Scoble: hit man of Silicon Valley?

Today a “journalist” (Dan Lyons) says I have been hitting up VCs to start my own fund.

Really? I didn’t know that!

For the record, I’m not raising a fund. This article is NOT accurate.

But, it sure comes up in conversation a lot. At two events tonight it came up. First, I was interviewing Wealthfront’s CEO Andy Rachleff. That interview is here and it’s an interesting business which is helping people with their investing in a new way (everyone who has $5,000 and up, that is). At that interview we talked about what being an investor is all about and after the interview was over the question about whether I would do my own fund came up. Andy has been a VC for a long time, so I listened to his advice, which he offered.

Later I was at a business school event at Stanford where there was a panel of venture and angel investors. Afterward they crowded around me and asked me why I haven’t done a fund yet.

Truth is my life rocks and I am not sure I want to screw that up. See, investors do a lot of the same things I’m doing (networking, watching how things spread, and hear lots of pitches) but they also do a lot of things I don’t like (board of directors meetings, negotiating, saying no, etc etc). I’m not sure I want to give up my great life where I do almost only things I love to do (which is talk with people about technology, innovation, and their companies) just for a chance to make some real money. So far I’ve resisted that path, even turned down $500,000 to start my own business last year.

Anyway, I’ve written tons about this issue on Dan Lyon’s Google+ account. If you care about what happened, and the way this “journalism” got reported you can read these posts:

1. Dan Lyons claims I have a fund and am hitting up VCs to join it. Dan wrote a followup post that he was taking heat from commenters.

2. Dan wrote about my correction to his story and that I claimed it wasn’t true. It wasn’t. In the comments there I further explain myself.

3. Dan apologized to me and tried to explain more about his source’s claims (which are bull, I’ve never had a fund).

Anyway, it’s sort of flattering to have everyone thinking I’m doing a fund. Maybe I should take Mike Arrington out to dinner and learn what it’s like…

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One other thing. Someone asked me what I thought of what Mike Arrington is doing with his CrunchFund.

I think it’s great. It’s also great that he gets to tell me what companies he’s interested in.

I know where his conflicts come from. I’m an intelligent reader. If he pushes a company I know that it might be because he has a financial stake in the company. I’m totally not bothered by this. If you are, there are PLENTY of other tech outlets to read. I have a Twitter list with almost 500 tech news brands in it. In fact, Arrington and his blog aren’t in there because I don’t look at Arrington as a news outlet, although I do look at investors as interesting people to watch. I have a separate Twitter list of tech industry investors.

Seems to me it’s pretty easy as a reader to get lots of news, both biased and unbiased, so it’s not something that keeps me up at night.

My contract with you is that I will tell you when I have conflicts of interest and then you’ll have to decide which list you put me on, or even if you keep listening to me. Fair enough?

UPDATE: Dan just wrote another article, which got me to respond again over on Google+. This will be my final comment on the saga.

Pinterest is to Facebook as Storify's new iPad app is to Twitter

Back in 2010 I wrote this article about the need for content curation software.

Storify is it.

Here’s a look at its new iPad app which is very awesome.

Why is this important?

Well, let’s look at the past 10 years.

2000 (about) Blogging with Blogger or Radio Userland.
2007 Twitter
2008 Facebook
2010 Tumblr
2011 Pinterest and Google+.

What’s the trend? With each year pushing content out to friends is getting easier.

Storify is even easier than Pinterest, in quite a few ways. Finding new content is awesome. Dragging it around and redesigning it is mondo easy (try to move a Pin from one pinboard to the next in Pinterest and you’ll see that Storify’s iPad app is a lot easier).

Anyway, this is being used by tons of news organizations around the world and the White House and even big influential conferences like the World Economic Forum.

Good job Storify.

Why I am tired of Silicon Valley's focus on virality, Glassmap is far worse than Path ever was

You might have seen all the people beating up on Path about two weeks ago. But that really is pretty benign behavior, in my experience, when compared to companies, like Glassmap, who really are hurting the entire app economy.

How? I show how in this video.

Glassmap automatically posted to my Facebook feed when I simply started the app up. Yeah, it gave me lots of lame ass warnings but this is crazy behavior that just needs to be stopped.

