I recently visited Singularity University and one of many examples of disruptive technologies discussed was the self-driving car. There’s a race to get a product to market in which many players are trying to…
You’ve either started a company or you haven’t. “Started” doesn’t mean joining as an early employee, or investing or advising or helping out. It means starting with no money, no help, no one who believes in you (except perhaps your closest friend
Is pivoting natural selection or intelligent design?
Pivoting is not particular to tech startups. Many of the largest companies we know today have done it throughout the years to adapt to new times or even to survive. The list surprises lots of people:
Berkshire Hathaway: Textiles → Private equity
BMW: Aircraft engines → Vehicles
IBM: Office machinery → Computers → IT Consulting
Nintendo: Playing cards → Video games
Nokia: Rubber boots → Cell phones
Pixar: Animation tools → Animated movies
Sony: Rice cookers → Various electronics
Pivoting as pre-planned strategy is probably rare, most companies do it because they have to do it. It’s however very common to the new generation of tech startups to figure out things one step at a time and be able to understand what/when to pivot. Eric Ries nailed a definition for it:
…The idea that successful startups change directions but stay grounded in what they’ve learned. They keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future. Over time, this pivoting may lead them far afield from their original vision, but if you look carefully, you’ll be able to detect common threads that link each iteration.
Interestingly enough the two leading startups in the hottest space right now have come to where they are through different pivot paths. (It says something about the group buying business model with such low barrier-entry that practically any web business can pivot to it.)
Groupon started as The Point, a website that let people create a campaign asking people to give money or do something as a group and leveraged their technology to implement group buying after struggling to get traction.
LivingSocial started as a Facebook platform developer. They were all over the place until they acquired BuyYourFriendADrink and e-commerce site that allowed users to buy gift certificates for friends towards any of the bars in their network. One of their salespeople identified the opportunity that triggered the pivot.
Watch these companies founders explain how they ended up being where they are. Natural selection or intelligent design? Leave a comment…
The only good thing about not being able to go to the Web 2.0 Summit this year is watching its live stream (or rather archived sessions for the ones who are busy during the day).
Before breakfast today I watched Mark Pincus presentation. The bigger Zynga gets the further from innovation they seem to move. No announcements, boredom. Of 1,300 employees, 400 are working on “new IP”, so roughly 30% of the company is dedicated to innovation (if that’s what they mean by new IP). While there’s a lot of cloning still going on from latecomers it’s important to realize that there are probably 100’s, if not 1000’s of gaming startups that are dedicating 100% (not 30%) of their resources on innovation. And Zynga is probably waiting for that with a big check, so next year they have more boring numbers to show.
If you’re a Mahler fan you can create and vote for the dream Mahler symphony cycle. The favourite users‘ recording of each symphony will be released together as a limited-edition CD box-set called Mahler – The People‘s Edition in November 2010.
It may not be unanimous the opinion that people are mostly good - I know some of you are skeptical about it. However from time to time we learn stories that remind us that goodwill exists and people will help strangers without expecting a payoff.
I took a cab last night to Grand Central Terminal and as I enter the car I notice there’s a laptop on the back seat. I show it to the driver and he asks me to give it to him because he would drive back to 54th street - where he had dropped off the unlucky owner - and return it. I asked if he knew exactly where the person went and as he assured me I handed him the computer.
First reaction I had was to tweet it, and the tweet ended up on Facebook where some commenters were skeptical the owner would ever recover the laptop. To the skepticals here’s some good stuff.
NYC cabbie drives 200 miles to return $21,000 left in taxi by tourist.
The cabbie drove about 50 miles to a Long Island address he found in Mrs Lettieri’s handbag. No one answered the door at the house in Patchougue, so he left his phone number and drove back to the city. Hours later, he received a call from the family, turned around and drove back with the money.
The Guardian is running a reader poll - “If you found a large wedge of cash, would you return it or keep it?” Here are the results so far.
LIRR conductor lauded for returning lost wallet containing $2,800
Pinkham was humble about his heroic deed, and isn’t even allowed to collect reward money as an LIRR employee.
