I Kickstarted Diaspora – Step 1 in Quitting Facebook

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I’ve been wanting to make an investment in some Kickstarter program for a while. A friend of mine got involved in the early pre-alpha stage, but I couldn’t find a project that I got that passionate about until now. I love Kiva and the idea behind it, but the idea behind something that could radically change social networks is pretty sweet too. These guys could easily steal my percentage of the $70K that they raised and go buy beer too, which is cool too and I’m happy to support them for having the chutzpah for doing that. I’ve never really been able to get behind Facebook. I post all of my updates via Twitter and respond to email from about 4 people on it. I find it a bit mundane in terms of what is being shared and I, no offense, only have a few friends that add interest and value to my life. The rest is just kind of nice to see. I like these people, but I don’t need the updates about their lunches and they don’t need mine. Frankly, if I lost 90% of my friends (who aren’t really friends but mostly distant acquaintances), I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over it. Throw on all of the headache behind the privacy stuff and I start to think about dropping the whole program. I don’t know if I’ll go so far as to completely pull the plug on FB, but I find myself, in my old age, caring less and less about what other people happen to like nor do I feel so compelled to share what I like. Odds are, you don’t like what I like. Jason’s post really swayed me this morning. Not so much to quit FB, which I think is coming for me, but to also start exploring other alternatives. In the words of Archers of Loaf, the underground is over crowded.Diaspora was getting a lot of traction today. I loved the video and really like what these guys are trying to do. I think that old people are going to have a tough time getting it, but if you think about bitorrent for social networks, that sums the premise up nicely. It is obviously still a long ways away from going primetime and having grandma hit you up for a friend request, but I don’t think that it is as far away as others are saying. $70K buys a lot of coding time from 4-talented devs living on raman and Coke. If I can launch an open source version of FB for free in 15-minutes (terrible video), these guys can do it in 3-months.Of course, the Diaspora video also seems like this is the kind of scam that was concocted over large amounts of cheap beer and bad coffee, so who knows.UPDATE – TechCrunch, of course, has a another post on Diaspora.

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The Apple iPad – Turn Ons and Turn Offs

I’d be a bad parent to throw the iPad into the same category as one of my kids, but I do love it.Yes, it has only been a week and I’m sure that I’ll find some of the flaws that the anti-iPadders are talking about, but thus far, they have yet to materialize.So, in the spirit of a Playboy centerfold… Turn On’s:

  • Yes. It turns on instantly.  Just like my phone and my MacBook when I don’t shut it down.  I simply push the button and I’m online.  It is the way that computers should be.  The fact that people have to wait 5-minutes for Windows to boot up in 2010 is an embarrassment to the human race.
  • The Kindle – The Kindle on the iPad just rocks.  Some people complain about the glare, but I spent most of this past weekend on the beach reading off of it and it was fine.  I didn’t have to reposition my chair, didn’t have to move around or tilt it in an uncomfortable way.  Yes, there was a glare, but not nearly as bad as I get on a laptop.
  • The Kindle II – Best practice – if the white background hurts your eyes (it does mine) switch to black background with white text.  Eyes all better.
  • Family time – Because of the form factor, it is a great family game machine.  I kill zombies with my son and serve diners with my daughter.  We curl up on the couch together and play.  I busted out Pictionary on it the other night and all four of us spent about 45 minutes drawing and guessing and had a blast.  There is a version of Sorry I’m aching to try.
  • Video – Because it is true HD, I find that I’m watching more video (not Hulu yet, though) on it than on my laptop.  We are a one TV family and I like that while my wife watches television, I can watch quality video on the iPad in another room. Check out ‘The Raven‘ for a perfect example.
  • iPhone apps work – this is really nice.
  • Bedtime stories – There are some amazing kids books out there and it is cool, especially Alice in Wonderland, how they work.  I hope more come out.
  • Google Maps – It is generally a cool application, but having the iPad on the counter and looking at a map makes me feel like a modern day Magellan.
  • Netflix – Hell yes. Watch instantly kills on the iPad.
  • BoingBoing – They’ve built a really nice interface specifically for the iPad.

