Tag Archives: TechCrunch

Manufacturing is changing with us

Back in 2004 I wrote Bill Gates a letter telling him how to compete with the iPod. I said to design it in public view with everyone’s help. I was called a massive idiot back then.

It has totally shocked me that more companies haven’t taken my advice. This weekend shows that things are changing and that my advice in 2004 is now being heeded.

1. Bug Labs is working with famous design firm IDEO and is designing its UI in public eye. VC Fred Wilson reported that on his blog this weekend.

2. TechCrunch is designing a Tablet PC for less than $300. Mike Arrington gave a report on that this morning.

This is huge and is only going to get bigger. Thanks to companies like PCH in Shenzhen, China, and Twitter and friendfeed (where you can have conversations with thousands of people in live time) we’re going to see new companies spring up and design products and build brands.

Is Techcrunch a blog anymore? Or did it just become a consumer electronics brand?

Or, even better, if you read my comment over on TechCrunch maybe TechCrunch isn’t a brand at all. Maybe they’ll charge you to put YOUR brand on the Tablet PC.

After all, you can already get camcorders with your own image on them (Jeremy Toeman showed me his and it’s very cool) so why not get your own brand on everything?

Thanks Mike Arrington for taking us off the rails into Twitter idiot land

Yesterday Mike Arrington took us off the rails and into the idiot land.

Listen, I’m as egotistical as the rest of them. I can say “follow me” along with the best of them. According to Loic Le Meur and Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, I have more authority than either of them because I have more followers on Twitter. Their words, not mine.

That idea is patently idiotic. We have been derailed from the promised land of smarter conversations on Twitter and have moved into the idiot land if that’s the way we think.

Even worse, my post yesterday about this got 12x more traffic than my two video posts did (even though one of them was with the guy who named Web 2.0 and is my favorite interview of the year). The 12seconds.tv video post took far more time and money to do (and more time to think about and consume too). The fact that no one cares about actually learning something and trying a new service or hearing about how the entrepreneurs are doing it is telling me a LOT.

We’re off the rails and well into idiot land now.

Why is former TechCrunch author Duncan Riley is writing about celebrity news more on his Inquisitr blog than trying to find another tech scoop? Look at the traffic curves. TechCrunch is headed down for the past few months. Inquistr, Riley’s new site, is headed up.

We are a land of idiots. Idiots care about who is following them. Idiots care more about celebrity news than science. Or technology. Or geeky stuff.

Idiots try to rank things based on who has the most followers. Idiots can’t be bothered with thinking about adding value like Tim O’Reilly or Jay Rosen, all guys who teach you something in nearly every tweet and who I can’t remember ever caring about how many followers they have.

Look at this attitude close up in this post by Jesse Stay, who posted his defense of the follower idiocy on Louis Gray’s blog so it could “get to more eyeballs.”

Aaarrrrrgggghhhhhh.

Of course, Mike Arrington is not an idiot. Neither is Loic Le Meur. Neither is Jesse Stay. So, what are they up to?

They know there is money in idiocy. That is where their future traffic will come from. That is where their profits will come from. There aren’t enough smart people so you gotta create some drama to pull in the idiots. Steve Gillmor figured it out.

Maybe I’m the idiot. Sigh.

Now, to be fair, the post that started this mess, from Loic Le Meur, had a good goal: to make it possible to find better tweets in searches. In other words, to separate the news from the noise. Except Loic used the word “authority” and hooked it to popularity: the number of followers one has.

Loic claims he didn’t do that to start a fight, but that demonstrates he just didn’t know that the idiots would rebel against the thought that they don’t matter as much as someone else. It also fed the idiots who believe that the only thing in life that matters is celebrity. How lame.

Here’s why I’ve been saying for the past year that it is far more important who you follow than who follows you: if you follow people just to get followers you’ll end up being overworked, deep in information overload, and superficial to boot. You won’t have a philosophy. It +will+ show. You might be able to fool most of the idiots most of the time, but eventually they’ll see the difference between the “collect follower” types and the “surround yourself with smart people” types like Tim O’Reilly or Jay Rosen.

I can smell the “follow me” types a million miles away, can’t you?

