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“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Archive for October, 2005

Gas price & profit outrage is not our right, it’s our obligation

Posted by direwolff on October 30, 2005

Well, I just picked up some additional news coverage which is leading me to a follow-up on my previous post on this matter.  This first Washington Post article ties back to my price gouging comments.

With respect to this next article which you can read the full article for yourself, I wanted to post the dichotomy of perception by the oil companies.  In one paragraph we read:

"Exxon chairman Lee R. Raymond said in a statement that the company "acted responsibly" in its pricing and said its fourth-quarter profits would come nowhere close to the $9.9 billion in the third quarter."

…and a little further in the article it says:

"Besides Exxon's 75 percent jump in profits, Royal Dutch Shell reported Thursday that its third-quarter net income rose 68 percent to $9 billion and Conoco Phillips on Wednesday said that its third-quarter profit rose 90 percent to $3.8 billion. ChevronTexaco is expected to report earnings Friday of $3.9 billion, a jump of 53 percent over the third quarter of 2004."

Note, that these profits are being earned in a commoditized industry.  Yikes!!!  If this is acting responsibly then our heads of industry (and their shareholders, don't forget them, they own the companies), have lost all sense of decency and integrity.  But then again, in hearing President Bush Jr. recently say that Libby was a patriot after the treasonous act he committed (which we can be pretty sure that the buck doesn't stop with him, perhaps "decency" just goes by a different face these days…I feel so out of touch).

How do we re-establish the trust that's required for all economic and social systems to operate smoothly?  I don't know the answer, but I fear that things are going to get worse before they get better.

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Posted in Public Policy | Leave a Comment »

Dimensions of the buzzzz

Posted by direwolff on October 27, 2005

So I finally decided to get serious and read through the entire transcript from the recent Sessions event at Union Square Ventures. This event was full of luminaries and multi-hit entrepreneurs, many of whom are now engaged in next generation start-ups. As I mentioned in my previous post on the subject, Mark Pincus was in good company here.

The event was held by Fred Wilson & Brad Burnham, the managing partners of this venture capital fund, and they wanted to raise the various facets of the issues that need to be addressed in considering what’s now happening the Internet space. The perspectives were diverse, interesting, and insightful, and while there’s plenty to agree with and disagree with, what resulted as the peer produced document (by virtue of all of their comments making up the transcript) was wonderful to read. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down, and it’s with that introduction that I recommend this to any one who even has a passing interest into what’s going on with this new wave of developments in this post Bubble 1.0 world we now live in.

Here’s a link to where you can get to the transcript.

Posted in Online Community | Leave a Comment »

Kite Sailing, the next frontier…

Posted by direwolff on October 23, 2005

For any of you who have kept up with some of my postings, you probably already know how ga-ga I am about kitesurfing. Well, the sport continues to evolve, in particular the use of kites as better wind propulsive instruments than traditional sails. These are also being considered as complimentary to cargo ships’ engine propulsion as the use of wind can help reduce the fuel costs.


Anyway, the picture above shows some early versions of this recently tested out on the SF Bay. You can see a medley of these pics. Cool, stuff worth checking out.

Posted in Kiteboarding Articles & Links, Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Leave a Comment »

Union Square Ventures Sessions…or “Where in the world is Tribe’s Mark Pincus?”

Posted by direwolff on October 21, 2005

So here I was minding my own business this evening reading up on some of my favorite blogs when I came across a link on Fred Wilson's blog to his Union Square Ventures wiki.  It was great reading the notes on what some really interesting and smart people had to say.  The sessions were billed in the following way:

Today we hosted the first of what we hope will be many conversations about the impact of information technology on our society, our economy and on the business of venture capital.
There was also a link to their Flickr photo album where I was amusing myself seeing several people that I know, some that I know more by reputation, and one that I only recently (two weeks ago actually) met. 

Just when I thought I'd seen it all, I flash to the next picture and sure enough Tribe's once faithful leader, Mark Pincus, appeared in the flesh.

 

It was just a few weeks ago that I was checking out his blog pics from his recent African safari, and even less than that, that I heard he was at Web 2.0.  Boy, keeping up with Mark (or Pincus sightings) could have the makings of its own blog or wiki, perhaps something analogous to the game, "Where in the world is Carmen San Diego".  

