jump to navigation

I need some time to ease my mind February 6, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

When I was writing Digital Strangelove, it was born largely out of work being so busy that I didn’t have time to write semi-daily about the things I was thinking, and I’m starting to feel like I’m all clogged up again in my head – a week where one of your days runs over the course of 18 hours will do that to you.

Anyway, enough of my complaining, I’ve wanted to write this for a couple weeks, and I’m excited to now as I feel really strongly about it. Your friend and mine Fred Wilson was interviewed in January and one of the questions asked was “What common mistakes do start-ups make?” He responds with this:

One mistake  see people make is that they hire out the development of the technology…I think that’s a huge mistake. I think the companies need to have the engineers as part of the core founding team…and a company needs to own its engineering and product in a way that you could never own it if you hire somebody else to build it.

Back in March 2008,  wrote the following:

I’m a big believer in a business being free to focus on its core product(s). If it ain’t what you do, then it ain’t what you do! Far too many times I’ve seen companies get distracted by an interesting piece of technology or an idea outside their scope or ability to act on. When that happens, your core product suffers, and your competitors who may have been running a distant second seem to close the gap over night.

At the time I was thinking about the future of a start-up I was working in at the time, Hippo Jobs. Hippo had made a range of decisions ranging from ones I agreed with to ones I didn’t agree with at all, but that is going to be the case in any workplace where you are an employee and not an owner, and I don’t pretend for a moment to fully comprehend the situations that lead to some of those decisions.

What I believed then and believe now however is exactly what Fred said; a company needs to be in control of its lifeblood and make everything else someone else’s problem. When Yahoo! finally outsourced its search to Microsoft, it acknowledged what everyone else had long known – they were not a search company. Mind you, neither is Microsoft, which is why I can’t see them taking that battle to Google in a meaningful way.

Hippo had chosen to work with Areeba, an innovative and talented dev shop in Melbourne, Australia. The issue was never the quality of the work, it was a team that cared about the product in a way that was more than a job. Where Fred says “a company needs to own its engineering and product in a way that you could never own it if you hire somebody else to build it“, listen to it. He also says the key engineer(s) need to be founding members of the company, which again I agree with.

At the end of the day, ideas are a dime a dozen, and you need the people who can execute to have as much skin in the game as you have; anything less is a recipe for disaster.

See video below, quote begins at 4:48.

posted with vodpod
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Digital Strangelove – or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Internet October 19, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, best of, business strategy, digital strategy, social media, social networks, storytelling, strategy, technology.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
37 comments

I mentioned last week I had been staying in on weekends and up at night trying to get everything I was thinking about out of my head. The space I feel was created in my head is amazing, leaving room to think about a bunch of other projects I have on the go but have also played second fiddle to this.

I’m not presenting the below presentation as gospel, if I may be so bold as to quote myself, I am not looking for right, just for least wrong, as one of the premises I state in the presentation is that so much of this space will continue to change for a long time to come.

The deck covers a lot of ground, mainly from the point of view of where we are right now in the evolution of the Internet and culture, and where I think we’re going. I welcome feedback of all kinds, from bursts of agreement to arguments against each and every slide.

If I have moved the conversation along in even the slightest way, I have succeeded. As always, thanks for reading, I really appreciate your time.

On to the next one (Commented on “Gary Vaynerchuk”) September 24, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, digital strategy, social media, technology.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Seems everything is moving so fast right now, I’m finding it hard to take the time to write. So instead I’m trying to read more, comment, and where I can bring those comments back onto this blog. I wish WordPress had a Disqus plug-in for their hosted sites (which is what this one is) as that would mean we could continue the larger conversation wherever we were, unfortunately they bought a Disqus competitor, so that is unlikely.

Your friend and mine Gary Vaynerchuk posted a video saying social media wasn’t the “seasoning” to the changes going on, it was the steak. I have a slightly different take on this, which I commented on. Watch the video then see below.

I feel like the “steak” is made up of so many things though, of which social is a part of.

