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Anti-scale effect in tech

Anti-scale effect in tech
Tonight I was talking with an exec at Google and I brought up the success of (they’ve gotten more than 500,000 downloads in just a few weeks) and asked him “why can’t Google do that?” I knew some of the answers. After all, I watched Microsoft get passed by by a whole group of startups (I was working at Microsoft as Flickr got bought by Yahoo, Skype got bought by eBay, etc etc). I told him a few of my theories, and he told me back what they are seeing internally. Turns out he was talking to me about these items because Google, internally, knows it has an innovation problem (look at Google Wave or Buzz for examples of how it is messed up) and is looking to remake its culture internally to help entrepreneurial projects take hold. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. So, how does a big company innovate? Another way? Sachin Agarwal, one of the founders of Posterous, echoes these comments in a post about what he learned working at Apple (Small teams rule). So, how about you? Related:  Strategy

The Strategy Trap “They were worried that I would get bogged down in wanting to do things, not just create strategy.”- David Polinchock / @lbbinc One of the topics covered during the #LikeMinds Summit this past weekend was precisely this: The chasm between strategy and execution, especially as businesses struggle to understand how to leverage, integrate and operationalize Social Communications (what you do with social media platforms) in the coming 6-24 months. Unfortunately, because the C-suite tends to look to itself when it comes to “strategic masterminding,” the focus too often shifts from execution at the customer level (the most important thing a business should be focusing on on) to… being the guy who came up with the game-changing strategy that will secure more funding and increase influence within the organization. When this happens, strategy becomes a product, and that’s bad. Strategy isn’t a product. Any idiot with a powerpoint deck can deliver a “Social” strategy: Um… yeah, except… no. 1. 2. 3.

How New Ideas Almost Killed Our Startup Odysseus resisting the Sirens Vinicius Vacanti is co-founder and CEO of Yipit. Next posts on how to acquire users for free and how to raise a Series A. Don’t miss them by subscribing via email or via twitter. On my three year startup journey that lead to Yipit, I had over 30 other completely unrelated ideas. To be clear, the “ideas” I’m referring to are the ones that have nothing to do with your current startup. In our case, Yipit had always been about organizing local information and we had been working on it for a while. Social version of delicious (summer of 2007)Tool to recommend the best version of the online video you were currently watching (spring 2008) Bookmarklett that smartly shortens your tweet to less than 140 characters. I now think of these new ideas as the Sirens of the startup journey. The Temptation To understand why these new ideas can be so tempting, I refer you to the incredibly insightful startup transition cycle. The Danger The Solution

What If Google’s Social Layer Is Chrome? What If Facebook Builds A Browser? Since being wrestled back from Microsoft’s death grip, the web browser has thrived thanks to its openness. All of the popular browsers beyond IE — Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera — are either based on open-source or have a thriving community that helps develop and expand each of them. And it’s relatively easy for a user to switch between any of them. But what if that were to change? I have no direct knowledge that this is about to happen, but recent conversations have me thinking about this. They could do this, of course, because they make the Chrome web browser. That may sound weird, but we’re not that far away from this personalization of the browser. And shortly, Chrome will have its own Web App Store. How will that work? Oh yeah, and there’s this thing called Chrome OS which is due to launch shortly. Other attempts have been made at social web browsers — notably, Flock. “We want people to be more logged in to Google,” CEO Eric Schmidt said last week.

Pincus: In Five Years, Connections Will Be To Each Other, Not The Web; We’ll Be Dial Tones Today at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins unveiled a new $250 million fund for investing in social applications, called “sFund”. Joining Kleiner Perkins in this venture are some Internet heavyweights: Facebook, Zynga, and Amazon. And CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Pincus, and Jeff Bezos took the stage today to talk a bit about the future of social. Of them, it was Pincus who probably had the most interesting thing to say. “In five years, everybody will always be connected to each other, instead of the web,” he noted. He said that he often thinks of today’s social companies as “dial tones”. He noted that Facebook is the big overall dial tone for this social experience. He expressed excitement in the fact that while right now, many of these companies are still working on building out the infrastructure for this social experience, in five years, all this plumbing, as it were, will be in place.

Why Startups Fail « vcdave An entrepreneur recently asked me why startups fail. Startups fail because they run out of money. You’re probably thinking, “Tell me something I don’t already know!” Read on and you’ll see that statement is deceptive in its simplicity This post is based both on my experience as an investor and as entrepreneur (when I’ve boot-strapped and venture-funded). They spend too much on sales and marketing before they’re ready. Other times, this occurs with entrepreneurs who are accustomed to having lots of resources. Sometimes even when the product is great, the sales process itself isn’t understood to a point where it can be scaled: who are you selling to, how much will they really spend, and what profile of sales person does the company need to hire who will succeed at selling that particular product. Spending on the sales and marketing operations means there is no return if customers don’t bite. The market outpaces the startup’s ability to execute. Take Company X (a composite).

Dave McClure: quotable PG @YCombinator "... Chrome OS's Secret Influence - PCWorld When Google gave the first demos of its ChromeOS-based PC this week, there were only a couple of mentions of the new feature that's going to have the greatest impact on Web-based apps, or Web access of any kind, really, during the next few years: offline storage. HTTP and HTML, the core protocols of the Web, were designed to not store information between browsing sessions unless the user specifically arranged to do it. Cookies, browser caches and other performance-enhancers do store more data between sessions than you'd think (not always the embarrassing stuff, but certainly that seems to be the majority). With current Web browsers, unless you purposely store a Web page to your hard drive, though, you're not going to have it after you relaunch the browser or reboot your machine. That's both a usability and security feature, though neither is effective in that way now. Cookies work the same way -- storing coded information in secret folders in your browser directory. Openness FTW.