Turn Off’s

  • Video – Apple needs to get over this petty squabble with Adobe and support Flash. Apple is asking all web developers to support a different video standard and that is kind of dumb.  Hulu is coming out with a premium version soon that will support the iPad.  That will be nice to see.
  • Weight – Despite the form factor, it is a bit heavier than I was expecting.  Not that it weighs a ton, but compared to a Kindle, it is different.
  • No Social Books – My big vision for Kindle / iPad / etc. is that they build a social service that allows me to see how other people mark up their books.  Brad Feld has a great book shelf and actually does a good job sharing what he reads.  Other people I follow, not so much.  I’d love to not only see what they are reading, but also see their mark ups and notes.  I’d pay a bunch for that service. Shelfari gets kind of there, but I’d like to see what people I follow jot down in the notes.
  • Publishers aren’t quite there yet – I saw the video for Mygazines and that is what pushed me over the edge to buy an iPad.  Their content isn’t for me, but I love their vision and I hope that other publishers get on board with similar types of services.  I’d really like to see Golf Digest put out an iPad edition that has tight integration and video.
  • Fragility – Mabye it is because I’ve had my iPhone for a long time and I’m used to it. Maybe it is because my iPhone has a little condom it sits in. For whatever reason, I don’t think of my iPhone as that fragile.  The iPad on the other hand, I feel like I’m carrying around a precious plate of glass. I’m worried that if it drops, if it lays wrong in my bag, if I stare at it the wrong way, It will break. Hopefully that will go away.
  • iTunes – I’ve always felt that for managing music, iTunes was okay.  Add Podcasts, books and videos and it starts to suck.  Add another profile or another device and it becomes totally worthless.  I have things on my phone that I don’t want on my iPad and vice versa.  It should be easier to manage these profiles independently of one another.  Right now the experience fails huge.
  • App Splurge – One thing I didn’t account for was the limited number of free iPad apps.  As soon as I got it home, I had to spend $50 on books and apps.  Not the end of the world, but at ~10% the purchase price, it was a surprise.
  • Fingerprints…

Unknowns

  • Video – I’ve heard that there is a pretty nice VGA / HDMI cable that you can hook to your television, but I’ve got no experience with it. It would be cool to see. It would be cool to see this used as a presentation device too and I’m sure that at Web 2.0 next month, it will be.
  • Business apps – I like having access to the information for work, but I haven’t had the opportunity to check it too frequently yet.  Right now, I’m still rocking 3-screens so anything too important, I use my laptop.
  • 3G – I opted not to get 3G.  For one, I’d rather eat broken glass than give more money to AT&T.  Second, I’m rarely in a spot where 3G works and wi-fi isn’t available. As more restaurants and cities make it available, the need for 3G will dwindle.

I’m still very much in the honeymoon phase with my iPad, but thus far, I really love it. I ended up with the 64GB one because it was all they had. I’m not sure how I’ll fill that up yet as I don’t even have music or movies installed yet, but I’m sure I’ll find a way. I maxed my phone out pretty quickly.Got questions? Got suggestions on how I can better use my iPad?  Please leave comments or drop me an email.

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Sponsor My Son’s Cast!

Saturday morning, my 6-year old son fell from the monkey bars and broke his arm. It was kind of a crappy way to start a weekend, but I think that there is a silver lining to this.Every year, there are 40,000 monkey bar accidents resulting in emergency room visits. I’d like to start a trend of having private companies help fund the costs associated with healthcare in America.Imagine your uncle Bob’s, who might die without his pacemaker, getting all costs covered in exchange for wearing a Visa t-shirt everywhere he goes? Maybe Grandma needs a new hip, how about covering the cost of that in exchange for getting her car wrapped with Actonel banner.I see this as a larger trend beyond casts, but casts, especially a full arm cast like my son will get on Monday, should be prime real estate for key advertisers. I’ve flown this idea past my wife and she was surprisingly on board.We’ll consider most advertisers suitable for a 6-year old with the only caveat being that there is a spot for his friends to sign their names. I envision characters with text blocks underneath them for his friends autographs.  I’ll let your creatives come up with something.The technology on how to wrap this is up to the advertiser and would need to be approved by our orthopedist. I suspect that some type of sticker will be appropriate, but I don’t know how it will stick to the fiber glass. That’s up to you.Ideal advertisers that we are thinking about include Pokemon, Bakugon, Nintendo or Golden Palace (seems like this would be up their alley).The kid is going to have a full arm cast for at least 8-weeks starting tomorrow.  This is an option for a single advertiser. He is in school for 4-hours a day (kindergarten), with 25 kids in his class.  He interacts a lot with other kids in the rest of the school.  I’d guess that he gets direct / indirect interaction with over 100 kids a day.  He spends a lot of after school time with his friends and other kids in our neighborhood.  We’ll permit limited, approved PR for this opportunity.My wife and I are serious about this, but also consider any type of sponsorship to be college money for him.  Like a lot of parents, we have high hopes for our kids.  In other words, think Stanford not state school. If you’re interested in this opportunity, please contact me directly via this blog.