Or to put it another way, we’ve operated under the guise of the Internet being, well, the Internet, and “social” being a part of that.

The reality is the web is *inherently* social, and given every business must have a presence online, every business is now missing something core if they don’t have a social aspect to what they do.

In the ridiculous growth that we’ve seen the web go through, I think we’ve confused maturity with expansion. We’re still figuring out exactly what this beast is, but I think we can assume bringing people together and giving them something to do is not going to go away.

So, here’s to the steak. I wonder what else it comes with? =]

Originally posted as a comment
by davidgillespie
on Gary Vaynerchuk using DISQUS.

This is an echo of something I said to Fred Wilson last November which he re-blogged here, which is itself an eho of a post I made last October. Social media is not part of the web, it is the web. The sooner we all realise that, the sooner we get onto the next thing.

And as a fan of buzzwords and technology, I always love the next thing.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I’ve got big ideas, I’m out of control (Commented on “A VC”) September 9, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, philosophy, work/life.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Fred Wilson has an interesting short piece up this morning on failure. After reading it, I left the following comment:

I was doing a review of a (young but brilliant) guy on my team recently, and as we were discussing the feedback he said to me “You know, the thing I worry about more than anything is making mistakes.”

I looked at him blankly and said “That is like fretting that the sun might come up tomorrow. Guess what? It’s going to happen! Don’t worry about making mistakes, worry about things you can actually have a positive impact on. If you spend your time worrying about the possibility of mistakes you’re not going to get anything done.”

Now, being Australian (living in Canada atm), there’s a fair amount of a “no worries” attitude that is ingrained in us, but Fred I think you hit on something really crucial about the States – the fact that success is rewarded and if you fail you are encouraged to give it another go; as fortunate as I feel to be from Australia we don’t have the latter as part of our psyche. I’ve benefited from tremendously from growing up in Hong Kong among other places, and I think a willingness to get it wrong is one of the best things any society can have in its DNA.

It’s probably also the reason I’m a long way from home right now :)

Originally posted as a comment
by davidgillespie
on A VC using DISQUS.

Now, I adore Australia and it will always be home. We do have an odd relationship with success and failure though, born no doubt from a myriad of cultural sources others I’m sure have written long and eloquently about, and which I don’t want to get into right now. Instead I’ll just say, as I did the other day when someone asked me what this blog was about, I said “big ideas”.

“Are they the right ideas?”

I laughed and said “That my friend, was never the point.”

So, here’s to the big ideas today. Wherever they lead us.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

And the world seems to disappear August 18, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, marketing, storytelling, strategy, technology.
Tags: , , , , , ,
2 comments

So I was watching Curious Films’ Best Ads on TV vodcast this morning, the latest installment of which has a cracking Johnny Walker ad in it featuring Robert Carlyle. It’s below, enjoy.

posted with vodpod

So as I was watching this I got thinking about the length of this “commercial”. It may get a few runs on TV in its entirety, may get a few more in cinemas, but will most likely find its life, if it is to have one, online. So, that takes us quickly to a place where it isn’t a TV spot, it isn’t anything other than video which will be consumed in various places and fashions.

We’re seeing the destruction of industries built to sell physical things in large quantities. Text, pictures and sound are things that will shortly exist almost exclusively in bits, not atoms. Fred Wilson talks about the destruction of industries that are “end-to-end digital”. We’re seeing in the music industry, in publishing, in television, in marketing, in R&D and we’re going to start seeing it in a bunch of other industries that perhaps aren’t as innately adaptable to being entirely digital, but you can bet that the parts that are will follow swiftly.

Clay Shirky said in a recent TED talk that advances “don’t become socially interesting until they come technologically boring”, and we’re almost there. When everything is delivered via what we used to differentiate as “the Internet”, the medium may infact cease to be the message.

That strikes me as, social or not, very, very interesting.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

It’s never been like that August 4, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Apologies for the recent period of AWOL-ness, I stepped away from real life for a couple weeks trotting around Europe, recouts of which will be posted shortly over at my non-marketing online self. Final thought: there’s an incredible untapped audience of tourists; watch this space.

