This is a kitesurfing term to describe moving the kite in such a way as to launch yourself into the air. Thought this made for an interesting metaphor in launching my comments into the blogosphere. May we survive these times.
My good buddy Gabe Brown (aka. Gary Bronson) recently put up a cool video he made featuring Zeev Gur and Malibu down at Waddell Creek near Santa Cruz. He caught them on a pretty nice day tearing up the waves. Matched with the cool Jimi Hendrix tune, I totally dig this video…
Two Saturdays ago, my buddy Charlie & I started driving south along the coast from San Francisco to decide where we would kitesurf. We past by Ocean Beach, but the big swell was making a washing machine effect out of the inside and wasn’t going to be very manageable to get to the outside. We continued to head south deciding that we would either hit Half Moon Bay or keeping going south to Scotts Creek down by Santa Cruz. The winds and swell was definitely up and as we approached Roosevelt Beach in Half Moon Bay, and as we looked up wind we could see four kites up by Mavericks. We stopped and got the binoculars out, and sure enough it turned out to be Jeff Kafka, Chip Wasson, Steve Gibson and Sean Richman.
It was a pretty crazy day to be out there, but here are some pics of Jeff Kafka hitting the Mavericks break…
(Note: if the pics are not displaying, click on the broken image as I’ve linked them to the originals)
Charlie and I decided to stick it out at Half Moon Bay which had the biggest swell I’ve ever ridden there. Probably somewhere close to double-overhead. Looking at these pics, I sure wish we had gotten motivated to experiment with this giant :)
Context is a favorite theme of mine (it may have something to do with me liking the word “context“, but I’m not sure) which I’ve discussed on this blog on several previous occasions. However, this time thoughts around this are coming at me from a different direction since having to do a lot of thinking around what’s happening with social networks and where they might be heading.
Under the heading Master of Obvious, I began listing the contextual characteristic of four social networks, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Tribe:
MySpace: is a place to showcase myself, a place to be the star, where friends only serve the purpose of reinforcing my star
LinkedIn: is a place to keep my professional resume, a place to find other professionals for business interactions
Tribe: is a place to meet and hang out with people having like-minded interests
When breaking things down like this, it didn’t take long for me to more deeply understand that in reality, exposing the social graph for making it easier to find friends on other networks is a nice to have, but the real value of opening this up is that it exposes a ton of context (or call it the semantic relationships) between people. Yes, I’m connected to some 400+ people on LinkedIn and another 150+ on Facebook, and while there’s some overlap it’s meaningless. All that matters is that the contexts of these social networks helps to define the my contextual relationship to the people I’m connected to. This means that those I’m connected to on LinkedIn are more likely business contacts of which some may also be social friends in which case you’ll find me connected to them on Facebook too. However, my connections on Tribe are purely to people who might share common passions (ie. kitesurfing or snoboarding) though I’ve never met them and may not even consider them friends. As for MySpace, it’s just nice to be able to have a pretty page.
While the information in the social graph can be useful for facilitating my ability to find people I know in new social media applications or social networks I join, its value is significantly higher to prospective service providers when considered with the source of the graph data. The source metadata in effect provides a degree of context beyond simply the relationships of the participants (ie. friends, co-workers, family, etc.).
As I look ahead, something inside tells me that the Facebook revolution that has been taking place over this past year is only the beginning of the next explosion of the Web. Where all of the walls of information are taken down and the social networks begin to play the role of contextual settings (places I go to do ‘X’) and persona management. In other words, why shouldn’t some random app on the Web need to be in Facebook (or eventually in LinkedIn) to provide me a functionality that lets my friends contribute to helping me select a movie or find a cool place to stay in Hawaii? No reason, and while this is all beginning to happen in Facebook, I believe it’s too important to stay there. Much like in the mid-90s the Net exploded to offer capabilities as easy to navigate as AOL environment was, I expect we will see this history repeat itself with Net standards being adopted to enable Facebook-like functionality happen across the Web.
After giving it some thought and discussing the respective uses for both services with a colleague, it was easy for us to conclude that it makes a ton of sense for Facebook to acquire LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s data model is different than Facebook’s and while Facebook tries to address business needs, LinkedIn does a far better job maintaining an environment that is truly useful for business professionals. They also capture information that is much more relevant in the business context. As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s easy to find use cases where I would gladly welcome the linking of the information between the services. At the same time, the information I keep in both should remain separate and only be linked for providing some very specific services.
While I have yet to do the financial analysis here, given the valuation numbers being bandied around for Facebook, versus the comparables associated with LinkedIn, I’d say this acquisition should be fairly easy to accomplish at a price that sufficiently rewards LinkedIn on par with an IPO with added upside that could come from owning Facebook equity. Given Facebook’s upcoming ad network platform, the possibilities for Facebook seem far more endless than those of LinkedIn. As I see it, when LinkedIn opens up their platform APIs, we may see a whole slew of interesting business applications emerge from here, but the first thing I’d do is build the app that connects Facebook to LinkedIn and watch the swell of activity that results from this.
