Back from Lisbon

SHiFT was a lot of fun, and Portugal is an amazing country: the climate is a daily pleasure, the restaurants are flawless, and Lisbon is an endless source of amazement. I hope to go back there very soon.

It was great to speak about cocomment and share a few of the lessons learned. That will hopefully save a few sleepless nights to the younger entrepreneurs.

I enjoyed seeing the usual suspects (Galipeau, Euan and co) and meet a few hot shots like Stowe Boyd and Suw Charman. Conferences are still the best way to see old pals and expand the horizon.

On my way back I thought about the fact the next event of this emerging liftrebootshift community is on me, and the pressure went up one notch. Maybe that’s why I am still blogging at 11pm on a Saturday night.

Viral DRM

Microsoft is innovating with the Zune player, most notably by bringing to the market the first mp3 player allowing wireless exchange of musical files. It sounds like a nice idea but there is a catch: every song you will receive from other players can be played three times before they get automatically deleted.

Problem is, this protection against the evil consumer is violating many licenses, most notably the creative commons ones. 99% of musicians, the ones who like me are stupid enough to make music for fun, have only one incentive: getting their friends to listen to their music and share it. With Zune we will lose that right because Microsoft has “no way to sniff out what you are sending” so they “wrap it all up in DRM”.

It is again a case of the worst-case scenario becoming the norm to protect the interests of a minority. The musical market is increasingly made of independent artists and new and innovative labels. The market share of the big music companies has dramatically decreased*, probably as much as what TV is experiencing because of youtube. Yet these guys still have their entries into the high spheres of the economic world, getting their voice heard as if they represented the whole market. An increasingly disturbing aberration.

Zune reminds me of airport security, treating everybody as terrorists – lowering the global quality of life in the process – while missing 60% of all bombs, i.e. being dissuasive at best, useless at worst.

More info on medialoper.com

* I am not speaking in monetary terms here, but in listening time. If you have seen some numbers on this I would be happy to have a look, my email is on the right side of this site.

Paypal secure storage

Is a bank finally going to jump on one of the biggest opportunity for the financial industry in years?

Maybe. Paypal seems to be developing an online storage service, a move that makes a lot sense. They already have the technological expertise, solid foundations and the trust of the masses.

That would be all you need to be successful on this market, one of the last (on the web at least) where the demand is almost infinite while the offer will be limited by high entry barriers. Who wants their most precious asset after people, health and money to be managed by an unfunded garage company?

We are inviting Colin Henderson from Bankwatch to speak at LIFT07. As one of the most relevant observers of how new technologies are reshaping the finance industry, we hope he will be able to deliver a wake up call to the hundreds of banks we have around here.

My SHiFT talk: the lessons of cocomment.com

I just finished my talk at SHiFT, I was quite nervous by the fact Euan was talking at the same time than me but people showed up to listen to the lessons learned on the cocomment project.

I am pasting my notes below and you can get the slides (with comments) by clicking here.

What I learned with coComment.com
A few lessons from a wild ride.BEFORE YOU LAUNCH

• MERITOCRACY
We now live in a meritocracy. Money, VCs, and the press no longer decide what will be successful. Great products/services with intuitive designs that solve a real problem win.
You might make it big. It’s possible!

• PRIVATE ALPHA � PUBLIC BETA
Don’t turn private alpha in public beta. Bloggers need the scoop. help them build trafic, but when the time is right for you.

• PREPARE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
Use wikis for everything, prepare for peoples contributions. Either they’ll do it on their site (nobody’s interest) or on your, where the community will benefit. Prepare to channel all the energy

AFTER YOU LAUNCH: DISCUSS

• BLOG, BLOG, BLOG
blog, blog, blog, tell your story. you can’t control the conversation so improve it, humanize your company, show who you are.

• FEAR THE HYPE
keep the hype down, don’t use codes or closed system because people who haven’t tested will talk about you anyway, very often over hyping and creating huge expectations.

• FLATTEN YOUR FEEDBACK
don’t over-react, look at big picture. keep track of everything in a wiki, then look at the big picture on a weekly basis. Don’t act on the last thing you read.

• IGNORE RELIGIONS
don’t get into religious fights. some people will never like you

• RELATIVIZE
aggression will always look worse than it is. don’t take it personal. Feel like you’re a trophy and there are wose position

• BE PATIENT
be patient, let passionate users do the talking for you, don’t panic. Always wait one day before answering an attack

• GIVE BACK
people give your their attention, give them back your. Link, promote, buy tshirts, etc..

• BITE THE BULLET
Take the blame when you f**** up.

• BE ACCESSIBLE
be accessible. don’t separate the company from the users, everybody should participate in the conversation. Every member of the team should have an email address available on the website.

• CARE ABOUT THE SILENT MAJORITY
care about the silent majority. check your mails, check your stats (google analytics on site stats), understand all users, not just bloggers

AFTER YOU LAUNCH: GROW

• BE FAST
Move fast, really fast. Our competitor registered his domain name 4 hours after Scoble blogged us.

