Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

Where is the New New Thing?

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Tom Forenski points to Jeff Nolan’s “Incremental Is Not Innovation” piece. With more than $1bn invested in various startups — only a handful can be called as breakthrough. Last year, it was twitter.  The last bust cycle produced a slew of collaboration tools based on RSS. In his writeup Jeff talks about the futility of Web 2.0 (the version number exists, thanks to a marketing propaganda!) and me-too culture of startups around it.

However, in a bigger picture, Web 2.0 has created a phenomenon that services can live elsewhere, and so can the data. It has also created a new breed of entrepreneurs who are going to solve a newer set of problems in the continuing evolution of the overall Internet and computing landscape.

In my mind some of the big problems to be solved are:

  • Public Information Overload: Average query on Google produces 100,000+ search results. The popular ones have 100,000+ pages of search results. Why do I need more than 3-5 pages of results?
  • Untargeted advertising: Bulk of the ads are still unrelated. I was searching/looking for a used Aeron chair, today. The best deal is on Craigslist. Why no one is connecting that dot? A person’s intent is very much monetizable and the field is still green
  • Compartmentalized information: If I’m browsing for a movie on Netflix, I cannot see the reviews of that movie from my buddies who are not on Netflix
  • Missing reputation: Is that post/comment about fixing unscruplous hedging of commodities coming from a person working in financial business or a wannabe?
  • Private Information Overload: With 10,000+ digital family photos, I can’t search a thing. In my last job I had 5+ GB of PSTs at the time of quitting. Same goes for my slowly building archive of digital documents, tax returns and stuff

These are very broad level categories of very large problems, each one can be further broken down into features. 

Marketing R Us

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

“Us” as in the blogosphere, people who are contributing via blogs, twitters, groups, etc. People who are in top 100,000 list. When we talk about Word of Mouth, we think of getting the word out to the (“they”?) A-list bloggers. Fast Company has an interesting piece which debunks the theory that a select few “key influencers” matter more than “the rest of us.”

“Is the Tipping Point Toast” is an interesting read. The article is based on the work done by Duncan Watts of Yahoo Research. According to Watts:

It [achieving marketing success through influentials] just doesn’t work. A rare bunch of cool people just don’t have that power. And when you test the way marketers say the world works, it falls apart.

Guy Kawasaki, comments further and says:

Spend more time and effort pressing the flesh of real customers and less time and effort on industry events and other focused PR and marketing that involves sucking up to journalists, analysts, and experts.

Behavioral Targeting: The Online Advertising Market’s Future

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Knowledge@Wharton reports about the current scheme of online advertising market and reports insights into the evolution:

“Behavioral targeting makes inventory available for sale based on the value of a web site’s audience, generally outstripping the value of the content on a page. Behavioral advertising enables marketers to reach beyond keywords and impressions to the audience segments behind them.”

Microsoft’s desperate acquisition of aQuantive: What they could have done instead

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Are 70,000+ Microsoft employees that useless? Or the 1,000+ Senior Management has no clue? Can’t believe that Microsoft would pay 85% premium and fork out $6bn dollars! They could have bought for that money and saved $500 million to acquire several smart startups in search and online advertising space. Microsoft could have successfully negated Google’s further foray into the growing on-demand business and may have brought raw energy to Redmond.
However, by the time, Microsoft figures out the monetization model for Search and online ad market, Google would start making significant inroads into the on-demand business and productivity applications. Why don’t they focus on solving problems? Well, it’s the big company syndrome; I’m a manager-I don’t solve problems-I get vendors/acquire companies. What a pity.
Does any B-school offer a course on intra-preneurship? Take a leaf from Google or even HP has a lesson to offer from their recent release of the NeoView Business Intelligence product.

Cloud Computing Panel at TiE: Amazon, where are my candies?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

I was in the audience for a panel discussion on Cloud Computing hosted by TiE. The panel was moderated by Nimish Gupta of SAP and had people from Amazon WebServices, Google, Opus Capital, and SAP. The interesting thing to watch was how the panel agreed to disagree on the benefits/definition of Cloud Computing. Pavni Diwanji from Google mentioned that it’s the tools on Google Apps and the API which matters to the developers.
Dan Avida, a VC from Opus, seemed to have innate knowledge about EC2 and mentioned that there are interesting opportunities waiting to be tapped for EC2. It may be interesting to look into those areas.
According to Vishal Sikka, CTO of SAP:

Cloud computing is suitable for smaller applications but not for large applications like SAP.

