There are two communication “killer apps” that I witness plague startups with frightening frequency. These danger zones are lethal to a startup, especially one seeking funding.
If you are pursuing venture capital funding, read this prior to presenting. You will be glad that you did.
Today, Google showed off a forthcoming service called Google Squared that creates tables of numerical data culled from searches of websites. In the example given, a search for “small dogs” created a table on different breeds, including data on such things as the breeds’ heights and weights, placed inside boxes. Once an initial table is created, users can click on individual entries to check the source and–if the number is erroneous–correct the numbers through new searches. Finally, they can save their customized table for future reference.
Last night at the TechStars Boulder Mentor dinner I got into a conversation about what makes a better CEO of a new startup – an experienced entrepreneur who’s last company was a failure or a big company executive with a stellar pedigree who has never worked in a startup.
Give me the experienced entrepreneur whose last company was a failure 100% of the time. The cliche “you learn more from failure than success holds true”, but more importantly the dude that just came off a failure and is ready to go again is super-extraordinary-amazingly hungry for a success. It doesn’t matter how much money he’s made in his past companies – once he decides to go for it again he’s going to be ready to crush it.
In 1969, an aeronautical engineer at North American Rockwell discovered a discrepancy in his paycheck: Every hour, he was being overpaid by roughly 2 cents, or one-third of 1 percent of his pay.
Spurred by an incentive program that rewarded employees for finding wasteful spending, Walter T. Davey submitted the discovery to his superiors and suggested a simple fix.
“It was so simple to correct,” said Davey, a 79-year-old retired Air Force colonel now living in Newport Coast, Calif., “just change a few digits in the coding software.”
In the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, alleged al-Qaida operations mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed intended to use his free Hotmail account to direct a U.S.-based operative to carry out an attack, according to a guilty plea agreement filed by Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri in federal court.
The document shows how al-Qaida, at least in 2001, embraced prosaic technologies like pre-paid calling cards, public phones, computer search engines and simplistic codes to communicate, plan and carry out its operations.
Al-Marri also surfed the Internet to research cyanide gas, using software to cover his tracks, according to the document filed Thursday in federal court in Peoria, Ill. He marked the locations of dams, waterways and tunnels in the United States in an almanac. The government claims this reflects intelligence that al-Qaida was planning to use cyanide gas to attack those sites.
Last week, as physicist Stephen Wolfram was demonstrating his new Web-based “computation engine”–Wolfram Alpha–to the public, Google announced a data-centric service of its own. Alpha accesses databases that are maintained by Wolfram Research, or licensed from others, and deploys formulas and algorithms to compute answers for searchers.
Using some prelaunch log-in credentials provided by the Wolfram team, I decided to run my own Wolfram Alpha versus Google test. I used a handful of search terms that could produce data-centric answers and tried variations in a few cases to see what might happen.
The browsers, like Internet Explorer and Firefox, won’t let you do that. In fact, they’re going in the opposite direction. They’re adding features to help users cover their tracks. (I discuss these tools in Selectively Delete Some of Your Browsing History.) That’s wonderful for adults, but it’s problematic if you need to protect your children.
What you need is child protection software–a program that will operate in the background, keeping track of what your kids are doing, blocking stuff you want blocked, and reporting back to you.
Before I recommend a program, I want to discuss the best way to use such software. I’m writing this not as a technical expert, but as a father with a grown son and two teenage daughters.
Miva Merchant is among the most prominent ecommerce brands. The company was launched in 1995 as HTMLScript Corporation, and it’s one of the early day shopping cart providers. It rose, and then fell, with the first dotcom boom and bust. In 2005, the company sold to Findwhat.com, a publicly-traded, pioneering online advertising network, which then changed its name to Miva. The new Miva later sold the shopping cart division, called Miva Merchant, to private investors in 2007.
In 2008, about 173.6 million smartphones were sold worldwide, according to market research firm iSuppli. Nokia (NOK) sold 60.5 million, RIM sold 22.6 million, and Samsung and Apple tied for third place with 13.7 million each. In U.S. corporations today, though, the top three operating systems are BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and the iPhone OS.
Edging into the C-Suite
Corporate hesitation also diminishes when the CEO or other high-level executives start bringing iPhones to work. Executives say they like the iPhone’s Web browsing and multimedia capabilities as well as its ease of use. “IT won’t tell the CEO that they won’t support it,” says Michael Osterman, principal at Osterman Research. This is reminiscent of the way BlackBerry made its way into corporations. Gabe Zichermann says that about 30% of the users of BeamME, his company’s iPhone app for exchanging contact info, were C-level executives.
David Lin is traveling lighter for business lately. Ever since the software marketing exec bought an iPod Touch, he’s often able to leave his notebook computer behind. “My goal is to replace the laptop,” says Lin, vice-president for marketing at Denali Software, makers of electronic design-automation software.
He uses the device for such general tasks as checking e-mail and surfing the Internet. But when it comes to software apps that help users carry out specific business-related jobs—say, joining Web conferences—Lin has downloaded only a handful. And he hasn’t paid a penny for any of them. However, “I would absolutely pay for a business app that made sense,” Lin says.
In the last two articles in this series we looked at how you can make good money writing your own websites, and the three elements that go into choosing the right topic.
In this article we’ll focus on how to develop and write the content for your website.