Over the years it seems like I've gotten lazy about writing product requirements and product mock-ups. Perhaps, its the issue that I am farthest away from being a product guy than any point in my career. After bemoaning my plight of not wanting to spend the time mocking up a new product interface, a product management executive friend of mine suggested a product called Balsamiq. Its a great product to deliver professional looking wireframes and product mock-ups. Its drag-and-drop interface is really slick and its easy to group images and text exactly how you'd like to lay them out. I liked it so much that I bought the product for $79.99.
My high school track-and-field coach would show us Steve Prefontaine footage before races. As an adult, I watch presentations from CEOs that I admired before I would do large group presentations. A little Steve Jobs goes a long way in the CEO inspiration department. I always thought that it would be great to compile a list of best startup and/or CEO pitches for a blog post. This entrepreneur already beat me to it. Great post.
There has been some interesting controversy in the local search space. I have been opinionated about local search and if you are interested you can check out a couple of my posts here and here.
Seattle-based startup, HelpHive, recently altered their service based on some strong opinions from local business owners. The gist of the controversy was that HelpHive was building business profile pages and substituting a HelpHive run direct response number. I personally think that is a great service for small business owners. Like many of us, I start out most of my local service recommendations with search engines. In the case of some paid for performance services like Service Magic (they are like the LendingTree of local services providers), you get a number of local businesses that have basically paid to get leads. You could argue that HelpHive should be more upfront about providing lead generation services to small businesses which is what they ended up doing. It is an interesting question as to how do you protect your local brand and what rights do you have as a local business owner.
Another approach is what Marchex recently introduced, there "Reputation Management" product. Its akin to getting your FICA score for your business. It aggregates all the various review sites into one place and acts as a master dashboard for your business sentiment. Its a cool concept. Clearly, once you have the dashboard then you can sell other services into those businesses. Its a different approach than HelpHive.
In the end, both services really require massive scale in order to be successful.
I caught the swine flu which has taken me out of commission. I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle after a long rest. Waking up to see a flurry of M&A activity as well as large financings. In the last couple of days we had EA buy Playfish for $400M, Google buying AdMob for $750M, HP acquiring 3com for $2.7B, and just recently social gaming provider Playdom raised $43M in venture financing. Is this the sign of an early tech rally?
The recent Facebook announcements were extremely interesting to me. I continue to see a familiar pattern around relying too heavily on one platform. From a developers standpoint, its hard to build a business if you don't own the very ground that you are building on. I have blogged about this topic before and I still feel the same today.
The Open Graph announcement was extremely interesting to me. It is super-smart and shrewd of Facebook to open up its platform outside of its walled garden. We all don't have the specifics yet, but, it looks to be if you are outside of the FB world you can incorporate core functionality into your own site. TechCrunch's MG Siegler does a nice job covering it here.
I wonder what happens if this really takes off. For one, you as a developer would be outsourcing key elements of your community capability to another company. But more interesting is what is the impact of large players like Google. If you are Google, you've got to be worried about Facebook eating up more capability and eyeballs by potentially incorporating more traffic reach into its own platform. Heck, what if FB incorporates really great social search using the Open Graph technology. This is all predicated on world-class execution, but, the FB Connect technology has been already adopted on many top sites. If you are Google would you decide to penalize sites that use Open Graph in natural search results?