Who is to blame?

Silicon Valley’s investors. In this case Paul Graham (Glassmap is a Y Combinator company, which really should be better than this as Silicon Valley’s premier startup incubator). They push these companies to go as viral as possible. So all these companies push as hard as they can to get viral.

Here’s what you should do as a developer:

1. Only put stuff on my feed AFTER YOU SHOW ME WHAT WILL GO THERE.
2. Only put stuff on my feed AFTER YOU GIVE ME THE ABILITY TO CHANGE IT.

This stuff bugs me A LOT MORE than what Path did.

It earns an instant delete and a bad rating on the app store.

By the way, Sam Grossberg points out that it’s a violation of Facebook Platform Policy: “(https://developers.facebook.com/policy/): “You must not pre-fill any of the fields associated with the following products, unless the user manually generated the content earlier in the workflow: Stream stories[...]“”

I guess that’s why Mark Zuckerberg liked my post earlier today about this topic.

Why is this bad? Because a lot of users have told me that they never load apps anymore because they are scared that the apps will put crap on their feeds and they won’t know about it, or see it.

Inexcusable developers. Let’s do better!

Hacker News vs. Google+

Power Point

I might as well have titled this “Hacker News vs Marketers.” Or “Hacker News vs Bloggers.” Or “jerks vs nice people.”

But I never participate in Hacker News for a few reasons and I just was faced with these reasons again when I read the responses there to my blog post yesterday.

1. Programmers often have an attitude of “I can code, you can’t, so I am defacto better than you.” This often comes out in Hacker News comments.

2. Programmers love to bash people anonymously and then, in real life, they will come begging for PR for their companies so that they can survive to program again tomorrow. This comes out clearly in Hacker News. It’s one reason why I’m so anti anonymous comments lately.

3. Programmers love to put stuff into your words that you didn’t say so that their “algorithms” line up. Er, their world view. This clearly comes out in the comments you see there.

4. Programmers love to say stuff in their clubhouse that they won’t come over and say in yours. Look at how different the tone is in comments on Hacker News when compared to the comments on my blog or on Google+, for instance.

At DLD I argued with “Moot,” the guy who runs 4chan. The real world knows him as Christopher Poole.

I told him I far preferred Google+ for discussions than places that allow anonymous comments. He said he far preferred places that allowed anonymous comments.

I told him that Techcrunch’s comments are 1000x better since they went with Facebook. He said they got 1000x worse. That they had lost their entertainment value and their vibrancy.

There is no clearer place to see the difference than in looking at Google+ vs. Hacker News. Here, take a look for yourself:

My blog post, with its comments.

Hacker News’s reaction.

Google+’s reaction.

Facebook’s reaction.

Which do you like better? Which community do you identify best with?

I’m going with Google+ and I know that will get me hated by programmers everywhere. But that’s OK. You’ll still call me in the morning to talk about the new thing you’ve built because you know the users are on Google+ and on Facebook, not hanging out on Hacker News. :-)

PHOTO CREDIT: That’s Paul Graham, founder of Hacker News, in front of Y Combinator’s headquarters, which is where he can often be found participating in the Hacker News community. He’s pointing at Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, which used to be where hackers hung out until Hacker News became their home.

UPDATE: My Google+ commenters say I painted with too broad a brush. That is true. It’s just in reaction to the bashing I consistently get on Hacker News. Of course I have an ego. Of course I know most programmers aren’t like that. Your view may vary. Etc etc etc.

It's too late for Dave Winer and John Battelle to save the common web

The halls of CERN where the Web was invented

The date was January 3, 2008. Facebook had kicked me off for running a script to try to save the common web.

See, I worked with Plaxo to run a simple script. One that would have taken my contacts out of Facebook and put them back into the common web. The script did some very simple things:

1. It grabbed all my friends names.
2. It grabbed all their phone numbers.
3. It grabbed all their email addresses.
4. It gave me a simple CSV file with all that data so I could bring them back to Google, or Microsoft, or anywhere else I wanted to put them.

Facebook’s answer was predictable. They shut me down.