Augmented-reality is catching up and everyday we see a new ‘demo’ that promises to change the way you will see the world. AR, in the hype cycle that Gartner plots is right on ascension getting close the the apex - which in their analisys is when a technology is 2 to 5 years to reaching mainstream.
Right on the bleeding edge - more than 10 years to mainstream adoption - is human-augmentation, which is not related to some spam you normally get. I still prefer Tim O’Reilly’s term body hacking.
Tokyo Cabinet is cool name. I think of some 80’s punk band every time I hear it - specially because it’s always associated with the NoSQL movement. In fact there’s a number of key/value stores out there that are really interesting for a large number of particular applications. Don’t think that RDBMS will die or get replaced by this approach. It’s almost like there’s a new way of doing things that weren’t thought or possible in the relational world (like Map/Reduce has introduced us to a new paradigm).
To the question on whether non-relational stores scale, don’t scale or scale easier than relational ones I’ll leave up to the blogosphere to debate. Here’s a good starting point.
Just a couple quick updates at YellowPin that we wanted you to know about:
First, our new Buzz feature was launched last week! Buzz gives you the ability to automatically receive text messages about your favorite places or friends, giving you real-time updates as to what’s going on around you so you’re never left wondering what to do. For instance, you can set Buzz to get a text message whenever 2 (or 5 or 10) of your friends are at your favorite bar or restaurant (or any other place). You can learn more and manage all your Buzz settings on the “my buzz” tab on YellowPin.
Also, YellowPin is now integrated with Twitter, so if you want your YellowPin updates to hit your Twitter feed, you can set that up on the “my settings” tab of YellowPin. And if you haven’t gotten a chance to sign up for YellowPin yet, these new features make now the perfect time:
After months of preparation - countless hours of development, strategy, messaging and meetings with partners like Amazon, Motorola and FedEx - we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our private beta version of TigerTag!
As friends and family of TigerTag, we’d like you to be the first to try out the site and the service - simply go to www.tigertag.com to get started. If you already signed up at our old site, please re-register at the new TigerTag.com.
Once you sign up as a member, make sure and order your tags. We’ll then send them out, so you can register all your valuables - mobile phones, iPods, digital cameras - anything at all you’d like to tag and hate to lose.
TigerTag works by harnessing the power of goodwill from folks like you. If your item should go missing, anyone who finds it can easily help get it back to you by simply going to TigerTag.com and entering the unique code on your item’s tag. You’re then instantly alerted of the good news, and we take it from there.
Over the coming months, the site’s functionality, usability, and overall experience will continue to evolve. As you explore the site, we’d love your suggestions - feel free to click on the feedback tab on the left side of every page as you see things we need to fix.
YellowPin: This service is unusual simply because it tries to make GPS available to all by letting people text their location. This is great if you have a phone without GPS (or are concerned about privacy and want your location updates to be intensely proactive,) but texting your location with the early adopter crowd seems kind of like the equivalent of Marge Simpson doctoring her single Chanel suit to fit in at the country club.
“Hi, Internet Tech Support…what’s your issue?"
“You have an IP?”
“No. Your DHCP isn’t passing out IPs. Am I banned?”
“Looks like your MAC is xxxx, you’ve been running a torrent?”
“Yes, I’ll stop.”
“Cool. You’re un-banned. Fizzbin.”
“Sweet. Catch you later.”—Fizzbin!
