Todd "Turbo" Watson -- IBM Corporation
turbotodd 100000388Y Tags:  techcrunch venture_capital techcrunch40 web2.0 innovation 3,791 Views
If you weren't able to score a ticket to the TechCrunch40 Conference being held out in California today and tomorrow, it's gonna be okay.
This will probably be one of the most blogged Web 2.5-3.0-ish like events you'll ever witness.
You can start by following the action on the official site.
If you have no clue what I'm talking about, the backstory is this: Forty of the hottest new startups from around the World Wide World are going to announce and demo their products over a two day period (today and tomorrow) at an event called "TechCrunch 40."
The big winner gets $50,000 and, with all likelihood, a line of venture capitalists out the door that will make YOUR iPhone waiting line pale by comparison.
Here's a link to a helpful elevator pitch summary of the leaked 40.
Some that raised my eye...
After a weekend at an outdoor music festival (but also because I love all things crowdsourcing), CrowdSpirit is sounding particularly interesting. It aims to do nothing less than "start a revolution in manufacturing by creating the 1st electronic products driven and inspired by customers' wishes and expectations."
Huh. And to think I just thought I wanted one of those new touch iPods.
I'm also curious about Powerset, the natural language search engine. Especially since PowerSet was apparently able to decipher exactly what Miss South Carolina was trying to say to we U.S. Americans about education in South Africa.
By way of hilarious example, Duncan Riley at TechCrunch explains that Powerset can do smarter searches "because the engine has a better understanding of the searches' intended goal than with just keywords alone.
A Powerset search for "politicans who died in office" returns info on the subset of politicans who actually died in office. As opposed to returning a group of pages that ranked highly with the phrase. LOL
I'm also interested in FlowPlay, a "social casual gamer site aimed at teens."
Social gaming for the teen set, HUGE opportunity (if done well) and, if done with a keen eye outside the U.S. in those higher-penetrated broadband markets (I'm thinking wayyy East).
Stay tuned to see who survives the seriously expert panel of experts.
If you happened to be in Austin, Texas, this past weekend, and if you just happened to happen by the 6th Annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, you will have learned for certain that music is alive and well.
You'll note that I didn't say the music "business" or "industry."
No, I'm just talking about the music part.
"ACL," as it has come to be known, has blossomed from an upstart music festival in 2002 to a full-blown music lovers' feast drawing acts from around the world, some completely obscure, some completely famous.
All converging on our fair city during a usually hellatiously hot weekend in Austin in September (and this year was no different. Sorry 'bout that.)
I don't get out much anymore, as I pretty much live in front of this computer.
So I don't have the same network of people to turn me onto music like I did in college.
Well, ACL is certainly a great way to discover acts that are:
A) new (or at least, new to you)
B) hardly anybody has ever heard of
C) you've heard of, but never seen
With that in mind, some of my faves from this year's eclectic, but very well booked lineup...
If you've never seen Regina Spektor perform, or heard her music, run to the nearest iTunes client and download a track or two (Turbo Warning Label: Do NOT buy the whole album without deciding you have a taste for her music).
For my money, she gave the most brilliant performance of the weekend in what was a very long weekend of brilliant performances.
Recap blogs, set lists, and lots of photos of ACL 2007 here.
(A special shout out to the folks at AT&T. Thanks for the live streams in your blue room. The performances sounded and looked great!)Read More]
All this talk of recession has me wanting to head off to Pamplona to run with the bulls.
I had a friend who ran with the bulls once.
Actually, she didn't actually run with the bulls.
But she did stay at a Holiday Inn one night.
And she did run down one of the side streets in Pamplona to get more rioja wine, which apparently can be just as dangerous as running with the bulls.
Fortunately for her, she survived (not so much the bulls).
As for this market, only time, and a few meetings of the Fed, will tell.
GigaOm Malik was pondering the potential impact of this market on advertising, referring to a report just released by TNS Media Intelligence that outlines U.S. ad expenditures in the first half of 2007.
Here's what you need to know:
TV was down 2.4%, newspaper media was down 5.8%, and radio was down 2.7%
Internet advertising was up 17.70%
Whoa, nelly. Somebody get me a glass of rioja!
The bad news was that overall media expenditures have been down two consecutive quarters in a row.
Are we partying like it's 1999 again? Only the March 2000 Barron's article about how every startup known to mankind is about to run out of money has just come out, and fresh oxygen has just been distributed for everyone who had been trapped in the bubble???
I'm not so sure, as methinks there are at least a few differences between now and then.
One, we have a new generation of kids who grew up digital (hence the 17.70% growth in Internet advertising). That means there's a whole lot more eyeballs on a whole lot more Web pages (and smartphones, and gaming consoles, etc.)
