Streamy, Pownce & Popfly invites up for grabs


This is not a feeble attempt to increase my Web 2.0 coolness by following tip #5 in “5 Top Tips on How to be Cool in a Web 2.0 Crowd“, but since I like to play around with new apps and sites I have some of the latest coolness currency to distribute. What I am talking about is of course beta invites to all those services that are trying to get maximum hype by creating more demand than supply. So I have a few invites for anybody who wants. Just leave a comment on this post why you want an invite and unless you have a really crappy reason I’ll give you the ones I have.

  • Pownce – This is Kevin Rose’s (of Digg and Revision3 fame) latest project and one of the most hyped startups the last few months. It has been called a Twitter killer, it has been called a new Social Network, it has been called ICQ on steroids. However you choose to classify it it is damn cool and had a great userinterface and lets you chat and send files to your friends. You can read a good review on Tech-Buzz.
  • Microsoft Popfly – Microsofts Mashup Builder that shows of their new Silverlight platform. Pretty cool and it has good potential to mature into something really usefull. But right now they go a bit overboard with the effects sometimes when everything is semi-transparent and things are spinning all over the place.
  • Streamy – An RSS reader with a social touch. Innovative AJAX user interface that is quite cool, even if not that usefull. Mashable has written a long post about Streamy.

Enjoy your new toys and remember me if you happen to stumble over beta invites to the next big things.

3 Must-Haves for a Successfull Web Venture


There are Web 2.0 companies popping up left and right, every self respecting Ruby on Rails and PHP programmer must have one. Following these startups as well as what the big players does has become a national geek pasttime (detailed knowledge of these thing is a must to be cool in a Web 2.0 crowd!). The vast majority of startups will fail, and the good times where millions of venture dollars are easily available and where Yahoo and Google are on an aquiring rampage are soon over. So what is needed to create a successfull web venture? Open any management book or read any startup blog and they will say “team, team, team” and after that “contacts, contacts, contacts”, so I am going to skip these obvious ones. Instead I am going to outline the 3 things I think that any web venture needs to become a success…

Offline Advantages
Almost anything you have online can be easily copied, almost any code and feature can be copied. This can be done by the big guys or by some well fincanced startup throwing money (and indian programmers) at the problem, and it can also be done by a couple of overachieving Computer Science majors at Standford (it has been done before). So a bigger moat is needed to protect what you got and to set you apart from all your competitors. These offline advantage can be patents and trademarks (if you have the money to protect them), hardware (Googles gigantic server farms and network for example), fame (Guy Kawasaki and Truemors is a perfect example) and contracts (signed contracts with partners, suppliers or customers that brings you some unique advantage). All these things are hard to copy and will get you an advantage both when it comes to protect your position and beat your competition. It is also really going to help when it comes to the valuation of your company.

Advantages of Scale
This works great for Google, MySpace and Wal-Mart, so why not for you? It is not a given for a startup to reach the point where they are big enough to take advantage of their size, but it is a must create a web venture that is successfull in the long run. Advantage of scale comes in many forms and in many diverse areas. If you set up your own server infrastructure (instead of going for Amazon EC2) you will get better deals from the hardware suppliers the more you buy. If you have a large number of users you will get more usefull behaviour data you can use to improve your services, and you will also be able to sell more advertising. The bigger and more poupular your site is the more free PR you are going to get, etc etc. Again, this is hard to copy.

Speed of Development
As stated above all code can be copied, all features can be copied and all designs can be copied (as AOL did with Yahoo’s design). But only things that already exists and are released can be copied easily. To copy your plans and your future roadmap is not as trivial. Therefore it is critical for a web startup to be able to move quickly and constanstly improve, add new feature and services. Everything you develop is just one step of the overall masterplan for world domination. That way you can leave the copycats behind and stay #1. This means that you constantly need to think 3 steps ahead and know what will be your next step. This also will save you from the worst panic when the competition releases some new hyped feature.

