Today was my last day at Quest.
Archive Manager (nee AfterMail) is now well integrated into Quest with the right people in the right roles. I’m proud of how the acquisition has gone and that our NZ team has grown in both size and skill and are now part of a fantastic global company. This week we have several of our team all over the world and its exciting that they’re getting the experience of developing a global software product and taking it to the world.
Transitioning from the CEO of a small company, and working on the deal for several months, almost none of the activities you do pre-acquistion, you do post acquisition, so my focus was evangelizing the product around our multinational sales team. I really enjoyed that, but my passion is taking an idea, building a team and creating something from nothing.
I really like Quest. Its been a great experience especially making friends around the Globe. If I was sans kids I’d probably take the opportunity to move up to the US with Quest but with a family now I need to get back to normal hours and operate in time-zone for a while.
I hope to remain close to the company. For the next week at least I’ll enjoy the silence of my disconnected BlackBerry.
For all the many people that have helped over the past few years. Thank you very, very much.Plus SMS: This is unbelievable
Read this latest announcement:
Findings from the strategic review now showed that the all contracts previously negotiated between the company and various telecoms operators were mainly for fixed line numbers, making them unsuitable for the Plus SMS business.
“Naturally it is of serious concern to find we are holding fixed line contracts which we cannot commercialise in their present form. However we are making the renegotiation of all contracts a key priority and we are confident of progress.”
The company has also further clarified the status of two specific contracts which were referred to in its 1 September 2006 announcement.
A contract with Pak Telecom, originally announced in October 2005, is not valid as Pak Telecom did not have the rights to the number ranges covered by the contract and had only committed to seek to acquire those rights which it was not able to do. While Plus SMS is in negotiations with Pak Telecom, there currently appears to be little prospect of securing a viable substitute contract in the near future.
In relation to the ISTV contract, which was originally announced in March 2006, the agreement did not provide Plus SMS with the rights necessary to derive any value out of those contracts.
Plus SMS therefore confirms the 1 September 2006 statement that the contracts have lapsed and now have no value to the company. The company did not own the rights necessary to derive any value out of those contracts and could not therefore have delivered any value from them.
Brooks says the company’s review has also looked at the feasibility of international vanity short codes in the Plus SMS business. Codes of less than seven digits work on a national basis. However current technology requirements mean codes for international use need to be seven digits or more. This means that the management team will continue to evaluate the value and potential use of existing vanity codes.
So the technology did not ever make sense. Yet some shareholders sold $10m of stock (before any revenue). This is crime.GMail Notifer now works for hosted domains.
Finally. New version is 1.9.90. http://mail.google.com/mail/help/notifier/notifier_mac.htmlWingnut Interactive
Just announced: Microsoft, Peter Jackson to form game studio
In Wellington!42 Below. I was wrong.
When 42 Below listed with a market cap of $50m, I thought that was a rort. How could a brand concept be worth that much.
I was wrong. 42 Below delivered.
Here’s what I learned:
- The importance of Marketing. And having the courage to do it your way. 42 Below innovated in a lot of areas including NetMarketing. Their New Zealandness was part of the brand personality. They blended that with international quality and sophistication. They didn’t waiver even when some campaigns caused controversy.
- Getting funding to implement your vision. 42 Below sold the listing which gave them the capital to execute. They did it brilliantly.
- They made business cool. This was a team doing what they loved. Kicking butt and taking numbers.
- Execution. It’s amazing how fast things can happen when you make them happen.
This deal is incredibly motivating and provides NZ exporters with ideas we can incorporate in our own businesses. It is a huge win for the marketing industry who can point to this as a stellar example. This deal builds confidence for us all.
So I take back what I’ve said previously. Well done 42 Below. Inspirational.
Here’s a couple of the great 42 Below adverts…Web 2.0 hot with venture firms
From the Mercury News: Report shows $262.3 million invested in first half of year
Union Square and many other firms continue to look for new Web 2.0 start-ups.
