Tech Market Analysis

An edited version of this post originally ran on TechCrunch. This version has some additional details on a portfolio company I’ve invested in, which are disclosed below.

WWDC. The annual Apple event where no real hints about what products they plan to release are floated in the public domain in advance.

No private head nods are given to small startup companies to help them prepare. We’re in a market where 800-pound gorillas throw their weight around and the rest of the market races to react and survive.

Any company who develops products reliant on iOS spends weeks crapping their pants before WWDC. No vacation schedules allowed for weeks before or weeks after. The announcements come out in one day and then even if you survive the annual release announcements you often still have to scramble to make sure your product is ready to work on time.

It’s madness.

This happens with Google, too. Every change in the algorithm wipes years of effort off of the traffic numbers of affected companies as anybody hurt by the Google Panda release will tell you.

Or Twitter launches its own photo-sharing app integrated into their product.

What is a startup to do?

For starters, fear not. The world seldom ends. You just have to deal with some insufferable VCs and journalists for a while. They risk little but of course knew better all along.

Read More

Twitter is an ephemeral service. It’s what I love about Twitter. When I’m in the mood to consume what my world is telling me right now I can “tune in” to Twitter and digest the rapid stream. I don’t really worry about missing stuff. If somebody wanted me to see something they’d @ message me, which I always read. And as I’ve written about in the past, I truly believe that Twitter networks are significantly different from other social networks.

The downside to this rapid stream is that at times you come across super interesting articles that you want to read but for which you don’t currently have the time. How do you deal with this scenario? For me, when I use Twitter on my Blackberry I email the Tweet to my gmail account and I read them later. I auto filter these in Gmail so I essentially get a reading list of future articles. I think a lot of people do this if their mobile Twitter client supports it.

The way that I used to deal with it on Twitter.

Read More

This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.

Banner Ads. They first started in 1994 and are therefore almost as old as the Web itself. They were very effective back then, with the original ad garnering a 78% click-through rate (CTR)!  I guess from there we had nowhere to go but down.

Nowadays banner ads get on average 0.2% CTR meaning for every 1,000 ads that are served up only 2 people click on them. And as Jon Steinberg of Buzzfeed points out, the CTRs for social media banner ads are just 0.08%.


Read More

The Magic Midnight Mind Meld

Posted on Mar 22, 2011 | 54 comments

The most common questions I’ve gotten over the past week have been a variant of:

Was SXSW worth it?
Was it just one big party?
Should I go next year?
Why do your eyes still look so bloodshot?

(And I’ve learned a new term, I arrived home with SxSARS).

As you may know I outlined my rules for maximum impact at events / conferences before SXSW began. If you didn’t read it, it’s here.

I hold true to form and follow my own advice. I didn’t sit through any panels (other than the day where I was the emcee and judge for the BizSpark Accelerator program). I booked several high-profile meetings in advance. I had scheduled dinners every night with small groups of people. I stayed out late. Strike that. LAAATE. Every night. I focused on relationships, connections, human bond, idea generation, testing products and also I generally tried to be available for others.

SXSW was magic. I can’t imagine having been at a better event. I was listening to NPR on my drive in yesterday morning.

Read More

I’ve written before about my love for Disqus. I’m not an investor – I just love the product.

So now Facebook has a new commenting system. They’ve been around for a while and when they first announced this initiative I knew the day would come when people would start saying, “should I replace Disqus?” I started telling people privately that I thought Google should buy Disqus for the same reasons Facebook wants to own commenting in the first place. Commenting on topical blogs is a form of topical social networking in the same way that Quora is. It’s a highly engaged audience and the content generated from many of the blogs (not all) are highly valuable.

TechCrunch switched from Disqus to Facebook. This had generated a ton of posts both for and against. I’m too busy this week to find all the links for you but a quick Google or TechCrunch search should reveal many.

So should I switch? Me thinks, not. Here’s why:


Read More

After the weekend kerfuffle over AngelList I was reading Brad Feld’s post on Signal vs. Noise. It’s apropos because there is so much noise these days with email, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, web shows, etc. that it’s sometimes hard to know when to pay attention and when to keep your head down.

Mostly during the day I’m in meetings or doing work. I’m sitting at my computer now at 9.00pm writing this – which is an hour earlier than I normally write (there are about 8 women at my kitchen table having a book club (aka excuse to drink wine & gossip so I’m locked in another room writing.

I don’t get too bogged down in the noise during the day. If I check Twitter it’s usually because I’m waiting for a meeting to start and I never write posts during the day. My secret noise pleasure is to scan TechMeme throughout the day. I enjoy that.

Read More