I’m The Mayor of Your House – #crime

At the end of the year, I read Michael Fertik’s great post, 2010: The Year of Atomic Branding on my friend Jennifer Leggio’s blog. I file this under ‘scary – interesting’ and I thought that was the end of it.

A couple of weeks later, I’m in the city for the weekend with my family. We had just trudged through the rain and were sitting in the bar of the St. Francis. The kids having hot chocolate, me having a martini and I checked in on Foursquare. The act of checking in on Foursquare when I’m with my family delights my kids because they like to know the Mayor of places. The act of checking in on Foursquare pisses my wife off to no end and has been the cause of many a shopping spree.

This time, she simply said “So now everyone that follows you knows that we aren’t at home and we are over an hour away. How many people follow you and how much do you trust them not to rob us?’ I wish she would have stopped there, but of course, she follows that up with “How often do you check in, telling the world that you aren’t home, but maybe me and the kids are?”

Flashback to Michael Fertik’s article, the potential threat of oversharing on social networks.

Of course this got me thinking about how safe location based social networks are. How vulnerable are we?

I’ve heard interesting stories about people & stalkers and being dumped or being fired because of FourSquare. I haven’t heard about people being robbed. Yet.

A week or so later, I did a simple check to see how vulnerable we really are. I did a quick search for people in San Francisco sharing their status on Twitter and checked in on FourSquare or Gowalla. It’s a simple query using Twitter’s advanced search capability.

What I found amazed me. People checked in all over the place. FourSquare was living up to it’s reputation. However, an easy cross check from Twitter – where people tend to put their full name and where they live, with WhitePages.com let me easily figure out where people lived. I don’t mean just the city, but also their exact address and even a nice little Google Map with directions to get there.

Of course, not everyone is easy to find on WhitePages.com, but my quick little informal experiment yielded about a 25% hit rate. I got freaked out. No more FourSquare for me. In the old days, burglars would prowl around neighborhoods looking for empty houses.  Today, they simply need to search for affluent neighborhoods and look for people who have checked in at places more than a few hours away.  The movie theater for example.

I took it one step further.  Here is a feed for people who have checked in or are posting “I’m at” the key phrase for both Gowalla and FourSquare.  When people say where they are, they also say where they aren’t (home, for example).

Glad I have an alarm system. How long until someone really malicious does a nice little Twitter / WhitePages mash-up?

Photo by Johnny Grim.

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Sharendipity: How Microblogging Helps The Sales Process

I wrote a post yesterday on the Socialtext blog on how microblogging can help accelerate the sales process. It is really cool to see this work in action.  If you’re in sales, or work for a large company, I strongly recommend (plug, plug) using tools that help broadcast your activity to the greater audience at your company:

The serendipitous nature of enterprise social networks continues to amaze me. Take what happened here last week here at Socialtext over our microblogging platform, Socialtext Signals.

One of the reps on my sales team Signaled that she just gave a demo to a prospective customer at a very large company. Less than 5 minutes later, our director of marketing responded (via another Signal) that his brother is CIO at that company, and how can he help? An offline conversation ensued, an introduction was made, and now we are having conversations at a level we would have had to work 10 times as hard to get.

People in your own company probably have a closer level of connection to your customers — and potential customers — than you might think. To make sure those connections happen, you need an open environment where you can ask questions, find the right people, and get answers. That discovery process is much harder without a tool like Signals. In e-mail, information becomes locked away. If our director of marketing, for example, hadn’t been CCed on an e-mail message about that potential client, we never would have found out that he had a connection there that could help.

