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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 052909

From the home office in Pyongyang, North Korea…

#1: Twitter may add some FriendFeed features to the service, is what @scobleizer heard today at #140tc http://bit.ly/d87Av

#2: Business Week includes the Cisco fatty story in its article about managing corporate reputations online: http://bit.ly/3ZCG9

#3: @justinmwhitaker I take a broader view on innovation. The perception is that it’s all Clay Christensen disruptive. Most will be incremental.

#4: You know what I like about working at Spigit? Plenty of competition out there. Fun to see them laying the smack down on us. Love it.

#5: Four of the most damaging words to corporate innovation an employee can say: “Aww, forget about it” #innovation

#6: Great post on critical distinctions in #e20 use cases, and ‘collaboration’ vs. ‘participation’ by @johnt http://bit.ly/12umLp

#7:  @dhinchcliffe Very keen to hear enterprise perspectives on Google Wave. Will it compete w/ SocialText, Socialcast, CubeTree, Yammer?

#8: When does a company need a dedicated product mgt function? $1.5-$3.0 mm in revenue and/or 20-25 employees: http://bit.ly/C2CTr

#9: Dara Torres sets a new record in 50 meter butterfly http://bit.ly/lsRER And sadly, I find myself wondering how a 42 y.o. is setting records.

#10: Just looked at my E*Trade account for the first time in months. Less bad than I thought.

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 031309

From the home office in Austin, Texas…

#1: @defrag has been saying he thinks the economy is slowly coming around. To that end: http://bit.ly/pP5bd and http://bit.ly/nRkzv

#2: “I think the days of the traditional San Francisco startup approach are numbered.” http://bit.ly/jyw4H

#3: @petefields Companies should follow all who follow them. I’d bet companies’ tweet reading is more keyword & @reply based, not person based.

#4: Maybe it’s just me, but Techmeme has improved a lot recently in terms of the variety of interesting stories. Human editor + user tips = +1

#5: “Facebook is the SharePoint of the Internet” http://bit.ly/4fu73o

#6: This shouldn’t be too controversial…The Case Against Breast-Feeding in April’s Atlantic Magazine http://bit.ly/Xs4ZG

#7: If browsers were women http://bit.ly/kO1su (h/t @mona)

#8: I’ve been blissfully unaware of what Sophie’s Choice is about all these years. My wife told me about it last night. Never gonna watch that.

#9: Actively banishing artists showing up in my Last.fm recommendations: Peter Cetera, Richard Marx, John Parr.

#10: In an email f/ my son’s preschool: One kid: “We’ll take them home in the future”. My son Harrison: “But I’ve never been to the future.”

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 013009

From the home office in Tampa Bay, FL…

#1: PETA ad that uses sex to sell vegetables (yeah, you read that right) is rejected for Superbowl. See for yourself: http://bit.ly/1xVgO5

#2: NYT piece on Twitter & David Pogue’s request for help w/ hiccups: http://bit.ly/1oI72B BTW – SUGAR. Teaspoon of sugar makes ’em go away.

#3: I’m already part of the Jeff Bezos fan club, nice post here about how he pursues root cause analysis: http://bit.ly/aJtH

#4: Guys at The Content Economy post: Three good presentations on Enterprise 2.0 http://bit.ly/3slVoL Honored to be there w/ @jowyang & AIIM

#5: Enterprise 2.0’s job is to increase the frequency with which those who need find those who know. Among many jobs.

#6: RT @ghornet About to present a business plan – must focus on not using e2.0 buzzwords… afraid someone will yell BINGO!

#7: One thing with emails…you have to re-earn the right to arrive in the in-box every time you send them. Unlike RSS feeds.

#8: Chrysler removed its “Thank You America” post (for the bailout). Became a rallying point for public venting. Background: http://bit.ly/bp0z

#9: Odd to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies, realizing he’s our governor. Bad guys were easier to handle than Sacramento lawmakers.

#10: And so it is settled…after 14 games of the card game War with my 4 y.o. son Harrison, I am victorious, 8 to 6.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 012309

From the home office in Phoenix, AZ…

#1: @amcafee My fave #inaug09 moment: the way Obama handled the muffed oath admin. On-the-spot composure, ability to handle pressure. #andyasks

#2: IBM’s term for layoffs is “resource action”. That’s a new one.

#3: Example of Yammer benefit. I just yammed about wanting to see a feature algorithm, not sure who wrote it. Engineer replied to me w/ answer.

#4: One thing about Enterprise 2.0 ROI: the highest return has the least predictability

#5: My first blog post that’s ever gotten any traction on Digg, “Angels and Demons of Our Social Media Souls” http://bit.ly/T3sd

#6: Brothers & Sisters TV show quote: “I didn’t know what Twitter was” (OK, don’t hate because that show is on TV here right now)

#7: If you’re looking for free, high quality icons for that presentation, check out iconspedia: http://bit.ly/QxirL

#8: Hard to tell when a fax goes through successfully here. Our fax machine is very secretive about its activity reports.

#9: Played a round of War with my 4 y.o. using home-made cards. True to statistical probabilities, we went 2-2-1 in our five games.

