Not long ago, Podtech was a video company with a bright future — or at least so it appeared. Run by John Furrier, with some high-profile social media types like Jeremiah Owyang and Robert Scoble on board, the company had high hopes of being a new video-content provider. And then the train left the track at some point, and now the company’s assets (whatever’s left) have been sold for just $500,000. Owyang left to join Forrester and Scoble left to go to FastCompany, and John Furrier was effectively forced to resign. So what happened? How did $7.5-million worth of VC money get vaporized so quickly?
We may never know the complete answer to those questions, until someone like John chooses to talk about it (Update: He has posted a comment on FriendFeed), but we can draw some tentative conclusions from what Robert Scoble has said on FriendFeed. Among other things, he says:
“Podtech was screwed up by a number of decisions. Everyone played a part, but I sure learned a lot about how a company can screw up big time. Major learnings for me? 1. Have a story. 2. Have everyone on board with that story. 3. If anyone goes off of that story, make sure they get on board immediately or fire them. PodTech did none of the three and I’m sorry for my part in not making the three happen.”
And then, apparently unable to resist adding more details, he says:
Continue reading “Podtech failure: Scoble’s lessons”
Apparently, congratulations are due for Henry “I used to be a famous Wall Street analyst” Blodget and the rest of the team over at Silicon Alley Insider: the site has apparently raised about $1-million or so in venture capital. PaidContent has the news — although Rafat and the gang at PC (who just got their own windfall of $30-million or so from Guardian Media Group) seem a little miffed that their scoop was broken by SIA itself, after Henry blogged the funding news. Alley Insider is part of a Web 2.0 holding company of sorts called Alley Corp., which was created by former Doubleclick execs Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman, and recently launched two new properties: Clusterstock.com and The Business Sheet.
I can’t remember where I came across this. For some reason I think it was on FriendFeed, but now I can’t recall who posted it (if it was you, let me know and I will give you a shout out — Update: It was FriendFeed intern Dan Hsaio, who got it from Philipp Lenssen). In any case, it is right off the geek-o-meter, but I felt compelled to take note of it anyway, in part because it illustrates just how far things have come in a relatively short space of time — just 15 years or so. Now, we’re worried about how things will render on our iPhones with their multi-touch interface, or how many video clips we can pack into the gigabytes of memory we have, or if the Ajax and Flash on a website is annoying or useful.
In 1993, Marc Andreessen — who was then working on a little piece of software called Mosaic while working at the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign — suggested a new tag that could be used in HTML: the IMG tag, which could be used to (wow!) display an image on a page. Bonus points if you follow the thread: Tim Berners-Lee, who has since been knighted by the Queen for his contributions to technology by effectively inventing what we now know as the World Wide Web, doesn’t seem to like Andreessen’s suggestion much. He says he’d much rather use the existing HREF tag and put image attributes in it.
My friend Om Malik has an interesting post about Yahoo — and not about the interminable Yahoo vs. Microsoft-plus-Carl-Icahn takeover, which has become the beast that refuses to die, but about the kind of thing Yahoo should arguably have been focusing on instead of trying to compete with Google on search. As he describes it, one of the blog posts at Web Worker Daily got a spot on Yahoo’s home page, and then got voted up by users of Yahoo Buzz, a Digg-style feature. As Om says:
In a few hours, the story … was viewed over 200,000 times and attracted over 350 comments. Now thatâ€™s a lot of traffic â€” but more importantly, a gigantic amount of engagement displayed by Yahoo visitors. The traffic sent our way by Yahoo was many times the traffic we get from, say, Digg or StumbleUpon.
As Om notes, it’s not so much the sheer volume of traffic that is impressive, but the engagement of the audience. Even during the biggest Digg storm or Stumbleupon flood I’ve ever experienced, I’ve never gotten more than a handful of comments. As beaten-down as it is, Yahoo still gets a ton of traffic — but Om is right that it needs to find better ways of taking advantage of and leveraging that traffic, instead of just trying to go head-to-head with Google. Should it sell off its search arm to Microsoft? Perhaps. At least then it could concentrate on what makes it different from Google, instead of trying to duplicate it.
One of the interesting things to me about Mike Arrington’s interview with Twitter founder Evan Williams isn’t so much the discussion of business models (although that’s obviously something the company will have to deal with eventually) but the debate that seems to be going on inside the company about how it handles API access to Twitter’s data. As Mike notes, the service only gives four outside companies full access to the entire Twitter data feed, and one of those is Summize — which of course is now part of Twitter. The others are FriendFeed, Twittervision (which overlays Twitter posts on a map) and Zappos, which is an online shoe retailer that makes extensive use of Twitter.
The ability to get access to that “firehose” of XMPP data was what allowed Summize to produce @ replies from Twitter when users couldn’t get access to those replies through Twitter itself, one of the features that I think drove interest in Summize over the past few months — although it would arguably still have been a useful service even without Twitter’s repeated downtime issues. But while Summize used it to build something that made sense as an adjunct to Twitter, a service like FriendFeed.com is using the data firehose to build something that is closer to being a very real competitor. Like some other people, when Twitter was having its issues, I effectively duplicated the most important part of my Twitter follow list by following or creating friends in FriendFeed.
Continue reading “The Twitter API: Giving away the store?”