Microsoft music player to come?

A wifi-enabled player? Oh, the rumors printed in the New York Times are interesting, particularly given the job I’m starting next week. Of note to my career are the wifi and the video screen.

For the record, I hadn’t seen this player before I left (it was a pretty well-kept secret internally). Sounds like the Christmas season is going to be pretty interesting.

Apple’s side of the rumor fence isn’t quiet either with some patent drawings being unveiled.

I wonder which player will have the best recording capabilities?

The challenge for Europe: keeping tech there instead of the valley

Interesting article in Computer Business Review Online. Open Source companies are urged to remain European by Matt Asay, director of the Open Source Business Conference.

I have been talking about this with quite a few people lately because my readers seemed to favor doing a show about things happening “outside the valley.” I started noticing an anti-Silicon Valley sentiment on my trips last year.

Part of it is jealousy. When so many geek dinners happen in the shadow of San Francisco it makes everyone else uneasy. But, there’s something deeper and I think this article tapped into it: money and jobs.

If you’re a geek outside of San Francisco or Redmond, it’s hard to get a job in the industry.

And, worse, if you are a fledgling company and you need to expand, if you aren’t in one of those areas it’s hard to find great potential workers.

Lots of people fight with me on this one, but the culture in the valley is really unique too. Geeks go there and they don’t want to leave because everywhere around them they hear people talking tech — it’s an addictive culture for someone who just wants to build stuff. I didn’t sense the same culture in Europe until I got to a conference. I didn’t see people working on computers in cafes or on the trains the way I do in California — and when I did I never saw someone running a compiler like I find in California or Redmond. I didn’t see “maker behavior” until I got to the conference sites. I’ll have to do a lot better at explaining what I mean, but you can sense it when you go to a restaurant.

One thing I also notice is that in California smoking isn’t allowed. Anywhere. Most geeks that I know don’t smoke. So, are we going to move somewhere that smoking is allowed everywhere? No.

I’ll never live in a smoking-allowed area again. Many geeks get really turned off by the smoking culture. Yeah, I know there are lots of geeks who smoke too, but they are only about 20%, even in Europe where it seems everyone smokes.

You might say it doesn’t matter, but get the non-smoking geeks alone and they’ll admit they hate the smoking culture in Europe. It is starting to change, by the way. In Ireland they had banned smoking in pubs. I hear that anti-smoking laws are spreading throughout Europe. That’s a small step to keeping tech in Europe instead of letting it come to San Francisco.

How would you hire Calacanis?

Hmmm, I loved Jason’s bid to get Amanda to come and join AOL/Netscape and his later tome on keeping talent happy.

That got me thinking about another tough management problem: recruitment.

I wonder how I could hire Jason. Let’s see, he already has millions of dollars. So, it’s gonna be tough to get him on money alone. If that tactic didn’t work with me, I doubt it’ll work on him. Anyway, let’s just say my salary cap is less than AOL’s is so a sheer money strategy won’t work and will probably blow up anyway.

Will sheer love and attention of him do it? Nah. Although it might help get a conversation started. Jason already knows Maryam and I love him. Why? Cause he’s fun to hang around with. His personality is a little over the top, yes, so it’s not for everyone, but I like people who say they are gonna change the world — and then do. When Gates and crew was recruiting people from Borland they sent limos to pick up candidates and take them and their families places. Attention does get noticed. Shel and I picked our book’s publisher at least in small part because they flew to Arizona to meet us and buy us lobster dinner.

How about the chance to be Scoble’s boss? Heheh. That could backfire. Last week someone came up to John Furrier and, upon learning that he worked at Podtech, said “oh, are you working for Scoble?” That seems to happen to a lot of my bosses. Jim Fawcette had that happen to him despite having his own name on the company he owned and ran.

What’s the Microsoft way to get people to work for you who you can’t afford? Get big enough to buy their company. Hmmm, if that happens the last thing I’ll need to worry about is recruiting Calacanis. 🙂

Working with smart people? Yeah, the Stanford University Student Body President is interning with us this summer (seriously! You’ll get to meet her later in the summer) but I bet that won’t get Jason interested. There are lots of smart people at AOL (despite what most of the elitist geeks think about AOL).

How about California’s weather? Possibly, but then he’ll probably bring up that a house like what he lives in is four times more expensive and the schools aren’t as good.

California’s non-smoking and clean-living lifestyle? Possibly, but then he’ll bring up traffic on the 101 and ask whether PodTech has a shuttle from San Francisco like Google does.

Matt Mullenweg, Stewart Butterfield, and Dave Winer only an hour away? Now we’re getting somewhere. That’s something he doesn’t have.

Free passes to Google’s cafeteria? Sssshhhhh, I can’t arrange those until Vic gets his job in a year. Heheh. Just kidding Vic!

A dumptruck load of stock options? Yeah! But then I bet he has a dumptruck of Time Warner stock anyway.

So, how do you recruit a guy who has everything when you have limited resources?

How did Steve Jobs recruit John Sculley (remember, back then John headed Pepsi and Apple was a struggling computer maker). “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?”

Hmmm, does Jason want to sell Web portals for the rest of his life or does he want to change the world of media? Again?

How do you recruit people you really want to work for you (or who you want to work for?)

Update: speaking of recruiting, the JobsBloggers, Gretchen and Zoe, (who used to work at Microsoft too) are on Jim Stroud’s Recruiters’ Lounge podcast. I wonder what they’d think of this topic?

Money issues (or lack thereof) behind Unbooming?

BusinessWeek’s Heather Green wrote about the breakup. Chuck Olsen, who is a friend of both Andrew’s and Amanda’s, said they weren’t raking in the money, even though I reported that they were making $85,000 a week.

Hmmm, I thought I accurately reported what Andrew had told me and others at VLoggerCon, but Chuck says that the $85,000 amount was just the top line in their ad sheet and didn’t represent any ads sold. Demonstrated that I should have gotten more facts before I reported that they had sold ads for $85,000 a week. Looks like the highest they got was about $40,000 for a week, but they were struggling to close more ad deals.

At VloggerCon Amanda also introduced her brother and said he was working for Rocketboom. If I remember right there was another employee as well. I wonder what’ll happen to them?

It’s too bad, though. One of the things that interested me about PodTech was they have a good sales staff already in place that was pulling in good sales. I — and that’s with content that’s a lot less popular than Rocketboom. At PodTech I met the sales team before I made my decision and they are rocking already.

I can’t believe that with an audience of 250,000 per day they couldn’t find some advertising, though. I know people who are making $10,000 per month in Google ad revenue with less traffic than what Rocketboom was getting.

Update: Andrew just wrote me and said they did close a deal for $80,000 and that he just got paid for that a few days ago.