One crowd is off the rails in idiot land, the other is building something of lasting value.

Which one do we want to incent? The “follow me” idiots? Or the “try to get smarter” crowd?

I know I’m swimming upstream, but I want to get smarter. Screw the page views. Screw the business models. They all are lame anyway. I want better friends. Better content. Better news. Better ideas. That means I need to find better people to be part of my social network. Idiots be damned.

So, when I say that listing search results by numbers of followers is idiotic, now you know where I’m coming from. There are a lot better ways to find the high value Tweets. I covered that yesterday. But no one cared, which is why that post didn’t show up on TechMeme.

I guess I should just give in and join the idiot crowd. I bet this post gets on TechMeme or, even better, Digg.

Aaarrrrrggggghhhhh.

See, this is why I really don’t care about Mike Arrington’s claim that I should blog more because my traffic is going down. If I cared only about building a business or making money then he’d definitely be right.

My goal, though, is to have smarter conversations every day. Does anyone else care about that goal? Or are you all wanting to be celebrities so you can sell stuff on your Twitter account, like what Jesse Stay is advocating for?

How do we get this back on the tracks now that Arrington has derailed us?

Did I harm my blog by FriendFeeding this year?

Since I’ve been blogging eight years this month I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my blog and how I want to do things differently in 2009.

I told Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, that I wonder if I’ve made smart time investments in 2008 by spending so much time on Twitter and friendfeed. Yeah, I knew about the Chinese earthquake before pretty much anyone, and 45 minutes before CNN reported it, but doing that required being online with Twitter open late at night after most of you had gone to sleep or were watching some TV.

He just posted that I need a friendfeed intervention, which is why I’m writing this post.

About a month ago I asked people over on FriendFeed and the comments came in hot and heavy. Of course most of them thought I did a good thing by spending so much time on FriendFeed this year.

How much time? I told Arrington tonight that I bet it’s seven hours a day or more. I started in late February. So, that’s around 2,000 hours. What did I get for my 2,000 hour investment this year?

22,997 followers.
6,841 comments. (These are blogs and items I had something to say about, so I left a comment on them).
13,078 likes. (These are blogs and items made by other people that I wanted to share with you).
I manually followed 5,405 people. (You can see all the content they generate in real time here).

Anyway, what did I give up by spending time on Twitter and friendfeed?

  1. A few of my friends think I am not as good a thought leader anymore because they don’t get as many long posts as I used to do.
  2. If you check Compete.com you’ll see my overall traffic went down about 14% this year while FriendFeed’s traffic went up 4,056%.
  3. I don’t get any money from friendfeed, while on my blog I do sell ads now.
  4. I’m not breaking as many stories anymore so I’m showing up on TechMeme less and less.
  5. Arrington himself told me he is reading me less on my blog, although lots of the “A list” crowd have been showing up on friendfeed now that it has hit a certain audience size and is starting to show up on their referral logs.

What did I gain by being on friendfeed and Twitter?

  1. I now get a much wider-range of news and am available to a wider range of people.
  2. My words now get indexed by the two most popular “real-time web” search engines: Twitter Search and friendfeed search. I know people who get their news by visiting Twitter search and looking at what news is “trending,” or becoming more popular.
  3. I am now part of the conversation in a way that I’d never be if I were just blogging. Seth Godin, for instance, only blogs and he rarely gets discussed on Twitter or friendfeed. If he were active he’d be discussed 25x more.
  4. I’ve made a lot of friends that are just reading me on twitter, I’ve met many people at Tweetups and the like that I’d never have met if I weren’t so active.
  5. By being active I’ve been quoted in countless articles about Twitter or friendfeed, which helps me too.
  6. Because I listen to the conversation I am getting better video interviews. Compete.com shows that FastCompany.TV is growing nicely this year and has taken up the slack for my blog. Add that into all my new readers on Twitter and friendfeed and I’m happy about my total readership. Seagate deserves a lot of thanks there for sponsoring FastCompany.TV back when there were no viewers.
  7. I now have a new news source that other bloggers won’t have: a crowd of 5,400 people who are bringing me the best news from around the web in real time. Already I’m seeing stuff there that will turn into blog posts and insights that other people aren’t seeing. Because I’ve build relationships with many of these people over the past year they call me and warn me about important news before they call other people. This “funnel” of news could be a sizeable advantage for someone trying to compete in a very competitive space.
  8. I now have a list of 23,000 people on friendfeed and 44,692 on Twitter that I can show potential sponsors. Before all I could say is my monthly uniques.
  9. In friendfeed Mike Arrington has 15,108 followers and I have 22,999. Mike has a LOT more blog readers than I have, so he should have dramatically more followers than I have on friendfeed. But by participating in these services I have collected more subscribers. Do they offset the same number of blog readers I’d have if I spent so much time blogging instead of hanging out on friendfeed? That’s the question that got Mike and I to talk.

