• Business,  Deep Thoughts

    Do things youre unqualified for, and dont be afraid to try something new

    Having been in the workforce now for a while, I can tell you that this is excellent advice. Famous physicist Freeman Dyson has it down: Advice to people at the beginning of their careers: do not imagine that you have to know everything before you can do anything. My own best work was done when I was most ignorant. Grab every opportunity to take responsibility and do things for which you are unqualified. Advice to people at the middle of their careers: do not be afraid to switch careers and try something new. As my friend the physicist Leo Szilard said (number nine in his list of ten commandments): “Do…

  • Business,  Design,  Internet

    The Devil’s in the Details – Frictionless Checkout

    Recently I’ve become a fan of Lot18, a flash sale site for wine lovers, which works much like Gilt Groupe for wine. Like Gilt, they offer quality products at a discount to standard retail, and their site features rich descriptions and photos. They’ve also taken advantage of some best practices in flash sales, including: Daily emails to introduce the latest offering and drive traffic Limited quantities Time-limited sales Countdown “expiration” timer after you’ve added something to your cart The last item is key, as I believe it’s one of the things that makes Gilt so successful: urgency. Items are reserved for a limited time (10 minutes) when you add them…

  • Business,  Marketing,  travel

    Uber Bummed

    The good, hard working folks over at Uber just sent out an email to some of their best and earliest users to inform them that the 15% FoundersCard discount select customers have been enjoying is being phased out. For those unfamiliar with FoundersCard, it offers founder-types and entrepreneurs select deals on everything from travel to business services. Uber had set up a discount for 15% off the first 100 rides for FC members. The goal was to entice early adopters who would evangelize Uber’s service. From my anecdotal experience, it worked beautifully. My friends and I sang Uber’s praises far and wide (and drummed up quite a bit of business…

  • Business,  Event

    Less is More

    The most recent SF Beta this week was very popular. In fact, it was so popular that the venue was packed to the gills and made it quite difficult to move around or talk to anyone. Apparently, lots of people complained to Christian Perry, the organizer, and he sent a very nice email apologizing for the situation (see below). In it he generously offers those who were inconvenienced free admission to the next SF Beta for them and a guest. It’s a nice gesture, but I don’t see how offering TWO admissions for every one previous attendee is going to solve overcrowding! Attendance caps obviously help, but free tickets will…

  • Business,  Marketing

    Tell Me Where You Spend Your Time, And I’ll Predict Your Next Purchase

    Om Malik wrote an interesting piece yesterday on where he sees the future of social commerce moving. In a nutshell, he says that the first phase of e-commerce was fairly utilitarian and started with staples (Diapers.com, Amazon.com, etc.). E-commerce then moved to recreational shopping (Gilt Groupe, Groupon, etc.), which made it more fun and social. The next phase, he maintains, will leverage people’s interest graphs. He specifically mentions Hunch’s prediction engine, Apple’s “Ping” platform for social music sharing and discovery, and Facebook’s social graph as potential predictors of interests and spending habits. I think Om’s on the right track, but I’d take it a step further. I believe that the…

  • Business,  Marketing,  software

    Paying Real Money for Branded Virtual Goods

    I was having an interesting conversation the other day with a friend who’s creating a platform for game developers to add brands to a game. They’re building some really cool tech around the idea, not unlike AdWords/AdSense for virtual goods or in-game achievements, both for social and more traditional console games. I think it’s quite clever on their part, and it feels like a natural evolution of the gaming ecosystem as advertisement starts to creep into the gaming experience. Social gaming has already seen some partnerships with large brands, like the Farmer’s Insurance blimp in Zynga’s Farmville, or deals with charities whereby they reap the benefits of virtual goods sold…

  • Business,  Marketing

    Freemium vs. Paid Models – How to know which one makes sense

    Very good article about a formula that actually lets you determine whether a freemium or paid model is right for your business. With this in mind, Mullany’s equation for freemium businesses looks like this: Price Paid by Premium User – Cost of Proving the Service to the Premium User – [ (1/Ratio of Premium:Free Users) * (Cost of Free Service Per User + Cost of Marketing to get a Free User) ] = Profit Per Premium User Check out the full article over here.

  • Business,  Internet

    The Never-ending Twitter Ordeal

    As you might guess from the fact that I’m @peter on Twitter, I was a pretty early adopter. In fact, I signed up almost immediately after the service went live. For the past three years I’ve enjoyed using the service, and it’s been fascinating to see its evolution. Imagine my surprise, then, when nine days ago I woke up to discover that Twitter had suspended my account. I received no notice from them, and there was no apparent reason for the suspension. I’ve only ever evangelized Twitter to all my friends, and I’ve never done anything shady, so I figured the suspension must have been an accident. Now, I know…

  • Business,  Humor,  Internet,  video

    A.P. Achieves New Depths of Cluelessness

    You really couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. The Associated Press is well on its way to becoming the RIAA of the news industry. Their latest stunt involves one of their VPs sending a cease and desist letter to a Tennessee radio station (WTNQ), asking them to remove an AP video they had embedded on WTNQ’s website from YouTube. The source of the YouTube video content? None other than the AP’s own YouTube channel. That’s right – the AP’s right hand doesn’t even know what it’s left hand is doing. I guess no one told their legal department that they actually have their own YouTube channel on which…