Adam Selipsky who represented Amazon agreed with that statement and said the current shape of Amazon EC2 & S3 is the first cut and is still in limited private beta. He further mentioned that Amazon’s prime focus is on stability of the platform and they haven’t added any major feature on EC2 and S3 in last 12 months.
On a question about competition for EC2, he joked, “There are rumors that the company on my left (referring to Google, as Pavni Diwanji of Google Apps was seated there) is working on something.” He went serious and said that educating developers to jump onto EC2 is the hardest part and he would love to have some competition so that they could spend millions of dollars in educating the customers.
On being asked whether Amazon is just utilizing the over capacity available in their data centers, Adam responded, “Amazon has invested around $2b for Amazon WebServices including EC2 and S3 and are fully committed.”
I took my turn from the audience and mentioned that using S3 as a natively mounted filesytem is a limitation on EC2 and asked about the oft-requested feature to support large databases on EC2. Adam quipped that he does not want to commit on a date but they are working on it. Cool.
On a side note: Adam and his team (couple of his colleagues in the audience) were pitching people to sign-up with their beta program at the venue but did not bring any candies for existing customers like me. Too bad! After the meeting I even sold the idea of using EC2 to a gentleman who was still kicking tires. Where’s my referral fee? 🙂

Why Web 2.0? Why now?

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

A friend-of-a-friend (“SJ”) and I were talking about Web 2.0 as part of his research for a major London based VC. He asked me, “Why Web 2.0? And Why now?” In large part for Silicon Valley geeks, Web 2.0 is nothing new and it’s an old topic. Guess what, rest of the world and the enterprise are waking up to Web 2.0 now.
Here’s a summary of what I explained to him:
1. Web 2.0 is an attempt to fulfill the promises made during the Web 1.0 days. Office on the web, online calendar, utility Computing for the masses, content sharing, collaboration, anywhere/anytime on-demand storage, one-click publishing, etc. are some of the examples, where we heard lot of chatter during the late 90s but we are seeing real applications only now.
2. Growth of user-created content. Simply put, blogs and wikis are allowing non-geek crowd to participate in the 2-way web. The surge of tools, commoditization of CMS, 1-click publishing and new methods of monetization are pushing the limits and expectations of both consumers and innovative startups.
3. Money is no longer just waiting on the sidelines (it has started talking lately). Web 1.0 bust is now digested and pooped from our intestines. At a recent New Tech Meetup in Palo Alto, I overheard couple of angel investors introducing themselves to the companies demoing over there.
4. Browser as a platform has matured. I gave him a very simple example, of rectangles with smooth/rounded edges rendered on web pages. During the 1.0 days it was quite a hack doing that using tables and images. In 2.0, it is done by a few lines of CSS. And then there is AJAX, which has made the browser a much more mature platform.
All of the 4 are the necessary ingredients in that order of decreasing priority, for making Web 2.0 happen. More than that and contrary to a popular notion, Web 2.0 is not just about the advancements of browser as a platform, or social networking at large, or raw bandwidth/storage for video at cheap prices, or just the sheer volume of user-created content, but it’s the ideas around simple applications which are now being done right (of course, technology has helped). It’s the simple applications which everybody wanted to reduce their drudgery while working with computing devices. That’s why it’s happening now and has a new version number.

Founders at Work

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

Samir Patel, an old buddy and a fellow entrepreneur just IMed me, that he has started a blog to share his ideas on entrepreneurship. His recent post points to Guy Kawasaki’s copy of the book, Founders at Work. Apparently, this book has broken a record of sorts of having the most stickies in it.
Keep Blogging, dude!

Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

This is where the Internet is heading, <a href=”tag-ttp://mypersonaltagmachine” rel=”tag” value=”this is what I wanna do” clickable=”no” priority=”high”>

Web 2.0 is just a stepping stone for the Semantic Web, allowing a smooth transition from the nascent HTML to machine readable data formats.

The rise of Ajax and the death of HTTP 404

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

In classic web application models, the user-agent sits between the user and the the webserver — The user-agent does not apply any business logic other than rendering the pages. With the rise of Ajax, server-side logic is moving to client, so much so that the conventional 3-tier web model is being challenged in a way that the whole presentation layer and the controller is being touted to move to the browser.
So, what happens to the veritable 404 (and other related HTTP error codes and pages)? In classic web applications, if you have a “Page Not Found” situation, you as a user “see” the associated 404 page (e.g. However, with Ajax, it’s the Ajax engine which is suppose to capture the 404. The user sees a “pretty message” while the Ajax engine (or the library running the engine) captures the 404. For example, in scriptaculous’ javascript library, on404 is the callback handler for HTTP 404s returned from the server.
Reproducing and annotating Jesse James Garrett’s diagram from the original Ajax article comparing classic and Ajax application model further crystallizes this thought that we need a redefined set of HTTP codes to support the Ajax application model.
Image modified without explicit permission of Adaptive Path. Are they cool?
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4 Traits of a successful Web2.0 Development Team

Friday, December 29th, 2006

* Treat Programing languages like soda-water, adds new ingredient (as required) to flavor it up
* People who cannot focus on one thing, when they are alone and not writing code (both criteria inclusive)
* People who can produce at least half-a-dozen new ideas in a 60 minute conversation
* People who live on the edge, who can think ahead at least 2 years from today (but no more than 4-5 years, otherwise they are plain dreamers and not pragmatics)