Daily Archives: December 6, 2006

Do cheapskates make for good first customers?

Over OnStartups there’s an interesting post about whether or not cheapskates make for good customers.

I remember one cheapskate who came into my store. He drove from San Francisco to “save” five dollars. I still remember that I thought he was the biggest idiot I’d ever met. Why? It takes an hour to drive from SF to SJ and the average car costs something like $.32 a mile to operate. So, he wasted money, even if his time isn’t worth anything. I knew he would never become a loyal customer cause I knew he’d go to any distance to find a cheaper price.

Good discussion, though, on what makes for a good customer.

Me? A customer who gets involved. Who tells other people about you. Who gives you ideas on how to improve (thanks to those who have emailed me, or gone to my wiki and left me suggestions or tips or interview ideas).

I remember one customer in the camera store I used to work at (who eventually became my favorite — and was extremely loyal). While I was writing up his multi-thousand dollar order he went and bought both of us lunch.

Did I remember that the next time he came in? Certainly did.

An hour with Ross Mayfield, wiki pioneer

I’ve gotten around to a lot of Wiki companies lately. The market for them is white hot. One of my interviewees, Wikia, just got funded by Amazon. Another, JotSpot, got bought by Google.

So, to wrap up the group of Wiki interviews, I went to Ross Mayfield, founder of SocialText, which is the first company that I saw try to make a business out of wikis. We spend an hour talking about a bunch of things.

Other wiki-oriented interviews I’ve done:


Twitter — hot service in SF, New York, and now London

Sam Sethi (of UK TechCrunch) had a breakfast last week in London. What did we all talk about? Twitter. Seems it was the topic of conversation on LunchMeet too!

My problem with Twitter? I keep forgetting to do it. Evan Williams, founder of the company that did Twitter, sent me email telling me that there’s a setting that’ll turn on a reminder. Oh, that’s what I need. More reminders that I’m behind. I just need to look at my inbox to remember that!

But, I do love Twitter for some reason. I can log in there and see what all my friends say they are doing.

UPDATE: Evan Williams, one of the co-founders of the company that made Blogger, is in this video.

Yahoo reorgs

Ahh, I see Yahoo has reorged while I flew home. It’s all over TechMeme. My analysis? Yahoo’s struggling to figure out how to monetize its users. I feel for them. Google disrupted Yahoo by going with text-ads and turning down the billions in banner advertising that was out there. Yahoo, like Microsoft, is struggling to deal with that disruption.

Trick is, I’m willing to click on blue-underlined content. Steve Broback noted this way back in 2000 when I still worked at Fawcette. The world hasn’t changed since then. I filter banner ads out. I don’t even see them. I certainly don’t take action based on them. Little blue underlined text? Much better cause it gets you to click. To take action. And they are easier to put next to content that makes sense.

Yahoo has two things going for it. 1) Audience. I watch how people use computers and they still go to Yahoo. A lot. 2) Brand. They have new hot brands like Flickr and Del.icio.us along with big old brands like Yahoo itself.

I wonder, though, if it’s too late to give up banners and go text-ads ala Google style? It probably is for Yahoo. And the hottest advertising market in 2007 are going to be in video and mapping. Both places that Yahoo isn’t really known for.

Translation: they might be reorging the chairs on the deck, but fundamentally Yahoo isn’t making the kinds of Google-stopping moves it needs to make.