My guess is that a simple message — such as “I’m trying to get in to BigCo, can anyone help?” — to a company of 1,000 people will initiate responses from 5 – 6 people who at least might know someone. From relatives to close family friends to old acquaintances from past lives, they might have an in. In most cases, they will be stronger introductions than anything you’ll get from LinkedIn or any public social network.

Selling is hard work. You need to have a lot of different moving parts all line up in order to get a signed contract. One of those things is getting all of the right people on board. This requires a lot of skill, planning, presentation and sometimes, a little bit of serendipity.

 

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Twitter, Voyeurism & Small Towns

My friend Chris makes a great argument that Twitter, while getting popular amongst niche circles, will never cross over into true mainstream like Facebook has.
I don’t buy the idea that Twitter will be like the invention of the phone, cell phone or computer, where this narrow set of first adopters paves the way and then a floodgate of regular people follow. That time has passed. It’s actually the masses that have (ironically for a social technology) revolted from Twitter because it’s been crammed down their throats in the media and on the Web, and regular people have balked at it. They are happy to say “I don’t get it, and I don’t want to get it.” Facebook happened more organically in dorm rooms because people saw a need for it. People immediately find their friends there, and that matters.
If Chris is talking specifically about the brand Twitter, I would contest that it is too early to tell whether or not Twitter is the ‘it’ application that mass media portrays that it is.  Micromessaging, though, is here to stay.
I look at Twitter like the Friendster of micromessaging. There is a chance that Twitter could devolve and die like Friendster did, making way for MySpace which faltered making way for Facebook.
But I don’t see micromessaging dying anytime soon. In fact, I only see it getting more and more prominent.
People by nature are egotistical and everyone believes that they have something vital to say. As soon as the printing press became common, people were posting bills and handing out fliers sharing their ideas / opinions. I’m quite sure that there was some guy on a high hill shouting smoke signals. There was ham radio, CB’s, fanzines on photocopiers, CompuServe forums, email lists, blogs and now Twitter.
To further show my point, I looked at the town where I grew up.  A small town, not a very technologically sophisticated town of about 3,000 people.
People love to shout out their thoughts and love being voyeuristic and see what other people are doing. Micromessaging isn’t going away anytime soon.

My friend Chris makes an interesting argument that Twitter, while getting popular amongst niche circles, will never cross over into true mainstream like Facebook has.

I don’t buy the idea that Twitter will be like the invention of the phone, cell phone or computer, where this narrow set of first adopters paves the way and then a floodgate of regular people follow. That time has passed. It’s actually the masses that have (ironically for a social technology) revolted from Twitter because it’s been crammed down their throats in the media and on the Web, and regular people have balked at it. They are happy to say “I don’t get it, and I don’t want to get it.” Facebook happened more organically in dorm rooms because people saw a need for it. People immediately find their friends there, and that matters.

If Chris is talking specifically about the brand Twitter, I would say that it is too early to tell whether or not Twitter is the ‘it’ application that mass media portrays that it is.  Micromessaging, though, is here to stay.I look at Twitter like the Friendster of micromessaging. There is a chance that Twitter could devolve and become irrelevant like Friendster did, making way for MySpace which faltered making way for Facebook.But I don’t see micromessaging dying anytime soon. In fact, I only see it getting more and more prominent.People by nature are egotistical and everyone believes that they have something vital to say (bloggers especially). As soon as the printing press became common, people were posting bills and handing out fliers sharing their ideas & opinions. I’m quite sure that there was some guy on a high hill smoke signaling his ideas. There was ham radio, CB’s, fanzines on photocopiers, CompuServe forums, email lists, blogs and now Twitter.To further show my point, I looked at the town where I grew up.  A small, not very technologically sophisticated town of about 3,000 people. A simple Twitter Search of the town name reveals that people there are using Twitter.  These are real people, not some new-media elites grabbing on to this medium. They have a small community and Twitter offers the easiest way to reach them with their ideas and opinions.People love to shout out their thoughts and people love being voyeuristic. Yelling and watching aren’t going away anytime soon.  Neither is micromessaging.What do you think? Is Twitter a flash in the proverbial pan? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.Photo by Fuffer – who has great cartoons.

