Daily Archives: November 2, 2005

I’m gonna take the rest of the week off

My email is hovering at about 300 open items. I’m WAY behind at work and doing my Channel 9 tasks. So, I’m going to spend the next few days doing that. I’ll see you this weekend from Mind Camp. Memeorandum is doing such a great job. I agree Loren, it blows away all others.

Plus, I’m off to spend some time with my sweetie, cause it’s our third anniversary today.

 Oh, and Julie Leung, you gave me a good idea. We should make more extra small swag shirt sizes available. God, I hate shopping. Unless it’s for HDTVs! Heheh. Do you think Maryam would like one of those as her anniversary present? I don’t think so either.

Anyway, talk to you this weekend.

The new Robert Scoble Services agenda

Oh, Dave, I couldn’t say “clone the Google API” in public! But you did. So I’ll riff on it. I agree with it. I’ll even repeat it. Clone the Google API. Clone the Google API. Clone the Google API. Without the limits. Without the limits. Without the limits.

Here’s my riff:

See, there are two diseases at Microsoft:

1) We look at the world only through a businessperson’s eyes.
2) We have no clue about the power of influentials.

The first one makes us look like greedy, rapacious, businesspeople. And, generally, we are. ;-) Let’s just get that on the table here, OK? We would like to see our stock price go up. We would love to make a boat load of money. And be able to do even more to change the world. I don’t know why we try to run away from that, but the more we try to run away from the fact that we’re trying to make a profit here the less credible we’ll be.

The thing is, if we want to be in the advertising world, we need to be in the audience thrilling business. That’s not going to be easy for us. Why? Cause thrilling an audience is a different skill than identifying, strategizing, and executing a business plan (er, making a boatload of money). That’s why when you’re at a baseball game they try to hide the business guys off in some box somewhere. Or, why, during a rock concert they don’t let executives who wear ties out on stage. Unless it’s to write a check to some charity.

So, if we want to gather an audience together, we must think differently. We must do things that thrill audiences. We CAN NOT chase Google’s tailpipes. Audiences NEVER go for copies. Ever see all those copies of Star Wars? I saw a few. They all sucked. Not because they did anything wrong, but they were copies and we all knew it.

We need to go in new directions that Google isn’t going in.

And, in fact, that’s what Google is doing to us. Larry Page told me last week that teams inside Google often try to create projects to copy Microsoft. And he kills them. Why? Cause he knows that he will never get a big audience by copying something we do.

We also need to get out of the greedy mode. We need to share. Why will someone put Virtual Earth on their Web site? Well, let’s look at why Chris Pirillo puts a Google AdSense component on his site. THEY PAY HIM.

That tells Chris that, while Google might be a greedy group of businesspeople too who are trying to make a boatload of money, they SHARE WITH HIM some of that money!!!

We’ve gotta get that. That’s the whole key to having a successfull Internet advertising business.

This leads me to the second point.

2) We don’t know how to thrill influentials. Google does. Maybe by accident. Maybe by plan. I don’t care anymore. They found a way to bring us a little better search with advertising that sucked a lot less. That’s really why they are on fire.

How did they do it? They didn’t do it by doing committee meetings. By doing focus groups. By studying millions of users. They did it by understanding the leading edge of users and serving them well. They did NOT serve my dad well in the early days. It took me two years to switch my dad from AltaVista to Google. They DID serve ME well, though. On every user study I’ve seen I’m way off the end of the bell curve. But Google groks people like me. They serve people like me. And they romance people like me in a way that no other company does.

Hint: Google is still not doing things for my dad. They are doing things like Google Talk. For me. Things like Google video. For me. Not for the mass markets, but for the influentials.

So, when you see Microsoft not supporting Firefox out of the gate, you are seeing that we don’t get the role of influentials in gathering audiences.

Now, we’re not out of this game yet. It might be the end of the third quarter. Or the beginning of the fourth. We might be down 48-3. But, if we play a different game than Google we have a shot.

It’ll take doing things that Google can’t do. 1) Being transparent. 2) Supporting an open attention system. 3) Changing the search game by opening up its APIs. 4) Investing in gadgets and services that don’t have any monetization strategy other than to thrill audiences (er, influentials first).

If we do those four things then you’ll know we’ve really gotten this services thing. If not, well, I don’t want to even consider the possibility that we won’t. Those are my four agenda items for the next year.

And, yes, this little technical evangelist seven levels down from the CEO who makes less than $100,000, will bet his career on these four things. They are that important.

