Daily Archives: September 7, 2008

My “alignment” with TC50

Alec Saunders, in a comment over on his blog where he said I came off very poorly in my rant about the startups at Demo’s websites questions my “alignment” with TC50. I think that’s worth pointing out here.

I have not shared a meal in the past few months with Mike Arrington. Last time I remember seeing him was at his TC party a couple months ago.

I am NOT paid in any way by TC50. I have absolutely no business dealings with TC50. I have signed no contracts.

“But you’re a judge.” That is true. But so are many other people, including executives and VCs from around the valley. I am NOT being compensated for my time judging the finalists in the rich media category.

I am quite willing to spray my invective toward Arrington and Calacanis. They haven’t been friends to my business interests over the years.

I will be looking for things to both criticize and praise about both conferences this year. Actually I’ll probably be nicer to Demo this week because I’m not there and it’s not really fair to criticize something that you don’t have a personal involvement with. The companies’ websites? Fair game.

Anyway, I’ll be judged at the end of the week whether I was biased one way or another. If I do have a bias, it’ll be easy to see.

I have been more “aligned” with TC50 up to this point for a variety of reasons. Mostly because I think Arrington and Calacanis are outhustling Shipley. But, now, that isn’t really for me to judge. Now it’s YOUR turn to judge which conference did a better job of finding the best startups. I’ll link to the best analysis no matter what side of the fence it’s on.

UPDATE: also, this is true for FastCompany. Unlike other media companies like Mashable or Venturebeat that have sponsored Demo, FastCompany has no business ties to TechCrunch or Demo.

Useful travel web sites

I travel a lot. You might notice that I use sites like TripIt and Dopplr to help me plan my trips, keep track of where I’m going, and share important information with my friends and family and you. I also mostly fly United because I’m a long time frequent flier there (if I was starting fresh I’d focus on Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue because their planes are a lot nicer) and I use its site a lot. I also keep Flightstats.com on my iPhone so I can check if the gate agents are lying when they say the plane is on time.

But I wondered what I was missing, so I asked my Twitter followers what they use. The sites they came up with are very good. Here’s some. Do you agree with these? What sites do you use when you go traveling? Anything different than these?

@bcaudill said “used TripIt for my recent vacation and LOVED it. I’m also a huge fan of TripAdvisor, Kayak and for Europe, Worldby.com.”

@guhmshoo said: “hotwire.com

@devahaz said: “kayak expedia jetblue virgin.”

@storming said: “Tripit and Kayak.”

@Jimconnolly said “Hi Robert – I use TripIt.”

@cja said “TripIt is pretty cool. use it all the time.”

@TravelMuse said: “also if you want to be inspired check out http://www.travelmuse.com/inspire/ and also plan your trips.”

@BettaSmetta said “http://tripadvisor.com is fabulous. had to find a cheap hotel in Midtown Manhattan, used Trip Advisor, and found an true gem!”

girlgamy said: “I really just use TripAdvisor. I never go to any hotel/resort before checking it out on TripAdvisor first. Invaluable!”

jeffq73 said “tripadvisor, dopplr, book directly with hotels for rooms.”

@dimensionmedia said “Travelocity and Expedia.”

@charnellpugsley said “I used to use Travelocity. Have trained myself to go directly to airline websites since they’re moving away from 3rd parties.”

@JamesOReilly said: “I like kayak.”

@abbashaiderali said: “I use Orbitz primarily or a travel agent (!) on a complex trip that might need 911 help. Tripit does rock pretty hard!”

@petefields said: “am an Orbitz man myself.”

@beatricetarka said “On my most recent trip to Italy I used exclusively search engine www.mobissimo.com. Results 40% of savings over competitors.”

@Jennifly said “I use tripwolf the one-stop travel guide to the world.”

@candees said “I like Priceline … I can almost always negotiate a good price on a great room.”

@rlepold said “I usually check a travel service for available fares, then go to the airlines’ site to purchase. Seems to be cheaper that way.”

UPDATE: there’s a thread over on FriendFeed where they are discussing even more good flight/travel sites.

The future of the Web is Marc Canter’s back fence

Yesterday I visited Marc Canter who was holding a BBQ. His back fence is, should we say, unique. Canter is the guy who started Macromind, which became Macromedia. He’s always been ahead of the market in recognizing where things are going. Plus he’s just fun to talk with. So, I filmed him showing off his new book and his fence. The neat thing is while we were filming that we had people participating from around the world on my little cell phone. Even now the chat room is open, so you can participate in this fun project called the live web. Sorry about the abrupt end, the 3G went away. 36 minutes, but it’s not boring. How could it be with that shirt that Marc is wearing!