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Thank Your Supporting Cast

I’ve heard a story that, after he is done filming, Clint Eastwood has a thank you party for his supporting cast & crew at his private club, Tehama, in Carmel Valley. What an awesome thing to do for people that, aside from a split second credit at the end of the film, probably don’t get much credit for the work that they do.I’ve always thought that this was a really cool thing to do.By most accounts, especially in a down economy, I’ve had a pretty good year and have had the opportunity to do some really fun things. I celebrated my 10-year wedding anniversary with Holly, watched my kids evolve into little people, closed some big deals, got a bunch of case studies, consulted / advised two companies, taught a class, sat on two panels, did a couple of guest blog posts and learned a ton from all of the people that I met with throughout the course of the year.Success is not an individual sport.  There are a lot of people that have helped me out. For that, I’m very grateful and I’d like to recognize them.  Think of this as a Follow Friday, Subscribe Saturday or what you want to call it.  These people rock.

  • My amazing wife and family – beyond them, this list is in no particular order
  • The awesome people at Socialtext for all of their help – Kris, Eugene, Ross, Michael, Alan, Shawn Devlin, Chris Lynch, Michael Kieran, Adina Levin, Phyllis Ball and the entire development staff here at Socialtext. You guys have built an amazing product that is really fun to sell.  Thank you.
  • All of my customers that actually bought stuff from me.  You have no idea how much it means to me that you see me as someone you trust enough to do business with.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. A million times over, thank you.
  • Eric Grafstrom, Jim Weil, Mukund Mohan, Peter Marquez & Greg Brown for being good friends that I can bounce crazy ass ideas off of and being willing to tell me if they are crazy or not. I am always so impressed by you guys and learn so much in our conversations.
  • Terri Griffith for letting me teach her class at Santa Clara University – I can’t wait to do it again this winter!
  • Too many friends to name – I’m insanely lucky in that department
  • Jennifer Leggio, Dat To and Fernando Labistida for having me guest blog on their sites. PLUG – I love doing this if you need a sales guest blogger, hit me up.
  • Sameer Patel, Oliver Marks & Gerhard Gschwandtner for letting me sit on panels at their respective trade shows. I love that you guys invite me to these and I learn so much when I do these events.
  • Bloggers and writers like Jim Keenan, Doyle Slayton, Jill KonrathPaul Castain – I learn so much from you guys every time you post.
  • You – I’m shocked sometimes when people read this blog.  Thank you for doing so.

As the clock turns over to Thanksgiving day here on the west coast, I’m reminded how lucky I am, but how many people have helped me to be in this position. I know I’ve missed people on this list, but thank you very, very much to each and everyone of you.Image by me.

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What’s With All The Chatter?

There seems to be a trend happening in software / technology these days. We’ve gotten way out of control announcing products way before they are baked in an attempt to generate press and build FUD in a way that didn’t happen just a few years ago.Microsoft is guilty, announcing planned features in SharePoint 2010 almost a year before it is scheduled to ship.  Google announced Wave 2 months before developers could get their hands on it and who knows when it will be publicly available.  Today, Salesforce.com announced Chatter, a social integration tool that will turn water to wine and cram 10 pounds of productivity into a 5 pound bag. At least according to Marc Benioff during his keynote today. The downside of this miracle cure is that, like SP10 and Wave, it won’t be available until some undefined date way in the future.I’ve been hearing rumors about SFDC doing something cool around enterprise collaboration for a few weeks. I have to admit, my speculation was that they were going to announce a partnership to integrate with Google Wave.  The first announcements made Chatter sound like it was simple integration / Twitter-esque clone built on top of SFDC.After reading Charlene Li’s post, though, I’m intrigued about where this will go.  Some of her key points were:

Enterprise apps get social–and smart. This is more than merely integrating Twitter-like functionality into CRM and creating “social CRM”. This is a rethink and elevation of how information flows around an organization, and where it lives. The elevation of deals to be on the same level as people is significant — in every other social platform, people reign supreme and the world pivots around them. Look for social CRM providers like Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and many others to open up their platforms as well.

And:

This means your enterprise app will be “adopting” social technologies, moving away from sending notifications via email (and cluttering up your inbox) and instead, sending updates just like everyone else on your team into the news stream.  Essentially, your enterprise app will be “tweeting”, with it’s own “profile” and Chatter updates aggregated into one place.

