Here's some clips from my London book launch event, which in Robert Loch's infinite politically correct wisdom was held at the second oldest strip club in London. It sounds shadier than it was. It was actually an amazing venue and the proper business-y crowd and Fidelity Ventures sponsorship poshed it up more than my Minnie Mouse hairbow ever could have. If you've heard me speak, you've probably heard half of this before. If not, enjoy! Thanks again to Loch, Washy and Carr for an amazing event. Let's do, say, Germany next?
Ok, let's pretend for a second my ego isn't slightly bruised. Aaron Sorkin admits to knowing nothing about Facebook, and so when charged to write a screenplay on its early days he starts a Facebook group instead of, ahem, picking up a copy of my book. You know, the one Facebook has deemed essential reading for new hires? If I were a bigger person I'd mail him a copy. But I'm not, so he can go to Amazon and pick one up like everyone else! ha ha.
Leave it to the British Sarah Lacy to take the edge off with his cast list for the movie. I'd add a few to the list but it might hurt some feelings. Instead I'll just link to Paul Carr since hurting feelings is what he does best. (In a funny way of course...) I should note that I still haven't read Carr's book because he wrote in the inscription "Let's see if you still call me the British Sarah Lacy after reading this."
Just in case Mr. Zuckerberg thought the whole Beacon debacle was behind him, there's a news of a class action lawsuit today. Maybe it's me, but the allegations don't seem too harsh: It alleges that Facebook stored some data that people may or may not have wanted stored for less than a month, until it changed the system. It wants the data deleted and "ill gotten gains" returned. I'm not exactly sure how the plaintiffs think Facebook monetized a month of data, when most people criticize the company for not thinking about monetization enough. But the money quote (so to speak) is here:
"The class purports to represent all Facebook members who during that period visited any of the Beacon affiliate Web pages and did something that would trigger Beacon to send a message to Facebook. The suit estimates there are tens of thousands of people affected."
That's right, tens of thousands of people out of the 30 million or so Facebook users at the time. (Going from memory here...it might have been even higher then.) For anyone who still thought the Beacon outrage was user generated-- and not MoveOn.org/press generated-- there's your proof that the vast majority were never even affected by the whole to-do.
I wasn't planning to write about the story sweeping the tech blogosphere about Facebook reportedly allowing employees to sell shares, mostly because I thought others covered it well, and as Peter Kafka points out, we're talking about a small amount of money and a small amount of equity.
But I wound up doing a tech roundup post for TechTicker today and started to get into it, so I figured I'd post some thoughts here too. If you know my writing, you're probably not surprised that it's the larger cultural ramifications of the move that concern me.
I'm really happy Facebook is adding more controls and functionality to the News Feed. I feel horrible saying this but I hope they do take on Friendfeed more directly. It's been a great site for me in terms of syndication and whenever I go there I like it-- particularly the commenting features. But I agree with others who say it's not a Twitter substitute and frankly, I don't have the time to work another site into my everyday routine. (I know a TON of Friendfeed fans disagree...so it's not meant a condemnation of the site. Even though I invited the founders on Tech Ticker and they didn't even respond!)
In general, I am loving the new Facebook UI. I love that the site has been de-cluttered and I love the central "Wall." My only issue is the continued neglect of the fan pages!! At least in the old profile page there was the pages box. I can't seem to find an easy, one-click way to get to my fan page which is frustrating because people leave messages for me there. It's doubly frustrating because I leave messages back and people never see them. What is the point?
I've been asking, but please please PLEASE Facebook work the fan pages into the News Feed! It's one of the only real half-baked features they've done, and I always wonder why it gets no love. It reads like it was a half-hearted attempt to give people MySpace-like features (since businesses can't have profiles on Facebook, for instance) but it's as if Facebook doesn't really want that part of its audience to grow. Hmph.
When did I start using Innovation non-ironically? Wow. I've been a business reporter too long.
At any rate...per my earlier post 2008 is the year for ad innovation in the Web world, and I'd argue that's harder than product innovation. Why? Product innovation is fun, first off. By its very nature you are working to give people something that will delight them. It's a time when anything is possible and you are your users are totally on the same side. But when it comes to finding new, clever and affective ways to deliver ads over the Web you're inherently at odds with a user that doesn't want to be interrupted, tricked or otherwise profited from. With Web 2.0, community-based sites this is typically where the whole mob uprising thing comes in. (See ch. 5 of my book, or even just the chapter title: "The Mob Giveth and the Mob Taketh Away.")
It also can require a different skill set: Is a product innovator always a good business innovator?
That's a big reason YouTube sold to Google. Amid the iPhone hype yesterday, a lot of people missed a story in AdAge about Eric Schmidt's latest YouTube advertising idea. First off, even Google-- the king of online business model innovation or at least execution-- has not been able to crack the YouTube nut. As the story says, video views swelled to an insane 4 billion in March, even as revenues were just $90 million, according to Bear Stearns. That's a pretty big disconnect. Schmidt has said it's priority no. 1 for Google this year and rightly so. As has been documented extensively by every analyst and business reporter on the planet, Google needs a second act because it can only gain so much more market share in search and on Wall Street it's all about obscene growth. (In the years Oracle-- and a good many other business software companies-- were in Wall Street's dog house they were still indecently profitable.)
The new plan basically lets content makers sell ads on their own video "channels." It's a page out of Ning's playbook-- currently the wiliest business model in Web 2.0 IMHO. Ning from day one told users trey could pay a monthly fee for your own social network, sell your own ads or have them sell ads on your page. No free lunch, means not having to come back and charge for lunch later.
I think it's one of the smarter strategies for YouTube so far.
This is a video interview that JD Lasica shot with me on the beach in Tel Aviv last April, just before the book came out. The fact that I look human and sound coherent is a testament to blush, the beach, JD's skills as a videographer and interviewer and the very concentrated pina colada I was drinking. At this moment my bronchitis was turning into pneumonia and I would collapse just a few hours later and be told I was too sick to even fly home! Even still watching it made me want to go back to Israel!
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!!
Just wrapping up my morning of blog reading-- amid a flurry of radio interviews-- and I saw Kara's memo to Zuckerberg. I think she made some good points. Particularly about the pressure he'll get if he turns down a Microsoft offer and the point that there's nothing "basic" about whether Facebook should sell. As this news of Facebook traffic falling spreads, the "sell! sell! sell!" drumbeat Kara refers to is only going to grow louder.
So here's my own memo to Mark: On the very off chance you are reading any of this, stop. Don't listen to any of us. It's your company. It's your vision. If we knew what was best for Facebook, we wouldn't be bloggers and reporters. You've gotten this far without us.
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.
Buy it from these sellers
On the Blog
- Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky
- Food and Drink
- International Travel Tips
- Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good
- Silicon Valley
- the always controversial sarah lacy
- venture capital