More on this as I ruminate further, but you heard it here first :)
Keeping up with the coolness factor and the possibilities emerging from Facebook providing access to the social graph is dizzying, to say the least. So today, after seeing that some friends on Facebook had downloaded CareerBuilder’s “Find a Better Job” app, I thought it worthwhile to check out, after all it’s always good to keep one’s job options open…ha-ha-ha! Actually, it was more wanting to understand how CareerBuilder (CB), who has a habit of experimenting with new environments ahead of the pack, would be leveraging Facebook.
CB was one of the first to experiment with RSS feeds under a different brand so as not to create conflicts with their existing content distribution channels. While at Tribe, I had the pleasure of interacting regularly with them as they were one of main sources of revenue through a favorable deal we had with them as a result of Knight-Ridder being an investor in both of our companies. The lesson learned from working with them is that they’re always ready to try something new and push the envelope on ways of leveraging their content in ways that make sense. They take a very pragmatic approach and measure results like crazy.
The first thing that struck me after subscribing to the application were the tabs that appeared at the top of the application page. The first two were pretty generic, “Home” and “Invite your friends!”, but the next two caught my eye, “Jobs in Industrial Management” and “Carnegie Mellon Jobs”. So this suggests that the app definitely picked up on my information, specifically my major and where I attended undergraduate school. Sadly, the implementations of these two tabs are light since they’re simply doing keyword matching and a poor attempt at that. For example, under “Industrial Management”, several results showed up that simply used the word “industrial” in the job title or description. As you can imagine, there were many more irrelevant jobs there than relevant. Given that my profile contains my job history, you’d think they would have used that information. No matter, as that’s not what caught my attention most.
After seeing the list of jobs, I clicked on one to see the behavior, which linked to the CB job description page on their site, but here’s where the magic kicked in. Since I also have a LinkedIn browser toolbar installed, all of a sudden a sidebar appeared as shown below…
Clicking on the “5” next to “in your network work at Truveo and open to helping you” in the LinkedIn sidebar, links over to the LinkedIn page shown below, which we’re all so familiar with…
What caught my attention in all of this was the clear distinction between Facebook and LinkedIn and why LinkedIn should be creating and integrating an app into Facebook as fast as possible. Where Facebook is more of a platform, LinkedIn is more of a professional network, where my more professional resume and contacts sit. Sure, Facebook could enter this space, but why? There is so much more for them to do with opening up their social graph and supporting new types of applications, that it’s worth seeding this business and job network connectivity to others. The interplay of these two services can be made more smooth with the proper integration so that serendipity that occurred here starts to happens by design. Given all of the professional contact controls provided by LinkedIn that would not have great applicability in Facebook, and the controlled access they provide to even people you don’t know but want to meet, it seems clear that these two services should operate better together.
Another thing that caught my attention is while there are a lot of high-tech ways that are being figured out to open the social graph across all networks, small innovative apps like “Find a Better Job” may prove to be the best way to address this in a low tech way. If LinkedIn or Facebook had asked for my handle or the e-mail address I use across the other service, I would have provided it without concern given the clear value that would come back to me as a result of doing so. There’s an obvious reason to the end-user for wanting to connect these two networks in the context of the job hunting exercise.
How cool is this? One of my college fraternity brothers, Jonathan Knight (aka. “JK”) and a childhood buddy of his from Pittsburgh, PA, Hank Burgoyne, Esq. (had to give Hank his esquire props), are heading down to Baja in November for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. As JK put it in a note:
“This year marks the 40th anniversary of “The Baja”, recognized as the world’s longest and most challenging non-stop, point-to-point motor race. It also marks the mid-point between Hank and my 40th birthdays. Competing in The Baja represents the culmination of a childhood dream for me and Hank, who have fantasized about the race since we learned of it almost 30 years ago while growing up the ‘Burgh.”
(JK & Hank in their 587 “Fat Boy” racing out in Las Vegas recently)
You have to love the idea of two close friends carrying the dream along with them all of these years, finally culminating in actually living it at a point in their lives where they can. It makes me all teary-eyed. What’s even cooler is that they have taken this opportunity to mix their passion with doing some good and decided to also turn this into a fundraiser. JK goes on to say…
” Given the dream-turned-reality nature of our quest, we’ve decided to convert our effort into a pledge-by-the-mile fundraiser for The Future Leaders Institute, an Oakland non-profit dedicated to helping high school-aged youth conceive of and implement solutions to real-world social problems. Founded three years ago by Eve Cowen, The Future Leaders Institute, or FLI, operates in schools around the Bay Area, with plans to expand to other states and, eventually, other countries. FLI’s programs do more than teach participants the process of social involvement. They give students the self-identity and confidence to know that if they can dream it, they can make it real. For more information on FLI, please visit FLI’s website, or watch the video…” (see below)
They’re going to be having a fundraiser which should be a blast given the location in SOMA…
“To help draw attention to FLI and its mission, Hank and I, with support from Kronenberger Burgoyne, and On-The Fly, are hosting a “FLI Across the Baja” launch party and fundraiser. The event will be held from 6 – 9:30 pm on Thursday, October 25, at On the Fly, located at 135 Clara Street, in the South of Market area of San Francisco.”
I’ll update this post as soon as JK sends me pledge details as well. Definitely something worth getting behind whether you can party with the crew or simply throw down a few bucks towards a good cause. Can’t wait to see the pics they come back with after the race. Only wish I could bail from work and go watch this race in person as you know it’s going to be insane :)