Two, it doesn't cost as much to get into the online advertising and Web publishing game as it did back in the day (low barrier to entry, easier scaling, cheap Linux servers for the house!, etc.)
Three, the Internet market was not as global then as it is today (mucho mas eyeballs).
Of course, playing the contrarian to my optimist, and as Malik also observes, there are a lot more players fighting for the online advertising pie these days.
So, if a full on recession hits, Internet advertising will take a hit.
But it will take a hit against a growing piece of the pie, one that is already disproportionately smaller in terms of spend compared to actual media consumption.
So no, I don't think the online ad bulls of today will get trampled the way they did in 1999.
But I'm going to stand close to the wall, just in case.Read More]
The recent Skype failure.
The domino effect of a single network card at LAX airport, which shut down the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's ability to process international passengers through customs.
Even the delayed launch of the space shuttle in 1981.
All were victims of system failures and their own complexity, according to an article in today's NY Times.
As Veracode CEO Matt Moynahan explains in the piece, "the Law of the Weakest Link always seems to prevail."
A single flaw or weakness can go on to compromise an entire system.
Speaking of compromised systems, Engadget's reporting the first free, open source iPhone SIM unlocking software.
Hack away all you like, people...it ain't gonna get you your $200 back!Read More]
Facebook continues to dominate the headlines, with today's memes centering around money.
On the one hand, the BBC reports that Facebookers could be costing firms over 130M British pounds sterling a day.
Employment law firm (remember what I posted yesterday about Facebook offering full employment for lawyers???) Peninsula estimates that 233 million hours are lost every month as a result of employees wasting time on social networking.
"Why should employers allow their workers to waste two hours a day on Facebook when they are being paid to do a job?"
Well, first off, Mr. Smarty Pants lawyer, I'm not on Facebook two hours a day.
But if I were, fortunately for me it's part of my job to fundamentally and intrinsically understand the finer nuances and macro implications of both personal and business social networking.
But before companies go off and start blocking the Facebook IP address in their corporate firewall filters, they might want to wonder why there's no shortage of venture capital dollars chasing the Facebook management team.
Might Facebook be too corporately legit to quit?
As Kara Swisher reports in D: All Things Digital, Facebook's next round of dineros could be "well beyond its last $25 million one in 2006."
Somebody thinks there's some kind of there there.
Hey, I've still got the remnants of what was left in my dot com stock buying piggybank. Can I get buy into a little Facebook action? Can I, huh, can I?
Turbo officially proclamates that thou Facebookians should getteth while the gettingeth is goodeth.
As the economy slides up to the intersection of 34th street and 5th avenue in midtown Manhattan, where the downhill slide begins, the VC Dilbert pellets could start drying up faster than those blocked Facebook IPs.
Finally, speaking of New York City on this solemn day of remembrance, I just want to reminisce for a brief moment.
I visited the top of the Twin Towers twice during my time living in NYC.
The second and last time I visited there was around February 2000, just after the turn of the Millennium.
It was a freezing cold February day, but my buddy Ed and I braved the cold and the long ride to the top, as I had just taken ownership of my first digital camera and wanted to get some pics from the top of the world.
The pic attached below is one of those taken that bitter cold day in February 2000.
On a clear day you could see for what seemed like forever from the top of the World Trade Center.
In my memory, I still can.Read More]
This just in...
IBM has announced that it will join the OpenOffice.org project and is pledging to use the OpenOffice open source software in its products.
OpenOffice.org is the leading open-source productivity suite, one which includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database, and other modules.
It uses the Open Document Format (ODF) as its native file format, as well as supports other common file formats like Microsoft Office.
OpenOffice runs on numerous major platforms, including Windows, Vista, Linux, Solaris, Mac OSX, and is now available in over 100 languages.
CNET's News blog is reporting that IBM will also have 35 programmers working on the OpenOffice code, and will also contribute software to improve OpenOffice's accessbility features for people with disabilities.
IBM already supports the OpenDocument format in its Lotus-branded document editor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.Read More]
Yesterday was a great day for sports.
Tiger Woods won the BMW up in Chicago, continuing his momentum towards garnering the first FedEx Cup.
Roger Federer took his fourth U.S. Open in a row in straight sets.
Tony Roma and my Dallas Cowboys welcomed the Giants to Texas Stadium with open arms, particularly Terrell Owens (sorry, all my NY friends).
And Kid Rock took on Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee out in Vegas.
Not inside the ropes of the boxing ring at MGM, mind you, but rather in the audience of the MTV Video Music Awards.
