2008 Predictions Retrospective

So 2008 is almost coming to an end and what a wild ride in the tech industry. In some cases we’re better off, no more start ups getting inflated valuations for putting a website (see crazy valuations of facebook apps). On the other hand the economy seems to be going to hell in a hand basket and most startups are going into survival mode.

In the beginning of the year I made some predictions. Lets see how those turned out….

Facebook will decline as people either go to the next hottest thing or advertisers realize their ROI on the FB ad platform isn’t the greatest.50% Wrong/50% Correct
I was wrong on the general consumer side as facebook.com has been increasing steadily on the one metric that matters these days, minutes spent. TC reported that Facebook is gaining on Google and passed MySpace back in March.

However, I wasn’t wrong on the ad platform side. Facebook’s ad platform has fallen flat on it’s face. Facebook Beacon hasn’t been relaunched since the original debacle. Most app developers have moved on as they realized their $0.10 eCPMs weren’t worth the headache. With it’s $15 billion valuation from the Microsoft round is a distant memory, they’re bleeding money.

Google will acquire at least two mobile companies to aid Android iPhone will continue to gain mobile browser market share stagnating the mobile web even more. Wrong
I couldn’t find an authoritative list of Google’s 2008 acquisitions but I don’t recall them making a single mobile one this year. Not surprising since nobody is in the M&A market these days.

Slide or RockYou will be acquired. If 07 was the year of widget, 08 will be the year they cash in. Wrong!
Nobody wanted to acquire these guys… low social network eCPMS with a bad economy equal no cash out.

Google or Microsoft will launch an Amazon AWS competitor Correct!
Google App engine was launched, with just a little fanfare. I think once they start supporting languages other than Python, it’ll do quite well.

Yahoo will close at least 4 more properties in an attempt to slim down. Correct!
I think the death count is somewhere north of 15 properties. This list used to be a LOT longer.

A web 2.0 company outside the US will eek out a new niche – Unknown
Honestly, I don’t know one “web 2.0” company that I currently use that is based outside of the US except for last.fm. If you use one please leave a comment… Is it because startups can’t break into the US market?

At any rate, stay tuned for my 2009 Predictions. Obviously I’m Nostradamus when it comes to these things (/sarcasm)

Valleywag, I should’ve stopped reading it long ago

picture-5.pngLet’s take a look at the recent headlines, all garbage. Nothing to do with actual tech!

Yes, I know VW is a gossip rag, but at least a year ago there was some semi-relevant content. I’m going to have to blame Denton’s new pay scheme which pays the writers on number of pageviews a story gets. The greatest draw? SEX. Right now it’s a free for all for who can come up with the story with the most sex. Sad.Deleted from my bloglines and deleted from my bookmarks. It looks like the only decent now a days is Gawker Media site to read it Kotaku.


Start-Up Junkies

If you haven’t started watching Start-Up Junkies on MojoHD, you should. (Catch the latest episodes here.).

This season is about the new start-up Earth Class Mail, a company that intends to put your snail mail and online. The show highlights the troubles of building a start-up and in this case a start-up with a lot of capital expenditures. These guys have to figure out a way manage millions of physical items, not just build a kick ass website.


2008 Predictions

nostradamus_by_cesar.jpgMore to record my own thoughts…. Let’s do the obvious ones first:

  • Facebook will decline as people either go to the next hottest thing or advertisers realize their ROI on the FB ad platform isn’t the greatest
  • Google will acquire at least two mobile companies to aid Android
  • iPhone will continue to gain mobile browser market share stagnating the mobile web even more

Now some not so obvious ones:

  • Slide or RockYou will be acquired. If 07 was the year of widget, 08 will be the year they cash in.
  • Google or Microsoft will launch an Amazon AWS competitor
  • Yahoo will close at least 4 more properties in an attempt to slim down. (one down)
  • A web 2.0 company outside the US will eek out a new niche (see last.fm)

Three Kids and an Iguana

Joel had an interesting take on start ups

The one thing that so many of today’s cute startups have in common is that all they have is a simple little Ruby-on-Rails Ajax site that has no barriers to entry and doesn’t solve any gnarly problems. So many of these companies feel insubstantial and fluffy, because, out of necessity (the whole company is three kids and an iguana), they haven’t solved anything difficult yet. Until they do, they won’t be solving problems for people. People pay for solutions to their problems.        