This is pretty interesting and something that we’ve been working on for sometime at Socialtext.  On the one hand, SFDC will be a formidable competitor in the market place.  On the other, they are still 5 – 8 months from delivering anything in the best of circumstances.Also, there is still a level of acceptance that will need to be overcome.  Many of the CIO’s that I speak with are still skeptical of having tons of data in the cloud.  Salesforce brags that in 2011, 25% of apps will be in the cloud.  Simple math, but that means that 3/4 will still be on premise.  And let’s face it, most sales reps don’t use SFDC the way they should so paying $50 a month for a glorified contact management system beats hell out of a seven figure Siebel implementation.  It will be interesting to see what kind of acceptance having deal status and team interactions in the cloud will get. From what I’ve seen, it is cool if a small group is doing it, but when a big enough contingent of employees has conversations in the cloud, it makes everyone nervous.The second question that I have is around the level of integration.  They are currently promising a pie in the sky picture of this integration where everything is updating everything, but they haven’t explained anything at all about which apps this will work with (outside Salesforce) and what it won’t (assuming Oracle) nor have they gone into the security of having certain things shared and others not.  Don’t get me started on how this will map to a company’s archiving policy.Selling social software is hard.  I’ve often said that this is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had.  I’m excited about SFDC getting into the market.  I love the competition and it will raise the level of customer acceptance to another level. It’s another endorsement. And we could all use that.Other posts about Chatter:

What do you think? Will Chatter change the way you work, will it be a blip on your radar or will it just be mindless chatter? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

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Will SaaS / Enterprise 2.0 Migrate to Value Based Pricing?

Back in my day, there was a company called PeopleSoft.  You old timers might remember them.  Acquired by Oracle back in ought-four.  They sold their product not by list price, but by value-pricing. For little companies, this was a great thing and for big companies, it probably wasn’t too bad either. What it was, though, was difficult to predict, budget early on, or budget consistently (or so I’m told by my customers).Which is why I was so intrigued by the post from Ian Hendry citing the comments of Laurent Lachal of Ovum.  The general premise is that Salesforce has some much information about what you’re doing with the data (number of leads coming in, conversion rate, close rate) that they can easily see how much value your getting from the system and could potentially price their platform in a way that relates to that value.  From the post:

Salesforce.com, again as an example, holds a lot of back-end data on how many contacts each of their customers hold in their CRM systems; how many leads they have; what proportion of those convert to opportunities; and then statistics on revenue generated from those opportunities. Salesforce.com has the data to prove its system is helping to close leads and generate business; to shorten sales cycles. Why doesn’t SFDC bill based on the tangible difference it has brought to the performance of a customer sales team? Another example: email marketing applications from Vertical Response or Constant Contact bill you for emails sent, but they also hold data on who clicks through, so why not bill on traffic sent to your website instead?

It is a really legitimate argument, until you think about the quality of the people behind the platform.  For example, if you take 100 sales reps on a team, only 10 of them will be stellar when it comes to the use of your SFA system.  The rest will use it as a glorified contact management system.  I think that I’m an above average Salesforce user and I’d only give myself a C+ when it comes to taking advantage of what the system offers.I think that most sales reps would be hard pressed to say that they get $65 a month in value from their SFA tool.  This is obviously not something that Salesforce wants to hear, but lets face it, 99% of sales reps can get by with Excel and a phone. I think that, in this case, Laurent puts far too much value on the tool and far too little on the carpenter. Salesforce, for all of it’s cool bells and whistles, doesn’t close business for you. If I close a $1M deal, there is no way on earth that Salesforce contributed even one tenth of one percent to that.With that in mind, if you tie the price of Salesforce back to actual revenue generated, a bad quarter for a customer could sink a sales rep at Salesforce.  A bad quarter for a vertical sector or region or global catastrophe could dramatically impact the entire company.  There is a huge lack of predictability both on the vendors behalf as well as the customers.  A great quarter and all of a sudden a company is looking at a 10X bill for their SFA.As a sales rep, selling value-pricing is an even bigger pain in the ass because you have to convince your customers that the tool is going to transform their people into something that they aren’t.  I tend to agree with Markus Buckingham that people don’t change that much, so stop trying to get them to do so.  When you try to sell a product based on value-pricing, you not only have to sell on the merits and the value of the product (already hard), but you also have to convince your potential customer that they are going to be able to change the way that they do business so dramatically, so immediately, that they will want to pay a premium for this potential transformation.This is a really, really tough sell for limited upside to the vendor.  A similar example can be made for the email marketing system that Laurent points out.  Again, the email marketing platform is a tool.  If I put shit content into it, I’ll get zero click through, but the vendor shouldn’t be penalized based on a customer not being able to create good content.In the end, I think that if value-based pricing worked, you’d see it being adopted by a gaggle of companies instead of the Oracleized PeopleSoft (BTW, I don’t think that they do this any more.  Can anyone confirm?).  The problem is that as a vendor, you need to defer your revenue for a long time – until you and your customer agree that value has been seen.  As a sales rep, you have to sell twice as hard. And as a customer, you need to predict the future and expect that people will change.  Combine all this and you have three strikes to value-based pricing never catching on.What do you think? Am I crazy? Am I missing the value based pricing sales model? Let me know in a comment.Photo: ValueKing by Ilja