That’s in part because Web 2.0 companies tend to need less money than other start-ups and are thus less of a risk. According to VentureOne, Web 2.0 firms raised an average of $4.4 million per deal in the first half of the year; the median for all venture financings was $7.5 million per deal.
Unlike some predecessors that famously blew through millions of dollars on television promotions and other marketing, Web 2.0 companies also tend not to spend much, if anything, on advertising, relying heavily on word-of-mouth promotion.
It’s interesting that Web 2.0 has been associated with relatively low cost as entrepreneurs get smarter about getting their message out. That means that investment is primarily in people, and in people that can build great operational systems to support their relationships with customers and partners.
Execution ability will define success even more than expected.Positive Feedback Cycles
I’ve had a number of discussion on Entrepreneurship over the past few days.
A question raised (thanks Don) was - can Entrepreneurship be learned?
I think yes, absolutely. And I think a secret is Positive Feedback Cycles. What I mean by that is the experience and confidence gained from success makes it easier to do the next thing making you even more likely to have positive success. Pretty simple but I think very powerful.
Computer programming is full of Positive Feedback Cycles. Every day you may find a number of logic problems that at first thought seem hard to solve. But you work it out and solving that gives you a positive experience. It is satisfying and you start to have the attitude that you can solve bigger and bigger things. You actually start looking for the challenges.
I actually like it when people say no or tell you that things are impossible. A challenge. (Of course that really annoys the wife.)
Understanding this simple mechanism, what I’m calling Positive Feedback Cycles allows you to get started. I don’t want to sound to ‘Tony Robbins’ here but set some challenges, get out of your comfort zone and relish how you feel afterwards.
For example. Speak at an event. Frightening at first but so satisfying afterwards. Set some small goals and achieve them. Run a half marathon. Learn something new. It doesn’t matter what you do, once you taste success you get into the Positive Cycles.
This leads to Entrepreneurship which is all about having the confidence to trust your gut feeling and make stuff happen.RSS: Ready for Some Stories
In a lesson for tech documenters everywhere …
‘Back in Skinny Jeans’. Excellent.Everyones doing it!
Holy whale blubber.
My regular breakfast haunt Caffe L’affare sells to Japan for $25m.
Congrats to Bridget and the crew. Nic Tansley from More FM was walking around this morning doing interviews with an inflatable Orca. Excellent.
When the dot com boom was winding down in 2000 I was thinking I hope I’m around the next time this happens. When your daily cafe gets acquired you know its all on again. Wahoo!Political Blogging
Crazy, crazy times in NZ Politics this week as MP’s personal lives and vile (but exciting in their scale) rumours fuel the coffee houses.
As an entrepreneur, proud exporter and high tax payer, I’m naturally right leaning, thinking we should be incentivising business to grow the pie rather than arguing about how to slice it up. But I wasn’t anti-Helen. I have never been a fan but I did respect her intellect and control.
Her actions of the past few days, ongoing unprompted personal attacks against Brash and hypocrisy, have left me - and I suspect many others - turned off and repulsed. It’s fascinating to watch her plainly try to establish themes with misinformation and accuse others of what she is actively doing.
Anyway, enough of that.
What has been interesting from a technology and blogging point of view is the immediate direct channel and speed of conversation.
For example Ian Wishart can defend himself: http://www.tbr.cc. Incidentally, I thought the Sunday Star Times blatant attempt to introduce the subject into the mainstream media by taking the high ground against Ian Wishart was disgusting.
This incident lead me to David Farrar’s blog, which apparently is the hotspot for these current issues. Politics in NZ has entered deeply into the blogosphere.iTunes 7: The missing FAQ
This is useful ….
I noticed the Album Artist tag, you need that to make CoverFlow work properly. Also the Span Volumes might help out with my iTunes server.Capital ICT Debate
Had a good night last night at the Positively Wellington Business ICT Debate. The panel argued first if Wellington’s claim to be ICT Capital is under threat and then what do do about it.