“Meltdown, Credit Crunch, Great Recession, Econolypse, Depression II, D2, Compression, Subprimicide, Economic Debacle, Great Restructuring, the Bailout, TEOTWAWKI “The End of the World As We Know It,” The Long Emergency, The New Dark Ages, The New Austerity, the Inflection, The Great Disruption, Housing Crisis, Market FAIL, The Great Re-Skilling, Global Economic Restructuring, Tsunami, the Enronicom, The Great Ponzi, the Great Fake, Bush’s Legacy, Great Reset, Global Reboot, Unreal Estate, Wall Street Blues, Uncapitalism, Capitalism Eats Itself, the Deep Economic Wrinkle, Collapsonomics, Econocataclysm, Uneconomy, The Opportunity, Economy 3.0, The Crisis, The Credit-Shrink, the Lost Decade, the Economic Slump, the Black Swan, The Great Mistake, Communism 2.0, Moneyquake, Yuppie Famine, vapor margin-call, Ponziconomy, dinosaur culling, Crashmob, World Wide WTF, Revaluation, Reevaluation, Runoffonomy, Crisisonomy, Sythonomy, Economy 101, Econopocalypse, Force Restart, the Crater, Unconomy, Reconomy, Decredit, Crudit, Crunkit, Devaluation, De-globalization, the Asset Bubble, the Long Doom…”—Synonyms for the Current Economic Situation
“As a prominent businessman in China, Mr. Ma gets asked a lot about the declining state of the world economy. He said that he was eating at a restaurant recently when the owner recognized him and asked when things will look better. “Next year,” Mr. Ma replied. The restaurant owner was surprised, Mr. Ma said. “The recession will be over next year?” the man asked. “No,” said Mr. Ma, “Next year, we’ll all get used to it.”—When Will the Good Times Return? - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com
The Japanese startup Tonchidot made a well-blogged ‘vaporware debut’ at TechCrunch50 last year. At the event they didn’t show a working app but a very feasible idea of an iPhone application - Sekai Camera -that allows people to tag the real world using the phone camera viewfinder as interface. It seems that they have finally unveiled it (or at least showed a working demo) at a fashion event in Tokyo this week.
This is a very cool and innovative idea and I bet we’ll see lots of startups trying to implement it in the next couple of years (just watch iPhone and Android app stores). In some sense there will be lots of tools for tagging (as there are already many geo-tagging tools like Flickr, Yellowpin, Panoramio, Brightkite, etc). However the real challenge is not making real world taggable but in how location-based search tools will extract the semantic data and make it relevant to what a someone needs in a specific context. The potential for noise, spam or just irrelevant annotations is imense. Someone like ought to deliver the right tags at the right moment. I remember Omnisio, a video tagging tool that was acquired by Google, and how much garbage they allowed users to tag - so much that the videos were just unwatchable.
Some customs are sometimes hard to let go. Joe Gregorio from the Google AppEngine team arguments that traditional relational databases are not the solution for every application. If you’re building on the cloud perhaps the best way to build truly scalable and distributed apps is to use datastores like the one GAE offers (based on the famous Bigtable) or SimpleDB from Amazon (AWS) - Microsoft Azure hasn’t offered anything like that what they do is a subset of SQL Server
Other than cultural resistance what other reasons would you list for not jumping off MySQL/Oracle/etc into a NRDBMS?
I can point one (at least on to GAE and AWS): your application becomes so dependent from your cloud provider that makes it too hard to switch ‘vendors’ - if god-forbid you have that need. The cloud platform APIs are stil l proprietary and I haven’t heard any effort of standardization.
We’ve been using MySQL on EC2 for a while now and it’s somewhat comfortable to know that if we need to move out of EC2/S3 it would be ‘almost’ straightforward. Maybe that’s what Google, Amazon and other cloud hosting providers need to address moving forward.
“In ancient Greek mythology, Daedalus built the famous Labyrinth in Crete — and was later imprisoned in his own invention. (We’ll come back to that in a minute.) Ever resourceful, Daedalus made wings out of feathers tied together with linen threads and fastened with wax. Rising on their wings, Daedalus and his son Icarus escaped the Labyrinth. But you all know what happened next. Icarus — not hearing his father’s pleas (or, more likely, simply ignoring them) — soared higher and higher. Soon, the blazing sun melted the wax in his wings and caused the feathers to loosen and fall. Though Icarus continued to flap his arms, they no longer caught the wind, and the poor boy plunged into the sea. In the language of engineering, Icarus exceeded his thermal limits —leading to structural failure and a subsequent loss of control.”—Boeing: McNerney: Innovation and Invention