Well, it was cool to see him caught for posterity in that endearing pose that those of us who have worked closely with him have come to…fear.  Yes fear, because you know that it's during these moments that his next stroke of genius will come shining through and force a total reset of everything you believed only moments before his comment was uttered.  Keeping up with Mark is not for the light-hearted.  He definitely deserved to be included with this group of luminaries and I'm sure he was a solid contributor (and got his "air time").

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Online Community | Leave a Comment »

Barry Diller’s recent Web 2.0 appearance & the “Long Tail”

Posted by direwolff on October 19, 2005

I just received this link to an article on Barry Diller's thoughts on why quality content still has an advantage over that of the unwashed masses as in blogs and other user generated content. It's an interesting set of comments which I would agree with and you can read about it here.

On a related note however, the whole idea of making the Long Tail of content available to people also means that the amount of money being made by the entire content industry may rise or stay the same, but that average per content producer should go down. Sure some may make more and others less because new ones are more easily discovered and existing ones begin to loose some marketshare. When you consider that people will spread their attention to more properties because of accessibility and availability, that means that people will no longer focus as much of their time on the few selections that used to be available. Hence, if I only listened to Top 20 music, now with access to anything at any time, this broader selection means that I'll spend less time wanting to or listening to simply Top 20 selections. Same with movies, now I can go download productions that tailor to more niche subjects, same with books, etc. Hence, even the hits should yield lower returns since not every one's attention will be focused on this spectrum of the market alone.

Per Diller, I do agree that the top hits will continue to garner the lion's share of the attention, and per the follow-on comments I also agree that more unknowns might become discovered with so many more ways of gaining access to distribution. But none of this will help the average content provider revenue rise. Call it the socialization of the content business, where more people will get to enjoy the spoils by the reduction in the choke points of distribution.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Online Community | Leave a Comment »

Good article on the AOL situation

Posted by direwolff on October 18, 2005

The Hollywood Reporter put together a thoughtful piece on the benefits and the angles being considered by all of AOL's suitors.  It's worth reviewing to get a sense of what's happening there.

AOL offers its suitors portal to e-biz future

By Diane Mermigas
CHICAGO — The scrimmage among major media players for an equity interest in America Online and other emerging cyberspace turf wars might be perplexing at first glance, but they are simply a case of Internet-driven and traditional media companies chasing the money.

Read on here.

Posted in Online Community | Leave a Comment »

…and the AOL plot thickens :-)

Posted by direwolff on October 14, 2005

Like the past two weeks of speculation on AOL's fate hasn't created enough intrigue, today Reuters reports that the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Yahoo! has now entered the fray.  Boy, this is getting really juicy, we've got Microsoft, Google, Comcast, and now Yahoo!  The only question is, who's missing?  IAC perhaps?  Who else?  Hmmm…

Posted in Online Community | Leave a Comment »

Weblogs was sold…no, not that one, the important one…

Posted by direwolff on October 13, 2005

While many were paying attention to the acquisition of Weblogs, Inc., Jason Calcanis' mildly interesting blogging company being acquired by AOL for $25 million, another much more important company, Dave Winer's Weblogs.com, was acquired by Verisign, (Note: according to Dave Winer, the amount of acquisition suggested in this article is incorrect, but the rationale is dead on.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of RSS, Dave Winer is the one who carried the RSS torch forward after Netscape, and helped it reached the ubiquitous deployment this protocol now enjoys.  Dave's more recent endeavor in Weblogs.com is what's known as a "ping server" which is what blog sites notify when a new blog or post is created and a means of advising that they have content to be syndicated.  In addition to Weblogs.com, there's Ping-O-Matic which is run as a non-profit service by Matt Mullenweg, founder and creator of WordPress, as well as PubSub, Technorati and Feedster, who all operate their own ping servers.

Weblogs.com and Ping-O-Matic are actually "uber ping servers" in that they notify all of the other ping servers once they are notified.  From a blog developer's perspective, it's the difference between having to ping one server that tells all of the others of the ping versus having to notify each of the separate ping servers individually.

What's important to realize however, is that this part of the blogosphere infrastructure is a critical component to the ability to syndicate.  For example, I've had some involvement with a company that offered blogging capabilities but didn't ping any ping servers, and hence none of its blogs were going outside of the pages they were being created on.   Somewhat defeats the purpose of blogging and syndicating content, if the content isn't being syndicated.

