Monthly Archives: September 2008

Guy Kawasaki on Venture Capital

Highly recommended videos for anyone planning to ask funding from venture capital. Guy Kawasaki is one of the star entrepreneurs and venture capitalists of Silicon Valley, and if you listen to his speech you will understand why.

I extract from the talk the ten slides Guy advises when presenting your idea to a VC:

  1. Title. Add contact info.
  2. Problem. What pain you solve.
  3. Solution. How you solve it.
  4. Business Model. How you make money.
  5. Underline Magic. Why you will succeed.
  6. Marketing & Sales. How you go to market.
  7. Competition. What you can do they can’t do. What they can do you can’t do.
  8. Team.
  9. Projections. Show the metrics behind.
  10. Status & Timeline. Where you are.

Guy’s 10-20-30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30pt minimum font size

There are plenty of books about how to prepare a business case for a start-up. These ten slides are the best summary I have ever seen.

Converging into Clouds

Online players, such as Google and Amazon cope all bets to reign over the Clouds, benefiting from their global reach and huge experience on web scalability. Others foresee IBM -talking about utility computing for decades- or HP, after acquiring EDS, as strong contenders to put IT systems on the clouds.

But what about Telcos? Wouldn’t they want to play too? At then end, operation of network services is what they have been doing for ages. Telcos own the connectivity, which is a key element in cloud computing. They can promise their business customers a guaranteed bandwidth and latency, that other on-line Internet players, simply can not commit. And they are close to their corporate and SME customers, to whom they already sell PABXs, internet access, leased lines and mobile phones. So telcos know their market in their local countries better than Google. Do not underestimate the power of the Operators. They have the strength to being able to gather an ecosystem of partners they can bring to their enterprise customers.

Internet giants, IT players and telcos, they all want a place in the cloudy sky.

SingTel to package SaaS offerings
IBM launches four new cloud computing centers

Searching for the Mobile Killer App

Apple App Store and Android App Market are bringing more spotlight than ever to the applications for mobile handsets. Though a vast number of applications already exist for Windows Mobile, Blackberry or Symbian, developers are working hard to write the next killer app on the iPhone and Android platform.

What criteria should guide developers when designing the next mobile killer app? Here are some suggestions of the ingredients a mobile killer app better have:

  • Useful. There must be a clear value to the user. What problem does the app solve? How is people impacted? Who/how many are impacted?
  • Usability. User experience first. Simple, fast and engaging.
  • Immediacy. Must be useful here and now, where and when I need it.
  • Context-Aware. Intelligent enough to know where are you, with whom, what are you doing (on a call, or a meeting) , your weather, and have the app behave accordingly.
  • Viral / Social. Know your community and your friends.
  • Coolness. Beautiful, elegant and enjoyable.

To these criteria, add this principle: “The innovation [...] is not that they let us do something new, but that they allow us to do what we already do better, more often, in more places and more quickly.” -Joshua Porter

I let you test which winners of the Android Developer Challenge I do not have these ingredients nor follow that principle:

  • cab4me: “Ever been looking for a cab? cab4me is the answer. Anywhere. Anytime.”
  • CompareEverywhere: “Shop smarter using your phone. Compare prices, read reviews, and connect with local stores.”
  • Ecorio: “Ecorio automatically tracks your mobile carbon footprint, suggests transit and carpooling alternatives and lets you stay carbon neutral by offsetting your trips easily.”
  • GoCart: “Scan a product’s barcode with your phone’s camera and view all the best prices online and at nearby, local stores.”
  • Life360: “From major natural disasters to little things like your child wandering away at the mall, there is a lot you might worry about. Life360 can help.”
  • Locale: “Locale is an advanced settings manager that automatically changes your phone’s settings based on conditions, such as location.”
  • PicSay: “Easy to use image editor that enables you to quickly personalize your pictures and share them with friends or photo sites.”
  • Softrace: “Turn your workout into a thrilling race and challenge the world in real time.”
  • TuneWiki: “TuneWiki Social Media Player, is an advanced player, featuring synchronized lyrics for audio or video, translation, music maps and a social network.”
  • Wertago: “The mobile application nightlifers have been waiting for. Find the hottest parties in town and connect with friends and others all night long.
  • Compare to the the top apps downloaded from Handango for Blackberry, Palm, Windows Mobile and Symbian, and judge where is the future and where the past. No wonder Nokia is setting a Symbian app challenge.

    Two links to nice mobile apps videos and the latest of TechCrunch on App Market:
    GoCart clip
    Google Maps for Mobile
    A Sneak Peak At The Android App Market
    What Is The Deal With This Stupid Lighter iPhone App?
    This Lighter App shows the powers of location and social network combined. It is a successful App and the only ingredient that is missing from the list above is “useful”!

    Update: Six iPhone applications that combine location and social networks, in TechCrunch

    Google Inspires Engineers to Change the World

    Google is re-investing the revenues they get from ads on projects to improve our world. Following google.org initiatives (RE<C, RechargeIT and others) Google is now calling for ideas from outside to make them happen in Project 10 to the 100.

    Googlers are brilliant people and you can notice that from the great products they bring to market.
    Still the major innovation of Google is their business model. Most of what google does is free for the user: Gmail, Docs, Picasa, Earth, Maps, etc. They are masters of the economics of free, and this is yet another great value for the user. At the end, Google is changing our world, and we do not need to pay for it.

    Is the G1 Googly?

    Yesterday was a great day for America as T-Mobile launched the awaited first Android phone. Plenty of coverage for the announcement in NYC, but is the G1 up to the expectations?

