Posts from February 2006

VC Cliché of the Week

When its time to hit the road and raise some money, I have been known to say, "let’s put together our dog and pony show".

Charlie suggested I make that phrase my cliche of the week.  So it forced me to do some research on the phrase "dog and pony show". It’s amazing that I have literally said this phrase hundreds of times and have no idea what the genesis of the term is.

So I turned to Wikipedia, which many schools are telling their students to avoid but I still think is the best information source out there.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the topic:

Dog and pony show was a colloquial term used in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century to refer to small traveling circuses that toured through small towns and rural areas. The name derives from the typical use of performing dogs and ponies
as the main attractions of the events. Performances were typically held
in open-air arenas, such as race tracks or municipal parks. The
performances were typically held in areas that were too small or remote
to attract bigtop
performances. In the latter part of the 20th century, the original meaning of the term has largely been lost.

The term has come to mean any type of presentation or display that is somewhat pathetically contrived or overly intricate

Sounds right to me.

And Investopedia adds this important twist to the term:

Also known as a "dog and pony show", a road show is when the management
of a company issuing securities or doing an IPO travels around the
country giving presentations to analysts, fund managers, or potential investors.

So there it is, a dog and pony show used to be a cheap version of a traveling circus featuring dogs and ponies, but now it means a road show where management travels around meeting with potential investors.

Both are certainly traveling circuses.  But in the modern version, the tricks are different.  Getting the wifi and the LCD projector to work in the three minutes before the investors come into the conference room is a particular favorite of mine.

Like all performances, it is critical to be well practiced and nail the tricks when the moment comes. If you are not experienced in presentations, it helps to get a coach.  I am not a fan of investment banks for anything but very large late stage financings and IPOs.  In those cases, they will make sure you are well practiced and coached. But for early or mid-stage companies, it’s largely a do it yourself experience.  And it can be very frustrating.

So find a good presentation coach and let them help you tune your presentation and coach you so when its time to do your tricks, you do them well.

And it helps to think of it as a dog and pony show. You are the main attraction. If you think of it that  way, it may help you get through what can be a very grueling experience.

I will post a few blog resources to help you with your dog and pony show, starting with this one:

Allen Morgan’s Ten Commandments For Entrepreneurs (I don’t know of a link to all ten)

Ricky Gervais Podcast Goes Paid

Audible announced today that they have signed a deal with Ricky Gervais (and his buddies Steve and Karl I suppose) to distribute his podcasts going forward.

I love these podcasts and have blogged about them. They are my alltime favorite podcasts.  Karl Pilkington is the first great comedian of the podcast era.

But I am disappointed that Ricky and his friends feel the need to DRM their content and make it available in a proprietary format that makes it less available and less user friendly.

I don’t want to go anywhere near the iTunes fairplay DRM and I certainly don’t want to use Audible’s proprietary format.

I like getting the show in mp3 format. I’d be happy to listen to ads. That’s the way talk radio works.  Why can’t podcasts work that way too?

Or let me send them the $6.95 via Paypal for a RSS feed URL that allows me to continue to subscribe the way I want.

It’s not just the content that matters to me. It’s how I get it and what I can do with it.

So count me out Ricky on your next couple seasons of podcasts. I am sure you’ll get a ton of listeners.  But I won’t be one of them.

Messing With My Computer

There is nothing I hate more about software than when it messes with my computer.

I have spent hours (probably days) getting things the way I like them on my laptop and I don’t want anyone changing the settings without my knowledge.

So when I recently downloaded Yahoo! Music Engine, I found that all my media files (mp3s, mpeg4, etc) are now set to be played by Yahoo! Music Engine.

But I want Quicktime to play mpeg4 and I want iTunes to play mp3s.

So I opened those programs and set them as the default player.

But Yahoo! Music Engine must have messed with my computer good because it keeps changing them back.

That is not cool.  I want to stop this once and for all and if I don’t find a way to override this bad behavior soon, I will remove Yahoo! Music Engine from my computer and never put it back on.

YouTube, SNL, Bruce Springsteen, and Jason Calacanis

Jason Calacanis wrote earlier today that Youtube is not a real business.

He says, and I quote:

Let me break it down: YouTube
and other video hosting sites have made it easy to pirate stuff on the web (which is where piracy started), but they
shouldn’t be positioned as some revolutionary business. It’s a silly, little business that anyone could setup in a
week. The fact that folks are talking about them being bought for some large amount of money by Newscorp is commical.
They are a glorified FTP site with TAGS people! I could set this up in a weekend with two kids in high-school and a
couple of cases of Red Bull. In fact, the first two programmers to email me with a decent resume I’ll back you guys to
build a YouTube compeititor–provided you can build it in under five days.

Let me break it down for you Jason. Youtube is as much a business as MySpace or Digg which you cite as real businesses in your post.  We are talking user generated content here and YouTube has captured the hearts and minds of the people as the place they go to post videos and find videos.

 I am spending the president’s day weekend skiing in Utah with my family and three other families. We spent a ton of time in the airport with delayed flights on Friday night.  What did we do?  We spent a couple hours on YouTube in the airport lounge watching great footage of Springsteen shows from the 1970s, old Stevie Wonder videos, Arctic Monkeys videos, and of course the requisite SNL videos.