Why isn’t Data or a cool name a must-have?
I haven’t mentioned Data as one of the must-haves. One reason for this is that a lot of the advantages of data are part of the “Advantage of Scale”, ie the more good data you have the better. Another reason is that data in most cases can be copied (if it is in HTML format is can definitly be copied), unless it is protected by contracts (ie an Offline Advantage). Another thing I haven’t included in the must-haves is the cool name factor, something that seems so important in the Web 2.0 world. A cool name is great, a cool name is good, a cool name that you can also buy the .com domain for is even better – but it is not absolutely critical. Anyway, there are many good posts/articles/books about that subject. But a cool name alone does not equal success.

Is Google more evil than Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Darth Vader combined (or are they as good as ice cream)?


Googles famous motto is “don’t be evil”, but in reality it is more like an information Pacman and should have the motto “must eat all data”. There is no doubt that Google is the current leader on the internet and one of the companies that really enables the Web 2.0 explosion. At the same time it is also one of the most feared companies, and is more and more being viewed as an evil empire. This is just what happened to Microsoft in the 90s. So is Google acctually more evil than Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Darth Vader?

To be clear this is not another FOG (=Fear Of Google) post, there are more than enough of those out there in the blogosphere, it is more some thoughs about why Google is starting to get the Mr Evil image.

More evil than Wal-Mart?
Wal-Mart relies on huge scale advantages and is famous for killing of small mom-and-pop stores in the cities it invades. The Web 2.0 space has very few mom-and-pop stores, the corresponding would instead be the 2 geek startup that hacked something cool looking together in 2 months using Ruby on Rails and then gets a lot of buzz. These minor startups are very vulnerable to what the Mountain View gigant does. The addition of MyMaps to Google Maps picked of quite a few startups, as did Google Analytics. So I think that small startups that does not really have a full fledged application, but more just a hyped feature (as is the case for most Web 2.0 startups) do right in fearing Google. For them Google is the same as Wal-Mart.

More evil than Microsoft?
Microsoft ruled the desktop, Microsoft ruled the OS, Microsoft ruled the office. This is still true, but the grip is weakening more and more, and Google is the main enemy. When Microsoft was the big bad wolf that dominated every part of business it entered. It was (and is) a real threat to any big and small business. Guess what, the same is now true for Google. To not be aware of what Google does is foolish for anybody in the Internet or Computer industry. With it’s massive userbase and bottom less bank accounts it can enter and dominate almost any market it sets it’s mind to. So that would make Google the same as Microsoft version 1999.

More evil than Darth Vader?
I have never met the Google founders, but I very much doubt that they have a constant asthma attack like good old Mr Skywalker Senior has. Anyway Darth Vader is one of the coolest villans ever, to I do think that comparing Google with him is a bit unfair to both parties. Darth Vader has cool TIE-fighters, Google has a replica of SpaceShipOne in the reception of the Googleplex, but the similarities pretty much end there. Still, comparing Google to Darth Vader makes for a good subject for the post, please forgive me for that.

As good as ice-cream?
So far Google has just been compared to evil things, so let’s compare them to something good instead, like ice-cream! Acctually Google has some advantages over ice-cream – almost everything is free at Google, while most ice-cream shops insist on getting my money. Google is dominating the way they are because they are providing great products that people want. We all use Google Search, and personally I am a total Google Desktop junkie and also use Google Analytics, Speradsheets, Docs etc. So as long as they are not more evil than Wal-Mart and Microsoft combined, and as long as there are not a better alternative I will stay a loyal Google user.

The key thing is of course how Google are going to use all the data they collect, the risk is that they will really invade privacy. But hey, they are fighting Paypal with Google Checkout, so how evil can they really be?

5 Top Tips on How To Be Cool in a Web 2.0 Crowd


In the 50s a black leather jacket, smoking, pink cars and greasy hair was cool. None of that will get you far in a Web 2.0 crowd. As in all crowds only very few acctually knows what they are talking about and the rest are faking it (I am not, I promise, I really really belong!!!!). The trick is of course to sound like you know what you are talking about, and the rest does not matter that much (that is good old Marketing 1.0 or How-to-survive-High-School 1.0). Just follow the 5 tips below and you will be considered cool by any Web 2.0 crowd. A bit of a warning though, it won’t get you chicks and the chances it is going to land you a job outside of Sillicon Valley are slim to none.