    On the good side: the anticipated powerful processor with touchscreen, qwerty keyboard, camera, GPS and full integration with Google applications (calendar, docs, gmail), plus the fancy accelerometer and compass that enable cool experience such as Google Maps with StreetView. (See reviews from TechCrunch, RWW and GigaOM)

    On the bad side: no Video player (except for YouTube), no headphone jack, contacts only sync with Gmail (no Outlook or Exchange), no multi-touch (yet) and T-Mobile 1GB cap after which you are downgraded to 50Kbps. (See Gizmodo’s Obnoxious flaws of G1)

    So how does the G1 score on the ten principles for Googley designs?

    1. Useful: Mobile Web, maps with location, Android Market… and you can even make phone calls. 
    2. Fast: Powerful processor, Wifi, 3G. It is fast (until you reach T-Mobile’s cap)
    3. Simple. Touch-screen simple interface and even one-click Amazon ordering
    4. Engaging.  According to the hype generated and with thousands of apps to come, I would tick it as engaging. And it includes Pacman!
    5. Innovative. In compass mode the scene moves as you do. It might be useless, but isn’t it cool and innovative?
    6. Universal. Hopefully we will have Android worldwide soon
    7. Profitable. What is the price of controlling the mobile web experience
    8. Beautiful. Well… the G1 is not yet up to the stylish iPhone… but new models will improve it
    9. Trustworthy. Open source and who would not trust Google’s “don’t be evil”?  But… why would they forget the MS Exchange sync?
    10. Personable. Well… it seems you can have only one Google account, can it be more personal? Beware, if you have two Gmail/Google Apps accounts you will not be able to switch easily.

    Overall ya, we can say it is googley… but improvement is expected with new models.

    Telecom at the Speed of Moore’s Law

    While the IT industry has Moore’s law in their DNA, the Telecom industry (both telcos and vendors) have not yet been able to embrace the concept and many analyst keep raising doubts about the sustainability of Telecommunications decreasing margins.

    Microprocessors, hard-drives and memory cards double its performance/cost ratio every year. The price of an 8GB SD card was $50 last year. Now you can get a 16GB SD card for the same money. The price of a mid-range laptop has been just under $1000 for many years, only that each year you get a substantially better machine.

    The Telecom industry has not been able to find the trick. Voice has been the key revenue generator service for ages. With voice revenues clearly declining, the industry is only now, beginning to switch to fix monthly fee models with a cap on voice minutes. People use the phone more and more. So the focus of telcos is now to keep the monthly fee price level, but give more minutes for the same fee, instead of reducing tariffs. The model also applies to broadband. Mobile broadband is capped, but telcos will aim at sustaining the monthly fee price, and focus on adopting more performing technology that will enable to increase the volume cap every year while slightly increasing the monthly fee. On fixed broadband the game is not capping but increasing the bandwidth. If you plot the increase of broadband bandwidth over the past years the growth is also exponential, and telcos should not focus on capping, but on making sure the technology enables them to increase bandwidth every certain time.

    Moore’s Law is the self-fulfilling prophecy that keeps the dynamism of the IT industry and a sustainable market. Consumers and enterprises are now used to renew their PCs even before those are 4 years old, so in mature markets the demand does not seem to decrease, but at least sustain. Add the next billion of PCs in emerging countries like China, India or south east Asia and judge if the industry is still healthy.

    As IT and Telecom converge, can Moore’s Law bring the same dynamism to the Telecom vendors and operators? Will they be able to keep the pace?

    What could make SlotMusic Succeed?

    The news of the day is that SanDisk has just launched SlotMusic. The memory chip maker will distribute music from the four major labels on microSD cards. Music tracks will be  encoded in MP3 at 320Kbps, DRM-free and pre-loaded on a 1GB microSD card that will sell for $7-$10.

    Blogs unanimously anticipate disaster. Mike Arrington cynically shows admiration for SanDisk to have convinced labels, and Om Malik simply predicts failure.

    Obviously the tiny memory card as a format to distribute media is a big improvement compared to the CD. It is smaller, it is erasable and it can “play” on most smartphones that have microSD slots, including Blackberry, Nokia, Motorola , HTC and Samsung to name a few. If the format succeeds, expect car stereos and DVD/music players to adopt it. But how does a physical card compare to online download? People love mp3, among other things, because it has freed us from the constraints of a physical disc. What was the last time you played a music audio CD on a CD player? I do not recall it myself. The last CD I bought was played only once on the PC while ripping it to the hard-drive.

    So why SanDisk and the labels are coming back to physical distribution?

    1) To overcome people reluctance to pay for intangibles, by selling music again as a tangible good that people can pay for and buy at Walmart (impulsively maybe)

    2) To make microSD format THE standard for memory cards, and translate it into royalties for SanDisk.

    Are those arguments enough to appeal teenagers to buy music on tiny cards? Not the second one, for sure. What else could make SlotMusic succeed? Here is my advice:

    1) Go 2 or 4GB cards and do not sell just one album, but discographies: Queen’s discography, Mozart’s Piano Concertos or Puccini’s operas

    2) Go for 2 or 4GB cards and sell video too: Movies and soundtrack together. Or TV series.

    3) Get Apple to include a microSD slot in the iPhone and iPods. (Good luck)

    What is the only chance of success? Points 1 and 2 above are based on the old principle, updated: “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck full of micro-SD cards”. It might be faster (and cheaper) to buy a card with all Madonna’s albums or the last movie from Woody Allen than downloading them from iTunes or BitTorrent.  It is a matter of making it more convenient. So SlotMusic, you’d better go fast before we all get 100Mbps fiber-to-the-home, and can download movies in tens of seconds.

    In summary: Who wins?  The user, that will get cheaper microSD cards. SanDisk that will give an extra boost to its format.

    Who loses? With few chances of success, one would say the labels… but wait, they have nothing else to lose by this time…