• COCOON CORE USERS
Capitalize on core users. WordPress: 100 core users, thousands of regular user. Outsource specialized documentation, prioritization, translations, widgets

• CONNECT WITH COMPETITORS
Meet your competitors, connect to them. they have the same problem than you, are probably much more transparent than you think. it will give you ideas.

• LOVE GOOGLE
Don’t fear google. If they step in your market it’s a sign you are, well, in a real market. And that might get you a call from Microsoft and Yahoo.

• THINK OUTSIDE THE (TOOL)BOX
Don’t focus only on user requests. Users help you think inside the toolbox, your job is to grow the toolbox.

WEB2.0
Don’t care about the web 2.0 standards. Do things if they make sense, not because they are a web 2.0 standard (if such a thing ever existed…)

• TAKE RISKS
It’s not because every move you make it commented and analyzed you should stop taking risks. Risks are what took you there, keep on taking some. The web allows to come back very easily.

AFTER THE LAUNCH: MAKE MONEY

• FLEX YOUR ADS
Put the ads day one, even if you’re ok with losing money. they are part of the design, that’s it. ads are also the only safe metric when it comes to page views

• GET YOUR ASS KICKED
Meet the VCs, any VC. they’ll help you define your business model and challenge you

• INVENT METRICS
Create metrics: technorati, delicious, # users, g-metrics.com, you will need metrics.

ADVISES FOR INTRAPRENEURS

• FORMALIZE POST-LAUNCH
Prepare what happens next before it happens.

• PREPARE FOR POLITICS
Everybody loves you now, you’re not alone anymore!

• FOCUS
Don’t eat the cheese

That’s it. My talk is behind me so I can now relax and enjoy the great program Pedro and his team have put together. Seems like these guys won their bet, SHiFT is a success so far!

Conference innovation

I just exposed the LIFT07 concept on the conference blog earlier this week: 3 days, 1 to be active and meet new people, 1 to meet new ideas, 1 to consolidate all these new assets and listen to inspiring talks, in a word to connect the previous day’s dots.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, obviously many things aren’t defined or communicated yet, like a new question system, an “off” conference, more social activities and surprises…

We hope you will like the changes we will implement, and that we will be at the level of the huge expectations created after LIFT. We tried to define the concept based on our own ideas, by observing other successful events, and finally and most importantly by listening to the abundant and precious feedback we gathered after LIFT06.

Let’s do a quick round-up of what to expect:

What’s new
• an agenda that we hope reflects the natural “cycle” of guests, first meeting new people and ideas, then needing a bit of time to capitalize on that, then enjoying the free plane ticket to spend two days in the alps 😉
• we will have more activities off the conference. We are still working so I won’t get into much details but the idea is to create more activities beside the talks.
• the questions will be done differently, as I said in an earlier post I am not a big fan of the traditional systems because I think they barely extract 5% of the latent knowledge, and sometimes not the most relevant 5%.
• we will organize some kind of follow up on last year’s talks. The format is not defined, but as we will offer a free ticket to all LIFT06 speakers we hope most of these guys will be here and that we will be able to organize something.
• one power plug on each seat. Yes, we booked bigger rooms so each one of you will be sitting on a leather chair with an individual power plug.

What’s NOT new
• an very affordable entry price
• a friendly, international, open atmosphere, and a ban of marketing/promotion during talks.
• a bunch of amazing speakers
• good hot food
• the legendary thursday night fondue
• a nice, cozy and professional conference center with wifi.

That’s it. Next step will be to open registrations (around mid october) and announce the program. So far 10 speakers have confirmed their presence, and amazingly with one event under our belt we have a less harder time convincing them to come this time around 😉

LIFT: un nouveau concept pour 2007

Je viens d’exposer le concept de LIFT07 sur le blog de la conférence. Trois jours, le premier pour être actif et rencontrer du monde, le deuxième pour être inspiré par tout un tas d’idées diverses, le troisième pour consolider ses nouveaux contacts et connecter toutes ces nouveautés ensembles.

Ce que nous communiquons pour le moment n’est bien sûr que la pointe de l’iceberg (le reste est encore en préparation). Nous allons apporter pas mal de nouveautés au concept de la conférence, un nouveau système de questions, une conférence “off”, plus d’activités sociales et de surprises…

J’espère que ces innovations seront à la hauteur des attentes que l’édition 2006 a suscitées. Nous avons essayé de prendre en compte trois choses lors de nos réflexions: les idées de l’équipe, celles glanées au hasard des événements auxquels nous avons participé cette année, et finalement celles suggérées par tous les participants de l’année dernière.