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Come On People, The NewsCorp Announcement Isn’t the End of Google

It was with much brouhaha today Rupert Murdoch explained that he was going to pull NewsCorp from the Google search spiders.  This of course is interesting, but I hardly think that it spells the end of Google and I believe that the impact on NewsCorp will be significantly more negative.The general sense is easy to comprehend, NewsCorp owns the content.  Google is spidering it and sending people there for free.  Obviously, NewsCorp is in business to make money, but wants to make more.  Journalists at the Wall Street Journal aren’t free.So I get it, but I also get that Google drives more traffic than anyone on the planet right now and I’d suspect that it would be better to get that traffic than not, but what do I know.  Since they didn’t ask me, I’ll offer my suggestion – offer 1/2 the article as a teaser and a micropayment for the remainder.  This leads to the micropayment issue not being resolved, but hey, we are a race of short term thinkers.I don’t think that, in Jason Calacanis‘ view point, that this is the most important story of the year. Nor do I believe that this is going to impact Google in the least.  I’m just guessing right now, but looking Compete, I only see 14M monthly unique visitors to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Times.  14 million uniques.  Google gets 145M uniques per month, which is where Jason probably got the 10%.But I’d suggest that people that go to sites that are owned by News Corp, go there directly more often than not, and not through search.  If I want to find out what is going on in San Jose, I don’t go to Google and search for it, I’ve been trained over the past 15 years to go to MercuryNews.  Likewise, if I’m looking for financial information (and want to get really good writing), I don’t search for it, I go to Wall Street Journal.  I’d guess I’m not alone in this.Jason does paint a great picture of this playing out though, with Microsoft’s Bing coming in to serve NewsCorp content as a premium:

So, for a moment, imagine a world where Bing could say in their TV commercials:“Want to search the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and 3,894 other newspapers and magazine?”“Well, then don’t go to Google because they don’t have them!”“Go to Bing, home of quality content you can trust!”

He also asks 3 pretty good questions about this rejection of Google and a potential partnership with Bing.  Here they are with my answers:a) If 1,000 major publications pursued this strategy, would it work? The vast majority of the 1,000 major publications have completely missed the bus when it comes to online strategy.  I have a really hard time believing that they could pull themselves out of their scotches and build a vision for this type of collusion and then execute on this.  By the time that they are able to even see this happening, 50% of them will either be acquired or will have gone out of business.b) If you would only search the top 1,000 newspapers and magazines on Bing, would you use it? How often? No.  I get my local news from 1 news source (Mercury News) mentioned above and I get my national news from CNN or WSJ, or NYTimes or something with a bit more credibility.  Everything else comes from blogs and citizen journalism.  At some point, the line between blogs and major news outlets will change, but that is a different story.c) What is the percentage chance this will happen (I need a #), and why? Less than 10%.  First off, Rupert Murdoch views this as a competitive advantage.  Other news outlets will see this as a similar strategy, but won’t go the way of NewsCorp and may look for other outlets for their online distribution.  Second, there is no way that the logistics of this could be managed.  Getting 1,000 (or some other large number) organizations to work together is damn near impossible.  Finally, I think that organizations would rather figure out a way to monetize their content more effectively based on Google sending traffic, rather than cut off their noses to spite their face.What do you think? Leave me a comment and tell me if I’m nuts or inline with this thinking.Here is the video to learn more:


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