Archive for June, 2007

Good Times To Be a Developer

Google announced that they are offering $5K to gadget developers to flush out their widget and $100K seed to a select set of those devs to build out their business.  This is a brilliant and cost effective way for Google to add applications/gadgets to their suite and clearly a defensive move to steal some of the thunder from the Facebook Open Platform move (which was incidentally a page straight from the Microsoft playbook).

So back to the post title… this is a great thing for developers.  Now you, developer, have a way to get paid to build cool apps/gadgets/widgets, and I suspect that trend will continue.  If you’re a business trying to hire the best devs now you may also have to compete with the likes of Google (and the other big guys who will follow along) scooping in on the local talent.   Good news for devs - but perhaps this puts a strain on hiring managers.

June 27th, 2007

Facebook Mania

Any day now I am expecting to get a Facebook friend invite from my grandfather… he’s 82 and doesn’t own a computer.  But I have visions of his avatar and friend request, “I have know Kevin for 82 years, at one point his mother lived with me, and he used to shoot baskets in my driveway”.

Facebook is off the hook.  I am still intrigued and checking in; I have no real compelling reason to hang on for the long haul but holding out hope… maybe that’ll change and I will discover the Facebook killer app for me.

June 27th, 2007

Mobility Hits Terra Firma

The iPhone is everywhere – vlogs, blogs, forums, newspaper, magazines, and TV (just saw a cool commercial while half tuning into Leno). I am not sure what the long term outlook is for the iPhone (I haven’t held one yet). But I do know that Friday, June 29th 2007 is a great day for mobile developers. The mobile revolution that has slowly been going on for several years and has finally landed on solid ground. I don’t see anything incredibly revolutionary about the iPhone – all of the features and functions can be found in today’s smartphones (except for perhaps the accelerometer magic). But the iPhone is gorgeous, the design is brilliant, and the marketing campaign is genius. The hype is going to introduce moms/pops and kids and everyone in between to the power and capabilities of mobile devices. And that is the significance to us mobile geeks.

iPhone

During the first few weeks after the iPhone gets in peoples’ hands, Apple/AT&T will sell a shit ton of these puppies. I also know that we will hear a bunch of the bad stuff right away (this always happens and is the nature of humanity – as flawed entities, we like to identify and focus on the flaws of other entities). People will bitch about the glass screen and scratches as it is jammed against the car keys, the lock in with AT&T, the slow network, big fingers on touch screen, the pains when trying to view one’s favorite Web 2.0 sites, the need for two hands, and on and on. But all that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the bar has been set high for mobile devices from this point forward. The expectations and perception of what mobile devices can do will spread outside our little geek circles. Device manufacturers will need to innovate, networks will need to get faster, walled gardens will be forced to crumble, and mobile software will need to get better. Prosumers will demand this and deserve this! It’s game on… again!

Oh, as far as the success of the iPhone goes, we will have to wait and see. The real proof in the pudding will come after the diehards get their devices and whether or not they will recommend them to their friends and family. We shall see. Am I going to get an iPhone? Not right away, I’m gonna hold out a bit.

3 comments June 27th, 2007

My Facebook App is Worth $4 Million

Last night I was riding home and came up on Patrick Cameron again on the last leg into Boulder… we always ride slow and have good conversation which is cool. Last night we talked about Facebook. I have been paying attention to FB, but I have not yet found a killer feature, use case, or application. I’m not going away from FB, but I am not yet completely engaged. FB is certainly all the rage right now, so you can’t ignore that. On a side note, there is something that is much more interesting to me - more on that later RSS ;)

Brad wrote about FB today and presents a potential problem with the FB model – the premise is that developers don’t have a clear monetization path. I recalled reading about FB monetization options for developers in a mag @ Barnes and Nobile while the kiddos terrorized Thomas and all his train buddies. I just fished out a Fortune article on FB and sure enough Matt Zuckerberg, CEO, says FB will impose no limitations on how developers make money. Says Zuckerberg: “They can sell sponsorships, they can have ads, they can sell things, they can link off to another site - we are just agnostic.” I also recall seeing something, somewhere about third party apps not being able to place ads on pages that have Microsoft ads or something like that. Anyway, it sounds like developers do have a way to monetize their FB application.