Oh, a few people supported me. Joseph Smarr, for one. Marc Canter, for two. It isn’t lost on me that Joseph now works on the Google+ team and Marc isn’t in the San Francisco area anymore.

They understood what was at stake: the future of the web.

But many others said I deserved to be kicked off of Facebook.

Did I get invited to speak at John Battelle’s conferences about how the common web was screwed? No.

Did Dave Winer lead a SOPA-like protest? No.

Mike Arrington and I had violent disagreements on the Gillmor Gang about my motives.

Heck, these arguments continue to this day. Yesterday Steve Gillmor, again, on yesterday’s Gillmor Gang, said I had broken Facebook’s Terms of Service, which implied that I deserved to get kicked off. I had, but I was trying to save the common web.

The message was loud and clear: Facebook should be allowed to be a data roach motel: data can come in, but damn you Scoble if you want to take that data back out.

The lesson today, four years later, is that the common web is in grave threat, not just from Facebook’s data roach motel but from Apple’s and Amazon’s and, now, Google.

It isn’t lost on me that Joseph Smarr now works at Google and that some of the others who spoke up on my behalf now work at Facebook.

Today their arguments are hitting my ears. Only four years too late. Here, look at their arguments:

Dave Winer says: “Having Google break the contract is not just bad for Google, it’s bad for the web.”

John Battelle says: “The web as we know it is rather like our polar ice caps: under severe, long-term attack by forces of our own creation.”

Now do you get why I really don’t care anymore? The time for a major fight was four years ago.

I understood then what was at stake.

Today? It’s too late. My wife is a great example of why: she’s addicted to Facebook and Zynga and her iPhone apps.

It’s too late to save the common web. It’s why, for the past year, I’ve given up and have put most of my blogging into Google+. I should have been spending that effort on the web commons and on RSS but it’s too late.

Normal users don’t care about the argument anymore and they are addicted to Facebook and Google+ and Twitter and apps on iPhones and Android. Heck, if you are at the Super Bowl tomorrow the official app is on iOS and Android and not other platforms.

The common web isn’t just under attack, it’s been under attack for more than four years.

Why did it take so long for people to wake up?

Me? I really don’t care anymore. I’m locked into Vic Gundotra’s trunk where Google+ has helped me get 400,000 followers since July 1st last year alone. That’s, what, seven months? Did RSS ever do that for me? Did Dave Winer’s systems ever do that for me? Did John Battelle ever put me on stage to help me out? No way.

It’s too late.

I’m not going back to the open web. Why? The juice isn’t there.

So, what would I do now? What’s Dave Winer’s answer? He deleted his Facebook account and is working hard to try to get people to adopt RSS again. Sorry, Dave, but Twitter is a better place to get tech news. Not to mention that the best place to read that list is Flipboard on iOS.

Sorry, will RSS help me get new access to Google’s search engine? No.

Will RSS help me get access to Facebook’s Open Graph, which let Spotify share five billion songs in the first few months of its existence? No.

Will RSS help me get access to your Facebook news feed? No.

Will RSS help me get a better Klout score? No.

Will RSS help me get a speaking slot at O’Reilly’s conferences? No.

Will RSS help me talk with my wife, and her friends, who are all addicted to Facebook? No.

Will RSS let me get my photos onto Instagram? No.

Will RSS help me get my food consumption behaviors onto Foodspotting? No.

So, cry me a river. I’m a user. I tried to stick up for the common web in 2008. Where was the protest then? I was called an “edge case” and someone who should be ignored.

Sorry, Dave and John. It’s too late to put the genie back into the bottle.

See you on Google+.

And next time someone tries to point out that the “data black holes” of these big companies are something that should be fought against maybe you’ll be there with a better protest than what you put up.

It’s too late. Now, excuse me, while I crawl back into the trunk that Google, Facebook, Amazon have locked me in.

It’s interesting to go back and read those comments. Chris Saad is one that has been very consistent for four years. He built a company, Echo, which is still trying to keep our content separate from these big “data black holes.” If anyone deserves credit for trying to keep the web commons alive, it’s him.

What’s the right way to protest TODAY?