Petit tour d’horizon des nouveautés 2007:

Ce qui est nouveau:
• un rythme qui, je l’espère, reflètera mieux le vrai parcours d’une participation à un événement comme LIFT. On rencontre des gens, des idées, puis on a besoin de temps pour faire fructifier tout ça.
• nous allons mettre l’accent sur les activités en parallèle aux conférences. Nous travaillons encore sur le sujet donc je ne peux pas en dire trop, mais en gros nous allons créer une sorte de conférence “off” ou chacun pourra aller réfléchir sur les thèmes de LIFT mais d’une façon différente.
• nous allons vous proposer un nouveau système de questions. Comme je l’ai dit précédemment je ne suis pas un fan de ce qui se fait traditionnellement. Je pense que le système habituel extrait à peine 5% du potentiel de la salle, et parfois même pas les bons 5%.
• nous allons organiser un suivi des discussions de 2006. Le format n’est pas encore défini, mais vu que nous allons offrir une entrée gratuite à tous les speakers de 2006 nous espérons qu’ils viendront en nombre et que nous pourrons organiser une forme de discussion sur ce qui a changé depuis un an.
• des salles plus grandes et plus confortables. Cette année chacun de vous sera assis dans un magnifique fauteuil en cuir, avec prise de courant individuelle.

Ce qui n’est PAS nouveau:
• un prix d’entrée plus que raisonnable
• une atmosphère chaleureuse, ouverte, internationale, et une interdiction absolue de faire du marketing ou de la promo pendant les présentations.
• des intervenants incroyables
• de vrais repas chauds
• la désormais légendaire fondue du jeudi soir
• un centre de conférence professionnel, confortable et cosy

Voilà en deux mots. Les inscriptions seront bientôt ouvertes, et le programme provisoire sera annoncé dans les deux semaines. Pour le moment une dizaine d’intervenants ont confirmé leur présence. A suivre!

Marketers are users after all

I find this news completly fascinating:

The popularity of user-generated video sites like YouTube has given rise to deceptive videos created for self-promotion, advertising, or even smearing rival brands. This latter format, dubbed the ‘smear video,’ depicts a rival brand’s product exhibiting fictitious faults.

Link

After the studios complaining about consumers perturbing their “content sphere” the trend is now inverting: street people get mad because corporations “misrepresent commercial content as user-generated content”.

What was sure to happen has arrived: marketers have infiltrated the people’s republic of user generated media and the whole meaning of home movie gets redefined. Now when you will see someone putting mentos in a coke bottle you better check if he is really your neighbor, or just another Atlanta exec.

Is this the turning point? Is it the moment where the web 2.0 values come back to haunt us? Was it really wise to allow anybody to make the headlines on youtube? Is it a fair game, the creativity of the masses versus the unlimited budgets of procter and gamble? Can user-generated content survive this simple truth: marketers are users after all.

The worldwide entrepreneur

I am doing a bit of research on Joi Ito these days, and Nicolas sent me a link to a profile made by the strategy+business magazine under the title of The Ambassador from the Next Economy.

The author captured pretty well the reality of a new breed of entrepreneurs I would call the “worldwide entrepreneurs”. These are the first one who embraced the web as their primary tool, using technology to conquer a flat world and, in the process, break both the established business models and the good old ways of doing things. Beyond the future of entrepreneurship, this is the future of knowledge work (= the future of a lot of people) that is emerging:

In some ways, Mr. Ito’s style foreshadows the changing nature of knowledge work; he moves among many organizations at once, balancing his entrepreneurial individualism against an avid, even obsessive participation in the organizations and communities that interest him, whether online or offline. […]

Typically, when Mr. Ito discerns an idea with promise, he founds a company or funds an existing business to capitalize on that promise. Once the business is humming, he walks away to the next cool idea, expressing little interest in the money made on the venture, but continuing to evangelize its potential as a builder of communities and an enabler of public participation.

Link

I met some of these entrepreneurs this year – the likes of Pierre Chappaz, Jaewoong Lee, Thomas Mygdal, Loic Le Meur or Kiyoshi Nishikawa. They are all different and intriguing characters, always looking for the next challenge, juggling with tenths of projects, changing roles five times a day, constantly switching back and forth between the reality of the field (i.e. starting concrete businesses) and the more abstract world of ideas, of writing articles in Wired and speaking at conferences around the world.

The web has reshaped entrepreneurship the way it has reshaped almost everything else. Today’s entrepreneurs have different tools, values, motivations, expectations, and possibilities. And they are building a new ecosystem in which we will all be working in a few years.

Freechasing

David Weinberger (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame) talks about these goods you get value from, yet won’t pay for, and coins the term “freechasing” to explain this interesting phenomena the manichean copyright laws of this world ignore:

A while ago a teacher told me that she didn’t use a chapter of my book […] because she didn’t want to ask her students to buy the entire volume. She should have instead […] printed up some copyright-bustin’ copies. Since she wasn’t going to buy the book, she wouldn’t have been depriving me or my publisher of any money […] and it’d be in my long term interest to have students introduced to my writing.

Link

The reasoning- limited to goods that are not diminished by being consumed – is very disturbing.

What damage am I doing if I use things I will or can NOT buy anyway? Should books be free downloads for those who can’t afford them? Maybe that would allow them to self educate and get a better situation. And then start buying books?