Why does this all matter? Well, if you are going to do this as a business you’ve got to prove how many readers you have and demonstrate both audience size as well as influence.

The other thing that advertisers are asking me for is quantitative data about who is reading me. Some companies now don’t want to reach geeks, for instance. So, they are looking at your social networks to see what kind of audience you’ve attracted.

So, what do you think? Do I need a friendfeed intervention? Looking forward to having a good conversation. Of COURSE we are talking about this on friendfeed. In fact, in multiple places. :-)

Guy Kawasaki says outrageous things about Twitter

Guy Kawasaki is a pretty influential guy and when he says “Twitter is a weapon,” in an interview I did with him my ears perk up.

But he got more outrageous from there. He took on TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington with a challenge. Guy would rather give up his cell phone for a week than give up Twitter for a week.

Oh, Guy said a few other fun things. Which is what you’d expect from the first technology evangelist (a role he held at Apple back in the early 1980s).

Not to mention that he started a cool social media directory, AllTop, and promptly put his own name at the top of the ego page. Oh, he’s not just outrageous about Twitter. In reality we were there to discuss his new book, Reality Check: the Irrreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition.

“I’m so sold on Twitter.”(1 minute in)

“I think Twitter is, arguably, the most powerful branding mechanism since television.” (2 minutes in)

The essence of a good pitch (3 minutes in)

“I would sell to Toyota,” when I asked him what he’d do about GM (4 minutes in)

Twitter should be bailed out by the government (4:45 in)

“The thing that drives your competition crazy the most is when you are successfull and they are not.” (7 minutes in)

“Is your boss an asshole?” (10 minutes in). Leads to a fun discussion about Steve Jobs. Funny how that happens!

Why your company can’t be successful like Apple or Google just buy spending money on goodies (14 minutes in)

“For me, Twitter is more important than a cell phone.” (16 minutes in)

“Twitter is a weapon.” (17 minutes in)

Thanks Guy for inviting me over for a fun conversation. Now back to Twitter. Follow Guy @guykawasaki and follow me @scobleizer.

UPDATE: over on FastCompanyTV this video is getting more comments than any other in recent memory, which brings on this outrageous Scoble rule: get a famous Twitterer to say outrageous things about Twitter and you’ll get more comments on your blog.

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.

Let’s cry for the poor fragmented, underreported startups

Daniel Terdiman, over at CNET, is reporting that Demo and TC50 are potentially fragmenting their audiences.

Let’s cry for a moment for all the startups. Boo, hoo, hooo.

Back to reality. Any startup that looks at this as a loss should be refused funding.

First it’s funny that a CNET reporter is saying that. After all, CNET is one of the few organizations around that has the resources to attend both conferences. CNET should LOVE this because it gives them a HUGE advantage over 99.9% of other bloggers.

The way I look at it is that four years ago only 70 companies got paid attention to (I attended Demo that year). Now double that number will. Even if you only try out the top five companies from each conference that number will be double too. So, competition between two conferences is GREAT for startups. Any startup that says otherwise just won’t have credibility with me.

The fight between Arrington and Shipley has helped focus our attention on these two conferences (the LA Times even wrote about it) so now startups are getting even more PR than they’d get if there were only one conference. Keep in mind that each of the 70 startups on this list paid $18,000 to get on stage, so I’m sure not crying for Shipley’s business. Seems to me that it’s better than ever.