Web services should be both federated and extensible – chris dixon's blog One of the most important developments of the web 2.0 era is the proliferation of full featured, bidirectional APIs. APIs provide a way to “federate” web services from a single website to a distributed network of 3rd party sites. Another important web 2.0 development is the proliferation of web Apps (e.g. Facebook Apps). Apps provide a way to make websites “extensible.” The next step in this evolution is to create web services that are both federated (APIs) and extensible (Apps). In my ideal world, the social graph would not be controlled by a private company. Consider the following scenario. With today’s APIs, if, say, Gowalla wanted to integrate Facebook plus SimpleGeo into their app*, they would basically have 3 choices: 1) Embed Facebook widgets in Gowalla. 2) Pre-import SimpleGeo data. 3) Host an instance of SimpleGeo’s servers internally. In a world of extensible APIs (or “API Apps”), Gowalla could instead send Facebook data back to SimpleGeo.

Sean Parker On Why Myspace Lost To Facebook With reports of social network Myspace about to sell for ~$30 million, the tech world eagerly awaits the HBS study for why the service, which was bought in 2006 by Newscorp for $580 million and was at some point valued at $1.5 billion (a quote in a Business Week article referred to it as “one of the best acquisitions ever”) ultimately failed. For those that can’t wait for the inevitable GSB white papers, former Facebook President and Napster co-founder Sean Parker explained why Myspace succumbed to Facebook in an interview with Jimmy Fallon at the NExTWORK Conference in New York. While the entire interview is a delight to watch, the highlight is when Fallon starts asking Parker about whether Facebook is “it,” (“Is Facebook the end game?”) bringing up the failed Myspace for comparison. “It’s never the end game. Able to put being the possibility that it was victim of some artificial super intelligence aside, at minute 20:54 Fallon asks Parker, “Where did Myspace go wrong?”

Google Launches Blog Finder for Any Topic Google has quietly launched a new feature: search for blogs on any topic. The company announced the new type of search in a weekly round-up of search updates last week, and respected SEO blogger Bill Slawski argues that the launch may be related to a new Google patent. This has the potential to be a wildly useful service. How to Search Google for Blogs by Topic The Google Blogsearch service has for a long time surfaced a small number of blogs related to any search query, above the list of results from a search of blog posts, or entries. Do a search on the general web search interface, I searched for ceramics blogs, semantic web blogs, cloud blogs, social media blogs and more. How Good Are the Search Results? The search results in this new search by blog feature look pretty good to me. That said, in as much as I know about the topics I searched for, the top blogs in those fields definitely peppered the search results, to greater or lesser degrees. That great.

Graphs – chris dixon's blog A graph consists of a set of nodes connected by edges. The original internet graph is the web itself, where webpages are nodes and links are edges. In social graphs, the nodes are people and the edges friendship. Facebook’s social graph is symmetric (if I am friends with you then you are friends with me) but not transitive (I can be friends with you without being friends with your friend). Twitter’s graph is probably best thought of as an interest graph. Graphs can be implicitly or explicitly created by users. Over the next few years we’ll see the rising importance of other types of graphs. Taste: At Hunch we’ve created what we call the taste graph. Financial Trust: Social payment startups like Square and Venmo are creating financial graphs – the nodes are people and institutions and the relations are financial trust. Endorsement: An endorsement graph is one in which people endorse institutions, products, services or other people for a particular skill or activity.

Color, Now Down Two of Three Leaders, Looks Like A Lesson in Lean Startup Philosophy Just three and a half months after the company launched to the public, proximity-based photo sharing mega-startup Color has lost a second of its three high-profile initial team members, Michael Arrington reported this morning. Arrington said DJ Patil, who was LinkedIn's chief scientist until this Spring, has resigned. Co-founder Peter Pham, previously a leader at very successful startups Photobucket and Billshrink, left Color last month. The reasons why Color appears to be imploding can't be known for sure, but the whole thing looks like a lesson in the Lean Startup philosophy. Just after it launched, to widespread criticism because the user experience was so confusing and unfulfilling, we did an in-depth interview with CEO Bill Nguyen. Indeed the technology does sound very, very interesting. Lean Startup advocate Ries says that he had a similar experience with one of his startups, an avatar-based chat plug-in called IMVU. And now what have they got?

Optical character recognition (OCR) in Google Docs - Official Go A couple of months ago, my co-worker, Mike, showed up at my desk with a pile of paper, each of the yellowed sheets densely covered with an ancient-looking typewriter font. His wife had recently discovered parts of her family chronicles in the attic, typed up by her grandmother many years ago! Now he was wondering if there was a way for her to continue writing the chronicles in Google Docs. The papers sat on my desk for a while, but recently, I returned them to Mike with a smile, cheerfully telling him that what started as my 20% project is now ready for everyone to use -- Google Docs now officially supports importing scanned documents. What we launched as an experimental feature for the Documents List Data API last year is now available on the upload page: check the “Convert text from PDF or image files to Google Docs documents”, upload your scanned images (JPEG, GIF, PNG) or PDFs, and Google Docs will extract text and formatting from the scans for you to edit away.