Although judging from the commentary surrounding Britney Spear's return engagement, perhaps the MTV staff should have thrown up some ropes around Kid and Tommy and let them finish a round or two.
That would probably have been a might more entertaining than what was going on onstage!
Of course, if MTV celebrity fisticuffs aren't your cup of tea, know that there's also an interesting battle brewing online, this time on Facebook.
According to The New York Times, reaction has been building against an anti-Islam Facebook group, with some 58,000 Facebook members joining an opposition group which explains that, unless the anti-Islam group was removed, they were "quitting Facebook."
At last count, Facebook was garnering an estimated 100,000 new members a day, so Bob Metcalfe's network effect may deem the otherwise massive protest unnoticeable.
The Times goes on to report that Facebook declined to comment on the subject of hate speech, although one can imagine they can't stay silent for long.
Methinks this will likely be only one of many Facebook free speech discussions to come.
Anybody up for forming a "Lawyers for Facebook Free Speech Lawsuits" group???Read More]
Speaking of great online marketing stories, Spread Firefox!, the home of Firefox community marketing, just signaled that Firefox has now reached over 400 million downloads.
I'm surely responsible for at least 100 of those, but that aside, it's nice to see Firefox continuing to pick up browser share.
Aside from the few times I'm forced to use Internet Explorer for certain intranet apps at IBM (yeah, go figure), I use Firefox pretty much full time these days, and I suspect I'm not alone.
The Spread Firefox! movement began back on November 9th, 2004, delivering 25 million downloads in the first 99 days.
That doubled to 50 in the next six months. 100 million in the first year.
And now, three years after the movement started, 400 million.
So, if you put up a Firefox button to encourage the community marketing movement, or are a Firefox devotee, congratulate yourself.
You're part of online, open source, grassroots marketing at its finest.Read More]
A good friend of mine in IBM out on the coast had a wonderful, if bitter, Facebook status message on his profile this AM:
"...[Name not included to protect the innocent] is aware of the exact price of being an early adopter. $200."
This in response to Apple's announcement yesterday that it was going to knock $200 off the most expensive iPhone model currently available.
The blogosphere has been in a tizzy.
But being a very competitively spirited marketer myself, I like the angle Nokia took, as pointed out by Mike Arrington.
With lightning-fast efficiency (did Nokia buy an ad network too???), Nokia took out some search ads on Google against the following query:
"iphone price drop"
In response to that query, you get the following ad:
Nice. Rock and roll, Nokia.
Rather than feature their content network, I would have suggested they go straight for the Apple jugular.
Offer some kind of trade-in promotion, or a discount for your roof-tested iPhone.
But I guess at $600 an original pop, that would have been too much of a loss leader.
In any case, kudos to the Nokia search marketing team. No flies on you Fins!
As they say in "John From Cincinnati," "I got my eye on you."Read More]
turbotodd 100000388Y Tags:  nyc_taxi_strike google social_networking privacy facebook 1 Comment 4,953 Views
Hey, I feel for those of you in NYC today and tomorrow, what with the taxi drivers on strike and all.
What's most fascinating to me, though, is the rationale for the strike.
NYC wants its cab drivers to install GPS systems in their taxis, along with video screens and touch screen credit card processors.
The problem? These systems cost between $3000 and $5000, and an estimated of $100+ monthly fee, costs which taxi drivers fear they're going to shoulder most of the burden for.
Also of concern? The ability for taxi owners and dispatchers to follow the every move of their drivers via the GPS system.
"Hey Guido, what the ---- are you doing on the Gee Dubya when you oughta be out ta Newark by now?!!?"
My advice to visitors to NYC this week?
Get yourself a subway map, a bottle of water, and a Metro card, and don't be afraid to ask a New Yorker for directions.
Meanwhile, if you're concerned about being tracked via the Intertubes, normally privacy-friendly Facebook is making a really dumb move, one likely with the unadvertised intention of driving more subscriptions to its already fast-growing social network.
They announced on their blog overnight that they are making "limited public search listings" available to non-Facebook users.
That means soon you will be able to use Google and other search engines to find someone's Facebook profile.
To be fair, Facebook will allow one to control whether or not one's profile can be found via a public search
(Go here and uncheck the two boxes under the "Who Can Find Me in Search and See My Public Search Listing" section if you wish to be removed from public searches. I already have.).
But as Om Malik observes, this move turns Facebook into the "quasi-White Pages of the Web."
In so doing, they are diluting the power of an already very viral and useful social network in hopes of easily gathering compounded membership via the public search engines, and boosting their page views as they cast their eye towards the public markets.
Both of which I guess are hardly private affairs.
All I have to say to Facebook is that that is so 1999.
Or was that 1984?Read More]