Earlier in the day I got David Schmidt, CTO of PBWiki, to show me his new OpenID keyfob from Yubikey. That thing is very cool. Using that he can securely sign into all his OpenID services (like WordPress, for instance, or PBWiki) just by shoving this into his USB port and pushing a button. No more remembering passwords that are strange and long.

[kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/6118/216548&embedId=49208663]

The “gold standard” of recent startups

Well, I’ve taken potshots at the new breed of startups. But let’s go back and look at recent startups that have gotten our attention and use this list as a “gold standard” through which to judge companies that come out this week at one of the two conferences.

I put forth a short list of some of the companies that have gained my trust/attention over the past few years. Things like Zoho. Meebo. Zappos. 37 Signals. Threadless. Evernote. Kongregate. TripIt. Kayak. Viddler. Qik. Kyte. Hypem. Dogster. Get Satisfaction. Instructables. Tesla Motors. Last.fm. iLike. Pandora. Lijit.

People on Twitter sent these in:

@dpiv says: drop.io.
@seven24 says: Freshbooks.
@taaviuudam says: vimeo. Blip.tv.
@andrewtc04 says: Moo. Seesmic. Qype.
@mind_booster says: Reverbnation. Sellaband.
@maniar says Zooomr. FriendFeed. Posterous.
@marilynpratt says: Veodia.
@DeirdreS says: passpack.com.
@DarJon says: Skribit.
@brendachrist says: GoldMine.
@JohnAtkinson says: Disqus. ZipScene. ShareThis. PimpMyNews.
@thetylerhays says: Pleasedressme. (another Gary Vee project).
@tinkugallery says: Recycline.
@nitinbadjatia says: Jott.
@Earth911 says: Twitter.
@mathys says: Mobypicture. and Startpix.
@jhurtado says: Tumblr. Scribd.
@Discpl says: Shelfari. Squidoo.
@4davidmartin says: Accuradio.
Chris Brogan, on FriendFeed says: Viewzi. Linden Labs.
Dave Martin, on FriendFeed, says Artfulhome.
Alan Le, on FriendFeed, says Mint.
Zee, on FriendFeed, says WordPress (er, Automattic).
Erhan Erdogan on FriendFeed, says: Apture. SocialMedian. Brightkite. Entrecard. Animoto. Magnify.net. Speeddate. Sevenload. Fon. Flixwagon. G.ho.st. PicLens. Shareaholic. Etsy.
Susan Beebe, on FriendFeed, says: FFtogo (FriendFeed mobile client). RSSMeme. Sliderocket. Blist. Identi.ca. TweetDeck. Mento. Revision3.

Wow, what a lot of interesting companies. But here’s the problem: how many of these have you even tried? I bet that if I averaged out all my readers it would come up to somewhere between five and seven. And you are the smartest, most passionate, and most early adopter tech users in the world. For most people? I bet they might have tried one and have no clue about the rest of this list.

And THAT is why I’m getting to be much more harsh on startups. New startups are coming into this marketspace where even good existing companies (most of these companies are very good and are executing well) aren’t getting much attention. So if you don’t measure up to the current market standard bearers, you probably won’t have a possibility to succeed.

Lots of people think I should just go “rah rah” for new startups. I’m sorry, I’m not going to do that anymore. You want to get on this list? You’ve got to earn your way on here. Out of the more than 100 companies we’ll see this week, it’ll be interesting to see who will do just that.

How about you? What’s your “gold standard” in startups? Let’s build a good list which we’ll then use to compare new services and apps to this week.

Which ones of these have the potential of breaking out? Which ones do you love?

How to be a stealth site

Let’s say you want to introduce your product on a certain date. Say on Monday because you are demonstrating your product at Demo or TC50. Well, you aren’t allowed to show off the product, right? So, what do you do?

Well, look at Causecast’s site.

This is done pretty darn well.

What did they do?

1. It’s an attractive page.
2. It explains a bit about what’s coming. Compare to Usable.com, which is launching at Demo.
3. It asks you to join and makes an implicit promise to keep you connected.
4. It gives a way for potential business partners (and others like press) to get more info.

Clean, leaves a good first impression, and promises more info to come soon.

Anyone have a better example?