So, this leads to the following question… is there enough revenue potential to pursue building FB applications? The answer depends. If you are a single developer or small shop then you can quickly build a product with a rough value of 4 million… Not too shabby and not a bad double or triple for an entrepreneur. But if you are planning to build a business around FB then you may be out of luck if you want to hit it out of the park; a max 4 million valuation is just not enough. And, as Brad points out, if you get too much traffic, FB will build that functionality internally or you will realize/settle for the 4 million dollar exit.

So, where does the 4 million come from:

  • 25 million active Facebook users today
  • 20% will install your app
  • 20% will be active users of your app
  • 20 dollars per user – this seems to be the approximate going rate
  • 20% of that 20 dollars goes to you (Facebook gets the left eyeball and most of the right eyeball)

The total = a 4 million valuation (that assumes your application is good)

[ps. I love the 80/20 rule. It makes pulling numbers out of thin air really easy]

Like I said, this is a great opportunity for a developer or three but not so good if you want to build a big business. Oh yeh, I know Facebook is growing like a weed out of control, but that won’t go on forever. Just like MySpace is tired today and FB is hot, tomorrow FB will cool off and NewCo Social Site will be hot. It’s just the nature of our industry.

Still loving FB, the FB open platform, and waiting for the killer FB app!

June 23rd, 2007

Crazy Ride Home

The commute home was going as normal for most of the way until I got to Broomfield.  I was totally zoned out thinking about some threading issues I am dealing with in NewsGator Go!.  I usually solve all my hard problems on the bike by the way.

Anyway, I passed a rider and a second later heard him shout out, “hey how about letting me catch a draft - I just donated some blood”.  I looked back and it was my buddy Patrick Cameron.

We rode along for a bit chatting about tech stuff and the upcoming Startup Weekend… rolling into Louisville I wasn’t paying attention and hit a large pothole… double puncture.  That doesn’t happen often and that sucks.  I only had one tube so put it on the back tire.  Patrick had a patch kit and tried to patch up the other.  The first patch job failed; there was another hole.  The second patch job failed too!

Turns out his wife was rolling out in the opposite direction and she had a spare tube - lucky me.  I poached her tube (thank you again).  Rolled home just in time to goof around and take a bath with the three kiddos.  Nice!

2 comments June 13th, 2007

Verdict In… You Can Build a Startup in a Couple Days

So, it looks like I won’t need to wait until July to answer this question.  My man Michael Sitarzewski and his right hand co-conspirator put up grillm in a few days.  These guys rock!  So take a look at grillm… it’s pretty darn cool and a fantastic accomplishment in such a short amount of time.  Wow!  Oh yeh, feel free to grill me on anything… I’m up for it!

Now, they just need to create a Facebook application of grillm and watch their numbers sky rocket.

Nicely done fellas… btw, I will still be doing the startup weekend dealio even though my hypothesis has been proven.  I just want to hang out with the brilliant folks who have already registered.  I will learn a bunch and have a great time!

2 comments June 10th, 2007

Think you Can Build a Company in a Weekend?

Well I’ll let you know next month!  My buddy Andrew Hyde came up with this whacky idea and I love it… you can read a little about how this idea formulated here.

I met Andrew almost two years ago and liked him right away… soft spoken and humble but just overflowing with ideas, passion, and creativity.  We met for coffee a week after meeting and in about 5 minutes he setup this blog for me.  Sweetness… since then we have become good friends and have had a chance to work together a little bit (he built the tiny twitter landing page).

Well Andrew’s idea for creating a startup in a weekend is freaking brilliant, and my bet is that we will pull this off - I am thinking a potato launcher will be zee winner.  Although, I have heard that when you put a bunch of talented people in a room together all you get is chaos (wouldn’t know anything about that)… we’ll see, as I am guessing the team is gonna be packed with fire power. 

I bet David is there, Stan too.  Maybe Danny and Adam will come up from Denver.  David Henderson perhaps… Patrick Cameron… the folks from Tech StarsMikeAri… Joe… maybe even Brad or Seth will be around to provide the seed round - we’ll need at least 500 bones for pizza and coffee.  I may even need to drag ace developer Matthias out of the basement for this one!!!  It’ll be fun at the very least!

