Daily Archives: June 14, 2006

Even Ballmer can’t get into Gnomedex…

It's sold out. So is BlogHer. So is BloggerCon.

Hmm, something is happening here.

Oh, Ballmer isn't the only one that doesn't see the new media power that's being built. Apple told its open source geeks to pound sand.

Someone at VLoggerCon said "individuals are now in charge" of what's important in the world.

I wouldn't tell ANYONE to pound sand in this world.

A kid in Australia with five readers can become an international media story now just by writing something on his blog.

Who knew what beet.tv was before Saturday? I didn't.

Why Wall Street didn’t believe Steve Ballmer (and what he can do about it)

You might have missed that Microsoft's stock has been in a freefall lately.

My friends have been asking me "why doesn't Wall Street believe Steve Ballmer?"

That's an easy one. Cause he didn't convince the grass roots influence networks first. Why have Google and Apple done so well in the last three years? Cause the grassroots loves them. That's the powerroot of the industry. Ideas here don't come from the big influencers and move down. No, they start on the street and move up. Anyone miss how Google got big? Not by throwing a press conference.

Ballmer should not listen to his PR team and instead should live the blogging way.

Huh?

Did you miss that I turned into an international news story that has gotten more attention than everything Microsoft announced at its big TechED conference this week?

How did I do that?

I talked with the grassroots FIRST. Against the advice, by the way, of a lot of PR people (they wanted me to break the news to Walt Mossberg or someone "important" first — they thought that's how I was going to get the biggest story going).

They all are wrong. I almost bought into it too. In fact, I did. On Saturday I talked with maybe 20 people and said "can you wait until Tuesday to talk about it?" I wanted to give the story to the Wall Street Journal too. Not to mention I wanted to tell my coworkers before the story hit. I didn't get that chance and I'm lucky, in hindsight, that I didn't. Because the story started on the grassroots first it got far far bigger than if I broke it on a big newspaper.

It's a lesson I'll never forget again.

Journalists need sources for stories and they need to convince editors that stories are important to pay attention to.

What was going on this weekend? Journalists were emailing TechMeme around to their editors and saying "something important is going on here." How do I know that? Cause when the journalists were calling that's what they told me. They saw a blog mob and that helped them sell the story.

Analysts, on the other hand, also watch what grass roots are saying. The wisdom of crowds. It drives a lot of buying decisions. Why is Google's stock higher than Yahoo's? (Yahoo does pretty much the same thing as Google and has more users, after all). Because the influential users all use Google. When I ask my audiences which email or search system they use they predominantly answer Google. That turns into hype. Hype sells advertising (advertisers want to reach the influential users, not the clueless ones). That turns into profits and profits turns into stock price.

So, why is Microsoft stock price in freefall? Cause Steve Ballmer didn't come to the grassroots and convince him that Microsoft's business strategy makes sense. We still haven't explained, for instance, to the grassroots why Windows Vista matters. Or why spending $2 billion on server farms will make any sense to them. Or why the Xbox is going to be profitable.
What would I do? I would show up unannounced at three conferences. BloggerCon, Gnomedex, and BlogHer. No PR team there to spin. No lawyers. No video crew. And focus on answering those three things. Windows Vista. Investments in server farms. Xbox profitability.

Just show up and let people on the grassroots get to know you and answer those questions over and over and over again (on Sunday I did about 40 interviews with everyone who was at VLoggerCon, no matter how small the audience they had). Answer their questions. Even the harshest stupidest Slashdot style questions.

Do that and you'll see the stock price go back up.

Oh, and by the way, I'm not selling my Microsoft stock. Why? Cause I already know the answers to those three questions and I'm quite confident in the future of Microsoft. It's just that I'm not the CEO of Microsoft.

Show up at Gnomedex, answer those three questions to anyone who'll ask, and you'll see the power of the Grassroots.

I learned the power on Sunday. Thanks to VLoggerCon for teaching me that. Oh, and I'm being talked about on GeekBrief.TV today (Cali was launching a campaign to replace Ballmer with me — hey, Steve, I'd give her your first interview!)

Oh, and my brother wrote MS-DOS

Doug Paterson, his brother wrote DOS

So, I was in KUOW's studios this morning to record a bit for the BBC (it'll air next week sometime, I'll let you know when that'll be on). The producer on the BBC told me that they have something like 160 million listeners around the world. Whew.

Anyway, over in KUOW my producer was Douglas Paterson (although I didn't know that until after the conversation below happened). After the session we started talking about things and he mentioned "my brother worked at Microsoft for 15 years."

"Oh, and what did he do?"

"He worked on the Visual Basic team before retiring."

That caught my ear cause I got my start working for BasicPro magazine that later turned into Visual Basic Programmer's Journal which later turned into Visual Studio Magazine.

But then he said:

"Oh, and my brother wrote MS-DOS."

"Your brother is Tim?" I asked. (I knew Tim Paterson worked for the VB team).

"Yeah."

What a trip.

Don't understand the significance yet?

Well, remember how Bill Gates got started in the operating system business? He bought DOS from Seattle Computer Works for about $65,000 and the rest is history. Tim has a bunch of links to history about MS-DOS, if you wanna know.

Oh, and Doug is interesting too. He got a PHd in anthropology, traveled the world, taught in various colleges before getting his job at NPR, which he says he absolutely loves cause he gets to meet interesting people every day.

You never know when you're gonna meet someone interesting, that's for sure, and just shows why you should stop and take time to get to know the people who don't seem to be all that interesting at first glance.

One thing I've learned is that the most interesting stuff (and the most interesting stories) are being done by people you don't know, or who you think are unimportant.

It's why when someone from India that I didn't know called me up and asked to have me on his podcast I said "sure."

Why? Cause I know I'll learn something. That guy is Kiruba Shankar and I'll be on his podcast this afternoon.