Random Thoughts

Pictures via Picturesandbox

The pictures below are generated via my Flickr photos that I selected in a lightbox at Picture Sandbox, a site run by my friend Augustine Fou.
Everytime the page is refreshed, you can get different thumbnails.


Stepping Down as CEO of Social Media Club

On May 1st, after I had a conversation with Chris Heuer, he wrote “Conversations take time, managing them takes energy.”

This is true in so many ways. In fact, Chris captured this critical fact:

“… we have had to expend so much energy in managing the Club to host conversations about Social Media, that we have little time to actually produce it or to be fully engaged in the conversations about it, even though it is all around [us] every day.”

This has been bothering me for weeks now. I enjoy blogging and writing about Web 2.0 and Social Media. I am listed as the CEO of Social Media Club, and expected by all to be blogging, podcasting, vlogging, talking with members, going to member meetings, and in general being out there with the people doing Social Media. The reality of a time-constrained startup life is that I can accomplish only a few things every day, and creating media has fallen to the bottom of the list .

When I signed up to manage the day-to-day affairs of Social Media Club, I intended to participate in the industry. I hoped to learn from great people in the communication arts, to synthesize and share my knowledge on a regular basis with the club and the public, and to help others make great connections. The day to day is very different. I’ve realized that running an association is not the same participating in the industry for which it serves.

For all of the technological advances of 2007, with video cameras built into laptop screens, and almost-always on wifi, geography is also a challenge. Chris is in San Francisco, and I’m in New York, and working together across miles and time zones takes a huge amount of energy and has proven a logistical challenge. While we both love working with each other, we have very different working styles.

We have mutually decided that I will step back and Chris as majority owner(and rightfully so, considering his investment of time and capital) will run Social Media Club (he’ll discuss how he will do that in his post). I will continue to work on the New York chapter along with some other volunteers. I also will continue to vocally and blatantly cheerlead for Social Media Club. I will participate in the local-leader and co-founder calls and wikis. I look forward to teaching what I know at the upcoming Social Media Workshops. Chris and I will continue some small consulting projects we have started, or which have come looking for us. I will also be consulting on my own, helping companies understand Social Media especially where it meets customer evangelism. I’ll also continue providing personal and executive coaching services, especially with entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

I think Social Media as an industry has a very large growth path, and I want to help companies who are part of the industry. I also believe that Social Media Club will play a large role in that growth, connecting companies and resources, establishing standards and educating participants. These are all exciting challenges and I look forward to the success that Chris and Social Media Club will have in taking them on.

My future, as Obi Wan Kenobi once said, lies on a different path.


At the DFJ Venture Challenge

I’m at the DFJ Venture Challenge at Columbia Business School.
Five finalists are competing for $250K and free office space to implement their plans.
Greenware is the first company – organic plates, cups and bowls that are biodegradable. On the trend of “green is good.” Also trend for desire for conspicous consumption goods. Changing the idea of ‘disposable’ – usable every day, washable several times, able to go in the oven. Palm leaves collected off the ground, processed with steam heat and pressure, through a UV oven, and usable as dishware. 80-90 billion disposable products are used every year in the country. This product is for the high end – 25-30% higher cost, but people will spend up to 44% more for consumer packaged goods that are ‘natural or organic.’ No trees are harmed. No oil has to be used, which reduces amt of items used to recycle other items.
They can make 500MM items from materials within 2 hour drive of the factory space. Can make quick, easy custom plates for companies, quickly, for same cost as others.
Highly scalable – they can collect about 1mm leaves a day, because they are actually waste or garbage that needs to be removed from the plantations anyway – need to be taken away from base of trees for proper water flow.
40-45% margin on the product.

Mezmeriz – from Cornell. 10 times lighter, very inexpensive high definition video projection unit made from carbon fiber base.
A bunch of large companies all expressing interest in co-investments. “Big Electronic Company” is working on product as a partner, Someone else looking for alternative mirror, and an innovative computer maker is looking for different type of display.
There are even more great companies, looking for new places to sell lasers.
(*Blog post modified per their request to remove company names. I usually don’t modify stuff but I want to support their efforts to close any deals they can. Go Big Red!)
They can make a 62″ TV at 5″ distance, instead of 36-40″ usually required in this space. IP secured from Cornell, working proof of concept, 5 patents in pipeline.
Nice hockey stick graph.
Tuck bschool guys – ATDynamics TrailerTail(tm) – device to put on back of a long haul truck that allows it to be more aerodynamic and fuel efficient.
Lots of usability, patent, shape questions. questions about sway of trailer, – safer for driver, safer for other drivers with less air flow problems off back of trailer.
They’re doing laptop-based measurements to measure fuel consumption of alpha test customers now.

Affine – Oject detection in video that will allow people to do targeted contextual video ads based on the currently playing video.
To me, good idea, I remember this idea from Sorceron in 2000, but they seem a bit light on how they’ll actually get advertisers to participate in this. They’re really a feature that should be sold to one of the ad networks. They seem quite naive about how the ad world really works – saying Nike will buy an ad based on a current video showing a basketball shows a lack of appreciation of how complex this problem really is.

SteriCoat – permanent antimicrobial coating for medical devices. First device coats a Central Venous Catheter and helps keep bacteria out of the body. Instead of a drug release, punches holes in the sides of bacteria, lasts longer, no resistance to it, no toxicity, novel polymer that doesn’t require a FDA approval for a drug. This one is really interesting. If it is in fact unique, I suspect this could be the winner of the challenge (I’ll make this prediction now, at 4:01pm,).

UPDATE: I was right, the medical guys won. DFJ did a really great thing and also gave a second prize of $100k to Greenware. Congrats to the winners! Thanks to the DFJ crew for having me.


Future of Online Advertising – NYC June 7-8

I’ll be attending the Future of Online Advertising conference on June 7-8. They have give me a discount to give away: 10p3rc . This will give you a 10% discount on the event.

Hope to see you there.

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Social Media Workshop- Competition, Discount, pick me!

Ok, it seems to be a smackdown. I’m speaking at the Social Media Workshop on June 11th in Silicon Valley. It is going to be a great way to learn about Social Media, and take away direct information you can use the next day in your company. The agenda is really meaty and focused.
Deb and Shel have already listed their discounts, so I will list my code here: “HOW” (no quotes). If you sign up with code HOW right now, you’ll get $100 off our already discounted price, and I get to show up Deb and Shel. Operators are standing by, there are only a few discounts left under my code.

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