Thanks Andrew for doing it!

3 comments June 7th, 2007

Fellow Cyclist Passes Away

On June 2nd 2007, Grayson Pointer passed away after suffering sever head and face injuries in a scooter accident.  I did not know Grayson, but I knew of him.  Grayson had a great reputation in the cycling community and after reading all the blog comments, it is clear he was a fantastic person as well.

June 4th, 2007

RSS Ticker for Truemors

My good buddy and super smart cat Joe Pezzillo has built a cool add on to Guy Kawasaki’s new site Truemors.  Joe’s Trickler RSS ticker lets you get Truemors fed to your Mac.  If I had a Mac, I’d use it.  Nicely done Joe!  And it is alway fantastic to see RSS used for a cool utility.  Nice!  Check out Truemors and check out Trickler!

June 4th, 2007

Twitter + J2ME = Fun App

When I first started writing mobile applications for fun (I was writing C++ desktop apps for my day job), I looked at three options:  Symbian C++, J2ME, and Windows Mobile/.NET Compact Framework.  The first thing I did was create the requisite Hello World application in each environment.  The app took about two minutes to create using the .NET CF, about an hour using J2ME, and I could never get the darn thing to work under Symbian C++.  At the time, .NET was just gaining steam, I was already mucking around with C#, and the notion of using the same libraries (at least a common subset) to build desktop/web/mobile apps seemed brilliant.  I had also heard that the promise of “build once, run anywhere” with J2ME was a myth as each flavor of VM was slightly different or flat out broke.  I picked Windows Mobile/.NET CF as my ticket to building fun mobile apps.

I bought a Windows Mobile device (which I still have and still love) and started to build apps that I wanted on my device.  I am still a big Windows Mobile fan, but also recognize there are lots and lots (the majority) of mobile devices out there that are not Windows Mobile.  I have always been intrigued by J2ME and was always looking for a chance to build something simple that I would use.  I wanted to see for myself  if it was really possible to build a mobile app that could run on any phone and put the various JVM’s to the test.  Enter Twitter.

I signed up for Twitter way back in the early days (so long ago… like back in November) when Robert Scoble started blogging (thanks man).  At first Twittr (there was no ‘e’ back then) didn’t really add any value for me.  It seemed like it was cool for Scoble and his friends and early adopters in San Francisco; Twitter life was lonely for me at the time.  All that changed  after SXSW; soon lots of my friends started popping on Twitter and the utility of the app became apparent.  A friend who was in town for a business meeting, led to an impromptu lunch.  Twitter helped me connect with Alex King, who I had met before but hadn’t had a chance to really get to know (that alone was worth getting on Twitter).  I also get an idea what my friends are up to - I know when David and his awesome Tech Stars have been working ’till 3 am again.  Often you can find about what is hot before It becomes hot - sweet new site Michael!  And Twitter is just a great way to get thoughts out there w/o requiring a big time investment (Stan does a nice job of talking about this).  Twitter is one of my favorite apps!

And then my long awaited J2ME app became a reality… I turned on the SMS feature in Twitter and was getting constantly buzzed with incoming messages.  Knowing what Tim had for breakfast is a small piece of what makes Twitter so cool, but getting constant texts about things like that is a pain in the arse.  So, I decided to build a J2ME Twitter client that would behave similar to the web app – simple, simple, simple but useful.  I built Tiny Twitter to solve a few pains I had, a few friends started using the application as well, and you can get it too!  Even my great buddy Adam the bio VC guru is tiny twittering!  Keep in mind that this is a hobby for me, so if you have any problems or feature requests, I’ll add them to the queue and on the next rainy day, I’ll bust them out!  Happy mobile twittering!  Also, let me know if it works on your device – I am trying to prove/disprove the “build once, run anywhere” theory :)   I know it is currently borked on Ari’s Moto and is a bit sluggish on Danny’s Nokia, but hey got lots of open weekends coming up this summer I hope.
Oh, yeh, a VERY special shout out to my buddy Andrew Hyde for creating a killer landing page and being a great dude.  And there is also a sporum… that would be a spam forum.  Guess I should clean that sucker up.

June 4th, 2007


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