1. Know when to be new school and when to be old school
Adobe Apollo is now named Adobe AIR, where AIR stands for “Adobe Integrated Runtime” (this means that the name includes Adobe twice, what a great feat or marketing!). Right now the correct thing to call Apollo is AIR, since that shows that you are hip to what’s happenin’ (forgive my non-techie slang here, it might be a bit out of date). However, in a few months when Adobe throws all it’s marketing might behind the name AIR, you should once again start using the name Apollo. That will show that you are old school cool and don’t care about marketing dollars. From new school to old school in a few months, that took Hip Hop years to achive.

2. Social X 2.0
Use the word “social” and “2.0” for everything, it does not have to make sense. These buzz words of the day will soon go out of style since all kinds of uncool Media 1.0 are talking about it, but for now it is the in thing to use. It is a bit like the Dilbert mission statement generator, just take an existing term and add Social in the start and 2.0 in the end and voilá, you’re cool. For example “Social Work 2.0”, “Social Search 2.0”, “Social Latte-Grande-with-an-extra-shot-of-expresso 2.0”. To be extra cool you might wanna start mentioning “Web 3.0” – it is such a badly defined term that it can be used for anything from the full semantic web to the latest improvements on Flickr, very practical.

3. The Power of the T-Shirt
T-Shirts have worked well for many generation of Geeks. Power of the Sys Admin is displayed by the wild beard, the pizza built body and, most importantly, the dirty and worn “Linux Rules” T-Shirt. ThinkGeek has built a good business on this fact, and Threadless is doing the same thing for the “damn I am creative, I have a Mac and I understand the inside joke” crowd. Everyone has blogs (at least everyone that will read this), everyone has accounts at the lastest cool sites, but not everyone has the T-Shirt from just that event. The Social Events 2.0 (yay, I got a cool point there, see how easy it is) now has unique T-Shirts where you can add your own little personalization sentence. That was the thing both at the Web 2.0 Expo a at JavaOne (bonus tip: mention the events you’ve gone to lately) and it was really popular. T-Shirts can show the pure mortals that have only read about Web 2.0 in Times Magazine that you are a hard core Geek 2.0!

4. Use a Mac and make off-hand comments about it
This is not as complicated as it sounds. It involves using a Mac, but you have to keep from making the blank-eyed-freaky-smile-all-with-Mac-is-wondeful-and-Steve-Jobs-is-my-God statements all the time. Instead just happen to mention every know and then how great that latest Mac utility you found is and how much time is saves when you do [insert technical babbel here]. For extra coolness just end the sentence with mumbling a bit about “or maybe you don’t have a Mac…”. A given is to just happen to mention how great a Mac is to use when you are using Ruby On Rails, that is 2 coolness points for the price of one.

Disclosure: I don’t use a Mac (but I do own a fully working Mac Classic II)

5. Get in on those Beta programs and use them as if you were Social Machiavelli 2.0
Register for all beta programs you can, the earlier the better, they are the currency of Economy 2.0 (to really beat the 2.0 analogy to death). Once a beta has been mentioned on TechCrunch your hard work will have paid off because you can just happen to forward to article to your “friends” (term used loosely), of course via Jaiku (Twitter is soooo over), and mention that you do not agree with what Michael Arrington is writing (bonus tip: dont refer to TechCrunch, refer to Michael Arrington, this buys you some cool) and you should know since you have tested the mentioned app for a few weeks.

By the way, I have a Microsoft Popfly beta account and I don’t agree with whatever Micheal Arrington is writing about it!.

A Cry for Help
Let me know if I have missed any key points. I am soon going to Mashup Camp to talk about Social Mashups 2.0 and comparing that to Microsoft Poplfly and, what is then called Adobe Apollo, so I need all the help I can get!