There’s been a lot of talk lately about a another bubble, and it definitely feels this way. Everybody is following in Facebook’s footsteps to be open. Even fighting each other to see who can out open each other (re: OpenSocial, Verizon’s Open Network, etc.)I was discussing with a friend about the whole Facebook Apps thing… Look at these two graphs of an app called Drink Recipes on Facebook (taken from adonomics.com)

Daily Active Users
Someone explain to me how the valuation is an inverse relationship to active users? There’s also a third graph of installs, but it’s can’t be based off that can it? Active users can be synonymous to daily page views, which is how most sites base their valuations off of. The current valuation of Drink Recipes is $1.45m, mind boggling considering 3 kids an an iguana or two could have made it…. I guess the key is to be one of those kids (or maybe a RoR coding iguana?)


Be Open! A Web 2.0 Ideology Worth Following

Last night I was trying to grab all the photos off my friend’s fotki.com account. I couldn’t find any link to download a whole album easily. I fired up wget with some simple options and that failed. The reason? I was trying to grab the original images (basically the link ‘Get Original Uploaded Photo’ on this page for example).

If you view the source you’ll see that the link is actually generated by javascript:

document.write('<br><a class=text3 href="');
document.write('" mce_href="');
document.write('">Get Original Uploaded Photo</a>');

After realizing this, I wrote a quick php script to grab all the images. Because of this, I’m never using fotki. I know why they make it difficult for you to do such a thing (bandwidth expenses, etc) but in todays world of mediafire.coms and unlimited email storage there’s little reason to do it. Other than to piss me off and force me to resort to coding.


TechCrunch 40 Leaked

Paul Boutin claims to have seen the TechCrunch 40 list. Taking place Sept 17-18 in SF, the TechCrunch 40 is supposed to showcase 40 up and coming startups.
Here’s the list, with a small note about what they do…

  • Clickable – provides a control panel to easily manager ad networks, Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and MS AdCenter.
  • Flock – They’re still alive? Social browser that integrates blogging, flickr, some other fluff.
  • Ceedo – Software that allows you to bring your software with you with say on a thumbdrive.
  • Cake Financial – page is behind a login now, but from Google Cache…. Cake Financial lets you check out the actual portfolios, watchlists and real-time trades of everyone from proven top investors to your trusted family and friends. Plus you can see how you’re doing across all of your brokerage accounts and how you stack up against others.
  • DocStoc – a free online document exchange database and social networking site that allows users to store, search, and share virtually any type of document (word, excel, powerpoint, pdf, illustrator, etc…). Looks similar to already successful scribd.com
  • CastTV – video search, I don’t know what kind of tech they have but unless technology that scans videos and translates the objects and audio into searchable meta data then I don’t know how successful they’ll be. (The folks at Rexee are working on this type of tech.)
  • Cubic Telecom – looks like another voip company? Google Cache
  • CrowdSpirit – interesting idea, using the wisdom of crowds, they want to create a consumer product based on ideas the community selects. Members can invest in the product, submit ideas for specs/features, and share in the revenue. Kind of like RnD by committee. If you see all the ideas that people have about what the iPhone should do you’ll understand why I’m highly skeptical.
  • Cognitive Code – Cross platform product that can understand human conversations. Their website provides some cryptic language about what they do. Someone get these guys a VP of Marketing.
  • Mint – Quicken/MS Money for the web with much much more. I’m in the beta, but I can’t blog about it…
  • MusicShake – a Korean company that provides a downloadable product, that looks like it organizes your music plus some social aspects. English About Page
  • Ponoko – Have an idea? Ponoko will turn it into a product. Unclear as to what kind of products though (websites? food? electronics?)
  • PowerSet – natural language search, supposed Google killer. They can even understand Miss South Carolina‘s rant about US Americans and the Iraqs.
  • PubMatic – advertising space, optimize your earnings from AdSense, Y! Pub Network, etc…
  • Teach the People – Social Network for learning… members can make a public space to share knowledge and then put up a separate private one and start charging.
  • 8020 Publishing – takes a lot of online content and puts in print mag format.
  • Faroo – P2P search engine, each searcher also gets a crawler, indexer, ranking engine on their machine to contribute back to the search engine. Why do they think this is a good idea? Their reasoning on the front page says that search engines require 450,000 servers and 2 billion dollars. Consumers DO NOT care about that, they just want good search results. Unless the results beat another search engine nobody will use it.
  • GotStatus – no info, but they’ll be live tomorrow at the conference.
  • FlowPlay – social casual gamer site aimed at teens.
  • LoudTalks – no info
  • Kerpoof – from hereKerpoof is a new Boulder company that recently launched a neat new product that lets kids create, color, print, and share within a browser, and it’s very cool.
  • MetaPlace – no info
  • mEgo – no info
  • Orgoo – meebo + all your emails + sms
  • StoryBlender – Collaborative video production, half their website is in korean, half in english.
  • Spottt – free link exchanging, ahh bringing back the days of when every website had a link exchange page.
  • TruTap – something in the mobile space, no info
  • Tripit – share, search, and find trip planning info from plane tickets, hotel, itinerary, etc
  • Viewdle – video search, see CastTV above.
  • Zivity – adult/erotic social network
  • Wixi – store all your media in one place, and play it back where ever. Unclear if you need to download software to upload the data. To play your files they have a universal flash player.
  • Xobni – Taking email back, I don’t get it. They will launch a facebook app that allows you to email people instead of sending a message. This can’t be the whole product can it?
  • ZocDoc – Tagline is Dentist and Doctor Appointments instantly.
  • eXtreme Reality
  • WC
  • AppYou
  • WooMe
  • Yap