Back into things though, and my Google Reader overflows with tech and marketing goodness (as well as more from Rod Stuart Loves The Hamptons of course). One post from Fred Wilson stood out for me: Streaming Kills Piracy. It’s a short take on how his son has taken to legitimate means of watching his favourite TV show rather than downloading episodes illeagally. It’s a classic case study in making the barrier to entry lower than the alternatives.

And then this morning, I came across this story in The Guardian which talks about a collapse in illegal sharing and a commensurate increase in legal streaming. The story says 26% of 14 to 18 year olds shared music illegally last month compared to 42% in December of 2007. The story also says 65% of teens stream music regularly.

‘Lo and behold, me and my generation of reprobates aren’t the thieving bastards old media had us pegged for. What you can count on however is a relentless dive to the easiest experience available. Yes, paid will always be a hurdle when positioned next to free, but instant compared to delayed is just as compelling, perhaps even more so.

Look at your own business. What are the barriers to entry that you can bring down?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tools for the linked economy November 26, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, business strategy, social media.
Tags: , , , ,
3 comments

Last week I was talking about business opportunities that exist around the aggregation and sorting of information, something Fred Wilson just wrote about:

This gets me excited. Because someone could do so much more with this idea. We have a few companies that are trying to extract meaning out of content on the web. Adaptive Blue recognizes pages about things (books, music, film, stocks, wine, people, etc). Outside.in recognizes posts and articles about places (neighborhoods, schools, parks, etc). And Zemanta recognizes concepts in blog posts and recommends content to add to your post.A VC, Nov 2008

I’m digging this notion of building a business around the curation of content right now – not that I’m looking to start one, but there are opportunities to leverage this moment with the right execution and the right brand(s).

Which of course means the race is on to see which ad agency fucks it up first.

(Incidentally, I use Zemanta in regular posts as well as having used it to re-blog the above quote from Fred. It is a fantastic service, any blogger reading this should go check it out – you’ll see the little re-blog image in the bottom-right corner of this post)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Rockin’ in the free world July 7, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in work/life.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

I left open beats closed out of my marketing mantra the other day, largely because the 5 points circle around it anyway. On the back of that comes a couple items which illustrate it perfectly.

The first is from Fred Wilson, who writes while vacationing with his family in France:

If you look at this picture of my son Josh catching up on his favorite TV shows this morning before breakfast, you’ll see a flat panel display in the upper right of the picture. And yet Josh is watching on his laptop. That’s largely because we are in europe right now, where the shows he likes are not available on the local cable channel but are available “on demand” on the Internet.

Yes it’s true that Hulu and ABC.com and other web video services block IP addresses outside of the US, but we were able to hack around that pretty easily. Yet another form of DRM that won’t work, can’t work, and will eventually be removed by content owners.

Couldn’t agree more. On the flip side and very open is Garfield Minus Garfield, a comic which appropriates Garfield strips, removing the cat and…well…see for yourself:

Garfield Minus Garfield

Garfield Minus Garfield

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.

Happy Monday everyone.

Context of text in the next generation May 13, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing, philosophy, work/life.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

I read two unrelated posts this morning which both said the same thing; the generation of children who aren’t yet teenagers have an interesting relationship with and approach to communication.

The first was from Fred Wilson who was after a new phone for his daughter to replace a broken iPhone. Funnily enough, she didn’t want it replaced with an iPhone, 2007’s must have toy.

She wants the new crimson red Blackberry Curve.

Fortunately, it looks like I can get an unlocked one on eBay for between $100 and $200.

I wonder what this says? I realize it’s a sample size of one, but I’ve heard that a bunch of her friends have also given up their iPhones in search of a better texting device which seems to be the one feature they value most.