OK, now that we have the drama of the morning out of the way, let’s dig into the 70 demonstrators at Demo. TechCrunch will announce its list on Monday morning at 6 a.m.

If Shipley really cared about the startups she would have made each of the URLs in this list linkable. Here, let me do that. Then, let’s take the weekend and see what we can learn about each of these companies. What do you think of this group? Anything here catch your eye?

UPDATE: I just visited every one of these companies. Boy do they almost all suck (at least their Web sites and if their sites suck, I can’t believe their products are going to do much better).

Accordia Group, LLC; New Rochelle, NY;

Adapx, Inc.; Seattle, WA;

Alerts.com, Inc.; Bellvue, WA;

Arsenal Interactive, Inc.; Mountain View, CA;

Asyncast Corp; Campbell, CA;

Awind Inc.; Junghe, Taiwan;

beeTV; Milano, Italy;

Best Buy; Minneapolis, MN;

BizEquity Corp.; Spring House, PA;

Blue Lava Technologies, Inc.; Honolulu, HI;

Cerego; Tokyo, Japan;

Cinergix, Pty Ltd.; Melbourne, Australia;

Clintworld; Boenningstedt, Germany;

CoreTrace Corp.; Austin, TX;

crowdSPRING, LLC; Chicago, IL;

DesignIn, Inc.; Marblehead, MA;

Dial Directions, Inc.; Alameda, CA;

DOCCENTER; Omaha, NE;

Enterprise Informatics, Inc.; San Diego, CA;

Familybuilder; New York, NY;

ffwd.com, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;

Fortressware, Inc.; Mountain View, CA;

Fusion-io; Salt Lake City, UT;

G.ho.st; Ramallah & Modin, Palestine and Israel;

Green Sherpa; Santa Barbara, CA;

Infovell, Inc.; Menlo Park, CA;

Intelius, Inc.; Bellevue, WA;

Invision TV, LLC; Bethesda, MD;

iWidgets, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;

Kadoo Inc.; Washington, DC;

Koollage, Inc.; San Jose, CA;

Mapflow, Ltd.; Cork, Ireland;

Maverick Mobile Solutions, Pvt. Ltd.; Maharashtra, India;

MeDeploy; Hamden, CT;

Message Sling; Worcester, MA;

MeWorks, Inc.; Taipei, Taiwan;

Microstaq, Inc.; Austin, TX;

MixMatchMusic, Ltd.; Burlingame, CA;

Momindum; Paris, France;

OpenACircle.com; Dallas, TX;

Paidinterviews, LLC; McLean, VA;

Paragent, LLC; Muncie, IN;

Photrade, LLC; Cincinnati, OH;

PlanDone, Inc.; Petaluma, CA;

Plastic Logic, Ltd.; Mountain View, CA;

Qtask, Inc.; Burbank, CA;

Quantivo Corp.; San Mateo, CA;

Radiant Logic, Inc.; Novato, CA;

RealNetworks, Inc.; Seattle, WA;

Rebus Technology, Inc.; Cupertino, CA;

RemoTV, Inc.; New Haven, CT;

Rudder, Inc.; Houston, TX;

Semanti Corp.; Alberta, Canada;

Sim Ops Studios, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;

SitScape, Inc.; Vienna, VA;

SkyData Systems, Inc.; San Mateo, CA;

SpinSpotter; Seattle, WA;

Telnic, Ltd.; London, England;

TetraBase, LLC; Boothwyn, PA;

The Echo Nest Corp.; Somerville, MA;

tikitag, an Alcatel-Lucent Venture; Antwerp, Belgium;

Toolgether; San Mateo, CA;

TravelMuse, Inc.; Los Altos, CA;

Trinity Convergence, Inc.; Durham, NC;

TurnTo Networks, Inc.; New York, NY;

UbiEst S.p.A.; Treviso, Italy;

UGA Digital, Inc.; Taipei, Taiwan;

Unity Solutions, LLC; Clearwater, FL;

Usable Security Systems, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;

WebDiet, Inc.; Henderson, NV;

Xumii, Inc.; San Mateo, CA;

Zazengo, Inc.; Santa Cruz, CA;