Sunday, June 28, 2009

I love our industry ..

One of the reasons I'm still hard at it is the extraordinary openness, generosity and collective goodwill that I keep coming across.
I wrote about it in connection with the month I spent in San Francisco and feel the momentum of collaboration has come, in no small measure, to London too.

A recent incident illustrated this to me very clearly.

I was analysing some data in a spreadsheet and wondered whether I could display the records (which contained post code) on a map. After failing to find some free software on the web, I tweeted my problem and sure enough within hours came the offer from one Andrew Bredon of Dealchecker - (whom I had never met)- he had a script lying around which he refined and after a couple of goes - voila!

I spend a lot of my time simply connecting people with one another and I know many others who do the same. This is what makes our own eco-system grow and strengthen.
Andrew's simple gesture - without any hint of quid pro quo - is another one of those small but important moments which make what we do so rewarding.

Thanks Bredo.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No exits? Better Businesses?

In my experience it takes at least 5 years to build a good business. There is just so much to do and some things just can't be rushed.
So, will the fact that we are in part of the cycle where exits for tech start-ups are really hard to come by, be a positive thing for some good businesses in the making?

In boom times, it is difficult for founders and their backers to turn down some really juicy offers. Everyone's a winner? Not necessarily the company in question.

There certainly comes a time when new owners with greater resources, superior distribution or stronger brand can benefit the acquired business. However this often happens too early in the company's life.

Having to carry on independently may not have been the founder's or the VC's plan but could benefit the business significantly - the innovation is sustained, the focus shifts to revenue/earnings growth and cash conservation. This all breeds a strong and healthy culture for the business.

As much as we like exits, we do like building great businesses.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Skimlinks keeps collecting awards

Skimlinks seem to have captured the imagination of the Affiliate and on-line Publishing worlds.
Cynics would say that winning awards are no indication of future financial success. That is undoubtedly true.
Skimlinks have clearly struck a chord however. At a time when publishers are struggling for ad revenue and are looking for additional revenue streams, the simplicity and ease of installation of their service is a real boon.

The awards list runs like this:
Affiliates4U awards:
Skimlinks won all categories they were shortlisted for, the first company ever to win 3 awards in one night

New Media Age awards:
Shortlisted for Best New Business and a Special Award for Technological Innovation

National Business Awards:
Alicia shortlisted for Entrepreneur of the Year award

Linkshare Golden Link Awards:
Shortlisted for Best New Publisher and the LinkShare Golden Link Technology Genius Award

skimlinks.com :: How it works? from Ciaran Rooney on Vimeo.

We wrote about Skimlinks earlier - here.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tweetdeck Version 26 - its awesome

In the words of one of the thousands of comments one can read about Tweetdeck, one stands out for me.
"Tweetdeck changed my entire Twitter experience."
Lets face it, there are still many people on the planet who can't see what all the fuss is about. What is the point of Twitter? Who wants to know what you are doing right now?
Tweetdeck goes some way to making sense of it all.
Just like the browsers and then the search engines made sense of the web in that they helped to navigate and find what you wanted from the millions/billions of pages out there, so Tweetdeck is providing its users with a 'controllable' Twitter, a useful Twitter and an insightful one.

The user expereince has been awesome and provoked huge adoption and great stickiness but now, with the latest release, Iain and his team - Tom, Reza, Nicola,Sol - have blown the commentators away.

There are simply too many great new features to enumerate here. Top of the list for most users will be the ability to sync across desktops, laptops and iPhone - across the cloud.
Unlimited columns, auto language translation of incoming or outgoing tweets, spam buttons - these are just a few of the new features.

Read lots more ...or just go to Tweetdeck and download version 26


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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Its best to know nothing ...

When you are setting out to change completely the way in which an industry works, sometimes its best not be an expert in that field.

Experts sometimes know too much about how things work, how things are done, how its been done for years.

When Errol Damelin first set out to change the way in which unsecured lending was done - he started with a blank sheet of paper.
It was case of "what if customers could apply for a loan, be verified and risk assessed in real time and the money transferred to their account instantly?" And of course, the service operates 24X7 from anywhere. If that could be done, wouldn't this meet a need and be an awesome service?

This is not easy - even now, no-one else does it.
Jonty Hurwitz joined him and they set about building this. Still not a banker in sight.

Since the funding round for Wonga was announced a couple of days ago, people have been asking - 'how does a company that's been trading for just less than a year raise $22m from some of the world's leading VCs - in this market.

The answer clearly is that Wonga have built some impressive technology, is serving its customers exceptionally well (they get a net promioter score in the 80's!) and is addressing an enormous market.

Errol and Jonty have built a great team too - dedicated to ensuring that their product remains cutting edge and obsessed with great cusomter experience and service. Congratulations.

Of course the APR debate will rage but its clear that this is an entirely inappropriate measure for the very short term loans which they make.
For my part, if the customer needs and loves the service then Wonga are doing a great job.

Some press coverage of the funding round:
Wall Street Journal
Financial Times

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