#10: Wonder what George Bush is doing tonight?

The Top 10 Enterprise 2.0 Stories of 2008

The enterprise 2.0 space saw good action this year. I’ve had a chance to see it up close, starting the year with BEA Systems (now Oracle) and closing out the year with Connectbeam. I think it’s fair to say that in 2007, social software was still something of a missionary sale. In 2008, company inquiries increased a lot. The burden still falls on the vendors to articulate business benefits, adoption strategies and use cases. But enterprise customers are now partners in this work.

So let’s get to it. Here are my top ten stories for the year:

1. Activity Streams

Facebook really got this going with its newsfeed, and FriendFeed took it to an art form with its lifestreaming service. In 2008, many vendors added activity streams to their applications: Connectbeam, BEA Systems, Atlassian, SocialText, Jive Software and others.  Activity streams are great for improving awareness of colleagues’ activities, and adding a new searchable object: actions.

2. Forrester’s $4.6 Billion Forecast

Forrester Research made a splash with its forecast that Enterprise 2.0 will be a $4.6 billion market by 2013. The ReadWriteWeb story about it has been bookmarked to Del.icio.us 386 times and counting. Forrester’s projections provided a solid analytical framework for the different tools, used internally and externally. According to the analysis, social networking will be the most popular tool for companies. Whether you buy the forecast or not, they remain the best-known, most visible numbers to date.

3. Oracle Beehive

Larry Ellison is fond of essentially dismissing SaaS. He does not have Oracle invest much in the trend. But Oracle did seem to embrace Enterprise 2.0 in a big way this year with Beehive, which is an “integrated set of collaboration services.”  The New York Times quotes Oracle EVP  Chuck Rozwat: “It is a product we built from scratch over the last three years.” Now since Oracle is a huge enterprise software company, there’s plenty of skepticism about the capabilities and innovation of Beehive. But there’s no denying that Oracle has the ear of the enterprise, and picks up a lot of market intelligence through its customer base. While Beehive itself may or may not succeed, the idea that Oracle came out with Beehive was a big story.

4. AIIM/McKinsey Surveys

Research and consulting firms AIIM and McKinsey each came out with surveys of corporate interest in enterprise 2.0. The AIIM survey looked at levels of awareness and interest among different Enterprise 2.0 technologies. AIIM also took a fairly expansive view of social software. The top 3 “Enterprise 2.0” technologies in terms of corporate awareness? Email, instant messaging, search. That’s actually a funny list, yet there are lessons there for vendors and consultants in the social software industry. If those are entrenched, can you play nicely with them? One other quote I like from the report:

This study of 441 end users found that a majority of organizations recognize Enterprise 2.0 as critical to the success of their business goals and objectives, but that most do not have a clear understanding of what Enterprise 2.0 is.

McKinsey’s survey of enterprises looked at the interest in various tools as well. It also asked respondents what the leading barriers were for success of social software initiatives. Top three were: (1) Lack of understanding for their financial return; (2) Company culture; (3) Insufficient incentives to adopt or experiment with the tools.

5. Facebook Co-Founder Leaves to Start an Enterprise 2.0 Company

Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and colleague Justin Rosenstein announced they were leaving the hot consumer social network to start a new company. The new company will “build an extensible enterprise productivity suite,” with the goal of “making companies themselves run better.” Why would these young guys, sitting on top of the leader in consumer social networking, choose to exit? As I wrote at the time:

The Enterprise 2.0 market is still quite nascent and fragmented. Combine that industry profile with projected spending in the category, and suddenly you understand why these guys are striking out on their own.

Assuming they’ll be able to tap the mother ship for help, I think this was a fairly important story this year.

6. Microblogging Enters the Enterprise

Joining wikis, blogs, social bookmarking and other incumbent tools this year was microblogging . Given the way Twitter is used by Enterprise 2.0 aficionados, and is enjoying skyrocketing popularity, it’s no surprise we started seeing microblogging emerge for internal use. At the mostly consumer-focused TechCrunch50, enterprise microblogging start-up Yammer won the top prize. Other start-ups in the category include SocialCast and Present.ly. SocialText added microblogging with its release of Signals.

7. Gartner Narrows its Criteria for Social Software

Gartner came out with its Social Software Magic Quadrant in October. As SageCircle notes:

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is probably the iconic piece of analyst research. With its visibility and status, it also has enormous influence on vendor sales opportunities, especially when it comes time for IT buyers to draw up the all-important vendor short lists.

So it was with great interest when I read that Gartner had narrowed the criteria for whom it puts in the Magic Quadrant:

Added blogs and wikis to the functionality requirements

The effect of that is to establish those two tools as the de facto standard for enterprise social software inside the enterprise. To the extent corporate buyers are listening to Gartner for signals about the market, this will make it a bit more challenging for start-ups with interesting offerings that address other parts of the social software market. Yammer, for instance, won’t make it into their Magic Quadrant.

8. Enterprise RSS Fails to Take Off

RSS is one of those technologies that you know has huge value, and yet continues to struggle for awareness and adoption. Google tracks the leading “what is” searches. The fifth most popular on its list? “What is RSS?” Take that as both good and bad. Good that people want to know, bad that awareness continues to be a struggle.

