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

Archive for March, 2006

The Facebook news put some Cheerios in the blogosphere’s breakfast

Posted by direwolff on March 29, 2006

It’s always fun to read the blogosphere’s endless speculations on stories that are not usually as they seem, but I guess there’s no harm in speculating.  So with that, I figured I’d throw a few out of my own on this Facebook matter which is garnering so much attention.

IF the news is accurate (though I highly doubt it) that Facebook passed on an offer to be acquired for $750M, and IF it has set an asking price of $2B (all BIG “IF“s that I continue to question, especially after reading report that Tribe received a round of financing recently which was only a year late in being reported…doh!), then I don’t believe that Facebook is on the block at all.  From what I know of the company, they are currently profitable on cashflow, there’s some additional speculation that they have received another round of financing (though I note that this was written by Rafat who also reported on the Tribe funding…wrong again? hmm…), so they don’t really need to be acquired right now.  Any one in a position not to need it can set whatever asking number they want, however unreachable, because it’s simply stating the obvious, “what’s the number at which I’d be willing to part with this business?”.  For Facebook, that number appears to be $2B.  It’s not that they actually need to be shopping the deal, but since they don’t need the exit right away, they can set an unrealistic number knowing that if someone steps up it’s worth selling at that price.

There’s also a subtle difference not well understood by many of the pundits I’ve read who have discussed Facebook’s relative value to MySpace.  MySpace is still about pseudonymity.  In other words, surely you can put your real name and contact info, but most people don’t completely do this or prefer to use an alias of some sort.  As well, their e-mail address is generally of vanilla variety (Hotmail, Yahoo!, Gmail, {name your free e-mail service here}) which are easily disposable.  Facebook on the other hand, I’d liken much more to LinkedIn.  It’s really a directory of real people with their real names and real e-mail addresses.  There’s some level of authentication that has occurred with their registrations.  Sure, kids graduate fm college, but many retain their e-mail for life even as a secondary one.  That means that a Facebook contributed e-mail address has lasting value.  Get’em early and you get’em for life…wonder if they learned that from Apple?

Directories have inherently greater value than pseudononyous services because the lead generation potential comes with better and more accurate information.  It’s less about people pretending to be people they’re not, and more about higher value information on the members.  That’s monetizable value.  Now, this is by no means a justification for the numbers being bandied around, but I wouldn’t be comparing Facebook to MySpace, as these are used for different purposes by different groups of people much like you wouldn’t add LinkedIn or Tribe to this grouping either.

And that’s my $0.02 contribution to the blogosphere punditry.


Posted in Online Community | Leave a Comment »

Life expectancy calculator…otherwise said, fun with statistics

Posted by direwolff on March 20, 2006

Looks like statistically speaking, I’m gonna live to the ripe ol’ age of 87.  How ’bout you?

A nice way to find out what the insurance companies are determining about me behind my back.

Posted in Just Fun | Leave a Comment »

/ROOT Markets, a bet on a future that data companies haven’t yet figured out

Posted by direwolff on March 18, 2006

I previously wrote about the challenges facing ROOT Markets in the following post.  Having recently attended the SDForum’s Search SIG (special interest group), I was able to give some more thought to the issues of attention raised by the panel which included Seth Goldstein (ROOT Markets founder and co-founder of the AttentionTrust), Dave Sifry (Technorati founder), Mike Arrington (of TechCrunch fame and Edgeio founder), Gabe Rivera (Memeorandum founder) and Steve Gilmour (writer, pundit, co-founder of the AttentionTrust).

In order to understand what’s being done around enabling people to track and manage their online attention, it’s worth perusing the AttentionTrust site, where you can learn about the Attention Recorder.

What’s really interesting here is that in today’s world, there are many large data companies that track a lot of information about consumers, whether it be the credit card companies tracking transactions, or companies like Axiom that track our demographics and geographical locations, or be it companies like TRW and others that track our credit.  In none of these cases, do consumers opt-in to participate, but that doesn’t stop these companies from having information on us from which they generate substantial sums.  While we’re able to some times see the information they’ve kept on us, more frequently we’re not, nor are we able to participate in its ownership.  Now this is the world that we have lived in, but it is not the world we will be living in soon.

The Web has changed everything, to the extent that large numbers of people are beginning to move more and more of their activities online.  Whether it be their financial activities (ie. bill payment, fund transfers, stock transactions, etc.), or shopping (ie. books, toys, electronics, clothes, flowers, etc.), or read the news, or order their Fast-Trak, go to driving school, rent a cabin in Yosemite, make travel plans, order pizza, research and arrange an appointment with a real-estate agent, choose and buy a car, etc…  More and more of our transactional activities are being made possible online.  The economies of scale make this direction worthwhile for both the providers of these services who can now reduce their physical world dependencies and high costs, and it’s worthwhile for consumers since they can now interact with the service providers more conveniently and at any time.