Oh, anyone see that Robert Scoble Services spells RSS? Heh!

Joel, and others, give us hell for Live.com

Joel Spolsky gives us hell for Live.com. Tags us with “Marimba effect.”

I don’t think it was clear. This was the beginning of a major rudder turn on Microsoft.

This was Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie and others (Steve Ballmer internally) yelling at all of us to “turn, turn, turn.”

Yesterday will be remembered not because of what we announced. But because of the direction we’re now headed in.

Microsoft is no longer an applications company. It is a services company.

Don’t get caught up in the badly-pulled-off demos yesterday.

There is something a lot deeper happening inside Microsoft than that.

Yesterday I talked with Jenny Lam. You might not know her. But she’s one of Microsoft’s new leaders. To me, she’s the face of where Microsoft MUST GO.

She’s an experience designer. She designed the visual experience for the PDC. She does lots of the graphics you’ll see on the desktop of Windows Vista.

Everytime I see her touch a project, it turns into something interesting. She adds emotion. Art. Humaness. Romance. Kindness. Playfulness. And a distinctly female touch. No, stupid, not pink or flannel sheets (you’re missing the point). But the kind of touch that my wife adds to my home.

Joel: you’re right, if we just announced only Live.com it’d be tagged with its unusable and broken state. But you’re all paying attention to the wrong thing. What really was happening is Bill and Steve and Ray are saying “it’s a new day at Microsoft and everyone here better pay attention.”

Oh, I’m paying attention, all right. This whole thing is ALL about attention.

My third anniversary with Maryam

Today marks the third anniversary of my marriage to Maryam. She posted me a nice poem and posted her lessons that she’s learned.

You know, ever since she’s come into my life my life has gotten better and more interesting. There’s a lesson there. I married up. That’s for sure.

Everyone who meets her agrees I outdid myself when I convinced her that I was worth hanging around with.

She is — by far — the best thing that’s ever happened to me and she certainly makes doing this blog possible and far more interesting than it otherwise would be.

Does IT matter? It does against crime

I just had an interesting breakfast with Mark Eppley. You might know him as the founder of LapLink. But this morning he was telling a different story. Business really is about stories, you know. Do you have a compelling one? He does.

100 semi-truck-loads of goods disappear every day in the United States.

That’s his story. I had no idea. Billions of dollars in supply-chain losses every year. Turns out organized crime steals trucks. They usually find the trucks later on. But the load is gone. Some of this is in collusion with truck drivers. Some of this is just opportunity (a truck is left running at a truck stop, a thief breaks in and steals the truck, takes it to a drop-off-point where the load disappears into an underground marketplace).

In some overseas markets, he tells me, they are even more brazen. They’ll just kill the driver and take the truck.

Does this crime pay off? Well, consider a truck load of Viagra. One pallet of that stuff is worth millions. One truck can hold $30 million worth or even more.

Now you know how the spammers are being funded.

So, how is Mark Eppley’s new company, SC-Integrity (for supply chain integrity), gonna stop them?

Well, with the Amazon model. Huh?

He’s sticking all sorts of data from the supply chain industry into a database and looking for commonalities.

You know, the same kind of system that Amazon uses to figure out that if you buy a Harry Potter book you’re probably going to be interested in other things based on the past behavior of other people who’ve bought Harry Potter books.

He also uses a variety of devices that are placed inside the cargo. They use a variety of information gathering and sharing techniques and techniques to avoid detection. He didn’t want me to share much about how the devices work but let’s just say they report back home where they are and other data. They also aren’t detectable and if jammed, that can be figured out too.

Does his anti-crime system matter? Well, he says they’ve already returned millions of dollars of goods back to their owners.

Can this system be foiled? Yes. But he says that’s not the point right now. The point right now is to raise the bar on the criminals and make them react to the system. Most crime, he says, goes to where the easiest fruit lies. His customers, he says, will be very happy if they reduce their losses by a few percent.

Oh, and do trucking companies prosecute drivers? Usually no. They usually just fire the drivers who then go across the street and do it again at another company. The trucking industry has a shortage of drivers, he says, so they’ll usually hire anyone without a criminal record.

So, what he’s doing is looking not at the driver, but at the route, or at the truck stop, or at other common patterns. What’s the probability of a trucker carrying a load of diamonds getting hit at a certain truck stop? His system will know over time. Just the same way that Amazon knows the probability that you’ll buy a Tom Peters book after you buy a Harry Potter book.

Does IT matter? Ask the criminals who are behind bars.