My kids and their friends go to YouTube to see the videos of their favorite bands and upload videos they have shot of themselves and their friends so they can post them to Myspace.

It is true that there are somewhere like thirty or forty YouTube like services and the first of them, Vimeo, came out over a year ago, well before YouTube launched.  So Jason is right that its not hard to build the basic functionality of YouTube.

But YouTube has built an audience.  It’s a destination.  And it delivers because like all user generated content services, it’s audience contributes the content as well as consumes it.

Now of course there are challenges to this model.  Like all user generated content models it’s hard to control what the audience does.  The New York Times had a short piece today on the request by NBC Universal to take down all the SNL videos that have been posted by users on YouTube. This is likely to be an ongoing request because the SNL videos are going to go back up as soon as the people who put them there in the first place realize they’ve been taken down.

As Jason says in his post:

SNL obviously got more from the viral nature of this promotion than anything they could ever buy. They should put
every single one of the skits on the Internet *for free* and put an advertisement in front of them. They would be
making at least 1M a month from this within six months. SNL should also put skits that didn’t make it on the show on
the Internet, as well as bloggers and other colaterial material. In fact, in short period of time SNL will have more
value online than offline.

That is the point I have made repeatedly on this blog in the past several months.  Content owners should pay attention to what consumers want to do with their content and find ways to satisfy these desires that can fit into a business model.  Putting SNL videos on iTunes is OK, but if they put them there, they should allow people to put them anywhere they want.  I put the Steve Jobs SNL video on my blog because I thought it was funny and it made a point that I wanted to make.  I would have been happy to run a pre-roll and a post-roll ad that NBC served if that was available to me.

My point with this post is that YouTube is a real business, and can and should be a very good business. It’s certainly as good a business as MySpace or Digg is and possibly better if they can work with the content owners to allow them to claim their content and monetize it with advertising.

I am rooting for them because I love the service as a consumer.

Edgeio and Craigslist

Jeff Jarvis posted a long and thoughtful post about Edgeio and what happens when anyone can post a classified ad on their blog or anywhere else and it gets picked up in a centralized marketplace (Edgeio, Cragislist, Indeed, etc).

It’s worth reading if you are interested in the future of classifieds.

But even more interesting are the comments from Craig Newmark, Dave McClure of Simply Hired, and Keath Teare, CEO of Edgeio.

I love when the conversations that used to happen behind closed doors happen out in the open for everyone to observe and participate in.

Performancing

Charlie told me to install the performancing plugin to Firefox about two weeks ago.

I finally got around to it late last week.

I’ve been reading about how great performancing is for months.

And everyone is right.  It is great.

I find myself posting to TypePad more from performancing than from TypePad.

MP3 Of The Week

Sany0002
Posting has been light because we are skiing in Utah and are being treated to a ton of new snow.

So today I am going to link to another MP3 instead of posting my own.

I love Jack Johnson. His music is so mellow and cool.  He did the soundtrack for the new Curious George movie which I did not see.

But Emily played this song, Upside Down, on our last podcast and I really like it.

And I found it on the net via the Streampad blog which has mp3s at the bottom of its right sidebar.

So thanks Dan and here is Upside Down by Jack Johnson.

Who Are You?

The results are in and now we know a bit more about who reads this blog.

To be honest I am stunned and flattered to have such a fantastic audience.

Some factoids:

You are overwhelmingly male (87%)

You are middle age (63% of you are between 30 and 50)

36% of you are CEOs or Chairmans of your companies (this number is frankly mind blowing to me)

63% of you make more than $100k per year

78% of you live in the US (i am slightly disappointed by this number as a much larger percentage of foreigners seem to comment and track back so i had hoped for a more global audience)

54% of you do not have children (this is surprising to me as well)

You are gadget geeks who others rely on for advice and specifications when purchasing technology

You spend way more time online than any other medium

And you are web 2.0.  You blog, you comment, you track bag, you tag, use RSS, and do all the same stuff I do.

Maybe none of this surprises you because you know who you are.  Now I do.  And as I said at the top, I am flattered by the fact that so many great people read this blog. 

Thank you

Union Square Pillow Fight

Pillow_fight
I saw this headline in my reader (Brookly Vegan) and my first thought was something went wacky in the office on Friday afternoon after I left.

But it had nothing to do with my office, apparently at 2pm yesterday afternoon in New York hundreds of people came to NY’s Union Square Park armed with pillows and went at it.

Brooklyn Vegan has a ton of great pictures (including the one I scraped and put up top on this post).

FM Publishing

You will notice a banner ad on the upper right sidebar of this blog.

That banner is an advertisement placed on this blog by FM Publishing, the blog network for bloggers who want to maintain their own blog presence.

I am fortunate to be in this network along with the likes of Boing Boing, Digg, Om Malik, and Searchblog (John Battelle is the founder of FM Publishing).

Like all other advertising on this blog, I will donate all proceeds to charity.  One of my goals in working with FM Publishing is to generate substantial revenue for charity with this blog.

I also hope that FM Publishing will find advertisers who will be relevant to the audience.  For all the talk about contextual targeting, I have been very disapointed by the lack of relevancy of the Google and Yahoo! ads that also run on this blog.

The survey that FM ran for me has been completed and I intend to publish the results as soon as I digest them.