Monthly Archives: February 2008

2 Stylists WIldly Try to Whip Me into Shape

I’m going to two conferences next week, Health 2.0 in San Diego, and SXSW in Austin. So I feel it’s imperative to look my best (meaning, get rid of those roots). So here I am at the hair salon on Friday afternoon, requiring the work of not one, but two stylists to calm these wild tresses.

Mobile post sent by hardaway using Utterz Replies.

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Knightsbridge Capital

Brett Wilson, CEO of TubeMogul, is speaking at the Knightsbridge Capital Conference. The gentleman on my left, a major partner in the fund, does not believe Wilson that 9 billion videos are watched per day on the Internet.

He also doesn’t see how this company will make money. I think it will. Right now, TubeMogul upsells a toolset, with more information about the audience, for agencies and commercial purpose. But they don’t really think that’s the business. They want to own the distribution channel for high quality video and be the way to put ads into video. They will use their data to monetize video.

Lifelock presents next. It’s a much larger company. It is also a Phoenix company, the founders of which were originally involved with Touchscape — one of the disasters of the first dot com revolution. Bessemer is invested in Lifelock, which you probably already know as the company whose owner gives out his social security number on TV. Lifelock wants to be deemed the industry leader in prevention of identity theft. Business has grown 50% in the last 60 days. They are running TV in which the founder gives out his social security number.

Lifelock is proactive, rather than reactive. Most services happen after you are a victim. This business is growing very quickly because it is proactive. But their real vulnerability is security, and they are more buttoned up than any financial institution.

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LiveBlogging the Wallstripper

Howard Lindzon, Wallstrip co-founder, is hosting all his buddies at a conference in Scottsdale in February on a Friday. Howard has a fund, Knightsbridge Capital, that invests in startups, builds them and sells them. His partners are all here to meet and greet the companies. Many of them are Canadian.

You get the picture: doing well by doing good. We can play golf, help entrepreneurs, and have fun.

Knightsbridge just closed its fund and has already sold one of its investments: MyTrade. This fund is invested in some fun companies, and it looks like they will have some more good exits.

There are seven companies presenting here: Limos.com, BlogTalk Radio, GreenScreen Interactive, vSocial, TubeMogul, and LifeLock.

But first we hear from Brian Jennings. Jennings is now talking about excellence, which is what Knightsbridge is focused on for its new fund. Jennings says business is a way of measuring excellence, as is sports. He talks about how to think about excellence when things are bad. He launches into sports metaphors, telling about Jake Plummer wanting to take the 49ers to the Rose Bowl. Plummer was a leader. He’s talking about how wet and windy it is in the Bay Area compared to Arizona, and how scared he was when he first got there and couldn’t snap a spiral. Steve Mariucci taught him how to have fun, and how to focus, and also how to be perfect all at the same time.

(The hardest thing about his job is gripping the football. He talks a lot about this, but I don’t know enough about football to report it accurately. Suffice it to say, he takes it all very seriously. )

Jennings is smart and articulate, giving the lie to cliches about football players. He warms up the room nicely.

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How Do You Build an Online Community

Do you belong to any online communities, and if so, what are they and why do you find them useful? Online communities are not as easy to form as you would think, although we all hear about Facebook and MySpace and Twitter as if it took nothing to build one.

As part of Stealthmode’s mission, I’ve been helping some sites develop their online communities lately, and I’ve been studying the issue to try to find out what makes them work. The four sites are completely different. To give them all a little plug, they are:

Real Self, a beauty site on which users evaluate beauty products and treatments, mostly having to do with anti-aging. I love it because the users tell us “what’s worth it” and share their stories.

EmpowHer, a newly launched health information site for women, where women are encouraged to exchange information in the hope of receiving better treatment for conditions such as post-partum depression, heart disease, and thyroid disorders. I love this one because the founder started it to help other women avoid things such as unnecessary hysterectomy, which is still very prevalent in the US.

St. Lukes Health Initiatives, a foundation that is trying to help Arizona better its health care. I am part of a group blog at Arizona Health Futures.. You can become a blogger there too, if you have an interest. SLHI is also developing an online collaboration among the not-for-profits it funds. This one I love because it’s mission is capacity building for nonprofits and public health.

The fourth is Earth911.org, a national database of recycling sites that is fifteen years old and very successful, but has not had an online community before. We’re trying to launch a year of product stewardship information and idea exchange for small business as well as individuals.

Now a bit of history. For ten years, I’ve had a primitive online community at Yahoo Groups. It’s the Stealthmode Group, and it sends one email a week about what I’m doing to a group that now numbers close to 2000 people. About 1-2% of the recipients write me back, and therefore I call myself the community manager for this group, which cannot write to each other (I do that to hold down the number of emails). I would call this group successful, because people also pass around these emails to their friends.

Most of the recipients of these emails don’t read blogs and don’t understand RSS. They just think my life is interesting enough for a weekly email.

My business partner also runs an online community that’s nearly ten years old. Its called AZIPA (the Arizona Internet Professionals Association), and its core is a discussion list via which 3,000+ Internet Professionals help one another. There’s also a separate jobs list, events list, and a local tech newswire.

This list is also run through YahooGroups.

OK. Now to the buried lede.

Two of the sites I’m now helping are built on Drupal. They are loaded with features. The other two are built on WordPress. A little difficult to manipulate.

Conclusion: what makes a successful online community? A single, easy-to-use feature. Click here to participate. Do only this one thing. After you get your participants “addicted,” go ahead and add another thing. Most of us are too busy to learn how to use all the features of a full-featured online community. For me, an experienced software user, and a very transparent person, it’s still easiest to Twitter. It’s easy to Utter, but it’s not so easy to listen to the Utterz of others. Video adds an entire other layer, although Seesmic is about the simplest video I’ve found.