i’m in like with you – Damn Good Looking Social Site

I saw this ‘secret, leaked’ tech demo (click to view demo) link on Digg today for a new social network called i’m in like with you. First of all, there’s no way that this link was leaked, more than likely this is a viral campaign. Second of all, domains names are even rarer than I thought, come on, iminlikewithyou.com? Why not letsgettoknoweachotherovertheinternet.com? These guys are from a YCombinator class earlier this year and have already secured their Series A. Still, I wasn’t expecting much.

I watched most of the demo and, surprisingly, the site is probably one of the best looking sites I’ve seen around. Dynamic content everywhere, visually appealing, strong bold colors, and very functional.
After sitting through 5 mins of Katamari Damacy music, I was curious whether or not the entire thing was in flash or only parts of it. I signed up with ‘invite’ code at the end, NYTM. (The invite code states first 100 people. LIES. I was still able to use it and I’m sure more than a 100 people have used the code already.)

It turns out that most of the site is not in flash, but a good portion of the site is using AJAX. I would have to say they’re using Ruby on Rails (and consequently prototype/scriptaculous). Very impressive.

iminlikewithyou2.pngAs for the features of the site, they have a few unique ideas. The main one is that they’ve taken the Hot or Not model and expounded on it. When you first sign up, you aren’t allowed to contact anybody but you do get 700 points. Points are used to win games. Anybody can start a game, which is really just a question, and you bid on a game by giving short answer. The more people that bid, the more points are used. At the end of the game, the creator then picks a winner of the top 5 bidders, and then creator and winner can freely talk.

You can earn more points in various ways. One of the early examples I saw was answering simple yes or no questions. This is valuable data that can be used to better advertiser to the user, or even for simple demographical information.

The entire site is centered around these games and winning them to further expand your network. The games are designed to keep you on the site for a long long time (or at least have the page open). They’ve also included basic IM services, custom videos section, and instant notifications in the form of Growl-like notifications. On top of that, they’re turning the flirting game (no pun) on it’s head. The creator of the game, most likely women, will be the ones that decide on who they talk too. No more random messages from random people ala MySpace or Facebook.

Overall, a well designed social network even though this is the early stages. With the numerous social networking site popping up in the wake of Facebook and MySpace I wish these guys all the luck. It’ll be tough to break through, but at least they can say they have the best looking social site around. 🙂

Mint.com, I’m in.

logo2.gifI’ve been following this company, mint.com, for a while now. Here’s their ‘elevator pitch’ from their website:

Mint is building a free, simple, and secure personal finance web-app. Designed to be effortless, Mint consolidates your financial life in one place. Easily see how much you have, how much you owe, and where your money goes. Advanced alerts notify you before you bounce a check or forget to pay a bill. Patent pending algorithms even show you personalized ways to save and make more money. If your finances could use organization without effort, Mint is for you.

… and last night they finally sent me my Beta invite! I had to sign an agreement not to blog about my experiences but I think I can say that they’re delivering on their promise. Soon I’ll be able to ditch MS Money for good!