So where is the new data frontier for the old data providers.  Afterall, their previous tracking of data was towards selling it to other institutions who needed to know credit information, or in more frequent cases, companies that wanted access to marketing lists for direct mail offers.  With so much activity moving online, knowing an individual’s clickstream could become the next panacea.  Well, most consumers never really understood the depth to which data about them was being collected and sold.  But much has been made about this over the past 10 years, and while most people see no way out of it, they’re at least aware of this.  So with a proposition that states that people can not only share in the ownership of their own data, but can actually do useful things with it, you have to believe that AttentionTrust has fired a shot across the bows of the data collectors and aggregators that may take them a little while to realize, but could materially change the economics of the next generation of data.

If by knowing more about what people give their attention to, it helps determine their intentions, and they are willing to be participants and beneficiaries of the resulting activities, offers, and incentives that will be derived from such a system, then there is indeed a very large opportunity being created here that will empower consumers, merchants and service providers.  This also could disintermediate the data aggregators of yesteryear, who have honestly behaved very badly at the expense of ordinary people.  I have written about ChoicePoint in the past as one example, but they’re not the only ones.  This is indeed the dawning of an age that returns control of our information and our intentions back to us.

My advice is that you keep an eye on both the and /ROOT Markets, as these two groups are starting what Mark Pincus frequently refers to as a revolution of the ants.  That’s us people!!!…and it’s a good thing.

Posted in Online Community, Technology | Leave a Comment »

“Embattled U.S. Rep. DeLay wins Texas primary” — Reuters

Posted by direwolff on March 8, 2006

You gotta be kidding me!!! Are the people in the Houston district of Texas, where DeLay seems to be winning, out of their minds?!!!  It’s truly a sad state of affairs when DeLay can still win a primary after all of the attrocities and violations of human trust he has committed.  Here’s a piece by Bill Moyers that should put any one reading it at wits end with what’s happening in our country these days…that is except if you’re from Texas.

and here’s Reuters piece that’s got me in a tizzy…

Embattled U.S. Rep. DeLay wins Texas primary

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Embattled U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay won handily in the Republican primary for his congressional seat on Tuesday, taking 61 percent of the votes against three opponents.

The race had been seen as a barometer of his political strength since he resigned as House majority leader following indictment in Texas on campaign finance charges and his friendlobbyist Jack Abramoff was indicted in a Washington corruption scandal.

DeLay skipped his election night party to attend a fund-raiser in Washington put on by lobbyists.

With 86 percent of the votes counted, DeLay led his closest opponent Tom Campbell by 61 percent to 30 percent. In a statement, DeLay said voters in his Houston area district had rejected the “politics of personal destruction” to support him.

Some one pinch me to tell me that it’s all but a dream.

Posted in Public Policy | Leave a Comment »

A mentor & friend

Posted by direwolff on March 7, 2006

My mentor at Theseus Institute, Mel Horwitch, was recently appointed to become the Chair of the Department of Management at Polytechnic University in New York. Mel has always been ahead of his time, and was one of the founding faculty at Theseus Institute where he helped pioneer the concept of an MBA program that emphasized strategy, innovation and information technology before that was in vogue. Such subjects as Strategic Information Systems, the Learning Organization, and Strategy were core to the program and heavilly focused on. He was also pushing the concept of the Networked Corporation before collaboration applications emerged, where he foresaw the need for these in corporation of the 21st century. Mel has been an innovator for a long time, but with the Internet he saw many of his visions come to life.

Mel was a great friend and a welcomed mentor to me at Theseus from whom I learned a lot, and who helped me push the bounds of what I thought could happen with the advent of the commercialization of the Internet. As I came out of the Theseus program I was ready to go like gangbusters on pushing the bounds of what the Internet would enable individuals and corporations to do. Much of that I owe to Mel. With that I’m happy to share vicariously in his recent achievement, one of several he has had in his career.


President Hultin Appoints Professor Mel Horwitch New Chair of the Department of Management 15-Feb-06

I am very pleased to announce that Professor Mel Horwitch has been named the Chair of the Department of Management at Polytechnic University commencing January 1, 2006.

The department, as home for several important and growing programs, will have a substantial strategic role within the University and is an essential element in the University’s future growth and prestige. The department currently oversees such high-potential programs as:

* the BS-Business & Technology Management Program,
* the Management of Technology and the Telecommunications and Information Management Executive Masters Programs,
* the Financial Engineering, Management and Organization Behavior
Masters Programs, and
* the new Ph.D.- Technology Management Program.

Effective, efficient, and innovative management is an essential ingredient for technological progress, corporate success, governmental effectiveness, and global growth. Therefore, it is our vision that management skills, principles, and subjects should be a vital part of the curriculum of study for almost all students enrolled in engineering or science.

Under Mel’s leadership, the department will seek significant growth in enrollment and will promote research that encourages the highest academic quality and innovative scholarship. The department also will maintain currency in the rapidly evolving technological landscape. The University will support Mel as the department aims for vigorous expansion into existing and new venues in the New York City/Tri-State Region and overseas.

Here’s the full post.

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