for online retail and mobile environments. Pic2Vid™, the company’s flagship product, is a low-cost, web-based solution that automatically generates streaming video content with voiceovers from digital photos and text, enabling Internet retailers to dramatically increase conversion rates by enhancing each product and listing with dynamic, attention-grabbing video clips. SiSTeR markets Pic2Vid directly to retailers as well as through selected resellers and strategic channel partners.  The VideoCarLot is a customized version of Pic2Vid™ marketed towards automotive dealerships. The solution combines the video generating technology of Pic2Vid™ with a specially designed viewer (The Zoomer) built for online shopping. The Zoomer floats on top of the inventory list and creates the first ever “one-click-to-contact� process.

About the CEO:  In 1989, Israel established CFC, a leading system integrator and internet solutions provider.  The company was sold in 1997 to GE Capital.   After the sale, in his new role as VP of Technology at GE Capital ITS, he managed business partnerships with Microsoft, SAP, IBM and others as well as participated in many M&A deals. In 2002, Israel created SiSTeR, and began developing the technology for the unique products, which are currently patent pending.

Funding:  Privately funded with six employees; currently looking for funds.

Why Texas:  We stayed in Texas even though our investors and partners argued against it because we’re centrally located in the country making it very effortless for clients and partners to visit us and the pool of local talent makes it simple to add good quality people to our team.