I put forward that Wellington ICT had the following positives:
- We are very networked and that deep trust relationships occur quickly
- We have access to Government
- As the Capital City there is massive Government ICT spend that has to occur
- Our strong services base gives us access to broad business experience, is a great training ground and allows us to discover real business opportunities
- We now have insider money in our local network
I think the following things need to happen:
- We need to improve Government Procurement policies. That spend can be used to more effectively grow export businesses
- We need to lobby for Export and R&D incentives that encourage business investment
- We need to introduce capital into our great services businesses so that they can invest in developing IP and products rather than selling hours
Syd Huff from Victoria University pointed out that young people are less excited about ICT, and that the numbers coming through the education pipeline were dwindling. This really resonated with me. I’m going to make a point of going out and talking to schools. ICT is exciting and magical. You can create a great career.
Be great to see some of the Unlimited Potential people at these events.
The night finished up at Martin Bosley’s. Bit furry today.Call Recorder for Skype
Mac only, but this is the PodCast tool that everyone has been waiting for. Downloading.
Update: Here is a sample (436k).iServer?
Some advice needed.
I’ve moved my music onto iTunes on my MacBook, got my cover art up to date. All good. So the next step is creating a central media server. I can’t find much documentation around networked iTunes.
I can pull iTunes across the HomeLAN, no problem there but how do I coordinate media between iTunes machines?
The scenario is that I want to have my music stored on the central server. I’ll probably rip on my MacBook and then I need to move it back to the server. So the Server has all the music, video, photo’s etc and my MacBook has a subset of the whole collection and is the primary collection device.
Should the backend be a Mac, or should it be a NAS? Does SlimServer fit in here somewhere?
As well as iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie needs to work similarly.
Any thoughts welcome.XtraMSN, is the end nigh?
Juha reports Xtra and Microsoft’s long standing relationship looks like it’s nearing its end.
This would be quite a big change as Xtra and MSN have been going for 5 years or so and really has been there from the start of mainstream internet in NZ. Which ever new partner is selected will change the landscape here significantly.
As Juha points out, Microsoft/MSN/Live is free to date, who do they go out with?
I’ll be following this with interest.Don, its time to go
Sorry Don, but this latest gaff tips me over the edge. You’ve been OK but it’s time to hand the reins over to John. Give him the year or so he needs to build his brand. Much better to do it now than a few months before the election.Apple ShowTime: Yawn.
Had time to watch Steve’s Showtime Presentation last night.
When a killer feature of the new iPod’s is ‘gapless playback’ you know that not much was happening.
So the iPods got a new rev. You could almost taste the disappointment that the real video iPod wasn’t announced. Steve trying to pimp up air was a bit embarrassing.
Apple knew it, so they had to announce some sex. iTV. A dedicated box that has your stereo and TV outputs and can stream. Nice. Expensive though as it has no moving bits. It was good they didn’t oversell it. It’s just another input, like a DVD player or cable TV.
There were some big gaps. 640×480 might be great on your iPod, OK on your laptop but awful on your 50″ HDTV. But we should be able to stream hiRes stuff pulled down by Democracy and BitTorrent anyway. I’ll take one.
iTunes now makes it easy to pull down cover art, which is key to the TV experience. CoverFlow is a big part of the eye candy. Getting cover art is free if you have an iTunes account.
Still no word when/if we’ll have iTunes in NZ. This is really starting to suck. Now I’ve embraced the Mac I want a full experience. I spent $80 on CD’s a week ago but I only really wanted 5 songs.
An iTunes account is dependent on your Credit Card billing address. So my energy now is on finding out how to get a US Credit Card. Any suggestions welcome.First Beachhead Meeting
Had my first NZTE Beachheads Advisory Board meeting yesterday.
This is a great program. We went through it at AfterMail so it was interesting to be on the other side of the table. The NZ Beachhead is the entry point to the program. Once you pass through then you have access to Beachheads Boards in the UK, US, Dubai and others.
