May 2008 Archive
Yes, I'm alive. No, I haven't quit blogging. Just took a little Memorial Day Weekend break. The last few weeks have been pretty insane, and I'm off to cover D for Yahoo on Tuesday so I needed a rest. Like 12 hrs a night of rest. And I owed my Pilates coach several hours of intense pain. Both felt good, ultimately. And Mr. Lacy and I also got to see the Red Sox get swept by the A's. That always feels good whether your overworked or well rested! (Sorry, Sox fans, but I would have heard an ear-ful if it had been the reverse!)
I'm going to scavenge my neighbor's house for coffee, do a few radio interviews, write a BusinessWeek column and meet you back here in a bit with something very intelligent to say about something. But quick thanks to Heddi Cundle who wrote an amazing review on Amazon for my book and here's the latest review from the Associated Press. Obviously a huge deal, because AP stories get picked up everywhere so I'm very grateful it was positive! It's already been in about a half dozen papers according to Google reader, the link above is from the SF Chronicle who apparently loved my book so much they had to review it twice! At least it was more positive the second time! Either that or my excerpt in BusinessWeek is doing something because my Amazon rank has been well under 1,000 the last few days. So thanks to anyone who is buying!
Warning: This is a frank post with coarse language. I felt I needed to be clear about the kind of harassment I'm talking about. Please do not read if you are sensitive. That means you Mom and Dad!
I have been thinking about this for hours and feel compelled to blog about it. The problem is I’m utterly torn on what to say. I don’t follow Ariel, so I first saw Evan Williams’ Tweet about people joining a mob without the facts—IMHO one of the ugliest and most pervasive things about the Web these days. I am friends with Evan and a fan of Twitter, and have felt bad for all the piling on they’re getting this week (even though as a reporter, I’ve had to write about it as well), so I immediately felt for him. Then, I read Ariel’s post.
Where have I been all day? Looking through VC numbers. Here are a few segments I did for Tech Ticker on yesterday's mixed news about U.S. venture capital in China, and below a piece on today's news about U.S. venture capital in India.
Both regions became the new black a few years ago and billions were invested, offices were opened, partners were relocated. And most VCs I talk to regret it, but at the same time don't feel like India and China are markets they can afford to ignore. I don't think this gets covered enough here, given it'll heavily influence at least the next 10-year venture capital cycle, which you can't divorce from the health of the Valley as a whole. We're in the midst of a huge change in this asset class in a lot of directions and local to global is one of the most pronounced that could make or break firms. It's important enough I plan to visit both India and China in the next year (hopefully!) to check out the startup scene first hand. Enough extrapolating from data!
But for now, back to the data...This quarter we saw some retrenching and refocusing in a pretty major way. Watch the videos for the details. Spoiler alert: China is waaaaay hotter than India. That was a surprise to me because I hear more hand wringing about China anecdotally.
See, this is why Aaron and I are frenemies! Just as I'm going through the final, painful moments of buying a house-- "Um, Ms. Lacy can you tell us the date you moved into that house you lived in more than ten years ago?"-- Aaron posts this video about why you would have to be an idiot to buy a house right now. Fortunately many of the points have nothing to do with San Francisco, where there's not infinite supply and competitive bidding still takes place. Besides, I think the piece ignores the fact that not everyone buys a house as sheer investment. It's frequently an emotional or lifestyle decision, and I'm not sure that's a bad thing as long as you plan on living there a while.
At any rate, if you *aren't* buying a house and want to feel good about it, watch this. The stuff about "real" rates is pretty interesting:
Honestly, I don't mean any disrespect but having to register to comment on a blog is annoying and a huge barrier to entry to me commenting. I don't understand why so many people have that setting when we've got things like captcha to get spam and can block or remove any comments you want. Blogging is about conversation!!
At any rate, I wanted to leave a comment on here, thanking Zach for writing about my book and buying it and giving me some credit even though he thinks Web 2.0 is lame and annoying. Also wanted to respond to a few things he wrote. But I got impatient registering, so I'm doing it here.
Yesterday I did a radio interview that started with a guy telling me people spent too much time in front of their computers and Web 2.0 was bad for society. By the end of the 10 minute interview, I had him mostly convinced he was wrong, by describing how efficient tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter could make communications and relationships. Now Facebook and Twitter are repaying me by punching me in the face!!
This is a guest post by my husband, photographer and designer Geoffrey Ellis. For other guest posts, hit the "guest post" tag.
I mailed a handwritten letter to Miranda July the other day. She is a film maker, writer, artist who I have a fondness for. Something about her style is very cool to me. I can't remember the last time I wrote a letter and put it in the mail, and I have never written to a celebrity. Ever. But I needed to tell her something and couldn't find an email on her site. So, I got out my pen and paper and 15 minutes later, it was in the hands of the post office.
My letter was a short plea for Miranda to sign up for Twitter. Mainly because I think she would be really good at it. I love the way she writes in small bursts with short quotes. I would love to get a sub-140 character tweet from her in the vein of her "Dear Sophie, everything I have is yours. Except my boyfriend. Love, Miranda July". Wouldn't that be great? Miranda and Twitter would be as good a combination as peanut butter and chocolate.
I'm not just being selfish here. I think Twitter would help Miranda too.
Here's Henry and Aaron's coverage of Microsoft's announcement this morning. Although Henry says it won't work, I think the "knobs" (as they're affectionately known in-house thanks to a snarky Yahoo commenter) give way Microsoft too much credit for creativity and strategy here.
Search engines that reward people with prizes and cash have been tried before with the idea, "If you're searching anyway, why not search where you can make money?" Because I don't search to make money. I search to find information fast. A few pennies here or there isn't going to pay my mortgage. It's not enough of a value add to accept an inferior search engine (sorry, MSN still is. It pains me to say it, but Yahoo is too) or even enough to change basic customer habits. I don't even have ads on my blog (yet) because the take home would be so low, it wouldn't be worth even a marginal annoyance to my readers.
Similarly, there was a big debate back in 2006 about whether or not user generated content sites should share in advertising fees with their content creators. The most famous example was the smack-down between Jason Calacanis when he was running Netscape and Digg. Calacanis was actually offering substantial money to switch and few top Diggers did. I have long said the key to successful UGS sites is tapping into human needs like connecting with friends and validation. Those are so much more rewarding than cash. People use and love these sites because they are not work. I don't want to get paid by Facebook, I don't want to get paid by Yelp, I don't want to get paid by Digg. I want to use the sites because I love them and conversely I want the founders to have to WORK to retain me as a contributor. I'd rather them plow that money back into making the site better than give me a cut.
In short, this strategy is only new and innovative if you have a time machine. And it has almost never worked. Nice try though, Redmond!
I am not piling on. I'm not. I am frustrated that Twitter is down, again, yes. But I love the company enough I won't defect. And really, is it the end of the world if it's down? It's not as important to your day-to-day life as email right?
If you're a blogger, it might be.
An unforgettable portrait of the emerging world's entrepreneurial dynamos Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky is the story about that top 1% of people who do more to change their worlds through greed and ambition than politicians, NGOs and nonprofits ever can. This new breed of self-starter is taking local turmoil and turning it into opportunities, making millions, creating thousands of jobs and changing the face of modern entrepreneurship at the same time. To tell this story, Lacy spent forty weeks traveling through Asia, South America and Africa hunting down the most impressive up-and-comers the developed world has never heard of....yet.
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