The second was from Simon Chen who said exactly the same thing:

Ask a teenager to give up their mobile phone and see what happens. Actually, I bet if you told any kid today that the new rule of the house is their phones would be restricted to voice calls only (and that the text or SMS function would be disabled), there would be a global revolt. Parents would be locked in cars and basements and all manner of threats would be shouted from every rooftop.

Kids don’t talk on phones anymore. They grunt. But the little f@#ckers can text. Man, can they text.

I am loathe to carry out a conversation via text, I flat out refuse and don’t respond, or else I call if it is really important*. But I’ve seen this behaviour in my younger cousins, and being somewhat pedantic about grammar and punctuation, have certainly seen it carried out in the way sentences are constructed – or rather abbreviated into forms that begin to border on unrecognisable.

With this in mind, I’ve begun thinking aloud (and with no real clarity yet) about what this means for the way the next generation will communicate, particularly how they will expected to be communicated to and how this will impact their interactions with the rest of the world.

For example, is it reasonable to expect “correct” grammar to be taught if it ceases to apply to their daily lives the way it does to mine? Will an essay in SMS or l33t speak be admissable in new communications courses once they at university? More applicable to me, how does that change the nature of text in ads? How do you affect the tone of a piece if not just punctuation but vowels themselves cease to play a part? Srlsy?

I’d dismiss the above as nonsense, except I already see my own generation with hard and fast mind sets on certain things nobody had to teach us, we just knew. The notion of respecting someone because of their title never even entered our minds; what do I take for granted that the next batch won’t bat an eyelid at?

The changing nature of communication is something I find endlessly interesting, even if there are no easy answers.

*Things that are important:

  1. A guitar I simply must have
  2. The girl I’m seeing accidentally meeting the girl I’m seeing
  3. Confusion over which bar we will begin the evening’s festivities in
  4. A Springsteen tour being announced
  5. More as I think of them…

Eyes on the prize: what is your company’s core offering? March 3, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, web 2.0.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

I’m a big believer in a business being free to focus on its core product(s). If it ain’t what you do, then it ain’t what you do! Far too many times I’ve seen companies get distracted by an interesting piece of technology or an idea outside their scope or ability to act on. When that happens, your core product suffers, and your competitors who may have been running a distant second seem to close the gap over night.

It isn’t simply a case of distraction though, outsourcing can also land your ability to succeed and innovate in the hands of people who don’t share your priorities, goals, or values. What that means is a devaluing of your offering in the eyes of the people you’re hoping to sell to. An inconsistent experience you can’t directly impact means your brand comes to be associated with, at best, a level of impotence in affecting positive change for its own offering, and at worst, a frustrating end-user experience. On top of the impotence. With a good measure of GAF* thrown in.

The same idea applies to brand extension. Let’s compare Google and eBay, two titans from Web 1.0. One seemingly goes from strength to strength with an occasional bit of conjecture, and another is mired in a mix of end-user apathy and anger, with top-tier management failing to set a cohesive direction. Google’s acquisitions may seem puzzling at times from the outside, however each purchase (with the occasional exception) can fairly readily be tied back into search, and eventually monetised.

Contrast this with eBay’s acquisition of promising-but-troubled VOIP provider Skype back in 2005. 2 1/2 years on this seems like a move geared around nabbing promising tech before someone else does, and not around how such a service better positions eBay to grow. Now both services are languishing with indifference and open hostility, and the purchase is little more than a land-grab in hindsight.

The trouble with a land-grab is eventually the people who actually own the land show up and cause trouble. In this case the digital natives are fighting back, services like Etsy crop up and move in on markets that could have and maybe should have been eBay’s. All due to the company losing focus, and the same can be said for Yahoo!, parts of Microsoft, and a myriad of players in the offline space too.

Times like this some old-school business lessons can come in handy. Echoed in Fred Wilson’s post about the New York Times, Jack Welch’s mantra to his VPs was be number one or two in your market, otherwise get out. Seth Godin says in his book The Dip “being the best in the world is seriously underrated”. And as I say up top, “If it ain’t what you do, then it ain’t what you do!”

Anyone have examples that fit into the above they’d care to share?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.