I’ve led you through this entire analysis to make you understand that it’s all about KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid). You can always add when the people are willing to learn because they see the value in the community.

Hat tip to Jeremiah Owyang and Guy Kawasaki for the tweets that helped me collate my thoughts this morning. The Dawn Patrol. These guys are always awake, always aware, always online.

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Google Will Map Your Health Record

The New York Times has an article this morning about Google’s pilot program with The Cleveland Clinic to store 1500 health records. Apparently, the Cleveland Clinic already has one of those EMRs that patients hate — the kind that they can’t take with them if they leave the Clinic to spend the winter in Florida or the summer in Europe. It is internal, like Mayo’s. Now it will be online, like any other Google service.

10,000 patients volunteered to an electronic transfer of their personal health records so they can be retrieved through Google’s new service, which won’t be open to the general public. It will be passworded, like your Google calendar or Gmail.

What’s so significant about such a small trial?
1)The Cleveland Clinic is one of the best medical facilities in the United States
2)They already have an EMR, so it’s not a case of wanting to make a transition to electronic records; rather,
3)They have come to the conclusion that the patient should control and have access to his or her records
4)So they are willing to give their system a patient-friendly front end.

Google has already said they wanted all information to be accessible and online, which is why they started Google News, Maps, Reader, Scholar, etc. Now they will also give us our health information — almost the last bastion of privacy, protected by HIPAA.

I see that they are attacking the privacy issues head on. But I also see that they got volunteers. There is quite a bit of customer demand for accessible records, and as long as the program is voluntary (opt-in, in geek terms), the privacy freaks should be assuaged. After all, HIPAA originally stood for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Nothing about privacy.

One other thing: Marissa Mayer is now running Google’s health team. She has been a public-facing executive for a long time. From what I know of Google, she’s senior, she’s serious, she understands the power of social media, and is not just a geek in a back room. I think Google will be a serious player.

But one thing she will have to deal with: the geeks’ fear that Google already knows too much about us, and that having our health information as well would mean endless targeted ads for Viagra or Cialis for some of us.

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Sharper Image’s Bankruptcy Mirrors Hillary’s Losses

First let me tell you that I know nothing about retail. And then let me tell you that I used to be a customer of Sharper Image, but haven’t been there in years.

That says it all about change, and about the way technology has come to pervade modern life. I know a lot about change. This week my foster kid Josh had his entire face reconstructed because he was beaten by a robber with a baseball bat. He has metal plates inserted in his eye sockets, and every bone in his face has been moved around. Yet when I saw him in the hospital after the surgery, he didn’t even have a visible incision. The surgeon went in through his lip and up through his nose using imaging, robotics, lasers, and microsurgical techniques. Five years ago, that surgery probably didn’t exist. He will not even have a scar.

Today it was announced that Sharper Image has filed Chapter 11 reorganization, and that it would close a bunch of stores.

Of course it will. Sharper Image is failing like Hillary Clinton is failing. Failing to keep up with the pace of change. By definition, nothing can be “progressive” or “fashion forward” forever if it doesn’t change its model or its views. Everyone who wants an Ionic Breeze has one. And everyone knows we need health insurance for our citizens. It’s no longer an inspiring subject for a speech.

When everyone on the planet didn’t have a cell phone, Sharper Image was the place to go. But once cell phones bcame availalbe on the streets of Delhi and in the villages of Africa, who would go to Sharper Image to buy a gadget? Perceiving this, Sharper Image began inventing gadgets — most of them of the Ionic Breeze variety. The last thing I bought in Sharper Image was a negative ion brush for my dog. I thought it was clever at the time, but I’ve passed on to a new trend: outsourcing the grooming of my dog.

I think you know where I’m going with this. When your platform is futuristic and Progressive, the future eventually catches up with you and you find yourself in the mainstream and then gradually falling behind. This morning, I feel what way about Hillary Clinton. I feel the same way about Sharper Image.

An analyst once told me that every three years, there’s a change in the way kids respond to technology. This generation of kids is native to social media the way Gen X is native to email. Do you realize how fast the pace of change has become? In five years, we won’t have incandescent light bulbs anymore. We may not even know yet what else we won’t have.

This is not easy to fathom, or to adjust to. Change has displaced Sharper Image and Hillary Clinton — two staples o the 90s. In retail and in politics, there are still people who don’t understand the breakneck pace of change the way technology companies have to.

In technology, people cannibalize their own businesses and products or die. In retail, that doesn’t often happen. In politics, it NEVER happens, although perhaps at this moment in history, it should. If what you think you are selling is the future, as Sharper Image and Hillary both think, you should probably be doing more study of innovation theory.

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Rocky, Scoble’s producer, “protects” the first Tesla

Everyone knows all about Robert Scoble, but really they don’t know much about Rocky. I happen to love him, so I took some time to find out about him. It turns out he’s really a geek too, and he made a mid-life career change into the more creative field of video production, just as it was morphing into the perfect place for geeks (because it was becoming digital). He has quite a home studio. I think equipment is his downfall.

He’s a warm-hearted, fun-loving guy who loves motorcycles and befriended me with his wife Shelley, who works for a biotech company. It’s so cool when I’m in Half Moon Bay; I’m surrounded by Scoble on the south and Rocky on the north (in Pacifica). Both fascinating men with wonderful wives (Maryam has more of a public presence than Shelley, but both are terrific).

So next time you see Rocky driving Scoble down the 280 or the 405, don’t just think of him as Scobleizer’s bodyguard.

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