1. Don’t delete your Facebook account. Deleting your account just makes you look like a weirdo in today’s world. Dave Winer has that luxury, but most of us don’t.
2. Make ALL data on your Facebook account PUBLIC. Most technologists have done the opposite. To the point where if you aren’t friends with most geeks you can’t even see ANYTHING on their account. That isn’t helping the commons.
3. Work to figure out how to get our data OUT of Facebook, Google+, and Amazon and back into the commons.

Me? I’m just a user and I grew tired of this fight back in 2008. That was the year we could have done something about it. Today? No, sorry, most of this argument doesn’t make any sense to real users. My wife doesn’t care and, even, doesn’t like being in the open web for a whole lot of reasons.

Today? No, don’t put me on stage at conferences. Get regular people, like my wife, who could tell you why they don’t like the open web and, why, even, they are scared of it.

But, no, it makes for beter headlines to try to fight.

John, where were you? At least Dave has been consistently trying to keep us putting content on blogs and on RSS, which ARE the open common web. It’s just that it’s too late. We’re firmly locked back in the trunk and the day for blowing open the trunk has come and gone. Now, excuse me while I check into Foursquare, message my friends about the parties at SXSW on Facebook, find a cool meal to have tonight with my wife on Foodspotting, and go back to posting on Google+.

PHOTO CREDIT: I shot this photo of the hallways of CERN, which is where the web was invented.

UPDATE: already there are more comments on Google+ than are here. On Facebook there’s quite a bit of reaction too. Sort of underscores my point, no?

HTML 5 pushback in San Francisco? Best mobile app designers say yes

The new Path? The one that won a Crunchie last night for great design? It’s not done in HTML 5.
This morning I saw something new coming soon from Storify. Not done in HTML 5.
This morning I visited Foodspotting, which just shipped hot new apps on iOS, Android, and Blackberry. Not done in HTML 5.

More and more I’m hearing that designers and developers are ignoring HTML 5, especially for the high end of apps.

Why?

Well, Path’s founders told me it just isn’t possible to build a great user interface, the way they did it in HTML 5.

Storify’s founder told me it isn’t possible to build smooth drag-and-drop elements.

Foodspotting’s founder told me it isn’t possible to make things smoothly zoom and collapse or scroll in HTML 5.

Is this the beginning of pushback from San Francisco’s best app builders? I think so.

In any case, check out the new Foodspotting:

Why Facebook will be worth a half trillion by 2015: the mobile and open graph revenue it's leaving on the table

Lots of people think Facebook is overvalued, at about $100 billion (it just released their S1, announcing its IPO).

But in talking with developers, like I did with Foodspotting’s founder, Alexa Andrzejewski, and in reading the S1 I see that Facebook has left most of the potential revenue on the table.

That makes me think that the folks crying “overvalued” are nuts.

Check that interview out, Foodspotting is one of the hottest San Francisco startups, aimed at people who are looking for better places to eat. Here it is from just this morning:

See, Mark Zuckerberg is sandbagging us. He hasn’t focused on revenue. Here’s what he means:

1. He has hundreds of millions of “MAU’s” (Monthly Active Users) who are using mobile. Facebook has not made a dime off of those so far. That won’t continue for long.

2. Open Graph is only one way. Companies like Foodspotting push information INTO Facebook, but they don’t get value out. Developers, like Foodspotting, tell me they are hearing rumblings that Facebook is developing a new kind of advertising. One that looks sort of like Ad Sense, but that push ads out to Open Graph partners. Spotify, for instance, has pushed five billion songs INTO Facebook. Imagine when Facebook pushes ads OUT to Spotify!

Add these two things together and I can see Facebook getting 10x the revenues that they are today. Possibly within 24 months. That would be extraordinary growth, and that growth will translate into huge stock growth over the next few years.

This is Zuckerberg’s brilliance. He has always played investors like a fiddle. Remember when he got Microsoft to invest while not giving up much equity? This is the same thing he’s doing to investors now. He’s going to take all of our money for not much equity and then he’s going to pour on growth and watch things go nuts.

Watch his 28% stake in Facebook to grow from around $25 billion to $100 billion or more by 2015.

Oh, and we haven’t even talked about China. Zuckerberg learned Chinese over the past 18 months. You think he’s not interested in blowing open that market somehow?

Rackspace's Startup Liason Officer