Monthly Archives: May 2010

The future of calendaring and scheduling with the team

Want to meet with me for lunch? You can go to and find an open spot in my schedule and schedule me. I’ll get an email and will be able to accept or reject the request or suggest another time. This is really a great new way to schedule meetings and saves me a TON of time. Tungle hooks into my Google Calendar and then puts the meeting on that, which gets synched to lots of other places including my calendars on my Android-based phones, my iPhone, my iPad, Microsoft Outlook, etc.

Plus they recently added hooks into Plancast, which is where I keep a list of the industry events I’m attending.

So when the team was in town recently I wanted to meet up with them to see what they were thinking about the future of calendaring and scheduling and whether they were thinking of even more links to other information sources like they did with Plancast. We met on the lawn inside Google’s headquarters, right in front of building 43, which I found was metaphorical.

Are you interested in saving time? You should try Tungle and you should watch the video.

The streaming news disrupter (and how the iPad is changing what we expect from media)

On Friday I had an interesting conversation with Skygrid CEO, Kevin Pomplun. Who is he? He has one of the most popular apps on the iPad and it brings me the news. It’s the news app I reach for now before the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

Why are streams disrupting other news aggregation systems? Watch the video and find out.

Facebook we have a problem

Leo Laporte is now claiming that Facebook is deleting and banning a radio station’s Facebook identity to allegedly remove comments about Facebook’s privacy stance.

This worries me a LOT more than whether or not you’ve taken private details like our social graph and forced them to be public.

This is about a loss of trust and goes WAY deeper than privacy.

I can’t trust that you care about my content or my business.

We have a problem.

When will you come and talk to us about this problem we are all having with you?

And I get a new email from someone who has gotten removed from Facebook every week like this one. I’m tired of this, when will you build a system to handle these kinds of complaints and handle them fairly?

All of these items remove our trust in your service. What are you going to do to regain our trust?

UPDATE: Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP of Global Communications, has answered the Facebook deletion problems in the comments below. He answered “Robert, I really wish you — or Louis, for that matter — would reach out to us directly for comment before simply repeating someone’s allegation. I don’t know the situation with KNOI and have asked our teams to investigate the reason the Page was disabled. I can state categorically, though, that our policies would NEVER permit us to take down a page because of it criticizes us.
You of all people should know — and have reported — that people who use Facebook regularly create groups and Pages to criticize actions we’ve taken or to call for changes to our service. A Facebook search this morning of the words “Stop Facebook” reveals over 400 Pages that may involve such protest – all of which are up and active on the site.
I think it’s irresponsible to repeat an allegation that we begun to censor content — and that we’ve started by targeting the Fan Page of a radio station in Texas.”

UPDATE #2: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has written me an email where he says he was waiting to talk about the privacy issues it has been having until they have fixes ready to demo and that he’ll be talking with journalists this week about the issues.

UPDATE #3: Facebook’s public statement on KNOI account deletion ( @leolaporte was talking about that on Google Buzz earlier today). This statement was sent to me by Andrew Noyes | Manager, Public Policy Communications, Facebook:

The pages for KNOI and KRBR were disabled because one of our automated systems for detecting abuse identified improper actions on the account of the individual who also serves as the sole administrator of the Pages. The automated system is designed to keep spammers and potential harassers from abusing Facebook and is triggered when a user sends too many messages or seeks to friend too many people who ignore their requests. In this case, the user sent a large number of friend requests that were rejected. As a result, his account was disabled, and in consequence, the Pages for which he is the sole administrator were also disabled. The suggestion that our automated system has been programmed to censor those who criticize us is absurd.

Are these cloud-based social-feed enterprise disrupters boxing in Microsoft Sharepoint?

SocialWok is doing some interesting stuff with the Google ecosystem. I met up with them in the hallway at Google IO and I came away from the meeting wondering if they will stay an independent company for very long. Why? Because they are doing the most interesting thing to bring Google’s datatypes into your work. Worse yet for Microsoft, I’m seeing that a range of companies are building a wall around Microsoft’s Sharepoint and limiting its ability to grow, at best and potentially taking market share away from Ballmer’s Microsoft.

Now, one small company on its own doesn’t seem to be that big a threat to Microsoft, does it? But let’s look at a range of companies in this post and look at them holistically. I’m seeing the world move toward these newer companies.

First, a disclaimer, I work for Rackspace and we provide hosted SharePoint, so we are hoping you stay on Microsoft SharePoint for a long time and we’ll make it easy to manage your collaboration system. That said, I think it’s important to keep up to date on what’s going on in the Enterprise market, which is why I spend so much time meeting with competitive companies and doing these videos. poking at SharePoint’s weakness: social services

Last week I attended a talk by‘s CEO, Aaron Levie, where he did his best impression of Salesforce’s CEO and not only took on Microsoft but laid out what he’s seeing as a range of cloud-based services that are making a new kind of work possible.

OffiSync: Taking your Microsoft documents and spreadsheets and getting them into Google’s Cloud

Look at this new company, OffiSync from Israel. They let you move your Microsoft documents into Google’s Cloud, but even better, that is like a gateway drug to getting you into Google’s enterprise world. Why? Because if you get your Word docs and spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations off your hard drive and out of email you’ll probably also learn that you could just go all the way and convert them to Google’s online formats which will remove Microsoft from the picture completely.