The board is very impressive - made up of very experienced and networked people who are giving time back to New Zealand to help others.
It’s not just tech either. Once of the best presentations yesterday was domestic product aimed at the US market. The founder was very experienced and had packaged his offering beautifully for his channel. It was slick and you could see he understood how to make it very easy for his channel to be successful.
Presenting to the Beachhead board would be a great dummy run before you do funding pitches. It’s probably a more supportive audience and they can give you great feedback.
Seeing a number of companies back to back made me think of some general observations regarding how a company presents itself (these are not specifically directed at the companies I saw yesterday) …
- Collateral and image make a disproportionate impression. Not rocket science but spend the money to have it done professionally
- Personality is huge. Enthusiasm and character count for a lot.
- Questions are a key part of the process. Answers generally reveal more than the presentation. You need to know your numbers.
General presentation rules always apply. Respect your time slot, Don’t read the slides (creeping death for the type A’s that are in the room), engage your audience.
You can tell people and companies that really get it. The ones that think about how they fit in with the rest of the world. Here is a simple example.
When you fill in an application form, you may save it as ‘ApplicationForFunding.doc’. You file it under your personal filing hierarchy. You email in your application with an attached doc (always send a pdf!)and it is circulated. From your point of view the naming makes sense. But for the application processing person and evaluation panel you’ve just signaled that you don’t think about things from an outside point of view. Much better to call it ‘AcmeCo_FundingApplication.doc’.
The Beachhead board is a big commitment at a day a month. But I really enjoyed the day and the people. It was great to see there are a bunch of entrepreneurs out there doing the hard yards.PlusSMS: Where’s the investigative journalism?
You seem to be able to get away with almost anything in this country. The Sunday paper front page mentions two sets of child killers, known but at large. Outrageous. I guess the example starts from the top as the government looks to change the law (major) to get around their illegal election spending (who really cared?).
The media has had 9 days (and a year of pointers) since the story broke and finally the most basic of investigation has taken place. The NBR had a week and surprisingly they had a bit of a look but did not go deep.
But the latest disclosure about Donoghue’s holding - 85 million shares - is 19.026 million less than his previous disclosure in February.
It is not known how much he sold those shares for, but at a typical market price of 40c during that period Donoghue could have pocketed $7.6 million from the sale.
Securities law requires share trades by company officers to be disclosed within five working days.
In February, Donoghue disclosed he had made $10.4m from the sale of 19 million shares off market.
To me it is completely unethical that Founders take cash off the table without revenue. The fact that the market was mislead makes it criminal. PlusSMS was a sham from the start, taking advantage of investors lack of technology understanding and using technology, online forums, to generate hype. Why was it allowed to go on for so long when individuals were clearly fleecing investors?
The Star-Times asked Plus SMS for details of its share register - a public document - but, despite being given three days’ notice, the company was unable to produce it.
At a time when the New Zealand Stock Exchange is struggling to regain credibility and trying to stem the tide they need to act firmly and swiftly. There has to be consequences. If we want to move people from property to business investment we have to have confidence in our markets.What does your customer do next?
This old chestnut. Sometimes it just stuns me how companies don’t look at what their customers do next to see if they can easily create value that would create a passionate user. Very often, when the suppliers workflow ends, the customers work flow keeps going.
Buying tickets online is a classic. The Qantas site is actually pretty good. They remember most of my details. That’s great. But as soon as passengers have booked their flight they then have to manually type all the details into their calendar. Why not provide a simple iCal link?
If the airline asked me for a simple feature that would create loyalty just watch what happens at expense claim time. I need to try and remember what flight was for what. What was personal, what was bizdev, what was on-chargeable. Wouldn’t it be great if you could enter in a reference that made its way to the eTicket. The trip would then always be tagged and easy to match up.
Interaction Design facilitates the discovery of these opportunities. Forget about the system, ask the users to explain what they do. You’ll easily uncover these gems.
It’s amazing how much is still broken. Just like Seth says.