Forrester analyst Oliver Young has a sharp write-up that shows enterprise RSS did not expand inside companies as many had thought it would this year. As he notes:

Of the three enterprise RSS vendors selling into this space at the start of 2008: KnowNow went out of business completely; NewsGator shifted focus and now leads with its Social Sites for SharePoint offering, while its Enterprise Server catches much less attention; and Attensa has been very quiet this year.

RSS is a great way to distribute content inside companies, but its ongoing limited adoption was a big non-story for the year.

9. IBM and Intel Issue Employee Social Media Guidelines

IBM and Intel each established guidelines for their employees who participate in social media. As I wrote, this essentially was a deputization of employees as brand managers out on the web. These market leaders were essentially saying, “have at it out there on blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc. But make sure you know the company’s expectations.” These guidelines represent a milestone in large enterprises’ comfort with social media. I expect we’ll see more of this in 2009.

10. The Recession

This affects all industries, globally, of course. And Enterprise 2.0 is no exception. Jive Software made news with its layoffs, but the effect was industry-wide. And of course, corporate buyers aren’t immune either.

Those are my ten. Did I miss a big story for 2008? Add your thoughts in the comments.

If you’re interested in tracking what happens in 2009, I encourage you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. It is a centralized location for tweets and Del.icio.us bookmarks that specifically relate to Enterprise 2.0.

*****

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Would Twitter Have Emerged If Current Pessimistic Attitudes Were Around Last Year?

Although well-used by many and even relied upon by some, Twitter has yet to turn on a revenue model. It’s not like the company would lose users, if it set up a minor advertising strategy as a test; people want to see the company make some money. Please, Twitter, turn on the revenue before it’s too late.

Rafe Needleman, 11 troubled Web companies: The next Kozmos?

We’re all watching, rather helplessly, what is happening to the global economy right now. It appears we’re in for a chilly period economically. Click here for a Twitter search on recession.

And there’s no shortage of advice on how to handle the upcoming winter. The most talked-about advice came from legendary venture capital firm Sequoia, who put their thoughts into a presentation. This slide describes their advice to their portfolio start-ups:

The above slide is the equivalent of a cold splash of water in the face. The general theme seems to be: cut back on experimentation and things that take a while to mature.

Later on slide 53, Sequoia includes this advice, which I have seen in many other pieces:

Become cash flow positive as soon as possible

Cash flow positive, cash flow positive…always good advice. And here are the two levers affecting cash flow position:

  1. Increase revenues
  2. Cut costs

But that advice seems to be for companies that have a specific profile. I think the approach for entrepreneurs is a little more nuanced.

What a Start-up Needs to Do Depends on Its Maturity

The graph below graphs the two levels affecting cash flow, and considers the distance between a company’s revenues and its costs.

I put this graph together because I think it’s too simplistic to say, “cut costs”. Cutting costs is advice that applies to companies along all levels of maturity in down economic times. But for many companies, that’s not enough. If the distance between sales and costs is too great, there’s no way to cut costs to preserve the company. The focus of the entrepreneurs needs to be on raising equity, not doing more with less. If there’s a good base of revenues and a decent post-financial crisis pipeline, the focus is on closing deals, not cutting costs. “Deals” meaning partner deals in a consumer web app, client deals for an enterprise app.

There are promising companies that do not yet have the topline revenue nailed down right now. Per the Sequoia note, these companies need to cut back on experimentation. Yet, we hear this sort of thing a lot:

The Great Tech Bust of Ought Two gave us 37Signals, Flickr, and del.icio.us

But…aren’t those examples of experimentation? For instance, Flickr didn’t start out life as a social photo sharing service. It was an experimental feature for an online gaming service called Game Neverending by Ludicorp. The “feature” of photo sharing didn’t have a revenue model, and I’m going to guess it wasn’t the core strategy discussed at Ludicorp board meetings.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of mixed messages out there: “Cut back and focus on what’s core!” “Great innovation emerges from economic downturns!”

Would We Have Twitter If the Economic Slowdown Was in 2007?

I put together a two graphs of Twitter’s traffic, as tracked by Google Trends. The top graph is Twitter’s traffic during 2007. The bottom graph is Twitter’s traffic overall from 2007 until today.

Assume today’s chilled economic outlook was in effect at this time last year. If a VC was making decisions about companies in its portfolio, how would Twitter fare? The 2007 numbers show a service without a real growth trend. And Twitter still doesn’t have a revenue model.

Using Sequoia’s advice…Twitter would be dead.

But look at Twitter’s numbers starting in April 2008. The network effects have kicked in, Twitter is getting press everywhere, CNN is even using it. Per Rafe’s post cited at the top, an ad revenue model certainly seems doable and promising based on its metrics.

However, I’m not convinced Twitter would survive under today’s dire outlook for start-ups. It’d be a  victim of the “throw the baby out with the bath water” mentality we’re seeing right now. And wouldn’t that have been a mistake.

Let’s hope some sense of proportionality and a longer term view kicks in soon.

*****

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