Yammer: removing all the other stuff to focus only on the social

Recently I visited Yammer and talked with their executives where I learned they were seeing large wins by having enterprise employees bring them in the back door. Why are they doing that? Because Yammer focuses only on the social stream (it originally looked like a copy of Twitter, but now has gotten some other features that make it better to use for enterprise users).

SocialCast: bringing activity streams (IE, Facebook-like features) to workplace for less money than Salesforce Chatter (and more freedom too)

In my visit to SocialCast I got a look at their latest offerings which are competitive with SocialWok’s and Salesforce Chatter, but for less money than Salesforce’s offerings. Their competitive advantage? You can use SocialCast on your own servers, where with SocialWok or Salesforce you are forced to use only cloud-based services.

SocialText: mixes a full suite of collaboration tools into social

When you visit Ross Mayfield, founder of SocialText, you get the feeling he’s been doing this a lot longer than the other players on the field and you’d be right. His company started as an easy-to-use wiki company but over the last few years has turned on a range of services from spreadsheets to other collaboration tools and laid them into a social feed.

Jive: pushing large-scale communities into collaboration tools

If you visit VMWare you’ll see they have 1.5-million people on their communities which are all run on Jive. Jive is the biggest of the startup disrupters of the enterprise world and consistent rumors have floated from its Palo Alto headquarters that they are working on an IPO but they are using that lead in community-management to make major moves into the new social enterprise world. Here I meet with CEO Dave Hersh and he talks about what he’s seeing happen.

Zoho: outrunning everyone with a huge suite of corporate services

If you look at Zoho’s home page you’ll see dozens of services, all aimed at helping you work better but for less money. These are services built from the ground up for the Web and they have proven to be very popular. Here I talk with Zoho’s CEO, Sridhar Vembu, about how he views the new Microsoft Office along with competition from Google (Zoho is on Google’s new enterprise app store and doing well there) and where he’s taking his company.

Salesforce Chatter: moving from just being for salespeople to being a crucial information-sharing service for the entire corporation

The big daddy of the disrupters is Salesforce. Why? Because they already have a relationship with nearly every CTO in the world so they can — unlike Yammer or most of the other players I’m discussing here — go in the front door of the company and get large groups of the company to buy in with one sales call. Already we’re seeing that happen as they roll out their beta and getting more engagement from enterprise employees than the others have gotten after scratching out adoption over a period of years. Why is Salesforce Chatter so important? Because they are building hooks into other corporate information systems, like those from SAP, and shoving info from those APIs directly into the social feed that looks a lot like Facebook. Here I sit down with the guy behind Chatter, Senior VP of Product Marketing Kraig Swensrud.

Tomorrow I’ll be at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference looking for more enterprise disrupters. I’m sure I’m missing a ton here, including companies like Atlassian, Blogtronix (video here), or Google themselves. If you think your company deserves to be in this conversation, please post a comment here. Thanks!

So, what do you think? Are these newer approaches taking away from Sharepoint? Are they boxing it in?

What is your favorite social relationship manager?

There are a slew of social relationship managers that have been released in the past year and the space is really heating up.

There’s Gist, here’s CEO T.A. McCann talking about it in front of the Google IO conference.

But there’s Xobni, Rapportive, eTacts, and others.

I’m trying them all.

So far Gist is my favorite. Why? Because of its completeness of information about other people it brings into my view and because of its web centricity. Xobni is nice if you use Outlook, for instance, but I don’t use that anymore.

Rapportive is nice because it works on regular old Gmail. Gist just shipped support for Gmail, but only if you are using Google Apps. I don’t use that either.

But which one is your favorite? Have you considered using a relationship manager? They aren’t for everyone, but if you need to keep up to date on a large number of people, which usually means executives, PR people, or salespeople, then these things are really great. It’s interesting that everyday Gist sends me an email and presents information about the people I’m emailing with the most. That often lets me learn about people in a new way that I miss on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

For instance, you can see my public profile on Gist and get an idea of the kinds of things it presents about the people in your life. Now, imagine you were headed to a meeting with a VC, or trying to sell something. Wouldn’t having all this data about that person be useful? Also, Gist has a nice iPhone app that shows you info and it just got an update today that lets you import your iPhone’s contacts.

By the way, I’ve created a Twitter list of “weapons for entrepreneurs” like these and other tools, people, and services that help entrepreneurs do their jobs better. Why aren’t you following that?

How the iPad is changing art and music

Now that more and more people are getting iPads we are seeing just how they change everything, especially art and music. Here I meet David Newman, artist, in a parking garage. I was sitting next to him in the Google IO keynotes and was amazed at how fast he worked to draw really great portraits of people. Now he couldn’t have done this demo on the go with a laptop. You can see his art on Flickr.

A few weeks ago I met Rana Sobhany who had gotten tons of compliments at the first iPad Dev Camp with her iPad DJ’ing system. So, she gave me a look at what she’s doing. That video went viral and has been watched half a million times. Wild. But she’s not the only one using iPads. I met Wil.i.iam who is the music genius behind the Black Eyed Peas. We talk mostly about Twitter, but at the end he pulls out his iPad too. Rana only had the iPads a week when we shot this video, I’ll follow up with her later in the summer to see how she’s progressed.

One of my kids’ favorite apps is the Smule Magic Piano, and here Lang Lang, famous pianist, walked out on stage and played flight of the bumblebee on it.

There’s even more video about iPad music apps up on YouTube. Same thing for iPad art, where you’ll see an art exhibit on an iPad and more.