However, ping servers to-date are being managed by early stage companies that are all at some level of bootstrapping, and not until this acquisition by Verisign, has a serious infrastructure company jumped into the fray, though several have circled around the bait. 

In my initial thoughts deliberating whom a service Weblogs.com would offer the greatest value to, comScore or Nielsen seemed the logical candidates because of the valuable blogosphere traffic information they could yield from such a service, an area that I find these companies slightly behind the curve on.  They're still leveraging the Web page traffic and not the RSS traffic.

Today, there's no clear business model for ping servers, other than as a means to provide a good blog search service.  Note, why Technorati, PubSub and Feedster have these.  Note also, why a research services company could also benefit from this.  However, as a standalone business, nothing yet has emerged.  It will be interesting to see how Stratton Sclavos and his team at Verisign position this service and what leverage they expect to gain from its acquisition.  From a technical perspective, this service will be a cake walk for them to operate as it appears that there are only approximately 1 to 2 million pings per day, versus 250,000 DNS calls per second that Verisign currently deals with today.

Note, Verisign has been making some very interesting moves lately, this only being one of the latest, while also coyly exiting the payments processing business with the sale of that division to eBay's Paypal.  Hmmm, what could these folks at Verisign be thinking? ;-)  Keep an eye on them, they're very smart.  I'm betting on some activity occurring in the identity space as they're also very well positioned to play a meaningful role there.

Update note: there's some more good information on this subject relating to Verisign's acquisition of Moreover, which I also missed…doh!  (Funny, I heard both ends of this news but not the whole thing put together, as someone mentioned to me that Verisign was doing another acquisition and someone else mentioned that Moreover was to be acquired by a company yet to be named.)  Read more about all of this on PaidContent here.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Technology | Leave a Comment »

“Microsoft and Yahoo to link IM services” is BIG news…and good for the consumer

Posted by direwolff on October 12, 2005

This is one of those stories that almost makes me teary eyed.  Being an old Internet fool, can make some of sentimental when seeing the Net's ideals being somewhat lived up to.  What's even more interesting about this, is that if the rumors about Microsoft and AOL tieing up hold true, this segragated IM non-sense will go the way of the horse & buggy.  It's nice to see that the spirit of the Internet (standard protocols to connect us all) alive and well, though I'm sure there's a nice profit motive that has emerged to make this timely announcement a reality.

Check out the announcement.

Posted in Technology | Leave a Comment »

New GK Kite – The Sonic – Sweet!

Posted by direwolff on October 10, 2005

So this past Saturday, I happened by 3rd Ave. in San Mateo for a little kitesurfing session, because with the end of the season nearing every day counts.  While there I ran into "Litewave Dave" (so named because he makes Litewave boards) who has been repping Globe Kites.  Usually, these kites have some neat doo-dads, but nothing that really gets me motivated to buy one.  However, I could tell in arriving there, that he was flying something new, something pretty cool looking in the sky.  He had their new kite called the Sonic, which has a similar appearance and flying style to the Cabrinha Crossbow, but with some real noticeably different characteristics. 

First off, the shape of the kite is more in line w/some of the other GK kites (see picture above).  The bridle system appears to be similar though a bit simpler all-in-all than the Crossbow.  The bar system seemed a bit more cludgy than anything I've seen, but it was simple and that's always appreciated. 

So how's it fly?…Kick Ass!!!  This Sonic picks up speed quickly but there's virtually no bar pressure.  Weird.  In that regard it reminds me of the ill-fated Best Hellfish.  It definitely takes some time to get used to (10 mins), but then the ride really rocks.  What's even cooler is its rapid relaunch.  Litewave Dave had me go away from where people were rigging to explain how easy the relaunch was.  We deliberately crashed the kite, watched it move about a bit and then it virtually pick itself up waiting for me to lightly tug a bit to get it off the ground.  A pretty amazing experience.  I'm glad we went through this exercise because while trying a trick I dropped the kite in the water, and sure enough, I was able to pull the bar over to me, and in no time the kite was back in the air without me having to swim one stroke.  Now that's amazing by any standards.

While I have some knits with the bar system, I'd say that if I had to choose between this and the Crossbow, at this stage, the Sonic would win since I could be riding for longer without feeling the pain from the constant pressure of the kite…heck, this thing offers no pressure at all.  Sweet!

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | 1 Comment »