Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Media piqued at Google . . . for being Google

It's an interesting point in Om's post about Google wasting Genius Cycles, but much of the talk is short term thinking.

To me the key is whether Google will can convert innovation into success to be come the un-Xerox Parc. I don't know if they even know what the results will be, but they're making the highly logical bet that:

bigger brains x faster cycle times = more raw material for success

Then it's up to the corporate "GOOG" to monetize, but more importantly not to miss a huge opportunity.

There's in interesting parallel to MSFT here. Are they sorry they aren't the first to market in any of the markets they're in?

Nope! And Google isn't either.

Google suffers from a (self-made) PR problem of being innovative as to execution but a follower with regard to new concepts. The media can's separate the two concepts.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Syncrhonized Firefox with Foldershare

I realized that I was suffering from split personality when I switched among three computers that I use, plus a portable version of my online life I put on a USB flash drive I use for travelling.

So after keeping up the juggling act of re-personalizing my buttons and bookmarks on an almost daily basis, I decided to try to simply use portable firefox (customized with all my must have greasemonkey enhancements) from a FolderShare folder instead. Foldershare is already an amazing convenience with drag and drop ease for any documents that I need to synchronize among work, home and mobile, immediately available.

Then, whenever I want to travel lite (that means not lugging a notebook computer around - mostly because I know there will be a decent setup at my destination mostly likely in Asia) I can just copy my app folder to my USB flash and be ultra-mobile.

I'm already using Web-based apps like writely and gmail and they are more than good, but without my browser setup the way I want it, I'm still not productive enough.

Let me know what works for you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Google Stock Site makes Sense for me

With all respect to Om, Paul and Charlene, I don't think it takes much to switch finance sites, even for small improvements.

Google Finance does the job for 90% of what I want from a stock site, with only the lack of portfolio support as a major functionality gap. Unless you are going to enter into a transaction like getting a mortgage or exchanging currency, most of the offerings of Yahoo Finance, which I still use constantly, are just like Edward Tufte"chart junk", distracting, irrelevant and unnecessary.

No, mostly what I want to figure out is where a stock is, where it has been and why. So tying news on a company to the stock chart is key for most of the time I spend and that is exactly what Google Finance delivers.

The big question is more whether this is a beta product that will languish like so many other worthy Google projects, or whether it will continue to improve. Comparing the just launched Google offering to Yahoo is shortsighted if Google can focus for once to make it's offering clearly superior. What notable improvements has Yahoo Finance made in the last, say two years?

Since the Google product manager, Katie Jacobs Stanton, comes from Yahoo Finance as reported by John Battelle on Searchblog, I give Google Finance good odds over time.

I am willing to wait because until now, there really hasn't been an alternative.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Y Combinator Launches (so far)

I just love what Paul Graham is doing with Y Combinator, and if I weren't just a "useless" business guy, I'd jump right it.

Anyway, I really like Reddit because it strikes the right balance of tech/non-tech articles and there is always something interesting to read there.

It seems to me the pace of launches is picking up and it will be interesting to see how the various companies fare. However, I haven't seen a comprehensive list of Y Combinator launches out, so I thought I put one together.

Infogami (merged with Reddit)

It seems like the Winter Founders program has yielded more launches than the previous Summer Founders program, but that's to be expected given that Summer was the first one.

The ones I give the most chances of success to are Reddit and ClickFacts, which is in a great position to capture dollars from a hypergrowth market. It's like that old saying that half of your advertising works and half is wasted, but you don't know which half. With Adwords, it's the same (maybe it's 10% that's wasted here) and advertisers will spend an irrational amount of money trying to squeeze out that last bit of inefficiency.

My personal take is that clickfraud is like "shrinkage" in retailing: it's unavoidable, a cost of doing business and you'll never stop all of it, but somehow you make money anyways. What Google needs to do is come up with a better word for it. "Shrinkage" is better than "stealing," "pro-choice" is better than pro-abortion, so there should be some word that the industry can use better than "clickfraud".

Enough digression.

Let me know if I missed any. It would be helpful also to know about any failed companies.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I take it back, Xooglers rocks again . . .

. . . when Doug posts.

He talks about the origins of "Ten Things Google Has Found to Be True" and how "Don't Be Evil" violates the prime directive of marketing: underpromise, overdeliver.

Even so the founders *wanted* it to be a public declaration of a high standard so that they could be held accountable for it.

As much as each oh-so-public slip hurts, I think the top Googlers expected the mistakes and yet chose their path deliberately, learning at an accelerated pace.

In the end their Don't be Evil slogan was a challenge to their future selves that can't be circumvented without betraying their own beliefs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Inner Circle Line wins award at SXSW

Congratulations to Eunhee Cho for winning a special jury prize for Outstanding Visual Achievement at South by Southwest last night!

When I saw her Inner Circle Line for the first time, I immediately felt its integrity as a film and loved the care she put into her characters and story transitions. I was happily surprised when the film made it into the Rotterdam Film Festival where it had it's world premier, amazed when it made it into the juried competition for Best Narrative Feature at SXSW.

To actually win an award is stunning. And I couldn't be there :(

And yes, I am a co-producer, but pretty much only in name.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Meetro, very cool, but needs to be mobile

Installed Meetro and found it to be a very cool location-based IM. Technically slick, the program integrates all the major IMs. Unfortunately it misses it's market because when I'm at my computer, I'm usually sessile and when I'm on the go, I'm not logged in.

I can't wait for this to be GPS enabled on my mobile device. Until then, uninstalled.

Google's product production pipeline

This is something I've been thinking about for a while since Google's pace of product launches is both exhilarating and exhausting and worse, accelerating.

At the end of last year, Google had about 5,680 fulltime employees. Let's say about half are business and half technical/engineering. Another rough guess that about half of the tech staff provides infrastructure and development support of existing products gives us 1,420 developers working on coding innovations.

I'm guessing that these developers work in teams of 5 or 6 people which means that there about 250 teams working on projects. This makes sense in the context of priorizing their "Top 100 projects" which I believe they do on a weekly basis.

Using their 70-20-10 rule, that means there are about 175 search/advertising projects and 75 related and unrelated projects, some critical like Desktop Search and others just because they're cool like Google Mars.

In any case, most the buzz goes to the new, non-search projects and even throwing out half of them as unworthy, that's 3 launches a month.

This just gets more distracting as they continue to hire.

One area that Google clearly needs to innovate is the way they launch products . . . they are already swamping out the good will and attention span of their fans. I thought the gmail launch was extremely intelligent (and of course viral) because it was controllable. Why don't they use a mechanism like that to make sure their launches go a little more smoothly?