Tag Archives: internet

More on Microsoft-Skype (Microskype?)

The NY Times did a nice summary today of what analysts are saying about the Microsoft/Skype deal. And I don’t think it’s nice just because it confirms a lot of what I said yesterday. I think it’s nice because the author does a good job of quickly capturing and explaining a variety of viewpoints.

FYI, if you are over your 20 article limit on the Times, just clear your cookies. Bing, got more Times!

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More on Mobile Check-ins

With Big Kahuna Facebook launching its own check-in service yesterday, the commentariat is chiming in. Here is a nice article from Wade Roush noting that A) Facebook wins, and B) it wins because it’s useful, rather than a novelty. You know I love posts that agree with mine!

Do Angel Investors Make Technology Shallow?

Just two days ago I wrote about super angels potentially crowding out VCs in the funding of technology companies, and I noted that this dynamic was mostly relevant to consumer internet companies rather than hardware companies. And I didn’t even mention biotech, medical device or energy companies, most of which take far more capital than even the superest of angels could provide.

Now, lo and behold, a former Gartner analyst comes out with an article about how Silicon Valley is too focused on consumer internet, on “the glitz and the superficial,” rather than on solving big problems, like medical and environmental ones. He notes that the new innovators in those areas are big companies, who are focusing their R&D budgets on these big problems with big markets, rather than entrepreneurs, who are focusing their energies on figuring out the best way to get you to “check in” at your local bar.

On Super Angels and Lean Startups

Both the Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch recently wrote articles about the new breed of “super angels” in Silicon Valley, individuals who are aggressively investing in technology startups, often in amounts large enough that they are starting to squeeze out traditional venture capitalists.

TechCrunch states that this movement is enabled by the rise of the “lean startup,” in which companies use new technologies to reduce their costs:

“But the last several years have seen the rise of the cheap startup. Internet startups can use open source software and new scripting languages to ship products fast and cheap.”

That’s true, but only for a certain segment of technology companies. Sure, consumer internet companies can leverage these new technologies and launch without gobs of capital, but much of the technology world doesn’t have that luxury. Any company that produces hardware is in a different situation. Chips, devices, networking appliances – these guys all need just as much capital as they ever did. And even folks working on software for the enterprise are still somewhat tied to the old ways of building products.

TechCrunch tends to see Silicon Valley as consisting solely of web startups fueled by former Googlers, but there are still entrepreneurs out there working on traditional products. So before you start writing the obituary for venture capital, remember that consumer internet may be fun and sexy, but there are plenty of technology companies that still need the sorts of resources only large funds can provide.

Short Links Getting Safer

I am always hesitant to click on those shortened links that Bit.ly and TinyURL produce, because who knows what sort of Russian porn-gambling site they might lead you to? As if I need the NSA crawling over me any more than they already are.

But today TechCrunch reports that Bit.ly at least is teaming up with three anti-spam services to help make their short links safer. TinyURL will likely have to pursue similar efforts or they will quickly lose market share. So link away, my Twittering friends.

I Agree With WSJ Op-Ed — Amazing!

This is truly a miracle! For the first time in memory, there is an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with which I actually agree. Mostly. And it’s by Holman Jenkins, who is usually such a tax-cutting, market-loving, poor person-hating cretin that I am often amazed he is even literate. But here we are on the same page. He expresses his views in his usual caustic and hyperbolic fashion, but I’m on board with his analysis.

The issue is net neutrality, and the possibility of FCC regulations on the matter. Jenkins points out that while there is a theoretical possibility of carriers favoring their own content over 3rd party content, this has yet to actually happen. He also notes that carriers invest billions in the infrastructure needed to carry ever more data, and that they need to recoup that investment. Finally, he points out that if carriers do not charge differential rates to content suppliers, the obvious solution is to charge differential rates to content users, namely charging more for heavy bandwidth users, which is clearly an equitable solution. In all cases, I agree with Jenkins.

This is also rare for the Journal, but the first two letters to the editor regarding Jenkins’ column, which can be found here, are also quite reasonable.

iPhone Bad For the Psyche?

I recently saw a magazine ad for the iPhone. This ad was promoting the app store, and was specifically pushing small business apps. “Helping you run your small business, one app at a time” was the headline of the ad. This post isn’t about the iPhone per se, although my friends know how I mock their Apple toys, and how I compare the iPhone to the Range Rover: overpriced, unreliable, and purchased primarily for brand status. Hmmm, maybe I should compare it to a Gucci purse instead….

Anyway, the point is not the iPhone; the point is some of these ridiculous apps. I call them ridiculous because they do things that nobody needs to do while mobile. Let me list a few here:

  • Nomia: Get help picking a business name, finding available domain names and running trademark searches.
  • Analytics: See how your website is doing with reports showing visitors, page views, etc.
  • Credit Card Terminal: Accept customer credit card payments right on your phone.

Here’s the thing: I do run a small business, and I have never had the urge to do any of those things while mobile. When I’m analyzing my website or processing orders, I’m doing it at my computer, so that I can make adjustments or run things through my accounting software. I can certainly imagine circumstances where one might want to do such things while on the run, but those circumstances are rare.

Some might say: why be tethered to your computer? But I retort: why be connected all the time? Do you really want to check your website performance while at the beach? I relish the chance to disconnect. As more and more Americans are complaining about lack of time to think, or play, or spend with their kids, do we really need to be online more? Instead of apps that let you look at your website stats while on the bus, maybe Apple should promote apps that remind you to read to your children.